Author Archives: Jamie Insalaco

The Post and All The Money in the World: A clinic on how NOT to pace your first act

old car cold day

I’m starting this double movie review about The Post and All the Money in the World with a picture of an old car on a cold day. Why? Because that’s how these movies start – and not because they’re period pieces that take place in the winter. Before the 1980s, car engines weren’t fuel injected (fuel injection is the introduction of fuel in an internal combustion engine by the means of an injector), so you needed to let them warm up for a few minutes before you could drive away. Compare that to today, when you only need to wait about 15 to 30 seconds, which is, of course, much faster.

And by that, I mean I want to talk about the act one pacing of The Post and All the Money in the World.

SPOILER ALERT: it’s too slow.

The closest theater to my house has changed hands a number of times throughout my life. It was a Lowes, then a Sony, then a Lowes again and so on. Now, it’s an AMC (because nearly every theater that has more than five screens in Bergen County, New Jersey is an AMC), but just before THAT, it was a Starplex Cinemas, and when they bought the theater, they tore out all the old seats and put in plush recliners which remain to this day.

And it is awesome.

On the other hand, if the movie you’re watching has pacing problems of the slow variety, one can find it difficult to keep their eyes open in such comfy confines. (COUGH Murder on the Orient Express COUGH) Such is the case with The Post and All the Money in the World. A big part of why these openings don’t work is the initial introductions to these characters just aren’t very interesting. On the other hand, as they are slowly (VERY. SLOWLY.) revealed to us through their choices, they become fascinating players in a story I care about, but man does it take a while.

Hence the old car on a cold day metaphor.

So how did this happen? Stephen Spielberg and Ridley Scott are both competent directors (one more competent than the other, but whatever) and the simple answer is making a movie is really hard. Another problem is both of these movies were rushed jobs. This doesn’t mean they don’t have quality performances, camera work, editing and so on, but movies are very complicated machines with a gazillion parts and it’s never a good idea to rush anything, let alone something complicated.

When it comes to All the Money in the World, I don’t have much to say – the movie starts out slow, it picks up later, Christopher Plummer and Michelle Williams ares excellent in it, it’s redundant and a bit uneven in its story telling and then the movie ends. It’s what I refer to as “extremely watchable.” The average rating on Rotten Tomatoes is 7 out of 10 and I would go as high as 7.5, maybe even 8 if you caught me in a good mood. (You’re not, I’m tired and hungry.) So even if I’m at an 8, if we remember back to our schooling days, that’s a low B, and I think that sounds about right. It’s worth seeing, but there’s nothing special or even new here – it’s just solid entertainment.

On the other hand, The Post seems to me to be a dereliction in the duty of choices by Spielberg and writers Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. This is the difficult thing with these sorts of ensemble movies – who’s the main character? Is it Meryl Streep, making a difficult choice, or is it Tom Hanks, navigating uncharted waters in an uncertain time, or maybe it’s Bob Odenkirk in the pursuit of the biggest story of his career? These are all important threads, but one doesn’t dominate and I think the movie suffers for it. While the threads Streep and Hanks are rollicking through are (relatively) compelling, they’re not especially cinematic. I would have chosen Odenkirk’s story and made him the lead of the movie, but let’s face it, that’s just not going to happen. Streep and Hanks are two of the biggest stars in the world right now (and have been for some time) and sure, Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul raised Odenkirk’s profile, but he’s not going to be the lead in a movie with Streep and Hanks. He’s just not. And these big ensemble movies are tough to pull off – most movies aren’t Spotlight or JFK. The average rating on Rotten Tomatoes for The Post is an 8 and I’d say that’s about right. I might go up to 8.5… but as previously mentioned, I’m hungry, so let’s just move on with our lives.

The Post and All the Money in the World are getting best picture and/or director nominations from the Golden Globes and the Oscars, which is kinda nuts. I know award shows are arbitrary by nature and they have to nominate something, but to mention these movies in the same sentence as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a waste of everyone’s time.


@Youtube sends me a Dear John letter, my videos are moving shortly

What happened, YouTube? I thought we were friends. Although I guess if I’d been paying attention, I’d have realized that this was not true a long time ago.

Here on, you will see advertisements. These ads are provided by my partnership with WordPress, who also manages the site hosting. I receive a portion of the profits and everybody’s happy.

