2019 Blind Spot Picks

Since 2016 I have participated in the Blind Spot project, which is a monthly series where I watch and review a popular film I haven’t seen yet. So far I have reviewed 36 films in the series and it has been an amazing experience! Some I have loved like Tron and others weren’t for me like The Green Mile. Nevertheless, it is always interesting to watch and review these classic films.

So it is with great pleasure I announce my 2019 Blind Spot Picks:

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January- Henry V

This Shakespeare adaptation put Kenneth Branagh on the map and got him 2 Oscar nominations. I’ve seen the play once at the Utah Shakespeare Festival but it is not one I am super familiar with so I am looking forward to watching this film.

garden state

February- Garden State

Hailed by hipsters everywhere as a classic, it’s about time I saw Garden State. I’m hoping for a fun sweet romantic comedy for the month of love.

usual suspects

March- The Usual Suspects

I know this movie has a double bad name to it with Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer in it but they won’t make much money from my rental so I figure it’s time to check this ‘neo-noir mystery film’ off of my list.

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April- Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Directed by Edgar Wright this quasi comicbook movie/romance (it’s a genre mashup I am told) should be a lot of fun to finally visit.

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May- Brief Encounter

For May I am going to be checking off the art house favorite 1945’s Brief Encounter starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. It’s about a bored housewife who happens to meet a doctor while doing errands and the brief encounter turns into more than they bargained for. Sounds intriguing!

gidget

June- Gidget

Sandra Dee became the ultimate girl next door in Gidget. She plays a young woman who finds surfing and a handsome surfer named Moondoggie Matthews all in one summer at the beach! I love the beach and romances so this should be a lot of fun.

best years

July- The Best Years of Our Lives-

Hailed as one of the greatest films to win best picture, The Best Years of Our Lives has long been on my radar. It’s just so long at nearly 3 hours that I hadn’t gotten around to seeing it but I am really looking forward to checking this post-World War 2 family drama off of my list.

take shelter

August- Take Shelter-

I love director Jeff Nichols films but I haven’t gotten around to seeing his film Take Shelter. It tells the story of a man played by Michael Shannon who starts getting apocalyptic visions and what he does to protect his family. Jessica Chastain is also in it and it looks very intriguing.

the pianist

September- The Pianist-

I have avoided this movie because of my distaste for director Roman Polanski but it seems like a perfect choice for the blind spot project. Adrien Brody won an Oscar for his role, and I know it is a moving Holocaust story which are always edifying if difficult to watch.

cowboy bepop

October- Cowboy Bebop: the Movie-

Now that I have finished the Studio Ghibli films it is time to expand into other anime and Cowboy Bepop: the Movie is definitely something I have been curious about for some time. The story of intergalactic bounty hunters seems very creative and I look forward to checking it out.

man who shot

November- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance-

I like to have a good variety in my blind spot picks so why not pick a classic western! The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance stars 2 of Hollywood’s greatest leading men in Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne and it is directed by the master John Ford. That’s enough to sell me!

tokyo godfathers

December- Tokyo Godfathers-

My Christmas pick for blind spot is the anime film Tokyo Godfathers. It has been one I’ve been wanting to watch for a while. I’m just always so busy during the holidays to watch it! The story of 3 homeless people who find a baby on Christmas Eve is supposed to be really special and I look forward to seeing it.

So there you have it! What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of these films and are you going to participate in the Blind Spot project? You all should! It’s really fun and rewarding

Bumblebee and Aquaman Thoughts

I recently had the chance to see 2 big blockbuster films that are trying to boost failing franchises: Bumblebee and Aquaman. One I liked. One I did not like. As opposed to doing separate reviews I thought it would be fun to compare the two and explain why one worked and one didn’t.

bumblebee

The Transformers series has always been discouraging because the lore and characters has so much potential for an engaging blockbuster. Unfortunately the franchise was saddled with Michael Bay for five movies and the only thing he could produce is exhausting films that tried to be funny and exciting in the most cringe-worthy ways.

