Posts Tagged ‘netflix’

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May 2020 Movie Reviews

June 7, 2020

Check out my profile on Letterboxd if you want to follow along as I write my reviews throughout the month and also because the site/app is amazing for film lovers. Movies definitely took a backseat this past month as I focused on documentaries and TV series. In addition to the stuff I review below, I also watched season three of Ozark (elite) and season one of Dead to Me (elite), so not only a few movies in May and I didn’t even get one Scorsese film in. Boo. I also hit a serious lack of motivation to write reviews. It’s so much harder to do if I don’t write immediately after watching something and that was the case for almost everything below.

The History of the Seattle Mariners (2020, Documentary, YouTube)

I love that this is on Letterboxd because I absolutely want to spread the word on it. I’m a diehard baseball fan and I’ve lived in the Seattle area my entire life, so obviously this documentary is right up my alley. That said, it seems like plenty of non-baseball and non-Mariners fans have loved what Dorktown put together here.

First off, the presentation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This is basically the coolest PowerPoint video ever created. The use of actual archive footage is pretty minimal and it’s basically two dudes narrating over a visual storyboard the whole time. Probably doesn’t sound awesome, but I can assure you that it is. The narrators are witty and often funny, making for a very enjoyable watch despite an almost total lack of actual footage.

Obviously, being a Mariners fan this hits close to home for me, but the reason this has been made is because the Mariners have such a unique and insane history. I’ve been an avid fan for 25+ years now and I was still surprised by some of the stats and anomalies presented here. I think any fan of sports can appreciate how absurd it all is and I’d consider this a must see.

But I am a Mariners fan so this meant so much more to me. I got to learn things about the team I didn’t know already (or forgot), plus I got to relive all the magical and heartbreaking moments this team has given me over the last quarter century. I had to hold back tears multiple times. This is a must see for sports fans – and especially baseball fans – but for Mariners fans… this is just pure magic.

10/10 (Perfection)

The Last Dance (2020, Documentary, ESPN+)

Another elite sports documentary that I spent the majority of May watching. This one follows the Chicago Bulls dynasty that dominated the NBA in the 90s and particularly focuses on Michael Jordan and the 1997-1998 season, but still manages to tell the full story of how that team came to be.

I was growing up when MJ was in his prime and he was still a pretty mystical figure to me. How many NBA licensed video games did you play as a kid that had every player in it except His Airness? Was he even real? Looking at pictures and highlight reels it sometimes seems like he might not have been.

All the key players get their moment in the spotlight, but Michael Jordan is certainly the focus, as he should be. I really just loved every minute of this 10-part series and that’s quite the accomplishment. I’m not the biggest NBA fan so plenty of this information was new to me (or long forgotten) and it was cool to see all the behind-the-scenes footage of what was going on at all stages of this dynasty.

Who is the greatest basketball player of all-time? Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Or someone else? It’s certainly a debate, but The Last Dance sure didn’t hurt the argument for Jordan. If nothing else, he was the biggest larger-than-life athlete of our generation (I’m saying that as an 80s/90s kid).

I thought The Last Dance was phenomenal and I’m not a big basketball guy. At minimum, I’d say this is a Must See, but I thought it was as entertaining as possible for nearly ten hours so…

9/10 (Sensational)

The Way Back (2020, RedBox)

I’m always on board with an underdog sports story and this one features a coach that has to overcome his own personal demons in order to help his ragtag team become something… respectable. You’d think this is probably based on a true story, but I can’t find anything that says that’s the case. Ben Affleck is pretty good in this and all the cussing he does from the sidelines of his religious school makes for multiple amusing moments. I liked this enough that I’d watch it again some day.

6/10 (Recommended)

Extraction (2020, Netflix)

A fun action movie that felt like a throwback to the good ole days of the 80s and 90s when action movies were consistently fun. Hemsworth is well suited to the be the face of the genre for this generation. Not a must see or anything, but worth watching if you’re browsing Netflix and can’t find something.

6/10 (Recommended)

Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill (2020, Comedy Special, Netflix)

I wouldn’t say it’s hilarious, but I found it entertaining at least. Seinfeld fans shouldn’t be disappointed, but it’s nothing special.

6/10 (Recommended)

Watchmen (2019, Mini-Series, HBONow)

I was kind of blown away by this. It took me a while to get to it because someone told me to re-read the graphic novel before watching because I would appreciate it a lot more, so I took my sweet time re-reading that while reading three other books, but I think it paid off because everything was fresh and I could easily pick up on all the subtle references to the original content.

Honestly, I think the way they continued this story was genius level writing. And the story is set in an alternate reality but still seemed so timely and relevant – especially in 2020. Is it blasphemous to say I liked it more than Alan Moore’s story? It’s totally engrossing, the characters are fully realized and believable, and I like the decisions the writers made with the older characters. It all just clicked together perfectly. And the presentation was stunning. Plus it had great acting – especially from Regina King and Jean Smart.

Huge winner. I’d love to see another season.

8/10 (Must See)

Above the Rim (1994, Netflix)

This review may contain spoilers.

Here’s a timeline of events:

March 23, 1994 – Above the Rim is released in theaters
March 14, 1995 – 2pac releases Me Against the World, his third studio album
February 13, 1996 – 2Pac releases All Eyez on Me, his fourth studio album
September 7, 1996 – Tupac Shakur is shot multiple times in Las Vegas
September 13, 1996 – Tupac Shakur dies from his gunshot wounds
November 5, 1996 – The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is released under the alias Makaveli, 2Pac’s fifth studio album

I turned 14 in 1996 and things just felt so different back then. Tupac was 25 when he died. Look at all he accomplished in his last two years on earth. Consider this: Eminem was 26 when his first studio album was released. Tupac still had the length of Eminem’s entire career ahead of him. Can you even imagine what that looks like if he doesn’t die?

A few things surprise me about this timeline. First, Tupac had a lot of success in the movies before he really blew up as a rap artist. I feel like Me Against the World is the album that catapulted him to rap superstar status and by the time it dropped, he’d already had prominent roles in Juice, Poetic Justice, and Above the Rim. It’s just strange to me how successful his film career was before he reached hip-hop’s stratosphere. Also, how crazy is it that the releases of All Eyez on Me and Makaveli and his death all happened in the same year? When I was 14, this whole timeline of events felt like it took place over a decade.

R.I.P. Legend

Tupac makes this movie. I don’t think it’s uncommon for people to list Above the Rim with other 90s classic hood movies like Menace II Society and Boyz n the Hood but it’s just not even close to that level of quality. The soundtrack is a hip-hop classic and I think that, along with Tupac’s presence, makes people remember this movie as being better than it actually is.

Tupac is great. He’s the reason I watched this again. The man just oozed charisma and superstar potential. He had it. You take him out of this movie and replace him with an average actor from back then and I just don’t think many people are looking back on this as a classic. The rest of the movie is fine, but nothing special.

