2018: The Year in Reviews (August)

After Thanksgiving, most people get happy because they know Christmas is around the corner. I get happy because I know these articles are around the corner. Even if a year is absolutely atrocious and I get absolutely nothing done on this site (like this one), I know that once December rolls around, I have things to say until March. But before we get into the Oscars, we gotta wrap up the year.

Here’s the skinny for the newbies: every January I preview an ungodly amount of movies. And then, from then through December, I watch an ungodly amount of movies, tracking along the way what I thought of each of them. Then, when we get to this point, I recap everything and see how close I guessed my eventual rating back in January. That part is mostly for me, but along the way you get my thoughts of all the stuff I watched (which will probably give you a bunch of stuff you didn’t even know about). So everybody wins.

Today is August.

August

Christopher Robin

January’s preview:

“So it’s Hook with Winnie the Pooh?”

“Could work.”

“I have to say 3.5 stars, just because I don’t know what kind of tone or storyline I’m getting past that initial pitch, but I think I could get 4 out of this.”

The review:

“I loved the premise. Hook but with Winnie the Pooh…. Could have been great. It’s just… okay.”

“Shame, but I’m not overly surprised. Disney doesn’t really take risks with their major properties.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really wanted this to be magical, and it just doesn’t go anywhere interesting. It’s fine, but I wanted special. I’m not terribly disappointed so much as I am a bit let down.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Darkest Minds

January’s preview:

“Sounds like it’s based on a young adult book.”

“I’d have loved if this were secretly some sort of X-Men spinoff they’re gonna eventually tie into the franchise. Because that’s the next step. Secret universe films. Cloverfield’s doing it on a small level. What they need to do is get a great little drama where, at the end of the film, you realize, “Oh this is (insert hero/villain here).” Imagine watching a really good little movie with sci-fi overtones and then realizing, ‘Wait, shit, that was Magneto?’ But no, this won’t be that. I just had another one of my great ideas.” (Including this so someone does it. And so when it does, I can take credit for having said the idea long before anyone thought to do it.)

“I like the idea of this movie, but since it’s YA, I can’t assume anything more than 3 stars.”

The review:

YA bullshit. Dystopian future, virus, kids in camps, separated by groups, fighting against the oppressive government. It’s all the formula told a different way. Nothing to see here. Move along.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

The Spy Who Dumped Me

January’s preview:

“Not… not thinking much of this. I’m not a Kate McKinnon fan, nor am I a Mila Kunis fan, and I’m pretty indifferent on Theroux.”

“And it sounds like the exact kind of comedy I will not like that also has the possibility of going Unforgivable depending on how badly I do not like it.”

“Let’s just call this 2.5 stars and wait and see. Let’s assume indifference and hope for not the worst.”

The review:

“This was a foregone conclusion. I did not like this movie. I will say that I didn’t despise this movie, but I also did not like it.”

“Good premise, but you knew from the cast and the trailer that it just wasn’t gonna work.”

“You get the sense that this is a movie written by a woman, rewritten by a man and guided by male studio executives.”

“Maybe we should just let women write and direct their own movies. Because this feels like every mainstream studio comedy out there, and those sure as shit haven’t worked the past five-plus years.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I didn’t like this. Not a hug fan of the leads, and the movie didn’t do much different than all the crappy comedies that come out nowadays. What a waste of a good set up.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Never Goin’ Back

January’s preview:

“This sounds right up my alley.”

3.5 stars.”

The review:

“LOVED this.”

“This movie is so good. It’s perfectly written, all the actors are great, and it’s a wonderful, wonderful debut by Augustine Frizzell.”

“This might be the hidden gem of 2018. It’s so fucking good. I love this movie a lot, and I want people to see it.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Go see this movie. Seriously. This is the movie that you don’t know about that is just that high school/college slacker movie that should be the defining film of a generation. Love, love, love this.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

January’s preview:

3.5 stars.”

The review:

“The movie is kinda interesting. I feel like the whole is less than the sum of its parts.”

“John Gallagher Jr. is really good and Jennifer Ehle is very good. The movie doesn’t feel totally cohesive, or maybe I just felt disconnected to it because this isn’t my experience and I look at it like, ‘This whole thing is a fraud, and how come people don’t know that?’ And it’s because the people who run places like this and the people who send their kids there don’t know it. So I get it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s good, not great. But John Gallagher is really good in this. I liked it, but I do feel like it was missing something that kept it from being great.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Like Father

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“This is a nominee for ‘film I assumed would be terrible that actually was quite solid.’

