2014: The Year in Reviews (August)

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 August:

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).

August

Get on Up

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s a James Brown biopic starring the dude who played Jackie Robinson last year.”

“It’s being directed by the guy who made The Help, so there’s that. If that means anything. (Which it really doesn’t.)”

“Let’s call it 3 stars and see if this is worth anything.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Chadwick Boseman is a fucking star…Holy shit, is he amazing in this.”

“The film ultimately lets him down.”

“The film itself is too light around the edges to be great.”

“Plus, your standard musical biopic narrative — flashing back to childhood, that whole thing — it would have worked a lot better ten years ago, now it just feels like a retread of other movies.”

“The movie is good. But Chadwick Boseman is amazing.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m gonna keep this 3.5 stars purely because of Boseman. The film is a 3 star movie, but his is a 4 star performance. So he gets this the extra half-star.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Guardians of the Galaxy

What I said about it back in January:

“This could actually be entertaining, given that it’s sounding like it’s gonna have a sense of humor to it. Plus — James Gunn made Super, which was sickly comic. Maybe this’ll be worthwhile.”

“Fuck it. 3.5 stars.”

“Prepare for the letdown, folks!”

“(This is me, falling for another Marvel trap.)”

What I actually thought about it:

“This movie was so much goddamn fun. It was just charming.”

“The real part I loved was how entertaining the characters were. Once they got together, the whole thing felt really natural. Which is pretty great, since you have a human, a green chick, a raccoon, a tree, and a giant.”

“Honestly, I was more invested in them than I was in the Avengers.”

“Even if it does follow your standard Marvel format all the movies have become, I still had a lot of fun. So good for them.”

“I’m glad they went to the other side of the universe, because I’m just about finished with the previous side.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Still really enjoyed this. Not sure what else I want to add, since I’ve yet to watch this again as of this writing (but will be doing so very soon. For… reasons), but I still think this is an insanely fun movie that’s one of the best Marvel’s ever made. Rating’s not gonna change. This was great.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Actually really exceeded expectations.

Calvary

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars.”

The Guard was good. Why shouldn’t this be?”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a good film. Probably better than my rating, but my rating reflects how much I loved it. And I only moderately liked it. But it was good.”

 

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, it was fine. Good movie. Didn’t love it, but it was good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Into the Storm

What I said about it back in January:

“Uhh… all right. A found footage tornado movie.”

“I… can’t really see this being any good at all.”

2 stars.”

“Worst I’ll be wrong is a half star. And that’s only if it manages to go up.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I want to give it more, but outside of nice-looking effects, the story was shit. Like, really shit.”

“Cliched characters and bad writing…. no matter how good those effects are, I still was never more than indifferent about this movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m being generous. The writing is awful and it’s a shit movie, but the premise is decent.

BUT STOP WITH THE FOUND FOOTAGE MOVIES ALREADY.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Step Up All In

What I said about it back in January:

“What exactly are they stepping up to?”

“Have they not stepped up to their destination yet?”

“Can they step all the way up and off a cliff?”

“Oh, but yeah — I’m skipping this, in case it wasn’t obvious.”

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it. What a surprise.

I’m 0 for 5 in this franchise.

(And 5 for 5 in not wasting my time.)

(The only good thing this franchise brought us was Channing Tatum.)

How close was I?: N/A

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

What I said about it back in January:

“Sounds great.”

“Megan Fox is April O’Neil, but I think we’re collectively done with her.”

“William Fichtner is Shredder, which is exciting. I like when he gets to bust loose with a role. (Remember Drive Angry? Or, to a lesser extent, The Lone Ranger?)”

“Whoopi Goldberg is in this too.”

“Just in case you thought it couldn’t get any stranger.”

3 stars.”

“Because fuck it. It’s Ninja Turtles, right?”

“How do you think they’re gonna manage Splinter?”

What I actually thought about it:

“Well this was a piece of shit.”

“You don’t meet the turtles until 20 minutes into the movie, the voice casting is all wrong, there’s fucking fart jokes, and the film is full of Michael Bay humor, which is just lowest common denominator. Especially when he’s not directing.”