Don’t get me wrong… Above the Rim is plenty enjoyable, but it’s also pretty silly. What exactly happened at the start of the movie? They were taking turns tapping the backboard and one of them accidentally jumps off the roof? LOL. It’s so ridiculous that at first I thought it was just meant to be a dream sequence and the kid must have died some other way. But no, they stuck to that story.

This movie is also guilty of the absurd sports montage where one team scores what appears to be like 40 unanswered points. I mean… you can’t show the good guys score ONE basket? We are supposed to believe they can come back from that kind of deficit? Also, Birdie threatened Kyle’s scholarship to Georgetown and Kyle was worried enough about it that he was throwing the championship game. But then old dude laces them up and suddenly he’s not worried about it anymore? I know Bugaloo ultimately took care of that threat, but Kyle didn’t know that was going to happen.

Watch this again to remember and appreciate Tupac Shakur. Listen to the amazing soundtrack. But let’s not pretend this is something it isn’t.

5/10 (Decent)

Big (1988, HBONow)

I thought this was a rewatch, but then I didn’t remember anything about it. The piano key dancing scene is something I know, but it’s an iconic scene, so I didn’t necessarily have to watch the movie to know about it. Also, I’m familiar with the Zandar machine that grants the kid’s wish to be big. Everything else? It was like I was watching for the first time. I probably watched this as a kid, maybe once, but I thought I watched it as an adult, but it seems like I would remember Celia Hodes from the show “Weeds” being in it if I did. Nope.

I really liked Big. In fact, I just enjoy this kind of concept in general – you know, where something magical happens and the main character(s) transforms into something else but still have their normal conscious. It might not be an original idea, but it never fails to amuse me when it’s executed properly and Big does just that because Tom Hanks is really, really great. Of all the performances in similar movies, Hanks in Big might be the best I’ve ever seen (not that I’m putting a lot of thought into that statement). I just totally buy him as a 13 year old kid. He’s wonderful. I’m actually somewhat surprised Hanks got an Oscar nom for this role… not because he didn’t deserve… Big just seems like the type of movie the Academy would overlook.

Big is great. Full of charm, wonder, and Tom Hanks’ first iconic performance, it’s a film you should revisit if you haven’t seen it for many years.

P.S.: My mind can’t accept the fact that the kid that plays the best friend in Big is not the same kid that plays John Connor’s friend in Terminator 2. How is that not the same person?

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

This is Spinal Tap (1984, borrowed DVD)

An all-time comedy classic that I had never seen until now. Did it live up to the hype? Honestly… not really. It’s possible this film created the mockumentary genre so I can appreciate it for being groundbreaking even if I can’t experience what it was like to see it for the first time in the mid-80s. It’s definitely funny though and some of the original songs are pure gems. I didn’t walk away thinking this is a must see comedy, but I still liked it quite a bit.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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April 2020 Movie Reviews

May 2, 2020

Check out my profile on Letterboxd if you want to follow along as I write my reviews throughout the month and also because the site/app is amazing for film lovers. April was a pretty sad month because of the pandemic. Theaters are closed all throughout the United States and movie studios are pulling all their films from their original release dates. Even when theaters reopen to the public, they are talking about selling out at 50% capacity and what studio is going to want to release their tent pole films in a climate like that? I’m really curious when the next time I watch a new film in theaters will be.

Onward (2020, Disney+)

Pretty cool of Disney to release this on their streaming platform less than a month after it came out in theaters (shoutout to Covid-19). I can’t say Onward is top tier Pixar, but it was plenty good and managed to tug at my emotions like pretty much all their movies do. Amazing animation, solid voice work from Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, and enough laughs to keep me entertained the whole time. Not Pixar’s strongest work, but their middle tier is still really good stuff.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness (2020, Netflix, Documentary)

Crazy stuff, but wildly entertaining. I don’t think it’s an all-time great documentary, but it was definitely a lot of fun. All the major players are scummy though. Does anyone that watched this actually think that Carol Baskins is an animal rights hero?

Probably a must see documentary, but I’m going to rate it just a notch below that.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Bombshell (2019, Netflix Blu-Ray rental)

I’m not even remotely into politics and I spend none of my time watching news coverage, so my knowledge of the FOX News infrastructure and its relationship to the various political parties is nonexistent, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Bombshell. This movie is more about sexual harassment than politics anyways. In fact, these women bringing down FOX CEO Roger Ailes was the first domino in what eventually became a movement that sparked the Me Too hashtag. I think that story is well told here and shows the struggle of fearing those in power and wanting to protect your career or… calling a public figure a monster.

Looking at pictures of Megyn Kelly on Google images, I can see why Bombshell won the Oscar for makeup and hairstyling. Theron is virtually unrecognizable here, but she looks exactly like Megyn Kelly. It’s uncanny. John Lithgow also looks like he spent a lot of time in the makeup chair.

This movie had some great acting from pretty much everyone. Theron and Robbie were both Oscar-nominated with Robbie giving the best performance of the movie, in my opinion. Lithgow is also at his slimy best and I’m a bit surprised his role didn’t get more attention. This movie has a strong supporting cast as well.

Bombshell is well acted and entertaining and definitely worth a watch.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019, Netflix Blu-Ray rental)

This review may contain spoilers.

Well, this series jumped the shark pretty quick. I actually liked the first reboot sequel and was pleasantly surprised by it. I thought it was a fresh, modern take and I liked the cast. But this? I was tuned out within 30 minutes, already wishing it was over, and there was 90 minutes left! Why is a Jumanji movie 2+ hours??

Anyways, the climax of this movie takes place on an ice fortress… and there’s a blimp… and a flying horse. Remember when Jumanji was a board game about jungle animals? I guess the more sequels you make to something like this, the further away from the original concept you have to get to keep things interesting. Well, consider me uninterested.

There are a couple of funny parts in this, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t painful for me to watch.

3/10 (Bad)

Personal Shopper (2016, iTunes Store digital rental)

This is another one of those times where I go into a movie knowing nothing about it except that at some point in time something sparked me to put it on my watchlist… probably some best films of 2016 lists. A movie about mediums, the afterlife, and ghosts was about the last thing I was expecting and the content kind of knocked my socks off. I wouldn’t go as far as to call Personal Shopper riveting, but it was compelling and never lost my interest despite the fact that it is a really slow burn and Kristen Stewart’s character spends a good portion of the running time shopping, trying on clothes, and sending text messages. Speaking of which, did it drive anyone else nuts that she put a space in between her sentence and the question mark ? Like that ? Every single time.

I am not a Kristen Stewart fan at all. Prior to watching this, I had seen seven movies she’s been in and five of them have been part of the miserable Twilight franchise – movies I’ve seen because my wife wanted me to watch them with her. I’m on record calling Bella Swan one of the worst characters of all-time, so my distaste for Kristen Stewart is not much of a surprise and probably not even fair to her as I’ve seen less than 20% of her filmography. Well, this is easily the best work I’ve seen from her. She’s good in this movie!

