Nocturnal Animals – I don’t really know what to make of this movie. It opens with deliberately off putting imagery that is almost completely disconnected from the rest of the movie before starting its various narratives. Half of the movie follows Amy Adams as she reads the manuscript of her ex-husband’s novel, with some flashback scenes to their marriage and its dissolution. The other half follows the plot of the novel. The novel sections are vastly more compelling than the others. It is a mostly straightforward crime/revenge story, with Michael Shannon as a cop dying of cancer who agrees to help a husband get revenge for his murdered wife and child. The other thread is trying to do something more, but it even in its tale of low key revenge I couldn’t help but think about the details it has to elide. It sets up Adams’ character as living an empty and unhappy existence. One that a possible reconnection with her ex could change. But it elides the whole life she has lived in the 20 years since she last saw her husband, which included raising a child and building a successful career. I think the movie wants us to side with the husband and his raising and dashing of her hopes, but I’m not sure about that. Nocturnal Animals is a well made but largely cold movie. It pushes the viewer away, making you want to analyze instead of feel. I can’t quite sort out my feelings toward it, but there is clear quality here. ****
Ocean’s Eleven – This is a perfectly slick, fun little caper. It really does feel like an awfully small movie for all the star power it brings to bear. It isn’t one of my favorite movies, but there really isn’t anything I can point to that I dislike about it. ****
Man of Steel – I watched this and its sequel for something I was writing that probably won’t happen. (Maybe in the lead up to Justice League.) I am ever frustrated by how wrong this movie gets some things despite how right or close to right it gets others. If it didn’t have that absurdly destructive last act maybe people would remember how truly heroic Superman is early. Maybe if it didn’t screw up Pa Kent so badly I could watch it without making a face. ***
Batman v Superman – I like this movie more each time I watch it. I know that my reaction is the opposite of just about everybody else’s, I don’t care, I greatly enjoy this movie. Especially the extended cut, which actually lets the plot make sense. Like with Man of Steel, I have more to say on this, including diving into the religious underpinnings of the story, that I hope to have done before Justice League hits. ****
Land Before Time – For some reason the Netflix version of this movie has about 10 minutes cut out of its already short runtime, including a line that proved inexplicably memorable for my family. It feels really jumpy as it is on Netflix right now, especially compared to my memories of it. Maybe I’ll find the full version some time to see if it holds up. ** (for this version)
Spider-Man Homecoming – read review here. ***1/2
Baby Driver – read review here. *****
Valerian And the City of a Thousand Planets – read review here. ****1/2
Atomic Blonde – read review here. ***
The Prestige – This was one of the few Nolan movies that I had never seen all the way through. I had seen most of it, but never from start to finish. It is very good. *****
Rocky – This is one of my absolute favorite movies. Each time I watch it only reinforces how much much I love this movie. It is just about perfect. *****
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – I watched this again and I liked even more the second time. This is the tense sort of drama that that non-action scenes of Atomic Blonde was going for, but this movie does it right. ****1/2
One Day at A Time – This is a very old fashioned show with very forward thinking subject matter. It deals with a lot of progressive issues in a show that is very much styled like a 70’s multi-camera sitcom. It works. The format is the hardest part for me, it absolutely nails what is both great and terrible about those shows. I find the very forced and artificial set ups of those shows to be pretty grating and One Day at A Time is no different. But there is something to be said about the largely episodic nature of this show. It also does a solid job of foregrounding issues that should be discussed in ways that don’t get in the way of the jokes. This is an admirable show done in a fashion that I don’t much like.
The Ranch S2 Part 1 – This is still comfortably terrible show, but its jokes about drunk driving got old a long time ago. Honestly, even the appeal of a cast that I largely like is starting to wear thin with me. I don’t know if I’ll be back for the next batch of episodes. I like Sam Elliott and Debra Winger and I like Kutcher and Masterson together, but this show needs better plots and jokes if I am going to stick with it any further.
Castlevania – This has gotten largely positive reviews and I can’t say I agree with them at all. It is competently produced, but it takes the mostly goofy stylings of the Castlevania series and turns it into try-hard edgey nonsense. I guess that is a little harsh, but it is only four episodes and it doesn’t even start to get good until more than halfway through the third episode. Hopefully the next batch of episodes is more like the second half here.
Trailer Park Boys S11 – I think I am just about done with Trailer Park Boys. I don’t really think the show has gotten worse, I’ve just seen enough. Maybe when the next season hits I’ll feel differently, but as much as I enjoyed parts of this season it really felt like a chore to watch at times. This is the same show it has always been, for better or worse.
Bosch S1 – I read a few of the books a few months ago and thought I would try out the show. It’s good. A little slow, but well done. It takes the cop procedural formula and turns it into something like a prestige show. It stretches cases along the season, but still nails that mystery feeling. It contains just enough from books I’ve read to throw me off, which is good. I really want to get to the next couple of seasons, because this was good.