2014: The Year in Reviews (July)

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’ll start with January, and go 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 July:

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).

July

Deliver Us from Evil

What I said about it back in January:

“Renegade priest?”

“Also, I can’t stand these paranormal movies. Stop with this shit already.”

“I’m saying 2 stars, since I’m not convinced I won’t get roped into seeing this. But I really don’t want to right now, and would like to skip it. But apparently it’s supposed to be a cop thriller at the heart of it, which might lead to me eventually seeing this. Even if I do, it’s gonna be either 2 or 2.5 stars. Nothing else.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It had me marginally interested for the first 20 minutes.”

“And ultimately, since the film is more about the exorcism than the police work, I didn’t care.”

“The characters were mostly caricatures, and I appreciate that it tried to do horror more in the vein of The Exorcist and less like the shit they make now, but it just didn’t work for me.”

“Kudos for the effort, but ultimately I didn’t care.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, did not care. Why would I? I never care about these movies, and this didn’t do anything to make me intrigued. It took a cop movie premise and turned it into a standard exorcism movie. Do not care.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Earth to Echo

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I guess this was another one I assumed I wouldn’t see that would be small enough for me to skip without anybody noticing.

What I actually thought about it:

“A found footage E.T. That’s what this is. Why… why would you do that?”

“It’s like, “Hey, let’s take Super 8 and make it like E.T.” Sure, that’ll work.”

“The problem with these movies is that they try to create characters inorganically. They want to set shit up in the first act. And they don’t let the movie just be.”

“Oh, and by the way — stop with the fucking found footage. It’s annoying.”

“Just watch E.T. instead. And watch it twice, just for thinking about even watching this movie. That’s your penance. Two E.T.s and a Short Circuit. And don’t ever confess to watching a found footage movie again.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think I covered it pretty well up there.

Generic found footage bullshit that’s ripping off its betters.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Life Itself

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I think this first premiered at Sundance. Not sure why I still didn’t mention it. But, it happens.

What I actually thought about it:

“The rating only says 4 stars, but in terms of documentaries, this is a five-star documentary. This was an incredible movie.”

“Honestly, the only reason I didn’t give this five stars was because I didn’t want to have to explain why I put a five-star rated movie in my tier two and not higher.”

“Either way, this was a perfect movie, and if you like film as much as I do, no doubt Roger Ebert’s words and reviews meant something to you. He was the only critic I read for the longest time. And even now, I barely read movie reviews, unless I’m reading them in bulk, and even then, it’s happening after I see the movie. His were the only reviews I read before I saw the movie. His words were the only that mattered to me.”

“Even if I didn’t agree with him, he always had something worth saying about a movie. Usually, if he condemned something, he condemned it in a positive way. (Usually.) To me, he was truly the only critic who mattered, because he was the only critic who got it. I’m not sure what ‘it’ is, but his were the only reviews that ever engaged me as a reader. He had a style that I have not seen replicated with anyone else. And because of that, I don’t read anything else.”

“And this documentary is a beautiful (but brutal — the suction scene is really tough to watch. But it’s great, because it’s punctuated by a text he wrote, saying how happy he was that they caught it on film) tribute to the man, and is one of the few documentaries I will make sure people see in the future.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Just one more thing I want to say about this…

You can really tell a lot about what a person means and how they are regarded by other people by how open people are when talking about them. And in this movie, I heard more than once people say, “I never told anyone that before.” Like when Chaz opened up about meeting Roger in an AA meeting, and how she never told anyone she was in recovery before. Or when Martin Scorsese said how he’d almost given up wanting to live in the 80s, and it was a tribute from Siskel and Ebert that helped him get through the period.

It takes a special kind of person to get others to admit that sort of thing, especially in such a public place as this. And Ebert really was a special kind of person.

I truly cannot recommend this documentary highly enough. And, to be quite honest with all of you, I sincerely hope that when all is said and done, this manages to make it into my top 20 for the year. Because if it does, that will tell you just how highly I consider it, even with my bias against documentaries.

* * * * (4 stars)

(But really 5 stars.)

How close was I?: N/A

Tammy

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh no.”

