Sunday, December 27, 2015

Brief reviews of all the 2015 movies I've seen in the last month or two - part 3

The Overnight

This movie is almost aggressively slight, which actually made me like it that much more. One married couple invites another married couple, who just moved into the area, to their house so their kids can have a playdate. But it turns out that first married couple may have an ulterior motive for this invitation. Wife swapping? A foursome? Some freaky sex thing? Well, "The Overnight" is more than just a series of cheap sex gags and awkward situations, it's also a mature examination of marriage and intimacy with a surprising amount of depth for just 80 minutes. Also, I love Adam Scott. I think I've said that before. Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman? A cast like that, it's hard not to love this movie.

Grade: B+

The Gift

Joel Edgerton deserves all the credit in the world for crafting this thriller, which isn't quite A-level, but is most certainly an engrossing viewing experience. This was Edgerton's first time behind the camera and he also stars as the villain (or is he the villain?). But this is more than just a vanity project. Edgerton also gets great performances from Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman. Bateman, in fact, is the biggest wow factor here, as his character is really nasty and Bateman never holds back. Ultimately, I think the film suffers a little bit trying to find the perfect conclusion, but I was mostly satisfied with the end product.

Grade: B


Powerful stuff. Heavily reminiscent of "All the President's Men," which isn't a complaint or a knock. It's hard to make a movie about investigative journalists without making it too didactic or sentimental, luckily Tom McCarthy keeps a remarkably firm grip on the tone and gets fine performances from a top notch supporting cast. Everyone puts forth a great performance here, especially Keaton, though Mark Ruffalo is the true standout of the bunch.

Grade: A-


Welcome to "Room," a harrowing film that's guaranteed to make you cry at least five times during its two-hour span. But those cries are well-earned. Brie stars as Joy, a woman who's been held prisoner inside a shed, that's been converted into a tiny one-room shack, and is forced into having sex with her captor every night. Over the seven years of being held hostage, Joy gave birth to Jack. For five-year-old Jack, living in this room is all he knows. "Room" is, at first, about this tight-knit mother/son relationship and the ways Joy tries to shield Jack from the awful sexual abuse she gets put through by her captor. But then, half-way through the film, Jack and Joy escape. And once they escape, they don't live happily ever after. No, Jack and Joy have to adjust to living a free life. For Jack, the freedom is simply overwhelming. For Joy, her freedom doesn't really feel like freedom. "Room" looks into the psychology of being trapped and held captive for several years and that's where it really shines. One of the best films of the year.

Grade: A


"National Lampoon's Vacation" was written by one of the great '80s filmmakers, John Hughes, and directed by a master comedy craftsman in Harold Ramis. They are the type of filmmakers that are, for some reason, very hard to come by these days. They knew how to make comedies. They knew how to give a movie the right balance of heart, mean-spiritedness, and sight gags. Why is that so hard to replicate these days? 2015's "Vacation," written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein brings the Griswolds into the 21st century and it's painful to watch. It's a mix of gags that try way too hard or are too lazy. Not in-between. And there are gags that callback to the original film while taking away the soul of those jokes. It's a movie so bad, it deserves this shittily-written review.

Grade: D

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