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2017: The Year in Reviews (July)

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.

July today.

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.)

July

Spider-Man: Homecoming

January’s preview:

“You know you’ve fuck up a franchise really badly when you basically have to give the property back to the people you bought it from just to save face. That’s what Sony had to do. They gave it back to Marvel in exchange for, ‘Okay, just give us money and put our names on it.'”

“So sure. Now Marvel has Spider-Man again. And they’re going to give us our third franchise starter Spider-Man movie in fifteen years. I don’t have any particular faith in them to do anything better with it.”

“Also, you guys are really calling your shot by literally casting Michael Keaton as Birdman. That’s a fucking bold move.”

“I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt that this will be fun.”

3.5 stars. I can’t not assume standard Marvel, but I’d like to have hope that this could possibly get to 4.”

“There’s no way this could be a third disaster, can it?”

The actual review:

“Probably the most original — or at least interesting — Marvel movie since the first Guardians.”

“What makes this movie work is probably two-fold. First, we are already aware of Spider-Man and all that comes with that character and that universe. So the film wisely doesn’t waste time on another origin story, murdering Uncle Ben and all that.”

“The second thing they do is contain the story. This is just a story about Spider-Man. Stark is in it, but sparingly and only to further the story. They hint at the larger universe, but they don’t force the world building upon you like they did in previous movies. This is one of the movies that actually uses the Marvel universe to its advantage.”

“Plus, the story works. It’s not perfect, but overall, it works. It’s fun, it has some really nice character building (the revelation near the end of the second act is quite good), and the climax isn’t the major destruction of the city.”

“It’s a really solid entry into the Marvel universe, and dare I say, probably top five or six for them.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really enjoyed this. It’s definitely one of the more fun Marvel movies. They don’t hold a lot of replay value for me, but this was definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen. So good for them.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

A Ghost Story

January’s preview:

4 stars. I think this could be really good.”

The actual review:

“If you were looking for a movie where one person eats a pie for five-and-a-half minutes while someone under a sheet stands, watching them, then I have great news for you.”

“I have no fucking clue what the point of this movie was supposed to be. That’s not a strike against it, I just have no idea.”

“The movie was 87 minutes and felt so much longer.”

“It felt like it was aiming high and not really getting to much of anything. Which is fine. It’s a better film than I thought it was, and I’m sure there will be people who end up loving this.”

“Also, Rooney Mara had never eaten a pie before she shot that scene. Somehow that makes perfect sense.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’ve softened my stance on this one. I sort of knew this would happen, but sometimes it’s just too fun when you’re on a roll, making fun of something.

For better or worse, this movie stuck with me longer than most others. And for that, I’m willing to go to 3.5 on it. It was basically a 3.5 as it was, I just couldn’t get over how bored out of my face I was inside the theater. And you know what? All that tells me is — some movies are better suited to smaller screens.

But for what it’s worth, this was a pretty solid movie, and I appreciate when people strive for greater things, even if it’s not entirely something I loved.

Though I will say — I’m already dreading all the people who are gonna put this in their top ten/twenty come year’s end. There’s a certain type of person who really likes this movie, and that’s the type of person whose tastes tend to not mesh with mine.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

War for the Planet of the Apes

January’s preview:

“These Apes movies have been really solid.”

“I gotta say 4 stars. The others have all been 4. No reason to think this will be otherwise.”

“Though I do also have to say — there’s no way Woody Harrelson agreed to that scene of him shaving his head with a straight razor without recognizing the Natural Born Killers connection, right?”

The actual review:

“This is legitimately one of the few overall really good franchises we have.”

“Everything else is either oversaturated with new films coming far too frequently or either has too many subpar entries or has lost steam several films prior.”

“How many franchises lately legitimately have three compelling films in them that comprise a satisfying trilogy with a beginning, middle and end and don’t try to sell you on a bigger world?”

“I’m so respectful and appreciative of what this franchise has done. This franchise has been consistently solid throughout, and to me it even got better as it went along.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was solid. The entire trilogy is solid.

Nothing but respect for Ape Moses.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Lady Macbeth

January’s preview:

“This just feels like it could be 3.5 stars. I like these kinds of movies.”

The actual review:

“This will go down as one of my top five or ten best surprises of 2017.”

