Thursday, January 31, 2019

So...Ben Affleck is out as Batman?

Just another reason why DCEU has been a clusterfuck since its inception.

Kinda sad though, because it seems like this franchise was slowly coming out of its Dark Age. "Wonder Woman" was great, "Justice League" was so-so but not awful, and "Aquaman" is tearing up the box office in way some of its predecessors haven't. We've been hearing for some time now that either Ben Affleck is leaving Batman or he is going to make a Batman movie. Well, it seems now that the ride is over. Ben Affleck announced on his Twitter page that he is officially done with the character. You can read his Tweets in the article here: https://people.com/movies/ben-affleck-hints-hes-done-with-batman/

This kind of makes me sad. I don't understand why so many people were so against Ben Affleck as Batman. I guess they never saw "Gone Girl" or "Argo" or "The Town" and never saw just how badass Affleck can be. I guess they never saw "Dazed and Confused" or "Dogma" and saw what he could do with a huge host of different characters. Have I loved everything the guy has ever done? No. But every artist in this town, no matter how amazing or talented they are, fumbles from time to time. Did he have a reputation for crying lots? Sure, but does that mean he's suddenly wrong for the Caped Crusader?

I want to love this franchise. And who knows, maybe the DCEU can back-peddle from this well. I mean, the MCU moved on without Edward Norton, Terrance Howard, Joshua Dallas and Hugo Weaving just fine, without anyone hardly noticing. So perhaps the DCEU will move on just fine. I am still looking forward to the solo Batman movie coming up. Simply because I am a Batman maniac and I love Matt Reeves, and I think he'll make something truly spectacular. But I will miss everything Affleck poured into the role already. It just never seems like somebody stays in the role for too long.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Universal is trying to get the Universal Monsters going...again...

In 2017, Universal was going to start its own cinematic universe with their classic monsters. The Tom Cruise led "The Mummy" was going to be the starting point for a host of intersecting stories involving the famous monsters. We only ever saw Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll and Tom Cruise as some kind of undead mummy like guy and Sofia Boutella as a female mummy. Johnny Depp was set to play The Invisible Man, Javier Bardem was set to play The Frankenstein Monster, and there was some talk that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be the Wolf Man. Angelina Jolie was desired to play the Bride of Frankenstein and Scarlet Johansson was in talks for a lead role in a Creature From The Black Lagoon movie.

Here's the thing..."The Mummy" messed up bad. Real bad. I saw the movie. I hated the movie. They didn't need to turn their monsters into some kind of superheroes. Or maybe they were going to be villains? "The Mummy" was unclear about that fact. But its more than that though, there was a different tone to "The Mummy" seemingly every five minutes. Was this a horror movie? An adventure movie a la the 1999 Brendan Fraser movie? Was this a strange riff on "American Werewolf in London?" It was pretty unclear what the movie was, but it was a strange experience, and if you saw it, you probably agreed.

this interconnected universe, which Universal called The Dark Universe, never moved forward after "The Mummy" huge failure. But apparently Universal is still determined to make a modern spin on their old-school monsters. The studio is planning an "Invisible Man" movie. Johnny Depp IS NOT attached to this new version at all, and this film will NOT be attached to the Dark Universe. In fact, if this new Invisible Man movie does well, they will make several individual movies based on their classic monsters. But apparently, the plan is NOT to have the movies connect. Universal is going in with Blumhouse Studios, which is THE studio for horror movies right now. So perhaps Universal can make a real go with it.

The other thing is Universal tried to revive these characters with "Dracula: Untold" in 2014, which was going to be the start of a huge monster franchise. But "Dracula: Untold" came up short. Then in 2017, as I stated above, the Dark Universe failed. So I wonder why Universal can't get the hint that maybe the 21st Century just doesn't have a place for these characters anymore? Or maybe people think putting these characters in the modern world is cheesy? Who knows. Fire away in the comment section below. I just don't see why Universal is trying to make these characters happen if they just aren't working.

Whether you want him or not, "The Invisible Man" is on his way!



SOURCE:
http://www.aintitcool.com/node/81646

Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: "Polar" is kind of bi-polar in tone

Polar Review
I think its safe to say that we are living in the age where every studio is going to cash in on something that is very popular, well at least attempt to cash in on something popular. As I watched "Polar," a new Netflix original, I thought to myself. "Man, this feels like a poor man's John Wick."

I think that might be the best description of "Polar." It is a poor man's "John Wick."

One of the reasons why "John Wick" rose in popularity is because it mixed a great action movie with some really cool style and flair. You can get yourself a revenge fantasy anywhere, but the world presented in John Wick was not only gritty but hyper-stylized. It doesn't really feel like a real world, but it doesn't have to necessarily. Its all in fun, but its that grounded style that makes people come back for more and why we patiently await a third chapter in this hopefully neverending saga.

There is a fine line between hyper-stylized and cartoon that a movie can walk. You can also walk a fine line in violence too. How much gore is too much, how many deaths in weird ways is enough to constitute as a joke? Should I be disturbed or thrilled by what I am watching? The "John Wick" movies treat those lines with respect. While "Polar" just kind jumps off these lines like a wrestler competing for a Cruiserweight championship belt. "Polar" is absolutely confused if it wants to be fun or stylish or gritty, so it tries a little too hard to do all of those at the same time. There is some nauseating violence in the movie, but bad guys so cartoonish, that they don't belong in a movie that is serious. But is the movie serious?

It is your typical revenge fantasy fair, as far as these movies go. An assassin played by Mads Mikkelsen is one of the top assassins in the world. He wants out of the life. His employers think he is a liability. So they send even better assassins to kill him. He must defend his own life. Pretty simple stuff, stuff we've seen before. I am not basing this review on originality, because at this point, most revenge movies are created equal. We either follow an assassin who wants out of the life, or by chance somebody's family is killed or a woman finds empowerment after a horrible rape. That's usually how these movies go. So I try to look at execution.

As far as execution goes, its all over the place. There is a point where violence is gross. There is a point where hyper-stylization becomes self-parody. There is a point where you don't know if you are supposed to take the characters seriously or not. I don't mind either way, but when you refuse to set a foundation or rules to the story, it loses me. There are some good performances, the cast overall keeps things hammy and for the most part, it works. There is some thrilling action, kind of, I think the moves used are moves we see of any standard assassin. There is a scene where Mikkelsen puts on laser point gloves that control two huge machine guns, that was pretty awesome. Otherwise, the action is pretty standard.

The more I think about it, the more I think "John Wick" is setting a new standard for these types of movies and how so many movies that come after it look like mere imitations.

FINAL GRADE: C

Bird of Prey Teaser teaser

Ever since "Justice League," the future of the DCEU has been fairly dormant. Sure, we knew "Aquaman" and "Shazam!" were coming, but as far as anything post-2020 was concerned, there seemed to be not much planned. There was a point when it looked like Warner Brothers was going to lose two of its biggest actors in the franchise. I'll be honest too, I am not exactly sure what is going on with both Ben Affleck or Henry Cavill at this point. I will just wait and see what happens. There are too many conflicting reports and too many rumors that maybe false, but maybe their not false? Its so confusing.

Today though, there seems to be life in the future. There is a "Bird of Prey" movie on the horizon. Which will have Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn. I'm also excited to report that Mary Elizabeth Winstead will play the Huntress. Ewan McGregor will be the film's villain, playing a little known Batman villain named Black Mask. Chris Messina will play Victor Zsaz. I don't know who Jurnee Smollett-Belle is, but she'll be playing Black Canary. So far, the cast is solid.

I look at the teaser and it kind of looks too much like a CW show? I was kinda shocked how low budget it looked.



No sign of Jared Leto's Joker anywhere, even though he is scheduled to return for more DCEU movies. So we'll see if he does show up. I guess this looks fine? I will need a bigger trailer to make my final decision.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

January: Slow Month For Movies

There was a joke on a meme I read last year that the month of January is the Monday of months. A truer statement couldn't have been said. Its the month right after the holidays. There isn't anything special happening in the month and if you like me, living in the midwest, its fucking cold outside. This winter in particular is snowy, icy and bitterly cold. Its also fills my heart with sorrow knowing that my daughter didn't get any snow on her first Christmas, but is now getting by the pound after the holidays. After the holidays, what is the point of all the snow.

January is a slow month for movies. I'm catching up on some Oscar hopefuls, which is per usual this time of year. Usually, the studios will dump a bunch of crap on this month, which makes me dread going to the theater. I know M. Night Shyamalan's new movie has people divided, but hey, what Shyamalan movie hasn't divided viewers? I guess at the very least, we have something to talk about. More than we usually get this time of year. I've seen a couple new Netflix originals. I am still mostly at home due my daughter, the cutest little dictator you ever did see. I wouldn't have it any other way though, I love being a dad and I love her. The Netflix originals I've seen are "IO" and "Close." "IO" stars Anthony Mackie as one of the last people on Earth and is trying to find a way to get up to space on the Saturn moon IO with all the other humans, and of course is struggling. Its pretty good, but pretty bland, dry, and unexciting experience. But it does avoid some of the cliches of that type of movie, which was welcoming to say the least. The other movie is "Close," in which Noomi Rapace has to protect the daughter of a socialite in the Middle East. Things get bad, some bad guys want to kidnap the daughter for ransom, and so Rapace kicks some ass. Even though she's done mostly blockbuster mainstream stuff so far, I never would have pegged Rapace as an action hero. But the movie itself is pretty by-the-numbers.

