2019: The Year in Reviews (August)

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 August.

August

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Hobbs & Shaw

January’s preview:

“I can’t see this being anything less than a 3.5 star movie. If it’s bad, it’s 3 stars. I can’t see it going higher, either. This should be a fun, ridiculous movie that we all enjoy and completely forget about in six months. That’s what this franchise is.”

The review:

“At this point, we know what we’re getting with these Fast and Furious movies. They’re light, dumb fun. They’re totally ridiculous and utterly implausible and complete fun all the way through.”

“This one trades on the chemistry between The Rock and Statham, giving them a separate source of income, while also keeping The Rock away from Vin Diesel, because apparently those two hate each other.”

“These movies are always gonna be 3.5 stars, they’re gonna be totally ridiculous, and I’m gonna forget 90% of what happens within a month of seeing them. That’s what they are. But in terms of throwaway summer entertainment, this franchise is one of the better ones and always delivers, so I can’t talk shit.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

These movies are what they are. I enjoy them, I forget them almost immediately, but they’re fun within those two hours.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Luce

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“Sundance movie. cast seems… yeah, 3 stars.”

The review:

“It’s not exactly Doubt, you know?”

“It doesn’t seem to really matter, and you’re never quite sure what it’s trying to say.”

“Good people, so-so result.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This wasn’t entirely for me at all. It got great reviews too, which is interesting to me. Because I’m not sure what everyone else saw that I didn’t. But whatever.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Nightingale

January’s preview:

“I want this to be great.”

4 stars.”

“It’s basically True Grit in Australia. True Vegemite?”

“Whatever. Could be 3.5, but I don’t think it goes lower. I think I’m gonna like this.”

The review:

“I love this movie.”

“It’s a simple revenge story with so much more going on in terms of period and setting and the historical and racial and gender elements.”

“Aisling Franciosi is tremendous as the lead and gives one of the best performances of the year. And the film is just so well-directed by Jennifer Kent.”

“I really like this one a lot and think it’s one of the best overall films of this year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Everyone go see this movie, it’s one of the absolute best I saw this year.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Them That Follow

January’s preview:

“Sundance movie.”

“Cast is nice.”

3 stars.”

“Not sure where this is going, but have to stay moderate on this, given the subject matter.”

The review:

“The idea of a movie about a religious cult that handles poisonous snakes sounded pretty sweet. Unfortunately the film doesn’t really amount to much past that.”

“Interesting setup, so-so execution. It happens.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It does happen. But it sure sounded good going in, though.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Otherhood

January’s preview:

“This is a comedy of middle age.”

3 stars.”

“The cast doesn’t inspire me to guess anything more than that.”

The review:

“Yeesh. Very bad Netflix movie.”

“Not really sure what the point is, doesn’t really have anything of interest in it, and it’s just a bad movie. So yeah. I was generous with the 2.5 stars. At this point you should watch almost anything else on Netflix over this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was BAD.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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Love Antosha

January’s preview:

None

The review:

Documentary about Anton Yelchin. I didn’t think I was gonna go as high as 3.5 at the beginning. But it won me over. Just seeing his character and basically seeing him grow… it was really nice.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Solid doc about an actor that never got to have the career he maybe should have had.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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A Score to Settle

January’s preview:

“Starring Nicolas Cage.”

“Trivia for this: ‘Nicolas Cage learned to play piano for his role’.”

“Okay then.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“Nicholas Cage paycheck movie. I will watch every single one of these without regret.”

“This one was actually watchable. He seemed to be trying here, and the movie was able to string together a series of scenes I was actively engaged with.”

“In the whole of the Cage oeuvre, this is a blip. This is nothing. It’s a footnote. It’s forgettable. But as compared to the stuff he’s put out the past five years (not counting something like Mandy), this is one of the baseline decent ones.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I mean, he learned piano for this. Clearly he had to care a little bit.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Operative

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“Decent thriller. Every year has at least three baseline 3-star thrillers.”

