2012: The Movie Year in Reviews (September-December)

Here’s the final batch of 2012 reviews. As we’re already in the middle of the end of the year articles, these reviews will (and have already, to an extent) pop up in those. Not that anyone’s really paying too much attention to what goes on with this blog.

This list is simple — it’s all the films I saw since the last article went up (by the way, here are Part I (January-April) and Part II (May-August) for reference purposes).

I’m not even going to waste your time with the list of films I haven’t seen. Those you’ll find out from the other articles. This one is mostly for housekeeping, since I’ve been keeping the reviews all along, and they’re helpful so when you look at the other ones, you can double check that I did, in fact, say what I said I said.

The only real thing I should say is — here are the films that, as of right now, haven’t come out yet/ones that came out recently that I haven’t been able to see yet. Those are: Jack Reacher, The Guilt Trip, Not Fade Away, Parental Guidance and Les Misérables. I’m gonna definitely see Les Mis on Tuesday when it comes out, and the rest I’m gonna do my damnedest to see before their article goes up, which won’t be for a few days.

Let’s not waste time, here are the reviews:

Seeking Justice — * * * (3 stars)

Serviceable Cage movie. Cage seems to be in his “generic action movie” period. He has a lot of this straight to DVD fare coming out lately. None of it is particularly memorable. This one at least has a somewhat engaging premise that does sustain most of the film. So I’m grateful for that. But, in the canon of Cage films, this one’s more of a one and done instead of anything memorable. I got through it okay, but otherwise — nothing special.

Keyhole — * * * (3 stars)

God damn, this was weird. I don’t know what the fuck this was. But it was shot really nicely and always has good to look at. Otherwise, I have no idea what the fuck was going on. It’s completely surreal. I leave shit like this to the people who go for this sort of thing. Otherwise — great visuals, really interesting, but otherwise, I don’t know what the fuck it is.

Natural Selection — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I liked it a lot. Really solid film. Rachael Harris’s performance is as good as advertised. Definitely one of the more underrated films of the year. (Though, technically it’s a 2011 film.)

Sound of My Voice — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I liked this. Didn’t love it, but it was one of those that I liked more than a three star movie, but wouldn’t want to watch again like a three star movie. It was really solid. I like how it slowly builds and how there’s a dramatic shift in the characters. I love when films do the pendulum narrative. Which is, the film starts, and both characters are doing this thing, joining this cult for a documentary. And their opinions are clear. The guy thinks they’re all crazy and the girl thinks it’s pretty harmless and doesn’t see why he’s so against it. And once they start going, she starts getting into it and he’s barely hiding his disdain, but by the end of the film, it swings entirely in the opposite direction, and he’s devoutly into it, and she’s the one who’s like, “No, this is crazy, this can’t happen anymore.” Plus — the ending of this film — I like how they did it. They don’t explain it, they don’t provide answers for it — it just happens. And I like that it’s left open like that. Because it’ll get you thinking and get you talking. And for a film like this, it’s terrific. Anything to keep people thinking about it once the film is over. So I was a fan of this one, and I think people should check this one out. It’s really good, and almost no one’s seen it.

Virginia — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Whatever. It was there. I watched it. Mostly because of the cast. I didn’t really care about anything that happened here, and was very close to putting it at 2 stars, since I didn’t really enjoy it at all. But honestly, the movie’s harmless, and no one has seen it (or probably will see it), so I’ll leave it at 2.5. It’s not that bad. I just didn’t care much about anything that happened in it.

Moonrise Kingdom — * * * * * (5 stars)

Can I give this more than five stars? Oh my god, this movie was perfect. I like Wes Anderson a lot, but this — this blew me away. I’d be shocked if this didn’t make top five for me at the end of the year. Shit, I’d love it if this made top three. But I won’t assume that. Top five is already amazing. This was my first slam dunk top ten movie of the year. I knew this was going to be right in my wheelhouse of things I like, but — wow. Just, wow. I really hope they nominate this for Best Picture.

Piranha 3DD — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I’m sorry — it’s not good, but — there’s the equivalent of a chestburster piranha that bites onto a dude’s dick while he’s fucking a chick and comes out of her vagina. That has to earn a movie three stars. And the extra half star was earned for the line,” Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina,” as the girl is standing there, covered in blood. This film is actually better than the first Piranha from two years ago. It has a story, and it’s not just complete mayhem. It’s not good, mind you, and it’s really just a simple three star film, but I’m bumping it up the half star because of that one scene. I did not expect that. They really knew how to have fun with this one. I’m — that scene — wow. Oh, and did I mention that the Hoff is in this? And he has a musical number? (Well, he drunkenly sings while playing a piano. But what’s the diference, really?)

Lola Versus — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

It is. Indie stuff. Perhaps the most likely movie on this list to have the word “quirky” used to describe it. And I hate that fucking word and what it’s become. Anyway — it is. It’s kind of watchable, but I didn’t give a shit about anything that happened here, and it had all that bullshit New York performance piece bullshit I hate. I hate these kinds of characters. So I didn’t really care for this. But it wasn’t bad. 2 ½ stars. Whatever.

Safety Not Guaranteed — * * * * (4 stars)

I really liked this. Quite honestly, I should bump this down to 3.5 stars, because I liked it, but I didn’t quite like it at the 4-star level, but I don’t have to do that now. I can do that in the final article. I just wanted to keep it at 4 now just because I did like this quite a bit. The film has a lot of charm and not a pretentious bone in its body. That said — some of the stuff in it was a little flat and felt like filler. So I can’t honestly say I think this is a 4 star movie. I think it’s almost there, and I think it does a lot of stuff right, and for that, I need to recommend it strongly for people to see. This is one of the better movies of the year, and I know it’ll be one that not enough people see, because that’s the nature of the business today.

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Standard indie movie. It is. Cast is nice, so it might be worth seeing purely for that, but otherwise — meh. It’s there. Totally generic, no conflict — just there.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World — * * * * (4 stars)

Oh man, I loved this. I had a feeling I would based on the premise — the world is ending, and people have three weeks to deal with it before it happens. How can a movie based on that premise not be interesting? And not only that — to end it exactly as advertised… you’d be surprised at how much that helps a movie (looking at you, Hunger Games). But this was a very enjoyable experience. I was a little upset and grateful (at the same time) that they didn’t explore other possibilities inherent in the scenario. It’s one of those ones where you want to see them show you more, but if they did, they’d ruin the plot of the film. Either way — loved this, easily one of my favorite films of the year. (Not top ten, but like, top 40.)