In this slow week, I've been working on some stuff that I will eventually publish here on the blog. I am currently building a 1000 Best Movies List. Yes, you read that number correctly. So I've been hard at work re-watching favorites and trying to figure out which movies even qualify. I have no idea when the list will be ready, but I do plan to publish it. Even if it is a year from now. I promise it will be worth the wait. Taking some days to watch movies new and old, it lead me to another idea I've been throwing around in my head for a few months now. It involves you, the readers. It is going to be a surprise, but an announcement is coming. It will have to do with older titles. Which I am excited for. I love all movies. And I think I've let my blog become just another old movie site, when I've wanted a space to discuss it all, because I think it all matters. So I want it to be fun for everyone. More on that soon.

Hope you are all enjoying your post-holiday lives and that you haven't broken any resolutions just yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Latest "Shazam" trailer



I'm really excited for this one. This looks like they are really embracing the source material. And why not. Its about a kid who turns into a superhero when he utters one little word. Of course this should be fun. A part of me would like Levy to interact with the other members of the Justice League, but another part of me feels like it might not work (yes, I know its all the same universe) It depends on how good the screenwriter and director is.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Academy Awards 2019, And the nominees are...


So this year's Academy Awards may be having a hard time getting a host booked for the event, but at least there were some pleasant surprises as far as nominations go this year. Let's take a look at the nominations.

Best Picture
"Black Panther"
"A Star is Born"
"Roma"
"The Favourite"
"Vice"
"Bohemian Rhapsody"
"Green Book"
"BlackKklansmen"

Best Leading Actress
Glenn Close, "The Wife"
Lady Gaga, "A Star is Born"
Yalitza Aparicio, "Roma"
Olivia Colman, "The Favourite"
Melissa McCarthy, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

Best Leading Actor
Christian Bale, "Vice"
Bradley Cooper, "A Star is Born"
Viggo Mortensen, "Green Book"
Rami Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Willem Dafoe, "At Eternety's Gate"

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, "Vice"
Marina de Tavira, "Roma"
Regina King, "If Beale Street Could Talk"
Emma Stone, "The Favourite"
Rachel Weisz, "The Favourite"

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, "Green Book"
Adam Driver, "BlackKklansmen"
Sam Elliot, "A Star is Born"
Richard E. Grant, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"
Sam Rockwell, "Vice"

Best Director
Spike Lee, "BlackKklansmen"
Pawel Pawlikowski, "Cold War"
Yorgos Lanthimos, "The Favourite"
Alfonso Cuaron, "Roma"
Adam McKay, "Vice"

Best Original Screenplay
"First Reformed"
"Green Book"
"Roma"
"Vice"
"The Favourite"

Best Animated Movie
"The Incredibles 2"
"Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse"
"Isle of Dogs"
"Mirai"
"Ralph Breaks The Internet"

Best Cinematography
"Roma"
"Cold War"
"Never Look Away"
"The Favourite"
"A Star Is Born"

Best Visual Effects
"Avengers: Infinity War"
"Ready Player One"
"First Man"
"Solo: A Star Wars Story"
"Christopher Robin"

Best Foreign Language Film
"Roma"
"Cold War"
"Never Look Away"
"Shoplifters"
"Capernaum"

Best Documentary Feature
"Free Solo"
"Minding The Gap"
"RBG"
"Father and Son"
"Hale Country This Morning, This Evening"

Best Documentary Short
"Black Sheep"
"Endgame"
"Lifeboat"
"A Night at the Garden"
"Period. End of Sentence"

Best Original Song
"Shallow" from A Star is Born
"I'll Fight" from RBG
"All The Stars" from Black Panther
"The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Mary Poppins Returns
"When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings" from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Adapted Screenplay
"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"
"BlackKklansmen"
"Can You Ever Forgive Me?"
"If Beale Street Could Talk"
"A Star is Born"

Best Production Design
"Black Panther"
"The Favourite"
"First Man"
"Mary Poppins Returns"
"Roma"

Best Costume Design
"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"
"Black Panther"
"The Favourite"
"Mary Poppins Returns"
"Mary Queen of Scots"

Best Sound Editing
"A Quiet Place"
"Black Panther"
"Bohemian Rhapsody"
"First Man"
"Roma"

Make Up and Hairstyling
"Border"
"Mary Queen of Scots"
"Vice"

Best Film Editing
"BlackKklansmen"
"Bohemian Rhapsody"
"Green Book"
"The Favourite"
"Vice"

Best Original Score
"Black Panther"
"BlackKklansmen"
"If Beale Street Could Talk"
"Isle of Dogs"
"Mary Poppins Returns"


First and foremost, holy shit. History has been made today. "Black Panther" has become the first superhero movie to ever be nominated Best Picture at the Oscars. This is a huge, huge deal. The snobbish and prickish Academy has finally validated that superhero movies are much more than superpowered people putting on colorful outfits and beating each other up. It couldn't have happened for a better superhero movie either, "Black Panther" isn't getting this much attention because of its nearly all-black cast, its a superhero movie that ignores superhero formula but also abides by those rules at the same time. There isn't another superhero movie like it, and I'm so happy that its being represented like this. Its got a ton of nominations as you can see and that music to my ears.

The other big surprise was "Roma" getting so many nominations. First of all, "Roma" is a Netflix film and for many years now, no award ceremony has taken Netflix movies seriously at all. But "Roma" is so amazing that its hard to ignore. Second of all, sadly foreign movies are more often than not regulated to only the Best Foreign Language oscar only. As if foreign movies can only be represented in one category. Both "Roma" and "Cold War" are two movies from other countries that received multiple nominations. That's huge, and much needed this year. No doubt that The Best Foreign Language winner will between "Roma" and "Cold War" deservedly so. But sorry "Cold War," I love you but "Roma" is winning that for sure.

The rest of the nominations are predictable Academy Award fare. Awards pandering films like "Green Book" and "The Favourite" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" are widely represented. Those are just the types of movies that get nominated for this. I'm glad that the Academy didn't go overboard with the pandering movies though. Films like "Boy Erased" and "Ben is Back" and "A Private War" are movies designed for these, but its clear which movies were better this year. I will even go as far to say that I'm surprised that "Boy Erased" didn't get an original song nomination for "Revelation." No matter what, that's actually a really good song, and I figured it would be a shoe-in.

In speaking of that...let's get to the snubs. John David Washington, John David Washington, John David Washington. How this guy didn't nominated for Best Actor for his work in "BlackKklansman" is beyond my ability to understand. I know I was one of the only advocates for "Beautiful Boy" but I still firmly believe that Steve Carell should have been nominated for Best Actor and Timothee Chalamet for Supporting Actor for that movie, they both did excellent work. I don't get why "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" or "Three Identical Strangers" didn't get nominated for Documentary Feature. While I'm glad that "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" got its animated nomination, I would say that Blackway & Black Caviar's "What's Up Danger?" should have been nominated for Original Song, or even "Sunflower" by Post Malone.

Not to mention...like every year...my favorite film of the year gets zero nominations. I don't get how "Annihilation" didn't even get a Visual Effects nomination. I would have nominated Natalie Portman for Lead Actress, Jennifer Jason Leigh for Supporting and Original score for "Annihilation." Oh and definitely Alex Garland for a Best Director nod. Oh, and the Mutant Bear should have got a Supporting Actor nod!

What do you think of the nominations?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Review: "Glass" proves that M. Night Shyamalan is Hollywood's most frustrating filmmaker

Glass Review
If there is one filmmaker in the business right now that perplexes me the most, its M. Night Shymalan.

One thing is for certain, he's an impeccably talented guy. He's got a brain overflowing with characters and situations, begging to be told. It's pretty evident. "The Sixth Sense" felt like a bomb going off. Even though I was in fourth grade when I first saw that movie, it felt like very few movies I had ever seen, and watching the world around me react to it, it was clear that was the case for many. Shyamalan made a bold statement, and I felt it even though I was young. "Unbreakable" proved that he wasn't a fluke, a one hit wonder, a one-and-done. By the time "Signs" came out and blew my mind completely, I was totally onboard the Shyamalan train, and I couldn't wait for his next movie.

Sadly, for the next decade or so, I'd be righteously disappointed by his output. It was suddenly, he decided to vanish up his own ass. While I will admit that I've warmed up slightly to "The Village" although I haven't given my whole heart to it, I absolutely hate "The Lady In The Water" and "The Happening" and "The Last Airbender" and "After Earth" and "The Visit." I have absolutely no desire to revisit those films for any reason. Shyamalan was lauded as the next Spielberg, but his cons were overwhelmingly beginning to overpower his pros. While the Spielbergs and Nolans and Coens and Andersons and Tarantinos (okay, bad example there) mess up from time to time, they can at least remain consistent. The only thing Shyamalan was consistent at was making stupid movies.

