Monthly Rewind for May

Hello, everybody!

The fifth edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing May!

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Iron Man 2

MacGruber

Thoughts: Let’s start off with Marvel’s third outing, Iron Man 2. The sequel that a lot of fans ended up not liking for various reasons, and honestly, I was one of them. The sequel does have its faults, but Marvel was still finding its footing. Plus, the sequel did end up giving us a lot of cool moments like Iron Man and War Machine back-to-back fighting off the robots, Black Widow and Whiplash’s introduction at the speedway.

Next is the comedy MacGruber, the feature-length film based off Will Forte’s SNL skit of the same name. I wasn’t a huge watcher of SNL, so I didn’t know about the skit, just that the movie looked like a dumb fun action comedy. So I went with that and actually enjoyed myself watching the overly ridiculously comedy that was happening in front of me. Even the celery.

 

 

2011

Thor

Thoughts: May 2011 was pretty light on movies, but I ended up picking Thor for a few reasons. I know some see Thor as the outliner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – some even seeing it at the “worst” one – but again, Thor was part of the Phase One movies, where Marvel was still figuring everything out. It wasn’t also done in a different style as it felt more like a Shakespearian film with Kenneth Branagh directing, and an unknown actor, aka Tom Hiddleston, stealing the show. While even I don’t see Thor as one of the best movies in the MCU, it is in my eyes, one of the more ambitious films, in terms of approach.

 

 

2012

Sleepless Night

Moonrise Kingdom

The Avengers

Thoughts: Okay, let’s get started with the Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, the first live-action Anderson film I remember watching all the way through (The Royal Tenenbaums, being one that I hadn’t watched all the way through). The film followed two young lovers who flee from their homes and the community coming together to find them. It’s about what you expect from an Anderson film, with our young lead Jared Gilman says “sons of bitches” at one point, which just broke me.

Next is the French action crime thriller Sleepless Night – which was remade titled Sleepless with Jamie Foxx, which was NOT good – which I first saw at Actionfest, and instantly loved it. The film follows a cop with a connection to the criminal underworld, whose cover is blown when his partner gets caught skimming a recent product. When the drug lord finds out, they end up taking the cop’s son, and the cop goes in to try to save his son on his own in one night. It’s not your traditional action movie, although there is a great kitchen brawl, but I really enjoyed the movie for what it was.

Finally, The Avengers, Marvel’s first big team-up movie brought all the comic book nerds, and non-nerds, together to experience a massive milestone in comic book movie history. It’s not perfect, even I can admit that, but you got to admit it was something.

 

 

2013

Iron Man 3

After Earth

Fast & Furious 6

Thoughts: Oh 2013, what was going on? Okay, let’s start off with Iron Man 3, once again, an Iron Man sequel that left many fans divided. Marvel took the chance and hired Shane Black to write and direct, and decided to bring one of Iron Man’s biggest villains into the cinematic universe in The Mandarin, played Sir Ben Kingsley, in what was more a sadistic terrorist than somewhat supernatural villain, plus the mishandling of the Extremists storyline. I don’t know, it’s not the best Iron Man movie, but I think the movie does get a little too much hate.

Now let’s get to a movie that deserves the hate it gets, After Earth. “Directed” by M. Night Shyamalan (it was said that Will Smith “really” directed the movie, but Shyamalan took all the heat for how the movie turned out) and starring Smith and his son Jaden as father and son in the future who get stranded on the former Earth, after their ship crashes. Jaden’s character then as to go and search for help for his father, who was injured during the crash. This movie was NOT good, in any way. Jaden just didn’t have the “it factor,” especially to lead a movie like this, and apparently the movie went through so many changes after it was filmed, that a longer cut existed with people cut from the movie, and more of the back-story of things included. Even then, I don’t think the movie would have been anyway.

Finally, Fast & Furious 6, the last movie in the franchise directed by Justin Lin (who started with Tokyo Drift, and directed the eventually-released F9), which had the crew, teaming up with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs against a deadly crew, with the returning, and now amnesic returning Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty. This was one that I knew had a bigger impact with me, cause of the theater crowd – although I do still enjoy watching it at home too – because EVERYONE was into it. It’s a tad melodramatic with the Letty and Dom stuff, but that’s one of the things the films had done at that point, so whatever.

 

 

2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Godzilla

Chef

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Thoughts: 2014’s back came to give us proper hits! Expect this first one we’re going to talk about, The Amazing Spider-Man 2! After a solid reboot with the first Amazing Spider-Man, Sony had to whiff it by trying to play catch up to the MCU and try to create their own connected universe with Spider-Man. The result was a bloated, messy sequel that got rid of its own saving grace in Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy.

