Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Panther movie review.

Despite their decade spanning output, and launching several prominent franchises for less popular characters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn't always been the most diverse when it comes to its characters, and even with prominent characters like Falcon and Black Widow, it's been frustrating not to see Marvel give one of those characters their own solo outing to combat those criticisms. It may have taken them a while, but they've finally attempted to diversify their films, by unleashing the long awaited Black Panther.

Black Panther is commonly noted as the first mainstream superhero of black or African descent, soon paving the way for the likes of Luke Cage, Blade, and the aforementioned Falcon, but standing above them all with audiences who continue to resonate to his nobility and outsider status. Having laid the groundwork previously in Marvel's Civil War, and with his solo entry brought to life by Creed director Ryan Coogler, all the ingredients were there for another enjoyable Marvel flick. But what if it were more? What if Black Panther were Marvel's best film so far?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Top 15 Most Anticipated Films of 2018...

2017 was an eventful year, with a great level of variety to go around, as new and engaging films came and went, with great effort taken to bring diversity to the system, and one can hope that 2018 will be able to say the same. As it is now, I am so eager for the big films to come out this year, and if February's uncommonly decent slate is anything to go by (with films like Black Panther and Annihilation taking their bows), it looks to be an impressive year.

And as I do every year, I'll be listing down the films I'm most excited to see this year. Once again, I'll try to keep expectations and hyperbole in check, but even so, I'm still so excited by what there is to offer.

And before we start, a couple rules for my list. For me to include a film on here, it must either have a guaranteed release date, or at least have a trajectory to open this year (for this reason, I've left off Martin Scorsese's long-dormant The Irishman). The film must also have been released after this list is published, and if a film made the list or honorable mentions last year but got pushed back to 2018, it will not be eligible for consideration (otherwise, Annihilation and Mute would be on here).

Please note that this list is mainly geared towards films that are more well known at this point, so there's not gonna be a whole lot of independent fare with little clout, and this is purely how it stands at the moment. And if a film you're looking forward to isn't on here, I either haven't heard of it yet, I am looking forward to it, but not enough to list it, or I'm just not excited for it at all (Dead! Pool!).

First up, the honorable mentions:
25. Tully

24. Pacific Rim: Uprising

23. JT LeRoy

22. Colette

21. Incredibles 2

20. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

19. A Wrinkle in Time

18. Illumination's The Grinch

17. The Little Stranger

16. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

And now, I present you the main fifteen...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Top Ten Best Films of 2017.

Dark rises, and light to meet it as we approach the final chapter of 2017's story. And despite all the tragedy that such a year held, the cinema proved as inviting and comforting a safe haven as ever.

If 2016 found us in a depressed state, then 2017 was a year that looked to find the hope and optimism when we grew uncertain of the future, attempting to make sense as we went along. From films like Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri that directly confronted our morality and sense of justice, to The Shape of Water that slyly dealt with ongoing xenophobia. 2017 also gave us films based on events of the past still relevant to today, with true stories surrounding Winston Churchill, The Washington Post, and soldiers desperately clinging to hope of rescue. Even something as fake as The Greatest Showman emulated P.T. Barnum's ability to create genuine, if only superficial enjoyment from his viewers. Not to mention that 2017 finally saw attempts at greater diversity, including prominent films from black filmmakers like Get Out and Mudbound earning due attention, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird strongly resonating with audiences, Wonder Woman's long-awaited solo venture doing justice to her iconic legacy, and Pixar doing justice to Mexico's heritage with Coco.

And even outside of films, 2017 was a year where we needed more than ever to lean on each other. Through the controversial politics, fear stoked through hatred, and the tragedies of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, 2017 was a year that depended on our unity. United through blocked travel bans, people risking their own lives to save others affected by those hurricanes, and the broken silence of victims of sexual abuse. Even if it was only minor, 2017 was a year defined by those still crucial moments of triumph, and even though those struggles will always be waiting, it's that camaraderie that gives one hope even in the bleakest of times.

But now it's time to move on to more upbeat territory, and to cover all of those fantastic - and heavily varied films that I saw over the year.

As always, some honorable mentions. Just missing out was War for the Planet of the Apes, which blended the excitement of a blockbuster with a deeply emotional and gripping moral journey, featuring breathtaking CGI and Mo-Cap, and an even more breathtaking lead performance from Andy Serkis. The Post proved that Steven Spielberg is still a master of his craft even at B-material, methodically running us through a still timely story of journalistic integrity and its importance, and also made great use out of a huge ensemble cast. The Disaster Artist was one of the year's funniest films, director and star James Franco excelling in portraying the vices and passion of the singularly odd Tommy Wiseau, made even better by the power and sweetness of Wiseau and Greg Sestero's friendship. It was by far my greatest pleasant surprise of the year, largely for the powerful, flawlessly cast young actors who believably embodied the tightly knit group of friends, and delighted with its effective and nightmarish scares, especially Bill Skarsgard's animalistic Pennywise. Mudbound was a striking and deeply felt tableau of 40's southern life, tackling issues of early PTSD and always ongoing racial barriers in sensitive yet uncompromising fashion, and factoring in a great ensemble cast bringing her vision to life makes Dee Rees one to watch.