To Rome with Love — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

It’s okay Woody, not good Woody. Not even decent Woody. Just — there. My problem with most of his films, especially the recent ones — he doesn’t seem to give a shit about dialogue. You listen to the people talking in this movie — nothing they say is particularly engaging, and even the performances can’t make it sound interesting. It’s just white noise, with the occasional big word. It all sounds out of place. (And I’m even talking about the good ones, like Midnight in Paris.) I never understood what made most of these movies entertaining. Mostly I was watching because that’s what you do. It just feels like going through the motions. (And I’m talking about me watching it and the film itself.) This one, more so, feels like Woody just throwing something together.

Beasts of the Southern Wild — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I had a hard time with this one. When it won Sundance and I found out it was made by alums from my school, I immediately went, “Oh no.” Because you have to understand — I have a very difficult relationship with things from my school. Especially of this sort. Because everyone there is gonna like it and push it like it’s the best thing since Citizen Kane, and I’m immediately gonna want to dislike it because I already know what type of movie it is, and — it almost never ends well. But fortunately, this movie was so likable that it won me over regardless. When it started, I went, “Oh god, handheld… this is gonna be so pretentious,” but then, by midway through, I realized — the movie’s not pretentious, the movie is the type of movie that pretentious people like. I have no problem saying this movie is good — I did like it a lot — it’s just… there are people that are gonna say this is a top ten for the year and should be nominated for Best Picture. I wouldn’t go that far. Hence the difficult relationship. Since I want to support fellow alums, yet, I don’t love this movie that much. So I don’t want to lie and say I did, but I also don’t want to be strict against it either. So it’s tough. That said — I liked the film a lot, it’s really well-done and is definitely one of the better films for the year.

People Like Us — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I enjoyed this. I thought it was gonna be a flat three for a while, but it ultimately won me over. I thought the writing was good and the leads did a good job with it. I’m pretty easy, so 3.5 stars. Solid little film that unfortunately no one saw.

Red Lights — * * * (3 stars)

This was all right. Not great, not terrible. Watchable. Simple three stars.

Ruby Sparks — * * * * (4 stars)

This is one of those movies with a set-up so good it almost can’t be bad. Though it’s indie, and, like most indies, it doesn’t fully — it just doesn’t feel fully there. But as it is, I liked this film a lot. I like that they don’t overuse the central conceit, and they don’t have him make as many changes as most people would. It feels very realistic in that sense. And I like that they took it in such a dark direction, since you have to in order to not make something like that cute, which it’s not, if you think about it completely, all the areas that could take and what’s actually happening. It’s one of those films that’s just hitting the 4 level, but I did like it. I’m calling it a 4. It’s a solid film.

Killer Joe — * * * (3 stars)

What a weird fucking movie. Watchable as hell, but weird. They called it a “southern gothic.” Basically it’s a fucked up redneck family doing fucked up things. It starts with that dumb Fargo idea of, “Let’s do something to a family member so we can get money,” and shit just spirals out of control. It’s so weird. I don’t know what it is about movies with southern people (like Hick), but does everything always have to be this fucked up? There’s actually a scene in this movie where Matthew McConaughey makes Gina Gershon deep throat a fried chicken leg. I have no idea why this movie was made, but it was perfectly all right, the once. So that’s something.

360 — * * * (3 stars)

I liked it. I was perfectly engaged for the 110 minutes. I didn’t love it enough to go 3.5, but this was definitely more engaging than just another 3 star movie. So it’s sort of straddling that 3-3.5 area. Definitely enjoyed it, though. Anthony Hopkins did a great job. Ben Foster was good, too. Really, I did like this. And since they released it on VOD, nobody probably knows about this. But it was directed by the guy who made City of God and The Constant Gardener and also has Jude Law and Rachel Weisz in it. You can do a lot worse for two hours. (And trust me, I’ve seen pretty much everything from this year. I have.)

Celeste and Jesse Forever — * * * (3 stars)

It’s a 3 star movie for me. A very rich three stars, but still three stars. I didn’t like it enough to make it three and a half, but it felt more substantial than a standard three star movie for me. So I figured I’d point that out. That said — still three.

About Cherry — * * (2 stars)

Pretty boring, actually. Not much of value here at all. Nobody really has much need to ever see this. I took one for the team.

The Campaign — * ½ (1.5 stars)

Jesus. Just wait a week. You knew what was coming the moment they announced this fucking thing. Of course it didn’t let me down.

Hope Springs — * * * (3 stars)

It was okay. I almost wanted to give it three and a half, but nah. It was good enough, but nothing spectacular. I had a feeling when they moved it from December to the summer. Right there, I knew this would only really be a three star movie. And it didn’t disappoint. It’s a movie for middle-aged people, that would be pretty bad if it weren’t Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. I think they really did nail the behavior of a stale, thirty-year marriage. I liked seeing the little things like that. Unfortunately, the bigger stuff is pretty generic and hits almost all the beats you’d expect it to hit. So it’s really only a 3 star movie, but it’s a meatier three than a lot of other ones. So I’m grateful for that.

Red Hook Summer — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Yeah — I — generally I have nothing to say about this film. They made it, it’s there, it’s not that great, it is. Decent, but mostly generic and forgettable. That’s your standard 2 ½ stars. However, on a personal note — I love Do the Right Thing. Love it. I think it was the best movie of 1989. And to see Spike making movies like this — it hurts. Which is why I guess it was fitting to see that Mookie cameo, seeing him still delivering pizzas for Sal’s after all these years. It’s a sad moment (and totally unnecessary), and almost sadly mirrors the state of Spike’s directing career. There is a lot more to say there, since I think he’s a great director, only that he gets a bit too bogged down in the whole “Fuck white people thing” (see the last thirty minutes of Malcolm X and Miracle at St. Anna), which may be why studios are hesitant to give him budgets for big movies. Not to mention the fact that his actual best movies outside Do the Right Thing were either primarily about white people (25th Hour) or mainstream, director-for-hire stuff (Inside Man). And I’m excited to see him do Oldboy. But — anyway, this film — yeah, not that great. You can skip it. It’s whatever.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Standard kids movie. I wasn’t particularly enamored with it. I’m not quiet about my dislike of Jennifer Garner as an actress, so with her being a big part of this film, there was really no chance of this ever having a 3 in my rating. But, it’s harmless, so I didn’t give it a 2. It’s the shit you see when you’re 7. You can’t fault it for being that. (It’s not good, though. So don’t think you ever need to see it.)