“The movie managed to wring a lot of heart and elicited a fair amount of chuckles out of me.”

“While it’s not perfect, there’s way more here than you think you’re gonna get.”

“I was more impressed by how this movie handled the dramatic elements than anything else. Because some of the comedy doesn’t work at all, and then when it got back to the father-daughter moments, that’s when it really worked.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This definitely exceeded expectations, and manages to not go too deep off the shitty comedy end to ruin the dramatic heft of the father-daughter relationship. I was really surprised how solid this was.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Dog Days

January’s preview:

2.5 stars, and we’ll hope for the best.”

The review:

“Ken Marino has directed two movies in two years, and I can officially say I hated both of them.”

“It’s generic all the way, and borderline offensive in how generic it is. And how tone deaf it is with a lot of the comedy.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really disliked this. The kind of way that may return next week.

* * (2 stars)

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

The Meg

January’s preview:

“You know there’s not much hope for a movie when Eli Roth doesn’t do it.”

“I don’t know what tone they’re going for here. If it’s deliberately campy, it probably won’t work with Turtletaub directing it. He’s not exactly the Piranha 3DD type, you know? That leads me to believe it’s trying to be a big action movie with some fun elements (you know… like Geostorm). All of this is pointing to a huge bomb that everyone despises.”

“But, it’s Statham, and there’s gonna be so much money thrown into this ($150 million reported budget) that there’s really no way it’s going less than 3 stars. Statham is the kind of the 3 star action movie. Now, for that money, you should be able to get more than that, but look at the director — I’m not expecting anything more than ‘workmanlike’.”

The review:

“I knew what I was getting from this from the jump. They tried to market a campy, cult kinda movie, but you knew this was gonna be straight serious. And even straight serious makes for a watchable movie, but this was definitely lacking in that element of cheeky fun that makes movies like this work.”

“Now we just have a shark thriller that’s perfectly fine that I’m never gonna wanna watch again.”

“It’s perfectly watchable and nothing more.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

You can get through it, but why would anyone want to see this again?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

BlacKkKlansman

January’s preview:

“Spike Lee movie. He gets 3 stars automatic. Could be higher. Stars Adam Driver. Tempted to go 3.5 stars, but let’s wait and see what we get. Spike lately has been mostly miss with the occasional hit.”

The review:

“This might be (Spike’s) best movie since 25th Hour. I had more fun in this movie than I have in a lot of movies this year.”

“He uses the comedy to get the message across, and then he stops it completely short at the very end and ends the laughs on a dime. I think the way he handled that was incredible.”

“I think the films that define Spike Lee’s career are Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, 25th Hour, and now this.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really liked this movie a lot, and I’m in the process of deciding just how much I liked i. Still, this is one of the three or four most important Spike Lee films he’s ever made, and it’s one of the better (if not best) films of 2018.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

The Package

January’s preview:

“Okay, then.”

3 stars. Probably should go 2.5, since the director also did Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but he also did Tour de Pharmacy and 7 Days in Hell. So let’s stay at 3 and see what we get.”

The review:

“This is a fun little movie. Not perfect, but you could do worse for R-rated comedy.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fun. Terrible retitling, though. This is such a generic title. Eggplant Emoji at least was more unique.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Hope Springs Eternal

January’s preview:

None. Premise sounded great so I checked it out.

The review:

“An under-80 minute film starring Peter Frampton’s daughter with one of the great un-utilized premises out there: girl with cancer who is dying suddenly finds herself in remission, so now she has to undo all the shit she did and took advantage of while she was dying.”

“The movie is marginally interesting, but had it gone on any longer it might have dropped below a 3.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s not great, but another example of a 2018 movie where the premise is worth the price of admission but the movie doesn’t sustain it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Prayer Before Dawn

January’s preview:

“Trailer for this looked awesome. It’s A24 though. All their trailers look awesome. Generally the films are good, but they’re not automatic.”

“Still, 3.5 stars. Sounds like it can be good.”

The review:

“It’s Midnight Express, but in a Thai prison, and with boxing. Need I say more?”

