Movies Reviewed, 2017

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Undefeated - good documentary about a football coach who does it the right way. teach character alongside football and competition, etc. cynical me was waiting for the child sex scandal or something. god our society is fucked up sometimes. B+.

Spotlight - good movie about the child sex abuse that took place within the catholic church. well acted and presented. reminds us of the good long term work that newspapers seem uniquely capable of investigating. B.

It's A Wonderful Life - tremendous film. i'm writing this review months later so i don't have as much to say about it, but there's a scene right before he gets married that sums up what it means to be a man. he wants to leave town, but feels compelled to stay because of a big opportunity. he gets kinda violent with mary as he explains that he wants to live life for himself, but he simultaneously breaks down and it leads immediately to the scene of them getting married. i think guys have this strong desire to be independent and do their own thing and yet they also feel the obligation of family and the tug of marriage. the whole film can be viewed as man's burden to be everything to everyone and always put himself on the back burner. sometimes it seems everyone around him is incompetent, selfish, needy, etc. in the end, though, they all come through when he's at his lowest point. he can't do it all himself. in the end we all need help sometimes, even someone like george bailey. A+.

Icarus - documentary about sports doping that starts somewhat innocently and stumbles into an international incident. good content. B.

Shameless Season 3 - these people are fucking nuts. if you watch this show do you like any of these people? do you justify their actions? are you watching it as you would a train wreck? i guess i watch it to judge them and avoid making poor decisions in the future. this show is basically a road map for what not to do in life. B.

It - nothing special. watched it on the plane and barely remember it. C-.

Amanda Knox - documentary series about amanda knox, the murders, and the aftermath/media coverage. she definitely comes off strangely here, but there's also mixed evidence and some questionable police work. i love this kind of true crime stuff so i liked it. B.

Die Hard - one of the best, still. A+.

A Faster Horse - documentary about the history of the ford mustang. came off like an advertisement at times. C+.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9 - good show. good season. B+.

Street Fight - academy nominated documentary about cory booker running for mayor. he loses here, but wins later and now he's pretty popular (sometimes mentioned as a DNC presidential nominee). he seems like the real deal. i don't agree with all his policies and approaches, but he's a good guy and it shows in this film. B.

Bad Santa 2 - pretty good follow up to a classic. B+.

Year Of The Scab - another 30 for 30. B-.

One Of Us - documentary about the hasidic community and one woman's struggle to see her kids and get out of the community. they're jewish and a minority so we're not allowed to say anything bad about them, but this is fucked up. B.

Shameless Season 2 - production gets better. these people are fucked. B.

Santa Clarita Diet Season 1 - one of the more surprising shows of the year. netflix original about a suburban couple who have to deal with the wife becoming undead. pretty funny stuff. good writing, casting, and acting all around. B+.

Tommy - 30 for 30. another rise and fall sports documentary. sex and drugs aren't as harmless as some would have you believe, but if you didn't know that by now i don't think this one will make the point any more clear. B.

Shameless Season 1 - not quite sure what the point of this is. do the writers like these people? are we just watching a semi-realistic, semi-dramatic take on urban poverty and addiction? bad decisions don't just affect the individual - they affect everyone in the vicinity. B.

Atari: Game Over - documentary on the rise and fall of atari. if you grew up in the 80s it's probably a must-see. B.
Jerry Before Seinfeld - so so documentary on the rise of seinfeld. probably only for seinfeld fans. B-.

Better Call Saul Season 3 - good show. B.

Zootopia - solid animated film. kids like it and i like it so i think that's a win. B+.

Portlandia Season 7 - still funny. B.

Game Of Thrones Season 3 - continues to entertain on some level. continues to confuse on others. definitely need to pay attention. i gather that if you read the books it helps you gain depth and understanding. B.

Criminal Minds Season 12 - this season was a total mess with the exodus of the main guy. cameos tried to keep it afloat, but mostly this season was a mess. not sure why i watch this anymore. actually, i am. it's because i believe in finishing what you started. it's a blessing and a curse. D+.

Game Of Thrones Season 2 - sersei gains depth this season. B.

Logan Lucky - pretty good heist flick. B.

Cars 3 - girls seemed okay with it. didn't do much for me. C.

Ozark Season 1 - surprise tv show of the year. really solid all the way through. i like smart characters not acting like idiots in difficult situations. quality programming here. B+.

Mr. Robot Season 2 - not really into it anymore. was hoping for more. C.

