Advertisements

2017: The Year in Reviews (January)

If we’re comparing the movie year to the sports year, and the Oscars are the championship game and Oscar season is the playoffs, then what we’re getting into is the end of the season. We’re playing out last game, and we’re about to start giving out MVP awards and taking stock of how everything went.

Each year, at the start of the year, I preview everything I can that’s scheduled to come out (and even a bunch of stuff that isn’t scheduled yet). In doing so, I guess what I’m going to eventually rate that movie when I see it. So now, at the end of the year, as we recap everything that came out, we see how I did. Plus, also, I see everything, so this also can be used for people to see if something they didn’t see or know about during the year is worthwhile.

I’ve been posting reviews articles throughout the year (Part III was yesterday) that capture my thoughts as we go along. Don’t want you guys to think I’m trying to cheat these things. What I do in these articles is post what I thought I would think back in January, along with my actual reviews from seeing the films, and then a final rating, after having had time to digest the film for a period of time.

I turn it into a game to see how accurately I can guess ratings for all the movies a year in advance (I’m gonna see everything anyway. Gotta make it interesting somehow), but mostly it serves as a way to give a complete picture of my feelings about each movie I see.

We begin today with January, as well as the films from last year and the ones that haven’t come out yet.

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. (2016 examples: Kubo and the Two Strings, La La Land.)

* * * * 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, unless there are a lot of them. (2016 examples: Everybody Wants Some!!, Hell or High Water, Midnight Special, The Nice Guys, The Red Turtle.)

* * * * (4 stars) — I liked the film a lot and will typically tell people it was great. It could end up in the top 20, but for the most part four-star movies end up in tier two. (2016 examples: American Honey, Deadpool, Hardcore Henry, The Light Between Oceans, Remember, Silence.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars) — The film was really solid. It’s not without its problems but it gave me more than just another decent movie. This is typically for movies that either were way better than expected or movies that were fine, but didn’t quite live up to expectations. There may be a few in tier two, but mainly this will populate tiers three and four. (2016 examples: 10 Cloverfield Lane, A Bigger Splash, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Captain Fantastic, Edge of Seventeen, Rules Don’t Apply.)

* * * (3 stars) — It was all right. This is the ultimate ‘I enjoyed it well enough’ rating. Or ‘you can get through it’. The go-to rating for those ‘decent cable watch’ movies, as well as the ‘big studio movie that cost too much money to be anything less than this, but still wasn’t very good’. It has its strengths, but otherwise was just okay. If a big movie is only at 3, it means I didn’t really care for it. And if a movie that looks like a huge piece of shit is a 3, it means I was fine with it because it wasn’t that bad. 3 stars means I’m cool with it, but it didn’t do a whole lot for me. (2016 examples: The Birth of a Nation, The Girl on the Train, London Has Fallen, The Neon Demon, Suicide Squad.)

* * ½ (2.5 stars) — This is my indifference rating. I didn’t necessarily think it was bad, mostly I just didn’t care. There wasn’t enough there I liked to make it 3, and it was well enough made and held my attention enough that it didn’t go lower. This rating means either I’m passing on the whole thing and/or saying it wasn’t for me. A lot of horror movies and kids movies will end up here. (2016 examples: Blair Witch, Don’t Breathe, Gods of Egypt, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Trolls, Warcraft.)

* * (2 stars) — I did not like it. Usually 2 stars means it was relatively competently made (though not always), but it just felt like a very bad or generic version of that movie, with few redeeming qualities whatsoever. Pretty much everything from here on out is generally considered a bad movie, and it only comes down to how nice I’m being toward it and how angry it did (or didn’t) make me. (2016 examples: Bad Moms, Masterminds, Miracles from Heaven, Mother’s Day, Norm of the North.)

* ½ (1.5 stars) — The film was awful. Look for these movies to make the Unforgivables list. No other way to explain a 1.5 star movie except — you understand when you see it. (2016 examples: The Boss.)

* (1 star) — 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 — 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 the world in general. A film with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and one that physically made me angry while watching it. (2016 examples of 0 star films: Zoolander 2.)

2016 + Unreleased Films

Basmati Blues

January’s preview:

3 stars. Can’t, in good conscience, keep the guess at 3.5. Not after all this time.”

The actual review:

This was weird. It’s a musical. Straight up singing all throughout the movie. And it’s about a genetic rice scientist in India.

Not… really sure what this is, but I like little oddities like this, so I’m cool with it.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is a film for just about nobody, but it’s more interesting to me than just another action movie, so I’m more than okay with it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Best F(r)iends

January’s preview:

None. Happened upon the opportunity to go to a screening of this and had to take it up.

