1.31.2017

Sundance Review: Manifesto


Manifesto isn't so much a film as it is a piece of art. And come to find out, that's exactly what it was to begin with. Manifesto wasn't conceived as a feature length film, but rather thirteen separate mini films that artist Julian Rosefeldt created as an art exhibit. The films all featured Cate Blanchett playing different fictional people all reciting various real life manifestos on art that were given throughout history. But it's the settings and situations these people are put in that makes the words they're saying pop and whether the speech fits the situation that it truly makes an impact. Each of these videos were places as separate installations, all unified in theme playing at the same time. Somewhere along the way, someone must have felt that Cate's performance should be seen by a bigger audience and so the footage was re-edited into a feature film.

Knowing Manifesto's history is crucial in being able to appreciate the film on any level besides admiring Cate's versatile performances. It would be easy for most people who saw the film to come away being awed by Cate, but not appreciating the film for its own merits....namely because the film doesn't really act like a normal film. For one thing, there is no storyline in Manifesto, rather we as an audience merely witness several different situations. Also it should be said that while Cate plays every part amazingly, not all of the situations or manifestos recited in the film are created equally. Nor is Cate really playing well-developed characters, but rather character types. Some scenes work better than others, but when Manifesto works it's wonderful.


Manifesto succeeds if you view it more as an art piece than a film. I found much of its experiment to be incredibly fascinating and mostly pretty well done. It was especially interesting to see how these words transformed when recited by these character types and said in their various situations. From drunken rants, to funeral speeches and dinner table prayers, it was truly impressive to see how each manifesto fit. However, if you go into Manifesto expecting to find an incredible narrative where Cate Blanchett morphs into thirteen different characters, you will very much be disappointed. EMILY RATING: 8/10 as a film and 8.5/10 as an art piece.

1.30.2017

Sundance Review: To The Bone


In To The Bone, Lily Collins plays Ellen, a girl struggling to overcome her anorexia. Apart from her half-sister, her family seems helpless to try to understand her or see her as anything more than a problem to be solved. Ellen has a lot of unresolved issues with her broken family, which makes her feel like her anorexia is the one thing she has control over. Her mother left her father and became a lesbian, marrying her best friend. Her father is too busy to ever bother seeing her but did have the time to remarry a woman she has no connection with. Her stepmom, whom she can't stand, is left with the task of watching Ellen and her only solace is her half-sister. Fed up with Ellen's inability to change, her step-mother seeks the help of a renowned new doctor (Keanu Reeves) to enroll Ellen in a different kind of therapy in hopes of curing her anorexia once and for all.

Some of the structure of To The Bone feels somewhat familiar, while other parts feel fresh.  The movie follows Ellen as she struggles to feel at home with the new system she's entered, yet is able to bond with some of the people around her...which feels like something I've seen before in many an indie film. However, I don't feel like I do see many films that tackle anorexia so I appreciated having a window to look through and learn more about the mindset of someone who struggles with that. What makes the movie work though is the wit of the script combined with Lily Collins wonderful performance. She gives her all to the role, including dangerously transforming her body for it. The family aspect of the film I enjoyed, but for some reason I never really felt much of a connection to the other girls (and guy) that were also in the program with Ellen. One storyline includes a romance that the film kinda hinges on, and I just couldn't buy it. While not everything in this film works for me, Collins' performance makes the film worthwhile.


To The Bone is a nice dramedy, but didn't exactly break new ground for me. If some of the supporting parts had had either a different person cast or more depth to them, I probably would have liked the film more as a whole, because I would have bought how much these relationships affected her. Still, there's plenty here that's worthwhile to see from Collins' performance to the insights of anorexia as well as the extreme harm of unresolved family stress. EMILY RATING: 8/10

1.28.2017

Sundance Review: Mudbound

Mudbound is the story of two families whose lives we see moments of before, during and immediately after World War II. These families face many differences in privilege because one family is white and owns a farm, while the other is black and works hard on that farm for their means of living. The film is set in Mississippi where racial tensions were beyond high. On my Twitter feed after seeing Mudbound, I saw someone describe the film as captivating. I found it to be completely the opposite, that is until the last 15 minutes or so. Most of the film is a quiet ponderous drama, until some crazy stuff goes down near the end.