“It’s quite solid. Very brutal. You know a movie is hardcore when there aren’t many subtitles for the foreign language and there’s an unadorned rape scene that doesn’t even try to be dramatic.”

“Rape just happens in this movie. That’s the sign of a fucking experience. That’s real prison shit.”

“This is one of the more solid efforts of the year and deserves an audience.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

“Rape just happens in this movie.”

But also, yeah, it’s solid. But be prepared. You gotta be ready for something like this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Slender Man

January’s preview:

“If stars were fucks I gave about this movie, I’d give it zero.”

“But 2.5 stars. Because the indifference is strong. I really don’t care about this, and don’t even really wanna see it.”

The review:

“This year fortunately seems short on really shitty horror movies. Which makes this one stand out.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s a shitty horror movie, is what that review meant.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Madeline’s Madeline

January’s preview:

“Sounds fun.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“Well this was a hell of a movie. Surreal as hell. Hard to explain. But I can say, it’s got an amazing lead performance by Helena Howard, in her first film. She is worth the price of admission alone.”

“Don’t focus on the plot. Just expect very surreal kind of visuals (and an incredibly surreal climax). It’s more about the ride than the destination. Not for everyone, but I am a big fan of this movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really liked this, but will caution that it’s not for everyone. Still, Helena Howard is incredible.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

January’s preview:

“Sure. Sounds a bit by-the-numbers, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be solid.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“This could legit be a real British thing and Americans would have no idea. Like, ‘Hmm, potato peel pie… is that what they make over there?'”

“This is one of those ensemble films. There’s always one big British one every year. This is 2018’s. Not as good as Their Finest from last year, but still enjoyable.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

How accurate is that first sentence, though?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Summer of ‘84

January’s preview:

None. Sounded fun and it came out right at the time when I didn’t have much else to watch.

The review:

“I suspect that this was heavily influenced by Stranger Things. But I haven’t seen Stranger Things, so I couldn’t tell you for sure.”

“It would have made a great Are You Afraid of the Dark episode.”

“I wasn’t entirely on board with it until about the midway point, but it won me over. I went from indifferent to, ‘Yeah, it was okay.'”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is one of those, “They made it for the Stranger Things crowd, but that crowd, when seeing this movie, will go, ‘Stranger Things is way better than this’ and not see it.” That’s Hollywood in a nutshell, folks.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Crazy Rich Asians

January’s preview:

“Ideally there are no white people in this entire movie.”

“I want to go 3.5 stars just because of the all-Asian cast. But because I think this could be a wildly over the top comedy in the bad sense and because the director hasn’t really made a good film yet, I have to say 3 stars. I want it to be better, let it be better. I can’t assume better.”

“No matter what happens, I’m ecstatic that this exists.”

The review:

“It’s fun. Not the greatest movie ever made, but it has its charm.”

“And while my actual feelings for it are more toward a 3.25, the extra bump to 3.5 is because Asians are grossly underrepresented in films.”

“It’s not historical, but the fact that this came out, with an all-Asian cast, and was good, and made a bunch of money… that’s a big deal in 2018. I’m glad this movie exists.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

That’s it — liked it, didn’t love it, but its importance makes me happy it’s there. That said, I’m not overrating the quality of the film because of its social importance. It’s just okay. So all of my issues with this movie have to do with the people overrating it more than the film itself. Shocker.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Mile 22

January’s preview:

None. I think they planned on putting out in 2019 and then moved it up? Either that or it fell through the cracks. I feel like it’s the former, though.

The review:

“Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg. What could go wrong, right? Well, this movie. That’s what could go wrong.”

“Seems like no one really gave a shit about this one. And it’s also kinda racist? But mostly it’s just boring and incoherent.”

“Fortunately it didn’t make money, so I don’t have to be upset that it was terrible, lazy and made money because of the people involved or the marketing.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I thought I could cut off the review after that first sentence, but it kept getting better and better.

This movie felt embarrassing as I watched it. This feels like in the 60s when you have Henry Hathaway or one of those directors making a movie with people like John Wayne and Lee Marvin and all those actors you love, and then you watch it and go, “What the hell?” Because it’s just incoherent and not remotely interesting. I guess they just wanted to work together and didn’t care about the material. That’s the only way to explain this. Because it’s bad.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Alpha

January’s preview:

“This is that weird movie with the trailer that says it’s the origin story of why dogs and humans love each other so much. Never failed — any time this trailer came up in a theater I was in, people laughed at it. Because that’s ridiculous.”

