2018 In Film

For the 4th year running, here is a complete recap the films I saw in theatres in 2018… in Tweet-sized reviews.

  1. Call Me By Your Name ★★★★★
    This movie really did things for me, emotionally, aesthetically, as a fan of the 1980’s and summer in general? Beautiful film, Michael Stuhlbarg is amazing, and I would have been happy to see this win Best Picture.
  2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ★★★☆☆
    At the end of the day, I don’t know what Three Billboards wants me to feel about the police, violence, and the search for justice, and I don’t care to know either. The blunt writing is not really good enough to warrant a re-watch.
  3. Black Panther ★★★★★
    Another ‘fun’ Marvel movie, greatly elevated by splendid actors, thumping soundtrack, and an opening-weekend-audience that made this feel more like an event than your average comic-book movie.
  4. Annihilation ★★★★★
    Annihilation is deeply creepy, with elements of body horror and man vs. environment. The shimmer will linger in your mind for hours after seeing this. Great women in this movie too (Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh!)
  5. The Death of Stalin ★★★★☆
    Death of Stalin was up my alley in more ways than one. I expected to be amused by a farcical depiction of historic events, and while the movie is darkly funny (but not in an edgelord way) I also found myself somewhat educated.
  6. Avengers: Infinity War ★★★★☆
    I was surprised that Infinity War managed to walk that fine line between MCU ‘fun’ and life-or-death stakes that these movies rarely deal with. Infinity War only works if you feel, in the moment, that things are dire–and it accomplishes that.
  7. Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★☆☆
    Alden Ehrenreich is far from the worst thing about Solo, and honestly, I think he’s fine in it. Were it not for the surprise appearance of a certain prequel character, I could have given Solo 4 stars, but alas, another spinoff movie weighed down by cameos.
  8. Won’t You Be My Neighbor ★★★★★
    WYBMN squeezes 30-40 years of Mr. Rogers history into a well-paced documentary that covers the highs and lows of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the surprising amount of self-doubt he faced, even in the final days of his life.
  9. Hereditary ★★★★☆
    Hereditary is fucked up, y’all. But I love it. Toni Collette should collect a Best Actress nomination for her work in this messed up family horror. The final act may be polarizing, but when the movie goes off the rails is where I found myself most enjoying it.
  10. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ★★★☆☆
    No movie in 2018 felt more like a personal obligation than Fallen Kingdom. “Welp, I have MoviePass might as well see this right? It’s dinosaurs, how bad can it be?” The answer? Meh. Dinosaurs in a haunted mansion should have worked better than it did.
  11. Incredibles 2 ★★★★★
    Incredibles 2 does more than just invert the formula from the original, it forces Mr.Incredible to grow in ways he hadn’t in the original, while giving Elastigirl the chance to shine on her own (and drink two Negronis in the process). The mid-century aesthetics too, damn!
  12. Mission: Impossible – Fallout ★★★★★
    Six movies in, you think the Mission: Impossible formula would stop being entertaining, right? Except this series continues to be a delight! So sit back, enjoy some popcorn, the practical stunt work, and the inevitable “I’m wearing a mask!” twists. It’s still fun.
  13. Sorry to Bother You ★★★★☆
    Boots Riley’s directorial debut is strange and absurdist, while also maintaining a clear thesis? Like, even when the movie makes you ask “What the fuck?” deep down, you know what the fuck. I loved it, can’t say the same for the others in my theatre!
  14. The Meg ★★★☆☆
    Oh boy! This movie was some of the best, silly, fun I saw all summer. It’s no Jaws but if you need your shark fix, The Meg should do the trick. The Chinese-co-production also brought in some talented actors, like Li Bingbing, without which the movie would be more forgettable.
  15. Mandy ★★★★☆
    I went into Mandy expecting something John Wick-esque, but what I got was better. Rather than emulating other revenge fantasies, Mandy does its own, weird, horror thing, using Nicolas Cage to full effect, and giving the title character (Andrea Riseborough) defiant strength.
  16. Halloween (2018) ★★★★☆
    David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s ode to the original 1978 film is damn-near perfect, with Jamie Lee Curtis delivering a perfectly broken-but-strong modern Laurie Strode, and John Carpenter adding new, great music like “The Shape Hunts Allyson.”
  17. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ★★★★★
    I don’t think a single movie made me laugh as hard, or as frequently, as Spider-Man. At the same time, this movie had so, much, heart! AND at the same time this a beautiful looking movie!! Don’t miss Miles Morales film debut while it’s still in theatres.

