Marriage Story | Movie Review

Thursday 30 January 2020

If you’ve never heard the term “Oscar bait,” allow me to tell you about it. It’s actually quite straightforward. Oscar bait movies are movies that seem to be made just to rack up Oscar nominations. You may be thinking: “But Billiam, can’t a good, award winning movie just happen to be a good film?” Yes, my friend, yes they can, but Oscar bait movies are a special breed. Need an example? Here’s my review of Marriage Story.

To dive a bit more into what signifies Oscar bait films I'll say that they’re just films that seem like they’re trying too hard. They get a great cast with an emotional story that boarders on, or sometimes becomes, melodramatic. Films like The Revenant, The Theory of Everything, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Wrestler, and The King’s Speech are just a few examples. “But Billiam,” you may be saying “I love some of those films.” Of course you do. I do too. Oscar bait movies can be great or have good elements to it.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Marriage Story for its fantastic performances and it’s true. Scarlett Johansson has never been better. Seriously, I've never seen her this good before. Adam Driver was also amazing but that’s like saying Wayne Gretzky was good at hockey. He’s a legend, of course he he's good. This movie was well acted all around, but the problem isn’t with the acting.

Let’s talk about Laura Dern for a quick sec, ‘kay? I love Laura Dern. She’s in her renascence now. But getting awards for her performance in Marriage Story over her performance in Little Women boarders on criminal. She was good in Marriage Story. Really good. But she was better in Little Women.

So back to that problem I was talking about. This was a hard movie to watch because no one was likable. I know. I get it. Before anyone tries to tell me, “That’s the point. Divorce is when people are at their worst,” I get it. I know what Noah Bambauch was going for. I just never cared. Movies have to have someone to root for. Even movies about bad people, you need someone to root for. Either that or the “bad” characters need to pull you in so you can’t help but care what happens. Marriage Story didn’t have that.

It was so real, so plausible, so realistically negative, that there was nothing that made me care or want to care about anyone. Even their kid. I don’t care what happens to him, but I should. Divorce is a big deal for kids and I should have cared that the kid got some sort of stable life after it all, but either Baumbach’s writing or directing couldn’t do that.

Marriage Story is the perfect example of a movie with great acting, that doesn’t have any glaring errors in its presentation, but it still fell short. There are a plethora of people out there who don’t have the same issues with this movie that I do. They have no problem with a film that has no one to root for in it. They’re artsy types who flock to Oscar bait movies like animals to an oasis, and that’s okay. Good for them. Good for you if you’re one of them. But I’m not.

I found Marriage Story to be a film with some amazing performances in it that suffers from a lack of people to empathize with. I thought Johanssen, Driver, Dern, and even Alda and Liotta gave what could be the performances of their careers, but it’ll forever be buried in a movie with a forgettable plot that never again grace my television screen.

Marriage Story gets a 4.5 out of 11

Least Anticipated Films Of 2020

I already did a blog post about the movies I'm most excited for this year and my wife had the good idea to talk about the films on the other side of the fence. Those that I have no interest in. Those I probably won't even give a second thought. So which films made the list? Read on and find out.

Birds of Prey: February 7

IMDB Premise: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

Let me just say this. I do like the Birds of Prey. I have some of the comics and have always enjoyed them more than even tales of the Justice League. But this film looks like it misses the mark so much that the chances of this being any good is slimmer than a drunk with vertigo would have a better chance of winning Ninja Warrior.

There's too much focus on Harley Quinn and it's all just misplaced fan service.  I like Margot Robbie. I think she does a great job of the character and really is the best person to play Joker's former partner. But the story for this movie comes across as too tryhard. I do want to see a Birds of Prey movie. Just not this one.

Early reviews are positive, but I don't trust critics, let alone when it comes to comic book movies.

Fantasy Island: February 14

IMDB Premise: The enigmatic Mr. Roarke, makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island's mystery in order to escape with their lives.

I wish I was in the pitch meeting for this film so I could slap whoever pitched it in the face. What sort of idiot had this idea? “I know! Let's make a movie based on the campy 70's TV show but instead, make it a horror!” The fact that this clown basket didn't lose their job for even thinking of such a dumb idea, is ridiculous.