Now, let’s talk about the divisive film, Godzilla. One of the main things that everyone had a problem with was the “lack” of Godzilla in the film. Yeah, okay, but Godzilla would have really lost some of its luster by the end when he’s fighting the MUTOs, at least I think so. Besides, some of the best monster movies are the ones that don’t show the monster too often until the end, where they roam free like crazy. The other one was people thinking Bryan Cranston’s character died too soon in the movie. Again, people forgetting there needs to be stakes in a movie.

Let’s move on to, arguably, another divisive film in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Based off the popular comic story, the movie saw Wolverine’s mind being sent to the past in a desperate effort to stop an event that results in a dark future for both humans and mutants. The film changes A LOT from the comics, but the core is still kind of there. But the big selling point here was taking the cast of the Bryan Singer X-Men films and combining it with the cast of the new X-Men films. The result was a descent blend of the casts and some pretty intense and surprise death scenes.

Finally, the written and directed Jon Favreau film comedy, Chef, which as you can guess, Favreau plays a head chief, who quits his job after an incident and decides to open a food truck to reconnect with his estranged family. I didn’t know what to expect from Chef, but oh man did I love this. It’s a much smaller film that got lost in the crowed summer, but it’s definitely worth the watch. Word of advice, if you do end up watching this, don’t watch it while hungry. Don’t!

 

 

2015

Maggie

Tomorrowland

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mad Max: Fury Road

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the smaller film that most people probably didn’t watch or get to watch, and that’s the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led, Maggie. The film saw Schwarzenegger as a father to Abigail Breslin’s titular character who gets infected by a virus that is slowly turning her into a zombie. The movie is just okay, being more of a character based-drama than your typical zombie movie, although it really doesn’t give you enough for the ending they went with, which lets the air out of you waiting for an ending, you think it’s building up to.

Next is the, generally disappointing, Tomorrowland. A lot of hype and expectations came with this one, and for good reason. It was directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), it had a screenplay by Damon Lindelof (which I didn’t really care about since I didn’t watch Lost) and it looked great. Then the movie came out, and it was nothing like people expected. I liked the message it was trying to tell, but the way it was executed was half-baked.

Now let’s talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second Avengers movie, which brought one of the famed villains in Avengers history, which hyped people up even more. What resulted was a very mix bag as a whole. Ultron wasn’t what people expected him to be, the introduction of Wanda, Pietro and Vision, Hawkeye’s secret family and the Hulkbuster suit. But there is also the fact that the movie kind of loses itself for a bit, and just barely recovers.

Finally, one of the best action films of the decade, Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller returned to Max, now played by Tom Hardy, as he tries to survive The Wasteland with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as she tries to lead a group of women away from Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The movie pretty much has it all, top-notch action, beautiful cinematography and a killer score, what more do you want?

 

 

2016

Green Room

The Nice Guys

Captain America: Civil War

Thoughts: Another solid 2016 which will start with the indie thriller Green Room. The film followed a punk rock band that ends up in a skinhead bar, and after making a mistake, must fight their way out. It’s a very confined thriller with a descent chunk of the movie taking place in a room where the band is holding up. The selling point if you need one is Sir Patrick Stewart plays the head of the gang, so yeah.

The next film is the Shane Black written/directed film, The Nice Guys, starring a down on his luck P.I (played by Ryan Reynolds) and a rough around the edges P.I (played by Russell Crowe) who pair together to investigate a missing girl and a mysterious death of a porn star, who might share a connection. Besides the Shane Black-dark humor/wit, the combo of Crowe and Gosling, along with Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter, make the perfect trio to keep the film going, and entertaining from start to finish.

Finally, Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s ambitious retelling of the famed comic book story, obviously changed to fit the MCU characters instead of ALL the characters like in the comics. Civil War broke apart the Avengers and had them pick a side, and then added new players to the board like Black Panther and Spider-Man. I really don’t have a negative thing to say about the movie. I really enjoyed the action scenes, the airport sequence was amazing to watch on a big screen, and the final fight between Iron Man and Captain America is such a heart-breaker.

 

 

2017

Lowriders

Alien: Covenant

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the movie that slipped most people’s radar, Lowriders. The drama followed a young street artist (Gabriel Chavarria) in East L.A. who is caught between his father’s (played by Demian Bichir) obsession with car culture, his ex-felon brother (Theo Rossi) who is out of prison and his need for self-expression. I really connected to the movie, although not the car culture or ex-felon brother, but someone trying to make his own way in a family that expected one thing from me, while I went another. Plus, the movie’s very good, so there is also that.

