Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Land Before Time (1988)

Interesting themes for kids. Definite racial segregation overtones early on, perhaps a little too on-the-nose. I don’t like how, in most fiction stories, it’s only the mom who cares and is present and is the emotional heartstring that gets plucked. Where’s the dad in all these stories? And weird how…

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)

Fun. Surprisingly good effects.

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The Big Sick (2017)

Respect for Nanjiani. He’s charming and funny, the story he’s telling is personal, and it’s told with real heart and humility. Kazan is fantastic. Romano and Hunter are perfect in supporting roles.

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Honeyland (2019)

A slice of life in remote corner of the world, blurring the line between documentary and scripted story. As I watched the film, I thought it HAD to be scripted. How could a crew capture so many private, emotional moments with characters so unaffected by the camera’s presence? That’s the…

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Lady Bird (2017)

Mildly entertaining, but despite quick pacing of scenes and dialogue, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. Saoirse turns in a very natural performance, except for the accent. It’s passable but generally sounded a little forced and overenunciated. She almost pulled a muscle in her face trying to pronounce some of…

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Richard Jewell (2019)

A polished film by Clint Eastwood that honors the man in a way that he probably hasn’t been honored before. Admirable job combining real footage with new stuff. Hauser does a great job, amazing that there was an actor so perfect to play this guy. Rockwell is always good. Hamm…

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Beautifully shot, with seamless, natural-looking lighting and painterly photography that make some frames look like they could be paintings all on their own. Nice, long takes give every scene a slow, pensive feel. But there’s maybe a bit too much of that. There are moments when the beautiful images make…

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Little Women (2019)

A classic story about young women coming of age, historically significant because it’s a feminist story from a feminist author when women were not allowed to be feminists. The detail and tenuous connection of scenes to the larger dramatic story suggests that a lot of the material is autobiographical, and…

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Babe Ruth (1998)

Prob the best of the Ruth documentaries, with the deepest exploration of his character and personality. Schreiber’s voice is just so silky. We dive right into his career, skipping over his his early life, then jump around a bit, from his “called shot” to his start in Boston and then…

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“ESPN SportsCentury” Babe Ruth (2000)

No doubt an impressive and interesting historical figure. Just wish this was longer, slower, more in-depth, and had less of the sappy, melodramatic music.

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Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)

A few good lines, funny if you’re a fan of Zach and his show. But when the outtakes are funnier than the movie, that’s a sign that maybe the movie wasn’t so funny.

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Tiger King (2020)

A remarkable collection of footage, the crew was there for everything. When they shot out in the open, everything seemed to happen naturally right in front of them. And when there was a private confrontation or phone call, someone was there to record it secretly. So much footage. How does…

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Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)

Everyone’s back except Renée Zellweger. Amazing job returning with most of the original cast, but Zellweger’s obvious plastic surgery and skinniness are jarring when she’s supposed to be playing the same character. If this is the new Bridget Jones, maybe work that into the story an explain the transformation. And…

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My Left Foot (1989)

Touching portrait. Shame how, in this day and age of internet research, we know that the ending as a bit misleading and it wasn’t quite so happy for Brown. It would have been more powerful if the truth had been told. Day-Lewis is exceptional, but we already knew that. He’s…

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Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Difficult subject matter to do comedy with, but Waititi pulls it off. It’s an interesting mix of comedy, drama, and action that works. Can say I’ve seen a movie like it. Great performances from the kids. Archie Yates is one of the cutest, funniest fat kids that we’ve seen in…

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Togo (2019)

Touching tribute to a heroic dog. This is standard Disney material. Cute animals having dainty moments with happy music, while one diminutive, rebellious underdog with unflappable spirit rises above the rest. The structure is also pretty standard, with the story jumping right into the action with flashbacks to establish character.…

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Parasite (2019)

First half is wonderfully simple, fun, and theatrical, perfect for a stage play. But then things get awkwardly sexual, and both the family and story lose their innocence. Things suddenly dark and twisted and graphic, and by the end, it almost feels like we’ve watched two different movies: the first…

