2015: The Year in Reviews (July)

Look, this is the fifth year I’m doing this. You guys know what it is by now. Every January I go over everything scheduled to come out, and about 200 more movies, just to be safe. I guess what I’m gonna think about them, and then immediately forget I did it. Then, in December, I recap everything I saw and see how I did.

I put up batches of reviews for everything I saw, once in April, once in August, and once… yesterday. Those contain my initial thoughts on the films after I saw them. I take those thoughts and match them against what I said back in January, plus I take some time to reflect upon how my thoughts have changed in the time between when I saw the movie and now (since only crazy people develop a final opinion on a movie after a single watch). It’s very straightforward. Plus… five years. I know you’re supposed to treat every person as if they’re reading for the first time, but there’s only like twelve of us who read the crap I write anyway.

Today we’re recapping July:

Oh, yeah, also, so my ratings system makes sense, here’s how it works:

* * * * * (5 stars) — I really loved the film. Five stars essentially guarantees the film a spot in the top ten. I’ve never had a five star film not make the top ten. (2014 examples of 5 star movies: There actually were none.)

* * * * 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 below top 15. (2014 examples of 4.5 star films: Birdman, Fury, Interstellar, Whiplash.)

* * * * (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, 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 really good. Four star movies are either in my 11-20 or tier two. It’s also not unheard of that a 4 star movie makes the top ten. (2014 examples of 4 star films: Boyhood, Cher, Godzilla, The Guest, Snowpiercer, Top Five.)

* * * 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, “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 verstaile ranking. 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. (2014 examples of 3.5 star films: American Sniper, The Babadook, The Double, Edge of Tomorrow, Frank, Still Alice.)

* * * (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. (2014 examples of 3 star films: Beyond the Lights, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Lego Movie, Need for Speed, 22 Jump Street, White Bird in a Blizzard.)

* * 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. (2014 examples of 2.5 star films: Hercules, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Ride Along, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Veronica Mars.)

* * (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. (2014 examples of 2 star films: Dracula Untold, Dumb and Dumber To, I Frankenstein, Wish I Was Here.)

* 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. (2014 examples of 1.5 star films: Blended, Sex Tape, Tammy.)

* (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. (2014 examples of 1 star films: Addicted.)

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. (2014 examples of 0 star films: Heaven Is For Real.)

July

Terminator Genisys

What I said about it back in January:

“Couple of things. That “aging” Terminator thing is pretty convenient. Wonder how they’re gonna explain that. How something with artificial skin can age. I’m willing to go along with it, I just want to see how they’re gonna do it. Because it’s Arnold. We’ll forgive anything if it’s Arnold.”

“Another thing — that trailer…. not good. That trailer really makes me not excited to see the finished product.”

“It’s the director of Thor 2, and Kyle Reese is played by Jai Courtney, who they’re trying to turn into an action star, but just doesn’t feel like one.”

“I’m just not excited about it.”

3 stars, just because I think Arnold can sustain it, but I’m really not expecting much at all.”

What I actually thought about it:

“For what it’s worth, this is a better sequel to Judgment Day than any of the others.”

“I have NO fucking idea how the timeline is supposed to work, and I don’t think they do either. I’m pretty sure after a certain point, they just gave up.”

“This isn’t great, but I can accept it as a Terminator movie, whereas Rise of the Machines sucked until the third act and Salvation was just a giant mess (unfairly because of Christian Bale, but it’s more their fault than his. Let’s just all blame McG. That’s easier).”

“Them taking a minor step forward is still like three steps back from where they ought to be. But at least it wasn’t a piece of shit.”

“Also kudos for Arnold doing a great job with his stuff. I like that relationship they had going.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I got enough entertainment out of this, mostly with the little things, but this was a shit movie. Genishyt. That said, it met my expectations almost exactly. So I can’t say I was surprised it was what it was.

Though, can we make a promise to stop making Terminator movies if James Cameron (or someone who can make a solid sci-fi movie) isn’t going to do it?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Magic Mike XXL

What I said about it back in January:

“We know what this is.”

