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2017: The Year in Reviews (August)

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.

Today is August.

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.)

August

The Dark Tower

January’s preview:

“This is an attempt to start a franchise, but I honestly don’t know how they’re gonna do with it. It could end up being another Jonah Hex.”

“I have to say 3.5 stars with this because of the cast and the fact that it’s a western (kinda). Let it disappoint. But it’s got things that I like, so let’s figure decent things.”

The actual review:

“Can a movie be Unforgivable if we knew it was gonna be a disaster since the year began? The answer: yeah, probably.”

“But it’s early yet. We still need to try to figure out how in the hell this happened.”

“There’s no way a movie with this caliber of talent and amount of source material to work from can be this generic.”

“It’s almost as if they had a version cut from the books and the studio didn’t like it, so they reshot the shit out of it (hence an ending that I’m sure is not what King wrote, that I’m sure will completely piss off King fans) and cut it all to hell to try to make it a quick moneymaker. And it’s that reason that I’m angry that this happened.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m still dumbfounded by how badly this turned out. I’m also still figuring out just how angry it makes me (hint, hint), so there’s a chance these won’t be my final thoughts on the matter.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Detroit

January’s preview:

“Bigelow, at this point, is good for 4 stars. Could go higher, could go lower. Hurt Locker was great and Zero Dark Thirty was very good. Let’s assume this will also be very good.”

The actual review:

“Kathryn Bigelow has certainly perfected a style. This is the third film in a row where she has used it, and she is definitely very good at it.”

“I liked this movie quite a bit. The direction of the Algiers sequence was fantastic.”

“Like Zero Dark Thirty, I see a movie that is incredibly well made that is not without its flaws. I think this could have been about twenty minutes shorter. I think a little more nuance could have been shown within each of the characters. Too often were people portrayed along the same note throughout the film — the racist cop, the slimy lawyer, etc.”

“Like Zero Dark Thirty, I just like it a lot. I don’t love it. It’s good, but I don’t think it’ll be in my top ten.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Liked it a lot, didn’t love it. Definitely think it’s weaker than her previous two, but on its own, is a solid and worthwhile film.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Kidnap

January’s preview:

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“This is good bad cinema. Completely schlocky in every way, yet watchable.”

“It’s the fact that this is one long car chase that makes me okay with it.”

“It’s not good. I’ll never claim that it is. But I enjoyed it, which is more than I can say for a lot of other movies this year.”

“Also, for all the people who will shit on this movie with the argument, ‘Halle Berry is an Oscar winner! What is she doing here?’ — remember, a lot of Oscar winners in the 50s made B-movie noirs. This is no different than that whatsoever.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s that last point that helps me get through these. What’s a cheap thriller now is just a movie in 50 years.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Fun Mom Dinner

January’s preview:

“Yes, this should worry you as much as it worries me.”

“Paul Rudd’s wife wrote this. Female director. Decent cast. Not the people you’d expect.”

“I think this will be okay, but indie.”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“There seems to be one ‘moms go out and get crazy movie every year now.”

“This one… pretty much the same. I hated it for the first half, but it worked its way up to indifference by the end. So I guess there’s that.”

“It’s a low rent Bridesmaids wannabe. And just like that movie, they’re all white. Everybody’s white. Go watch Girls Trip instead. It’s a better movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Go watch Girls Trip instead.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Chronically Metropolitan

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“A bunch of well-to-do New York intellectuals have family drama. I think we all know by this point that this is not my cup of tea.”

“Two of the character are authors who use their families as the basis for their writing. Ugh. Just about every New York indie trope I can’t stand.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Not for me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Columbus

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“This looked beautiful. Kinda boring, but it looked great. Haley Lu Richardson is someone I’m starting to really like seeing in things, and John Cho is fantastic as well. A nice little movie worth seeing.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It did look nice.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Icarus

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Amazing, amazing documentary.”

“I love the crazy turn it takes midway through.”

