365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

5Jan/180

The Big Sick (2017)

I was all set to review this movie and talk about, what I considered to be, its major flaw before I did one thing first...I looked at other reviews and learned that this film is based on a true story. So rather than belabor the point I wanted to make, I'll simply reference it a little later in the review and talk more about its merits and more minor flaws. Before I begin, I'll mention that I didn't think Michael Showalter's (Hello, My Name is Doris) The Big Sick was marketed all that well when it was released over the summer. First of all, the title of the movie, its poster, its actors, and even its plot just didn't make sense. Through in that Judd Apatow's name was attached to it and you had the thought that this was a raunchy comedy, much in the mold of Trainwreck, This Is 40, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and a host of other movies he didn't even direct but was affiliated with as a producer or screenwriter. The Big Sick felt out of place from the start. It took word of mouth for this movie really to get noticed and appreciated by audiences (despite its 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). If anything, moviegoers were told that this movie was more like This Is 40 than any of Apatow's other films, but even that film received more leeway because it was a sequel to Knocked Up, which was as foul-mouthed as they come. It didn't help that The Big Sick had a cast of relative unknowns. Sure it had Ray Romano (television's Everybody Loves Raymond, television's Parenthood) and Holly Hunter (The Piano, The Firm), but these two, while having a decent amount of screentime, clearly supported the two leads. Kumail Nanjiani (HBO's Silicon Valley, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), a relatively unknown at the time, penned and stared in this film as himself. It was a calculated risk that clearly paid off in the end. Another relative unknown, Zoe Katan (Revolutionary Road, The Savages), stars opposite Nanjiani as his on again/off again girlfriend Emily. They work as a couple and the trials and tribulations experienced by each aren't completely far-fetched. Heck, it's based on a true story so some might say they aren't far-fetched at all. This movie surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and how engaged I was with it, despite its unevenness (at times) and that its conclusion could be seen by all miles away.

1Jan/180

Molly’s Game (2017)

In my personal life, I've mentioned many times that I am so glad I am not addicted to gambling. I have many other problems and the added temptation of a big payday by sacrificing my own hard-earned money with less than successful odds sounds absolutely miserable.

In Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut, he tells the story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year, Take Shelter), an Olympic level skier who once ran one of the most exclusive high-stakes poker games for more than a decade, two years before her arrest that saw FBI agents surrounding her house with automatic guns in the middle of the night. It's a legitimate directorial debut and one that is worthy of its high praise. But despite how well made the movie is, I believe it to be a much more enjoyable and educational film if you are familiar with the game of poker. I have no idea how to play the game, so while I was fascinated by the movie, there were definitely many parts where I felt like the odd one sitting around a kitchen table because there were many terms thrown around that I did not understand as well as actions, motives, dialogue, and even purposes that felt very foreign to me. As a result, the movie didn't hook me like it did many of the other films that Sorkin also wrote (The Social Network, Moneyball, Steve Jobs, Charlie Wilson's War not to mention his credits as a lead writer on television's The West Wing and Newsroom). That's not to say Sorkin should stick to screenwriting. He absolutely should not. It's just that I will look forward to seeing him direct a movie revolving around a different theme in the future rather than revisiting Molly's Game, a film that, frankly, will be one that I will forever forget about soon after I write this review.

31Dec/170

mother! (2017)

There are two different types of people in the world. There is the group of people who, when asked if they've seen Darren Aronofsky's (The Wrestler, Black Swanmother will say no. And then there is the group of people who kind of look at you with a bizarre look on their face and shamingly say, "Yeah" and hope that you don't ask any follow-up questions. And that's not to say they are embarrassed by admitting that they've seen the movie (we've all been at theater before when we walk out with our heads down, hoping that we don't see anybody that we know because we don't want them to know we just paid to see a movie that was THAT bad), but because the film is so far out there that a follow-up question asking the person what they thought about it or if they liked it might allow them to draw conclusions about us. Aronofsky makes movies that you either love or hate. I absolutely adored The Wrestler and Black Swan, but passionately hated Noah. I have a certain respect for Requiem for a Dream and have desperately tried, but have been unsuccessful in my attempts to sit through The Fountain. If you have not liked a single one of the movies that I just referenced, I can almost guarantee that your experience with mother! will not be an enjoyable one. However, if have liked one or more of the five previously mentioned film and are willing to go into mother! with an open mind, I cannot promise that you'll enjoy it, but I do think you will appreciate it. I found myself appreciating it far more than enjoying it, but I THINK I still enjoyed it. I will say this...the film started like a normal film might start, but ended differently than any film I've seen before. And the entire time, I could not look away from the screen. This film absolutely offers something that you just haven't seen before, especially with a cast as magnificent as this one.

26Dec/170

The Shape of Water (2017)

Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak) adult fairytale The Shape of Water is a movie we've seen so many different times in so many different forms that it's a wonder that we'd even be willing to see it again. Starcrossed lovers finding themselves in a situation of forbidden love while fighting off some sort of catastrophe, or at least societal pressures. Think Titanic, a nearly perfect movie that showcased this is in a way that will never be forgotten by any who watch it. So how does del Toro pull off this story in a way that is completely original, yet as equally compelling? Well, he does it in a way that only del Toro can do. And in doing so, he creates both the most unparalleled and also (with no disrespect to Call Me By Your Name) the most romantic movie of 2017. This movie certainly is not for everyone. If Thor: Ragnarok or Justice League is more your thing, then I'm not even sure I'd consider The Shape of Water. This is the ultimate independent movie and if you go into this movie with the mindset that you'll just be able to enjoy the ride and not have to think, you'll be in for a long two hours. In a year where the movies have been the worse they've been since I began my blog in 2010, it is the uniqueness of the movies (rather than the quality of them) that has really defined this year.

17Dec/170

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

In an Oscar season that hasn't been so much a run of disappointing movies as much as has been movies that just didn't wet the appetite, Martin McDonagh's (Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has a chance to finish in my Top 10 movies of the Year, whereas I really don't think it would have had even had a chance since I began writing this blog in 2010. While I really enjoyed its dark theme, its complex characters, and even, to an extent, its quirkiness, this movie was close to perfect. The fact that it seems to be a lock for a Best Picture nomination shows just how down of a year 2017 is for movies.