What’s Up? (4/15/2018)


This past March I saw Alien 3 for the first time. As someone who could talk a big game about loving Alien (79) and Aliens (86), it was a little strange to me that I had never completed the original quadrilogy. Little did I know that watching Alien 3 for the first time would just completely set me down a path, on in which I watched the entirety of the original Alien franchise, plus some extras.

On March 4: I sit down to watch Aliens, almost like a comfort food movie. I know it’s good, I’ve seen it before, and watching it again instead of something new erases the anxiety of choice. 5 out of 5 movie, no question.

On March 8: I watch Alien 3 for the first time — and it’s so, so flawed — but in a way that I can’t help but imagine what it could be. And like, this movie came out in ‘92 right, so I’m officially the last Alien fan to discover how disappointing the third entry in the series is, but I’m still reeling from that. It’s a 3 out of 5 movie, that I really, really wish could earn that extra star.

On March 15: I watch Alien: Resurrection for the first time. The movie is definitely the worst of the bunch in terms of writing, but I have to say, at least it wasn’t such a downer like Alien 3. The film’s unrelenting and goofy “Tude” kept me in a positive mood through it all, but given some time to think about it, I realize that I probably liked Resurrection more than 3, even if I recognize that 3 is so much better. It’s a 2 out of 5 star movie.

On March 17: I watch Alien: Covenant for the first time and it’s fine. But since I’m a sucker for the Ridley Scott aesthetic established in Prometheus and continued here, I gotta give it 4 out of 5 stars.

On March 20: I watch Alien for the third or fourth time, just to tie a nice bow on this experience. Actually, it was my first time seeing the Director’s Cut of Alien, and I actually think the scenes it adds are a bit too much. That one towards the end just kinda ruined the pacing, I think.

See? That’s a lot of Alien to watch in one month, and I didn’t even fit a screening of Prometheus in there! So yeah, that’s What’s Up, I’m getting into movies.

2017 In Movies

Every December for the past two years I’ve recapped all the movies I saw that year in Tweet-sized reviews. So without further adieu, here’s my 3rd-Annual year-in-review for movies.

Honorable Mentions: Movies that came out in 2016 that I didn’t catch until 2017.


  1. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
    BvS is a boring superhero movie, which is worse than it being “too dark,” “too rainy,” or “too joyless” even though it is also those things. (1/5)
  2. La La Land
    This movie managed to make me care about Mia and Seb’s romance, even if I didn’t care for Seb. Beautiful shots throughout the movie. (4/5)
  3. Moonlight
    2016’s Best picture is a tear-jerker with fantastic performances. Better romance than La La Land; loved that beach scene. (5/5)
  4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    I wanted to like Jyn and company, but their motivation was shaky, and their mission was undermined by eye-rollingly bad cameos. (3/5)

  5. Hidden Figures

    I thought this was going to be a cheesy family film, but it kept the cheese to a minimum (mostly K.Costner) and dished a lot of real drama. (4/5)

    And now onto 2017 proper…

  1. John Wick: Chapter 2

    While not as strong as the original, JW2 expanded the lore without breaking it, and created a lot of memorable, entertaining moments. (4/5)

  2. Kedi

    Do documentaries belong here? Kedi is about cats in Istanbul, but it’s also about humans who love cats, and therefore, amazing. (5/5)

  3. Get Out

    I’m normally too scared of horror movies to even see them, but thankfully Get Out kept jump scares to a minimum and got psychological. (5/5)