Each year there are one ore two stupid horrors that not only somehow get greenlit, but they also get a sizable release and it makes me scratch my  head.  This film looks like a mess and even though I like a few of the actors, I will still skip this.

Invisible Man: February 28

IMDB Premise:When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

I think we can all agree that Universal's Dark Universe was a bad idea, right? I mean, it could have been cool, but it never really had a chance. The Mummy was one of those movies that are bad, but entertaining. I saw it in theaters, I admit it, but it was also a Tom Cruise action flick, so why not give it a shot? This movie doesn't have the same appeal. I like Elizabeth Moss. I've liked her since West Wing. But this film just looks uninspired and half-assed.

I don't mind remakes or re-imaginings but something different or interesting has to be presenting to show why the movie was needed. This feels like a forgettable thriller that was "inspired by" The Invisible Man and would go straight to the discount dvd bin at Walmart.

Bloodshot: March 13

IMDB Premise: Ray Garrison, an elite soldier who was killed in battle, is brought back to life by an advanced technology that gives him the ability of super human strength and fast healing. With his new abilities, he goes after the man who killed his wife, or at least, who he believes killed his wife. He soon comes to learn that not everything he learns can be trusted. The true question his: Can he even trust himself?

Normally I like dumb action films. Especially ones with a sci-fi twist to it. But I watched the trailer for this and I just can't get behind it. I just couldn't bring myself to care. Vin Diesel is usually a pretty reliable action star. His movies may not be great, but they're fun. But this film looks like it misses the fun entirely and is just going to be bad with no flashy entertainment value to make it work anyone's time.

The New Mutants: April 3 (Ignore the poster's release date)

IMDB Premise: Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.

Come on. You knew this had to be on the list, right? This is the movie that was pushed back so much it might as well have been a scarecrow in a sumo match. It's also the final comic book movie from 20th Century Fox and they were woefully unreliable when it came to those films. Some of them were truly great while others were so bad I fell asleep in the theater. From the look of the trailer this film is going to be more of the latter and less of the former.

Trolls World Tour April 17

IMDB Premise: Poppy and Branch discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over six different lands devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world is about to get a lot bigger and a whole lot louder. A member of hard-rock royalty, Queen Barb, aided by her father King Thrash, wants to destroy all other kinds of music to let rock reign supreme. With the fate of the world at stake, Poppy and Branch, along with their friends, set out to visit all the other lands to unify the Trolls in harmony against Barb, who's looking to upstage them all.

Every year or so there's an animated movie that comes out that, instead of selling itself as a good film, focuses on the music in it. Trolls did this, The most recent movie to do this was Ugly Dolls and if you saw that trailer, you'll know what I'm talking about. A bit about the story and then they showboat their soundtrack. Trolls didn't interest me at all. There are better quality animated movies out there to spend my time watching. If you have kids, they might like this and that's perfectly fine. But there are too many movies out there for me to waste any time on some waste of time film.

Scoob: May 15

IMDB Premise: Scooby and the gang face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.

I love Scooby-Doo. I really doo. But this film looks like utter horse shit. Who even asked for some sappy origin story that feels more cringy than cute? If it was you, I hate you. This looks stupid and I even enjoyed The New Scooby Doo Mysteries. That was the one that had Scrappy in EVERY EPISODE! And still I give zero shits about this.

Morbius: July 31

IMDB Premise: Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.

To be perfectly honest, I just don't give a shit about Morbius. The end.

Tom and Jerry: December 25

IMDB Premise: Jerry, a small mouse, lives within the walls of a large, New England country home where he's befriended the longtime owners, a loving elderly couple. Their unique, comedic friendship comes to an end after the elderly couple passes on and their house is put up for sale. When a young family moves in, Jerry's determined to scare them away from taking over his home. The family quickly adopts a stray cat, later named Tom, to help rid them of their pest problem. In an epic battle for the house, Tom & Jerry soon discover their growing adoration for the family and must work together to protect them from an outside threat. Through their teamwork, they both learn the ultimate value of family and friendship.

Let the past be. Let these old cartoons live in the hearts of those of us who enjoyed them when we were kids. There hasn't even been a trailer or teaser released for this film yet. The only reason this is on the list is because IMDB said it was coming out this year, of course they still claim there's an untitled DC film coming out in April, so we know that IMDB isn't always right.