Let’s talk about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the Guy Ritchie co-written and directed take on the King Arthur legend. I know some people who didn’t like the movie for their reasons, which is fine, and while I’m not the biggest fan of it either, I enjoyed Ritchie take on the character. Adding in some of his own flavors – a street hustler Arthur with his crew – and working with a bigger budget, and a pretty solid score, I did enjoy what I watched.

Finally, Alien: Covenant, oh man. Okay, first and foremost, there are some things I do like about Covenant, not a lot, but some. Overall though, Alien: Covenant is a tad bit messy for its good. Condensing the Alien mythology and the birth of the xenomorphs into one movie was kind of a slap to the face, especially considering that the movie’s final act feels like it was tacked on to have an early xenomorph attack.

 

 

2018

Deadpool 2

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Thoughts: Let’s being our final month with Deadpool 2, the anticipated sequel after the first Deadpool surprised audiences with its meta and fourth-wall breaking humor. The movie itself was just okay to be honest, even with the inclusion of Josh Brolin’s Cable. It was kind of a bummer, but still enjoy the first time through.

Next is the much-talked about Solo: A Star Wars Story. I think at this point we all know the behind-the-scenes troubles and going-ons, so let’s move pass that, at least just a bit. The movie itself is kind of scattered in multiple places, but the better question, and the one that should be asked is, did you enjoy it? The answer to that is, yeah, for the most part. Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han was charming enough, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 was a standout amongst the cast.

The other thing about the movie was it does suffer from the prequel effect aka no real danger to the main character, but what Solo also tries to do is set up more adventures. This would be fine, if the production wasn’t such a problem to begin with, plus if the movie ended up doing more better and got better fanfare. Especially considering the ending.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

My Best/Favorite Films of 2016

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

There were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.

The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time. Also, the list won’t include limited release like Live By Night, A Monster Calls, Patriots Day or Silence since they didn’t open in my area, so I’ll include those in my list of 2017 (assuming they make the list of course). Then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, surprises of the year, honorable mentions and then the big ones.

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

Anomalisa

American Honey

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Café Society

Captain Fantastic

Eye in the Sky

High Rise

Indignation

I Saw the Light

Loving

Miss Sloane

Swiss Army Man

The Birth of a Nation

The Hollars

The Invitation

The Light Between Oceans

The Wave

 

 

Just Missed The List

Demolition

Don’t Think Twice

Lights Out

Nocturnal Animals

The Magnificent Seven

Train to Busan

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Bad Moms (STX Entertainment/Block Entertainment)

If you told me that Bad Moms would be as funny as it was at the beginning of the year, I’d probably walk away from our conversation. But, I gave Bad Moms a chance and I actually had an enjoyable time watching it. It isn’t perfect, but there are plenty of laughs with a great lead cast in Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn.

bad_moms

 

Ouija: Origin of Evil (Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Hasbro/Allspark Pictures)

I never watched the first Ouija (and I still don’t at this point), so walking into Origin of Evil knowing it was a prequel, I didn’t know what to anticipate. Thankfully, the sequel/prequel really worked, and honestly, worked better as a family drama than it did horror. Although some of the horror moments by Mike Flanagan, who directed films like Oculus and Hush, worked really well and of course it helped that he had a great cast, especially standout and young star Lulu Wilson.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Universal Pictures/Party Over Here/The Lonely Island/Apatow Productions)

Popstar was one of those films that I watched the trailer and found out what it was about, I couldn’t see myself watching it. Add the fact that I’m not that big of an Andy Samberg fan, but boy was I wrong. The movie was way more funnier than the trailers, and the mockumentary really adds to the movie as a whole, especially the bee “scene.” I’m okay with being wrong this time around.

popstar_never_stop_never_stopping

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Cross Creak Pictures/Head Gear Films/Handsomecharlie Films/QC Entertainment/MadRiver Pictures)

I had actually been looking forward to this for a long time now, and while it wasn’t perfect, I still really enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies knew what it was and didn’t try to overdo it or be something else.

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Storks (Warner Bros. Animation/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Stoller Global Solutions)

Storks didn’t grab my attention at all until the second trailer came out, and even then I wasn’t completely sold on it. Then I watched it and I was glad I did. I genuinely had a great time watching the film. It had solid jokes that had me laughing for a good while after, and a very touching story with a satisfying ending that I didn’t think it would.

