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"Luck don't live out here."
No Strings Attached (2011)
(70%)

Director: Ivan Reitman
Writer: Elizabeth Meriwether

No Strings Attached is romantic comedy starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. Now, I'm not a prolific watcher of the rom-com genre and honestly I've probably only seen a few of them throughout my entire life to this point. I bring this up because it seems like most of the criticisms people have of this film deal with the idea that it's not all that original and the only thing it did differently was add in foul language. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed this film for what it is. I think this is primarily because I'm still pretty inexperienced with the rom-com genre, but I also think it's because there's nothing really "wrong" with this film. Does it lean more on romance than comedy? Sure, but I actually appreciated that choice. Is the story about as surface level as it gets? Yes, but I also think that the chemistry between Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher largely makes up for that flaw. I knew, along with everyone else who has seen this film, how it was going to end the entire time, but I was still interested in how it would get to that point, and I can't say that I was dissatisfied when the credits rolled.

In the end, No Strings Attached is a perfectly fine romantic comedy. It's not going to blow your socks off, but you'll get your fix off of it.
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My Letterboxd



"Luck don't live out here."
Slice (2018)
(45%)

Director: Austin Vesely
Writer: Austin Vesely

Slice is Austin Vesely's directorial debut and Chance the Rapper's acting debut. I guess this film is classified as a comedy, although it never really provides any laughs. And after viewing it, I can tell why this film had such a weird journey that led to it being released in a few theaters for only one day, and then shoved on VOD and kind of just forgotten by A24.

Story: Slice is set in a fantasy world. There are werewolves (or at least one, which is played by Chance the Rapper), and people who die come back as ghosts, but these ghosts aren't how we imagine them. They're basically the same person but they just look kind of dead and I guess don't have to eat or anything, and I say "I guess" because despite this film setting up a really interesting world, it stays very surface level with everything. The cool concepts that are presented are just glossed over and not really given a whole lot of attention, and I think that was a choice that led to this film not being as good as it could have been. Instead, the focus is solely on the story which is a bit of a tonal, and literal, mess. The main storyline focuses on the hunt for a serial killer that has been killing pizza delivery drivers. It's supposed to be a mystery but it's never really a mystery. It's also supposed to be a comedy, so you'd think there'd be some humor throughout, but I don't think one joke landed throughout the entire runtime. It also tries to weave some fantasy elements into the story, but it all lands pretty flat and at times feels forced. In the end, the story is based on a concept that has a lot of potential, but it fails to take advantage of the concept and ends up being rather bland and boring.

Characters: Every character in this film is super over-the-top, and while I think Vesely thought this would be funny and help the audience get in the mood for a good time, it comes off as bad acting. There's also not much character development and Chance the Rapper, who I assume originally had a bigger role, is largely ignored until the end of the film. When he is present he's not a terrible actor, but I could also tell that acting isn't really his thing.

Script: This was a negative as well. It could have been worse, but the dialogue is about as generic as it comes and no part of this film comes off as particularly well written.

Overall: Slice isn't a terrible film. There's not any one aspect that makes it unwatchable by any means, but it isn't a good film. It fails to excel in almost every way possible.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Halloween (2018)
(42%)

Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley

Halloween picks up 40 years after the original Halloween (poor title choice for a sequel) and Michael is incarcerated for his previous killing spree, but when the prison bus that's transferring him crashes he's set up for another night of killing.

I found Halloween to be a huge disappointment. From the first set of scenes, it was pretty clear that this wasn't quite the sequel that I was hoping for. In a lot of ways it pays homage to the original, which is fine except for the fact that in doing so it comes off as a cheesy 80s slasher. Some people dig that, and I think that's why a lot of people who have seen this film have enjoyed it. I, however, was hoping for a more modern and somewhat serious take on the story. Instead, Halloween is a film with little-to-no character development, a hollow plot, a severe lack of on-screen kills, a mediocre script, and the production value feels like that of a Lifetime TV movie. It was a disappointment on almost all fronts for me, and doesn't give me any hope for any future Halloween films.
I've got to give the film more credit than what you're saying about it. I find it interesting that both this film and H20 deal with Laurie's post traumatic stress disorder after that night. In H20 she becomes an alcoholic who sees Michael when he isn't there. She changes her name and moves away. In this, she goes into survivor mode, dedicating her life to the day that they will meet again. She becomes obsessed with this to the point that it destroys her family. Her child is taken away from her, she has little to no relationship with her granddaughter. The dynamic between those three women I found interesting and added to their characters.

