Saturday, July 9, 2016

June 2016 Movies

  1. Felt - Billed as horror, this sad drama about dealing with rape is odd, but effective.
  2. Beau Travail - This simple story feels like a complex dream in Claire Denis' hands. Brilliant!
  3. Krampus - Silly, funny at times, but definitely a failure as a horror film. 
  4. The Danish Girl - Vikander stands out in a miss-the-mark fictional twist on interesting story.
  5. Extraordinary Tales - Animated Poe Anthology is so good on paper, but never translates.
  6. Deadpool - Overhyped, silly, with some very funny moments, but the film is rather boring.
  7. Emelie - It's not perfect, but it's what horror should be. Tense, uncomfortable and exciting.
  8. Anomalisa - Charlie Kaufman strikes again. The film resonates, but lacks something in the end.
  9. Joy - Arguably the worst script ever written. The movie manages to fail in every way possible. 
  10. The Battle Of Algiers - Content could be debated, but the look and sound is impeccable.
  11. 10 Cloverfield Lane - Obvious, silly and boring, but surprisingly well acted. A waste of time.
  12. 45 Years - Courtnay and Rampling are stellar. A film that you really need to allow to set in.
  13. Welcome to Leith - Disturbing tale of domestic terror in small town USA. 
  14. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Much better than the title would suggest, with stellar James.
  15. World Of Tomorrow - re-watched. One of the best, most thought provoking short film ever.
  16. Drag Me To Hell - Horribly predictable yarn, with decent lead let down by everything about it.
  17. A War - Strong start turns into boring courtroom drama and loses focus trying to be powerful.
  18. Naked - Brilliant acting enhances dire tale, which goes from typical to brilliant to typical.
  19. Santa Sangre - All style, little substance. Beautifully odd, but so wooden and overly long.
  20. Knight Of Cups - Malick channels Fellini and maybe enhances 8 1/2. Bale and Co shine!
  21. Intolerance - D.W. Griffith's film is 100 years old and it resonates as much now as ever.
  22. Shark Lake - Makes Avalanche Sharks look like Jaws, but hey Dolph Lundgren and Sara Lane.
  23. The Boy - Solid 80 minutes, followed by complete unraveling. Great lead, but little else.
  24. Fastball - Recycled stories leave real fans wanting more. Newcomers and kids will love it.
  25. Death By Hanging - Oshima's use of comedy allows his social commentary to zing, not sting.
Top Three: Beau Travail, The Battle of Algiers, Intolerance
Bottom Three: Drag Me To Hell, Shark Lake, Joy
Biggest Surprise: Felt and Emelie
Biggest Letdown: Deadpool

While the top three for this month are all members of Sight and Sound's top 100 decided by critics, I should note that Knight of Cups and 45 Years are extraordinary. While Algiers and Intolerance are truly epic, Beau Travail mesmerized me. That finale will stick with anyone who sees it, for a long time. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May 2016 Movies

By far, the least number of movies I've watched in a month in almost two years (since I've been keeping track).

