2015: The Year in Reviews (August)

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 August:

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.)

August

The Fantastic Four

What I said about it back in January:

“Hard to tell how this is gonna play out. So, we’ve gotta go 3 stars and see what happens.”

“Not excited, yet not unexcited. This could be good, this could suck. I’ll split the difference and make the movie decide.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I’ll start by saying — I enjoyed this just fine. Yes, problems, but dogshit expectations plus a cast I like plus a lack of 9/11 imagery and stupid, unnecessary action sequences means I was less upset with this than I am with Marvel movies.”

“That said, this is an Unforgivable movie.”

“This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. I don’t know if I need to blame everyone or no one. The effects look terrible, the movie looks edited down in the wrong places, and it just doesn’t work. It takes half the movie to give them the powers, then speeds up past the interesting parts toward a non-climax. I’m okay with the “non-climax,” because fuck those other movies with the same CGI action sequences at the end that all blend together. But at least give me interesting shit around it.”

“I did enjoy parts of what this movie was trying to do. But the execution of this movie was so wrong on so many levels that it makes me upset that they had a chance to make something that wasn’t the bullshit that Marvel puts out there, and possibly prove that you can make an interesting superhero movie that’s not part of that formula, and they fucked it up. So now people think that Marvel is the way to go. FUCK.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Hard to put final thoughts here when it’s clear this is going to be Unforgivable. We’ll save them.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Ricki and the Flash

What I said about it back in January:

3.5 stars.”

“Honestly, I should go 4.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I will say, the first thirty minutes are almost cringeworthy. Meryl doing the rock star schtick and the song choices and the way they set up the conflict — I almost gave up on it.”

“But actually, when this got into the character moments and the family fighting and dealing with all their relationship issues, I actually really liked this.”

“It’s probably not as good as the rating, and in the end, it gets really hokey and obvious, but by that point, I was sufficiently amused by it.”

“Though I do get why people would not like this movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, it’s very predictable and the music choices are terrible. But the family drama stuff was very interesting to me. I could have used more of that. But as it is, the movie won me over by the time we got to the end, and even though it’s horribly predictable and even cliche, I will admit to being a sucker for that sometimes. So here we are.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Shaun the Sheep Movie

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Animation shortlisted film. Saw it then.

What I actually thought about it:

“There’s no denying Aardman and all these films are brilliantly animated and display great artistry.”

“Not discounting any of that. I just wasn’t totally into this. It was cute, it was fun. I enjoyed it. But I didn’t love it.”

“Still, I’d rather this than 90% of the animated films that come out each year. This is true animated filmmaking at its finest.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Didn’t love it, but this was beautifully done.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Dark Places

What I said about it back in January:

“Curious to see how good this is without a Fincher directing.”

3 stars. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, but I’m really curious to see how this turns out.”

What I actually thought about it:

“The other Gillian Flynn book. I heard people say it’s a better book than Gone Girl. It’s certainly not a better movie. I lost interest a few times during this.”

“Not a huge fan of this one. It plays like a paperback mystery. Gone Girl was elevated by Fincher. This isn’t elevated.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I was being generous with the 3. It really needed a Fincher.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Gift

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. But horror-thrillers with good reviews (especially when written and directed by Joel Edgerton) will get my attention.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was surprisingly solid.”

“It’s a creepy thriller that works by not being a thriller. When you think it’s gonna get into all those typical thriller scenes, it doesn’t. This is a psychological drama. It’s one dude fucking with another dude, for reasons we don’t find out until the end of the film.”

“The reason this works is because you never out and out see him doing the things to fuck with him, and you’re left on such a note where you’re not quite sure what actually happened.”

“I’m really pleased it didn’t turn into a typical shitty Blumhouse movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Very well done. Good job, Joel Edgerton.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

What I said about it back in January:

“Sundance movie.”

“Not particularly excited for this.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Straightforward, doesn’t sugar coat it, and doesn’t try to fit a formula. I liked it.”

“Bel Powley really impressed me with her two parts this year (see also: A Royal Night Out). Really impressive way to start out a film career.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The performance by Bel Powley is really outstanding. The movie is just okay. She’s so good I knew she was 22 and was still uncomfortable watching because it felt like she was 15. I’m really impressed by her.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Prophet

What I said about it back in January:

“An anthology animated movie. I’m in no matter when this comes out.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“The frame story is whatever, but the individual animated sections are gorgeous.”