“Absolutely one of the best documentaries of the year and recommended for people who aren’t even sports fans.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

So great. One of the best documentaries you’ll see this year, and it’s on Netflix, so you can see it really easily.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Broken Mile

January’s preview:

None

The actual review:

“This is a movie shot in one long take, which is becoming a fun thing to do nowadays.”

“I’d rather a mediocre movie done in a single take than a slightly better than average movie that’s a step above generic.”

“This — not great. The story unfolds slowly and you never really know what’s going on or care that much. But it was one take, so that was nice.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Outside of the one-take thing, not a whole lot here.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“We’re still fucked. That’s pretty much all you need to know from this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This franchise has literally gotten us to watch two powerpoint presentations about the environment.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Step

January’s preview:

None

The actual review:

“Fun little documentary about an inner-city girls step dancing group. It’s like the movie The Fits meets Hoop Dreams. Worth seeing.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Solid.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Some Freaks

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Engaging little indie.”

“There are a lot of elements I hadn’t seen in a film before.”

“I saw some reviews that called it a modern day version of a John Hughes movie. Which might be true. Since in his day, digging under stereotypes was a thing. You can’t do that now. So what you do is look into the corners and try to find the stories people haven’t seen. And this, admittedly, is one of those stories.”

“It does go in a lot of generic directions at times, but overall, there is something here to like. It’s worth seeing.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

There’s definitely stuff here to like.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Wind River

January’s preview:

“At least 3.5 stars here. It’s his first film, so I’m not gonna go overboard. I think I could get 4 out of this if the stars align.”

The actual review:

“After Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan had my attention.”

“Him directing this felt okay, even though I had some… wait for it… reservations. OH SHIT HE JUST WENT OFF WITH THE NATIVE AMERICAN PUN, SON!!!!!”

“Anyway, this was very good. I thought Renner more than held his own. Graham Greene was awesome. I thought Gil Birmingham was underutilized. His scenes were powerful, but they definitely could have used him a bit more. Still, though, really interesting procedural with a great message behind it.”

“I feel like this will only hold for me over time. Definitely not one of those movies I’ll think less of as time goes on. One of the most solid films I saw this year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Get it? Reservations? Because it’s…

Yeah, you get it.

Really liked this a lot, and I hope Taylor Sheridan can continue making movies this good.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Ingrid Goes West

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“Sundance movies are so easy to predict, 85% of the time.”

The actual review:

“This was fucking nuts. I liked it, but it was nuts.”

“Movies that deal with social media are typically anathema to me, but maybe it was the couple of cocktails I saw before this, but I really liked it.”

“Audrey Plaza gives a really great performance and it’s just so dark and cynical that it actually won me over. It works.”

“The ending is — yeah. It’s kinda perfect for a movie like this and completely sticks the landing. I like that it stayed true to what it was and that is gonna help it to be this weird little hidden gem for years to come.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was solid. Never gonna wanna see it again, but I liked it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Annabelle: Creation

January’s preview:

“Well, this is a skip. I never watched the first one and sure as hell have no plans to watch this one.”

2.5 stars, to cover bases, but I’m not gonna see this.”

The actual review:

Didn’t see it. There was no chance.

Final thoughts:

How are there so many of these?

How close was I?: N/A

Good Time

January’s preview:

“Could be fun?”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“Really impressed.”

“Robert Pattinson is amazing, and it’s just a really well-made, gripping movie.”

“Not sure how I feel about him making out with a fourteen-year-old, but outside of that, this is just a thrill ride from start to finish and one of those movies that you can be sure most people are gonna like because it’s just so well made and keeps you invested from start to finish.”

“Definitely something I consider one of the most solid films of the year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

This definitely was a pretty… GOOD TIME.

Don’t you dare try to walk away from this. You stay here and sit in the awkwardness.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Pilgrimage

January’s preview:

“Remember that movie where Nicolas Cage is transporting the witch in a cage and he fights a CGI turd demon in the third act?”

