2019: The Year in Reviews (April)

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.

Today is April.

April

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The Best of Enemies

January’s preview:

“Oh, this is a tough one for me.”

“First time director, put out by STX whose taste in material is questionable at best. The story/trailer seems completely generic. However… I like stuff like this. And the two leads are Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell.”

“My gut would be, with something like this, to go 3.5 stars, but I have to go 3 stars. I can’t assume this will be a 3.5 star movie. It just looks generic. Maybe I’ll get 3.5 out of it, but… coming out in April, with that trailer… it looks like a 3 star movie.”

The review:

“This is one of those movies that sounded like a possible good idea that just… didn’t work out.”

“It’s got that tone of taking things very superficially and keeping a sort of fun tone. And considering how things were around race in the south… probably not the best way to do it.”

“It’s watchable, it’s just not that great a movie. Some things just don’t come together.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Pet Sematary

January’s preview:

“Did we need this?”

2.5 stars.”

“Unnecessary remake and a horror movie. Completely the opposite of my alley.”

“At best this is going 3 stars, and even then that would be a minor miracle.”

The review:

“Well this sucked.”

“There’s just nothing of interest here.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

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Shazam!

January’s preview:

“The trailer was real amusing, and it looks like an enjoyable movie.”

“HOWEVER… it is still a D.C. movie. And a lot of times a trailer can mask a lot of the other stuff I won’t care about in a movie. And the director did Lights Out and that last Annabelle movie. So I have to say 3 stars and hope I can get more. I’ll gladly be wrong if it means a good movie.”

The review:

“The D.C. Universe, to a certain point, is like the runner that stumbles out of the gate and falls flat on their face, and then has to get up and finish the rest of the race.”

“This might be, along with Wonder Woman, the best of the universe so far.”

“Overall, it’s hard for me to find real fault with this outside of, ‘Could have been better’. There’s only upside that wasn’t met, no real major deficiencies. All in all, this was as good a result as we could have possibly hoped out of a D.C. movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I second that. It’s fun, it’s solid, and the only thing I can say about it is that it could have been better, which is just more of a hope than anything, since they did just fine with it on their own.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Peterloo

January’s preview:

“It’s Mike Leigh, which means an automatic 3.5 stars.”

“This looks to be the norm for him — looks great, really solid, but I’m not overly in love with the story.”

The review:

“The sets and costumes are nice and it is engaging, but it’s not something I loved and not something I really ever need to see again.”

“Leigh makes solid movies, but they’re just not for me, most of them.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I am nothing but if not totally in tune with myself. Mike Leigh makes solid movies, and almost every time out I go, “Yeah, but… not for me.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

A gloved hand holds a baby's hand, against the background of a green garden

High Life

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“Claire Denis directing means nothing to me, the trailer looks decent, and it just looks like a sci-fi movie that’s just watchable.”

The review:

“Very weird movie. You really have no idea what’s going on for the first half hour, and even then, I only cared about so much of it. But I guess it has that weird Juliette Binoche fuck machine, so I guess there’s that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Oh yeah… Juliette Binoche and the fuck machine.

I’ve been trying to get J.K. Rowling on that one for six months.

On the… franchise, not, on the….

I’m just gonna move on.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Public

January’s preview:

None. Directors List movie.

The review:

“Major surprise for me. The only reason I really knew what it was is because Emilio Estevez is on my Directors List. Because yes, he directs movies. He’s directed six movies.”

“It’s a throwback movie to the 90s. It’s got that vibe and tone, and that’s part of what I liked about it.”

“It’s a really good fucking movie. It’s just really engaging and one of those movies you’d find on cable and just keep watching whenever it was on.”

“It’s definitely one of my favorite hidden gems of this year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Cable movie shout out!

I feel like that’s part of the drinking game with me at this point.

But seriously, I did like this movie a lot, though I’m keenly aware of how small a chance that has of getting past anyone but me. Sometimes you just know when you like something that very few people will share that opinion. But whatever. Really liked this one.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Storm Boy

January’s preview:

3 stars. Seems fine.”