I'll be honest, sometimes viewing conditions can really taint how you experience a film. In this case, I saw Mudbound late at night and was pretty tired. I needed something gripping to pull me in, and that didn't happen early on. Also, I ended up in the balcony seating area of the theater I was in, which happens to have the most uncomfortable seats known to man. I wanted to focus on the film, but my discomfort and lack of leg room was more prevalent. As a result, I really felt the slow pace of the film, and it was hard to watch. However, taking a step back and looking at it, I realize that I'm not being very fair to the film.

Mudbound was based on a book and you can tell. There's so many characters and so much story to tell, the film picks and chooses what to focus on and some things are spread a little thin. It would be interesting to read the book to fill in the missing gaps and see things from a deeper perspective of the characters. The film just grazes the surface, but still manages to do a pretty strong job at that. Mudbound benefits from a solid cast, and I really can't think of a weak link within it. The characters are all very interesting and we get to see them against a backdrop of a time and place that together has seldom been explored in film. Mudbound is a solid film, but not as riveting all throughout as I hoped. EMILY RATING: 7.5/10. (But could possibly raise after a second viewing.)

1.26.2017

Sundance Review: Ingrid Goes West


Ingrid Goes West is like All About Eve crossed with Fatal Attraction for the social media age. The film is all about a girl named Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), who we learn right from the start takes her obsessions with people a little too far. After burning a bridge with her last Instagram idol, Ingrid needs something or someone else to occupy her time. Soon she discovers a new candidate worth stalking: Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen,) a lifestyle photographer with a perfect life. In hopes of becoming Taylor's new best friend, Ingrid takes her inheritance money from her mother's recent passing and moves out west, determined to cross paths with her new fixation.

Director Matt Spicer achieves the nearly impossible task of being able to both balance, as well as rapidly shift between tones that are as different as day and night. Ingrid does hairpin turns from laugh out loud funny and riotous to downright disturbing, creepy and dark with incredible ease for a first time director. These abrupt turns wouldn't work without the fantastic performances of the two leads. They completely transform into their roles and really sell this story as something you could really see happening. Plus, you can tell they're having a great time, which always makes things delightful. O'Shea Jackson Jr, who plays Ingrid's Batman-loving-landlord and admirer may be having the greatest time of all and really steals every scene he's in. He's definitely the most likable character and gives the film its heart when all of the characters around him are pretty much shallow and terrible.

Ingrid Goes West is so messed up, yet so much fun. It's witty and clever, but most importantly it's timely. Even though we've seen this story told countless times before, this time it feels fresh and it feels important-- especially considering how much time we spend on our devices looking at social media. The fact that Ingrid can surprise us at all is a real triumph, the fact that it happens to be a solid hilarious film is just icing on the cake. EMILY RATING: 9/10

1.24.2017

Sundance Review: Killing Ground


The premise of Killing Ground is a simple one. A young couple camping in the woods of Australia discovers an abandoned tent near their campsite. When no one comes back to it, they become increasingly concerned, especially when a toddler wanders onto their campground with no parents in sight. With such a simple story, it would be easy for Killing Ground to be generic. Fortunately, the film doesn't tell the story in typical fashion and leave what happened to the other tent a mystery to the end. Instead, the film cuts back and forth between the couple who stumbles onto the scene and the story of the inhabitants of the tent who went missing. In doing so, it ramps up the tension to an almost unbearing degree as you begin to piece together the danger that the protagonists face.

Killing Ground was a difficult film to watch in its raw, brutal depictions of the utterly hideous side of humanity. It made me feel incredibly uneasy throughout, but the level of tension it creates during the final third of the film was almost excruciating. I was so invested in the characters' fates that I found myself anticipating not being able to enjoy the experience as a whole if certain things didn't happen the way I wanted them too. Fortunately, I walked away satisfied with the film, though deeply disturbed by it.

The film works so well because of how it's told, but also how haunting some of the shots are. It also owes a lot to the performances of some of the darker characters (though I won't get into specifics since I don't want to spoil anything.) If any of the performances had been two-dimensional the film wouldn't have worked, and this is especially true of the film's villains. Killing Ground is basically my worst nightmare and at times deeply disturbing to watch, but is incredibly well made as the type of horror film that it is. EMILY RATING: 8/10 

1.22.2017

Sundance Review: I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore


I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore follows the story of Ruth (Melanie Lynskey), a woman who is constantly losing faith in humanity and wonders if there's really a purpose to life. These feelings only escalate when her house gets robbed and local law enforcement doesn't seem too concerned in solving her case and helping her find justice. She ends up finding an unlikely partner in her neighbor (Elijah Wood) and the two decide to take the law into their own hands and teach the people responsible a lesson.

