Director: Nicolas Pesce
Release: February 2019
This is produced insanity, and I hate that. It feels fake from the very first moment, like someone trying to pretend they exist outside the boundaries, which is just silly. Abbott I like, Wasikowska I’ve grown bored of, and Costa isn’t really very talented. Hard pass.
Director: Tate Taylor
Release: May 31st, 2019
I need that shocked/scared emoji face right now, because I think that about sums it up. I’m frightened and intrigued, but you know, ultimately, I don’t think this is gonna be anything special, I think it just has that wow factor in the trailer but it won’t anywhere else. This is a cool role for Octavia Spencer, and maybe if I was 17 I could get behind something like this, but at this moment in my life I think I’ll just pass.
Director: Mike Mitchell
The second Lego movie has a different director than the first, which is incredibly important and painfully obvious. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are complete lovable idiots, and their stuff is ultimately enjoyable, if ridiculously over the top. Their humor works perfectly in a kids movie because they are boys who never grew up, and yes that gets tiresome after a while, but in small doses that can mean a ton of fun. They wrote the screenplay for this film, but they passed the director’s chair over to Mike Mitchell, the guy who brought us Deuce Bigalow, Sky High, Shrek Forever After, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water, and Trolls. After reading that list, is anyone surprised that he ruined what was shaping up to be a solid children’s franchise? Lord & Miller have done their fair share of ludicrous, but they didn’t go full Deuce Bigalow, which is a place I don’t think you make it back from unchanged.
Emmet and his crew may have saved Brisksburg from the Cragle, and a father & son may have learned wonderful lessons together, but that doesn’t mean the end of The Lego Movie was exactly happy. The perfect world in the basement was opened up to new ideas, which was great, but it was also opened up to The Sister, and that might mean a little more radical change than anyone is ready for. Lego Duplo invades and begins attacking anything that looks remotely cute, leaving a wasteland where once everything was awesome. Five years later, Emmet and his friends live in a post-apocalyptic desert where nothing is any fun, and it gets worse when a space invader comes and takes away the people who our hero loves most. A battle will ensue for the fate of the universe, with an Ourmomageddon waiting on the horizon to stop the fun once and for all, which no one wants, but everyone might be powerless to stop.
What a disaster, and I don’t mean any of the hundred times the characters crashed, fell, or failed; well, no, those too. But the real failure was on the part of the director, who let the animated personas run loose across an endless landscape, and while that might sound fun to the child within you, it won’t be quite as enjoyable to the adult watching. It was literally a brother and sister playing imaginary games with Legos for two hours, but instead of being able to walk out the door or even look at your phone you had to stare at every storyline they produced from their teeming minds and pretend it was the best thing ever. I don’t know about you, and I love my kids, but I’m glad I don’t have to enter their weird worlds as much as I used to, because only they understand them and only they find them funny.
This story was just that; an unfunny mess of ideas and action that could only have been cool to the people who thought it up. Lord & Miller have a great sense of youth and exuberance, and that’s great, but someone was needed to be the grownup in the room and control the game, and Mitchell was powerless to stop the madness. So every plot you could throw in was included, no expenses spared, and the result was utter chaos. The musical numbers, which were unexpected and unneeded, only added to the muddiness of the story, creating a whole different genre of film that I’m not sure needs to exist. There were too many characters, too many scenes, not enough cohesion, and my god was Tiffany Haddish awful as the villain; aren’t her 15 minutes up yet? The credits were by far the best part of the movie, one because they were genius but two because it was finally over, this wild romp of childish excitement that needed to be guided, like the first in the franchise, down a path that made at least a little sense. My kids had a good time, that’s something, their opinion matters here, but I wish I could have had fun too, which wasn’t possible given how much of my taste level I would have had to abandon.
