2019: The Year in Reviews (October)

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 October.

October

Joker (2019 film) poster.jpg

Joker

January’s preview:

“Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. No fucking clue what to make of this.”

“Have to say 4 stars. Just on instinct. Because based on what this wants to be, it should be that good. If it doesn’t, then it disappointed and did not achieve what it set out to achieve.”

“Honestly, if this goes full what it should go, I might even hope it can go a half a point higher than that.”

“Personally, I’d say I’ll probably get 3.5 stars out of this. But I have to go 4, because this is a situation where they set expectations for themselves the minute they cast who they cast and stated the references are what they are. They want something different and are seemingly aiming for quality, so now I expect quality. Bring it on.”

The review:

“I… have very mixed opinions on this.”

“On the one hand, I wish I could discuss this as a pure achievement. Because they took a superhero character and made a human drama with it.”

“But, unfortunately, I can’t just discuss this as an achievement, because this film has become the mating call for the incel.”

“For whatever the praise anyone wants to heap on this film, you also have to accept that it’s at least moderately irresponsible as well. It’s a dude about a guy who lives with his mother in his 30s, feels ignored and disrespected by society, uses a public platform to espouse his views, much to the disdain of reasonable people, commits violence without repercussion and finds a group of like-minded people who view him as a martyr. If you don’t see how that can be a problem in today’s society, you might wanna rethink things.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I do have major problems with that aspect of the film, for as much as I like a lot of other stuff about it. But even if I do ignore all that stuff as much as I want to, I’m still struck with the fact that it’s not that good. It’s fine, and it’s solid, but even if I could get all that stuff that makes me upset out of my head, it’s still just a 3.5 star movie for me, which is probably why I’m so conflicted about it. At least if I liked it a little more I’d have somewhat of an easier time giving it more of a pass. But now I have the stuff I’m struggling with and people overrating it. Which is just too much for me.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Lucy in the Sky

January’s preview:

“Plot sounds good. Hopefully it’s great.”

4 stars.”

The review:

“I thought I was getting Natalie Portman in space. Turns out I got Natalie Portman wanting to be in space.”

“Hoped for better, got fair. It happens.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did think somehow this was gonna be a space movie, or more space-adjunct. This is nothing like that at all, and it did not work for me.

* * * (3 stars)

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

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Pain and Glory

January’s preview:

“Sounds like he’s trying to make this his 8½?”

“It’s either 3 or 3.5. I guess 3 stars. Let’s see. Maybe it’s great. I wasn’t a huge fan of his last one. Maybe this will fare better.”

The review:

Normally I’m not a big Almodovar fan. His movies usually don’t translate for me (though admittedly I haven’t seen the majority of them as of yet). But I liked tis one. It was solid. Every time I started to tune out, some scene I liked brought me back in. It’s well done.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Primal – Tales of Savagery

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Visuals looked solid and the story was watchable, if not great. I liked that it was wordless, though. That made it easier to watch for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Pretty much that. Liked that it had no dialogue and looked solid. Otherwise I didn’t really care.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Dilili in Paris

January’s preview:

None.

The review: 

“The animation style is nice, but the plot is very strange. I’m fine with the movie because it was nice to look at, but the plot was very primitive.”

“The dialogue (which I’ll admit might just be because of the English translation I saw) is very simplistic. But, it’s watchable.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Looks nice, don’t care at all what it’s about.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Low Tide

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“Fun little thriller.”

“It’s got all the elements you would expect, but it is really solidly made. “T

“his is more of a solid 3 stars than others. I thought this was a well put-together movie that would give me hope for the director’s future work.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did like this for what it was. Had it done slightly more I could have gone 3.5 on this, but still, I liked this as a debut by this director.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Dolemite Is My Name

January’s preview:

“Look at this fucking CAST.”

“I’m overexcited, I know, but I’m going 4 stars. 3.5 seems more likely, but FUCK IT. Go big or go home.”

The review:

“This is just a joy of a movie. The tone is fun, it’s got that ‘misfits making a movie together’ tone.”

“I’m actually kinda glad this one went on Netflix because it was never gonna make a lot of money in a theater, so this way more people who might not have went to it otherwise can go see it.”