Meanwhile, there are my YouTube channels. I provide content, we have an agreement that they will share revenue with me for ads that run in front of my videos (etc)… except they don’t. I guess I haven’t hit their threshold, maybe it that’s it… but I feel like I’m small potatoes to them and they’ll get to me when they feel like it.

And now they say the agreement they haven’t been honoring is terminated.

YouTube revenue agreement terminated

So that’s great.

I’m tired of YouTube’s arbitrary nonsense. I’m tired of doing all the work and receiving none of the benefits. Mostly, I’m just tired of YouTube. I’m deleting EVERY VIDEO from my channels. I haven’t decided where I’m going to move my videos yet, but rest assured, the only new videos I’ll be uploading to YouTube will be to announce where my new content is hosted.

Talkin’ Star Wars: The Last Jedi with WDIM Podcast


It’s THE LAST Star Wars: The Last Jedi review.  Did I love it, hate it, indifferent, or in between?  Here’s our chance to find out – as well as what three other people think about The Last Jedi and more!

(FYI, my segment starts around the 36 minute mark)

Check out the What Does It Matter? podcast!  You can listen here or download by searching WDIM in your podcast app of choice! You can find WDIM on Facebook and Twitter, too!

A Very Merry Toy Store movie review

LIFETIME has done it:  they are the winner of the First Annual Worst Made for TV Christmas Movie Award.  Congratulations!  YOU EARNED IT.

A Very Merry Toy Store is actually about three toy stores – not one, but three!  And, I suppose they’re merry… I mean, none of them are especially merry, so this should set the tone for what sort of movie this is.

So, what’s the plot?  It’s a SUPER LAZY retelling of You’ve Got Mail (though not really Shop Around the Corner).  We’ve got two businesses going head to head, but in an effort to give the audience a flatter villain and to decrease the tension between Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart, there’s a THIRD toy store run by a greedy businessman BECAUSE OF COURSE THERE IS.

If you’re wondering what happens between Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart, well, cue a Simpsons reference:


There’s all sorts of other things going on.  Mario Cantone improvises some funny stuff, Brian Dennehy can barely bother to stand up AND I DON’T BLAME HIM.  The dialogue, the photography, the editing, the terrible green screen, the bizarre sled race that stole its pacing from The Phantom Menace, that awful comp shot…


Just look at the size of the parking lot compared to the buildings… and the fact that this seems to be taking place at the North Pole? During the Northern Lights? Only this movie…

This movie is so bad it’s good.  It’s one of those, but more in a “nobody gives a shiz” sort of way rather than a “nobody knows what they’re doing.”  I can’t wait to watch it again!

My 5 Favorite Christmas Movies (Quick Reviews)


The Christmas season is a ton of fun and it’s a time when people get together, so of course, it has its own movie genre.  I’m no stranger to Christmas movies, so I decided I’d make a list of my five favorites.  Not the BEST, not even the ones I THINK are the best, just the ones I currently enjoy the most.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?  There’s so many to choose from!  Let me know in the comments – I’d love to get some suggestions to add to my watch list.

Check out more Christmas episodes of Quick Reviews here!

PLEASE subscribe to the NEW YouTube channel! Subscribing to the show on YouTube helps get the episodes placed higher in YouTube search results and therefore helps more people find out the show exists. It’s a great way to support the show and it’s FREE! If you’re logged into any Google account (Gmail, YouTube, whatnot) you’re good to go. JUST CLICK THAT SUBSCRIBE BUTTON! Thanks again!

Yule Log crackling fireplace Christmas Music dogs snow siberian husky HD

Here it is, the first edition of the OFFICIAL Yule Log.  I’m sure we’ll keep doing these every few years, but for now, please enjoy our dogs (as it stood at the time of filming), the fireplace and REAL SNOW!!!


Love You Like Christmas (2016) movie review

I know I watched Love You Like Christmas.  I KNOW IT!  My mom was here that day, me and my wife kept saying, “Why is this movie called Love You Like Christmas?  Also, “Love You Like Christmas” is not a thing.”  I know I saw it, I know it happened and I even found the notes I conveniently saved for myself.  But any memory of the actual movie?  POOF.  I’m going to dig up some trailers to refresh my memory on what I guess was so bland and uninteresting that I deleted it from my brain to make space for Switched for Christmas.

JAMIE watches the trailer, suppressed memories come flooding back

Oh right, Love You Like Christmas is the Doc Hollywood knockoff.

Except terrible.