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The Shallows (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Ombra Films/Weimaraner Republic Pictures)

Another film I had no expectation for but ended watching anyway was the Blake Lively-trying-not-to-get-eaten-by-a-shark film. But, The Shallows wasn’t all that bad, in fact, it kind of made me change my mind on Lively as an actress. Granted it was one film, and it had everything to do with the material she was given, but The Shallows hands down is my surprise film of the year that didn’t suck.

shallows

 

Honorable Mentions

10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Spectrum Effects)

Considering the title for the film came out of nowhere, many were waiting to see what 10 Cloverfield Lane would bring to the table. Thankfully, it came in the form of a great film than probably most people didn’t anticipate. The third act twist to make it connect to the overall world of Cloverfield and all the online marketing threw a lot of people off, but nothing can take away what this film was able to do, in the short time we had to adjust. 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best thrillers of the year.

ten_cloverfield_lane

 

Christine (The Orchard/Great Point Media/Fresh Jade/BorderLine Films)

Based on a true story I didn’t know before this film, I was still excited to see how they would approach the material. Also, knowing what was going to happen didn’t affect the final product at all. Rebecca Hall is a standout in this and her performance is amazing to watch from beginning to end.

christine

 

Deepwater Horizon (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Participant Media/Di Bonaventura Pictures/Closest to the Hole Productions/Leverage Entertainment)

Peter Berg feels like he’s become a “based on a true story” director, which is fine if they’re anything like Deepwater Horizon. Whether you think the concept of making a film based on the BP oil spill is a “good” idea, the film was more about the actual workers there. Not only that, the film is heavily emotion that I will not lie, made me tear up.

deepwater_horizon

 

Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Marvel continues its trend of changing the way they make their films and keeping the fans on their feet. Doctor Strange introduced magic to the already well-oiled machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filled with trippy, and great, visuals Doctor Strange may not be the best Marvel film, but one that definitely sticks out, and will leave a lasting impression.

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Don’t Breathe (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Ghost House Pictures/Stage 6 Films/Good Universe)

Fede Alvarez had a lot of eyes on him after he directed the not-as-bad-as-people-thought-it-would-be remake of Evil Dead, and Don’t Breathe was a worthy follow-up. The film was filled with great tension throughout that was helped by the great sound design. Not only that, the film was vastly different from what the trailers made you think you were walking into, which is always nice.

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Eddie the Eagle (20th Century Fox/Marv Films/Saville Productions/Studio Babelsberg)

Based on the real life of Eddie the Eagle, Taron Egerton continued to prove that he is one of the best young and upcoming actors working today. Add in the fact that he’s playing a real person whose story was not only a feel-good one, but one that is truly inspirational was great to watch. Also, anytime we get to see Hugh Jackman is a plus, right?

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Finding Dory (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Many, myself included, worried whether a sequel to Finding Nemo was even necessary, but doubting Pixar at this point has been a bad move. Not only was Finding Dory a worthy sequel, it was a ton of fun. The film never tried to be like the previous film, and instead did things differently to tell its story, and thankfully it paid off.

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Found Footage 3D

One of the highlights of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was Found Footage 3D. Keeping true to the title, the film is shot in found footage in 3D, and as terrible as that may sound to some, Found Footage 3D is a lot of fun and worthy to seen. I’ll say this about the film, it’s the Scream of found footage movies.

found_footage_3d

 

Ghostbusters (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Captial/Feigco Entertainment/Pascal Pictures/The Montecito Picture Company)

Yes, I actually enjoyed Ghostbusters. The film didn’t deserve all the hate it got. Was it perfect? No, but it wasn’t terrible either. And yes, the female-led cast actually worked. The film was funny, and the last act – although fell into typical Summer Blockbuster Movie tropes – had some cool things going for it, like ghosts taking over Time Square.

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Green Room (A24/Broad Green Pictures/Film Science)

One of the main attractions of Green Room for many I’m sure was seeing the always loveable Patrick Stewart play a terrifying Neo-Nazis leader, and that’s what he did indeed. Also, it later turned out to be one of the last films by Anton Yelchin. With all that said, Green Room did turn out to be much more than those points. While the film had some horror elements, Green Room works better as a survival thriller.

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Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Demarest Media/IM Global)

Say what you want about Mel Gibson, and maybe he still deserves it or maybe not, but the man can direct a damn movie! Hacksaw Ridge is a powerful film that, like some films on the list, is based on a true story that maybe not a lot of people knew, and props to Andrew Garfield for bringing not just the character, but the actual man, to life. The war scenes were brutal, sure, but it was Garfield’s performance that really made this movie shine.

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Headshot (Infinite Frameworks Studios)

Headshot was the newest film that starred The Raid and The Raid 2 stars Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yullisman. The film does lean more on the drama side before the action kicks into overdrive and becomes the martial arts film that the trailers promised.

headshot

 

Here Alone (Vertical Entertainment/Lola’s Productions/Easy Open Productions/Manhattan Productions/Gentile Entertainment Group/Preferred Content) 

One of the biggest surprises of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was not really too much of a horror film, but a thriller drama that follows a woman trying to live her life in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The film sounds simple but it is so much more than the synopsis has you believe. The film surpassed any sort of expectations I had for it, which was none, because I didn’t know anything about it before hand.

