Not that I’m happy to see summer end. (Far from it.) But if we’re into September, then that means the really good movies are really close to hitting theaters (Black Mass is a week and a half away, for example).
Before we look forward, though, let’s look back on all the movies I’ve seen since my last movie reviews roundup blog post — some really good ones and some pretty awful ones too. As always, the numbers reflect the total number I’ve seen this year so far.
41. Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation. While not as good as Ghost Protocol, this latest entry in the Mission: Impossible series is a damn good time that starts big and stays there. B+
42. Fantastic Four. How unfortunate that this movie is so not fantastic. It’s just an awful movie. Not even funny bad, just bad. C–
43. The End of the Tour. Great, intimate tribute to David Foster Wallace, and an insightful look at ego, competition, and the effects of depression on writers. Jason Segel gives a moving performance as Wallace, and Jesse Eisenberg matches him as David Lipsky, the Rolling Stone reporter assigned to cover his Infinite Jest book tour. B+
44. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Fizzy throwback action pic with the Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill, playing a dashing, straight-faced but witty, American spy, and erstwhile Winklevoss twins Armie Hammer playing a more stoic, all-business Russian one. Alicia Vikander makes for an adorable comic/romantic foil, and Guy Ritchie keeps the film moving in a way that’s not off-puttingly violent or loud. Just fun. A pleasant surprise. B+
45. Straight Outta Compton. Entertaining but too long story of N.W.A.’s rise to fame and then decline. Like an episode of Behind the Music, just stretched out. And with a better beat. B
46. We Are Your Friends. Disappointing first feature by Max Joseph (MTV’s Catfish) about an aspiring DJ (Zac Efron, not bad) trying to find his unique sound and not lose his friends along the way. Despite some decent music, the film needs more of the pulse Efron’s character apparently knows how to manipulate so well. C
47. Mistress America. A frequently funny and quotable urban comedy about a college student and her not-as-cool-as-she-appears, soon-to-be step sister. That said, you’re always highly aware that you’re watching actors performing a screenplay. The dialogue never feels natural, and the situations are always a bit too contrived. Definitely the lesser of Noah Baumbach’s two movies this year (the other being While We’re Young, of course). B–
48. Ricki & the Flash. Meryl Streep rocks (of course she does), but the rest of the movie is pretty much just a pleasant, unchallenging diversion with underdeveloped characters. Hard to believe this was written by the same person who wrote Juno. C+
49. Pixels. Finally got around to seeing this one, and kinda wish I’d stuck to the trailer. What a missed opportunity to turn a fun, retro premise — arcade games of the ’80s (think Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Asteroids) attack the Earth — into a fun movie. Alas, Adam Sandler, director Chris Columbus, et al just seem to be going through the motions. The concept was better than the execution. C
50. Grandma. It’s weird calling a movie about a tough-as-nails grandmother (Lily Tomlin) trying to find the money for her granddaughter’s abortion “sweet,” but it kind of is. That said, Tomlin’s miscast; she may actually be the worst thing about the film. It may be a cliché to say this, but I’d rather someone like Susan Sarandon have played the part. Still, episodic though it may be, the movie eventually wins you over. B
What was your favorite movie of the summer? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.