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  • Serenity

    Serenity

    ★★

    A hot mess of an erotic thriller that somehow fails to be a thriller or take the talents of some Academy Award-winning and nominated actors and do anything more than leave you scratching your head about why they agreed to be in this movie. Yes, it has a third act twist that (I guess) explains what might have been going on the first two thirds of the movie, but I had given up by then.

  • Good Time

    Good Time

    ★★★½

    Captivating drama that drops hints of solid film making at times but that doesn't quite get there. Relationship between the two leads in the film (brothers Connie played by Robert Pattinson and Ray played by co-director and writer Benny Safdie) is one of the highlights of the movie and just the intensity of the film interspersed with some moments of real family feelings made it worthwhile to watch. But it's a little too intense and definitely has that feeling of a movie which shows promise but never fully delivered on that promise.

  • American Factory

    American Factory

    ★★★½

    Super-objective documentary (to me) about the travails of a Chinese firm taking over a U.S. shuttered plant and changing the lives of thousands of American (and Chinese) workers in an attempt to be profitable. Paints a bleak portrait of life (at times) in both Ohio and in China, but importantly, never tries to preach or force viewers to take one side over the other. Ultimately, it may show more negative sides of business than positive, but regardless of your views it is a fascinating look at the global economy, circa 2019.

  • The Peanut Butter Falcon

    The Peanut Butter Falcon

    ★★★★

    Delightful is probably the best word I can come up with to describe this film. It has an incredibly sweet story, strong performances from the three main leads (an Oscar-worthy outing by Shia LeBeouf as Tyler, an eye-opening supporting effort by Dakota Johnson's Eleanor, and an inspiring debut by Zach Gottsagen as Zak), and understated visuals, sound and pacing that really works well if you don't enter this with high expectations. It has its slower moments and an ending that…

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★

    Lives up to the hype as one of the top films of a year (2019) that as of the summer hasn't really produced that many strong movies. This one combines pathos and humor, good writing and original direction with generally solid performances and one breakout role - Awkwafina - who dominates this entertaining film with so many scenes where we just want to hug her and tell her it's going to be okay. I'd definitely suggest avoiding the next MCU…

  • The Amazing Johnathan Documentary

    The Amazing Johnathan Documentary

    ★★★½

    Fascinating documentary which is really more about documentary-making than a profile of the magician/comedian in its title. I'm not reallyt sure what to think of it, but it did keep me interested the whole way through which is really all I ask of docs.

  • Seven Psychopaths

    Seven Psychopaths

    ★★★

    Debut feature film from Martin McDonagh and the fact that he was able to secure such a stellar cast (Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Collin Farrell among others) shows that this playwright-turned-filmmaker has been recognized since the start for his writing and craft-making skills. This one has the uneasiness of a debut feature for me and isn't as entertaining as In Bruges or as rich a story as Three Billboards (both which feature some of the same actors). And it's a little more violent than either of those two later films.

  • In Bruges

    In Bruges

    ★★★★½

    So I know I'm not the first to make this comparison, but after running out of Quentin Tarantino films to watch recently, this film was suggested to me and I have to admit that it definitely is Tarantino-esque. I loved the buddy talk between Ken (Brendan Gleesan) and Ray (Colin Farrell) and the supporting cast (including Ralph Fiennes and Clemence Poesy) are also terrific. Going in blind helped me enjoy this movie a little more, but the dialogue, plot twists…

  • Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day

    ★★★★½

    Introduced my wife and youngest son to this modern classic tonight. I think they liked it, but if not, I'll make them watch it again tomorrow.

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight

    ★★★½

    Fourth Quentin Tarantino film for me in four days! This one keeps with the same theme - stylish, original, violent and leaves you wondering why certain scenes played out the way they did. But you definitely can see why he has so many fans of his films. I'll rank this one slightly behind the last three I just watched (Jackie Brown, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Inglorious Basterds), but still a well-made film.

  • Inglourious Basterds

    Inglourious Basterds

    ★★★★

    I'm sort of on an Quentin Tarantino kick as this is my third QT film of the last week (maybe I'm focusing on three of his best? OUATIH, Jackie Brown and now this) and although I guess I was so worried about this movie's content that I ignored it for a decade, it really went down easy enough.

    Like Once Upon a Time, it had some amazing scenes, most prominently the opening scene in the French dairy farmer's house and…

  • Dumbo

    Dumbo

    ★★

    Not sure when I last saw a big-budget film like this that simply gave up during its film creation process and just stopped pretending they could turn it into something presentable. I guess my most head-scratching moment was right after Tim Burton did his pink elephants take (like everything else in this film, a pale comparison to the 1941 animated original) and then followed that scene up with legendary boxing ring announcer introducing the flying elephant to the circus crowd…