Last Chance U Season 2 - another good season. buddy tries to keep it together more this time and learn from his mistakes, but he backslides pretty quickly. running back ends up going to jail after this season is released. disappointing. B.

Atomic Blonde - good soundtrack and there's one sequence in the film that really makes the whole film worth it. this long fight sequence with the kind of hits that you can feel through the screen. if you can watch that one sequence then you don't need to watch anything else. B-.

Game Of Thrones Season 1 - grabs you pretty quickly. good stuff. B.

How To Be Single -don't really remember much about it. rebel wilson is funny. alison brie is hot. C+.

Would You Rather - b level production horror flick that is kinda in the torture porn category. nothing worthwhile here. D+.

Mr. Robot Season 1 - intriguing, hopefully it goes somewhere. B.

Dunkirk - possibly the best movie i've seen this year. the time shift stuff was pointless, but i guess it's a signature at this point. not nolan's best film, but he always delivers. B+.

House Of Cards Season 5 - not as good as it used to be, but still entertaining. B.

Independence Day: Resurgence - not much to write home about and i fell asleep at the very end. the first one doesn't do a lot for me anymore, but at least it had some moments where you feel good about your country for a minute or you feel triumphant when randy quaid sacrifices himself. this one didn't have much of that. C.

Independence Day - originally saw this the day it came out. phil took me to it for my birthday. life was simpler then. B.

House - pretty funny stuff here. can't go wrong with these leads. it won't stick in my head like some comedies, but it enjoyably passed the time and sometimes that's the best thing a person can ask for. B.

Silicon Valley Season Four - another funny season. too short, though. wish these were twice as long. mike judge never disappoints. B+.
Last Chance U Season 1 - really good documentary show about a football program that has won a bunch of state and national championships at the JC level. good cast of characters and the tv format lets you get into it much better than a movie would. highly recommended. A-.

Fastball - good documentary on the pitch. looks into the greatest fastball pitchers in history and what they probably threw based upon measurements at the time and modern math. the radar gun, for example, takes speed measurements 50' from the plate. but in nolan ryan's day it took the measurements at the plate. the end of the film summarizes the top 5 pitchers of all-time (in terms of speed). pretty cool stuff all around. if you like baseball at all then it's worth checking out. B+.

F Is For Family Season Two - i like bill burr and his voice actually adds a lot to the character of the show. i can relate to this guy. B.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back - first was was really great top notch action. this one was b rate crap. D+.

Inside Out - being a parent makes you soft. definitely cried a bit in a few critical spots. when riley's imaginary friend sacrifices himself, when riley returns home and cries with her mom and dad... zoe has a really hard time controlling her emotions right now so hopefully watching this will teach her a bit about where feelings come from and give her a reference point for understanding them. A-.
Archer Season Six - still good and funny. B.
Archer Season Seven - still good and funny. B.

Veep Season Six - continues to be funny and vulgar. B.

Star Wars - Episode VII: The Force Awakens - didn't quite watch this through in one sitting because i watched it with the kids, but it's a good addition to the series and it picks up where episode 3 left off in terms of quality. in other words, definitely a step up from episode 1 and 2. got teary eyed a couple times when zoe asked me about rey being a jedi and all that. basically i want her to understand that girls can be badass jedis too. B.

Archer Season Five - still good and funny. B.

Celtics/Lakers: Best Of Enemies - 30 for 30 3 part series. great stuff here. wish that it had ended on a different note. one of unity or love of the game or something. instead it ends with magic saying he'll always hate the celtics. jeez, man. lots of great games and some great teams during this run. i liked the way they put the series together with the narration from ice cube and donnie wahlberg. i wonder if a white guy will ever be the best basketball player in the world again. probably not. A.

People vs. OJ Simpson - some bad production and acting aside, this was pretty decent. the writing was good and attention to detail appears to be very good. i looked at some of the original video online and read some of the fact check stuff on it and it seems like they did a really accurate job. basically i think the verdict came down to jury nullification. they don't talk about this in the series, but the idea is that a juror can do whatever his conscience guides him to do...whether it's because they think the law is unjust or the whole system sucks or whatever. in this case i think race played a big part of it. rodney king, the threat of a riot, the corrupt LAPD...all led to a predominantly black jury deciding it was time for their team to win for once. can't really blame them. on an individual level, for this particular case it's clear to me that OJ was as guilty as hell, but a not-guilty verdict may have been the best thing possible for society at the time. sucks for the goldman and brown families. sucks for clark and darden. but maybe it was best for everyone else.
i remember when this verdict was release. i had just gotten off recess and went into a nearby classroom as the verdict was about to be read. we were packed into one of the classrooms that had a tv and even though the bell had rung, we all waited there to hear the news. my dad was a big OJ fan (probably because of USC) so i kind of had that influence in me. the way they show the reactions at the end of the series is exactly how i remember the reactions being in that classroom. all the whites had a look of shock on their faces and all the blacks were cheering. i was smiling because i thought it was all so funny. as always, i found myself right in the middle. not without shock like the whites, but also kinda happy that he got off like the blacks. crazy stuff. B+.

