Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Lots of silly, light-hearted humor from Waititi, and a few giggles. But I think that making the whole thing a light comedy is a dangerous choice. One of the reasons the Marvel movies have been so well-received and successful is because there is a concerted effort to make the stories…

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Your Name (2016)

Fun concept. The concept of interdimensional communication and love is reminiscent of Interstellar, and there’s an opportunity to make something really emotional here, but the story falls a little short, and it’s all a little too magical for me. Portrayal of gender roles will surely outrage today’s sensitive crowd, as…

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Hidden Figures (2016)

The filmmaking and dialogue are basic, science is dumbed down, and the race thing is a little on the nose.

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Tulip Fever (2017)

Interesting backstory for the film. Shot over three years ago. It’s not great, but not as horrible as everyone’s making it out to be. Part may be my attraction to this period of Dutch history. The story is a bit aimless at first, but the complicated love triangles eventually gain…

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Mudbound (2017)

A really well-made, authentic period piece that just feels right. Mostly steady camera and minimalist music and score allow us to concentrate on the characters and story. Pacing is perfect, editing is clean. It’s beautifully shot, with loving detail paid to the costumes and smaller sets, though I feel like…

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The Florida Project (2017)

As a meandering, art-house film set in Florida, this is the new Moonlight. Hardly any story, mostly a shaky camera following some kids around. If that was the goal of the film, well done. But it’s not for me. Despite the lack of story, the last scene did have some…

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Split (2016)

Definitely Shyamalan, with it’s suspense, minimalist editing, flashbacks to establish character, a touch of the supernatural, and a twist at the end. Some of his dialogue can seem a little scripted, though. McAvoy is great as a loony. Taylor-Joy’s pretty good, though perhaps a few too many shots of her…

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50/50 (2011)

Cute, inspirational story. Gordon-Levitt isn’t that annoying, actually pretty good. Rogen is his usual charming self. Kendrick is cute as always.

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Wonder (2017)

As this generation’s Mask, it’s heavy stuff. But the storytelling is a little confusing. Are we telling the story from the perspective of Auggie? His parents? His sister? His sister’s friend? Chbosky tried to make it interesting by telling a few different stories, or maybe that’s how the original novel…

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Anything Else (2003)

It seems like everyone in this movie is supposed to be Woody Allen. They’ve all got the same schtick: overly neurotic, nervous energy, monotonous philosophical drivel. In other movies, his actors can sometimes pull this off naturally (like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris), but in this one, everyone seems…

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Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Pretty much everything that I had hoped for in a sequel. Villeneuve treated the story with reverence, paying homage to the original film and extending the story, visual style, and score with great care and creativity. A sci-fi epic. Villeneuve is helped by a rich, deep story with nice pacing,…

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Hold On (2016)

Well-shot. Definitely captures a mood, but not much of a story. Shorts can have more story than this, right? Characters and performances are authentic. Dagelet is entirely believable, and a talented musician to boot.

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Wind River (2017)

Nice little story in an exotic location. Well-made and beautifully shot, except for some needless shaky cam during some of the more emotional scenes. Casting and performances are all good, though there seems to be some occasional mumbling.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Good cast. I think this one helped make Cera an icon for our hipster generation. Lots of goofy but quick humor, whimsical editing, fun graphics, and some pretty good fight scenes. Don’t know much about the graphic stories, but this was a fun movie.

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Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)

So formulaic and cheaply made. Statham’s still cool, but his movies are really getting shitty. For an old guy, he can still move. And Alba still looks great. Michelle Yeoh is wasted. Poor Tommy Lee Jones.

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Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)

90’s cheese.

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The Peanuts Movie (2015)

A collection of all the Peanuts plotlines over the years. Cleverly intertwined, but there’s not much story. Animation is really good, faithful to Schulz but updated with subtle 3D effects.

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10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

With the same creative team and a similar title, I thought this would be more of a sequel to Cloverfield. But while the themes and feel of the film is similar, the connection between the two stories is not really there. There is talk of a third Cloverfield film, which…

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More American Graffiti (1979)

Definitely a slice of the 70’s, both in its subject matter and style. The split screens, changing aspect ratios, and psychedelic animation are a bit distracting. Charles Martin Smith is kind of funny.

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Boulevard (2014)

Williams continues plunging into darker, more psychologically introspective, more dramatically challenging roles. Why did he go in this direction? This was one of his last films. Was he sensing his own mortality? Thin story, but it’s moody, and Williams seems very comfortable there.