Personal Shopper is unique, with a strong performance from Stewart and some surprisingly cool visual effects. I enjoyed it quite a bit and recommend to anyone that’s into ghost stories and doesn’t mind a deliberate pace.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Tusk (2014, Netflix)

I’m trying to think of anything at all that I liked about this movie and I’m coming up empty. I guess the, uhm, “walrus” makeup/costume was… interesting? Also grotesque. Possibly appalling. Kevin Smith just sucks now. I was a pretty big fan up through Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be impressed with that movie in 2020 and the only film I’ve enjoyed of his over the last 20 years was Zack and Miri Make a Porno. That’s a long stretch of crap. Granted, I’ve skipped almost all of it, but I trust the word of mouth. Still, Red State comes to a streaming service in April 2020 and I have the Jay and Silent Bob reboot on my watchlist, so I’ll probably watch both of those eventually. This is the kind of stuff I throw on late at night when I feel like I can stay up for another 20 minutes or so and then I watch it over the course of a few days because I don’t want to show that kind of disrespect to a movie I actually want to see.

One more thing, Johnny Depp is brutal. What happened to him? There was a point in time where I thought he was one of my favorite actors working and now I can’t stand the guy. He tries so hard to create unique and weird characters and lately he’s been failing miserably. His character here seems like something Sacha Baron Cohen would try to make a movie out of and Hollywood is like, “uhm, no.” Depp is no longer a draw for me… he’s an autoskip.

2/10 (Horrible)

Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013, YouTube)

I rated this documentary higher than any film in the actual franchise, but I guess it makes sense. This is 5+ hours of awesome interviews, behind-the-scenes stories, and unreleased (and cut due to MPAA wimpiness) footage from a franchise I’ve loved since I was… wait, let me look up when Jason Lives was released… 5 or 6 years old? I remember my first exposure to Jason Vorhees being that opening scene from Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives when he’s brought back from the grave (literally) and maggots and worms are crawling around on his face. I watched it on home video… at a neighbor’s house… so I’m guessing it was probably a year or two after its theatrical release. I’ve been in love with the franchise ever since and I still watch them periodically and hope they never stop making them, no matter how bad some of them are.

This is a must see for anyone that’s a fan of the Friday the 13th franchise. It’s super long, but if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Not recommended for non-fans obv.

The only place I could find this documentary was on YouTube. Check it out.

8/10 (Must See)

Locke (2013, Netflix)

98% of this movie is Tom Hardy driving in a car and talking on his mobile phone via bluetooth. If that sounds awesome to you, well… you’d be right! Ivan Locke is a construction foreman on the eve of the biggest cement pour in European history when he receives a voicemail from a woman he had a one night affair with and learns that she is giving birth to his child. The rest of the movie is Hardy talking in an amazing Welsh accent while trying to coordinate the job he won’t be attending the next day and telling his wife the bad news.

For a film with one actor that takes place entirely in a car, I was kind of blown away. It doesn’t hurt that Tom Hardy is that actor because he can be absolutely brilliant and I think he’s on that level in Locke. The movie actually has some top level supporting talent in Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, and Tom Holland, but they all phone it in. Literally.

I wish Tom Hardy wasn’t doing Venom. I wish he was doing more stuff like this. He is elite.

8/10 (Must See)

Watchmen (2009, personal collection, third viewing)

I already posted a review for this over ten years ago, but the HBO series has made me revisit both the graphic novel and this 2009 film adaptation. I heard I would appreciate the HBO series substantially more if the graphic novel was fresh in my mind and I decided I might as well watch this movie for the third time.

I actually don’t think the acting is as bad as I thought it was a decade ago. For instance, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson are actually pretty good casting as The Comedian and Nite Owl, respectively. The only choice I truly didn’t like was Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt. I just don’t buy him as “The Smartest Man in the World” and his confidence just comes across as phony to me. Jackie Earle Haley is great as Rorschach. Not only is his portrayal top notch, but when he’s unmasked, he really does look exactly like the Walter Kovacs from the graphic novel.

This is such a faithful adaptation. It’s basically a scene-for-scene translation and so much of the dialogue is lifted unaltered directly from the comic. And yet… something is off. I said in my previous review that this movie has a bit of a “hokey” feel to it. I don’t know if I can explain it any better now, but I just watched the first episode of the HBO series (which I will write about when I’m done watching all of it) and the difference in quality is stark. This movie is cheesy by comparison. Maybe I just hate Zack Snyder’s style?

Fans of the graphic novel shouldn’t be too disappointed with this movie – it’s definitely enjoyable – but I’m much more interested in what the HBO series has to offer myself.

6/10 (Recommended)

Out of Sight (1998, HBONOW, second viewing)

I’ll probably end up doing a run through of Steven Soderbergh’s entire filmography at some point, as I’m doing with Scorsese now, but I’ve been itching to rewatch Out of Sight and it’s leaving HBO NOW at the end of the month.

This is a really fun movie. The sharp banter and charismatic characters – especially George Clooney’s Jack Foley – make watching it a really enjoyable experience. You can see the Soderbergh style that became so popular in the Ocean’s 11 trilogy. Speaking of which, I’ve missed Clooney. He’s underrated as a leading man and I haven’t seen a new movie he’s starred in since Gravity in 2013. J-Lo and Clooney have great chemistry in this movie and I think that’s probably the biggest reason this film works so well.

I only remembered one thing about Out of Sight: the scene where something really surprising happens to a rather minor character. I’m sure if you’ve seen the movie, you would know what I’m talking about. Maybe that scene has stuck with me all these years because I referenced it in my music some twenty years ago.

Smart, funny, and fast-paced, with strong lead performances from Clooney and Lopez, Out of Sight was a solid revisit and one of the better films in Soderbergh’s catalog.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Tootsie (1982, Netflix)

Tootsie got an astounding 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Sydney Pollack, Best Writing and acting noms for Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, and Teri Garr. Alas, only Lange was able to take home a statue for her supporting role.

I thought this was great. Dustin Hoffman is wonderful in one of the best performances of his career. I’ve only seen Jessica Lange’s later work, but she oozed natural charisma in the early 80s also. You watch a movie like Sleepaway Camp and see all this horribly corny acting and think that it’s just a reflection of the times (and the genre), but then you watch something like Tootsie – also released in 1982 – and, well, there was probably plenty of great acting happening back then. It’s probably not fair to compare a campy slasher flick with one of the most highly touted movies of 1982, but the contrast is so stark that it makes me wonder if I was just watching all the wrong movies while I was growing up. I just find a lot of the acting from the 80s really cheesy and the performances in this movie are just all so good.

Hoffman’s character gets in really deep pretending to be a woman, finding huge success on a popular soap and becoming extremely close with Lange’s character. I kept wondering how he was going to get out of this pickle and I have to say this film’s resolution was outstanding. I absolutely loved the ending.