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Knives Out (2019)

Why do all the great detectives have such distinctive accents and wordplay? When was the last time you saw a brilliant detective with a standard American accent just telling it like it is? Interesting cast of characters. I’m sure Craig and Evans both loved playing against type for a change.…

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1917 (2019)

Intense and humbling, like Saving Private Ryan and any good war movie. An amazing accomplishment of camerawork and editing. The shortest unbroken shot was 39 seconds long, while the longest single continuous shot was 8 1/2 minutes long, both of which are impressive. The steadicam shots through trenches and houses…

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Joker (2019)

Artsy, weird, intense, disturbing. We’ve never seen a superhero movie as dark and twisted as this one. Beautifully shot. There is some magic here. Great character study. Joker is solidly developed with rich backstory, his descent into crazy is wonderfully paced and deep. This is the first act of a…

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Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

A bit fast-paced, with wall-to-wall dialogue and dizzying scene changes, almost like there’s a rush to wrap up the story and franchise as thoroughly and as quickly as possible. Maybe it had to be like this. Maybe there was just too much for Abrams to do, too much ground to…

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Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Damon and Bale play off each other nicely, with Damon pulling off a Bill Clinton accent and a believable performance. But it is Bale, with colorful wit, a charming accent, and goofy facial expressions, who steals the show. Miles has his own dramatic arc, and I found myself wishing the…

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First Blood (1982)

The one that started it all. It seems strange to watch it now, but apparently disdain for Vietnam veterans really was a thing back then. This was a confusing time for America. The country’s opinion of the war and the veterans who returned from it was confused and changing. In…

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The Interview (2014)

Great banter from Franco and Rogen, and some South Park-level irreverent political humor. The script could have been written by Parker and Stone. But it starts to get a bit old after a while. A lot of gay humor. Where’s the outrage?

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The Polar Express (2004)

The animation was meant to be the spectacle. Even on cable television, you can see that Zemeckis was pushing the limits of the technology and really going for it with the 3D gimmicks. And then you have Zemeckis’ clever use of impossible camera angles, an easy trick to pull off…

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Office Christmas Party (2016)

Mildly amusing at best, just people being drunk and stupid. Impressive cast they got together for this one. Thank goodness they got someone like Bateman to make it watchable. Lamest movie title ever. The cheap title graphic leads me to believe that maybe they changed it at the last minute.

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Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

Good, and some nice twists, but after all the other Marvel movies that just got better and better, this one is a step down. A bit too much goofy high school humor, and MJ is annoying.

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The Irishman (2019)

A Scorsese epic. The fact that a movie this big was produced and released by Netflix is pretty interesting, a reflection of the state of the film industry today. Vintage Scorsese. Mafia in the 70’s, about real characters and real histories, with a focus on realism instead of spectacle. There…

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Light fun. The comedy’s a bit basic. Don’t know how it compares to the original because I didn’t see it. Did feminists have a field day with Gillan’s character?

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Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (2019)

It’s obvious at this point that Tarantino has hard-on for 60’s and 70’s, not only or the time period itself, but also for film and television of the era. He’s got a knack for capturing the sets and costumes of the time and jamming each shot with authentic signs and…

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Griff the Invisible (2010)

A nice international take on the superhero thing, just as all the Marvel stuff was kicking off in the US. It’s a little slow-moving and definitely offbeat. Griff is appealing, but he’s a bit too weird to really get us rooting for him. Kwanten looks like a mix between Ryan…

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Rain Man (1988)

Touching, well-told story, made in a time where movies were allowed to have feelings. Cruise is a little high-strung. I know it’s the character, but it’s constant and it’s annoying. Hoffman is excellent, a well-deserved Oscar.

