2014: The Year in Reviews (April)

Every January, I go over almost the films that are scheduled to come out that year. I use Wikipedia’s year in film article as it exists at the time, and preview all the films. I use it to familiarize myself with what’s coming out, and, most importantly, use it to guess what I’m going to think about all of the movies. I like to guess ratings for all the films because, at this point, I know myself pretty well, and I selfishly like to see how close I can get up to twelve months out. Plus, it allows me to see which films at the end of the year surprised me, for better or worse. But mostly, it’s so I know what’s coming out. Sometimes I just want to know what to be excited for.

Aside from the films scheduled, I also go over films that have been finished (or are shooting), that, in all likelihood, will probably come out over the course of the year. I’ve gotten much more thorough about this since starting the blog. 2011 had 30 such films. 2012 had 90. Last year, I had 209, plus an extra 27 held over from the year before. At this point, there’s not much that I miss.

How these articles work: I recap what I said about the films in January, write up my review of the films based on the initial watch (which have been posted in three separate reviews articles from April, August, and… yesterday), and then I give my final thoughts on the film, after having had time to think about it some more, and finalize my ranking. Typically, the Final Thoughts space is for me to go, “Originally I gave it 3.5 stars, but now, it’s more like 3.”

We started with January, and are going month by month through December. After that, I’ll recap the films I tracked in January that didn’t come out (and ultimately decide which ones I’ll keep tracking next year). And at the end of it all, I’ll analyze all the numbers to see how accurate I was in guessing back in January. Mostly it’s to put all the ratings in one place. And of course, after that, we’ll end the year with the Unforgivables list and my Top Ten list. But that’s all not for another two weeks. Right now, we’re recapping April:

One thing I do in all these recap articles is explain how my rankings work.

* * * * * (5 stars) — I really loved the film. Five stars essentially guarantees the film a spot in the top ten or top twenty (Though usually top ten). (2013 examples of 5 star movies: Gravity, Frozen, The Wind Rises.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I loved the film, but not unconditionally. Four and a half stars is usually the ranking for films in the top ten and top twenty. Rarely does a four and a half star film fall to tier two, but that’s all dependent on how many there are. (2013 examples of 4.5 star films: About Time, Inside Llewyn Davis, Prisoners, 12 Years a Slave.)

* * * * (4 stars) — I liked the film quite a bit, but it’s not one of those that I would automatically say is a top ten film. It could end up being one when all is said and done, but typically a four star film is one of those that I’ve solidly liked, and will openly say is a really good movie. Three and a half, I’ll say that I really enjoyed it. But four stars is where I’ll say that it’s a really good movie. Four star movies generally are top twenty and tier two. They don’t usually make the top ten, but it’s not unheard of. (2013 examples of 4 star films: Dallas Buyers Club, Escape from Tomorrow, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Pacific Rim, This Is the End.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars) — The film stood out to me as being particularly solid. I always differentiate three and a half from three by saying that three stars is for a film that I just enjoyed enough to give it the thumbs up. Three and a half is when I go, “Wow, that was actually really solid and I enjoyed it quite a bit.” It’s not alway a mark of “this was better than I expected” or, “It’s better than you think.” Sometimes it’s just, “That was really solid,” or, “That was awesome,” even though the film itself wasn’t particularly a masterpiece. It’s a very variable ranking. It could mean a lot of things. Usually it’s for something I enjoyed, but didn’t love enough to put it near the very top of my year-end list. Three and a half star films never make it above tier two, and most of them are tier three. You’ll see only a few populating tier two, but mostly they’re tier three. (2013 examples of 3.5 star films: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Best Offer, Frances Ha, Now You See Me, Pain and Gain, Upstream Color.)

