Apache at the Movies

In 2008 I began giving movies just seen a quick review & rating.  After spending awhile below, I'll  move them to one of the following pages, sorted by year and then grade.

Oh the Drama
Oh the Horror
Keep Me in Suspense
Feels like Sci-Fi 
Isn't it Romantic
So-called Comedies
Comic Book Heroes
Kid Stuff
Fact not Fiction
Cinema Fantastico (Subtitles)

Just Seen

Cargo (2018)  Much of the world is dead now, the people gone or stumbling about as zombies.  Andy had been spared, his wife and infant daughter Rosie too.  But now he’s alone, infected.  He has 48 hours to find someone to take his daughter and will travel the Australian outback with Rosie in tow, desperate to protect her from mad things and from himself.  A huge hit in Australia, what this lacks in fright makes up for in caring, and decency and tears.  My grade: A-
Stronger (2017)  Jake Gyllenhaal is Oscar-worthy as Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs at the 2013 Boston marathon bombing while watching his girlfriend Erin run in the race.  His first words in the hospital—“Call the FBI, I saw the bomber” made him a media sensation.  But while his Sox n’ suds family enjoyed his fame, what about his loss?  He’d drown in sorrow... until losing Erin and meeting his hero changed everything.  Stick with this for the final inning.  My grade: B Plus
Tau (2018)  Knocked out & abducted, young street hustler Julia awakens inside a super-computer named Tau--that happens to be in the shape of an ultra-futuristic house.  A vicious scientist has built the place and needs her brain algorithms for his prototype’s artificial intelligence.  Things get hokey when the computer warms to its captive, is punished and cries out “Julia!” but hey that’s sci-fi.  And it did have cool graphics.  As for Julia… you go, girl!  My grade: C Plus Plus
Battle of the Sexes (2017)  In 1973, former tennis champ (and celebrity chauvinist) Bobby Riggs challenged rising tennis star Billie Jean King to a men vs women match.  I remember it well, Billie Jean was a hero to the feminist movement—us kids admired her too.  That’s what I wanted to see here!  Instead, their match is the final act in this play of King’s gay awakening.  Emma Stone & Steve Carell are fine players, but for sports stories… nope, not really.  My grade: B-
Calibre (2018)  When Marcus and Vaughn head to the Scottish countryside for a wee bit o’ deer stalkin’, they become involved in a tragic hunting accident.  Do they contact the local authorities or try to cover things up?  They’re very much going to regret their decision when things go from bad to so much worse in this disquieting story of deception & punishment.  These scars will last a lifetime.  My grade: B
Suburbicon (2017)  Nothing more American than suburbia in the 1950s, right?  Well, while Matt Damon’s wife is killed by a pair of intruders, the community is outside angrily watching—his next door neighbor, a black family that just moved in.  Written by the Coen Brothers & directed by George Clooney, this sinister comedy is almost cartoony—but misfires greatly when it veers from black humor to black bigotry.  Too serious for this satire.  My grade: C
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)  Set 30 years after its 1982 original, Ryan Gosling is a synthetic cop who’s job it is to find and ‘retire’ older synthetics.  And then on a recent kill, he finds something much more—a miracle.  Giant in length, imagination & spectacle, this sequel takes a cult classic and transforms it into a sci-fi masterpiece.  The feeling one has when seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time?  I had that, here.  My grade: A Plus
It (2017)  Say goodbye to Georgie when Billy makes a paper boat for his little brother to float in the gutter.  “Hello Georgie… I’m Pennywise!”  says the clown in the sewer.  When other kids begin disappearing, Billy & his friends will figure out it’s been happening in their town every 27 years… so how do they stop it?   It’s the Goonies meet Stephen King in this (more nostalgic than horrific) adaptation of his scary bestseller from 30 years ago.  Smile!  My grade: B
My Friend Dahmer (2017)  My friend Jeffrey Dahmer is pretty weird.  He collects roadkill, said he likes to see what’s inside things.  Sometimes in school, he falls down and spazzes out to get some laughs—other than that, you only hear him say yes, no, I dunno.  He lives with his little brother and his mom, I met her, she’s pretty spaced out.  Anyway I don’t get why would anyone make a movie about him, it’s not like he’s done anything.  Not yet.  My grade: C
American Made (2017)  Tom Cruise returns to great acting as Barry Seal—a  “good ol’ boy” TWA pilot recruited by the CIA in 1979 to fly over Central America and take spy photos.  He was so good at it, they asked him to deliver illegal weapons to the Contras—what they didn’t want was him returning from each trip with Columbian coke, kilos of it.  It made him rich, for awhile at least.  In the end, he got what he knew was coming.  But what a trip, right Barry?  My grade: B Plus
The Beguiled (2017)  In this remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film, Colin Farrell is a wounded Yankee soldier found in the woods behind a Virginia school for girls during the Civil War and brought in for mending.  Seen as their enemy at first, the girls & their headmistresses (Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman) begin warming to him; a little too so, as things take a dark turn.  (Literally, as most of the movie is too dark to see anything!)  Rent the original, it’s an A.  My grade: C
Kidnap (2017)  Halle Berry is a single mom, raising her 6 year old son Frankie. (There’s a nice montage of home movies with him as a baby at the start.)  And then one day at a local fair, he goes missing.  She’ll spot him—being loaded into an 80s Ford Mustang by a white trash couple!  Snub the critics and get ready for 90 minutes of nail-biting as they make their getaway and she tears after them, cuz Hell hath no fury like a Halle behind the wheel!  My grade: B
I Remember You (2017)  An elderly woman hangs herself, her back covered in cuts shaped like crosses.  A local doctor’s son has gone missing.  A young couple buys a house deserted for 60 years, hoping to convert it to a bed & breakfast.  They all share something in common, namely the ghost of a child seen only in fleeting glimpses, in this sad, haunting mystery that cries for answers both old and new.  Spirits, go back to sleep.  (Icelandic)  My grade: B
Set It Up (2018)  Harper and Charlie are the most overworked personal assistants in NYC, thanks to a pair of miserable bosses (Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu).  What if we fixed our bosses up with one another?  Then they’d be happy, and so would we!  Things go according to plan and then some—but is this really what this ornery pair wanted?  It’s a little too cute and THERE’S TOO MUCH OVER-ACTING—but for a silly romantic comedy, you could do worse!  My grade: C Plus

