Movies Reviewed, 2015

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Heroin: Cape Cod, USA - HBO documentary about heroin use in cape cod. it's the number one drug there apparently and it's mostly because middle class white kids get addicted to it after being on pain killers. pretty fucked up way to ruin your injure yourself in a car wreck or making a sliding tackle in a soccer game and it's all downhill from there.
shows the nature of addiction and codependence. i'll say this - don't get attached to anyone in the film because they drop like flies. fucking depressing. B+.

movies i've watched in lots of little parts throughout the year:
Ivan The Incredible - danish animated kids movie that's kinda weird and borderline for a 2 year old, for sure, but zoe likes it so...animation is a cool style, themes of bullying and dreaming about being good at stuff are good enough. watchable. B-.
Mary Poppins - excellent film that has stayed excellent. music is great and everyone does a great job with the acting. love the bit in the song about women's suffrage that goes... "while we love them (men) individually we agree that as a whole they are rather stupid." funny stuff. A+.
Lilo And Stitch 2: Stitch Has A Glitch - not as good as the first one and i think this is actually the third film because there was a direct to video film between 1 and 2. they're both rambunctious characters so zoe likes this and it's watchable enough, especially with the elvis songs. B-.
Alice In Wonderland - good overall, but not my favorite. B-.
Little Mermaid - dated animation, but the themes, characters and music are great and timeless. A

Jurassic Park 3 - mediocre. C.

Lost World: Jurassic Park - really not up to the same level as the first one. kinda surprising that spielberg directed this one as it doesn't have the same magic that the first one had. C+.

Jurassic Park - good classic adventure film that dazzles the imagination. the science-y stuff is fun and the efx are still pretty good many years later. the effects of the later films actually aren't as least through #3...haven't seen #4 yet. B+.

Chasing Tyson - 30 for 30 about holyfield's quest for respect as a boxer. basically it comes down to two things: since the ali, foreman, frazier era there just hasn't been a great interest in heavyweight boxing and the only person who rose to the level of those guys (at least hype-wise) was tyson. holyfield finally fought him, but after he had passed his prime so it wasn't a legit win (so the thinking goes). regardless of where you place these fighters it's about eras in sports. clemens will never face babe ruth and koufax will never throw to bonds. you can't fault a guy for living in the wrong era. that said, it's not like either of these guys were untarnished in their prime. they had "off" fights in their prime and lost to guys that great fighters wouldn't have lost to. B.

Big Short - great flick about the financial meltdown of 07. adam mckay has comic sensibilities, but is also into the social commentary stuff and the two collide here. tonally it's the serious answer to "the other guys" which was mostly comedy with some drama and had a social component to it. great ensemble and great format with the cutaways to famous people filling the audience in on the nitty gritty of CDOs and other financial terms that we got way too acquainted with during that time. i don't watch many movies in the theater these days so i'm happy the ones i've been getting to watch have been worthwhile. B+.

Foxcatcher - the 30 for 30 about this was better than the hollywood version. over-hyped, unfortunately. carrell did a good job, but not great. C.

Scandal Season Three - still going. it's an over the top political thriller that doesn't pull punches considering it's on network tv. kerry washington's mouth is super annoying. B.

Four Falls Of Buffalo - 30 for 30 about the bills of the 90s...they were really good, but not good enough to win the super bowl. it's a deserving story for a team that is underrated in a lot of ways. pretty, pretty, pretty good. B.

White Collar Season Three - for some reason i just like the characters and find this show to be humorously entertaining. B.

Raid 2 - original was better. nothing to write home about here. C.

Creed - i like the rocky films, so sue me. this one passes the torch onto michael b. jordan and he does a pretty good job with it. there are tips of the hat to the other rocky films which is nice for the fans of the series. the only one that didn't really work for me is when creed is running through the neighborhood and he gathers the local kids to follow him during his run. this same scene appears in the first rocky film as the town rallies around the underdog during his training. in this one they do the same thing, but they're popping wheelies and what not on their motorcycles and atvs (obviously the director grew up in oakland as you see this kind of thing all the time here. same director as fruitvale station, by the way). what falls flat is when the camera is running circles around creed as he pumps himself up and yells at the sky. it just came off as cheesy for some reason; mostly i don't think jordan pulled it off.
the music is pretty good, but i was disappointed that the rocky theme wasn't used. then, in the final fight the director pulls it out of his back pocket and final unleashes it. good move to save it like that. it's one of the best themes in film history so i'm reluctant to say it could be overused, but saving it like that was smooth.
my ranking probably goes like this: rocky, rocky 2, rocky balboa (6), creed (7), rocky 3, rocky 4, rocky 5. more than anything, this film made me want to make a montage of all the great scenes from the previous films. the early morning training in rocky 1, adrian telling rocky to win from her hospital bed in rocky 2, the speech rocky gives to his son in rocky 6....some great stuff that really gets to the core of what it takes to be a great competitor and strong person overall. B+.

