I wouldn’t be exaggerating I estimated the number of times I’ve slept in my vehicle at over 100 times. Most of my interactions with law enforcement come from that very bad habit due to my pushing myself too far until my body just needed to rest. Of those 100+ naps (or in some cases, full fledged sleeps), at least 20 of those were interrupted by a law enforcement official. At 26 — just one year younger than Rayshard Brooks, the man who was murdered by police (yes, murdered) in Atlanta on June 12th (the day before my 44th birthday) — my workaholic ways earned me an opportunity to travel the country working for a retailer as a trainer. Working 6 days a week for 10 hours a day in new cities left little time to see the sights but that wasn’t going to stop me so I slept where I could. In San Diego, the first time an officer knocked on my window to rouse me awake, it was at Pacific Beach. I was in a parking lot. Within sight was a sign that said “NO SLEEPING ON THE BEACH” which was actually my plan when I pulled into the parking area. The officer was concerned for my safety. Despite the usual incoherence one has when awoken suddenly from a deep sleep, the officer never asked me to get out of the car. He didn’t even ask me if I had been drinking despite the fact that it was close to 2am. (I wasn’t drinking but that’s irrelevant.) After a brief chat, the officer told me he was relieved I was ok and that I might want to get back to my hotel rather than sleeping there. According to him, that while the “NO SLEEPING ON THE BEACH” had chased most of the homeless away, there were still a few in the area and at this time of day they were usually desperate. That was the last time I had an encounter with an officer in San Diego but not the last time during my journey despite the fact in San Diego I slept a few minutes to a few hours in my car at least a half dozen times.Read More →
Within the last week, I asked a fellow film blogger if writing about non-movie topics would be something that would be bad form. They were encouraging. The plan wasn’t for George Floyd to be the first thing I write about but there’s no way to just sit back and continue to see these incidents and not speak out.
Last night, I started writing a post about the murder of George Floyd by former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. In the course of the writing, President Donald Trump tweeted:
These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
At that point, disgusted, angry and concerned for the innocent lives put in jeopardy by such a careless and thoughtless Tweet (not the first, not the 50th and surely not the last) from the second place finisher in the popular vote of the 2016 U.S. Election, I read back what I wrote. None of it seemed fitting anymore. So, I backed away, went to bed and slept on it. It’s been almost 24 hours and so much has happened since then. Much like every news cycle in 2020 and honestly, since January 2017 when Donald Trump assumed the office of President, the speed at which new news becomes old is astounding. But none of that matters right now. That’s not what this post is about.Read More →
If it weren’t for MoviePass, it’s unlikely this site ever launches. Granted I’ve been on an extended hiatus from writing reviews which would make it seem as if this site were dead but unlike the subject of this post, Movie Hot Take was just in hibernation. From 2015-2018, a sizable segment of the 535 movies reviewed on this site were seen using MoviePass. At its apex, I squeezed in 21 films in a month with the one-a-day, limitless version of MoviePass. There was a huge upside to the “too good to be true” offering for movie buffs and with Saturday’s announcement that MoviePass is essentially done that “too good to be true” concern became reality. Though, to be fair, MoviePass’s death rattle was underway for months and the bold product had more ups and downs than a roller coaster and MoviePass had so many self-inflicted wounds it was always a temptation to call the proper authorities to have the company checked out for depression.
Dear MoviePass™ Subscribers,
Over the past several months, MoviePass™ worked hard to relaunch its groundbreaking subscription service and recapitalize the company.While we were able to relaunch the service for some of our subscribers with an improved technology platform, our efforts to recapitalize the company have not been successful to date.
Any existing MoviePass customer ever forced to contact the company’s customer support knows that “Dear” is strictly used as a greeting to begin a letter. As a MoviePass customer since it’s earlier days and for most of the company’s existence, the rest of that opening statement is laughable. In the beginning, MoviePass wasn’t even that cheap. Paying $45 a month when I initially signed up, seeing 10-15 movies a month felt necessary to get real value from the product. As a high frequency customer, it was the company’s insane decision to introduce dynamic pricing and the company upping my price to $100 a month that made me decide thanks but no thanks.