“Oh no, oh no, oh no.”

“Starring Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon.”

“And Dan Aykroyd!”

“And Allison Janney, Kathy Bates and Mark Duplass.”

“But Melissa McCarthy.”

“I am not looking forward to this at all.”

2 stars. Let it prove me wrong.”

What I actually thought about it:

“STOP TRYING TO MAKE MELISSA MCCARTHY A THING!”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Soon.

* ½ (1.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But come on. I wasn’t wrong.

Boyhood

What I said about it back in January:

“Richard Linklater’s movie that he’s been making over the past 12 years. He started it in 2002, and has been filming every year as the actors grew up.”

“It starts with Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and the kid, Ellar Coltrane (or Salmon? I have two names for him), when he’s just a kid, and we see him grow up. He wrote the script and they filmed it little by little over 12 years. It’s an ingenious concept.”

4 stars. Honestly, I hope this is good enough for a Best Picture nomination. It sounds amazing.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I think the best review of this movie is one I heard before I even saw it. Which is, ‘It’s great, but everyone’s sucking its dick too much.'”

“Does it deserve to be a top 20 movie for the year for most people? Sure. The concept is brilliant. It’s absolutely brilliant, and on that alone, this will stand the test of time as a movie that everyone needs to see.”

“Do I respect the hell out of it? 100%. It’s a really good movie. I really enjoyed it, and I think it is a really terrific film.”

“But I’m not gonna go suck its dick like everyone else is doing and will do for the rest of the year.”

“It’s not exactly a deep film. They took a real kid and were like, “Okay, so what’s going on in your life this year?” And they just wrote a short film based on that. That’s all they did. There’s not really a cohesive story here. You’re just watching a kid grow up. And I know the people who grew up on cinema vérité are gonna talk about how great the whole thing is and how great the cast was. I just saw a good movie that’s all concept and a decent execution.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really liked it, and anything negative I’m gonna have to say about this one is purely due to all the people overrating it. Which all goes away in March. So we’re just gonna be left with a great movie (Linklater’s best). And that’ll be a good day.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Discovered it in July.

What I actually thought about it:

“This is a documentary just waiting to become a movie.”

(And then I told the story because it’s amazing. But I’ve already told you how good this is on multiple occasions this month, so I’ll skip it.

“It’s insane how great this story is, and how tailor-made for a movie it is.”

“Even if the doc isn’t brilliant filmmaking, the story itself is so good that you just need to see it. You watch this and want to see the movie version of this story.”

“You’ll get more out of this than 75% of anything you watch this year. Trust me.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This only gets an official 4 star rating, but make no mistake, it’s one of my favorite things I’ve watched this year. This story deserves to be a movie, and it deserves to be a good movie. And I hope one day someone makes that good movie.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

What I said about it back in January:

“Okay.”

“I did like the first one. I imagine this won’t be as good, but will be solid.”

“Let’s go 3 stars. 3 is fine for this. I don’t need anything more than 3.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I feel like I’m constantly underestimating this franchise.”

“I guess I should continue going into these movies thinking that, since I liked this one better than the first one.”

“Do you guys know how refreshing it is to see characters be more than one-dimensional?”

“I couldn’t believe they allowed the film to be this complicated without fear the audiences wouldn’t be able to handle it. They’re getting major kudos for that alone.”

“I really loved this, I liked it better than the first one (the fact that Franco’s not in it helps too), and this will end up another solid tier two film come year’s end. I hope franchise continues to be this good.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I really have underestimated this franchise. Though, as we’ll find out in four months, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because now I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see one of these, rather than mildly disappointed when it’s not at the level of the previous ones.

Still, I really enjoyed this, and even though it’s not a movie I loved and will want to watch again a bunch, it was still one of the top 40-50 movies of the year for me.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full-star. Greatly exceeded expectations.

I Origins

What I said about it back in January:

“Written and directed by the guy who did Another Earth.”

“I’ll trust it.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Not much to say here. It was pretty good.”

“I rank this around where I ranked The Sound of My Voice. It was a watchable movie and posed interesting questions, but I just didn’t enjoy it enough to rank it higher or really go to bat for this one the way I’d go to bat for other ones.”

