Suspect's 2019 Movie Watch List

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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Shadow of a Doubt




Another film I won't go into too much detail about and still one that I appreciate and feel like it holds up today. You can't beat a good suspense film with a well written ambiguous character and that is exactly what Uncle Charlie is. A wonderful performance from Joseph Cotten, he adds tension with a simple glance. I mentioned in my original review how the weird sexual undertones of the film were a bit much and @Markf responded saying he never saw the relationship between the two Charlie's being sexual. After another viewing, I stand by my original statement. Awkward hand holding, close quarter conversations, weird infatuations...it's all there on the screen in my opinion.

Hitchcock tends to end his films abruptly. After the big suspenseful moment, you'll have a very quick denouement and then credits. I guess in his mind the story is over and he wants a quick exit but it feels way too abrupt in many cases and jarring. Shadow of a Doubt is a perfectly example of this.

4th favourite Hitchcock movie and I still haven't seen many.

Rear Window
Psycho
Rope
Shadow of a Doubt
North by Northwest
Sabatuer
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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



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Shazam!




This film shot across the street from my work. They built the entire Christmas Carnival section at an abandoned lot. The testing of his superpowers was filmed down the street from my work and you've seen that location in numerous other films, most recently the RoboCop remake. So I was excited to see how it all looked on the big screen. Seeing a city you are familiar with double for another sometimes takes you out of the experience. Seeing Toronto in this film did that for me, but the overall experience was still a fun one.

Shazam! is a meta superhero film. What would happen if a 14 year old kid got superpowers? This film tries to answer that and you see how a self centred boy becomes a "hero" for others. Everything is cool when they try and test out the powers, but once real trouble comes his way, our hero hides. Will he muster up enough courage and strength to defeat the bad guy? Of course he will, we all know how these movies go. Shazam! follows the superhero origin story perfectly, so perfectly that it doesn't ever throw and curveballs at ya, which is a tad disappointing.

The fun you have while watching this film is seeing the pure joy on Zachary Levi's face. He really sells the character here and makes the film. Mark Strong does his usual bad guy scary face and Jack Dylan Grazer from Stephen King's IT, does a really good job of being the jealous "brother", but still be in awe of it all.

Shazam! is a lighthearted fun superhero film that surprisingly has some dark scenes. The film opens with a bad car accident and in one scene people are thrown out of windows and heads are bitten off. This reminds me of the old days when PG-13 movies actually had some gruesome sequences in them instead of what we see now which is watered-down violence. Granted, we see no real blood in these scenes, but it was a bit of a surprise to see nonetheless.

Shazam! is fun, bottom line is that you'll enjoy yourself if you don't want to see anything groundbreaking in a tired genre.

On a side note: There's a good video online from the director talking about running into production problems for a movie like this. He points out one sequence when crew members were in the background of a shot in a mall when people were suppose to be running away. To circumvent this, he had his vex team digitally put shopping bags in their hands to hide gear and make two of them janitors. Check it out for some nice behind the scenes productions on films.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Thoroughbreds




The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of this film is: clinical; efficient and unemotional; coldly detached. This description encapsulates the characters perfectly and it parallels the cold direction this film takes on. Cory Finley crafts a film with the same viewpoints of his two characters and it works.

Originally written as a stageplay, Finley lets us look inside the minds of two detached "haves" and makes us question which one is really the deranged psycho of the two. You'll change your mind multiple times throughout the film and question your own conclusion by the time the credits roll. Much of this is because of the writing of these two ladies, but you also have to praise the acting abilities.

Starring Me, Earl and the Dying Girls Olivia Cooke alongside The Witch's Anna-Taylor Joy, these two ladies have great chemistry when the chemistry is apparently lacking. It's such an odd description to use but that's how I see it. One lacks any kind of emotion whatsoever, a younger Patrick Bateman if you will, while the other strives for manipulation tactics to win over situations. Also starring the late Anton Yelchin as a drug dealer who is in over his head, it was nice to see yet another great performance from him and remind myself of the great talent we lost.

This film is clean, cold and calculated. It knows what its audience wants and withholds it from them. The quote on the cover of American Psycho meets Heathers is a perfect description for it.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein




Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with this movie. It's a good lessen in genre blending and has a few comical moments, I just wish there were more moments of laughter for me. Had I been finding the humour in this film more often, it would have gotten a higher rating.

Two freight handlers are given the coffin of Dracula and Frankenstein and must transport them to a House of Horrors museum. Things go awry when Dracula exits his coffin and resurrects Frankenstein. Frankenstein is weak and Dracula plans to re-energize him with a new brain and Costello is the perfect specimen.