“This is a story that’s much more famous in other countries, so most people won’t know what this is. But it’s still a fun little animated film.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The story didn’t mean a whole lot to me, but the animation was gorgeous.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Cop Car

What I said about it back in January:

2.5 stars.”

“Might be 3, but for some reason I get nervous about thrillers. Premise is good, but I’m just… I want to see it be good.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Lot of fun. Simple movie, uncomplicated story, 90 minutes. What more can you ask for?”

“Not a whole lot of twists and turns here. It’s very straightforward. Watts makes small moments riveting, like when Bacon tries to break into a car with a piece of string. Lot of fun and really gripping from start to finish. Big fan of this one.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those situations where I knew so little going in that I was way off on the guess. That’s always bound to happen with these movies. But this movie was great. I had so much fun watching this. This is almost the Blue Ruin of 2015. The simple independent movie that manages to have you the entire way.

They made watching a dude use a piece of string to open a car door lock a riveting five minutes of film. That takes skill.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Amnesiac

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I thought I was watching this movie Amnesia by Barbet Schroeder as part of my Directors List and only realized I had the wrong movie halfway through. So I stuck it out.

What I actually thought about it:

“Did not care about a single thing that happened in this movie and I basically sleepwalked through it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Can’t tell you pretty much anything that happened here. I watched it by mistake, and once I realized my mistake, I was mentally checked out for the rest of the film.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Runner

What I said about it back in January:

“Starring Nicolas Cage.”

“YES.”

3 stars.”

“The Cage rating.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Pretty forgettable.”

“It’s a drama. Not a thriller, so that’s nice. More than just a typical paycheck gig for him. But still a paycheck gig.”

“I might need to lower my expectations for these movies, since Cage seems to be in his ‘I don’t give a shit’ period.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I just want crazy Cage back. Is that too much to ask?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

What I said about it back in January:

“So, it’s a Guy Ritchie movie, which is nice. On the other hand, this has gotten moved around a bunch. On the other other hand, it moved from January to August. Which is a slightly better move. But also not really one that instills a lot of hope.”

“I honestly am excited enough about this to want to say 3.5 stars. I feel like Guy Ritchie, with a brand… this could turn out like Sherlock Holmes.”

“But on the other hand… August… plus the overall sound of the story… this could turn out to be slightly above generic.”

“So I’m gonna say 3 stars and just let it be 3.5.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was fun as shit.”

“I really, really enjoyed this.”

“This is Guy Ritchie having fun again. This is a director with supreme confidence. The amount of long takes with action happening primarily in the background (Vikander dancing, Cavill eating the sandwich while the boat blows up, the electric chair) and fun split screens — how could you not have fun with this movie?”

“What more could you want out of an action movie? This is basically an episode of Archer. I enjoyed the hell out of this and my opinion might actually go up by the time all is said and done.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m actually considering going four stars with this. This was so much fun and feels like it’ll have decent replay value. This was one of my favorite surprises of 2015. (And it was really only a surprise because it came out, no one saw it and it went away with middling reviews. So by the time I got around to it, I was expecting something less than Kingsman. And I got something equal if not better than Kingsman.) So fuck it, let’s go 4.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Straight Outta Compton

What I said about it back in January:

“This would be the upcoming biopic of the band Devo, that answers all the burning questions we all had about their meteoric rise and fall.”

“I know we’re all very excited about it.”

“I, myself, have tempered expectations. Since I remember being all excited for Notorious, and that wasn’t particularly good at all.”

“I’m feeling this is gonna be more of the same. Something where they really go for the movie version of history than the actual history version.”

“So… 3 stars.”

“I expect it’ll be watchable, but I’m not gonna get all caught up in being excited because it’s about who it’s about.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Too long, all over the place, but entertaining as shit. So really, who cares?”

“How can you not enjoy this movie? The performance scenes are incredible. The actors all feel spot on, and every time you start to drift it brings you back with a scene that’s riveting, or a performance with the great music of the group.”

“This is one of those movies that has flaws that you don’t care about. I’m glad this is good, I’m glad this made money. I’m happy this got made.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The fact that this was a 3.5 star movie is so surprising to me and really the best thing I can say about this movie. Yes, too long, yes, all over the place, yes it has a lot of flaws. But it’s fun and the music is great and it just makes me happy to know that it got made and made a bunch of money.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Mistress America

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh boy, a Noah Baumbach movie. His stuff doesn’t fill me with dread as it once did, since I really enjoyed Frances Ha, but I’m still nervous.”