“One of my biggest complaints about this is that I can recognize the voices of the characters. I should not recognize who voices the turtles, or Splinter. I should just see them as themselves. The fact that I’m listening to Leonardo and going, “That’s Johnny Knoxville talking,” and listening to Splinter and clearly picturing Tony Shalhoub… that’s a problem.”

“And remember when the turtles being alien caused everyone to create a giant shitstorm of fury? How do you all feel now that they were actually Megan Fox’s pets? Honestly, he biggest stretch of the movie was that we were supposed to believe that child Megan Fox deliberately named her pet turtles after Renaissance artists.”

“I’m also going to formally apologize for Megan Fox. This isn’t her fault. This is Michael Bay getting back at her for what she said about him in public. And if you don’t think putting her in this movie, which is designed to make her look stupid, is a punishment, you’re wrong. He knew she was going to look like a bad actress who was only cast as eye candy, which is why she’s there. Why not use the eye candy with a name than the eye candy no one knows? So she gets zero percent of the blame for me for this movie.”

“This is a generic, CGI piece of shit, where the main characters are barely on the screen for the first half of the movie, and all the story elements put all the children in the theater the fuck to sleep. This is a movie designed to sell toys and nothing more.”

“If you hate Bay when he directs a movie, you’ll really hate him as a producer, because he only cares about making money, and not about the product. At least with his own movies, he has a reputation to uphold. This movie is a complete mess, and I knew better than to trust that this would be good. I didn’t even have that high a set of expectations for this, and this still didn’t reach them. That’s a problem.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was such a huge piece of shit. You’ll get my final thoughts on this in a few days.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

What If

What I said about it back in January:

“Indie. Seems like it could be good.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Likable. Not great, but likable.”

“The story isn’t great. It gets contrived as shit, but it’s watchable and the leads do an admirable job with it.”

“It was fine. And all I need is fine, given how shitty romance movies are nowadays.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

What I said up there. Fine, but not great. But all I needed was fine, so cool.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s August, so clearly they’re setting this up as the Eat Pray Love, The Help, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel of the year. The movie that old white people are gonna love, and go see at the end of the summer.”

“This is the one they’ll be looking at for those pandering Oscar nominations for a movie that’s baity as hell.”

3 stars. These movies have to win me over. Of that list up there, I only see one that managed anything over 3 stars. And even that took three watches. (And even then, I’m aware that it’s still not particularly good, but it just won me over.)”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s by the numbers, you know what you’re getting, but I didn’t care.”

“If you made a movie about people starting a restaurant and making food, I’d watch it. And I’d probably love it. That’s what I responded to here.”

“So this is a more junk food 3.5 stars, but I did enjoy this more than a regular 3 star movie, so I won’t pretend like I didn’t just because this isn’t high art.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah. It’s a weak 3.5, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this for what it was. It’s not as good as my rating, but my ratings are based on personal enjoyment and not artistic value.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

About Alex

What I said about it back in January:

“So it’s basically The Big Chill in 2014.”

“Sure.”

3 stars. Why not?”

What I actually thought about it:

“A low rent Big Chill with unlikable characters. That’s really the only way I can describe this.”

“The characters are around my age/slightly older and talk like the characters of a first-time writer, which is why they’re unlikable. Also, this movie doesn’t kill the person who brought them there. Which is an awful representation of what’s happened to movies over the past 30 years.”

“Rather than keep talking, I’m just gonna tell you all to watch The Big Chill and forget about this movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Go watch The Big Chill right now and forget this movie even exists.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Let’s Be Cops

What I said about it back in January:

“Directed by the guy who did The Animal (not good), The Girl Next Door (good), and Something Borrowed (really not good).”

“Sure.”

3 stars.”

“I might end up feeling bad about not going lower, but for now, what the hell?”

What I actually thought about it:

“You know… I tried. I really tried. But midway through this movie, I found myself doing other things rather than watching it. Which is the sign of indifference.”