“And Eddie Murphy can come back as a real actor after all those years of kids movies and get back to great material again.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really loved this. It was so much fun. This is one of those movies that will hold up just because it’s so fun and so watchable. Movies like this are eternally underrated.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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In the Tall Grass

January’s preview:

3 stars. Stephen King Netflix… pretty much the norm for those is 3 stars.”

The review:

“Stephen King Netflix adaptation. These are all watchable, but never that great.”

“The deeper I got into the movie, the less I cared.”

“In the end it’s just another whatever Stephen King movie, going into the pile with almost all the other ones that are exactly the same.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

The problem I have with his movies is that for whatever setup he has that I go with he goes into weird supernatural shit that I just do not care about. I don’t think I’ll ever fully get why people love his stuff, but honestly, I’ll leave it to the people who love it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Aaron Paul in character with heavy clothing and a gun, framed by four screenshots of other characters in the film.

The Parts You Lose

January’s preview:

“I like this cast, so 3.5 stars.”

The review:

“It’s watchable. It’s just one of those things you’ve seen before. It doesn’t go anywhere particularly new or interesting. So it’s just fine. Which is fine.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Just fine. That’s what this is.

* * * (3 stars)

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

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Little Monsters

January’s preview:

“Sounds fun.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“I enjoy movies like this. Anything with adults swearing around children, really. But this is fun.”

“It wouldn’t be amazing if they spent a bunch of money on it and released it everywhere, but for a small indie you knew nothing about, this perfectly meets expectations and is a fun little time.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did enjoy this. Lupita Nyong’o fucks up some zombies. That’s a regular Tuesday for her.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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Gemini Man

January’s preview:

“Honestly, if this is anything less than 3.5 stars, it might as well be Unforgivable.”

“That said, I’m going 4 stars. Ang Lee, even when the movies aren’t great, are interesting.”

“What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll be wrong and take 3.5 stars. It should never be allowed to go lower than that.”

The review:

“Well this already has the stink of disaster to it. And on the one hand, I’m kind of okay with that, since it’s probably time for Will Smith to stop trying to be mega movie star and transition into just being ‘good actor who picks interesting projects’. But on the other, it’s kind of unfair for people to shit on this for trying to do something different.”

“Ang Lee’s persistence with this high frame rate is starting to turn into Robert Zemeckis’ uncanny valley CGI he tried a bunch of in the 2000s.”

“(Though), he is trying to forward the medium of motion pictures, and I feel like we should at least appreciate that aspect of it.”

“What I liked about it was that because of the high frame rate, they couldn’t chop the shit out of it in editing. So it feels very classically shot.”

“While it’s not gonna change cinema… I do like that they at least tried something and got a decently entertaining movie out of it. So I’m fine with this.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did enjoy it for what it was, even though people are gonna savage this for the wrong reasons. If it was just another regular Will Smith movie, people wouldn’t have been nearly as harsh about this. It almost feels like when someone does something new to affect change, and the old establishment lobbies against it and the people sign on just because they don’t know any better. I’m not necessarily saying that’s what happened (or that the film is that amazing), but that is what it feels like, the way people jumped all over shitting on this movie.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

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The Addams Family

January’s preview:

“Animation looks kinda dark. Which is what it should be.”

3 stars. It’s PG, so I’m not expecting a whole lot, but it’s The Addams Family, so you have to figure 3 stars is the baseline for this. How often does a non-Disney/Pixar American animated movie go higher than 3 for me anyway?”

The review:

“Boy did I hate this.”

“The minute they showed the character designs, I knew there was no chance it was gonna be good.”

“The film is just bad. It’s not interesting, it’s not funny, the story doesn’t work, the jokes don’t work, the animation style is cheesy… I actively disliked this movie and it really made me upset, because it reminds me of what great material there is for the Addams Family to be used in film and how they just completely fucked it up. It’s a shame.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really disliked this movie. I can’t in good conscience say it’s Unforgivable, but in my heart this is one of the biggest daggers Hollywood stuck into it this year. Not that I necessarily love the Addams Family, but those 90s movies are so good, and this is just an abomination.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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Jexi

January’s preview:

2.5 stars.”