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Get Out (2017)

Suspenseful, well-made, and some wonderful social commentary in there. Behind the story being told, there is a nice, gently explored angle on racism here. Kaluuya is good. For an English guy, he authentically conveys the American experience with perfect accent and mannerisms. He’s also good at crying. Allison Williams is…

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Mulholland Drive (2001)

If you spend 75% of the movie trying to tolerate completely horrible dialogue and acting and 25% trying to figure out WTF, that’s not a good movie. If you fail to find anyone smarter than you on the internet to explain what you just watched, then it’s not a good…

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Dunkirk (2017)

An experimental epic from Nolan. You can tell that a lot of care went into the film’s structure, visuals, and seat-shaking sound. The experience is visceral, and the action is riveting. Truly stunning visuals. Reviewers around the country are encouraging viewers to see it in IMAX, and for good reason.…

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Pretty funny. I had a grin on my face throughout. A lot like the British version of The Office with its mockumentary structure, quick dialogue, focus on the mundane, and comedic timing. Effects are very good and used just enough to to keep things interesting. To nitpick, I think it…

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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

A collection of action scenes filled with unbelievably extreme brutality. The number of graphic, execution-style headshots in this one is just shocking. The story that loosely holds the whole thing together is pretty thin, with actors in just about every scene trying to outcool each other with crappy dialogue. The…

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Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Nice little sports movie. Impressive turn for Egerton, coming fresh off a role as stud in Kingsman: The Secret Service that put him on the map.

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Baby Driver (2017)

Some decent music, pretty good car chases, and some admittedly great editing, maybe even Oscar-worthy. But with a nearly nonexistent story, this is one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen. The soundtrack, goofy anachronisms, and overly stylistic visuals act as icing on the worst cake you’ve ever had.…

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Gifted (2017)

The story is a bit formulaic, and the characters are a bit stock. It’s the performances that give the film a bit of warmth. Evans has looks, coolness, and subtle control of his expressions to effectively convey a full range of emotions. Grace is charming. Duncan is really good in…

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Wonder Woman (2017)

The relatively inexperienced Patty Jenkins takes on a huge project and does great. As Zack Snyder’s visually masturbatory direction threatens to cheapen the DC universe, Jenkins’ more traditional direction and storytelling allows for good character development while still remaining faithful to the Snyder look and feel. People and places are…

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Adam (1992)

Cute.

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Not Without My Handbag (1993)

Weird, almost Tim Burtonish. But it’s slow and drags a bit, even for a short.

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Wat’s Pig (1996)

Not bad. I’ve seen this story somewhere before.

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Creature Comforts (1989)

Park establishes what would be his signature claymation look. I love how the audio track is made of actual interviews of people. It definitely feels natural.

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Achtung Baby: A Classic Album Under Review (2007)

For a big fan, it’s an interesting look at the band during a transformative period. Playing music samples in the background would have been a great way to liven up the critical interviews, which tend to drag a bit.

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The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959)

A tragic story about the injustice of war, one man’s existential journey and exploration of the failings of humanism in wartime, and a harrowing descent into madness. Thought-provoking, but a bit slow. Epic in scale, especially when considering that this long work is only part of a trilogy. Director Masaki…

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The Redemption: Kickboxer 5 (1995)

Direct to video is right. Dacascos is a nice specimen from the same mold as Brandon Lee, but this is a pile of crap. Odds of hitting three numbers in a row on that roulette wheel is 1/50,653, or 0.002%.

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House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Mystical kung fu with extravagant costumes on beautifully decorated sets, with slow-mo and and wire work to heighten the action, much in the vein of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The formula is getting old. Ziyi Zhang is a treat, and the kung fu is decent. But the story is lame,…

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That Thing You Do! (1996)

As an actor, Hanks’ roles have been very funny or very dramatic. This movie, though, is quite plain. Neither funny nor dramatic. It’s well-made, but there’s just not much to it. Why is that? Did Hanks just want some safe material so that he could give directing a shot and…

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Abortion: Stories Women Tell (2016)

Not a documentary of the biology and history and legality of the procedure as much as it is a profile of women who have dealt with it. A delicate, even-handed look at a very complicated social issue.

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

This is a quality production. The story is deep and well-told, the effects are all motivated and realistic, and the musical numbers are well-choreographed and shot. The live-action retelling is new territory, but tis is one of Disney’s best. Watson does a great job. Overall, it’s a great cast, with…

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Keanu (2016)

Silly movie, but these guys are funny. Good cat footage.