* * * (3 stars) — Three stars is for films that were pretty good. Usually for a three star movie, I’ll say, “I enjoyed it well enough.” Or, probably the most common phrase I use is, “You can get through it.” But without qualification. For a two and a half star film, I’ll say, “You can get through it, but…” Three stars don’t have the qualification. Mostly three stars is for a film I enjoyed enough to say it wasn’t bad. I found it watchable enough that I wasn’t completely indifferent toward it. If I give a film that seems like it should have a higher rating three stars, then it means I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. And if there’s something you’d think was a piece of shit at three stars, it means I thought it wasn’t actually that bad. But most of the time, three stars just means, “Yeah, it was okay. I enjoyed it well enough.” They’re just entertaining enough for me to not be indifferent. (2013 examples of 3 star films: Beautiful Creatures, The Call, The Lone Ranger, Spring Breakers, To the Wonder, 21 & Over.)

* * ½ (2.5 stars) — Two and a half stars is my ultimate indifference ranking. I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad film, I just didn’t give a shit about it whatsoever. I thought it was utterly generic. Nothing to make me like it, and it wasn’t bad enough to make me dislike it. It wasn’t memorable to me in any way. Odds are, if a “classy” movie is here, it means it was particularly disappointing, and if something that seemed like an Unforgivable is here, it means it actually wasn’t the piece of shit we were all thinking and was actually just about passable. It’s also my way of saying, “You might have liked this, but I certainly didn’t.” And also my way of saying, “This wasn’t very good, but at least it was competently made.” But for the most part, two and a half stars means I just didn’t care whatsoever and will not remember much about the movie in two years. They may also be Unforgivable, depending on my reasons. (2013 examples of 2.5 star films: After Earth, The Butler, Gangster Squad, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jobs.)

* * (2 stars) — Two starts means that the film was mostly competent and all, but I just didn’t like it. Either it wasn’t for me, it was a genre that I don’t like (horror movie), I just found it boring, or it was one of those generic shitty genre movies that populate the early months. Or it was just a giant piece of shit that at least looked like a good movie. So two stars is for — “They tried… it just wasn’t very good.” Depending on how bad they are, they do have a shot at the Unforgivables list. (2013 examples of 2 star films: The Big Wedding, A Haunted House, The Internship, Lovelace, Safe Haven.)

* ½ (1.5 stars) — One and a half usually means the film was terrible, but it’s not a surefire Unforgivable. Probably because it’s a shitty thriller, a shitty horror movie, or a horrible sequel in a franchise that has churned out nothing but horrible sequels. Or it’s for films that could have gone two stars, but I just have a particular dislike for them. These have a pretty good shot at the Unforgivables list, and should for sure make my bottom 25 list. (2013 examples of 1.5 star films: Battle of the Year, The Heat, Identity Thief, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, We’re the Millers.)

* (1 star) — I really didn’t like the movie. It was so bad it was almost unwatchable. Typically a one star film is certain to be Unforgivable. Sometimes one star movies get saved by virtue of being a certain kind of sequel (like Big Mommas House: Like Father, Like Son) or being something that’s too easy to make Unforgivable (like Marmaduke, or a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. Movies we knew were gonna be pieces of shit going in), but in any case — they’re really awful movies that shouldn’t exist. (2013 examples of 1 star films: Ass Backwards, The Canyons, Inappropriate Comedy, So Undercover.)

0 stars — It means I hated the film. Guaranteed Unforgivable. It’s a film that should never have been made, and has actually lowered the bar for cinema as an art form and has actually detracted from a culture that’s in the toilet to begin with. A film with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and one that physically made me angry while watching it. (2013 examples of 0 star films: Grown Ups 2, The Starving Games.) All right, now let’s get recapping: We’re gonna start, as we always do, with a combination of 2013 films that I didn’t get to see in time for last year’s articles (or are clearly 2013 films that weren’t released until this year or are ones I just didn’t know about until this year).

April

The Pirate Fairy

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s about Tinker Bell.”

“I’m in.”

3 stars.

What I actually thought about it:

“Why the hell did I watch this again?”

“I guess because Tinker Bell is my favorite Disney character and I thought this would be more of that. This… is not.”

“Tinker Bell is nothing like the way she is in Peter Pan. Which is a shame. But somehow I ended up still enjoying this well enough. So I guess there’s that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Honestly, I still enjoyed this well enough, even though chances are I won’t really be watching this in the future. Maybe with my children (because let’s face it, I’ll enjoy it as much as they will), but otherwise, the once — we’re cool.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

What I said about it back in January:

“I only saw the first movie once, but I imagine if I saw it again, I wouldn’t like it as much as I did that one time.”