The review:

“Sort of an Australian Fly Away Home. Not as charming as that one, but a perfectly decent movie. The epitome of a 3-star movie, this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Pure 3 stars all the way through.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Amazing Grace

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Documentary about Aretha Franklin recording this album in a church in Los Angeles over the course of two nights. It is, quite simply, a religious experience.”

“No one should go without seeing Aretha sing like this.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A woman with paint on her face, wearing a backwards baseball cap, lying on grass with her hands behind her head.

Unicorn Store

January’s preview:

“My guess is, given the lack of a release, I have to say 3 stars on this. I want it to go higher, because I like it when actors direct and something like this could be a nice fantasy that’s right in my wheelhouse, but 3 stars feels like it has to be the guess.”

The review:

“In the end, this is one of those movies where you have to have the mindset of a child or be able to tap into your inner child in order to find the joy that’s in this. And as we know, I’m very much that person.”

“While I enjoyed this more than the average person would, I’m not gonna claim it’s anything particularly special. But I will say… this was lovely.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is another one of those where I’ll never assume anyone else will get the joy out of this that I did. Which is fine.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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The Wind

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This movie’s entirely atmospheric. Almost like The Witch in the old west. Not entirely. But that’s the vibe they’re going for.”

“The movie’s okay, but the way they shot it was solid. So I give it the slight western bump, but I will say, from what I was hoping this movie would be versus what it actually was… kinda wish it was more of what I was hoping it would be.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s solid and well-made, though narrative I do wish they went a slightly different way with it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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The Haunting of Sharon Tate

January’s preview:

“Oh my god this looks AWFUL.”

2.5 stars. I have to see this it looks so bad.”

The review:

“Holy fucking shit.”

“This is awful.”

“There’s even a moment where she enters a room (because it’s not her house) and Charles Manson’s music tapes are in there. And almost as if she knows, she freaks out and evil sounds start playing on the score. Which is almost like if you had a movie set in the 20s and someone saw kid Hitler and immediately freaked out because somehow they ‘knew’. It’s fucking ridiculous.”

“This is not worth seeing by anyone. It’s barely even a passable movie. This is made by someone who clearly must specialize in low rent, Z grade horror movies. There’s nothing of value in this movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Holy shit, though. This is one of the worst movies of the year.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Native Son

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Honestly I hope it’s 4 stars. I hope this is great. I like everything about what this is setting up to be.”

The review:

“This really held my interests in the early parts of the film and then kinda lost me toward the end. But overall it was really well made and was a solid enough watch.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Very solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Fosse/Verdon

January’s preview:

“FUCK. YES.”

“I’m so fucking all in on this show.”

4.5 stars.”

“It’s a miniseries, which is basically just a long movie. Fuck it, I’m counting it.”

“I know I never preview miniseries, but I also know that I’d rather see this than literally anything else that is coming out this year. And this is might site, I’ll do what I goddamn want.”

The review:

“There was no question that I was gonna love this.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really loved this miniseries and wish we had more of it, even though we didn’t really need more of it. I’m just greedy.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Silence

January’s preview:

“So it’s The Descent meets A Quiet Place?”

3 stars, but only for the Tucc.”

The review:

“Netflix version of A Quiet Place.”

“Although it is very generic and nowhere near as interesting as A Quiet Place, the cast and the fact that it doesn’t look completely cheap help it come out okay.”

“I was actually engaged by this, rather than just not caring. Which is always a good result. Plus, this movie ends with the family murdering a bunch of extremist religious nut jobs. Hard to get more of a happy ending than that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Only for the Tucc is a great album title.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

January’s preview:

“I can’t believe Terry Gilliam actually got this made.”

“Let’s say 3.5 stars. Terry’s been trying to tell this for years, so hopefully it’ll end up having been worth it.”

The review:

“To me, it’s his worst movie. Some might say Brothers Grimm, but I had fun with that. This felt laborious.”

“There was no sense of fun. Gilliam felt like he was going through the motions.”

“Maybe because he’d been telling the story to himself for so many years he just kind of directed it without any passion? I don’t know. Maybe it just wasn’t a great idea to begin with. Truly couldn’t tell you.”

