Game Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
It’s not easy trying to release a movie in the wake of an overwhelming success like Black Panther or really ANY Disney movie nowadays, and the idea of Counter Programming (releasing a movie that targets an audience vastly different from whatever else is in theaters) is becoming an increasingly less viable route to go when success is as massive as these year round tent poles have become. With that said, it’s ALSO a common time to dump movies that the studio has little faith in as wasting a BETTER time slot in the year is the year would only make things that much worse for them. For me, seeing this trailer quite frequently in the last month or so, it looks to fall into the latter as the premise of the film and the gags they showed us wasn’t inspiring much hope in me that this was going to be much of a comedy classic, but I have been wrong before about movies and I’m like the ONLY guy who’s like Billy Magnussen in everything I’ve seen him in; and that’s including Birth of the Dragon! Does this action comedy bring the same fun and excitement you always hope to have whenever you have your own game night, or is this as exciting as playing Monopoly for two hours past the point everyone stopped caring? Let’s find out!!
Max and Anne (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) are the picture perfect mid-thirties couple that LOVES playing board games on their weekly Game Night along with their friends Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury) as well as good ol’ Ryan (Billy Magnussen) who frequently brings new dates to Game Name with the latest being Sarah (Sharon Horgan) . OH, and uh… they used to invite the neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons) over to play with them, but no one likes to talk about Gary; especially after the divorce. ANYWAY, Game Night is the one thing that they all look forward to every week, but things start to run afoul this time around as Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) shows up out of the blue with his badass car and super smooth swagger to take over Game Night and make it an evening they will NEVER forget; something that gets Max rather pissy right off the bat. Oh, you know how brother are! Always trying to one up each other even when it comes to something as trivial as Trivial Pursuit! Brooks invites everyone over to his house to play one of those INTERACTIVE MURDER MYSTERY deals with actors pretending to be cops and robbers, but the party is crashed by ACTUAL robbers right off the bat; something that they REALLY should have realized was the case even if they were told this was going to be a big game. They don’t realize that these are REAL crooks invading the party and kidnapping Brooks though, but they will soon enough as they find out more and more about Brooks and just how much trouble he’s really in. Can Max, Anne, and their best buddies find a way to save Brooks before he gets two in the head? What will Max learn about his brother during this absurd quest, and what will he learn about… HIMSELF!? Anyone else feel like playing a game right now? King of Tokyo? Drop Mix? Yu-Gi-Oh?
Hostiles and all the images you see in this review are owned by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Scott Cooper
Okay, so MAYBE I jumped the gun a bit when I declared Phantom Thread to be the last of the 2017 hold overs as apparently THIS film (as well as Molly’s Game apparently) is was similarly hoping for some award buzz before reaching the general public. The difference HERE though (and probably why I hadn’t heard about it until 2018) is that it DIDN’T get the recognition it was looking for as it hasn’t been nominated for any Oscar, nor is it really showing up on critic associations’ BEST OF lists. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s BAD, right? I mean did Wonder Woman or Ingrid Goes West get any Oscar nods? Did Happy Death Day even get a Teen Choice Award!? There are never enough awards to go around for all the great films that come out in a year, so MAYBE this one will turn out to be the sleeper hit of the season! We can only hope, right? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Captain Joseph J Blocker (Christina Bale) who is not just any US solider at the turn of the nineteenth century, but one who seems to SPECIALIZE in hunting down Indigenous people. His job description is starting to go out of style however as the US government is starting to make token efforts to give back to the people they’ve committed genocide against, and their latest effort is to take one of Blocker’s prisoners, Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), along with his family (Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tanaya Beatty, and Xavier Horsechief) back to their tribal lands in Montana. Now you’d think that a long trek from his holding cell in New Mexico ALL the way to Montana would benefit from an escort that ISN’T led up by not only the guy who has killed SO many Indigenous people but ALSO the guy who put Yellow Hawk there in the first place, but I guess it only adds to the symbolic nature of this token gesture. So with only a handful of soldiers (Jonathan Majors, Jesse Plemons, and Timothée Chalamet) and his best buddy Thomas (Rory Cochrane), the party sets off to deliver these people back to their homeland and will hopefully everyone won’t kill each other in the process! Things get messy right away though as they come across a home decimated by a band of Indigenous Bandits where the only survivor is Rosalie (Rosamund Pike) whose entire family was slaughtered in the massacre by the bandits who are still out there somewhere. Will the soldiers have to put aside their prejudices just to survive against this new threat? Will Captain Blocker learn the error of his ways and come to respect his former enemies? What hardships will they be forced to endure before they reach their destination!?