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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

What’s most impressive about Cameron’s Terminator movies is that they essentially tell the same story over and over. Different characters and different settings, but essentially the same story in each. This one is no different. And it works. Really, the only difference is that this one has a Spanish vide…

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Active Measures (2018)

Fast-moving. There’s a lot of information here, almost blurringly edited. Skipping around from person to person, relationship to relationship, it’s all a bit hard to follow. And most of the graphics flash past too quickly to read. What’s main argument here? Russians are bad? Putin is bad? Trump is bad?…

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

A wonderful mix of animation, comedy, emotion, writing, pacing, and editing. This thing should be winning awards. The story about multiple dimensions is a little out there, but you can enjoy the ride without thinking about it too much. But let’s be clear. This is not a reboot. Faithful to…

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Special Correspondents (2016)

A Gervais thing, so it’s lightly witty and lightly inappropriate with light social commentary. But the characters and story are just a little goofy. Gervais is Gervais. Pains me to say this because his performance was genius in Chopper, but Bana not a great actor.

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A Star Is Born (2018)

It all seems very real, almost biographical. Do you chalk this up to the script, successive refinements with each remake, or Cooper’s direction? Cooper pulls off a great look and entirely believable musical ability. Gaga is a great actress and a true talent. Underneath all of her outrageous costumes as…

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Avengers: Endgame (2019)

With the weight of the franchise, all the characters, and the complicated plotlines, the Russo brothers did a phenomenal job tying everything together and coming up with a story that made sense and was fun to watch. The plot relied on some time travel trickery, but I guess we knew…

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Green Book (2018)

How this thing won Best Picture, I have no idea. It might be the worst Best Picture winner in recent memory. This is the story of a talented, educated, socially clueless black guy who takes a road trip with a rough, uneducated, racist white guy and become best friends. But…

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Shazam! (2019)

Silly. This is what you get when you have director who doesn’t know comedy and you ask him to make a comedy. It’s really like a combination of Superman and Big. Even Sandberg knew this, with the moment on a floor piano thrown into one of the action sequences. Levi…

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Before the Flood (2016)

Leo’s heart may have been in the right place, but this isn’t very impactful as a climate change documentary. The Hollywood star spends a lot of time in exotic locations always looking trendy, with shots in various hairstyles and beards in various stages of growth. He’s always got stylish sunglasses…

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Patriots Day (2016)

Starts off a bit rough, with lots of cuts and handheld camera when we have a bunch of slow scenes establishing character. Does this really fool people into thinking there is something exciting going on? It’s all justified later on, but not when a guy is ordering donuts. Good job…

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

More of the same. It feels like the Mission Impossible, Bourne, and Bond movies are all sort of converging into the same types of stories, characters, and style of filmmaking, doesn’t it? Only the scores seem to distinguish them. Twist after twist, but why don’t I care? I think I’m…

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The Station Agent (2003)

OK, so Fin likes trains. He hates everything else, and he’s cold and nasty to just about everyone. Why should we give a shit about this guy? Oh, because he’s a dwarf. Everyone looks at him, he’s ridiculed and socially shunned. Life is so unfair. Got it. Can we be…

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Incredibles 2 (2018)

Overall, a pretty good story. Definitely a feminist thing. This may not have been written by women, but it was definitely written for them. There’s something a bit off with the dialogue in the scene where Elastigirl and Evelyn first get to know each other at the corporate event. I…

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Ricky Gervais: Humanity (2018)

He’s a funny guy, very natural on stage. Some good social commentary, with particular focus on social media and the intersection of comedy and free speech. But a lot of the material is a rehash of previous jokes.

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After Life (2019–)

Very dark, very raw, and very tragic. There are a lot of interesting relationships here, but it’s the Tony’s slow transition from the lowest depths of despair to hopeful that is the most fascinating journey. All of this darkness makes the comedy that much more effective. Gervais’s performance and dialogue…

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They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

A wonderfully edited collection of interviews. The process of reviewing all of the footage, selecting which clips to use, and putting all of it into a sensible and visually appealing order seems like a Herculean task. I like the anonymity of it. Not having any names but having these people…

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Creed II (2018)

I guess this has to be the next story? How many more of these can they make? Supposedly, this is Stallone’s last. The story is a bit forced. We needed a better reason for Creed to fight Viktor, and for Viktor to fight Creed. Rocky says it himself, there is…

