Watching 365 Movies in 2017: April

Here we go. Lots of classics and a lot of garbage, and boy oh boy did I have an opinion about all of them. Now roughly 1/3 of the way done. So far and yet so much further left.

  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation — These movies have been really good lately, and I sincerely hope that trend continues. So far so good, that opening was exciting but not too much too early, and the storyline grips you almost right away. The sniper rifles made out of every day items in the opera scene is also some very cool yet ridiculous spy stuff. Tom Cruise is getting old but honestly that just makes some of these stunts more impressive, and for some reason Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames being the comic relief is an entertaining change of pace. Alec Baldwin is also pretty good in this, but that might be because he’s playing CIA Jack Donaghy. Honestly the biggest issue is that the villain is kind of forgettable, but none of them have ever compared to Hoffman’s turn at it. Ilsa, the female Ethan Hunt, is pretty impressive though, definitely watch her in a solo. Rebecca Ferguson is definitely someone I’ll keep an eye out for in the future. 4 stars
  • American Ultra — Oh dang this starts in West Virginia, never a good sign. Topher Grace is in this? You think after Win A Date with Tad Hamilton he would know to avoid West Virginia-based movies. Honestly this seems like maybe where the kids from Adventureland might’ve ended up if one of them was also a government agent? Hell I don’t know. Stewart and Eisenberg are solid in this, but the plot is kind of a mess. The shootout in the pseudo Wal-Mart was cool but still feels like it could’ve been something more. 3 stars
  • Boyhood — I guess I’m gonna try and watch every Linklater movie I haven’t seen too. Already this kid is adorable, capturing the wonder of being alive that will surely be beaten out of him as the movie goes on. They really nailed the period music, or maybe it’s just the Blink 182 reminding me of simpler times. Ethan Hawke looks like a baby for the childhood scenes. The music budget for this movie must be insane but it’s a good way to show the transition of time. Patricia Arquette has terrible taste in men though, or maybe Texas is just filled with alcoholics, or both. The kid isn’t a bad actor but there’s something about his voice that…doesn’t carry emotion. Great for representing a teen, but not for being a dynamic lead. Overall I was more entranced by Alexis Arquette’s story. Still, good movie. 3 ½ stars
  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates — Time to figure out if this title is truly accurate. Spoiler Alert: really just Mike needed a wedding date, Dave seems mostly fine, knows what he wants to do with his life, nice guy. There are some fun bits here and there but there isn’t anything stand out, although I might be a Zac Efron fan now. I mean it’s fine but honestly the title is the most remarkable thing about it. 2 1/2 stars
  • The Most Hated Woman in America — An old lady calling Rory Cochrane a cocksucker? Yeah, I’m on board. My official stance is that Adam Scott’s beard makes him look weirdly Amish and should be punishable with a fine. I respect what this woman was doing, removing church from schools, but I have as much of a problem with militant atheism as I do with forceful religion. Also she seems to be kind of a cruel woman, at least to her family, I’m curious how much of that is based in reality, as it makes it hard to root for the protagonist. Adam Scott looks like a less handsome Nick Thune with this beard. This has a dark turn, but it’s fascinating to learn this part of history. Everyone is good in this, and the story is fascinating, but it feels like it was an under budget HBO movie, just suffers in overall quality. Dumb beard. 3 ½ stars
  • Sun Belt Express — Tate Donovan voiced Hercules so as far as I’m concerned he gets a free pass for any movie. I was expecting Stephen Lang to have a larger role but he was a real one-scene wonder. This is actually pretty solid as a film. The lesson presented is pretty heavy-handed and probably something most of us are aware of when it comes to illegal immigration but i enjoyed the characters and the father-daughter story. Nice little indie flick. 3 ½ stars
  • Creed — I love Rocky movies. I love them. This one is no different. I am legitimately surprised by the amount of dirt bikes and ATVs owned by the residents of Philadelphia though. Michael B Jordan deserves all the work in the world. Sylvester Stallone nails it too, although I felt his hospital subplot was a little heavy handed. Dumb hat, too. Great fight choreography, Black Panther is in good hands with Ryan Coogler. 4 ½ stars