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Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox/Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films)

This could have gone in my surprises of the year, but I ended up really liking Hidden Figures a lot more than I had original thought. Along with a story that really happened, I had to include it in my list of films of the year. The film was smart, funny and highly entertaining from beginning to end. Also, the wide release is early January, but I managed to see a “Special Engagement” showing, so I was able to put it on my list for 2016.

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Midnight Special (Warner Bros./Tri-State Pictures/RatPac Dune Entertainment)

Another film that I wished more people got to see was this film. Midnight Special may have the backdrop of a sci-fi film, but it really is a story about family and what a father would do for his son. The film is a independent film to the truest point, and even when the sci-fi elements come into play, it never undermines the family drama.

midnight_special

 

Moonlight (A24/Plan B Entertainment) 

There’s something special about Moonlight when watching it. The film’s decision to follow our main character from childhood to adulthood was an interesting move, but also made sense when you remember everything that was shown beforehand. The film’s theme was also something that was handled extremely well, and since the trailer – at least from what I remember – didn’t say or hint at anything about it, I was surprised and floored. Moonlight takes the risk and it pays off.

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Pete’s Dragon (Walt Disney Productions)

I had never seen – or at least don’t remember – the original Pete’s Dragon, and I’m kind of glad of that because this iteration is great. It did feel like more of a older crowd film, but there was enough for kids to enjoy and understand. The film also didn’t have a hard time pulling on the heartstrings, and Elliot the Dragon, was worth the price of admission alone.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (IFC Films/IFC Midnight/IM Global/Impostor Pictures/42)

Directed by Trollhunters director Andre Ovredal, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those films that just came out of nowhere, and one you should see if you get the chance without knowing too much about it. All you need to know is Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch have great chemistry as father and son coroners who have to deal with a mysterious body and creepy as things going down.

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The Edge of Seventeen (STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

This was a film I wasn’t too excited about just based off the premise, but once the cast came together and watching the first trailer, it went to must-watch watch. The Edge of Seventeen is a great coming-of-age film that is lead by Hailee Steinfeld and had a great supporting cast. It wasn’t the best coming-of-age film this year, but one of the best for sure.

edge_of_seventeen

 

The Handmaiden (Amazon Studios/CJ Entertainment/Magnolia Pictures/Moho Film/Yong Film)

Directed by Chan-wook Park, this erotic thriller – to put it lightly – was like nothing I ever thought it would be like. I mean, seriously, like. Nothing. I. Never. Thought. It. Would. Be.

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The Witch (A24/Parts and Labor/Rooks Nest Entertainment/Code Red Productions/Mott Street Pictures/Code Red Productions/Maiden Voyage Pictures)

The Witch was one of those films that I couldn’t shake off after watching. That doesn’t happen often, and that’s saying something coming from a guy that watches a lot of films in general. From start to finish, the film grabs you with its unique cinematography, eerie setting, and overall sense of dread.

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Zootopia (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

After watching Zootopia, I thought, that’s it for animated films this year right? Well, no, but Zootopia is still right there on top of the list. Filled with smart social commentary and a great voice cast, Disney has done it again with their animated films.

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Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Arrival (Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Arrival was one of those films you make you feel comfortable until it hits you with all the emotions it’s gathered up throughout the film. It’s also one of those films that leaves you thinking way after watching the film, and start asking questions about what you would do. It’s a great film that came out of nowhere, and one we need a little more of.

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Captain America: Civil War (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios)

The Civil War story in the comics is unbelievable, so when Marvel announced they were going to put it on the big screen, I was a little hesitant – even though I trust Marvel. So when I watched Civil War, all I could think about was how great they were able to bring their own story into the film, and make it work and make Captain America: Civil War one of the best Marvel films so far.

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Carol (The Weinstein Company/Film4/Killer Films/Number 9 Films)

Technically a 2015 film, but considering its wide release rollout – which is when I saw it – wasn’t until 2016, I’m putting Carol here. Of course, it doesn’t really matter where you put this film because it is such a great film. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara made these characters and story feel so real that even with the period piece, you can easy see how modern the story is as well.

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Deadpool (20th Century Fox/Marvel Enterprises/TSG Entertainment)

Deadpool could also be labeled a Surprise Film of the Year, but let’s face it, Deadpool belongs in a favorite films of the year list. Considering it took so long to get this film made, all the kudos goes to Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to bring, arguably, one of the most hardest comic book characters to life on the big screen.

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Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Detour Filmproduction)

Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused is so relatable to many, it’s kind of weird. We’ve all been there at some point of our lives and Linklater has this ability to find actors that we can relate to and root for it’s almost impossible.