“I’m not overly enamored with their previous output. So at best I’m getting 3 stars out of this movie.”

The review:

So this movie is bad. But on the other hand… I laughed. The operating system calling Adam Devine a little bitch got me to laugh. So you know what… I’m going 3 stars! The plot is very standard and it’s got some terrible moments, but I laughed more than I thought I would during this… which was not at all. And every time the movie went in a direction where I started to groan (like him on the bike… the usual bad comedy shit), Rose Byrne started cursing at Adam Devine and it got me back. Plus the chemistry between Alexandra Shipp and Adam Devine works and the romance stuff was actually kinda charming. It’s 60/40 bad, but I did appreciate the 40. So I’m gonna surprise even myself with this and stick with 3 stars.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m just as shocked as you. But I know my general feelings toward movies, and this one was a 3 star reaction. So we’re going with it.

* * * (3 stars)

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

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Parasite

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This is one of the absolute best films of 2019.”

“I will caution and say that you should go in as cold as humanly possible. The less you know about the film, the better.”

“Do yourself a favor and seek this one out.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m bumping it up to 4.5 stars, I liked this so much. And I do caution you to go in as cold as possible. This movie is so good it looks like it’s gonna get some major Oscar nominations. Which, for a legitimate foreign film (not like Roma, which felt half-American all along, with Netflix behind it), that’s gonna be one of the most impressive feats we’ve seen in the past 20 years. And the best part? It’s worth it.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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The King

January’s preview:

“I can’t not guess 3.5 stars with all these people involved. But it’s Shakespeare, so I can’t go too high. It’s Henry V, so it’ll only go so far for me.”

The review:

“Boy, was I not expecting this one.”

“But as soon as I started watching the movie, I got it. Because what they did was tell the Shakespeare story… but took out the dialogue. So it’s just a straight drama about a king coming into his own. And it fucking works.”

“Shakespeare is brilliant. But the dialogue is very much for the stage and does’t really allow you to do much interesting stuff on screen. But if you boil the dialogue down to the important elements, you really see the strength of the stories he was telling.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m a big fan of this movie. Having the Shakespeare without the reliance on the dialogue is just so good. It’s also half like those great regal biopics of the 60s. Becket and The Lion in Winter and A Man for All Seasons. Though it does have more of the battle element to it at times. Still, though, I’m very impressed by this movie and I’m so glad it turned out the way it did.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Let me start by saying I’ve never seen a minute of Breaking Bad. Not even really a clip of Breaking Bad. I’ve seen nothing of the show except maybe a couple of gifs that people use as memes. So I have zero frame of reference for anything this movie is trying to do.”

“Honestly, I enjoyed it. I’m sure that means I’ll eventually like the show, should I ever watch it, but I’m not holding my breath on that one anytime soon.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did really enjoy this movie for as much that I understood what was going on. Mostly I loved the Robert Forster segments, but overall it did feel pretty solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Fractured

January’s preview:

“That synopsis does sound like Breakdown, that Kurt Russell movie from 1997 that I love. I feel like this will not have the character of that, so I will not go above 3 stars on this synopsis.”

“But man, go watch Breakdown. I love that movie.”

The review:

“Netflix thriller that, on paper, reminded me of one of my favorite thrillers of all time, the movie Breakdown with Kurt Russell.”

“Unlike Breakdown, where it’s a mystery, here, you basically boil the entire plot down to one or two strands… and when you do that, you’re basically just trying to figure out which one it is and nothing else in the plot really matters. And when the movie isn’t that good, you figure it out pretty damn early. So what I’m left with is a generic thriller that is not at all interesting whatsoever.”

“So my review of this movie is — go watch Breakdown instead.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

You read my review. Go listen to it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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Mary

January’s preview:

2.5 stars. Sorry Gary, but this isn’t my genre.”

The review:

“It’s a boat horror!”

“It’s basically like The Shining at Sea. It’s not great.”

