Movies & TV Notes, January-June 2018

Brief notes on just about everything I watched from January to June 2018. Read more reviews.

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) – A good double-feature with 2017’s The Post. Hoffman and Redford play some sort of unlikeable dudes. At least in the ‘film protagonist’ sense. Colorful desks and chairs. Jason Robards is no Tom Hanks.

ANNIHILATION (2018) – Really beautiful design. The plot was really simple. I think I liked it.

THE ARTIST IS PRESENT (2012) – A dedicated and interesting artist I knew pretty much nothing about other than whatever broke through my social media bubble back in 2010. Overall a very good doc.

ATLANTA (s1 & s2) – Presented as a straight drama, making all the humor and strange surreal bits hit even harder. Really well done show. Donald Glover & Lakeith Stanfield are both killing it. The free piano episode is some amazing bizzonkers shit, for real.

BABY DRIVER (2017) – Some good driving commingled with characters and a plot I didn’t care about at aaaaalllllll.

BIG SICK – It’s a good movie. I liked Raymond more than I thought I would. What’s-his-name. Ray Romano. Kumail made a good ‘un.

BIRDMAN – I like it. I still don’t understand it, but I like it.

BLACK PANTHER – I watched a bootleg that didn’t have any subtitles, so I missed some dialogue. It is a fine superhero movie, better than most in a genre I care very little about. Happy to see a decent villain with actual moral complexity. My cat snuggled next to me on the couch the whole time so that was pretty much the best part of the movie for me.

BLASTFIGHTER – “Where is your balls, Connie?”

BROAD CITY (s1-s4) – They hit a weirdness peak in season three I think, then things started to feel a bit encumbered by plot and cameos. I probably have some sort of crush on Abbi (character and actor).

BROOKLYN NINE NINE (s1) – I’ve never watched this show. It is an enjoyably watchable show.

BRUISER (2000) – A British sketch comedy show with a heck of a cast: Olivia Colman, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Martin Freeman, Matthew Holness, with writing credits to Richard Ayoade and Ricky Gervais. It’s the Brit version of the Dana Carvey Show — amazing talent producing mediocre results and later everyone went on to do much better work.


DOWNSIZING – One of those movies that’s almost interesting in retrospect. While watching it, I was thrown off by the misrepresentations made in the trailer (1. This is not a comedy, and 2. Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis are out of the film after a somewhat tedious twenty minute intro). The movie is all premise and concept, no plot or character.

DREDD – An unfun film about an unfun character. It was unfun to watch.

FIFTH ELEMENT – Haven’t seen in a super long time. Design work is top notch and holds up well. Most of the visual effects do, too. The music stands out as particularly bad, but I think it did when it was new, too. The love story part of the plot is stupid, poorly done, and really unnecessary.

GATTACA – If your favorite movie genre is Boring Dystopian Noir, then I highly recommend this electrifying film about serious people who wear suits and speak in hushed tones.

GET HARD – Jordan Peele’s masterpiece deserves every award it’s received. A tour de f— what, oh wait, no. This movie is pretty dumb. Kevin Hart is very watchable. Will Ferrell is sometimes not.

GET OUT – 1st watch: Hell of a movie. 2nd watch: Oh, yeah.

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (the Fincher one) – A rewatch. A very well-constructed film. I really liked it. Too bad it’s not getting to be trilogized. Now it makes me want to rewatch the Swedish trilogy.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 1 & 2 (rewatches) – #1 flows nicely. Dad stuff in #2 is a bit tedious.

HESHER (2010) – What is this movie? I enjoy non-formulaic movies, don’t I? It is not a comedy or a drama. It went against certain expectations, and trudged dutifully through others. It’s as if the character was supposed to stand as a metaphor for… something. Maybe like, a bad metaphor?

HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY – Another film that failed to serialize. I think it’s pretty good. The design work is great.

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE – The trailer is pretty entertaining. Mmmmmmaybe just watch the trailer.

I, ROBOT – Tedious.

ISLE OF DOGS – Mediocre storytelling with meticulous execution. An overt piece of cultural appropriation. I enjoy Jeff Goldblum, who essentially disappears in the final act of the film.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017) – This is an enjoyable movie. Simple premise, well cast, well executed. Won’t any American production let Karen Gillan speak in her normal lovely Karen Gillan voice?

KEY & PEELE (s1-s5) – After surviving on only YouTube clips for the past six years, I finally bought the complete series on DVD. It makes me so happy. The three-season car ride through the desert delivers a fine payoff in the series finale.

LADY TERMINATOR – Cripes I don’t remember any of this.

LEGION (s2) – Season two is darker and weirder, which for some people might be a positive. I’ve found it to be a little unengaging. Drifted off seven episodes in.