“It’s a Middle East thriller, and I can never be that invested in those. Fortunately this is paced as a drama and not as an action movie, so maybe that’s why I was less dismissive of it as I might have been, but it’s one of those movies you watch, you go, ‘Sure,’ and maybe have one nice thing to say about it, and then you move on, and within a year, you’ve forgotten all about it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Didn’t take a year. I’ve already forgotten about this. But it was watchable the once.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Dora and the Lost City of Gold

January’s preview:

“Produced by Michael Bay, I feel, is the important thing to note here.”

“I don’t know what this is gonna be, but I’m pretty sure we can all say that if this ends up being a 3 star movie, it made it out okay.”

“The director is the guy who did The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted and Alice Through the Looking Glass. So capable, bland director with a somewhat broad, family sensibility.”

“I’m sure I will not care remotely about this movie, because it’s not for me and never was for me. So I will either be completely indifferent about this and it will be 2.5 stars, or I can just assume generic family movie niceness and go 3 stars. I’ve been in a forgiving mood the past year or two, so let’s go with that option.”

“P.S. Benicio Del Toro is Swiper, so there’s that too.”

The review:

“This… was actually kinda fun?”

“It’s got an innocence to it that just makes it clean family fun. They play off the persona of the show and use it pretty well, and the story doesn’t get too Indiana Jones, which was always a pitfall. And they work in the animation from the show in a fun little way too.”

“I thought it was actually kinda good. But good in this sense just means, I expected it to be awful and actually was fairly entertained by it.”

“It’s not a great movie by any stretch, but it’s the kind of movie… this is the kind of thing where, in my younger days, I’d have a younger family member watch it and be there for it and find myself occasionally laughing and not despising it. That’s the kind of movie this is. And I appreciate that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I was very okay with this, which is not something I necessarily assumed would be the case a year ago.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Kitchen

January’s preview:

“Stars Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish. Oh.”

“And… Melissa McCarthy.”

“Oh.”

“It’s that kind of thing.”

“The cast is interesting, so I’ll stick with 3 stars, but I thought this was gonna be a real gritty crime movie. That would have been awesome. This… just kind of seems like a shitty comedy.”

“Oh well. Almost.”

The review:

“This is basically shitty Widows. Okay, it’s not that shitty, but honestly, just watch Widows instead.”

“This is based on comics, and it shows.”

“Honestly, it was better suited as a video game than a movie. But it’s watchable. Not great, but decent.”

“This is the kind of movie that every year has — it’s fine, it’s watchable, some people might like it, but mostly it’s just kind of there.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

So it was a thriller, which probably contributed to my overall feelings toward it. But I don’t think the casting here was the problem so much as it not going and doing anything interesting with the story. I’m thinking this is a top down studio issue, editing this to make money. Or maybe the source material just wasn’t very good. Dunno. Guess it doesn’t really matter, does it?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain

January’s preview:

“How many fucking dog movies are they making? Is this the other secret moneymaker? Shitty horror, religious movie, dog movie. Low budget, big returns? Is that what it is? Because there’s like, four dog movies this year.”

“Directed by the guy who did My Week with Marilyn and Goodbye Christopher Robin. What the fuck?”

“Kevin Costner is in this? What the fuck?”

“I guess I have to say 3 stars, but I’m not happy about it.”

“No, fuck that. 2.5 stars. It’s a dog movie. At BEST this is 3 stars. I don’t care about these things. It would have to be great for me to even give a shit.”

The review:

“Why are we overrun with dog movies now? Where did this come from? Just because the books sell money? Whatever. They’re all bad.”

“This one, at least, has a real pedigree behind it and feels better made than the rest. But still, like the rest, I didn’t give a shit.”

“Kevin Costner narrates as the dog, and it’s got this weird depressing tone to it. There’s nothing joyful about this movie at all.

“I guess this is the kind of book people buy in airports? No fucking clue. These movies aren’t for me at all.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really didn’t like this. And also, yeah… how fucking depressing is this movie? WHO IS THIS FOR? WHO ARE ALL OF THESE FOR?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

January’s preview:

“I’m sure it’s fine. Seems like a kids movie, so I’ll say 3 stars.”

“I suspect at best it can go 3.5 stars, but that feels unlikely. Seems like they’re doing Goosebumps meets It.”

