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


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.


Crimson Peak (2015)

Guillermo del Toro. Some people love the movies he has directed. Some people don't love them. I think I am starting to land in the second group. I know he found his early cult following with movies like Hellboy and Hellboy II while also receiving critical accolades for movies like The Orphanage and Pan's Labyrinth. For me, his movies aren't much watch (I've had Pan's Labyrinth on my list of movies to watch for years, but each time I think I might want to watch it, I put something else on instead). Hellboy and The Orphanage were both okay, but del Toro is no early M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs). While Crimson Peak has had mostly positive reviews (69% on Rotten Tomatoes), it hasn't hit home with audiences. An inability to really categorize it as a humor, mystery, suspense, romance, and/or drama has hurt its marketing campaign. This movie attracted del Toro's best ever cast ensemble (Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston), but with an estimated budget of $50 million and only half of that amount accumulated in revenue from the first two weekends, Crimson Peak might barely break even. This movie is by no means great. It was an okay watch, but my life certainly would not have been altered had I not of seen it. I absolutely will never watch this movie again. It certainly is not a horror film so even though the previews look scary and it is categorized as horror, you're not going to be scared at all. If you like del Toro's other movies, I don't think you'll be disappointed by this one. If you've never seen one of his movies before (other than maybe Pacific Rim), I'd suggest watching either The Orphanage or Pan's Labyrinth at home and base your decision on your fondness of either of those movies.


The Martian (2015)

Fans of the self-published debut novel will not be disappointed by Ridley Scott's (Alien, Gladiator) adaptation of Andy Weir's The Martian. This is a good movie that should be viewed in 3D on the largest screen that you can see it on. While it doesn't come close as delivering the same experience as Gravity or even Interstellar, it is one of the rare movies that truly benefits by being seen in 3D. Before I get into this review, I want to mention that I will try to write it from the standpoint of someone who has not read the fictional novel as best as I can as I know this is something that most people have not read. With that said, I will refer to the novel. I will also give some spoilers, but I will give notice before diving into any of these. If you read around the paragraphs marked spoilers, you will be fine with reading this review before seeing this movie. The Martian is a very good movie, but it is not a great movie. I was not disappointed by it. If I hadn't read the novel, I think that maybe the trailers and the hype would have left me wanting more. This movie currently sits as my #6 movie of 2015, but I think there is less than a 1% chance that it will finish in my end of year top 10. It is a movie that I am very glad that I watched (again on the big screen and in 3D), but is one where one viewing is plenty. It didn't have the emotional impact that Gravity had nor does it have the What did I miss? I need to watch this movie again type of feeling Interstellar had. Also, as I will mention, something was missing overall from the performances especially considering that Scott landed the cast of the year. While I will heavily critique this movie, I again want to say that I really, really liked the movie. It was a very good adaptation of the book. It held my interest throughout its 2 hour 14 minute time frame. 


A Most Violent Year (2014)

The best movie of 2014 that has really flown under the radar is, without a doubt, J.C. Chandor's (All Is Lost, Margin Call) A Most Violent Year. This movie, as I will mention in the paragraphs below, is subtly amazing. But before I get into the movie, I want to talk about Chandor. This guy is quietly establishing himself as a master of two crafts. This is just his third movie, but it is his third that he has both directed and written the screenplay for. And all three movies have earned at least 88% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes though none of them earned more than $8 million at the box office. All three movies are completely unique from one another and Chandor has already had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood (Robert Redford, Kevin Space, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Oscar Isaac, David Oyelowo, Jessica Chastain, and Albert Brooks). He has already signed on Mark Wahlberg to star in his next project. And while All Is Lost and Margin Call were both amazing movie experiences, A Most Violent Year is Chandor's crowning achievement to date.


Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar is a good movie that aims to be not just a great movie, but a movie that people talk about for years and years to come. I imagine that there will be a circle of fans who will do this, but I think, for the majority of people, this will be a movie that they enjoy, but won't ever think of as being amazing or legendary. I could be wrong, but I think this movie tried too hard to make that lasting impression rather than just living in the moment of making a great film. As I will mention below, this movie could have been much simpler and, in doing so, much more effective. I felt the first 45 minutes of the movie created a cast of characters and a setting in which numerous stories could have been told and the film could have succeeded. I say this because really Interstellar this is first and foremost a space exploration movie with overtones of the importance of human relationships as well as the weighing what is best for society against what is best for an individual. Ultimately though, you want to know if I recommend the movie. And I do recommend it. As much as I wanted it to be great, it just wasn't. But it was still good. At 168 minutes, it is at least 45 minutes too long. And the spaceship scenes themselves are absolutely brutal. There is way too much boring talk of esoteric physics that went straight over the heads of 90% of the audience. It wasn't needed and forced you to try to use your brain to comprehend everything that was happening. That wasn't why I was there. I go to movies to not have to use my brain.