Month in Review: June ’19

To those people still reading or starting to read me:

This month, as in July, I’m being told by the folks behind the scenes that it’s my eighth year of “flying with WordPress” which is a pretty amazing thing. I’m not sure whether I’ll be doing anything in observance of that landmark — in the past I couldn’t help but wax lyrical about that specific day, but at eight years old this blog just isn’t quite as spry as it once was. It can’t party like it used to. Things might get as crazy as a possible new Top That! post about eight favorite movies this year or eight moments when Johnny Depp looked most like Johnny Desperate. I don’t know. Something along those lines.

The month that’s now somehow over marks the halfway point in the movie year, which is kind of crazy too. It’s as good a time as any to take stock of the year of blogging that’s been.

Thus far in 2019:

  • Most popular new post (posted this year): The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot (64 views) — who knew, with that title . . .
  • Most popular old post: TBT: Men in Black (90 views)
  • Reviews for theatrical releases: 10
  • Reviews for streamed/rented content: 8 (7 Netflix, 1 Redbox — including June’s streaming-only posting schedule)
  • Alternative content/posts: 10

Twenty-eight total posts (not counting monthly wrap-arounds) doesn’t exactly set the world on fire (not when considering back around 2013-’14 I was putting up about that many in a month!) but this more relaxed pace has been nice. With my local theater still being closed (so long, summer profits!) and the closest one being more than 30 minutes away there’s more than the usual amount of deliberating about going out these days. Plus, a number of my fellow trusted bloggers have really been making a strong case for staying home and catching up with some streaming stuff.

And that’s just what I did on Thomas J for the month of June. Let’s get into it, shall we?


New Posts

Streaming: Hold the Dark; The Wandering Earth; Unicorn Store 

Alternative Content: Top That: Seven Most Dramatic Scenes from the 2019 NBA Finals


Bite Sized Reviews 

Uncle Drew · June 29, 2018 · Directed by Charles Stone III · I enjoyed this movie apparently enough to deem it necessary to weigh in, because it was so totally unforgettable right? If you do recall, the movie basically amounts to Kyrie Irving and a bunch of other famous basketball players, both current (Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon) and retired (Los Angeles Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal), dressing up as old geezers who come together to form a squad at the behest of a desperate inner-city basketball coach (Lil Rel Howery — one of the movie’s few actual actors). He needs to field a team worthy of taking down that of his arch-nemesis, Mookie (a bling-ed out Nick Kroll) in the upcoming Rucker Classic, a tournament that takes place in Brooklyn every year. If he wins the big cash purse, he may just win back the love of his ex (Tiffany Haddish) — or at least earn back the right to keep paying rent. What ensues is nothing short of the types of shenanigans you would expect from a movie that casts the “big fella” (his actual name in the movie) Shaquille O’Neal as the least-convincing karate instructor in history and Nate Robinson as a dude who’s both confined to a wheelchair and can dunk the ball like Vince Carter in his prime. A movie that is just littered in NBA-approved product placement stuck on every flat surface in the frikkin’ frame. But hey, I can’t go too hard on this road-trip comedy because while there’s not as much actual balling to be found, there was a lot more heart than I was expecting. For this basketball fan, the combination of some well-chosen NBA personalities and the script’s permanent winking at the audience — “hey, look at these seven-foot-tall men in geriatric make-up” — made for a resounding win. (3/5)

Polar · January 25, 2019 · Directed by Jonas Åkerlund · For the record, I wasn’t peer pressured into this, I watched the notorious Polar (an adaptation of some online graphic novel) on my own, albeit with more than a little morbid curiosity fueling what would turn out to be a terrible, terrible decision. Polar is one of the stupidest, most over-the-top trashy movies I have seen in some time. It’s a masturbatory aid for people with violence fetishes that made me pine for the artistic restraint of Rob Zombie. It’s about an assassin on the run after being marked as a “liability” by the very firm he was once employed by (and led by Matt Lucas’ astonishingly bad big bad). While bunkering down on the outskirts of Seattle or some shit he crosses paths with a troubled teen (Vanessa Hudgens) who happens to be the lone inhabitant of a cabin across the secluded lake. Wouldn’t ya know it, they both come into the crosshairs of Lucas’ roaming henchmen, a gaggle of tattooed idiots who kill fat people badly for pleasure and torture accountants like jackals before ultimately killing them while laughing about it. That’s the kind of movie Polar is. Utterly without class. It doesn’t have to be clean like James Bond but its sole purpose seemingly is to drive up the crassness at every single turn. It’s a one-note movie that’s badly acted, poorly conceived and just ugly all around. Director Jonas Åkerlund introduces himself as an angry infant. (0.5/5)