As for on screen killings? I think this film did a fine job with that. His attack in the gas station washroom, the one take of him going into multiple houses and destroying those inside. Some really brutal stuff there.

I appreciated the nods to the original, we've seen films try and update their horror villains to failed attempts. Look to Friday the 13th (which I admit, isn't terrible but others do) and the Nightmare on Elm street remake. That is truly horrible. This one felt meaner to me, more in the spirit of the original and not essentially a cash grab based on a name. I think having McBride and DGG behind the camera helped.

After this and Get Out, I want to see more comedy actors dive head first into the horror genre.
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"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews



"Luck don't live out here."
I've got to give the film more credit than what you're saying about it. I find it interesting that both this film and H20 deal with Laurie's post traumatic stress disorder after that night. In H20 she becomes an alcoholic who sees Michael when he isn't there. She changes her name and moves away. In this, she goes into survivor mode, dedicating her life to the day that they will meet again. She becomes obsessed with this to the point that it destroys her family. Her child is taken away from her, she has little to no relationship with her granddaughter. The dynamic between those three women I found interesting and added to their characters.

As for on screen killings? I think this film did a fine job with that. His attack in the gas station washroom, the one take of him going into multiple houses and destroying those inside. Some really brutal stuff there.

I appreciated the nods to the original, we've seen films try and update their horror villains to failed attempts. Look to Friday the 13th (which I admit, isn't terrible but others do) and the Nightmare on Elm street remake. That is truly horrible. This one felt meaner to me, more in the spirit of the original and not essentially a cash grab based on a name. I think having McBride and DGG behind the camera helped.

After this and Get Out, I want to see more comedy actors dive head first into the horror genre.
You make solid points. I still maintain my original thoughts, though. I typically don't walk out of the theater feeling like I wasted my time even with movies that I felt weren't that great. With this one though, I actually thought about how I had just wasted time watching it. I'm in the minority with that line of thinking and I realize that, but that's just how it was for me.



"Luck don't live out here."
A Ghost Story (2017)
(88%)

Director: David Lowery
Writer: David Lowery

I waited far too long to watch A Ghost Story. When I originally saw the trailers, though, I thought the concept of Casey Affleck's character actually wearing a sheet while playing a ghost was kind of silly, so I never watched it in theaters. But, I was very wrong for thinking that because this is an excellent film.

The premise of A Ghost Story is pretty simple. C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara) are a couple who live in a simple, little house in what looks like the outskirts of a suburb. The relationship is established as one that is loving but also susceptible to conflict over seemingly minor things. The biggest of which is the idea of moving out of the house and to something nicer. M wants to, but C doesn't. He likes the house a lot. Unfortunately, in the end it doesn't really matter as C is killed in a car accident mere feet away from the house. He returns, but this time as a ghost. We then see everything he sees for the rest of the film. We watch as he watches his wife slowly move on and out of his (post) life for good. Basically, a large portion of this film is a ghost coping with his own death, and the consequences of it. And I really, really enjoyed it, but I don't think it's much of a surprise that this film isn't for everyone. There's not a whole lot of dialogue, there's no action, and cinematography wise there's nothing super compelling outside of some fairly long takes. It's more thought provoking than entertaining.

Impressive in its own right is that this film was made with a production budget of only $100,000. I'm not saying that it's not noticeable that this was a low budget film, but I am impressed with just how much David Lowery was able to do with so little.

This isn't the most entertaining film I'll ever watch, but it's hard not to admire the craftsmanship that went into putting it together, and I appreciate that it actually made me think after the credits started to roll.