Tootsie is a must see film from almost four decades ago. Check it out if you never have!

8/10 (Must See)

Mean Streets (1973, iTunes Store digital rental)

I liked Mean Streets a lot, but I think it falls short of greatness. I do love the soundtrack in this movie though. The song selection is elite and I love how The Marvelettes “Please Mr. Postman” plays during the awesome fight scene in the bar. The soundtrack feels like a great use of classic old school songs, but every song in this movie was 40 years fresher when it came out! Robert De Niro is absolutely fantastic in this movie. He’s completely unhinged as the wild and constantly disrespectful Johnny Boy. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen De Niro so loose in his whole career, but it’s been a while since I watched Taxi Driver. He’s just wonderful and you have to wonder how he didn’t get an Oscar nomination. I’m tempted to watch all the roles that got nominated over him and see how wrong they got it (I actually did add 1973’s Bang the Drum Slowly – also starring De Niro – to my watchlist).

Mean Streets was a lot of fun. You can see Scorsese getting his feet wet here with the mafioso type content he would eventually become famous for with Goodfellas and Casino. The characters and story are just so much better in those later films. This is a good movie though and I actually strongly considered watching it again before my 48 rental period expired. I can see myself revisiting it when I get through the rest of Marty’s filmography. Mean Streets is a huge leap forward from Scorsese’s first two films, but I’m still hesitating to call it his first great one. Maybe I’ll change my mind the second time I watch it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Boxcar Bertha (1972, iTunes Store digital rental)

Martin Scorsese’s second feature film doesn’t establish him as a future great, but I thought it was fun, despite some issues I had with it – mostly what seems to be a serious passage of time that goes almost entirely unaddressed. I’m not sure what kind of movie this is. A western? Reviews I’ve read have called it an exploitation film. There’s a lot of harmonica in it. It’s also supposed to be a revenge movie, but I’m not sure how well that revenge was realized. David Carradine (the future Bill of Kill Bill) is charming in his role. Barbara Hershey is naked a lot in this movie which is kind of weird because she looks 15 years old (she was 23 or 24). She does a fine job acting though.

I don’t think Boxcar Bertha was necessarily a good movie, but I enjoyed watching it. This film is not one you have to see in Scorsese’s catalog unless you want to watch them all… like I do.

5/10 (Decent)

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December 2019 Movie Reviews: Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Knives Out, Christmas Movies

December 21, 2019

Going forward, this is how I’m going to review movies – unless I want to highlight a specific movie I think warrants more discussion (i.e. leaving Parasite off this list). You can expect quick, succinct reviews here that give you an idea of how I felt about a movie and a few strengths and weaknesses, if warranted. I’ll keep track of every movie I watch throughout the month and post my thoughts on them at the start of the next month. This will include rewatches and possibly rating changes. I’ll also post some thoughts on any TV shows if I finish watching a season during the month. My rating system for TV is a little different than for movies because… I’m a psychopath.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019, theaters) – Geez. I’ve never proclaimed to be a big Star Wars fan, so it’s not like I’ve ever been super invested in these films, but… I think I’m over them. There have been eight Star Wars movies released since I was in high school and I’m a genuine fan of two of them (Rogue One and The Force Awakens) and none of them have been dear to me. That’s a lot of mediocrity. The Rise of Skywalker just adds to the list. It was mildly entertaining, but I honestly didn’t care about anything that was happening. As always, these movies are pretty good visually but I just can’t get emotionally invested in the story or find a way to care about these characters.

5/10 (Decent)

Knives Out (2019, theater) – This probably deserves a formal review but here we are. It’s a slick whodunnit with a great cast and plenty of memorable characters and is wildly entertaining the entire way. I give it a strong recommendation and would be happy to watch it again. I can actually see this growing on me and giving it a higher rating in the future.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Thoroughbreds (2017, HBO NOW) – Interesting, entertaining and a bit disturbing with some quality performances from Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. Also features the late Anton Yelchin in one of his better roles. I recommend it.

6/10 (Recommended)

Klaus (2019, Netflix) – A worthy addition to the staple of Christmas holiday films with a fresh take on the legend of Santa and some unbelievably crisp animation. I thought this was top notch, but I want to see it again before labeling it a Must See.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone (1990, Disney+) – The most amazing thing about Home Alone is that I’ve probably seen it more than any other movie in my lifetime and yet, I still enjoy it. Even as I enter my late 30s I still don’t mind watching it every single year around Christmas time. This movie is full of plot holes, nonsense, and unbelievably dumb characters, but I still love it and it’s charm is undeniable. A true classic, even if it isn’t exactly a great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Disney+) – I can’t blame anyone involved for making this, but it’s basically just a retread of the first film set in New York City under even more unbelievable circumstances. I guess it’s still kind of fun, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the magic of the original.

5/10 (Decent)

Fatal Attraction (1987, Amazon Prime) – A movie that has always intrigued me but I never got around to watching. I always thought it was probably just softcore erotica, but Fatal Attraction actually got nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture! Seeing it streaming on Prime, I finally watched it and it was… pretty good! Glenn Close totally makes the movie and plays unhinged and obsessed really well. It didn’t strike me as a film that should be in anyone’s top 5 of any year, but it was definitely worth watching.

6/10 (Recommended)

Us (2019, HBO NOW) – I’ve seen it three times now. After two viewings, I was pretty confident labelling it a Must See, but after a third viewing, I think it’s just a pretty good, but not great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable) [revised rating]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Netflix) – I thought this was really mediocre and bordering on bad the first time I saw it, but after being convinced to give it another chance (plus wanting to refresh before the new movie) I found it to be enjoyable this time around as some of the things that bothered me (i.e. Rose) didn’t anymore. I still don’t think it’s good enough that I’d recommend it though.

5/10 (Decent)

The Santa Clause (1994, Disney+) – A forgotten Christmas classic. Whenever the best holiday movies come up, I don’t seem to hear The Santa Clause get mentioned much, but it’s far too enjoyable to be omitted like that. Tim Allen is somehow great casting and this movie oozes charm and holiday spirit.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018, HBO NOW) – Total trash. Like… absurdly dumb. It gets called a Final Destination ripoff a lot, but I thought the movie it really wanted to imitate was It Follows. This is almost certainly the single worst movie I’ve watched in 2019 (but note it is a 2018 release).

2/10 (Painful)

Noelle (2019, Disney+) – Apologies to Truth or Dare, this is the biggest piece of shit I watched in 2019. Unbearably cheesy, misguided, and not even remotely funny, my wife and I both thought this was unwatchable. I’ll give Dina credit for making it to the halfway point – and I was going to power through if she wanted to – but when she quit it, I figured I probably shouldn’t spend my last hours of 2019 watching the worst movie of the year, and I turned it off about 50 minutes in.