ParaNorman — * * * (3 stars)

I liked it. It was entertaining enough. I wasn’t blown away or anything, but it was nice enough. Standard 3 stars, you know the deal.

Sleepwalk with Me — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I liked this. Maybe not as much as the people who are really championing this film, but I did like it. I thought it was a nice, quiet little film. Nice little indie, nothing more. I’d rather have seen this than a good deal of the early year wide releases. So that’s something.

Sparkle — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

This movie was exactly what I expected it to be. I don’t know how much better I could explain it. Think Dreamgirls, but diluted with the standard church choir girl trying to make it as a singer, courted by the charming guy story. It’s exactly what you’re expecting it to be, and there’s nothing original about it. It’s nice that they get a bunch of talented black actors together, but they almost never give them anything original or interesting to work with. It’s horrible. They’re always the same movies.

Compliance — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

This is such a fucked up movie. Holy shit. It’s one of those movies that only happens when people are so stupid it’s beyond recognition, yet you know it actually happened, so you watch going, “Jesus… how fucking stupid can you be?” There’s no way people can actually be this stupid. And yet, you realize — they were. So you’re watching with this morbid fascination about how something like this could have happened. Every rational person would never let that phone call get remotely close to where it got, so each time it gets worse, you can’t believe they’re allowing that to happen. It’s very uncomfortable to watch, and you hate all the characters for being so stupid, but it speaks to how good the film is that it manages to keep you interested throughout. This is a movie that makes you feel icky, and that’s its goal. So in that sense it’s a rousing success. But seriously — how can people be this stupid? (I guess these are the people that go to see movies every weekend.)

Cosmopolis — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Really liked this. I like how it’s totally dense, completely philosophical, and doesn’t give a fuck about it. It doesn’t try to be accesible, or mainstream — it just is. And I liked that about it. I don’t really get what it was supposed to be about, but I liked it. That’s it. And I liked that they didn’t end the way the novel ends. It’s pretty dense, though, and I think that, understandably, will turn a lot of people off. But I didn’t mind. I was perfectly entertained and even liked it. That said, though — I can’t really rate it higher than this. It was fine, but I don’t think I’d watch it too often after that.

Why Stop Now — * * * * (4 stars)

You don’t know about this movie, but you should. It’s pretty funny. Ready — Jesse Eisenberg shows up to an audition for a collegiate musical school, the film pauses, he explains how he got there. Flashback, he’s out drinking heavily the night before, vomits like a motherfucker. Next morning, he wakes up to take his mother to rehab. His mother is a drug addict, and has been making his life hell for a while. The film perfectly sets up this relationship and, without showing you the past twenty years of this kid’s life, lets you know exactly what that was like. Anyway, then what happens is, he takes her to rehab, and they won’t let her in. Because she has no drugs in her system. So he has to take her out to get drugs so she can go into rehab. And this starts what will be a pretty crazy screwball comedy that takes place over the course of that day. It’s good enough to where it shouldn’t be this unknown. This was funnier to me than almost all the other comedies that came out this year. Give this one a shot. The ratio to how good this is to how well known it is (and the amount you’ll enjoy it compared to the expectations you’ll have for it) is amazingly high.

Hit and Run — * * * (3 stars)

This was pretty good. Not great, but not terrible. It’s perfectly entertaining the one time, but — it’s a little light on storytelling. But it works. You can enjoy it once. It’s not bad.

Premium Rush — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

This was a pretty foregone conclusion. As long as the movie was pretty good, I was gonna love it. I fucking love these types of movies. B movie (for the most part), lot of energy — always loved these, always will. A bike messenger picks up a package that, unknown to him, is something that a dirty cop really needs in order to cover his gambling debts. Action ensues. Not bad action, good action. I fucking loved this movie. Loved it. I don’t care how not perfect it is, it was so goddamn entertaining, and will almost certainly be one of my 25 favorite films of the year.

Lawless — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Yeah — I thought this would be better. Not like, a lot better, since it was pretty good. I just thought the finished product would be better than it was. All the talent involved (in front of and behind the camera) — yeah, I thought it would be a four star movie. I thought about making it four stars, but I realized that I just didn’t love it as much to call it a four. It’s a solid three and a half. It’s engaging for the most part, it moves along, it looks good, but — I think the reviews on this were right. Pretty good, violent (but that didn’t bother me. I thought the violence actually was a nice touch), but kind of aimless. It felt like it needed a tighter story to really work. And Gary Oldman in two scenes? Really? But I can even forgive that, since his character was important to be what it was. I don’t know — I liked it, but I didn’t love it. And at this point in the year, I’m really starved for stuff to love, so I was a little let down that I didn’t love it.

For a Good Time, Call… — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it would be decent, based on the premise, but I found myself enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would. And since comedy is so horrible nowadays, I had to bump this up a half-star. The state comedy was in nowadays, this was terrific. Normally it would be somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars, but due to circumstances — 3.5. I like so few comedies nowadays, so I’m glad I liked this one.

The Words — * * (2 stars)

Jesus. Not good. It’s so pretentious in its central conceit. Everything about this movie on a conceptual level is pretentious. And the actors do their best to make it not so, but they can’t. This is not a good movie, and actually is one of the year’s worst. Because it’s so generic that everything you expect to happen actually does happen. It’s staggering in its ability to not do anything beyond the beaten path. Really didn’t like this one at all.

Resident Evil: Retribution — * * * (3 stars)

I — I can’t believe this was actually good. No joke, this is the most fun entry into this series since the first one. The first Resident Evil film is a guilty pleasure for me. You can’t objectively call it a good movie, and yet, on the other hand, it is a good movie. I think it was entertaining, and it worked for what it was. I haven’t seen it in a decade, but I enjoyed it when I saw it. Then the second one I didn’t like, since they didn’t capitalize on the greatness that was that second game, and even ruined Nemesis as a character (I myself only really played the 2 and Nemesis games). The third film was whatever, and the fourth film was not good. This one, though — it’s kind of like Fast Five — they just sort of brought out the greatest hits. I don’t know what’s going on with this story (does anybody?), but all I know is — I had fun. Whatever was going on here, I was able to follow it, the action scenes had a lot of fun to them (being simulated or whatever it was) — honestly, if you made it this far with this series, I feel like this has to be considered the best since the first one. Honestly, don’t even bother catching up if you haven’t seen any of them, they explain it all at the beginning with god awful narration. They’ll let you know what’s going on, and you can get into the story. You can enjoy it without it, really.

