IT: Chapter 2 (Andy Muschietti – 2019) C-

They took out almost everything that made Chapter one a solid book adaptation and made a bloated confused big sort of mess. Even the talented cast is going through the motions here (maybe except for Bill Hader) in a movie that really looks great and has some awesome sequences. In the end though it is more concerned in moving from plot beat to plot beat than in making a movie with characters that are real and interesting. Even Bill Skarsgard is not given nearly as much non-CGI screen time to play Pennywise as well as he did in the first chapter. Too bad.

AD Astra (James Gray – 2019) A

Set in the “near” future where space travel is much more advanced and safe. People can go to the moon on spring break. Of course there’s an Applebees there and a Subway. It’s all fascinating and the movie is quiet wonderful when it shows all that. The world building and everything on the periphery of the camera and main plot is just incredible. There’s even a cool chase and shoot out of sorts with moon pirates! It veers very successfully into horror territory at one point as well. After all that cool stuff though, I really enjoyed this film because it is an intimate and grand story at the same time. It’s like a mash up of 2001 and Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now. It is another outstanding performance by Brad Pitt playing Roy McBride and we are with him the whole time as he goes on a journey from earth to the Moon, Mars and beyond. He is a skilled and sharp astronaut whose father lead a mission to the far reaches of our solar system looking for intelligent life. Apparently his father (played by Tommy Lee Jones) is still alive and he’s messing with antimatter that can destroy all life on earth. Roy needs to reach out to him and get him to stop. He has not seen him in 16 years and there is no doubt part of him that needs closure. It’s a familiar story that is well executed. There is more here though. It’s a movie that asks big questions about our place in the universe. What if we are all alone? What if we are not? What does really matter?

Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino – 1997) A-

I went back and re-watched this one. I had not seen it since it came out probably. Everyone and their mother are making lists of and ordering QT movies from most to least favorite. It’s like the ultimate compliment to anyone’s work, you compare them to themselves. All his films range from good to excellent so the rankings are really a compliment…but if you had to order them. Many critics seem to think this one is both underrated and possibly Tarantino’s best movie. Huh? well I agree with the first sentiment. It is an excellent underrated movie, but not his best IMHO. It is a tight thriller, expertly made with multiple points of view for various sequences and it involves -from beginning to end- a smart heist of sorts. It’s almost like a French heist movie mixed with a Marlow noir flick. On top of all that we get very good performances from Pam Grier, Sam Jackson and a very cool Robert Forster.

So, what would my Quentin Tarantino ranking look like? Well, here goes (for today at least)

  1. Inglourious Basterds
  2. Pulp Fiction
  3. Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood
  4. The Hateful Eight
  5. Kill Bill
  6. Jackie Brown
  7. Reservoir Dogs
  8. Django: Unchained
  9. Death Proof

Won’t You be My Neighbor? (Morgan Neville – 2018) B+

I did not grow up with Mr. Rogers on my TV, yet I’m glad that he was part of this world and a part of millions of childhoods. He was a legitimately sweet and decent human being who made this world a better place. This documentary illustrates that very well. A story with no major drama, no weird scandals or long battles with addiction. Yet, still very interesting.

The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodovar – 2011) A-

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an Almodovar movie. Glad I caught this one recently. It straddles the line between horror, beauty, comedy and sexuality. It’s constructed like a mystery as we meet the seemingly captive Vera (Elena Anaya) in the big mansion owned by the brilliant doctor Ledgard (Antonio Banderas). She is very pretty, wears a full body suit for some reason and as far as we can tell she cannot leave her room. He is a genius who apparently can apparently transplant skin that he invented. We get some distractions with the science of it for a bit but that does not matter. The movie moves back and forth in time as we learn how we got to this point. It is a fascinating and shocking story marked by Almodovar’s eccentricities and excess.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar wright – 2010) B

Heard a lot about this one and finally caught up with it. Probably one the best video game movies (maybe the only good video game movie?) that is not based on a video game, but rather on a graphic novel. Scott Pilgrim has to defeat all of his girlfriend’s ex boyfriends in a series of creative explosive and fantastical battles. A lot of fun this one.