2/10 (Painful)

TV SHOWS

Big Mouth (s2, 2018, Netflix) – A guilty pleasure, I guess? It’s raunchy animation focused on middle school kids going through puberty and all the emotional and physical craziness involved when your hormones start taking over. This show is NOT for kids though. It’s a hard rated-R – and possibly even worse – with absurdly graphic sex talk and even shows the kids naked sometimes. I almost feel bad even watching it. Some of the characters are way too over-the-top and gross (Jay, Coach Steve, the Hormone Monsters). On the other hand, it’s also pretty damn charming and plenty funny, plus I think it does a good job of really digging into the difficulties and wonders of discovering your bodies at that age. Nick Kroll does some excellent voicework and I really liked the addition of The Shame Wizard in this season. I’m a bit ambivalent about how I feel about this show, but I guess I like it overall and have to admit I enjoy it.

3.5/6 (Decent/Good)

The Mandalorian (s1, 2019, Disney+) – I’m going to say it… this is the best thing to ever come out of the Star Wars universe. I’ve already mentioned I don’t hold any of the films dear to me, so when I make this statement, it’s not coming from someone that is in love with the franchise. I kind of went into The Mandalorian wanting to not like the show, but it didn’t take long to win me over. Everyone knows about Baby Yoda by now and that was a goddamn stroke of creative genius. Baby Yoda is a level of cuteness that has possibly never been seen before and adds a serious mystique to the show. It’s not a spoiler to say that this character is never referenced in the trilogy that just wrapped up, so… I’m extremely curious to see where this story is headed. I think Baby Yoda makes the show, but there is plenty to love about The Mandalorian. From a technical standpoint, it’s as spectacular as any show I’ve ever seen. The sets, sounds, costumes, and creatures are all elite. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Jon Favreau and co. have in store for season 2.

5/6 (Must Watch)

Rick & Morty (s4 pt. 1, 2019, Adult Swim) – I got into Rick & Morty either this year or last year, so I was late to the party, but it didn’t take long to win me over. I devoured the first three seasons and by the time I was done with them, I was on board with the sentiment that the show was all-time levels of awesome. Season 4 is the first time I’ve watched the episodes as they came out and I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the first half of season 4. They have released five episodes so far and I thought two of them were great (episodes one and five), while episode four (with dragons?) was one of the worst of the whole series. To be fair though, the bar for the series is insanely high, but that episode was a bit of a head scratcher for me. The other two episodes I was a bit lukewarm on but still liked overall. Considering the consistent level of greatness this show has operated on for three seasons, having two cool episodes and a weak one in the first five of season four seems like a step in the wrong direction.

4/6 (Good)

Don’t F*** With Cats (2019, Netflix) – An insane story about how a bunch of internet nerds formed a Facebook group to track down some kid that made a video of himself torturing and killing a cat and then posted it online. It’s pretty crazy how the group figure out who the person is and then watch in horror as he escalates to actually murdering a human (also posted in a video online). I guess I’m confused about how the internet works because it seems like it would be extremely easy for law enforcement to find out exactly where a video was posted and track down the person that made it, but maybe these are advances in technology that have mostly be fine-tuned in the 7+ years since these events took place. Still, this is an unreal and extremely fascinating story. There are three episodes and once you start the first one, you won’t want to stop watching until you are done.

4.5/6 (Good/Must Watch)

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Marriage Story (2019): Best Picture Favorite?

December 13, 2019

Marriage Story (2019)

Director: Noah Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories, Frances Ha, Greenberg)

Starring: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It? I’m not going to lie, this movie wasn’t even on my radar a month ago, but it didn’t take long for the hype to build and make me think there might be something special here. I thought Marriage Story was absolutely fantastic. It’s a tight little story about a family going through the divorce process as the adults try to pursue their careers on opposite coasts while playing tug-a-war with their only child. I could really feel the authenticity in everything that was happening – from the recollection of happier times to the disbelief that someone you used to love more than anything in the world could suddenly become your worst nightmare, the film rang true and will probably feel familiar to anyone that has been through a difficult breakup. I didn’t think there was a phony moment in this movie. Also, while it’s a tearjerker that will pull at your heart strings, it also made me laugh more than most of the comedies I’ve seen this year.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson give absolutely sensational performances. I was blown away by both of them and there were multiple scenes throughout the film where I was enthralled by their acting. They are already both nominated for Golden Globes and both are locks for Oscar noms also, with Scarlett looking like the favorite to win right now to me. Laura Dern is also great in this movie as Scarlett’s divorce attorney. I’ve always thought of her as the actress from Jurassic Park but after her work here and in Big Little Lies on HBO the last few years, it’s pretty clear she’s become an elite actress. She has a Globe nom for this movie also and is certainly drawing live at an Oscar nom as well.

Marriage Story is definitely a difficult and sad movie. I watched it while my wife was sleeping next to me and I was so moved by the film that I gave her a long hug of appreciation for what we have while thinking about how happy and grateful I am to have her in my life. Marriage Story is a good reminder to not take things for granted and to not autopilot your way through life, work, and your relationships. I’m not a highly emotional person and usually movies that have an affect on me just make my eyes water up a little bit, but this one actually made me spill tears.

Marriage Story is an absolute must see movie with some knockout performances. It’s currently among my top 3 movies of the year and definitely has a chance to win the Best Picture Oscar. Check it out on Netflix streaming right now.

Replay Value: Not really the kind of movie that people will want to watch repeatedly, but I think I will enjoy it again before Oscar season.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Definitely. The film got six Globe noms in all and all three nominated actors will probably get Oscar nods as well. I’ll say a Best Picture nom is a lock and the movie should have a shot at writing, directing, and score noms.

8/10 (Must See)

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Movie Reviews: The Irishman, Terminator: Dark Fate, The Lighthouse, El Camino, and more

November 22, 2019

This seems to be a growing trend for me. I get so backed on up movies I haven’t reviewed that I just spew them all out in one lazy, abbreviated post. I have to admit, I don’t feel much like writing in depth reviews for movies anymore – unless I’m really inspired to do so – but I’d like to find a way to streamline the process one movie at a time. Hope to figure it out soon. Until then…