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Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)

A fun continuation of the story. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. Is the whole girl power thing is a joke? It’s a confusing message for those who take it seriously. A guy helps them make it all happen, and being slutty is ultimately what allows…

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Seven Samurai (1954)

A rich story for its time, with a nice, slow build to the climactic battle scenes, dynamic camera movements, and innovative lens choices. There are a lot of qualities here, and I see how the film has a place in film history. But it’s all a bit slow by today’s…

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Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (2004)

A boring film with a boring actor playing a seemingly boring real-life historical figure. Horner ripping off his own Braveheart themes was distractingly awful. Why are they playing Scottish music, anyway? I know the game originated there, but this movie is about a guy from the American south playing in…

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Doctor Strange (2016)

Good character development. I was skeptical, but Cumberbatch ended up being a good choice for the lead. I always found him to be a bit stiff, but he’s actually kind of funny in this one, and his American accent and personality is pretty authentic. The dialogue feels a bit stunted…

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Rogue One (2016)

People are making a big deal about it, but I don’t see it as any better than the rest of the movies in the franchise. Faithful to the look and feel of the other Star Wars movies, but if you take away the nostalgia and effects, the actual drama is…

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Moana (2016)

Creatively, it’s an interesting, and perhaps the most successful, Disney/Pixar collaboration. The story of innocence and growth, the respect for tradition and elders, the mystery of folklore, and all the musical numbers are pure Disney. The quality of the animation is pure Pixar, and it’s pretty great. Looks like they…

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Race (2016)

Pretty good casting with James. He nailed the running posture, I wonder if he got the personality right. Sudekis is quality. It’s a good story, but it’s all a little plain and formulaic. The football players all look and talk and sound like bullies, the Nazis all make mean faces.…

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John Wick (2014)

Pretty standard revenge story. The violence, polished visual style, and ambient funk rock techo laid on top of just about every scene helps to hide that this is a pretty boring and thin storyline. Reeves looks pretty cool, and it’s obvious that he did a lot of tactical training for…

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Sully (2016)

It’s a dramatic real-life story, but maybe it’s not dramatic enough for a movie. Eastwood did what he could with the source material, but I’m just not sure there’s enough there. Not sure that all the flashbacks improved the story. If they did anything, they distracted from the fact that…

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Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

Kind of interesting, but it’s all a bit weird. The story doesn’t really build, it just kind of hovers in this unfamiliar, unstable place where you’re not really sure what’s going to happen next or what ever should happen next. It sort of delivers in the end. Ejiofor and Tautou…

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Ghostbusters (2016)

Lame story, good effects, a few small giggles. The girls have good chemistry. McKinnon’s got some talent. Appreciated all the cameos.

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Tickled (2016)

Interesting and a bit scary. Farrier’s careful organization of the content and casual and friendly eloquence makes it a pleasure to watch.

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Hell or High Water (2016)

Another story about the Texas cop smarter than all the rest, like No Country for Old Men and Nocturnal Animals. Overrated. Pretty good shootout scene, but not much else. Story is thin, decent performances. Is Ben Foster trying to look shittier with every passing year?

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Exam (2009)

Noble effort to make a small, claustrophobic drama like 12 Angry Men, but the mood is ruined by the characters trying to outcool each other with dialogue. Whoever was pulling focus on this film should be fired. Many of the closeups are distractingly blurry.

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Marley & Me (2008)

Polished and easy to like with all of the fun actors, but it’s a bit weird thematically. This is a tragedy disguised as a comedy.

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Resident Evil (2002)

Awful. Jovovich is nice to look at in a few scenes, but that’s about all there is.

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X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Getting hard to keep all the stories straight. And to be honest, they’re all starting to get a bit repetitive. Quicksilver’s mansion run was good comedy.

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Logan (2017)

At the start, I’m confused about where and when we are. This is obviously a continuation of the X-Men story, but what has happened? Why are these the only mutants left? What happened to Magneto and all the others? I’ve been pretty faithful to the X-Men franchise, but did I…

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The Invitation (2015)

The characters, the actors who pay them, the way story is told… The whole thing oozes LA. Everybody is pretty and trendy and cool, hiding their insecurities and hollow lives with big smiles, well-timed laughs, and hipster fashions. The story is superficially tense, the scenes are are unrealistically awkward. Just…

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Moonlight (2016)

Bold subject matter, but Best Picture? If the award is given to the film with the boldest subject matter, and not the one which is most engaging or well-made or entertaining, then I think that’s a shame. Even more confusing is the Best Supporting Actor. He was only in the…

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Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005)

A couple of laughs and some hot women, but overall it’s pretty goofy.