Finally Paramount has come to their senses and replaced Michael Bay with Laika’s Travis Knight to create a Bumblebee spinoff film. In what feels like a reboot Knight takes the character of Bumblebee and crafts an immensely satisfying, heartfelt film that the entire family will enjoy.

You could make the case that Bumblebee is derivative of films like E.T. and The Iron Giant and you would be correct; however, I have no problem with films that pull from earlier projects, even heavily so, if it is done well and this is. It’s a simple story of Hailee Steinfeld’s Charlie, a lonely teenager missing her father, who finds an old VW bug who it turns out just happens to be Bumblebee!

The decepticons are looking for Bumblebee and they trick the government into believing he is the enemy not them. Then Charlie must find a way to save Bumblebee from the government and all the while feel love again from their new friendship.

It’s very simple but completely charming. I loved all the interactions between Charlie and Bumblebee and was rooting for them during the entire film. The decepticons, Shatter and Dropkick can be a little annoying but compared to the Bay films they are a joy to behold!

Bumblebee represents the best kind of blockbuster film. It has fun action, sweet moments, beautiful special effects and characters I care about. Go see it!

Smile Worthy

aquaman

Now let’s talk about Aquaman. In many ways Aquaman is a frustrating film because it has so many positive elements. I feel like it should work much more than it does. Like Knight, director James Wan, clearly put his all into creating a beautiful and epic film. Unfortunately where Bumblebee told a simple and sweet story, Aquaman’s script is plodding and lacking the emotional weight or character development it needs to draw the viewer in.

The strengths of Aquaman is the casting of the leads. Jason Mamoa is a serviceable actor that definitely looks the part of the hunky rebel from the sea. He has nice chemistry with Amber Heard’s Mera and together they were able to elevate some very clunky scenes. I liked the witty banter between them and in particular when they are searching for a magic trident in the desert it was engaging.

I also liked Nicole Kidman as Aquaman’s mother Atlanna. Her story had heart and it worked as a comic book fairytale. In fact I wish the movie had just been about her life and relationship with the lighthouse keeper.

Where Aquaman loses me is the endless exposition. The script is loaded with scenes of various Atlantean leaders talking about the government and who is going to rule. Didn’t James Wan learn anything from The Phantom Menace? These types of discussions are not interesting. I really don’t care if Patrick Wilson’s Orm or Dolph Lundgren’s Nereus rules the underwater world. The base question of which brother, Orm or Aquaman, should rule could have been interesting but we need some kind of human connection: Some idea of the cost the people, or the rulers will face if they chose different rulers and I did not get that at all here. Instead it was seemingly unending dialogue about Atlantean policies, customs and lore. What a snooze.

If you want to see a good example of this type of conflict done well watch this year’s Black Panther. In that film, we see the backstory of Kilmonger and we understand what he wants for Wakanda in comparison with what T’Challa wants. The stakes are clear. The political discourse is concise and the emotional pull behind the different choices draws you in. The only part of Black Panther where I was bored was when T’Challa is off screen and that’s because the screenplay does such a good job with his character motivations.

In contrast, the screenplay in Aquaman does everything it can to bore the viewer. Even the action is repetitive and dull. It’s just fight, crash into a building and then repeat. At least Black Panther had some variety to the type of fighting and the fighters involved to keep it interesting.

As for Aquaman other people may enjoy the fantasy world building and the charismatic lead performances enough to get them through the exposition but that wasn’t enough to carry me through Phantom Menace and it’s not enough here either. But if you want a 143 minute trip into Atlantean politics with bland action it is the movie for you…

Frown Worthy

So there you have it. Go see Bumblebee. It’s the by far superior action blockbuster out this weekend.

Worst Movies of 2018

It’s that time of year when I present my worst movies of the year list and this year I decided to do things a little bit differently. Instead of a strict bottom 10 I chose to spread the wealth and talk about a bunch of groupings of films I disliked. You can watch the video above to hear more of my explanations but here they are for the blog

Blockbusters that Stunk!