Arbitrage — * * * * (4 stars)

Oh, I liked this one. This was a real solid film. I knew nothing about this one going into the year, and only heard about it very recently. I heard the film was good and that Richard Gere was good in it. And man, they were right. This is a good movie. It’s kind of fucked up, since we’re basically watching a rich white person get away with murder, but man — it’s engaging as hell. I bet this one goes by very unnoticed by year’s end. This is gonna be a real nice sleeper for 2012 when all is said and done. Check this one out. It’s better than most stuff that’ll come out this year.

The Master — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

This is a movie that’s clearly a very good movie, but isn’t one I can rank as one just yet. And by that I mean — you watch this, and you see an auteur at work. This is a story that seemingly does not need to be told. I don’t know why it’s being told or what it’s actually about. But good filmmakers can take stories like that and make you want to watch them and make you enjoy them. And that’s what Paul Thomas Anderson does. This is a fascinating movie led by a bizarrely captivating performance by Joaquin Phoenix. That motherfucker — I don’t know what he was doing, or what his character was supposed to be, but that performance was solid. Hoffman was good, but honestly I didn’t think he or Amy Adams had all that much to work with. But I shouldn’t be making those snap judgments. As I said before, this is a film I can’t really put forth a full opinion on so soon. It’s obvious Anderson wants to be Kubrick (look at that final shot — I mean, seriously?), and he seemed to do his best to be Kubrickian here. And, knowing Kubrick, it’s impossible to judge one of those films on the first viewing. I told people when I got out of the theater (saw it in 70mm, no less) that this is a film that takes five years and three viewings to truly decide your opinion about it. I left the theater thinking this was a solid four star movie that I wouldn’t quite put in the top ten, but was also one I knew that multiple rewatches would allow me to fully digest the story and really formulate a full opinion about it. So I’m giving it the extra half star since I know there’s more there, and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that this actually is a great movie and not just an abstract movie that doesn’t seem to go anywhere or be about anything. So, while this may end up being put into my top ten in one, three, maybe five years, right now, after only one (and possibly two, depending on what happens by the time the September article goes up) viewing, I can’t really rank it as anything more than 11-20 for me for the year. I know there’s a good film in here, because I saw it, but I still don’t know my actual opinion about it just yet, and I won’t do it the disservice of pretending like I do after only one watch.

Stolen — * * * (3 stars)

Nicholas Cage, former thief, out of jail one day, his daughter gets kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi and he has to find her. What more is there to say, really? The writing is terrible, everything about it is utterly predictable and generically executed (and almost not really executed at all, since the logical conclusion you’d figure would happen is barely even shown and happens from like, minute 60 to minute 70), and yet — it’s Cage. Come on, these are almost always watchable. Generic, good enough for the once, you can get through it, that’s all.

Dredd — * * * (3 stars)

Simple, effective, watch it once enjoy yourself well enough, no need to ever see it again. You know the drill.

End of Watch — * * * * (4 stars)

Really solid movie. Really enjoyed this. I thought the documentary style was gonna annoy the shit out of me, but it didn’t. I liked it. I like how there wasn’t a plot to the film, and we were just following these two guys. There wasn’t really an arch-villain that came up and no big thing — I mean, there kind of is, but it felt mostly organic. I’ll admit, the third act wasn’t entirely my favorite, but the film overall was pretty solid. I liked it, and before I put it on, I thought I was just getting something that was just gonna be okay-good. Not like, solid good. So that was nice.

House at the End of the Street — * * (2 stars)

What a fucking surprise… it was a shitty horror movie. Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that Jennifer Lawrence was in this, I’d have never seen it. I still shouldn’t have seen it. I’ve gained nothing from seeing it. But oh well. She does bounce around in a white t-shirt for the third act, so I guess that’s something.

Trouble with the Curve — * * * (3 stars)

Yeah, it was okay. Not particularly outstanding. Mostly kind of flat, though watchable. It’s basically a completely generic story that everyone wanted to see because Eastwood decided to star in it, and then Amy Adams decided to star in it, and then Timberlake joined on, John Goodman… it’s bearable because of them, but otherwise, this is a generic movie all the way through. See it, get through it, forget it. That’s it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower — * * * (3 stars)

Meh. It was. I didn’t particularly care. Nothing was particularly engaging. I never understand these high school movies. How everyone seems to fit into stereotypes. Apparently the deal is that people are either jocks and popular or have no friends. Right there, I can’t buy into anything the movie says. Everything about this movie felt very cliched, and nothing really stood out as being particularly enlightening or even interesting. Yet I got through it okay. (P.S. There’s this weird subculture that’s sprouting in this country of people who deliberately segregate themselves as being outsiders (ever go on Tumblr?) and weirdos, and the only reason they are that is because they say they are. People who have friends and are normal, but go, “Oh my god I’m so awkward nobody will ever like me.” I feel like those are the people that are driving the reaction to this movie. I honestly don’t get it, but whatever.)

Hotel Transylvania — * * * (3 stars)

I actually enjoyed this. It was just fun enough for me to let it hit that 3 star level, which, to me is the threshold between complete indifference (2.5)/dislike (2 or less) and “Meh, that was okay”/actual like, etc. My real problem with this is the problem I have with almost all animated films made nowadays — they’re all made for the short term. They have references to stuff that no one’s gonna remember in twenty years, and even feature songs that are on the pop charts now. I hate when films do that, because it’s clearly meant to capitalize on shit now and make money, yet in ten years, no one’s gonna even remember these movies exist. So what’s the point? Why not cut out some of the short term shit and try to make the story a little more universal? That’s why I never understand these animated movies. The money is there anyway. Why not try to tell a good story? (You know — like Pixar. Or Disney — usually.) But otherwise, this was decent enough to where I can say — it was okay. I liked it enough to give it three. That’s more than I was expecting. So, good for them. (Though it’s Sony, so it feels way too much like Adam Sandler and his pals having fun. And whenever I see that — it’s never a good thing. So I don’t want to give them too much credit. Since this is the studio that’s making Grown Ups 2.)