San Andreas - some good effects, but disappointing that the story was just about the rock trying to save his daughter. would have nice to see more of the chaos and destruction, follow some other storylines, etc. instead of focusing so much on the rock. the paul giamatti angle was nice. overall not a very good blockbuster. C.

Scandal Season Two - good enough to pass the time. B.

Bad Words - decent comedy from jason bateman. B.

Martian - don't get to watch many movies in the theater so we have to pick wisely nowadays. this is a great film so we go lucky. the things that inspired me most were probably the collective nature of everyone pulling together to solve a common problem and the fact that they actually did it instead of dealing with the usual incompetence and hemming and hawing that seems to be so pervasive in society today. this wasn't the unrolling of obamacare or the building of the bay bridge. this was more like the manhattan project where we needed to get shit done or the nazis would take over the world. it felt big and important like that and they got it done which is a wonder to see; sad as that may be.
of course, damon and others did a great job and scott's direction was great. the balance between comedy and drama was great and moved the 2+ hour long film along pretty well.
nowadays movies are marketing to a chinese audience and so they feature more chinese characters and are less likely to have the chinese as enemies. in this one we have a critical engineer who is chinese and the chinese save the day by providing us with one of their rockets after ours fails. i think it's more likely that the russians would have this technology than the chinese, but whatever. it felt like a pretty obvious play to the chinese audience, but i'm okay with it. B+.

Dumb And Dumber To - wow, it's been 20 years since the first one came out. this one isn't as good of course, but it has plenty of idiotic farrelly brothers style humor to keep you laughing. with the farrellys you know what you're going to get and they don't disappoint here. remarkable that it's been that long. carrey has gone downhill since then and jeff daniels seems just about as popular as ever with newsroom and the martian getting him recent critical acclaim. B.

Scandal Season One - pretty good fantasy law-ish drama. kerry washington isn't great, but she's good enough and the writing is snappy and fantastical enough to keep you wondering and engaged. the music they use strikes me as oddly placed and some of the characters grate on me, but overall it's a watchable show to wind down the day. B-.

Living On One Dollar - documentary about three white guys (of course) who live in guatemala for a while to see if they can make it on a buck a day, which is how about 1 billion people in the world live. of course they also have farms and skills, but these kids decide to try to jump into the life without any of that and suffer the consequences. it's a spurlock-esque stunt film to make an obvious point, which is that living in poverty sucks big time. beyond the unsophisticated premise, the film does get at some human realities that are worth remembering or seeing for the first time if you're 10 and you've never thought about it or seen it before. the reality is that there are a lot of good people in the world and many of them are poor and far less fortunate than you are. stop being a spoiled little white person and be thankful for what you have. C+.

White Collar Season Two - took a little time off from this, but got back into it and definitely still like it. one of the things this show does really well is keep you wanting more between episodes. they have an episodic storyline and then an overarching story that goes from episode to episode, season to season. the characters are fun and light and it's a perfect show for watching late at night when i'm a little distracted. B.

Trojan War - 30 for 30 documentary that looks at the rise and fall of pete's trojans. it was a great run and i was happy to have seen it and then it all came crashing down. the rose bowl was a bad loss, and a game i think they would have won 8 times out of 10. the bush family thing is something that probably happens a lot, shouldn't be totally against the rules, and was way blown out of proportion. overall, this is a good documentary that dredges up a lot of depression about the rose bowl and so it was tough to watch.
btw, what other college program recently has been able to tell its recruits that if they are the best player at their position they will be guaranteed an nfl draft position? usc can do it for qb and wr since 2003, as far as i can remember. maybe rb and some ol position as well. B+.

San Francisco 2.0 - san francisco is changing because the tech people are moving in. that's basically it. not a great deal of depth here despite a lot of good interviewees. pelosi scratches the surface, but doesn't leave a lasting impression. C.

While You Were Sleeping - should be called while you weren't sleeping because that's when i watched it, thanks to a little baby named merritt. or maybe it should be called while you were sleeping because it's a boring movie. a few stars in this one, but it's pretty bad across the board. D.

Fear The Walking Dead Season One - short season, but pretty good. this is sorta what i asked for after watching season one of the walking dead. that series skipped over most of the actual shit hitting the fan stuff and skipped to the immediate aftermath. this series explores that initial period a little more. wish it did it even more so we could see how far flung the chaos was and what happened during those initial 1-4 weeks. not as good as the other one, but i'll still watch it. B.

League Season Six - funny show stays funny, but gets even grosser. B.

Non-Stop - formulaic, but it's liam neeson kicking ass so that's usually enjoyable enough. definitely not at the same level as taken, but it's watchable. C+.

La Dolce Vita - barely watched this and didn't get through it. fellini is awful. didn't hold my attention for more than a minute at a time. F.