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My first category is big studio releases that fell flat:

The Meg– disappointing shark movie that took itself seriously when its trailers promised camp. Instead of being fun it was mega-boring

Pacific Rim Uprising- removed any of the artistry or interesting choices of the original and replaced it with loud hard to visualize action filled with annoying characters

The Nutcracker and the 4 Realms- I was so hoping this would be a fun surprise but it was a dud. There was no conflict and most of the Clara was watching stuff happen (even on stage sometimes). Boring!

Once Upon a Deadpool- I’ve never seen either of the Deadpool movies and judging by this PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 I don’t want to. It was boring, unfunny and the acting by many was weak

Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald– This whole movie was a crime. I felt exhausted after I saw it. There were so many plot threads and characters and none of it made a lick of sense to this muggle. Worst fantasy film I’ve seen since Warcraft.

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Romantic Comedy Duds-

Everyone knows I love romantic comedies but when they fail, they fail badly:

Destination Wedding- what everyone hates about romcoms all in one movie. Both characters were miserable and irritating and did nothing but argue for 2 hours. No chemistry and one of the least sexy sex scenes I’ve ever seen.

Little Italy- the leads were decent but the humor fell so flat with its constant sex jokes that were not funny. The stereotyping and plot were terrible. Yuck!

The Kissing Booth- an awkward film where the director seemed to linger the camera over its teenage protagonist in uncomfortable ways. Both male leads were terrible especially her BFF who was the worst

The Spy Who Dumped Me- this film has some decent action but it swings so strongly between slapstick comedy and extreme violence that I was very turned off by it. Let’s just say it was not for me

bad movies3

Adaptations that Bombed-

Some of my favorite novels were adapted in 2018 but unfortunately not adapted proficiently:

Wrinkle in Time- what a disappointment. With such a cast, budget and promising director to get this dud. They failed to capture the spirituality of the novel and put in place speechifying where Meg is told she is a warrior instead of coming to realize it herself. The plot was muddled and George Wallace irritating. It just failed

Little Women- I’m up for a modern take on Little Women but not one where they turn Jo into an obnoxious judgemental jerk, which is what this version did (amongst other problems)

Sherlock Gnomes- after Sherlock series 4 sucked so badly I guess everyone decided it was time to follow suit with awful Sherlock Holmes stories like Sherlock Gnomes. This movie was irritating in so many ways especially the villain

Ophelia- I kept having to thwart my laughter at this ridiculous feminist take on Hamlet with Ophelia outwitting all and storming the castle along with the Queen’s secret twin who lives in the forest brewing potions…Embarrassing

Robin Hood- could have been a dopey action movie but it wasn’t even that. Everything from the costumes to the action to the script to the terrible acting was so misguided. I don’t know what they were thinking?

White Fang- some nice animation is hurt by a long, brutal exploitative dog fight sequence I could not forgive. The child next to me was in tears. It was way too much. No thank you

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Gravitas that Failed

My next category is films that were presented with gravitas as great and innovative that failed to entertain or please me in any way. Unpopular opinion time!

Annihilation- some claim this scifi/horror film is a masterpiece but I thought it was a slog that couldn’t decide what it was trying to say so it just keeps piling on metaphor after metaphor to the point of exhaustion. None of the character motivation was well done and aside from pretty visuals it didn’t work

Fireworks- this anime is obviously trying to rip off Your Name (one of my favorite movies) and it failed. It is all over the place storywise and the characters make strange choices. The romance feels off. The animation is pretty and then terrible at spots. Just bad.

Bohemian Rhapsody- Freddie Mercury should be an interesting character but in this film he is so bland and generic rebel rocker it irritated me. Plus the script was so bad having his wife explain his sexuality to him and have him reunite with a boyfriend, make up with his family, and play Live Aid all in the afternoon. Give me a break

Gotti- John Travolta decided to play mob boss Jon Gotti as a ill treated persecuted civil servant in this ridiculous movie. The non-linear storytelling doesn’t work. The script, makeup, cinematography and everything else is terrible. Not even so bad it’s good.