Red Sparrow (2018)  Hobbled in an “accident” and desperate to take care of her mother, Russian ballerina Jennifer Lawrence (wow!) joins an espionage school where students are trained to use their bodies for Russian intelligence.  Her first assignment: a CIA agent sent to stop an American traitor.  Will Jennifer fall for him and switch sides?  Ignore the mixed reviews, this was provocative, dangerous, graphic—I couldn’t tear my eyes away.  My grade: A-
I Am Not an Easy Man (2018)  Damien is suave, a real Parisian ladies man—until he walks into a street pole while ogling a woman and wakes up in a parallel world where the gender roles are reversed.  (It’s well thought out and will make you think.)  He’ll adjust, even fall in love with a sexist, suit-wearing woman… until they have a fight and butt heads.  I hated their chemistry, but the ending to this dark satire was unexpected—and startling.  (French)  My grade: C
I, Tonya (2018)  Margot Robbie is Olympic gold in this raw, in your face bio-drama of 1994 figure skater Tonya Harding, who seemed dealt one shitty hand after another in her ill-fated climb to the top.  From the meanest mom ever (Allison Janey—whew!) to her abusive, low-life husband to an elitist sport who treated Tonya like a virus, it’s one helluva story & one helluva movie.  I remember it all (a little too well) but wow this packs a wallop!  My grade: A
Game Night (2018)  Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams are a married couple who enjoy hosting weekly ‘game nights’ for their friends—until Jason’s competing older brother moves to town and wants to host a bigger, better game night with a whodunit mystery.  Wait, did things just get real?  Who cares.  You shouldn’t take any of it seriously--Jason sure doesn’t--in this lame, screwball comedy wannabe.  Rent ‘What’s Up Doc’ instead.  My grade: D
Brain on Fire (2017)  It began with feelings of confusion, then auras, seizures & headaches.  As doctors made one misdiagnosis after another, Susannah Cahalan, a 21 year old reporter (played scary well by Chloe Grace Moretz) sank into a cataonic state… what will save her?  Critics rolled their eyes at this ‘Disease of the Week’ movie, but it’s a compelling watch—and the answers her stubborn parents fought for have now saved thousands.  My grade: B
Orbiter 9 (2017)  Brought aboard as an infant, 20 year old Helena has been alone on a colony ship since her parents sacrificed themselves 3 years ago when oxygen ran low.  But the arrival of a repair ship will introduce Helena to Alex, the first person beside her & her parents she’s ever met—who’s going to reveal her whole life has been a lie.  Loved the premise, but the ending felt soapy & ridiculous.  Still gotta give it up to Spain for the sci-fi though! (Spanish)  My grade: B-
Despicable Me 3 (2017)  After former baddie-turned-good guy Gru fails to defeat 80’s child star villain Bratt (love this retro bad guy) and is fired by the Anti-Villain League, he discovers he has a twin brother (Dru) who aspires to be a master villain like their dad.  Can Dru get Gru on board?  Yes and no, in this goofy-ass romp.  This isn’t laugh out loud like the first, but it’s still childish fun for you and your preschooler.  UGH—minions no more!  My grade: B
Newness (2017)  Martin & Gabi meet on a ‘hook-up’ app and discover they like each other more than a one night thing;  they move in together, and for awhile it’s very good.  But when passions cool and feelings begin to waver, they’ll try to keep the fires hot by pursuing an open relationship—even setting each other up.  These two are about to grow up real fast.  Both serious and very adult, in the end I wound up genuinely liking both.  My grade: B-
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)  Picking up from 2015’s ‘The Force Awakens’, young Rey travels to the ancient Jedi world to convince Luke Skywalker to come back with her; meanwhile, Leia struggles to keep the last of the Resistance alive and Kylo Ren wrestles with his evil destiny.  Critics loved it, many SW fans didn’t—I’m with the critics here.  A stunning film of both the old & new, it was dark, glorious fun.  Carrie Fisher… you'll be loved and missed always.  My grade: A
Downsizing (2017)  When scientists discover how to shrink people (I loved the premise, very sci-fi), Matt Damon and wife Kiisten Wiig sign up.  Tiny people communities are springing up, where homes cost hundreds, not thousands.  But it’s irreversible, so when Matt’s wife backs out... he’s on his own.  Darn it, what happened?  Things take a preachy ecological turn, soon the size thing no longer even matters.  It’s a kind story though, so watch it for Matt!  My grade: B
The Neighbor (2018)  Mike is middle-aged, quiet, friendly.  When Alex & Jenna, a younger couple move in next door, he watches them curiously.  Especially Jenna.  When she befriends Mike and asks for yard advice, even better.  Mike’s wife notices… so does Jenna’s husband.  When Jenna confides to Mike she’s unhappy, his wife tells him not to get involved.  Listen to your wife, Mike.  Too late, in this tense, punishing drama.   My grade: B Plus
Bad Day for the Cut (2017)  Donal is a middle-aged Irishman who lives with his ma, until the night he awakens to her muffled cries; he’ll discover someone has caved her head in with a mantel clock.  Why?  He’ll know more when 2 masked thugs show up the following night to hang him.  Vengeance begets vengeance and shows no signs of stopping, even after everyone is dead.  Bloody hell.   My grade: C Plus
Unsane (2018)  Sawyer is a jumpy woman… maybe it’s because she moved 435 miles from family & friends for a new job, a new  life.  So when she decides to seek therapy she’s shocked to discover her therapist has committed her.  Wait—why??  The angrier she gets, the more unstable she appears.  And then this:  “Your male nurse—he’s the man who stalked me for 2 years, he’s who I’ve been running from!”  He is??  Crazy!  Crazy-ass thriller!!  My grade: B
Desolation (2017)  After the death of her husband, Abby, her friend Jen & sullen 13 year old son Sam go on a camping trip to scatter his ashes.  They’ll laugh, cry, reminisce… hey, where’d that dusty backpack come from?  They’ll soon discover a man in dark clothes & glasses has been following them—and quiet terror lies dead ahead.  It’s brief but frightening enough.  Let the healing begin.  My grade: C
Justice League (2017)  When green insect men are seen flitting about, Batman (Ben Affleck) rounds up all the heroes he knows—Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg—to take down this alien invasion.  Oh wait, they work for some ancient god who destroys planets!  We’d better bring Superman back to life.  Yep, just like that!  It’s one big CGI fight show, fight, fight, fight.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Nice looking costumes though.  My grade: C Plus
All the Money in the World (2017)  Christopher Plummer chills in this slow but effective drama of the 1973 kidnapping of the grandson of J.Paul Getty, the richest man in the world—he refused to pay a cent in ransom.  It would be 6 months before the boy was returned, not whole but with great irony.  Oh Getty, what did your greed get you?  Your family despised you, and in the end they gave most of your fortune away.   My grade: B Plus
What Haunts Us (2018)  When Paige Tolmach, class of ’82 learned of a former classmates suicide, she was surprised to discover there’d been other boys who attended Porter-Gaud HS and killed themselves--6 of the 49 boys from the class of ’79.  Why?  Well, a teacher was there from ’72 to ‘82, an Ed Fischer who liked 12 year old boys, and the school knew and did nothing.  This doc tries so hard to get your attention.. just let these men talk.  My grade: B
Novitiate (2017)  Set in 1952, a pair of kind nuns talk to little Cathleen’s mother about Catholic school.  “We’re not Catholic… we have no money.”  “Consider it a scholarship.”  10 years later, to her mom’s dismay, Cathleen joins a nunnery.  But it’s now 1962, and while Cathleen wrestles with who she will become, an angry, fearful Mother Superior is lashing out because of modern changes coming from the Church.  Embracing life is easier said than done.  My grade: B

Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri (2017)  It’s been 7 months since Frances McDormand’s daughter was murdered with no arrests, so she’ll rent that row of billboards outside town to ask the police why—which rankles everyone, from her ex to the police chief (Woody Harrelson) who has terminal cancer in this black dramedy.  Peeks of goodness shine thru, a guilty chuckle now & then, but I mostly shook my head in disbelief.  You’ve got to see it to believe it.  My grade: A
Black Panther (2018)  After the death of his father, T’Challa (aka Black Panther) is now King of Kawanda—a futuristic hi-tech nation hidden from the world.  But there are those close to him who feel they should emerge and share their technology, including one rogue royal who’d rather they conquer the world instead.  It’s a noble story, with a dazzling blend of African cultures & shiny CGI—but methinks it’s been over-hyped some too.  (Marvel, you’re the one who set the bar!)  My grade: B Plus 
Kodachrome (2018) “Your dad is dying and wants you to drive him to Kansas to get 4 rolls of film developed. There’s only one lab left and they're closing in a week.” “Yeah it's too bad there isn’t an overnight service that can deliver the film--you know, like Fed Ex.” But Jason Sudeikis agrees to drive his estranged father (Ed Harris) and nurse (Elizabeth Olsen) in this much too predictable road-trip movie.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.  My grade: C
Lady Bird (2017)  A senior year in the life of Christine aka “Lady Bird”, a skinny 17 year old who’s ready to put Catholic school, family and Sacramento behind her to go to college—far away, East Coast if possible. There’s going to be some roadblocks—falling in love, finding a college that will accept her and a watchful, outspoken mother played so right by Laurie Metcalf who is far from perfect, as no mom should be.  It can be an awkward watch at times, but it’s honest & has heart.  My grade: B
The Boy (2016)  Greta comes to England to be a live-in nanny to an eccentric wealthy couple’s 8 year old son. What she soon discovers is he’s a lifesize doll. “Wake him at 7, dress him, he gets 3 hours of reading and music…”  Is this for real??  Greta plays along, until the couple announce they’re going on holiday.  Oh boy!  This isn’t what you think so ignore the critics, you’re about to get 90 minutes of first-rate chills.  Scary good show!  My grade: A
The Shape of Water (2017)  Sally Hawkins is a mute cleaning woman in 1962 America, who just happens to mop floors in a not-so-secret govt lab; so she’s astonished when a captured ‘amphibian man’ is brought in for study—and torture, by sadistic agent Michael Shannon. She’ll begin teaching it sign language… and plotting its escape in Guillermo del Toro’s lustrous, Cold War tribute to Beauty & The Beast. It’s a predictable affair, but wow what an eccentric watch!  My grade: B Plus