“This one — couldn’t give any less of a shit about it. I’m so done with Marvel. Their stuff is really becoming tedious at this point.”

“I’m assuming I’ll give this 3 stars, but I really don’t know how I’m going to respond to the movie. That’s really what I’m interested in seeing.”

“I generally like Captain America more than I like Thor, but now that this story doesn’t take place in the 40s, why should I care at all?”

What I actually thought about it:

“I’m gonna preface this next statement a lot, because the way everyone else says it and the way I say it are two very different things.”

“In my mind, Marvel has really only made one great movie, and that’s Iron Man. Everything else has been varying degrees of entertaining (Captain America, Iron Man III), overrated (Avengers) shit (Thor, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2), or god awful shit (Thor 2). I’m so tired of their stuff by now.”

“I will say, given how the rest of those films are… this is the second best film Marvel has ever made. Because they actually told a story! A real story! This is a political thriller that just happens to include superheroes. And that’s the way these movies should be. Tell a fucking story and incorporate the stuff into it. Don’t just try to please the fanboys and expand a universe. Tell a goddamn story.”

“Realistically, it’s still only a 3 star movie. Even if I did go 3.5 stars here right now, I’d have dropped it in December. It’s not that good. But they told a story, it was contained, they showed brief glimpses of the bigger universe (some better than others… they might as well have showed someone slowly jerking off when they flashed Stark Tower at the end), and didn’t take away from the story at hand. So for that, I commend them.”

“That said… these assholes have a lot of work to do before they actually start making good movies.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I barely remember this movie. And I’m not even writing this in December. When I read this over in December, I will add a parenthetical to this to confirm my feelings are still the same, but for now, I barely remember the movie. I do remember it being more of a procedural than the other Marvel movies, and at this point, only counting the pure Avengers movies (i.e. not Guardians of the Galaxy), this is the second best one they’ve made after the first Iron Man. It tells a story, and doesn’t throw the universe building shit in your face (it’s still there, and I hate it, but it’s not annoyingly present like it was in other movies). So for that, I’m grateful. Otherwise… it’s just okay. I’m pretty much over everyone sucking Marvel’s dick. The movies aren’t that great. They’re okay at best. And this is the most okay movie they’ve had in five years.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact. I know these assholes at this point.

Dom Hemingway

What I said about it back in January:

“I was tracking this last year. I believe my exact words were that this sounded exactly like one of those 70s movies that would have starred Michael Caine.”

“I’m really excited for this. It sounds great.”

“I’m gonna go with 3.5 stars. I think I went with that last year, and I’m sticking with that.”

“I think 3 stars is the minimum here.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I had pretty high expectations for this movie. And they were mostly met.”

“I almost wish he did more drugs and drink more throughout the film, but the film is still pretty good. It works.”

“Definitely would have been a better received movie if it were made 40 years ago, but that can’t be helped.”

“While it won’t rate near the very top of my year-end list, it’ll probably make an appearance on there somewhere. I still enjoyed this well enough.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah. I liked it. It’s a fun movie. Definitely would have been awesome if it were made in the 70s and starred Michael Caine. But here, it’s a nice throwback and is entertaining enough to maintain a 3.5 star rating. Fan of this one.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Trials of Cate McCall

What I said about it back in January:

“Written and directed by a woman.”

“And I like courtroom dramas.”

“And Kate Beckinsale is starring. And she has major points from me for being in Nothing But the Truth, one of the most viciously underseen films of the past decade.”

3.5 stars.”

“Looking for a hidden gem here.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Love me some trial movies.”

“This one was pretty good. No one will ever see this, but it’s still a good movie. I like the central conceit. I won’t get too much into it, but I did like it.”

“I know no one’s ever heard of it but me (or those who actually pay attention to the stuff I track on here), which is a shame. But I’ll beat the drum for this one.”