“Not feeling this one as much. The first one caught us all by surprise as actually being a good movie. A lot of that is Soderbergh. This one has no Soderbergh (even though it’s directed by the guy who was first AD on a lot of his stuff. Which… Trouble with the Curve was directed by the guy who was Eastwood’s first AD, so that means nothing). And it’s a sequel.”

3 stars. You can’t think it’s gonna be as good as the first one. You just can’t.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was legit better than the first one.”

“The first one had the boring, dark story about the kid and the drugs and all that. This is just pure fun. Whenever the other movie would try to include that stuff, this one has them take molly and do stupid shit. (By the way, the Backstreet boys routine — genius.)”

“I was laughing hysterically at this within fifteen minutes and it never let up. They never let it get that serious, and always find something different and interesting to do to switch it up. Huge fan of this movie.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I had so much fun with this. This is legit better than the first one. I wonder what it would be like if I watched it again, but fuck it, I loved it the first time and had way, way more fun than I expected to. That’s good enough for me.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

The Gallows

What I said about it back in January:

“This is some kind of horror movie.”

“Never heard of the cast, which makes me think I’m either not gonna see this or won’t give a shit.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

Yeah, didn’t see it.

Final Thoughts:

“I’m either gonna see this or I won’t.” Good job, Mike.

How close was I?: N/A

Amy

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. But as soon as I heard an Amy Winehouse documentary was coming out, the odds were pretty high I was going to see it.

What I actually thought about it:

“Really good. Really nice portrait of her as a person and as an artist. The music helped too.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not much else to say. It doesn’t go that much into depth with her, but was that even possible for someone who died so young? It’s what it needs to be.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Cartel Land

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I actually thought about it:

“I saw it because I had jut seen Sicario, heard it might be in the Oscar conversation, and figured why not.”

“Ultimately, it was just like almost every other documentary — I didn’t care. It takes a lot for me to actually like one of these things.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Did not care.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Minions

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m openly not a huge fan of the Despicable Me movies. The first one was cute, the second one was not that good. So now they’re taking the part of the movies that everyone loves but me and making it its own movie. And I just don’t care.”

2.5 stars.”

“I really just could not care less about this movie.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I didn’t like any of the Despicable Me movies.”

“I thought the minions were the most annoying parts of those movies, so this was only a matter of time.”

“I did not care about this movie whatsoever, and I have no opinion on it at all. Like what you like. I’m staying out of it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

They took the most annoying part of one movie and gave it its own movie. There was no way I was going to enjoy this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Self/Less

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s Tarsem Singh’s next movie.”

“I like that he’s mixing his genres. But it’s real hard to get an idea of what you’re going to get from it.”

“I’m not really sure where to go here. July 31st is actually a confident date for a movie like this.”

“But do I want to go 3.5? I don’t think I do. I think I want to see this movie get there on its own. So 3 stars. The fact that it turns into a thriller makes me nervous. I don’t want to assume above average here. I want the film to earn it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I can’t tell if this met my expectations or didn’t.”

“It looked like a good premise, but there was a lot about this one that worried me going in. And then the reviews were complete shit. So by the time I got around to seeing this, I expected the worst. But this wasn’t that bad.”

“Its problem is that it takes some really weird turns that make no sense and it turns into an almost formulaic thriller.”

“It’s not great, but it’s perfectly watchable and you can get through it thinking it wasn’t so bad. Just don’t think too hard about it.

“What would have been way better is if the movie was more of a drama and didn’t turn into action. But apparently everything has to turn into action nowadays. Seems no one has the balls to make a difficult movie with ambiguity in it. Oh well.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I stand by this as being a decent movie. Though part of that is my ability to overlook a movie’s shortcomings and instead, fill in those parts with thoughts of how the solid concept could have been made better but wasn’t. Still, there’s a good story here that wasn’t fully fleshed out. This would have been better as a straight drama with a more 70s, ambiguous angle.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. But it was too interesting to not see.

What I actually thought about it:

“This is basically a more mainstream version of Jodorowsky’s Dune. An analysis of a doomed project.”

