So basically I’m terrible with keeping up on this. I will continue tracking what I’ve seen but can’t promise weekly updates.
48. Black Panther (2018)
The Panther returns in his first solo film, and what a film it is. Solid storytelling and direction, along with some of the most creative production design in recent comic book movies. Two Beers.
49. Early Man (2018)
Middle-of-the-Road Aardman is still funnier than most animated films, but compared to their best it just doesn’t hold its own. Four Beers.
50. Last Men in Aleppo (2017)
Heartbreaking and suspenseful, but moreover a miracle that it was even able to be completed given the real life and death struggle that it chronicles. A Toast that will stay with you forever.
51. Icarus (2017)
In an attempt to make the Super Size Me of steroid doping documentaries, the filmmakers bumbled into a genuinely Earthshaking International Conspiracy. Two Beers for blind but fortunate luck!
52. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017)
When the director of Hoop Dreams decides that a bank is the protagonist in his story about the financial crisis, you’d better believe it. Two Beers for this remarkable character-based documentary that will make you empathize with the money lenders for once.
53. Game Night (2018)
I will be the first to admit that I’m hard on comedy films, harder than I am on drama. But Game Night is something truly spectacular, both a solid work of humor and of filmmaking in general. The movie is perfectly edited and performed, without a hint of the overly improvisational “riffing” which so often mires modern comedies. Two Beers for being genuinely surprising.
54. Annihilation (2018)
Few films are as truly creepy and unsettling as this work of hard science-fiction. The movie is sort of like Arrival meets Under the Skin, but with a carefully weighted script and thoughtful editing which moves the story along with deliberate pacing that maintains the mystery to the very last shot. Two Beers for never showing the cards for a second.
55. 13 Hours (2016)
Someone recommended this Michael Bay-helmed film about the Benghazi attacks, saying that it is evidence that my Michael Bay embargo should only include his Transformers films. I broke down and decided to give it a shot. Five Beers for NOPE, this is the same stupid, explodey shit, but with a sanctimonious political agenda.
56. 2010 (1984)
Think long-delayed sequels to classic films are a new invention? My reaction to Stanley Kubrick’s original film has always been mixed. I consider it the greatest achievement in technical filmmaking I have ever had the pleasure struggling to remain conscious viewing. Director Peter Hyams didn’t set out to make the same style of movie as 2001, but rather to continue the story in a tightly edited but still visually impressive way. Fortunately Arthur C. Clarke’s story and Hyams’ screenplay avoid accusations of re-treading while the cast that includes Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban, and John Lithgow carry the material well. Two Beers for making me write way more than my typical 1-2 sentence blurb.
57. Cleanflix (2009)
The Mormon Community within Utah loves movies but hates all those things like Sex and Violence… So why not edit them out and profit from the results? Copyright laws, it turns out. The Word of Wisdom tells me that this film deserves Two Strong Drinks.
58. Hurricane Heist (2018)
Moronic? Sure. A waste of money? Absolutely. A fantastic balls-ass crazy Six Pack of a movie? Definitely, if you are hungry for a throwback to mid-1990s “Die Hard in a ______”-style action films.
59. A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
Seldom does the Disney company fall flat on its face, but with A Wrinkle in Time they escape just barely from dumpster-fire territory. This feels like the product of a studio executive trying so hard to be “Woke” that he chose the first screenplay he could find with a mostly female cast and green-lit it. Six Beers, but not quite drunk enough to make it fun.
60. The French Revolution: Years of Hope (1989)
Actually the first half of a 2-part 1989 movie about the French Revolution, but as this first part is still 180 minutes long, I’m counting it as a single feature. I’ll get to the second part in a later update, but this film is a very accurate and ambitious reenactment of the events leading up to the French Revolution, though it is probably only interesting to history buffs, as it doesn’t have the emotional grip that a film of this scope or magnitude should. Three Beers for its attention to detail and solid performances, if not necessarily the most investing pacing.
61. 7 Days in Entebbe (2018)
This latest attempt to depict the events of the 1976 terrorist hijacking of an Air France flight and the subsequent Israeli military raid on the airport in Uganda where the plane landed attempts to tell two sides of the story, with more character development given to the hijackers than has previously been attempted. Sadly, this is handled with little regard to pacing and with some questionable editing choices that completely destroy the climactic battle sequence. Four beers for interpretive dancing.
On a side note, I re-watched the 1976 NBC TV film Raid on Entebbe, and it managed a pretty good balance of depicting the historical events and building character. Although with less time given to the hijackers themselves, but since as not much is really known about their motivations beyond their outward political statements, speculation is a challenge.
62. Love, Simon (2018)
Coming of age teen dramas are a dime a dozen these days, but few of the mainstream ones deal with the struggles of coming out, which makes Love, Simon unique. The movie gets off to a fairly generic melodramatic start and occasionally verges on fullmelodrama, particularly with a “liar revealed” subplot twist that feels unearned. But Love, Simon features what should be a star-making performance for Nick Robinson, who carries even the melodrama with charisma and subtlety that earns it a solid recommendation. Two Beers for succeeding against the odds.
63. Tomb Raider (2018)
Do you like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and want to watch the same thing, but with Alicia Vikander as Harrison Ford and Dominic West as Sean Connery? Five Beers for “neither did I.”
64. Operation Thunderbolt (1977)
So, apparently there are 2 more movies that depict the Entebbe Hijacking, so why the fuck shouldn’t I watch them as well? First up is Operation Thunderbolt, directed by Cannon Films’ exec Menahem Golan and starring Klaus Kinski, both bringing uncharacteristic restraint. This feels like the definitive cinematic portrayal of the events, following the historical events closely without being overly exploitative. Two Beers for a Cannon film that is actually memorable for the right reasons.
Make no mistake, this Israeli film is very heavily pro-Israel. Being real for a moment though: fuck the civilian-targeting hijackers, that shit only makes your cause appear worse.
65. Victory at Entebbe (1976)
So, apparently in 1976 American TV stations ABC and NBC were in a rush to release their own adaptations of the Entebbe story. ABC’s Victory at Entebbe came out first, less than 6 months after the event actually occurred. This is PAINFULLY obvious, as they shot using those awful 1970s live TV cameras that make it feel like watching a Christmas special about Terrorism. The cast is full of celebrities, some like Anthony Hopkins and Burt Lancaster hold their own through sheer charisma, but holy fuck who thought giving Linda Blair lines to read was a good idea, much less giving her the meatiest role in the film? Six Pack this shit right to hell for its blatantly lazy exploitation of a tragic news story too new to even call historical at that point. The NBC TV movie holds up much better and feels more earnest, but Operation Thunderbolt is the film I’ll ultimately recommend above any of these other attempts.
66. The Death of Stalin (2018)
Armando Iannucci is responsible for creating some of the most biting political satire of the last couple decades with series like The Thick of It and Veep. The Death of Stalin manages to walk a wild and thin line of good taste by using the vacuum of power that occurred after the sudden death of the dictator to draw comparisons to modern political machinations. While banned in Russia, I can’t help but find more of the Trump Administration targeted here than Putin. Though perhaps both are being equally lampooned. Despite its blistering pace and amazingly comical dialogue, the film also manages an emotional punch near the end which brings all of the ridiculousness into very real and disturbing relief. A Toast for being just plain brilliant.