“It’s one of those good movies you don’t know about. The kind that maybe one day you catch on TV and go, “‘That was actually pretty good.'”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s not a strong 3.5 stars. It’s more a 3 star movie to most people, that I’m rating the extra half star because trial movies are always more interesting than other movies and because I enjoyed it. It’s a nice little hidden gem. A moderate gem. I’ll let you know which are the great gems. But this one is worth watching if you like trial movies.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact. Not quite the hidden gem I was hoping for, but that guess really worked out.

In the Blood

What I said about it back in January:

“Gina Carano’s first solo starring vehicle after Haywire.”

“Sounds interesting enough.”

2.5 stars.

What I actually thought about it:

“Meh. Shitty action movie. The kind that goes on Showtime at 3:45 in the morning that you just kind of sit through because you’ve been awake and have nothing else going on.”

“You know what I mean. You’ve been up all night playing whatever video game, and the TV was just on. And you had some movie on, but that was for white noise, and you’ve long since forgotten about it. And this came on afterwards. That’s how you see this movie.”

“It’s pretty bad. It looks like it was shot on HD cameras you take with you on vacation, or attach to your helmet when you skydive. There’s no story, and it’s just a straight to video plot, and Gina Carano beating people up.”

“I mean, sure, you’ve watched movies based on less, but I can’t recommend you go see this. This isn’t something you deliberately waste your time on. This is something you happen into because it’s 4 in the morning.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That review about covers it. Not recommended.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact. Barely.

Frankie and Alice

What I said about it back in January:

“Wait… this came out 4 years ago. Halle Berry was nominated for a Golden Globe for this in 2010.”

“I’m pretty sure I have this movie.”

“But they’re releasing it here?”

“Pretty sure I can’t honestly count this as a 2014 movie. I guess I can for the count, and since I’m guessing and all, but it’s not really 2014.”

2.5 stars. How can this be good if they shelved it for three years?”

What I actually thought about it:

“Weird history with this one.”

“The movie’s not very good, either.”

“It’s an Oscar-bait type of role, but the movie’s no good. It’s kind of like The Soloist.”

“Not a horrible movie (though I’m sure some might think so), just… there. So really the only thing I’m gonna remember this for is the weird release history of it. Which is something.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The movie Blue Sky was shelved for 3 years and then Jessica Lange won an Oscar for it.

That will not be happening with this movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Under the Skin

What I said about it back in January:

“Jonathan Glazer directed this. I loved Sexy Beast.”

“This is taking that title kind of literally, I guess.”

“I heard great things about this when it hit festivals last year.”

3.5 stars. Can’t wait to see it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I liked this quite a bit.”

“I loved what Glazer did with it. It’s kind of slow, so if you’re not paying attention, it can be difficult to get through, but it’s a really intriguing watch.”

“One of those movies that I will think of fondly, keep on a list of films I liked for the year, always mention it as an interesting film, but one that will never make the top of a list of my favorite films of that year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really liked this, and this is a movie that everyone should see. This will either be an underseen movie of 2014.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Draft Day

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh, I’m all in for this one. I’ve been all over this since they announced it.”

“I even read the script for this. It’s incredible. If they fuck up the script as it is — which would be very hard to do, this is, at minimum, a 3.5 star movie. If they mostly keep the script I read in tact, this is a 4 star movie.”

“The script was on the Black List a few years ago. It’s fantastic. Draft Day is one of the most fascinating little microcosms you can possibly deal with as subject matter for a film, and this film does it really well. The script was about the Bills, but the film switched it to the Browns, and I think that was ultimately a better choice, given that franchise’s history of losing. At least Buffalo got to four Super Bowls in a row.”

“But yeah, this script was amazing, and this should end up as one of the better films of 2014. The whole first 2/3 of this movie are completely authentic, and while the last ten get a little far-fetched in terms of things that would actually happen, we forgive things like that. It’s kind of like how, in the poker movie, when the final hand happens to be four of a kind beating a full house. Dramatic license.”

“But yeah — watch out for this one. It’s gonna be good.”

What I actually thought about it:

“From the first four minutes of the film, I knew it wouldn’t be as good as the script. And the reason for that is two-fold.”