I didn't find out until much later just how big of an ego he gained after his first few successes, and how that allowed him to build a protective wall around himself, free from studio interference when he went to make his movies. Not only did Shyamalan claim to talk to ghosts, but he actually had the audacity to say in interviews that there was a secret to filmmaking that only he and Steven Spielberg knew, which I recall with a bitter laugh, since he's been mostly unsuccessful recently. That secret wasn't coming through in his work. While the studio not giving notes or suggestions sounds like what every director wants and needs, it can actually be a trap. Its the opposite of what Warner Brothers did to Zak Snyder and took too much control on "Batman vs. Superman." As with everything in life, there needs to be balance between studio and filmmaker, and those usually create the best output of cinema.

With all this said, "Split" was a welcome return to form for Shyamalan in 2017, and it looked like he was going to start his own universe of movies. Plus, "Devil" in 2010, which Shyamalan co-wrote, produced under his Night Chronicles studio, but did not direct, proved that he could work with a group of people. I thought perhaps the once promising director was back.

Which brings us to "Glass." The crossover event nobody expected. Bruce Willis reprises his role as David Dunne and Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Mr. Glass, both from "Unbreakable." James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy return from "Split." Several other characters from both movies return as well. But sorry guys, no Cole Sear or Father Hess show up I'm afraid. There is also no visit to 1890's village in the remote woods. "Glass" is a movie filled with great performances and some great ideas. But like so many Shyamalan movies, "Glass" is a cool concept that goes nowhere.

After the events of "Unbreakable," David Dunne has been performing vigilante work with his son (Spencer Treat Clarke returns) and has gone by the name The Overseer. Dunne and his son track down Kevin Wendell Crumb, who they suspect has kidnapped four cheerleaders. Turns out Dunne's intuition was correct, and Dunne and Crumb duke it out before being hauled away by shadowy figures from a mental institution. Dunne and Crumb are treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) a doctor trying to convince them  they don't have superhuman powers, its all in their heads.

Oh, I also didn't mention that Mr. Glass is also staying at this institution, did I?

As much as that sounds like an awesome crossover, it ends up not adding up to much. Its extra disappointing because as always, Shyamalan has come up with some good ideas. Of course, Mr. Glass and Crumb are going to join forces. Of course the institution isn't what it seems. There are some exciting ideas hatched here, just the problem is Shyamalan doesn't execute them in an exciting way. There is one thing that comes up near the end of the film that would have been really cool had he chosen to do something with it, sadly the way its introduced, it comes off more of a cop-out and than anything else. Oh yes, Shyamalan plays the twist game, but if "The Village" is any example, three twists is a twist too many.

Its also frustrating because the actors really came to play. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson seemed ready to do anything. While I'd argue that Mr. Glass' character is set up totally different from last time, its still a rich performance. Sarah Paulson brings some harrowing insight to her role as Staple. Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clarke both provide outstanding support. Oddly enough, its the work by McAvoy who does the most inconsistent work. In "Split," The Hoard was legitimately a scary figure, there were a couple times McAvoy actually made me laugh in "Glass" though, and I'm sure that wasn't the intent.

I wasn't expecting the typical superhero movie. This doesn't end like the typical superhero movie, and I think that would have hit me like a sucker punch to the heart had Shyamalan not fumbled his execution so bad. By the time the ending roles out, I didn't really care about the characters, which isn't supposed to happen. It kind of stinks, because its always been clear that Shyamalan is an exponentially talented guy. I don't know if he needs a producer to help him along the way, I don't know if he's still got that wall around him intact, I don't know if he isn't the director he's made out to be. One thing is for certain, no great director should drop the ball this many times as he has. I can't even think of a good comparison for him. M. Night Shyamalan. Talented guy, he just can't prove it.

It might be time to head back to the Night Chronicles there, buddy.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: "The Favourite" is a elegant showcase for Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz

The Favourite Review
I've never given many period pieces like this the time of day. I mean, look at my demographic, a movie like "The Favourite" probably doesn't appeal to most males in their late 20's early 30's. It was something that wasn't really on my radar at all. In fact, it was a movie I had no idea even came out. It was one of those movies that just kind of arrived in the winter. That usually means one thing, its a movie designed for one purpose. That purpose being award season pandering. It did get lots of attention at the Golden Globes a little while back. So of course, curiosity got the better of me and I gave the movie a shot.

I have no idea how much of "The Favourite" is true. It follows Queen Anne, who ruled Great Britain during the early 1700's. When we meet her in the movie, her health is waning and she has no interest in governing anything. She spends most of her days having fun, messing around and betting on racing ducks. Most of the governing comes from Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who is her confidante and adviser. Sarah and Anne also have a secret romantic relationship. Sarah's plate is full; trying to keep her romance a secret, finding ways to pay for a war with France, trying to not let Parliament member Robert Harley (Nicholas Hault) undermine her. Sarah never expects someone like Abigail showing up.

Emma Stone plays Abigail Hill. She's Sarah's impoverished younger cousin whose family name lost its good will thanks to her gambling father. Abigail is searching for employment, searching for a meaning of life after losing so much. At first, she does mostly maid duties, but after she cures an illness Anne has, she is quickly promoted to lady of the bedchamber. Anne and Abigail soon develop a friendship and perhaps that relationship materializes into something else? And perhaps Sarah eventually feels threatened by Abigail? 

Director Yorgos Lanthimos does a good job dropping us in 1700's life. Much of the first half hour or so is devoted to really analyzing how a socialite lived during this time period. There is much gossip and much daily activity and he quickly generates some big laughs. I would be lying if I also didn't admit that he finds a way to make this all fascinating. Period pieces like this run in danger of coming off dry, but with the wit and pace of the screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara keeps things light on its feet and the laughs come naturally. Plus the costumes and sets are very well done.

Its not just a comment on 1700's life and not just a bunch of rich political people cracking jokes though. There is a game being played by Sarah and Abigail for the affection of the Queen and how each girl plays against each other is part of the fun. Its a brilliant showcase of talent for both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. There is a reason why these two will be prominent players in the award circuit this year. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne and she also does exemplary work and as her character's health deteriorates, she does a really good job showing it, de-glamorizing, bearing it all, its masterful work.

So perhaps this is a movie you don't expect to sneak up on you. But I certainly was drawn into this films charms. There are some big laughs, and some outstanding performances here. The attention to 1700's detail is engaging. But the fun little headgames between the characters is the reason to see this movie. I didn't expect this one to work so well, and I always love a surprise. Perhaps you will too.

FINAL GRADE: A-

John Wick 3 looks to be three times the fun!



I'm pretty sure that the most unlikely but awesome trilogy of films this decade will go to "John Wick," easily. Who would have known that a little action-packed, Keanu Reeves vehicle would have spawned something so addictive.

I like that this series is becoming lighter on its feet, that will only lead to good things. A hitman who killed several gangs at once is silly to think about as real, but while I did enjoy "John Wick," its bizarre tonal shifts kind of make it a weird movie to sit through multiple times. The second film, and telling from the third film, they've really embraced style and are having fun with their concept. I mean, Wick is being chased by a group of people on motorcycles branding samurai swords for crying out loud. This is going to be fun mayhem, and sometimes that is just what I want to watch.

But please, let the pitbull live.

What do you think of the trailer?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

No, you're not dreaming. A real "Ghostbusters 3" is coming in 2020

I thought I was dreaming.

In the dream, I saw that a new "Ghostbusters" movie was coming out in 2020. Not a sequel to that dumb disaster from 2016, but a third film to form a trilogy with the original films that came out in 1984 and 1989 respectively. I woke up from the dream, not wanting to rejoin this mundane real world. Obivously, it was a sweet dream, right? There is no way something like that would happen in real life, right?

Wrong!




Oh I know, it doesn't look like much, but the internet is not lying. This has been a secret project brewing at Sony since God knows when. Ivan Reitman, the original director of the first film's son Jason Reitman is directing. While I think Jason Reitman's film "Juno" is one of the most overrated modern movies of all time, I love, love, love his "Thank You For Smoking" and "Up In The Air" so I am really curious and happy to see what he does. I mean, he was a six-year-old kid when he would visit his father's sets for the first "Ghostbusters" movie. It could quite literally be in his blood to not fuck this up.

"Ghostbusters" from 1984 is one of my favorite movies of all time. ALL TIME. I've been very protective of this franchise. This was the movie my grandma would play for us every time I came to visit, she eventually gave me her VHS's simply because I loved them so much. I've got lots of sentimental value in this franchise, which is why the 2016 film rubbed me so wrong. Its going to feel much more right making a movie taking place in the original timeline.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A First Look at the "Spider-Man: Far From Home" trailer

After the character finally showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in "Captain America: Civil War" to his own solo adventure within the Marvel Cinematic Universe in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" to showing up in "Avengers: Infinity War," then getting a Sony-led "Into The Spider-Verse" we've had lots of Spider-Man in the theaters lately. I hope none of you are spidey-ed out yet because the next solo MCU adventure is coming this July.

Wait...what? Didn't Spider-Man turn to dust when Thanos snapped his fingers? Yes, it looks Marvel just spoiled one of their own movies. But hey, if you know the comics, you knew anybody who died-by-cropdust in "Infinity War" wasn't going to stay dead. If you don't know the comics, well, did you honestly think the likes of Spider-Man and Black Panther and Doctor Strange were going to stay dead after one movie? Of course they weren't.

Marvel has confirmed that this movie takes place after "Avengers: Endgame," and it looks like the world in "Spider-Man: Far From Home" looks about the same as the pre-Infinity War world, so I guess whatever the heroes had to do to reverse the snap went on without a hitch! Aunt May, MJ, Flash Thompson and Happy Hogan all seem okay and Nick Fury is doing well too. In fact, he's back into spy mode, recruiting Spider-Man for a mission in Europe while he's there on a school vacation.