The Irishman (2019) – I’m going to give this another go when it comes to Netflix next week because I was expecting a total masterpiece and what I got was… a very good film. The acting in this movie is pretty high level, especially from Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. De Niro is good also, but I’d be kind of surprised if his performance gets Oscar attention. This movie centers around the mob’s involvement with the Teamsters and the events leading up to Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance (which I don’t know much about) so the story spans many decades and the filmmakers had to use a de-aging process on the actors and I think for the most part it looks pretty great. There was one scene where De Niro’s character is in his 20s or 30s and gives the business to a shop owner and he’s roughing him up with all the ferocity of a, well, 75 year old man. I think The Irishman is technically sound and will probably get plenty of Oscar attention, but the movie didn’t wow me and the story didn’t really move me. Also, at 3.5 hours, the run time isn’t exactly ideal and after one viewing I’m not sure it needed to be that long. I’m hoping to change my mind after watching it again and discover that it’s actually a great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) – I liked that they took the Halloween approach and ignored the last three movies and made this a direct sequel to Judgment Day. In fact, I watched The Terminator and Judgment Day in the days leading up to seeing Dark Fate and, uh, I’m pretty sure that was a mistake. Those films are just so much better and the drop in quality is impossible to ignore. Also, I absolutely hated the opening sequence of this movie. I was literally like wtf before the title even showed on screen. I didn’t find myself very invested in the new characters, as Arnold and Linda Hamilton provided pretty much all the highlights in this film. If the franchise plan is to move forward with the new group and leave Arnie and co. in the past, they are going to be in trouble. I suppose the action in this movie was pretty decent, but I checked out early on in the film and it only brought me back when Arnold was saying funny things. I thought it was strange that the future would send back a human-cyborg hybrid that had so many, uhm, red flags health-wise – the most excruciating moments of the movie were centered around trying to revive her. Give me a T-800 all day. I thought this movie was pretty middling and continues a nearly 30 year run of mediocre Terminator movies, but a couple of my friends assured me it had “top 5 sound all-time” (in case that’s something anyone cares about).

5/10 (Decent)

The Lighthouse (2019) – Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are great in this, but… it was too weird for me. I didn’t really get it and had to read about it on Wikipedia to try and figure out what I missed. I felt the same way about director Robert Eggers’ last film The Witch. It kind of bothers me when something is critically lauded and I find myself scratching my head while watching it. I generally find that if something is universally acclaimed, it is usually pretty good, so when I don’t feel the same way, it makes me feel like I don’t get it. That makes me hesitant to say a movie like The Lighthouse is bad because I don’t really think that it is. The acting and cinematography are top notch, and it’s a rather beautiful looking film, but… the story appears to be over my head and I didn’t enjoy it much. I’m going to give this a 5 out of 10, but be warned, many of you out there could very well hate it.

5/10 (Decent)

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie [Netflix] (2019) – Well, that was quite unnecessary. Breaking Bad is a top five show all-time for me (and maybe as high as #1), so I’m eager to dig into any additional content, but Jesse’s character was never the reason I watched the show and if they made a spin off series based on his character, I’m not even sure I’d tune in for that. This movie tells Jesse’s story immediately following the events of the series finale of Breaking Bad and while I guess I found watching this movie to be somewhat enjoyable, it was also a largely forgettable experience. Jesse Plemons reprising his role as Todd was by far the highlight of this movie. Something about that guy is just hilarious. Obviously, if you loved Breaking Bad you should probably watch this, but I can’t say it added much to the lore and for continued Breaking Bad content, Better Call Saul is far more entertaining.

5/10 (Decent) – and that might be generous

The Art of Self-Defense (2019) – This movie was hyped up to me and I had hopes that it would be a surprising dark comedy, but I thought it got pretty ridiculous about halfway through and it totally lost me as a viewer. The first half of the movie is quirky and funny, but it falls off a cliff when Jesse Eisenberg’s character becomes entangled in the seedy operations of the dojo he enlists at. I suppose it’s worth a watch, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

5/10 (Decent)

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019) – Cowabunga! A 1990s 12 year old’s dream come true! Unfortunately, it’s 2019 and this movie is about 25 years too late for peak impact. Still, even though these aren’t the Turtles of my youth, I was pretty impressed with this mash up. I thought it was funny and entertaining and not nearly as cheesy as I expected. I’ve seen it twice now and enjoyed it both times. My only real gripe is that it seems like seeing Batman’s rogues gallery get infected by the ooze and turn into Manimals would be really cool, but the results are pretty disappointing. Overall though, this was a pleasant surprise, especially considering the poor run Batman’s animated feature length adventures have been on.

6/10 (Recommended)

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Roma (2018)

February 18, 2019

Roma (2018)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mama Tambien)
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

Anticipation Level: Modest

How Was It? Roma is a heavy favorite to win Best Picture this Sunday. As you can see from my level of anticipation, despite all the hype around Roma, I just wasn’t all that excited for it. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because no one I know personally has told me it was great. Alfonso Cuaron is one of my favorite directors and every movie he’s made since Y Tu Mama Tambien in 2001 has cracked my top 10 for the year.

I very much wanted to be blown away. I wasn’t. Well, I sort of was. A lot of the praise heaped on Roma is due to writer/director/cinematographer Alfonso Cuaron’s ridiculous visual presentation. It is a truly beautiful film – shot in black and white, yet full of vibrant life. Visually, Roma deserves all the adoration it has received. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in the story. From my understanding, Roma is largely inspired by Cuaron’s own childhood and the main maid/nanny character of Cleo is based on his family’s own maid/nanny from when he was growing up. In fact, I just read that 90% of the scenes in the movie are taken from Cuaron’s own memories. That actually makes this movie substantially cooler. Still, on my first viewing, I found the pace of Roma to be a bit of a drag and the most powerful scenes in the film didn’t affect me as much as I suspect they were supposed to. Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira both got Oscar noms for their acting in this movie and while I can see how Aparicio got nominated, it’s not as clear why de Tavira did; I thought she was solid but nothing spectacular. Aparicio had zero acting experience prior to this movie and only auditioned for the role because she “had nothing better to do” and didn’t even know who Alfonso Cuaron is. The fact the she is now an Oscar-nominated actress is quite an amazing story.

Honestly, I think I owe Roma another watch, but after my first viewing, I felt underwhelmed. It is definitely a gorgeous and intimate film, but I’m sorry, it was a bit *gasp* boring. It is a must watch film because it’s probably going to win a lot of Oscars – including Best Picture – and the cinematography is top notch, but if you don’t care about the technical aspects of making films (I do) and simply want to be entertained, Roma will probably disappoint. I do think this is a film that could end up growing on me.

Replay Value: I’m willing to give it another chance and see if it impacts me more on a second viewing.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Roma is nominated for ten Oscars and seems like the favorite to win Best Picture. Even more of a lock is Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director and Best Cinematography. Roma is also a lock to win Best Foreign Language Film. I mentioned the two actresses have nominations and Roma also has nods for Original Screenplay, Production Design, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. I would be pretty surprised if Roma doesn’t notch at least four Oscars on Sunday night.

Dina Meter: I wonder… I kind of feel like Dina would quit this film pretty early but there are some things I think she’d like.

6/10 (Recommended)

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Lazy Movie Reviews: Into the Spider-Verse and more!

December 19, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – I absolutely loved it. Everything in this movie is so well done – from the story to the animation to the voice acting (especially Nicholas Cage). It’s all top notch. I thought there might be potential for things to get really convoluted with merging universes and multiple Spideys but it’s easy to follow and all the various characters give us reasons to care about them. This movie also had me laughing pretty much from start to finish and the story actually packs quite the emotional punch. It’s not just a strong animated movie… it’s one of the best movies of the year. Period.