Looper — * * * * * (5 stars)

I’ve watched this twice now, and I loved it more the second time. What a perfect movie this is. This has a really good chance at making the top ten for me.

Won’t Back Down — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Jesus. This was not interesting at all. But I didn’t hate it. It’s just — boring. Boring and cliched and just not engaging for a second. How come this wasn’t made for Lifetime? The real joke is that I saw this movie as an Oscar screener. It’s one of those movies whose heart is in the right place and goes about things in the complete wrong way. It reminds me of one of those 30s movies, where they needed a villain, so everything was made black and white. Most of the teachers are lazy and don’t give a shit and the students are suffering. And the entire teacher’s union is corrupt and complacent. So here come a sassy mother and a dedicated teacher to make shit work! But oh no! Bureaucracy has all sorts of red tape, and they may not succeed! Seriously? How about presenting shades of gray in the issue? Let’s not say all teachers don’t give a shit. (There’s actually a scene in this movie where two kids are fighting over a backpack (that is — one student decides to grab another girl’s backpack for no reason) and the backpack rips and the girl is upset. So she starts crying, mostly because the kids are laughing at her being upset. And the teacher, who didn’t bother to stop the struggle from happening, tells the girl to “stop being such a drama queen.” And in another scene, she locks the girl in a closet because she had to go to the bathroom and didn’t follow the rules in asking to go. I understand trying to paint the teachers as lazy, but come the fuck on.) A complete misfire, through and through.

Frankenweenie — * * * (3 stars)

Yeah, it’s all right. Enjoyable, stop motion, Burton touch and all that. Otherwise — standard animated kids movie. You get through it, it’s nothing special, you move on. Most animated movies are this, only there was clearly care put into this one, which makes me think of it more fondly than the other stuff.

Pitch Perfect — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

This movie annoyed the shit out of me. But it was watchable, so…

Taken 2 — * * * (3 stars)

The first act of this movie is a complete mess. I understand that it doesn’t matter, but they could have at least tried. The dialogue is so bad. And up until the actual “taking” sequence, I had this movie at a solid 2.5 stars. But honestly, just give me thirty minutes of Liam Neeson explaining shit to his daughter on the phone — that’s all I need. Him having her set off the grenades (which — does no one in that country notice or care that some white chick is tossing grenades every thirty feet? Where is this, Vice City?) and making circles on the map — riveting shit. Truly riveting. And then he gets to beat the shit out of people for the third act — it works. Despite my wanting not to, I had to give it 3 stars. Just — can’t they try a little harder to make the non fun parts not suck? That first act was really bad.

Butter — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

What an enjoyable movie. It’s about butter carving. That pretty much guaranteed that this was going to be interesting. It’s just one of those weird, offbeat movies that I enjoy because it doesn’t bother with all the usual stuff. And I like that it’s kind of a dark comedy in the sense that — people do some fucked up things here. Jennifer Garner is a huge cunt in this movie. And the whole thing is about fucking butter carving. It’s really enjoyable. Big fan of this movie.

Argo — * * * * (4 stars)

I liked it. The premise is one of the best I’ve ever heard, the execution is strong and everything about the movie works. The only thing is — and I’ve felt this about all of Affleck’s movies so far — it’s good, but it’s not great. And I was hoping this would be great. Now granted, all of Affleck’s movies have gotten better as we’ve gone along (Gone Baby Gone was okay, bordering on good, The Town was good, bordering on really good, and this is good bordering on great), but I don’t think he’s yet made a great movie. And the way this got a bunch of early Oscar buzz, and from the strength of the premise, I was hoping this would be a great movie. But it’s just really good. The writing is great and everything works, it’s just — it’s not fully there for me. I don’t know. I’m gonna give it another watch before the end of the year, but it just doesn’t reach that “great” level I was hoping it hit. And I really wanted it to hit that level.

Here Comes the Boom — * * (2 stars)

It’s not Unforgivable, it’s just regular bad. Maybe a little worse than regular bad. Its heart is in the right place — it’s just bad. Every time it starts to do something right, it goes back to doing something dumb. I’m not even gonna waste my time here — not Unforgivable, still not good, as expected. That’s it.

Seven Psychopoaths — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Goddamn, this movie was hilarious. Not as good as In Bruges, but up there. I love how much humor he gets out of violence. The opening scene of this movie is hilarious. And it just gets more bizarre from there. Huge fan of this one. And I know a lot of people won’t have seen this, which is a damn shame.

3, 2, 1 … Frankie Go Boom — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

One of the more underrated films of the year. Really solid little indie screwball comedy of sorts. You probably don’t know what this is, but you should check it out. Very funny movie.

Smashed — * * * * (4 stars)

I liked it. It was no Days of Wine and Roses, but what can be? It was solid enough. The performances were good and it was never boring. And I liked how, even when they sort of went into the typical “movie” scenes, they quickly went away from them. So that was nice. My enjoyment of this was somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars, but I’ll stick with 4 stars just because there wasn’t really a downside to it. I’m a fan of this one. (And if you like this, watch Days of Wine and Roses. Trust me on that.)

Alex Cross — * * * (3 stars)

Almost 3.5, too. This was pretty good. I enjoyed this. It’s solid entertainment. One of those movies like last year’s The Lincoln Lawyer. It’s a fun movie based on one of those paperback novels. It’s almost impossible for these to be less than three star movies. They work. They’re better than the usual bullshit but aren’t that great. And this was exactly that. You could do worse for 100 minutes.

The Girl — * * * * (4 stars)

Technically an HBO movie, but whatever. Poor Toby Jones. That’s twice now he’s played a famous person and been a dead ringer for that person and has been overshadowed by a higher profile film. The first time was when he played Truman Capote in Infamous, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman got all the recognition for Capote. But if you watch the two performances — Toby Jones is a DEAD RINGER for Capote and sounds exactly like him. Not taking anything away from Hoffman (since he did give the better performance), but man, Toby Jones had that look down. (Hoffman’s film was better too. I’m just saying — Toby Jones was Capote.) Now, this time, Anthony Hopkins is gonna get all the recognition for his Hitchcock film. Shame. Fortunately, the films have little to do with one another outside of their main character. Either way — this film was good. It’s about Hitchcock casting Tippi Hedren in The Birds and their relationship through the filming of that movie an through Marnie. Basically it’s about how Hitch wanted to sleep with her and when she wouldn’t sleep with him, he made her life miserable. It’s weird to see this side of Hitchcock, but Tippi Hedren says this happened, so as far as we know it’s a factual story. Personally, I’m more excited for the Hopkins film, since that’s about Psycho and probably won’t feature Hitchcock as a lecherous cad. Though I’m not sure which actor will prove to pull off Hitchcock better. Time will tell. But — I liked this movie. It’s a solid film, and is very well-made. You can do a lot worst for 90 minutes. Don’t immediately overlook this one in favor of the other one. It might even prove to be the better of the two. (I would say to do the same for Infamous, but that film’s really not all that good outside of Jones’s performance.)