And it looks like longtime Spider-Man villain Mysterio shows up, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Fun fact, Tobey McGuire almost bowed out of "Spider-Man 2" when he had back problems, and Gyllenhaal was talked about being cast and replacing Tobey if he did drop out, which of course didn't come to pass. But now Gyllenhaal is playing Mysterio, and it looks like he will be teaming up with Spider-Man? I am sure that will only last until the climax of the movie, or maybe they'll set him up for a future villain. Fury will recruit Mysterio and Spider-Man to battle The Elementals, a group of people who each have power over one...you guessed it...elemental.

While I am a little disappointed that we aren't getting any more classic Spider-Man villains, this does look like another fun entry.


Review: "Ashes In The Snow" is "The Pianist/Schindler's List" lite

Ashes In The Snow Review

If you're a film critic and you see a movie and sit down to write a review for said movie without reading the book its based on, is your review still valid?

I would say yes. I find it funny that some people who are fans of the book make sweeping generalizations that a negative review of a movie based on a book is invalid if the reviewer never read the book. You can be a fan of a book, and you can enjoy the movie of your favorite book. Even I get excited when Hollywood decides to adapt a book I really loved into a movie. But does that give you rose-colored glasses? Does that not allow you to view the movie on its own terms? In general, I think books have always been better than movies. Sure, there are some exceptions, just like there are exceptions to everything, I'd say in general they are. Its not a critics job to read a book then see the movie, a critics job is to watch and judge a movie on its own terms. A movie is not the book, and vice versa.

I bring this up because I see lots of people on the internet getting in a uproar that many critics couldn't stomach "Ashes In The Snow," a new movie playing in theaters right now based upon a book of the same name. The fans of the book are certainly letting their bias flag fly, and they are saying any critic who does not bow down and genuflect for the "Ashes In The Snow" movie are wrong. Which I think is nonsense. Like I said, it may be a great book, but that is not shown in the movie. While I wouldn't say that I hated the movie as much as other critics have. It basically is another version of "Schindler's List" or "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas" or "Empire of the Sun" or "Sarah's Key" or any other movie that took place during World War II's Holocaust. If you've seen certain imagery, you've pretty much seen it all. I'm not trying to say that movies based on this event aren't important, because that's just not true. I'm saying it feels like directors have just been recycling the same imagery for years. Never wanting to try anything new. Never wanting to be innovative. Never wanting to approach this idea in a new way.

World War II was a pretty unforgivable time and scary time in the world, especially in Europe. Even though we were allied with Russia during the war itself, we certainly didn't agree with his idea of Communism and Stalin himself has plenty of sins to answer for. "Ashes In The Snow" tells the apparent true story of a family taken away from their home in Lithuania during Stalin's reign of terror in the Baltic region. We follow Lina (Bel Powley) a 16-year-old girl who gets taken away with her family. The scenes of people getting taken away from their homes is definitely harrowing, but it all has a feeling of "Been there, done that" that is hard to look away from, hard to distance from.

The power of imagery is based solely on what a director does with it and how fresh it is. Movies dealing with this material from yesteryear did such an astonishing job that its been hard to manage ever since. The same thing could be said about "The Exorcist," there hasn't been a great exorcism movie since, definitely some good ones but nobody has made the next great exorcism movie. All of these Holocaust and rounded up in camps movies all begin to look alike and that's hard to look past. The performance by Bel Powley is quite good. The rest of the cast, including Jonah Huer-King, Lisa Loven Kongseli, Sophie Cooksen and Peter Fronzen are all great. They are trying really hard to make this count. 

Not only is this a Holocaust movie (of sorts, of course) but its also a coming-of-age movie. Again, we get dozens and dozens of these a year, and they are really tough to make fresh. Sadly, most of "Ashes In The Snow" is quite boring. It felt like the train ride to the concentration camp took an easy half-hour and sadly nothing of merit really happened as we watched helplessly as people were being bused to their doom. Then its just more of the same. Yes, people were treated horribly, but it all looks the same to me these days.

I just wish the good cinematography and the great performances could have been used in a new kind of Holocaust movie. They certainly deserved a more important movie, not a movie that was simply going through the motions.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Worst Films of 2018

I've been dragging my feet a bit on this one.

Truth be told, I love discussing what the best films were in a given year. But when I have to look back on the year and remember what made my viewing experience a living hell.Well, think about it, its not exactly something I'd call fun. Heck, I can't even say in honesty that its therapeutic. I guess in life, I've always tried to remember the good times and forget the bad times. But in a lifetime, the good times define you as much as the bad times do. Just as the worst movies of a given year define what 2018 was just as much as the movies that I will carry into the future and watch over and over again. The darkness is part of the human journey as much as the light is, so I guess I feel obliged to share what the worst experiences were from this year as well.

10. Mandy
If you look around the internet, you might just find this film in a "Best of" list. I am not entirely sure why. "Mandy" is a slow drag. Perhaps I don't get psychedelic movies at all, because I'll be honest they were way before my time. But on another level, this is the dopiest, least exciting revenge movie I think I've ever seen. But hey, Nic Cage doesn't overact, but perhaps that's part of the problem too?

9. Overboard
Can we all just agree that just because there is an old movie in existence that it doesn't automatically need to be remade? Can we also agree that Anna Faris has never been funny, I don't think she'll ever be funny and that she should stop trying? I don't know what else to say about this dragging, self-indulgent, quasi-racist "comedy."

8. Like Me
Well, it had a good trailer, I'll give it that much. But "Like Me" is ultimately a boggled-down mess, full of disgusting imagery with no payoff or resolution. I am sure some dipshit out there thinks its "deep" and "full of meaning." Sure, it pretends like it has something mature to say about how you can get famous in the digital age and how so many millennials are lost in this 21st Century, but the movie makes no intelligent remark or idea the whole movie. And after the stupid ending, its pretty clear that nobody associated with this movie had any idea what they were trying to say.

7. Slender Man
Everything revolving around the Slenderman mythos is certainly interesting. Too bad none of that is used to service a cool horror movie. This features all the worst qualities in a modern horror movie. Unlikable teenagers. Kids who can't act. Screaming at nothing. Nonexistent tension. Not to mention that movie decides not to take any part in the fun of its source material whatsoever. Check out the HBO documentary about Slenderman, much better that this tepid crap.

6. Mortal Engines
Okay, so you are making a movie based on a series of books, cool. Alright, you got Peter Jackson to put his name on your poster, even cooler. You still have to try to create a fantasy world people will be hooked into, you still tell a story worth telling, you still have to make an effort to get me to buy into this strange world. None of which happened here. "Mortal Engines" is roaring fast towards the same fate as "The Golden Compass." Just because most young adult novel movie series' have been successful doesn't mean you can't try.

5. Life of the Party
Oh, Melissa McCarthy. Why on Earth did I ever have any faith in you at all? More on that later...

4. The Commuter
Well, I for one am really glad that I never have to watch Liam Neeson make a quick buck by making the same movie he's been making since "Taken" in 2009. This is all, quite literally, just more of the same. I am glad that Neeson has decided to start acting again, leaving behind a weird stint in his career where he made the stupidest action movies of the 21st Century. That's a win for us all, really.

3. Truth or Dare
Remember everything I just wrote regarding "Slender Man?" Go ahead and apply it to this piece of trash and amply it to a staggering degree. Then go ahead and add the most asinine curse ever used in a horror movie and you start to get the idea. This is one of the most ludicrous excuses for a horror movie in recent memory, and if they decide to start cranking out movies in a franchise, I may just go out to Hollywood and kill somebody.

2. I Feel Pretty
So, all women are beautiful despite their body size? And nobody should ever abandon their ugly friends for pretty people after getting ripped at the gym? Well, okay. I didn't need a movie to tell me those things I learned in 3rd grade. I'm hoping that Amy Schumer's acting career is over now, because watching her pretend to be funny has become quite the chore.

1. The HappyTime Murders
The year's biggest "coulda, woulda, shoulda" story. I had so much confidence in this project that its almost scary to think back on. Brian Hensen, Jim Hensen's son, following in his father's footsteps but also forging his own path. Making an R-rated comedy and taking shots at the world of The Muppets? This should have been the funniest movie of the year. Too bad Hensen squanders himself at every turn. Mixing a generic noir story with a few puppet sex jokes doesn't make a good movie. This is predictable babble starring an actress who has decided she's never going to be funny again. In all the ways to make fun of Muppet culture, the go-to joke was an overly-long sex joke where the jizz is silly string? That was the big gag moment? That's too bad. This easily takes the one spot for being the years biggest disappointment and failing to entertain on every conceivable level for all of its running time. When a movie is so bad that I have can't write about it for almost week, that's saying something.

Reaction to the 76th Annual Golden Globe awards- AKA "Tag"

I did check out the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards. I like seeing this precursor to the rest of the awards circuit. Although just because someone wins tonight doesn't mean they will win the Oscar next month. I like the Golden Globes because of how laid-back it is. I also like that they seem to go after who deserves to win, instead of picking a winner out of campaigns and social issues. That's at least how I see it.