Maid In Manhattan - the best of the last three romantic comedies thadrt i watched, maybe because john hughes wrote the story. j. lo does a good job here as well. she's neurotic in the right places and a free spirit in others. she does well with the role. it's also about the working class and maybe a bit about politics. more depth than the genre usually provides so it's good for that reason. the ending left something to be desired. B.

My Best Friend's Wedding - julia roberts plays a lying bitch in this 90s rom com. haha. above average in that it at least doesn't end with them together. roberts is good. B.

Wedding Planner - j. lo is a better actress than people may give her credit for being. mcconaughy is utterly forgettable. why he got so many roles like this is beyond me. this isn't a great film by any stretch, but it's not bad either. that's basically how i feel about most romantic comedies, actually. B-.

Rush Hour - reliably funny buddy cop flick. chan and tucker are good together and the race relations stuff is funny and probably more edgy than people could handle today. we've moved backwards in this way since obama has become president. kinda sad. B.

Angry Sky - 30 for 30 about an attempt to break the world parachuting record. it didn't go well. engaging flick directed by jeff tremaine of jackass fame. B.

Dear White People - okay movie that pokes at some of the racial issues we're facing today. makes a better trailer than a feature length film. ends up venturing into the bizarre and silly with the black face party towards the end. then they reveal that there have been a few of these on college campuses in the past and the silly becomes just a bit depressing. nothing great here, but it has some value today. B-.
Happy Valley - thoroughly depressing film about penn state, joe pa, and sandusky. one thing that struck me is that the defense attorneys actually called the accusers liars and claimed that they were testifying against sandusky for monetary motivations. it's one thing to defend people to keep the system intact. it's another to accuse the victims of child rape of being liars about the worst possible thing that could have happened to them. there's a job i could never do. B+.

Welcome To Me - off the wall comedy with kristen wiig. you get to see her naked so there's that. bizarre comedy overall that i don't think was ever widely released in theaters probably because it was a little too strange to market. it has some moments. C+.

How The States Got Their Shapes Season Two - great series about american history, essentially. looks at the history from a social perspective. this season focuses more on red vs. blue or north vs. south or that sort of social divide instead of the physical lines that divide the states. treads over some of the same territory as season one, but not enough to be annoying. B+.

White Collar Season One - pretty engaging series. some production values are a bit lower than the high end tv shows, but the core characters are interesting and well cast. it's got short and long term stories so it keeps you interested on both levels. overall i like it, but the repetitive nature of the episodic stories has me wishing it moved more quickly. B-.

True Detective Season Two - not as good as season one. better actors that time around and the dialogue was a bit better as well. this season also was more serpentine and the number of characters made it more difficult to follow. thankfully you can just google "true detective (character name)" and find out which character they're talking about so that wasn't too hard to overcome.
kitsch was a highlight. vaughn and farrell were good. mcadams left something to be desired. kitsch actually played the only main character who was worth a damn the first half of the season. as the season progressed we grew to know the others and could find some redeeming qualities in them, but it was hard to like many of them at first. farrell's storyline with his son was a tear-tugger. there's some good material in here so long as you don't get to mired in the plot twists and trying to figure out the mystery of why caspere was killed and by whom. just let that stuff happen and focus on the characters. ending wasn't uplifting, to say the least.
good series, i hope they have more of this quality. B+.

Neighbors - not as good as the trailer led me to believe it was going to be. what else is new? some funny times and definitely captures the late 20s/early 30s period when you think you're still hip, but clearly aren't anymore and you're starting to make a family and set down roots, etc. could have been better. C+.

Lilo & Stitch - watched this in part or in whole a lot lately because of zoe. pretty good disney film with some mischevious characters that zoe always seems attracted to. that won't be trouble in 14 years...also has a good lesson about family and a good soundtrack courtesy of elvis and alan menken. B.
Koko: A Talking Gorilla - pretty good fly on the wall look at this famous gorilla who could sign. some say it doesn't mean much, others think it's a big deal. humans are pretty much just apes anyway so whatever. the woman responsible for training koko is a bit nutty, but most of them are. it's always some woman with an overly active sense of compassion who does these things. project nim is another example. there's also a woman who did this with a dolphin and she would jack him off so he would stay focused on the lesson for the day. truly nutty stuff going on in the name of science. all that said, it was watchable and thought-provoking. B-.

How The States Got Their Shapes Season One - great series about how the state lines were formed. a lot of american history here presented in an interesting manner. love it. B+.

A Million Ways To Die In The West - pretty funny seth macfarlane flick. references other westerns for some fun, but mostly stays true to the macfarlane brand of humor - childish and gross. basically if you're a 13-35 year old guy who doesn't take life too seriously you're going to get some laughs out of it. i thought it was funny enough. B-.
Grand Budapest Hotel - nice visually, but didn't do much for me other than that. the novelty of wes anderson has worn off. he's m. night shyamalan C.