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Zero Days (2016)

Great collection of footage and high-quality interviews. Good explanation of some pretty technical stuff. It all really opens your eyes to how much is going on that we don’t know about. The visual effects, diagrams are ever-present but help to make things more stimulating and informative. The subtle droning of…

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Towelhead (2007)

Strange title, and I understand the controversy around it. This movie is less about racial slurs (she’s never even shown shown wearing a hijab) than it is about a young girl’s sexual awakening. Sexual coming-of-age stories seem to be Alan Ball’s thing. It’s no coincidence that he wrote and produced…

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Motel Hell (1980)

It’s a little cheesy and goofy, but as far as horror films of the 80’s go, it’s gruesome and creepy and surprisingly good. Sticks with the horror movie traditions of gore, camp, black comedy, hot women, sex, deviancy, and of course, chainsaws. The formula works. And it actually has a…

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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Three stories told in parallel, and there are some interesting metaphorical connections between them all. But the experience of watching the film, as cleverly layered as it is, is quite disturbing and unsettling. Tom Ford is an interesting dude. The desert story alone would have been a good movie. A…

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Manchester by the Sea (2016)

An odd story oddly put together. Flashbacks are jarringly subtle. Some scenes with delightful sarcasm start to be funny but are lost in the greater tragedy of the movie. A few other scenes, entertaining as they are, involve characters other than the obvious protagonist, which makes me wonder what role…

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Carol (2015)

I wasn’t born in the 50’s, but I imagine this is how it really looked, this is how people acted, and this is how people talked. Even the photography has a slight fade and color cast to it that evokes another time. Oscar-worthy in terms of it’s costumes and visual…

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The Sessions (2012)

Heavy and well-made. Definitely a unique storyline. I know it’s based on a true story, but I really enjoyed the complex relationship between the patient and the surrogate. It lost a bit of steam when it veered away from that plotline just as things were getting interesting toward the end…

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Magic Mike XXL (2015)

More of the same. Tatum’s got a few more sweet dance moves in this one, though.

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Rabbit Fire (1951)

More wordplay and violence. This is the Looney Tunes formula.

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Rabbit Seasoning (1952)

Wonderfully violent. Daffy’s one of the best Looney Tunes characters.

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Steve Jobs (2015)

A LOT of talking. It’s a blurry mumbo-jumbo of product names, operating systems, and business directives. Names are dropped, characters fly in an out in a rush to tell some sort of story. None of the relationships Jobs has with his family, peers, bosses, or competitors is explored with any…

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Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Great casting and respectful performances. The whole thing seems authentic.

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Annie (1982)

I remember loving this as a kid, and it actually holds up pretty well. Heartfelt and well-made. Aileen Quinn is cute and turns in a great performance. And all of the other kids are great too, with well-delivered lines and impressive song and dance numbers. Look at how long they…

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Cinderella (2015)

Nicely realized by Branagh. I was skeptical of James and Madden at first, but they ended up doing a pretty good job. James has got a bit of Geena Davis in her.

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Saving Mes Aynak (2014)

Interesting look at a sliver of land with an interesting and turbulent history.

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Delicatessen (1991)

A quirky, tongue-in-cheek look at dystopian future, similar to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Anachronisms and sillyisms and goofy TV clips make it nostalgic and timeless at the same time. But Jeunet makes this one distinctly French, with goofy-looking and overly expressive characters, exceedingly silly humor and physical comedy gags, and bouncy…

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Annie (2014)

The focus here is not on the story or characters or performances, but on being updated and fresh and pretty. It doesn’t have the charm, warmth, cohesiveness, and naturalness of the 1982 film. Along with the modern-day references and jokes, there are updated lyrics, and new songs. The biggest problem…

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

Like the first, lots of deep and valuable messages delivered by old people in the quirky and exotic surrounds of India. Natural acting by veteran actors. Gotta assume it’s fun for them to make these movies.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

A deep, insightful look at being the unpopular kid in high school, though it got unexpectedly dark at the end. Obviously a very personal movie for Chbosky, the author and screenwriter and director of the film. It’s interesting and surprising that Chbosky’s hardly done any other directing. I wonder how…

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Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

Aside from Roberts, who was a relatively talented and exceptionally mature young actress, acting is this movie is completely awful. Every actor moves robotically and talks as if reciting from a script. It’s ironic that Ben plays a drama teacher in the movie. And it’s not just the acting. This…

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Baby Mama (2008)

Cute with some funny lines. Fey and Poehler are pretty good, and a nice supporting cast.