“Guillermo Del Toro is producing, but there’s no way they’ll let it be as dark as he’d go. So I figure 3 stars, decent, nothing more.”

The review:

“It’s surprisingly solid compared to what I thought I was getting. Thinking that’s because Guillermo produced it.”

“I didn’t really care, because horror just isn’t my genre, but I appreciated everything about what they were trying to do. I don’t think this amounts to anything other than “pretty decent” for most people, but honestly, the fact that this wasn’t a 2½ star movie for me is kinda surprising.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Meh. It was fine.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Brian Banks

January’s preview:

“I was surprised when I saw this movie. Not because it was never going to be made, but because of who was directing it. And that’s Tom Shadyac, best known for: Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar, Patch Adams, Bruce Almighty, and Evan Almighty.”

“And now he returns with a drama about this football player. When I heard that I went, ‘Well how good can that be? But also good for him.’ But, in a post-Green Book era, when 90s comedy directors can reinvent themselves with really solid dramas, I’m not ruling out that this could be solid.”

“Played Toronto last year, and now it’s getting an August release. Weird time, but also just before football season, so I guess there’s some method there. You’d think they’d want this to compete for awards, but I guess they’ll see how it tests and can always move it later if they think there’s a legitimate play.”

“I’m gonna go 3.5 stars. I think there’s a chance for this to work. I can’t imagine this is anything but 3 or 3.5 stars. So let’s take a page from the Green Book and say this is more solid than you might think based on his previous output.”

The review:

“This story was one of the more interesting ones of the past decade…. and I thought this could be really interesting and really solid.”

“Turns out… it’s about a half a step above a faith-based movie. And it’s just badly written, badly acted and just cheesy. It’s not a good movie at all. I’m very disappointed in this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

VERY disappointed in this, to the point of considering it maybe Unforgivable. But either way… I should have known better. It’s really my fault for having faith in this to be anything other than generic or barely watchable.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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After the Wedding

January’s preview:

“I feel like the cast is gonna get me to go higher than I should. So I’m going 3 stars. I think it’ll be fine, but something tells me the ceiling on this is 3.5, and there’s a good chance I won’t get it. So let’s stick with 3.”

The review:

“The movie feels kind of by-the-numbers, or rather like an assembly line melodrama.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Pretty much.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Peanut Butter Falcon

January’s preview:

“I mean, 3.5 stars. That cast tells me it has to be.”

The review:

“This movie made me happy.”

“It’s so pleasant. It’s very short, too. Just under 100 minutes. It never overstays its welcome or gets into anything too complicated.”

“It’s just a feel-good movie. Not so good that it’s the kind of movie I think you need to see immediately because it’ll change your life, but it’s really life-affirming and it’ll make you smile.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really liked this one a lot. It’s very pleasant and the leads are all very good in it. One of the better films of the year that most people will be charmed by.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Ode to Joy

January’s preview:

“Okay then.”

‘From the director of the Arthur remake. Oh boy.”

“Cast is okay. So let’s call it 3 stars.”

“Still, that Arthur remake… bad idea.”

The review:

“I’m fine with it, but I’m not sure it’s the type of movie that most people would get much out of and can’t recommend it all that much.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I generally liked this, but it didn’t do a whole lot for me. Uneven and the average outweighed the good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Light of My Life

January’s preview:

“It’s a survival movie, and I like those.”

3.5 stars.”

The review:

“I loved that it took a different route and was mainly focused on scenes between him and the girl (like Leave No Trace was, though without that movie’s emotional thrust. This one was much more a simple ‘survival’ kind of story).”

“I really liked this movie. This kind of thing is always gonna be more up my alley than most people’s, but it’s different than the other stuff you normally get, which is why I liked it so much.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really liked this one quite a bit. I know people are gonna have problems with who made it, but I thought it was a really strong effort and didn’t have the amount of weak points I expected it to. Definitely one of my favorite hidden gems of this year.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I can’t believe they gave us more Rocko’s Modern Life.”

“In all, it’s the kind of thing where, if they were gonna bring these people back, they found a really nice avenue with which to do it. They really had something to say with it, while also bringing back little things for fans of the show to remember.”

