Monday, June 10, 2019

The First 100 Films of 2019: The Best and Worst


The best film of the first half of 2019 is Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre's deeply moving metaphor "The Mustang," with Matthias Schoenaerts in a powerhouse performance as a Nevada prisoner whose road to redemption runs through a wild horse training program operated by Bruce Dern, who delivers a line here (after Schoenaerts' first failed attempt at mounting his mustang) that instantly enters the pantheon of all-time great movie quotes.

#2-6 (in alphabetical order)

The next five best films of the first half of 2019 are Kent Jones' "Diane," featuring a lived-in performance by the veteran Mary Kay Place as a woman who sublimates her grief for her past and her drug-addicted son (Jake Lacy) with volunteer work for others; Adam Robitel's memorable "Escape Room," an ingeniously constructed puzzle movie with no fewer than three bravura set pieces and, at each step, far more wit, intelligence and humor than others of its genre expend; Stephen Merchant's "Fighting with My Family," the most delightful surprise of the early year, with Florence Pugh as a young woman making her way in professional wrestling and an uproariously funny Vince Vaughn as her hardass trainer; the unfortunately titled "Her Smell," writer-director Alex Ross Perry's best work to date, with a painfully fearless performance by the great Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something, a 90s punk-rock star whose diva behavior has lost its charm twenty years later; and Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "The Wild Pear Tree," the most thoughtful and contemplative film of the year, by a Turkish master whose lengthy works (this one runs 188 minutes) richly reward patient viewers with insight and immersion.

Ten Terrific Documentaries (in alphabetical order)

Apollo 11
The Biggest Little Farm
Echo in the Canyon
Leaving Neverland
The Proposal
Q Ball
The Serengeti Rules
They Shall Not Grow Old

The Worst Two

There could be no better proof of Dennis Prager's axiom that the left ruins everything it touches than "Late Night," a ghastly, politically correct "comedy" that not even progressives could pretend to enjoy. Dead silence as each of us walked out. Same goes for "Ramen Shop," a would-be piece of Asian food porn. I don't believe the script contains even one three-syllable word. The dialogue sounds like the stilted conversations between strangers on the first day of an introductory language class.

Complete List of Star Ratings (in alphabetical order) - (D) denotes documentary

The Aftermath - 2 stars
Aladdin - 3 stars
Alita: Battle Angel - 1.5 stars
All These Small Moments - 2.5 stars
And Breathe Normally - 2 stars
Apollo 11 (D) - 3 stars
Ash is Purest White - 2.5 stars
The Beach Bum - 1.5 stars
The Best of Enemies - 2.5 stars
The Biggest Little Farm (D) - 3 stars
Birds of Passage - 1.5 stars
Blowin' Up (D) - 2.5 stars
Booksmart - 1.5 stars
The Brink (D) - 2 stars
Carmine Street Guitars (D) - 2.5 stars
Cold Pursuit - 2 stars
Daughter of Mine - 2.5 stars
Diane - 3 stars
Dogman - 1.5 stars
A Dog's Way Home - 2.5 stars
Don't Come Back from the Moon - 2.5 stars
Dumbo - 2 stars
Echo in the Canyon (D) - 3 stars
Escape Room - 3 stars
Fighting with My Family - 3 stars
Five Feet Apart - 2 stars
Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened (D) - 2.5 stars
General Magic (D) - 2.5 stars
Gloria Bell - 3 stars
Great Great Great - 2.5 stars
Greta - 2 stars
Hail Satan? (D) - 2.5 stars
Halston (D) - 2.5 stars
Happy Death Day 2 U - 1.5 stars
The Heiresses - 2.5 stars
Her Smell - 3 stars
Hotel by the River - 2.5 stars
Hotel Mumbai - 2 stars
The Hummingbird Project - 2.5 stars
The Hustle - 1.5 stars
The Invisibles - 2 stars
Isn't It Romantic - 2.5 stars
J.T. Leroy - 2.5 stars
The Kid - 2 stars
Knife + Heart - 2.5 stars
The Last Black Man in San Francisco - 2 stars
Late Night - 1 star
Leaving Neverland (D) - 3 stars
Little Woods - 2.5 stars
Long Day's Journey into Night - 2 stars
Long Shot - 2 stars
Lost & Found - 1.5 stars
Ma - 1.5 stars
Mapplethorpe - 2.5 stars
Meeting Gorbachev (D) - 2.5 stars
Miss Bala - 2.5 stars
The Mustang - 3.5 stars
My Son - 1.5 stars
Non-Fiction - 1.5 stars
Pavarotti (D) - 3 stars
Penguins (D) - 2 stars
Photograph - 1.5 stars
Pig - 2 stars
The Proposal (D) - 3 stars
Q Ball (D) - 3 stars
Ramen Shop - 1 star
Red Joan - 2 stars
Rocketman - 2 stars
Roll Red Roll (D) - 2.5 stars
Sauvage/Wild - 2 stars
Serendipity - 2 stars
The Serengeti Rules (D) - 3 stars
Sharkwater Extinction (D) - 2.5 stars
Slut in a Good Way - 2.5 stars
Sorry Angel - 2.5 stars
The Souvenir - 1.5 stars
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek - 2 stars
State Like Sleep - 2 stars
St. Bernard Syndicate - 2.5 stars
Stockholm - 2 stars
Styx - 2 stars
Theranos: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (D) - 2.5 stars
They Shall Not Grow Old (D) - 3 stars
3 Faces - 2.5 stars
Tigerland (D) - 2.5 stars
The Tomorrow Man - 1.5 stars
Transit - 2 stars
The Unicorn - 2.5 stars
The Upside - 2.5 stars
Walking on Water (D) - 1.5 stars
The Wedding Guest - 2.5 stars
West of Sunshine - 2 stars
What Men Want - 1.5 stars
The White Crow - 2.5 stars
Wild Nights with Emily - 2.5 stars
The Wild Pear Tree - 3 stars
Wild Rose - 2.5 stars
Woman at War - 2.5 stars
Working Woman - 1.5 stars
Wrestle (D) - 3 stars

