Every Film You've Watched in 2019


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Thor 2 had more fun action with Mjolner, a great performance from Anthony Hopkins and all of the Loki scenes were either fun or dramatic. The rest is weak in how the Earth characters totally siphon off the extraterrestrial fun from the story (Kat Denning's boyfriend, Stellan Skarsgaard's stupid nudity tangent subplot), the lameness of Malekith (my brother, who's read Thor, says that character is closer to the Joker than the staid, straight-faced villain of the film) and the lack of proper anger from Thor in battling the guy who killed his mom. Ant-Man is an action comedy and doesn't pretend to be otherwise. Action comedies can have dramatic moments, like Ant-Man does, but there's a certainty of objective that Ant-Man achieves better than Captain Marvel.

Spoiler

All of the drama is CM falls flat. The amnesia throughline isn't really compelling or much interesting. Like ScarJo in Ghost in the Shell (2017), Carol's conflict is learning who she was in her past, but who was that person and how fundamentally is that knowledge wrecking her worldview? She switches sides in the Kree/Skrull War, but it's passive in how mechanical that switch is carried out. There's little anger, no outrage, no conversation. Just "You lied to me. Anyway...". And the whole thread about her being emotional is layered in social commentary that's complete astroturf. And perhaps this aspect isn't as flawed as I perceived it because I'm a man, but we've had plenty of Marvel films with powerful women in them and no one said shit. Black Panther alone carries two of the best female characters in the MCU. Having Carol beat up Minerva to "I'm Just a Girl" not only in the face of the previous movies and those characters, but with Lashanna Lynch fighting Kree soldiers in the other room feels really misguided. The Kree/Skrull war itself, as Roy Thomas complained, was simplified to give clear good guys and bad guys. And there's an obvious appeal to resonance in the invoking of "refugees" regarding current times, but it feels hollow. 

I liked Brie Larson in the role. I liked Jude Law. Lashanna Lynch gave the best performance in the film, but her best scene was bigging up Carol with shallow dialogue that has the audience feel "Yeah, I guess that's right" rather than fist-pumpingly agreeing with her. And that's the main problem. The movie is so concerned with making viewers fall in love with Carol that it doesn't actually finesse how to do that in the writing beyond Brie Larson's capabilities. It reminds me of how the producers of Justice League talked about using placeholder dialogue in their stories, and then never returning to iron out the scripts during season one, resulting in the episodes feeling incredibly bland and straight-laced. This movie needed at least two or three more drafts.

Also, even knowing what was happening the second time, I think it's still a confusing film. Which isn't good for a character who's not a household name.

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My Step-Brother is a Vampire?!?: It's another David DeCoteau talking animal family film. It's not the worst but by far still a bad movie.

Teen Witch: It's a bad movie but more unfocused than anything else.

The Dragon Warrior: Still as dumb and nonsensical as the first time I watched it.

The Emperor's New Groove: Still one of my favorite films of Disney's kind of down slope in the early 2000s. Fun/

Films: 27
MST3K/Rifftrax Assisted: 2

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I've been watching a lot of movies as a way to keep my brain busy and stay away from distracting/unhealthy stuff, so I have a lot from the past week or so.

The Imposter - A documentary detailing the story of Frédéric Bourdin, a French con-man that was somehow able to convince a Texas family that he was their missing son.  It's unique in the way it allows Bourdin himself to narrate a lot of the story, which offers an interesting perspective but also trusts a lot of the details to a notorious liar.  It certainly tries to paint him in an oddly sympathetic light at times, but as the case unfolds, you get the sense that there are even worse people involved in the boy's disappearance.  A fascinating watch and highly recommended.  The whole thing is on Youtube.

The Exam - A low-budget indy thriller.  Eight job applicants are put together in a room and have to figure out what their shadowy employer-to-be wants them to do.  I'm a sucker for films like this that only use one location and depend on the script and performances to carry the plot.  Sort of like 12 Angry Men meets Cube, even if not as sharply written as the former or as visually interesting as the latter.  The premise mostly works, though you can shoot a lot of holes in the ending.  Stars the criminally underrated Pollyanna McIntosh and Luke Mably, who should forever be known as the British Tom Hardy.

