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2016: The Year in Reviews (September)

End of the year, time to recap. Every January, I go over everything that’s schedule to come out, and a bunch more stuff that isn’t yet scheduled. Based on what I know at that time, I guess my eventual ratings for them.

So what ends up happening is, I watch everything over the course of the year, writing up reviews articles every four months, recapping and rating all the films I saw during that period. Then, in December, I post these articles, which contain both the initial guess and the actual rating, along with a final rating, which is based on how I feel about the film having had time to sit and digest it for a period of time.

I do it to see how accurately I can guess ratings for movies a year in advance, but really it serves as a way to give a complete picture of my feelings about each movie I see.

Today we’re recapping September:

Here’s how my ratings system 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. (2015 examples: Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Steve Jobs.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I loved the film, but not unconditionally. Four and a half stars means a likely top ten appearance, and for sure a top twenty spot. Rarely does a four and a half star film fall below top 15. (2015 examples: Anomalisa, Brooklyn, The Revenant, Sicario, Son of Saul.)

* * * * (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 great 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, especially after a year or two. (2015 examples: Beasts of No Nation, Bone Tomahawk, Crimson Peak, Dope, Grandma, The Walk.)

* * * 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 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 versatile ranking. Three and a half star films never make it above tier two (though not many will end up there), and most of them are tier three or four. (2015 examples: Cop Car, The Danish Girl, It Follows, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Mississippi Grind, Spy, Tangerine.)

* * * (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. (Though I still might hate it. That’s a completely different discussion.) 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. (2015 examples: 45 Years, By the Sea, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, San Andreas, Southpaw, Trainwreck.)

* * 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. 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. (2015 examples: The Age of Adaline, I Smile Back, Minions, Paper Towns, Pixels, While We’re Young.)

* * (2 stars) — Two starts means that I just did not like the film. For the most part it’s competently made (though not always), but it’s either part of a genre that I don’t like (horror movie, shitty thriller, Nicholas Sparks), I was utterly bored by it, or it’s one of those movies that really annoyed the shit out of me. Decent chance it could be Unforgivable. (2015 examples: The Boy Next Door, Fifty Shades of Grey, Hot Pursuit, Seventh Son, The Visit.)

* 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 films. 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. (2015 examples: Superfast, Vacation.)

* (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 sequel or being something that’s too easy to make Unforgivable (like a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. One we knew were gonna be a piece of shit going in). But in any case — they’re really awful movies that shouldn’t exist. (2015 examples: none.)

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. (2015 examples of 0 star films: none, thankfully.)

September

The Light Between Oceans

What I said about it back in January:

“No reason to think this won’t be 4 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“This is an unabashed melodrama and I fucking loved every minute of it.”

“I really liked this movie. Though I get why this would turn a lot of people off.”

“This could have been made sixty years ago and been a masterpiece. Here, it can feel somewhat out of place. I think it’s a nice throwback I’d want to see more of.”

“A real shame this got overlooked.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really loved this, and I don’t care how others feel about it. This was great, and it’s one of my favorite films of the year.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Morgan

What I said about it back in January:

“Sounds like Splice.”

3 stars. Hope this isn’t generic.”

What I thought about it:

“It’s like Splice meets a murder mystery.”

“You can see where this is going, and it’s fine, but it’s nothing overly special.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Solid enough.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Yoga Hosers

What I said about it back in January:

“A Kevin Smith horror movie. These get 3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Didn’t particularly care about this. But, honestly, it was fun enough.”

“It had that kids movie vibe that Goosebumps used to have. Not taking itself too seriously, having fun with the thing, and trying to give you both fun and goofy scary at the same time.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s not great, but that kiddie, fun vibe allowed me to be okay with it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Zoom

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“This was pretty whatever.”

“This, though — very weird, arty, trying to amount to something, and ultimately doesn’t.”

“Gets credit for giving me something to watch, but otherwise was mostly forgotten about two days later.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This wasn’t really for me. It only got a watch because it came out during a dead period for movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

White Girl

What I said about it back in January:

“Sundance movie. Written and directed by a woman, which is exciting.”

“I’m very excited to see this.”

3.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Really liked this.”