“It’s just a wonderful film that packs a lot into 90 minutes. It looks gorgeous, it takes some turns that seem both obvious yet surprising, and the performances are fantastic.”

“Florence Pugh, who plays the main character, is astoundingly good. One of the best performances you’ll see this year and one of the most exciting discoveries in recent years.”

“This is one of the finest movies you will see in 2017. Go see it now.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I loved this movie a lot. And that excitement hasn’t waned with the passing months. I must have seen this in like, April, and even though a lot of bigger, flashier movies have come out since then, this is still right near the top for me. I just loved this a lot, and it’s still one of the best movies of the year for me.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

City of Ghosts

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“This is by the guy who did Cartel Land. Cartel Land didn’t do much for me, and this didn’t do much for me.”

“I generally don’t like documentaries about real world problems, and one about ISIS really wasn’t ever gonna be my thing. I leave stuff like this to the people who like it.”

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Documentaries about current events and social issues tend not to do it for me. That’s just how I am. So this is a giant blank for me.

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

To the Bone

January’s preview:

3 stars. Feels like a standard indie kind of movie.”

The actual review:

“The movie was fine. Lily Collins was solid in it, and they cast it well.”

“I feel like — and this is having zero knowledge of eating disorders, which is something apparently everyone under the age of 20 now goes through, seemingly — this is the ‘Hollywood’ version of what an eating disorder actually is. Or rather, the version that generally has things right, but either sugar coats it or doesn’t go the full distance and changes things just to tell a story that’s marketable to people. But maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.”

“I was relatively engaged. Not something that really did all that much for me, but I suspect I’m not really the audience for this one.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It engaged me more than I thought it would, so that’s nice. Otherwise just your slightly above average Netflix fare.

Also, is it wrong that I was cooking dinner while watching this movie?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Wish Upon

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Generic horror movie. Not for me.”

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Never once makes a single interesting move. Generic, through and through.

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Blind

January’s preview:

“This should be interesting. They think this is 1994.”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“If it didn’t star Alec Baldwin, I wouldn’t have seen it. And if it didn’t star Alec Baldwin (and even kinda now that it does), it would be a Lifetime movie.”

“It’s so completely preposterous. Overwritten, trying to be like one of those movies that came out 20 years ago that just completely falls flat now.”

“Honestly I only rated it this high because it amused me. There’s almost nothing good here.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Sometimes a movie can get a decent rating just because it amuses you. It’s not good, that’s for sure, but being able to chuckle at it is better than sitting on my hands, waiting for it to end.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Dunkirk

January’s preview:

“It’s Christopher Nolan, it’s World War II, it’s shot on film and not digital, I was in days ago.”

5 stars.”

“Go big or go home.”

The actual review:

“This may be the best movie of the year so far. It’s an incredible piece of filmmaking.”

“The one knock on Christopher Nolan was always that his scripts had way too much exposition. So what did he do? Cut out all the exposition and all the dialogue, essentially.”

“If I had one thing I’d say that was slightly confusing about the film, it’s that I lost track of the timeline for a bit in the middle, but even that wasn’t so bad.”

“Mostly I was amazed at how great the whole thing looked and how well it was made. Very excited to see it again. This may well end up in the top ten come the end of the year.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Loved this. The second watch will determine just how high it goes.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

January’s preview:

“August 2015, they announce that Clive Owen has joined Luc Besson’s new space epic ‘Valerian’. I go, ‘Space epic? You mean he’s going back to the Fifth Element well?’ Followed by, ‘Awesome,’ and then immediately followed by, ‘Oh no.’ Because it’s not 1998. What was once achieved by makeup, costumes and set design is now accomplished by CGI. I also think, ‘Oh but there’s no way this will actually get made. They’ll talk about it and then it won’t actually happen.'”

“March 2016, they release photos from the movie, and I realize this is actually happening. The photos are entirely underwhelming, but I hold out hope — maybe it can be okay. Let’s wait and see.”

“November 2016, they release a trailer.. It’s not good. It’s really not good. And it utilizes a Beatles song that should not be used. I worry based on her previous work that Cara Delevingne is not gonna be able to pull this off, and I worry that it’s gonna be like all overly CGI movies and not feel like it has any stakes.”