Cloud Atlas — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

This is one of the most misunderstood movies of the year. I loved it. I was engaged, I was able to follow along once I got settled in, and it never bored me. I think the key is that you can’t go into it trying to figure out the answers. You have to take the movie as the movie, and the second view is for catching what you didn’t catch the first time and maybe starting to work through some stuff. Anything after that, if you want, is trying to figure out the meaning of it all. As a movie, I loved this. I thought it was big, epic, and constantly had my attention. The way this tanked, you’d think it was three hours of the Wachowski siblings squatting down and shitting on the camera lens. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit harsh. The people who liked this really liked it, and the people who didn’t get it were vocally upset about that. Either way, I fucking loved this and think everyone who wrote bad things about this movie was (probably. It’s not like I gave enough of a shit to actually read the reviews) unnecessarily harsh. I loved it, and I think it was one of the best movies of the year.

Fun Size — * * * (3 stars)

I was all set to make this Unforgivable until I saw that it was a Nickelodeon film. Once I saw they made it for kids, I felt I couldn’t really call it Unforgivable. It’s marketed to children. You can’t fault it that much. It’s just a dumb kids movie. Honestly, this was better made than most of the recent Adam Sandler stuff. It did a good job of following standard three act structure, and it had a heart. So you know what? I’m giving it three stars, and I’m proud to do so.  This movie won me over. It was totally acceptable. (Though it’s totally kiddie. You really don’t need to actually ever see it. But just know, it’s totally passable.)

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Meh. It’s okay. Not bad, but I was indifferent for most of it. So we’ll mark this as indifference. I did get through it okay, though. And for that, I’m grateful.

Jack and Diane — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

I… have no idea what this was supposed to be. I liked the original synopsis. But the werewolf thing had almost nothing to do with this movie. Which left it — just about these people. Nothing really made much sense, and while I got through it, I don’t really know what the point was. So I’m left indifferent toward the whole thing.

A Late Quartet — * * * * (4 stars)

Really liked this. Who’d have thunk it? It’s about musicians. I mean, I figured this would be pretty good, but this was really good. I was just with it all the way.

Skyfall — * * * * * (5 stars)

Is anyone surprised? Just wait a week for the full review. You know where it’s going.

Everything or Nothing — * * * * (4 stars)

Nice little Bond documentary they did for the release of Skyfall. Not really a 2012 film, but I saw it and enjoyed it, so you Bond fans might want to check it out. It’s not gonna be on my year-end lists or anything, I just wanted to mention that I really enjoyed it.

Nature Calls — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

This was one of those movies that I had no idea about, then I heard about it, went, “Maybe I should keep that in mind and maybe see it by the end of the year,” then forgot about it, then two days later, I had the opportunity to see it. And it was just, “Well all right.” Since the longer I waited to see it exponentially increased the likelihood that I wouldn’t see it. But I did, and — it was all right. Here’s the pitch — Patton Oswalt is a dedicated, idealistic boy scout leader. He wants to do a trip for all his scouts like he used to take when he was a boy. They don’t give a fuck, they want to watch football and play video games. So Oswalt kidnaps them. And the trailer made it seem like there would be lots of cursing in front of children. And I saw that Patrice O’Neal was in it. So because of that perfect storm, I saw it. But — as I should have expected, it was pretty generic. I was mostly indifferent to all of it. Though seeing Patrice was nice. It made me wish he was in more movies as himself. So the movie was worth seeing for that.

The Sessions — * * * * (4 stars)

I went into this hoping I’d like it. Because it came on my radar more over the past three months, and it was one of those that I felt like people were gonna push hard for, specifically John Hawkes. And when people start pushing for shit, I push in the other direction. It’s just a natural thing. The whole “don’t tell me what to think” thing. Just let me like things on my own. But I think I saw this early enough to where I didn’t get much of the noise, so I had almost complete objectivity here. And I liked it. The movie is very funny. I really liked that aspect of it. And it was really engaging throughout. Though I’ll get it out of the way now by saying — while I’m not opposed to a nomination for Hawkes (especially since this is looking like a very weak year for them), I don’t think the performance was all that amazing. And what they do in the final five minutes — not a fan of that. But otherwise, liked the movie a lot. Really solid stuff.

Flight — * * * * (4 stars)

I liked this. This was really solid. I like how it’s not about the crash and more about this one dude and his problem. Denzel is great, and the supporting parts are strong — Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, James Badge Dale, Bruce Greenwood — it’s a good movie. Welcome back to live-action, Robert Zemeckis.

The Man with the Iron Fists — * * * (3 stars)

I enjoyed it. Wasn’t good, wasn’t bad, but it was fun.

Wreck-It Ralph — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Really liked this a lot. Terrific movie. Disney continues its run of great movies. I don’t think it’s perfect, as some do, but I really enjoyed the shit out of it.

Lincoln — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

This was great. I loved how they stayed focused on the story they wanted to tell. It was engaging as hell for almost the entire run time, and I found very little to quibble about. It’s just Spielberg being Spielberg.

Anna Karenina — * * * * (4 stars)

I loved this. I was surprised at the mixed reviews this was getting. But now that I’ve seen it, I’m not surprised. This was some bold storytelling. I thought the way Joe Wright shot this made up for how well-known the story is. And I’m upset more people weren’t able to go along with it. But even so — I really liked this.