The plot, the protagonist and the mechanic
This movie is a “12 Days of Christmas” sort of bad – in the sense that there are at least twelve things wrong with it.  The protagonist doesn’t have an arc because she doesn’t have to change much.  She’s a likable workaholic who seems neither unhappy or stressed by her job, so there’s nowhere to go.  And speaking of nowhere to go, I know the broken down car is just a plot device to keep her in town until the romance thread takes hold, but it is so badly constructed that you’ll begin to wonder if this guy in coveralls is an actual mechanic.  SPOILER ALERT:  the person that wrote this movie doesn’t know how cars work.

“Hello, stranger.   Will YOU be my mom?”
I know someone always has to have a dead parent in these Hallmark Christmas movies, but this kid is creeping me out – I know she has a mom sized hole in her life, but she’s obsessed.  I’m pretty sure that if Bonnie Somerville doesn’t marry Brennan Elliott, this kid is going to make herself a Bonnie Somerville mannequin (out of Bonnie Somerville) and talk to it, dress it up, hide it in the fruit cellar…

You see where I’m going with this.

“I make restaurant authentic Pakistani restaurant.”
Every time a scene is set in the dinner (which the Somerville’s character suggests switches to a Christmas theme, perhaps the most obvious suggestion in the history of time), I can’t help but think of Babhu.  It’s probably just a coincidence, but it reminds me so much of that episode of Seinfeld.

Here are a few more things I hate about this movie in rapid fire:

  1. “I’m a prescriptive man who belittles your accomplishments.”  Great character, movie.  Just. GREAT.
  2. Really, you’re playing the cell phone card?
  3. Christmas Valley doesn’t seem to be a place where they make salad dressing.  Oh wait, that’s Hidden Valley – my mistake.  Objection withdrawn.
  4. Another single dad – there are SO MANY SINGLE DADS in these movies.   Danica McKellar found one in My Christmas Dream (a movie that SPOILER ALERT: has nothing to do with dreams)
  5. Another thing these movies love is what I’ve come to call city shaming – this woman from Manhattan has never experienced a real Christmas.  Except that she works on Madison Avenue!  That’s Christmas central!  Just for good measure, they should have her work in the Saks building with a view of the tree in Rockefeller Center.
  6. And he’s losing his business.  What a shock. Someone is ALWAYS losing their business in these movies and the protagonist swoops in and saves the day.  ALWAYS.

Anyway, I don’t recommend Love You Like Christmas – it’s boring, which is the worst kind of bad a movie can be.

Why I’m NOT Seeing #JusticeLeague

Here’s the new episode of Quick Reviews, a quick essay on why I decided not to see Justice League in the theater. Warner Bros doesn’t want you to see it – they blocked it from YouTube – it’s the only episode that’s ever been blocked! First, they dropped a copyright claim, which, while ridiculous (reviews and essays are clearly covered by Fair Use and the video is less than six minutes long and doesn’t center around any one of their films, so it can’t be a footage issue) at least makes sense because YouTube policy allows them to collect ad revenue from said video (which is also dumb because I just don’t have much of an audience), but then they blocked the video entirely – probably because of my negative review of the DCEU.

You can see all the Quick Reviews episodes here!
Don’t forget to subscribe!

PLEASE subscribe to the NEW YouTube channel! Subscribing to the show on YouTube helps get the episodes placed higher in YouTube search results and therefore helps more people find out the show exists. It’s a great way to support the show and it’s FREE! If you’re logged into any Google account (Gmail, YouTube, whatnot) you’re good to go. JUST CLICK THAT SUBSCRIBE BUTTON! Thanks again!

How Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri uses character arcs to tell an effective story (Quick Reviews)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri uses character arcs to tell an effective story in a way I haven’t seen in a while.  I enthusiastically recommend you check this movie out!

PLEASE subscribe to the NEW YouTube channel! Subscribing to the show on YouTube helps get the episodes placed higher in YouTube search results and therefore helps more people find out the show exists. It’s a great way to support the show and it’s FREE! If you’re logged into any Google account (Gmail, YouTube, whatnot) you’re good to go. JUST CLICK THAT SUBSCRIBE BUTTON! Thanks again!

Murder on the Orient Express kinda sucks (Quick Reviews)

I saw Murder on the Orient Express with five people.  Three of us would admit to at least fighting to keep our eyes open if not completely falling asleep.  Not exactly a wringing endorsement!