“It would be like if Disney did a remake of one of their movies but straight up put in a message about banning guns and anti-fascism and talking about social inequality and the inherent classism and sexism in the foundation of the country. You just wouldn’t expect it, and for me, I’d respect the shit out of it regardless of the product.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really loved how they did this. It’s a nostalgia trip that makes fun of nostalgia trips, while also straight up giving you a trans character and discussing the dangers of the overuse of technology and listening to people who shout for stuff on the internet.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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The Angry Birds Movie 2

January’s preview:

“Didn’t we ruin all we needed to ruin with the first Angry Birds movie?”

2 stars.”

The review:

“Hated the first one, really didn’t give a shit about the second one. Which might just me reaching the age of shrugging things off as opposed to just getting pissed off that they exist.”

“This is just lazy filmmaking designed to make money. There’s nothing of substance here.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m past the point of hating shit like this, even though it’s terrible.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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Adam

January’s preview:

“Sounds like a New York indie movie.”

“I guess 3 stars? It’ll probably be 2.5 or 3. And I think they held this over. But let’s say 3. I’m sure it can still be decent.”

The review:

“Very weird movie that I think is trying to be a comedy at times? It’s hard to know if I’m supposed to care or laugh or if what I’m watching is actually kind of exploitative?”

“I’m not sure how the trans community feels about this film, if they feel any way about it at all since most people barely know it exists. All I can really speak to about this is how I felt about it as a film, and I wasn’t particularly interested in anything that happened.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This wasn’t for me at all, and it’s not my place to say whether or not I think they exploited or marginalized a community by making it, but I feel like you can definitely accuse it of doing that.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

Haven’t seen it yet, but I really want to. So I’ll update this when I do.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

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One Child Nation

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

Documentary about the one child policy in China and all the harm it did and stories of people abandoning babies and all of that. It’s not for me. Like all serious documentaries, I usually get what it is within fifteen minutes and just can’t focus and don’t care about the rest of it. That’s about it with this. Nothing against the film. These docs just aren’t for me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

They just aren’t.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Aquarela

January’s preview:

None. Got shortlisted on the Documentary list so I watched it.

The review:

Really solid. Basically just 90 minutes of beautiful shots of water and ice. Which was totally fine with me. Water is one of the most beautiful things on Earth.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is like Planet Earth without the narration. Which, I know the narration there rules, but this is like having a screensaver of just beautiful images of water. It’s great.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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The Banana Splits Movie

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I knew full well I wouldn’t like it, but goddamn, was it worth seeing. I am fascinated by how this got made.”

“How did they convince the rights holders to do this? Because there weren’t any other ideas? Because maybe they thought this would propel the brand into the mainstream again and allow them to try to sell more merch without this being a stain on the reputation? Or did they actually have lofty ideas and think, “Well, worked for Sabrina. We can do that”? I don’t know. But thinking about all of this is what got me through this movie, which is the kind of thing that raises more questions than it provides entertainment.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I am fascinated that this got made. Legitimately they made a shitty horror movie version of The Banana Splits. Like, out of nowhere. I don’t know why it exists or why it’s so bad (well, I kinda know that one)… I can’t hate it even though it’s terrible just because it’s such a fucking weird entity.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Blinded by the Light

January’s preview:

“It’s playing Sundance, and sounds like it’s gonna be a fun little movie.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“Make no mistake, this is Bend It Like Beckham but with Bruce Springsteen.”

“However, despite that, it is a love letter to Bruce Springsteen, complete with a bunch of his songs constantly playing. Which is a worse way to construct a movie.”A

“It’s not original, but it’s fun. And it makes you feel good. So who cares? Give me this over most summer bullshit.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Weird. I wonder why I went so low on that rating. Oh well. This was lovely. Very fun little movie that’s got Springsteen music all over it. The plot is basically Bend It Like Beckham and doesn’t work as well as that one does, and at times it’s a little too much of a love letter to Bruce, but the parts that work in this really work.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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47 Meters Down: Uncaged

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“The first one wasn’t particularly good, and it’s a sequel. What more could you expect? It’s a shark movie. You know what you’re getting. Didn’t do anything for me at all. It’s watchable in a generic way, though.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

People get fucked up by sharks, you know what it is.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette

January’s preview:

“It’s Richard Linklater, which means automatic 3.5 stars. Over the past decade, he’s trending to 4 stars as a base. But 3.5 feels right here.”