  • 5 to 7 — Netflix made this seem like it might be a fun romcom between Anton Yelchin and Olivia Thrilby but it turns out it’s more about the ethics of having an affair, a discussion of open relationships and what it means to those involved depending on their cultures. Everyone seems a little wooden with their acting, like they didn’t have much prep time with the script, because I’ve seen these actors knock it out of the park before. Frank Langella is perhaps the sole exception, knocking it out of the park as usual. Solid film, just a few awkward scenes, and the script itself is pretty fantastic, just a good ole fashioned story of star-crossed lovers. 3 ½ stars
  • A Single Man — Colin Firth is amazing as always, and the peaks into his mind are actually a great way of understanding how he sees others and the world around him. The numbness he feels for the world around him is also very relateable, a good analogue for depression. The slowdown of certain shots make this feel like an artsy Zack Snyder movie at times,rarely adding any actual weight. Still, the time period through these characters’ eyes is fascinating, and has a very Mad Men style and vibe to it. Nicholas Hoult is especially delightful in this, there’s a sense of wonder and naivete in his eyes. Eventually he’ll age into Kelsey Grammer. It’s a great story of recovering from lost love but I feel like it ends how it does just to hurt the audience. Besides that, I very much enjoyed it. 4 stars
  • Chicago — Figure for number 100 I should watch a movie based in the town I live. I like how the musical numbers are either taking place in locations that make sense or are all dreams. Some of these outfits during the numbers though…wow. Also seems like a bit of waste of Taye Diggs’ talents. Also, John C Reilly is a delight, but when is he not? The songs are solid but I doubt I’ll be singing many to myself later on. Visually, the puppet song was pretty impressive. They really nailed the corruption. 3 ½ stars
  • Independence Day: Resurgence — I would love to know why they thought they didn’t need to get Will Smith back for this. The CGI for the aliens is not great, but the ships and space scenes look really good, it’s actually kind of confusing why they would do that. As new characters go, the African warlord is by far the best, just an angry guy wielding machetes, exactly what this series needed. This is actually pretty fun for a cliched over the top action film. Like Now You See Me 2 levels of enjoyable. The final battle is, weirdly, basically a boss fight from a bullet hell-style video game and I am into it. 4 stars, eat me.
  • Daddy’s Home — After watching Donnie Wahlberg being great in Band of Brothers, it’s time to watch Mark Wahlberg kinda suck in something. Hannibal Buress is pretty great just being Hannibal Buress. Also Thomas Hayden Church is the most ridiculous character and it really shines. He should do that more. Most of the best gags were featured in the trailer but there is still a few golden moments here and there. The John Cena cameo was especially pretty wonderful. Fine but not great. Would’ve been nice for Ferrell to have been a threat to Markie Mark at some point. 3 stars
  • The Last Witchhunter — Really hoping this is a “so bad its good” kinda movie. Oh my god Vin just described magic runes as “simple science” without any irony, i’m so glad I chose this. I’m curious as to why both Michael Caine and Elijah Wood agreed to be in this. It is also weird how the witch he teams up with seems surprised what other witches are capable of, like making her a witch was a last second decision. I literally cannot tell if this movie is bad on purpose or on accident. Easy film to rag on, but its not bad to look at it. The last minute betrayal was pointless. 2 ½ stars
  • Black Mass — For a while in college I was obsessed with Whitey Bulger. Good cast right off the start, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Joel Edgerton, Adam Scott, I’m on board. They keep introducing these interesting characters and then taking them out, like I get it Whitey was a monster but this is why Scorsese did montage’s of this shit. There are hints of greatness throughout this movie but it doesn’t feel like a cohesive piece. 3 stars
