2019: The Year in Reviews (January)

You know what it is. It’s the last half of December, which means we’re wrapping up the year.

Like most things in my life, it’s built around a pun. What I do in January is preview everything I can possibly find that’s set to come out that year. And then what I do is watch as many of them as I can, dropping reviews each third of the year. And then in December, we recap how that all went, month by month and see how I did/what I liked.

Mainly I do this for me, just to see how accurate I can guess on stuff up to a year out (I used to hope for a solid 2/3 percentage, but at this point I generally hit above 70% and really wanna see if I can somehow get to 75%), but it also keeps me honest, since I don’t read anything I write after it goes up until I compile these articles and my reviews are done based on how I feel as I write them up. So really this is bringing the two together and considering my feelings as they stand at this moment in time. And then hopefully others can maybe find some cool stuff they didn’t know about or previously consider from it all.

We begin with January and the films from either last year that I only got to this year or (more likely) the films I tracked that didn’t come out in the U.S. this year and probably will next year.

2018 + Unreleased Films

Amundsen (2019)

Amundsen

January’s preview:

“Of course, him!”

“No clue. But it’s by one of the Kon Tiki directors, so there’s that.”

3.5 stars.”

“The other guy went off and did Maleficent 2. Thinking I’m gonna be more interested in what this guy is doing.”

The review:

Haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll update this article once I do over the next ten days.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

Animals (2019 film) poster.jpg

Animals

January’s preview:

“I guess… 3 stars? I don’t really have a whole lot to go on here, so let’s assume the movie is just another decent indie. Maybe more, but I doubt it. I don’t have enough to go on to think it’ll be more than just okay.”

The review:

Watched this last night. It… was more about them being alcoholics and fuck ups than I thought. It was fine, still very indie, but really a lot more… I guess sad, is the word, than I expected. Still, though, it was fine.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Sure.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Based on a True Story poster.png

Based on a True Story

January’s preview:

3 stars. The lack of a U.S. release has to be a referendum on quality. It can’t just be the Polanski of it all, because we’ve been dealing with that for years.”

The review:

“Roman Polanski making a thriller.”

“Sort of a ‘Misery in the age of Facebook’. It doesn’t amount to anything interesting or go anywhere worthwhile.”

“Nice to see Polanski still making movies, though just go watch The Ghost Writer instead. It’s a much better movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I agree with the ‘watch The Ghost Writer instead’ sentiment. This is pretty generic. That one’s great.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Beanpole (film).jpg

Beanpole

January’s preview:

None. Foreign language film I found out about recently.

The review:

Haven’t watched it yet, will update when I do.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

The Boat (2018)

The Boat

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Overall a nice little thriller.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I like that it’s contained, takes place basically in one location and features little dialogue. Didn’t blow me away with the semi-supernatural element and the little ending bit, but the tension in the middle was nice.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Nick Cheung, Roger Kwok, Richie Jen, Peng Ming, Jin Au-Yeung, Sonija Kwok, Ron Ng, Carlos Chan, Jiayi Feng, Zi Yang, Shu-liang Ma, and Clara Lee in Chen mo de zheng ren (2019)

Bodies at Rest

January’s preview:

None. Part of my Directors List.

The review:

Haven’t watched it yet. Will update when I do.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

Children of the sea film poster.jpg

Children of the Sea

January’s preview:

None. Animated contender.

The review:

“It’s weird as hell. But ‘raised by dugongs’ is an amazing name for a band. So there’s that.”

“This isn’t for me. Most anime isn’t for me at all. I gave it a shot, and it didn’t pan out.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

No one should be surprised when I shrug off an anime. It’s just not my genre.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

City of Lies Official Poster.jpg

City of Lies

January’s preview:

“Shouldn’t this come out March 9th? Just sayin’.”

“Still, 3 stars whenever they do.”

The review:

“The more Depp works, the more he reminds you that first and foremost he’s an actor who will give it everything he’s got, even if the movie’s not great.”

“Only problem is… you made a movie about two murders that we’re pretty much never gonna find the answers for, even though we pretty much already know what happened anyway.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s watchable, but there’s really no sense of interest, since it’s one of those, kinda like Hoffa, where we all kinda know what happened but just don’t know the particulars.

Wouldn’t it be great if they Irishman’d this in like thirty years?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Sarah Bolger in A Good Woman Is Hard to Find (2019)

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find

January’s preview:

2.5 stars because of the holdover. Otherwise it may have had a shot at 3.”

