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Split

Just when I thought M. Night Shyamalan restored my faith in his films with the “decent” The Visit, he once again ruins it with Split.  Easily headed to be my pick for the worst film of 2017.

We’re given a film with no suspense, no plot, no characters I care about, no explanation of those characters or even the protagonist.  We’re given a film that could have been summed up as a 10 minute short film and…..

SPOILER!!!!!

A ridiculous setup for his mediocre film Unbreakable.

We follow three girls as they are abducted by a man who has multiple personality disorder.  There’s no rhyme or reason as to why he chose these three girls.  He just did, and guess what! we’ll never find out why!  We meet all of his personalities, male and female, trying to understand his reasoning.  There is no reason.  He claims there is someone called the beast that is calling for them.  We will learn about the beast later, and when we do…big whoop.  Zero payoff.

Split is boring.  It’s exhausting as you try to figure out what the point of the whole film is.  It has no payoff.  It’s sloppy.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again….I’m insulted by his style of filmmaking.  It’s dumb, and the fact that he keeps getting bankrolled to make films is mind-numbing.

My only saving grace is that I stole this movie from a torrent site.  I almost paid money to go see it, but didn’t.  Thank god.  Whyyyyyy do I still give you a chance??  Garbage.

Grade: F

10 Best Films of 2016

Honorable Mentions: Cafe Society, Don’t Breathe, Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, How to Be Single, The Light Between the Oceans, Fences,  Sully, The Phenom, Everybody Wants Some, Moonlight

10. Hail Caeser!

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I don’t know what type of Kool-Aid the Coen brothers have been drinking, or if they just made a deal with the devil, but they almost always come up with winners.  This along with another favorite film this year….to be named later….harken back to the glory days of the Hollywood system.  Such an entertaining and inquisitive look in to the past, along with just being hilarious and entertaining as well.

9. Deepwater Horizon

I thought this was an absolutely fantastic year for original action films.  Something that we don’t get a lot of because of all of the remakes, and super-hero films it seems we are stuck with nowadays.  Peter Berg’s true telling of the disaster that was the oil rig The Deepwater Horizon is edge of your seat action from beginning to end.  It reminds you a lot of the natural disaster films of the 1970s…well the good ones that is.

8. Imperium

Daniel Radcliffe is starting to put together an impressive resume and move away from his Harry Potter legacy.  He plays deskbound FBI agent Nate Foster, who is called upon to look into the involvement of white supremacist groups across the country.  This is a pretty terrifying look into those who talk a big game….and into those who’s actions are set on destroying our country.

7. Arrival

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Maybe the most depressing film of the year to be honest, but Dennis Villeneuve’s Arrival is an extremely thought provoking film that begs the question lots of other films have in the past….what if aliens did exist?  Arrival raises questions on our current political climates, and how language is a barrier to our society.

6. The Accountant

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Action, action, action.  The Accountant is not a film I really expected to like, and it is a stretch in some parts, but as an original action film it works from beginning to end.  It’s a thriller, it’s suspense, it has twists and turns, it’s funny, Ben Affleck is great.  I mean it has everything you’d want from a Friday night feature at the movies.

5. The Magnificent 7

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Just as I was starting to bash remakes I put one on my list.  This is another one that when I heard about the release I said….why?  Why try and improve on perfection, but somehow director Antoine Fuqua does.  The Magnificent 7 takes the best of the original and expounds upon it with upgraded action and character interaction, and after all…..the original Magnificent Seven was also a remake.

4. The Neon Demon

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Nicolas Winding Refn is on a different plane all his own.  His films are so original and gorgeous, and The Neon Demon is no different.  It’s the sordid tale of a young girl who gets swallowed up in the modeling world of drugs and back-stabbing in order to claw your way to the top.  Innocence lost if you will.  A viceral experience.

3. The Handmaiden

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Chan Wook Park is someone who I have always admired.  His films are filled with tales of seduction, revenge, sex, and murder.  The Handmaiden is a story of all of these things told in three parts from the three main characters of this narrative.  It’s shocking and fascinating as most of his films are.

2. Hell or High Water

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Hell or High Water is a complex tale of two brothers who set out to rob a series of banks in Texas.  There motives are not known.  They perhaps have different motives, and there’s law enforcement that will obviously be coming after them.  The interesting thing is that there really is no good vs. bad at play here.  It’s just different people, with different motives at play.

1. La La Land

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It’s not even close.  There is no film this year that matches the perfect nature that is La La Land.  Director Damien Chazelle has now become a force to reckon with.  His 2014 film Whiplash was my favorite of the year, and now he’s done it again.  He’s proven that he’s not a flash in the pan.  La La Land is the perfect balance of music, of romance, of hope, of love, of loss, of everything that makes you feel human.  It is a beautiful masterpiece.