PLEASE subscribe to the NEW YouTube channel! Subscribing to the show on YouTube helps get the episodes placed higher in YouTube search results and therefore helps more people find out the show exists. It’s a great way to support the show and it’s FREE! If you’re logged into any Google account (Gmail, YouTube, whatnot) you’re good to go. Thanks again!

The Christmas Train (2017) movie review

A star-studded event from the Hallmark Channel in the guise of The Christmas  Train is essentially Murder on the Orient Express, but with more romance and petty theft instead of MURDER. Who stole the pen? And the sunglasses? And who wants Father of the Bride (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) to bang her ex (Dermot Mulroney) and why? All these questions will be answered (says in non-committal voice, “In a satisfying way…”), but then, if you’ve seen Murder on the Orient Express, you already know the answer.

You have to wonder how this movie came to exist. Although really, simple logic suggests that all you have to do is look at what’s playing at your local theater and what a coincidence! There is a new version of Murder on the Orient Express playing right now! Where do the folks at the Hallmark Channel come up with their ideas?

Roger Myers Jr

“Okay. Maybe my dad did steal Itchy. But so what? Animation is built on plagiarism. If it weren’t for someone plagiarizing The Honeymooners, we wouldn’t have The Flintstones. If someone hadn’t ripped off Sergeant Bilko, there’d be no Top Cat. Huckleberry Hound? Chief Wiggum? Yogi Bear? Ha! Andy Griffith. Edward G. Robinson. Art Carney. Your Honor, you take away our right to steal ideas, where are they gonna come from?”

“Plagiarism is such as strong word. I prefer “creative expropriation”.”

But the plot thickens. It turns out, The Christmas Train is a novel that the Hallmark Channel must have purchased the rights to and then adapted into a film. What a sorry state of affairs.

Now that we got that out-of-the-way, is The Christmas Train any good? Well, it’s just kind of par for the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie course. In an unusual move, you can see that most of the budget went to the cast and the sets/locations, but definitely not to digital effects. (There are some really ugly shots of the train stuck in the snow.)  I get the impression that they wanted to keep up the illusion so that Dermot Mulroney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Danny Glover and Joan Cusack wouldn’t leave the set thinking the movie was a cheap piece of crap they shouldn’t promote.  It’s not till you actually watch the movie that the seams start to show.

Speaking of high-priced talent (again, on the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie scale) Dermot Mulroney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Danny Glover and Joan Cusack aren’t exactly phoning it in, and Mulroney and Kimberly Williams-Paisley have a lot more to do, so… what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t watch this movie just because you’re a fan of these actors.  This isn’t exactly a performance piece.

When it comes down to it, The Christmas Train is an adaptation of a novel that is really just a Christmas fan-fiction version of Murder on the Orient Express. What else is there to say?

Oh, I don’t especially recommend it, but it will neither ruin nor improve your life.

My Christmas Dream (2016) movie review

Who can resist the cheekbones of Winnie Cooper? That’s right, Danica McKellar (star of the horror known as Love at the Christmas Table) is back for another round of holiday fun in My Christmas Dream.

The cast doesn’t have much to work with, but man, the performances are usually the saving grace in these Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, but not this time. There’s the aforementioned Danica McKellar and Christine Lee, who brings terrible dialogue to life, and Deidre Hall, all who are doing their best, but David Haydn-Jones and Colleen Winton are DOG SHIT. No one ever said being in a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie was easy.

There’s a saying in Hollywood: never work with animals or children. Enter Cooper: the worst character ever. The dad and grandmother are poorly written, but Cooper makes me want to get a vasectomy. It’s like watching a campaign to sterilize the HUMAN RACE.

Then there’s the writing. We already know that originally is not allowed in Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, so all that’s left is character design. All the characters (except Christina) aren’t great, but man, Kurt, Nana and Cooper are an awful trifecta, but Victoria varies in degrees of suckatude. Why, you may ask? The lazy writing, the bizarre delivery, and of course, the director who said after one take, “We got it. Moving on.”

Then there’s the Christmas display the movie’s plot revolves around: it’s TERRIFYING! The children and their incessant waving, the ballerina, the snowman, the Santa, the train conductor! So scary!!! It’s like something out of The Shining.

The question isn’t whether or not My Christmas Dream is a good or bad movie, but is it so bad that it comes back around and becomes good again.  Hmm…

In my opinion, no, it is not so bad it’s good. There aren’t enough wacky elements to support the idea that this movie’s awfulness turns into fun. My Christmas Dream is for hardcore Christmas movie completists only.

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