Punisher: War Zone - Can't be touched for pure entertainment and re-watchablity.  It's far from flawless, though better than it honestly had any right to be given a rookie director who came in with no interest or knowledge in the character and a lot of meddling from a studio that didn't seem to understand what they were doing.  There's also the whole part where Frank Castle, mass murderer, teases quitting forever because he let one innocent die in the crossfire.  But still, Frank kills a parkour dude with a rocket launcher.  There's a decapitation within the first 3 minutes.  It's worth seeking out the episode of "How Did This Get Made" that has Patton Oswalt and director Lexi Alexander talking about the film and the argument it makes for allowing a competent open-minded outsider to make adaptations of fanboy media.  Marvel will never do the Punisher anywhere near this well again.

The Disaster Artist - I fucking hated this.  I've never cringed this many times watching a movie before (think of the ground that covers).  I barely got to the part in where they actually start filming The Room before I tapped out.  I kept waiting for it to get funny or interesting or... anything.  I'm sure this is a much more fascinating book, but as a movie, I have to wonder why they thought the story of Tommy Wiseau (feat others) was one worth telling, as a viewing of The Room itself paints a picture of Wiseau as a man almost charming in his incompetence, missing every vital component to success outside of money.  He's been smart enough to coast by since then on the perception that he's just Silly Foreign Man that doesn't understand how the world works and lean into the idea that we're laughing with him instead of at him. The Disaster Artist instead paints what I imagine is the more accurate picture; that Tommy Wiseau is just a rich asshole that pretty much gets away with being a petulant child and treating everyone around him like shit because he's a rich asshole. Greg Sestero doesn't come out of it looking too much better, as the vapid Ken doll tag-along that sadly realizes that he isn't talented enough to get by on his own so he'll use his friendship with Wiseau to get as far as he can.  Both would be fine characters if they didn't exist in a movie where we were supposed to root for them.  I'm convinced that this won awards because of the fascination people have with Wiseau and Franco's understanding that people will toss accolades at any mediocre actor that takes a role as someone disabled.

Black Panther - It's a Marvel movie, in both the best and worst ways.  Overly long but still somehow rushed, held up by a talented cast forcing life into undercooked characters.  Killmonger almost feels wasted, like he should have been saved for later down the line.  His screen time is nowhere near relative to the performance and the motivations of the character.  M'Baku could have been enough bad guy on his own in a film that remained completely isolated to Wakanda, then living on to serve the same role here in a sequel.  That said, it'd still put it near the top of the Marvel movies I've seen (like 10 of them).  It's a beautiful film set in a universe that you want to learn more about and with a hero that's easy to root for.  It doesn't take much.

Dredd - Passes the incredibly low bar of blowing the previous Judge Dredd film out of the water.  Conceptually interesting in terms of setting and visuals but suffers from too often falling back on monotonous gunplay.  Olivia Thirlby has to carry most of the film on her own since it (rightfully) has little interest in developing Dredd himself.  I think she kills it and I'm surprised she's not a bigger star.  She's gorgeous and can act.  Conversely, Lena Headey doesn't have fuck-all to do and meets an unsatisfying end, which really soured what had been a pretty fun romp up to that point.  I'd like to see the same crew give Dredd another shot.

Best in Show - A decent effort that really shows the flaws in the Christopher Guest formula.  This Is Spinal Tap worked almost in spite of itself as a 90 minute retelling of the same joke over and over, anchored by the fact that it was a really good joke.  Here the majority of the cast wanders aimlessly with even less to do as the film hopes to get by on the one-sentence pitch that each of their characters have to cling to.  It suffers from being somehow equally too over-the-top and too understated. Parker Posey and Eugene Levy are the only sources of real laughs for most of the film, then Fred Willard tries to drag the audience through the finale kicking and screaming.  Didn't hate my time with it but couldn't help but be disappointed.

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This is the End: watched this again with the boys last night, and for an indulgent bit of onanism, it ain't bad. A couple funny performances.

Features: 24

Shorts: 15

Documentaries: 4

Rewatches: 3

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You go into the movie thinking it's going to be mostly stoner humor and it kind of is but it's definitely on the good side of that. Jonah and Danny are the standouts definitely but most of the cast is still terrific. If I didn't already have a crush on Seth Rogen before the movie, I definitely had it after.

Anyway...

Kung-Fu Hustle: Somehow forgot we watched this during C2E2. Honestly just one of my favorite Kung-Fu movies because it's hilarious while also being just good, over-the-top Kung-Fu. The Landlady is the best.

Films: 28
MST3K/Rifftrax Assisted: 2

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Pulp Fiction: movie night with my boys last night. Between this and THIS IS THE END, the next movie we watch will definitely NOT have a guy in a gimp suit.

