The Sixth Sense (1999): While I last watched The Sixth Sense many years ago I Was happen to re-watch it this past weekend with someone who had not seen it before. Re-watching a movie where you know well in advance what the plot twists are provides an interesting opportunity to find all of the clues or breadcrumbs that the film offers along the way to build up to the moment of great reveal. Knowing that Bruce Willis’ character is in fact dead after the movie’s initial scene has a viewer appreciating his interactions, or lack-there-of, with other characters more than on an initial watch. One side benefit of re-watching a film like The Sixth Sense with someone who has not previously seen it is how crazy you can drive them when you make comments about specific elements in a scene, or react in specific ways, which make absolutely no sense until you know the secrets behind the film. The Sixth Sense still holds up as it did when it was first released and is worth a re-watch from time-to-time.
The Lodge (2019): The recipe for a perfectly horrible horror movie? Short title + on Netflix + trailer that seems to good to be true + low budget. The Lodge equals this equation. I enjoyed the ‘twist’ where it was the kids who were playing the worst kind of prank on who was likely to be their future step-mother but that wasn’t enough to get me to like this film—I couldn’t wait for this film to be over. I knew something was off when there was a suicide depicted in the first 10 minutes of the movie, which was wholly unnecessary in terms of its graphic nature. The rest of the film was a slow burn to an ending that never exploded. This film is worth avoiding.
The Happening (2008): I’ll admit it—I enjoy most of M. Night Shyamalan’s films regardless of what the critics say about them. I like the supernatural nature that many of his films have underpinning their narratives. And, I’m a sucker for the plot twists and surprising reveals that often come near the end of his flicks.
With that said—The Happening is complete garbage. I’m writing this review with the movie still on in the background and there’s nothing enjoyable about the first 2/3rds of it. Mark Wahlberg should have stopped making films long ago, Zooey Deschanel was a poor casting choice for this movie, and most of the plot of the first hour of the film is the same thing over and over—something mysterious has overcome people and has them killing themselves. I got it. The fact that the killer is plant based was a poorly formed thread in the film and not emphasized enough.
I’m not certain what’s worse about The Happening; the plot or the acting.
Sideways (2004): Although I can’t pinpoint the reason why, I remember wanting to watch this movie since the first time it came out. Perhaps it was the narrative crafted around two male friends bonding while on travels, or the focus on drinking in wine country. Whatever the reason, this movie clearly wasn’t what I thought it was about. Moving seamlessly between comedy, drama, and social commentary with relative ease, I was left at the end of the film not entirely sure if it was worth two hours of my time or not.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019): I wouldn’t call myself a HUGE Tarantino fan but I do generally enjoy his movies. While I think in Django he used the n-word a few times more than necessary, and The Hateful Eight could have done with about 20 minutes less dialog, I find myself watching to watch whatever Tarantino puts out no matter how few and far between his films are. I haven’t seen all he’s done (Grindhouse) but I’ve seen most.
Having recently finished Once Upon a Time in Hollywood I was left wondering if it was a Tarantino film at all. I mean, many of the essential elements were present: dialog, shot cuts, cast, and jokes that carry some depth to them; but at the end of the day I wasn’t captivated in the same way I have been in the past with his work. Perhaps I didn’t give the film the attention it deserved, or I didn’t know enough about the film going into it, but I felt like it was a series of disjointed stories that he tried to weave together. The results of Tarantino’s attempt was either brilliant and lost on me, or a fizzling out of what he does best.
The Graduate (1967): I’ve always known about this film. I’ve heard that it’s somewhat of a good coming-of-age tale. I was told it put Dustin Hoffman on the map (not to mention Simon & Garfunkel for the soundtrack). So, on a whim last night for “date night” my wife and I chose to watch The Graduate to see what it was all about.
Oh, was I disappointed and confused.
Perhaps I was thrown off by the age of the film. Maybe it was the odd camera cuts. Likely the relative perceived age of the actors cast had an impact too. If nothing else, the story line itself was disjointed and left more than a little bit to be desired.
Consulting Rotten Tomatoes leads me to believe that I didn’t understand the movie, or that we just don’t appreciate good quality films when they are put in front of us. I’d push back on that.
Simple because many others say something is good does not make it true. Quality is subjective and clearly this film does not live up to the quality that I was led to believe it conveyed. Other than the soundtrack, and the funny although sometimes oddly placed humorous lines, this film simply didn’t stand up to the expectations I had going into it.
I’d be hard pressed to recommend this film to anyone I know.
The Minimalists: Less Is Now (2021): This movie is a direct representation of what the minimalism movement has become—it lacks the depth that the topic is rooted in and is nothing more than a puff piece to highlight the righteousness of the self-proclaimed standard bearers of the movement. I know people who will rave about this film, but they are likely the same people who will equate minimalism with owning everything that is white in the world. I had a feeling going into this film, based on their previous release, that I would be disappointed. I can say, that I wasn’t disappointed in my anticipation.
Death to 2020 (2020): While I am not a fan of mocumentaries in general I have to say that this was a highly enjoyable watch. A recap of many—not all—of the bad things that happened in 2020, the comedic commentary from the fictions individuals in the film held lots of truth. While I wouldn’t say that this is likely to be near one of the best movies to watch in 2021 (or back in 2020) it certainly was entertaining and a good way to turn off the brain at the end of a long year.
