Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2018.5
These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of almost 1200 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood and. let’s be honest, level of intoxication. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.
- Joe Rogan: Strange Times (2018) — 9/10
- Joe Rogan pulls his shit together to put on a really good set, tearing down many of the more ludicrous facets of our online and real-world (mostly) American culture. He’s done a good job of distilling the madness and at-times stupidity of his podcast/vidcast into some pretty insightful and thought-provoking as well as hilarious material.
- The Haunting of Hill House (2018) — 7/10
This was a strong, if too-long story of the damage done to a family by a haunted house. Whether the house is haunted is left open until the very end. That is, the show depicts very scary and haunted-looking apparitions but it’s always left open whether the house is actually doing these things or whether every associated with the house is just mad.
It’s more of an eight-hour movie rather than a TV season. There is a tremendous amount of character development. Carla Gugino (also in Gerald’s Game), Michiel Huisman (of Tremé), Henry Thomas (of E.T.) and Timothy Hutton all play very well.
Slowly, we realize that the house drives them mad (shades of Stephen King here). There are some really nice reveals as the show interleaves past and present. Parts of the present jut into the past, revealed via ESP or visions.
The ending is, on one hand, good, in that there is no grand monster in the house. Each person imbues the “room” with their own issues. It kind of reminded me a bit of the “room” in Stalker. However, the final ending is so pat (they more-or-less “heal” the house) that I removed a star.
- Big Mouth S02 (2018) — 8/10
- This show continues to be a strong contender for being shown in every health class in the country. It’s rare to see such an honest take on the feeling and hormones roiling in teenagers. it’s at times quite filthy, which I find charming, but which would certainly take it out of the running for health class. This season moves the character arcs of the first season forward, introducing no new characters. Nick Kroll and John Mulaney voice the stars as well as many side characters. Richard Kind as Marty Glouberman is fantastic. Jason Mantzoukas as Jay justifiably gets more airtime and Maya Rudolph is brilliant as the Hormone Monstress.
- Daredevil S03 (2018) — 9/10
- The first half of this season felt a bit long as we watch Daredevil recover from his grievous injuries sustained in the finale of the Defenders. At the same time that he licks his wounds and wallows in self-pity, we watch as Wilson Fisk (the amazing Vincent D’Onofrio) engineers his own release from prison to a house arrest. Daredevil is the only one convinced that Fisk must die—Karen Page (wonderfully played by Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy (Elden Hansen) want to get him back in jail. They are all at odds and cross-purposes for much of the season, providing tension as we watch the tsunami of Fisk’s nearly inevitable takeover of the city approaching their pathetic, disorganized and at-times squabbling resistance. In the midst of this is a new enemy, in the form of Dex, an FBI agent who’s incredibly accomplished but also psychologically damaged beyond repair. Fisk uses him, crafting him into a weapon that Daredevil can barely handle. Overall, an excellent third season.
- Extinction (2018) — 4/10
- Michael Peña stars in this film about the aftermath of an alien invasion. Rather, the precognition of an alien invasion. Rather, the story of how an invasion could also be a homecoming that ousts a bunch of squatters. The plot twist was interesting enough, but nothing that came before or after was particularly inspiring.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) — 8/10
This continuation of the film franchise in the world created for the Harry Potter films retains the child-like wonder of the originals as well as a bit of the darkness of the final installments.
In the timeline, this film is a prequel, telling the story of the rise of Grindelwald, who would go on to create the Elder Wand that is lost in time by the time Potter desperately seeks it as one of the “deathly hallows” in the finale of the previous film series.
Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt, a collector of animals and zoological lore. This makes him an outsider since all other magicians at the time consider animals to be beneath them, either slaves or enemies. It was a solid film, due in no small part to Redmayne holding it all together.
- Russell Brand: Re:Birth (2018) — 6/10
- I ordinarily really like Brand’s patter when he really gets going, but this show didn’t really do it for me. He made a lot of callbacks to his previous shows and things he’s done online. He talked a lot about his family and the birth of his child. He was political at times, but he seemed to be phoning it in.
- F is for Family S03 (2018) — 8/10
- This season was a bit more up-and-down than the previous two seasons, but still overall very good. It takes a little while to get going. The story arc this time is Frank’s new friend, a former Air-Force pilot who’s pretty much a giant jerk, but whom Frank promotes to a God. Frank, as voiced by Bill Burr, is stellar, as in other seasons. His anger bleeds through at times, lending credence to the put-upon father figure just trying to make ends meet and to bring some joy to his family, despite his own ideas and ineptitude playing a large part in preventing him from achieving these things.
- Gerald’s Game (2018) — 7/10
This movie was better than I expected it to be. It actually delivered a pretty good translation of Stephen King’s book to screen. They seem to be getting better at doing this.
The basic plot is that a rich and successful couple’s relationship is on the rocks. This is understandable because she’s basically a saint and he’s a manipulative, gaslighting asshole. Gerald (played by Bruce Greenwood) is clearly in his late fifties/early sixties, but his biceps look like he still works out at the high-school gym. He’s very fit, but it’s the body of a narcissist. Carla Gugino as Jessie is lovely and convincing as a woman in her mid-to-late forties. The gap of 15 years makes sense, in context.
They travel to a remote, isolated cabin for a sexy weekend where they plan to reignite the spark. He’s all ready with his viagra and his handcuffs and a gleam in his eye. During the foreplay, he refers to himself as “Daddy”, which completely turns her off. We find out exactly in flashbacks over the rest of the film when we meet her father, played by Henry Thomas (who ironically played Gugino’s husband in The Haunting of Hill House).
He gets angry and gives himself a damned heart attack. She’s still cuffed to the bed and the key is too far away to reach. He’s definitely dead as a doornail.
It’s Stephen King, so a hungry, friendly stray dog from before shows up, who’s not so friendly anymore. He’s just hungry. Jessie’s mind starts playing tricks on her, exaggerating details in the long night. Does she really see a man in the corner? Is it death? She must. get. free.
She eventually does get free, stumbling past death, bleeding and handing him her wedding ring. The epilogue provides illumination.
- Filth (2013) — 9/10
- James McAvoy plays Bruce, a detective in the Scottish police force. He’s an absolute animal: womanizing, swearing, doing drugs, smoking, drinking, hiring prostitutes, accosting criminals and citizens alike. He’s brilliant. We learn of the reason for his behavior as we watch him unravel. His machinations pile up and conflict and engender ever-greater and riskier schemes. Inevitably, things collapse and he comes out on the other side, or does he? The plot is incidental to McAvoy’s performance. Also stars Imogen Poots, Jim Broadbent and Jamie Bell.