Week in Review 2/9/18 – 2/15/18

Memento: Took me so long to finally watch this modern masterpiece a second time, but it was worth the wait. Nolan deftly places clues and Easter eggs all throughout his movies; I noticed on repeat viewing that characters use the phrase “it’s backwards” twice in conversation, hinting at the structure of the color sequences. The film also pulls off a brilliant maneuver by making you sympathize with Leonard at first due to his amnesia, then pull the rug out from under you by revealing that he’s a full-on psychopath who “forgets” certain memories in order to escape guilt. I don’t think any other story could successfully execute this particular nonlinear narrative, making Memento a rare treasure of cinema that Hollywood should never remake (but probably will).

National Treasure: I’ve often championed this movie as a fun guilty pleasure and it didn’t disappoint once again. Obviously, when you watch a movie enough times, you can nitpick it to death. It’s not hard to find the flaws with National Treasure, but I guess I’m more forgiving when Nic Cage gives a rare subdued performance. Not to be forgotten, the rest of the cast is actually solid for a lower-tier adventure film: Sean Bean, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight. The sequel is downright terrible, but there’s plenty of excitement to be found in the original.

Call Me by Your Name: My quest to see all the Best Picture nominees continues (only three left). I’ll be honest, not much happens in Call Me by Your Name, but I would by lying if I didn’t think it was a technical achievement. Besides Master of None, I’ve never seen Italy shot this gorgeously and effortlessly. And the performances…holy crap, this is some powerful stuff. Armie Hammer genuinely surprised me, Michael Stuhlbarg tugged at the heartstrings with a poignant final speech, and Timothée Chalamet solidified his rising star status. But above all, the unspoken moments are perhaps the defining quality of the entire film; director Luca Guadagnino often trusts his actors to communicate using only facial expressions and they deliver every time. No scene better encapsulates this than the finale that rolls into the credits with Elio sitting by the fireplace. The pain and anguish on his face after receiving that fateful call from Oliver is some of the best nonverbal acting I’ve seen in a long time. Gary Oldman’s probably winning Best Actor, but Chalamet deserves some serious recognition as well.

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Week in Review 2/2/18 – 2/8/18

I’ve already managed to surpass my initial weekly review; after seeing four movies last week, I have another five to review for you. Right now, I usually try to watch movies I’ve never seen before in order to expand my “viewing library,” but every now and then I’ll revisit an older classic. Without further ado…

The Green Mile: Don’t really understand the three-hour runtime, although I guess I agree with the late Roger Ebert when he said the extra time “allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years.” Even so, Frank Darabont accomplished the same feat with The Shawshank Redemption in one fewer hour. Nevertheless, all the performances are excellent and the journey is emotionally gripping.

Jaws: Of course I’ve seen this Spielberg masterpiece once before, but since it was easily accessible via Netflix, I wanted to remind myself of its greatness. In any review of Jaws, everyone immediately points to the absence of the shark as an unintentional added horror. While I absolutely agree with that sentiment, one tends to forget that when you do see the shark, it is a technical marvel. I love the shot of Chief Brody casually throwing chum into the ocean and the shark just rising out of the water in terrifying fashion. Perfect movie that hasn’t aged one bit in over 40 years.

Goodfellas: I remember almost nothing from the first viewing other than the tracking shot through the restaurant and all the cursing. But upon further reflection, I began to appreciate the meticulous storytelling behind Goodfellas. Screenwriters will often back themselves into a corner and have to conjure up some disconnected thread that magically resolves any previous conflict. But with Goodfellas, every action feels organic; every scenario logically follows from one to the next. The following opinion can be overused, but it almost feels like I’m watching real events unfold. The gangster world that Scorsese constructs is sprawling, but still allows you to focus on Ray Liotta’s journey to the top and subsequent downfall. Easily one of the top five crime movies ever made.

The Shape of Water: Everyone has been quick to label this Oscar contender “the movie where the woman has sex with a fish.” After seeing it, I can tell you in all honesty that you won’t actually see any…um…bestiality scenes. It’s certainly implied, but take that, naysayers! All jokes aside, this is a gorgeous work of art. Everything from the teal-rich palette to the 1960s setting to Alexandre Desplat’s moving score is top-notch filmmaking. Don’t allow narrow-minded perceptions of the film to prevail; The Shape of Water revolves around an unconventional love story yet still champions basic human decency in the best possible way.