“I tried to let it be 3 stars, but there was too much of them trying to turn a plot out of it.”

“I just didn’t care. And there weren’t enough laughs to let it pull a flimsy 3. So… it’s indifference.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m right. I really didn’t care about this. I wanted to care. I wanted to laugh. But I really didn’t care about this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

The Dog

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Didn’t know about it until my boss mentioned it.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was all right. Interesting enough. About the dude who robbed the bank who became the basis for Dog Day Afternoon. If you like that movie or like documentaries, this is interesting. It’s not a great documentary, but it was okay.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It was okay. That’s all I got. You’ll see this because you like the movie, and you’ll think it’s fine.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

As Above, So Below

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. If there’s anything I’ll skip in my release calendar, it’s low budget horror movies. Because I expect to not see them. Either that, or this was scheduled after I put it up. Either way, nada.

What I actually thought about it:

“I really considered skipping this. But I happened to get a hold of it in a week where I didn’t have much to watch, so I threw it on as a filler movie between two I really wanted to see.”

“I have to say — it wasn’t terrible. They limited the concept, most of the film takes place in the catacombs, and the handheld stuff didn’t turn me off that much.”

“The third act — kind of a mess. But atmospherically, the first two were good enough. So I’m actually giving this a fair grade. Good for them. Not entirely for me, and falls apart at the end, but they had me moderately interested for at least half of it, which is hard to do, given the genre.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah. Fair enough. I’ll give them credit for making me moderately interested for at least half of it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Life After Beth

What I said about it back in January:

“Sounds interesting.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It was fine. Definitely not tonally what I expected it to be. I thought there would be more zombie time. Instead, it turned into a weird musing on relationships. I think.”

“I’m not really sure where the humor was placed, but it was there. I wasn’t sure exactly if some parts were supposed to be gross-out funny, or funny, or gross-out, or what. Hard to tell.”

“But it was watchable. So that’s fine. Not really gonna remember this, but it was okay enough.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah. Fine enough, but not memorable. It’s just kind of there. Wish I could recommend this to people as a hidden gem, but I can’t.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Expendables 3

What I said about it back in January:

“Because why try harder, right?”

“I mean, hey, they are what they are at this point.”

“It’s Stallone, so expect bad dialogue, contrived situations, and a few entertaining moments of action.”

3 stars. Maybe I’m finally done with this, but I’ll stick with 3 until complete indifference sets in.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I enjoyed the living shit out of this. I just do. These types of films are my guilty pleasures. Only, I’m not even guilty about it. I feel no shame about this.”

“Of course it’s all generic, but what is this if not the definition of generic? It works. It’s a fun action movie, and they parade enough stars in there for it to work.”

“As long as they keep them like this, I’m cool with this franchise going for a couple more films. They’re not harming anybody. Just don’t have it get too full of itself, and I’m fine with it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m very okay with this franchise. I’m gonna continue to get moderate enjoyment out of these movies. I’m not gonna assume they’ll be good, but I assume I’ll get just enough enjoyment out of them to not give up on the whole thing. (Though they are gonna run out of people to parade through at some point. At some point, I’m gonna be in these movies, it feels like.)

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Giver

What I said about it back in January:

“This is not what I thought it was.”

“Maybe because I initially confused this with ‘The Giving Tree.’ Two completely different things.”

“It’s being directed by the guy who did Salt, which is Noyce.”

“(A+ for me.)”

“Uhh… 3 stars? I don’t know what to make of this. I don’t even know what this is about. So I’ll just see it and let it figure out what it’s going to be.”

“Premise is interesting, but the late August date isn’t inspiring much confidence.”

What I actually thought about it:

“’If I’m now the Receiver, then what does that make you?” “Well, that must make me The Giver.” What more is there to say than that? That explains everything about this movie in two lines.”

“I like how they did this conceptually, but the whole thing falls flat. The performances aren’t very good, the drama’s just not there. I don’t really know what they were trying to do. It’s not a young adult movie, yet it should be a young adult movie.”