I only know of two skits from Abbott & Costello, the infamous Who's On First and 7 into 28, both I thought were hilarious. I was excited to see a feature film from these two, but a lot of the bits dragged on a bit too long, such as reading the bio of Dracula.

It was a little confusing seeing the title Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein, but then they play characters with different names....whatever.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Rudderless




I think more people need to see this movie. I suggested it for our movie chat nights because I was aiming for a music centric flick. Rudderless was a movie that I immediately downloaded the soundtrack afterwards and watching it again got me right back into the music, the drama and the heartbreak.

Here is my original review here



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island




Back in college I saw a short film that inspired one of my favourite scripts that I've written. It was about a little dead girl who wanted to have a friend so she killed the boy next door. It felt like a tribute to Tim Burton and was unique enough to grab my attention. Flash forward 8 years and Brad Peyton, the director, gets a big budget Hollywood film; Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Big opportunity, so take it, why not? 2 years later he would direct The Rock in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. I'm assuming the two hit it off extremely well because Peyton directed the Rock in San Andreas and Rampage as well. None of these movies had the spirit, originality or creativity of his short film.

Journey 2 is something that I can see myself loving if I were a kid. It's got a charismatic lead with The Rock, a comedic old-timer with My Cocaine an exotic beauty in Vanessa Hudgens and the hilarity of Luis GuzmŠn. On top of that, the adventure is a amalgamation of numerous other adventure tales. You've got the mysterious island, captain nemo, Atlantis, Poseidon, etc. Kid me would eat this movie up.

Adult me recognizes the films faults, abuse of in your face 3D, the obvious set pieces and lack of a strong cohesive script. I'll shut my brain off for an hour and a half and enjoy the Rock's smoulder, but I'm not going to smile when he deflects berries off his pecs. This feels like a Land of the Lost episode and an excuse to get creative with CGI, which doesn't always look great. No matter how good you are, having My Cocaine ride a giant bumblebee will never look realistic.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Monster House




Written by Dan Harmon, of Community and Rick & Morty fame, Monster House was a film that I honestly didn't know what to expect. How scary was it going to be? How in touch with the horror crowd will it be? Will it be too kiddie or not kiddie enough? This film had the difficult task of balancing a lot these questions and it worked, for the most part.

I feel like the of the main reasons an animated film is successful is the animation of the people. How cartoony are they? Disney had a specific look with big eyes for the princesses and Pixar made their characters cute or marketable. Monster House falls somewhere in between Polar Express and ParaNorman. The character designs are not cartoony enough to draw in the crowd and not realistic enough to make me take it a little more seriously. One of the reasons Mars Needs Moms failed is because the animation was stuck in-between the two. The aliens looked cartoony but the humans looked too real. Nothing about it jumps out at you and you know kids are not going to want a stuffed toy that isn't cute.

So while I think this film fails on the animation of the people, it makes up for it in the animation of the house itself. Most likely inspired by Stephen King's house that eats people in The Wastelands, the depiction here has enough creativity to make me want to look at every aspect of this building. Once inside we get a more "organic" feel for things and the filmmakers cleverly use house items as the inner workings of a body.

The film takes awhile to get going, but once our characters get more interaction with the house, it engages enough to keep the viewer interested. Monster House could potentially be a repeat viewing for Halloween-Month because I know my kid wants to watch "spooky movies".



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Escape Room




A film with a hokey premise that shouldn't be really good ends up being rather entertaining and until the third act was pretty thrilling. Escape Room surprised me, it's Saw meets Cube minus the blood and guts. If you like the idea of Saw but can't get over the gruesomeness that the character's find themselves in, then Escape Room is for you.

Six people sign up to be part of a brand new and advanced Escape Room where the person who escapes wins $10,000. Exciting for these people, but they soon find out that the game isn't like any other escape room and if you don't manage to escape, you die. Can our characters put their own personal survival instincts aside and work as a team to solve riddles and clues in order to escape?

Each character has a tragic backstory and just maybe that backstory has something to do with why they were chosen. The film peels back at those mysteries a bit here and there until all is revealed. Nothing surprising or twist worthy comes from it, but it adds more depth to the characters on the screen. The film opens with the introduction of three characters and I bet you can guess which characters are still standing towards the end. This little set-up does nothing but take away the surprise of who is going to bite the dust earlier than others. It gives very little time to get to know the other characters and we rely on the actors to inject some life into thinly written roles. In the end, most of these characters are simply fodder for the kill.