“Kinda like Arbitrage in that it’s about a white person using their privilege to get away with shit. But you take that away and it’s a really engaging movie.”

“While it’s not even remotely realistic in any way whatsoever, I still really liked watching it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Was a big fan of this. Nice showcase for the lead actress, and a really gripping movie from start to finish.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Kickboxer: Vengeance

What I said about it back in January:

“I wanted to skip this and ignore it completely, but the fact that Jean-Claude Van Damme is in this makes me intrigued to no end.”

3 stars. Mostly I’m just interested. No expectations for it to be good at all. It’s more of an intellectual thing for me.”

What I thought about it:

“Maybe I overestimated the Kickboxer part. This wasn’t good. It’s basically the original movie. But now Jean-Claude is the teacher. Okay. Didn’t really care about this one way or the other.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Did not care at all.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Skiptrace

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m mandated to see this because of my Directors List.”

3 stars.”

Hoping for the best.

What I thought about it:

“My first thought upon seeing this movie was, ‘What, was Sean William Scott busy so they got Johnny Knoxville to star with Jackie Chan instead?’ Of course I look it up and Sean William Scott was supposed to star with him originally.”

“This is your standard Jackie Chan Americanized adventure movie, only since it’s 2016, we have to pander more to the Chinese audiences instead. So the American (dressed like a cowboy, naturally), has to be humiliated and emasculated in all the action scenes by the heroic Chinese star.”

“As far as those go, I’ve seen worse.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not great, but fascinating as part of that “China pandering” era that we’re getting into now.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax

What I said about it back in January:

“Okay.”

“The director did Horns, Piranha 3D, Mirrors, The Hills Have Eyes, High Tension. He’s committed, I’ll say that much.”

2.5 stars.”

“I’m usually wrong on his movies, but it’s because the setups sound so bad.”

What I thought about it:

Haven’t seen it yet. Might not be able to before the cut off. Would be nice. We’ll see.

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?:

Sully

What I said about it back in January:

“Are we not assuming 3.5 stars here?”

“Clint is a minimum 3 star director. And even though his last few films looked like he was old and didn’t give a shit, at worst we’re getting a perfectly fine movie. I haven’t gotten anything less than 3 stars out of Clint for… ever, really.”

What I thought about it:

“I was real nervous for this one. Because the event took about six minutes to happen. And I thought Eastwood was gonna stretch it into two hours and add unnecessary hero worship and ‘New Yawker’ first responder shit. You know, that Peter Berg thing that he does.”

“It was really good. It gives you all the different perspectives on the crash, and really does manage to stay extremely interesting throughout.”

“This did a way better job than I ever expected it to.”

“This is actually a pretty damn good movie, and probably my favorite thing he’s done in about ten years.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really, really solid, and I’m very surprised at how good this was. American Sniper was good, but not as good as people made it out to be, based on the nominations and its box office take. This is legitimately pretty good and I liked it a lot.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Other People

What I said about it back in January:

“Sundance movie about a comedy writer. These are usually standard indies.”

3 stars.”

“At least it’s not a New York author. Those are the worst.”

What I thought about it:

“The setup of this movie is so generic…. but actually, this was really solid.”

“My favorite part was this kid they hired to play the younger brother of Plemons’ friend. Think stereotypical gay ten year old turned up to about fifteen. That kid is fucking wonderful in this movie and I loved every single minute he was on screen.”

“I’m glad, though, that this movie overcame the generic nature of its premise. I think because its based on the writer-director’s actual experiences, so that gave it an added weight that those other indies don’t seem to have.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It was solid. Compare this to The Hollars. One is hollow with a good cast, and this one has weight to it. Because this one meant something to the director.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Ithaca

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s a 3 star movie at worst. I don’t know how good a director Meg Ryan is. I loved the original, so hopefully it’s worthwhile.”

What I thought about it:

“Meg Ryan directed a remake of The Human Comedy. No one knows this exists.”

“I don’t really have anything to say about this except Sam Shepard is awesome, and you should really see the movie this is based on, because it’s really good.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Honestly just watch The Human Comedy. This is fine, but just watch the other one instead.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Disappointments Room

What I said about it back in January:

“This will probably live up to its title.”