“But it’s definitely worth watching and is a better watch than a lot of the shit comedies that come out. So there’s that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Decent, watchable. Above average. Will recommend it over a lot of the shit that comes out that people will go see. But didn’t love it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Purge: Anarchy

What I said about it back in January:

“So, we have no idea what this is about, only that it’s a sequel to The Purge.”

“Which is fine enough for me.”

“I imagine this will take place either at the same time as the previous movie, or during another Purge. Seeing as how it looks like a new cast, I’m guessing it might be the same time. Which would be interesting.”

“I liked the first one. More so the premise than the actual execution. It doesn’t hold up at all when you try to scrutinize it. So hopefully this goes further into the premise and less about the one family’s home invasion angle and remains interesting.”

3 stars. Let’s assume the premise keeps me interested.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I’ve decided that I’m very okay with this franchise if they want to put one out a year.”

“The idea of the Purge is that one happens every year. So if they want to put out a new one each year and show different people during the event, I’m okay with that.”

“There’s a lot of stuff they can do with it. I just hope they can maintain interest throughout.”

“All I know is — I’m in. I’ll keep watching. I love the concept, and I hope they don’t fail it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m very okay with this franchise.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Planes: Fire and Rescue

What I said about it back in January:

“Nobody really knows what this is about. They haven’t released anything, but we know generally what the deal is, after the first one.”

“3 stars is the ceiling here, so let’s go 2.5 stars. Worst I’ll be is a half-star off. It’s gonna be one or the other. This is a really easy one to not be wrong on.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Okay, we’ve reached the point of indifference with this franchise.”

“I think I reached it at the moment when Dane Cook airplane (named Dusty Crophopper, which sounds like something vaginas get) put out fires, set to “Thunderstruck.” At that moment, I was less concerned with the film than I was about the fact that I finished all the booze in the house.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Didn’t care.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Sex Tape

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m worried about this. It’s starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal.”

“Jake Kasdan is directing. I wasn’t a fan of Orange County, but I love Walk Hard, and I enjoyed The TV SetBad Teacher, though… ehh… I’m not gonna give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s gonna have to earn this one.”

“It was written by a woman, though. We support that here.”

“But something tells me this is gonna end up a broad, ‘family’ movie that has no bite to it whatsoever.”

“I won’t completely discount it, though. I think it maybe has a few laughs up its sleeve… maybe… but to be honest, I can see all the ways this can go wrong. Think of any movie about married people — kids walk in during sex, random poop and/or projectile vomiting jokes, viagara and/or marijuana (to recapture their “youth” or whatever) — something tells me, if Cameron Diaz is involved in this, it’s gonna have some of this stuff.”

2.5 stars. I’ll be okay with this if it ends up 3. But I’m guessing there’s a strong possibility of this going Unforgivable. (I’m also being very lenient with the 2.5 stars. I fully expect 2 here, but 2014 is my year of optimism.)”

What I actually thought about it:

“I’ll say this — despite all the other things that are wrong and completely insane, logic-wise about this movie — the movie tries to make you believe that Cameron Diaz is supposed to be 22 for the first 7 minutes of this movie. I think that tells you everything you need to know.”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

As if you didn’t already know.

* ½ (1.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full-star. Optimism be damned.

Wish I Was Here

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s written by, directed by, and starring Zach Braff.”

2.5 stars.”

“I historically do not like his stuff at all.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Zach Braff spells his name with an h. That tells me everything I need to know.”

“Did I mention how much I dislike him and his movies? I can’t stand watching him in anything he’s in. Garden State was the bane of my existence for five years. And every movie I’ve seen him in, I’ve hated. (The Last Kiss, anyone?)”

“He was also the voice in Chicken Little, which is the actual worst Disney movie ever made.”

“When I heard he was directing a movie, I was pretty pessimistic. And with good reason. This was a piece of shit. A pretentious piece of shit.”

“You thought Garden State was pretentious and awful? This is the same thing. At least no one saw this one, so it’s not as big a crime against humanity.”