The actual review:

“I saw this as part of a double feature with The Room, with Tommy and Greg in attendance. So that was fun.”

“It’s hard to tell if it’s deliberately bad or was written totally straight, knowing that it would turn out the way it did.”

“It’s definitely nuts. Tommy is left to be Tommy, and there are straight up callbacks to The Room in here (specifically a scene where they toss a basketball around and just play for like, no reason).”

“The only way to really enjoy a movie like this is in a theater full of fans of The Room. The reactions were riotous, and when the end of the movie happened (which I won’t spoil), it got legitimate screams and shouts and applause.”

“If you put this on at home by yourself, much like The Room, I can’t imagine you’d get anything out of it. But man, was this a fun watch in the moment.”

“Oh — I guess I should also mention what this is about. Sestero plays a homeless man (it’s never explained why) who meets Tommy, an undertaker, who takes him in. Sestero realizes that Tommy has a store of gold teeth and such from his years of apparently looting dead bodies, and enlists Tommy in a plan to sell them for money. And — well… things get weird.”

“It’s not The Room, but it works if you like The Room, because it’s the gang getting back together again. And while they’re in on the joke, they’re not able to overcome the joke to the point where it’s not bad-funny.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s not a 3.5 star movie. But the way in which I experienced this movie — I loved it. Watching this as part of a double feature with The Room, if you understand why The Room is great, is the only real way to experience this. Otherwise there’s no point.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“This is by the people who made Ernest & Celestine. I didn’t like it as much as I liked that film, but it was fun. It’s a madcap kind of movie, comprised of shorts.”

“It’s fun, it’s fine. I’m a fan of anything hand drawn.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Lovely to look at, but otherwise just okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Borg vs. McEnroe

January’s preview:

“Shia LaBeouf is playing John McEnroe. Which is just great. I can kinda see the resemblance. Though he’s gonna have to wear that crazy Andy Samberg hair for it.”

3 stars. Can’t imagine I’ll love it, but I’ll sure as shit be fascinated by it.”

The actual review:

Still gotta watch it. Will update this once I do.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Boys in the Trees

January’s preview:

None. Watched it for work.

The actual review:

“Came across this randomly and thought it was worth watching to see if the director might have been right for a project we’re working on.”

“It was all right. Definitely an interesting film that doesn’t particularly stick the landing. But it does all right for stretches.”

“Not something I particularly recommend, but you could do worse.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I think that about covers it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Brain on Fire

January’s preview:

“I imagine decent, unspectacular.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Based on a woman’s memoir about dealing with mental illness. Or, not, actually. Since the mental illness is apparently caused by some other illness.”

“It’s like an episode of House, but told from the patient’s perspective.”

“It’s fine. Nothing special. Very much a VOD type watch.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. Not something I’d have particularly liked later in the year, but as it was, I got through it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Ethel & Ernest

January’s preview:

No preview. Was submitted for Best Animated Feature and I saw it based on that.

The actual review:

“Lovely, lovely, lovely movie.”

“Animated film based on a graphic novel, I believe, about the author’s parents, who are not particularly important and led a very average life. And it’s that which makes this such a great movie.”

“It’s two people meeting and falling in love and raising a family and having to live through a World War. It’s simple, and beautiful, and an animated movie I cannot recommend highly enough.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Seriously, go see this movie if you get the chance. It’s so good.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Girl Asleep

January’s preview:

None. Stumbled across it on Netflix, I think.

The actual review:

“I really liked this.”

“It starts very much like a Wes Anderson movie. You watch the first ten minutes and you immediately think Wes Anderson. And then the next thirty are sort of a Taika Waititi, an offbeat comedy. Then it takes this crazy turn and gets fantastical, and I really went with that.”

“It’s only like 70 minutes, but I really enjoyed it.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

A nice little film worth checking out if you have 70 minutes.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Hampstead

January’s preview:

None. Came out and I saw who directed it and saw it.

The actual review:

“This was by the guy who did Last Chance Harvey, so when I came across it I jumped at the chance to watch it.”

“This movie — not interesting at all. Very boring, in fact. Definitely not something I’d recommend.”

“I prefer to use this time to tell you to go watch Last Chance Harvey instead, a far superior and rewarding movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Go watch Last Chance Harvey.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Humanity Bureau

January’s preview:

“Starring Nicolas Cage.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“I’ll never give up on Nic Cage. No matter how many paycheck movies he does.”

“The problem with these paycheck movies, especially lately, is that he doesn’t seem to be trying with most of them. This one especially.”