“Cast is nice… I think I could get 4 stars out of this.”

“I feel like this is the year I underguess a lot of these because of how underwhelming 2018 was.”

The review:

“I absolutely loved this movie. I don’t know what anyone else was watching. But it was wonderful.”

“Cate Blanchett gives one of my favorite performances of the year in this.”

“I’m guessing because Linklater is very laid back on his narratives that people didn’t quite know what to make of it. But I thought it was just terrific and is one of the most underrated films of this year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really loved this movie and think it’s one of the best I saw this year, along with Cate Blanchett giving one of the best performances I saw this year. People are wrong about this one.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

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Good Boys

January’s preview:

“This is by the writers of Bad Teacher. Sounds a lot like a kids movie. Wondering how rated R this is going.”

“Let’s say 3 stars. I don’t know what to make of this, so let’s assume baseline and see if it can be any better. Everything else these guys have done was 3 stars for me, so let’s see if they can break out of that pattern.”

The review:

“Decent comedy. Somewhat fresh because it’s 12 year old boys. It’s got some moments, but mostly it’s uneven. Some moments you laugh, some moments don’t work. They tried. Kinda works. Good for them. As far as studio comedies go, I didn’t hate it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is one of those where the trailer they cut is funnier than the actual movie. But the movie by and large does work and has its funny moments. Not the greatest thing ever, but I do appreciate that they did something different and gave us this nice funny (r-rated) movie with some heart. So good for them.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Driven

January’s preview:

“I’m thinking I can get 3 stars out of this.”

The review:

“The movie’s pretty fun overall. Not great, but it’s got its moments.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed this. Probably more than most will, but I did get more out of this than your average movie.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Sextuplets

January’s preview:

“Staring Marlon Wayans… Marlon Wayans… Marlon Wayans… yeah, you get the idea.”

“This is his Norbit.”

“For Netflix.”

2.5 stars.”

“It’s on watch.”

The review:

“It’s a movie with Marlon Wayans playing six siblings, both male and female, and wearing multiple fat suits. I don’t even think you need me to say anything further.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I mean, are we remotely surprised about this one?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Amazing Johnathan Documentary

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s a lot of fun. It has fun with the facts and gives something befitting of its subject. I quite enjoyed this one.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I grew up on Amazing Jonathan. He was one of those early comedians I remember really well. And this documentary was a really fun look at his career and a nice little fun way to discuss his current situation without getting too maudlin. Definitely I’m a fan of this one.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Hitsville: The Making of Motown

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Everyone loves Motown. It’s perhaps the greatest period in music ever. This is a documentary celebrating what they built.”

“What I love is the first hour or so, where they talk about the creative environment they built there, which is just a wonderful thing. That alone makes this doc worth seeing, because that’s the kind of environment all places should strive for.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Who doesn’t love Motown music?

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Tigers Are Not Afraid

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

This was really solid. The Mexican drug war as seen through the eyes of children. Part Oliver Twist, part Pan’s Labyrinth and part In America, weirdly. It goes a bit more horror than I’d want it to, but it’s not so bad, and the supernatural aspects make sense as part of the metaphor. It’s a really effective film that is brilliantly directed by Issa Lopez and is one of the stronger films I saw this year.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Go see this movie if you can. It’s really terrific.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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American Factory

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s got a lot to say about a lot of current day issues… I just am not interested in this stuff.”

“I’m sure this is considered one of the best documentaries of the year and it’s gonna get all sorts of nominations and people who love documentaries are gonna love it… I’m just not interested.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

You can set a watch to me not caring about serious documentaries about social issues with political overtones. They’re just not my thing.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Ready or Not 2019 film poster.jpg

Ready or Not

January’s preview:

“Really? I hope there are twists, because we’ve seen this.”

“Nothing here that makes me think it’s more than a 3 star movie at best. So let’s stick with that.”