Total stars: 227
Average: 2.27

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Best (and Worst) Films of 2018

My top ten films of 2018. (D) denotes documentary.
1.) Lean on Pete
2.) The Dawn Wall (D)
3.) Won't You Be My Neighbor? (D)
4.) Can You Ever Forgive Me?
5.) Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
6.) Leave No Trace
7.) Who We Are Now
8.) Outside In
9.) Ready Player One
10.) Pick of the Litter (D)
My "second ten": the honorable mentions of 2018 (in alphabetical order): "Bad Times at the El Royale" / "Bathtubs Over Broadway" (D) / "Burning" / "Den of Thieves" / "Destroyer" / "Green Book" / "Science Fair" (D) / "Where is Kyra?" / "Widows" / "The Wife"
And the seven I crossed off to come up with that list: "Bohemian Rhapsody" / "Crazy Rich Asians" / "The Death of Stalin" / "Hal" (D) / "The Mule" / "The Rider" / "Viper Club"
I now see only films I hope I will, and believe there is a reasonable chance I will, enjoy. This resulted in a low number of films seen (212) and an unprecedented high average star rating (2.38). The worst two films of 2018:

All Summers End
The Year of Spectacular Men

Mary Poppins Returns, Second Act, Cold War, On the Basis of Sex, Vice, Holmes and Watson, Welcome to Marwen, Stan & Ollie, Destroyer, Shirkers

Mary Poppins Returns

Second Act

Cold War

On the Basis of Sex


Holmes and Watson

Welcome to Marwen

Stan & Ollie



Thursday, December 20, 2018

Roma, People's Republic of Desire, Bathtubs Over Broadway, Vox Lux, Ben is Back, Mary Queen of Scots, Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, If Beale Street Could Talk, Capernaum, Kill the Monsters, The Mule, Tyrel


People's Republic of Desire

Bathtubs Over Broadway

Vox Lux

Ben is Back

Mary Queen of Scots

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes

If Beale Street Could Talk


Kill the Monsters

The Mule


Chef Flynn, Green Book, At Eternity's Gate, Creed II, Ralph Breaks the Internet, The Last Race, Amazing Grace, The Favourite, Shoplifters, The World Before Your Feet, Shoah: The Four Sisters, Everybody Knows

Chef Flynn

Green Book

At Eternity's Gate

Creed II

Ralph Breaks the Internet

The Last Race

Amazing Grace

The Favourite


The World Before Your Feet

Shoah: The Four Sisters

Everybody Knows

Boy Erased, Monrovia Indiana, Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words, A Private War, Burning, In Search of Greatness, The Front Runner, The Girl in the Spider's Web, El Angel, Searching for Ingmar Bergman, Widows, The Waldheim Waltz

Boy Erased

Monrovia, Indiana

Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words

A Private War


In Search of Greatness

The Front Runner

The Girl in the Spider's Web

El Angel

Searching for Ingmar Bergman


The Waldheim Waltz

Can You Ever Forgive Me?, What They Had, mid90s, The Great Buster: A Celebration, The Guilty, Wildlife, The Price of Everything, Viper Club, On Her Shoulders, A Bread Factory Part One: For the Sake of Gold, A Bread Factory Part Two: Walk with Me a While, Brewmaster, Bohemian Rhapsody

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

What they Had


The Great Buster: A Celebration

The Guilty


The Price of Everything

Viper Club

On Her Shoulders

A Bread Factory, Part One: For the Sake of Gold

A Bread Factory, Part Two: Walk with Me a While


Bohemian Rhapsody