“This has nothing to do with that, but I needed something to say about this, and this sounded a bit like that.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“The movie looked great, had fine actors in it — I just wasn’t particularly engaged.”

“Religious people doing stuff is not my idea of a fun time at the movies.

“I will say it looked way better than whatever the budget was, and that’s the best thing about the film.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m gonna be honest, I laughed when I read my preview. That’s the beauty of writing shit and immediately forgetting about it.

I really don’t have anything to say for this movie. It was fine. It was like if you mixed that Cage/demon turd movie with Silence.

I think.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?:

The Only Living Boy in New York

January’s preview:

“Marc Webb directing, trying to take the stink of Amazing Spider-Man off himself. Written by the guy who did Collateral Beauty, Rock of Ages, Just Go With It, Here Comes the Boom, The Dilemma and The Switch. Holy shit, did one guy write just about every movie I hate? My god.”

“That left a terrible taste in my mouth. Knowing who the writer is.”

3 stars. I’ll give the cast the benefit of the doubt for 3, but not anything more.”

“The Switch… I should deduct points for that. And Collateral Beauty? Did you guys see that? Holy fucking shit.”

The actual review:

“The second of the Simon and Garfunkel song-named films of the year.”

“The problem is, you see all the tropes there and you know where it’s going every step of the way. Plus, a movie set in New York City featuring writers and academics — ughh. Definitely not for me.”

“Definitely one of those movies I’m gonna let go and hope he overcomes in the future.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked Gifted better. This was just kind of boring, with the same old tropes. Good cast, but the movie just didn’t work.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Planetarium

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“This wasn’t for me. Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp are two sisters, and one of them is kind of psychic (?) and then Natalie become an actress in France — I have no idea what’s going on here. Just not for me at all.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nah.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

In This Corner of the World

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“This is a movie that feels like 60% Ghibli and 40% anime. But because it was 60% Ghibli, I was mostly with it.”

“It’s like a lightweight Grave of the Fireflies. I suspect other people will like it more than I did, but it was fine. It felt way too long, for one, but I was generally invested in it. So sure.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Glass Castle

January’s preview:

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“This was disappointing.”

“I’m not sure what the point of this was.”

“There’s some good ideas here and Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts are trying to put in good work, but the movie never really gives them anything good to do. Either that or it just doesn’t know what it wants to be, so all the good work they are doing is left to languish in a movie that doesn’t really feel like it has a story worth telling.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Wish it were better, but sometimes these things happen.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

January’s preview:

“I will never begrudge a film for a pun subtitle.”

2 stars.”

“This will be a piece of shit, but major points for the pun subtitle.”

“I also may be, at the end of this year, one of about 2% of the population that is caught up on the Nut Job franchise.”

“The theatrical Nut Job franchise. Not the one that includes Nut Job 7: Anal Smorgasbord.”

“(Though I’m also caught up on that one too.)”

The actual review:

“Gonna be honest, the pun subtitle is the only reason I watched this. I support any movie with a pun subtitle. The first Nut Job movie was a piece of shit. And this wasn’t any better. But it had a pun subtitle, and that makes it okay by me.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Do you think they’ll reboot between now and ‘Anal Smorgasbord’?

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

California Typewriter

January’s preview:

None

The actual review:

“I love this. Typewriters are amazing.”

“I wish it was more about the creativity and people talking about their processes than following the dude who destroys them and turns them in to robots that look like people. But I liked this. I liked the idea of it, and I’m glad this exists.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Happy to know this movie is out there.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Naked

January’s preview:

“Great. Another Groundhog Day ripoff.”

“Starring Marlon Wayans.”

2.5 stars.”

“Please no.”

The actual review:

“At what point will someone in one of these Groundhog Day ripoffs acknowledge that they’re in a Groundhog Day scenario? Every time someone tries to steal that plot, the character is always surprised to see the exact same day happen over and over the first few times. And you, the audience member is like, ‘I get it, it’s Groundhog Day.’ If they realized after the second or third one, ‘Oh, I’m in Groundhog Day,’ then we can skip along to the more interesting parts and try to get to a resolution.”