There was a short window where I had to rely on my 200,000+ Regal Crown Club points to keep my movie habit going. Then the unthinkable happened when MoviePass was taken over by Mitch Lowe who lowered the price to $9.95 a month for a movie a day. I quickly hopped back on board the MoviePass train and looked the other way as numerous customer service gaffes plagued the incredibly cheap way to see 100s of movies a year. From constant app failures to a frequent request for pictures of my ticket to prove I know how to take a picture (I guess?) to other minor nuisances, the next few sentences of Lowe’s letter came as no surprise.
As a result, it pains us to inform you that effective at 8 a.m. E.T. on September 14, 2019, we must interrupt service for all current MoviePass™ subscribers. MoviePass™ will be providing subscribers with appropriate refunds for their period of service already paid for. Subscribers will not need to request a refund or contact MoviePass™ customer service to receive a refund. Subscribers will not be charged during the service interruption. At this point, we are unable to predict if or when the MoviePass™ service will continue.
Ironically, the fact that Lowe felt the need to tell the consumer to please not contact customer service when most if not all probably had to contact customer service in the last few months and likely had a truly miserable experience shows how out of touch MoviePass is with their customer. If somehow MoviePass came back to life for me (it had already been restarted for the lower frequency customers) after it was shut down on July 4th, I would have been more inclined to call my credit card company to dispute charges from MoviePass rather than contact their customer service one more time.
We still deeply believe in the need for the MoviePass™ service in the marketplace, to maintain affordable access to theaters and provide movie lovers with choices of where to go to the movies.
Yes, it’s called AMC A-List or Regal Unlimited. The theater companies finally got on board with the subscription model and now MoviePass like other past companies who couldn’t get out of their own way now find themselves with competition they could no longer compete against.
In August 2017, MoviePass™ began a transformation of the moviegoing industry by introducing its low monthly price subscription service.
This could have been re-written to say in August 2017, MoviePass began a transformation from struggling start up to bankruptcy.
Since then, others in the industry have followed our lead.
And they were able to do exactly what MoviePass could do without the horrible missteps and customer unfriendly decisions. Some, like eliminating unlimited movies per month, were transparent. Others, like switching the password of high frequency users unbeknownst to the account owner and “throttling” high frequency users by de-listing movie showtimes early on in the day.
Now, as a result of this transformation, movie lovers throughout the United States have the ability to see movies in theaters using subscription services at prices they can actually afford, albeit with limited choices of theaters using those services.
So, instead of saying, “We f____d up!”, MoviePass is patting itself on the back for “changing the business” while throwing shade on their competitors. It’s one last classless move by the company who thought it could build a business model around data collection.
In the course of this industry transformation, MoviePass™ has experienced setbacks and challenges that are well known.
Wasn’t the setback why ran out of money? And wasn’t the challenge the product they offered required their customers to NOT use the product for the company to make money off of an existing customer?
Nevertheless, MoviePass™ remained committed to leading and competing in an industry that is resistant to outside competition and change. We believe that fostering competition and change in the moviegoing industry is critical to the satisfaction of the moviegoing public and filmmakers alike.
Except movies are now experiencing shorter runs in theaters than ever or just heading straight to Netflix and there have been more weeks released with just 1 wide release in recent memory than I can remember. Plus, box office revenues are down 6% year over year. How impactful has this change been?
We thank you for your loyalty to MoviePass™ and sharing our vision for the industry. Although we do not currently know what the future holds for the MoviePass™ service, we hope to find a path that will enable us to continue the service in the future.