Fighting with My Family · February 22, 2019 · Directed by Stephen Merchant · Stephen Merchant, like many of us, probably wouldn’t last many rounds in the ring but he apparently knows his way around the arena of the uplifting sports biopic. Fighting With My Family is a familiar story about an underdog struggle but the level of conviction in the storytelling helps set it apart. British actress Florence Pugh emerges as a true star in the lead role of Saraya Jade-Bevis (better known by her ring name, Paige), a British female wrestler with aspirations to take her talents and passion beyond the rink-a-dink family business (they’re all wrestling fanatics, too). But it isn’t just her dream to be one of those famous stars she sees on American wrestling programs like the WWE, and that’s what makes Fighting with My Family deliciously (and heartbreakingly) complicated. Merchant handles the divergent paths of Saraya/Paige and her older brother Zak (Jack Lowden) with a harder than expected truth, stopping short of being manipulative or overly sentimental. While Pugh rarely puts a dramatic foot wrong as she goes from a local celebrity in her home town of Norwich to a lost soul bleaching her hair and tanning herself unnaturally in an attempt to fit in to a strange land, the performances all around are very strong and likable. From Nick Frost and Lena Headey chipping in with fun turns as the roughneck but always supportive parents, to a hilariously antagonistic Vince Vaughn as a wrestling promoter/trainer, to Lowden matching Pugh stride for stride as he handles the crushing disappointment, Fighting with My Family may tell the story about an individual’s success but it takes a true team effort to make a movie about it as enjoyable as this. (4/5)


Beer of the Month

I’ve never met a sour that I actually liked . . . until now. Flying Fish’s Salt and Sea Session Sour is quite a delight. Brewed with strawberry and lime. Extremely drinkable. I’m stoked. What’s your favorite beer? Is it a sour?


What movies are you most looking forward to in July? 
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17 thoughts on “Month in Review: June ’19

  1. Damn I haven’t heard of any of those movies. I’ll always be reading your blog man, its funny, I think our output went down at pretty much the same time. I’m kinda back into the groove now, a new med is really helping my (ADHD stuff haha), I can actually concentrate now! Its nice.

    And congrats, I think for me its soon gonna be five years, I started around this time in 2014. And the same as you, there were posts every second bloody day! I’m not sure what happened, heh we both crashed. But hey, I just like analysing film, soon I’ll move state to study film, I have wanted to for so long!

    And Stephen Merchant directing a movie huh? Hmm, I’ll have to check it out, sounds fun and I have always like him, although tbh I never liked The Office (UK)

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    • I am yet to try a wheat beer that I truly like, but I am also trying to diversify my palette. Thanks for your input — it’s always cool to hear what people are into.

      Yeah man, that new movie looks a lot of fun! And part of me is still in denial that this will be his second to last movie (or so he says). Let’s hope that’s not actually the case!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Sours. Yyyeaahhhh…. not a fan. Yet. Lol. Although I did just find this one by Flying Fish brewing, their Salt and Sea session was actually really agreeable. But I’m more an IPA guy. Big fan of Southern Tier, Troegs, and a local brewery near me called Czig Meister. They’ve got some delicious stouts and ipas

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy blogiversary! Sometimes taking a step back and slowing things down is needed. This summer seems really hit or miss with its films so it feels like a good summer to be missing. Congrats on the 8 years and here’s to 8 more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the support Drew. I’m excited to still be doing this.

      I agree, this summer hasn’t felt like a particularly good one. There have been a number of movies where I haven’t felt the urge at all to go see in theaters.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with every single score in your bite-sized reviews. Two nice surprises and one huge disappointment. I think we have talked about each but let me just say how frustrated I still am with Polar’s totally wasted potential.

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    • Oh yeah Polar was just awful. I watched that out of curiosity, preparing for it to be bad but then it ended up being worse. I have no desire to watch anything else Jonas Åkerlund has done to be honest.

      And yeah I really dug the other two movies. I was going to try to fit in a fourth review of another Netflix film but I ran out of time. As I ALWAYS do. Lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations Tom, 8 years is some achievement in this age of increasingly limited attention spans. I know from experience that it takes hard work and considerable effort to get a blog going and to keep maintaining it with content- its a discipline not to be scoffed at, and 8 years is some undertaking. Here’s to another 8, then, and hopefully some great films in those 8 years!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers man, I sometimes do step back and reflect on the amount of work that goes into this. There have been periods where the writing has felt like a grind (I”m not sure that doesn’t apply to us all, even the pro critics who watch a gazillion more movies than I) and in those stretches what’s always just a hobby starts to feel more like work. Like I can find myself quantifying things more but when I’m really into something and find a movie I really dug (e.g. the Godzilla sequel — hoping to actually get my shit together and have that out soon) the time just goes hurtling by!

      Thanks for reading as always and thanks for the well wishes

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  5. I really need to get on searching out Pugh’s other work. Especially after her turn in Midsommar (which I think you’ll like at the very least). Haven’t had many new beers of late but had some Rhinegeist recently, of which the exact type eludes me 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I am really getting fidgety waiting to see Midsommar. Hoping for Tuesday night, unfortunately it’ll be a late showing but at any rate — really pumped to see it. Seems like another divisive film much in the way of Hereditary.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Year 8 indeed! I’m excited and definitely humbled to have a following, especially with readers like you!

      Though I’d encourage you to give Fighting with My Family a look, I doubt you’ll get very much out of Polar and Uncle Drew. 😉 The former in particular is just atrocious.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Anniversary, sir. I’m also not a sour drinker. I like me some stouts or porters. I hate to say it, but once I went black…I haven’t gone back. This is a nice little list. Fighting with Family is the only one I’ve personally seen. Unfortunate with the false advertisements. Rock front and center? Pssshhh. Keep it up, man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Much appreciated Dave. Great to hear from you.

      I too enjoy some stouts and porters, though I have not yet found one I have called my “go to.”

      Yeah I was a little disappointed in how little he ended up appearing in but he was fun. I’m left wondering if there will ever be a wrestling movie that dares to not feature a cameo by The Rock lol

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