The Post (2017)   In 1971, socialite and Washington Post newspaper owner Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) is faced with a make or break decision—does she continue reporting local affairs like Pat Nixon’s wedding, or follow the NY Times lead and print the leaked ‘Pentagon Papers’, an expose of the Vietnam War?  Take a guess, in Steven Spielberg’s boilerplate period-pic.  It’s a good watch, but… this deserved to be great.   My grade: B-
Dismissed (2017)  Lucas (Dylan Sprouse) is the new kid in school; he’s well mannered and smart, a teacher’s dream. Too bad he’s also the teenage version of little Rhoda from ‘The Bad Seed’, because he’s about to cause some real misery for a couple students and his English teacher when he doesn’t get the grade he thinks he deserves.  Dylan is good here, he’s worth the watch—but they should’ve drawn things out more and built up some real suspense.  My grade: C Plus

Dunkirk (2017)  June 1940, and Nazi forces have the French city Dunkirk surrounded. 300,000 British & French troops are gathered on its beaches in retreat, hoping to escape to fight another day. As they wait for rescue, Nazi biplanes fly overhead, raining bullets and dropping bombs on rescue ships. Most will somehow survive, but director Chris Nolan wants to show us at what cost. It’s a methodical, almost emotionless watch… but ends with real grace.  My grade: B
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2018)  An Austrian Jew who used her beauty to flee WWII and come to Hollywood, but behind her glamour was a whirling, inventive mind who built things--including a “frequency hopper” to radio-control torpedoes. “No thanks” said the Navy. “Sell war bonds instead.” As one frustration led to another, she filled the years with marriages and plastic surgeries, finally receiving recognition for her invention at the end. :(  My grade: B Plus