2.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Well this sure lived up to its title.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It did, though.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

When the Bough Breaks

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

I only saw this because I was pulling 100% completion at the time and wanted to continue the streak. This was fucked up. Not in a good way, but in the way that kept me from completely turning on it. Plus, it gave me this text exchange:

“Watching When the Bough Breaks. The writing so far is Lifetime level.”

“She’s legal plus three.”

“Her real name is Jaz. Kinda hoping Morris Chestnut throws her out the door at some point. What’s this weird subplot with the abusive boyfriend? For misdirection? Isn’t this a crazy bitch movie?”

“It gets good. By which I mean bad. But in a, ‘wow, yup’ kinda way. And sorta. You root for her. And then it’s….well. You’ll get there.”

“This couple is boring as fuck.”

“I was rooting for her cause Regina hall was awful.”

“They have a guest house. Why is it the people who can’t have kids always have a guest house?

By the way, so far this is a very similar plot to that Will Ferrell Kristen Wiig Lifetime movie from last year. The reveal is she’s not pregnant and planning the whole thing with her boyfriend.”

“Nope. Well, different anyway.”

“It would have been fucked up if they were the same. That might have been preferable. They’re all Fatal Attraction rip offs anyway.”

“Just wait. No business ripping off as bad as it did. Remember, there’s a cat.”

“There’s always an animal. And a kitchen knife. And a bathroom fight.”

“Oh yes. You’re getting close.”

“This boyfriend is a terrible actor. ‘I’m the brains on this. You’re just the uterus.’ And Romany Malco is randomly here. No way he makes it out alive. Either that or he is not getting proper work.

‘John loves children and they love him. Thank you John’.” Great speech. 

Why is she so mad about the dress? Who gives a fuck?”

“Legal plus three.”

“Oh good. The seduction scene.”

“On the ground.”

“And they have a record player. Much less sexy if it’s an iDock.

“Why are they hiding the crazy this long?”

“It comes out fast.”

“That ladder scene… Jesus Christ.

And now Regina Hall left for three days. Because of course.”

At least he has G-Chat records to prove he wanted no part of this shit.”

“But who else might have those records? He’s at work.”

“I wonder how long before she starts cutting Regina Hall out of the family pictures.

Oh good. Boyfriend is back. Time for a murder. That Morris Chestnut is going to be implicated in for blackmail purposes.

… And there’s the whale.

I like how they had to reveal it was her like that was any sort of surprise.”

“Yes. What the hell is this movie?”

“And now Michael K Williams. Okay. Private investigators never make it.

This is Lifetime.

Oh good. Fake name. I can’t believe I’m actually paying attention to this.

“I’d like to add that in the studio promo, Morris Chestnut referred to this as a ‘family movie’.”

“The Manson family?

This is the same aquarium from Bad Lieutenant.

Here comes the dead cat.

A HAHA she kicked her so hard her water broke.”

“My favorite part, I think.

Also, the frying pan.”

“I hate it when I have to stop assaulting a person to have a baby.”

“Radio Raheem died.”

I think it’s that last part that really puts this movie into perspective.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

RIP Radio Raheem.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Wild Life

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“Generic, low-budget animated movie. These all turn out the same… with me not giving a shit.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The not giving a shit aside — I did actually watch this movie, which is more than I can say for 98% of the population.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Kicks

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“Watch the trailer for this movie and tell me it doesn’t make you want to see it.”

“This was awesome. A great story about a kid and his sneakers. Simple as that. Well told, effectively told, and really a great first feature.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really liked this. A nice hidden gem of 2016.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Blair Witch

What I said about it back in January:

“Adam Wingard’s next film. It looks like a horror movie, but after his last two films, I’m in for whatever he wants to make.”

3.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“This was so upsetting to me.”

“They revealed in July this was a Blair Witch movie, and my heart sank.”

“I didn’t want to see (Wingard) reduced to doing these studio-for-hire horror jobs. Or worse… Blumhouse movies.”

“Plus… how could this be good or interesting as a Blair Witch movie? And guess what? Wasn’t good. Wasn’t interesting. Damn shame what happened to Adam Wingard.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Damn shame what happened to Adam Wingard.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

31

What I said about it back in January:

“Directed by Clint Eastwood.”

