TC Candler

Films of 2019

The GOOD

(Good Films Released This Year)

Parasite

9.5 / 10

Bong Joon-ho is one of the great directors alive today.  His splendid films include “Memories of Murder”, “Mother” & “The Host”.  He adds to that repertoire with the Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or winner, “Parasite”.  This subversive and cynical ‘tragicomedy’ will end up as one of the best films of 2019.  It is wickedly funny, and acutely vicious — balancing the vastly different tones perfectly.  It is a mesmerizing commentary on the massive financial gulf between the classes.  The entire cast is superb… with special commendation for the great Song Kang-ho — one of the world’s finest actors.

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

9.4 / 10

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film meanders between a languid, wistful homage to late 1960’s Americana and a bitter, somewhat angry rant about what this country has become — “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is a gorgeous fairy tale plucked right out of the director’s 6-year-old memories.  From the myriad conversations, to the pinpoint accurate reconstruction of Hollywood Blvd., to the historical u-turn in the final act… everything about this film is cinematic gold-dust.  Every actor in the film is superb — with special exquisite notes to Brad Pitt, Margaret Qualley and Julia Butters.  A film lovers’ film.

Serenity

9.2 / 10

Once or twice a year, I find myself completely opposed to the critical consensus.  Despite middling reviews, I thought “Serenity” was a terrifically entertaining film-noir mystery.  It is both suspenseful and original… and cracked off the most unexpected twist I’ve seen in two decades.

Triple Frontier

8.3 / 10

Despite a dull, non-sequitur title, morally bankrupt characters, and a dreadful final 5-minutes, “Triple Frontier” manages to be a really exciting action flick with a big name cast.  The direction is sure-handed.  The pace is relentlessly high.  The action is believable and easy to follow.  Almost an awesome ‘guy flick’.

Arctic

8.2 / 10

Mads Mikkelsen is astonishing as a lone survivor of an arctic plane crash.  Think Robert Redford in “All is Lost” meets Liam Neeson in “The Grey”.

Hotel Mumbai

8.1 / 10

A terrifying look inside the 2008 terrorist attacks in and around Mumbai’s most famous hotel.  The cast and the film does justice to the horrific incident.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

7.9 / 10

The first 30-mins are filled with top notch excitement and incredibly cool kills.  The rest, although generally entertaining, starts to become a tad repetitive.

Stockholm

7.2 / 10

With his umpteenth consecutive great performance, Ethan Hawke elevates this true-life 1970’s Swedish bank heist flick.  There are some truly absurd twists and turns.  The film’s pace never wanes.  If there is any mild complaint, it’s that the movie limps across the finish line with an abrupt and ho-hum ending.

Glass

6.3 / 10

The third installment in M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero origins trilogy does just enough to satisfy.  James McAvoy is brilliant as his 27 characters.

Leaving Neverland

6.1 / 10

The documentary is routinely made… However, the case made against MJ becomes even more concrete than it was before.  Both of the accusers go into devastating detail… so particular that it seems impossible to have made-up.  There is only one verdict that’ll be remembered in the history books… Guilty!

Kursk

6.0 / 10

I once wrote a screenplay about this true-life Russian submarine tragedy.  It was better than this run-of-the-mill version. “Kursk” barely gets a thumbs-up.

The Average

(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)

Us

5.9 / 10

Jordan Peele’s follow up to “Get Out” falls short of expectations.  The film is very well acted, especially by Lupita Nyong’o.  The visuals are slick and far more artistic than your average horror movie.  However, the symbology of “Us” is either too in-your-face or too obscure — never quite hitting the sweet spot.  Peele is a supreme talent, and I look forward to more.  Unfortunately, this time it feels more style than substance… just missing out on a recommendation.

Always Be My Maybe

5.8 / 10

Despite some forced rom-com plot staples and the total lack of originality, the characters are just charming enough to make it a lukewarm success.

Long Shot

5.4 / 10

Nothing about this rom-com is even remotely romantic enough or funny enough to overcome the absurdly hard to believe premise.  Distinctly average.

IO

5.2 / 10

Margaret Qualley is the best thing about this quiet Netflix sci-fi.  She gives vibrancy and soul to an otherwise dull, barely-there plot.  Not bad, not good.

I Am Mother

5.1 / 10

Like “IO”, another of the dystopian future, science-fiction entries from Netflix.  Again, a tiny cast explores themes of isolation and flaws of humanity.  Meh.

The Beach Bum

5.0 / 10

McConaughey stars as Moondog in Harmony Korine’s nihilistic film about a multi-millionaire beach bum who smokes and drinks himself to inspiration.

The BAD

(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)

Greta

4.4 / 10

Chloe Grace Moretz befriends a lonely Isabelle Huppert and slowly begins to regret ever meeting her.  It is a well acted, nutty thriller that feels all too predictable and hard to believe.  As a result, it evokes more laughter than fear.  “Greta” is instantly forgettable cinema.

Booksmart

3.9 / 10

A teen comedy that tries desperately to blend wacky comedy with heartfelt emotion.  The result is a run-of-the-mill misfire.  The jokey scenes are all relatively cliché — each antic forcibly crammed in to fit a meaningless plot.  The emotional scenes have no resonance because the characters have no connection to real teenage life.  There is nothing to hate here…  It just feels like a weak-sauce SNL skit that drags on for way too long.

Good Boys

3.8 / 10

The absolute definition of a one-joke comedy.  It peaks at minute three.  Also, it feels too PG13 — when it needed to be a hard R.

Cold Pursuit

3.7 / 10

Combine a run-of-the-mill Liam Neeson ass-kicking flick with a desperately bizarre attempt at dark comedy… and you get this failed concoction. 

High Flying Bird

3.6 / 10

Soderbergh’s flick about an NBA agent trying to negotiate his way around a lockout is as graceful as a missed dunk. The script takes itself way too seriously and has delusions of grandeur.  These characters are not as smart as the “Aaron Sorkin imitation dialogue” would have you believe.  What we are left with is a trivial story of millionaires playing simple mind-games with other millionaires.  It is all so boring and smug.

The Vanishing

2.3 / 10

Gerard Butler’s film starts off as a thrilling and mysterious ‘found money’ adventure, but soon devolves into an absurd and gruesome mess.

The Worst of the year

(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)

Murder Mystery

1.8 / 10

Adam Sandler’s Netflix output is dismal.  He isn’t even trying much anymore.  This is another excuse to get his regular gang a paycheck while on vacation.

Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).

“Avengers: Endgame”
When will this Marvel onslaught end?

“Hobbs & Shaw”
I lost interest in the Fast / Furious franchise 5 minutes into the first one.

“Aladdin”
Guy Ritchie is the worst director of all time… No chance!

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