Coco (2017)  Little Miguel dreams of being a musician, but his family believes music cursed their ancestors & forbids it.  How can he convince them otherwise, especially after learning his idol, famed singer Ernesto de la Cruz might be his great-great-grandfather?   By getting his blessing from the Land of the Dead, in Disney’s master-stroke vision of Mexican folklore, its culture & beliefs.  I laughed and cried in amazement--such love and genius here! My grade: A Plus

Train to Busan (2016)  As Seok-Woo boards a train with his little girl for Busan, he (and the other passengers) don’t know a deadly virus is spreading thru Korea, turning the people into frantic, arms flailing, flesh-eating zombies.  But they soon will--one has gotten on board and half the train is infected.  Can Seok save his daughter? Don’t be so sure, in this superbly produced, exciting mix of horror and heroism.  Running zombies—now that’s scary! (Korean)  My grade: B Plus

Small Town Crime (2017)  Mike is a drunk.  He’s an ex-cop now too, after his partner is killed while Mike was drinking on duty.  So when he finds the body of a young woman along the road, he’s going to solve this case and maybe get his job back.   What he both uncovers and becomes is so much more in this first-rate, offbeat crime-thriller.  A couple sloppy shoot-outs, but such terrific characters here… I’d love to see Mike in action again. My grade: A-
It Follows (2015)   In a quiet ‘70s suburb, pretty Jay is seduced by a young man who tells her how sorry he is, but he’s just passed on a curse. She’ll be followed by a figure who can appear as anyone, but only visible to her. And if they get close enough… “Save yourself, sleep with someone and pass the curse on.”  Short on horror, long on suspense, what makes this exceptional is the ‘Night Gallery’ score, the direction, the production. It’s an eerie thing to watch.  My grade: B

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)   After his father Odin dies, Thor discovers he has a sister who’s returned from banishment—Hela, the Goddess of Death (wickedly played by—Cate Blanchett!?)  As he returns to Asgard to defeat her, he’s thrown off course & lands on a planet of enslaved warriors where he must defeat their champion—the Incredible Hulk!  With hilarity, heart and (literally) eye-popping awe, Thor and Marvel reign supreme!   My grade: A FOR ASGARD

When we First Met (2018)  Three years ago, Noah met Avery—and after the perfect date, found his soulmate.  So why is she marrying Ethan and not him?  If only he could go back in time and change things… but wait!  Thanks to an antique photo booth, he can.   He’ll do it—again & again, each time returning to a different present. “Hey I can speak Chinese now!”   It’s a silly thing, but funny too--and Noah’s goofy charm steals the show.  My grade: B Plus

Wheelman (2017)  Out of prison less than a year, he owes the mob for taking care of his ex-wife & daughter.  He’s their getaway driver now, and tonight it’s for a pair of bank robbers.  But while they’re inside, he gets a call—“They’re going to kill you. After they put the money in the trunk, TAKE OFF.”  Aargh!  He’s being set up, but by who?  Here comes 90 minutes of frantic calls and spinning wheels in this tense, jarring thrill-ride.  Bam!  My grade: B
Una (2017)  Nearly 30 now, Una goes in search of Ray—the man who lived next door and molested her for 3 months when she was 13.  He went to jail for 4 years, then moved away… but she still has questions.  Why did he do it?   And more importantly, why didn’t he come back?  Yep.  He’ll explain he has a new life now, he knows it was wrong… but she’s broken and wants to stay that way in this somber, uneasy story.   Fade to black.  My grade: C Plus
Infinity Chamber (2016)  Frank awakens in a metallic chamber with a disembodied voice that greets him and tells him he’s being held for processing. “For how long?  On what charge?”  “I’m sorry Frank, I don’t have access to that information.”  He’ll pass the days re-living recent memories, becoming almost submerged in them.  Will he ever escape or be set free?  You be the judge, in this mind-bender sci-fi play.  Hold out till the end--you and Frank both.  My grade: B-
Okja (2017)  After a giant food corporation genetically develops a super-pig (which grows to elephant-size in 10 years), piglets are sent out to be raised on farms around the world; and now a decade later, the company want their prize-porks back.   But Okja belongs to Mija, a scrappy 14 year old Korean girl who will chase her beast to the ends of the earth to get him back.  This wild thing starts out sweet, but oh the black-humored & weird road you’re about to take... My grade: B-