  • Miss Stevens — Interesting film at looking at mental issues as both an adult and a teen. The teacher-student crush situation may have been a bit much, and the two other students could’ve gotten a little more focus, but it was still an enjoyable film for what it was. There must be a movie somewhere where Rob Huebel isn’t a scumbag but I’ve never seen it. 3 ½ stars
  • The Standoff — One of hundreds if not thousands of independent movies on Netflix that I never would’ve watched otherwise. This has the vibe of a Disney channel original movie, low budget and everything, but without the good music. This cast is filled with ridiculous cliches. What kind of mad man does hands on a hardbody where only teens can enter? The score is used so rarely it’s almost surprising when it shows up. The combination of good actors and bad actors in this is almost staggering. I regret this. This must have been made by children. 1 ½ stars
  • The Way — I love Martin Sheen, and oh my god Emilio has aged where he looks almost exactly like his dad. The soundtrack has a Garden State vibe to it, even sharing a song. Took a little longer for Martin Sheen to open up to the others in his group than I would’ve liked. The father-son story gets me again, and it’s filled with some amazing shots of the countrysides of France and Spain. Perhaps a bit too long but enjoyable all around, glad I gave it a chance. 4 ½ stars
  • Win It All — Jake Johnson and Joe Swanberg is hopefully a recipe for quality, and Joe Lo Truglio and Keegan-Michael Key doesn’t hurt. The film itself is surprisingly low quality, but that adds to a grittier feel. The addiction to gambling in this is making me incredibly uncomfortable, maybe because I see a lot of myself in this. I think I know a guy in this, some comic I’ve seen around. The amount of money our protagonist loses in this is…anxiety inducing. The idea of the power of love being all it takes to win is a little ridiculous. Fine movie, nothing special. 3 stars
  • Escape from New York — I feel like I’ve betrayed my fellow nerds for never having watched this. I’ve seen more of Escape from LA than this. I’m glad it takes place in the far off year of 1997. Why did the police give Snake a ninja star shaped like a swastika? Also why does everyone know who Snake is? Call me a romantic but I’ll enjoy anything where Ernest Borgnine throws a molotov cocktail. This might be the first time I’ve ever seen Harry Dean Stanton in a movie where he isn’t an old man. Snake’s snake tattoo is incredibly ugly but Kurt Russell is a total dream boat in this. I guess it isn’t quite post-apocalyptic but it has that vibe which I appreciate. Plus the way that Snake takes out that big goon was hardcore. 4 stars
  • Sandy Wexler — Fuck it. Right away they’re slamming you with talent, Lorne Michaels, Jewel, Conan, Jon Lovitz, Hollywood’s greatest. Kevin James has, honestly, never looked worse. Jennifer Hudson, god bless her, appears to be giving her all. I get that this takes place in the 90s but there are so many references to failed businesses that I am overwhelmed, yet without it we wouldn’t have this recurring rivalry with Arsenio Hall that is legitimately entertaining. Also they keep referencing the Atkins diet but that wasn’t even a fad for another decade.This movie is too long, but it’s fine. Jay Leno has had so much work done, more Colin Quinn next time please. Honestly stick til the end just for the Beavis & Butt-head cameo. 2 ½ stars
  • The Discovery — This is surprisingly dark. Robert Redford discovers there is definite some form of afterlife so people, in response, start killing themselves for this new world, and holy shit. Jesse Plemons and Jason Segel have some pretty solid chemistry together, they really seem to nail that brother vibe. There are moments where this is a dark comedy and I wish the movie had leaned into that more. The reveal is interesting, and the ending is open enough where you can pull your own conclusions but I won’t spoil anything. 3 ½ stars
  • Gifted — Chris Evans is basically playing Captain America, but instead of being a superhero he has to raise a kid and it’s wonderful. Jenny Slate as the teacher is solid but the role seems surprisingly small, and the chemistry between her and Evans makes it no surprise that they dated in real life. Lindsay Duncan as the grandmother was also great, playing a character that is unlikable but still very human. Most importantly though is Mckenna Grace as Mary, this little girl makes you fall in love with her whether you want to or not, and I hope she avoids the typical failings of child actors. Marc Webb should stick with movies like this and avoid super hero stuff 4 stars