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Roma (2018)

The backdrop of the film is a turbulent 1970’s Mexico City, and Cuarón captures it with incredible authenticity. Courageously long takes and courageously wide shots give us a voyeuristic, unflinching experience in this world. Roma may be one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, with a rich…

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Trainwreck (2015)

Dramatic and funny, not many movies like that anymore. Schumer’s character is flippant and lazy and sarcastic and hard to like, but we do like her because we believe that her character is a good person at her core and because Schumer’s performance is surprisingly authentic. Hader turns in a…

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Coco (2017)

Disney has taken to making their movies more “cultural” in recent years. An argument can be made that it’s a noble, overdue effort, but sometimes it feels a bit forced. And for the first half of this movie, it felt that way. Scenes are driven more by how Mexican everything…

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Isle of Dogs (2018)

Definitely Wes Anderson, with the symmetry and the quirky humor and displaced flashbacks and nostalgic songs and satire of all things formal. Anderson’s really got full control over the visuals here, and every frame is symmetrical, shot from a flat 90 degrees, beautiful, and quirky, with extra fun animating the…

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Red Nose Day Actually (2017)

A cute little follow-up. Of course, we all want to see more. Amazing how much of the cast came back to help out.

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First Man (2018)

An engaging portrait of space history’s most interesting guy, and an authentic capture of the sights and sounds of early space travel. The subject matter is treated with reverence and authenticity. Anyone who enjoyed The Right Stuff would appreciate this one. I really like how this not a story about…

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Three Identical Strangers (2018)

A polished collection of interviews, reenactments, and stock footage tells an interesting and disturbing story. But I can’t help but feel that it was all stretched out a bit. This probably could have been cut down by half.

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Free Solo (2018)

This guy is absolutely nuts, and the decision to film it, putting their own lives at risk and potentially throwing off his focus as he climbed, was also absolutely nuts. If you keep reminding yourself that there are no ropes and no special effects here, it really makes the whole…

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A Quiet Place (2018)

Great idea for a movie, and really well-made. Hitchcockian in its suspenseful simplicity. I love how small and simple and clean the story is. This is a very lean script. Every scene is functional, a set-up for something that comes later. Things are so suspenseful that some scenes are truly…

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A Bronx Tale (1993)

The whole thing feels like it came from a play, and that’s not necessarily a good thing when it’s a movie. Very singular plot. Boy meets gangster and then meets a black woman, with some superficial neighborhood social stuff as a backdrop. Crappy editing, with weird timing and a few…

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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Great performance by Malek, who really hasn’t done a lot of real dramatic work before. He obviously did a lot of work to channel Freddie. His vocals are sensational, though research reveals that he had some help there. And based on interviews I’ve seen with the Mercury, the accent seems…

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

A classic whodunnit told with modern polish and grace. Definitely a lot like Sherlock Holmes. In fact, these might be more true to the spirit of classic Sherlock Holmes than the recent films by Guy Ritchie. Branagh’s mustache and accent were wonderful. I enjoyed the casting of familiar faces, fresh…

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American Made (2017)

With the guns and drugs, there’s an attempt to make the story edgy. With the 80’s film styles and sets and cars and music, there’s an attempt to make this movie cool and retro and stylish. With the archival interviews and fun edits, there’s an attempt to make the storytelling…

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Too Many Cooks (2014)

More absurd weirdness from Adult Swim.

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2012 (2009)

Lowest common denominator Emmerich garbage. Story is paint-by-numbers, evenly lit scenes give the movie a sterility that is ruined even more with CGI ugliness, intrusive and manipulative scoring replaces real emotion, obnoxious sound effects hit you over the head to make sure you know what just whizzed by or blew…

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Justice League (2017)

CGI crap. Every scene is a meaningless photograph with meaningless characters. Pretty much what you’d expect from Zack Snyder.