ANON (2018)  In the near future, we are all connected to the cloud; our eyes see & record everything.  Swirls of data seem to hang in the air above us all, no one is a stranger… except for off-the-grid hackers like Amanda Seyfried, who can scrub a person’s recordings for a price—is she scrubbing lives out too?  Detective Clive Owen wants to know in this steamy, sci-fi film-noir.  I like what I see here, too bad that things seem to fizzle out towards the end.  My grade: B-

The Rachel Divide (2018)  President of the Spokane NAACP & mother of 2 adopted black boys, Rachel Dolezal’s life came crashing down in 2015 when a reporter asked “Are you black or white?”  She posed as a black woman for years, not for attention or gain, but for the strange fact she identified as one.  Sadly, what makes this doc interesting isn’t her own life, but how she’s been vilified by both blacks & whites for daring such a thing.  My grade: C Plus

Happy Anniversary (2018)  On the morning of their third “anniversary”, Sam (a Zach Braff knockoff) brings breakfast in bed to Mollie (a Zooey Deschanel wannabe) and she wonders aloud if this relationship is really a hot idea.  As Sam wanders the city screaming “F—YOU!” too many times to count, Mollie licks her imaginary wounds and asks if she’s worth it.  Lame, annoying, predictable fare aimed at Millennials—guys, stream some Ali Wong instead.  My grade: D
Radius (2017)  Liam awakens on the road with no memory of who he is, an overturned car beside him. As he stumbles toward town, he’s horrified to learn any living thing that comes within 50 feet of him—birds, people—drop dead on the spot. Unless Rose, who he learns was in his car with him, is near. Who is she? Neither knows. We’ll find out, they will too—as things take an even more maddening turn in this B-movie sci-fi mystery with a compelling, first-rate story. My grade: A-

Maudie (2017)  In the care of family well into adulthood, hunched & arthritic Maud strikes out on her own by offering to keep house for Ev Lewis (Ethan Hawke), a poor & misfit fish peddler.  She’ll while away the hours by painting flowers and animals on the doors, windows & walls of their shabby abode—eventually becoming Ethan’s wife and a nationally known folk artist in this fragile, sweet biopic.  Truly, this was some kind of wonderful.   My grade: A

My Cousin Rachel (2017)  Orphaned and raised by his older cousin Ambrose, Phillip is 25 now and living abroad when he begins receiving letters from Ambrose that he suspects his wife Rachel is poisoning him.  Soon he dies & Phillip returns home to confront this black widow—but wait, she’s sweet!  What will happen when he gifts her with his fortune and demands her love?  Emotional torment for starters, in this well told Victorian tragedy.  My grade: B

Before I Wake (2016)  After the death of their son, Mark & Jessie adopt Cody—a sweet but fragile boy.  He brings life into their house, in ways they never expected—when he sleeps, his dreams of butterflies and other wonders come to life!  But so do his nightmares, which include the deadly Canker Man.  Can they figure out who Canker is and stop him before it’s too late?  Yes & no in this well-crafted horror with a surprise element—hope for happiness in the end.  My grade: B

Everything, Everything (2017)  Diagnosed with an immunity disorder since birth,  Maddy lives with her mom in a swank, germ-free home.  Sweet, smart & pretty, she attracts the attention of Olly, the handsome boy who’s just moved in next door.  They’ll smile at each other & wave thru glass, chat online & text.  So what’s next for this pair?  Guess!  Predictable but sweetly done, it’s just right for moony 12 year old girls everywhere.  My grade: C Plus

The Book of Henry (2017)  Henry is an 11 year old genius who watches & worries over his little brother, his mom (Naomi Watts) and the girl with the sad face who lives next door.  Heartbreak is coming and in a big way; but not to worry, Henry has a plan in store for everyone concerned.  Critics ROASTED this movie for its improbable storyline, but I’m glad I ignored them—I found this inventive, dear and satisfying.  You will too.  My grade: B

Paterno (2018)  In the final months of 2011 (and Joe Paterno’s life), Al Pacino is at the top of his game as Penn State’s legendary coach, fuzzily confronting reports that he knew of Jerry Sandusky’s molesting boys—and didn’t do enough to stop his former coach.  Paterno’s reasoning, the school and the game were his priority, were also the undoing of his legacy in this all too real, all too sad recounting of a man who sacrificed all for the game.  My grade: B Plus