Little Women | Movie Review

Tuesday 28 January 2020

If the timing of this review and my forthcoming Rise of Skywalker review is a sign of anything, it's that I don't exactly see movies with any sense of urgency. I want to make sure to see them, but I don't make a point of going to anything opening weekend. That being said my wife and I wanted a few weeks to see Little Women and the theater was still packed. I waited even longer to write a review because... well... I forgot that I didn't post this yet. Though it was half price day at our local movie viewing venue, it's still impressive that so many people turned out for a weeks old film. But did this 7th theatrical retelling of Louisa May Alcott's classic book worth the hype? Here's my review.

I have to admit that I went into this film expecting to like it and that could have colored my overall enjoyment, but I had good sources that said it was good and frankly the trailers had done a wonderful job of getting me stoked to see Greta Gerwig's interpretation of the book. I must admit one more thing. I have yet to see Lady Bird. In my defense, the trailer made it look like utter artsy indie garbage, but after experiencing Gerwig's vision with Little Women, I'm curious to see how she did with a story I had no interest in.

But let's talk about Little Women. It was engrossing, it was endearing, and it was delightful. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen from beginning to end and by the end I felt like I knew Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth better than ever before. This old story was equal parts new and familiar. As you may know, Little Women is told across two major periods in the lives of the sisters and Gerwig's vision had to story jumping back and forth. Even though the movie jumped so much, it was easy to follow and the reasoning behind the timing of the jumps made a lot of sense. It never once altered the flow of the film.

The acting was mostly superb. I say mostly because Emma Watson is in it and she's more one note than the last post-it in a stack. She's more wooden than Huck Finn's raft and the fact that she was with some amazing actors didn't help much. Saoirse Ronan and Laura Dern stole the show. Florence Pugh made Amy into a relateable character and Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper served as backbones to their various parts of the film. Let's not forget Timothee Chalamet as the representation of growth from child to adult as Laurie learns to not be such a wiener. With such outstanding acting, Emma Watson's lackluster ability stuck out like Star Trek cosplayer at a Ren Faire.

Hermionie Granger aside, Little Women was a fantastic movie and it was something I'd recommend to anyone. Even if you've seen each and every version of Little Women, this one sets itself apart from the rest not only through it's acting but its pacing and rearranged story. I don't own any versions of Little Women yet, but this is the one I'll buy. I don't need any others.

Little Women gets an 11 out of 11

Quarterly TBR | Jan-Mar 2020

Sunday 26 January 2020

Okay, I'm a little late with this one but I thought I'd share my quarterly To Be Read list. I try not to have a TBR set in stone as my mood can change. I can have a book that's burning a hole through my TBR but then I finish my current book and suddenly the burning desire to pick up that book has dwindled and I go to something else instead. Also, this year I'm trying to read more manga as there are series I really want to finish, so I'm tossing a lot of those into my TBR list.

So when you read this, please keep in mind that these books could or could not be exactly what I read. I also plan on reading more than just these ten books in the three month period, but I like to give myself some wiggle room. So here we go.

Note; The word is pronounced mah*n*gah not main*gah. Come on gaijin, get it right.

The Books

Let's start with the book so anyone not interested in manga can move onto something else.

The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes

Tippy the Triceratops is a detective. He was also once the imaginary friend of a little girl. When the girl's father dies, Tippy finds himself in the Stillreal, the place where once beloved imaginary friends go when they're no longer needed. Tippy sets himself up as a detective and things go well, until one day when he stumbles upon something that shouldn't happen. Tippy stumbles across a nightmare who can kill an idea permanently, something that should never be able to happen.

This is one of the books I'm currently reading. It was my pick for my first book of the year. It seemed right up my alley but so far it's mediocre at it's best moments. Time will tell if it can save itself.

UPDATE: Since writing this post I have DNFd this book. I like the idea, I think it's very clever. But it's just so slow and hard to get through. Also there's a subplot of transgendered issues and acceptance that doesn't come across well. Tippy, at times, is too concerned about getting characters pronouns right that instead of being an example of how to act, it makes him seem like it's a joke, which it shouldn't be.