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Hell or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate/Oddlot Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Film 44)

Hell or High Water is one of those films you watch and wonder, why didn’t this get a bigger release? It had great performances by the cast all around, the story and cinematography were great, and feel of the film is constant throughout. If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and watch this film!

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (The Orchard/Piki Films/Defender Films/Curious Film)

This is one film I didn’t know too much about before going to see it. All I knew was it was getting rave reviews and it was directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Flight of the Conchords, Thor: Ragnarok). I loved Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and one of the reason I loved it was because it was so different in its own quirky, weird, fun way.

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I Am Not a Serial Killer (IFC Midnight/Fantastic Films/Floodland Pictures/Winterland Pictures/Liquid Noise Films/Level 5 Films)

Having read the novel a few years back, I didn’t even know a movie was being released until it premiered on the film festival circuit. However, I Am Not a Serial Killer is definitely of those rare films that surpasses the source material, and what helped was the casting of Max Records and Christopher Lloyd.

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Jackie (Fox Searchlight Pictures/LD Entertainment/Wild Bunch/Why Not Productions/Protozoa Pictures/Bliss Media/Fabula)

Natalie Portman gives an absolutely crushing and great performance as Jackie Kennedy. The film is built and carried by her as we see Portman literally go through every emotion she can go through bringing the former First Lady to life that lost her husband in front of her, who also happened to be the President of the United States in a very public way.

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Kubo and the Two Strings (Focus Features/Laika Entertainment)

Laika Entertainment’s fourth film, and for me personally, their best, Kubo and the Two Strings is a beautifully done film with tremendous production design and awesome score. The story at times feels simple, but man did I fall in love with this film.

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La La Land (Summit Entertainment/Black Label Media/Marc Platt Productions/Impostor Pictures/Gilbert Films)

I was blown away by La La Land! I didn’t think the film would be as good as people were saying it was, but I’m glad it was. The film was beautifully done and filled with a great and emotional soundtrack that I’ve slowly become addicted too. The fact that is also feels like an old Hollywood film is what makes the film go above the rest.

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Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions/B Story/Big Indie Pictures/Pearl Street Films/CMP/K Period Media)

Films about grief are common in Hollywood every year, however what makes Manchester by the Sea stick out is that it feels overly real than the rest. There’s no pouring his emotions out by Casey Affleck’s character, and the film shows people go through grief in their own ways. Add on the breakout performance by Lucas Hedges, and the small but powerful performance by Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea is one of the best films of the year.

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Moana (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Disney Animation continues to bring powerful, emotional and beautifully done films, and it felt like this year was a great year for them. Moana tells a great story through its character, but also its amazing soundtrack, which probably makes sense since they had Lin-Manuel Miranda helping them out.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Allison Shearmur Productions)

Let’s face it, Rogue One was a huge risk for Lucasfilm. Another prequel? Really, did they learn nothing from the past? Well, we were wrong! Rogue One was not only a great prequel to A New Hope, but a great Star Wars film in general. It brings a whole new level to the franchise, and whether you are a hardcore fan, a moderate fan, and someone who is just starting, Rogue One is a ton of fun, action-packed and filled with great characters.

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Sing Street (The Weinstein Company/FilmNation Entertainment/Likely Story/PalmStar Media)

I remember watching the trailer for Sing Street and automatically knew it was going to be something special, and it looked like I was right. Sing Street is one of those films that you may have seen before, but the cast and soundtrack they were able to pull together makes this film not only one of my favorite films of the year, but one of the best films of the year.

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Star Trek Beyond (Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/Bad Robot/Sneaky Shark/Perfect Storm Entertainment)

Star Trek Beyond is one of those films that I don’t think many people gave a chance because Into Darkness was underwhelming and disappointing. Which is a fair assessment. However, Star Trek Beyond was a better film and a more fun film that was reminiscent of the first film in the rebooted franchise.

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The Conjuring 2 (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Evergreen Media Group/The Safran Company/Atomic Monster)

At this point, I think I’ll follow James Wan anywhere. I don’t know if The Conjuring 2 was better than the first film, but it is a worthy sequel and one that works within the world that Wan created. Not only that, he continues to bring creepy as hell characters to the big screen to fill our nightmares.

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The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Pictures/Fairview Entertainment/Moving Picture Company)

Another worthy candidate for Surprise of the Year, The Jungle Book proved you can take an old property and do something new with it, and add to it. Also, the fact that the film only has one real person in it in Neel Sethi, and everything else was done in CGI that looked real in some cases, it’s rather impressive.