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The Shape of Water (2017)

Part fantasy, sci-fi, drama, romance, musical, and fairy tale, all blended together with a bit of whimsy. The caricature characters, a weird mix of accents, nostalgic sets, an appreciation of classic television and film, fun edits, and a French score by Alexandre Desplat give everything a timeless, Amélie feel. This…

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Labor Day (2013)

The emotional story, gentle pacing, slow beauty, and Gattlin Griffith’s soulful eyes give the movie a wonderful, melancholic feel. And good tension in many scenes, though a bit forced at times, keeps things interesting. Brolin has a great presence. I love how in his career, he has vacillated between playing…

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Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life (2018)

These guys both certainly have a gift for comedy and great chemistry. It’s fun to watch. You can tell that much of the show is rehearsed, but there’s just the right amount of ad-libbing and riffing and rolling with mistakes. The back-and-forth self-deprecation really defines their style. It’s really a…

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The Company (2003)

It’s Altman, so it’s aimless and boring. An almost documentary-like look at ballet. If you like ballet, see it. Classically trained Neve is impressive. I guess she and Franco wanted to add an Altman art film to their repertoires.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

As a kid, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had unbelievably corny levels of friendliness and warmth. So over-the-top that it was often hard to watch. Who knew it was genuine and motivated such by a poignant and insightful philosophy? Rogers describes the first time he watched television. At the very inception of…

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Ready Player One (2018)

Kind of fun. The story and themes feel a lot like Avatar (entering a world as another character) and The Matrix (things you do in one world affect the other world). But it feels like a lot of story points were glossed over, perhaps because the story in the novel…

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Jurassic World (2015)

Good effects, but who cares anymore. These movies are just formulaic money grabs now.

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The Great Outdoors (1988)

Goofball, low-brow comedy, much in the same vein as Candy’s Summer Rental. Raccoons with subtitles and rock-themed circus music playing? Really? John Hughes intended to direct the picture himself. I wonder how much better it would have been if he had. Lucy Deakins is cute in a rebellious yet accessible…

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Slap Shot (1977)

Comedy from this era… Ugh. Though it’s fun seeing all the racial and gay jokes that would never be in a movie today. This is pretty much the story of Major League, isn’t it?

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

More of the same. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. Impressive cast of stars and cameos. Risqué shot with the finger.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

I think the critics are right when they say that there’s Star Wars fatigue. There have been a lot of these freakin’ movies now, and they’re coming out pretty frequently. To keep the momentum going, each film has to be at least as good as the last, and this one…

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Deadpool 2 (2018)

Pretty much what you’d expect in a sequel, with Reynolds doubling down on everything that made the first movie unique. But it goes a little too far. The movie is one big joke, and Reynolds makes sure to tell us this every few minutes. Being reminded in pretty much every…

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War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

An interesting reboot of the original storyline. I see how it’s all coming together, and I think I like it. Reeves is taking this franchise and running with it, and this is the best of the new bunch so far. Nicely paced. This one’s definitely slower paced and more dramatic…

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Nice little story, with a good mix of laugh and cry. With the fun characters, offbeat humor, obscure but interesting location, and Frances McDormand, it feels a lot like a Coen brothers movie. The mix of drama and comedy is delicate, though. If the comedy is any goofier, the whole…

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Phantom Thread (2017)

Awkward relationships and awkward pacing, mixed with beautiful costumes and sets, seductive camera movements, and a pleasantly simple score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. The whole thing has an odd feel. Unfortunately, it’s also slow as hell. There’s not much story here. Day-Lewis once again nails an eccentric, obsessed, and emotionally…

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

A really impressive job weaving a complex soup of characters, storylines, styles, and humor into something understandable and entertaining. Lots of credit to the Russo brothers for bringing it all together without making a big mess of it. An amazing cast of characters, and an equally amazing job juggling their…

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Outbreak (1995)

I’ve always avoided this movie because I thought it would be typical mid-90’s fare: a cheesy, melodramatic, overscripted movie with stock characters, scientific types acting like complete idiots, an awkwardly shoehorned love story, and perfectly exposed, safe cinematography. I was right. How come Dustin Hoffman stopped making real movies? Spacey…

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Black Panther (2018)

The Marvel movies I like best are the ones that are the most plausible, the ones that tell a fantastic story but remain connected to our real world. This one was a little too mystical and magical for me. The only thing connecting it to the real world are a…

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Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

Goofy fun. Jam-packed with references, including an impressive number of cameos and authentic sets from older movies. Lots of attractive starlets and a young Chris Evans.