The Post: Spielberg. Hanks. Streep. The ultimate powerhouse. The final product though? Solid, but nothing to write home about. I didn’t know much about this moment in history, so it was at least helpful to witness a reenactment of an event that brought greater importance to journalistic freedom. There’s a nice double feature option here when paired with All the President’s Men, but I can’t shake the nagging feeling that those three names should’ve combined to make something more memorable.

Super Bowl Movie Trailer Breakdown

What is truly the most important part of Super Bowl Sunday? The trailers (although, to be fair, the game itself was spectacular). I’m really looking forward to some of these movies and others…ehhh…not so much; it shouldn’t be hard to tell the difference. Let’s talk about all of it!

Red Sparrow
Obviously, the only place to start is with the Jennifer-Lawrence-does-a-terrible-accent movie. Did you like Atomic Blonde, but wish they cast a less charismatic actress and threw in a discount Black Widow origin story? Then Red Sparrow is the movie for you!

A Quiet Place
I still stand by my earlier opinion that this looks interesting and original. Hopefully the reveal of the monsters haunting John Krasinski and Emily Blunt doesn’t fall flat; I’m not saying this is the next Get Out, but anything’s possible.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Sigh…just…why??? No one came out of Jurassic World thinking, “Wow, I really care about the relationship between Chris Pratt and Blue the velociraptor.” But now they’re going to milk that story beat until it runs dry. Meanwhile, the worst part of The Lost World (the T. rex running wild in San Diego) has been lazily planted into this one. Some people are holding out hope that their preconceived notions are wrong and the movie turns out great. I hope it doesn’t so the studio can finally learn to leave this franchise alone.

Solo: A Star Wars Story
I’m cheating a little bit by including the trailer that dropped this morning as well. After leaving this movie completely off my most anticipated list, I must say that the two teasers raised my excitement ever so slightly. I especially love the music in the second trailer as well as that final shot of the Falcon maneuvering around TIE fighters and a giant tentacle monster. Everyone around Han Solo looks awesome (Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke). But…I don’t know about Alden Ehrenreich as our beloved scruffy-looking nerf herder. He’s probably a really good actor in other things, but no one can replace Harrison Ford or even try to emulate Han Solo from the original trilogy. I hope he and the movie come out of this OK (since it’s going up against Infinity War and Deadpool 2 in the same month).

Skyscraper
Do you care about another generic action movie starring The Rock? Cause I sure don’t. From the director whose only decent movie is Dodgeball comes this mishmash of rehashes (just made that up, no lie). You got shades of Die Hard, Taken, Fast and Furious, San Andreas…oh wait, now I’m just listing movies that The Rock has already made. The line has been blurred so many times now that there’s nothing distinctive about any of these films; they’re just thrusting him into a dangerous situation, surrounding him with a rotating cast of love interests, and saying, “Go be charismatic!” That last part may still be true, but the appeal is quickly wearing out.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
THIS. This is easily the best trailer from the entire Super Bowl slate. I love seeing Henry Cavill, mustache and all, play a villain (and not that dark brooding stuff from Man of Steel). The action looks incredible and there’s an added element of intensity when you know that’s it’s Tom Cruise actually performing those stunts (and paying the price in some instances). You think I complain about the Fast and Furious movies too much? It’s because we have much better options like the Mission: Impossible franchise.

The Cloverfield Paradox
Never seen any of the Cloverfield movies (actually, I got bored 30 minutes into the original and turned it off), so…moving on. Not really, but I will say that the marketing strategy for this third installment (releasing it on Netflix immediately after the Super Bowl) was a bold move. Don’t know how many people are clamoring to watch a two hour movie after four hours of football though. However, the critics haven’t been kind to it so far (16%), so Netflix may want to rethink their strategy next time.

Avengers: Infinity War
Yep, this is just your periodic reminder that the movie looks awesome. Now try to wait patiently for three more months.

Week in Review 1/26/18 – 2/1/18

I’m all for trying something new on this blog, so why not start writing mini-reviews for the movies I watch every week? I slowly realized that over the course of seven days, I spend way more time on entertainment than the average person, so I thought it could be a good idea to pass on some knowledge from all those hours spent on Netflix (if for no reason than to make it seem like that time wasn’t just wasted on myself). Let me know if you like this new format and I’ll happily keep doing more.

Little Miss Sunshine: Delightful road trip movie that boasts a stellar ensemble cast (standouts for me are Paul Dano and Abigail Breslin as the siblings). The family dynamic is incredibly relatable even as they go through some extreme highs and lows. There’s also an accurate commentary on the superficiality of beauty pageants skillfully woven into the narrative. Toeing the line between comedy and drama is hard to pull off, but Little Miss Sunshine might be the shining example.