“No, not really. But wouldn’t that have been fucked up?”

“Rob Zombie is directing. He and Clint pretty much came up the same way.”

3 stars.”

“It sounds too fucked up to not pay attention to.”

What I thought about it:

“Well this was weird and fucked up.”

“I’m not entirely sure why I tracked this for two years. But whatever. That’s the only reason I saw it. Otherwise, I’d have likely skipped it.”

“This wasn’t remotely for me in any particular way.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m having more fun imagining Clint Eastwood directing this than I did watching this movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Wild Oats

What I said about it back in January:

“The director made It Takes Two (yes, the Olsen twins movie. 90s up in here like a motherfucker), Fools Rush In, Ever After, Anna and the King, Sweet Home Alabama, Hitch, Fool’s Gold and The Bounty Hunter. So I think we know exactly what we’re getting out of this.”

3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“The premise was good… The movie, though — they end up with the cartel at one point… it’s chaos.”

“Since I like Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange, I’ll give the movie a pass, but man was this really trying not to be a good movie.”

“You gotta be wary of a movie that gets picked up by Lifetime before it shows up in a theater.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Also pretty sure I’m the only one who saw this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“It’s a Beatles documentary, how could it not have been interesting? It doesn’t tell me a whole lot I didn’t already know, but I’ll watch Beatles stuff all day.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Beatles, man.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Tanna

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Shortlisted for Foreign Language Oscar. Had to check it out.

What I thought about it:

Haven’t watched it yet. Will update this when I do. It’ll get done in the next week.

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Mr. Church

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s Driving Miss Daisy meets The Butler.”

“Directed by the Driving Miss Daisy director.”

“Do I go 3, thinking it’s failed Oscar bait, or 3.5, because it could be good?”

“I’m thinking 3 stars.”

“Eddie Murphy doesn’t usually do drama, but he also doesn’t usually pick good things, if the past decade is any indication. Let’s let this surprise. I’d rather not be let down with this.”

What I thought about it:

“This just seemed like a sentimental Oscar grab from two years ago.”

“It’s one of those stories that you just know what the thinking behind it was and feels like something that should have been made 25 years ago.”

“But I liked it. I like these kinds of movies. They’re innocent and they’re fine. I’m not gonna shit on it just because it’s trying to manipulate me. It’s fine.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s not great, but the way you deride a movie because it’s for “middle aged” people — that just mean’s its watchable and broadly appealing. You can watch this and be fine if you’re not trying to be snobby about it. It’s just okay. There’s nothing wrong with just okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Snowden

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s Oliver Stone. How can this not be at least 3.5 stars?”

“I trust Oliver.”

What I thought about it:

“Oliver Stone is usually good for a solid movie.”

“This overall did a great job.”

“I’m not gonna say it’s a perfect movie, but it’s definitely a really solid one. This is the most I’ve liked one of his movies since… since actually Any Given Sunday.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I liked it. Not a perfect movie, but engaging and watchable throughout. I’m okay with this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Bridget Jones’s Baby

What I said about it back in January:

“Yeesh.”

2.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Why did they make this?”

“It’s not offensively bad, but it just didn’t need to exist and seems to have gotten everything wrong about what a sequel to this movie should be.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Even people who liked the first movie would say this one sucked. What did you think I was gonna think?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

ARQ

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Netflix Original. I somehow have ended up seeing just about every single one of these that has come out.

What I thought about it:

“The time loop aspect makes it marginally interesting, but this is no more than a low-budget thriller version of Groundhog Day.”

“It’s fine because it’s easy and it’s Netflix, but otherwise not something you’d seek out in any other format.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Netflix makes things easier to see and gives them less of a burden to be good, but so rarely do we get anything other than fair at best. They started with Beasts of No Nation and have been pretty middling since then.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

I.T.

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“Generic thriller. Digital age reverse Fatal Attraction. That’s what this is. You can skip it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Digital age reverse Fatal Attraction is exactly what this is. I’m nothing if not good at explaining things through comps to other movies.

And yes, you can skip this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Magnificent Seven

What I said about it back in January:

“Yeah, boy!”

“Great cast, great story, solid director.”

