By Donna Bourgois. I’m hitting the Texas August slump hard, wishing for either death or this gross unbearably humid summer to end.

Despite my living room and theaters being some of the only places of respite from the sticky, mosquito ridden, 100 degree days I have yet again managed to slip further and further behind. Can you blame me? Narcos came out on Netflix this month! Are you watching it? It’s just great. [This edition of Donna’s Procrastination is brought to you by Netflix.]

So what other excuses do I have for my lackluster attack on film? A lot, thank you for asking. I also saw Jimmy Pardo perform at the famous Velveeta Room, here in beautiful, sunny, Austin. The show was great, Jimmy is hilarious as always. Most exciting of all was seeing and meeting Chip Pope, who happened to be in town and opened for Mr. Pardo. Mr. Pope was hilarious and gave some really great insight on screenwriting.

Let’s get to it.

The-Maze-RunnerThe Maze Runner

Directed by Wes Ball.

Running time 113 min.

Screened via HBO Go.

When will it end? I can’t take anymore of this stupid Hunger Games, Divergent bullshit. These movies are terrible and I am certain they are destroying the brain of the children consuming them. Following exactly the plot devices as the aforementioned trash teen films, it’s as indistinguishable as the rest in that pack. 

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Surviving the Game

Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson.

Running time 96 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

Surviving the Game is the perfect amount of insane. Ice T gets in tune with nature and out of nowhere becomes an expert woodsy survival man. Unfortunately, Busey doesn’t make it too far into this movie, but his normal zany performance is more than made up for with the insane dialogue and bonkers acting of Ice T. (Screened for Gary Buseytown Massacre.)

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Almost Mercy

Directed by Tom DeNucci.

Running time 84 min.

Screened via Netflix.

I watched this film expecting nothing, yet I was pleasantly surprised. The film has a nice intimate feeling. However, the characters are terribly obnoxious. With all the films coming out about underdog “geek” heroes ripping down the “jock” types, I would have expected this indie flick to have a little more balls about the whole thing.

Cop Car

Directed by Jon Watts.

Running time 86 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

Easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year, and one that I literally cannot wait to see again. Cop Car is an excellent coming of age story and moreso a look at the juxtaposition of innocence and corruption. The acting is superb and the script is fantastic, all set  to a beautiful Colorado backdrop. No handholding here folks, Cop Car allows you to draw your own conclusions.

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Chronic-con, Episode 420: A New Dope

Directed by Ryan Polito.

Running time 84 min.

Screened via Netflix.

If you’re a Doug Benson fan, and I imagine you are if you’re interested in this film, it’s much of what you’d expect. For me, this is probably the closest I want to be to Comic Con; I’m not really a crowd gal. It’s funny if you’re into pot jokes, an interesting look at Comic Con and how generally impossible it looks to actually do anything.

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A Star Is Born

Directed by Frank Pierson.

Running time 139 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

Of course, the best part of the film is the coke pushing Gary Busey, and obviously this was another addition to GBTM repertoire. This movie is terrible, it very much feels like Babs was trying to get as much screen and singing time as possible. Then again, I’m not a huge Streisand fan, so maybe I’m the wrong demographic for this one.    

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Ant-Man

Directed by Peyton Reed.

Running time 117 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

I thought there were rumors of an Ant-Man film years ago, around the time Marvel was first starting their studio. If that’s true [It is. — Ed.] I was pretty skeptical coming in. However, while the movie was fun, it just wasn’t for me. Best thing I can say about Ant-Man is that the jokes land at least fifty percent of the time.  

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Comet

Directed by Sam Esmail.

Running time 91 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Written and directed by Esmail, Comet stars Emmy Rossum and Justin Long, a couple of star crossed lovers. What is most interesting about this story is the manner in which it is told. The film jumps around over the course of the couple’s six year relationship. The story is pretty interesting but the dialogue is tragically obnoxious, no one talks the way these two do. 

StraightOuttaCompton.0Straight Outta Compton

Directed by F. Gary Gray.

Running time 147 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

If you can cut through the dank smoke of fan service and a lukewarm attempt at an apology to a long forgotten homie, you will find yourself with an acorn of a story in Straight Outta Compton. What Compton lacks in plot and character development, it more than makes up for in blasting out the hits.

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The Bourne Identity

Directed by Doug Liman.

Running time 119 min.

Screened via DVD.

Several people recently lost their shit when I told them I hadn’t seen any of the Bourne films, luckily my internet wasn’t working and I found a boxset in my sea of digital versatile discs. With such an interesting plot it’s no wonder that they’re about to make five of these things. Unfortunately, seeing this film today it is abundantly clear this film is thirteen years old.  

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The Bourne Supremacy

Directed by Paul Geengrass.

Running time 108 min.

Screened via DVD.

Bourne is back and now he’s on the run from a CIA agent with a need to prove she has the biggest dick in the business. She has to be the most lackluster character of all spy movie female love interests. With the main baddie being killed off in the first film, it’s obvious that the Russians just had to get involved, because duh Russians.

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The Bourne Ultimatum

Directed by Paul Greengrass.

Running time 115 min.

Screened via DVD.

Paul Greengrass loves to shake the camera all over the place. Ultimatum feels like the most realistic in terms of the actual plot: a government cover up gone awry, in a different world I imagine this being the response to Snowden. Despite having a pretty interesting script the actors all seem like they are suffering from Weekend At Bernie’s syndrome, you know totally dead and operated by Rube Goldberg.