The review:

“It’s… watchable. I enjoyed it for what it was.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it. Sarah Bolger gives a nice performance, and it’s just a nice little British thriller.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Fisherman's Friends Theatrical Poster.jpg

Fisherman’s Friends

January’s preview:

“I was tempted to go 3.5 stars, but it’s coming out in March in the UK and is from the people who did Finding Your Feet, which means it’s almost certainly going 3 stars.”

The review:

“Wonderful little throwback comedy.”

“You know all the places the narrative is gonna go. That’s not surprising at all. But the relationship between the fisherman and hearing them sing the songs is actually quite wonderful.”

“Who doesn’t like a bunch of people getting together and singing sea shanties?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I was really charmed by this, even if it was by the numbers in a lot of ways.

Sea shanties, mateys!

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Alexander Armstrong, Lee Mack, Alex Macqueen, and Sebastian Croft in Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans (2019)

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans

January’s preview:

“It at least seems watchable.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“This is based on a British sketch show that I knew nothing about, but the general idea of it appeals to me.”

“I imagine fans of the show will say the show was better. But as a movie, it’s fun.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Jay Duplass and Tatiana Maslany in Pink Wall (2019)

Pink Wall

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s like (500) Days of Summer if it were directed by the Duplass brothers.”

“Both actors do a good job. It’s mumblecore though, so it feels like there’s not too much there in the end.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It does feel like (500) Indie Vignettes of Summer, though. I love Tatiana Maslany and will watch her in anything, but I do wish there were more of an overall structure to this or at least more meat on the bones for a lot of the (clearly improvised) scenes to hold it all together more. Overall, it’s fine, though.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Rainy Day in New York poster.jpg

A Rainy Day in New York

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“Woody movies start at 3 stars and we’ll see if I care or not. Recently, I have not cared. In fact, it’s probably going on a decade that I haven’t cared.”

The review:

“Timothée Chalamet’s character’s name is Gatsby Welles. Does that not tell you everything you need to know about this movie?”

“Woody’s not even trying anymore. He’s just taking from things he likes and throwing them out there, or taking from his own work and repeating that.”

“I don’t know who this movie is for. At one point, Selena Gomez tells Chalamet, ‘You’re not gonna start singing ‘Gigi’ are you?’ Which… Selena Gomez doesn’t know what Gigi is. And also, who is that reference for?”

“Oh, and no, this isn’t a great movie, like all the other ones he’s come out with the past eight years. Though I do get some perverse enjoyment out of watching them, just because you wonder how they still get made and are all exactly the same movie every time.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

You’re watching an old director completely stuck in his ways either trying to trot out the greatest hits or simply just doing the only thing he knows how to do, but because he’s 83, there’s no real art to it anymore and it’s totally heavy-handed. It’s like when you have that one relative who was really funny and would make these jokes when you were five, and now that you’re 35, they’re still trying to make those same jokes because it’s all they’ve got and you know they’re just trying to maintain that relationship with you. That’s what this feels like.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Ridelikeagirlposter.jpg

Ride Like a Girl

January’s preview:

“Sweet. Love jockey/horse movies.”

3.5 stars on that alone.”

“Don’t need to know anything more. Might be too hokey, but even that I can live with. I like stuff like this.”

The review:

Have a copy, but need to watch it. I’ll update this once I do.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

Surprise (2019)

Surprise

January’s preview:

None. Discovered it as part of my Directors List.

The review:

“It’s a really low budget found footage movie that literally looks as though it were filmed on one of those cheap video cameras that’s on display at Best Buy.”

“It’s… not good. I watched it because I had to (self-imposed). No one else ever needs to bother with this movie. It’s unwatchable.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Just ignore this and keep reading.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Topendwedding2019poster.jpg

Top End Wedding

January’s preview:

3 stars, just because of the indie-ness of it all. I hope it goes higher.”

The review:

“I enjoyed this.”

“The first hour is touch and go, but it does get better as it goes along. I’m glad I saw this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did like this, though it’s probably not worth seeking out for most people.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Tower (2018)

The Tower

January’s preview:

None. Animated Feature eligible.

The review:

“Cool stop motion film about a girl in a Palestinian refugee camp finding out about her family’s history. It mixes different styles of animation and it’s really well made.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Traitor (2019 film).jpg

The Traitor

January’s preview:

None. Foreign film.