Tales Of The Grim Sleeper - documentary from nick broomfield about the grim sleeper who killed 12 people. for some reason, though, broomfield keeps mentioning the 180 women whose pictures he had. i don't know the point of this. the implication is that some of these could be additional victims, but the movie never follows up on any real numbers here. broomfield is really good at finding crazy people on the street who are willing to tell him fantastical stories about whatever topic he's looking into...tupac/biggie, kurt/courtney, heidi fleiss, etc. he's not the most discerning filmmaker, but i think that keeps things interesting. once you go down the broomfield rabbit hole you never know where you're going to end up.
beyond the murders, this is a documentary about poor black people being less than. not good enough to miss and so these 12 people being murdered didn't really get investigated. a miscarriage of justice, but the reality is that people just don't care about prostitutes and when they're black and poor prostitutes then they mean even less. a fascinating portion of the film is when an ex-crack head prostitute drives around with broomfield showing him where she would hang out and asking other prostitutes if they knew the grim sleeper. she's a colorful character who has certainly seen the dark side of humanity. because broomfield doesn't get any investigators or experts to weigh in, as most documentaries would have done, we're left with people like this and lots of speculation. in this case it's actually more entertaining and potentially haunting that way. B+.
Search For General Tso - documentary about the chinese dish "general tso's chicken." it looks at its origins as well as chinese food's evolution in america in general, no pun intended. it also follows chinese immigration and migration in the country. one thing that's obvious is that the chinese have done well for themselves here. they have adapted well and that's reflected in the "inauthentic" cuisine. this inauthentic label is kind of annoying because it assumes there's one authentic chinese cuisine. this is silly because china is huge and because i don't know that you can ever have a consensus on cuisine in any country. what's an authentic pizza or hamburger or sushi roll? the film points this out, to its credit.
the more interesting thing about this film is the way the chinese have adapted to the culture. they have always been discriminated against and yet they have thrived. this is admirable and it's why asians generally are called "model minorities" and get left out of scholarships, etc. that seek out "underrepresented minorities." anyway, it was an interesting way to look at chinese-american culture and migration. this sort of novel approach to a potentially dry topic is what i'd like to see more of. B+.

Human Experiment - documentary about how many chemicals are in our environment - food, water, containers, etc. most of us know about this problem, this puts some of the information in one preachy place with sean penn as the narrator. what it does do, though, is force you to think about it for 80 minutes and that's just depressing. all these documentaries have the same style and structure. would be nice to see one that treads some new ground. C.
from an user:
"This is the first of many documentaries with emerging UNDISPUTED DATA that the Gov/FDA and Monsanto company since 1901 OBVIOUSLY have an agenda to poison, kill, and leave the American public helpless, IGNORANT guinea pigs begging the pharmaceutical companies to finish us off with pain pills after multiple-level chemical exposures from birth.

If that wasn't enough as you can see or research when you go to the Guinea pig feeding troff commercial "grocery" store Genentically altered (GMO) foods are unnatural seeds that additionally have been grown and covered in chemicals and in many cases rinsed in chemicals(Tap Water).

For thousands of years the world was free of America's constant health problems. But since Amercia's food was tainted with chemicals and then exported it's now become the WORLD'S problem....HELLO!

If anything the world should be raging war against America NOT the other way around with 9/11 propaganda...this is one of the reasons the Middle East -now religious fanatics- won't ever stop gorilla tactics! They believe God's 100% and don't break that covenant for ANY reason and that includes...yep, you guessed it...The land of the FREE and under GOD?"

Teacher Of The Year - office-style comedy that doesn't go full funny. it's kinda funny and kinda dramatic. it's watchable because it does both things on a mediocre level. if it was mediocre and played it as a straight drama or as strictly a comedy then there wouldn't be much here. instead it has some funny points and some poignant (though not fully-realized) moments and they work together well enough to be slightly better than average. C+.

Good Wife Season Six - continues to be a pretty good show. kalinda is gone now and apparently there was some real life drama behind that decision. they kinda messed up her character after the first two seasons. unfortunate. alicia is less likable now that she's more selfish and less principled. B.

Newsroom Season Three - good thing about having a newborn is that you watch a lot of tv at night while you try not to kill yourself. this is a good show with the usual very good writing from sorkin. it has it's corny moments, as is the norm for him, but they are hopeful and surrounded by round and smart (if unrealistically good) characters so you pretty much forgive the schmaltz. this season was too short and ended in an unexpected way, but i have no problems with it.
sorkin isn't exactly balanced in his portrayal of blue/red, but that's a bit of the point because the republicans are pretty far off the reservation these days. B+.

Newsroom Season Two - very good show with a host of good characters and subjects tackled. wish it was still going. B+.
American Dad Season Nine - watched a lot of this while staying up with zoe as a newborn. now it's merritt's turn. good show, probably has kept me sane more than any other show. B+.

They Came Together - satirical romantic comedy with paul rudd and amy poehler. has some good laughs and is a funny take on the genre. recommendable enough. B.