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Unfriended

Directed by Levan Gabriadze.

Running time 83 min.

Screened via PSN Streaming.

Bullying is bad, ok? Especially, cyberbullying, it’s the leading cause of ghosts and blender accidents. Seriously, bullying is bad and no one should have to tolerate that type of behavior, and neither should anyone have to tolerate this movie. If you are into dial up quality skype/facetime conversations, this is the film for you.

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Welcome to Me

Directed by Shira Piven.

Running time 87 min.

Screened via Netflix.

The film falls into the familiar and obnoxious trope that a lot of indie films that star actors typically associated with comedy. The film is torn between emotional drama and absurdist jokes. On paper this formula sounds successful. In reality it just leaves you with a static story and lame jokes.  

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Loong Boonmee raleuk chat

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Running time 114 min.

Screened via Netflix.

The film jumps around with no rhyme or reason, spending little time establishing the characters, and making it near impossible to follow what is happening as you weave through time. There are some unique points of interest visually but not enough to justify watch this boring jumbled mess.


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The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

Directed by Tom Harper.

Running time 98 min.

Screened via Netflix.

I did not like the first Woman in Black despite Harry Potter being the lead, and I really have no idea why I watched the sequel, I guess I’m a completionist. It came as no surprise that I really disliked the Angel of Death. It comes as a complete shock that the film runs less than two hours, I felt like the woman in black trapped in this script.

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The Wolfpack

Directed by Crystal Moselle.

Running time 90 min.

Screened via PSN Streaming.

The Wolfpack had such a limited run in Austin, I blinked and missed it. Luckily the film was available on VOD right after it’s theatrical release, and omg it does not disappoint. The story is insane and totally captivating. I wonder if I spent my life in isolation who I would be today. Then again, I did go to Catholic School, so I guess I already know.

6Get Low

Directed by Aaron Schneider.

Running time 103 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Rich with amazing talent yet still somehow incredibly boring. The issue that I had with the film is that the plot takes a nose dive around the end of the second act and just keeps plummeting throughout the third resulting in a terribly boring story overall. With little development it’s difficult to care about any of the character’s involved in the film.

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Transcendence

Directed by Wally Pfister.

Running time 119 min.

Screened via HBO Go.

With the ever-approaching reality of AI it’s only fitting that Johnny Depp would jump on the bandwagon. Shockingly, he isn’t the worst part of the film and is actually somewhat believable. Of course, it’s pretty easy to play a one-dimensional, non-emotive character that may or may not be a real person.

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Basquiat

Directed by Julian Schnabel.

Running time 108 min.

Screened via Netflix.

A surprisingly good biopic. The story is well written and held my interest throughout. Unfortunately, a lot of the late artist’s life I found interesting were mentioned only in passing, and similar to other biopics this one glorifies the subject as opposed to revealing the struggles that made them so interesting.  

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Next

Directed by Lee Tamahori.

Running time 96 min.

Screened via Netflix.

By no means is Next a good film, but it is an amazing Nicolas Cage vehicle. Exactly the kind of Cage film I want to watch. Garbage story, tons of flashbacks, out of control acting, perfect. It’s crazy so many big stars signed on to this project. I like to imagine they were told Cage would be the star and they were like oh yeah, I’m in.

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Ejecta

Directed by Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele.

Running time 82 min.

Screened via Netflix.

One of the most disjointed horror movies I’ve watched this year. The actors seemed just as confused about the script and direction as I was. Similar to a SyFy film I spent most of the movie just wanting it to end. And now someone is watching porn at the cafe and gobbling up all the bandwidth.

captivated-the-trials-of-pamela-smart-1024Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart

Directed by Jeremiah Zagar.

Running time 98 min.

Screened via HBO Go.

The film is very effective in capturing the media circus that was the Pamela Smart trial. It seems impossible that the case will ever see the light of the courthouse again, and it seems just as impossible that we will ever truly know what actually happened.


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The Omen (2006)

Directed by John Moore.

Running time 110 min.

Screened via HBO Go.

I happen to find the 1976 film incredibly boring, so imagine my dismay when I realized this was a shot for shot remake of the film. If grainy, Seventies quality film is what’s been holding you back from watching this classic, you are in luck with the 2006 redo.


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Love (2011)

Directed by William Eubank.

Running time 84 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Oh if it weren’t for the rules that I’ve set forth on this challenge, I absolutely would have stopped the film and watched 2001. Also, please excuse that I didn’t know Angels & Airwaves made this film. Love isn’t actually terrible, the film is about as interesting as any other space film.


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If I Stay

Directed by R.J. Cutler.

Running time 107 min.

Screened via Netflix.

There just aren’t enough films about teenage romance and car accidents, you know? Beyond the typical script there is some really great acting from the up and coming Chloe Grace Moretz. It seems like this is a genre everyone has to check off before they move onto bigger and better things; let’s hope that’s the case for the young Moretz.

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A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

Directed  by Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, and Ben Timlett.

Running time 85 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Came for the story, stayed for the animation. The film as titled is focusing on the life of Chapman, but jumps around so irregularly it’s difficult to get a clear understanding of his life. The animation is the true star of the film.

Hey! Are you on Letterboxd? You should be. Follow Donna’s daily progress over on her Letterboxd page.

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