“It’s — fine. The Groundhog Day plot makes the movie watchable, but nothing else about it was engaging at all.”

“Every character here is way too one note to be interesting, and I’m pretty sure by the end all the stuff that happened could not have possibly taken place in the time it was supposed to. And there are these crazy reveals that come out of nowhere that are like Scooby Doo endings. Like, ‘YOU were the one that hired the hooker to make it look like I was cheating!’ And then the person suddenly is like, ‘Yeah, it was me. I’m evil, and this was my plan!'”

“Don’t waste your time with this movie, even if it is on Netflix and easily accessible.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s weird how none of the characters in these movies exist in a world where Groundhog Day exists.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Dave Made a Maze

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. So fucking excited for this.”

The actual review:

“This is exactly the kind of movie I love discovering. And this is exactly the kind of movie that I love having in my pocket because I know almost nobody knows about it.”

“The maze is entirely made of cardboard and other objects you’d likely have around the house. And it’s awesome. One of the most original set designs I’ve seen in a while.”

“I highly recommend this movie. It’s simple, it’s short, and it’s the kind of movie that’ll bring out the child in you. (If you loved shows like Legends of the Hidden Temple, you’ll enjoy this.)”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is one of the few movies from this year that will bring a twinkle to my eye. I loved this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Gook

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Really terrific debut by Justin Chon, who writes, directs and stars. It’s about a Korean guy dealing with a failing shoe store on the eve of the LA riots. Shot in black and white, and really well done.”

“Not the greatest movie ever made, but I really liked it as a new and exciting voice. Definitely worth a watch.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Definitely recommend this. Not gonna be anyone’s favorite movie, but it’s a really solid debut worth checking out.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Logan Lucky

January’s preview:

“Steven Soderbergh is back, baby!”

4 stars.”

“Trust the Soderbergh.”

The actual review:

“Let’s begin by saying, I’m glad Steven Soderbergh is back. The man always makes interesting movies. I don’t necessarily love them all, but they’re never bad, and they’re all worth seeing.”

“It’s wonderful. It follows the heist film structure pretty well, and has a lot of character. And it’s the character that makes it work.”

“It definitely lived up to my expectations, and I’m excited to see what Soderbergh’s got cooking up next.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really liked this a lot, and I’m still surprised this didn’t do as well as it should have.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Lemon

January’s preview:

“Great premise.”

“Sundance movie, though, so 3 stars.”

The actual review:

“There’s a certain type of indie movie that I cannot stand. One version is set in New York and the other is set in LA. This is the latter.”

“And man, are these movies just not for me. I think they’re supposed to be funny? I don’t know. I’m usually sitting on my hands for the whole thing, just completely baffled at the whole thing and wondering why they don’t do anything for me.”

“One thing’s for sure — any movie where people are rehearsing a play and discussing their characters and motivations, I’m out.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I hated this. This is exactly the kind of movie that’s not for me that I’m gonna hate just about every time.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Patti Cake$

January’s preview:

“Oh, this sounds like it’s gonna be lovely.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“Man, was this a charming movie.”

“Danielle Macdonald was terrific, as was Bridget Everett, who played her mother. All the raps were fantastic, and by the time you get to the end, that final, climactic song (which you know the movie is building toward), it really hits, emotionally.”

“It’s just one of those movies that’s hard not to like. Definitely one of those gems of the year you can recommend to anyone because they’re probably going to enjoy it. I’m such a fan of this movie.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

One of the best hidden gems of the year that’s almost impossible to not like.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Shot Caller

January’s preview:

3 stars. Some things won’t change because of VOD.”

The actual review:

Somehow didn’t write a review. Weird.