From reading the synopsis of the film, there is no way I could have predicted how funny it would be. There were moments in this film where I laughed harder and louder than I can even remember (well until I saw another movie I'll be reviewing later in the next few days.) Both Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood shine in their roles and make a wonderfully hilarious unlikely duo. Wood, in particular had some really great comic timing that got the better of me more than a few times. Once the story really got rolling, I was 100% invested in their crazy journey.

I Don't Feel At Home is an outrageous riot. Much of the humor comes from pure shock value, but because of our connection to the characters, it elevates it from a one-time watch. Luckily for everyone reading this that won't get the chance to see the movie at the festival, they won't have to wait too long to see it before it debuts on Netflix next month. For fans of the rare combination of crime thriller comedies, I definitely recommend it. EMILY RATING: 8.5/10

Sundance Review: Colossal


With four movies now under my belt at this year's Sundance Film Festival, it's time I start sharing my reviews of them. The first film I saw at the festival was Colossal, a film starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis that I previously previewed HEREColossal revolves around the ridiculous but intriguing premise of a party girl named Gloria (Anne Hathaway,) discovering she has the insanely implausible power to conjure a giant monster over Seoul, South Korea. That's the simplest way to sum up the film without revealing the many avenues that writer/director Nacho Vigalondo takes the film from there.

The first half of Colossal is so much fun as it revels and delights in the absurdity of Gloria's new found power. As a spectator watching the proceedings, I was so excited at all the possibilities of where this movie was going. Unfortunately, though, all the potential of the first half is pretty much completely ruined by the direction the story takes in the second half. The film gets really messy as it tries to shove as many possible commentaries as it can in trying to transform the film into some sort of a sloppy allegory. The tone shifts so abruptly from scene to scene it becomes incredibly jarring to the viewer and really takes you out of the film because of your discomfort.


Sadly there's no way around it than to label Colossal a disappointment. It would be one thing if the movie had been bad from start to finish, but what makes it so disappointing is that the movie of the second half lets down and betrays what the movie of the first half could have been: a hilariously bizarre cult classic. Instead, it tries to be a commentary think-piece with too much to say and not enough focus to say it well. EMILY RATING: 5.5/10

1.20.2017

Split Decision


For the last ten years or so, every time a Shyamalan film is released there is much trepidation from fans and critics alike. Not all people root for him, but those who loved his early work (myself included,) always hold out hope for a return to his former greatness. Some people saw glimmers of that with The Visit, while others remained unconvinced. Now he has decided to follow up that horror comedy with another horror film called Split, this time letting his film rely almost completely upon a dynamic performance by the very talented James McAvoy.


Split is all about the abduction of three high school girls by James McAvoy's Kevin, a man who suffers from dissociative identity disorder (also known as multiple personality disorder.) Each of Kevin's 23 personalities are always fighting for control in the spotlight, and each has varying levels of dangerousness. The girls must use their intellect to outsmart the personalities if they have any hope of escape.


Unlike The Visit which took its time to get going, Split had my attention right away and kept it the whole way through. The biggest reason for that is the aforementioned performance by James McAvoy. You can tell he's having an absolute blast with the role and the movie is worth watching for his performance alone. Besides that, Shyamalan is having fun too. He's up to a lot of his same storytelling tricks, but they're mostly working pretty well. But if there's one thing Shyamalan knows it's how to create tension and he does so expertly here.


Another thing Shyamalan is known for is his endings, but I refuse to go into detail here. The only thing I will say is that somewhat more fantastical elements are brought in during the final third which I wasn't really okay with... that is, until the final seconds of the film made everything click on what Shyamalan actually was attempting with his film. While some may not like what Shyamalan is doing here with his ending, I have to say I really liked it and got pretty excited. Two steps in the right direction and I gotta say, the man is well on his way to being "back." I can't wait to see what he does next. EMILY RATING: 8/10

1.19.2017

Sundance Preview 2017

It's here it's here! The most wonderful time of the year for movie lovers is HEEEEEEERE!!! Sorry, excuse me for a few moments while I try to contain my excitement that it is time yet again for the Sundance Film Festival. Over the next two weeks I'll have several reviews of the films I scored tickets to, but in the meantime, check out my list of the ten movies that debut during the Festival that I'm anticipating most. Let's begin!