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson (Book 3 of The Reckoners)

I won't talk about the premise of this book since it contains huge spoilers for the first two books. Instead I'll move onto my thoughts. This is a book I had started near the end of last year but put it down temporarily in favor of my first book of the year. I loved the first two books in The Reckoners series and thought book two was better than the first. So I was hoping that the 3rd would be even better than the last. So far it's been just as good, but not better.

Family Outing: What Happened When I Found Out My Mother Was Gay by Troy Johnson

Troy Johnson was 8 when his mother was outed by her lover at the time and let's just say that the early 80's wasn't a time where people were very “woke.” This revelation affected Troy and shaped his early years. Now, as an adult, Troy is more aware and acknowledges that he handled the situation poorly. Despite it possibly reflecting poorly on him, he wrote this candid memoir where he admits to his negative thoughts and reactions to the whole thing.

I've picked this book up already and am questioning it. The Troy Johnson I'm familiar with now is a food blogger and friend of Guy Fieri. He's kind and funny and a joy to watch. The Troy who wrote this book may be the same person, but I get a different vibe from it and so far, I'm not liking it. I still think it's brave of him to admit what his adolescent self thought but his brash words in the book tend to put me off. We'll see if I can finish it.

UPDATE: This is another book I've tried and decided to DNF (for now). I like what Troy is trying to do. He's admitting that as a kid he wasn't very “woke” and is being honest about it. He's not parading it. He's not saying he's proud of it. He's being honest which takes balls in today's world of cancel culture. But it's just so cringy that I had trouble reading it.

On The Shoulders of Titans by Andrew Rowe (Arcane Ascension book 2)

This is the continuation of the story started in Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Just like with the Brandon Sanderson book, I'm not going to talk about the premise for this one as the first line of the official description is a spoiler for a big question in book 1.

Update: I have since finished this book and it was quite good. I'll write a review later.

Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

It's been several months since the 2016 presidential election and “Uncle Joe” Biden is puttering around his house feeling lost and adrift in an America that doesn't make sense anymore. When his favorite Amtrak conductor dies in a suspicious accident, Joe feels a familiar desire to serve and leaps into the role of amateur sleuth with a little help from his old friend President Barack Obama. Together they'll dive deep into this investigation that takes them deep into the heart of America's opioid epidemic.

This book just sounds so fun and goofy. Obama and Biden had become so beloved by about half the country that it seems fitting that someone did the equivalent of political fanfiction.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (Hitchiker's Guide book 2)

Facing annihilation at the hands of the warlike Vogons is a curious time to have a cosmically displaced Arthur Dent and his curious comrades in arms as they hurtle through space powered by pure improbability and desperately in search of a place to eat.

I read the first book a while back and never continued with it. So I figured it was time to pick it back up. By putting this on my TBR I'm hoping that I won't need to reread the first one to remember what's going on.

Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance, now a fledgling New Republic, presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy's scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. Hero piolet Wedge Antilles is trapped on a Star Destroyer high above Akiva, one of the last bastions for the Empire. Down below on the planet's surface, another rebel piolet, Norra Wexley has returned home to see her family, only to intercept Wedge's distress call. She realizes that her time as rebel isn't quite finished yet.

I've been on a Star Wars kick ever since I saw Rise of Skywalker and this was the first book released in the new canon. It's no longer the first as far as the timeline goes, but I figured it'd be a great place to start. Just like the old canon, the Star Wars stories jump around in time so it'd be a fool's errand to try and read them all in chronological order.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Goodreads Premise: When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved. Plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naivete, and vulnerability that she barely recognized. Before passing, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon was indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford.

I'm actually ashamed it's taken me so long to pick this up. But now is the time.

The Manga

I want to read a lot more manga this year. I used to read a lot. I used to be a huge weeb. But those days are behind me. But even though I'm not a con going anime super nerd anymore, that doesn't mean I'm not interested. So 2020 is the year I want to "kind of" get back into it.