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The Nice Guys (Warner Bros./Silver Pictures/Waypoint Entertainment/Misty Mountains)

Shane Black’s return to the dark comedy and noir films proved to be a good move with his great film in The Nice Guys. It’s a shame that no one really went out to see it because they missed out on the great chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

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The Revenant (20th Century Fox/New Regency Pictures/RatPac Entertainment/Anonymous Content/Appian Way)

Like Carol, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s new film was technically a 2015 film, but didn’t get its wide release rollout until 2016, which is when I saw it. Of course, the film earned Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar, but it was also the performances of the other cast members like Tom Hardy and the reunion of Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Also, watching Leo go through the torturous journey is worthy of watching the film.

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So that was my year. What are your favorite/best films of the 2016.

‘The Nice Guys’ Review

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Director: Shane Black

Writers: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi

Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya DaCosta, Keith David, Beau Knapp, Lois Smith, and Kim Basinger

Synopsis: A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

While the official synopsis doesn’t really give you a good sense of what the film is about, The Nice Guys is a film that has a lot more going on than you would think. Not only that, it’s directed by Shane Black, who has his own style of humor and directing and the film is oozing with it in every scene. So while the description may not pull you in, Black and the cast make the film so much fun to watch.

Set in 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys follows Jackson Healy (Crowe), a hired enforcer, and a private eye Holland March (Gosling), who work together to investigate a case that involves a dead porn star named Misty Mountains – it’s the 70s remember – and the odd connection that it has with Amelia (Qualley), the daughter of a powerful political figure that works at the States Department in Judith Kuttner (Basinger). What follows is a murder mystery with black humor and high jinks that not only takes the characters, but us the audience, along a deep rabbit hole.

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The film is labeled as a spiritual sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and while that may not mean anything to people that haven’t seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, if you have watched it, you’ll see the similarities right from the get-go. The characters in March and Healy aren’t great person. Healy beats people up for money and March is a private eye that’s down on his luck and will take advantage of his clients for the money. By default, they are our heroes of the film, but just because they aren’t the purest people in the world, it doesn’t mean they know what the right thing to do is. They both know they have to find Amelia and protect her. It’s the little things they do that make us root for them.

It also helps March and Healy are played by Gosling and Crowe. The two have unbelievable chemistry together and elevate not only the film, but Black and Bagarozzi’s script. Crowe delivers his lines with a perfect deadpan demeanor and Gosling is a bit more of the goof with great physical comedy, like the heavily promoted bathroom stale scene. Even if you don’t like the film itself, I think we can all agree that Gosling and Crowe are perfect in their roles. However, someone who holds their own against these two stars is Angourie Rice, who plays Holly, March’s daughter. Holly is the conscience and moral compass for the characters and the film too you can arguably say.

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The other big players fall just a bit flat for me. Kim Basinger doesn’t have that much screen time, and she doesn’t pop in until the middle of the film. Keith David and Keanu Knapp play two guys who are after Amelia, who pop in-and-out through the film but interact more with Crowe’s Healy than Gosling’s March. One of the weaker characters for me was Margaret Qualley’s Amelia. She plays such in an important role in getting March and Healy together, that when she finally has actual screen time – she spends most of the film in hiding – she doesn’t really impress too much. It’s nothing against Qualley, who does the best with what’s she’s given, but unfortunately, she’s not the best part of the film. Matt Bomer appears in the around the last act of the film, and while I won’t say who he plays, it’s a bit of a shame that he doesn’t have more screen time because he’s a great character that could have been awesome to watch more of.

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All in all, The Nice Guys is a great action comedy mystery noir thriller. Yes, it’s all those things, and Shane Black makes it work smoothly with his great cast of Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, and Angourie Rice. The black comedy aspect works so well here and for the characters that we are introduced to. The film does lag for a bit, but the characters and chemistry between keeps those lagging moments to a minimum. The Nice Guys may not be for everyone, but it sure is a hell of a ride.

 

The Nice Guys

4 out of 5

May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!

 

4th

Limited Release: A Bigger Splash

The vacation of famous rock star (Tilda Swinton) and a filmmaker (Matthias Schoenaerts) is disrupted by the expected visit of an old friend (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). This creates a whirlwind of jealousy, passion and a dangerous situation for everyone. The film got some buzz on the film festival circuit and with a cast like this, I can imagine why.