“Maybe this just isn’t the right era for this movie. Sometimes that happens. Some books are really only meant to happen during specific eras.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, the execution just isn’t there. Maybe it’s just not the right time for this. Maybe there’ll never be a time for this. Maybe it needs the right filmmaker. I don’t know. This wasn’t the one. Better luck next time.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

If I Stay

What I said about it back in January:

“Starring Chloe Moretz.”

“Sure.”

“Uhh… 2.5 stars. No idea what this could be. It has that weepie spot, and could be good, but for now, let’s stay neutral and let it be better.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I almost gave it the benefit of the doubt on Chloe Moretz’s performance, but I just couldn’t. There are parts of this movie that I just wasn’t okay with. Like the whole, “If my boyfriend touches me, I’ll have the strength to wake up.” Bitch, you’re 17.”

“Though the one that really made me laugh was how the boyfriend was pissed because she got into Julliard and wanted her to be near him and his band. So basically… ‘I get to follow my dream, but you don’t get to follow yours.'”

“It’s YA bullshit. But, on the other hand, they did have the balls to kill the entire family, so good on them for that.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

They do kill the entire family. There is that.

But it’s also YA bullshit.

Indifference it is.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

What I said about it back in January:

“Well, we know what we’re getting here.”

“Apparently it’s based on four stories.”

“I’m down for all of this. As long as it looks the same (and Rodriguez is directing, so it will), I’m down for whatever they want to do here.”

4 stars.”

“Because I haven’t gone this high yet. And I figure, even if it’s just okay, it’s getting 3.5 out of me. So I shouldn’t be that far off.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This one comes down to two things — writing and pacing. The pacing is just all wrong. It’s too quick. It doesn’t linger the way the first one does. Doesn’t savor the visuals. This one just rushes forward, and it hurts the film.”

“And the writing here is awful. I don’t know if it’s because of the pacing or not. But it’s really bad. The first one felt like you were watching a comic book and everyone was talking as if it were a noir. Here, everyone’s talking like comic book characters. And that’s a problem. Comic book characters sound terrible if you spoke the dialogue in real life.”

“It seems like no one was telling the actors to do much of anything here. Did they even give a fuck about this movie?”

“This turned out to really be one of the more disappointing movies of 2014 for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Definitely one of the absolute most disappointing movies of 2014. Don’t let Frank Miller direct a movie.

The last time he did that, we got The Spirit.

And now we have this.

Way to ruin a good thing, guys.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full-star. Should have known better. Didn’t. It happens.

When the Game Stands Tall

What I said about it back in January:

“Well there goes the suspense.”

“Directed by the guy who did Coach Carter.”

“Why is is that the same people always direct these sports movies? The second I read that synopsis, I went, ‘Sounds like Coach Carter.’ Hollywood: The most original place on Earth.”

“But yeah, it’s football. Let’s assume a blanket 3 stars with this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Yawn. Football and religion. Not interested. Been done. Too many times. And this is completely by the numbers as a sports movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Do not care do not care.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

The One I Love

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Didn’t know about it until it came out.

What I actually thought about it:

“This is a weird little movie.”

“It was really interesting and engaging. A little relationship Twilight Zone that becomes aware of itself.”

“It gets a little weird after it does that, but it still remains more engaging than the average movie. Which I’m counting as a win.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was terrific. Everyone needs to go out and see this. Because this is one of the best movies you’ve never heard of from 2014.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Frank

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s at Sundance now.”

“And getting bad reviews.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a movie not without its problems, and it’s by no means a perfect, or even accessible movie. But it is an interesting movie, and not for the reason you’d expect.”

“It’s not a comedy, though it’s oddly funny, and it’s not a drama, though it has some really dark elements.”

“It’s an endlessly fascinating movie, and I think it’s so difficult in terms of tone and accessibility that a lot of people will be (and probably have been) turned off by it.”