The review:

Haven’t watched it yet. Will update when I do.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

Upin Ipin Keris Siamang Tunggal Official Poster.jpg

Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris

January’s preview:

None. Animated Feature eligible I found out about in October.

The review:

“”Malaysian animated film based on what is apparently a big hit animated series there. Don’t know how this approximates the show, but the film itself wasn’t for me.”

“I appreciate that more countries are getting into the animated game, but sometimes the content doesn’t always translate. So I wasn’t a big fan of this, but it’s cool to see.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Didn’t like it, appreciate that they made it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Weathering with You Poster.jpg

Weathering with You

January’s preview:

None. Animated Feature eligible I found out about in October.

The review:

“This was solid, but wasn’t totally for me”

“Very similar to Your Name in tone and feel. I wasn’t a fan of that film and I’m slightly more of a fan of this one, but only slightly.” * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I just don’t like this kind of anime. So while it was solid and I was engaged by the film, I didn’t love it. It’s just not my genre.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Wolf Hour poster.png

The Wolf Hour

January’s preview:

“Feels like a 3 star movie. Maybe it’s better, but 3 feels like the guess.”

The review:

“It’s decent. Nothing horror-related, so I liked that. Mostly a character study of this woman who used to be an author and is now just unable to function.”

“Doesn’t amount to much, but Watt does some interesting stuff with it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s watchable. Didn’t go anywhere I particularly liked, which is to say that it never really took off for me despite some interesting groundwork, but for something I barely knew even existed, it was more watchable than some other stuff I could have watched.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – –

January

State Like Sleep poster.jpg

State Like Sleep

January’s preview:

“I’m thinking I go 3 stars, because it is January and it took a year to come out. That’s usually not a sign of a 3.5 star movie, but I will happily take 3.5 if that’s what it’s gonna be.”

The review:

“Very strange movie. Thought it was actually gonna go somewhere… then it didn’t.”

“Thought it could be a nice neo noir with twists and turns… turned out to just be a generic drama without much substance to it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I love the leads, but this never went anywhere for me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Escape Room (2019 poster).png

Escape Room

January’s preview:

“This is a thriller coming out in January. So my gut immediately said ‘2.5 stars.’ But I watched a trailer. I liked the premise. So I’m thinking I might go 3 on this.”

“It looks inventive and non-horror, so I think I will go 3 stars. That way, if it ends up being 2.5 I have no one to blame but myself.”

The review:

“I appreciated that this was a thriller and not a horror movie. I assumed it would be Saw-level torture stuff. But really, it’s just a bunch of people locked in an elaborate escape room they have to figure out in order to not die. At least I can go with that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked that it was more thriller than horror, but there was no way this was ever going above 3 stars for me. The fact that it even got to 3 stars is the win here. 3 stars on a horror movie for me is way more respect than they usually get out of me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Vanishing 2019 poster.jpg

The Vanishing

January’s preview:

“Oh good, a thriller about lighthouse keepers.”

“Honestly, I see a Gerard Butler thriller in January, and I already know it’s gonna be 3 stars. I don’t even see an alternative. Unless it’s a really solid thriller and it goes 3.5 stars.”

The review:

“This is a slowly-paced drama about three lighthouse keepers. Very much an acting showcase for the leads, two of whom are Peter Mullan and Gerard Butler.”

“The acting might get a bit much, but I’ve also never really seen Butler do drama, so that was a nice change from him doing action movies where he stabs people in the face. Overall, I thought this was solid. Movie’s not entirely there, but I like when movies do enough to at least make me think about the other possibilities inherent in the setup. And that’s what got me through.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is the more straightforward, dramatic version of The Lighthouse. It goes in a more obvious ‘plot’ direction, while The Lighthouse is focused solely on the weirdness of it all. So it’s not as good as The Lighthouse, in the end, but you do get good performances out of Mullan and Butler. It’s solid, but not for most people. I do appreciate that it’s more of a dramatic character piece than some sort of straight thriller.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Donald Sutherland and Vincent Kartheiser in American Hangman (2019)

American Hangman

January’s preview:

“Seems like a generic thriller. 2.5 stars, but only because it seems to be based around a viral video kind of idea. And because the trailer looked very badly cut, which usually means a step below a studio movie, and an increased likelihood of ‘ehh’.”

The review:

“Somewhat intriguing premise, which is why I bothered watching it.”