“But, since it’s Luc Besson going into space, I kinda have to figure he knows what he’s doing. 3.5 stars has to be the guess and it needs to actively disappoint me. They’re going for summer, so there’s hope for this yet. But man, am I deeply, deeply concerned about this.”

The actual review:

“Let’s start by saying — this movie is no Fifth Element. But it is running the Fifth Element playbook.”

“This movie basically follows all the general beats of that one, and you notice it at very specific times. Like, oh, so now we’re going to a ‘paradise’ planet. Or the introduction of the hero after a planetary destruction, waking up suddenly from a deep sleep. I realized about halfway through, ‘Wait, how come Rihanna hasn’t show… oh, she’s gonna do the opera singer part, isn’t she?” And yup. That’s exactly what she’s there for, doing the 2017 version of the blue lady aria. Which, in this case, is a striptease.”

“That being said, I enjoyed it. I’m never gonna claim it’s a great movie, but it looked nice.”

“I was engaged, and there were enough interesting bits about the universe that allowed me to overcome all the parts that I didn’t like (namely the so-so writing, the bad acting and the on-the-nose plotting that literally is trying to recreate the film he made 20 years ago).”

“Not everyone’s gonna feel the way I did about it, and I’m fine with that. I think it’s an admirable misfire, that is way more interesting than most superhero movies nowadays. Let’s see what time does to this one. I feel like there’s a chance this could hold up a bit better than people expect.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Still need to see this again, but I really enjoyed the hell out of it. I don’t care if it has problems. I like the ambition, I like the universe, and it was fun. Give me this over Marvel any day.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Girls Trip

January’s preview:

“No plot, but it’s being directed by the guy who made Undercover Brother, Roll Bounce, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Soul Men, Scary Movie 5 and The Best Man Holiday.”

“Hard pass.”

“Might as well have got Vivica A. back and made it a full Set It Off reunion.”

2.5 stars.”

“Not for me at all.”

The actual review:

“This is legitimately a better movie than Bridesmaids. I laughed my ass off during this.”

“White people don’t seem to know about this movie. It made about $100 million at the box office, but I still feel like no one’s up on this. It’s really good. Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Tiffany Haddish. And Haddish is the one that steals the show. She’s terrific. They’re all terrific. They all do some crazy shit, and it works. Bridesmaids, it felt formulaic to me, but here, it worked. I watched someone fucking a lamp and it was funny. People pissing on crowds — it worked. The grapefruit thing — hilarious. I hate the state that comedy is in right now, but this is a legitimately funny movie and one of the best experiences I had watching a movie this year. It’s already too late, but if you could see this in a mostly-full theater with a non-white audience, you will enjoy the shit out of this movie. One of the great gems of 2017.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

What can I say? When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. I have no expectations for these kinds of movies going in. But this one, I heard great things to the point where I had to check it out. And I’m glad I did. Because this is legitimately better than Bridesmaids and deserves all the acclaim it gets. As someone who hates the current state of comedy, this was legitimately funny to me.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star.

Feed

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“The lead actress wrote this, and it’s about her struggle with an eating disorder.”

“Kind of an interesting angle to take, but you really don’t get to the point until late in the game. You’re not really sure what it’s about, and I think if it were clearer about its goals, it would have helped the overall film.”

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Didn’t work for me.

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Landline

January’s preview:

“Gillian Robespierre, who did Obvious Child, and Jenny Slate, who starred in Obvious Child. I’m in.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“It’s funny. It’s really well-done.”

“The highlight of the movie for me wasn’t Jenny Slate, who was so great in Obvious Child, but Abby Quinn as her sister. She’s incredible here.”

“This movie is such a gem. Please seek this one out. It’s great.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really liked this. It’s got problems, but it’s winning and the actors are great. Right in line with Obvious Child. Starting to become a big fan of Gillian Robespierre.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

First Kill

January’s preview:

“Bruce Willis paycheck movie!”

2.5 stars. Not sure why I’m not going 3 here, but something tells me not to go 3.”

The actual review:

“Bruce Willis paycheck movie!”

“He’s more consistent with these than Nicolas Cage is.”

“This one also has Hayden Christensen, who has been in the wilderness for the past decade or so, only really having made one movie most people would have seen.”

“That’s really all I have to talk about, because the movie’s not good at all.”