“It’s one of those movies that will stick with you long after you see it. And not because it features a dude in a giant head the whole movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I really loved this. I think everyone ought to see this to at least have an opinion about it. A lot of people I know who saw this hated it. But I loved it. I think this is one of the best movies I saw in 2014.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star. LOVED this.

Love Is Strange

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Didn’t know about it until it came out.

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a nice little drama. Typical indie. Doesn’t amount to much, not much conflict, but solid performances from actors.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s fine. Moderate thumbs up always, but nothing I’d go out of my way to recommend. Definite vote of approval, though.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

November Man

What I said about it back in January:

“Call it 3 stars. Why not? Houston in the blind.”

What I actually thought about it:

“By the numbers, but it’s nice to see Pierce Brosnan in stuff. Watchable and all, but you’ve seen this movie a dozen times, and it doesn’t do anything new whatsoever.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Three is probably being nice, but whatever. No need to quibble now. It’s not like I’m gonna watch this again.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Prince

What I said about it back in January:

“Standard straight to DVD movie, sounds like.”

“I’m in, though.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a shitty movie you see on cable at 2 am that was done purely for the money.”

“It’s your standard Bruce Willis paycheck movie. Nothing more.”

“All of these movies are mix and match. Nicolas Cage could have been in this and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think that about covers it. That might be the most accurate review you hear of a movie this year.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Are You Here

What I said about it back in January:

“Written and directed by Matthew Weiner.”

“These passion projects by TV people either end up really solid or falling flat.”

“Can’t tell which way this is going.”

3 stars. We’ll play it even. Let the movie decide.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Yeesh.”

“I mean, granted, I’ve never watched an episode of Mad Men, but I hear it’s not bad. This… is not a good movie.”

“It goes down as a disappointing misfire from someone considered a very intelligent and creative type. Shit happens. Fortunately no one really saw how bad this was. So it’s almost like it never happened. But trust me… not a good movie.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Wow, is this one of the worst things I saw this year.

You almost have to be in awe how one person can create something as critically beloved as Mad Men and something as terrible as this movie.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star. This was really bad.

Behaving Badly

What I said about it back in January:

“The only reason I’m still tracking it is because of the cast — Mary Louise Parker, Selena Gomez, Elisabeth Shue, Cary Elwes, Dylan McDermott, Heather Graham, Jason Lee, Gary Busey, Patrick Warburton — what the hell is this?”

2.5 stars.”

“I can’t imagine it’ll be good, I just want to see what the hell this is about.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I have no idea what this is and what it was supposed to be.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, that’s the only part of my review that makes sense.

I still have no idea what the hell this is supposed to be, and since no one saw it, we’ll just move along and forget about it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Starred Up

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I only thought to see it in December, after I saw it listed amongst the best-reviewed films of the year.

What I actually thought about it:

“I only watched it because I saw it was one of the best reviewed films of the year by a lot of people. And it was good. I liked it. Didn’t love it. Don’t really have all that much to say about it. It’s engaging, well-made, but it didn’t blow me away. Good for them.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Yup. Liked it, didn’t love it. Good for them.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Jamie Marks Is Dead

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars. Sounds interesting,”

What I actually thought about it:

“They maintain an atmosphere, but ultimately… indifference.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Indifference.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

The Last of Robin Hood

What I said about it back in January:

“I was in last year.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

I’ve not seen it yet. This is the first movie of 2014 that I am planning on seeing that I haven’t yet been able to see as of this posting.

I made it all the way through until the very end of August. Which is pretty good, all things considered.

Final Thoughts:

I’ll let you know once I see it.

Or possibly not, depending on when I get to see this.

How close was I?: N/A, at the moment.

Life of Crime

What I said about it back in January:

… nothing. Somehow. Yet I’ve been tracking this for a decade now.

Of course I somehow missed it when it counts.

What I actually thought about it:

“I assumed complete and utter disaster with this. How could you not? And it wasn’t that.”

“I was surprised at how okay this was. Not good. But fine. And I really thought this would be bad. I can’t believe this wasn’t terrible. That was shocking.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Still can’t believe this wasn’t terrible.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is September.

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