I have to say though, year after year, these award shows are floundering in bad hosts. I like Andy Samberg, I'm a huge fan of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." I've also liked Sandra Oh quite a bit in things I've seen her in. With that said, they totally failed as hosts. They were completely not funny, awkward onstage and made the start to the ceremony incredibly slow. I am thinking that from now on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should be the exclusive hosts to the Golden Globes. And The Academy should just alternate Billy Crystal and Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Kimmel for the Oscars. Unless they can pull a miracle and get Seth McFarlane interested again. I will say that I was a little touched by Sandra Oh's discussion on how well the business has changed. I never would have guessed that "Black Panther" and "Crazy Rich Asians" would be recognized in the same ceremony, but sometimes things do change for the better.

Despite the so-so hosting, I did like that "The Kominsky Method," one of my favorite TV shows of 2018, won a few globes. I loved that "Roma" won some globes. I enjoyed watching Christian Bale win for his work in "Vice" and his acceptance speech had some sprinkled in humor. I am still working my way through "The Americans" so I haven't seen it all yet, but I am glad it won big for its last season. I haven't seen "The Wife" or "The Favourite" yet. But its pretty early in the Awards circuit and I usually haven't seen them all yet, but I am eagerly waiting to check them out. I will say that I was really surprised by all the wins of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Green Books." Both are fine films, but not Best-Of-Year worthy by any measurement. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is nowhere close to the best drama of last year.

My favorite moment of the night by far was Jeff Bridges getting the Cecile B. DeMille Award. And his jibberish speech was exactly what I expected from him.

Goofiest acceptance speech I've ever seen. Telling by some of the attendees who got a close-up, I wonder if they even understood what Bridges was really saying. But I like the idea of being "tagged" to make the world a better place, to make it make sense to you. Because we are alive, and nobody can take that away from us right now. So go out and make this world a better place. Is that what you were saying, Jeff? I really wished you ending things with "The Dude Abides..." Because that's what you've always done, Jeff. The Dude Abides.

What did you think of Sunday's ceremony?
Did your favorites win big?

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Annual New Year Movie Calendar!

Just as I love discussing the movies I loved when a year ends and picking the big winners, I also love looking ahead to the future. 2019 is looking to be stacked year, and if it all works out, a very memorable one. No pressure to anybody working on any movies whatsoever.

It seems fitting that 2019 will mark the end of a decade that began in 2010 and the 2020's will officially begin after. Fitting because in 2019 we will get the final chapter of the Skywalker-Rey-Finn Star Wars saga (unless Disney surprises us and adds Episodes 10, 11 and 12), its the final chapter of "Game of Thrones", the final Chapter of "IT" and even though Kevin Feige and Disney are planning movies for the Marvel Cinematic Universe well into 2028, "Avengers: Endgame" will definitely end an era that began in 2008. Whatever the MCU has in store for the future, its going to look mighty different, at least that's what's been promised. So in a year so titular, why not end things with a bang?

This year, I am going to go through each month of the calendar and discuss what I think will be the most talked about movies this year and things I'm personally excited to see. As always, get ready to mark your calendars!

January 18th- "Glass"
Since 2000, M. Night Shymalan has promised and promised a sequel to "Unbreakable." While it took a loophole from another movie and much time, he will be delivering on that promise at last. A sequel to both "Unbreakable" and "Split" a little deconstructionist superhero movies is exactly what we need right now!

February 1st- "Miss Bala


This is a remake of a 2011 Mexican drug movie. I LOVE the original, hopefully this can be done justice.

February 1st- "Jacob's Ladder"

This is a remake of a 1990's horror film. I liked the original, but its a movie you either love or hate, I wonder what new things they can bring to this updated version.

February 8th- "The LEGO Movie: The Second Part"

LEGO's meets "Mad Max" CAN'T WAIT!

February 8th- "What Men Want"
A remake of the old Mel Gibson movie "What Women Want" with a swapped gender. I guess I'm interested?

February 14th- "Alita: Battle Angel"

This one has been pushed back from last year to this year, that usually spells disaster, but maybe they averted from it? The visuals look cool, but I feel like this is something we've seen plenty of already.

February 14th- "Happy Death Day 2U"

I never saw the first film, but I actually heard it was better than expected, so I may track the first film down and watch it before this.

February 22nd- "How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World"


March 8th- "Captain Marvel"

As always, Make Mine Marvel!

March 15th- "Us"

Jordan Peele, fresh off an Academy Award win for his social satire-horror film "Get Out" comes his next horror movie. Since Christmas, the internet has gone crazy trying to figure out the film's secrets and what it could possibly be about. This is something I'm most excited for.

March 18th- "Triple Frontier"



March 29th- "Dumbo"
Disney's live-action nostalgia kick keeps on trucking. Even though I didn't really care for Tim Burton's revisit to "Alice in Wonderland," I am intrigued by this. Burton working once again with Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito should be good.

April 5th- "Shazam!"

We may be viewing a turning point for the DCEU and I am more than happy to be apart of it.

April 5th- "Pet Sematary"

If this is half as creepy as the original movie or half has horrifying as Stephen King's novel, then horror fans will be in for a treat this Spring!

April 12th- "Hellboy"

Okay, real time. I am so disappointed that we didn't get to see the conclusion of Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy" series. That said, I am a fan David Harbour and I am looking forward to more Hellboy.

April 26th- "Avengers: Endgame"

Its all been leading us to this. What a beautiful ride this Marvel Cinematic Universe has been, and as we lead ourselves into a brand new era, I am more than confident the Russo Brothers are going to stick the landing on this one. And Marvel fans will be rewarded for watching this franchise come to life for the last 11 years!

May 10th- "Detective Pikachu"

Perhaps this is one of those ideas so ludicrous that it might actually work? It certainly looks fun

May 17th- "John Wick 3"

Any year with more John Wick should be a good one.

May 24th- "Aladdin"

Like I said, the Disney live-action nostalgia run continues

May 24th- "Brightburn"

A superhero-ish film from the one and only James Gunn? Sign me up!

May 31st- "Godzilla: King of Monsters"

I was a big fan of the 2014 film. I can always use more monster mayhem

May 31st- "Rocketman"

Queen biopic last year, Elton John biopic this year. Here's to hoping Hollywood makes a Moody Blues movie in 2020.

June 7th- "X-Men: Dark Phoenix"

Meh. This is the first X-Men movie that just looks average to me. Hoping for the best though.

June 7th- "The Secret Lives of Pets 2"

I did enjoy the first one, I don't know if its needs a sequel though.

June 14th- "Men In Black: International"
Needed rejuvenation or naked cash grab? We'll see.

June 14th- "Shaft"

Three generations of Shaft. This will be worth seeing just to see Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree share screen time together.

June 24th- "Toy Story 4"

I hated the idea from the beginning. But both Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are promising something "profound." I'm gonna hold them to it.

June 24th- "Child's Play"

The sequels were just okay, does this really warrant a remake?

July 5th- "Spider-Man: Far From Home"
The sequel to "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and post-Infinity MCU film. Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jacob Batalon and Zendaya are returning. Jake Gyllenhaal appears as Mysterio (although according to rumors, Mysterio is NOT a villain.) Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders will also appear. Which I guess gives away that Thanos' snap will indeed be reversed?

July 19th- "The Lion King"
Okay, last one. I promise. Disney's live-action Nostalgia. Last one of the year.

July 26th- "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood"
A new Quentin Tarantino movie. Following a struggling actor and his best friend stunt double as he tries to make it big, all the while The Charles Manson murders are happening! Once again, Tarantino has assembled a great cast. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tim Roth, Damien Lewis, Michael Madsen and Kurt Russell are just some of the stars who will turn up. Can't wait for the first trailer!

August 2nd- "Hobbs & Shaw"
Yep. Because a "Fast And Furious" spin-off is just what the doctor ordered.

August 2nd- "New Mutants"

A Marvel horror movie. Should be cool!

August 9th- "Artemis Fowl"

I can't really remember the cool, but this does look cool and I applaud Disney for making an Anti-hero movie.

August 9th- "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark"
This book, I actually do remember though, its one of my fondest memories growing up. So glad Guillermo del Toro is in charge!

August 16th- "The Angry Birds Movie 2"


September 6th- "IT: Chapter 2"
The epic conclusion to the Stephen King adaptation. James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader will just be some of the adult Losers Club cast. Plus the director promises a darker, more disturbing movie. He also says we will get the Ritual of the Chud, which will ring a bell to fans of the book. This is going to be one creepy, strange conclusion and I can't fucking wait!

September 13th- "Downton Abbey"
The story continues in movie form!

September 13th- "Spies In Disguise"

Original kids movie with Will Smith and Tom Holland providing voices!

October 4th- "Joker"

I don't care what names are attached, I am not sure I am totally onboard for this.

October 11th- "The Addams Family"
With the cast they put together for this, I am a little disappointed its animated. (Come on, Oscar Isaac TOTALLY looks like Gomez Addams) I still look forward to seeing this.

October 11th- "Zombieland Too"
Everyone's favorite zombie hunters are returning for a sequel! So is Bill Murray evidently (zombie Murray?) And Dan Aykroyd will play himself!

October 11th- "Are You Afraid of the Dark?"
Yep. A movie based on the old show is coming this October. Apparently, it will not be based on any of the old episodes and will tell an original story. So it will be a horror movie that is cashing in on an nostalgic name??