“It just feels cheap, and he doesn’t seem to care. So I didn’t care. But I’m still going. I’ll see every one of these pieces of shit, hoping he decides to start caring again soon.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

That poster looks like he finally noticed that we noticed him making all these shitty paycheck movies.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

If I Were a Boy

January’s preview:

None. Watched it for work.

The actual review:

“The proper translation is probably ‘If I Had a Dick.’ Because that’s what this movie is. Divorced mother wakes up one day to discover that she has a dick. And much of the movie is comedy involving her now having said dick.”

“If you like “what if” movies where a woman grows a dick, this is one for you.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s whatever. Unless you live in France, doubt anyone will be seeking this one out.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

I Love You Daddy.png

I Love You, Daddy

January’s preview:

None. This randomly showed up at like, Toronto. And then it had a hell of a two month odyssey.

The actual review:

“Whoa, boy. There’s… a whole lot to unpack here. But since they pulled this from theaters and no one is gonna get to see this anytime soon, I have to hold most of it back.”

“From the fact that it’s both a slight parody of a Woody Allen movie while trying to be a Woody Allen movie, to all the other shit going on with him and all of that, to the fact that there’s a weird… there’s something going on here underneath the surface.”

“It’s like an episode of Louie put through the filter of a Woody Allen movie that’s directed like a 40s movie, even with the old school score playing underneath it.”

“I did enjoy the movie. It wasn’t great, but I did like it. It feels icky after all the other stuff, but since I’m the ultimate ‘separate the art from the artist’ person, so as far as that goes, it was fine.”

“The most telling scene in the entire film, which was so crazy that my jaw hit the floor and immediately afterward I had to tell everyone about it, happened about 70% of the way through. I can’t do it justice in writing, but here it is, presented without comment:

That is a scene in this movie. What more is there to say after that?”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

What more can I add after that gif?

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Insult

January’s preview:

Nothing.

The actual review:

This is like a Lebanese version of an Asghar Farhadi film. It goes a bit more macro into Lebanese politics at large, rather than remaining intimate, but it’s very similar in that sense. It’s solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

It’s Only the End of the World

January’s preview:

“Xavier Dolan. Was shortlisted for Foreign Language Film. Still technically not released in the US. I have a copy, so I’ll see it.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“It was fine. All good actors with juicy parts, all of which seem somewhat against type.”

“Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Lea Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel. You’re gonna get a watchable movie from that.”

“It’s mostly a chamber drama too. It’s pretty good. Not something I’d have nominated last year, but overall something that was worth the watch.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. Two movies in, I’m just okay on Xavier Dolan. Haven’t loved anything he’s done yet, but also haven’t disliked anything either. So we’ll see where he goes from here.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Jasper Jones

January’s preview:

“Australian. Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette. Okay.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Australian coming-of-age, mystery (?) film.”

“It was all right. The mystery wasn’t all that interesting to me, and it never really went anywhere that felt new or engaging.”

“I love Hugo Weaving playing the possibly-crazy, scary guy who clearly is gonna end up a nice guy. Otherwise — ehh. Not really for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I feel like I’m gonna end up like Hugo Weaving in this movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Little Vampire

January’s Preview:

None.

Is this the first one? I guess because it didn’t actually get released it’s the first one you guys are gonna come across. So I should give you the explanation of why this is here now.

Every year I go through a phase where I’m really fascinated by a particular type of movie. Last year was shitty religious movies, like I’m Not Ashamed (and by holdover, the few this year, the Gavin Stone movie that will be below and that piece of shit The Case for Christ). This year, by pure chance, that genre I’ve become fascinated by is shitty animated movies.

This is below studio level. Below independent level. There’s cash grab cheap knockoff, and then there’s these. They’ve become my obsession for this year, because — what is the thinking behind these? Sure, you make them cheap and try to turn a profit. But there’s also actual thought that goes into the writing and creation of these. People work on these. And I’ve seen like a dozen of them from this year. Because I’m an insane person. But man, was it… educational.

The actual review:

“Yes, just like that Disney movie with the kid from Jerry Maguire like twenty years ago.”

“This is an animated movie that was made for a scarily low budget in either France or Germany. It’s some European country.”

“Since I’m on this run of watching really terrible, Z-grade animated movies, I sought it out. But don’t worry, you never need to. Ever.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

You really don’t, though. I consider what I’m doing more of a science experiment than anything. Not really sure what the endgame is, but I’ve done it, so we can just make one up, can’t we?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Love Witch

January’s preview:

None. Happened to get a copy during the slow period of January and checked it out.