“The main reason — exposition. They took a tight script and made it more mainstream so people who don’t know football can understand it. Which was the wrong way to go. The amount of people who know football in this country is most of us.” (We have a fucking network dedicated to it, 24/7!) “But also, the exposition is in completely bizarre places. It’s weird. If you really know football, just listen to the dialogue. It doesn’t sound like how people talk. Not even people in the league. People. If you talked football with your friends, it would sound nothing like how the people talk in this. There’s too much pandering to idiots in the film. The route they should have gone was the Sorkin route. Just have them talk shop and don’t explain it. People will follow. It’s about the drama and not following every little detail.”

“And the second reason this isn’t as good as the script (which ties into the first) — poor directing. Ivan Reitman wasn’t the right choice for this. He just wasn’t. He doesn’t elevate the script. He broadens it out. (Which is two in a row for him. No Strings Attached was a fucking disaster. Not just because of him, but he didn’t help.) Overall, of course, the film is good and I did really enjoy it. I’m not even going to rag on the trades and stuff that happen, because — you don’t watch a poker movie expecting the hands to make sense. You expect embellishment.”

“It works as a draft drama. It could have been better, but it didn’t do a complete disservice to the script. It’s almost entirely there. It really couldn’t have dropped below 3.5 for me unless they radically changed things.”

“So it’s good… it just needed a better director at the helm, who would have known how to handle the lingo, wouldn’t have tried to make everyone understand it and just focused on the drama and let that carry the film, and maybe wouldn’t have cast Jennifer Garner and shored up that romantic angle just a little bit. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Gotta say… as much as the movie tried to ruin the script, through bad directing, bad casting and pandering to what they thought was an audience who won’t understand broad football concepts, I still like this movie. It’s barely hanging onto the 3.5 for me, but I’m keeping it there. Because when I think about this movie, I think about how good that script was, and can see the good parts of that script in this movie. So I’ll always think of it better than the actual movie is. That’s just the way it’s going to be. So, while we all agree this is flawed, I’m giving it more of a pass than most.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star, but also expected, in a way.

Joe

What I said about it back in January:

“David Gordon Green directing Nicolas Cage. I was in last year.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s good. It’s one of those movies that’s more character study than where stuff happens, but it definitely works. It’s very watchable and has a particular low key charm to it. And it renews faith that people don’t have in Nicolas Cage. (Mine is unwavering, of course.)”

“I’m not the biggest David Gordon Green fan, but this works. Overall, definitely a movie I can recommend strongly. Not gonna be a top ten or anything, but definitely a tier three, recommended movie from the year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s a good movie. Great Cage performance. And I like when Cage turns in this kind of work, because it reminds people the man is a fucking incredible actor. I’m not a David Gordon Green fan, but I’m a huge Cage fan, so that’s the real appeal of this movie for me. And it delivers.

Solid film.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Not sure why I went so low. I guess because I usually don’t like David Gordon Green’s stuff.

Hateship, Loveship

What I said about it back in January:

“Directed by a woman.”

“Solid cast, seems like it’s more drama than comedy, and I’ll go along with it.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

Yup. It’s an indie movie. You know what you’re getting here. Real solid cast on this, though. Big fan of that. Otherwise — totally watchable, you might even like it. Otherwise, if you know indies, you won’t even be mildly surprised here. Watch it for the cast and nothing else. Well… and the fact that it has a female director. Watch it for those two things.

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s a typical indie. Standard tropes, nothing groundbreaking whatsoever. Barely memorable to me. But I got through it, and enjoyed it well enough.

And it was directed by a woman, and I will always support that here.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Why did I guess so high?

Only Lovers Left Alive

What I said about it back in January:

3.5 stars.”

“I feel like it probably should be 3, because I won’t like it as much as everyone else will, but fuck it. I’ve been tracking it for a year. Let’s hope it’s good.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Absolutely nothing happened, yet I was riveted the entire time.”

“Which I’m sure is the review to every Jim Jarmusch movie.”

“I have no idea why I was so invested in what was going on, but I was. So I won’t question it.”

