Movies Reviewed, 2018

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F Is For Family Season 3 - pretty good bill burr animated comedy about a 70s family with a father who is constantly pissed and stressed. a 70s version of me in a parallel universe can definitely relate. B.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets - another good installment. B.

Mary Poppins Returns - never should have been made. really didn't like much of anything about this formulaic money grab. miranda over-acts and nothing about the rest of it redeems it. just stop doing this, please. D.
Last Days Of Knight - 30 for 30 about bob knight losing his mind over the course of his career. lots of talent and work ethic, but totally clueless when it comes to social mores. B.

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York - formulaic already and unnecessary. it produces some good laughs during the physical comedy sequences at the end, but not much more. culkin is good, but i think pesci and stern actually make these movies. C+.
Home Alone 3 - hughes wrote this one apparently. no culkin, no love, though. ebert liked this one more than the other two, but he was all over the place. it's not bad, but it just doesn't live up to the first installment. C+.

Green Book - peter farrelly directs this biopic about an odd couple who end up becoming friends. it's what life should be like. judge the individual and all that. great comic relief and life-affirming themes that i love. good stuff, great acting. B+.

Black Mirror Season Two - great series that makes you think every single episode. twilight zone-esque. highly recommended. A-.
Black Mirror Season One - great series that makes you think every single episode. twilight zone-esque. highly recommended. A-.

Black Mirror Season Three - great series that makes you think every single episode. twilight zone-esque. highly recommended. A-.

Ralph Breaks The Internet - not bad for parents while the kids watch. C+.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone - saw this once at midnight the day it came out. was working at the theater and we always had to screen the movies to make sure there weren't any problems with the print. i've never read the books so i don't know anything about that aspect. this was better than i remembered. actually found myself kind of into it while watching it with the girls. the scenes with him at home are very reminiscent of early peter jackson stuff. quick moving camera, unusual lens, grainy look. B.

Sharp Objects Season One - a bit slow at times, but definitely worth the pay off in the end. thick with atmosphere and small town dysfunction. B.
Black Mirror Season Four - great series that makes you think every single episode. twilight zone-esque. highly recommended. A-.

Instant Family - more than meets the eye here. thought it was going to be a comedy about getting in over your head (it's about a couple who adopt and end up with 3 kids)....a more than you bargained for, feel good light comedy with some depth. turned out to be darker and deeper than expected. shit gets real and it's all the better for it. wahlberg and byrne have good chemistry. surprisingly good. B+.

Home Alone - classic. girls liked it, but were worried about the bad guys a little. ending is the best part. A.

Big Little Lies Season 1 - melodrama about rich families feuding. this is a classic metoo show...(spoiler alert) right down to the ending where all the women get together and accidentally-ish kill the abusive husband and then cover it up. decent overall. B.

Cube - re-watched this cult classic. acting is low budget as is the rest of the film. really it's about the concept. not that great overall, but better than you'd expect considering the budget. it's one of those cases where it's not as good as the hype, but was semi-worth of hype considering there wasn't any marketing or stars or budget to begin with. C+.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - total hughes classic. girls liked it, but not as much as uncle buck. A+.
Voyeur - errol morris-esque documentary about a hotel owner who watched his renters and claims to have seen a murder. gay talese writes a book about it and then retracts it because he feels he can't stand by the facts. anti-climactic. C+.

Old Man And The Gun - very 70s feeling movie with robert redford and sissy spacek. slow moving and not really sure what the point was. in that way it felt even more like a 70s drama. it's a character piece and a vehicle for good acting. they both do a good job and it's a nice enough story. it won't be for everyone, but i liked it enough. first movie i've seen at the parkway theater. C+.

Ozark Season Two - not as great as the first season, but still a gripping drama following a family with its back against the wall. the imminent domain stuff was too deus ex machina for me. B+.

Room - surprising film and tough to watch. great performances. these abduction cases are just so sad. wish i could do something to combat this kind of shit. B+.

Better Call Saul Season 4 - just love the style and the characters so much that they can't really do wrong with this series. B+.
Derren Brown: Sacrifice - another derren brown documentary with a test of human pliability. this one seeks to see if the seemingly racist subject will put his life on the line for a hispanic guy. interesting concept. B-.

First Man - if i watched this 10 years ago i'd probably have a much different opinion of it. as a father, though, this one hit hard. the direction is slow, but i was never bored. the acting is great. but the real gut punch is in the father-daughter relationship that plays such a central role. i have no idea how real any of this is, but as a story this is pretty damn great. interstellar did the same for me. A-.