“It’s not great, but if anyone’s gonna watch it, they’re watching it for the cast and nothing else.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Honestly, kudos to Oldman and Mortimer for actually trying to give a shit even though I’m sure it was half paycheck for them.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Lucky Day

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s a movie you’d have called a Quentin knockoff in the 90s. But since (Avary) co-wrote the big Quentin movie that everyone ripped off, he gets a pass on that front. Though that still doesn’t excuse it from being way out of style.”

“It’s just dated type of moviemaking, and I know there’s a version of this that could bring the style back, but this movie doesn’t do it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

What can you say when someone helps invent a style that everyone rips off and then goes back to that style long after it’s out of date? At least he got it made?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Jay & Silent Bob Reboot

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s not great. Most people will dislike this movie, and I understand that. But you can see that he’s still got a knack for being funny. The ratio isn’t as good as it used to be, and now he’d rather wink at the audience and placate his fan base more than anything else. And you know what? That’s fine.”

“I got what I needed to out of this film, which is that Kevin Smith still has the ability to be funny. And you know what? There’s a heart to this movie that’s nice.”

“Do I like it as much as the earlier stuff? No. It’s not as good and I’m not gonna pretend like it is. But it reminded me of how much I like his earlier stuff, which I did sort of put away for a while as I ‘grew up’ as a movie fan. So it’s nice to be reminded of that time in my life when those movies were so important to me.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m never gonna figure this will work for others the way it worked for me, but I did enjoy it. The rating is probably a half a star bumped up for nostalgia purposes, but it is what it is. I like Kevin Smith at 50% reminding me of what he meant to me at 13 than most other stuff.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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Zombieland 2: Double Tap

January’s preview:

“More of this? Okay, then.”

“Can’t imagine this will be nearly as smart as the first one was. But it’s Zombieland, so I’m here for it.”

3.5 stars. Anything more, and it’s as good as the first one. Anything less and it’s the kind of let down you’d expect, but still doesn’t sit well. This way, if it hits the 3.5, it’s fine and did the job. This is the baseline for a Zombieland movie. Let’s see if they ruin it.”

The review:

“They took a decade to make a second one, so at this point, if they were gonna do it, they better have made it worthwhile. And, honestly, they pretty much did.”

“It’s one of those films… it’s hard to bring it back without diminishing it because part of what makes it work is the element of surprise.”

“Overall, this works, and feels like a solid enough sequel for a movie that didn’t necessarily need one. I’m fine with it. It’ll never be on the level of the first one, but the fact that people won’t immediately talk about how much it sucked automatically labels it as a success to me.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed it. It’s not the first one but it could never be the first one. Honestly, for something they made a decade later, it’s passable. It’s a solid enough sequel. So good for them for not fucking it up.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I didn’t really care about the first one, but at least that vaguely had a connection to Sleeping Beauty. This is a sequel to a remake that is told from the villain’s perspective but is also basically just a remake. So really, you’re just furthering a story that no one really ever asked for.”

“It further makes Jolie not the villain, gives more CGI than one could ever ask for, and is just a completely generic movie.”

“I’m sure some people will be fine with it, but this is the exact type of cinema that I cannot stand. I really disliked this movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Active dislike about covers it. I let the first one slide, even though I despised it. This one should not exist and further proves that Disney has become the ultimate evil.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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The Lighthouse

January’s preview:

“Honestly, cool.”

3.5 stars.”

The review:

“I have so many things I want to say about this movie, but all that seems to want to come out is, ‘Why’d ye spill yer beans, Tommy?'”

“This movie is just insane. I like that Robert Eggers had all the clout from The Witch and was like, ‘You know what? Let’s get weird.'”

“It’s gorgeously shot in black and white, and the actors are tremendous and Eggers has a really sure hand in directing it.”

“This is exactly the kind of weird shit I like. Borderline pretentious, but not really. I think it’s more bait for pretentious people more than it’s pretentious. Which is fine. I just really like everything that’s going on in this movie.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Why’d ye spill yer beans, Tommy?

* * * * (4 stars)

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

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Jojo Rabbit

January’s preview:

“It’s Taika Waititi. I’m completely in for this.”

4 stars.”