Fruitvale Station - not actually sure what the point of this movie is. oscar grant was a flawed guy and he was killed when he shouldn't have been. the tragedy is that he was only 21. say what you will about his past and what got him into this situation, but the brain isn't even done growing until 25 so it's always a shame to me when someone's life is done (whether they're in prison for life or dead) at such a young age. after 25 i pretty much figure that people are getting what they deserve. before that and it's more of a tragedy.
anyway, the film was pretty good on its own. i thought they did a balanced job of portraying what happened (though him saving the pit bull wasn't real). it makes mehserle look incompetent more than anything else; which i happen to agree with. pirone is the one who looks like the real aggressor and problem here. he's the cop who came in like a bull in a china shop and escalated everything. this is why we need more women cops, especially more women officers. if the woman on the scene was the one in charge i doubt any of this would have happened. regardless of sex, though, cops need more training on how to de-escalate this stuff. B.

Casino Jack And The United States Of Money - documentary about jack abromoff. nothing surprising or revealing here. politicians have influence, and need money to win elections. what do you think is going to happen given those two immutable facts? C+.
Newsroom Season One - great opening scene, certainly one of the best in tv history. breaking bad is another. it's a really good show, i just wish there was more of it. B+.

Hot Girls Wanted - documentary about bottom level porn actresses who are looking for easy money and hoping to make it big. other than the fact that it's sex (and that the girls make a lot more money) i don't see too much difference between them and the guys in class a baseball. but the fact that it's sex makes a pretty big deal so this is fairly depressing whereas a documentary about guys trying to make it into the big leagues would just be mildly depressing. we all have dreams i guess. B-.

Cobbler - adam sandler film that isn't his prototypical film, but is more in line with click. less silly and more thoughtful. i liked it enough. C+.

4400 Season Four - loses its touch completely by the final season. ends with a cliffhanger, but was canceled. seemed to lack direction overall which is the downfall of these sci-fi tv shows, it seems. they need to have a better idea of where they're going from the beginning otherwise they write themselves into knots and it can get silly. C-.

Edge Of Tomorrow - tom cruise star vehicle meets groundhog day meets video games. C.
Fed Up - faded in and out of this one while in the hospital. americans are fat. C.

Hotline - documentary about different hotline operators. suicide help line, gay hotline, phone sex lines, etc. kinda interesting look into an interesting job. B-.

Louie Season Four - diminishing returns here. i don't know how to describe this show. i feel like he thinks he's doing something really great and profound and it brushes up against that from time to time but it's so obviously trying to do that that it's a real turn off. the whole thing about the fat girl who he doesn't want to date got a lot of play in the media, but she's so obviously a writer getting stuff out and so far from a real character that it really doesn't work. add to this the fact that the show isn't very funny anymore and you get a show which is less and less interesting and important to watch. C.

Mad Max: Fury Road- got a lot of positive buzz. reminded me of crank which was an over the top action flick with jason statham. it's a good flick with some great visuals and stunts, but overall it didn't live up to the buzz or to road warrior. it's been a while since i've seen mad max, but this one may be better than it so that would make it the second best out of four. road warrior remains one of the best sequels of all time. B.

4400 Season Three - starts to take a step back during this season. still interesting to some extent and watchable, but didn't capture my imagination as much after season two. gotta finish it though. B-.

Criminal Minds Season Nine - back in the swing of things with this season. B.

4400 Season Two - good show and a good season. B.

Criminal Minds Season Eight - back into the swing of things here after a couple down years. a couple good episodes here and there. definitely getting darker here and there as well. more horror stuff (as opposed to detective stuff). B.

12 Years A Slave - the torture porn genre gets a lot of flak, but this film shows that it can be high art as well as the "low art" of films like saw and hostel. i never saw mel gibson's jesus movie, but that got some critical acclaim and it also fit into the torture porn genre. this is probably a better film.
unlike selma, 12 years a slave is worthy of its praise and worthy of a best picture win. from what i've seen it was the best of the films nominated that year. it's not overwrought, pretentious and sanctimonious. it's a film about a guy who endured an awful injustice and the conceit does as much to show what slavery is about as anything else (roots included).
it's immensely depressing, but it's a good film and you should probably watch it once. just like you should watch schindler's list once. there are a million films about the holocaust and slavery but those two are the ones you need to watch before swearing off the topic. B+.

Cinderella - i've seen this movie several times since zoe started watching movies. A+.