10. WIND RIVER

Official Sundance Summary:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife agent Cory Lambert discovers a body in the rugged wilderness of the Wind River Indian Reservation. The FBI sends in rookie agent Jane Banner, but she’s unprepared for the difficulties created by the oppressive weather and isolation of the Wyoming winter. When she employs Cory as a tracker, the two venture deep into a world ravaged by violence and the elements. 
Wind River is a stark look at life on the edge of an imposing wilderness, where the rule of law is eclipsed by the laws of nature. 
Acclaimed screenwriter Taylor Sheridan makes his directorial debut with the final film in his trilogy of screenplays on the American frontier. He showed the power of his writing in Sicario and Hell or High Water, both of which reverberated with unforgettable characters and dialogue, while creating a level of texture and detail that felt more like a novel. Sheridan continues that here, with an excellent cast—including many Native American actors—that vibrantly brings to life this thrilling tale of forging morality in extreme nature. For more info and showtimes click HERE.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: A solid cast in a movie by first-time director Taylor Sheridan. Sheridan also wrote the screenplay for some solid flicks already, namely: Sicario and Hell or High Water. I'm hopeful he'll have as much talent as a director as a screenwriter.

9. THE KILLING GROUND

Official Sundance Summary:
When young couple Sam and Ian escape the confines of urban living for a weekend getaway at a remote campsite, they arrive to find a neighboring tent set up with its inhabitants nowhere in sight. As day turns to night and then to day again, the young couple becomes increasingly concerned about the whereabouts of their unknown fellow campers. When they discover a toddler wandering alone on the campground, things go from bad to worse, thrusting them into a harrowing fight for survival in a place miles from civilization, where no one can hear them scream. 
Teeming with dread and unnerving tension, the debut feature of writer/director Damien Power draws heavy inspiration from Michael Haneke's Funny Games and Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, utilizing the film’s sparse locations to considerable effect. As jagged pieces of the puzzle are carefully revealed one by one, Killing Ground evolves into a brutally violent thriller that will force you to think twice the next time you dare venture beyond the city’s bright lights. For more info and showtimes click HERE.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: Look. I love the horror genre, and the last few years Sundance always debuts a breakthrough horror film. Just the description of this one is very unsettling.


8. THOROUGHBRED

Official Sundance Summary:
Emotionally challenged Amanda and contemptuous Lily reboot their childhood friendship after years of instability and judgment, thrown back together by standardized-test tutoring. When Lily’s icy stepdad, Mark, conspires to ship her off to reform school instead of her dream college, Amanda’s nonchalant quips about killing him suddenly seem enticing. Even as Amanda’s sinister tendencies surface and the girls hatch a plan, the mutual manipulation that has always defined their relationship threatens to derail their ambitions. 
First-time director Cory Finley’s impressively stylish and assured filmmaking evokes a high-class world that is simultaneously familiar and strange, dripping with acidic dark wit and a disquietingly eerie score. Finley nurtures and coaxes astounding chemistry out of his talented cast, from the capricious friendship that binds Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, 2015) and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, 2015), to the unruly vulnerability of Anton Yelchin as their unlikely co-conspirator. Firmly staking his claim as a filmmaker to watch, Finley comfortably basks in the quiet chaos of his characters and leaves behind a beautiful and orderly trail of destruction. For more info and showtimes click HERE.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: First off, I love the cast...and any chance I can get to see the late Anton Yelchin in his final roles I plan to take. This sounds kinda like the plot of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, just replace time travel with murder. What can go wrong with that?

7. COLOSSAL

Official Sundance Summary:
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a hard partying New York scene girl who is thrust into crisis when her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), grows sick of her antics and kicks her out of their apartment. With no other options, she moves back to her hometown and quickly regresses, drinking every night until last call and accepting a job at a bar owned by her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). One day she wakes up and blurrily finds out that Seoul was terrorized by a giant creature the night before. Eventually, Gloria begins to suspect her own drunken actions are bizarrely connected to the monster rampaging in South Korea. 
Writer/Director Vigalondo, aided by an outstanding cast, weaves a twisty, funny tale with real depth and emotional resonance. Colossal is proof that the ambitions of indie filmmakers can be epic in scope without losing their humanity. For more info and showtimes click HERE.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: This plot is so off the wall, I just have to see how it's executed!