“This is the first Terry Gilliam movie I’ve seen where I went, ‘I really don’t care about any of this’.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was a disappointment, but in the end I’m happy he got it made. Still, though, it’s crazy that this is the first film in his entire career where I didn’t think, “Wow, that was really solid.”

* * * (3 stars)

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

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Missing Link

January’s preview:

“It’s Laika, so 3.5 stars is the absolute floor here. But I’m gonna go 4 stars.”

“This story seems more interesting than something like The Boxtrolls. Plus, they’re coming off Kubo, which is the best movie they’ve ever made.”

“Also, with them, the gorgeous imagery will likely carry them that extra half-star as long as the story is up to snuff. So let’s figure it will be and go from there.”

The review:

“I think I was spoiled by Kubo. Every other Laika movie was 3.5 stars and solid but not overly spectacular for me. Kubo was the exception. So I think I let my expectations get raised by that.”

“This — more of the same. Looks great, lot of fun, but not something that particularly grabbed me on a narrative level.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Love Laika, love what they do, but 3.5 is generally where they shake out for me, just because of how little I usually care about their plots versus the artistry that goes into making the films.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Hellboy

January’s preview:

“It looks fun. Just not sure how much I’m gonna care.”

“It’s a superhero movie, so at best I have to guess 3 stars, even though if they strike the right tone, I could easily get 3.5 stars out of this. Not gonna assume that for one second, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

The review:

“I was very against this at the beginning, because why reboot this without Guillermo? But then I saw a trailer and thought, ‘This could be fun’. Turns out… the answer is somewhere in between.”

“It’s almost fun, but it’s not a very good movie at all. The cast is game and there’s enough to make it okay if you’re just watching it without expectations. But it’s nowhere near what Guillermo achieved with the films.”

“Mostly… with him, I kinda cared about the whole thing. Without him… not really.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s that — I cared a little bit with Guillermo. I didn’t care at all with this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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After

January’s preview:

“Oh no.”

“Oh no oh no oh no.”

“I can’t stand this serious teen bullshit. Especially with their trailers with their pop music and slow sex moments. I hate everything about these movies.”

2.5 stars.”

The review:

“Yeesh.”

“The problem with movies like this is that they take themselves so seriously and think they’re doing something profound. And that makes them so fucking tedious for the rest of us.”

“This is what a high school student would write and think is the most amazing shit ever. Also pretty sure only high school students would ever think this is a good movie.”

“Don’t bother with this if you have a choice.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This should surprise no one.

Really all I’m thinking about is the poor son of a bitch who doesn’t have a choice in watching this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Little

January’s preview:

3 stars. Concept should keep it watchable.”

The review:

“This is the kind of movie I want to support so much. It’s a reverse Big, with a mostly black cast, written and directed by a woman, and the idea for the movie was conceived by its 13-year-old star. Everything about that is incredible.”

“The movie itself — just kind of okay. But still. I’d rather okay movies with that kind of cast/behind the camera pedigree than some other bullshit Tribeca movie by some pretentious white dude who came from Tisch.”

“This is just the kind of movie that needs to be championed. I’m happy it exists.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This movie should be championed.

Also I’m now laterally upset thinking about that pretentious white dude from Tisch’s movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Teen Spirit

January’s preview:

“So it’s American Idol Cinderella? Okay.”

“This, the thing I’m worried about is that the soundtrack is all pop nonsense that I’m not gonna like. Which is why I can’t, in good conscience, guess more than 3 stars on this.”

“Looks totally watchable, but I can’t see it being anything more than that.”

The review:

“I don’t know what the point of this all is.”

“The drawback is that she’s singing all these pop songs that are just… why are you choosing those? It seems like you’re designing this to be liked by teenagers and no one else.”

“Plus, none of the songs ever make it clear whether or not Elle Fanning can sing. It actually kinda seems like she can’t really, but she could act, so they gave her songs in her range so she could passably do it.”

“The whole thing comes off as kind of awkward, especially since we have no clue how the show really operates, so we’re just going along with ‘Okay, and now she’s in the finals’.”

“This movie did nothing for me, though the Russian manager/opera singer guy was conceptually an interesting character.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Current day pop music is the bane of good movies.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Perfect Date

January’s preview:

“Is it April 25th? Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket?”