“But it’s Superman, so people know, and it’s famous people — Cage, Burton, etc. TheKevin Smith version of this is already pretty iconic. So you get the recreation, and it’s fine.”

“I wasn’t particularly blown away by it (though that also can be attributed to my general disinterest in the documentary format), but I was sufficiently amused.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s entertaining enough. I read articles about stuff like this all the time. This time, I got to see the movie. I’m cool with that.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Tangerine

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I actually saw this the day it got nominated at the Independent Spirit Awards. Slow day at the office, so we watched it.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was so wonderfully insane.”

“It’s hilarious without really trying to be hilarious, and is just a unique film. I really enjoyed this, and I’m glad I came across it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Lot of fun. Check this one out. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Strangerland

What I said about it back in January:

“Australian movie.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It was pretty boring, actually. Wish this were better. Thought I could get 3 stars out of this. Didn’t happen. Oh well.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, no. I was pretty bored during this and already forgot I saw this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Ant-Man

What I said about it back in January:

“Well… I’m very conflicted. Because I really wanted to see what Edgar Wright was going to do with this. But I also don’t know how much of what he introduced is left.”

“Really nervous about this one, and it’s Marvel, and without Wright, I feel like it’ll turn more into a Marvel sort of thing.”

“I want to say 3.5 stars, but I just can’t. I can’t trust a Mavel movie to be good.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was fun. It met what my expectations were.”

“It’s not one of the best they’ve ever done, and it’s not just a mediocre throwaway.”

“I like that the scale on this is small. It’s literally just a heist movie that says it has large implications, but really doesn’t. And the climax takes place in a building and then a house. That’s nice.”

“On the other hand — it’s edited way too fast. They don’t develop anything past a surface level. I didn’t care about any of the characters. This was the epitome of popcorn.”

“I can’t say this is any better than The Avengers, which I rank fifth all time for Marvel (below the Captain America films, Guardians, and Iron Man), but I did enjoy it for what it was and do commend them for not destroying yet another city.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

After six months, I remember this as being a fun movie without a whole lot of substance to it. It felt like it glossed over some interesting parts of the story and was pretty generic for the parts of the story it did tell. Though I still compliment them for not getting too big with the stakes and the scope of it. Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that ranks solidly in the middle of the pack for Marvel.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Trainwreck

What I said about it back in January:

“Schumer wrote and stars, which makes me positive, but it’s Apatow, which makes me feel negative. He’s made four movies, and I’ve liked exactly one of them. And only a little bit. So I’m not feeling great about this one’s chances.”

3 stars.”

“Hopefully I don’t hate it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s not a solid 3.5, but I’ll give it a 3.5.”

“It was engaging, and I was with it all the way. Didn’t out and out love it, but I liked it.”

“Didn’t feel like an Apatow movie, which was nice.”

“This isn’t going to stick with me. This will be one of those movies where I have to think long and hard about whether it’s going to stay a 3.5 come year’s end or just be a strong 3.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, I don’t remember this as fondly. This drops back down to 3 for me. I liked it, but not that much. It was barely a 3.5 at the time. It’s fine. It’s enjoyable. But I really just don’t seem to go for the whole Apatow thing. And while I understand this is more of an Amy Schumer thing… I don’t know. It was a solid 3 for me, if that helps.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Mr. Holmes

What I said about it back in January:

“Based on those two (McKellen and Condon) alone, I’ll say 3.5 stars. I hope it’s 4. This sounds great.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This met my expectations in every way.”

“Last time McKellen and Condon got together, McKellen was good enough to win an Oscar. I didn’t expect that level a performance here, but I did expect a really interesting movie. And that’s what I got.”

“This is very slow and a lot of people are gonna fall asleep with their mouths open. But the people who can watch this sort of movie are in for a real treat.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I liked this. A nice, mature, underrated film. McKellen is great, and it’s one of those movies that I feel like I might end up liking more in a few years.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Look of Silence

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I decided I was going to watch as many documentaries on the shortlist as I could in order to best guess the category.

