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.

10Feb/170

Paterson (2016)

Adam Driver (Silence, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens) hasn't been the most endearing character early on in his career. It's not entirely his fault though, and Jim Jarmusch's (Broken Flowers, Coffee and Cigarettes) has given me a new appreciation for him. The first movies that I saw starring Driver were movies I absolutely abhorred (This Is Where I Leave You, While We're Young) and while my reason for disliking these so much wasn't because of him, the characters her portrayed certainly did not help the cause. Even in movies like Silence and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, I was not overly invested in his characters. He annoyed me in Star Wars more than anything else, and he clearly played second fiddle to Andrew Garfield in Silence, a movie in which his more talented counterpart completely overshadowed Driver. Paterson has opened my eyes to his depth as an actor and, in really the fifth movie that I've seen him in (I do not recall his performance at all in Inside Llewyn Davis, Lincoln, or Midnight Special), he proves to be someone who is relatable to and not someone who I find to be annoying.

18Dec/162

La La Land (2016)

Don't let the first ten minutes of Damien Chazelle's (Whiplash) La La Land influence you too much. As much as it might seem like West Side Story, Grease, or a host of other musicals, rest assured it is not that kind of movie. Ten minutes in, after a supporting cast of characters who you never see again finished performing a song and dance on top of and around their cars while in a traffic jam on the 105/110 interchange in Los Angeles, CA, I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into. There was a reason I have never been able to get through Chicago or Moulin Rouge. I am sure that these are fine movies, heck Chicago won Best Picture and Moulin Rouge was a Best Picture nominee. I'm just not into musicals as much as I am other genres. There is nothing wrong with them (I don't like animated movies much either), but they just aren't my cup of tea. I think the only reason I was able to sit through Les Miserables was because my dad had already tricked me into watching it in the theater. My biggest fear was that La La Land would be either all song and dance (which was implied from the trailers early in the year) or a lot of song and dance (which was inferred from later previews). However, neither was the case. While there was a lot of music in this film and it certainly was a musical, it's not JUST music. There is so much more. I think if you're at least willing to give this movie a chance, you'll enjoy it in some fashion.

11Nov/160

The Lobster (2016)

Yorgos Lanthimos The Lobster is one weird movie. I don't often do well with movies I find to be weird. Some movies that have gotten high ratings with the critics (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bottle Rocket, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, or basically any other Wes Anderson film) are movies that I have found to be so absolutely dreadful that they are virtually unwatchable. There is a simplicity in the tone, the dialect, and the actions that I find a little peculiar in itself, but the overall strangeness of these movies is what makes the overall experience a chore. I know there are those who love Wes Anderson and to each his own. I personally don't understand what the point of his movies is. The Lobster feels very similar to one of these Anderson movies but, oddly enough, it held my interest. And while I didn't necessarily understand why a movie so strange needed to be made, I did find it engaging and it really didn't feel like I was watching the movie just to say that I watched it. While I didn't like it and would never watch it again, there were parts of it (the loneliness of the characters, their isolation from society, their inability to accept themselves) that hit home, albeit in a way that I am not normally accustomed to.

18Jun/160

Daddy’s Home (2015)

With apologies to the extremely funny The Campaign, first-time co-director John Morris and Sean Anders's (Horrible Bosses 2, Sex Drive) Daddy's Home is, ironically, Will Ferrell's (Old School, Step Brothers) best-starring comedy role since 2010's The Other Guys. It's not a movie I thought I would particularly like and one that I had serious doubts about as much as 20 minutes in (I hadn't laughed but maybe one time), but as the movie progressed it got funnier and funnier and by its conclusion it became a somewhat memorable movie that I wouldn't put on the "A-shelf" comedy list, but might find itself just a notch below. What made the movie work was the dynamics between Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor, The Fighter) who didn't have quite the same chemistry they had when they teamed is partners in the buddy cop The Other Guys but were still pretty close. While Daddy's Home was 100% completely predictable, it didn't make it any less fun and while Ferrell and Wahlberg weren't exceptionally awesome in the scenes where they weren't together, it more than made up for during the scenes where they shared screen time.