Uncle Buck - timeless classic about the black sheep being the only one you can count on in a pinch. he steps up in the end and everyone is better as a result. great film and another classic in the hughes library. A+.
Vietnam War - great series about the vietnam war told chronologically and in an unbiased way. shows how both liberals and conservatives failed the country by engaging in the war and sticking with it far beyond the point of reason. LBJ is seen by many as a great president because of civil rights achievements, but i really don't think much of him and the vietnam war is a big part of that. literally millions of people died because of this war...even after everyone knew that we couldn't help the south vietnam the way we had intended. LBJ has a lot of blood on his hands.
another thing is that i always grew up thinking that america basically went looking for a war because of the domino principle and it was evil american imperialism. in fact, there was a very reasonable moral argument to be made regarding the protection of the south vietnamese people. i completely understand us going there early on. one of the many ways we failed, though, is in not getting international support. we should have done that in order to make the defense of the south a moral issue supported by the west, instead of us and a small contingent of allies.
absolute tragedy. A.

Oath - much more than i expected. tiffany haddish delivers again, but ike barinholtz was a surprise. the themes were deeper than usual and the comedy delivered real belly laughs. definitely worth a viewing. B+.

Sandlot - classic coming of age film whose main character always resonated with me...kid searching for his place in the new neighborhood. definitely dated now, but the themes hold up. B.

Science Fair - good documentary about high school kids who enter an international science fair. gives you some hope for the future of the world. some of the kids are entitled or whatever, but most of them care about the future and are smart so they're half way there already. B.

Night School - every year there are 2-8 of these prosaic comedies that deliver on laughs, but aren't all that memorable. this is one of those. tiffany haddish and kevin hart are pretty reliable. B.

Coco - didn't follow this one super closely, but i can see why people like it. pixar doesn't really do it for me overall. inside out is probably my favorite. B-.
A Simple Favor - paul feig directs. was interested and engaged throughout. good balance of comedy and suspense. reminded me a bit of hitchcock. B.

Baby Driver - good music and style. wasn't super into the movie, but the soundtrack and musical sequences kept me interested enough. overall pretty good, but something was missing in the plot or characters to put it over the top for me. B-.

Shameless Season Eight - people who like this show might think this is the worst season so far, but, as someone who never really liked the series, i think this may be the best season to date. instead of being gritty and real, this one is funny because it goes over the top. i always was uncertain whether the writers wanted us to root for the gallaghers or what. here it seems they've finally stopped taking themselves seriously. this merry band of rejects is finally the joke that they always should have been. B.

Purge: Election Year - was hoping for more. these films have more potential than is realized. C.

Silicon Valley Season 5 - the loss of tj miller hurts, but it's still a pretty reliable comedy. B-.

Last Chance U: INDY - new coach, new location. same good stuff. B.

Teen Titans Go To The Movies - i think this is the first movie i took the girls to in the theater by myself. they've been to a few movies in the theater, but i'm almost certain this is the first one with just the three of us. hopefully many many more to come. the movie itself wasn't anything special and didn't do anything for me. they seemed into it less than the popcorn and candy. C.

Betting On Zero - documentary about herbalife and bill ackman who is shorting their stock. he goes out on a limb and tries to take them down, but ultimately fails. going big on a short is such a ballsy move. herbalife seems like a waste of money, but i also wasn't sold on them being a ponzi scheme. it's just a shitty MLM company with a business model that focuses on suckering people into being dreamers. C+.

Saving Capitalism - robert reich stars in this documentary about the economy and what's wrong with american capitalism. don't remember much about it at this point. basically the biggest problem is cronyism and everyone knows that already. capitalism itself is great when it's allowed to go without onerous regulation, while also keeping in check the largest players. unfortunately that's not how it's working now. B-.

Sorry To Bother You - another oakland-based movie. this one is about a telemarketer and it goes into cronenberg territory after a while. wanted to like it because it's in oakland, but this one is basically dumb marxist trash. D.

Blindspotting - oakland-based movie about a couple buddies, gentrification, the working class, etc. good acting, good comic relief, good substance. B+.
Recovery Boys - documentary about young men in and out of rehab. it's the typical story and the film doesn't show anything you haven't seen before, but it's always depressing to see lives wasted thanks to drug addiction. B-.

Hell Or High Water - pretty good outlaw and law chase type movie. it's like the wild bunch meets heat or something. not on that level, but there's some good acting. B.