Winchester- a haunted house movie with potential but instead it was just very boring

Life Itself- the movie that put me to sleep so hard I actually started snoring. It was a snooze but it was also surprisingly cynical and not hopeful abotu life at all. Everyone either gives up or kills themselves. What a heartwarming message…

MTKZ- some people think total chaos is creative. I don’t. This movie was completely random from the first image. Everything from the characters to the story to the visual choices felt like an assault on the viewer and was exhausting.

Sorry to Bother You- I was with this movie for the first 30 minutes and then it went completely off the rails once they get to this party. The movie felt like it was trying to be 12 different movies and especially once it went equine it completely lost me

Journey’s End- a war movie where the soldiers talk about rations a lot. I never need to hear about rations again. It was so boring.

The Party- a comedy with no jokes. Like seriously I didn’t see why any of these pedantic twerps talking at this party was funny. I just didn’t get it.

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More Animation I Hated-

I mentioned some animated films I disliked already but these 3 were not great:

Duck Duck Goose- the worst movie I saw in 2018. It is garish and unpleasant in every way. The jokes with the Chinese people and the cat were bizarre and I just wanted the whole experience to be over as soon as I started watching it

Lu Over the Wall- a movie that is so spastic and insane that it made me nauseous. This director made another bonkers movie this year The Night is Short Walk On Girl that really worked for me but this one was too much. Plus, the story that it had felt like a ripoff of Ponyo so I didn’t even have that.

Ice Dragon: Legend of the Blue Daisies- a weird fantasy animation made to teach lessons to evangelicals but if you aren’t in that group it will not engage you either with the songs, story or morality.

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Two Bad Comedies

Finally I will end with 2 comedies that didn’t make me laugh:

Night School- Tiffany Haddish is not on my good side after both of these films but especially Night School where she shrieked her way through her performance.

Uncle Drew- I know other people found this funny but I didn’t laugh one time. The lead character is unlikable and I wasn’t interested in the sports story. A real dud.

So there you have it! There are my worst films of the year

If you are dying to know what the actual bottom 10 is here goes:

bad movies8

Disney Magic and Why ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is So Special

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Years ago I read an article which said at Disney “magic is made by optimizing the mundane.” I can’t think of a more perfect description of what Walt Disney tried to do in his career. For example, if we look at Disneyland: at its core is Main Street USA but it is executed in such a charming and idyllic way that it feels magical. I can’t think of any other corporate experience where I would enjoy sitting and taking in the ambiance like I do at Disneyland. What’s fascinating is I didn’t realize how much I missed this experience in Disney films until I walked out of Mary Poppins Returns. To say I was swept away in an experience of pure joy would be an understatement. It was true Disney magic and I LOVED it!

This is not to say I haven’t loved many recent Disney films. I loved Moana, and Coco was my favorite film of last year, but there’s something different about Mary Poppins Returns. It truly does optimize the mundane by taking the trials and pressures of life and reminding the audience to ‘trip a little light fantastic’ and smile a little more through your struggles. It’s one of the most joyful and effervescent experiences I’ve had at the cinemas in a long time.

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Obviously trying to make a sequel to the masterpiece that is Mary Poppins is a tall order and already I’m seeing many who are claiming this film is either too close the original or too far away. I thought they nailed the perfect balance of homage and newness. Emily Blunt is phenomenal as Mary. She gets that mixture of rigidity and whimsy just right (taking the mundane nature of child care and making it magical). She can also sing, which with recent Disney offerings like Beauty and the Beast isn’t always the case (it takes away from the escapism if the singing is bad).

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a delight as Jack, a lamplighter that could be seen as similar to Bert but he only has one job and he has a little bit of a budding relationship with now grown Jane (Emily Mortimer who is delightful). He gets the best song of the movie with ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’, and brings his broadway skills to all the choreography and jubilant musical sequences.

