Movies Reviewed, 2016

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New Girl Season Five - actually getting better. good sign. B+.

A Christmas Story - watched this with zoe (and merritt, sort of) on christmas day. it was glorious. zoe asked probably 110 questions, but i answered them all because this is the best christmas movie ever (i'm not counting die hard). it's pretty funny how politically incorrect it is looking back at it in today's climate. the kid wants a gun, the mom and dad are so provincial and's just not the kind of film that would be made today. totally flawless. A+.

Why Him? - solid comedy from beginning to end. franco is really good and endearing. B+.

Passengers - billed as an action film in space, it's really just a romance film with more ethical questions than heart-pounding action. overall it passed the time, but i wasn't really drawn in and kept wanting something to happen to move things forward. instead it's just an unconventional story of love. C+.

Arrival - really good film that reminded me of interstellar, though it has one logic flaw that seemed glaring and detracted from it slightly. the idea of time not being linear isn't particularly new, but they play with it here in a fun way and one that ends up really tugging on your heart strings (especially as a parent). it also manages to make linguistics an interesting aspect of the plot. good stuff. B+.

Nocturnal Animals - not quite sure about a couple key aspects of the film (did she get an abortion, does edward kill himself in the end or is he just sticking it to her?), but found it quite enjoyable nonetheless. good acting all around, some tense moments, good direction. just what the doctor ordered for a long break from movie watching. B+.

Catholics vs. Convicts - the nd v miami rivalry was before my time, but this was apparently a big one. documentary does a good job of telling the story from an unusual point of view. another solid flick from the 30 for 30 series. B.

Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief - gibney does his usual good job here. a lot has been written and filmed about scientology the last 10 years or so. if you watch/read one of them it may as well be this one. they're nuts. it's a cult. B.

Pee Wee's Big Holiday - zoe wanted to watch it. it's not great and certainly not as good as his big adventure. i've never been a huge fan of his, but at least that one was fun. this one is probably for fans only. C.

Killing Season Four - not the best season, but it was a pretty good show overall and the two leads really did a great job the whole time. the finale was tastefully done and pleasing. B.

New Girl Season Four - possibly the best season so far. winston and nick have really found their niche and have fully bloomed as outrageous characters. B+.

Phi Slamma Jamma - 30 for 30 about houston basketball during their heyday. never saw that final game and final shot from their perspective so that was interesting as well. the added dimension here was a couple of the teammates trying to track down one of the stars who fell off the map after he left school. B.

Darryl And Doc - 30 for 30 about two mets teammates who should have been so much better. another in a long line of depressing stories about unfulfilled potential. it's a sad story when a guy can't quite get his life together, but it's a tragedy when he has money, and people willing to help, and out of this world talent. these guys win the lottery with their talent and then fritter it away. sad stuff. B.

Killing Season Three - probably the worst season of the series. B-.

Brave - pretty good pixar flick. zoe likes it and calls it "the brave girl movie." B.

How To Get Away With Murder Season One - creator of scandal does this. watchable, but we're not going to continue with the rest of the series. yes, viola davis cries and yes, you do get to see her snot dripping down her lip. C+.

Deepwater Horizon - peter berg does a good job here. it's a good film with some nice moments. really shows how dangerous hubris and greed can be. B.

Killing Season Two - continues to be good, but a bit of a let down after the first season. B.

If You Build It - documentary about a couple who build a high school class revolving around shop class type skills. good stuff and i wish there was more of this out there. actually takes kind of a herculean effort on their part to get the program started and ongoing. (they get a grant, but funding dries up and the school doesn't want to pay for the program so they work for free.) we need a lot more stuff like this if the poor and working class are going to make anything with their lives. a soul deadening march to the cubicle and college just isn't going to get it done. B+.

Deadpool - not as good as billed. opening credits may have been the best part. C+.

Luther Season Four - very short "season." good stuff here, but just not enough of it. B.

League Season Seven - still good. B.

Entourage - never watched the show, but i understood the tits and ass and frat boy lifestyle stuff. C+.

Killing Season One - great start to a good show. probably can stop after the first season. B+.

Scandal Season Five - very up and down, very outrageous, very dramatic. not sure if we'll be watching another season. C.
Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil - pretty funny, but not necessarily worth the hype. B.

Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser - nearly unwatchable. no idea why this made scorsese's top foreign films list or why people like herzog's fiction films. D.

F Is For Family Season One - bill burr is perfectly cast for the father in this animated netflix series. it's kind of a married with children type series, but the father is more angry than he is resigned to his horrible life. B.

American Dad! Season Ten - still good. B.