  4. Logan

    Logan was praised for being dark and violent but it really didn’t do much for me. I wasn’t emotional about the end of Jackman as Wolverine. (3/5)

  5. Ghost in the Shell

    Aesthetics is all this movie has. I can’t believe they made whitewashing part of the plot. I’m sad to see good source material wasted. (2/5)

  6. The Fate of the Furious

    This is the worst F&F movie they’ve made since ‘09. They took a popcorn-flick-franchise into a dark direction, fridged a woman, & it sucked. (3/5)

  7. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

    I didn’t care for the original GotG, but this one’s themes about family resonated with me. I got emotionally invested this time around! (4/5)

  8. Wonder Woman

    Wonder Woman juggled three things, and did it well somehow! It did 1) origin story, 2) fish out of water rom-com, and 3) war drama. (4/5)

  9. Baby Driver

    Ansel Elgort & Lily James stand out in this heist movie with a focal twist. It looks great, and sounds great, as standard for Edgar Wright. (5/5)

  10. Dunkirk

    I was underwhelmed by Dunkirk. I heard over and over about how tense it was, but, I didn’t really feel it. At least it was short. (3/5)

  11. Atomic Blonde

    This is a super stylish movie with an awesome 80’s soundtrack tailored for me specifically! Unfortunately the plot was convoluted. (4/5)

  12. Logan Lucky

    Not an amazing heist movie, but this movie really worked as a comedy, made me appreciate John Denver, and had southern accent Daniel Craig. (4/5)

  13. Battle of the Sexes

    I was pleasantly surprised at how much this movie dove into BJK’s sexuality! Emma Stone was perfect, and S.Carell made Riggs sympathetic. (5/5)

  14. American Made

    I will keep seeing Tom Cruise in action movies, and while this was marketed as one, it’s actually just a clunky-comedy bio-pic. It’s okay! (3/5)

  15. Blade Runner 2049

    No movie this year demanded a rewatch like Blade Runner 2049. This movie has a lot of things to say, if you have nearly 3 hours to listen. (5/5)

  16. The Florida Project

    I couldn’t stop thinking about this movie. It combines poverty and the dangers of childhood, in an uncomfortable heartbreaking nightmare. (5/5)

  17. Lady Bird

    Lady Bird perfectly captures the feeling of being in your last year of high school. Saorise Ronan is great & Laurie Metcalf brings it home. (5/5)

  18. Murder on the Orient Express

    This movie’s a “whodunit” that doesn’t give the audience the chance to solve the mystery. The more I think about it, the less I like it. (2/5)

  19. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Thematically, I think Rian Johnson has done something great with Star Wars. That said, I’m deducting a point for everything at the casino. (4/5)

  20. The Shape of Water

    This is a wonderful, science-fantasy romance, that almost functions on a family-movie level of logic, but deeply explores sexual themes. (5/5)


Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

I’ll start with a tweet-sized summary.
“Saw Guardians of the Galaxy 1000 days after US release. There was a lot of hype, but in the end it felt, just okay. Points for being unique.”
Now let’s break that down thought by thought. Why did I wait almost three years to watch this movie? Because I didn’t see anything super appealing to me in the trailers. Chris Pratt wasn’t yet sold to me as a leading man. I did not recognize Zoe Saldana as Gamora. I had no idea who any of these people were. In the end, not great reasons to skip out on an acclaimed movie.
Waiting all this time had an affect on the hype factor. In three years I didn’t run into a single friend who didn’t love this thing. Over and over I had friends who couldn’t believe I didn’t see Guardians of the Galaxy. “You have to see it.” “You HAVE to.”
So I finally saw it, in anticipation for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 — and it’s an okay movie. A solid 3 or 4 out of 5 depending on what day you ask me. It’s unique in some of the ways Dr. Strange was unique. It plays with comic book movie expectations and tropes, while still conforming to a lot of them. The music, great! Chris Pratt, great! Another Marvel movie that ends with too many enemies on screen? Yup!
Now, the version of me that wants to give this movie a 3 out of 5 is the one who “hates fun.” I like my characters dialed back a little bit. Fun is good, but constant quipping is irritating. It’s a sliding bar between Batman v. Superman (no fun) and Avengers 2 (Black Widow saying “beep beep” out loud). I don’t want superhero movies to go all the way in the no fun zone, nor all the way in the everything-is-a-joke direction. There are stakes in Guardians of the Galaxy, and dark backstories, but they take a back seat to the humor. The movie was on one level, and I wanted to be on another.
But the part of me that want to give this a 4 out of 5 enjoyed the comradery of the Guardians. They’re a family the same way that the Fast and Furious crew became a family. I forgive the movie’s overly jokey tone for the genuine bonds presented. I am, in fact, kind of excited to see what the sequel can improve on. Lower stakes, more one-on-one fights, fewer mass armies. Please, for the MCU’s sake, please don’t make another mvoie that ends with a huge CGI army.