6. MARJORIE PRIME

Official Sundance Summary:
Eighty-six-year-old Marjorie spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband. With the intent to recount their life together, Marjorie’s “Prime” relies on the information from her and her kin to develop a more complex understanding of his history. As their interactions deepen, the family begins to develop ever diverging recounts of their lives, drawn into the chance to reconstruct the often painful past. 
Built around exceptional performances from a veteran cast and shot with the intimate rhythm of mortality, Marjorie Prime shines a light on an often-obscured corner in the world of artificial intelligence and its interactions with death. Bringing us robustly into the future, Michael Almereyda’s poetic film forces us to face the question—If we had the opportunity, how would we choose to rebuild the past, and what would we decide to forget? For more info and showtimes click HERE
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: Once again, this festival brings some really fascinating stories, and this one really intrigues me. Different perceptions of the same memory is a really interesting idea that I am excited to see what they do with. Plus John Hamm never hurt anything either.

5. MANIFESTO

Official Sundance Summary: 
Tour-de-force: a term so overused that we need an undeniable acting performance to renew its meaning for cinema. Cate Blanchett has just given us one, going all-out in Manifesto. Already respected as one of the best actresses in film, Blanchett raises the bar even higher by playing 13 different roles in Manifesto, embodying some of the most influential and emotional artist manifestos in history. 
The architect of this unique film idea is director Julian Rosefeldt, a veteran of intricate films and installations. In Manifesto, he uses the words from various twentieth century manifestos of artists, architects, and filmmakers for dialogue. With a gorgeous production and luscious cinematography that would make Baz Luhrmann proud, Rosefeldt puts Blanchett in the everyday world—as a housewife, a factory worker, or a TV anchor—declaring the words that have inspired whole art movements. Manifesto is entertaining while also asking us to question if these passionate statements still hold true and inspire us today. For more information and showtimes click HERE
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: The preview of this movie was insane, but let's be honest...the reason to see this movie is for Cate Blanchett's performances.


4. THE DISCOVERY

Official Sundance Summary: 
What would you do if there was proof of an afterlife? The answer to this question is rivetingly explored in The Discovery, where world-renowned physicist Doctor Thomas Harber (Robert Redford) is able to scientifically prove the existence of an afterlife—but with dire consequences. His estranged son, Will (Jason Segel), tries to confront the situation by returning to the New England–esque island where he grew up. He crosses paths with Isla (Rooney Mara), who's returning to the island for mysterious reasons of her own. The tale unfolds over the ensuing days as the regret of past choices forces these lost characters to reflect on how they've gotten to where they are. 
Director/co-writer Charlie McDowell (2014’s The One I Love) returns to the Festival with another metaphysical thriller that uses a fascinating premise as a launching point to explore complex issues in a deftly absorbing fashion. Enlisting a world-class cast who use their unique qualities to infuse humor and humanity, The Discovery plays to both the head and the heart. For more information and showtimes click HERE.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: Firstly, I loooooved The One I Love. It was so bizarrely fascinating and this premise sounds really interesting to me. Plus it's got a solid cast.


3. INGRID GOES WEST

Official Sundance Summary:
Ingrid is an unstable young woman with a checkered past of obsessive behavior. She secretly moves to Los Angeles to get close to Taylor Sloane—an Instagram “lifestyle guru” with a fabulous artist boyfriend, a camera-ready terrier, and an array of new products and brands to promote to her followers. After Ingrid adopts a Taylor-made identity for herself, her machinations to prove she’s BFF material for her Insta idol are underway—that is, until she meets Taylor’s obnoxious brother Nicky, who threatens to tear down her fa├žade. 
Aubrey Plaza is fearless in her performance as Ingrid, whose elaborate fabrications and unsettling behavior lead to an avalanche of harrowing and squirm-worthy situations. In the modern world of self-appointed social media “influencers,” where emojis are preferred over real emotion, writer/director Matt Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith brilliantly satirize the ideal lives we create online, yet at the same time acknowledging the effects of a technologically dominated society where the human needs for truth and connection are still essential to our being.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: I just love the idea of this movie. I think it's very present and has a ton of potential to be a lot of fun.


2. REMEMORY

Official Sundance Summary:
Famed scientific pioneer Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan) is mysteriously found dead shortly after the unveiling of his latest and most groundbreaking achievement—a device that can extract, record, and play a person’s unfiltered memories. After his death, Gordon’s reclusive wife, Carolyn (Julia Ormond), recedes into her own private world until a mysterious man (Peter Dinklage) knocks at her door, claiming to be a past acquaintance. With questionable motives, he steals the machine in an attempt to unravel his own personal demons, launching an exploration into a troublesome past filled with guilt, grief, and betrayal. 
Through the glass of the mind’s eye, director/co-writer Mark Palansky steadily introduces pieces of an intricate puzzle that don’t always fit, leading us down a winding path where our human consciousness often defines reality. Rememory is a striking and uniquely stylized portrait of loss and recovery, reminding us that we are nothing more than the memories we keep. For more information and showtimes click HERE.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: I know I'm sounding redundant here, but once again this story just fascinates me. Such a cool premise! Plus I really loved the movie Penelope and hope this film is just as magical.

