Marriage Story (2019) – Love And Divorce

Released: 6th December
Seen: 7th December

This year I don’t think I’ve been that kind to Netflix original movies. As I look back, most of the year I’ve called them anywhere between average to awful with very few bright spots on the way. It almost feels like I was picking on them but I probably wasn’t any meaner to them than any other production company, they just happen to be the one where I have to visit a site labelled with their name so it’s easier to associate them with the bad product. I can’t forget that I saw Sextuplets on Netflix, it started with their logo and the only way to see it is to go to their site. Meanwhile A Dog’s Purpose, my worst film of 2017, has associations with Universal, Amblin, DreamWorks and Walden Media and I don’t even think of it as being a movie by any of those companies, I just see a bad movie.

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The Irishman (2019) – The Luck Of The Irish

Released: 27th November
Seen: 1st December

So… the discussion around Marin Scorsese lately has been kind of interesting. I’ve avoided bringing up his feelings regarding the Marvel movies on this blog because it never seemed relevant but now I’m going to have to talk about the movie that he was promoting while making those comments so let’s get that out of the way. While I think Martin was wrong, he’s also one of the greatest directors of all time and can, therefore, say any goddamn thing he wants to say about cinema. Plus, he’s still turning out high quality films so as long as he keeps proving why he’s one of the best of all time, I’m good with just about anything he wants to say… even if I strenuously disagree with him and think that his latest film has a few problems, it’s still great and worthy of letting the man say any damn thing he likes.

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Dolemite Is My Name (2019) – Brilliant

Released: 25th October
Seen: 26th October

The 1970s was the era of the blaxploitation film. If you look up a list of blaxploitation movies they will list every year of the 70s with milestone movies like Shaft, Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song and Coffy. While these movies often featured racial stereotypes that might be termed problematic today, they’re also a subgenre of film that features an entirely black cast and often featured black directors and writers trying to make films for black audiences of the day. It was also a genre that made worldwide stars out of people like Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree and the subject of the newest Netflix biopic Rudy Ray White.

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Wounds (2019) – It Hurts

Released: 18th October
Seen: 26th October

The end of October is a great time to put out every horror movie, no matter what the content or style is. It’s a time when the slashers, the zombies, the vampires and just the flat out weird as hell horror films have their time in the sun. You could release pretty much anything horror related during October and it’d be appropriate. You can release great horror films and even awful horror films, bad movie nights are a thing and a bad horror movie around Halloween is a gift for people wanting something gloriously stupid to laugh at… and then there’s Wounds, a bland horror movie that tries its hardest to be creepy and weird and never fully gets there, though not for a lack of trying.

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El Camino (2019) – Breaking Moderately OK

Released: 11th October
Seen: 13th October

Adapting a TV series into a film is not easy. The two mediums, though similar in many ways, are substantially different when it comes to storytelling. Going from a 22-42 minute long episode of TV to a two-hour long movie can change what kind of story you’ll focus on. They’re also made for a variety of reasons, either to provide commentary on the series (21 Jump Street or The Brady Bunch Movie), act as a long episode that couldn’t have been done in the normal series runtime (The Simpsons Movie or DuckTales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Lamp) or take on the form of a finale and give the series some much needed closure (Serenity or The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!). There are other reasons to make the leap, like brand name recognition or the increased quality of cocaine, but these three seem to be the biggest reasons. El Camino seems to be going for the “much-needed closure” reasoning but forgot that we didn’t actually need that closure.

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Fractured (2019) – Broken

Released: 11th October
Seen: 12th October

Sometimes all a film needs is a great concept and that can do most of the work. Sharknado is a great example, the idea is so out there (It’s sharks… in a tornado) that no matter what those films do I can enjoy it because the idea itself is so perfect that I’ll buy it. This can also work with good films, “Killer who kills you in your dreams” gave us Freddy Krueger, “Plant that eats people” gave us Little Shop of Horrors, a good concept can make a film easy to enjoy. So when a concept as perfect and as effective as “Guy checks his daughter into a hospital, hospital pretends she never checked in” comes across I was ready to love it because that idea has so much potential… shame Fractured wasted so much of it.

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In the Tall Grass (2019) – Hey You Kids, Get Out Of My Lawn!

Released: 4th October
Seen: 5th October

Stephen King is a master of taking things that aren’t normally scary and making them terrifying. Puppies, classic cars, a cell phone, he’s taken them and twisted them into the stuff of nightmares. In 2012, Stephen collaborated with his son Joe Hill for a short story called In the Tall Grass, because now Stephen wants us to be scared of lawns. One of these days he’s going to make a film about a killer lamp and then someone will make a movie about it and I’ll end up enjoying that almost as much as I enjoyed this film.

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Murder Mystery (2019) – Whodumbit?

Released: 14th June
Seen: 25th August

The murder mystery genre has been kind of slow lately, the last major film in the genre being the Murder on the Orient Express way back in 2017. It’s always been a pretty fascinating genre, a large scale whodunit where someone is murdered and we follow the investigation into who the killer is. Often these movies would maybe take place in one location with everyone staying put so they could figure out who the killer was without having it spread. It’s also a genre that’s ripe for parody, as films like Murder by Death or Clue have proven how the genre can be taken to create some genuinely great comedy… and then there’s Murder Mystery, the store brand version of a comedy-mystery movie with all the ingredients and none of the flavour.

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Sextuplets (2019) – More Like Suckstuplets

Released: 16th August
Seen: 23rd August

In ancient Persia, there was a method of execution known as Scaphism. It’s one of the most creative methods of execution ever created. First, you take two boats of identical shape and place the victim inside one of them, leaving a spot for their head to stick out the end. You put the other boat on top, creating a box that floats, and feed the victim as much food as you can. Then honey and milk is forced down their throat and poured over their head. Soon, their entire head was covered in flies and other assorted bugs, then the milk would work through their digestive system and they would begin to have severe diarrhoea that would fill the boat. They would float around for weeks, slowly being eaten alive by the flies and the bugs that got attracted by the boat full of excrement, one of the most elaborate torturous painful methods of execution known to man… anyway, I saw Sextuplets and now I know how the people in the boat felt.

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Shaft (2019) – Daft

Released: 28th June
Seen: 10th August

In 1971 the world learned the answer to the immortal question “Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks?” and turns out, that answer would be an icon of blaxploitation cinema and one of the most badass characters to ever appear on film. John Shaft started as a detective novel before his original trilogy of movies (Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score and Shaft in America) and even ended up with a TV series in the early 70’s before the character was retired until the character was revived in 2000 for a brand new Shaft movie that did fairly well but didn’t get any sequels… until now. Now it has a sequel that did poorly at the box office, was distributed internationally on Netflix and is currently the most critically panned movie in the entire franchise. Does it deserve that kind of treatment? Is the film really bad enough to deserve to be relegated to the trash heap of cinema history? Kind of, but only because it’s kind of bland.

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