Criminal Minds Season 11 - good second half of the season with aubrey plaza making a nice cameo in a good episode. also we see morgan (shemar moore) going through some rough stuff and ultimately leaving the series, which was surprising. the end of the season leaves us with a cliffhanger and thomas gibson going through rough stuff as well. the cast gets shifted around a lot on this show...mandy patinkin, paget brewster, jennifer love hewitt, aisha tyler, lola glaudini, rachel nichols...all were main chaaracters at one point and are now gone. now shemar moore is gone in this season and reports are that thomas gibson will be gone next season. should be interesting to see if they can keep it going after that. B.

Kick Ass 2 - pretty good stuff. in line with the first, but not as novel. B.

Person Of Interest Season Five - good series overall that ended with a bit of a thud. the season was its shortest so there was probably a decline in popularity or something and they pulled the plug prematurely. it was a good show that probed some interesting topics in an engaging and entertaining way. i like finch and reese and the whole gang, really. amy acker is super hot. taraji p. henson wasn't on the last couple seasons, but she was actually a standout as well. sarah shahi got better with time and i ended up liking her character a lot. good series, not great ending. some really nice musical moments. B.

Pitch Perfect 2 - not very good, but i sorta watched it while trying to do other stuff so i didn't give it my all either. C-.

Master Of None Season One - first episode didn't grab me, but i revisited it later and it grew on me. pretty good series that reminds me of a younger version of louie. not as awesome as i expected, but thoughtful and funny. B.

Person Of Interest Season Four - not quite as good as last season, but still a good show. finale ends with another great song (welcome to the machine) that left me begging for more. final season coming up. B+.

Bloodline Season Two - the plot thickens and the reins tighten as the rayburns try to get out from under what they did to their brother. pretty good and dark and layered show about family drama. recommended. B+.

Intern - not a horrible film from nancy meyers, who usually does very borderline movies. i thought it was another sell out piece from deniro, but his character wasn't half bad and he sold it for me. hathaway is so-so. comic relief cast was good, but the writing was subpar. meryl's mom thought it was ageist. if anything it was ageist against the stupid young'uns who thought all old people are incontinent or stupid and are proven completely wrong. C+.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 - not much here that was worthwhile, but when you're stuck on a boat with not much to either eat more or watch a marginal movie. heart in the right place, but not nearly as good as the original. D+.

Joy - wanted to like it, but it just wasn't there. in the end it's a lot like the main product that Joy is selling (her fancy mop that can be wrung out without using your hands), that is to say it's a nice idea, but not all that good. i've used the mop's crap. if you're serious about mopping your best bet is a commercial setup with a wringer in the bucket and a woven rayon/cotton head. oh well. C+.

Good Wife Season Seven - diminishing returns this season so it was the right time to end. in the end, alicia becomes peter in a way and i actually didn't like her very much at that point. she bent her morals so much, became such a lush, and became so self-serving that it was impossible to like her or forgive her. the victim becomes the victimizer. womyn power. B-.

Person Of Interest Season Three - continues to intrigue and entertain. love the finale with the radiohead song playing while samaritan takes power. B+.

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory - probably the first time i've seen it on the big screen and it looks really nice. the dvd version leaves a lot to be desired, but this one was nice and clean. it seemed as though i was the only one laughing half the time. this is the second movie zoe has seen on the big screen. A+.

Do Over - netflix adam sandler flick about a couple guys who fake their deaths because their current lives suck so much. there's nothing new here (not surprising), but there were a couple decent laughs so i keep watching it while doing work. basically that's what adam sandler is good for these days. everyone knows his best work is behind him. C.

Person Of Interest Season Two - good show that hasn't lost any of its mojo yet. there was a good episode in this one that reminded me of lifeboat. a bunch of people were stuck on an island because of a storm and there was a killer amongst them, but they didn't know who it was. good stuff. the themes of surveillance are still there, but they could do more to flesh them out. B.

Interstellar - great movie that i watched over the course of two days and ended up staying up pretty late to finish the second night. what the nolan brothers do with time is pretty cool and novel in my opinion. the whole angle of losing time with your daughter because these interstellar missions take place in high gravity locations is kinda mind bending and i found it to be very depressing as well. the thought that a 15 minute mission means you miss your daughter growing up was pretty heart-breaking to me.
all the performances were good. could have used some editing, but it didn't really bother me because i was pretty into the science of it and the mystery of everything. having daughters definitely added another dimension to the viewing of this one. A-.

Believeland - 30 for 30 about the cleveland curse. good overall, but the prominence of one of the producers actually detracted from the film a bit because it was kinda obvious that he inserted himself into the film. his insight wasn't especially grand or anything, he was just there because he loves cleveland sports and had the money to help produce the film. not long after i watched this, they got their championship so i guess everything's all better now. B.

Filthy Riches Season Two - hardly counts, yet here it is. documentary series about hardscrabble guys who earn a living doing odd things like mushroom hunting or catching and smoking eels. interesting characters who live off the land. B-.