October 18th- "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"
A biopic about Fred Rogers life! A year after his great documentary is released. As much as I love Tom Hanks, I don't know if he screams Fred Rogers. He must be going full method actor, but I am interested in seeing a trailer. I hope they do well with this!

November 1st- "Terminator 6"
Well, I am glad that Linda Hamilton is coming back, I will say that much. But let's be honest, this franchise hasn't been exciting in over a decade. It will certainly be talked about, that's for sure. But I think I can wait on this one.

November 1st- "Charlie's Angels"
Any fun that could possibly be had with this idea is going to evaporate fast with Kristen Stewart, who has as much acting talent as a piece of loin cloth. I hope I'm wrong, but I have my doubts on this project.

November 8th- "Sonic The Hedgehog"
Not a ton of information on this yet. I don't know if it will be animated or live action. But we'll see how this goes!

November 8th- "Kingsman: The Great Game"
A new "Kingsman" movie? Cool! Its going to be a prequel? Boo! I hate prequels, but I am hoping for the best here!

November 22nd- "Frozen 2"
This movie came out when I first began working as a daycare teacher, and let me tell you it got under my skin quick. So I guess I have to get ready to go crazy all over again. Story details are secret right now, but the original cast is returning and Sterling K. Brown is joining!

December 13th- "Jumanji 3"
Following the format of "Welcome To The Jungle!" The original cast from that film are all returning. "Welcome To The Jungle" was a huge surprise for me so I am actually wildly excited to see this.

December 20th- "Star Wars: Episode IX"
Okay, okay, I wasn't the biggest admirer of "The Last Jedi." But I still love this story and this franchise. I hope they end things on a high note. J.J. Abrams is returning to direct, who made "The Force Awakens." I hope he can end things on a good note here!

December 20th- "Cats"
Cats. The musical turning into the movie. With Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson, no less. Yay?

TBA 2019- "The Lighthouse"
Robert Eggers (on the top right) wrote and directed "The Witch." A movie which in my opinion is not only one of the best modern horror movies in a long time, but one of the movies of the decade. He is returning in 2019 with an original idea. It's called "The Lighthouse." It is going to star Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. It will be a dark fantasy horror movie. It will be shot on 35mm instead of the modern digital cameras mainly used today. So expect an old style look to the movie. Yeah, I really can't wait for this one.


Mark your calendars all!

Which films are you most excited for?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018: Year In Movies (Best of 2018)

2019 is here. 2018 has passed. A brand new movie year has started and now its time to reflect upon the year 2018 and its place in film history. Telling from critics and fans, it looks like 2018 may go down as a year for the record books. Tons of people are already calling the year one of the best in film history, and I gotta say, I can't argue too much with that.

Maybe I'm biased. See, my wife gave birth to our first child, a girl. So 2018 has given me sparkly glasses and no matter what, 2018 was a win simply because my baby girl is in the world. That definitely kept me out of the theater this year though. The last half of the year, I barely walked into a movie theater. My year mainly was constructed on Netflix originals and movies as they hit video (can I even still use that term now? Is it Redbox? DVR? VOD?). With that said, I still managed to see 151 2018 releases this year. Knowing that I usually see around 160-170 when I'm at my most active, that 151 is actually not bad at all. (If you're curious what I watched, check out the following link, I always keep a list of all new releases I see in a year: https://www.imdb.com/user/ur26325354/watchlist?ref_=nv_wl_all_0) There is still plenty I missed, so who knows how this list will change in the future, but even in a good year, I don't see everything. You may also noticed I didn't write nearly as many reviews for the things I saw as I would have liked, but having a child slows you down, and for all the movies that appear on the list today that didn't get a review, I'll write up a decent capsule for you.

Having a baby definitely changes your life. Not just because I didn't go to the theater as often or I missed the Chicago Film Festival, because I can live without those things easily. Its the realization that there is a person you are responsible for. This person is always going to worry you; no matte how healthy they are, no matter how well they do in school, no matter what job they get, no matte how financially successful they are as an adult, I will always worry about her. I can do my best right now to teach her morality, good and bad, and raise her to be a good, honest, strong person. But there are going to years where she makes decisions herself, when I'm not around. That's definitely affected me going forward. I truly think that there are movies on this list that wouldn't be had I seen them before having a child. Heck, there are movies I saw years and years ago that feel like brand new experiences simply because of having a daughter. Its been a beautiful, thrilling, anxiety-ridden but all good roller coaster having a child.

But 2018 was an incredible year. A year where you didn't just see great movies, but you maybe felt seen by those movies. A year where anybody of any type of movie fan was satisfied. Whether you liked mainstream blockbusters or indie fair or award hopefuls or obscurities. Whether you like movies to take the whole family to or movies to ground yourself in. Every genre came to play, and there were favorites in the foreign and domestic arenas that shined bright this year. Some of the most expensive movies made my list this year, and one where it took a GoFundMe page just to get made.

A year this good deserves a list that represents that, and I'm not sure cutting the list down to ten serves 2018 justice. So this year, I am trying something new. I've got a list of five movies. These five movies tower over everything I saw this year. They are what made the year truly, truly special. Movies that have etched themselves into my heart for all time. These five movies I am setting aside to discuss, my top five of 2018. Then I will list 25 additional films alphabetically. These are movies I watched vigorously, or movies that had something special that made 2018 essential or something that hit me in a personal place. I'm a huge movie nerd, and I usually like more movies than I dislike. With so much to love in 2018, why not make a list that represents how great a year we had? I hope you enjoy this new twist to a Best-Of-The-Year list. Now lets take a look back at 2018.

The Top Five of 2018

1. Annihilation
I saw this all the way back in March, and nothing else the rest of the year left a harsher mark on me than Alex Garland's difficult, wild science fiction film. Garland is fascinating to me because he making serious science fiction again. The genre itself feels like its the redheaded stepchild of Hollywood storytelling and that's a shame. When its done correctly, you can pretty much cover any aspect of the human experience within the genre. "Annihilation" is almost an anti-alien invasion movie. I do wonder if some of "Annihilation"s dissenters walked into the theater expecting something like "Battle: Los Angeles" or something. That's not what this is. Its a smart, slow-burn, mysterious alien invasion and the last twenty minutes will either leave you speechless or leave you annoyed. For me, it worked.

If none of that sounds intriguing to you, at least see it for the fucking mutant bear scene.

2. BlackKklansman
Spike Lee is becoming more and more fascinating as he gets older. I also see that he's getting less and less likely to bash his agendas over your head, while still remaining righteously angry as makes film after film. On one surface, "BlackKklansman" is wild case of dramatic-comedy, so rich and so pulpy and that would have made my list. But what pushes it this high is well Lee is able to make a case for how things have barely changed in this country. No matter how well enlightened you think you are, privilege is real, race is still an issue and blacks still have it piss poor in this country. The ending showcasing the Charlottesville riots isn't misplaced at all. Its Spike Lee's stroke of pure genius.

3. Roma
The year's most beautiful film, but it might also go down as one of the most beautiful films ever made. Not bad for a modern black-and-white film. As far as Netflix originals go, this is a doozy and I can't believe a movie this good is only a click of a button away. But what else should I have expected from Alfonso Cuaron? The guy is telling the world that he is a cinematic genius, and we will look back at his career in awe when its all said and done. The main draw for me is that this is a movie that literally feels like Cuaron took the audience and put them inside someone's memories. I've never seen such a raw and rigorously realistic movie in my life. Its a brutally clear and brutally true portrait of class warfare and how we latch onto to the people in our life, because sometimes we have no choice. This could break a huge mold come award season and it absolutely deserves to be the movie to do it.

4. Bodied
Is it just me, or all the great movies being hidden away this year? "Bodied" is a movie you can find only on YouTube right now. Too bad, because this could have easily been sold to the masses and it would have made a fortune. Produced by Eminem, it follows the story of a college student writing his college thesis paper on rap music, and goes to local rap battles for research. Turns out he can battle hard, and he rises through the local tournament. Let me mention right now that he's white and kind of dorky. Not only is this a goofier than usual comedy, not only is filled to the brim with style, but it also both criticizes and welcomes political correctness. Is it okay to say offensive things in a rap battle? How far is too far when you are representing yourself through spitting game?  This is a much smarter movie than it looks and it has shocked my world ever since I saw it.

5. A Star Is Born
A few more years down the road, are we going to be calling Bradley Cooper the next Ben Affleck? Here's a guy who was an original English major graduate turned actor and now all of a sudden he can direct? Yes, believe it, Cooper looks like he has been making movies for years and no matter what you hear about this one, it deserves all the respect and praise its been getting the past few months. Both Cooper and Lady Gaga are huge talent discoveries here and they provid an unforgettable journey of music in this masterpiece.

The 25 Other Great Movies of 2018 (In Alphabetical Order)

22 July
Netflix just happened to be on fire this year. "22 July" tells the true story 2011 Norway terrorist attacks. One summer in 2011 in Norway, several teenagers met on an island for the countries annual Worker's Youth League organized by the ruling Labour Party. These are the future leaders of Normay and they are getting together to be groomed for some big occupations in their future. When they learn of a bombing on the mainland, things get a little shaky. But things get shaky to downright terrifying once a right-wing terrorist starts attacking the children. Sure, you can look at "22 July" and say well its just like any other terrorist-survival movie, I've seen it all before. Well, that's what I thought. But the slowly moving terror that pushes itself through the film hurts much more than any other move like it. The cast is all amazing from across the board. It is directed with just enough realism that it feels like your there, trying to survive with the other teenagers. And it leads to quasi-unexpected finish. 