The actual review:

“I was interested in this for two reasons. First, the director designed every inch of set in the film. She made all the sets, all the costumes, all the props — everything. Plus it was a throwback to 60s movies and filmmaking.”

“The movie — I think it’s too reliant on trying to fit that style. It’s deliberately trying to be campy to the point of almost being bad.”

“It was an interesting little excursion, but I’d hope that the movie would be better for someone to go out and design every square inch of it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I appreciate the effort in the director literally designing every item you see on screen, but that’s really all I was interested in here.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Man with the Iron Heart

January’s preview:

“Oh good, another Anthropoid movie.”

“Should I give in and stick with 3.5? Fuck it. 3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“Our second movie about Anthropoid in two years.”

“It’s fine. Kind of the same as the other one.”

“Cast definitely helps it out, even if it’s just okay.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

We’re definitely not wanting for Anthropoid movies, are we?

* * * (3 stars)

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

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“It’s an almost-Ghibli movie.”

“It’s a fun little adventure that feels like an updated version of Kiki’s Delivery Service. Like, if they remade that for 2017, adding more action and stuff that they’d have to.”

“It’s just a really delightful little animated movie that is definitely one of my favorites from the year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Lovely film, definitely worth seeking out. Or going to see when it’s in theaters in a month.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Moomins and the Winter Wonderland

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“I had no idea what a Moomin was like a month ago. I had no idea this was a thing in other parts of the world. But — this is for people who are high, right? Because that would explain so much.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is like the Gumby of Scandinavia, right?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Newness

January’s preview:

“Drake Doremus directs. It played Sundance. Nicholas Hoult, Danny Huston. Sure.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Drake Doremus directed this. He started off really strong with Like Crazy, which was a very autobiographical film. Since then, he’s just kind of descended into similar territory with diminishing returns. His last movie, Equals, felt like a director-for-hire job. This feels a bit closer to what he usually does.”

“I was more invested in the early stages than I was in the later ones. I never felt fully invested in them after a certain point.”

“It’s a solid enough movie, and the leads are very good, but it never really amounts to anything.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Solid, but one of those movies that will fade in my mind fairly quickly, and eventually when it comes up I’ll go, “Oh, yeah, I saw that… it was okay.”

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Son of Bigfoot

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Why am I watching these fucking low grade animated movies?”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Still don’t have an answer.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Street Cat Named Bob

January’s preview:

No preview. I’ll explain how this ended up here in my review.

The actual review:

“Okay, so I have to explain this one. A friend of mine sent me a text of a photo of this movie’s poster back in November when it came out. Something like this doesn’t get a real marketing campaign. Instead it had 11 x 14 posters stapled to telephone poles in Los Angeles. The title was one thing. But it was the tagline that made me cringe…. so I thought, ‘Oh my god, this looks like the worst movie ever made. You see a movie like that I bet you get a free bowl of soup.'”

“And I thought nothing of it. I mean, sure, I have that initial instinct of, ‘I should see this’. Because I’m weird like that. I feel like I should see these movies and then be able to tell people how bad they are even though I’m not saying they should see them. Anyway, cut to January and I have the opportunity to see this. And I go, ‘I really shouldn’t. This looks awful. But… it’s January. So fuck it.”

“It wasn’t the piece of shit I was expecting. I was expecting something slightly above those faith-based movies… but this started with a dude horribly addicted to heroin, and I found myself going, ‘You know, this isn’t as bad as it could have been.'”

“But yeah, also this is about a heroin addict finding a cat and having it help him get his shit together. So don’t expect much. But also… for something I was ready to laugh at, I’m actually surprised it turned out halfway decent.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m really shocked I was okay with this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Stratton

January’s preview:

“Another Simon West thriller.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Is Simon West not the king of these generic action movies?”

“Capable but generic. That seems to be the trend here.”

“He started nice, with Con Air. But Renny Harlin started with Die Hard II and Cliffhanger. And now he’s making movies in China with Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville.”

“It’s about a ‘Boat Service Commando’. I — that’s it. That’s all I got.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Boat service commando.

This is supposed to be coming out next Friday. So feel free to skip this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Suddenly Seventeen

January’s preview:

None. Something I saw for work.

The actual review:

“Chinese movie where a 30-year-old woman eats some chocolate that turns her into her 17-year-old self. Kind of a body swap movie where she’s body-swapping herself.”

“Not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but does add a few interesting wrinkles to a genre that is impossible to do anything new with anymore.”