Hillbilly Elegy (2020): A compelling story about identify, family, place, and becoming one’s true self. I wasn’t certain what to expect of this film having read competing reviews (from competing newspapers, of course) but I was thankful we sat down to watch it. I have had the printed memoir on my future reading this; because of the film, I moved the book into my reading plan for 2021. Something I am not likely to watch again, but a watch I will remember and recommend.
The Juror (1996): Although there’s already another movie called, Runaway Jury, this movie should be re-named to that. The first 80%, or so, of the film was reasonable and well put together. However, in the last 20% of the film it got away from itself. One film with about a creepy character and one women having to deal with the ethical battle of saving her family versus having a mobster go to jail quickly faded into the background as a new, shoot-em up killing movie ensued. Not a recommended watch whatsoever.
Hereditary (2018): Our pick for a Halloween watch, I wasn’t overly impressed. While by the end things came together this movie was neither scary or suspenseful aside from one moment (the beheading). Compared to the writer/director’s other film, Midsommar, it became clearer that this film was their first. I do think that the story line which surrounds the occult and the worshiping of a god made for a good story line, and that this story line became clearer at the very end, however the delivery and development of the plot and story could use some work.
Joker (2019): Disturbing. That’s certainly the best way to describe this film. Anyone who watches this film that has the slightest understanding of the world of Batman quickly forgets the comic book escapes and becomes lost in an intimate study of a troubled individual. Phoenix is one of only a handful of people who could have pulled this role off. Feelings of sadness, anger, and disbelief ran through me as I watched this film. Highly recommended but probably not for the reasons most people would suggest it—I think it’s an interesting human study story, even if it is fiction.
MIDSOMMAR (2019): A beautiful and weird movie both at the same time. I really enjoyed this film but I can’t pinpoint exactly why. Perhaps it was the cinematography, the colouring, or the soundtrack. Maybe it was the intersection of a horror and cultish film. Again, I can’t say exactly what it is. This movie certainly isn’t for everyone—it’s weird, really weird at times. But, it left a lasting impression on me. In some ways, it reminded me of, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, although a very different type of film altogether.
Knives Out (2019): This is one of the most engaging films I have watched in a while. Throughout the entire movie I was captivated; trying to figure out the plot twists that were yet to come, and to fill in the gaps left along the way as part of the mystery. I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery and haven’t watched (or read one) in a long time. I highly recommend this film for those who are fans of whodunnits.
The Irishman (2019): I really wanted to like this movie, and everything about it suggested I should. The cast, the slow-burn plot, the genre, and the director are all things I love. But, I couldn’t get into this movie. I couldn’t help but feel that a different cast should have been selected; that De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci have all had their chance and are past their prime. It was hard to imagine De Niro as a younger man in the film, and that wasn’t a great way to start off things. Perhaps I will have to give this another watch—I’ve had others suggest that it was bearable over 3 1hr viewings. For now though, I’m not sold on the fact that this film is what it was hyped up to be. With that said, I’ll likely need to give this film another go in the future
Marriage Story (2019): I thoroughly enjoyed this film. From the pace of the film, to the slightly unpredictable turns in the plot. I was engaged throughout the entire film. The cast was selected perfectly and the characters really had their own individual opportunities to shine. On more than one occasion I actually forgot that I was watching Netflix. I highly recommend this film as one of the only Netflix Originals that I haven’t regretted watching.
Lion (2016): A movie that I should have watched long ago, this was a fantastic film. A fictionalized account of the story of a young man overcoming the odds of not being fully connected to his part, Lion provides a great reminder of the privilege many of us from first-world countries have, and certainly those of us who live well above poverty.
The Only Living Boy in New York (2017): The reviews on this movie were horrible, but it was on Prime Video so I figured it was good for at least background noise. I didn’t mind it. Jeff Bridges always gets me—that voice, and range of acting. If this movie were actually a book I’d go out and buy it to read it (I’d do the same thing for, One Week).
Brooklyn (2015): A simple story of finding oneself, and love, in a place that eventually comes to feel like home, Brooklyn offered a twist or two to keep the plot line interesting. Subtle in its delivery, and beautiful in it’s production, this film is about: transitions, family, identity, home, loss, and love. I wouldn’t present this film with any awards myself, but it’s certainly worth a watch that won’t be regretted.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012): As one of my all-time favourite movies, The Perks of Being a Wallflower captures something about childhood and the act of growing older that can only be found in select books and movies. There’s something about the story line that is unbelievable, but believably mundane at the same time that connects with me each and every time. The heartbreaking truth that comes about near the end of the film is something that one should never have to think of, but it happens far too often. Good on the author, producer, and director for capturing such difficult topics in a soothing package.
The Accountant (2016): Great idea for a plot poorly executed. I can’t help to think that if a different cast were chosen, and the writing had been a bit better, that this movie would have been a great action thriller. Instead, we’re left with a mindless flick good enough to have on in the background as noise.
A Star is Born (2018): Although the story isn’t an original, apparently a remake from an old Barbra Streisand movie—are any movies original these days?—and the plot line was highly predictable, I actually found myself enjoying this film. While others might not agree, Bradley Cooper’s range as an actor often surprises me, and I didn’t know Lady Ga Ga is someone I could stand until I watched this film. Recommended to anyone looking for an easy evening watch.