Life of Pi — * * * (3 stars)

There’s always one movie that comes out each year that gets a shitload of acclaim and nominations that I just don’t get at all. And this year, it’s this one. And I kind of saw it coming. Even when I heard the synopsis for this, I was like, “Is this a joke?” I’d never read the novel or anything, so I didn’t know. And I never really assumed this would make much of a good movie. And now that I see it, I’m struck by the fact that I still don’t really understand what makes this so intriguing. The frame narrative and voiceover turned me off, and then nothing else really held my attention outside the visuals. Not to mention the religious allegory. I can’t say I’m surprised. I kind of figured this one wasn’t gonna be for me. But that’s cool. I can see why it would be for other people. It’s almost a 3.5 for me, but it’s not. I did enjoy this, it’s just — I didn’t really care about it.

Red Dawn — * * * (3 stars)

Took them long enough to release this. This was actually watchable. I thought it would be okay originally, and the extra delay I didn’t really hold against it. Not even the changing of Chinese to North Koreans (though it’s kind of weak, having North Koreans. Like they would be able to attack like that…), which does hurt the premise, but I do understand it, given all the troubles this has had. It was pretty watchable. I got through it, and it wasn’t a complete disgrace compared to the original. But it just doesn’t have the personality that the original has. Plus the Russians were a credible threat at the time, which made it work. Plus, in the original, all the people in it became really famous. And here, you just know that won’t happen with most of these people. But I got through it okay, and it was all right. (But jesus, what’s with the goddamn sitting around and talking about the shit they miss scene? CAN’T WE DO AWAY WITH THIS FUCKING SCENE ALREADY?!)

Rise of the Guardians — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I enjoyed this quite a bit. The visuals where there, the story was unique enough, and most importantly — NO POP CULTURE REFERENCES. Honestly, the lack of pop culture references allowed this movie to go from 3 to 3.5. Isn’t it great how together an animated film feels without dumb references and pop songs and shit? So, I enjoyed this. Probably closer to a 3, but because I haven’t seen an animated film without pop culture references (that isn’t Disney or Pixar) in such a long time, I had to bump it up to 3.5. And honestly, it was both enjoyable, had strong visuals and had heart, so I bet it’ll actually stay 3.5.

Silver Linings Playbook — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

As I watched the first act, I thought, “I don’t get why this is a Best Picture lock.” I thought it was getting overrated. Then I kept watching, and I got more interested, mostly due to Jennifer Lawrence and her great performance. Then I kept watching and was going, “Shit, I’m really getting into this.” And then, by the end, it had won me over so completely that I went, “All right, I get it. I completely understand.” Not sure if this is a movie that’s gonna win Best Picture, but I’m totally cool with all the positive buzz this is getting. This is one of those romantic comedies I can get behind. It was great, through and through. David O. Russell never leads me wrong.

Hitchcock — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Liked it, didn’t love it. It was totally engaging and solid and all, but it just wasn’t quite there. I didn’t really care for the whole “Helen Mirren might be having an affair” business, since it felt tacked on and wasn’t developed in any interesting way at all, and I didn’t particularly care for Hitch talking to the ghost or whatever of Ed Gein. That didn’t make much sense to me at all. So it just ends up being a movie that’s good but not really good, anchored by a strong Anthony Hopkins performance and the interest of being about Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho. You don’t really need much more than that.

Killing Them Softly — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

God, I loved this. I love that nothing happened, and that all of the action was just talked about and rarely shown. This felt like a real mob movie. As in, more realistic than the stuff in other mob movies. That said, I get why some people really didn’t like this. But I don’t care. I still loved it. I was with it every step of the way, and the only real thing I wasn’t totally on board with was the obvious parallels it was trying to make to the economy, with all the speeches and stuff being made on all the radios. But outside of that — I loved every single minute of this. This is one of the best films of the year that nobody is gonna end up seeing. Damn shame, that.

Playing for Keeps — * * (2 stars)

Man, this was terrible. The problem with these comedies is that almost all the supporting characters are unlikable and unredeemable. Here are a bunch of soccer moms who do really terrible things just to sleep with a hot soccer player. It makes no sense. The characters are just dumb, and they do things that even a sane person, if they thought about it for a half a second, would go, “There has got to be an easier way to do this.” This is one of the worst films of the year, and deserves to be. It’s not Unforgivable, but the characters are. (I’ll give Gerard Butler a pass. The character, anyway. His choice to do this doesn’t deserve one.) So it’s just really bad.

Hyde Park on the Hudson — * * * (3 stars)

Torn on this movie. It’s completely disjointed. Bill Murray is fucking great as FDR, and it’s the material that lets him down. The problem with the film is that it’s a two-parter, and the two parts really have nothing to do with one another. At first you have him and Daisy, and that whole relationship business, and then they just sort of stop that and go right into the King and Queen of England visiting and the comedy inherent in the cultural differences. The real problem is that they didn’t really end the movie. What they should have done was focus on the FDR/Daisy relationship, do the barbecue as an extended middle, and then close with the relationship. I feel like they needed more juicy dramatic scenes for Laura Linney and Bill Murray. They’re wasted without that. So, while I enjoyed the film, I was left wanting more, since there’s such fertile ground there to play with and elaborate on, and the film is only 95 minutes long, so they definitely could have added another thirty minutes of stuff, as long as it wasn’t light like the barbecue, and the film really would have come off as something John Ford-like, and it would have been great. But, as it is, I’m left with a film I’d really like to have seen more of, since what we have just doesn’t cut it.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

This is tough for me. It’s — it’s not a very good movie. And I say that because — they’re stretching a relatively short book over three movies. And it shows. The film is a wee bit indulgent (pardon the small pun). There are some scenes in it that play out way too long. The dwarves at dinner, singing and shit. Too long. The scene with the brown wizard and the spiders — unnecessary. This film should have been twenty to thirty minutes shorter and I’d have been totally with it. So, in that sense, it’s not a good movie. But, on the other hand, I loved the original trilogy, and I was on board with any story they wanted to tell in this world. So, with that, there was no way I wasn’t going to really like this movie, even if it isn’t really that great. And I totally get that this was meant to be a fairytale and for children, so I won’t hold that against them. So I did really enjoy this, but that’s because I’m pre-disposed to really liking it. So this is a bit of a tough ranking for me. (P.S. I loved that they gave Andy Serkis a really juicy scene to work with. I was a huge fan of what they did with him this time. To the point where this is the kind of performance that makes me go, “Yes, I understand why they want motion capture actors to be able to win Oscars.” Because Serkis shows an amazing range of emotion in this character, and the CG-ness of Gollum really only enhances that. You can hear what he’s doing, and it’s nothing short of amazing.)