“Good movie, will be underseen come year’s end and may or may not make my list of most Underseen movies.”

“This is a good one.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s just a really interesting movie. I’m not sure why I liked it as much as I did, but I still do. It’s really engaging. And I still think of it fondly. I’m not always a Jarmusch fan, but I really liked this one. And this will definitely be an underseen movie of 2014.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Railway Man

What I said about it back in January:

“Could have gotten a minor Oscar push, but instead it’s going to not be seen by anyone. Which would have likely been the case regardless.”

3 stars.”

“I’ll see it. I hope I like it well enough to say good things about it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I mean… it’s fine.”

“It’s not of too much substance. Dude was tortured during the war, is now a mess, and then goes back to try to overcome his trauma. That’s it.”

“Probably could have used better directing and writing, but otherwise, totally acceptable.”

“There’s a reason this got pushed, so you don’t need to rush out to see it, but otherwise, completely fine film.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I barely remember it, but I do remember it was decent enough. So I guess there’s that.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Perfect Sisters

What I said about it back in January:

“All right.”

2.5 stars.

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s there. No one else knows about this movie, and you don’t need to. It’s a generic indie. It has moments where it’s almost okay, but ultimately, you don’t need to waste your time.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I mean, the original review says it all, doesn’t it?

Either one.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Oculus

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing, I guess. Looks like I probably saw it, thought, “No one will even know if I skip this,” and didn’t write anything about it. And then I somehow decided to actually watch it. That’s rare.

What I actually thought about it:

“Nope. I’m trying to give horror movies a shot, but nope. I’m just not interested. I thought the premise might give me something to like, but ultimately, I still didn’t give a shit. This just isn’t my genre. No matter how much I try to watch them.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

When I leave my reviews in their complete form, you know I don’t have anything else to add to them in this section.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Rio 2

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh no.”

“I barely got through the first one. And now I have to suffer through another?”

2 stars.”

“I want to say 2.5, but the last one was filled with shitty pop music and racially stereotyped supporting characters. Give me more of the same, I will downgrade this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Nope. Did not care, did not care.”

“Generic kids movie. The first one I barely enjoyed. This one I had to make it through. To the point where I’ll have to think twice about actually watching the third one.”

“This has basically become Ice Age for me. First one is okay enough, second one is, ‘Ehh,’ and the third one you just don’t want to bother with and eventually you just stop watching them.”

“It’s fine if you’re five, but otherwise, why would you even bother with this?”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I don’t see how anyone over the age of six gets anything out of this movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But not really.

Cuban Fury

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s that salsa movie with Nick Frost and Rashida Jones.”

“Not totally invested in it, but if I can see it within the next six weeks, I’m more likely to sit down and watch it than I’d be to watch it in like, November, or whenever they’d release it here in like, six theaters.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I got what I was expecting. I don’t really think there’s much more to say. This movie is exactly what you think it is, and that’s it. It is what it is.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Indifference. It is what it is. See it if you want, but you know exactly what you’re getting.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Heaven Is For Real

What I said about it back in January:

“Directed by Randall Wallace, who wrote Braveheart and directed The Man in the Iron Mask, We Were Soldiers, and Secretariat.”

“The man is no stranger to overt religious messages.”

“We all know how much I hate this religious bullshit, so there’s a pretty good chance I’ll skip this altogether.”

“But on the off chance I do see it, 2.5 stars. I’m sure I’ll hate it on the grounds of it being a religious movie, but maybe I’ll find the heart to claim indifference.”

“Maybe.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I mean, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming.”

“I’ll spare you the specifics for now, because they’ll be coming later. Which is in line with the themes of this movie.”

0 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Have faith. And thou shalt inherit the vitriol.

It’s like inheriting the wind, only way more entertaining.

0 stars.

How close was I?: Off by two and a half stars.

Fading Gigolo

What I said about it back in January:

“John Turturro wrote and is directing this. And it’s purely because of my love of Romance and Cigarettes that I think this can be great.”

“So I’m in regardless.”