Mad Men Season Seven Part 2 - possibly the most overrated tv series of all time. the promos leading up to the final season showed celebrities talking about how seminal a show mad men is. how it's legendary, etc. first of all, only people who read the atlantic watch this show. it's a niche show with half the ratings of criminal minds. second, other than the sets, it's a shit show. some good acting here and there but mostly just intellectual masturbation and pathetic characters. it takes the flawed protagonist thing to such an absurd point that i actually understand the oklahoma guy who is shaking his head wishing for the days of yore when real heroes existed in film and television. in other words, it's about as bad a blue state show as you can think of.
don draper is a total piece of shit. is he a genocidal maniac? no. but as far as regular humans go he's just a scumbag. as far as i can tell the only thing he actually cares about is getting the next ad campaign to be as good as possible. he's the kind of guy who can (and does) exist in real life and who i'd love to spit on if i got the chance. he's the ceo of merrill-lynch. he's bernie madoff. that's the level of respect i have for the guy. it's just that he went into advertising instead of banking and he's only in advertising because he likes to sell stories, like the one about him being in the war and not being a total fuck up.
peggy is the most respectable character. joan isn't too bad relatively speaking, but she needs to get her shit together and stop being a mean girl. F.

Selma - not worthy of an oscar for best picture, but they had to at least nominate it because of the subject matter and cast. unremarkable film about a remarkable time and event. C+.
4400 Season One - pretty good series so far about 4400 people who had disappeared in the past and were suddenly brought back seemingly by aliens. turns out they were sent by humans from the future to avoid some sort of catastrophe. interesting idea and is actually more compelling than lost. production values aren't super high, but the concept is there and they don't dick around as much as lost did. B.

Criminal Minds Season Seven - not one of the better seasons. season six was actually pretty bad because of all the emily prentiss stuff that was going on; didn't like that storyline. here they get back to their bread and butter, but it's too formulaic at this point. C+.

Loft - movie about some rich guys who share a loft on the side so they can have a place to cheat on their wives. a woman shows up dead and they have to figure out what happened. kinda interesting concept and was watchable overall, but it's not a great thriller or anything. C+.

Ride Along - not as good as let's be cops, but kevin hart is a funny guy and is good enough to carry the film to watchable territory. C+.

Let's Be Cops - this kind of movie used to be a staple in my movie going diet. light and good stuff here, don't get much of that anymore. B.

3 Days To Kill - taken with kevin costner. shouldn't have been made. if you're a 50+ year old woman with a thing for kevin costner then you may like it. D+.

Filthy Riches Season One - tv series about backwoods entrepreneurs who have unusual types of jobs (harvesting ginseng, mushrooms, bait worms, etc.). it's like duck dynasty (never seen it) meets dirty jobs (great show). there are some cheesy moments and bits of contrived drama, but overall it's a nice little look at how some choose to make a living. B.

U Part 2 - miami had a good team around 2001. that's about as much as i'll ever say for the university of miami. they're not worthy of two 30 for 30 movies. B-.

Cinderella - one of my favorite disney films. i've seen it in part or whole about a dozen times now because zoe watches it so often. it's a great film that stands up to repeated viewings. really love the music which is unlike the stuff they do today. they not only have musical numbers that are earworms and sing-a-longs for kids, but they also have all these musical cues throughout that mimick or accent the actions of the characters. A+.

50 First Dates - i like adam sandler - i've said it a million times. with that said this is another good sandler film. not his best and not his worst. groundhog day with a twist and seems to have a wink towards the film with one or two references. B.

Sole Man - 30 for 30 about the guy who helped launch nike. went on to land kobe for addidas and (most importantly) helped ed o'bannon sue the ncaa. that's where his legacy really lies for me. i couldn't care less about jordan's millions and the emergence of shoes as a waste of money for people who can't afford it. the ncaa case, though, is important and real. it's like the difference between steve jobs the slave driving asshole riding the coattails of his employees and bill gates the philanthropist. B-.

Better Call Saul Season One - the worst thing about this show is that it's not breaking bad. spinoffs are a tough animal because the fans always want that lightning in a bottle from the original show. this ain't that. on its own, though, it's a pretty good show. it's interesting to see saul as slippin' jimmy and then try to go straight and then it doesn't work out and eventually he becomes saul. mike's storyline is less consistent, but i like his character so it's nice to see him again. a slow start to the series, but i expect it to get better. B-.

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory - i have a feeling i'm going to be watching a lot of this film. A+.

Criminal Minds Season Six - took a turn for the worse this season. the prentiss storyline wasn't interesting at all. i never felt like they did enough with her character and then they go and do this. blah. C.

Return Of The Dragon - bruce lee is great as a martial artist, but none of his films are very good. chuck norris shows up as the bad guy in the end and doesn't add much to the film. chuck norris is another guy who was great as a martial artist, but i can't say i've ever seen a good film that has had him as the star. D.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season One - definitely has the tina fey touch from casting to comic sensibility. took me a while to get into it. it's not a very good show, really, but it passes time and has the fey touch which is something i like and miss after she left snl and 30 rock. C+.

Last Stand - ineffective star vehicle genre film. arnold is getting back on the horse here and though the character has a bit more of a human side than we're used to seeing, there really isn't anything new or interesting here. it's very predictable and uninteresting. would have liked to see more of the reluctant hero side of the character, but they didn't really do much with it other than to say that arnold used to be a big shot and then moved away to a small town so he could live a stress free life. they should have run with that more. D+.