Features: 25

Shorts: 15

Documentaries: 4

Rewatches: 3

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Without spoiling things for the upcoming episode of The Edge of Forever, I can see why most people consider it the best Star Trek film. It has real heart, characters grow, the space battle is slow-yet-intense, there are major repercussions for the crew, and the villain is amazing.

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X-2: X-Men United: Probably the best of the first three X-Men films. That said, it does still suffer from too many characters to the point where Cyclops is missing from the plot for most of the film and you barely notice because there are still like ten main characters!

Batman & Robin: Is it bad? Sure but it's still a ton of fun to watch!

Films: 30
MST3K/Rifftrax Assisted: 2

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Batman Forever: Saving my complete thoughts for an upcoming thing which may or may not involve Britain's Favorite Son, but that being said there's way more good things about this movie than bad. It's a few drafts away from being really good, some of the arcs aren't finished and they cheat to reach the finish line. But you can't not enjoy Jim Carrey's performance, and Val Kilmer portrayed the truest Batman to date in that decade. Out of the four, this is the one film that actively gave a damn about its central character, and it works partly because of it.

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Friday the 13th: A New Beginning: Just halfway-is through the watch-through, and I'll be surprised if any of the others are as bad as this. It has its moments. The turn by John Shepherd as great, however, it would have been super ballsy to run with him from here on. I would be intrigued in that timeline though.

Jackass: again with kids at a sleepover. Ticked in the rewatch category because I'm sure I've watched it this year.

Features: 26

Shorts: 15

Documentaries: 4

Rewatches: 4

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Harlem Nights: Written, Directed and Starring Eddie Murphy, with Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx.

This was clearly Eddie Murphy's fan-fiction about Black Hollywood Elegance in the time of the Great Depression era films, working alongside his heroes. As a comedy, it's hardly funny. There's one big scene involving Arsenio Hall and Miguel Nunez Jr. that's pretty good, but otherwise the pacing is far too rested and some scenes good on criminally long. On the plus side, I'll watch Jasmine Guy in anything. Even if she's got nothing to do here, she looks totally in her element. And Eddie Murphy is plainly a very good actor. I can just watch him act seriously without any yearning for gags. And he and Pryor have great chemistry. I don't know if their scenes are worth the price of admission, but they are the best parts of the film. The costumes and wardrobes are all wonderful to watch as well.

This movie also has probably the worst pre-The Phantom tagline ever: "They're up to something big."

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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: What starts out as a documentary focusing on the murder of Andrew Bagby turns into a scathing rebuke of the Canadian criminal justice system. And then there's the kick to the stomach. Despite its homespun look, Dear Zachary is a very well-crafted documentary that will absolutely break your heart.

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Into The Woods: Much better than I remembered. Still not as great as the stage musical but the actors do the best they can.

I'm Just Fucking With You: It's a horror movie about an internet troll getting harassed by a serial killer on April Fool's Day. It's not as clever as it thinks it is or as fun as it pretends.

Annihilation: Interesting to see and it's all together an interesting film. Great cast too!

Society: I somehow had never heard of this film until I saw Des refer to it on Facebook. Holy shit this is some good paranoia horror and practical effects that made me feel squick!

Venom: Better than I was expecting. Still not great but I'd watch it again with a couple of drinks and some friends.

Films: 35
MST3K/Rifftrax Assisted: 2

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2005): Today was the kind of day where I needed to watch something stupid, and I certainly got somethin mighty stupid. That said, it errs just on the side of being entertainingly stupid for me to really enjoy it. 

Films Watched: 23

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23 hours ago, dc20willsave said:

Society: I somehow had never heard of this film until I saw Des refer to it on Facebook. Holy shit this is some good paranoia horror and practical effects that made me feel squick!

Yes! Awesome. Darryll and I reviewed it a while back too.

Reservoir Dogs: this was the next Tarantino film I watched with my sons. It doesn't clip by like it used to, and feels a little bloated at times, but I'll be damned if the relationship between Mr. White and Mr. Orange isn't the most wholesome and beautiful and non-toxically masculine thing I've ever seen in a crime film.

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Features: 27

Shorts: 15

Documentaries: 4

Rewatches: 4

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On 4/3/2019 at 4:43 PM, The Master said:

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: What starts out as a documentary focusing on the murder of Andrew Bagby turns into a scathing rebuke of the Canadian criminal justice system. And then there's the kick to the stomach. Despite its homespun look, Dear Zachary is a very well-crafted documentary that will absolutely break your heart.

This DOC had me emotionally unbalanced for weeks. I won't say anything else to avoid spoiling any aspect of this film, but definitely a great watch. 

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