The Five Worst Films of 2016

5. Darkness

Ok look, I can deal with bad horror films.  I can even deal with horror films that plagiarize other horror films.  What I can’t deal with are horror films that are not scary at all, and that employee famous actors to make us spend our hard earned cash to watch shit like this.

4. Yoga Hosers

Well at least you didn’t make my worst film of the year Kevin Smith.  Just number 4.  And it’s nothing against him.  I love him and his podcast, and also Comic Book Men….but dude….what the hell happened to you?

3. The Lobster

Welcome to the most pretentious piece of garbage you could possibly imagine.  And that’s saying a lot coming from a guy who deals with, and is quite pretentious himself.

2. The Witch

Maybe this is just one of those….I don’t get it, moments.  What’s the big deal?  It’s not scary.  It’s not suspenseful.  It’s boring as hell.

1a. Shut In

I saw this piece of garbage after I had made my list, but I had to add it post 2016.  This is terrrrribbbllleeeee.  It’s not scary at all, and it also makes no sense whatsoever.

1. The Legend of Tarzan

Where do I even begin….script = garbage….CGI = garbage….acting = garbage….direction = GARBAGE.  Why??????

25 Best Albums of 2016

Honorable Mentions: Flume – Skin, Kendrick Lamar – Untitled, Unmastered, Banks and Steelz – Anything But Words, The Kills – Ash & Ice

25. Rhianna – Anti

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I can’t really say I’ve ever listened to a Rhianna album until this year, and it’s shocking to me that Anti is her 8th album.  While it’s a little long in the tooth, it has probably two of my favorite songs this year in Kiss It Better and Work.  

24. Sia – This is Acting

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I have always been a huge fan of Sia as a vocalist and particularly a songwriter.  This is Acting is made up of songs that Sia wrote for other artists but ended up keeping for herself, and it’s some of her best work yet.  The songs on here are massive, and remind me a lot of another singers last album I loved, Florence and the Machine.

23. Richard Ashcroft – These People

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I’ve always been an Ashcroft fan, ever since his days with The Verve.  He is a tremendous songwriter, and he continues his remarkable career here.  Again, it’s not like he’s doing anything new here.  He’s just writing great songs which he’s always done in the past.

22. Temper Trap – Thick as Thieves

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I’m not saying The Temper Trap’s new albums feels, or sounds original at all.  There’s a ton of bands that have been riding the synth, pop sound for a while now; The Killers, Phoenix, etc.  For some reason I’ve gravitated towards Temper Trap and been a fan for a while now.  I think it’s the best thing they’ve done so far.

21. Plants and Animals – Waltzed in From the Rumbling

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Waltzed in From the Rumbling is a product of a massive catalogue of songs that were created by Plants and Animals prior to going in to the studio.  It feels and sounds like a love-lorn concept album.  Very dreamlike and ethereal.  Deep, resounding songs.

20. Minor Victories – Minor Victories

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Supergroup Minor Victories consists of members of Mogwai, Slowdive, and The Editors.  Three bands I absolutely love.  You can definitely hear their own styles coming together on this pretty robust album, and let’s face it I’m a sucker for electronic, shoegaze, dream-pop.

19. Crystal Castles – Amnesty (I)

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When Alice Glass left the band it was kind of hard to say….oh man….they’re losing so much.  Ethan Kath is the heart and soul of the band.  He creates all the movements, and it’s especially hard to say that something is missing from the lead singer when 99% of the vocals are digitally manipulated.  Kath feels rejuvenated in what feels somewhat like revenge against Alice Glass for whatever reason, and new singer Edith Frances actually sounds fresh in a band that never totally relied on the vocals.

18. Frank Ocean – Blonde

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There’s not a lot to be said about Frank Ocean that hasn’t already been said.  He’s become one of the most original and talked about artists of the past few years.  His follow up to Channel Orange is maybe not as good, but it’s not far off.

17. Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion B

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It’s pretty amazing the level of output from Jepsen since last year.  Her Emotion barely missed my best albums last year, and when her B-sides album came out this year I was blown away with the level of songwriting and experimentation that was involved.  It eclipses her last album only in the fact that it is a more lean experimental version of the latter.

16. Garbage – Strange Little Birds

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I’ve always liked Garbage, but at this point in their careers shouldn’t they just sound like old tired rock?  Well somehow they still sound fresh and make great music.  Shirley Manson is one of the great front-women in rock and roll and she’s the reason why this album charted so high for me.