Each room our characters find themselves in is unique enough to generate a building interest in how are they going to solve it. One room in particular has everything upside down and with some nice camera movements/visuals, you have a sequences that stands above the rest. With an entertaining cast of characters and a good premise, Escape Room should be a great addition to the horror/thriller genre, but missteps towards the end in order to set up unnecessary sequels damage a lot of good will. The first 2/3's of this film is good and it fumbles towards the finish line that might leave a sour taste in your mouth.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Ready or Not




If you're a fan of You're Next, Ready or Not is right up your alley. Dysfunctional family drama wrapped up in comedic horror, Ready or Not serves up laughs, excitement and blood.

It is Grace and Alex's wedding day, but to be welcomed into Alex's family Grace must play a game. Each new member of the family must play a random game and Grace is given Hide & Seek. She laughs it off, but goes with it. She has to stay hidden until dawn or he loses. What she doesn't realize, is that her life depends on it.

Ready or Not is a smart and stylish thriller that has enough winks and nods to the audience, letting them in on the fun. The writers immediately find easy ways to seclude our lead character, cutting her off from the outside world. The setting is inside a mansion, complete with hidden doors for servants and dumbwaiters to hide in. This is all very "clue"-ish and to further make ties within the board game characters are picked off with certain weapons one might find in the game.

As the film progresses certain members of the family question their participation in the game. We are slowly given reasons as to why they feel the 'need' to complete this game with her death, but Alex does what he can to try and save her. This might cause some tension between family members, who seem inept at killing people resulting in some funny moments.

I do question if previous games played were simply games or if the stakes were as high. One character proclaims she had to play chess to get into the family. Was it just regular chess? They mention how they only have played Hide & Seek once before and seem nervous about it. Yet everyone seems guns-ho to get into kill mode.

The film takes aim at the rich and pulls no punches. Those with money are buffoons and their absurd games are inane. Ready or Not boasts stellar acting, slick direction and a strong script that supports the initial concept. Ready or Not is a lot of fun.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
It: Chapter 2




There is a lot to unpack with the second chapter of IT. Clocking in at just under 3 hours, this horror "epic" tries to cover a lot of ground, live up to insane expectations and stay true to a classic horror novel. For the most part the film delivers the goods, but it trips along the way to get to the finish line.

It's been 27 years since the Losers Club defeated the demonic clown known as Pennywise and they've all tried to move on with their lives as far away from Derry as possible. Mike decides to stay behind and research as much as he can about Pennywise in the event he should return. With the death of a young man at a carnival and a cryptic message written in blood, Mike soon discovers that Pennywise is indeed back and he must round up the losers once again in order to defeat Pennywise once and for all.

Since Mike is the only one who stays behind, he is the only one to retain his memories of Pennywise. Everyone else has seem to forgotten about him and their childhood in general. They might have moved away from Derry, but they can't seem to escape the damage their traumatic childhood as inflicted on them. Both Bev and Eddie have married people that represent their parental figures; Bev has an abusive husband while Eddie has an overweight and overprotective wife. This is further cemented by the fact that Molly Atkinson plays both his mother and his wife in the film. Bill becomes a famous author, but has trouble coming up with endings that aren't terrible (something King himself as been criticized for). Ben becomes a wealthy architect and loses a ton of weight, but doesn't seem to have a happy life. Finally Richie uses his sarcastic comedic tone in life to become a stand-up comic, but we soon find out that he doesn't write his own material, so he feels like he's living a lie.

Chapter 2 boasts a stellar cast and one that is pitch perfect casting for each character. Not only do the adult actors look exactly like their younger counter-parts, but they bring a sense of familiarity to the screen. They are believable and sympathetic and you want things to turn out well for them despite knowing that things most likely won't. With each character returning to Derry, they start to get their memories back. In order to defeat Pennywise, they must remember everything and we are treated to scene by scene "scares" that become a little redundant. It's almost as if Muschietti decided to throw everything that could be scary at the screen and hopes something sticks. He relies a little too much on CGI, which lessens the scare. He does lift a scene directly from Carpenter's The Thing and it works here more than I thought it would.