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Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Not the Will Ferrell comedy I was expecting. He doesn’t have a single funny line, playing the straight man in a borderline sad story. Was Ferrell miscast? Or was he giving drama a serious attempt? I’m not sure how his OCD fits into the story. And it’s all a bit…

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La La Land (2016)

An impressive musical, with beautiful sets, dramatic lighting, nice photography, a great score with wonderful instrumentation and original pieces, lively dance numbers, and quality performances. Perhaps most impressive are the long takes of musical numbers, executed with a degree of difficulty that is probably unappreciated by the casual viewer. There’s…

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Once (2007)

Nice, simple story. The music and talent is great, though maybe there’s a bit too much of it and not enough dialogue and character development.

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The Light Between Oceans (2016)

Gently paced, cleanly told, beautifully shot. Some of the shots are subtle but carefully chosen and metaphorical. This is a polished, smart movie. Fassbender’s performance is wonderfully restrained, and the old age make-up and performance is spot-on. Vikander, with her wonderfully expressive puppy dog eyes, puts in a great dramatic…

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I’m Here (2010)

Spike Jonze is an interesting dude, isn’t he? He’s a genius, but something’s a little off-center with him. A strange, charming but nightmarish story. Nice effects. Why English accents?

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13 Hours (2016)

This movie oozes with Bay’s visual style. Scenes are overly color-treated and contrasty, characters are all good-looking, orange, shiny, each trying to out-cool the other with macho lingo. Editing is predictably kinetic and with predictable interludes of slow-motion. Good action, though, with firefights and explosions that are intense and believable.…

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Finding Dory (2016)

Nothing really stands out about this one. Basically an continuation of Finding Nemo, only the story is not as crisp and the comedy is not as funny. Dory’s memory issue goes from cute affectation to downright annoying. Isn’t the story more about Dory finding her parents than it is about…

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David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)

I love Gervais and Brent, but this one just didn’t have the engaging humor of The Office. Main reason for that is the thin plot, a lack of subplots, and a shortage of supporting characters with real personalities. Gervais is trying to carry this thing solely with Brent’s schtick, and…

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The Accountant (2016)

Well-structured, seriously and methodically and efficiently told, with carefully constructed flashbacks revealing character and the motivations for the story, obviously written by someone who knows a lot about the legalities of corporate accounting. This feels literary, almost Grisham-y. Affleck plays a character that’s a mix of Raymond Babbitt and Jason…

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

A showcase of visual effects, but it’s all incredibly boring. I’m just not a fan of Harry Potter or magical fantasy stories. I went into this not knowing it was a Harry Potter film. My mistake. Ooh, a quirky little animal that is exotic and strangely cute and makes unusual…

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Fastball (2016)

Great biography of the fastball. Nicely paced, well-shot, with plenty of first-hand commentary from established players and some of the all-time greats. If anything, would have liked a bit of conjecture about how fast the balls were thrown in the early days of baseball. The math that brings it all…

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Allied (2016)

Like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, only with a historical setting and the polish of Robert Zemeckis. Story and characters are engaging throughout. Great sets and costumes help make it feel like an authentic period piece. Slow-paced, but the editing is good. Cotillard is great, but I think Pitt is bad…

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Paprika (2006)

Weird-ass movie, a roller coaster acid trip of dreams. Evokes Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine, Strange Days, Inception with its dreams-in-dreams confusion, and maybe also Matrix. Animation and music are great. Not sure if the weird dialogue is a byproduct of bad translations, but there are weird word choices, no dramatic pauses,…

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Arrival (2016)

I thought we might be getting a quality film about alien contact, a subject that hasn’t been treated with the proper care since Contact, but this one ended up being a disappointment. Started off right. Wonderful tension when first meeting the aliens, and the effects and sound mixing for the…

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Primer (2004)

A really impressive personal project by Carruth. The whole thing was made for $7000? That’s amazing. The whole thing is shrouded in mystery from the start. These guys are smart, but what’s their background? They seem to be some sort of engineers, but no hint is given of their educational…

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Kon-Tiki (2012)

A paint-by-numbers film about a few guys in a raft for three months. This is a boring story. The fact that fictional liberties were taken to make things more exciting is evidence that maybe this not the greatest story for a movie. Why was this trip so important? The archaeological…

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The Normal Heart (2014)

This is not just a showcase of gay people doing gay things. There is a good story here, made with heart and class. It’s too bad this didn’t get a theatrical release. It deserved one. Great casting, even better acting. Ruffalo and Bomer are fantastic. Where were the Oscars? What’s…

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