"Luck don't live out here."
Mid90s (2018)
(87%)

Director: Jonah Hill
Writer: Jonah Hill

Mid90s is Jonah Hillís directorial debut and it follows a kid named Stevie, who is a kid trying to find himself while dealing with his abusive brother and not so present mother, as he ends up hanging out with a group of teenagers who skateboard. These kids all come from different situations (which also provides the foundation for conflict), but most of them are from lower class families, and their days primarily consist of hanging out at the skate shop, skating, and going to parties. Stevie is by far the youngest kid in the group once he joins, and most of the film heís just trying to fit in with them and find his way. He doesnít even know how to skate when he starts hanging out with the group, but he keeps trying until heís at least about to skate around. Heís also constantly trying to prove himself to the other guys in the group, and sometimes it bites him in the butt.

Despite this sounding like an uplifting film, in a lot of ways it is not. Stevie does find friends, but as a result he starts to fall into bad habits and does some things that a kid his age should not be doing. Heís also constantly dealing with his brother who beats him up several times, and itís clearly affected him at deeper levels as despite him being the nicest kid around, he does punish himself in physical ways sometimes that can be hard to watch. He gains some positive things in his life but a lot of negative things as well, and so the character arc is actually quite flat when you combine everything. There is also not a specified end goal that the story is heading towards. This is more of a slice of life film that focuses on skater kids. Itís not really aiming to wrap everything up in a bow for you at the end, and thatís just fine.

I enjoyed the story for what it was. Itís rather surface level, which makes sense given the hour-and-twenty-five minute runtime, but it can be looked at in a deeper sense by the viewer if he/she wants. The characters are all likable on some level, and we are given just enough backstory on each one to care for them by the end of the film. The acting is also great, given that Sunny Suljic (Stevie) is pretty young and most of the rest of the main group of characters are pro skateboarders in real life.

The only iffy part for me story-wise while viewing this film was the ending, which makes a lot of sense given how everything was going towards the end, but it felt a littleÖforced? Iím not sure if thatís the right word, but itís as if Jonah Hill knew he wanted it to not necessarily have a distinct end to the charactersí story, but also wanted something to end on for the general audienceís sake.

As for production, this looks like a film that was made in the mid-90s. Jonah definitely was able to capture the vibe and look of the era, while not solely relying on nostalgia to draw the audience in which I am always afraid of with films like this.

Overall, Mid90s is a great debut for Jonah Hill. Some people may not want to watch it because it revolves around skateboarding, but I think if they actually watch it theyíll be pleasantly surprised.



"Luck don't live out here."
My Top 25 Films of 2018 (As of November, will do a full rankings list in January)

1. Won't You Be My Neighbor?
2. First Reformed
3. First Man
4. Leave No Trace
5. Eighth Grade
6. A Quiet Place
7. BlackKklansman
8. Avengers: Infinity War
9. You Were Never Really Here
10. Mid90s
11. The Rider
12. Hostiles
13. Annihilation
14. Incredibles 2
15. Hereditary
16. Sorry to Bother You
17. Ready Player One
18. American Animals
19. Bad Times at the El Royale
20. Mission Impossible - Fallout
21. Isle of Dogs
22. Black Panther
23. Deadpool 2
24. Solo: A Star Wars Story
25. Sicario: Day of the Soldado



"Luck don't live out here."
Swiss Army Man (2016)
(78%)

Directors: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Writers: Daniel Scheinert, Dan Kwan

Swiss Amy Man is an odd film. It follows Hank, who is stranded on an island (sort of) and is at the point where he is going to commit suicide since he has not been rescued. As he's attempting to hang himself, though, a dead body washes ashore. At first he thinks it's just a dead body, and decides he's going to try to kill himself again, but then the dead body starts doing incredible things, like becoming what could be described as a jet-ski by propelling through the water using its incredible farting power. Hank goes on an adventure with Manny (the dead body) with the goal being to get back home to see this girl he used to ride the bus with. Along the way, they play a lot of make believe together and Manny continues to show off the weird powers he has despite being dead.