One of the things that made the first film a success was the chemistry between the kids and that chemistry transitions well for the cast now. McAvoy nails the stutter that resurfaces once he returns to Derry and Hader himself is the big stand out, delivering comedy and fear on a perfect balance. There is a moment of sheer terror involving Hader that is played perfectly which involves the Deadlights. While the film doesn't out right say that Richie is gay, there are a lot of clues to this, which further cements that he's currently living a lie when his comedy bits involve being married to a woman. We get a flashback scene with Richie at an arcade and he is scared off by being called numerous gay slurs by the town bully Henry Bowers. He runs away ashamed and sits at a bench in front of a giant statue of Paul Bunyan, the American version of a man's man. It then comes alive and attacks him and when we flashback to the present where Pennywise sits on his shoulder telling Richie he knows his secret. This adds bit of depth to someone who might be seen as simple comedic relief.

Another character that finds himself with more material is Mike. In the novel and the original mini series he is injured by Bowers and can't partake in the final showdown. That doesn't happen here and he gets the chance to try his theory of how to defeat Pennywise. With this change in his character I can't help but feel that Henry Bowers becomes rather useless. He doesn't have Pennywise talking in his ear manipulating him to be a tangible threat to the Losers. He had a purpose in the previous works but only eats up the running time here. For a film clocking in at 2 hours and 50 minutes, his story could have been completely cut and nothing would have been lost from the story. Easily saving the filmmakers 20 minutes making the film a bit tighter.

It: Chapter 2 feels bigger, but that doesn't make it better or scarier. With kids taking a backseat here, the fear does as well. We are not as scared as we were from Pennywise, but the one scene that does elicit the charm from the first film involves Pennywise luring a child under some bleachers. Simple and effective scene with two people talking. The more that Muschietti wants to throw weird on the screen, the less scary it gets.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
The Fanatic




The first line of dialogue spoken by our lead character is..."I can't stay long, I've got to poo." Ladies and gentlemen, I present John Travolta at his lowest. The Fanatic is such an odd movie that I don't know if I should be offended by the performance, hate myself for laughing at it or simply go for the ride and try to find some Tommy Wiseau level of trash in between the lines.

Moose is a movie fan and his favourite movie star is Hunter Dumbar. When a chance to get his autograph slips away from him, he goes a little off the deep end and becomes a stalker. Don't call him a stalker though, he hates that word.

I honestly don't know where to start. Do we begin with the wardrobe and make-up decisions John Travolta has? The fact that Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst is directing this film? Or how about the fact that Dumbar asks his son if he's ever heard of Limp Bizkit and then proceeds to blast some of their tunes? I couldn't believe that part actually happened. Can anyone be anymore self indulgent?

The story is told from Travolta's perspective, but there is narration from a third character. His friend who is a paparazzi. Why? Why are we being narrated by one person and seeing the film through the eyes of another? It's illogical. I guess they didn't want Travolta narrating due to the way he speaks. Moose is socially slow and has trouble comprehending day to day social cues. Some people may be offended by the performance or question whether it's okay to laugh at the ridiculousness on the screen.

Moose crosses the line when he trespasses and won't take no for an answer. Dumbar is immediately hostile to Moose when he sees him. All he wants is an autograph and Dunbar threatens him with violence. We are given no one to root for in this film. Both sides are wrong, both sides are ridiculous. The film doesn't know how to deal with the toxicity of extreme fandom, it feels hollow and one would go watch DeNiro and Snipes in The Fan instead.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
The Equalizer 2




The original film was your typical good guy not wanting any trouble, but finds it anyways when he tries to protect a young girl. The bad guys don't know how dangerous he is, but the audience does so we get to enjoy the death and destruction he brings upon those unwitting victims. I don't know who asked for a sequel to such a film, but we got one.

We open with a fight that serves no purpose on the story other than to show that Washington is bad-ass, something we already knew from the first film. We then get a montage of Washington being a lyft driver and when one girl enters his car, he recognizes the trauma she just endured from what looks like a bachelor party. Fight number two happens and it is yet again another sequence that has no affect on the story or plot. At this point it becomes very apparent that there was little to no story to tell here, so they open with an exciting fight scene and then we chug along until the producers think the audience is getting a little too sleepy and they throw in something to wake us up.

The story finally kicks in when someone is killed, but it is staged to look like a suicide. Melissa Leo and Pedro Pascal are sent to investigate and when she returns to her hotel room, she is killed. Washington takes it upon himself to get revenge on those responsible because they were friends. When the trailer for this film came out, I casually leaned over to my friend and predicted how it would end....ladies and gentlemen, it ended exactly how I predicted it. Not a good sign when the trailer gives away how telegraphed, generic and unimportant this film is.