The Post and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Oh good! Now that it’s officially 2018, the rest of us can FINALLY see the best movies of 2017! Because THAT doesn’t seem like a backwards approach to releasing critically acclaimed films; ESPECIALLY ONES BY THE MOST FAMOUS DIRECTOR OF ALL TIME! Sigh… whatever. My feelings about theatrical release schedules aside, there’s been a lot of buzz about this movie being yet another Awards Darling what with the big name cast, the legendary director, and the timely subject matter given the political climate we are currently and TORTUROUSLY living under. That said, I’m not always the biggest fan of movies that seem so perfectly designed to soak up Oscars (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*) and while I didn’t give it the most GLOWING review at the time, I do think that Spotlight is an unreasonably high bar for any film to try and reach which certainly seems to be the goal here given the topic at hand at hand the pedigree behind it. Then again, how can you go wrong with Spielberg? If your answer to that question is Hook by the way, you’re just flat out wrong. HOOK IS AWESOME!! Anyway, does Spielberg manage to eke out yet and another cinematic masterpiece to add to his collection, or is this simply relying on his name to sell it both at the box office and with critics? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows The Washing Post during the time The Pentagon Papers (a study of the likelihood of victory in Vietnam that indicated that the government knew there was no chance of winning yet still committed forces there anyway) were being released by The New York Times and Nixon’s Justice Department was doing what they could to stop it. Now The Washington Post wasn’t doing so well as its owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is seen as an ineffective leader for reasons that CLEARLY have very little to do with her actual abilities (I WONDER WHAT ELSE IT COULD BE!?) and was in the middle of trying to find outside investment when this all started to unfold. The editor in chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is itching to get his hands on some of the papers that The Times had gotten and were forced to stop publishing due to a federal court injunction (COMPLETELY unprecedented in American history), but even if he WERE to find the it’d be a huge risk for everyone involved; especially Miss Graham who has the most invested in the company. Eventually though, one of the assistant editors Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) manages to get his hands on not just the parts The Times obtained, but more or less the WHOLE damn report straight from the source itself Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys). With Ben having EXACTLY what he wants and a staff of likeminded reporters to back him up, it all comes down to Miss Graham to decide whether or not the risk of publishing these documents in her paper outweigh the potential good that having such documents out there will do for journalism and first amendment rights. Even then though, if they jump the gun and the Nixon Administration wins whatever court battle would certainly lie ahead, that could lead to an even WORSE seizure of unchecked executive power. Will Kay find a way to get the truth out there without losing everything else in the process? What can The Justice Department and Nixon do to this newspaper and its staff if these documents are released in spite of the injunction placed on The Times? The REAL question is, will this movie win MOST of the awards or ALL of the awards?
American Made and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Doug Liman
Hollywood? We need to talk. I know that you love to make movies about people (usually white dudes) who catch a lucky break or have one useful skill that pays off which launches them into fame, fortune, and eventual ruin, but I think it’s time to stop. Look, Wolf of Wall Street was wonderful and so was that Nicolas Cage movie from 2005, but these are starting to get stale and repetitive; especially with this film that looks so paint by numbers and generic that even Tom Cruise can barely seem to bring anything to the material. Still, bad trailers and a tired premise don’t ALWAYS spell doom for a movie, and Tom Cruise can really be THAT good in a movie so as to keep it engaging even if everything else is working against it. Does this film manage to avoid the pitfalls that so many films before it have fallen into, or are we scraping the bottom of the barrel to find just ONE more interesting story about a dude who found an odd way to strike it rich? Let’s find out!!
The movie is supposedly based on the real life story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) who was your run of the mill airline pilot who was making some extra cash by smuggling in Cuban Cigars. His actions don’t go unnoticed by the mysterious Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is a CIA agent looking to make his mark and believes he has found it in this pilot that he easily convinces to quit his job and start working for the US Government. His patriotic duty turns out to be driving a plane with a camera on it so he can take pictures of Central American communist freedom fighters that the US has an interest in repressing and these pictures prove to be invaluable to that cause. Eventually he gets bigger missions such as delivering intel to Manuel Noriega, running guns to the Contra fighters in Nicaragua, and even running cocaine for the cartel which isn’t QUITE what the CIA had in mind but they certainly aren’t gonna stop him from doing it. Of course, with the CIA apparently doing all this on the down low, Barry not only starts catching the ire of other government organizations like the FBI and DEA, but also runs the risk of losing his sweetheart deals with the Cartel which is led up by Pablo Escobar (Maunicio Mejia). Throw in some family drama with his wife (Sarah Wright) who is kept in the dark for a lot of this and his brother in law (Caleb Landry Jones) who’s a total fuck up that knows too much and you’re looking at a powder keg ready to explode right in Barry’s handsome face! Will Barry find a way to keep the balancing act going indefinitely? How far will the US Government under Reagan go to get what it wants and what will that eventually mean for Barry? Wait, is this what the Top Gun sequel will be about!?
Bridge of Spies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steven Spielberg
We’re well into the Oscar season by this point, but now it’s time for the BIG guns to strut their stuff, and you can’t get any bigger the Steven Spielberg!! It also seems that he’s found a niche that he’s starting to get comfortable with considering this is his second historical film based on a bunch of lawyers and politicians arguing during a very contentious time in our country’s history. Does Spielberg remind us once again why he’s one of Hollywood’s greatest living directors, or will this be one of those lesser films he makes that we’ll all forget about as soon as his next film is made? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins in 1957 with the arrest of Soviet Spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and the media storm that surrounded it. When it comes time to actually try the bastard, the US government hires a law firm to represent Rudolf so that at least it can APPEAR to be a legit trial instead of a kangaroo court. Unfortunately for everyone, the man the law firm assigns to the case is James B Donovan (Tom Hanks) who actually believes in the constitution and won’t just let the legal system run all over this guy. For doing the right thing, he ends up drawing unwanted attention from hot heads looking to see some Soviet scumbag hang as well as the ire of the FBI who want him to tell them everything that Rudolph has said in their meetings which would obviously be a breach of attorney client privilege. While this is going on, we occasionally cut to Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stonewall) who is a US solider training to be a spy and will one day fly a stealth plane of USSR territories to take covert pictures. Will fate conspire to put him in a similar situation as Rudolph Abel finds himself now? What kinds of consequences will James incur for himself, his law firm, and his family for simply believing in and fighting for what the constitution guarantees? Just how many awards will Spielberg win for directing a period piece political thriller starring Tom Hanks!? Like… fifty?