But I liked this. It was engaging. Thought it was gonna be a straight three, but I felt myself liking it more than that. So we go 3.5. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is good, and you get some Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey Donovan. I liked this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I had a chance to lie and go to three just to bad my numbers, but I did think this was solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Marjorie Prime

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“I’m not really sure what the fuck it all means, but at least I liked the actors and it was remotely engaging. So yeah. It was fine.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

A lot of weird elements that didn’t track for me, but I was engaged enough watching the actors.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

January’s preview:

“How can you be the ‘top bodyguard’? Really? The world‘s top bodyguard?”

“I’m sure this will be wonderful, based on that alone.”

“Like the cast, can’t assume more than 3 stars. If I can get 3.5 stars out of this, which is far from a given, that would be nice. But 3 stars is always the baseline on these kinds of movies.”

The actual review:

“This is exactly the kind of movie that, based on the trailer, you know you’re gonna enjoy and you know critics are gonna shit on it.”

“It’s exactly the movie you think it is. A fun, action comedy. The stars have great banter, the action actually works and it’s the kind of thriller they made twenty years ago that they wouldn’t make now because everything is too goddamn serious.”

“I enjoyed the shit out of this. Go with your gut, not the reviews. If you think you’ll like this, you will.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s exactly what you think it is, and it’s everything I could have wanted it to be.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

What Happened to Monday?

January’s preview:

3 stars. Either generic sci fi thriller or batshit crazy sci fi movie. Either way, 3 is the number.”

The actual review:

“There’s a lot to like in the set up of this movie. Can’t say I love where it goes, but I was engaged.”

“There’s definitely a better movie here that could have been made, and it’s worth seeing for that reason. I think the movies that could have been better are the ones to see because they might inspire someone to actually come up with a better version.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked that Noomi Rapace got to play seven people, but the movie never went anywhere really interesting.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Beach Rats

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

I somehow didn’t write one. That’s two from this month.

This… was boring as hell. It is, as my friend called it — MoonWhite. White dude coming to terms with his sexuality.

There are so many scenes in this movie where nothing happens. Just shirtless dudes sitting there, hanging out, with the closeted dude just staring off into the distance. They might as well have called this “Lingering Gays.”

There are full scenes in this movie that are so dimly lit I had no idea what was going on.

I watched this at the office with my coworkers, and even they were like, “You can’t describe this movie to anyone because absolutely nothing happens.” Because it doesn’t. In the first 30 minutes of the movie, all you could really say to explain it was, “He’s gay, but is kind of dating this girl, and… his dad dies.” That’s it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This really was not for me at all.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Crown Heights

January’s preview:

“Sundance movie. 3 stars.”

“What’s of interest to me is that Nnamdi Asomugha is King. He’s a cornerback who was the best cornerback in football about seven years ago. That’s impressive if he manages to actually become a legitimate actor after that.”

The actual review:

“It’s okay. Didn’t do a whole lot for me. Completely glossed over like nine years of the prison sentence without so much as blinking an eye. That was an odd choice. But a perfectly fair movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Birth of the Dragon

January’s preview:

Left a blanket 2.5 star rating.

The actual review:

“It’s a biopic of Bruce Lee released by WWE films, how good do you think it is?”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

But seriously.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Deep

January’s preview:

None

The actual review:

“Shitty, low-budget animated movie. Not sure why I’ve become fascinated by these, but this must be like the fifth one I’ve seen this year. They’re all bad, and there’s not really a whole lot to like. Yet I keep watching them. What does this say about me?”

“The part about this one that interested me was the idea that all these fish live, essentially, in a wasteland, after all the humans fucked up the world and left. So like, Wall-E, but what’s going on underwater.”

“It’s this generic fish story, but the subtext is that the human race has abandoned the planet. There was an interesting route to go there, but of course a movie like this wasn’t gonna take it.”