Director: Max Minghella
Release: April 5th, 2019
What a waste of my time, or at least however long it took me to watch half the trailer, because that was all I could stomach and all it took for me to realize that this film was a complete ripoff. It’s nothing more than an unoriginal mind combining Neon Demon and Vox Lux and hoping we wouldn’t notice. Absurd.
Director: Chris Addison
Release: May 10th, 2019
Think of something original or go far away. I understand that sequels, remakes, and franchise films are what’s in right now, and I’m sure I’ve enjoyed my fair share of 80s & 90s icons brought back, that’s how we’re wired and they know that. But it’s still cheap, still easy, and when they come this obviously we need to turn them away before they enter the premises.
Director: Jimmy Chin
Starring: Alex Honnold
I may not have understood just how packed the Best Documentary category at this year’s Academy Awards really is. When both Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Three Identical Strangers were left off the nominations, I was shocked, and assumed that no other films could match their quality. Admittedly, I haven’t seen a ton of documentaries this year, that’s not really my genre, but I was pretty sure that nothing could top Mr. Rogers. And I’m not sure anything else has, it’s still my favorite documentary of the year, but Free Solo comes in at a close second. It is nominated, it more than deserves it, and it stunned me with the scope of its story and the breadth of its lens. You won’t spend a more adventurous evening this year than what you will experience sitting watching Free Solo, a transportative force if ever there was one.
Climber Alex Honnold has scaled the sheerest faces and tackled the toughest ledges; it’s been his passion since he was a boy and no one is better at gripping the edge between danger and excitement than he is. His next adventure will be climbing El Cap, the famous rock in Yosemite that attracts thrill-seekers from all over the world each year. But he doesn’t want to climb it like everyone else does, with a rope and harness, he’s done that countless times. No, Alex wants to try something a bit more daring; scaling the wall with his bare hands. Free solo climbers are adrenaline junkies and, some say, perhaps out of their minds, but none have ever reached the top of El Cap; it basically can’t be done. But Alex refuses to walk away without conquering the fear that rises when facing something so daunting, and either he’ll go down in the record books or die trying.
Don’t watch this movie if you’re afraid of heights, because we go up right alongside Alex on his many climbs, as he tries to find the right path toward his destiny. This is all real, this is really as dangerous as it looks, and at any moment Alex could fall 3000 feet to his death, because he’s only holding on with the tips of his fingers and the nubs of his shoes, that’s all that keeps him from tumbling to the ground far below. I was worried at the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to understand the enormity of the situation, that it would just look like climbing to me, that I wouldn’t get how wild this was. But wow did I get it, and man was I impressed. Alex is a weird dude, some viewers are put off by that, but once you see past the surface level you understand his personality and its problems a bit more, you start to grasp what’s “wrong with him” and why he’d do something so insane. It’s heart-pounding watching him work, and there’s enough of a human element to connect with that you truly get hooked, completely separate from the death-defying sport. This documentary was painstakingly made and it shows, so hats off to all involved, and a standing ovation to Alex, the human spider who refused to back down from the world’s most difficult challenge.
Director: Dome Karukowski
Release: May 10th, 2019
Nicholas Hoult was phenomenal in The Favourite, and I’ve learned over the years to trust his talent. Not every film he selects is brilliant, but that happens, and I still consider him a rising star. I’ve seen nothing from Lily Collins that would make me say the same, but let’s assume she simply plays the typical wife-of-the-genius role that’s getting progressively more tiresome. Then looking at the fantasy shots, which are obviously taken from Peter Jackson, and thinking about the entire biography as a whole and how it’ll play out on screen; I get more & more tentative with each step.
Director: Danny Boyle
Release: September 13th, 2019
Part of me wants to dislike this movie out of pure cynicism, the other part won’t let me. I think I need to watch this with my wife, who is the biggest Beatles fan and a big softy when it comes to these movies, so that I can have permission to enjoy it fully. Also, I have to remember, although this looks very different, About Time moved me in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever been moved by a movie, and Lily James is the best thing to ever happen to all of us, so.