15. School of Seven Bells – SVIIB

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The ending of School of Seven Bells is spelled out not as much as a sad eulogy to the death of songwriter Benjamin Curtis, but as a celebration of what made them such a great band.  It’s really a perfect ending to their 4 magnificent albums.

14. Foxes – All I Need

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I love synthpop, and I love synthpop fronted by a woman who can just make it all come together.  Louisa Rose Allen, who is Foxes, created a great pop album in All I Need.  I think she’s definitely one to watch as she continues on through her career.

13. David Bowie – Blackstar

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There’s been lots of death in 2016.  Bowie’s passing along with Leonard Cohen hit hard for me.  These were two men whose music spoke volumes to me, not only in my youth, but also as I’ve grown older.  Their songs resonate.  The meanings change as I’ve grown as well.  Blackstar is an amazing stamp on a career in which Bowie’s persona created so many different faces, and music took so many forms.  RIP to the Thin White Duke.

12. Polica – United Crushers

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I loved Polica’s first album Give You the Ghost, and their 3rd album is right up there.  I feel it’s the perfect blend of hard synth and pop hooks. Channy Leaneagh is one of the most original vocalists making music right now in my mind.

11. Wye Oak – Tween

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I was lucky enough to see Wye Oak a few months ago at the beautiful Thalia Hall here in Chicago, and I was blown away by how they pull their sound off live.  I was really amazed how great a front-woman Jenn Wassner was as well.  Tween is an album of castaways from the Civilian and Shriek sessions, but that doesn’t make it feel like an album full of B-sides.  It makes it feel like its own work.

10. The Joy Formidable – Hitch

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I’m a total homer here.  I’ve been a huge fan ever since the first time I’ve heard them.  Massive stadium rock riffs, and they’re getting more complex here.  They do go a little far with the composition, and this is as far as they should go in my mind.

9. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

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I’m kind of shocked myself I’m putting these guys up this high on this list.  I think their smash hit The Middle kind of does a detriment to their overall discography.  Integrity Blues is full of just great, well-produced and written songs.  Hard rock riffs, to alt/rock ballads.  Great album front to back.

8. Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack

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Frightened Rabbit is a band that I’ve slowly liked more and more over the years.  First of all they are fantastic live if you ever get the chance.  Painting of a Panic Attack is once again produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner.  So it has that thick sound that reminds you of the National for sure, but still has the sound that’s made Frightened Rabbit a band to constantly watch.

7. Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow

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I had to do a double take when I checked Shearwater’s discography.  They’ve released something like 11 or 12 albums since 2001, most of which have been self-released.  I must admit I’m only family with Animal Joy and their newest Jet Plane and Oxbow.  It’s a rich album with tons of layers within each song.  It’s a dense album that takes time to absorb.

6. Wild Nothing – Life of Pause

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Lead singer and songwriter Jack Tatum has slowly been creating is own unique vision of shoegaze dream-pop over the past 5-6 years.  His brainchild Wild Nothing has slowly gotten better and better with each release.  Their third album is easily their best effort yet.

5. Deftones – Gore

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Gore along with The Deftones last album, Koi No Yokan marks their best outings since White Pony.  They’re able to blend the heaviest of riffs along with dreamy pieces of architecture that float in between.  It’s all courtesy of lead singer Chino Moreno.

4. Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death

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Its hard to imagine an album of pop gems much better than Tegan and Sara’s last album Heartthrob, but somehow they did it with Love You to Death.  Barely over 30 minutes of pop laden hooks.  The twins are streamlined and at their absolute best on their 8th album.

3. Mystery Jets – Curve of the Earth

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Mystery Jets are a band that have been consistently pumping out music for the past decade.  I’ve only heard their two prior albums to their newest and never thought much of them.  Just pretty good music, but their new one is something special.  Very well written and thought out songs.

2. Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker

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The passing of Leonard Cohen was the bookend of a horrible year of death for musicians and artists of all forms.  Cohen was a poet who just ended up being a musician.  He is my favorite lyricist of all time, and You Want it Darker may be his greatest achievement of all.  Deep songs of love, hate, loss, and death, and lonnnngggg life living with all of it.

1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

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My love/hate relationship continues with one of my favorite/least favorite bands of all time.  Radiohead gets praised for everything they do, but not everything they do is as amazing as this.  Noel Gallagher infamously said “…if Thom Yorke shit into a f$%king light bulb it’d get 9/10…”.  Which is true, but this is definitely not shit.  It’s a pretty amazing album, and even more amazing that a band such as Radiohead is still able to create something so atmospheric and original.