The review:

“I had absolutely zero doubt that I was gonna love this movie.”

“I didn’t even know what this movie was about past the boy having Hitler as his imaginary friend, and I got something that was so much more than I could have ever expected.”

“This movie is incredible. It’s funny, it handles drama really well… it’s got that one moment that completely pulls the rug out from under you at the drop of a hat, which… if a movie can pull off that moment, it’s a good movie.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really loved this a lot. And if I had a chance to watch it again before I posted this article, there’s a chance it might have gone up to 4.5 stars. I really loved everything Taika achieved with this.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Greener Grass

January’s preview:

“It’s playing Sundance. I can already guess what the tone is gonna be.”

3 stars. Let’s not overdo this. This is gonna be awkward central, is my guess.”

The review:

“What a weird fucking movie.”

“This is like if you took a soap opera, an SNL sketch and David Lynch and threw it all together. It’s completely surreal and absurdist, but everything’s also played so straight and dry.”

“I really don’t know how to recommend this for anyone. I don’t even really know what the hell it was.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Truly there’s no way to describe this one. It was fine, only because it was so weird, but ultimately it didn’t do a whole lot for me and I’m not sure what it’ll do for just about anyone who watches it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Eli

January’s preview:

“Horror movie. Netflix picked it up. Yawn.”

2.5 stars.”

The review:

“It takes a turn in the third act that could have been interesting, if the rest of the movie were better. Otherwise, just kind of meh all around and one of the most generic Netflix movies out there.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Not for me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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Wounds

January’s preview:

“Feels like 3 stars. Feels like a thriller that I won’t much care about.”

The review:

“Psychological horror movie that was more interesting before that shit started.”

“Fortunately it’s not Blumhouse level genre/shitty, but it’s also not that interesting either”.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I honestly would have preferred an entire movie about Armie Hammer owning that bar.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Sweetheart Poster

Sweetheart

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Just because I feel like it’s a cast away kind of movie with limited dialogue, and I like those. The horror aspect worries me, but let’s see what side wins out.”

The review:

“I really liked this.”

“It’s a horror movie, but the creature represents something else. That’s what this is doing. And I thought it was really effective.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this. Could have gone a bit more into the metaphor and been a bit meatier, but it did enough for me to think it was solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Kill Chain Poster

Kill Chain

January’s preview:

“Starring Nicolas Cage.”

“All I’ve heard is that it’s supposed to be a noir, but he’s the only person in the cast I recognize. So I have no idea what that means.”

“I guess 3 stars. A lot of the boring Cage crap has been 2.5, but the more interesting VOD stuff is 3. Only really insane stuff like Mandy has gone higher. So let’s stick with 3. He’s coming off a good year.”

The review:

“It’s watchable, but not good. If you like these cable-quality crime movies as I do, you’ll get something out of it, but it’s not really particularly any good.”

“Cage’s 2019 output is forgettable at best and if the best of them are at most watchable, at worst bad, this one is probably middle of the road for that scale.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

If you watch all the Cage stuff like I do, this is average VOD scale for him, but it’s not worth it for people who want decent to good Cage. Fortunately for us, he hasn’t fully given up like Bruce Willis has, so there’s always the possibility of one of those coming up once every year or two.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

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The Kill Team

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“Afghan war movies usually don’t do it for me.”

The review:

“If there’s one subgenre of movies I really just do not go in for, it’s Iraq War movies.”

“Maybe some people will find it more interesting than I did, because as I said — I don’t like these movies. But I just feel like there’s a whole section of this movie where stuff happens that’s just missing from it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m just not into Iraq War movies. And this one was probably more solid than I thought, but I just knew everywhere it was going before it did it, and when I don’t like the genre to begin with, that’s never a recipe for me caring.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Rattlesnake Poster

Rattlesnake

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“I like movies like this. Hope it’s better than 3.”

The review:

“There’s nothing of value with this one. Pure forgettable Netflix schlock.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Below average, even for Netflix.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

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The Cat and the Moon

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I’m always interested when actors write or direct, so I wanted to see what this was gonna be. And honestly, I was very impressed.”