We Need To Talk About Kevin - hyped a lot online. it's about a disturbed kid who grows into a disturbed teenager. spoiler alert. he pulls a columbine with a crossbow. pretty good overall and disturbing. as a parent, you wonder what you would do if your kid was acting like this. i'd probably start by smacking him in the head instead of coddling him. glad i don't have boys sometimes. B.
Staircase - they added some new content to this classic true crime series. i still come down on the "not guilty" side, though it's always tough with these cases. the lawyer also defended rae carruth, fyi. the extra episodes add an aftermath and show him in prison, getting out of prison while on some final appeal, and then him taking an alford plea (which is just the most orwellian legalistic bullshit you've ever heard of). we need criminal justice reform. A-.

Inferno - heard good things about this for some reason, but it's really nothing special. i like this kind of thriller with a lot of conspiracy, etc., but this one fell flat. C.

Game Of Thrones Season 7 - gearing up for a good finale season. don't remember the specifics 5 months later, but i enjoyed it. B-.

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi - not as good as episode 7, but still pretty quality. seeing luke go the way of yoda was sad, but it leaves the finale open for rey to be the star. B.

Portlandia Season Eight - not as cutting edge and novel as the early seasons, but remains watchable. B-.

Rachel Divide - wish i was reviewing this 6 months ago when i watched this. fascinating documentary about rachel dolezal, who claims to be black in spite of the fact that she's white. it's a movie about a trans-racial woman in a time when trans-sexual is all the rage. some claim that her doing this is different in some way, but i don't buy it. you really have to accept one if you accept the other. B+.

Tag - silly comedy about a group of guys who play tag all the time. based on a true story, it's a weird concept for a movie, but it's essentially a buddy comedy. the slow down sequences with renner are stupid. most of the movie is kinda dumb, actually. D+.

Take Your Pills - documentary about overworked kids and the pressure to use drugs to succeed. it's pretty crazy how far people take competition and performance. drugs are such an integral part of society and i have no first hand knowledge of them. am i different because of that or do i not do drugs because i'm different? B-.

Solo: A Star Wars Story - continuing to mine the star wars franchise...this one is about han solo in his early days. i don't really understand the chronology of it, however, because of the darth maul appearance. kids liked it well enough. i can't remember it well enough. B-.

Incredibles 2 - never was that into the first one and the second one didn't do all that much for me either. it's also a metoo movie with the wife taking the super hero lead while the dad takes care of the kids. expect more of these. C.

Wild Wild Country - documentary about the oregon cult that became a national controversy. touches on freedom of religion, libertarianism, cults, race and gender and class...fascinating stuff here. B+.

Ocean's 8 - the metoo movement is in full swing with movies like this. this one grossed $100 million less than the lowest grossing male cast ocean's move (ocean's 13). i guess the gender wage gap is a real thing after all. even the movie going public is sexist...i thought it was just corporate bosses.
actually it's more likely that this movie didn't make as much because it's not as good. it's the worst of the recent franchise (i've never seen the original). still watchable. C+.

American Animals - retelling of an art heist clumsily pulled off by a few college friends. somewhat of a comedy of errors. B-.
When We First Met - adam devine/netflix comedy that relies too heavily on him and not enough on a supporting cast or writing. very average. C-.

Evil Genius - documentary about a bizarre heist gone wrong. felt like errol morris. interesting cast of characters. B.

New Girl Season Six - not as funny as before, but watchable enough to be in the bedtime rotation. C+.

Mindhunter Season One - looks at the founding of the FBIs behavioral unit. as a fan of true crime and serial killers, this is a good job. dark, well acted and written. good stuff all around. if you're into that stuff at all then you'll like this. B+.

Week Of - sandler/rock comedy that delivered exactly what sandler comedies usually deliver - watchable posaicness. C+.

War Dogs - sometimes funny and interesting look at a couple of guys who get into arms dealing overseas. seems like a lucrative business; i should look into it. B-.

Santa Clarita Diet Season Two - not as good this season, but it's still a solid show with an unusual premise and good cast/writing. B.

Black Panther - over-rated and over done. there's a bit here to chew on as far as the story as allegory, but i was mostly under-whelmed and left wondering what people saw. i'd file it under andrew sarris' "less than meets the eye." C+.

All Things Must Pass: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records - having worked at tower this was a bit closer to my hear than the average documentary. does a good job of showing the importance of the chain when record stores mattered. showed a bit of what it was like working there in the early days and what the culture was. unfortunately, i didn't see as much of that as i came in at the tail end of their reign. technically right at their peak, but it was really on their down slide when i was first hired. the industry was starting to turn, the company was fully corporatized, and it wasn't the same as it was in those early days. B.