Zero Dark Thirty — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Took a while to get going, but by the end I was with it completely. Really engaging film. Not sold on this winning a bunch of Oscars, but totally sold on it being nominated for a bunch. I might see it again and come around, but as of now — one of the year’s best and a Best Picture nominee, but not a Best Picture winner. Though I wouldn’t be totally opposed to it, I guess. I have to see how things play out, first.

This Is 40 — * * * (3 stars)

I had a hard time rating this one. Because, structurally, this is a 3 star movie. There’s no plot here, and it’s actually 130 minutes of just these people. But on the other hand, the last 40 minutes of this movie (or rather, the 40 minutes before the last 15 or so) are pretty solid and actually quite good. So they kind of made me forget how inane the rest of the stuff before it was. But on the other hand, there were some entertaining parts. So I was tempted to go above three and make it 3.5, but I couldn’t. I didn’t enjoy it that much. 3.5 is for enjoyment and not, “Meh, that was pretty good.” I’ll admit that this was a more substantial 3 stars than most 3 stars. But I still didn’t love it. Apatow wants to be James L. Brooks, but it’s just not that. James L. Brooks didn’t randomly include scenes of people eating pot cookies and acting high. So, while I respect what Apatow was going for — I didn’t love this.

The Impossible — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Holy shit. This movie blew me away. Really. The effects in this movie — there was a point where I knew it was CGI (because it has to be), and yet I went, “I really can’t tell the difference, and I don’t even care that much either.” This was incredible. One of the most visceral and exciting experiences I’ve had watching a movie this year. I knew very little about this movie going in, and damn, did it work for me. This is one of the absolute best movies of the year, and I didn’t see it coming at all.

On the Road — * * * (3 stars)

Yeah. It was okay. Nothing special. But watchable. Just kind of there. About as easy a 3 stars as there was this year.

Promised Land — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

I loved this. I really loved this. This is gonna be another one that’s gonna go underseen. I just know it. These ones that get released right around December 31st always are. But damn, this was terrific. I loved two things about this movie. One — the fact that it’s basically a John Ford movie, where it’s made up of small moments and not a specific plot, and those small moments make up the plot. And the second thing I liked about this was how they ended it. I don’t want to go into detail because it’s not out yet, but I really like how they did what they did. In all, this was one of the most satisfying films I’ve seen this year.

Amour — * * * * (4 stars)

I liked it. I liked it a lot. Didn’t love it, but it was good. This is one of those movies that I feel I won’t fully understand until I’m older, and I’m okay with that. Sometimes you just need to have lived to truly get something. As it is, I thought it was really good. And I’m gonna take that for what it’s worth and wait until I can fully appreciate this movie. It’s one of those 4 star movies where the extra half a star is waiting to be unlocked. But still — big fan. Great movie.

Quartet — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

I enjoyed the fuck out of this. It’s just so likable and engaging. I’m surprised Dustin Hoffman hasn’t directed more movies. This was really well-made. And it was so great seeing all those older actors who don’t really get work anymore (not counting Maggie Smith, even though it’s always nice to see her). This is one of the real hidden gems of the year. I know it’s not out yet, but this doesn’t look like it’s gonna get a big release or Oscar nominations, so it’ll probably end up being forgotten quickly, which is a shame. I loved every minute of this.

Twixt — * * * (3 stars)

Yeah — nah. I wanted to go along with it, and Coppola did some nice things here and there, but the writing just wasn’t there. That’s been my problem with all of Coppola’s recent films — visually, they’re good, and sometimes even great (Tetro), but narratively, they’re just lacking. And here, the performance of Kilmer helps it, but mostly — it’s not really that interesting. I got through it okay, and it held some interest, but otherwise — meh.

Stand Up Guys — * * * (3 stars)

Technically getting released in February, but I got to watch an Academy screener. It’s — all right. Not great. Mostly what this is, which you can probably guess from the outset, is a film that has bad writing, no real plot, and is an excuse for Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin to work together. And on that front, that’s really the only reason you’d see this movie. It’s completely ridiculous hearing these actors (who are mostly a series of quirks now, Arkin excluded) speak mediocre dialogue like this, but who cares. You get Walken and Pacino, you get Arkin, and you get a perfectly acceptable plot for 90 minutes that allows you to get in, get out, and not dislike much. It’s not great, but you can get through it once.

The Sweeney — * * * (3 stars)

This came out in the U.K. but won’t be out in the U.S. until at least this year, if at all. It was pretty good. I enjoyed myself. It was a bit too –modern — but I enjoyed it. It’s one of those movies that’ll be on Showtime and you’ll put it on at 11:30 at night and you’ll enjoy it from beginning to end and that’s it. That, to me, is a successful movie.

Now Is Good — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I enjoyed this. It’s not coming out in the U.S. until next year, but I was intrigued by the premise. And, I have to say — I thought it would be pretty generic, but throughout, I kept going, “Damn, that was nice… that was nice too.” Mostly because, when you hear the synopsis, “Girl who’s terminally ill wants to have sex before she dies,” you immediately think of all the generic scenarios that can come of that. And yet, as I watched it — it’s not really a weepy. They don’t have the girl morose about shit. She’s the only one who’s straightforward about it. She’s okay with it and is pretty sarcastic about the whole deal. I liked that. And I liked that they didn’t let things get too cliche. So I was a fan of this one. Didn’t love it — it’s not that unique or anything, but I did enjoy it more than I would have if they went by the book with it.

Upside Down — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I really enjoyed this. I mean, most of that had to do with the fact that the concept is amazing, but still — I enjoyed it. It could have been written better and been a really great movie, but as it is, I really enjoyed it.

– – – – –

All the other films not on this list are ones that’ll be in the end-of-year articles.

Here’s a list of the films I have, but haven’t seen: Girls Guns and Gambling, Norwegian Wood, The Giant Mechanical Man, Headhunters, The Samaritan, The Intouchables, Side by Side, Liberal Arts, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, Vamps, The Details, Deadfall, Lay the Favorite, Kon-Tiki, A Royal Affair, Holy Motors, This Must Be the Place, Rust and Bone, The Baytown Outlaws. I also have the Hatfields and McCoys miniseries that I want to watch at some point. Not that it’ll go up in an article, probably. I just want to say that I’m going to watch it and am very excited for it.

Here are the movies I haven’t been able to find yet: Robot and Frank, The Paperboy, The Oranges, Chasing Mavericks

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