“People paid for him to make this. They paid for him to make this.”

“I’m not gonna give this the satisfaction of making it Unforgivable. But it’s a piece of shit. And I hope we all forget this happened and move on pretending it never existed.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think I did a pretty good job with it up there.

Fuck this movie.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Mood Indigo

What I said about it back in January:

“Michel Gondry’s new movie.”

“I imagine this will be pleasant.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I was curious to see this to see if it would end up like all of Michel Gondry’s solo films, post-Eternal Sunshine. That is — visually interesting, but devoid of an actual story. And that’s what it is.”

“This movie is visually incredible. It’s off the wall, crazy and brilliant in a surreal way. The story — ehh, not so much. Though I like that it gets serious toward the end and does strive for something. So it’s not totally what I thought I was getting.”

“I was expecting to say, ‘It seems he can’t make a movie without someone like Charlie Kaufman writing it for him.’ And I’m sort of right. He does need a strong script in order to match his visual style. But he is capable of telling a halfway decent story.”

“I liked the film. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. And I recommend that people see it. Because it’s so wildly visually inventive that it’s worth seeing.”

“This will be like The Science of Sleep, a movie that some people really love and most people respect because of its visual style.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Just in case you guys thought that if I guessed a rating right the first time, I never change it.

I was actually wrong on this. I liked it okay the first time, and dismissed it as a visual marvel with no story that needed a better writer. But I found myself thinking about this long after I saw it. And I’m still thinking about it. There’s no telling how I’ll react upon watching this movie again (and I will, soon). But given that I keep thinking about this movie, I have no choice but to rate it higher. Since I’m not exactly thinking about the Winter Solider, seven months later.

So the rating goes up on this. I liked it more than I thought.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But really close.

Hercules

What I said about it back in January:

“Ha.”

“Ha ha ha.”

“Ha.”

“It’s Brett Ratner’s Hercules movie.”

“It’s starring Dwayne Johnson, so I won’t get too down or sarcastic about it.”

“But seriously — it’s Brett Ratner. Does anyone think this is going to be good?”

“Seriously — who thinks this goes above 2.5 stars?”

“I’ll give him 2.5 stars, but I’m really thinking this can go down to 2. No way I get 3 here. How can I possibly get 3? This sounded like a disaster from the second they announced it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I thought I was getting disaster… I got, ‘Meh.'”

“Wasn’t worth the money, or the effort.”

“I’m not really sure why they made this. It’s not like anyone wanted to see this movie.”

“Ultimately I didn’t give a fuck. Which is pretty much all I ever expected out of this.”

“$100 million? On this? I could have gotten you three better movies for that price. But whatever. It is what it is. A generic movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Completely generic, and I’m still baffled that someone said, “Yeah, let’s spend $100 million on that.”

And I’m glad the Rock is the only one who came out of this okay. Because he deserved to.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Magic in the Moonlight

What I said about it back in January:

“Woody Allen’s new movie.”

3 stars.”

“Not sure why, but what the hell.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This is the Woody Allen I know. The one who seems to be going through the motions, with few moments of inspiration left anymore.”

“I was just disinterested through the whole thing. Because I ultimately knew what kind of movie I was getting.”

“The way he writes dialogue is just so monotonous. I’m glad he’s not someone who gets a pass on everything he does. At least people are willing to say when his movies aren’t good.”

“The most troubling thing about this movie is how, again, it has that older man younger woman pairing. Which is just fucking creepy.”

“I didn’t like this. I’m indifferent, as I am for so many of Woody’s films. So business as usual.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Just another typical indifferent reaction to a Woody Allen movie. Par for the course.

I guess the 3 star rating up there was me thinking it would be an actual romantic comedy as opposed to a plodding piece of garbage.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

The Congress

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Discovered it about an hour before I saw it.

What I actually thought about it:

“This movie was fucking great.”

“It’s a weird one. Just watch the trailer and you’ll see how weird it is.”

“But it’s a fascinating movie, and will definitely be one of my favorites from the year when all is said and done.”

“I don’t even know what to say about it. I just recommend that you watch it. It’s worth the watch.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Loved it. Completely unique and interesting, and should be seen by all.