The 10 Best Films of 2015

Honorable Mentions: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 99 Homes, The Gift, Black Sea, It Follows, Sleeping With Other People, While We’re Young, Inside Out, Phoenix

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10) All This Mayhem

This was technically released in late 2014, but didn’t come to the states or at least to my attention until early this year, but I have to add it.  The insanely true story of the Pappas brothers.  Two Australian skateboarders who set out to conquer the skateboarding world and prove they were better than Tony Hawk could ever dream to be.  Is it a little lopsided?….yeah of course it is, but that doesn’t change what both of them went through in their own personal lives.

 

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9) Steve Jobs

Danny Boyle knows how to make a film.  He knows how to make things simple, yet interesting at the same time as well, and he knows how to cast his sea of characters.  Michael Fassbender does an amazing job of portraying Steve Jobs over the years, and doesn’t hold back from what a genius, and an asshole Jobs was.

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8) Spotlight

Easily the best ensemble cast of the year, you could make the case for H8teful Eight though. The true story of how a news crew took down the Catholic church in Boston and exposed them for the molestation of 100s of boys.  A great look in to how a team of journalists uncovers the truth.

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7) Room

At first this doesn’t sound like the most interesting film.  A woman is stuck in room with her son, held by her captor.  I’ve seen infinite 48 hour mysteries about the subject, so it seemed like yet the same thing.  What takes the film to the next level is how this woman and her son interact with each other throughout the course of the film, and especially how they evolve halfway through the film and in to the end of the film.  One of the best performances of the year by Brie Larson.

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6) The Big Short

The fall of the housing market in 2007 is captured across multiple converging storylines.  We follow bankers, we follow people who are in the know ahead of the collapse, or at least think they’re in the know, and we ride the rollercoaster with them.  We all know for the most part what happened around that time, but The Big Short  is an intricate portrait of the collapse.  Probably one of my favorite “acted” films of the year, and also one of the more interesting in how these actors interact with each other and interact with the viewer.

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5) James White

A film that really took me by surprise.  Fantastic acting, and director Josh Mond does an unbelievable job of taking us through the phases of James White’s depression of dealing with the death of his father, and the struggle of taking care of his mother through her cancer.  It’s an emotional film that speaks to you as a film-goer.

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4) The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio is a lock for an Oscar here.  He drives this movie.  It’s a very simple story on the surface.  A tale of survival and revenge in one of the toughest times in American history.  An absolutely beautiful film, shot to perfection in every way, and acted perfectly in every way as well.

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3) Ex Machina

One of the more interesting science fiction films I’ve seen over the years.  The film makes you think on so many levels.  IF Artificial Intelligence existed what would it look like, and how would we interact with it.  Could it be so life-like to mimic feelings, or just be programmed to do so?

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2) Mad Max: Fury Road

I almost had a brain aneurysm within 10 minutes of sitting through George Miller’s re-imagining of his Mad Max series.  It is non-stop action from beginning to end.  Edge of your seat, pulse-pounding action.  It’s so simple too.  Furiosa and her team need to escape from the big baddy all the way across the desert, only to have to go all the way back and take him down.  A road movie, and a survivor movie done to perfection.

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1) Creed

No I’m not kidding.  Stallone gives the performance of the year, and director Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan prove they’re something special together.  This turns the whole Rocky franchise on its head and does such a great job of tying in all the great things about ALL the Rocky films, while also tipping its head to a lot of things that happened in real life to both Coogler and Sly.

 

The 5 Worst films of 2015

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5) The Fantastic Four

Not even a stellar cast can save this piece of garbage.  This is what people are talking about when they say they’re getting sick of superhero films.  A dumb plot, horrible writing, and horrible directing.  Perhaps the worst superhero film of all time.

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4) Aloha

I’m not sure what the hell Cameron Crowe has been doing for the past 10+ years…but it’s not making good movies.  This is strike two after Elizabethtown.  I’m honestly not even really sure what the film is about.  It is boring and confusing as hell, not funny, not dramatic, it’s just kind of there.

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3) The Ridiculous Six

Adam Sandler will obviously never stop, but god I wish he would.  Yet another straight up piece of shit.  Dude is cashing paychecks like a mo’fo’.  He’s just not making anything worth watching.

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2) Project Almanac

The worst time travel movie I’ve ever seen.  Filled with holes, and involves kids who somehow are smart enough to figure out a time machine….but not smart enough to go back in time with the correct numbers of a winning lottery.  Dumb.

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1) 50 Shades of Grey

It doesn’t get much worse than this.  Soft porn for the eyes with the worst acting of the year.  Although points do go to the film for the best line of the year…”I’m 50 shades of fu$%ed up!”