I enjoyed how overtly weird this film is. It knows that it's odd, and it completely owns it. There is a lot of humor involved although I wouldn't call this a comedy. I do think that it gets a little messy as far as the tone goes in the last third of the film, but when I got done watching it I was happy that I gave it a shot. The music throughout the film is also super original and pretty awesome on its own. If you're ever in the mood for a out-of-the-box, weird indie film, give Swiss Army Man a shot.



"Luck don't live out here."
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
(65%)

Director: Peter Sollett
Writer: Lorene Scafaria

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist follows a group of young adults throughout a night in New York. Nick is trying to get over a recent break up with his dream girl, and Norah is trying to get with him after she's been crushing on him for what seems like quite a while. Nick is part of a band that is performing one night and Norah and Nick's ex-girlfriend are both in attendance, and eventually Nick and Norah (and the members of Nick's band) end up going on quite the adventure which is in part to find another band that is playing at a secret location, and part to figure out what exactly is going on between them.

This is a very easy film to watch. It doesn't lean on comedy as heavily as I expected it to, but Michael Cera and Kat Dennings carry this film on their shoulders. The chemistry between the two is immense and that alone reeled me in for the entire runtime. Now, at times the story does feel a little aimless. Things just kinda...happen, and some of the story elements don't really work. But at the end of the day this is just a cute film with a typical, but entertaining, story about two young adults eventually falling for each other.



"Luck don't live out here."
Widows (2018)
(85%)

Director: Steve McQueen
Writers: Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen

Widows' story may fall under the generally crowd-pleasing genre of heist films, but Steve McQueen executes it in a realistic and gritty way that makes this one of the most surprising films of the year. The action is brutal and well utilized, and the characters are all likable to a certain extent. Further, the story is enthralling from beginning to end. The "twist" is a little predictable, but it adds yet another layer to what is already a fairly complex film. It's just a well rounded film.



Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
(62%)

Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has the magical feeling that you want from a Harry Potter film. It's also awesome to see what it's like for adults to be out in the magical world on their own and freely use magic as they see fit. Newt is also a very likable character, arguably much more likable than any of the kids in the original Harry Potter films. Unfortunately, the story just doesn't do it for me. The creatures are cool, but Newt spends most of the film just chasing creatures around New York, while there's also a sub-plot that is trying to incorporate some darker themes into the film. Neither storyline is particularly that interesting or engaging, and I couldn't help but be disappointed that this is all J.K. Rowling could come up with for the first Harry Potter spin-off film.



"Luck don't live out here."
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
(46%)

Director: David Yates
Writer: J. K. Rowling

All year long, I thought that the new Fantastic Beasts was a shoo-in for decent reviews and praise from audiences. I didn't love the first Fantastic Beasts film, but I did enjoy it and so I expected a similar experience from the second film. Unfortunately, that's not what happened.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is by far the most disappointing film of the year for me. This is an example of how terribly a film can suffer when it's the middle of a trilogy. All this film is is a two-plus hour set up for the third film. The story largely limps along from one point to the next and, honestly, it's rather boring, and the revelations that do unfold are largely unsatisfying. The flow of this film also felt pretty clunky. And finally, while Newt is still one of my favorite Harry Potter characters if not my favorite, even his story arc in this film fell pretty flat for me. However, I can at lest praise the cinematography which I found to be pretty decent.

In the end, it's not flat out horrible, but it's...it's pretty bad.



"Luck don't live out here."
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
(70%)


Bohemian Rhapsody is perfectly fine. It's not outstanding in any way, but it doesn't really fail in any particular way either. It's fairly surface level as far as the band's story goes, but the concert scenes make up for that for the most part. This is the definition of a crowd-pleasing film.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
(85%)


Captain America: The Winter Solider is the least Marvel-like film in the MCU. It's a real deal spy-thriller, and I really enjoyed it. There are some moments of unbelievability that a lot of Marvel films have that kind of annoy me, but to see Captain America really just beat some dudes up and for it to actually be pretty brutal, and not toned down like I'd kind of expect from Marvel, was cool to see. The story does seem a little convoluted at times but it's also setting up a lot of stuff for the MCU so it's understandable that there's a lot going on. One of the best films in the MCU, I think.