“I feel like all I really need to say about this one is — yes, I saw it. I know you don’t know what this is. I don’t know why I saw it, and it wasn’t good.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Honestly all I get out of stuff like this is someone randomly stumbling upon this in a few years and me going, “Oh yeah, I saw that.” And they go, “Wait, what? Really?” Does that make it worth it? Probably not.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Rememory

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Not for me. Didn’t particularly care about anything that happened in it. Peter Dinklage has a memory machine that allows him to access people’s memories, and he’s trying to solve a murder — nah. Didn’t do it for me.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s those impulse VOD watches that get you every time. They show up, and you go, “Well, I don’t have a whole lot else, so fuck it.” And then its boring and you wish you hadn’t bothered. Oh well.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Unleashed

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Hipster rom com where a woman’s pet cat and dog get turned into dudes. It’s fine. Cute in that broad, family way.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. Never gonna see this again, but was okay with it the one time.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Bushwick

January’s preview:

3 stars. I’m the audience for these things. I tend to enjoy them when others don’t.”

The actual review:

“It’s Red Dawn but in Brooklyn. With Texas instead of Russia.”

“This isn’t revealed until halfway through the movie, but it’s all over the marketing for this movie, so I’m not sorry I said it.”

“The movie begins with hipsters being murdered, so I was in from there.”

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that I was fine with this. I grew up on these kinds of thrillers, and I have a soft spot for them, even if they aren’t very good.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

There’s some crazy shit that happens in this movie in the last fifteen minutes. Not like, “Oh my god, you gotta see this.” More like, “What the fuck kind of decisions are those?”

I’m generally okay with this, but holy fuck man, what were those last fifteen minutes?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Killing Hasselhoff

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“It… wasn’t for me. It just never really came together.”

“It lost me in the opening moments, with the literal freeze frame, record scratch and, ‘… you’re probably wondering how I ended up here.’ News flash: I’m never wondering how you ended up there.”

“The premise is fine, but the movie doesn’t really go anywhere. Wish I liked it more. Good people in it, too.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m really never wondering how they ended up there.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Leap!

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“These Weinstein animated movies fascinate me. All Weinstein movies fascinate me. Because at this point, none of them even come out. Especially the animated ones.”

“This was perfectly charming. You’ve seen it all before. For a movie about taking chances, this one certainly does not. But that’s fine. For every cringeworthy element (notably this film’s unbearable use of pop songs in what is a period piece), there’s the requisite uplifting moment. It balances out to a perfectly decent animated movie that a couple of people will see on Netflix in a few years.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m okay with this. There’s a good idea in here bogged down in generic animation. But I tend to see the good in things, so I’m good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Death Note

January’s preview:

“Adam Wingard lost a lot of points from me after that Blair Witch mess. I have no idea why he would do that.”

“I don’t know the material this is based on, but I do know people really like it. I have no real feeling one way or the other on it.”

3 stars.”

“Netflix, Wingard, and a lack of a cast I really care about leads me to believe I’ll just be okay with it.”

The actual review:

“Well, so much for Adam Wingard.”

“It just kind of starts and then hurtles forward without really giving you time to give a shit about anything. It also seems like it was trying to revel in the gore of the deaths. I don’t think that’s the point of the whole thing?”

“I feel like there was a better movie here at some point in the process, and then they lost it in many of the same ways movies lose it nowadays.”

“I like the premise. Execution felt shoddy and rushed, and I feel like if they made three movies for $90 million instead of one movie for $50 million, they probably could have told this story in full somewhat properly. Shit happens, I guess.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It just never came together. Maybe there’s a good way to do this, but this way was not it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

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3 responses

  1. I have read the dark tower books a few times. I love them. I have not yet watched the movie. It is but a few clicks away and somehow, I am afraid! lol.

    December 23, 2017 at 4:13 pm

  2. I’m sorry you didn’t like Columbus more. It really struck a chord with me—I found myself wanting it to be longer just so I could spend more time with the main characters, which…doesn’t happen too often. And Haley Lu Richardson really lit up the screen for me. Hope I see her in more stuff.

    December 23, 2017 at 10:01 pm

  3. chinoiserie

    Pity Detroit seems so forgotten.

    December 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

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