  1. Tiny Homes House Hunters - Silly, but some cool houses. 
  2. Son Of Saul - Auschwitz from almost a found footage style. Cinematic Masterpiece.
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Truly horrible in every way, but script and acting is atrocious.
  4. Philomena - Dench and Coogan's chemistry shines in this hilariously poignant film. 
  5. The Club - Poorly shot and directed film about repenting priests (or not). Didn't work for me.
  6. The Girl In The Car With The Glasses And A Gun - Stylish. Hard to like; impossible to hate.
  7. Close-up - Abbas Kiarostami's masterpiece is what docufiction should be. Left me speechless.
  8. The Traveler - Kiarostami's first. A boy experiences life. Surpasses 400 Blows in my opinion.
  9. The Lady In The Van - Despite Maggie Smith's presence, you never feel it. Awful last half.
  10. L'Eclisse - Antonioni's third part of "Trilogy," doesn't work at all, yet is revered as a top film.
  11. A Day In The Country - Renoir's 40 minute short is almost perfect, but feels like a feature.
  12. Ugetsu - Mizoguchi's feels as if the ending was made for the West at end, despite beauty.
  13. Taste of Cherry - Kiarostami's Cannes success is wonderfully simple, until that ending.
  14. They Look Like People - Microbudget horror, offensive in its depiction of mental illness.
  15. Zoombies - Zombie zoo, but these are endangered species. It's as bad as it sounds.
  16. The Revenant - Absolutely awful. Iranittu's ego is all we feel. The visuals, we've seen before.
  17. The Witch - Borders on greatness and rubbish. The final two scenes are unnecessary. 
  18. Mustang - Turkish coming-of-age story about five sisters. Painful at times, but beautiful.
  19. Samsara - Easily one of the greatest documentaries. Beautiful, no dialogue, but says so much.
  20. Beyond The Black Rainbow - Tries so hard to be special, but feels like an 80's gimmick.
  21. Alleluia - French horror love story, delivers with great acting and vicious violence. Very good.
  22. Pickpocket -Bresson's tale of a petty thief is revered for things I don't believe were intended.
  23. Frozen - Disney failure. Feels at times like an anti-feminist film, then bails at the end.
  24. Playtime - Tati's visual feast, left me hungry. Silly monotony, felt like a bad Monty Python skit.
Top Three: Son of Saul, Mustang, Close-Up, Samsara (all perfect 10's)
Bottom Three: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, They Look Like People, Beyond the Black Rainbow
Biggest Surprise: The Witch
Biggest Letdown: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I would also like to add this....if I ever go back to school for film study, my thesis will be on how Frozen is the most anti-feminist, anti-disabilities and most misogynistic movie I've ever seen. I'm still angry about this, but have been told by many to.....Let It Go! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

April 2016 Movies

  1. Bridge Of Spies - Hanks' best role since Big, but movie loses steam trying to appeal to masses.
  2. Vegucated - Funny, thoughtful look at the importance of convincing people to go vegan.
  3. The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie - Style over substance is influential, but club scenes drag.
  4. The Exterminating Angel - Bunuel's look at upper class fragility and the results. Fascinating!
  5. The End Of Summer - Ozu's penultimate film, is funny, charming and ends beautifully.
  6. The Hallow - Truly horrible, but distracted by beautiful co-star.
  7. Chi-Raq - Spike Lee combines Do The Right Thing with School Daze and Greek tragedy.
  8. Steve Jobs - Fassbender, co-stars, direction and cinematography are A-plus. Best of 2015.
  9. Almost Mercy - Need some humor and misses the mark consistently, but solid lead.
  10. The Conspiracy - Great idea, solid start and then becomes a cheap ambiguous mess.
  11. A Woman Under The Influence - Cassavetes' masterpiece. Rowlands and Falk are superb.
  12. The Forest - Great premise and decent acting can't save this disaster. Awful. 
  13. Brooklyn - Saoirse Ronan shines, but movie lacks drama. Cute story, but expected more.
  14. Hush - So many plot holes and errors, but charismatic lead makes it worthwhile. 
  15. Gertrud - Dreyer's last didn't work for me at all. Sight and Sound has it in their top 50.
  16. The Brood - Early Cronenberg is dated and silly, missing all marks in big spots.
  17. Pather Panchali - One of the most aesthetically pleasing black and white films ever. Emotional!
  18. Asian Schoolgirls - Was told it was a gory action film, rivaling horror. It's pure exploitation.
  19. Sunshine - Boyle's sci-fi film publicly hailed for accuracy, but accuracy doesn't mean it's good.
  20. No Regrets For Our Youth - Kurosawa directs. Hara stars and gives the an epic performance.
  21. The Secret Rules Of Modern Living: Algorithms - Fun. Starts of great, but fizzles out. 
  22. God's Pocket - Looks good on paper, but it's bad from start to finish. PSH's last. A shame.
  23. Dream Home - Chinese slasher that makes up for silly plot with amazing violence and gore.
  24. Shoah - The most important documentary of all-time. Long, painful, but heart wrenching. 
  25. In The Heart Of The Sea - Horrible in every way. When was the last time Howard shined?
Special Note: Shoah is the most important documentary of all-time. Is it enjoyable? Not a single second of it is. It's heartbreaking and it's nearly 10 hours long. It is a film that will change how you look at the human condition; both good and bad.

