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


The Lost City of Z (2017)

The Lost City of Z was a movie that had all of the makings of a movie I should love. I love aa good adventure movie and the idea of floating down a wooden raft in the Amazon River sounds like something I'd enjoy. I'm a big fan of John Grisham novels, but most of us law thrillers (with the exception of ones like A Time to Kill or The Firm which were adapted into films) often tend to blend together. That is, with the exception of The Testament, a novel that was equal parts big city courtroom as it was Amazon Jungle adventure. There is something about The Amazon that I find intriguing, almost like I can't get enough of it...especially when it's displayed onscreen as a true adventure story. This is exactly what James Gray's (Two Lovers, The Yards) is. Despite not knowing anything else about this movie I was intrigued by this one sentence plot line and the fact that it had an 87% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of its release. Unfortunately, this movie did not live up to my lofty expectations. At 140 minutes it was often too slow and meandering. But at the same time, it was not long enough to tell the entire story. There was too much to tell and the cuts between the various events happening. So many parts of this movie needed to be longer. Yet at the same time, the movie felt like it was way too long to begin with. It was one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios. I don't know if it ultimately failed. But it certainly did not succeed. 


Live by Night (2016)

I've said for the last three or four years that I think and hope that Ben Affleck can be our generation's Clint Eastwood. Affleck has completely transformed himself as a Hollywood A-lister. With a career that really began with Kevin Smith movies like Mallrats and Chasing Amy, Affleck became a household name when he won an Academy Award (best original screenplay) for Good Will Hunting, a film in which he co-starred with Matt Damon. Affleck then went on to star in big budget blockbusters such as Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, and The Sum of All Fears. But after he started dating Jennifer Lopez and co-starred with her in both the forgettable Jersey Girl and Gigli, a movie that many people have called one of the worst movies ever made, his perception as an actor began taking a turn for the worse. Forgettable money grabbers like Daredevil, Paycheck, and Surviving Christmas accompanied tabloid fodder and, seemingly, in the blink of an eye Affleck became sort of a joke in the Hollywood circles. Meanwhile, best friend Matt Damon was striking gold with everything he touched. But in 2007, Affleck dabbled with directing for the first time and had one of the best directorial debuts of all-time with the quiet, understated, and much revered Gone Baby Gone. Knowing he needed a break from being in front of the camera, Affleck turned to his brother Casey Affleck as his leading man. Not only did it launch Casey's career, but critics and fans alike wanted to know if Ben was a one hit wonder as a director or if this was a sign of things to come. Fortunately, this was just the start for Affleck who has since directed The Town (my second favorite movie of all-time) and Argo, the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture of 2012. Affleck also reemerged as a leading man with performances in The Town, Argo, State of Play, and, the amazing, Gone Girl. In all honesty, Affleck was due for a dud. But, personally, I felt like I owed it to him to see whatever his fourth movie behind the camera would be. I was excited about Live by Night when I first heard about it, but I went in with lower expectations after seeing the critics score of 33% and the audience score of 57% on Rotten Tomatoes. While this easily was his worst movie as a director, it wasn't because it was bad, but rather because his other movies were so good. I didn't love Live by Night, but I by no means disliked it. It was longer than it needed to be and had a couple too many storylines. But Affleck created a well-crafted story with some memorable characters and, honestly, I'll probably watch this movie again when it comes to Netflix so I can better analyze it and catch all of the parts that I might have missed.


American Sniper (2014)

In a year that hasn't had that many must see movies, American Sniper has proved that there is at least one reason to head out to the theaters. 2014 has been the most disappointing year overall for movies since 2008. Yet despite its absolutely horrendous start and some incredibly overrated movies (Birdman, Unbroken, Mr. Turner, Snowpiercer, Godzilla, even Boyhood to an extent) some movies did manage to live up to their expectations (Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game) and some movies managed to exceed the expectations that I had for them (The Drop, Nightcrawler, Kill the Messenger, and the surprise, feel good movie of the year Chef). But the movie that had the most pressure on its shoulders to perform was clearly American Sniper, the final released movie of the year. And while the movie did not exceed my expectations, it certainly met them in every single way. Now before I get into my review of the movie, I do want to make reference to a couple of observations.


Foxcatcher (2014)

I've finally found the first "award buzzing" movie of 2014 that has lived up to its hype. While there have certainly been a handful of other movies that I've found to be good, there hasn't been a movie, with the exception of maybe Nightcrawler that has lived up to the hope that I had for the movie. That has certainly changed with Bennett Miller's (Moneyball, Capote) methodical and engrossing Foxcatcher. While this movie isn't for everybody, film purists will love it. This movie is likely to garner a Best Director Academy Award and without a doubt will land Steve Carell (Crazy, Stupid, Love., Date Night) his first Best Actor nomination. Mark Ruffalo (Reservation Road, Shutter Island) likely will also earn a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. And not to be lost is the performance of Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street) who gives the performance of his career. Three of the best performances of the year can be viewed in this film alone.