2016 In Movies

I saw some movies in 2016. Let’s review them all with Tweet-sized reviews.

Honorable Mentions: Movies I saw In 2016 That Weren’t Released This Year

  1. Ex Machina
    Seriously beautiful and atmospheric sci-fi that makes you think. You’ll remember the music, and the performances of Isaac and Vikander. 5/5
  2. Bladerunner: Theatrical Cut
    Iconic cyberpunk aesthetic meets noir detective with cheesy voiceover and all too happy ending. AI themes surface level interesting. 4/5
  3. Only Yesterday (1991 Japanese Release, Dubbed in 2016)
    Kids in the audience probably hated this slow-paced emotionally gripping take on how childhood haunts our adult lives – but I cried. 4/5
  4. The Big Short
    This movie will make you laugh, and it will make you angry. Bale, Carell and Pitt deliver great portraits of the 2008 financial crisis. 5/5

And Everything Else…

  1. Hail, Caesar!
    Funny movie seriously hurt by misleading marketing. I enjoyed the film but felt duped by the commercials and I can’t get past that. 1/5
  2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
    John Goodman will haunt your nightmares in this claustrophobic movie. I liked the controversial ending. More Cloverfield please. 5/5
  3. Captain America: Civil War
    Zemo is the best villain a Marvel Movie’s ever had, and this movie is a shining light in a MCU that I’ve been losing interest in. 4/5
  4. Star Trek Beyond
    The best character moments a Star Trek movie has had, and a fun movie to boot – but the movie seriously lacks a good villain. 2/5
  5. Weiner
    Have you ever wanted to see a man’s life fall apart on camera? Then this documentary about Anthony Weiner’s mayoral race is for you. 4/5
  6. The Magnificent Seven
    Nice to see an action movie with some real stakes. Love Denzel and Pratt, the villain is appropriately slimy, and the crowd loved it. 4/5
  7. Doctor Strange
    Cumberbatch and Swinton make this origin story more than bearable, but the best part of the movie is that it breaks the MCU mold. 4/5
  8. Arrival
    I was captivated by the logistical problem that was at the center of the movie’s conflict, and emotionally stunned by the ending. 5/5

2015 in Movies

I saw a few movies in 2015, though I’m quickly running out of time to review them before the end of the year. My solution? Review all the movies I saw in 2015 in Tweet-sized reviews. 140 characters or less.