Holes (2003)
(75%)


Holes is a film I've watched countless times since I was a kid. And while I've started to notice some of its flaws as I've grown older, I still really enjoy it any time I happen to watch it. Who would've thought that a story about a camp in the desert where delinquents dig holes looking for treasure could be so entertaining? I could quote the characters of this film all day long.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
(73%)


I enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph as a whole, but the story just seems kind of simple. I understand that there has to be a narrative and that they can't just focus on video games, but I wish there was more exploration involved. It sets up a very interesting premise and world, and then just hangs out in one of the games for most of the story. It's solid, but not incredible.

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
(69%)


Ralph Breaks the Internet suffers from a lot of the same problems that I had with Wreck-It Ralph. There is more exploration of the world (which is something I wanted more of in the first one) and the inclusion of various brands and websites is awesome, but once again the story is just too simple and surface level for me. I get it; it's made for kids, but I was hoping for more.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
(87%)


Guardians of the Galaxy is perhaps the most fun Marvel movie to date. It's also a nice change of pace with the cosmic setting, and the soundtrack is awesome. It does suffer from Marvel's biggest problem which is a weak villain, but the protagonists, as per usual, make up for this. This one will never get old.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
(96%)


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn't just the best animated film of the year and the best superhero film of the year, but it's one of the best films of the year, period. First off, the animation is beautiful. I know some people aren't a huge fan of the 2D/3D mix and how it works, but THIS is the perfect animation style for a film that's based on a comic book property. I also appreciated how Miles' character stays true to how he is in the comics, and how the storyline is similar to his comic books, but at the same time not a direct copy. The twist to the story in regards to Peter Parker's Spider-Man concerned me at first, but it ends up contributing to how great the story is. Further, the humor in this film is spot on. I laughed out loud several times, which I honestly didn't expect to do. Honestly, there are no glaring flaws that I can think of. I mean, the villain could be stronger, but everything else is so good that I honestly wasn't even that concerned with whether or not the final boss battle was a jaw dropper. From beginning to end...it's just fantastic.



"Luck don't live out here."
I'll be creating a new thread for my 2019 viewing/review log. I will, however, be posting my 2018 ranking lists and my personal award nominations here soon. I have a couple more 2018 releases I would like to watch before posting that stuff though.



"Luck don't live out here."
2018 Film Releases, Ranked:

1. Won't You Be My Neighbor?
2. Wildlife
3. First Reformed
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
5. First Man
6. Leave No Trace
7. Eighth Grade
8. A Quiet Place
9. BlakKklansman
10. Avengers: Infinity War
11. You Were Never Really Here
12. Mid90s
13. Widows
14. The Rider
15. Annihilation
16. Hereditary
17. Incredibles 2
18. Sorry to Bother You
19. Ready Player One
20. American Animals
21. Bad Times at the El Royale
22. Mission Impossible - Fallout
23. Isle of Dogs
24. Minding the Gap
25. Black Panther
26. Vice
27. Deadpool 2
28. Solo: A Star Wars Story
29. Sicario: Day of the Saldado
30. The Endless
31. Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
32. Game Night
33. Bohemian Rhapsody
34. Upgrade
35. Blockers
36. Beautiful Boy
37. Disobedience
38. Bumblebee
39. White Boy Rick
40. Three Identical Strangers
41. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
42. Hotel Artemis
43. Ralph Breaks the Internet
44. Ant-Man and the Wasp
45. To All The Boys I've Loved Before
46. The Meg
47. 12 Strong
48. Tomb Raider
49. Revenge
50. I Kill Giants
51. Uncle Drew
52. The Equalizer 2
53. Tag
54. Pacific Rim: Uprising
55. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
56. Cargo
57. Unsane
58. Rampage
59. The Strangers: Prey at Night
60. The Princess Switch
61. Death Wish
62. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
63. Venom
64. Bad Samaritan
65. Fahrenheit 451
66. The Cloverfield Paradox
67. Ocean's 8
68. The First Purge
69. Slice
70. Halloween
71. Skyscraper
72. Red Sparrow
73. Chappaquiddick
74. Truth or Dare
75. The Nun
76. Action Point
77. 15:17 to Paris
78. Mile 22