Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Top Ten Worst Films of 2015...

Here we are once again, folks. 2015 has ended, and now we look ahead to 2016. Who's to say what the new year will bestow on us, or in Norm of the North's case, inflict on us. But one thing's for sure, there will be a lot of exciting titles coming up. I don't know about you, but I am hyped to see Hail, Caesar next Friday.

But first, it's time to take a look back at both the highlights and low points of the previous year. Having seen a total of a little over ninety movies from that year, my thoughts on it were similar to those of 2014, in that it was a good year with great films, but had some scattershot selections that didn't help it hit the heights of 2013. Granted, this might be owed to the fact that, while the year's movies were probably no worse than usual, I ended up seeing a bit more of them, from full fledged disappointments to agonizing tests of endurance. In fact, it was so competitive that even Fifty Shades of Grey didn't hit the top ten.

Granted, that still doesn't mean I actively sought out every bad movie I've heard about, with titles that include The Ridiculous 6, War Room, United Passions, Hitman: Agent 47, Aloha, Hot Pursuit, and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Even for guys like me, there are limits to the pain someone can endure, so these are only going to be limited to my personal experiences.

As always, let's get some dishonorable mentions out of the way. Lost River was a very beautifully photographed directing debut for Ryan Gosling, but he seems to have taken all the wrong cues from Nicolas Winding Refn, stringing together sequences at complete random with little to no context, including several minutes of awkwardly dancing Ben Mendelsohn. For the first time in my list's history, a YA novel adaptation didn't make it into the top ten, but The Divergent Series: Insurgent's blend of incomprehensible plotting and faux-psychological action nearly secured it a spot, despite the most committed efforts of Shailene Woodley. Fifty Shades of Grey could have made for a so-bad-it's-good mockery of its infamous source material, but instead takes it so seriously and brooding that it isn't even ironically entertaining, and though the production values are top notch, it's so dull that even its target audience will be turned away by its passionless love scenes. Having finally watched all three Insidious movies this year, I can safely say that Insidious: Chapter 3 is easily the worst entry in the series, with Leigh Whannell seemingly forgetting everything that made the previous two films the successes that they were, and forsaking its subtle terror in favor of cheap jump scare factories. Jupiter Ascending from the Wachowski siblings did have fabulous visuals and sound work, but squandered it all (as well as a hefty budget) on a plot so unintelligible that it feels like a TV show's first season condensed down to two hours, and featured some of the year's worst performances, including a mumbled and monotone Eddie Redmayne who looks like he's counting the days before he can star in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Alright, with that out of the way, IT'S CLOBBERING TIME!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Brief thoughts on Room.

When first we meet young Jack Newsome (played by remarkable newcomer Jacob Tremblay), we see him excitedly kicking off his fifth birthday wishing all the inanimate objects in his glorified prison (nicknamed “Room”) a good morning. For such a young boy who has never experienced the wonders of the outside world, who doesn’t even comprehend that outside this little prison is a much bigger world waiting for him to discover, it’s a very bittersweet, but meaningful action that feels like it blurs the line between the normal and the strange, with this little boy not knowing any better than what he’s been raised in. For reasons like that and more, it’s appropriate that Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is one of the most bittersweet theater experiences I’ve had in recent memory.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Revenant movie review.

There’s a reason that the Western genre was once one of the most popular (and to an extant still is) film genres of all time, as the very frontier provides quite a versatile canvas for some of the greatest filmmakers of all time. While many of them included the adventurous journeys of John Ford, more often than not they were used to enhance grittier, bleaker stories, such as Sergio Leone’s intense Man with No Name trilogy, and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, using them to enhance the horrifying actions and deadly consequences that came with the territory. Even Quentin Tarantino, despite his comical indulgences, has used it well to enhance the vilest characteristics of humanity.

For all these reasons, it seemed only natural for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – fresh off a Best Picture Oscar win for last year’s Birdman – to adapt to the setting with The Revenant, as such a setting seems to fall perfectly into his earlier portfolio. If The Hateful Eight was an examination of the most evil side of human beings, than The Revenant is like a haunting trip through Hell itself.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Hateful Eight movie review.

Since his entrance on the scene in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino has established himself as one of the most distinctive voices in all of cinema, often referred to as “the king of dialogue”, in no small part because of his usage of lengthy, verbose conversations between characters.

Since 2009, his films have taken on both a very different and very familiar style of filmmaking, with him venturing into the territory of spaghetti Western meets historical revisionism popularized by Inglourious Basterds. This has produced a particularly dividing effect for mainstream audiences as to whether he’s improved as a filmmaker, or if his indulgence has actually made him worse.

The same dividing effect can be applied to his most recent release, The Hateful Eight, a movie which has become something of a theater going event due to its unique 70mm roadshow release, which is the version I’ll be reviewing today. Blending all of Tarantino’s most famous tricks and stylistics into one beautifully twisted package, it continues to see Tarantino evolve as a craftsman, but perhaps take a small misstep as a storyteller. But I do mean only a *small* misstep, as the film still remains as engrossing as we’ve come to expect of the man.