“Also directed by Ziyi Zhang’s daughter, which is of note. Her first film, despite being his editor on the last couple of pictures. Pretty decent beginning for her.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. Not something anyone in America will ever have a need to watch, but definitely worthwhile for what it’s worth.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Who We Are Now

January’s preview:

No preview. This only started shooting in the first half of the year.

The actual review:

“Solid little indie. An actor’s movie. Great performances.”

“The narrative was a bit muddled and very bare. The movie didn’t tell you at all what the hell was going on, to its detriment at times.”

“Julianne Nicholson is great here, and for once I thought Emma Roberts was pretty good. So there’s that”.

“Didn’t like it as much as his previous film, From Nowhere, but it’s still a worthwhile experience.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Solid as far as under-the-radar indies go. Otherwise just okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Vier gegen die bank

January’s preview:

“Wolfgang Petersen. Pretty much only gonna be released in Germany but he’s part of my Directors List so I need to track it and see it.”

3 stars.

The actual review:

“Wolfgang Petersen’s first movie in ten years (since Poseidon) and his first movie back in Germany in probably 35 years. It’s a remake of a TV movie of the same name he made 40 years ago.”

“Basically the same exact movie you’d expect it to be, based on its synopsis. If you saw Going in Style, it’s kind of the same movie, minus the ‘old folks’ angle.”

“It’s very over-the-top. All the actors seem to be playing the typecast, stereotypical versions of the characters they’d normally play. It’s got that exaggerated, comedy vibe to it. But it’s fine. Perfectly decent movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Meh.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

January

Underworld: Blood Wars

January’s preview:

“How many of these movies are there now? At least five.”

“I can’t even remember the first one, and I’m almost certain the past four I skipped entirely. Which means that unless I see the previous three at some point (unlikely), this will be a skip.”

2.5 stars just in case, but it’s very probable I’m gonna skip this entirely.”

The actual review:

I skipped it. I legitimately haven’t seen a single movie in this franchise. No reason to start now.

Final thoughts:

Do people even know this movie came out? Are people even aware there are more than three movies in this franchise?

How close was I?: N/A

Arsenal

January’s preview:

“Starring Nicolas Cage.”

“He looks like he’s playing the same character in Deadfall! YESSSSS!”

3 stars, just for Cage. Otherwise this looks utterly generic.”

“He’s wearing the same goddamn wig and moustache!”

The actual review:

“The movie’s not that good, BUT NICOLAS CAGE IS LITERALLY DOING THE SAME CHARACTER HE PLAYED IN DEADFALL TWENTY YEARS AGO.”

“Of course he must know by this point he’s the only reason people watch these movies. It had to have been a conscious choice.”

“But my question is — was it done deliberately because he knew it would be an interesting easter egg for crazy people like me, or is it because he was lazy and had nothing else so he just did that same thing again? Because it’s a really specific thing.”

“You’ll notice my review doesn’t at all mention the rest of the movie, because that doesn’t matter. Nobody gives a shit about the rest of this movie. It’s not even worth mentioning. This movie will either be something nobody knows about, or it’ll be known as the film where Nicolas Cage basically reprised his Deadfall performance, which probably only a couple thousand people even know about, some of whom are the direct result of my telling them about it (because I show everyone that performance).”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

The only reason to watch this is because of Deadfall. And even then, not really.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Coin Heist

January’s preview:

“The trailer looks interesting. I’m down for this.”

3 stars.”

“This looks like the epitome of the Netflix movie, whatever that means (something I imagine will come further into focus this year, as this is the first year where Netflix movies will be coming out every couple of weeks rather than one a month).”

The actual review:

“It was fun. High school students try to rob the mint. They add a bunch of ‘story’ to it to give them motivations, but all we really want is the heist aspect of it. Which there’s not enough of. So it’s a decent enough movie, but it could have been more. It’s fine, though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. Barely remember it, almost a year later, but at the time it was enjoyable enough.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Between Us

January’s preview:

“Been tracking this one forever. This looks a little too much like an indie movie for me.”

2.5 stars.”

“Hopeful it can get to 3, but it looks more like somewhat pretentious and boring, trying to turn every day life into something meaningful and profound. And it’s set in New York, so they’re all writers and artists and live in fancy apartments they can somehow afford.”

The actual review:

“Your standard indie movie about a young married couple going through problems. It’s watchable, but it’s not great.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Forgot almost all of this. All I really remember is the weird interlude with Adam Goldberg’s performance art piece.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

January’s preview:

I don’t preview documentaries.

The actual review:

“This was a nice little documentary about a mother and daughter. I like that it didn’t over-embellish everything and just let them be who they are.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

The doc did its job really well.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Bye Bye Man

January’s preview:

“Horror movie. Don’t care.”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

go away goodbye GIF

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Monster Trucks

January’s preview:

“Well this has looked like hot garbage for over a year now.”