4 stars.”

“Western bump. 3.5 star movie, western bump to 4. That seems easy.”

“Anything less than 3.5 out of this and I’m incredibly disappointed.”

What I thought about it:

“I had to force myself not to think about how awful an idea this is.”

“I’m taking Seven Samurai out of it, because to include that on top of the original Magnificent Seven might be too much for this movie to overcome. But a simple western remake — okay, sure. I guess you could try it.”

“It kinda works. Take away the western bump and you get a pretty generic action movie.”

“All the stars are doing their own thing. No one feels as though they’re working together. The movie motors along like a plot machine — it looks like a movie made in 2016. And that’s just not enough for a story of this caliber.”

“You can enjoy it well enough, but it just feels like a complete disappointment.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It was fine. The western aspect kept this afloat. But if it weren’t a western (and even still, almost), it would have been 3 stars. Nothing here memorable whatsoever. Let’s just move along and wait for someone to actually adhere to the western genre tropes for real.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Storks

What I said about it back in January:

“Cute idea.”

3 stars.”

“Not gonna say this will be great, but I’m not going into this with a yawn and a ‘don’t care.'”

What I thought about it:

“The strangest thing about this is that Nick Stoller directed it. It’s an utterly generic animated movie that’s not particularly good in any way. Don’t get it. But whatever.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Boring, generic. Still not sure why Nick Stoller made this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Queen of Katwe

What I said about it back in January:

“Chess movies are usually good.”

3.5 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“Chess movies are always interesting.”

“That’s what allows this to not get bogged down by mainstream, unadventurous Disney filmmaking, which tries to riddle the film with cliches and ‘family movie’ nonsense.”

“It has a winning personality, with great lead performances all around, and the chess aspect really helps this to stay above something like a Million Dollar Arm, which was generic to the max.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It works, but it’s not great. Disney refuses to take any chances, and that always hurts their films in the end.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

My Blind Brother

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“This was a lot of fun.”

“Great set up. Regular guy who doesn’t fully have his shit together dealing with his blind brother who seemingly does. And his brother is an asshole. And he can’t really say anything, because he’s blind. And then the brother ends up dating a woman he previously slept with, and things are awkward.”

“I liked this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was fun. Great work out of the leads. Solid little indie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Dressmaker

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars.”

“Sounds okay. I like Winslet’s recent period work.”

What I thought about it:

“This is a strange movie. It’s basically High Plains Drifter but with a woman.”

“I enjoyed it well enough. Very strange, though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

High Plains Dressmaker?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Deepwater Horizon

What I said about it back in January:

“Pete Berg is good when he has solid material.”

3.5 stars. I’m actually trusting in Kurt Russell here.”

What I thought about it:

“The premise is interesting, but the way they put this together is not.”

“It’s a generic disaster movie made by Peter Berg, who is just too prone to flag waving. That’s the difference between Peter Berg and Michael Bay. Michael Bay will put an American flag in every shot. Peter Berg will wave an American flag in every shot.”

“This is well intentioned, but it doesn’t amount to anything more than a generic disaster movie with a lot of CGI effects that feel like CGI effects. I rarely feel like the actors are in any danger, which is supposed to be the point of a disaster movie.”

“In case you haven’t seen this, don’t worry, Patriots Day is still coming out, and it’s gonna be the exact same movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m gonna repeat that analogy, because I think it’s very, very true: Michael Bay will put an American flag in every shot, Peter Berg will wave an American flag in every shot.

There’s just nothing memorable about this. It’s weird… CGI has killed the disaster movie. The effects allow you to do anything, but they make them look fake. When’s the last good one you can think of?

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Denial

What I said about it back in January:

3 stars.”

What I thought about it:

“The trial aspect kept this afloat. Otherwise this is a movie made in a style that disappeared 20 years ago.”

“This is a 90s movie made by a 90s movie director.”

“The premise is good, and there’s a lot of worthwhile stuff going on, but it just feels flawed from the get go because of how they went about making it.”

“I liked it, but it’s definitely not a movie that feels all there.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It almost works, but it’s not quite all there. I hate to blame that on the director, but I might have to.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

American Honey

What I said about it back in January:

“Let’s call it 3 stars. Not sure what I’m getting out of this.”