1. A GHOST STORY

Official Sundance Summary:
Lauded filmmaker David Lowery, last at the Festival with the lyrical Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), reunites with his collaborators for a haunted tale like no other—one conceived in secret and fueled by the spirit of pure, creative expression. 
Lowery's meticulously sparse narrative contemplates a spectral figure who was once a man (Casey Affleck). Prematurely taken from this Earth, he makes his way toward his former home, where he is fated to remain forevermore. Shrouded in a white sheet, he observes the lament of his grief-stricken lover (Rooney Mara). Bearing unseen witness to her pain, the wisp stands sentry for years to come, interacting only with time as it hurtles further and further forward, the remnants of his humanity quietly evaporating. 
Making full use of his singular abilities as a visual storyteller and finely tuned craftsman, Lowery boldly returns with an enriching experiment in micro-cinema that gorgeously defies categorization. For more information and showtimes click HERE.
REASONS EMILY WANTS TO SEE IT: Casey Affleck is already riding the wave of success with last year's Sundance Selection Manchester By The Sea, and so I'm really looking forward to seeing this project with him and Rooney Mara. Plus, this basically sounds like a dramatic version of a Lifetime Movie Network movie and that can only be a good thing right? Haha!

Other films catching my eye: Band-Aid, I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore, Newness, The Polka King, Wilson, Sidney Hall, XX and Brigsby Bear.

So stay tuned! The fun has just begun! Plus, I will be posting my Top Ten of 2016 list very soon (either tomorrow or Monday,) so keep an eye out for that as well.

1.18.2017

The WORST Films of 2016

Alright, my friends. The time has come for me to present you my Top Ten Worst Films of 2016, though I must admit I don't nearly feel ready. You might say I'm being too harsh on my list. But you see, I didn't have time to watch such gems as Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates or The Boss. I did take the time to watch the abysmally low rated horror films Shut In and The Disappointments Room and while incredibly stupid, I didn't find them completely irredeemable to put on my list (I mean they did have game lead actresses who did decent and some nice cinematography.) Then of course there's the usual band of films I deem unwatchable (that I usually devote to having their own list, but again ran out of time this year.) Such unwatchable films include: Dirty Grandpa, Hardcore Henry, Ride Along 2 and Max Steel....not to mention all the horrible animated films that looked mind numbing like Norm of the North, Storks, Sings, Trolls, etc etc etc. So without further ado, yes I know there were probably worse films out there, but these ten were the worst I suffered through.

10. GODS OF EGYPT

Orignal prediction for the movie HERE. I won't deny that I wasn't entertained during this movie...in a so bad it's good kind of way. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna give it a pass and leave it off the list, because this movie was pretty preposterous.

9. WARCRAFT

Unlike Gods of Egypt, Warcraft wasn't entertaining in the least. To be fair, I watched it in the Drive-In, which doesn't always allow for you to pay it the amount of attention you can in a regular theater, but nevertheless, Warcraft was a slog to get through. I'd come up with more to say here, but I don't really have the energy to try to remember anything about the movie besides that I hated it so very much. The only reason it doesn't get higher on the list is that I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt due to my viewing circumstances.

8. THE FIFTH WAVE

The one thing we can possibly thank The Fifth Wave for is for possibly putting the nail in the coffin (along with the decline of the Divergent series) of the YA craze. The Fifth Wave is so laughably bad it has to stop all other films of its kind in its track from being made.

7. ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Original review HERE. Watching Alice Through The Looking Glass in theaters I was instantly detached and bored out of my mind at how little it tried. I decided to cut it some slack though as I had never read the book it was based on, so I couldn't speak for its skills as an adaptation. But then I read on Wikipedia how the Mad Hatter (which the movie completely revolves around) wasn't even in the book, and then I felt no shame in hating this movie that stole the name of a famous sequel to make up their own garbage. I was pretty happy when it flopped, and let's hope that's the last time we see these goons in these roles.
6. TIE: THE DARKNESS

Though I gave a pass to the lame-brained Disappointments Room and Shut In, I couldn't do the same for the incredibly stupid and scareless horror flick The Darkness. Those films were pretty generic and harmless, but The Darkness was just idiotic. But, it didn't really have to be. It had an easy premise to build on and it really did nothing with it. Plus it took some conditions that people suffer with and made them punchlines. So pointless.