Sounds like fun. Not sure how good it’ll be. Nothing about the writers or director makes me think I should go more than 3 stars. The better written it is, the higher it’ll go. Otherwise it’ll just be 3 stars and fine.”

The review:

“A bit Risky Business for the 21st century.”

“Kinda weird they don’t get into the whole sex/possible prostitution aspects of the whole thing, but the movie doesn’t really seem to care about logic past the set up.”

“Not as special as the better ones out there, but it works for what it’s trying to be.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I think attention must be paid to that amazing April 25th reference up at the top.

It doesn’t get much funnier than that, folks.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Crypto

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“There’s always one of these every year — the thriller based around high concept finance. Always have some sort of a cast in them, never particularly interesting. Not worth seeing, even if I only saw it because I noticed Kurt Russell was in it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Only watched it for Kurt Russell, and I’m left wondering what the hell he was doing in such a forgettable movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Moss winking with her tongue out in garish make-up

Her Smell

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This is like Black Mass. That movie was the same fifteen minute scene basically done over and over. This is that. Elisabeth Moss has a meltdown. She has one in this location, and then in that location. The plot generally moves around it, but all the sequences are basically that done over and over again.”

“It’s fine. If you like Perry’s movies, I’m sure you’ll like this. People who love Elisabeth Moss will get something out of the performance. For me… just okay. Nothing more.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It is basically that, though. The same 15 minute scene done again and again.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Guava Island

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Not sure what they were going for with it, but it was likable enough.”

“Felt like a story I’d have written when I was ten.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

No idea what the point of this was, other than to give people something to continue to think of Donald Glover as an artistic genius, which is something I’m still kinda just missing. But whatever. Like who you want.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Breakthrough

January’s preview:

“Shitty Christian movie!”

“I saw a trailer for this while going to see something in an out of the way theater that caters to people who see this bullshit. So I was ready for this to come down the pike.”

1.5 stars.”

“And yes, it is solidly on Unforgivable watch. It looks like straight garbage.”

The review:

“I fucking hate these religious movies so much. It’s literally a movie about a kid who drowns in a lake and his mother, who thinks she brought him back from the dead by praying really loudly. I will say this and then I will say no more — No.”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

A HA HA I forget that was what happened here. This was fucking terrible.

* ½ (1.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Curse of La Llorona

January’s preview:

“Supernatural horror. Not my thing.”

2.5 stars.”

“Oh, and it’s a Conjuring movie? Then I absolutely don’t give a shit about this.”

The review:

“Supernatural horror movie, which means I did not care one bit. If it didn’t feel pretty much like a standalone thing and not part of that Conjuring universe, I probably wouldn’t have even watched it. These just aren’t for me and provide me no pleasure nor interest.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

*Extremely The Knack Voice*

M-M-M-My Llorona!

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Fast Color

January’s preview:

“I like the synopsis. And the fact that it stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw. And David Strathairn.”

3 stars. Think I could get 3.5 out of this, but I feel safer sticking with 3. Excited for this, though. Could be good.”

The review:

“Have you seen Midnight Special? That’s Jeff Nichols making a superhero movie. But it’s very much small scale and more about the characters than the ‘superhero’. This is in that vein. This is like if your Sundance movie character also had superpowers.”

“It’s very good. It’s about people, and superpowers just happen to be an element of the movie. So if you go in for any expectations of that genre, you’ll be disappointed. But if you go in expecting one of those Sundance kind of indies, you’ll find a really solid movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really quite enjoyed this, and am still waiting for Gugu Mbatha-Raw to be the movie star of the caliber she deserves.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Little Woods

January’s preview:

“Saw a trailer. 3 stars.”

“Looks indie as hell. Could be 3.5 though. I can see that happening.”

The review:

“Definitely worth a watch and a very solid debut by Nia DaCosta.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it. Lily James and Tessa Thompson are good. Just a solid indie debut that I’m sure will help DaCosta get a Marvel movie or something in the next five years.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Be Natural: The Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Terrific documentary about a very worthy subject.”