“Problem is… movie’s not that well written and doesn’t go anywhere interesting, so you’re left with a generic thriller that maybe could have been something better.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really generic, really cheap, not particularly interesting at all. Oh well. Gave it a shot. These things happen.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

A puppy sitting inside a shoe

A Dog’s Way Home

January’s preview:

“Oh dear god.”

“They’re creating a universe with these fucking dogs.”

2 stars.”

“I just fucking can’t with these.”

The review:

“You realize they’re building a shared universe of dog movies, right?”

“Nothing more than totally generic, but hey, some people might want that. I will say it was more watchable than A Dog’s Purpose, which was just an outright piece of shit. This one at least made me not care rather than actively dislike it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I will agree that I just didn’t care and didn’t like it more than I was actively pissed. That doesn’t prevent it from being a very bad movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

The Upside.png

The Upside

January’s preview:

“Oh, yeah, the Intouchables remake.”

“Could have gone 3.5 stars with the cast, but it got pushed to January.”

3 stars. Seems too schmaltzy to be more solid than that. I’m sure it’s fine, but it’s not the kind of sentimentality I go for. Plus it’s January. Hard to see this going higher than 3.”

The review:

“It’s a fine enough movie. It’s Americanized, but it keeps a lot of the stuff that made the original work.”

“The two of them are actually quite good, and while there are some clunky moments and some of the movie falls flat, tonally, I think it’s a perfectly decent movie that’s one of those you’ll find on cable in a few years and think, ‘You know, that was okay.'”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s solid enough. Very much what I would have expected — a bit overly schmaltzy, but not too much. I was surprised at how it didn’t go too obvious in some of the scenes I was expecting to get. But also, it’s just okay. It doesn’t fall into the traps but also doesn’t rise above, you know?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium (2019)

ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium

January’s preview:

None. Only discovered the series in February.

The review:

“After I discovered this series, I watched all of them in a single afternoon. This one is about Victor Jara, Chilean poet and activist who was picked up, tortured and murdered for his beliefs during a military coup. This whole series is very strong, and all are worth seeing.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

You’ll see one of these for like five months straight. I discovered that Netflix put out this music documentary series about real life events, and it’s really strong. The first three were about Johnny Cash going to meet Nixon at the White House at the height of Vietnam, Bob Marley’s assassination attempt and the killing of Jam Master Jay. They’re all fantastic, but came out in 2018. They finished the series over the first five months of this year. I highly recommend them for people who like both music documentaries and also true crime kinda stuff. I’m much more the former than the latter, but still, it’s a great series.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

FyreFraud.png

Fyre Fraud

January’s preview:

None. This one, more so than the next one, was completely unexpected.

The review:

“This is the Hulu doc. It takes a much more hardline stance of, ‘This was a fraud, this was illegal, this is all criminal.’ And it should have. Just on the off-chance someone saw the Netflix one and thought the people involved were remotely innocent.”

“The most interesting thing about this one for me was the interview with the main guy, which is just so damning and sleazy. I think people should watch both docs, but it’s better to see the Netflix one and then supplement it with this.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

They released this just before the Netflix one to get the jump on them, since the Netflix one was produced by the people who worked on the festival, which makes it morally dubious on a lot of ways. That one is more entertaining, but this one is much more straightforward with how shitty all the people involved are.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Fyre poster.jpg

Fyre

January’s preview:

None. Documentaries tend not to be tracked.

The review:

“This is the Netflix one of the two docs. The Hulu one feels more objective (or more “these fucking people are criminals”). This one shows more of the disaster that the entire experience was.”

“It might not point as much blame as the Hulu one does (because some of the people involved made it), but the situation points all the blame.”

“You gotta see just how big a disaster this festival was. This will eventually be a movie, but it won’t be as nuts as this documentary is.”

“Also, that blowjob scene is the single greatest scene of 2019 so far.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s more entertaining than the Hulu one. So, as long as you’re not gonna be swayed by this documentary (which, I can’t see how you would) by thinking that some of the people involved in the planning level are innocent and are shielded from some of the blame, then I say go with this one. You should watch them both to get the full picture, but if you’re picking one, this is the more entertaining of the two.

And yes, that blowjob scene is still probably the greatest scene of 2019.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Last Laugh (2019) Film Poster.jpg

The Last Laugh

January’s preview:

“It’s Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase. I’m so in.”

3 stars.”