Come on! What future? Could a brand be more damaged than MoviePass? For the past year, once the company ran out of money and couldn’t pay the credit card bills, MoviePass was just a punchline. Hell, if you asked most people what they thought of this announcement, they’d be likely to be surprised MoviePass wasn’t already out of business. Even if there was value in the MoviePass name at one point, how could a company that constantly screwed over it’s customers for over a year ever be trusted again? I wish it weren’t true. I loved MoviePass. However, it’s a “Fool me once…” kind of thing at this point and I’ll have to settle for Regal Unlimited (slightly better than AMC A-List) and won’t give MoviePass a second thought.
It’s a bittersweet ending but was never a question of if it would end the way it did but when. For those of us who had MoviePass through the highs and lows, I’m sure we’ll miss it much like one thinks fondly back to a time when they went to Blockbuster to rent a movie. However, none of us would give up our streaming services to sweat out late fees and contemplate overpriced movie theater-inspired snacks, would we?
Hot Take: A vehicle for J-Lo to show you how likable she is but the story is too generic and contrived to be anything but just okay. It’s entertaining though. I’ll give it that much.
Fluffy and light, Second Act, the latest film starring Jennifer Lopez is the movie equivalent of comfort food. It’s lots of empty calories that is likely to test pretty good while you’re digesting it but giving any thought to what you just consumed and it’s likely you’ll have longed for something a little more substantial for your palette. It’s one of those movies that you’ll never call film nor be tempted to use the words, “As the plot thickens…” considering how little substance the movie has once you get beyond it’s shiny, upbeat surface. Reading the few sentences previous to this one and you might think I wasn’t a fan of the movie but that’s not true. There’s plenty of movies that aren’t necessarily good movies that are enjoyable and Second Act is exactly one of those.Read More →
It’s unlikely we’ll make it to 150 for 2018 any time soon but we made it back to 125 again at MHT. That’s a decent amount of films to see in a year, right? While there was only one 5 star film amongst the 25 (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), not one film of the last 25 scored less than “Thumbs Eh” which is a first since launching Movie Hot Take. Don’t believe me? Look back at the last 100 movies reviewed, you’ll see!
- The First 25 Movies of 2018, Graded (April 7, 2018)
- The Next 25 Movies of 2018, Graded (June 3, 2018)
- The Next Next 25 Movies of 2018, Graded (July 22, 2018)
- The Final 25 Movies of the First 100 Movies of 2018, Graded (September 25, 2018)
Now that you’re up to speed, here’s the last 25 movies reviewed at MHT, graded:Read More →
Hot Take: Best animated film of the year… and best superhero film of the year. There, I said it!
I remember sitting watching Black Panther earlier this year (which I still haven’t written a review on) and thinking nothing would top it when it comes to comic-based films. Then Avengers: Infinity War arrived. Immediately following that viewing, I thought the same thing. Since then many have tried (Because there might be a law that says a comic-based film must come out every 45 minutes) but none have reached the heights or depths these two films reached. On the animation side, Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs wowed early on in the year and it felt highly unlikely another animated film would come close to what it accomplished. Then Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse released. Not only was this film the best comic-based film of the year, it was also the best animated film of 2018, so far. There’s a few weeks left but does anyone think Aquaman could be better than any of the films mentioned previously? So, let’s go out on a limb and say Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best comic-based film AND animated film of 2018. (Note: At any point, I could eat crow and move something unseen ahead of it. Sorry, that’s just how it works.)Read More →
Hot Take: It doesn’t matter if you like or hate the film, you can still marvel at the transformation of Christian Bale into Dick Cheney and have no doubt he deserves the Academy Award when it’s given to him in February.