“I’ll say 3 stars and see what he gives me. He needs a few in a row for me to change my opinion.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s Noah Baumbach, which means this movie made me at least 45% angry while watching.”

“His movies are at least half hipster garbage. And yet, for the most part, I either get made and leave them alone and feel indifferent about them, or I give them the marginal thumbs up.”

“This one gets the marginal thumbs up. Greta Gerwig is great and keeps things watchable, and I’m willing to say that I marginally enjoyed this even if it openly made me angry at more than ten occasions.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It turns into a screwball comedy in the last act, and that kept me from being indifferent about it.

Still, I’m very much not a Noah Baumbach fan.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

People, Places and Things

What I said about it back in January:

2.5 stars.”

“Don’t recognize any of the cast. Sounds like an indie movie. This is my go-to rating for movies like that.”

What I actually thought about it:

“These indie movies always go one of two ways — either it’s ‘meh, that was pretty boring and like most indies,’ or it’s ‘all right, that was watchable. Still indie, so not great.’ This is the latter.”

“I didn’t love it. But that’s par for the course. There’s something about independent movies that just feels limiting. But this was good. It was engaging. I thought it was gonna be bad. So that was nice.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It was engaging. These movies do end up either 2.5 or 3. So the fact that it went 3 is encouraging.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Meru

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’s engaging. People climbing mountains. But not just any mountain, one of the hardest mountains to climb.”

“It looks great and if you like mountain climbing movies, you’ll enjoy this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Mountain climbing is usually interesting.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Ten Thousand Saints

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars.”

“I typically am okay with these.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Did not care about anything that happened in it. Though it was interesting to see that it was about teen pregnancy. But otherwise — in one ear and out the other. Completely forgotten about this already.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Complete indifference.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Hitman: Agent 47

What I said about it back in January:

“Hey, I played that video game.”

“And I saw that first movie.”

“It sucked.”

“The game was all right.”

“In a movie like this, coming out end of August, after an already failed version… I gotta look at who’s directing it. To see if there’s any hope.”

“Guy’s directed nothing before. Always a good start.”

“Oh, and Paul Walker was gonna be in this. So maybe that explains some of it.”

“Not feeling this one at all.”

2.5 stars.”

“3 is the maximum here. 2.5 seems likely, though.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I honestly couldn’t even tell you what the first movie was about. This is more of the same. At least this one had moments where I was actually paying attention for a stretch.”

“Couldn’t really tell you what this was about or what was going on, but I managed to get through it without hating it. So that’s something.”

“Otherwise, completely generic movie that I can’t even say will be forgotten quickly, because I’m pretty sure most people don’t even know this came out.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

0-2 on Hitman movies.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

American Ultra

What I said about it back in January:

“Could be fun.”

“What the hell… 3.5 stars.”

“Hopefully it’s non-stop fun action. I could use one of those.”

What I actually thought about it:

“My expectations weren’t particularly high. I thought it could be decent, based on the premise. But ultimately, I don’t think the movie amounted to anything.”

“I like when movies are contained, but this felt like the wrong kind of contained.”

“There was no one I was rooting for. The action called too much attention to itself. I ultimately found myself not caring for most of it. Oh well.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This disappointed me because they somehow got my hopes up that this could have been a good movie. But maybe that’s just my own damn fault.

* * * (3 stars)

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

She’s Funny That Way

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars.”

“I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. And I’ll see Imogen Poots in anything.”

“Still excited to see this. Despite the presence of Aniston and Wilson.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Peter Bogdanovich really goes for the 40s vibe, doesn’t he? The fact that he’s aiming for screwball works for me.”

“Most people won’t like this. And I don’t like a lot of the cast, to be honest. But the movie is enjoyable enough.”

“It works on the strength of Imogen Poots, who I am discovering is amazing in everything she does. She’s legitimately great here. I will honestly watch her in anything. She carries this entire movie. The movie’s okay, but she’s terrific.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Imogen Poots deserves all the credit for this movie. And I respect Bogdanovich going for the old school Hollywood comedy vibe, even if it doesn’t quite work (possibly due to his age and possibly due to the cast). But man, Imogen Poots — I will honestly watch her in anything and watch anything if she’s in it. That’s how much she’s impressed me over the past few years in every single thing I’ve seen her in.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Digging for Fire

What I said about it back in January:

“Okay.”