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And speaking of music, the songs are such a delight. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for weeks and it never fails to make me smile. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman did such a great job paying homage to the original while writing new and catchy tunes for a new generation to love. ‘The Place Where the Lost Things Go’ is sweet and touching. ‘Turning Turtle’ is a fun little number featuring Meryl Streep in her small role. ‘Nowhere to Go But Up’ gives us Angela Lansbury and the whole cast floating away in a whimsical melody. ‘Underneath the Lovely London Sky’ immediately welcomes the audience to this magical, charming take on London. I love it!

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The 2D animation sequences are also a complete delight. I don’t know what else to say about them except that I had a huge smile on my face while watching Emily, Lin and the kids dancing amongst 2D animated animals and flowers. It simply made me happy.

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There is also a different message in Mary Poppins Returns than the original film. It has certain trappings that are the same like both involving a bank and a father but the take-away is quite different. In the original Mr Banks thinks he has everything figured out. He even sings about it in the ‘The Life I Lead’. Then Mary teaches him all that stuff he had neatly arranged means nothing and doesn’t last. Without a true bond with his children his life has no meaning. Mr Banks comes to this conclusion after hearing Bert’s advice in ‘A Man Has Dreams’ and as he goes to fly a kite with his kids happiness is promised the Banks family. (Again the ordinary task of kite flying made magical).

In this story, it’s a little different. Michael (Ben Whishaw who is wonderful in the role) has experienced great loss. Unlike his father he doesn’t think he has it all figured out. In fact, he knows he doesn’t. His wife has died and the house is going to be repossessed if they can’t find a bank share certificate from his father. He is reaching his rock bottom and I can relate to this more than the confident Mr Banks of the original film. He is a man in need of rescue, and he knows it. (Again, his father had no idea he was missing out on so much). This is when Mary Poppins comes along to help Jane and Michael (and the children too!) once again. As so often is the case in life, Michael’s friends and family come to help him through his trials and find happiness again. What a beautiful message.

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But it is not a morose film. Quite the contrary. I can rarely recall a more joyous and optimistic film than Mary Poppins Returns. Sometimes life can get me down and it is Disney magic that often gives me that lift I need to try a little harder and keep dreaming. That’s what this movie reminded me of. It spoke to me of the joy of dreaming and how art can uplift even the most mundane of days.

I have not been a big fan of most of the Disney live action remakes. They feel cold and clinical and usually have bad singing. However, with Mary Poppins Returns I was transported in a triumph of music, dance, optimism and animation. I loved the costumes (Sandy Powell with another triumph), perfect production design, old fashioned score and pretty much everything else being great. I guess it could have been edited a bit more judiciously but I was fine with the length because I was enjoying myself so much. I’ve a feeling hard core Disney fans will appreciate this movie more than most, as it definitely feels like a movie Walt would have loved. It’s straight from the heart and pure Disney magic!

smile worthy

Blind Spot 36: Desk Set

I must admit I was a little unsure what I was getting myself into when I put Desk Set on my 2018 Blind Spot list. I needed a Christmas movie I had yet to see (a tough task when you are dealing with me, the Queen of Christmas movies), but I didn’t enjoy the much heralded Hepburn/Tracy film Adam’s Rib. Despite their chemistry, it just didn’t work for me (been a while since I’ve seen it but that was my experience at the time). Fortunately my experience with Desk Set, was much better, and I thoroughly enjoyed this bubbly Christmas romcom.

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Desk Set was the 8th of 9 pairings between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and it was directed by the great Walter Lang and written by Phoebe and Henry Ephron (parents of my literary hero Nora Ephron!). They built the lead roles with Hepburn and Tracy in mind and you can tell- especially for Hepburn the lines feel like they are almost improv it is so natural.

Heburn plays a woman named Bunny Watson who works as a researcher that answers questions for reporters. She is a very modern woman who has been dating her boyfriend Mike for 7 years and leads an office of 3 other women (Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill and Sue Randell). These women are strong, yet feminine and can definitely hold their liquor. If you made a version of Desk Set today you wouldn’t have to change much of the behavior of the women, which considering this was made in 1957, that is saying something.