Person Of Interest Season One - good show about a machine that watches over everything we do and can catch major terrorism crimes before they happen. the creator of the machine gets a SS# every once in a while and these represent non-terrorists who the machine wouldn't normally care about. his squad uses this information to try to save lives. that's a bad overview, but there you go. it's a good show. B.

Better Call Saul Season Two - good series that will never come out of the shadow of breaking bad. it stands on its own, however, in large part because saul's character is interesting and the acting is so good. i look forward to more. B.

Luther Season Three - good series that i could have watched more of. definitely had some dark moments and definitely one of the better british tv offerings i've seen. B+.

Luther Season Two - gets better this season. B.

House Of Cards Season Four - not as good this season, but still a strong series with good characters, writing, and a compelling story. i just wish these shows kept going and going. B.

This Magic Moment - follows the rise of the orlando magic which means they mostly talk about penny and shaq. shaq is a big ego and managing that turned out to be problematic, but the magic had a good little run there and made things in the nba interesting. B-.

Spy - i'm writing this review in june so i don't really remember much about it other than i like rose byrne and mellisa mccarthy. B-.

Walking Dead Season 6 - leaves you with a cliffhanger that will be driving me nuts for months. i love this crew and following them along their crazy journey has been fun....but somebody's gotta die. i'm guessing it's darryl just because reedus seems to be branching out into other things in real life. i'll miss whoever gets the axe. B+.

Vacation - not as good as the original, but pretty funny. i guess everything is a remake these days. B.

Fantastic Lies - 30 for 30 about the duke lacrosse rape case. pretty astonishing. pretty much everyone had them as guilty before the facts were really out. the case that the DA made out of it was pretty awful, but the media and public were every bit as bad. definitely worth watching if you care about truth. if not, then stay away - you wouldn't want your preconceived notions to be shattered. B+.

Luther Season One - good series with a wickedly good villain who turns into an ally. dark and interesting. elba is solid as always. B+.

Delivery Man - vince vaughn does his thing. nothing special. C.

Criminal Minds Season Ten - omg, i've watched 200+ episodes of this series. C+.

Inside Man Season Three - spurlock reminds me of me, but he's more outgoing and he gets to do the things i wish i could do. good series. B+.

Life Itself - documentary about the late great roger ebert. done by steve james who did hoop dreams. it's a good look at his life and work. interesting for those into film commentary or ebert. B.

Sex Tape - funny conceit done pretty well by the well-cast stars. i got some laughs out of it. B.
White Collar Season Six - good series overall that always managed to keep me interested. reminded me of encyclopedia brown or something like that. this season ended a bit early and the ending wasn't anything fantastic, but i didn't expect anything great from it. likable characters. B.

Soaked In Bleach - documentary about the death of kurt cobain. pretty much makes the argument that he was killed by courtney love and i pretty much don't have a problem with that. she's nuts and very well could have had something to do with it. that, or she's just amazingly shady and stoned in the days after his death. B.

Lucy - the concept for the film was interesting, but it didn't really cash in on the idea like i had hoped. oh well. C+.

Making A Murderer Season One - great series. been done before elsewhere like thin blue line or the staircase, but this one is well-executed and got good attention so that's nice. B+.

Tricked - follows different people in the sex trade. not much new here. we should bring it out of the shadows and regulate it. if we cared about freedom or women then we'd make this a priority, but we don't seem to truly care about either. B.
White Collar Season Five - good series continues a good run here. nothing from this season stuck out from my memory. B.

Greatest Movie Ever Sold - spurlock is always good entertainment. not his best or most important work, but still entertaining and interesting. B-.

Trainwreck - not as good as i had hoped. B-.

Portlandia Season Five - somewhat diminishing returns on this one, but it's always fun to laugh at hipsters. B.

Scandal Season Four - getting into crazy territory with some of these plotlines and twists, but i guess that's what this show is about. B-.

Mary Poppins - may have been the first time i watched this on the big screen, but it was definitely the first time that zoe watched anything on the big screen and that's why i'll remember this one forever. great experience passing the torch onto another generation of movie goers. i hope she loves them as much as my family does. A+.

Other Woman - surprisingly entertaining chick flick about a woman who finds out her husband is cheating on her and befriends the mistresses. of course they get revenge and fun is had by all, except him. B.
White Collar Season Four - still good. B.

Bang The Drum Slowly - fairly dull flick about a pitcher and cather. the catcher is deniro and he's terminally ill. never got off the ground for me. the summary is better than the film. D+.

Jurassic World - pretty good reboot of sorts. ending was kinda dumb. t. rex seemed just as big as the mega dinosaur so i didn't get that. science playing with nature fails again. B-.

grading scale:
A+ 4.3
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
D- 0.7
F+ 0.3
F 0.0
F- -0.3