“Swanberg’s movies are almost always 3 stars so let’s stick with that.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Honestly, I found that I just didn’t care. The characters aren’t drawn strongly enough for me to feel anything for them, the drama isn’t enough for me to be invested in the plot.”

“This isn’t Cassavetes.”

“Usually Swanberg gets a blanket 3 from me, but here, they paraded actors I recognized throughout the film, but I never saw it amount to anything. So I didn’t really care.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Nope. I’m really starting to tire of the Swanberg style. If you go in with a very rough outline and have everything be improvised, how are you going to get a good movie out of that? What was this? What did I watch? But at least I know how to rate every Swanberg movie from here on out.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Learning to Drive

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I’m pretty sure I knew this was coming and deliberately didn’t write it up figuring I’d never have to bother with it and would never actually see it. Turns out, they tried pushing it for an Oscar. Oh well.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was fine. Kingsley’s good. Doesn’t amount to much. Very indie. But the actors do a decent enough job. Not something you need to run out and watch, though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It was fine.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Grandma

What I said about it back in January:

“Let’s say 3 stars, purely because it takes place over a day. I tend to like that sort of thing.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This movie is actually really good.”

“This is a movie you don’t know about that’s really well made and features great performances. You owe it to this movie to check it out.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This really surprised me. It’s short, which works in its favor. The story is what it is and doesn’t try to do a whole lot more. Lily Tomlin is great, and Julia Garner is great too. This was a very entertaining movie, and I’m glad I managed to see this.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

No Escape

What I said about it back in January:

“This still looks like a completely decent enough thriller for me.”

“So 3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“What did you expect? The idea was really good. But the execution was generic.”

“Owen Wilson is fine. He’s not the problem. And Pierce Brosnan, I thought for sure they were gonna have him play a villain like he’s ben doing lately. But no. He’s actually good. But then he disappears for the middle of the movie. Which is stupid. He’s the only person I cared about.”

“So yeah, generic movie, no one will see this unless it’s on Netflix in a year or two, and we move on.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Nope. Generic, forgettable, and they wasted what could have been a good premise for a movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Zipper

What I said about it back in January:

“That cast was better than I was expecting.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s actually pretty watchable. A solid movie. I thought it would be more of a dark comedy, but it’s actually a straight up drama. Still, not bad.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was pretty good. Don’t remember a whole lot about it, but it was pretty good. So there.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Sinister 2

What I said about it back in January:

Not wasting time. I won’t see this.

Skip.

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it.

Final Thoughts:

Automatic skip.

How close was I?: N/A

The Second Mother

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Foreign Language contender we got a screener for.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was really good.”

“A woman left her daughter over a decade prior to become a maid for an upper class family. And now the daughter is taking a college entrance exam and she’s coming to stay, despite not seeing her mother in ten years. And her showing up immediately highlights all the class differences that have been hidden in the house over the years. ”

“The actress who plays the mother/maid is terrific. And there’s a late movie revelation that happens that really makes things feel more real and organic.”

“This is a really terrific movie that I hope gets nominated for Foreign Language Film.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Very solid movie. I hope this gets nominated in Foreign Language.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Z for Zachariah

What I said about it back in January:

This was done by the director of Compliance, which was great.

Starring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine.

3.5 stars.

Solid cast, solid filmmaker (from what I’ve seen) and solid logline. Why not?

What I actually thought about it:

“Big fan. I like small stories. I like that only three people are ever on screen in this entire film. I like that the movie didn’t try to be anything more than it was. It looked great, the actors were engaging and it was a really solid film.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m wondering if I went back to this if it would still be 4 or be back to 3.5. Either way, we’re dealing with a good movie, so that part is irrelevant. I’ll stick with the 4 for now. I like post-apocalyptic movies, I like that only three people are in the cast. And I want people to see this.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

We Are Your Friends

What I said about it back in January:

“Zac Efron is starring.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I’m not sure what to think about this. It’s really well directed and has moments that are incredibly well done (the animation in the PCP sequence is going to get someone a job), but ultimately it’s cliche as shit.”

“I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on the actual direction, because there’s good stuff here. Just not the story.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The story is shit. (He wants to be a DJ and the climax is him taking all the shit that’s happened to him and turning it into some kind of house beat. Okay.) But the direction is good. And it kept me invested enough to say 3 instead of 2.5. But seriously, what the fuck was this? How did this get studio money?

* * * (3 stars)

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

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is September.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

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