The review:

“There’s always one movie like this each year, where it’s straight genre but has such an ingenious premise you go, ”Oh, I’m in for that’. And then it has that dark comedic tone to it that really puts it over the top.”

“This is the kind of movie that’s for everyone, because people like me normally hate shit like this if it’s just the same overly serious bullshit I usually get. But this has the fun element to it, which means anyone can watch it and enjoy it. Big fan of this one.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

These ones are always gonna be ones I get wrong before I have information or a trailer to know what tone they’re gonna have. You see just a synopsis of the plot line of this movie and you can never tell it’s gonna turn out the way it does.

That said — this was awesome. Everyone should see it. One of the few horror movies of the decade I truly like. Very much in the vein of something like You’re Next or The Guest. The tone is very light here, even though people get murdered.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Angel Has Fallen

January’s preview:

“Oh, so that’s where this franchise is at? Okay.”

“I’m guessing… oh yeah. Morgan Freeman is the president now. Aaron Eckhart can only take so many assassination attempts. So now Morgan Freeman takes them.”

“Let’s not beat around the bush. It’s a 3 star action franchise. That’s all this is. Someone tries to kill the president, Gerard Butler stabs people in the face, we go home. We know how this works. I’m fine with this.”

The review:

“We know how this franchise works — someone tries to kill the President, Gerard Butler beats the shit out of them, he probably stabs some people in the face, and we all go home moderately entertained. What more can you ask for?”

“This is exactly the same as all the other movies in this franchise. No better, no worse.”

“Only here, Gerard Butler is on the run because they think he tried to assassinate the President this time. You’d think after all the other very high profile times he’s saved one, maybe they’d give him some benefit of the doubt. But no, we’ve got faces to stab.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I mean… that’s hilarious that I said it both times, but that’s what it is: someone tries to kill the president, Gerard Butler fucks them up, probable face stabs, we go home. Nothing complicated there.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Overcomer promotional poster

Overcomer

January’s preview:

“Oh. OH… this is a religious movie! Oh boy.”

“Okay then.”

2 stars.”

“Bring on the fucking garbage.”

The review:

“Yet another shitty faith-based movie.”

“These movies are so badly written and are really only made for such a narrow portion of the public. It makes me wonder if the people this is for either don’t watch good movies or just give these movies a pass because all they do is reaffirm their beliefs and it doesn’t matter what else they do.”

“All these movies are so unwatchable, and I find that I’m past the point of even making fun of them. They’re just bad. It makes me sad to know that this movie made 35 times the box office that Waves did.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

35 times. That’s so disheartening.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Brittany-runs-a-marathon-Movie-HD-Poster-and-stills-2.jpg

Brittany Runs a Marathon

January’s preview:

3 stars, just in case it’s okay, but I feel like this could be 2.5 stars if done like all the other comedies I see.”

The review:

“It’s solid, though there’s a bit too much of her being an asshole for most of it.”

“It’s that typical movie thing of realizing you have to change inside and out, and how they handle part of it almost turned me off of it, but there’s too much good stuff here for me to turn on it completely. “I

“t’s really solid and there are some really nice, uplifting moments in it. I recommend this one for sure.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I thought I was getting a shitty comedy, but I was getting more of a serious film, turns out. Which I liked. But it was a little too uneven to recommend wholeheartedly. There are some parts that just did not work for me. But I did find myself all in at the climax, so that speaks to it being a solid film.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

JacobsLadder2019Poster.jpeg

Jacob’s Ladder

January’s preview:

“Did we need this?”

“Also, this isn’t gonna stick. Not even a trailer released yet, and it’s supposed to come out in less than a month?”

“This will get pushed to later in the year. But even so, doesn’t look great.”

2.5 stars.”

The review:

“This is just poorly made. And badly written, and not well directed, or acted, or anything really. It’s just a bad movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nothing makes me happier that, on top of getting the review correct that I also correctly predicted the movie would be pushed to later in the year. And I bet if you pressed me, this would be the month I would have guessed, too. Things like that are why I do this article.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Hot Air Poster

Hot Air

January’s preview:

“Could be okay. 3 stars.”