I, Tonya: I knew very little about Tonya Harding apart from the infamous attack on Nancy Kerrigan, so the film’s ability to make you empathize with a widely hated figure at the time is praiseworthy. The decision to have the characters break the fourth wall could’ve failed miserably, but I think it succeeds because the filmmakers correctly assumed that you had already heard about the central conflict and cleverly decide to have the characters talk you through the rest of the story. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are obviously great, but Sebastian Stan easily holds his own after being relegated to the background in so many Marvel movies.

Logan Lucky: Simply put, the hillbilly version of Ocean’s Eleven. Soderbergh ventures into familiar territory, but proves that he hasn’t lost a step since going into “retirement,” assembling another all-star cast anchored by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver for a good old-fashioned heist film. But in a complete transformation, Daniel Craig steals the show as Joe Bang (yes, that’s actually his character name).

Ingrid Goes West: Big thanks to Screen Junkies for even mentioning this in their conversation of the best 2017 movies; otherwise I probably would’ve never sought it out. Combining elements of The Talented Mr. Ripley and the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Ingrid Goes West is a timely and insightful look into our obsession with social media that also manages to make you laugh. Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube’s son) wonderfully portray typical “millennials” without making it seem mean-spirited. A film like this can be easily forgotten because it didn’t get a wide release or cast huge stars, so please spread the word.

The Boss Baby Review (seriously)

Call it morbid curiosity. Or an irrational obligation to see every Oscar nominee. Or a desire to inflict self-harm. Whatever the reason, I actually sat down to watch The Boss Baby on Netflix to find out exactly why the Academy nominated it over The Lego Batman Movie. Sigh…you know how everyone predicted The Emoji Movie to fail? I’ve thought the same of The Boss Baby for months now and it didn’t disappoint.

Let’s start with the uninspired casting choices. Aside from Alec Baldwin who does an OK job voicing the titular baby, everyone else is phoning it in. I’m not hearing actual characters speak; all I can make out is Tobey Maguire, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow recording their dialogue with zero emotion or inflection. Part of what separates the quality animated movies from the trash heap is the fact that they find actors who are both recognizable and have distinct voices to match a specific character. Look at Inside Out and the inspired casting of all five emotions; many of those are not household names, but they fit so perfectly. Those who worked on The Boss Baby were clearly more concerned with making the popular picks and the movie suffers for it.

Poop and fart jokes: the worst and lowest form of humor in any movie. Somehow, The Boss Baby avoids stooping to that level; instead we are witness to a disturbing amount of buttocks. For goodness sake, did Nicki Minaj accidentally stumble onto set periodically? I’m not kidding, whoever approved all these butt shots needs serious help; there’s literally a sequence where the main kid Tim slaps the Boss Baby’s butt with baby powder to music. HAHAHAHAHA…why isn’t anyone laughing? I trusted the studio who thought the penguins from Madagascar needed their own movie…wait.

But perhaps most baffling of all is the movie’s inability to stick to its own rules. Follow me down the rabbit hole for a moment. The Boss Baby opens by showing you where babies come from (apparently an elaborate factory in the sky). OK, totally acceptable. But Tim’s mother is shown to be already pregnant; so is the factory taking place inside her womb? But wait, that wouldn’t make sense because all the babies in the world are produced there. Like the filmmakers, I’ll just ignore that obvious breakdown in logic and move along. The baby then shows up in a taxi the next day…huh? What happened to the mom’s belly? How do the “baby gods” determine who goes to which family? NOTHING MAKES SENSE! WHY DO THE PARENTS NOT CARE THAT THE BABY ALWAYS DRESSES IN A TUXEDO? WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS CONVENIENTLY OUT OF EARSHOT WHEN TIM AND BOSS BABY ARE TALKING? WHY DO THEY THINK THEIR KIDS ARE HARMLESSLY PLAYING IN THE BACKYARD WHEN MINUTES LATER THEY SEE THE AFTERMATH OF AN EXPLOSION??? GAHHH, it hurts my brain to even try and comprehend what is reality anymore after watching this movie.