What I actually thought about it:

“This is just as powerful as The Act of Killing. If you liked that, you’ll like this. Simple as that.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

There’s a scene here where a guy whose brother was killed and he confronts the guy who was responsible. It’s riveting.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Irrational Man

What I said about it back in January:

“He’s got one every year.”

3 stars.”

“I should really go 2.5, but Joaquin Phoenix. This looks like forgettable Woody Allen.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Somehow, despite my complete indifference toward Woody Allen, I was okay with this movie.”

“Maybe it’s because it takes a weird turn. I’m expecting another movie where an older man sleeps with a young woman (the part of Woody Allen movies that creeps me the fuck out), but instead, Joaquin Phoenix murders a dude for the sake of an existential exercise. Which was more interesting to me.”

“Didn’t love it, but I got enough out of it to say ‘sure’.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Sure.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

What I said about it back in January:

“Great idea, great young cast. 3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was really good.”

“I’m not sure what the point of it was. It didn’t illuminate much of anything into the guy who started the experiment or why the story needed to be told, but it was still a great watch.”

“If this were more substantial, it might have gone much higher for me.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s really solid and definitely worth seeing, though I am still wondering what the point of it was. I guess you can say that about the experiment, but the movie doesn’t really go much more in depth than showing you how crazy the whole thing got.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Boulevard

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a perfectly fine movie, and he is understatedly good in it.”

“I want to tell people not to watch this knowing it’s Robin Williams’ last performance, but that’s really the only way it’s going to be seen.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s fine, and Williams is solid. You’re either gonna see it for him or not see it at all. That’s on you.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Phoenix

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Heard about it late in the year.

What I actually thought about it:

“Fascinating movie.”

“A Holocaust survivor has her face reconstructed and goes out to look for her husband, who may or may not have turned her in. He tells her she looks like his wife but doesn’t recognize her. She tries to find out whether he was involved in her going to the camps.”

“It’s really worth seeing.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Very solid foreign film worth checking out.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Southpaw

What I said about it back in January:

“Ah, the classic boxer picture. These go all the way back to the beginning of film.”

“You know in Barton Fink when they say ‘Wrestling picture. What do you want, a road map?’ That’s what they’re talking about. A plot like this.”

“I’m excited for it, all things considered. And July 31st, that could make it an interesting player for critical and commercial hit.”

4 stars.”

“Should go 3.5, but fuck it, we’re going big!”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s really hard to get past all the clichés.”

“Even Gyllenhaal’s performance feels like he’s overdoing it.”

“You’re always aware that Jake Gyllenhaal is putting on a good performance. It actually takes you out of the movie. You’re supposed to buy this character and not see it as an actor performing it.”

“I found it pretty funny that somehow there was a villain in this. Kinda hard to try to do an old school plot with new school techniques. Oh well. Win some, lose some. Not a total disappointment, but close.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

One of the most disappointing films of 2015 for me. I had such high hopes and it just was so overdone. Maybe because Sutter is a TV writer. Maybe because Fuqua wasn’t a strong enough director to get more out of the story. I don’t know. It’s solid, and you can watch it, but it’s not a great movie. And I really wanted this to be good.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Pixels

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s based on a short. This short.”

“So that adorable short with great animation was turned into a $100 million movie with a shitload of CGI.”

“Oh, right, and it’s starring Adam Sandler.”

“Yeah, I’m sure we’re all expecting greatness out of this.”

“You know… despite all of my best instincts, I’m gonna go 3 stars. Because I feel like the scale, and the fact that it could be like a fun version of WarGames… it could be passable.”

“Let’s see if I’m wrong.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s almost watchable. It really is. But there were such huge mistakes made with casting and writing and plotting that I have to consider this Unforgivable. But not for the same reasons everyone else is going to.”

“There’s just so much wrong about this movie. Why? That’s the question to ask. Why?”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Why is the question. And we’ll try to answer it next week!

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Paper Towns

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh, THIS movie. I remember when they announced this. The girl next door shows up, dressed as a ninja at the beginning.”

“And it’s also pretty adult and fucked up, the stuff that happens, if I remember correctly.”

“So you know what? 3.5 stars. Why the hell not? Let’s live wild. I’ll give this a ninja bump.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It was pretty boring. I never found myself caring. It felt too homogenized.”