Flint Town Season One - inside look at flint PD as they do their job. with all the black lives matter and blue lives matter talk that is going on these days, it's good to see a side of the every day officer who is doing their best in a tough situation. they put a lot on the line and we should recognize that. we should also hold them to a high standard. everyone should be held to a high standard.
conservatives are often fans of holding the poor and people of color to a high standard and they point out that lowering the bar is no good for the people in question. fair enough, but that should apply to the cops and other people in power as well. with great power comes great responsibility. - ben parker. B+.

Office Season Seven - one of my favorite shows of all-time. this is the last great season because michael scott leaves. not sure if they could make this show these days. A.

Ghostbusters - decent overall. been a while since i've seen this. i don't know that it's a classic for me, but i decided to buy it because zoe has been asking about scary movies a lot lately and figured this would be better than last house on the left (which she picked off the shelf and asked about). B.

Game Over, Man! - okay die hard-esque comedy from the workaholics guys. B.

Mechanic: Resurrection - barely watched this as it was on in the background. C.

Godzilla - zoe was asking about scary movies so we watched the original godzilla. a lot going on here with the threat of nuclear fallout, the worry of super weapons, etc. more than meets the eye, which is why it's a classic. as a horror film it's not particularly scary, but zoe actually pretty much watched it (her first japanese film) and it has a monster so i figured it qualified enough. B+.

Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret Season Three - weird show which is marginally entertaining. B-.

Strippers Season One - documentary series that takes place in the UK following various strippers around while they work and talk about their job. interesting to see the immigrants talk about doing work there for money and wanting to return home, etc. strippers are the female equivalent of migrant labor like the african laborers who come to Rio to work on the olympic stadium. people using their body to better their lot in life. amazing how many ways there are to live your life. B.

Aileen: Life And Death Of A Serial Killer - nick broomfield direct this documentary about "America's first female serial killer." i don't think this label is factual, but whatever. he does his usual shtick and we learn some things along the way, but mostly are left with more questions and uncertainty than anything. he obfuscates a subject like no one else. C+.

Derren Brown: The Push - i doubt the veracity of this, and yet the reactions look genuine. let's assume it's real. in that case this is a somewhat interesting look at the pliability of humans. interesting film/documentary. B-.

Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On - docuseries that follows a few different people in the adult entertainment industry. worth watching if you're interested in the subject. there's a black guy who talks about race in the industry as well as performance anxiety. there's holly randall (who has a podcast, is a photographer, and is daughter of the famous suze randall). and there are a few others who show other sides of the industry. produced by rashida jones. B.

I, Tonya - makes her seem downright human. flawed and trashy, but possibly not in on the kerrigan beat down. good performance. the effects weren't good enough to mask the obvious fact that it wasn't margot robbie skating. distracting. the mom (janey) was a stand out. B.
Dirty Money Season One - hopefully they make more of these. each episode is an expose of a different company, person, industry. like frontline or similar, but less dry and more insider-y in some cases. B+.

Lady Bird - good movie with a main character i feel like i know. the opening scene is really the best of the movie. solid little indie flick that got some good recognition, but it's not a world beater. B.

Office Season Six - great series at or near its peak here. A+.

Hatfields And McCoys - short series about the feud between the eponymous families. it's just a sad testament to the nature of the whole thing. i didn't realize how intertwined they were in some ways (two of the kids were engaged (married?...i can't remember) at one point. you'd think they'd want to put it all behind them, but cooler heads never prevailed. B-.
Rocco - porn star rocco siffredi talks about retiring. basically just a documentary following him around a bit. nothing special or insightful here. they also don't mention that the retirement didn't stick as he's back to making movies. the one notable thing is that he seems to dislike being a porn star and talks about it as a burden. i think he has mental problems. C.

Bright - netflix is dipping its toes into the blockbuster waters. going with big talent and big budgets. this one is a regular feature film in every way other than it wasn't released in theaters. it's not a particularly great movie, but it's interesting enough. reminded me of alien nation. i'd watch a sequel. C+.

Shameless Season Seven - barely remember it. C+.

Office Season Five - continues the greatness. A.

Commuter - another liam neeson flick that doesn't live up to taken. C+.
Office Season Four - great series and this is one of the better seasons. 4-7 i think were all really great. A.

Run All Night - nothing special despite the good cast. C.

HIdden Figures - feel good historical drama with some lighter moments (which were appreciated). there are a lot of these films that make you feel both good and bad about being an american. this one is better than most. B.