“Alice Guy-Blaché is one of the actual pioneers of cinema, female or otherwise. She was there with the Lumieres at the beginning, and she shot several hundred films at the turn of the 20th century. And yet, her name is/was almost erased from the history books for a long time. And the documentary traces her origins and her impact on the film industry.”

“It’s not a perfect documentary, but it does the job of at least introducing you to this woman you probably knew nothing about and gets you at least interested in her contributions to cinema, which are quite substantial. Any fan of film and film history needs to look at this one.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Seriously, if you like film history, you need to see this. It’s basically like reading a chapter in your film textbook about one of the pioneers. It’s a story more people should know about.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Carmine Street Guitars

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

I saw it on that giant list of documentaries they submitted for the category. It was fine. Mostly I thought, “Oh, cool, it’s about a guitar shop?” But a lot of it felt overly staged. The people were given lines to say, and eventually it devolves into musicians coming in and talking about guitars. It’s fine, just… mostly what I like is that it shows you a cool guitar shop that makes their own stuff. That’s really the only part of this I was into.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Totally fine, but not really worth seeing as much as it’s nice promoting this little mom and pop guitar shop.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Stockholm

January’s preview:

3 stars. All of these go 3 stars.”

The review:

“Interesting movie that gave us the term Stockholm Syndrome.”

“I found it really engaging.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was more solid than I was expecting it to be, owing to it being more of a character piece and Hawke and Rapace being good in it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Stuck

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“I’ve been tracking this for a bunch of years. Just because of the premise: it’s an original musical set on a subway car during a power outage. Original musical alone, I’ll watch. And then the premise of being set on a subway car — even cooler. The only downside was what the odds were of it turning out to be 9/11.”

“It’s not great in execution. But the concept — totally cool. So there’s that.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Great concept, not great execution. Oh well.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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Under the Silver Lake

January’s preview:

“I’d have automatically said 4 stars to a neo noir with Andrew Garfield in it directed by this guy, but I have to, on principle, go 3.5 stars.” 

The review:

“It definitely fits the detective story model, but it’s also deliberately weird on top of that. Probably too weird for mainstream audiences.”

“I definitely enjoyed this and thought it did a good job of accomplishing what it set out to accomplish, I’m just not sure how much I ultimately cared in the end.”

“Still, looked nice, and despite being about twenty-to-twenty-five minutes too long, I was fine with it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s solid and weird and a nice entry to Mitchell’s filmography, though I do struggle with wondering what the hell this wanted to be

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Drunk Parents

January’s preview:

“Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek are the titular parents. However, the director made The House Bunny with Anna Faris, Joe Dirt 2 and Mad Families, the Charlie Sheen camping movie for Crackle.”

“So yeah. Any faith you may have had in this to be watchable is not only out the window, but it got demolished by a truck, Meet Joe Black style.”

2.5 stars.”

The review:

“Jesus. What is this movie? It’s not funny… there’s no pacing or sense of comedy or anything, really.”

“And clearly Alec Baldwin shot this over like, a week at most, and is separated from the rest of the movie. How can you make a comedy work when the stars are in their own shots and everyone else is shooting opposite them on different days with them not there?”

“Worst part? They’re not even drunks!”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

They aren’t even drunks, though. And all the times I’ve seen this promoted on a plane or whatever, they retitle it “Broke Parents,” which is more what the plot of this is.

But really though… not good, and Baldwin is laughably not on the same screen as any of the other characters at least 30% of the time.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Someone Great

January’s preview:

“This will either be 2.5 or 3, I’m guessing, so let’s say 2.5 stars. I see so many pitfalls in a setup like this, and I’ve been burned too many times.”

The review:

“I was worried in the early stages that it was gonna become the same type of comedy everything else is nowadays, but it maintained its tone and its intentions throughout, so the result is a 3 instead of a 2.5.”

“While I can’t say I really cared and really liked this, I also was engaged more than ‘whatever.’ And honestly, it’s admirable. You could do better, but you could also do far worse.’

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. I know some people liked this more than I did, but the fact that I wasn’t indifferent toward it despite expecting to be is practically a rave from me anyway.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Benjamin Poster

Benjamin

January’s preview:

3 stars. Just automatic. Could be shit, but I want to see what his sense of humor spits out.”