Annabelle: Creation (2017)  12 years after the loss of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife open their home to a group of orphaned girls in the 1950s.  So why is there a chilling life-sized doll hidden away in a secret panel lined with Bible verses??  Because some Hollywood hack was tasked with an origin story for the doll in Ed & Louise Warren’s real-life Occult Museum—so get ready for some gaudy & grotesque displays of horror everyone!  My grade: C

Personal Shopper (2017)  Kristen Stewart is a personal assistant to a model in Paris—she hates it, but she’s a medium too and it pays the rent while she tries to contact her dead twin brother who lived there.  After 3 months of no success, she considers moving on when she begins receiving texts from an unknown caller… stylish and moody with a spooky slant, I only wish Kristen’s brother had better answers for her.  I could watch Kristen all day.  My grade: B Plus

Claire in Motion (2017)  When Claire’s husband (a college professor like herself) fails to return home after a 4 day wilderness hike, she’ll go to the police; the woods will be combed, fliers hung.  Weeks go by, the hunt ends, people move on… but not Claire, who seems to learn new things about the man each day.  His love of art, friendships with graduate students.  Most likely he moved on—she should too.  I know I did before this sad, slow drama ended.  My grade: C

War For The Planet of The Apes (2017)  In this third, brilliant installment of the POTA reboot, the ape Caesar has destroyed the evil Koba & his minions; so why do humans still hunt his clan?  Because the Simian flu (which gave apes intelligence & killed off most of humanity) is dealing a further, surprising blow to mankind.  Amazing in story, scope & characters, this finale paints the origin story for the 1968 classic to boot.  I am blown away.  My grade: APES PLUS
Atomic Blonde (2017)  Set in the MTV ‘80s, Charlize Theron is a British spy sent to West Berlin to retrieve a list of double agents before it falls into Russian hands—then discovers someone told them she was coming.  Get ready, cuz she’s about to get her badass on as she bludgeons, stabs, strangles and shoots to a classic 80's soundtrack.  It’s gritty & real, with one twist too many—but Charlize' spin on the ultra-violence is a beautiful thing to watch.  My grade: B

The Eyes (2017)  Six strangers awaken with their arms tied behind their backs--where are they, why are they here? As they shout & demand answers, an ominous voice tells them they have one thing in common—and before the night is through, only one will live. It’s a good premise, but the hammy performances and cheeseball ending make this a noisy amateurish bother.  These people aren't the only ones asking why!  My grade: C-
Wind River (2017)  When the dead body of a raped & beaten Native American woman is found in the wintry Wyoming landscape, FBI agent Elizabeth Olsen asks US Game tracker Jeremy Renner for his help.  They'll find the answers they're looking for--and tragically so will we, as we witness what they can only guess at.  Told with violence yet care, this is smart, sad suspense made all the better with this heartfelt pair.  My grade: A
Irreplaceable You (2018)  Sweethearts since childhood, Sam & Abbie make plans to wed when Abbie discovers she has terminal cancer.  Worried that Sam will be alone as he's never dated, her attempts to find him a romantic replacement are thwarted by friends, her support group & finally Sam himself.  Not really sad or sweet or amusing, this was more like sipping a glass of tepid water for 90 minutes.  My grade: C-
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)  A prequel to 2008's "Cloverfield" (where giant monsters invade New York--great film btw)  a space station in orbit attempts to create a new energy source for an Earth depleted of resources--and manages to rip a hole into another universe instead.  Some cool sci-fi scenery, but too many characters and a confusing & paranoid storyline do not a good prequel make. My grade: C-
The Wizard of Lies (2017)  In December 2008, Bernie Madoff sat his 2 sons down and told them his investment company was a scam, a decades long Ponzi scam he could no longer sustain. How or why it began, we’ll never know; we’re only witness to the fallout. But watching things crumble from the Madoff’s perspective, with flawless performances by Robert DeNiro & Michele Pfeiffer as his shell-shocked wife Ruth make a tragic but damn fine show.  My grade: A
Unforgettable (2017)  After escaping an abusive marriage, Rosario Dawson finds love again—too bad her new, naïve husband comes with a scary, resentful ex white—I mean ex-wife (Katherine Heigl). The critics trampled all over this predictable tenserama, but sometimes you’re just in the mood for pretty faces, pretty houses and a psychotic moment or two, right?  My grade: C Plus
The Polka King (2017)  Jack Black’s European accent is straight out of a Laugh-In skit—but he’s still fun to watch as Jan Lewan, the hammy, manic Pole who crowned himself the King of Pennsylvania Polka in the 1990s, then fleeced his senior citizen fanbase to keep his star high. Jenny Slate as his “look at me too!” wife was inspired casting in this ridiculous romp made all the better by being true. I need more Jack Black in my life.  My grade: B
Voyeur (2017) In 1980, acclaimed writer Gay Talese was invited to visit a peculiar motel, where the owner had installed vents in the rooms ceilings to spy on his guests at night (keeping copious notes). 36 years later, the voyeur is ready to come forward and asks 80 year old Gay to write his story—which Gay does, only to learn not all is as it seems. Not so much a doc on the voyeurism as it is a ponderous look at this elderly pair—joined at the hip whether they like it or not. My grade: B