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Bruce Willis paycheck movie!

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Chasing Coral

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“The token ‘we’re fucking up nature’ documentary with cool footage.”

“An Inconvenient Truth is the ‘we’re fucking up nature’ doc, but there’s no footage there, unless you count Al Gore getting his pant legs soaked in a swamp.”

“This has some nice shots of coral. I didn’t care so much when they spent a lot of time telling me how we’re killing it, but the shots of it alive were nice!”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

In case you didn’t know, we’re fucking up nature.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Strange Weather

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Nice little indie with a good performance by Holly Hunter. And a nice supporting performance by Carrie Coon.”

“Very indie. But good because of the leads.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Decent.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Brigsby Bear

January’s preview:

“No idea what this is, but I’m interested.”

3 stars. Let’s not get my hopes up too high. But the synopsis certainly sounds like it could be good.”

The actual review:

“Man, was this an utter delight.”

“It’s such a twisted premise that could so very wrong. What makes this work is Kyle Mooney’s utter likability and the way in which he plays it.”

“This is a very charming movie with a lot of heart that feels very satisfying by its end.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really liked this. It’s hard not to be won over by this one.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Person to Person

January’s preview:

“Oh boy, another one of these. Hello, Sundance. Hello, Tribeca.”

3 stars. Blanket rating for these movies. They never transcend and are never truly awful unless they’re centered around a holiday.”

The actual review:

“Ensemble New York indie.”

“Looking at this film’s IMDB page, you know exactly what you’re gonna get. All New York-based actors, mostly comedians, a writer director making their first feature and a film that played at both Sundance and South by Southwest.”

“Within four minutes of this movie starting, not only were my suspicions confirmed, they doubled down on all the New York indie tropes. Which really did not make for a fun time for me.”

“It feels like it’s trying to be funny? I have no idea. I can’t stand movies like this, because they’re all the same, and none of them really do anything particularly new or interesting.”

“At least one of the characters wasn’t an NYU professor, and no one went on long monologues about the nature of love or talking about capitalist systems or something like that. So I guess it had that going for it.”

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

God, I hate these movies. They’re all exactly the same movie. Every one.

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Menashe

January’s preview:

“I like that it’s in Yiddish. That makes me more interested. Reminds me of Hester Street from the 70s, which was really good.”

“Let’s call it 3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“How fucking A24 is this movie? A movie about Hasidic Jews that’s entirely in Yiddish? Holy shit, talk about on brand.”

“This was really good. The main character was great, and this is a lovely little movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Solid thumbs up, though I have no idea who to possibly recommend this to.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Girl Without Hands

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“One of the three most gorgeously animated films I saw in 2017.”

“It’s absolutely beautiful. The story is just good, but the animation is so good I didn’t care.”

“Definitely one of the five best animated films of this year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really liked this a lot. Not an animated movie I’ll rewatch, but in terms of artistry and such, definitely one of my absolute favorites of the year.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Incredible Jessica James

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“Maybe this gets him to a solid 3.5, but let’s play the odds on this one.”

“One of my rules is never buy into Sundance hype.”

The actual review:

“Jim Strouse is an interesting filmmaker. He makes these intimate character pieces.”

“It’s centered around Jessica Williams, who most people would recognize from the Daily Show. The film was written around her and works because she’s the star. It’s a role designed to make her shine. And she does. You’re in love with her within the first four minutes of the film.”

“It’s kind of an indie movie that surprises you by being a rom com. It’s nice. It’s one of the better Netflix movies and is one of those movies people should watch, if only to see the dynamo that is Jessica Williams.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Jessica Williams is terrific, is really what you get out of this. She is the movie. So you can’t say the movie is good without saying she’s very good in it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

The Last Face

January’s preview:

“This got savaged by critics and still hasn’t come out.”

“But Sean Penn is a good director, so I have to give him a baseline of 3 stars for this, despite everything.”

The actual review:

“From the start, reading the logline — about two aid workers in Africa — it felt like it wasn’t gonna end well. Stars putting their humanitarian efforts into their movies never ends well at all.”

“I’ll skip all the pleasantries by saying — it’s not good. Charlize Theron has nothing to do, though she tries. And Javier Bardem doesn’t have much to do either. It’s very poorly written and conceived and there’s almost nothing enjoyable about the movie.”