8/10 (Must See)

Creed II (2018) – A decent follow-up to the first Creed but doesn’t pack nearly the same emotional punch. Still, for the 8th installment in the Rocky franchise, one can hardly complain. If you’ve enjoyed the story up to this point, this is more of the same.

5/10 (Decent)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald (2018) – This is the worst thing J.K. Rowling has ever written – that I’ve read or seen (I have not read her books for adults). I thought the first Fantastic Beasts was decent enough, although a far cry from the quality seen in the Harry Potter movies. My problems with the sequel are the same as the first movie, only much worse this time around. The characters in these movies are just so brutally hollow and uninteresting. The story is extremely weak here and the pacing is unreal slow. Creedance Bareback is one of the worst villains ever. Wait, is he a villain? Who knows. Who cares? Johnny Depp brings absolutely nothing to the role of Grindewald, but I did think Jude Law was fine as a younger Dumbledore. The creatures play a much smaller role in this movie and that’s a shame because they were the best thing about the first one. My interest level in this franchise has gone from middling to hanging by a thread

3/10 (Bad)

Widows (2018) – A captivating thriller with surprising twists and real world relevancy, plus top notch performances from Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki. One of the more enthralling movies of the year.

8/10 (Must See)

Mid90s (2018) – A nostalgic trip through my early teen years. This movie was like reliving my past, albeit without the actual skateboarding. From idolizing kids that are only a few years older (or in my case, the same age) to trying drugs, alcohol, and girls for the first time, this is a coming of age flick for kids that grew up in… the mid90s.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Overlord (2018) – I’m not sure I’m on board with calling this a B-movie as the special effects and cinematography were pretty good.
The actors are mostly unknown, but I didn’t think there was anything overly cheesy going on here. It’s a fun super-serum fueled zombie flick with Nazis as the bad guys.

6/10 (Fun)

The Christmas Chronicles (2018, Netflix) – I probably wouldn’t have watched this without seeing a strong recommendation from someone I knew. It is a welcome addition to the existing library of fun Christmas movies. This one gives Santa an upgrade in abilities and Kurt Russell is surprisingly great hamming it up as our favorite holiday folk hero.

6/10 (Fun)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018, Netflix) – I’m not sure how it happened, but this movie charmed my pants off. Wait. That sounds bad. The movie doesn’t start strong and the event that gets things rolling is a little dumb, but once the two leads start interacting with each other I think it gets quite good, as long as you can get past the fact that these are stupid teenagers acting like stupid teenagers.

6/10 (Fun)

Mandy (2018) – This movie was a total trip. If you ever wanted to drop acid and watch a movie… this would be a good film to go with. It feels like a mash-up of Hellraiser and Mad Max with a sprinkle of Evil Dead and a Nicholas Cage hell-bent on bloody revenge. Plus it has some funky camera work and cool music. Mandy gets a very strong recommendation from me, but you have to have an open mind and a thick stomach.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Incredibles 2 (2018) – We had to wait 14 years for this? As a huge fan of the original movie, I was really disappointed with this sequel. With such a long break in between films, you’d think they could come up with a more interesting story. I had the villain pegged the first time I saw them. In fact, I thought it was so obvious that I probably had to be wrong. Nope. Jack Jack the baby is easily the highlight of the movie. The rest of the main characters, aside from Elastigirl, aren’t given much room for growth. This movie isn’t nearly as funny or as charming as the first. Aside from the Toy Story movies and Finding Dory, Pixar has mostly fallen flat with their sequels.

5/10 (Decent)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – This was a massive disappointment for me. I liked the first movie and this sequel seems to bring nothing new to the table. This movie isn’t nearly as funny as it wants to be and while I won’t call it outright bad, it was pretty boring and unmemorable.

4/10 (Forgettable)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting much. I would have been less surprised if this sucked than if it was really good. It has been a couple of weeks since I saw it and nothing really stuck with me, so that says something. I thought dude playing Han did an fine, but unremarkable job. There were some easter eggs for franchise fans, but there was probably a ton of stuff that this semi-fan missed. I imagine Star Wars will be mostly pleased, but this was nothing special.

5/10 (Decent)

Replay Value: Into the Spider-Verse, Widows and Mandy are movies I’d happily watch again right now. Mid90s is worth seeing again. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Christmas Chronicles have some replay value, but the rest of these movies I’d never need to see again.

Sequel Potential: Into the Spider-Verse should definitely get a direct sequel. Fantastic Beasts, Creed II, and Ant-Man and the Wasp are all part of ongoing franchises. Solo is a spin-off that will probably get its own sequel. I would imagine Widows and Mid90s are standalone films. The Christmas Chronices has potential for future films.

Oscar Potential: Into the Spider-Verse is a lock for a Best Animated Feature nomination. I haven’t seen many animated movies this year, but I can’t imagine anything winning the Oscar over this one. I thought it was good enough to warrant some long shot Best Picture consideration, but that isn’t going to happen. The Crimes of Grindewald is on the short list for Best Score, but already whiffed on Visual Effects and Make-Up. I guess it is still a contender for Costume Design. Widows should get Viola Davis another Best Actress nom and some Best Picture consideration. I thought Elizabeth Debicki was worth consideration for her supporting role in the movie, but the competition is looking too stiff for a nomination. Incredibles 2 will probably get a Best Animated Feature nomination because Pixar movies basically always do, but it would have to be a very weak year for it to be deserved. I’ve actually only seen two animated features this year, so I have no idea. Solo: A Star Wars Story and Ant-Man and the Wasp are on the short list for the Visual Effects category.

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January 2018 – Movie/TV Preview

January 6, 2018

My list of January movies I’m looking forward to doesn’t look much different than last month’s list, as a number of the films I want to see saw a limited release in December to qualify for the Oscars, but will receive wide releases this month. Some of these movies aren’t playing anywhere near me and don’t have an upcoming wide release listed, so chances are I won’t see many of them until they are on blu-ray.

1. Molly’s Game (January 5th, wide) – Jessica Chastain play Molly Bloom, host of private high stakes poker games in Hollywood and New York that featured some A-List celebrities. The book was enjoyable, but this film is getting raves and Aaron Sorkin is a master at turning books into screenplays.

2. Lady Bird (limited release now) – I don’t know much about this movie except that it’s a supposedly quirky coming-of-age story starring Saoirse Ronan and written/directed by Greta Gerwig and that’s it’s one of the most highly rated films of 2017.

3. I, Tonya (???) – Margot Robbie plays Tonya Harding, the former renowned figure skater that conspired to have Nancy Kerrigan assaulted and made a sex tape she sold to Penthouse.

4. The Disaster Artist (???) – This movie is about some guy that made a bad movie called The Room. I don’t know much about any of that, but James Franco is apparently spectacular in this and it has received critical praise.