And without further ado, my top ten best films of 2017. Put this on your "Good Morning, Missouri" wake up broadcast!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Brief thoughts on The Cloverfield Paradox.

The dumping ground of February is here, and in very atypical fashion, it looks to start the year with some actual decency, between Black Panther and Annihilation. But not to be outdone, Netflix made a surprise move when launching The Cloverfield Paradox with discreet fanfare, with the kind of secrecy before a film's release I never thought I'd see. Unfortunately, I just wish the surprise were a pleasant one, because my official start to the new year lands with a dud.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Top Ten Worst Films of 2017.

I've always found it odd and reductive how quickly critics have been to call the year quits, to have their selections for best of the year ready a few weeks away from Christmas. For one, who's to say that certain films released after such lists have been made public, that few or no one have even seen, wouldn't make a dent (think The Last Jedi or All the Money in the World)? More importantly, it just doesn't give one necessary breathing room, or proper time to reflect on the year in general. Basically, this is all to justify why I do my Best and Worst lists in February.

As for my own thoughts on the year, 2017 was a step up for films from 2016, even if it didn't have anything quite as good as La La Land (then again, what does). For one, the year marked a significant turn in the right direction, as studios finally took to addressing long-brewing backlash against lack of diversity and representation in cinema, the likes of Lady Bird and Get Out becoming among the year's defining films. We've still got a long ways to go, what with Ghost in the Shell attempting to "Asian up" Scarlett Johansson, and the reboot to Hellboy facing backlash after casting Ed Skrein in an Asian role, but the effort was clearly there.

Aside from The Last Jedi inexplicably becoming the year's most hated film by the general public, the actual films were the least crazy part of 2017. Hollywood started making greater headlines for those representing their films and studios, with notorious producer and Oscar campaigner Harvey Weinstein at the center of a massive scandal, facing numerous accusations of unwanted sexual advances and assault, a watershed moment that led to the now ongoing "#MeToo" Movement. He wasn't the only one, as other serious testimonies were raised against the likes of Louis C.K. and Bryan Singer. This also included Kevin Spacey, whose own scandal led Ridley Scott to recast his role in All the Money in the World with Christopher Plummer mere weeks before release. We'd always thought about it, and joked about it, but this showed the toxicity and selectiveness of Hollywood in its true colors, marking a year where we finally tackled such cases and discrepancies head on. It's still not perfect, and it's a shame change came at such a late hour, but one can hope that such events will lead to positive change

But enough about that. Let's get into my selections for the worst films of the year. As I post this, I've seen just over eighty films, so I think I've got a good variety to go on. But as always, the bad movies in my list are limited solely to what I personally saw. I do have my limits in what I subject myself to, so I've avoided duds the likes of The Bye Bye Man, Let There Be Light, Chips, Flatliners, or Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween.

So let's take a look at the worst of what I did see, starting as always with the dishonorable mentions. David Ayer's Bright was a horrid follow-up to his similarly incoherent Suicide Squad, faltering from the same inept editing and incomprehensible screenplay elements, but worst of all is how it portrayed serious issues of racism surrounding the police force with the subtlety of a jackhammer. The Great Wall starred a disinterested Matt Damon in a wannabe Peter Jackson epic, crafting a thoroughly derivative story in a world whose internal history is murky, and even its style and flair was subpar thanks to some appalling CGI. The Dark Tower failed to do justice to Stephen King's storied series, packing hundreds of pages of exposition into a cramped 90 minute time frame, and despite the efforts of Elba and McConaughey, they couldn't save this dull, lifeless attempt to launch a shared universe. The Circle had a dumb but ambitious premise surrounding cellular and corporate pervasiveness, but squandered it all on such a draggy and cartoonish plotline with virtually no suspense, and no attachment to characters either, including poor Emma Watson as the wooden lead. Speaking of wooden, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets lacked any chemistry between stars Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne, who failed to elevate the directionless script, resulting in a stylish, but ultimately disenchanting visual landscape.

And with those out of the way, let's tackle the big ten!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Last Reviews of 2017.

And with that, these will be my last 2017 reviews bfore I finally call the year quits (or at least for now). It's been a very crazy experience the whole way through,and I hope you've enjoyed following my write-ups as much as I did forming them. Stay tuned for my picks for the best and worst films of the year very soon,but for now, thank you, and enjoy.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Call Me By Your Name and Phantom Thread.

This will be my last set of double reviews for the year, with an abbreviated collection of my very last write-ups to follow very soon. So let's get right to it.