“I don’t see how I don’t get 3 stars out of this automatically.”

The review:

“It’s nothing groundbreaking. Two old actors in a movie.”

“It’s totally fine. I liked it because I like the two stars.”

“It’s not perfect, but you knew that. You’re watching it for the actors, and you’ll get enough out of it through that alone.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is purely a movie you watch for the actors and nothing else. It’s not good, and you know it’s not good. But it’s fine because it’s them. That’s it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Ashes in the Snow.jpg

Ashes in the Snow

January’s preview:

“I like Bel Powley. This movie seems really generic. But it’s a period piece, and she’s good, so I figure I’ll get 3 stars out of this easily.”

The review:

“Serious dramas about Eastern-European hardship rarely turn out to be interesting. I only saw this because it stars Bel Powley. Probably wasn’t worth it. There’s always one serious period Eastern-European drama that comes out, and it’s never worth it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I like her, I did not like this movie. That about covers it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Against the Clock (2019)

Against the Clock

January’s preview:

“Oh shit, this movie’s finally coming out! It’s been like, four years!”

“Which means automatic 2.5 stars. You can’t keep something on the shelf for that long and have it be good.”

The review:

“There’s a reason it didn’t come out for so long. It looks cheap, it’s a bad thriller, there’s nothing of interest in it and it was really only something I watched because I’d been tracking it for so long. The rest of you never need to know what this is or see it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

That review about covers it. Just because I’m crazy enough to bother with this doesn’t mean you have to be.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Glass (2019 poster).png

Glass

January’s preview:

“I’ve been dreading this one for a year.”

“Split was good. I liked it. And then they ruined it by turning it into this universe.”

“I don’t really care about Unbreakable. And I don’t really care about what he’s doing with this story.”

“So I have to guess 3 stars, even though there’s a distinct chance I could get 3.5 out of this. Doubt it, but it’s possible. My guess is I’m gonna hate good portions of this and that will keep it to 3 for me.”

The review:

“I’m so upset this movie even exists.”

“This is just such a weirdly structured movie. Samuel L. Jackson isn’t in it for the first half, and then he’s catatonic for most of it until the end? And the first act is Willis vs. McAvoy, but then there’s the weird institution stuff in the middle, and then it takes that insane turn for the third act. To the point where, when the ending happens, does anyone give a shit?”

“I feel like this is the ultimate, ‘You didn’t need this, and you ruined any good will you had.'”

“A lot of people are gonna call this a disappointment, but this was exactly the movie I thought I was getting. So really I’m just left with, ‘There’s really no such thing as a good M. Night Shyamalan movie anymore, and I’d rather not have to question whether or not there ever was.'”

“What a waste of good will this was.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m really upset that this is the movie we got, especially when I fucking knew this was gonna be the movie we got.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

IO film poster.jpeg

Io

January’s preview:

“I… I went 3.5 stars last year, but it coming out in January and it being a Netflix sci-fi movie give me pause. So I will say 3 stars, knowing I will certainly get at least that out of it, and see if this can get to 3.5.”

The review:

“It’s just Margaret Qualley and Anthony Mackie for the whole movie, with Danny Huston in flashbacks and her boyfriend Skyping her from another planet. For that, I like it. I like when movies have like two people in the cast and it’s just about them.”

“However, this one goes down a lot of the obvious routes and never really does anything particularly interesting. It’s pretty standard, as Netflix movies go. Wouldn’t particularly recommend this over a bunch of the other stuff they’ve put out.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I like reading me thinking it through in January and going, “This sounded like it was gonna be solid, but this and this and this… so 3 stars.” And then I see myself watching it and basically spelling out all my concerns that led to that rating in the review. It’s nice.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

James Badge Dale in The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2018)

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

January’s preview:

“This looks interesting as hell.”

3.5 stars.”

The review:

“This movie was dope.”

“It’s a Hitchcock movie, essentially.”

“The hard thing for a single-location movie like this is maintaining interest and sticking the landing. And I think this does both admirably. A really impressive debut from this director, and one of the more solid movies you will see this year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

The trailer is what got me to 3.5 on this. It’s one of the better cut trailers I saw this year. And the movie was really fantastic. Low budget, single location thriller with a solid script and great acting. This is one of the better movies you’ll see this year.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Close poster.jpg

Close

January’s preview:

“Noomi Rapace Netflix thriller.”