  1. Age of Ultron
    Vastly underwhelming sequel with the same plot as the original that left me feeling like I would never see another Marvel movie. 2/5
  2. Black Mass
    A movie with fantastic actors yet a pretty terrible plot. Should’ve been an hour longer because I think they forgot an ending. 3/5
  3. Furious 7
    I’m not ashamed to admit that this dumb movie about cars falling from the sky and bromance, made me cry in the theatres. 4/5
  4. Inside Out
    This movie sets out to do something more complex than any other Pixar movie. Eh plot. It mostly works, even if it’s not my favorite. 4/5
  5. Irrational Man
    I’m a sucker for Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone. This movie is up my alley, dark humor, romance, philosophy, poison. 4/5
  6. Jurassic World
    Oh my god. This movie was fun. Silly, stupid, turn off your brain fun. I clapped during the middle of the movie, that’s how fun it is. 5/5
  7. Mad Max: Fury Road
    Mad Max is probably my top movie for the year. Furiosa is probably my second favorite character of the year. What a lovely day. 5/5
  8. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
    Tom Cruise movies are still a lot of fun to watch. Somehow the Mission Impossible franchise is still stylish, clever, fun every time. 4/5
  9. Spectre
    A disappointing final film for Daniel Craig’s 007. It’s a weird movie. Not full camp, but can’t take it seriously. Worst use of Waltz. 3/5
  10. The Martian
    Over-the-top pop science flick. Matt Damon’s perfect as cocky scientist who we mostly view in solitude. Really funny too. 4/5
  11. Trumbo
    Opposite problem than Black Mass. Great story, really interesting biopic, but Bryan Cranston is the only one who appears to care. 3/5
  12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    Easily in Top 3 Star Wars movies. Dumb, retro plot structure, but Rey, Finn, and Poe are so great it hardly matters. Star Wars is back. 5/5

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

I’m glad I saw the second Avengers movie, but I also feel like I’ve seen my last Marvel comic-book-movie. Superhero fatigue is a very real thing for me; for most franchises there is an end in sight, yet the superhero movie genre is a wheel that seems to keep on spinning. Toby Maguire will be Spiderman for three movies, Andrew Garfield will be Spiderman for two movies, and somebody else will be Spiderman in the Avengers and countless movies beyond—the Spiderman wheels will keep on spinning, and it only ends when you hop off that ride. If Avengers: Age of Ultron  (AOU) is the last superhero ride I take, I’ll be okay with that.

See, AOU is a very middling experience. Its highs remind me why I see comic-book-movies. When a Marvel movie is good, it makes you laugh, it makes you want to cheer, things feel right, and you leave the movie theatre—not just satisfied—but ready to watch again. However, the lows of AOU remind me why I stayed home for the Captain America and Thor sequels. Yes, it’s partially superhero fatigue, but beyond that AOU gives me this feeling of “I’ve seen this before,” so the movie is fatiguing in its own right.

There are a few things that feel outright insulting, like how the second Avengers movie ends in the exact same way as the first. The Chitauri and the endless hordes of Ultron-bots presented the same amount of challenge in each of the film’s climaxes. It’s basically a videogame. There aren’t stakes per se, or any hint of tension, the waves of robots just keep coming and each of the Avengers will do what they do to endless hordes. Cap will throw his shield, Natasha will use her guns, Thor his hammer, and Ironman will use those damn hand-cannons that I can’t stand anymore (I swear, I’m so done with their high-pitched whines). Black Widow being turned into Bruce Banner’s love interest and basically, a tool to calm down the Hulk; I mean what happened there? In the last Avengers movie she had things under control and kicked ass—in this movie she says “Beep beep” out loud while driving a motorcycle, has to be rescued from a cage by Bruce Banner, and has a crisis about her inability to have children. All the while, I’m just never that excited by what’s going down in AOU.

The movie is called Age of Ultron, but if I had to guess, I think Ultron lives for all of two or three weeks tops—less an era and more like a flash-pan-reign. Ultron, while a screen-stealing villain, was never defined well enough for me too care that much about him. Stark and Banner invent him via montage, he’s born, and he’s immediately evil and I never, ever understood his motivations other than “I will not allow myself to be Tony Stark’s puppet.” He’s not that interesting, and in the end, not that frightening—he turns into a character who sees the Hulk coming to kill him and says “Oh, come on!” The same character that’s threating to wipe out humanity should not also be comic relief; it makes the threat feel empty.

In the end, I guess I can sum up my feelings like this: I’m glad I saw AOU, as one final Avengers romp, but if I had cut myself off after the first Avengers, I think I would have been a happier person. Instead I came along for one last ride in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while it was fun at times, it was mostly bumpy.