Top Three: Steve Jobs, Pather Panchali, No Regrets for our Youth
Bottom Three: The Hallow, Sunshine, In the Heart of the Sea
Biggest Surprise: Shoah
Biggest Letdown: God's Pocket

Sunday, April 10, 2016

It Would Have Been Her Happiest Day

This Friday, my niece was born. I received the message via text, with a picture attached. I cried. I was so overcome with happiness, I couldn't contain it. Later that day, I finally spoke to my brother and he told me all was well. He is not close enough for me to see this wonderful addition and with the way we've all become robots to technology, I've not even spoken to my sister-in-law yet. Everything has been through our phones, but very few voices have been heard and I am anxious to hear her coos and giggles, cries and sighs. It will, I imagine, melt my heart.

Yesterday, I had a different feeling and it shook me; physically. I knew it was coming, but I wasn't ready for how it came upon me. Someone mentioned their parents "not being ready to be grandparents" yet and I laughed, told them they have time and went down to make myself some lunch. As I sat in the kitchen, I thought about my brother and his wife, staring in wonder at the life they created and the sadness came over me. That very moment, would have been the greatest day of her my mother's life. Better than her wedding, the birth of my brother and I (both adopted, so she couldn't give us that guilt trip) and anything else. My brother's graduation from college is what kept her alive as long as she was. I'm still convinced of this. The thought of her picking this little girl up and never ever wanting to put her down, made me quite sad. I felt dizzy, couldn't eat and decided to lay down.

I think about how my grandmothers, for all their faults, loved my brother and I so completely and unconditionally. No matter how much we took their presence, or presents, for granted, they loved us more the next time they saw us. My mother wouldn't have been able to hide this. Anything this child needed, my mother would have given her and without ever thinking of the sacrifices. Much like she gave to my brother and I, despite pain, both physical and emotional, she'd have done anything for this child. I'm not one who believes she is looking down or has a hand in the future, but I just hope, that one day, I am in a position, to give this child a fraction of the love she would have received from my mother. I wish I could do everything with even a hint of the love my mother did things with. It won't ever be the same, but for her, for both of them, I'll try.