“Most people watching this probably won’t think all that much of it. But when you realize its 22 year-old star also wrote and directed it… that’s really impressive.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really enjoyed this. I’m not gonna presume most people will get the same out of it, but for a 22-year-old writing, directing and starring in a movie, I got way more out of it than I thought I would.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Farming Poster

Farming

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I like when actors direct.”

“It’s insane, and I had no clue that was part of his past. It really provides for an interesting story.”

“Can’t say I loved the film, but it’s clearly very personal to him and you can see that in both the acting and writing. Ultimately, I’m glad I saw it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

This was solid as an actor’s directorial debut. I didn’t love it, but it definitely felt personal, and that’s what carried me through.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Girl on the Third Floor.jpg

The Girl on the Third Floor

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s supposed to be a metaphor for toxic masculinity, but it’s not well-written or directed or acted enough to really have any impact.”

“I just thought it was a schlocky movie that didn’t really do much of anything in the end.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was just too cheap and generic for me to care about what it was trying to do.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Current War.png

The Current War

January’s preview:

“This got pulled in 2017 after the Weinstein thing and then never came out. I’m still waiting for it, because it’s Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s followup to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and I really wanna see it.”

“The cast is amazing, and even though reviews out of Toronto weren’t great I can’t imagine it’s that bad.”

3.5 stars. Just let me see this.”

The review:

“I had such high hopes for this back in 2017.”

“Man… did this just not work.”

“It feels like one of those movies that they realized didn’t quite come together so they paced it up and tried to make it move to overcome how boring it is, when the pacing wasn’t really the problem in the first place.”

“I’m sure most people won’t ever care about this, but this does go down as one of the bigger disappointments of the past couple of years for me personally. I really was hoping for something great with this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I so wanted this to be good, and it just wasn’t. The cast, the director, the material… none of it came together. Ultimately, it happens, but the disappointment stands.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Theatrical release poster

Frankie

January’s preview:

“The director makes 3 star indies.”

“I want to go 3.5 stars, but this guy makes 3 star indies, so 3 stars. Hope I can get more out of this.”

The review:

This is the epitome of a 3-star movie. Pure indie. Characters on vacation, all dealing with personal shit over the course of a day. The director makes these decent little indies, so this is par for the course. I didn’t get anything out of this than I expected to.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s completely what you think it’s gonna be. Pretty much, whatever you think you’re gonna think about this one, that’s what you’ll get out of it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Bronx, USA Poster

The Bronx, USA

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

I really enjoyed it. I’m not gonna say it was the greatest thing ever, but I grew up in New York and I know what it’s like to have a neighborhood. I loved them getting into all the little things about theirs and all the people that came from it. It’s nice. Unless you have a vested interest in the subject, I doubt you’ll care all that much. But hey, I liked it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Not gonna change your life, but if you grew up in a city or anywhere in one of the boroughs, you’ll enjoy this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Countdown2019MoviePoster.jpg

Countdown

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Blumhouse film that 100% got green lit based on its premise.”

“It’s all about the gimmick and they wrote a 2-cent plot around it. It’s exactly what you’d expect and there’s nothing interesting in it whatsoever.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Blumhouse releases a half-dozen of these shitty movies every year. No one should be surprised.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Black and Blue poster.jpg

Black and Blue

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s fine. It’s entertaining. It’s not gonna change your life, but these movies never do.”

“It’s totally watchable and achieves exactly what it wants to achieve. So on that level, it’s totally worth watching.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s solid for what it is. All things considered, I could see some people getting 3.5 out of this. It’s that kind of solid for its genre.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Western Stars Poster

Western Stars

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

I love Bruce. I was so happy when I heard this was being shot. This album is quite good, and the idea of him recording it live in a barn on his ranch with some friends and putting it out was amazing to me. And that’s it. That’s the film. He writes these long, meditative intros between each song, as both a reflection of the state of his own career and life while also setting the tone for what each song is supposed to be about. It gets a bit repetitive, but it’s a great way to hear the album. I’ll take Bruce singing over most other music docs.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Loved it. The Broadway show is the gold standard, of course, but hell, this is a great visual version of this album.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

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