3.5 stars, even though 3 seems likely. But I trust Turturro. Romance and Cigarettes was so offbeat and good.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I wanted to say, “It’s weird.” But I saw Romance and Cigarettes. That was weird. And I loved that.”

“This was weird in a different way.”

“Ultimately, the movie is okay, and watchable, but it just didn’t have that spark his last movie had.”

“I’d recommend people see this just because Woody Allen plays a pimp in it, but otherwise, I’d say people should go see Romance and Cigarettes instead.”

Final Thoughts:

I was a bit too overeager, with good reason, but it didn’t disappoint that much. It was what it should have been, and not what I wanted it to be. I can’t fault it for that.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But I was aware 3 was most likely.

In Your Eyes

What I said about it back in January:

“Joss Whedon wrote this. A woman is directing.”

3 starsNo idea what to make of it.”

“Could be good. Or I could respond to it the way I respond to all of Whedon’s stuff – indifference.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It… was fine.”

“The writing here is really bad. The actual writing. Not the concept. I know people anoint Joss Whedon as some master writer, but… watch the scene in this movie where the two characters realize they can see what each other sees. It’s ridiculous. Nobody could make that sound good.”

“It settles into being an interesting movie after the first 40 minutes or so, but it doesn’t get particularly interesting at any point. It’s one of those movies that feels like it wastes a good concept.”

“A lot of the moments in this are based on cliche. You’d think they’d try something new.”

“So, while I enjoyed it well enough… it’s too flawed for me to really like.”

“Also, shitty indie soundtrack alert! This is one of those movies that loves using ‘montage’ songs all over the place. It’s annoying.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Good concept, barely passable movie. Can’t fault it, since it does exactly what indies do, but based on the concept, this movie could have been better than it was.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

A Haunted House 2

What I said about it back in January:

“Nope.”

“I gave you guys a pass the first time for being bad, but also not being a fucking disaster like I was expecting. This time, you don’t get a pass.”

“Do I even want to see this?”

“I might, just to pad the numbers.”

1.5 stars. You’re not getting a pass this time. I know what I’m getting.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Come on, now. It’s a piece of shit. We know this. Let’s not waste time. Fucking terrible.”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I mean, obviously.

* ½ (1.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Transcendence

What I said about it back in January:

“This… I don’t know about this.”

“Honestly, I’m not expecting a whole lot out of this.”

“I’m thinking this will either be 3 or 3.5 stars. And quite frankly, I’m gonna go low here. I’m going 3 stars, because to me, this seems more like a solid 3 star movie than anything else. The trailer made it seem like it’s pretty self-explanatory.”

“I’ll be wrong. Let this be 3.5 stars. Let this be 4 stars. But right now, I want to see it. I feel like I already know what’s going to happen here before I see it, and this will just end up being a thriller with some big ideas behind it.”

“Would it be too much if the last thing I said was that I wanted to see this film ‘transcend’?”

“Probably, right?”

What I actually thought about it:

“It feels like a smaller movie that was made on a bigger movie’s budget.”

“It’s not a big budget thriller, and they had to treat it as such. So the result is a weird movie, tonally.”

“All of the acting is wooden (probably because the director is a DP at heart, and not one to really deal with performance), and the story is moderately interesting, but it doesn’t go anywhere.”

“The result is a movie that so obviously was going to fail, and isn’t really that good. You watch it once, but ultimately forget it very quickly. Definitely one of the more disappointing movies of 2014.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, definitely one of the more disappointing movies of 2014.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Brick Mansions

What I said about it back in January:

“Luc Besson co-wrote this. Paul Walker is starring.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I think I did know what this was back in January, but then I forgot about it.”

“And when I watched it, I realized very quickly, ‘Wait… this is just an American remake of District B13?’ Which made me disappointed.”

“And then they just cast the same French guy in his part, just because he could do the parkour. And then they fucking dubbed over his voice with Vin Diesel! I mean, it’s so clearly Vin Diesel too. They didn’t even try to hide it.”

“So basically I’m watching a lesser remake of a good movie, with the same actor, who doesn’t even speak his own fucking lines. I lost interest pretty quickly.”

“And there’s no casino scene equivalent, which made me really lose interest.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Wow… I got it right somehow. For completely different reasons, but still.