6. TIE: YOGA HOSERS
How in the world was this movie allowed at Sundance? In the same year there were reported walk-outs during Swiss Army Man, how is it possible that no one had any problem with this movie? The first half of Yoga Hosers is completely charmless and surprisingly boring. It's trying to emulate better movies such as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World but does not have the wit. Then the second half happens and its absurdity isn't funny or outrageous enough to save the movie. It just makes it even more stupid.

5. THE DO-OVER
It's debatable whether or not it's fair to include this film as it went straight to Netflix, but what would a Top Ten Worst List be without an Adam Sandler movie? And besides that, this is a really really awful one. Apparently, Sandler thought that if he could just let loose in an R-rated comedy somehow he'd be funnier. If anything, it was way worse. As expected, David Spade isn't any help in making it better, but at least for him maybe he doesn't make it worse.

4. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING
Another movie that debuted at last year's Sundance, The Fundamentals of Caring, was actually on my most anticipated list for the festival, but sadly (so I thought,) wasn't able to get tickets for it. It made its way to Netflix and one night I decided to finally watch what I believed to be a feel-good indie film. Instead, I saw a movie without any artistic integrity at all. A movie trying to be indie for indie sake, that actually happened to be incredibly awful and painful to watch. The most offensive thing about it is that it was a movie that's trying to sucker people into thinking it's good, heartfelt and unoriginal when it basically was the exact opposite. This movie simply went by the Indie Movie checklist without any thought at all to whether any of it would work or be good at all. What results is an excruciatingly pretentious experience.

3. NINE LIVES
I called at the beginning of the year last year how insanely stupid this movie and no surprise I was right. But I didn't really predict how much everyone (aside from Jennifer Garner) would be sleepwalking through their roles and phoning it in. This movie was so lazy and uninspired, it's a wonder that it ever saw the light of day and didn't just end up at a Redbox one day. This movie was basically a bunch of cat sound effects combined with Kevin Spacey sounding really bored. So unbelievably stupid.

2. ZOOLANDER 2
Original review HERE. There's nothing worse than an unnecessary sequel to a movie that was good and didn't need one. But this had to be a new level of offensive. I really loved the first Zoolander, and the sequel was absolutely positively one of the worst movies of the year. I probably laughed twice in the entire film, and both were most assuredly guilty laughs. This movie completely ruined everything that happened in the first movie, so honestly it's best for everyone to pretend that this movie never happened.

1. INDEPENDENCE DAY RESURGENCE
Original review HERE. Somehow, more mind numbing than all of these movies combined is undoubtedly Independence Day: Resurgence. This movie wasn't entertaining in the least. It wasn't so dumb it's fun, it was so dumb it was horrible, awful, terrible, and any other negative adjective you'd like to add. I wish I could say more, but I can't put my mind through that right now.

So there you have it! I may have been a little harsh...but them's the breaks! Stay tuned tomorrow for my Sundance Preview and Friday for my Best List.


1.17.2017

Disappointments and Surprises of 2016

2016 was a year that didn't really go as planned for many people, and that includes many of the releases that came out. Some failed to deliver on their hype from trailers or critical praise, while others came out of nowhere to be surprisingly entertaining gems. Here's a look back at 12 disappointments and 9 surprises from 2016. Since there's so much ground to cover on this list, I'll try to keep it short. Also note, that the surprises might make repeat appearances on my Best List which you can expect sometime next week.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Suicide Squad - Original review HERE. Probably the biggest disappointment this year had to be Suicide Squad, a film with great trailers that it just couldn't live up to. Margot Robbie was wonderful, but the rest of the film was so dull and frankly mediocre.

Everybody Wants Some - After Boyhood, I was hoping for something with a little more depth from director Richard Linklater. Everybody Wants Some was a little brainless and very underwhelming next to his previous effort.

Keanu - I fell in love with the previews when I saw that adorable little kitten Keanu. Unfortunately, the film had far too long stretches without him, which would have been fine if the laughs had been brought. Occasional laughs and an adorable kitten are okay, but I was hoping for a lot more.

Blair Witch - Original review HERE. Blair Witch didn't give too much time to let people down since it's existence was only announced about two months before its release. Still, it got immediate early buzz that this was a legit sequel to The Blair Witch and a great horror film in its own right. Unfortunately, it ended up being incredibly lackluster and run of the mill. Bummer.