And, as I’ve pointed out, most people don’t even know this exists. But it’s one of the better movies of the year.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

And So It Goes

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m worried. It seems like Solitary Man but done as a comedy.”

3 stars. I trust Rob Reiner. Enough.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Seriously, what happened to Rob Reiner?”

“The thing about this movie is… it’s not bad. But it’s not good. So as you’re watching this completely generic movie you’ve seen a dozen times before, you think about the movies Rob Reiner used to make, and it’s just sad.”

“Michael Douglas looks like he’s not even trying, and Diane Keaton is doing the same Diane Keaton we’ve been seeing for thirty years. There’s nothing worthwhile about this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I love how the January review perfectly sets up the later review.

The only thing I’ll amend from that is — it is a bad movie. It’s a bad movie because there are talented people wasting themselves on this garbage.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. This was not good.

Lucy

What I said about it back in January:

“So this is a superhero movie as written and directed by Luc Besson.”

“Interesting.”

“I’m gonna say 3 stars, but given Luc Besson’s history — I’m gonna say this has the potential to go higher, and not lower.”

“(Though, I don’t know… it’s been a while for him. Maybe he’s lost it.)”

What I actually thought about it:

“This is Transcendence but with a woman. Or, basically, the origin story of God. It’s both of these things.”

“I believe it was in Deuteronomy where God texted Joshua, saying, “I’m everywhere.” (What did you think the “G” stood for in “4G”?)”

“I had a different idea of what this movie was going to be than what it was. I’m actually impressed that this movie isn’t filled with action like the trailers made it seem. Good for them.”

“And I was actually a huge fan of the conversation she has with her mother on the phone. That was a really nice emotional moment in the middle of this.”

“In all, I think I’m all right with this. Didn’t love it, didn’t dislike it, enjoyed it for what it was, liked some things about it and didn’t care about others.”

 

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think that’s appropriate. Different from what I was expecting, liked that they didn’t go overboard with the action, liked the phone call in the middle, but ultimately thought it was okay and liked it enough to move on and think mildly positive things about it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

A Most Wanted Man

What I said about it back in January:

“Directed by the guy who did The American and based on a John le Carré novel. So in.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Had high expectations for this, given the cast and the source material. I ultimately got what I was expecting from January, but not what I was expecting going in.”

“I guess it’s because it’s dealing with Chechnya and not the Cold War, and I’m way more interested in le Carré when it’s not dealing with modern stuff and is dealing with Cold War stuff.”

“But even so, this was a very engaging movie and well-made. Can’t ask for more than that. I like how it doesn’t go for the easy ending.”

“This will end up a very solid movie from 2014. Not in the top 20, but solidly ranked.”

“Also, everyone did accents in this. It’s crazy.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Everyone did do accents in this. It’s funny watching everyone trying to out-accent each other.

They should do that in a comedy. Just keep bringing in person after person, each trying to out-accent the other. It’s a fine line, but someone will be able to walk it. One day.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Happy Christmas

What I said about it back in January:

“Another Joe Swanberg movie.”

“Let’s call it 3 starsI liked Drinking Buddies well enough.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I feel like 3 stars is the blanket Joe Swanberg movie rating for me. It’s moderately interesting to me, but it will never go any higher than that because none of the dialogue is written and is made up in the moment.”
“Half the things people say are dead words. Coming from someone who likes writing dialogue and listens to dialogue, when I hear mostly dead words, it’s grating to me. I tune out.”

“John Cassavetes knew how to do this type of thing correctly. You can have a tight script and have your movie seem real and improvised. The performance should be improvised, not the words. And because that’s not the case with Swanberg’s films, I can’t imagine they will ever go higher than 3 stars for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That about covers it. Watchable, but way too much dead time and lack of things going on. There comes a point where realistic crosses over into painfully uninteresting, and Swanberg’s films do that just too much for me. Watch a Cassavetes movie instead. You’ll notice the difference.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is August.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

One response

  1. Forgot to mention that Wish I Was Here blatantly stole its tagline from ‘Magorium’

    October 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm

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