2.5 stars. I’m sure it will be forgettable stupid family movie fun. The way Max Steel was, even though that was also pretty shitty.”

“I’m gonna get upset they spent $125 million on this, but I’m sure the product will be either meh or just average bad. I doubt this goes lower than 2 for me.”

The actual review:

“Somehow they got the tone right. This was the fun, 90s-style family flick they wanted it to be. Problem is it’s totally misguided on a lot of levels.”

“They spent a lot of money on something that shouldn’t have cost nearly as much as it did. They did this to themselves.”

“On its own, its not an unholy piece of shit. It’s just generic. It does some things right, but also does a lot of things… strangely. So we’re left with a movie that I (and most people) don’t really care about, designed for I guess kids whose biggest flaw is the amount of money they spent on it. It’s not like that’s something we’re not used to by now.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Yeesh. Forgot this came out this year. Let’s just let it be and go gracefully into its celluloid grave.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Mad Families

January’s preview:

“Directed by the guy who did The House Bunny and Joe Dirt 2 and the guy who wrote Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts, Without a Paddle, Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2.”

2 stars.”

“This looks awful. I can’t wait.”

The actual review:

“Did you see the trailer for this? It looked so awful that I had to see it. It’s a fucking Crackle movie.”

“It was unwatchable and honestly if I didn’t already know what I was getting myself into, it would be Unforgivable.”

“I completely brought this on myself. I knew better. Hell, YOU know better and you don’t even know what this is.”

“This isn’t even good enough to count as filmmaking. This is actually borderline incompetence.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

How the fuck does a movie like this even get made?

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Sleepless

January’s preview:

3 stars. These always hit 3 stars. Plus the single night conceit will keep this more interesting than not.”

The actual review:

“I wish I liked this more. I can’t say I wish it were better, because a three-star action movie is exactly what this was designed to be.”

“It never does anything truly interesting enough for me to give any more of a shit about it than most of those VOD paycheck movies Bruce Willis does.”

“I could have went to a theater when I was 14 and enjoyed this just fine. Now it’s just like… yeah, sure. You all gotta eat.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Generic, but watchable.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Book of Love

January’s preview:

“This got held for over a year, so something tells me to give this a drop.”

2.5 stars.”

“It looks like everything I don’t want it to be. Which means indie by way of Nicholas Sparks.”

The actual review:

“Watch the trailer for this. You know what you’re getting.”

“I am inherently suspicious of indie movies where a character is dealing with the death of a loved one.”

“I almost found this watchable enough to like, but it never did anything remotely off-book.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

After some time — it’s not good enough to like. It’s not even something worth seeing. Just move along and don’t waste your time.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Alone in Berlin

January’s preview:

Tracked it, but somehow it slipped off the 2017 calendar even though I knew when it was coming out. So we’ll go with last year’s review of 3 stars.

The actual review:

“Two German parents lose their son in the war, so they set out to start turning people against the war. Simple set up, eminently watchable, and you have Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson.”

“This could have been an awards contender had it been done slightly differently. But as it is, you have a decent enough drama that would have made a really great B movie 75 years ago. Can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was quite watchable. I like the leads, and they make an otherwise meh movie work.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Crash

January’s preview:

“This was also on the shelf for at least two years. Gotta assume generic and let it be better. 2.5 stars. The trailer basically showed me the entire movie. I feel pretty confident in 2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“Nah.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s not that good. But John Leguizamo quietly has an interesting part. That’s worth noting.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Outside of John Leguizamo, not something I recommend in the slightest.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Clinical

January’s preview:

“Yeesh.”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“Did not like. Very boring, very predictable.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

‘Yeesh’ about covers it.

* * (2 stars)

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

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

January’s preview:

“This looks so bad. I can’t wait.”

2 stars.”

The actual review:

“It used to be about how much I disliked that they were pushing the faith across in all the wrong ways, but honestly now it’s just about how bad they are. Truly horrible filmmaking and storytelling.”

“It’s like all the people who make these movies know is religion and have never been exposed to the real world. It’s incredible.”

“Forget that the faith stuff annoys me — it’s just awful writing and acting and everything else. And that’s just so funny to me.”

“What’s worse, seeing it for all the wrong reasons or never seeing it?”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

What a piece of shit.

Also, have the people who write these movies actually been exposed to the real world? Because I have such doubts.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Split

January’s preview:

“M. Night Shyamalan. Because of that, I can’t pretend like I expect this to be good. The trailer looks okay, and is honestly the most interesting thing I’ve seen out of him in over a decade.”