One interesting sequence has Washington on the phone with a young guy who is in his apartment. The bad guys are coming to kill Washington, but he isn't there, it's just this kid. So Washington has to direct him where to go in the apartment to avoid the bad guys. Small bit of tension is sprinkled here and even though the sequence itself isn't anything to write home about, it stands out in an otherwise by the numbers flick.

While the film looks and acts the same as the original, the feeling is off. Maybe it was a lack of connection to the characters this time, but the revenge aspect didn't engage with me emotionally. The ending sequence changes this up a bit by having it take place outside during a Hurricane storm, but at that point you feel like you've been wasting a lot of your time.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Ted




This is the third time I've seen this movie and this was Tyler's pick. The first was in theatres because it looked like a funny movie and seeing Seth McFarlane uncensored by network television interested me. I went to a drive-in a week or so later and it was a triple feature; Ted was one of those movies. Still funny, but some of the humour still felt forced. This time around, nothing really changed. Ted is overall a funny movie and the VFX on the bear are quite good, but much like the more recent Sausage Party, the idea of a foul mouthed teddy bear might wear a little thin for some.

Original review here, my opinion has not changed.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Sing Street




This was my #1 film of 2016.

How far would you go to impress the girl of your dreams? Would you start a band and ask her to be in your music videos?

John Carney's Sing Street is his third feature that deals heavily with music and this one has the most heart. The film is a feel good fun filled time and I enjoyed every minute of it. The music is catchy, well written and performed. The performances are sweet and funny and this film is a must watch.

I do wish that Carney gave a bit more screen time to some of the band members, but at its core, this is a story about a boy falling in love with a girl and the lengths he'd go to win her heart.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon




Beautifully shot and a well crafted martial arts film that blew up in the West. Crouching Tiger has some really well balanced and choreographed fight sequences, specifically the two sequences involving Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. The first is when the sword is stolen and we get out first real glimpse at the gravity defy spectacle this film will be. The racing along the rooftops and walls is well done and has a heightened sense of magical realism to it. The fight that ensues with Yeoh trying her best to keep Ziyi on the ground is a great way to set up what is to come. The second time these two meet up and the most impressive fight in the entire film is when Yeoh has to constantly grab a new weapon off the shelf due to the sword Green Destiny destroying everything she picks up. The sequence is fast, elegant and showcases character development when you least expect it.

Some people might laugh at the walking on air sequences and sometimes it looks a little flimsy. I would imagine it would be 100 times better today with our technology. The only times I thought it was laughable were the medium close up on them, seeing their arms while they run gave off a Loony Tunes vibe.

If the overly long flashback was cut down several minutes, it would help with the run time. Some of it is beautiful to see, but it's these moments that drag out. Crouching Tiger paved the way for more asian inspired cinema making its way over here and I thank it for that.



Sing Street




This was my #1 film of 2016.

How far would you go to impress the girl of your dreams? Would you start a band and ask her to be in your music videos?

John Carney's Sing Street is his third feature that deals heavily with music and this one has the most heart. The film is a feel good fun filled time and I enjoyed every minute of it. The music is catchy, well written and performed. The performances are sweet and funny and this film is a must watch.

I do wish that Carney gave a bit more screen time to some of the band members, but at its core, this is a story about a boy falling in love with a girl and the lengths he'd go to win her heart.
I liked Sing Street but didnít love it. Maybe itís because I didnít like the music they played.



For some reason I didn't enjoyed this last Equalizer, I just didn't like it that much, but you managed to simplistically tell me why. Don't fell the same about the first one, I liked that one. I also didn't get why would they do a sequel, but they say people prefered the second film, so I guess that's the reason.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
For my own records:

Movie Chat Picks


Tyler
Going Overboard
PCU
Dance Till Dawn
North by Northwest
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
Ted
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Blues Brothers


Matt
Night of the Creeps
The Monster Squad
Deep Rising
Rear Window
Rudderless
Sing Street
Heathers


Astrid
Grosse Point Blank
Teen Witch
Fear
Shadow of a Doubt
Monster House
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Dope



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure





I'd consider this a classic teen comedy. Since it's September it was decided to have a Movie Chat Teen School Theme week and Bill & Ted made the cut.

For a film about two idiots, the film is smartly written and uses time travel to comedic heights that few films are able to do. Anchored by great performances that people usually overlook, Bill & Ted managed to stay in the pop culture relevance for a long time. We even have another film coming our way in 2020.

Most of the jokes still land and even though it is a product of its time, I feel like people can still enjoy this film today. It's absurd to just the right levels.

I remember seeing Bogus Journey more times as a kid, but have now seen Excellent Adventure more times as an adult.