The review:

“I always tell people you can learn more from a film that doesn’t quite work than a great film.”

“I saw this and I picked through all the bad stuff and saw a core idea and some stuff that I liked.”

“The story isn’t always interesting and the subplots don’t always work, but there’s a core of something here that does work, and it continued to resonate with me throughout the movie.”

“As much as most people will immediately write this off and call it awful and focus on the way it doesn’t remotely get into the political statement or satire it could have — I think there’s something here of value, and while it’s not the greatest movie, I do think it’s actually pretty decent.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s not great, but I do think there’s some good stuff here that’s worth noting. Most people won’t see it, and most people will either never see this or immediately discard it as trash, but I see something here. And while they don’t always pull it out or go in that direction… it’s there. I appreciate that.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Vita and Virginia poster.jpg

Vita and Virginia

January’s preview:

“Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton star, so that tells me 3 stars. Should be fine, but nothing overly special.”

The review:

“It’s not very good, though the cast is trying and they properly made it (good sets, costumes, etc). It’s just that these kinds of movies don’t really work anymore. That’s the big thing about it.”

“Plus, you know the only reason people are gonna be watching this is the sex scenes. This will be the kind of movie people know about only for those. Which I guess is better than just not being remembered at all?”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This movie will be big on Mr. Skin. Not many places else.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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Falling Inn Love

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Netflix rom com that was 100% greenlit based on its title. It’s such a strain of a pun that I kind of respect it. You had to write a plot around that.”

“You know everything this movie is gonna do before it does it and it’s barely tolerable. If you love this shit, you might get something out of it. For most people, this is forgettable bordering on unbearable.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I will never fully hate on a movie with a pun title. Even if it’s generic to the point of ‘holy shit’. But hey, you know a title like this means the movie will never fully disappear… into inn air.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Angel of Mine poster.jpg

Angel of Mine

January’s preview:

“I tracked it for the cast and now immediately am not looking forward to this.”

“One of the things that just does not do it for me are the generic, serious thrillers. When they’re fun and stupid like the Bruce Willis paycheck movies, I’m totally fine. But something like this? This is not for me.”

2.5 stars.”

The review:

“Weird goddamn movie.”

“Maybe if they handled the last act well, it could have pushed its way to three stars. But no. Not this one. This is just a mess of a movie and I don’t know at all what they were going for with it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Too weird and poorly executed for me to want to ever think about again.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Fanatic - release poster.jpg

The Fanatic

January’s preview:

“Directed by Fred Durst and starring John Travolta.”

“Okay then, bring it the fuck on, whatever the hell this is gonna be.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“Oh, baby.”

“(It’s) kind of like Misery if it were directed by Fred Durst.”

“This movie is gonna win every Razzie Award there is. It’s that kinda movie.”

“It’s so easy to pile onto this. Because yes, it’s bad. But you know what? There’s a certain enjoyment one gets from a certain kind of bad movie. And this is one of those. Because you know what? For all its flaws… Travolta is trying here. And good for him.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is entertaining bad. No one will ever think this is good, but there is a certain enjoyment obtained from the weirdness of it all. And hey, Travolta’s trying, right? That’s good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Killerman Poster

Killerman

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s… fine.”

“I’d say this is a slightly more than average thriller that is on more solid ground than most others of its ilk, but still doesn’t really amount to anything more than just okay.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Fairly solid, but it didn’t amount to much. I feel like they’d have been better suited telling you what they tell you in the third act earlier so you could actually give more of a shit about what’s going on. Without that, who cares?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Official Secrets poster.jpg

Official Secrets

January’s preview:

3.5 stars.”

“Hood’s resume is solid. So yeah, 3.5 stars sounds about right.”

The review:

“It’s a very strong film, and it’s one of those that should make you angry as a viewer.”

“Any time you see someone doing the right thing and then being railroaded for it by a stronger entity, it should stir something within you.”

“One of those movies that was destined to never get seen by a proper audience, but it’s very well made and is a nice little gem from this year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did like this, and I always appreciate a movie that’s designed to get you angry. 70s movies did that. We don’t get enough of that now, even though overstepping of power by the government is even more prevalent now than it was then.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Nezha film poster.jpg

Ne Zha

January’s preview:

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

The review:

“I’m not even gonna say this is bad. Clearly Chinese audiences loved it. I’m just gonna say that this is not something American audiences are, at large, able to watch.”