20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

In 1969, a group of young boys build a secret base, and inside that base they come up with an idea. An idea to save the world. But to save the world they have to know how it's going to end, so they figure out the best way for a villain to try. It's now the 1990's and the boys are men with their own families and lives of their own. One of them, Kenji, finds a letter sent to him by one of his old group. A letter he sent before taking his life. The letter leads Kenji to believe his old buddy didn't kill himself and instead it's tied to a mysterious cult leader calling himself Friend. Friend and his cult use a symbol, a symbol Kenji and his group came up with as children. This cult starts implementing a plan to take over the world, a plan that's very familiar to Kenji. This mysterious “Friend” is one of his old crew. Who is it? And can Kenji save the world before Friend becomes too powerful?

Doesn't that sound awesome? At one point in my life I had almost finished this. What stopped me? I was reading this as it was coming out in Japan and caught up entirely. Instead of reading chapter by chapter as it was released by scanlators, I decided to wait until the whole final book was out to read it. The problem? It took so long that I forgot. Now I don't remember enough to pick up where I left off. So it's time to read the whole thing again.

Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

Come on, you know what Naruto is about, right? You don't? Really? Okay, here we go with a BASIC premise. Naruto Uzumaki is a young ninja student rejected by his village for having a terrible demon sealed within him. Naruto must work harder than others to overcome his disadvantage in his dreams to become a Hokage, the leader of the village.

There's so much more to the manga (and anime) than that, but it's hard to say any more without some pretty substantial spoilers. This manga has about 700 chapters spread over 72 volumes, so I can only give the most basic premise.

I don't forsee myself finishing 20th Century Boys this quarter, but if I do, Naruto is my next manga. Just like with 20th Century Boys, I started reading (and watching) this when it was new and just fell behind and eventually gave up. I want to finish it. I want to know how it ended. I know a bit about it, like the couples that ended up together, but not much else.

Library Sale Blu-Ray Haul | January 2020

Sunday 19 January 2020

First, let me tell you what library sales are. In my area of California, public libraries sell books that are donated to them, and sometimes old library copes. The prices vary but are usually between .50 and 5.00 a book. My wife and I go on "library hops" where we pick a city and hit as many libraries we can. This time we went so San Jose.

It's not often I find blu-ray movies during a library hop, but this last hop had more than usual. Great movies? Maybe a couple. But it's hard to turn down 2 dollar blu-rays that aren't even that noticeably used.  What did I get? Here's my haul.

Changeling (2008)

From director Clint Eastwood starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, and Amy Ryan. It's about Christine Collins (Jolie) a mother who just had her missing child returned, but she knows that it's not her real kid, but no one believes her so she must take on the L.A.P.D. to try and get anyone to listen.

I only vaguely remember this movie and it's been about ten years since I saw it so I figured why not give it another shot. I'm not a huge Angelina Jolie fan, but I do remember that this was one of her better performances.

City Island  (2009)

IMDB Premise: The Rizzos, a family who doesn't share their habits, aspirations, and careers with one another, find their delicate web of lies disturbed by the arrival of a young ex-con brought home by Vince, the patriarch of the family, who is a corrections officer in real life, and hopeful actor in private.

This stars Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Steven Straight, Alan Arkin, Emily Mortimer, and Ezra Miller.

I have never even heard of this movie, but I figure two bucks is worth the risk.

Contact  (1997)

IMDB Premise: Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.

This is directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, David Morse, Jena Malone, William Fichtner, and Tom Skerritt.

I haven't seen this movie since it came out, but I remember it being good. Let's see if 36 year old me still likes a movie that 14 year old me liked.

District 9 (2009)

IMDB Premise: Violence ensues after an extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth finds a kindred spirit in a government agent exposed to their biotechnology.

This was written directed by Neill Blomkamp and stars Sharlto Copley, 

District 9 is the best film in this haul. I do like the other films (those that I've seen) but this one I felt was a masterfully done sci-fi film that had an important message in 2009 and has just an important message over 10 years later. This film brought us Sharlto Copley who I know can give an Oscar worthy performance. He just needs the chance.

Flags of Our Fathers  (2006)

IMDB Premise: This is about the six men who raised the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in WWII.

This comes to us from director Clint Eastood and stars Ryan Phillippe, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, Paul Walker, Robert Patrick, John Slattery, and Neal McDonough.

The second and final Clint Eastwood movie in this haul and probably one of his best. The stellar cast helps bring this WWII epic to life and solidifies it as one of the best in the genre.