3 stars. Could be bad, but they put so much money into it, you have to assume watchable.”

The review:

“It’s nothing you haven’t seen, and there’s really nothing revelatory about it.”

“The fact that there’s no dialogue for like, an hour, is cool. But otherwise, it’s just watchable at best.”

“Go watch Never Cry Wolf or White Fang instead.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s not bad, but it felt like they spent too much money to get a movie that’s just okay that no one saw. Which always makes me question all the decision-making that went into it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Billionaire Boys Club

January’s preview:

Left a blanket 3 star rating last year, because I had no idea if it would ever come out because of the Spacey thing.

The review:

“It’s fine. It’s trying to be one of those Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, what have you kind of movies, where they glorify the criminal rise, show the spoils of the riches, and then the fall.”

“Nothing you haven’t seen before.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It has elements of note, but overall it’s just generic and forgettable.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Juliet, Naked

January’s preview:

3 stars. My gut said 3.5, but my brain says stick with 3 because it’s only gonna be 3. So let’s go 3.”

The review:

“Indie, but it works because of the performances.”

“I really liked where it went. Slightly peters out toward the end, but overall it held my interest and had some really great performances. By Hawke especially.”

“This is one of the more underrated gems of 2018.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this. It feels like an indie, but overall it’s very solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

We the Animals

January’s preview:

None. Screener movie. We got the screener, so I watched it.

The review:

“I really liked it.”

“It’s difficult for movies where children are the main characters to place you in the shoes of the children. This one actually feels like it accomplishes that, and does it in a different way than I’ve seen before.”

“I think this is a very impressive film and is worth seeing. I don’t think anyone really knows what this is about and I think this is one of the hidden gems of this year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Definitely one of the hidden gems of the year and one of those gems that should get its director work for years to come.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Little Mermaid

January’s preview:

2.5 stars. Gonna be hard to make me interested in this, but anything is possible.”

The review:

“Not very great. There isn’t a subtle bone in this movie’s body.”

“I guess this is for young kids, but it also isn’t? It’s kinda boring?”

“If the production values were a bit lower, and it were a bit cheesier, this could have been one of those Nickelodeon/Disney channel TV movies I grew up with in the 90s, and that would have made it okay.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I like how my review is, “If it were slightly worse, maybe I could have been okay with this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Down a Dark Hall

January’s preview:

None. Cast looked interesting so I saw it.

The review:

“Pretty generic. Pretty boring.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Skip. Don’t worry about this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Wife

January’s preview:

3 stars. I’m in it for Glenn Close.”

The review:

“It’s — probably better than I felt, but I thought it was just okay.”

“The performances were fine, the movie was okay. Not something I ever need to see again. Just watchable. Nothing more.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Destined to be another forgotten Glenn Close Oscar nomination from recent years. Didn’t do a whole lot for me, though it is a solid film.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Yet another very solid Netflix romantic comedy.”

“This is what a rom com should be, and I love that Netflix has become the place for these to thrive.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really enjoyed this. They just announced they’re gonna ruin it with a sequel, but that’s not remotely surprising. Still, this was a very solid movie and smarter than the average rom com.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Blaze

January’s preview:

“Not sure I’m particularly interested, but fuck it, 3 stars.”

“Maybe it’ll just be fine and not super pretentious like I’m worried about.”

The review:

Haven’t seen it yet. But I’ll update this article once I do.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This is in the running for my favorite animated movie of the year.”

“If you’re gonna look for some non-American animated movie to watch this year, I highly recommend this one.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Big fan of this.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Happytime Murders

January’s preview:

“I have no reason to think this will be less than 3.5 stars. This is weird and offbeat, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I go for. If this straight up goes dark, like ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ dark, then I’m totally in for it.”

The review:

“I wish it had worked. It doesn’t, but I can’t quite pinpoint the reason.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I still don’t quite know what went wrong with this, but it’s definitely a pretty big disappointment for me, because the opportunity was there to make this something special. Or at least something people discover over years to come and go, “What the hell is this?” It’s also so niche that it makes it really tough to try to do something like this again in the relative future.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Searching

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This movie is probably the best we’re gonna get out of the ‘entirely on a computer screen’ device.”