A Quiet Place
I don't mean to sound rude when I say this, so I will tread forward covering my ass with the familiar "with all due respect."But if you are clamoring over the already overrated "Bird Box" on Netflix, let me show you John Krasinski's vastly superior horror film that is similar to it. In "A Quiet Place" aliens or some kind of monster have taken over the Earth, and they are attracted to sound. A family has been building a new normal with sign language and a life of absolute silence. Things get crazier as the couple tries to bring another life into this dangerous world. "A Quiet Place" is a step above the rest because it takes full advantage of its idea. And Krasinski does an effortlessly magnificent job getting every scare and jolt from the audience, without any cheap thrills. The bathtub birth scene should be one of the most talked about scenes in any movie this year and Krasinski has emerged as a director for the ages.

A Simple Favor
Anna Kendrick plays Stephanie, a food blogger with a dark past. She has a son and he quickly becomes fast friends with the son of Emily, played by Blake Lively. Emily and Stephanie also begin to come close and Stephanie seems to see things in Emily she wishes she had. Emily is rich, a free spirit, has a hunk of a husband. One day, Emily says that her husband is overseas and she has a business trip to attend and asks Stephanie to watch her son for a day. That day turns to almost a week, and it becomes clear that Emily is missing. Eventually Emily is found dead, and Stephanie and Emily's husband conduct an investigation of their own on what happened to Emily. This is a modern age neo noir with a bit of a Alfred Hitchock mystery vibe to it. But on another hand, its got some George Carlin black comedy to it too. This is blended into a one-of-a-kind experience full of laughs, twists and turns. Its also a great showcase for Lively and Kendrick.

Avengers: Infinity War
Marvel has officially done the unthinkable. They have built their massive crossover at last, and its crazy to think that they made it all look easy. I remember quite vividly back in 2008 and 2009, when all the naysayers were doing all their naysaying. I remember people saying that Marvel was crazy. There would be no way a movie like "The Avengers" would ever work. Would all the big name actors expect big salaries? Would the movie have to be four hours long? Would the effects work be off because of the money going to the actors? When "The Avengers" burst onto the screen in 2012, it shut everyone up and the superhero game in movies changed forever. "Infinity War" is the massive payoff for fans who have stayed loyal for ten years. This is what superhero movie making has been building up to and I am overjoyed that people are even allowed to make movies that look like this. I can only hope that now we've finally crossed a certain threshold, that this genre will only keep getting weirder and more awesome.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
If "22 July" and "Roma" somehow not get big nominations in the foreign film of this years award circuit, then hopefully the Coen Brothers masterpiece gets a shot at some big nominations. It certainly deserves it. It seems to me that The Coen Brothers are destined to be Western guys. Because anybody who can make a remake of a classic such as "True Grit" and actually make it not just watchable but great gets an ace in my book. Let's be honest too, "Blood Simple" and "No Country For Old Men" are just Westerns wearing disguises. In their latest movie, the Coens were able to cram every single myth, legend, cliche, norm and story structure from the Western mythos and somehow made an anthology that was eye-popping, joyous and entertaining. Yes, all the typical Coen quirks are here too, but this movie feels like sitting around a campfire and being wowed by some master storyteller, telling legend after legend, never missing a beat.

Beautiful Boy
Sorry critics, but you severely missed the boat on "Beautiful Boy" and all the merits it highlights. Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet should be getting all kinds of nominations for their work in this hard-hitting, no-nonsense look at what happens when a young man becomes addicted to drugs and what a father toys with the realization that there is nothing he can do to save his child from a certain fate. Some argued over the movie being repetitive. Yes, okay, the boy in question relapses a lot over the course of the movie. But in doing so, the movie examines just how strong a hold drugs have over a user and no matter what you doing to better yourself, its easy to give into that hold. We feel the depression, we feel the slump in life, we feel like this boy had no other choice but to continue using until he destroyed all the trust he had in anyone or anything. This is as real as it gets, and I loved that the movie rubbed your nose in it. 

Black Panther
In speaking of Marvel, not only did they create the crossover event of the century in 2018 but they completely shattered expectations this year too. There was a time in Hollywood where it was believed that only white people could sell tickets at the box office. That myth lasted much longer than I'm sure they'd care to admit. I know people as early as the 2000's who tried to get their movies greenlit but were told by studios that black actors couldn't be leads. Well, I'm sure "Black Panther" shut those people up for good. But "Black Panther" isn't just a superhero movie with a black cast. The way it plays with some very real world issues and anxieties through the skin of a superhero movie is both a pleasure and a miracle. Talking politics may be on everyone's nerves at this point, but its healthy in a big pop culture blockbuster like this. Simply put, these are the movies people see and they will be constantly rewarded by them afterward.

Cold War
Here's the second most beautiful black-and-white movie of the year. An import from Poland, director Pawel Pawlikowski tells a romance that is supposedly based on the life of his parents. Tomasz Kot plays a choir director who discovers a vibrant young singer played by Joanna Kulig (who looks like a striking mixture of Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence). Set in the midst of the 1950's in Poland, when the Cold War was in full swing. These two people from different backgrounds and displaying conflicting temperaments, eventually fall in love with each other. Together, they navigate the world of traveling performances and how art, music and performance was viewed different during the Communist era in Poland. The film is well acted by Kot and Kulig, features some outstanding musical performances and creates a gorgeous portrait of a Communist country during the time. Not too many romances can knock me flat, but "Cold War" deserves kudos for never shying away from what it is.

Creed II
I would have never expected that we would have got a spin-off movie from the Rocky franchise that was actually good. But the original "Creed" wasn't just good, but great in my opinion. Likewise, I would have never thought the sequel to the spin-off from the Rocky franchise would be any good, and it turned out being great. Michael B. Jordan was born to breathe life into the son of Apollo Creed, and he packed a punch in the first film. When Dolph Lundgren returns as Ivan Drago, bringing his son Viktor Drago to challenge Adonis Creed, it feels like a huge stunt in the movie. But the movie puts character first, and cooks up a relatable story about expectation, duty and pressure by those around us. Sure, you could argue that "Creed II" is just pieces of other Rocky movies, but I'm not sure that's entirely fair. The journey these characters go on tells something much different, and in a real, vibrant way that left me cheering throughout the entire film.

Deadpool 2
The violent rendition of Bugs Bunny returns and he's funnier, wackier and bloodier than ever before. Let's get real for a second guys. "Deadpool 2" probably won't win any major awards. Ever. I can't in good conscience call it an important movie. It's not going to change how you view the world or those around you (well, not in a serious way) and it doesn't challenge the status quo. Heck, it doesn't even do anything different within the superhero genre. "Deadpool 2" is here simply because of the overpowering entertainment factor it produces, and sometimes that's exactly what I am in the mood to watch. Ryan Reynolds was born to do this, and he impressively fits into this very bizarre corner of the Marvel/X-Men universe. He feels like a walking prank, but that's Deadpool at its best. This has been a remarkably strange ride, in the right possible way, and I want more, more, more.

Fahrenheit 11/9
I can't honestly believe I am putting a Michael Moore movie on my Best of list. Truly, I can't. I know the Conservative Elite will never forgive him for anything he's done, and I truly hate overly-emotional Michael Moore movies. But I must admit, he's getting looser and dare I say, wiser in his old age. He brings to light some things that have frustrated me about American politics, so much to the point that I feel I couldn't correctly articulate them. Now, I can just point to Moore's documentary when I need to. If you think this movie is just a massive screed against Trump, you're not entirely right. Moore is wise to break down exactly what both the Republicans AND the Democrats did for someone like Donald Trump to enter the White House. Believe it or not, its all our fault. Our political system has become a team sport, and not all of us have realized that the team we're playing for is a head attached to the same body of the team your playing against. And until the every-man who knows the world gets into some positions of power, we will continue getting taken advantage of. I would have never thought Moore would be the man to say that, and god bless him for it. According to how our future unfolds, this documentary may stand the test of time ("Fahrenheit 9/11 definitely has a big, fat 2004 stamped on its forehead) and if our political world continues down the toilet, we can successfully say that Moore warned us.

First Reformed
Ethan Hawke plays the pastor of a small-town New York church. One fine day, a woman (Amanda Seyfried) asks the pastor to consult her husband. She is pregnant and the father wants the baby killed. Not because he's not ready to be a father, not because he's a dead-beat, not because God or Satan is telling him to do it. But the father can't bear to bring a human life into an Earth that is slowly dying. No matter what anybody thinks of climate change, this father believes it and he doesn't want his daughter to see a world that breaks down like he expects it will. What happens next is a brilliant character study that challenges both religious faith and fact-based science. Hawke's pastor develops a crisis of conscience. Is there something the church should be doing in order to prevent the affects of climate change? Or is this God's will? God has killed humans before, its written in many verses of the Bible. So how do we know that God isn't doing it again? This is a shockingly well-done movie that both challenge and confirm your beliefs. Not many movies can stare difficult material like religion and science right in the eyes, but this film does without blinking. Ethan Hawke gives a career-high performance here, and Seyfried is more than willing to follow him.