The Reader  (2008)

IMDB Premise: Post WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law  student Michael Berg re-encounters his former loves as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.

This stars Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Lena Olin, and Bruno Ganz.

I saw this film and grabbed it off the shelf so fast that I didn't have a chance to see that it's a Blockbuster Exclusive. I had forgotten that Blockbuster was around long enough to see the advent of blu-rays. Some of you will know exactly why I wish I saw this before I bought it. For the rest of you,  let me tell you what some people knew way back before DVDs. Blockbuster edited their movies. Not every movie, but they edited movies that had questionable content. I don't know how much this film was edited, or if it was edited at all, but I normally don't pick up anything from the former rental giant.

We Are Marshall  (2006)

IMDB Premise: When a plane crash claims the lives of members of the Marshall University football team and some of its fans, the team's new coach and his surviving players try to keep the football program alive.

This comes from director McG and stars Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Anthony Mackie, David Stratharin, Ian McShane, Kate Mara, January Jones, and Brian Geraghty.

This is a classic. One of Matthew McConaughey's best films. I think he's done a better job in other movies, but this will always be a film that stands out above so many others when I think of the handsome guy who says "Alright, Alright, Alright."

So that's it. That's my blu-ray haul. Have you seen any or all of these? Let me know. Do you have any favorites on this list? Or, heaven forbid, any movies on this list you hate? Let me know! I love hearing from people and will always respond (even if it takes me a while). 

Most Anticipated Movie Releases 2020 | Jan-Mar

Tuesday 7 January 2020

For those of you who don't know, I have a podcast called Future Flicks with Billiam. This podcast actually got its start as a blog a few years back. It was my wife's idea to write a blog about all the movies coming out that I'm looking forward to. Since then it morphed into what Future Flicks with Billiam is today.

Since I have a new(ish) blog I figured it was time to start it up again. So without further ado, here we go with my most anticipated movie releases in the first quarter of 2020.


Premise: Two British soldiers during the First World War are given an impossible mission: Deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldier's brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.

Stars:  Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Colin Firth, and Bumpylumps Commonpath.

This is the first big release of the year. It hit theaters last year with a limited release but goes wide this month. It's directed and co-written by Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall (my favorite Bond movie), Spectre, Road to Perdition, and American Beauty. He also directed Jarhead which shows he knows how to do a war movie. This film has been eagerly anticipated since the first trailer hit almost half a year ago. The early rumblings are all rave reviews and all of the trailers make this look like a great film.

Release Date: January 10th

Bad Boys For Life

Premise: The Bad Boys Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are back together as they confront new issues like career changes and midlife crises They join the newly created elite team AMMO of the Miami police department to take down the ruthless Armando Armas, the vicious leader of the Miami drug cartel.

Stars: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanesssa Hudgens, Joe Pantoliano, and Alexander Ludwig.

I think Michael Bay is an awful director. I think he makes souless films filled with bad decisions. But there are a few of his movies that I like and the first two Bad Boys movies make that list. This time around Bay's hands are almost completely out of the picture and instead a new group of writers and directors take control. What remains the same is the unique and wonderful partnership of Smith and Lawrence. I expect more of the same in this film. Anyone who goes into this movie expecting anything less than a simple and enjoyable film is doing it wrong.

Release Date: January 17th


Premise: After his wife's death seven years earlier, Dr John Dolittle hermits himself away behind the walls of his manor. His only company is his menagerie of animals but luckily for him, he has the ability to talk to them. When Queen Victoria falls ill, he is forced to set sale on an adventure to find a cure.

Stars: Robert Downy Jr, Jessie Buckley, Michael Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Jim Broadbent and features the voices of Tom Holland, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, Marion Cotillard, John Cena, Selena Gomez, and Octavia Spencer.

This is yet another re-imagining of a role first played by Rex Harrison in 1967. Most people will say that Eddie Murphy is the Dolittle they know the most and he did do a great job, so I can see why. When this movie was announced I scoffed. I didn't think we needed a new one. I still don't. But after seeing the trailer I can't help but get excited.