“It’s a movie that feels very calculated. It thinks certain lines and certain scenes are more clever and will be met with more of a reaction than they are. And then they have the standard cool indie teen music soundtrack.”

“Was kind of hoping the movie would get into some darker, more complex territories than it does. Put it this way — in the 70s, they’d have gotten what they should have out of a story like this. Here, it feels like the standard young adult mainstream shit they try to force on audiences now. A different era and less fidelity to the source material would have gotten a better product out of this story.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Also one of the more disappointing films for me. Mostly it’s my fault for allowing my hopes to be raised for something like this. The fault in my star rating. But still, this was bland as hell, and what could have been a really interesting movie turned into a bland piece of shit. Someone should remake this story as a 70s-style character piece, and it would be way better.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

American Heist

What I said about it back in January:

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s fine. Nothing spectacular, nothing too bad.”

“You can get through it fine, but it’s not like it’s awful, and it’s not like it’s anything more than straight genre that you can telegraph every step of the way. The epitome of a 2.5 star movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was one of the first five or ten movies I saw this year. It’s generic. Not worth seeing unless you stumble upon it and have nothing else going on.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Listen to Me Marlon

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Documentary.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was weirder than I thought it would be.”

“Fortunately it’s not all the obvious moments you’d think of from his career, so that was nice. But it’s not as entertaining as you’d think.”

“I didn’t get anything particularly new or special out of this, but it’s Brando, how can it not be interesting?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s worth it if you like Brando or old Hollywood or things of that ilk. Otherwise as a documentary it’s not particularly great.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Staten Island Summer

What I said about it back in January:

2.5 stars.”

“Just interested in seeing it. For reasons.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Surprisingly okay. The cast is a bunch of SNL members, so that helped. Coming of age movie. Nothing worth seeking out, but I got enough enjoyment out of it to go 3.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It was okay.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The End of the Tour

What I said about it back in January:

“After his first two movies, I have to go 3.5 stars at minimum here. Not crazy about Segal in a dramatic role, but we’ll see how well he pulls it off.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Two people talking in rooms. That’s the movie. And I was fine with it.”

“Didn’t know anything about the author, didn’t read any of his books, not sure what this movie amounted to. But I was engaged by it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s solid. Nothing more than an above average movie, but that’s fine.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

I Am Chris Farley

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Part of the Great Documentary Purge of 2015.

What I actually thought about it:

“Who doesn’t love Chris Farley?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Best of Enemies

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I decided I was going to watch as many documentaries on the shortlist as I could in order to best guess the category.

What I actually thought about it:

“It moves. It’s engaging. I was moderately entertained by this. This is also well-made. It could be nominated.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Solid.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Vacation

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m pretty sure we were all immediately nervous about this from the minute they announced it.”

“(Oh, by the way, the guys who wrote and are directing this also did the Horrible Bosses movies. So I think we’re aware of where this one’s looking to go down come December.)”

2.5 stars.”

“This has to win me over. It does not get a pass. Because this reeked of Unforgivable the minute I heard it. I want it to prove to me that it’s not.”

What I actually thought about it:

“The problem with this movie is that it exists.”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Soon.

* ½ (1.5 stars)

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

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

What I said about it back in January:

“I can’t think of a single entry in this series that I didn’t rate 4 stars, so why would I go with anything different?”

What I actually thought about it:

“This franchise is on a roll.”

“This movie is a lot of fun. The action sequences are really great, they manage to keep everything moving and engaging throughout.”

“This franchise is such that you feel like they’re getting better each time. This should end up pretty highly ranked for me come year’s end.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s fun. Though it’s the kind of fun that’s becoming formula. This and Ghost Protocol established a formula for this franchise. Thinking back, aside from certain setpieces, you’re gonna find yourself forgetting what happened in what movie. Whereas in the earlier ones, even if you don’t like them, you remember — oh, that’s M:I 2. So I’m not gonna go over the moon in my praise of this, but this franchise remains fun as shit and I appreciate Cruise’s commitment to excellence here.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is August.

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