LITTLE HOURS – A movie that was funny when it was funny, intercut with long stretches of unfunniness. Not a *failure* to be funny… like, *no attempt* to be funny. Really uneven.

KING OF KONG – One of the most entertaining damned documentaries I’ve watched and rewatched.

MAN TO MAN WITH DEAN LERNER – Definitely not on par with Darkplace, and the loud live audience audio bothers me, and the soft ‘80s video lens bothers me.

MASTERS OF SEX (s1) – Started all right, and then sort of turned into a soap opera and my focus waned.

MY DINNER WITH ANDRE – “Profound” is a heady term, but relative to movies in general, this film is a goddamned mystical journey into transcendental insight.

NEBRASKA – I like Will Forte. I like Bruce Dern. I like Bob Odenkirk (though his character was entirely inconsequential). I can’t say this movie left much of an impression on me. The mom was funny.

NOEL FIELDING’S LUXURY COMEDY – Watched random episodes on YouTube. I enjoyed the concept more than the execution and the actors more than the acting. Joey Ramone is great.

THE OTHER GUYS – A gem of a stupid movie I somehow completely missed. Just so, so dumb.

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING – Three times, the connection cut out while I was streaming this. Three times I thought “I do not care if I get to keep watching.” Clichéd and boring. Never made it to the end.

PHOBE: THE XENOPHOBIC EXPERIMENTS (1995) – The description of this movie doesn’t tell you anything about the plot, it just lets you know that the movie was made for $250 in Ontario. It is truly the best and fairest description.

PIXELS – After watching King Of Kong, this seemed like a fine enough follow-up, if only for Peter Dinklage. Well, pretty much exactly only for Peter Dinklage. This is not a good film.

THE POST (2017) – Schmaltzy music, excellent cast. Glad I was not forced to watch ‘courtroom drama.’ Tom Hanks is no Jason Robards.

PRISONERS OF THE LOST UNIVERSE (1983) – Richard Hatch has always been sort of a discount bin Mark Hamill, which is saying something since Mark Hamill has also always been sort of a discount bin Mark Hamill. Speaking of Star Wars — imagine releasing this movie the same year Return Of The Jedi came out. The BALLS!

THE PUNISHER – The Lundgren one. Mafia plot featuring zero Italian actors. I remember nothing else.

READY PLAYER ONE – That sort of movie where each character alternates between stupid and smart so they can verbally explain the plot to each other with really terrible exposition. It’s as if the screenplay was written specifically so 71-year old Steven Spielberg could understand what was going on. RIYL: Cardboard-thin depictions of poor people and Asian characters that don’t say much but then like kick and stuff?

REIGN OF FIRE (2002) – Viewed on a Bad Movie Night, this movie came off as nigh-amazing, at least in comparison to our normal scale of quality.

RIDE ALONG (2014) – Apparently, I am easily and reliably entertained by Kevin Hart.

RIDE ALONG 2 (2016) – If you enjoyed a Ride Along, you would continue to enjoy the continuation of the Riding Along.

CHRIS ROCK: TAMBOURINE – I don’t think I like Chris Rock all that much.

SHAPE OF WATER (2017) – I feel like masturbation in the first five minutes of a movie really sets a certain tone. I liked this movie very much. Gross bad guy fingers.

SINGING WITH ANGRY BIRD – A sweet PBS documentary with some charming-ass kids and parents.

STAR WARS (PREQUELS) – I’d never seen the last two prequels, so I watched a fan edit that inelegantly combined them, just to power through. I’m sure the world doesn’t need another 40-something white man talking shit about these films, but uh… wow.

STAR WARS (DESPECIALIZED) – Probably been a decade (?) since I last watched a Special Edition version, and I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. This version is worth seeking out for the color correction alone, but so great to have all the shit CGI scraped out.

SW EMPIRE (DESPECIALIZED) – Yoda out-acted pretty much every human in the cast.

SW JEDI (DESPECIALIZED) – Of all the Star Wars films, this one comes closest to a slapstick romp.

T FORCE (1994) – In a future not unlike our own, circa 1994, Die Hard meets all the Terminator movies, with a dash of Mad Max, except not good. The cybernauts are here, and they’re programmed to be dickheads.

THE TEN – Ten skits based of the commandments. Great cast, great writers, not a great movie.

THE WIRE (s5) – Many people don’t know this, but The Wire creator David Simon spent thirteen years in Baltimore as a spool of wire before turning that experience into his Shakespearean masterpiece The Wire.

TOMB RAIDER (2018) – Why McNulty why.

WONDER WOMAN (2017) – I watched it, went to bed, and by morning I’d almost forgotten it existed. All of my regular superhero film complaints apply: Harsh/extreme color correction, lifeless CGI fighting, overly-simplistic good versus evil story. The bad guy was especially lame.

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