What I thought about it:

“I should not be surprised that at a three hour movie about cross country magazine selling millennials starring Shia LaBeouf the theater is filled entirely with hipsters.”

“One girl here is wearing a dress that looks like a hospital gown.”

“So far no fedoras. But there’s time.”

“This girl’s purse is clear and has a hammer in it.”

“Skinny jeans. Leather jacket. Cowboy boots.”

“There’s only like twenty people in this theater.”

“And the one token, sweatpants, sweatshirt and man bun guy.”

“And the theme from Dr. Zhivago is playing.”

“This is a carnival from hell.”

“And there’s the fedora. Son of a bitch.”

“I wish I were exaggerating any of this.”

I would like to point out that I am exaggerating ZERO in this exchange.

“I wonder what the trailers are gonna be. If it’s Noah Baumbach I might walk out.”

“Twenty hipsters just swarmed in at the end of the first trailer. What a fucking hipster thing to do.”

“I loved it.”

“It held my attention from the opening shot and kept me glued throughout.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I really liked this, but this is not for everyone. Very hipster bait, but also very engaging, in a weird way. Big fan of this movie.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Masterminds

What I said about it back in January:

“Still think this is gonna be terrible.”

2 stars.”

“Nope. Just not interested in that combination whatsoever.”

What I thought about it:

“Yikes.”

“This is lowest common denominator humor.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s not like we didn’t expect this.

This was awful.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Flock of Dudes

What I said about it back in January:

Left a blanket 2.5 star rating back in December, thinking it would never come out.

What I thought about it:

“Didn’t love it. It had its moments, but overall not something I loved. Amusing little comedy though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Mostly I’m just glad to get it off the books.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Crisis in Six Scenes

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Miniseries don’t get previewed. But since they are finite, I count them as single entries.

What I thought about it:

“I’m torn. Because on the one hand, we all know my feelings about Woody Allen, by and large. But I’m pretty sure even hardcore Woody Allen fans — if they even saw this to begin with — thought this was a huge piece of shit.”

“I… was grateful that I was able to knock it out in like three hours. But man, were those a long three hours.”

“There’s no humor or interest in any of this, and it feels like a lot of Woody Allen films feel — like a tired old man making movies.”

“I feel like people reacted to this the way I react to most of his movies…. At least you guys see what I’ve been seeing for the better part of the past decade.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

We might have all agreed on a Woody Allen project for once. Can’t remember the last time that’s happened.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Man Called Ove

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Foreign Language shortlisted film.

What I thought about it:

Haven’t seen it yet. Will update in the next week when I do.

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Amanda Knox

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing.

What I thought about it:

“This didn’t achieve anything.”

“It was basically 90 minutes of ‘Oh no, we don’t know if she did it or not!'”

“It also sure as hell tried to use the evidence to make it look like she didn’t do it, and used her personality to make it seem like she may have done it. I got nothing out of this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This pretty much wasted my time. Maybe if you don’t know the case, it’s worthwhile. But when you have a general idea, this tells you nothing you don’t already know.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

What I said about it back in January:

“Burton’s been real shaky the last few films. Big Eyes was solid, but no one saw it.”

3.5 stars. I can’t assume 4 with Burton anymore. I just can’t. I need him to prove it to me, based on the last few.”

What I thought about it:

“I feel like we say this every time he has a movie come out, but… what happened to Tim Burton?”

“I think the issue is CGI. His movies were all about the set designs and costume designs and weird, practical things he could do to make his movies look good. But now that computers handle most of it, you’re basically left with movies that don’t feel like they have his sense of style to them, rendering him pretty useless.”

“That’s what this was. A generic YA movie that I only cared about because Tim Burton made it.”

“I wish Burton would make something cool again. (Though next up is Dumbo, so it’s not looking good.)”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think we might be finished with Tim Burton. (And yes, I do think CGI is the issue.) Sometimes you just gotta let someone go. The only reason I guessed so high on this movie is because he directed it. Now it seems like he was director for hire, as it’s seemed for a while now. There’s no passion in any of his movies. And it’s a real shame.

* * * (3 stars)

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

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is October.

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