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Unfortunately, the perfect office is disturbed when Spencer Tracy’s Richard Sumner comes in and announces they are replacing the researchers with 2 EMERAC computers. Richard then works with the women to make the transition to the computers as seamless as possible. Of course, it is fascinating to see the effects of automation and computers on a 1957 workplace when the same issues and workplace dynamics exist today. We just call it google instead of the EMERAC!

Desk Set is not a movie that is going to have you in stitches laughing. It’s more a pleasant workplace comedy starring two Hollywood greats with terrific chemistry. Hepburn’s Bunny can be quite sarcastic and snarky with Tracy’s Richard, especially when she is drunk. She even laughs so hard in one scene she snorts, which I’m sure was unplanned!

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It did take me a bit to get into Desk Set (the first act is pretty slow) but once the computer arrives and they have their Christmas party it gets cracking! If you like romantic or workplace comedies you will enjoy it. It doesn’t have the emotional heft of something like The Apartment but it’s a delightful little comedy with a hint of Christmas in it for the holidays.

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smile worthy

If you’ve seen Desk Set what did you think? Do you like it better than Adam’s Rib or is there another Hepburn/Tracy pairing you prefer over both of them?

Thanks for joining me in this 3rd year of Blind Spots! I am excited to start a new series for 2019 and if you have any suggestions please let me know! Merry Christmas!

Current Mini Reviews

As many of you know I have been hard at work watching every Christmas movie of 2018 (over 50 new releases already!) for my Hallmarkies Podcast. However, that does not mean I am slacking off on the regular releases. I’m doing the best I can to fit them in as well. I am also still doing monthly obscure animation and Talking Disney over on my other podcast Rachel’s Reviews. We just posted one talking all about Mary Poppins I think you will enjoy.

Anyway, I thought it was about time for another one of my Current Mini Reviews post where I catch you up on the quick thoughts on recent films I’ve seen. Obviously this will not include films like Ralph Breaks the Internet where I have a full written review. Let me know your thoughts on these in the comments section.

widows

Widows

With such an amazing cast and a great director like Steve McQueen it is difficult to go into Widows without very high expectations and maybe that is part of my problem. While I certainly didn’t hate Widows, I found it kind of frustrating. The writing for the characters isn’t deep enough to be a compelling drama and the heist isn’t fun enough to be an engaging heist movie. Instead it is some pretty camera work and good acting that doesn’t have much to say and was a little plodding. I also thought the lighting on the women didn’t do them any favors. It seemed to me it was being shot to take away their femininity and make them look pasty and ugly which is a very strange choice for these stunning women. Even the love scenes felt very masculine and strange. I guess that could be interesting but it didn’t work for me.

Frown Worthy but other people love it so I guess decide for yourself

93 out of 135

christmas chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles-

Netflix has stepped up their Christmas game this year and Christmas Chronicles is a really fun entry from them. Starring Kurt Russell as a kick butt, cool Santa who ends up taking care of 2 kids who have lost their father. It was funny and had a nostalgic charm to it. Some of the bits go on a little too long and the thugs are a bit too violent for my liking but it’s a lot of fun. I also thought the elves were adorable.

Smile Worthy

43 out of 135

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Creed 2

While not as fancy as the first Creed film I really enjoyed Creed 2. I enjoyed all the storylines between Adonis and his fiance and him and Rocky. The match-up with the Dragos really worked and I honestly didn’t know who was going to win the final boxing match (and I would have been happy with either winning which is tough to do in a boxing movie). I guess it doesn’t reinvent the boxing genre but what it does it executes very well. I think it’s a little underrated for this year.

Smile Worthy

19 out of 135

mirai

Mirai-

2018 hasn’t had as many indies and anime films as some years but Mirai is certainly one of the standouts. It’s a very simple movie from Mamoru Hosoda about a little boy struggling to adapt to a new sister in the house. Through a series of magical realism events he learns about his family and that he is loved and it is thoroughly adorable. The animation is so fun and the message sweet it really works. It reminded me a little bit of Takahata’s Only Yesterday, which I love.