“Some people might love it. I am not one of those people.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Leaving this one in the cultural divide. Definitely was not for me at all.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Don't Let Go 2019 film poster.jpg

Don’t Let Go

January’s preview:

“Blumhouse movie.”

2.5 stars. These are not for me.”

The review:

“Ever see the movie Frequency? With Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel? … Well, this is a version of that.”

“It’s a really interesting thriller. It’s not the greatest, but it does generally work.”

“I love the premise a lot, and while I would ultimately tell you to go watch Frequency instead, I think this is way better than most of the crap that came out this year.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

The fact that I had no information on this other than Blumhouse is what led to me having no expectation for it. This was pretty solid, all around. And yes, Frequency is a better movie, but as knockoffs go, this one’s decent.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Before You Know It poster.png

Before You Know It

January’s preview:

“It’s playing Sundance.”

“Sounds like a Sundance indie.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“This was a very lovely film.”

“It’s very indie, very New York indie, but it felt very fresh and well-written and well-acted.”

“I’m generally picky when it comes to films like this, but I think this is one of the good ones. Plus it’s made by women, and that’s something that should be supported.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This one really won me over. I sort of set my brain aside when I see a movie that’s set up like this one, but they got me early and kept me there all throughout. I think this is a really fantastic little indie that more people should go see.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

… And also, unofficially, just because it’s worth mentioning:

Image result for Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut

Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut

Just gonna put my review here, for posterity:

* * * * * (5 stars)

“Technically not a 2019 movie, but also sorta yes. Coppola recut the movie again, because with Redux he went back in and added everything there was to add. So a two-and-a-half hour movie went to three-and-a-half hours. Here, he cuts a lot of the stuff out and leaves some of it, clocking the final product in at a cool three hours.”

“The movie is as perfect as ever. They took real care to remaster the sound mix, which is the highlight of the film for me, even more so than the masterful direction and Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography. In Redux, the scenes I specifically remember as being added were — them stealing Kilgore’s surfboard and the audio message he sends upriver after them, them meeting the playmates again upriver, the plantation sequence, and then more scenes with Brando in full daylight.”

“The surfboard scene was amusing and I’ve always been ambivalent about it. Because it doesn’t detract from the movie, but I do believe that in the original cut, Duvall’s last moment on the screen was, ‘Someday this war’s gonna end’, and then he gets up and walks out of frame. Which is just a perfect ending to the character. (Kinda like how, and I can’t remember how much is from the theatrical or Redux, but Dennis Hopper’s character in this — his final line is when Brando gets mad at him for talking over his poetry and he goes, ‘That’s how it ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper, and with a whimper, I am fucking splitting, Jack’ and he leaves. Which is a perfect ending to his character.)”

“Those two scenes are still there, and it really doesn’t make a difference one way or the other. He cut the extra playmate stuff, which was just weird and totally unnecessary. He did leave the plantation sequence, which you can just feel in the moment grinds the film’s pacing down to a halt. I don’t know why he left it in, to be honest. Though judging from the fact that he added more shots of Harrison Ford and Laurence Fishburne throughout (cutaways that you just know weren’t there before, designed to give them a few seconds more screen time) and the fact that he’s got family members in that scene, I’m thinking he left it for that.”

“Fortunately, he does cut the Brando stuff, which, while more Brando is always a good thing, it’s cool to keep him in shadows and goes back to keeping the character to its core. Which I really appreciated.”

“The film is perfect and I’ll always appreciate it in any form. It’s one of my five favorite movies of all time, so there’s not much he can do to it to change that. Honestly, with this cut, I only think the plantation sequence is unnecessary, but otherwise it’s better in every other aspect (mostly technically. The sound is incredible here). If I were showing this to someone who hadn’t seen it, I’d start them with the theatrical cut and do it the way I did it. Start with the original, throw everything in, then show them the version he wants you to see, and they can go from there.”

– – – – – – – – – –

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