Allied - Original review HERE. Trailers portrayed this World War II movie as a spicy thriller featuring love, betrayal, and suspicion. Instead, the film ended up being super bland, wasting a nice performance from Marion Cotillard.

Finding Dory - Original review HERE. Aside from Toy Story, Pixar hasn't had the greatest track record with sequels and while many audiences seemed to love Finding Dory, I was incredibly underwhelmed with it. Two amusing sequences does not a movie make, plus adding endless conflict after endless conflict just to stretch out the runtime isn't my idea of a well-crafted plot.


Jack Reacher: Never Go Back - I remember discussing once how much I wanted to see a sequel to 2012's Jack Reacher and as such, was so excited when I heard one was in development. Sadly, this film didn't feel related or connected to its previous film at all. Instead, it was devoid of the humor and fun combined with the hardcore action that made the first film so great.


Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Original review HERE. During the first half of this film, I was sure this could be Tim Burton's comeback...until it completely unraveled into a hot mess during the second half. The film couldn't overcome its muddled convoluted end, but hopefully, Tim Burton will be able to in future projects.

The Girl on the Train - At the beginning of the year I hoped this would be 2016's version of Gone Girl, but unfortunately this ended up going too far on the soap opera side and didn't have the directing to elevate it. Emily Blunt gave a great performance but the film will be ultimately forgotten.

Hail Caesar! - Original review HERE. This movie definitely had its moments and was a nice ode to Old Hollywood during some of them....but a lot of the time it was a crazy misfire. The sum of its brilliant parts was not great enough to overcome the head scratching ones.

Love & Friendship -  Original review HERE. I was so excited to see this at last year's Sundance Festival, and after having seen so many great films at the fest, this one certainly left me the most underwhelmed. It was pleasant enough, but ultimately pointless. I'll never understand the glowing reviews it got.

Live By Night. See yesterday's review. I think I covered it pretty well there.

SURPRISES

10 Cloverfield Lane - Like Blair Witch, 10 Cloverfield Lane was only announced a couple months before it was actually released. But unlike Blair Witch it was an absolute triumph. And yes while it helps not having expectations, I did end up seeing this film three times in theaters and it held up every time.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies - Original review HERE. Okay it probably helped that I had zero expectations for this film going into it, but seriouslyI thought this was a hoot! And it was also a surprisingly decent adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. Win win.

The Shallows - Orignal review HERE. Yes this movie was preposterous, and yes it was tons of fun. There's something nice when a movie knows it's a B-movie and revels in it. No one took The Shallows seriously, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

The Edge of Seventeen - Original review HERE. I expected this film to be a run of the mill, average teen flick with no depth or personality. What I got instead was a surprisingly earnest and honest character driven piece that really resonated with my own youth.

How to Be Single - Every once in awhile the world needs a multi-storyline rom-com right? I thought this looked pretty dumb and only watched it one night when I was really bored. Yet I found myself really relating and enjoying the proceedings and dare I say, I found there to be some wisdom in it even. Sure it wasn't the film to usher in the second coming of rom-coms, but it was far more enjoyable than it had any right to be.



Kubo and the Two Strings - Kubo came out of nowhere and took audiences on a beautiful and magical journey. Visually, Kubo is a work of art and storywise, the quest he embarks on draws upon archetypes but still feels creative and fresh.

Don't Think Twice - For a film about improv comedy, Don't Think Twice covered a lot of different emotional ground. Most fascinating to me was the subject of failure, and more particularly why some people have it in them to succeed and others don't (try as they might.)


Swiss Army Man - Original review HERE. Okay, it's true that a year ago I named this film as my most anticipated movie to debut at the Sundance Film Festival and promptly bought tickets. During the first premiere though when critics started tweeting about walk-outs and the film being "unwatchable" my expectations lowered considerably. But still I was determined to see the movie at the festival. I deem it a surprise because in my wildest dreams would I never believe a movie of this subject matter to be made...let alone be good.

Tallulah -  Another Sundance Film Festival film, but this one went straight to Netflix (they bought the rights at last year's fest.) One night I watched this and another straight to Netflix Sundance movie that will not be named presently, back to back and the results were incredibly varying. Tallulah was a film that had deeply rich characters and you had no idea where the plot would go. Because we cared for them our investment in them

Check back tomorrow when I hope to FINALLY post my Top Ten Worst of 2016.