Smile Worthy

16 out of 135

power of usPokemon: The Power of Us-

Last year we got a reboot of the Pokemon series with Pokemon: I Choose You and this year we get The Power of Us and fortunately both are solid entries in the series. I Choose You has more stunning animation but the plot in The Power of Us is less convoluted. Either way, I enjoyed both. If you are a fan you have to see it!

Smile Worthy

68 out of 135

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Green Book-

I love stories about friendship and Green Book is a great example of how to do it right. Both men obviously have racial differences but they have many other differences including class, sexuality, tastes and everything else. I thought it was great seeing the 2 overcome their differences and become friends through their road trip. Some people are mad at this movie for not starting a movement or telling the entire black experience. That’s not what it was trying to do. It was just portraying this one friendship and it did a great job. I love both lead performances and the script is excellent. Loved it.

Smile Worthy

9 out of 135

everyday

Every Day-

Every Day has an intriguing premise that probably works better as a book than a movie but I still enjoyed this YA film. The idea is our young girl meets a boy who wakes up each day in the body of another person for just that day. Naturally this makes having a relationship difficult but the overall message about loving who a person is rather than their outward appearance is a good one and all the acting is sincere and sweet. In the world of dopey YA films, this is a solid entry.

Smile Worthy

56 out of 135

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Instant Family-

In Instant Family director Sean Anders tells his own story about when he and his wife adopted 3 siblings and the challenges/blessings that went along with that. This film is easy to disregard if you are only paying attention to the trailers with pratfalls and cheap humor but I loved it. It doesn’t shy away from how hard adoption and foster care can be but the emotional sections really worked for me. I was balling when I left the theater. I mean ugly, got to compose myself, kind of tears. These kids are out there and they need to be loved but they can be so hard to love. I liked all the performances and when the credits showed the Anders family and all the other adoption and foster care families involved in the film I lost it. It’s really good.

Smile Worthy

12 out of 135

the grinch

The Grinch-

Illumination Studios is the junk food of animation. They provide commercially appealing, brightly colored films that make a lot of money and are instantly forgotten. Such is the case with The Grinch. It’s not awful like their previous attempt with Seuss, The Lorax, but it’s just super bland and lacking in creativity. None of the jokes landed for me and they change the message from Christmas doesn’t come from a store into loneliness is bad, which is a definite downgrade. It has some nice traditional carols in the soundtrack and there’s nothing offensive about it. It’s just super mediocre and bland.

Frown Worthy

90 out of 135

 

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Tea with the Dames-

If you are an anglophile like myself you have to check out the documentary Tea with the Dames. It’s very simple. They just gather Dame Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith together to talk about their careers and lives. They have some naughty language and can be very catty but it’s all delightful. It will make you want to call your old friends and catch up.

Smile Worthy

30 out of 135

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Butterflies-

I actually saw this Turkish film at Sundance but I thought I would give you my thoughts really quick. Butterflies is about 3 estranged siblings who have to journey to bury their recently deceased father. What follows is a bit of a dark comedy with some poignant moments between the very good lead actors and some hilarious bits. I particularly died laughing every time a set of chickens meets their maker (I won’t spoil it for you but it was LOL).

Smile Worthy

24 out of 135

robin hood

Robin Hood-

I was hoping this would be a silly action movie but I don’t know what they were thinking with this disastrous adaptation of the classic story. Almost every choice from the accents, to the action, to the special effects are terrible. I knew it was going to be really bad when the opening sequence is a long Medieval take on American Sniper...Every performance is either bland or way over the top and the story is so dumb. It’s violent and yet the script expects you to care about these ridiculous characters….

Frown Worthy

128 out of 135

Robin Hood is the worst of this grouping and Green Book is the best! Some fun times at the movies. Let me know what you think!