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Archive for the ‘Top 10 Lists’ Category

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??????

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!”

 

James White

James_White_posterJames doesn’t have his shit together.  He’s a young New Yorker that drinks too much, gets in to trouble, is rude to everyone he meets, and doesn’t care about anything or anyone except himself, and his mother.  James doesn’t have a job. He sleeps on his mother’s couch and takes care of her.  She has cancer, and she is battling the disease every day.  James will do anything for her.

The film opens with the family sitting shiva for James fathers death.  His father has moved on many years ago and re-married.  James is forced to interact with the people coming to visit his ailing mother during this time.  He doesn’t have a lot of patience with people, and orders everyone out after his fathers ex-wife puts on their wedding video at his mothers house.  He’s super protective of his mother.

His mother has tried everything to get her son to make something of himself, but he’s just stuck in a rut.  He’s extremely self-destructive and turns to drugs and alcohol to escape the problems that plague him.  He can’t find anything else to hold on to.

James White does an amazing job of living through the cracks of James life.  We live in his world over the course of a matter of months, but we only live in it a day at a time, and then fast forward a few weeks at a time as well.  People he meets come and go without any really understanding of what they mean to James, or how they affect his life.  That’s kind of the power of the film.  People come and go…his mother remains. The one constant.

Chris Abbott who plays James is fantastic in the lead role.  He’s a complete asshole, and an unlike-able character, but the love he feels for his mother shines through during even the darkest moments of his life. We end up feeling for him.  Cynthia Nixon plays James ailing mother.  She’s a cancer survivor herself, and wow….she’s got Oscar written all over her for this role.

What I think works the best is that the film doesn’t attempt to make us understand everything about these characters.  It attempts to make us understand enough about the situation they are in, and how they adapt or actually fail throughout the course of the film.  We also live in this New York City world.  It’s a cramped, claustrophobic worldview and only once during the course of that film do we escape that world and see how James may be able to live away from the turmoil he faces.  It’s a film that is troubling to watch at times, but very understanding of what it is trying to achieve

Grade: A

 

Lucy

Lucy (2014 film) poster.jpgDirector Luc Besson burst on to the scene in the early 90’s with two borderline masterpieces in La Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional.  He’s directed films since then yes, but has largely been known as a producer, producing high intensity, over the top, action films such as The Transporter, and Taken film series.  Besson seems to be focusing his efforts back to his talents behind the lens.  Last year’s The Family was a highly entertaining under-the-radar film, and now he presents us with Lucy. Lucy is probably his most hyped directorial effort since 1997’s The Fifth Element, or at least well marketed.

Lucy is the story of a girl named Lucy (Scarlet Johansson) who gets mixed up in an Asian drug ring, and is forced to transport a new synthetic drug to handlers.  Her stomach has been spliced open and a bag of the drug has been implanted inside of her.  After one of her captors gets a little too rough with her, the bag begins to leak, and the new synthetic compound begins to be ingested by her body.  The result is that she begins accessing larger portions of her brain. 20%, 30%, and so on, and we have no idea what will happen when she reaches 100%.

Now if Lucy sounds familiar that’s because it is.  It’s pretty much the exact same concept as Limitless starring Bradley Cooper, which for the record I loved.  The difference between the two films is that Lucy is more high action, and centers itself around a woman trying to stop the drug from seeping in to her, where-as Limitless was about Bradley Cooper’s character actively using the drug in order make him smarter.  Lucy doesn’t want this drug in her system, and she starts to understand the pain that comes with accessing this much of her brain.  She searches for the only man that may be able to help her, Professor Samuel Norton (Morgan Freeman), who is the leading researcher with regards to higher brain function.

The idea of evolution is at the forefront of the film.  It’s no secret that Lucy is also the name of the first “woman” on earth, and the film borrows imagery from a lot of films like 2001:A Space Odyssey and The Matrix.  Besson attempts to attack the subject of the next evolutionary step for mankind without being to pompous.  Lucy is an action film first and foremost, and Besson never strays from that.

The idea of Lucy is completely ridiculous and over the top, but Besson finds a way to toe the line just enough to keep it in the realm of plausibility.  The entire time I kept telling myself how ridiculous the film was, but that didn’t stop me from being highly entertained the entire time.

Grade: B