Archer Season Four - still good and funny. B.

Bloodline Season Three - disappointing end to a series that was pretty good for a while. honestly, it's been two weeks since i watched it and i don't even remember how it ended. i have a bad memory, but that's a bad sign. 3 seasons of content and investment in these characters and i don't even remember how it all concluded? lame. C.

Archer Season Three - still good and funny. B.

Midnight Special - movie about a boy with special powers who is abducted by his father from a cult that thinks he's the second coming, or something. thought it had potential, but it didn't go anywhere. disappointing. C+.

Master Of None Season Two - kinda marginal netflix show. it's decent and there are some thoughtful and funny moments, but nothing here is great. B-.

Sully - the sully story is one of the few true stories to get a lot of media coverage that actually struck a nerve with me. he's a humble guy doing his job and he was the perfect guy in a bad situation. he's a hero. the movie does a good job telling the story and it kept me interested despite the lack of much plot. good flick. B+.

Coraline - merritt loves this movie and it's her first real movie crush. i'm not a huge fan of the story or anything, but the animation is really great. the fact that they're able to do what they do with stop-motion animation is tremendous. selick directs and he learned a lot from jules engel who worked on fantasia, among other things. anyway, the animation is great and it's worth watching just for that. i think michel gondry would have fun diagramming all the sequences. B.
Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith - definitely the best of the prequels. i put off watching this for a long time since i never liked episode 1 or 2, but this one redeems the series. palpatine is truly evil and played very well. he's over the top and it fits perfectly. christensen leaves something to be desired, but isn't awful. portman and mcgregor finally act like we know they're capable of acting. and the script finally has something to bite into. zoe really digs this one. it's pg-13 so i might be a bad dad. B+.

Wizard Of Lies - bernie madoff is a piece of shit. decent movie about the downfall of this asshole. wish there had been more scenes of him getting raped in prison. there were zero. B.

Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves - pretty horrible sequel to the original film. i think this is actually the 3rd film in the series. mila kunis is in it when she's probably 14. it's not worth watching, but zoe was into it for a bit so...D-.

Fear The Walking Dead Season Two - barely following this show at this point; it just never caught my attention like the first one did. hopefully season three gets on track otherwise i'll dump it. C+.

Archer Season Two - cartoons can be hot. B.

Walking Dead Season Seven - Probably the worst season so far. the first episode sees two major characters getting killed (i predicted the first one, but didn't see that glenn would be next). pretty sad after that episode. the rest of the season was a bit flat, though. they just seem to be in a rut of doing kind of the same thing over and over. there needs to be some growth or something because it's not going anywhere right now. still like the characters. B-.

Handsome - jeff garlin netflix movie about a detective looking into a case. not a ton here to get excited about. it kept my interest and had a couple laughs. nothing special. C+.
Archer Season One - pretty good show about a 007 type spy who works for his mom's hapless agency. B.

Small Crimes - netflix movie about a guy who gets out of jail and all hell sorta breaks loose. kept my interest, but didn't wow me in any way. the ending was unexpected and the acting was on point. B-.

Get Out - talked with a berkeley student about this and she said without irony that white people are crazy and fucked up after watching this movie. so, there's that point of view. to be fair to the movie, i don't think that's all the movie is about, but it did reinforce that prejudice in this instance.
the movie is actually in the mold of a lot of 70s horror films about race and revenge. there were a bunch in that decade that tackled race and gender. fight for your life, for example, was about a black guy whose family was brutalized by whites and then he gets revenge. this one takes a while before it gets to the revenge portion of the film, but it finally does and that's when it excels. when it finally embraces the genre and gets into the catharsis it's really fun. when it's portraying every white character as deeply racist in a passive aggressive and micro agression type way, then it doesn't do as much for me. B+.