“It’s so compelling that we all just sort of forgave how horrible that third act twist is.”

“I don’t like the concept to begin with, so this being a really solid version of it is better than I thought I was ever getting.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Definitely one of the more pleasant surprises of the year. I wish this would mean people were gonna stop making movies with this device or aim higher to try to make them worthwhile, but like all good things, Hollywood will take the complete wrong message from it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Papillon

January’s preview:

“Do we really need this?”

3 stars. Can’t assume more than that. Hope I can get 3.5, but I can’t assume this will come anywhere near the original.”

The review:

“Did we need a Papillon remake?”

“I can’t think of a single really positive thing to say about it other than, ‘Sure.’ But seriously, go watch the original instead.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Sure. But go watch the original instead.

* * * (3 stars)

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

A.X.L.

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“In the vein of Monster Trucks, this is one of those movies they’d have made in the 80s and 90s that is so completely out of style now you wonder why they made it.”

“I doubt most people even know this exists.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Just move on continuing to not know what this is. You don’t ever need to worry about it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The After Party

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This one started off pretty shaky… BUT… it had some charm to it. There were moments where I laughed.”

“Plays by the rules of the 90s buddy comedy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It had more charm than cliche for me, which was nice.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Great DMX cameo in this movie.

That’s really all I need people to take away from it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Arizona

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“Well, this is a dark comedy.”

“Doesn’t fully work, but it was a nice shot.”

“The kind of movie I’d have watched on cable one day and been perfectly okay with.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was okay, but I feel like this could have been much smarter. This looks like a Coen brothers knockoff.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Blue Iguana

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Throwback heist movie. Colorful characters, fun kind of tone… this is the kind of movie I grew up watching in the 90s.”

“Remember when you were like, 15, and you saw Pulp Fiction and then started watching all those cheap knockoffs of it? This is entirely in that vein.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Never gonna begrudge a movie like this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Bookshop

January’s preview:

“Sounds like a lovely little British movie.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“It’s like Chocolat but with books. Though less whimsical. It’s fine. Emily Mortimer is always nice to see in things.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. But I completely forgot about almost everything in this movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Crime + Punishment

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

This was shortlisted for Best Documentary, so I watched it. It was interesting. About NYPD officers being forced to reach “quotas” for citations and summonses. Which we all know. How many times have you or someone you know been pulled over at the end of the month for some bullshit ticket like “you can’t hang an air freshener from your mirror” (this happened to my sister) and thought, “They’re just trying to meet their quota”? This is about actual cops who say, even though the quota system is illegal, it’s still happening, and the department is retaliating against officers who refuse to cooperate.

The thing about it is, you look at it and go, “Of course it’s happening.” And you wonder how anyone could watch this and actually believe the NYPD side of things. Like, what, the NYPD is backwards in its mentality and corrupt? Shocking. But also, the fact that a documentary had to be made for something like this shows you just how bad the whole thing is.

Final thoughts:

I liked it, but like most documentaries, I got the point immediately and wondered why we needed it to be so long. But also, this is the kind of thing where some people legitimately don’t feel like a NEW YORK police force can be racist and corrupt. But there are a lot of things in this country people are surprised to find out even though it was pretty obvious to the rest of us.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Minding the Gap

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

It was okay. Documentary about these kids and the cycle of domestic violence and this vortex that seems to exist in their small town. Not much else to add. Documentaries generally don’t end up going over as well for as they do most other people.

Final thoughts:

Like most documentaries, this ends up with the review of “It was aight.” Most of the time with these, I just don’t care. It’s not my medium.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Support the Girls

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s kind of like Waiting… but with a mostly-female cast.”

“It’s whatever. You can get through it. Didn’t do anything for me one way or another. But I like the idea and I like the message.”

“There’s definitely room for a better version of one of these movies to come along.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I thought it was just whatever, but Regina Hall keeps getting critics nominations and wins for this, and I’m shocked that anyone but me even knows what this is.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Reprisal

January’s preview:

None

The review:

“Bruce Willis paycheck movie. The joy for me now with these is seeing which moments he was clearly not on set for that they had to use a double for.”