The review:

“Bob Saget directed this, which is the only reason I gave it a shot. Turns out… maybe I shouldn’t have.”

“The comedy isn’t funny, the plot is obvious and the twists it takes not only don’t make it funny but also negate the entire purpose of the movie, to the point where you’re not even sure why they bothered or why you bothered watching it.”

“Please don’t ever bother with this movie. It’s not worth your time.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nope. Sorry, Bob.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Okko's Inn Poster

Okko’s Inn

January’s preview:

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

The review:

“Everyone was raving about Weathering with You, but this ended up being the Japanese animated film that I liked most this year.”

“This one has more of a Ghibli feel, while the other is, I’m guessing, more of a straight anime feel. And I think that’s why I preferred this one to that one.”

“Ultimately it becomes this beautiful movie about catharsis, and I really liked that aspect a lot.”

“Animation felt pretty weak this year, but this film is one I can completely get behind. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes Ghibli.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did like this one a lot and do recommend this more than I recommend Weathering with You.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Red Joan poster.jpg

Red Joan

January’s preview:

“Judi Dench is a spy. Dope.”

3 stars. Seems okay. 3.5 seems like the ceiling on this, but the trailer makes me think it won’t get there.”

The review:

“It’s a movie about Judi Dench being a spy, what’s not to like?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

What’s not to like, indeed.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

JT LeRoy poster.jpg

JT LeRoy

January’s preview:

“I don’t have a whole lot of hope for this.”

“The premise sounds interesting, but with the people involved, I’m not sure how good this can be.”

3 stars. Hope it’s more, but this seems like indie central.”

The review:

“Interesting idea for a movie, good enough cast… way too indie for me.”

“Didn’t feel coherent enough, and had all too many indie trademarks that just make me disengage from a movie.”

“There were only two possibilities for this, 2.5 stars or 3 stars, so I’m not surprised whichever way it went. There was no chance this was gonna turn out to be great.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I expected indie central, and it turned out to be too indie central for me. Makes sense.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads Poster

ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This one’s about the legend of Robert Johnson and the myth that he met the Devil in the woods and sold his soul to be the best guitarist in the world. I’ve always loved that story, and I love this series.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Seriously, this series is really good.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The White Crow film poster.png

The White Crow

January’s preview:

“Let’s call it 3 stars. I’m sure it’s fine, but I also only just sort of liked the other two. So let’s go with more of the same.”

The review:

“Fiennes makes solid movies, but, like most of his others… I don’t really care past, ‘That was well-made’.”

“I’m not really sure I needed that story or this one, but he gave them to us, and clearly he cares and someone thought they’d be worth making. So I guess good for him. Otherwise, meh.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Fine, well-made, just didn’t care all that much.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The theatrical release poster for "Avengers: Endgame". The characters depicted are seen on a starry background.

Avengers: Endgame

January’s preview:

“On the one hand, my gut would be to guess 4 stars because this is the culmination of everything and you feel like there’s gonna be some catharsis when most of the original stars go away. But for me, I’m wondering how and if they’re gonna stick the landing when they undo all the deaths that happened in the first one, and I’m wondering if this is gonna be as much of a clusterfuck as the last one was.”

“So I’m gonna stick with the standard Marvel 3.5 stars. I can’t assume they’ll overcome that, but if they do, that’s cool.”

“Also — and I don’t necessarily think this will happen — if they fuck up the way they undo everything and don’t make it all feel satisfying in the end, this will go Unforgivable.”

The review:

“As far as landings go, this one felt respectable.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m gonna surprise you on this one… I’m bumping it up to 4 stars. I think what they achieved is really strong and I’ve found myself thinking more highly of the film over the rest of the year rather than less, which is usually the case with their movies. Most of the time people rush to call a new Marvel movie the best one they’ve ever done, but legitimately, when I talk about what I think are the best movies they’ve made, it’s always gonna be Iron Man, the first two Captain Americas, Guardians, Ragnarok, the first Spider-Man, and this. That’s the list for me. Everything else is below that tier in some way. I’m very impressed by this and for as much shit as I usually give them (deservedly so), they stuck the landing on this. So good for them.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

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