One And Not Done - john calipari 30 for 30. as these documentaries tend to do, this one humanized the guy a bit. i still suspect he's shady, but i have a certain level of respect for a guy who basically found this niche in college basketball as a guy who cares more about the players getting their due in the nba, than some b.s. idea of doing what's best for the game by sticking around longer. it's real rich to hear an old white guy like jim calhoun talk about staying 4 years for the good of the game when he doesn't have to worry about providing for everyone in his empoverished family. calipari realizes that for those lottery pick level guys that he's going for, it makes little to no sense to stick around just to help ncaa basketball or their school. B.

Portlandia Season Six - not as good as it used to be, but still solid enough to keep in the rotation. B.

Self/Less - interesting idea that gets sorta co-opted in Get Out above. lacks in execution, but an interesting watch nevertheless. singh doesn't do anything remarkable visually, which is too bad because the fall was really special. B-.

Bad Moms - pretty good look at the modern white suburban mom who feels a lot of pressure in this facebook, instagram, pinterest world. society is stupid. funny movie. B.

Jinx: Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst - great series that was a bit like staircase or making of a murderer or those sorts of true crime documentaries. highly recommended with a pretty stunning ending. unfortunately the ending was ruined for me by the press coverage. that said, if it wasn't for the press coverage, i probably wouldn't have watched it. A-.

Workaholics Season Five - i don't watch amazon prime much so it's been a while, but i'm back. these guys are hilarious. stoner comedy. B+.

Blacklist Season Three - worst season so far. not sure if i'll continue. C+.

Gilmore Girls Season Two - there are some nice moments, but it's an hour long show and each season is like 22 episodes...just too much plot and not enough actually happening. doesn't hold up well against today's attention spans. C.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - grrrl power version of the first one. has a few moments. i like rose byrne. B-.

Silicon Valley Season Three - wish there were more. B+.

Silicon Valley Season Two - still good. B+.

Silicon Valley Season One - took a few episodes to get into it, but turns out to be a great show that really flies by. needs to have longer seasons. oh well. B+.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday - nowhere near the film the first one is. zoe likes it for some reason. has some adult jokes that go flying over her head. think i'll have to take this out of the rotation though. C.

Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates - another forgettable comedy. missable. C.

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids - efx were cool at the time, but are totally obvious now. good wholesome fun, though. zoe liked it but was a bit afraid of the ant and scorpion at first. stuck with it though and watched it pretty regularly for a while. B+.

Central Intelligence - forgettable comedy that passed the time. C.
E.T. - a classic family film that ages pretty well all things considered. zoe was into it and watched it a few times. A.

Blacklist Season Two - not as good as season one. they're doing less episodic stuff which is usually nice, but in this case it's not doing it for me. B-.
Gilmore Girls Season One - starts out interesting. the witty banter is nice and the characters are new and all that. kinda wears on though and i'm hoping things get better. C+.

Becoming Warren Buffett - good look at the man behind the legend. seems like a good guy. interesting. B.

Zootopia - good animated film that's fun for the whole family. i was cracking up at times and zoe seemed to be entertained. that said, she hasn't returned to it. maybe i'll try it on her again. B+.

Under The Dome Season One - okay, but not great "lost"-ish tv series that was interesting enough for a season, but got weird in the second season and so we decided to call it quits. ultimately had the same feeling as lost - that it didn't really know where it was going and was going to be a groan-worthy ending. for me, so much of a tv series' appeal is in the ending, so i didn't feel bad about cutting this one short. C+.

50 Shades Of Gray - watched this by myself while working on some wood. funny, sad, true. got the tv in the workshop hooked up so i watched this while building a table for the office. it's actually a good movie that was more tasteful and thoughtful than i expected. i basically expected a "skin-e-max" style soft core porn, but it had more depth to it. never read the book, so i can't comment on that. B.

Straight Outta Compton - had high hopes for this one considering all the hype and the fact that i like the original group. unfortunately it was a sprawling hagiography that was clearly influenced by the fact that ice cube and dr. dre were producers. gets into too much stuff after the breakup of the group and doesn't tell the whole story. acting was mostly not very good and overall it wasn't worth writing home about. makes the oscar hub bub about a lack of color in that year's ceremony seem all the more hollow. C.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back - probably my favorite of the five i've seen, but a new hope is right up there with this one. honestly, i've never been the biggest fan of the series and never bothered to watch episode 3 or 7, or 8 now that it's out now. but the first two in the series are classics and watching them with zoe has been real fun. A.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope - watched this with zoe and it was magnificent. she's into it big time. A.

Blacklist Season One - pretty fun premise and spader does well, as always. B.