“Totally watchable. I mean, we all know I’m predisposed to stuff like this, but this one was more solid than most.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Generic, watchable. Nothing more.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

An Actor Prepares

January’s preview:

“Jeremy Irons being in this is all I need.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“You’ve seen this movie a bunch: estranged actor father has a heart attack and has to take a road trip with his son, who wants nothing to do with him. It hits every beat you’d expect, and is just as cliche’d as you think. But it’s got Jeremy Irons chewing scenery, which is fun. That’s really the only reason you see this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s fine, but nothing you haven’t seen before.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Blood Fest

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Okay, so there are two movies on this list with very similar premises and very similar names, so I need to take a second to figure out which one this is. There’s Blood Fest and there’s Hell Fest. One is a comedy, one is a horror movie. Both are horror movies, but one is decidedly funny, and the other is scary. This is the comedy.”

“It’s fun. It’s clever enough to work. A bit cheesy at times, but it works.”

“Put it this way… The Final Girls is the only movie that manages to have fun with horror tropes and still tell an emotionally fulfilling story (and still the only movie that manages to have not one but two stripteases that are essential to the plot). This is more a clever way to have fun with the genre. It doesn’t fully go all the way with a satisfying story, but it’s definitely a fun movie to watch with friends.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed this. It’s a good premise. You go to a horror festival and then discover everyone there is actually trying to kill you. It manages to do comedy and horror at the same time. It’s clever, but not genius smart, and the turn it takes in the third act is a bit weak. But still, it’s a fun 90 minutes.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Kin

January’s preview:

“Should I be paying attention to this?”

“Let’s say 3 stars, since there’s nothing really here that convinces me it can go higher as of now. Maybe it’ll be solid. I’m fine with that. But 3 is the guess. Has to be.”

The review:

“I bet the short was more interesting. A lot of times when they expand a good short it never turns out great because the story just feels stretched out and forced and goes into places that make it more generic.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Probably better served as a short.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Boarding School

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Holy shit, this was a weird movie. Kinda boring, but also kinda held my attention for stretches.”

“I don’t know if there’s too much going on here or what. I’ll say this… it certainly gives you stuff to talk about, for better or worse.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was weird. It held my attention for stretches then made some weird choices. It feels like it knows what it was trying to do, but I’m still not sure what that is.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Destination Wedding

January’s preview:

“I’m going 3.5 stars. I can’t wait for this. This sounds amazing.”

The review:

“The selling point of this movie is that it stars Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder.”

“You know what it is, and there’s nothing remotely unique about it. However, seeing them act together is fun…. watching them do these long, Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn long takes, doing pages of dialogue at a time.”

“This is a throwback movie, and it’s the kind that either you’re gonna get and go with or the kind that you want no part of. You were either sold going in or you’re not gonna bother.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is not for everyone, but immediately upon watching a trailer you will know whether or not this is for you. Which is about as good as you can hope for with a movie.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Little Stranger

January’s preview:

“This is Lenny Abrahamson’s follow up to Room. So I’m in no matter what.”

“Not as interesting to me as Room was. The horror vibe isn’t my element. But I love Abrahamson, so I’m in.”

3.5 stars. He gets 3.5 or 4, but since I’m not totally sold on the story, I’ll stick with 3.5. Hoping for 4, thinking I get 3.5.”

The review:

“I was hoping it would be better.”

“It’s slow, boring, doesn’t really amount to anything. But it does look nice.”

“It’s fine, but it’s not what I wanted to see out of (Abrahamson) after those last two movies.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Definite disappointment based on Abrahamson’s last two films. Maybe this’ll do it for some people, but this is the exact kind of movie that I just never understand and never does anything for me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?:

Operation Finale

January’s preview:

“This is awesome. I love the Eichmann story and I’m glad they’re turning it into a movie.”

4 stars.”

The review:

“The Eichmann story is a fascinating one, and I’m not sure this movie perfectly captures it.”

“”It sounded good on paper — great cast, great story… but the execution isn’t all there.”

“They could have done so much more with this material. And the movie’s just pretty good.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m very disappointed in it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. My disappointment comes from knowing the story and knowing what could have been. For most people, this seems like a perfectly decent thriller. It’s no Munich, but it’s watchable.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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