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Heartburn (1986)

Started out interesting, with a fast-paced and charming love affair. But the ensuing squabbles are a little scripted and forced. It’s apparent that this is a personal story written by someone who’s been hurt, but instead of a story of growth, redemption, or hope, it comes across as a whine…

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Roman Holiday (1953)

The location shooting and mobile camera stand out. Lots of great shots around Rome. Loved the pacing, tension, and gentleness of the last few moments. Hepburn was a cutie, wasn’t she? Lots of natural charisma for a 24-year-old, a ringer as she’d say. It’s no wonder she got the Oscar.…

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Torn Curtain (1966)

Decent spy thriller. Dark and suspenseful, which you can chalk up to Hitchcock. The setting is interesting. This is barely a generation after WWII, things are still kind of fresh. I like all the German language. You don’t have to know what they’re saying in these scenes, and it really…

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What the Health (2017)

Yet another in a long line of veggie movies. There are good explorations of dietary science and politics, and a lot of it is worth considering, but some of it is alarmist and distorted. To claim absolutely that we are biologically supposed to be vegetarians, going so far as to…

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Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Good to get the guys together again, but kind of goofy. Some of the effects and action are pretty awful.

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The Best of Times (1986)

Awful. Decent cast, but who thought this would be a good movie to make?

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Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016)

Wish it was a bit funnier. Light and goofy, with a dumb ending. Gadot continues to be a magic combination of sultry and tough.

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The Girl on the Train (2016)

Moody and creepy and heavy as hell, much in the vein of Gone Girl. A little hard to follow at times with all the jumping around. Blunt is great at playing disturbed. Ferguson’s adorable, and Bennett is pretty foxy.

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Airplane! (1980)

One of the few movies of the early 80’s that really tried to be funny. This one established Abrahams and the Zuckers as the modern day godfathers of goofball comedy.

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Girl, Interrupted (1999)

This is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for girls, focusing more on emotional problems than just pure craziness. Nice cast. Ryder is impossibly cute, even when she’s crazy. She’s a pretty good actress, too. It’s a shame her career would go downhill shortly after this movie, due to what…

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Probably my favorite of series. A nice continuation of the story, though as with any extended franchise, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the characters and place names. The Star Wars formula seems to be fantastic effects, mostly unknown actors turning in slightly campy performances, cheesy dialogue, cameos…

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Atomic Blonde (2017)

All style, no substance. Characters trying to outcool each other with dialogue, Tarantino-esque levels of nonsensical violence, and a 80’s soundtrack that is so in your face that it’s Baby Driver annoying. The punches and kicks and plot twists don’t matter because I don’t give a crap about any of…

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Shot Caller (2017)

Takes a bit long to figure out who this guy is and what his motivations are, so it’s a bit boring at first. But it kind of picks up. Seems like Waugh and Coster-Waldau’s trying to channel Bana’s Chopper or Hardy’s Bronson or Mikkelsen’s Pusher, but Coster-Waldau’s just not as…

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The Disaster Artist (2017)

Not a whole lot of story, but it’s kind of fun. Franco’s good, portraying Wiseau’s weirdness with a gentleness and innocence. Too many shaky, handheld closeups. The reenactments are impressive. I wonder how Wiseau is handling all of this attention. Everyone really is laughing at him, but at the same…

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Lion (2016)

Beautifully shot, well-paced. The quality acting, leisurely pace, and minimalist score really let us soak everything in. Heck of a debut for director Garth Davis. So nice to see Patel finally take on a dramatic role, and he nails it. He carries this film and proves that he can hang…

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Away (2016)

Takes a while for it all to come together, but it’s kind of sweet with an emotional ending. Spall is the real-life Droopy.

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