Now for my final point (as if the previous meltdown wasn’t enough). The Boss Baby is insanely dark for a movie that doesn’t warrant such a turn in the slightest. I touched on the disappearance of the “baby” inside the womb, but it doesn’t stop there. The main villain’s plot boils down to creating a puppy so cute that it will divert the parents’ attention away from their children forever. What the…that’s so messed up! Are you teaching kids that their parents can only love one living thing at a time? But wait, there’s more! Once Boss Baby leaves Tim’s family to go back to management, a cleanup crew comes in and uses a discount Men in Black neuralyzer to wipe everyone’s memory (all the while chanting, “forget about the baby”). Although it’s established that Tim has the option to decline the procedure, the parents apparently have no such choice…makes no sense whatsoever, but this movie threw logic out the window long ago.

Some of you are going to complain, “Well, what did you expect? It’s a movie for little kids. Not everything can be Inside Out or Zootopia.” I admit that we have been spoiled by quality Disney and Pixar movies for nearly twenty years, but why can’t that extend to other animation studios? Why must we treat children as morons who can’t sit through a movie without seeing a butt every five minutes? I mean, there’s pratfalls in Inside Out, but at least that movie has something meaningful to say and emotionally resonates with all audiences. The Boss Baby is everything wrong with most animated movies today through the lens of a giant acid trip. It casts big-name actors without considering if they would actually blend with (poorly written) characters. Half the budget is wasted on a single Beatles song that plays so often it becomes a separate character. It tries so hard to establish a universe, but demonstrates absolutely no effort to abide by the rules. There’s no way The Lego Batman Movie (or even the inferior Ninjago one) is less deserving than this insufferable unoriginal mess.

Initial Oscar Thoughts Vol. 2

So I actually woke up at 8:20 this morning to watch the Oscar nominations live because…I had to work in an hour anyway. Plus, it’s just exciting as a film fan to see who gets nominated for the most prestigious awards of the year. Yeah, none of this really matters in the end, but it does bring attention to smaller films that the mainstream audience isn’t necessarily clamoring to see. As always, there are surprises and snubs that make me both excited and a little upset. Let’s talk about it; I’m going to address each category individually.

P.S. Yes, I still haven’t seen a lot of the nominated films, but I’m also going off the articles I read and the buzz surrounding certain movies.

Best Picture
Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
No real shockers here, but I’m completely baffled by how many nominations Phantom Thread received despite it not garnering much attention overall. It’s probably down to The Shape of Water and Three Billboards, though I’m secretly hoping Get Out wins (similar to how I wanted Mad Max: Fury Road for Best Picture a few years back).

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Words can’t express how happy I am that Jordan Peele is on this list. Same goes for fellow first-time nominees Nolan and Gerwig; del Toro is the heavy favorite though. If it were up to me, I would remove PTA and put in Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards or even Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2049.

Best Actor
Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)
It’s probably the worst-kept secret about the Oscars: Gary Oldman is going to win here. Not just for the physical transformation, but also the fact that he’s been sweeping every other award bodes well for Commissioner Gordon. I think Denzel is slowly working his way toward Meryl Streep status (see below); as long as he’s in a movie, odds are it’s getting nominated. I thought James Franco would be the fifth one instead, but recent allegations and the Academy’s bias against comedy were probably too great to overcome.

Best Actress
Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep (The Post)
All right, now I’m mad. Does the Academy have something against redheads? First Amy Adams in Arrival, now Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game? She literally carried that movie, delivering Sorkin dialogue to perfection. But guess who they decided to pick for the 21st time? Look, Meryl Streep is probably at her usual best in The Post (certainly a more deserved nomination than Into the Woods), but why do we keep rewarding her for the status quo? Shouldn’t we be rewarding actors for going above and beyond their craft? Whatever, that’s my one rant. McDormand’s taking this one and deservedly so.

Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
I guarantee Plummer got nominated on the strength of replacing Kevin Spacey and shooting all his scenes in two weeks. I just saw Three Billboards yesterday and while I 100% agree with the Rockwell nod, Harrelson plays a much smaller role that isn’t necessarily Oscar-worthy. Sure, he’s solid, but I thought for sure Armie Hammer would get it for Call Me by Your Name.

Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)
Really wanted to see Holly Hunter for her hilarious turn as the mom in The Big Sick, but alas life’s not fair. Phantom Thread surprises again, but there’s no doubt who the top two contenders are: Janney and Metcalf.

Best Original Screenplay
The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
I mean, how do you argue with anything on this list? All five would be deserving winners, but I predict that whoever doesn’t win Best Picture between the above two frontrunners will earn a consolation prize here. Get Out for the upset, please?

Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name, The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game, Mudbound
Logan
, a comic book movie, got one for writing? Almost makes up for the Chastain snub, even though it probably has no chance of winning. My money’s on Call Me by Your Name since I don’t see it winning much else.

Best Animated Feature Film
The Boss Baby, The Breadwinner, Coco, Ferdinand, Loving Vincent
Let me amend that statement about only having one rant. The Boss Baby? Are you kidding me? How low have your standards sunk to nominate essentially a montage of poop and fart jokes? Meanwhile, The Lego Batman Movie is just sitting in the corner along with the first Lego Movie and thinking, “What are we doing wrong?” Absolute travesty. Thankfully, nothing will stop Coco.

Best Original Score
Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Not much to say about a great group, but did you know that John Williams now has an unbelievable 51 Oscar nominations? Probably won’t help Star Wars pull out a victory though.

Best Original Song
“Mighty River” from Mudbound, “Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, “Remember Me” from Coco, “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman
All great songs, but I’m having a hard time picking between my two favorites “Mighty River” and “Remember Me.” Hopefully, one of them wins.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing
Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I’ve done the research, but it’s still hard to distinguish between sound editing and sound mixing, especially when the nominees are the exact same for both categories. Rooting for a Baby Driver double victory; no other film in recent memory has mastered the art of sound quite like it.

Best Production Design
Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water
Period pieces and fantasy settings reign supreme, so who knows what will ultimately prevail? Blade Runner 2049 deserves way more attention than it’s currently receiving, so I’ll lean that direction.

Best Cinematography
Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Mudbound, The Shape of Water
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a momentous occasion. For the first time in Oscar history, a woman has been nominated for Best Cinematography. Congratulations are in order for Rachel Morrison (who’s also shooting Black Panther) and any other year, I would pick her to win. But mark my words: if Roger Deakins somehow doesn’t end his unexplainable losing streak, I’m never writing anything about the Oscars again.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Darkest Hour, Victoria & Abdul, Wonder
Probably the least interesting category I’m mentioning since there’s only three nominees. Although it certainly wasn’t boring last year if you catch my drift…since Darkest Hour is already winning something else, why not show some love to Wonder, the feel-good movie of the year?

Best Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Victoria & Abdul
Similar to production design, a lot of period pieces here. Phantom Thread solely focuses on fashion though, so…early favorite?

Best Film Editing
Baby Driver, Dunkirk, I, Tonya, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Another one where I’m rooting for Baby Driver, my favorite film from last year. The editing for the action sequences alone…my God, why can’t the rest of you learn?

Best Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, War for the Planet of the Apes
Some questionable choices here; I don’t even think Guardians 2 was the most visually stunning MCU movie of last year (ahem, Thor: Ragnarok). You’ve already heard me rage against Kong: Skull Island and while the effects are fine, didn’t the Peter Jackson version of King Kong basically do the same thing already? Speaking of Andy Serkis, it would warm my heart to see War for the Planet of the Apes finally win one for the amazing reboot trilogy.

Finally, in this incredibly long post, let’s reflect on the films that didn’t score even a single nomination and I want to talk about three in particular:

  1. Detroit: If nothing else, I thought it would get Best Sound Editing/Mixing nominations, seeing as how Kathryn Bigelow’s previous films accomplished the same feat. Even though it was a long shot, I also would’ve loved to see Will Poulter in the Best Supporting Actor category. No one can refer to him as the “creepy eyebrows kid from Maze Runner” anymore; he is legitimately terrifying in this movie and it’s a shame almost no one saw it.
  2. Wind River: Best Original Screenplay maybe (even though it’s hard to knock any of those five off)? Cinematography even? I mean, it’s just as tense as Taylor Sheridan’s other Oscar-nominated script Hell or High Water. Again, no one saw this movie, hence the lack of Oscar buzz, but you can help correct that ASAP.
  3. Wonder Woman: I understand the comic book bias, but with Logan breaking that mold, I thought perhaps the most culturally important movie of 2017 would follow suit. Patty Jenkins for Best Director (another long shot, but look at the obstacles she had to overcome) would’ve been nice, but I predicted it would at least get Costume Design (those Amazonian costumes are downright stunning).

Do You Really Need to Watch Bad Movies?

“You didn’t even see that movie. How can you say if it’s good or bad?”
“You want to become a film critic, right? Don’t you have to see everything?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked those questions in my short time as a film major/movie blogger. Since I often voice my displeasure about movies I don’t want to see*, people love to fire back by trying to defend something they probably also haven’t seen. Hopefully, this rant answers those initial questions and provides solid reasoning for why I will never watch certain films.