It’s a waste of time to get into the politics of Vice. The film was either preaching to the choir or further pissing you off as you shout, “This is ‘murica, dammit!” Stick around for the credits and the very meta scene addresses this all too well for me to spend any more time on the topic. To be fair, Vice feels a little too gimmicky and done before. Earlier this year, the same feeling came over me while watching Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9. It was all too familiar. Same for Vice whose riffs sound so similar to those in The Big Short, if it weren’t Adam McKay’s work, he’d be sued for copyright enfringement. Also, the same tricks and gimmicks used in The Big Short which landed so strongly (we’re looking at you Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez) weren’t quite as impactful in Vice (that’s a shot at the narrator and Shakespeare, if you’ve seen the film already). Yet there’s one thing that can’t be denied — Christian Bale fucking killed it as Dick Cheney. If you’ve frequented MHT and seen other films featuring Bale, you already know my professed admiration for the man’s talents as an actor. He’s simply the best actor in Hollywood right now. Go ahead and argue with me. We can throw down. I’m not backing off that statement no matter what or who you say. And Bale as Cheney is further evidence of this. If there were a year where only one nominee were to be named for an Award, this year with Bale as Best Actor would be it. It’s that easy. Read More →
Hot Take: Awesome cast. Wickedly funny film. Likely to land on more than a few Top 10 lists though it’s likely to settle in the Top 20 at Movie Hot Take.
Even if you don’t find deeper meaning in The Favourite, the latest from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), it’s hard to imagine there won’t be plenty you find amusing. Thanks to incredible performances by a trio of amazing female performers (Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman), a sharp, witty script from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara and, of course, the watchful eye of Lanthimos whose resume continues to impress with each new film released, The Favourite will definitely make noise this Awards season and could walk away with some coveted hardware when all is said and done. Personally, there have been better films throughout the year but if you’ve included The Favourite in your Top 10, I would be hard-pressed to argue you out of such a decision. The balance of humor and nastiness is where The Favourite finds its magic and it never falters or leans too heavily on either to deliver an entertaining and sometimes even enlightening look at feminism. Despite its period setting, The Favourite‘s peak under the covers of feminism has a contemporary feel no matter how many bad powdered wigs or bosom-heaving corsets make their way into frame.Read More →
Hot Take: Clint Eastwood doing Clint Eastwood things. It’s not as bad as that makes it sound.
As a director, Clint Eastwood might be one of the more underrated auteurs of our generation. Hell, I’m going to bet that some reading “Eastwood” and “auteur” in the same sentence might take offense to the combination. The Mule is Eastwood’s 38th film in the director’s chair and while they aren’t always winners (see The 15:17 to Paris from earlier this year), Eastwood has an impressive resume of films and 2 Best Director Academy Awards (for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) and 2 losing nominations (for Mystic River and Letters from Iwo Jima) to his credit. It might have to do with Eastwood’s outspoken personal stances on, well, pretty much everything which portrays him as a curmudgeon and how often that carries over to his on-screen portrayals but that shouldn’t take away from Eastwood’s efforts as a filmmaker. Many of his films feature him solely behind the camera and when he does take on a role in front of the camera, you understand why he was chosen for that role. The Mule is no exception and while it’s tough to sell a lack of a filter as lovable in 2018, Eastwood makes his best attempt and it ain’t half bad. There are only a few cringe-worthy moments of casual racism and Eastwood’s Earl is flawed and doesn’t get off completely Scot-free here.Read More →
Hot Take: Strong performances can sometimes help you forgive a film’s ills and Green Book is a prime example. Worth it for Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali who both could receive nominations for their work.
It’s been a few weeks since seeing Green Book so, in fairness, the Take above is warm, at best. However, while the film itself (outside of the scenes repeated ad nauseam throughout the overplayed trailer) doesn’t have an indelible quality, the performances and chemistry between Mortensen in the lead role as Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga and Ali as “Doc” Don Shirley definitely left a lasting impression. The story while based on fact is nothing more than your standard message film primed to make a little bit of noise come Awards season but unlikely to do more than grab a handful of nominations. Maybe Mortensen scores a Best Actor nod and possibily Ali adds a second Support Actor nomination following up on his win from 2 years ago for his supporting role in Moonlight but neither should be favored to score a win. It doesn’t help the film lacks any real punch as it pulls it’s punches throughout delivering a solid but safe story which should satisfy some but not overwhelm anyone.Read More →