Don’t bother with this. Watch District B13 instead.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Other Woman

What I said about it back in January:

“Unforgivable watch.”

“This thing reeks of Unforgivable.”

“You had me at Cameron Diaz.”

“It was also written by a woman. And if you notice, some of the most offensive and demeaning movies about women are written by women. I’ve always felt that there’s this thing with female screenwriters, where people ignore them in general, and when they do get stuff made, it’s the same generic shit, sometimes even more so, than if it were written by men. It feels like they go out of their way to make things even more offensive to women to somehow make up for the fact that they’re a woman… It’s speaking to a greater issue at large, but it still annoys me when I see it.”

“Anyway… 2 stars.”

“I’m all over this one. I can’t wait to hate this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Jesus. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I will by the end of the year, though. A certain article dictates it.”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Kate Upton will be nominated for a Razzie for this.

Just in case you guys like to make guesses about that sort of thing.

(I also wrote that before I even saw the movie. That’s how much I know these things.)

* ½ (1.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But right, for all intents and purposes.

Blue Ruin

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I gave in and saw it because I could.

What I actually thought about it:

“I liked this movie quite a bit.”

“It’s definitely a slow burn of a movie. Very simple story, unfolds very naturally, and doesn’t get too big.”

“It tells what it wants to tell, and tells it effectively. And for the 90 or 100 minutes, you’re invested in it. That’s a good movie. Simple as that.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Definitely one of the more underseen movies of the year. Seek this one out. It’s worth it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Locke

What I said about it back in January:

“A Sundance movie. It takes place in real time, with Tom Hardy in a car the entire time.”

“Sounds really good.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Loved this. Absolutely loved it.”

“I mean, when you hear it’s a movie that takes place entirely in a car, that’s right up my alley.”

“It’s a beautiful movie. This is going to be one of the more underappreciated movies come year’s end, and I will end up being a real champion for this throughout. Everyone should see this.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

So glad I started incorporating Sundance movies into my release calendar. Allows me to rate things like this that I would have definitely ended up seeing.

Definitely an underrated (and probably underseen) movie of 2014.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But better than I thought. And I already was expecting good things.

Filth

What I said about it back in January:

“Can’t wait.”

“It looks off the wall crazy.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s really fun. The first half of this movie had me laughing hysterically at times. Then it gets real serious and a bit weird toward the end, and they lost me a bit.”

“McAvoy does a great job with it. (And also adds another tally to that other streak he has going! … those of you who know me know what I’m talking about.)”

“It’s funny, and enjoyable, but it’s not one of those movies I’m gonna be real excited to show people because it gets weird at the end.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think the best way to talk about this is to say — really enjoyed it, it’s a lot of fun, but it does get weird toward the end, and that hurts it for me. It means it might not end up in my favorite films of the year article because of that. It’s right there, and depending on how many there are, it can still make it, but I’m worried it doesn’t, which is a shame, because it’s worth seeing and is a completely off the wall, dark comedy. And I like those.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Bad Country

What I said about it back in January:

“I like these people.”

2.5 stars. I’ll see it for them.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Honestly… the cast is the only thing worth seeing in this.”

“It’s a great cast, and a movie that’s just okay.”

“It doesn’t amount to anything more than a movie you watch on Showtime one day and go, ‘Shit… look at all these people I like.’ But that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that.”

“This is a perfectly acceptable movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Only worth seeing for the cast, and nothing more. Completely forgettable movie. If it weren’t for the cast, you wouldn’t even know what this was.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Quiet Ones

What I said about it back in January:

Create a poltergeist?”

“Oh-kay. I’ll give them credit for something I haven’t heard before.”

“Still not gonna see it, but I’ll give them credit nonetheless.”

“(P.S. It’s The Quiet Ones you gotta watch. You’re welcome, America.)”

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it. Was never going to.

Well that’s not true. I’d have seen it if it made any sort of waves. But this came out and no one made  sound. So I skipped it.

My tagline is still better than this entire movie, I’ll bet.

How close was I?: N/A. But exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, May.

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