Release Date: January 17th


Premise: Magic has been gone from the world for as long as anyone can remember. Ian and Barley Lightfoot are two brothers who believe that magic is still out there and the two set off on a journey to find it. Their goal? To find enough magic to spend one last day with their father who died when they were still too young to remember him.

Featuring the voices of: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Drefus, Octavia Spencer, John Ratzenberger, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, and Mel Rodriguez.

This isn't going to be sad at all... said no one ever. Pixar can do quite a few things very well. First, they can come up with great stories that are fun for all ages. Second, they push the boundaries of animation to make each movie look better than the last. Third, they can make anyone with a heart cry their eyes out.  This film looks very good and even though I've like almost all of Pixar's movies, I'm more excited for this one than any before it.

Release Date: March 6th


Premise: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her family's honor.

Stars: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, and Li Gong.

I always feel meh about the live-action Disney remakes until I actually watch them and then I end up a fan. When the first trailer for Mulan came out, I wasn't a fan. But the first trailer was a teaser, so when we finally saw a full trailer, I was hooked. I'm super excited and I will bring all the greatest snacks to watch this film.

Release Date: March 27th

Pop Up Pack Blu-ray Haul | January 2020

Sunday 5 January 2020

I'm a "member" of a subscription service called Pop Up Pack. Unlike other subscription services, this one doesn't charge you every month or even send you stuff every month. That's why I used quotes around member. So why join something like that when you don't get anything? Well, what you do get is access to their weekly "pop ups" which are basically just sales that last a week or two.

The theme changes each time so some weeks I'm more psyched than others.The pickings are slim most weeks, truth be told. But once in a while you can find a true gem, a five star movie, hidden in the rubble. Also, you may find a B, C, or even D film cheap enough that it's worth it. This time around I think I did pretty well. Here's what I got.

Jupiter Ascending

Premise: A young woman discovers her destiny as an heiress of intergalactic nobility and must fight to protect the inhabitants of Earth from an ancient and destructive industry. This stars Mil Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, and Sean Bean.

I know, this was a critically panned commercial flop. Usually there are discrepancies between what critics like and what actual human beings with hearts like, but with Jupiter Ascending, both sides tend to agree. But at the price of two dollars for a mindless but fun sci-fi film brought to us by the Wachowskis. This is one of those movies that straddle the line between bad and fun. I think it's just fun enough to make the two bucks worth it.

Ride Along

Security guard Ben Barber must prove himself to his girlfriend's brother, top police officer James Payton. He goes on a ride along with James during a 24 hour patrol of Atlanta. This stars Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, Laurence Fishburne, and John Leguizamo.

I'll always give Kevin Hart's movies a chance. He's just one of those reliable actors that picks movies that may not be great, but they're fun. Central Intelligence, Jumanji, The Wedding Ringer, and Get Hard. None of those are great movies, but they're enjoyable. At 3 dollars, this was a must buy.

Ride Along 2

As his wedding day dapproaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James to bring down a drug dealer who's supplying th edealers of Atlanta with product.

The same things I said about the first movie can be said about this one. Not a great movie, but fun and enjoyable. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are proven comedic actors and Tika Sumpter can both add to the comedy as well as deliver a much needed respite and add some wholesomeness.

Dallas Buyers Club

In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroff works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is diagnosed with the disease. This stars Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, and Jared Leto.

While the first three movies were quite positive and even fun, this one, while good, brings the mood down quite a bit. But it's also an important film to remember. Matthew McConaughey is a treasure who has brought us some amazing characters and performances and this is just another on his list of ever growing IMDB page.

My Cousin Vinny

Two New Yorkers are acused of murder in rural Alabama while on their way back to college, and one of their cousins, an inexperienced, loudmouth lawyer not accustomed to Southern rules and manners, comes in to defend them. This stars Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, and Fred Gwynne.

According to the YouTuber LegalEagle, this is one of the most accurate law movies in existence as well as a favorite movie of a lot of lawyers. Who thought that a 90's comedy would be so well received? Anyone who has seen it of course. This is on my short list of favorite comedies and is always fun rewatch. This film has aged really well. There aren't any cringey modern faux pas that must be excused or anything else that really solidifies it in the 90's. Obviously there are no cell phones or internet but the lack of technology or any modern conveniences doesn't stand out so much that it's hard to ignore. This is and always will be a great film.

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