“That said, I still can’t expect this to be good, even though the lead actresses are ones I like. And McAvoy is usually committed, even if he always doesn’t choose the best of material.”

3 stars. I’ll give Shyamalan the benefit of the doubt of a watchable movie, but I’m not gonna expect a good one until he proves to me he can make a good one.”

The actual review:

“I haven’t liked an M. Night Shyamalan movie since 2002.”

“For about two weeks from when it came out to when I saw it, all I would do whenever the film came up is describe what all the horrible potential twists would be. Just the most ridiculous things that, if they happened, would be so ridiculous that they couldn’t possibly be true. Only one of them turned out to be true!”

“The film itself: it’s good. I liked it. It’s typical on the nose, not great M. Night Shyamalan dialogue and exposition, but the set up, the McAvoy performance, and the sustained tension actually worked for me.”

“I was very invested in this movie for about 80-85 minutes. Right about the point where McAvoy gets on the subway train and does… whatever the fuck he does… that’s when the film started losing me. But it never fully lost me.”

“And then those last three minutes of the film happened. And I couldn’t fucking believe it. One, because I joked and said that would be a horrible twist ending, and that’s what it was.”

“The headline here should be, ‘Wow, M. Night Shyamalan actually made a good movie,’ but instead it’s, ‘Did you really start your own fucking shared universe?'”

“You know those movies about self-sabotaging characters? Who are perennial losers but eventually have that one moment where things start to go really right for them? And then there’s that moment where they can leave it be and take the win, and you watch them as they can’t help themselves and fuck it all up. That’s how I feel M. Night Shyamalan makes movies. He was three minutes from getting out. And he couldn’t do it. But hey, at least there’s not a scene in this where James McAvoy dances to dubstep while pretending to be a child, right?”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Still think this was solid. Upset that he’s doing the sequel to it, but I won’t take it out on this movie. This is legitimately his best movie since Signs. I know some people will say The Village, but I won’t. And The Happening — it’s not legitimately good. It’s just bad-good.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

January’s preview:

“I mean, are we not all really excited for this movie?”

“He goes skiing in the jungle!”

3 stars.”

“This is the mindless action garbage we deserve.”

The actual review:

“You know the Vin Diesel persona he has in the Fast & Furious movies? It’s pretty much the same persona he has in all his action movies. Now you know the Vin Diesel persona he has in real life? Kinda weird, you’re not sure if he’s crazy, serious, drunk or just having so much innocent fun that’s just how he is? Well, this movie is a combination of both of those. It’s like how in Die Hard, Bruce Willis stopped doing John McClane and turned him into Bruce Willis the person — the one who can’t be bothered to give a performance half the time. Here, Vin Diesel just incorporated himself into the character. Which makes for a weird movie.”

“This movie is ridiculous in both the best AND worst way. The Fast & Furious movies keep a semblance of seriousness despite all the insane shit that happens. This movie is insane and knows it.”

“The movie ‘kills’ Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the first ten minutes. Slight problem with that, since Samuel L. Jackson’s mentor/head of an organization character has ‘died’ early in a film before. So we know that shit isn’t sticking. Even worse, THIS FRANCHISE ALREADY DID THAT. They fake killed his character in the last one with Ice Cube and no one fucking remembers!”

“Oh, and to make it even more obvious, when Samuel L. Jackson shows up alive at the end (spoiler alert: you’re an idiot for believing the character was actually dead) — at his own funeral, by the way, complete with gospel choir, which is exactly how I want my faked death and reappearance to go — HE SHOWS UP WEARING AN EYEPATCH. It’s never explained, but holy fucking shit.”

“Anyway, there’s a plot. I don’t know what it is.”

“Throughout the film, every character goes, ‘Oh my god, Xander Cage, you’re a legend. Everyone remembers what you did with Anarchy 99.’ Which… what? He had ONE mission and then disappeared (or was fake murdered or whatever, depending on how you want to spin that one). There’s no way word of that shit spread throughout the secret agent community. Also, fuck you if you even remember the name of the goddamn organization that he took down. It’s not like they were fucking SPECTRE.”

“It’s like Vin Diesel wrote this movie himself as a vanity project. Everyone tells him how great he is and he gets to do hero shit all the time despite literally being the most ridiculous person in this movie.”

“Here’s a scene that happens in this, just to give you an idea of how fucking nuts it is: you have your standard “mercenary team shows up and tells everyone not to move” scene. You’ve seen it dozens of times. ‘First person who moves a muscle I will shoot them in the face!’ And everyone freezes and it’s tense. Only in this movie, when they say that, Vin Diesel starts dancing. I shit you not. He fucking dances.”

