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


The Glass Castle (2017)

2017 has been a year that started out as stronng as any year in recent memory when it comes to movies. From the January and February box office smashes of Split (which I personally did not like as much as many others) and Get Out to the successful continuations or reboots of franchise movies such as Kong: Skull Island, Alien: Covenant, War of the Planet of the Apes, and Logan to the absolutely captivating Life and Wind River, we had about ten movies heading into September, whereas in a normal year, we might have half that many. Now if I asked a common moviegoer to name five non-animated movies that were released before September, the five they might mention might not include any of the ones I have just listed. They may have said Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Dunkirk, Spider-Man Homecoming, and Transformers: The Last Knight. Notice I did not list any of these films. Sure, Wonder Woman was fun and well-made, but it offered nothing that any other superhero origin movie in the last 10 years hadn't already offered. Spider-Man Homecoming I didn't even give a chance. Homecoming is the sixth Spider-Man release and third "origin" movie in the last 15 years. Eventually, you just have to throw your hands up in the air and say, "Enough is enough. Stop taking my money." The only one on this list of five that I had any real expectations for was Dunkirk and, while I didn't dislike it, it failed to overwhelm me and certainly failed to live up to the lofty expectations I had set for it. There was also the little surprise of Baby Driver, which I have so much appreciation for because of its originality, but one that ultimately fell off the tracks the deeper it got into the movie. And as we head into Oscar season, I'm worried that 2017 is going to be a forgotten year. I hope to be surprised, but I have a feeling that the movies nominated for Best Picture this year are going to disappoint. I hope to be wrong. I mention all of this because there have been some diamonds in the rough and one of those is Destin Daniel Cretton's (Short Term 12) The Glass Castle.


Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island was definitely my most anticipated movie of the first quarter of 2017. Granted the first three months of the year aren't usually known for producing the year's best films. And while Kong: Skull Island won't be up for any end of year honors and won't end up on my year's top ten list (unless this year is God awful for movies), I found it to be a very engaging, exciting, and, if it's even possible, original. While it wasn't nearly perfect, this movie was awesome. As excited as I was to see it when I originally saw the trailer, I wasn't feeling it the day of my viewing. Even with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 79%, I still felt like I was going to be disappointed. I haven't seen the most recent King Kong movie (the 2005 one starring Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody) since seeing it in the theater. I remember liking it a lot. But I don't remember many of the details. I do remember it being extremely long. It honestly felt like it should have been two movies and I think that's why I haven't watched it since, even though there has been a copy of the DVD sitting on my bookshelf for the last decade. Kong: Skull Island was certainly not a sequel or a prequel and it didn't feel completely like a reboot to me either. Sure, there have been other King Kong movies about a group of unknowns visiting Skull Island, but either this one had a different twist than the other ones or I just wasn't paying enough attention (which is entirely possible), but this movie had a sense of freshness in it that I didn't suspect. That plus its visuals, sound, lack of dull/unimportant moments, and relatively short length (118 minutes) allow me to fully endorse this movie as one that you should try to see in the theater. Plus, this movie was not created in 3D when it very well could have been. This is a definite plus.


Room (2015)

The Road meets Life Is Beautiful meets Panic Room?

Little known director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did) may have just quietly crafted the most beautifully disturbing and deeply affecting movie of 2015. As I was writing my review for Steve Jobs yesterday, I was trying to remember the last time I was moved to the point of tears while watching a movie. Ironically, while Steve Jobs brought out almost no emotion in me, two of director Danny Boyle's previous films (Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours) had a profoundly deep and lasting impact on me and my life. Those two movies were near perfect in my opinion. While Abrahamson's Room is by no means perfect, it is rich, it is intelligent, it is gut-wrenching, and unfortunately it is a little too real. I will provide spoilers for this movie because it is too important of a film to not discuss deeply. I will let you know when these spoilers do occur so you can keep reading for now if you haven't seen this movie. What I will assume is that you've watched the trailer. If you have not, either go watch the trailer now or do what I did and go see the movie. But I would do one of these two things before continuing on with this review. I didn't know how much of an impact Room would have on me going in. I knew a little bit about the film going in. I didn't know how little I actually knew. This movie is going to be on a ton of critic end of year top 10 lists and is going to get some serious Academy Award nominations. It is my hope that more moviegoers give this movie a chance. Is it slow? Yes, it is not The Avengers. Is it more important than The Avengers? Yes, it's like 1000 times more important than that money hog. It might be the most important movie of 2015. It might be one of the most important movies of the last decade. When lesser movies would have stopped, Room stepped full throttle on the pedal. This a very difficult film to digest and it will feel uncomfortable at times for many moviegoers. While not currently my favorite movie of 2015 (it's currently #2 for me), this is the best movie that has been made this year. 


Trainwreck (2015)

I'd say that there is a pretty darn good chance that Trainwreck will go down as the funniest movie of 2015. There doesn't appear to be a ton of comedies this year and the one that I was most excited for (Vacation) looks like it's going to be a dud. Usually the great comedies of the year are released before September 1st. I have no evidence that backs up this claim, but it it seems like the really good movies that are reserved for the later portions of the year are the Oscar contenders. It doesn't mean that there aren't comedies that are released in October, November, and December, but it seems like, more often than not, these are average. I guess what I am implying here is that the funniest movies of the year have probably already been released and that Trainwreck seems to be the funniest of that group. I often make mention on my movie blog of the year 2010 which, I believe, is the best movie year in my lifetime. However, there wasn't that one hilarious comedy that you remember from that year. For me, the funniest movie that year was Get Him to the Greek, but that movie really had nothing on Trainwreck. Had it been released in 2010, Trainwreck would have made the year that much better.


The Gambler (2014)

Rupert Wyatt's (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Star Trek 3) The Gambler is a movie that should have done better both with critics and at the box office. Accruing just $33 million domestically and a 46% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie deserved a better fate. Sure it has it's flaws, but 98% of all movies do. I think that one of the factors going against The Gambler was that it wasn't striking the right audience. The first preview I saw of this movie was a quick 30 second throw away commercial during a ball game. I do not recall seeing a longer trailer for this movie in the theater. When I did see the television commercial, it made it seem like it was a shoot 'em up action flick. That's not it was at all. In fact, I'll going on record saying this was one of Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor, The Perfect Storm) finest performances to date. I know Wahlberg is hit or miss with a lot of people, but the man has talent. He has proven he can successfully do drama (The Fighter, Three Kings, Rock Star),  crime (The Departed, Four Brothers), comedy (The Other Guys, Date Night), and action (Shooter, The Italian Job, and a hot of others). He can play a good guy as much as he can a bad guy. But rarely does he really play a really vulnerable character or a character that doesn't look like an all-star for a least a good chunk of the movie. Without revealing too much, I will say that this is one of Wahlberg's most insecure and vulnerable characters. It's also a role he doesn't overplay, which, I think, would have been very easy to do. While I didn't love everything about this movie, I certainly did like it. I would recommend it to all Wahlberg fans or fans looking for a light drama, light crime movie that you don't have to think too much about nor do you have to take too seriously to enjoy.