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6th

Captain America: Civil War (Action Thriller – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios)

One of the biggest, and arguably best, comic book storylines that Marvel has ever done is hitting the big screen. Civil War sees The Avengers in a rift after an international incident – that may or may not have been caused by Steve Rogers/Captain America’s old friend Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldiers (Sebastian Stan) – causing the world enlist a law that hinders the actions of “enhanced” people. The law splits the Avengers, one side led by Steve and the other by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). The film looks damn great and I can’t wait to see how they bring the story to the big screen. Captain America: Civil War also stars Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Frank Grillo, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Emily VanCamp, Daniel Bruhl, and William Hurt

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13th

Limited Release: Kill Zone 2 (Action)

This one is really more for me. A sequel, and separate story, for the great SPL – or Killzone as it was renamed in America – film, Kill Zone 2 follows an undercover cop Kit, played by Wu Jing, going into prison to catch the mastermind of a crime syndicate (Louis Koo). But when things go wrong in the prison and a riot breaks out, Kit must work with a guard Chai (Tony Jaa), who has his own reasons for being in the prison, to survive and get what they want.

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Limited Release: The Lobster (Romance Dramedy)

Colin Farrell stars in a near dystopian future where single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods. The film has already received a mix reaction, mostly positive, in the festival circuit, so now it can find a new audience. Also starring are Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly, Michael Smiley and Lea Seydoux.

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Limited Release: High-Rise (Sci-Fi Action Drama)

Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, Tom Hiddleston stars as the manager of a tower block where the residents’ life starts to run out of control. The movie has an impressive cast of Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, Sienna Guillory and James Purefoy.

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The Darkness (Horror – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Chapter One Films)

A family returns from a Grand Canyon vacation with a supernatural presence in tow. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, David Mazouz, Lucy Fry, Matt Walsh, Jennifer Morrison, Parker Mack, Ming-Na Wen, and Paul Reiser. The movie looks pretty damn creepy and could have some great horror moments.

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Money Monster (Drama Thriller – Sony Pictures/TriStar Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Smokehouse Pictures/Allegiance Theater)

Kyle (Jack O’Connell) loses all of his family’s money on a bad tip from Lee Gates (George Clooney), a TV personality whose insider tips have made him the money guru of Wall Street. Kyle then holds Lee and his entire show hostage on air threatening to kill Lee is he does not get the stock up 24 and half points before the bell. During the hostage situation sheds light on a possible scandal involving the company in question. The film will undoubtedly, and does already really, have economic ties. Money Monster also stars Julia Roberts, Dominic West, and Giancarlo Esposito.

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20th

The Nice Guys (Crime Thriller – Warner Bros./Silver Pictures/Waypoint Entertainment)

Directed by Shane Black – and supposed spiritual sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – The Nice Gusy follows a private eye (Ryan Gosling) and a “fixer” (Russell Crowe) who are hired by a government officer (Kim Basinger) to track down her daughter who is being tracked down by the mob, who are moving in to L.A in the 1970s. The film looks damn hilarious and I can’t wait to watch this. The film also stars Matt Bomer, Rachele Brooke Smith, Margaret Qualley, Ty Simpkins, and Keith David.

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The Angry Birds Movie (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Capital/Rovio Entertainment)

Based on the popular mobile app game, The Angry Birds movie follows the angry birds from the game as they are invaded by pigs. The voice cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell, Keegan-Michal Key, Kate McKinnon and Peter Dinklage

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Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Comedy – Universal Pictures/Good Universe/Point Grey Pictures)

Following the events of the first film, married couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) finds themselves once again living next to a partying college home, this time it’s a sorority, and Mac and Kelly enlist Teddy (Zac Efron) to help them fight them off. The film also stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Selena Gomez, Kiersey Clemons, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, and Lisa Kudrow.

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27th

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Fantasy Adventure – Walt Disney Pictures/Roth Films/Tim Burton Productions/Team Todd)

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns back to Wonderland, but this time finds it run by Lord of Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), and has turned the time forward turning Wonderland into a lifeless old world. With the help of new friends, Alice must also uncover an evil plot to put the Queen of Hearts (Helena Bonham Carter) back on the throne, and save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). I didn’t watch the first film as it didn’t really interest me too much, but it looks like the film will take some of the same palette as the first film despite Tim Burton only having a producer credit. The cast, both voice and live-action, also include Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Anne Hathaway, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall, and  Andrew Scott.

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X-Men: Apocalypse (Action Adventure – 20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Bad Hat Harry Productions/Donners’ Company/Kinberg Genre)

X-Men: Apocalypse will finally bring one of the biggest X-Men villains in history in Apocalypse (played by Oscar Isaac) to the big screen. Director Bryan Singer promises a jam-packed action film that asks a lot of questions and an end to the new trilogy. The film also has some detachers due to Apocalypse’s look, but I for one can’t wait to watch it. Apocalypse will star James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Olivia Munn, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Josh Helman, Lucas Till, Alexandra Shipp, Lana Condor, Ben Hardy, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, and Rose Byrne.

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What are you looking forward to?