The Hate U Give
I still stand by my statement that every American deserves to see this movie at least once. We are a country of differences, and those differences are supposed to make this country great. But sometimes, they have a way of bringing upon terrible despair. Sadly, black teenagers being killed by white police officers happen so frequently that the stories just bounce off of many of us now. "The Hate U Give" asks us all not to let these stories bounce off of us. Let's not stop talking about this just because its difficult or uncomfortable to talk about, otherwise teenagers will never stop dying. I have friends who are cops, I have a deep respect for the police. However, police are human beings and we are all responsible for our actions. We should hold those with so much power to those actions, not simply let them be because of who they are. But alas, "The Hate U Give" isn't meant to be divisive, quite the contrary. Its a movie that is begging all of us to never forget the value of all human life and that is an encouraging thought.

Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson has always been one of our best offbeat funnymen. But when he enters the world of stop-motion animation, that seems to fit him like a glove in a way I never expected. I'm sure he never did either. "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" remains one of the decades best from the 2000's. This year, Anderson delights and dazzles us again with "Isle of Dogs." I love this goofball Japan he creates and how all the countries dogs are shipped to an island due to a sudden influenza virus in dogs that may eventually harm humans. Its as strange a story Anderson can muster, but only he could find all the fun and silly charm in the story and make something memorable out of it. All of his usual friends, such as Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Anjelica Houston and Harvey Keitel all provide voices, ever expanding the discovery and style of this world Anderson has created, and one of the best ones yet.

Love, Simon
If John Hughes was still making movies today, there is a chance one would have looked like "Love, Simon." It is pretty much a 21st Century John Hughes movie. Using every piece of technology and culture of the 21st Century but featuring every piece of humor, every wave of puberty, every need to find yourself, every difficult navigation of the angsty teenage years are well represented in this comedy. I'm sure there is a percentage of the population that will write this off completely, simply due to the movie's subject matter. And that's a shame. You certainly don't need to be gay in order to relate to romance or wanting to be loved or to crush on someone in particular. These are all real human emotions that the movie wisely crafts through a teenager trying to figure himself out. Its a thoughtful film full of charm.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout
If you asked me twenty years ago that I would eventually love what the "Mission: Impossible" movie universe would become, I would definitely laughed in your face. Now, I can hardly believe how far this franchise has come. Because let me tell you, its a freaking weird franchise. The first film is a mindbender, and even though I've seen it several times, I'd probably flunk a test on it. The second is this weird, dreamy, slow-motion, kung-fu ride that never felt like Mission: Impossible. The third film was a typical J.J. Abrams mystery box with no payoff. Then, in 2011, the franchise began to take a turn. Today, its not much a reaction to the Bond franchise, but its becoming a truer adaptation of the original television series. I love that its becoming a more team-oriented franchise, but with the flair of 21st Century action filmmaking. I also like that its starting to become a cohesive universe. "Fallout" is no doubt, the best of the bunch, a landmark example of how action filmmaking is done.

Searching
It was a great year for thrillers, and if one tried to describe "Searching," you could call it "Unfriended with a brain." The entire movie is set up so that you watching it through a computer or television screen. It opens with the audience finding out about a couple who have their first child, a daughter. As the daughter gets older, the mother gets sicker with cancer. By the time the daughter is in high school, the mother is dead. The father has no real idea of how to tackle the new family dynamic with his daughter or how to talk about his deceased wife with his child. One day, she disappears, and the father becomes hellbent on finding out what happened to her. Yes, the entire movie rides on a particular gimmick. But the twists and turns the movie follows are genuinely striking. You may remember John Cho from "Harold and Kumar" and "Star Trek" fame. He is electrifying as the lonely father looking for his daughter.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado
The years most unexpected sequel is also one of the best sequels in awhile. I never would have guessed after "Sicario" in 2015 that we'd ever get more story in that universe. I guessed wrong, and the results are truly amazing. I love a gritty, crime flick and both Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro seem game for anything that gets thrown at them. This story continues to submerge the audience in the difficult world of South American drug wars and just how blurred the battle lines are in this fight. No other film surprised me more with just how remarkably watchable it was and just how much stock there is in this potential franchise. Who knows if we'll get more movies in this franchise, but I only hope they are told with the power this one does.

Sorry To Bother You
By 2018, I've been told repeatedly by many people that all the world's mysteries have been solved. There is really no originality in anything anymore. I can honestly say I buy that, especially in the world of movies. Its not often I can point to a movie screen and tell you I've seen something new. "Sorry To Bother You" may look like a mere social satire at first glance, and for most of its runtime, it is just that. A young black man takes a job as a telemarketer and slowly climbs to the top of the business when creates a "white voice" to greet people with. But what begins as a social satire takes a super hard left turn by the end of the movie, and becomes something so unexpected, its kind of hard not to love it. The is something that feels original, something that feels so rare these days. I firmly believe for that reason alone, you should track this one down and see it just once.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
When I say that I can't wait to see how weirder superhero movies get in the future, I am also talking about what I saw in this latest "Spider-Man" adventure. Something like the multiverse is a crazy concept, and not something that would be easily accessible to many people who have never picked up a comic book in their life. So its a minor miracle that "Into The Spider-Verse" does such a nice job explaining the multiverse and how a team of Spider-men (and women...and pigs) can come together for the greater good. Making it a fun-filled, hilarious movie that's great for everyone is just icing on the cake. With this and "Infinity War" we are seeing the language of superhero films change and its healthy upbringing.

Three Identical Strangers
As someone who was adopted, this movie set me on edge and I haven't been able to shake it ever since watching it. It starts as coincidental true story that's stranger than you'd think. A boy shows up to first year of college, only to constantly be mistaken by someone who transferred to a different college. These two boys get together and find out they are twins, put up for adoption by the same family. When their story reaches the press, they find out they have a third brother. They are triplets given up for adoption to three different families. They become friends, start hanging out and its a silly at first. But when the presents the reason why the triplets weren't allowed to be adopted together, you are reminded just how cruel and cold this world can be at times and what people are willing to do in the name of research and science. Its an experience that nearly broke me, a wild true story in a world full of wild true stories.

Thunder Road
This movie had one of the best cold openings all year. A cop who had just lost his mother is speaking at her funeral. And he wants to do a special dance that reminds him of his mother at her funeral. But he can't keep his emotions together, and he's a crying wreck and on top of it all, he can't get his boom box to work. Its a scene where you can't figure out if you feel bad for the guy or if you should laugh at how ridiculous the scene is. Its one of the many highlights in "Thunder Road." Jim Cummings plays Jim, the cop whose life is falling apart. He loses his mom, he's divorced, he shares custody of his daughter with his former spouse...and its all overwhelming. Jim Cummings not only stars, but directed and wrote this comedy. But its also a brilliant character study of masculinity and what makes a man in this day and age. Jim Cummings originally made this as a short film and began a GoFundMe campaign to get this movie made. It cost him $200,000 to make, and its a perfect example of the American Dream in this business. Its also quite the time at the theater.

Vice
Writer and director Adam McKay has had his hand in several Will Ferrell comedies. So he garnered much attention with "The Big Short." "The Big Short" was also a comedy, but it was pretty clear just how angry McKay was that a bunch of rich assholes ripped off the entire nation and drove us into a recession. Then somehow just walked away. In 2018, it appears that McKay wants to be the comedic Oliver Stone and I have absolutely no problem with that at all. I know Daniel Day-Lewis gets lots of acclaim for being a method actor and I wish the same acclaim would be heaped on Christan Bale. He absolutely disappears into the role of Dick Cheney. And he easily bounces off the Southern charm of Sam Rockwell's George W. Bush. Its a masterful performance and no surprise that he's being lauded this awards season.

Widows
The year's best cast leads the charge in this badass, brutal crime film about a group of widowed women who have to pay back a crime boss after their criminal husbands are killed in a botched job. With Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez in the lead, its hard to go wrong. But when you add Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Colin Ferrell, Carrie Coon, Garrett Dillahunt, Jon Bernthal, Jackie Weaver and bunch of other great actors, its an overwhelmingly good time. A special shoutout to Daniel Kaluuya for playing a creepy villain in this already amazing thriller.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
We live in dark and disturbing times. And in the world we live in, we could use more people like Fred Rogers. This glorious documentary not only highlights what made Fred Rogers such a good person, but how he saw television as a tool for education. At the time, nobody was willing to take children's shows seriously, and Rogers was able to navigate that better than anyone, creating something entertaining, educational and warm all in equal measure. He was a man who told us not to focus on the superficial when meeting people, to not shy away from the emotions you were feeling at any given time. How many people can you truly think of that were so positive about everything at any given time? Like I said, we need more Fred Rogers' in the world. For now, I'll challenge all my readers to exercise at closes this documentary. Think of one person who left a positive, good stamp on your life. Take one minute out of your day and think of only that person and what they did for you. Its a truly captivating and emotional experience, and more of what I think people need right now. We all could focus on the good things in life, and Rogers taught us to like them just the way they are. Because they're perfect.

That's the list. As you can see, what a stellar year we had. One I miss now that its gone.

I've got more annual year-end lists coming, so keep an eye out.

Happy new year all.