Get Hard - the best stuff is in the previews, but it's a good comedy nonetheless. i think that will ferrell has to be considered one of the best of his generation and probably in the discussion of all-time greats. what he's done in SNL and film is very good and everyone knows about it. but he also has kept relevant in the evolving media through his funny or die website as well as cameos at awards shows, roasts, in public, etc. he's not afraid to go out on a limb with some of this stuff as well as in film with something like casa de mi padre which was almost entirely in spanish. he may not always be the most funny comedian today, but he's daring and innovative as well as being very funny. B.
Robocop - as its own film maybe this would have been good enough, but when measured against the original we see just how crappy a film this is. they made it longer and yet said far less, entertained not nearly as much, and just disappointed at every turn. it's hardly the social commentary that the first one was. it doesn't have the same emotional resonance. it has no real sense of humor. it's barely a shadow of the original in every way except the special effects and the money it earned. when you see that aronofsky was originally slated to direct and you learn about how long it took to make the film it's evident that the producers were the problem. D-.

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory - zoe's first full movie and she seemed to like it. she asked for the oompa loompas afterwards. she also asks for mickey (kramer's midget friend) from seinfeld so i think the little people are interesting to her. of course this is a great movie with great songs and visuals. can't wait to watch more movies with zoe and merritt. A+.

Bloodline Season One - kind of a cross between shakespeare and douglas sirk. everything looks good on the surface and then, as you get closer, all these frailties and cracks start to show. everyone is well-cast and it's a nicely written show. i sorta expected it to be a one and done, but it looks like there will be another season at least. netflix is doing some good things. B+.
House Of Cards Season Three - not the best season to date, but a good season with another good ending. i don't know how much i buy claire's character at this point, though. what is she thinking towards the end? is it penis envy or has she had an epiphany or was she completely delusional for the last 28 years? i don't think she's stupid so i don't buy that she was delusional. i don't buy an epiphany (moral or otherwise), either. so all i'm left with is that she envies the power that francis has. she feels that she played a big part of getting that power for him (she's right) and wants it for herself. of course, it has paid dividends for her, but maybe not as much as she'd like. if she wants more, though, then she just has to continue to play the long game. i don't really understand what's going on. B.

Criminal Minds Season Five - probably the best season to date. some good cameos, some good storylines that cut deeper than usual. they also do a better job with direction this season - moving outside of the normal police procedural a little bit with some actual artistry. B-.

Walking Dead Season Five - great show that continues to entertain. rick is one of those tortured male characters who has to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. sometimes he goes too far, but we always understand considering what he's had to deal with and what his responsibilities are. this contrasts well with michonne's character who is a bad ass female who is trying to tug the group back towards civilization and their humanity, rather than simple survival. both are really tough hills to climb and that is shown through the series. some major characters were lost in this season and that's always a sad and necessary reminder that this show is about a true apocalypse situation. just because we like a character doesn't mean they get to stick around. sometimes their humanity is their weakness. other times it's just bad luck or stupidity. good show. B+.
Inside Llewyn Davis - an important film for only one reason - it got zoe's undivided attention for 25 straight minutes. then she walked off, came back and watched it another 15-20 minutes. so, it was almost her first movie, but she didn't want to watch any of it later on. 45 minutes of basically movement free time from zoe, though, is a landmark achievement. i attribute this primarily to the cat in the film.
for me the film didn't do much and just further proved that the coen brothers have been going steadily downhill since the 90s. true grit was good. i don't really see the point of this film. it kept my interest in the same way that a serious man did - nothing was happening for so long that i kept expecting something in the next scene. i guess i'm just not smart enough for the coens anymore. C.

Damages Season Five - ended with the worst season, that's a shame. the last two seasons were definitely the worst. they changed networks and things fell apart. at first it seemed like maybe it was a good thing - there was some t and a, they could use more explicit language, so you figured they would have more freedom, but in the end it just meant that the show suffered. maybe there was different personnel or maybe they just ran out of steam.
ellen turns into a complete dolt this season. she has several missteps against patty and isn't up to the challenge at all. there's some family shit with patty and none of it is very interesting. overall, these last two seasons were basically a waste. C-.

Damages Season Four - blackwater season. worst season to date. C+.

Unfinished Business - funny enough vince vaughn vehicle. got some good laughs out of me and i never checked my watch. that's basically the bar i set now for films now that i don't have enough time to watch them. this one passed that bar. dave franco was pretty good as a retarded kid. C+.

I Hate Christian Laettner - i do, or did. basically this 30 for 30 shows that laettner is just another cocky guy who was good at basketball. he is far from a silver spoon type and he did much of what he did because of a hard scrabble upbringing and a tough big brother. in other words, if he were a black guy going to UNC no one would have ever paid attention to him outside of his good basketball skills. they probably never would have named him one of the 50 best looking people on people magazine, he never would have been called a spoiled rich kid, etc. the fact that he's white and went to duke changed a lot of that for him, for better and worse. so, instead of hating the guy i'm just going to give him his props for his great college career and then forget about him. B+.

