Archives for category: movie reviews

I often refer to movies such as “War on Everyone” (2017) as an “odd duck.” It’s a modern, buddy-cop action flick with a corrupt-cop twist. Simple enough. But it’s strewn with so many unexplained 1970s callbacks (cars, hair, underwear, interior decorating), I was waiting for Starsky to jump out of the hutch. And then there’s all the superfluous philosophical references and surprisingly sharp dialogue that’s around 50 IQ points above the characters speaking those lines. And the over-the-top violence is so stylized, I was sure the script was based on a graphic novel. Yet it all works, somehow. Odd duck.

Advertisements

A Vietnam-era PTSD victim drifts into a small town, the cops pull a “vet lives matter” on him and all hell breaks loose. Voila! Sylvester Stallone has a second franchise. “First Blood” (1982) is a landmark in macho film history, opening a door that guys like Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal walked through (after they closed it back shut so they could kick it down or blow it up). It’s so macho, David Caruso plays a wimpy guy. Hell, it’s so macho, testosterone-spouting Richard Crenna doesn’t need to show up in his Green Beret outfit until we’re 45 minutes in.

Here is a ranking of all the films released in the U.S. in 2017 that I’ve seen, with links to my reviews where applicable:

1. Get Out

2. The Hero

3. The Founder

4. Once Upon a Time in Venice

5. Table 19

6. The Wall

7. Going in Style

8. Logan Lucky

9. War on Everyone

10. I Do… Until I Don’t

11. Wilson

12. My Cousin Rachel

13. Atomic Blonde

14. A United Kingdom

15. Chips

16. Paris Can Wait

17. All Nighter

18. Sleepless

19. The Lego Batman Movie

20. A Woman, a Part

21. Kidnap

22. Snatched

23. Rough Night

24. The House

25. Youth in Oregon

26. The Lovers

27. Arsenal

It doesn’t take an effing genius to figure out “Bad Santa 2” (2016) wouldn’t be as good as the original because Bernie Mac is effing dead, so is John Ritter, and Heather Graham must have been too effing busy to answer the phone. Half the main characters (Santa-suited safe cracker Billy Bob Thornton, elf Tony Cox, clueless Brett Kelly) are back, but that’s just not enough. There was something about the original that made its degenerate nature a guilty pleasure. This one has too much dirty and not enough whimsy. Like a 21-year-old Thurman Merman, the effing innocence is gone.

Holiday movies always make me a little nostalgic. Take “Bad Santa” (2003), where Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox are a felonious Kris Kringle and elfin accessory. I miss the comedic talents of the late Bernie Mac and John Ritter, who ably played supporting roles. It’s also where I first met Lauren Graham. I’m not the target demographic for “Gilmore Girls,” so witnessing her sweet flakiness as a kinky bartender was like a partially unwrapped present just for me. Memories. If you’re not smitten by her, the film’s subversively sharp writing will suffice. You’ll have a hilariously blue (language) Christmas.

Sam Elliott isn’t allowed to act anymore. He can’t show up as a stunt-casting gimmick on “Will and Grace,” or in some throwaway action flick. He can’t even voice-over a barbecue sauce commercial. No, he made “The Hero” (2017), which is one of those magnum-opus-type star turns that aging actors suddenly summon when they still haven’t won a major award. Sam plays a pot-smoking actor who made a great cowboy film long ago, but he’s dying now, and he’s trying to figure out how to die, and still live, and it’s pretty impressive. So no more acting, Sam. We’re good.

“Burn After Reading” (2008) is a not-very-good espionage movie with George Clooney. It’s kinda stupid, actually. But it does have a lot of people I like in it (Brad Pitt, the dude from the movie about the guy who plays the drum, Frances what’s-her-face, John Malkovich), and there are some characters that made me laugh. It wasn’t like I thought two hours of my life had been stolen. But when it was over, I was like: “What was up with that?” Then I reminded myself it was a Coen brothers movie, which means that probably nothing was up with anything.