“That’s really all I need to know.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“It’s fun. Nothing overly amazing, but it’s written and directed by a woman, which is always a good thing.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Noomi Rapace as an action hero beating the shit out of people. That’s a 3 star movie all the way down the line. No surprises whatsoever.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Polar (2019) poster.jpeg

Polar

January’s preview:

“Stars Madds Mikkelson and is directed by the guy who made that Norwegian black metal movie. Okay, I’m in. And it’s based on a graphic novel.”

“All of this sounds like an easy 3 star movie to me.”

“Kinda hoping I can get 3.5 stars out of this, but the tone is gonna be what dictates that. 3 stars seems safest, and then we’ll see if the movie can be better.”

The review:

“Netflix version of John Wick starring Mads Mikkelsen.”

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s the perfect Netflix movie. A lot of fun, not too much effort, and a great showcase for a very underrated actor.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Look at that, I got 3 stars out of it. And it was the tone that did it. Because it’s fun and acknowledges that it’s doing the same thing as other movies and doesn’t care. It’s just gonna have fun with itself. So I’m glad. I got 3.5 stars out of this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

The Kid Who Would be King.png

The Kid Who Would Be King

January’s preview:

“Having seen the trailer, 3 stars. Might even be 2.5. This should not be anything other than one of those two numbers.”

The review:

“This is an out and out kids movie. It’s for kids and it’s not trying to be anything else.”

“It’s the kind of movie I would have watched growing up. And on that alone, I appreciate his dedication to it.”

“It’s really charming. It’s just fun. It’s good, clean filmmaking and it’s the kind of movie that you can’t deny accomplishes everything it sets out to accomplish.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

That’s surprising. I had low expectations for this. But I guess it is execution dependent. You can’t always get that from a trailer. Because I do remember not being blow away by that trailer. Though it is interesting to see that variance, even if I wasn’t that far off in the end about this one. Guess we’ll have to consider this one of the big surprises of the year for me.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Serenity

January’s preview:

“This is an interesting one. I was really looking forward to this last year, and they bumped it out of October and into January. Which means they’re dumping it and think it’s bad. So I expect this to get terrible reviews and come and go with little fanfare.”

“However, it was written and directed by Steven Knight, who did Locke, and also wrote Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things, Allied, and created Peaky Blinders. And he’s got McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke and Djimon Hounsou in it. With that cast, I have to guess 3.5 stars.”

“It looks like a neo-noir, too, which means I’ll be all for it. But the people involved in this should not create a movie less than 3.5 stars, which means I have to assume that much at the very least and let this be a visible disappointment if not.”

The review:

“This might go down as the most batshit movie of 2019.”

“I feel like, were people to know how insane it is, it’ll make them more likely to want to see it. Because, as nuts as the twist is, to the movie’s credit, the entire thing is built around it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I kept the spoilers out of my review, but I’ve found that the spoilers are what get people to watch this movie. So just know… the twist in this movie is absolutely insane, and what I’ve found out is that my talking about this and how excited I am to get people to see this weird fucking movie reminded me… that makes it something I liked. I can like something for the wrong reasons and still like it. So I bumped the rating up, because this has stayed with me more than most stuff over the course of the year.

But trust me on this — it’s one of the weirder movies you’ll see, and it’s worth seeing just because it makes no sense why they’d do any of the things they do in it. This is a good bad movie in the best possible way.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Rent Live

January’s preview:

My first one of these. Mostly because I happened to catch that it was happening and figured I was gonna watch it anyway, so I might as well rate it.

These live musicals have always been worthwhile for me. And Fox is doing it, and they seem to make them better than everyone else. Grease Live was amazing.

This… I don’t like the show as much as I did Grease, but I know I’ll like it because it’s live. So I think I’ll go 3.5 stars. That seems pretty standard for one of these.

The review:

“I really enjoy these live musicals.”

“I’m not the biggest fan of Rent, but this was an enjoyable enough performance, ending with the original cast coming out, which was a nice touch.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

In the pantheon of these live musicals, Grease is the gold standard, and probably second is Jesus Christ Superstar. Everything else is below that, which includes this. This was fine, but those are the two that every other one has to catch.

How close was I?: Exact.

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One response

  1. ashamed

    What the fuck, I’ve been reading this blog for years and I never once realised these articles were puns. What the fuck. I’m so mad, this is all I’m going to think about for the next decade

    December 17, 2019 at 6:19 am

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