  • Barton Fink — Shout out to my boy Bill Gevirtz for this one. I love when the Coen’s tackle something like this, showing the issues of the period in the film industry, and the cast is filled with talent. I honestly don’t know what kind of genre this movie falls under. Dark Comedy? That seems like the most appropriate but it could fit another half dozen. John Goodman himself seems to be in three different flicks, but he’s nailing all of them. I feel bad for Barton, he seems to be a man before his time. Not my favorite Coen, but enjoyable, although this world presented feels incredibly empty by the end. 3 ½ stars
  • Suicide Squad — I watched Batman V Superman, might as well watch this. Jared Leto’s Joker is….awful. There are maybe a dozen better ways at least they could’ve given you a better idea of the team than just doing quick backstories and throwing them into the shit. What a waste of Adam Beach. Honestly once we got away from the first act this was a decent action movie. Shame that half the squad didnt get much characterization but I honestly enjoyed more than I expected, and I’d watch a sequel, but probably not in theatres. 3 stars
  • Frat Star — I cannot tell if this is a pro or anti-frat movie. Why is Chris Elliott willingly in this? Also they keep talking about some instagram jag like he matters. Oh wait it’s FuckJerry, I do know that is. This is basically softcore porn, jesus christ. It claims that this movie is only 90 minutes or so long and yet I feel like I’ve been watching it for hours. Okay so there isn’t really an ending either. This was horse shit, some insane movie about being true to yourself except it isn’t. My god. 0 stars
  • Airheads — I’ve always seen most of this movie on Comedy Central but never at once and TV edit so I’ll count it. Seems like, as a movie, it’s kind of this 90s power fantasy of taking what you want, with interesting albeit cliched characters. Steve Buscemi and Joe Mantegna are probably the best parts of this movie but everyone has at least one solid scene. I remember Chris Farley having a bigger part in this but it’s maybe 6 scenes. Also Lemmy’s cameo is something I definitely didn’t pick up as a kid, but it makes sense he’d be here, he’s god. Second Adam Sandler movie I watched with a Beavis and Butt-Head cameo. Fine, nothing special. 3 ½ stars
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford — Fuck that is a title. Damn this cast is a who’s who of character actors. Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Mark Brendanawicz, and that’s only a few. Both James and Ford are fascinating characters, James seemingly tired of this world, Ford trying to find his place in it, seemingly envying the other for what awaits them. Frustrating just how the cult of personality can paint how someone is remembered. 4 stars
  • Behind the Candelabra — The CGI for Michael Douglas and the body double actually playing the piano just enough to be creepy. Rob Lowe however is far more terrifying. The story was pretty good and the relationship was believable, both ups and downs, considering the time it took place and people involved. Great cast too, shame a few of them were only one-scene wonders, need me some more Mike O’Malley. 4 stars
  • Hello, My Name is Doris — I wasn’t expecting Michael Showalter to direct a straight flick, but outside of some of the ridiculous hipsters this seems to be without any irony. I love the idea of someone finding who they are later in life and I’m glad there isn’t a lot of negativity for Doris lusting after a younger man when the opposite seems commonly accepted all the time in modern society. I just don’t care about a lot of these characters. John and Brooklyn seem like people worth caring about but everyone else seems to be a parody, and Doris’s sheltered lifestyle make her harder to care for in the beginning, although i got past that eventually. The Baxter was better, this was still good. 3 ½ stars
  • Joe Cocker: Mad Dog with Soul — I had no idea Joe Cocker was British, or how many great songs are his, all i could recall was his cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends.” The alcoholism in this isn’t overwhelming or even over the top in how its presented, but is absolutely frustrating. It mostly keeps to the music, but I’d like a few more personal life anecdotes besides his battles with drugs and alcohol, we don’t get his romantic angles til over half way through, and it almost seems a footnote at best. Still, a fascinating look at the man.