1. Time is precious
Especially considering all the good movies I have yet to watch (plus the ones I would like to revisit), there’s little time left to sit and watch something that in all likelihood is terrible. Two hours may not seem like a lot to you, but that amount of time adds up with every viewing of Transformers: The Last Knight or the 18th Pirates of the Caribbean movie when you could be watching something genuinely special. For example, I just saw Catch Me If You Can for the first time not too long ago and it was a delightful experience.

Even if you’re considering watching a bad movie out of morbid curiosity (and I know plenty of individuals who subscribe to that notion), proceed with caution. I went through a similar experience a few days ago when I contemplated watching the Netflix movie Bright (directed by David Ayer, the “genius” who made the Oscar-winning Suicide Squad). I had heard about all the bizarre elements in this movie that made it an enjoyable hate-watch, so I figured why not? Not even ten minutes in, I paused and thought to myself, “Wait, why am I doing this? I don’t want to yell at the screen and feel miserable for two hours.” There are certain “bad” or “guilty pleasure” movies that I rather enjoy (National Treasure first and foremost), but I would never go so far as to watch them over Catch Me If You Can given the choice. There’s always great cinema out there; you just have to know how to find it.

2. Clear warning signs
Someone I know was excited for Independence Day: Resurgence once upon a time. For some unexplainable reason, I didn’t share the same sentiment. Why? Well, start with the glaring fact that Will Smith wasn’t going to appear in the sequel at all (reportedly due to scheduling conflicts with…hehe…Suicide Squad). He was by far the best part about the first film, but now they’re just going to write him out and move on? Warning sign #1. But wait, you say! Roland Emmerich is returning to direct! Really? This is a guy who, one could argue, has never successfully made a movie that wasn’t filled with clichéd dialogue and melodrama. Independence Day is his closest claim to competence and that’s not exactly high praise. Warning sign #2. Finally, the trailers looked utterly ridiculous and stupid. There’s your hat trick, folks. Everything about this movie was set up to fail and guess what? It did, both financially and critically, saving me from having to watch more nonsense.

Of course, Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t the only obvious pick here. When you see trailers for such gems as The Emoji Movie or (shudder) Fifty Shades of Grey**, you don’t need a movie expert like me to tell you it’s going to suck. Literally everything screams “stay away:” the marketing, the casting decisions, the brilliant idea to have the book author’s husband write the script, you name it. I could go on and on about the countless movies that have so angered me before their actual release date, but you get the point. If you pay enough attention, you can avoid some truly horrendous cinema.

There does exist a gray area where I’m unsure if a movie is actually good or bad; therefore I need to see it at least once to verify. For that, we turn to the 2017 Darren Aronofsky vehicle Mother!. Most of his previous work intrigued me (except Noah), so I thought maybe he could deliver again. Then I started hearing mixed reviews and my anxiety started rising. I thought we were going to get a straightforward horror movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, but alas Aronofsky refuses to conform. Anyway, I went to see Mother! with my own mother (terrible decision in hindsight) and I walked out angry and confused. There’s a more detailed review I wrote on Overpowered Entertainment, but even though I absolutely hate this movie and everything it stands for, I would still advise curious individuals to check it out. Why? Well, it’s twofold: (1) I think everyone will have a different interpretation and (2) if nothing else, I think this movie lends itself to more thought-provoking conversations than your typical blockbuster.

I hope this has sufficiently answered your questions about why I often dismiss a bad-looking movie out of hand. I won’t always hit the mark, but then again, who does? All I can do is stick to the principles that have served me well over the years and make sound judgments with each new movie. With Mother!, I have also proven that even if I end up hating a certain movie, I appreciated the experience as it confirmed to me what I actually believe and how I can talk to others about it. Please understand that even though I constantly rant about my dislike of certain movies, it doesn’t mean I also hate the art form as a whole. I wish we lived in a world where all movies were great (except The Emoji Movie, that can go burn in hell); when the exact opposite happens, that only deepens the disappointment.

*Check out my recent “2018 Movies to Avoid” post or the various “Movies I Refuse to Watch” lists for more.

**Also, there are just some things in this world I don’t ever need to lay eyes on and Fifty Shades of Crap is one of them. While I’ve heard that the sex scenes aren’t even as raunchy as the book describes them, there’s no justifiable reason for making me watch a porn film that’s slightly better shot. I can think of infinitely better ways to spend an afternoon and you should too.