“The two things I will tell you about are better than the entire movie. First — Robin Wright originally wanted to make this story back in the 90s and star as the main character. And then, after she and Sean Penn divorced, he made the movie and put his then-girlfriend Charlize Theron in the title role. There’s nothing like pettiness, is there?”

“And second — there’s a scene in this movie that’s so nuts that I showed it to everyone I could because I couldn’t believe it. It’s a scene where Theron and Bardem are reunited. I forget why or what the circumstances are. Doesn’t matter. They have an emotional reunion, and the scene abruptly cuts (the editing in this movie is all over the place. I guess it’s meant to be impressionistic) to her sitting in a chair, looking over at Bardem, as a violin score starts playing. And I’m sitting there watching, going, ‘Wait… why does that sound familiar?’ Usually a score is just a score, but sometimes you realize you’ve heard it before. In this case, I had heard it before. Took me about ten seconds. I kept thinking, ‘Was this lifted from another movie?’ And then I realize, ‘Oh, wait… I know what this is.’ And immediately, when that happens, the movie reminds me what it is — it’s a fucking Red Hot Chili Peppers song! ‘Otherside,’ from Californication. The fucking song starts playing over the scene! Which, maybe in a better movie I could have let slide. The orchestral use of a pop song can be cool in the right situation. But here, you watch these two fuck to it. It’s nuts.”

“The worst part is — later on in the movie, they’re driving in a car, and the song plays on the radio! And then Theron (because apparently the song in the scene where they fuck was diegetic) storms out of the car and gets mad because apparently Bardem thinks it’s ‘their’ song, and she doesn’t like the lyrics. ‘Pour my life into a paper cup /The ashtray’s full and I’m spillin’ my guts / She wants to know am I still a slut.’ She thinks they’re about her. I’m not fucking kidding you, that scene is in this movie. And that tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the film.”

“When a movie is trying to analyze meaning from an Anthony Kiedis lyric, you know there’s a problem.”

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I think that last line about covers it.

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

A Family Man

January’s preview:

“Why am I tracking this?”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“Ever watch a movie and go, ‘My parents will like this’? That’s what this feels like.”

“It’s watchable, but it’s really only for those people who go in for those overly sappy cable dramas.”

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

My parents liked this.

 * * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exactly.

The Emoji Movie

January’s preview:

“Nope.”

“Nope nope nope nope nope.”

“If you thought I was against the Angry Birds movie, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

2.5 stars.”

“We’re going to assume I will be nice and be indifferent, but you never really know with me, do you?”

The actual review:

“There’s always one movie a year that astounds me because it was so clearly made for all the wrong reasons.”

“Here’s a movie that was engineered from the top down. They saw a property people would recognize and decided to make a movie about it because they figured people would go see it. There was no passion put into this whatsoever. It’s almost like the Angry Birds movie. Purely done out of greed and the pursuit of box office.”

“There’s no story here. And what there is in the way of a plot is a blatant ripoff of The Lego Movie. It’s terrible. By the midway point, the movie stops pretending like it’s about something and becomes a blatant advertisement for apps.”

“THEY LITERALLY PLAY CANDY CRUSH IN THIS MOVIE. There’s nothing redeeming about this piece of shit whatsoever, and this represents everything that’s wrong with cinema today.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Wait about nine days.

* * (2 stars)

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

Atomic Blonde

January’s preview:

“It’s a spy thriller, which means I assume I will like it. 3.5 stars and I hope it’s not a flat 3 generic thriller.”

The actual review:

“It’s no John Wick, or James Bond, or whatever you want to compare it to, but it’s fun.”

“It’s one of those movies where you realize pretty early on that the plot doesn’t matter. So you just go along for the ride.”

“It’s got fun action scenes, fun dialogue, a fantastic use of neon lights, an 80s-centric soundtrack, and a lesbian sex scene, which never hurts.”

“They only shot this for $30 million. They got their money’s worth with this.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was fun. Couldn’t have asked for more than this. Not something I’ll watch a bunch more, since it is pretty incoherent and the last fifteen minutes are beyond nuts, but I enjoyed the hell out of it for what it was. I’ll also be more than happy to see a sequel, should they decide to make one.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

– – – – – – – – – –

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