Bluebeard (2017)  As a favor to his landlord, newly divorced Dr.Seung performs a colonoscopy on his father—sedated, the elderly man claims he's a serial killer.  Could it just be the drug talking?  When the doc’s ex-wife disappears after a visit, he suspects the old man was telling the truth.  Problem is, others are claiming the doc himself is crazy in this twisty-turny thriller that tells us whodunit but still manages to befuddle us more than anything.  (Korean)  My grade: C Plus

The Case for Christ (2017)  After their daughter is saved from choking to death (and his thankful wife converts to Christianity), reporter & atheist Lee Strobel begins researching the resurrection of Christ to prove to his wife the Bible is one big hoohah.  He’ll meet with theologians, Christian scholars… where will the evidence take him?  To salvation of course, in this Christian drama based on a true story.  Yes, we get it; if someone like Lee can be saved, so can we.  My grade: C

Barbra: The Music, the Mem’ries, the Magic! (2017) Barbra Streisand performs a 2 hour concert for an awestruck audience of 15,000 with songs from her No.1 albums, including ‘A Star is Born’ & ‘Funny Girl’ (which brings the house down). She also sings a wonderful duet with Jamie Foxx and shares some funny, personal anecdotes from her early career.  At 74, her talent is colossal as ever—every song received a standing ovation.  She deserved it, too.  My grade: A

Saving Capitalism (2017)  Robert Reich travels the country and explains how our economy has changed for the worse, since allowing big business to influence government.  (Meanwhile, We the People have only a 1% impact on things.)  But this is more a call to action, as he urges us to protest & vote.  A fair watch, but see his 2013 documentary ‘Inequality For All’ too; it’s informative, entertaining and (compared to this) brilliant.  My grade: B-

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)  In 1998 while making the biopic “Man on the Moon”, Jim Carrey was also filmed behind the scenes as he immersed himself in the role of Andy Kaufman.  20 years later as we watch, incredulous that this maniacal diva made life so miserable for a director & crew, a somber, older Carrey tells us how he barely survived his own genius.  There’s no denying his stardom then, but wow the arrogance then.  I suspect he misses it.  My grade: B Plus

Kiss and Cry (2017)  Based on a true story, Carley is a bubbly 17 year old Canadian skater & aspiring singer when she’s struck down with a very rare cancer.  Friends, family (and a new boyfriend) will rally to her support in this Hallmarky confection that goes way overboard with the syrup.  (No joke, several times I was gagging.)  Interestingly enough, the lead (Sarah Fisher) was played by Carley Allison’s real-life best friend.  Next!  My grade: C

The Transfiguration (2017)  Milo is an inner-city black youth, quiet, a loner.  He’s obsessed with vampires in pop culture, and believes he’s one too, sometimes sticking a pen-knife into a random stranger’s neck to drink their blood (killing them and vomiting blood later).  He knows what he’s doing is wrong and has no wish to be evil, is there any way he can be stopped?  Yep.  Critics loved this stark and dreary thing, moviegoers didn’t.  I'm with the moviegoers on this one.  My grade: D

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017)  In the 1950s she won an essay contest (and a job) with Vogue magazine; she'd go on to write sophisticated pieces for Esquire magazine & the New Yorker, marry writer John Dunne and pursue a career of avant-garde journalism and acclaimed novels.  She’s 83 now, feels and looks older, but still has much to reflect on and write about in Griffin Dunne’s easy, intimate documentary.  My grade: A
Otherlife (2017)  Ren helps design an ‘organic technology’ that allows a person to experience a vacation getaway for a day, a week, even a year—all in their mind while only a minute of real time has passed.  But her backers have more nefarious plans.  “A person could serve a life sentence and not cost the state a thing.”  Ren will stop them--or perhaps she just think she does, in this slick sci-fi spin.  It’s a great premise but darn it, gets muddled as we near the finish.  My grade: B-

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...