5. The Post (January 12th, wide) – Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in a political drama where the press squares off against the government.

6. All The Money In The World (in theaters) – Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, and Mark Wahlberg star in this thriller directed by Ridley Scott about a boy that is kidnapped and his mother’s desperate attempt to get his billionaire grandfather to pay the ransom. An amazing note about this film: Kevin Spacey originally starred as the rich grandfather but was replaced by Christopher Plummer when his scandal broke. This happened on November 8th. Plummer had two weeks to memorize all his lines and prepare for the role before reshoots over the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday and the film was released on December 22nd. Incredible!

7. Phantom Thread (January 19th, wide?) – Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis are all the information I need, but the plot outline doesn’t really grab me.

8. The Darkest Hour (limited now?) – Gary Oldman disappears into the role of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the threshold of World War II.

9. Hostiles (January 19th, wide) – Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike star in a this period piece set in the late 1800s about an Army captain escorting an Cheyenne chief through dangerous territory. From Scott Cooper, director of Crazy Heart, Black Mass, and Out of the Furnance – all notable films, but none of which I’ve seen.

10. The Commuter (January 12th) – Liam Neeson does Liam Neeson things. On a train. This is the only official 2018 release to crack this list and my interest in it is pretty mild.

Netflix Additions

Immediate Watch

Eventually Watch

Before I Wake (January 5th)
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Season 10 (January 5th)
The End Of The F**king World, Season 1 (January 5th)
Katt Williams: Great America (January 16th)

Might Watch

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Adventure (January 10th)
The Force (January 29th)
A Futile and Stupid Gesture (January 26th)
Rotten, Season 1 (January 5th)

Other Notables – Certified Classics in bold

Apollo 13 (January 1st)
Batman (January 1st)
Batman Returns (January 1st)
Batman Begins (January 1st)
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (January 1st)
The Conjuring (January 8th)
Dallas Buyers Club (January 16th)
The Godfather (January 1st)
The Godfather: Part II (January 1st)
Into The Wild (January 1st)
Lethal Weapon (January 1st)
Lethal Weapon 2 (January 1st)
The Shawshank Redemption (January 1st)
Training Day (January 1st)
The Truman Show (January 1st)
Wedding Crashers (January 1st)

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Coco (2017), Gerald’s Game (2017)

December 13, 2017

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Director: Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2)

Bottom Line: I loved it. What a feel good movie about family, passion, music, love, loss, memory, and, of course, death. Coco is a return to form for Pixar, combining absolutely beautiful CG animation with memorable characters and an enriching, funny story that pulls at the heart strings. Bring your Kleenex! This is Pixar’s best original film since Up in 2009.

Replay Value: Pretty close to a must own. I would definitely enjoy watching this multiple times.
Sequel Potential: Hit animated films always have sequel potential, but I think this would work best as a standalone film.
Oscar Potential: Best Animated Film nomination is a lock. There is potential for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Possibly Best Original Song for “Remember Me.”

Grade: 8/10 (Must See)

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Mike Flanagan (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Hush)

Bottom Line: Gerald’s Game is a taut psychological thriller based on a short, overlooked Stephen King novel about a woman that goes on a remote cabin getaway with her husband in the hopes of rekindling their marriage. He cuffs her to the bed, she hates it, implores him to let her free, but… he has a heart attack and falls off the bed, wounding himself fatally. So she’s stuck there, handcuffed to the bed, with no food, and no company except a hungry, stray dog that wanders into the house and the figments of her deteriorating psychosis. Gerald’s Game is a surprisingly deep and emotional film considering the vast majority of it takes place on a bed with a woman that can barely move. Carla Gugino gives a phenomenal performance. This movie is streaming on Netflix and I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys psychological thrillers and doesn’t mind the claustrophobic circumstances.

Replay Value: Not a great candidate for multiple viewings, but it’s something you could revisit many years later.
Sequel Potential: Zero.
Oscar Potential: Carla Gugino is fantastic in this. Not sure how a Netflix movie plays into the Oscar races, but I’ll guess she doesn’t get much consideration.

Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)

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December 2017 – Most Anticipated Movies & Shows

November 30, 2017

Top December Movies

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15th) – No explanation needed here, right? As far as Star Wars fanboys go, I’m not much of one, but I would say I enjoy the series. I own about 300 movies, but not one film related to the Star Wars franchise. Still, nothing quite defines the experience of going to the movies like a new Star Wars film and I’ll be there opening weekend like everyone else. I was very happy with JJ Abrams’ reboot in 2015 and this should be another fun installment.

2. The Shape Of Water (December 8th, limited) – Guilleremo del Toro (Pan’s Laybrinth directs a stellar cast that features Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer in this period piece about a mute woman that works as a cleaning lady in a top secret government building that houses a creature that she becomes fond of. del Toro and top notch actors and a creature is always a winning formula.

3. I, Tonya (December 8th, limited) – Margot Robbie plays notorious ice skating star Tonya Harding, the woman that was responsible for bashing in rival Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. The tone of this movie seems fun and Robbie and Allison Janey look like they could be giving great performances.

4. Molly’s Game (December 25th, limited) – I read the book this movie was adapted from and I thought it was interesting, but not really something that would translate well to the big screen. If anyone can make it work though, it’s Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter responsible for The Social Network and Moneyball. Also, Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba bring serious acting chops. For those that don’t know, this is a movie about a woman who hosted some of the biggest underground poker games in Los Angeles and New York, some of which were attended by celebrities like Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, and Alex Rodriguez.

5. The Post (December 22nd, limited) – Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in a newspaper drama set in the early 1970s.

6. Phantom Thread (December 25th, limited) – Director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) and Daniel Day-Lewis team up again for what is supposed to be DDL’s last role of his acting career. The film is set in the 1950s and centers around London fashion, which definitely doesn’t excite me. Day-Lewis is one of the best actors of all time though and Paul Thomas Anderson has proven himself a very capable writer/director, so I will be anxious to see how they can make this material enthralling.

7. Downsizing (December 22nd) – Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig play a married couple that decide to shrink themselves in order to escape their stress filled lives and take advantage of this newfound technology that will help the world’s overpopulation issue. Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways) directs this comedy.

Netflix Additions

Immediate Watch

Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 (Dec. 5th)
Judd Apatow: The Return (Dec. 12th)
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity (Dec. 31st)

Eventually Watch

The Crown, Season 2 (Dec. 8th)
Peaky Blinders, Season 4 (Dec. 21st)

Might Watch

Diana: In Her Own Words (Dec. 1st)
Easy, Season 2 (Dec. 1st)
Trollhunters Part 2 (Dec. 15th)
Bright (Dec. 22nd)
Creep 2 (Dec. 23rd)

Other Notables

8 Mile (Dec. 1st)
Full Metal Jacket (Dec. 1st)
V For Vendetta (Dec. 1st)