“About halfway through this movie, as shit was happening and I wasn’t really paying attention since it didn’t matter, I said to myself, ‘Ice Cube’s gonna show up, isn’t he?’ Because Ice Cube isn’t above this. I was joking, because the idea of Ice Cube showing up is so ridiculous that of course it would happen here (also see my review for Split). Then Ice Cube shows up, because of fucking course Ice Cube shows up. But not just Ice Cube. Ice Cube WITH AN ICE CUBE SONG PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND. Ice Cube with an Ice Cube song playing in the background and the line, ‘Rock, paper, scissors, grenade launcher.’ And that is everything you need to know about this movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Rock, paper, scissors, grenade launcher.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Detour

January’s preview:

“The director’s made mostly straight to video shlock so far, but the cast he got here is impressive.”

3 stars. I have to trust the cast to make it watchable.”

The actual review:

“Nice little thriller. They tried to do a bit too much with it, but the parts that worked were nice.”

“And you have interesting young actors here — Dane DeHaan, Bel Powley and Emory Cohen. This might be one of those movies people go back to when all of these people get really famous in ten, fifteen years.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It works. I liked the actors, and it’s worth seeing for them. They’re all vastly under-appreciated young actors.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Take the 10

January’s preview:

“Cool, cool.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Madcap comedy with two guys who get into some shit. You’ve seen it before.”

“You can put it on during a lazy Saturday afternoon and be fine with it. That’s what this is. It’s fine.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fun. Easy Netflix watch and indicative of what they typically put out — light, easy 90 minute movies you can see and enjoy for the time being and then move on from without that bad a taste in your mouth.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

A Dog’s Purpose

January’s preview:

“Oh-kay.”

“This looks like a non-ironic version of Weiner-Dog.”

3 stars.”

“I tend to enjoy these more than most, but they’re almost never good.”

The actual review:

“I mean, what more needs to be said about this one?”

“Forget the video that came out. That’s subterfuge. This movie is actually bad.”

“If it weren’t so hilariously bad to me, this might be Unforgivable.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Looks like the dog won, huh?

* * (2 stars)

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

Kung Fu Yoga

January’s preview:

No preview. It’s just a Jackie Chan movie called Kung Fu Yoga. You kind of have to check that out when you come across it.

The actual review:

“I saw this for the title.”

“It’s like Journey to the Center of the Earth, except with Jackie Chan stunts and they end on a Bollywood number.”

“These weird Chinese market vehicles where they try to make them for other markets are just fascinating to me. I don’t particularly like any of them, but they are interesting as far as genre goes.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

What the fuck is this movie?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

iBoy

January’s preview:

“Uhh… 3 stars? Sure. 3 stars. What the hell. Let’s assume Netflix keeps this decent. Not that it has anything to do with it, really, except my perception. But fuck it. It’ll either be 2.5 or 3 regardless.”

The actual review:

“Boy has a crush on girl. Boy goes to visit girl. Boy runs into thugs who shoot him in the head. Boy gets pieces of his phone lodged in his head and gets superpowers from them. A classic story.”

“This… didn’t do it for me… It never really goes in any interesting or unique directions.”

“Maybe there’s something there, but I don’t know what it is.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Didn’t work.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

January’s preview:

“Picking up after the events of the last movie, they said, as if we had any fucking clue where that was.”

“Glad to be done with this franchise, since I have no fucking clue what the hell is going on with it.”

“I’m gonna guess 3 stars just because they’re going (going) back (back) to Raccoon City, but I’m pretty sure I’m getting 2.5 stars here. I’m gonna figure the 3 stars is to just be done with it.”

The actual review:

“Knowing this one was the last one, I feel like they actually tried for a sense of cohesion and actual sense in this one. It felt pared back, more down and dirty. I was actually able to follow it!”

“They tied everything back to the first movie and gave it a sense of closure, in a weird way. This might have been — and I know this isn’t much of a stretch — the best Resident Evil movie since the first one.”

“They give it an ending… and then promptly set up for more sequels. Because apparently it’s a compulsion. It was nice while it lasted, though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Can’t believe we got this far. Congratulations, everyone. I don’t know how you got this franchise 15 years and six films. But you did. So that deserves some applause. Still no idea what the fuck happened in the franchise, but you made it nevertheless.

Now can we start putting Milla Jovovich in stuff that shows she can act again?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – – –

http://bplusmovieblog.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s