Friday, April 1, 2016

March 2016 Movies

  1. Room - Cliche driven, poorly written script can't be saved by wonderful acting. 
  2. Bedevilled - Korean drama/horror works in many ways, but that ending really bothered me.
  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - shockingly bad, after solid first film. 
  4. The Trial - Welles' adaptation of Kafka novel as metaphor for Nazi Germany. Perkins shines.
  5. Last Shift - Underrated horror flick, with very solid performance by star and unnerving tension.
  6. Indigenous - Panama Jungle meets The Descent. Yep! Aside from good looking women, a dud.
  7. Criminal Minds: Season 9 - Repetitive, but character development and chemistry is its charm.
  8. Macbeth - Poorly adapted script and too much scenery, makes play lose all play quality.
  9. Crimson Peak - First complete letdown from Del Toro. One of the worst movies I've ever seen.
  10. Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado - Very slow start, but the last 20 minutes is hilarious. 
  11. The Tribe - Sign language...no subtitles. One of the most bizarre films ever. Troubling.
  12. Up - Emotionally charged for Pixar film, but the guts of it were lacking. 
  13. Memories of the Sword - Typical plot in genre, but stunningly beautiful final 30 minutes.
  14. Black Mass - Depp's best role since Fear and Loathing, adds to strong cast delivering.
  15. The Big Short - One of the finest adapted screenplays ever. Funny, brilliant and true - scary.
  16. Dead Friend (The Ghost) - Korean horror lacks rhythm. The frenetic ending doesn't work.
  17. Carol - Todd Haynes directs Blanchett and Mara to near perfection. Subtle power!
  18. Trumbo - Couldn't finish. Arguably one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Cranston is awful.
  19. Avalanche Sharks - Absolutely idiotic, but some truly funny lines, especially towards the end. 
  20. Floating Weeds - Ozu remakes his own and excels in using color to bring it to life.
  21. He Never Died - Henry Rollins as Cain. Sounds interesting and it is, for about 15 minutes.
  22. Twenty-Four Eyes - Japanese tale of teacher's effect on children and theirs on her. Powerful.
  23. Spotlight - Oscar winner delivers, but few too many soft touches, where I wanted more. 
  24. Black House - Korean horror takes over an hour to deliver any chills. Waste of time.
  25. Captive - Mara and Oyelowo do their best, but they are working with a thin plan. Fails!
  26. Stranger By The Lake - French erotic thriller, with lots of gay sex and very little plot. Dud!
  27. Suffragette - Starts solidly, but falls apart. No passion from female director and writer.
  28. Circle - Clever horror/thriller takes serious look at prejudice, with possibly bigger implications.
  29. The Hateful Eight - Tarantino's worst movie to date and a complete clunker. Zero good to say.
  30. Legend - Tom Hardy plays dual role as the Kray Brothers. Needed more Browning and mum.
  31. Cowspiracy - Solid, frustrating documentary that looks at the food industries scary power.
Top Three: Twenty-Four Eyes, The Big Short, Carol
Bottom Three: Crimson Peak, The Hateful Eight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Biggest Surprise: Black Mass
Biggest Letdown: TIE - Crimson Peak and The Hateful Eight

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February 2016 Movies

  1. Nurse (3-D) - Aside from scantily clad beauties, this is a sad attempt at sexploitation.
  2. Flu - Korean thriller about avian flu. Forty minutes of editing could have made this a gem. 
  3. Last Year At Marienbad - Artsy puzzler with no payoff. Thankfully, it's much richer than that.
  4. Rome, Open City - Rossellini's war film has highs and lows, but the end to both parts. Wow!
  5. Wake In Fright - Cult classic that doesn't live up to the rep. Pleasance is brilliant, but that's it. 
  6. Hard To Be A God - Epic, but is it great. Hardest movie you'll ever judge. Gruesome and bold. 
  7. Days of Heaven - Malick's stunning look at life and love on the run. Style trumps substance.
  8. The Visit - Shamalyan's dud, never works on any level other than humorous rapping, 
  9. Persepolis - Animated coming of age story works well, despite some serious lags.
  10. Tokyo Chorus - 1931 silent Ozu, works common tale into something special. Poignant 10x.
  11. Ip Man - Wonderful action and solid acting, lift this above most of it's kind. 
  12. The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya - Frustrating dialogue and overly long. Don't see the allure.
  13. The Coed And The Zombie Stoner - Yes, the film lives up to it's name. Watched in FF.
  14. The Walk - Possibly the worst acting I've ever seen in a major film. Gordon-Levitt is awful.
  15. Come Drink With Me - Classic Shaw Brothers, starts strong, but fades. Solid leads.
  16. Gummo - Harmony Korine's odd tale of small town America. Odd isn't the word, but it works.
  17. Tsotsi - South African gang member inadvertently steals baby. Moving and powerful. 
  18. The Krays (re-watched) - Still holds up, but much more style than substance. Whitelaw is A+.
  19. Lawless - Superb cast plays it low key. Incredible first hour gives way to lackluster second.
  20. Hiroshima Mon Amour - Complex beyond description, yet so simple in its beauty. Masterpiece
  21. 99 Homes - Despite a great director, cast and plot, the film fails on every level. Awful.
  22. Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A. biopic is much better than expected, with stellar Cube. 
  23. Hellicon - Nice looking B-horror, makes you want to like it, but last 30 minutes it falls apart.
  24. A Touch Of Sin - I don't understand the accolades. Aside from one vignette, very boring.
  25. About Elly - My third Farhadi film. Absolutely wonderful, as simple story unfolds into chaos.
  26. Tokyo Gore Police - Dreadful, but I can see the allure. Surprisingly tame, despite title.
  27. The Martian - Pleasant surprise. Hollywood, but without the silly subplots. Simple and funny.
  28. Entertainment - Epically bad. Comedy's version of Frank fails every which way.
  29. Beasts of No Nation - Despite some potholes, incredible leads, with Abraham Attah shining.
  30. Backcountry - Cocky urban campers meet black bear. Hooray bear!
  31. Somers Town - Shane Meadows look at two kids liking same girl. Cute, but no depth.
  32. Black Coal, Thin Ice - Korean crime thriller starts off strong and completely loses its way. 
  33. The Nightmare - Documentary? A complete nightmare and not in a good way.
  34. Cries and Whispers - Bergman's colors are mesmerizing, but this one is so dark. So complex.
Top Three: Hiroshima Mon Amour, Tsotsi, Rome, Open City. 
Bottom Three: The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, Entertainment, Nurse 3-D.
Biggest Surprise: The Martian
Biggest Letdown: 99 Homes