Damages Season Three - bernie madoff season. some twisted stuff happens this season, but patty isn't the worst of it again so it looks like they don't want to go the direction of making her truly awful in a literary sense; she's just everyday awful. oh well. B-.

At Berkeley - quite dull documentary that looks at life at UCB from several different perspectives. wiseman takes the fly on the wall thing to another level here and gives us 4 hours seemingly without comment on what we're seeing. we're not introduced to anyone or given intertitles on background, etc. so, if you don't go to school there or work there then you won't necessarily know who the chancellor is, what OE is, what the major controversies are, what the larger context is, etc. an astute viewer with infinite patience would be able to glean some of these things, but it's difficult to watch without the mind wandering. for someone who worked there and knew the major players and some of the professors, it was mildly interesting...but not for 4 hours. i split it into two sessions and didn't get much out of it. birgeneau is clueless and inept which reminds me a lot of jefferson coombs the executive director of the cal alumni association. lots of great material here to work with and wiseman seemingly just barfs it onto the screen. too bad. C.

Damages Season Two - patty hewes isn't as evil from this season on which takes a bit of the interest out of the show to be honest. still a good show, just not as compelling as when you didn't quite know how far she would go to protect herself. B.

Criminal Minds Season Four - more of the same. C+.

Brian And The Boz - another 30 for 30. this one implies that there are two sides of brian bosworth - brian and his alter ego the boz. the boz is the one responsible for getting into trouble and the doping and all that. truth is, they're the same idiotic person. he was a marginal nfl talent and a good college player. there are a lot of guys like this in football history and he's not near the top of the list for me. he was controversial for his steroid use and taking on the ncaa as communists (fascists is more like it). other than that he's not a notable figure at all. in his old age he seems to have had time to reflect and he has matured. nothing that great here. B-.

Damages Season One - B.

Wedding Ringer - actually very funny film that shows kevin hart has some chops and range. well-written and cast for a variety of laughs. i'd watch it again. B+.

Terriers Season One - good one off series about a couple PIs who can't seem to stay out of trouble. would have been fun to see more of them, but i guess it was cancelled. i think a three season run would have been right. B.

Repo Men - not a good movie. the idea (it's the future when replacement organs are sold and then reposessed if the patient can't keep up his/her payments) is ripe enough and the person who originally came up with it is probably pissed to see what they did with his idea, but i guess that's hollywood. after all is said and done this film is better as a trailer that presents the premise and allows you to imagine the possibilities from there. D.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - young jack ryan saves the world. nothing here that was worthy of the series. very ho hum. D+.
Interview - good comedy that is among the most important films of the century. fog of war comes to mind, bowling for columbine, but not much more than that. good stuff, but not a great film on its own. great only because north korea has a stick so far up its ass that it took offense to it. nice to see that the whole reaction-makes-it-a-bigger-deal-than-it-should-have-been cuts the other way too. usually it's just us reacting to the terrorists that turns out that way, but in this case it's them reacting to a simple movie. B+.

Good Wife Season Five - crazy shit goes down when they kill off will and alicia/peter come to an official agreement to be done with the marriage except for business purposes. pivotal season. B+.

Criminal Minds Season Three - still decent. B-.

Bridesmaids - forgot how classic this film was/is. great flick. A.
Oldboy - not as good as the original. didn't remember much of anything about it other than that the ending was surprising. was surprised again this time around. having a crap memory comes in handy sometimes. B.

Inside Man Season Two - cnn docu-series with morgan spurlock doing his day in the life thing. this is what he does and i'm glad he's around to do this series. some of the choices for episodes could be better, but overall i like this stuff. B+.
Good Wife Season Four - a show that continues to impress. it's not groundbreaking, but it's solid TV on a network. tackles thorny issues, has some suspense as well as comedy. sure, the law stuff is probably awful if you're a lawyer, but if you're a lawyer you have bigger problems than this show being inaccurate. zing! please don't sue me. B+.

Alex Cross - ho hum thriller with tyler perry. really nothing to write home about. i think i've forgotten most of it already. C.

Wild - pretty good coming of age type film. the female into the wild is the most obvious summary and that fits in a lot of ways. reese witherspoon is good, not amazing. ending fell a little flat for me. B.

Portlandia Season Four - just wish these seasons were longer. there's seemingly no end to the amount of stuff you can make fun of when it comes to the hippies and hipsters. good stuff. B+.

Good Wife Season Three - good show that tackles gender politics and inter-family stuff, but also a variety of societal issues. like law and order, the show has episodic themes that are drawn from real headlines. these serve as good fodder for conversation as well as interest on a per show basis. i don't love the things alicia florrick is doing, but she's a great character who is complex and good at her job. good show. B+.

grading scale:
A+ 4.3
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
D- 0.7
F+ 0.3
F 0.0
F- -0.3