Monday, February 1, 2016

January 2016 Movies

I'm adding a little change, with my top three movies, bottom three, biggest surprise, biggest letdown.
  1. Joyeux Noel - A beautiful true story, hurt by over-dramatization. Still works on some levels.
  2. A Pigeon Sat On a Branch Reflecting About Its Existence - Dreadful in every way.
  3. Cracks - Aside from a lovely to look at cast, the movie fails to deliver, Eva Green though.
  4. Monster - Korean crime thriller fails, due to too many undeveloped characters.
  5. Making a Murderer - Poorly done, but makes its point. About 8 hours too long.
  6. Sicario - Del Toro is the real gem, but Blunt takes nothing and makes magic. Great film!
  7. Silenced - Korean film about real life horror at school for the deaf. Well done, but horrifying.
  8. Experimenter - Silly biopic about Milgram's obedience testing. Stumbles from start to finish.
  9. Pay The Ghost - Nic Cage horror flick. Works, for about an hour, but then unravels horribly.
  10. Unfriended - Might actually be worse than The Gallows and Willow Creek. Awful!
  11. Slow West - Good, not great, but fine acting make this "foreign" western a fun ride.
  12. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl - Napoleon Dynamite meets Terms of Endearment. Solid!
  13. Sheitan - Sexy women, creepy atmosphere and Vincent Cassel can't make up for lack of story.
  14. When Animals Dream - Shockingly good, beautifully shot Danish horror film. Overly subtle.
  15. Early Spring - Ozu's look at infidelity. My least favorite so far, but Ikebe shines as wife.
  16. The Kids Are Alright - Wonderful, up until the final twenty minutes and then unravels.
  17. Far From The Madding Crowd - Wonderful cast can't save a poorly constructed adaptation.
  18. Learning to Drive - Good not great. Simple. Clarkson is great as always, but script is lacking.
  19. World of Tomorrow - Oscar nominated short. Take time to let this one sink in, it's fabulous. 
  20. Cub - Belgian horror borrows from many classics, but has an air of originality. Well done.
  21. Sharknado 3 - Awful in every way. This series has finally jumped the, no, just no.
  22. The Blind Swordsman; Zatoichi - First Takeshi Kitano movie I've ever hated. So dull. 
  23. Le Samourai - Stylish noir, limits acting and is all about aesthetics. Inspired, but dull...Classic?
  24. The Assassin - Pretty to look at, but a complete bore. Could have easily been 30 minutes long.
  25. True Detective Season 2 - The writing is so bad, you forget the decent performances.
  26. Far From Heaven - Haynes' visual feast is hurt by Quaid's sleepwalking, despite stellar Moore.

Top Three: Sicario, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, World of Tomorrow
Bottom Three: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting About Its Existence, Unfriended, Sharknado 3
Biggest Surprise: When Animals Dream
Biggest Letdown: True Detective Season 2