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10 Movies Where Adam Sandler Is Actually Great

Ever since Adam Sandler became a movie star with his smash hits “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore,” critics hated his humour. But in spite of this, Sandler has found his audience – not just by his man-child persona that he portrays in those aforementioned films, but also slightly more adult roles like in “Anger Management” and “50 First Dates.”

Most of the comedies he made from late 1990s to the 2010s were box office successes, and the people he works with are usually full of praise for him. Paul Thomas Anderson and the Safdie brothers, for example, are fans of some of his comedies, and one can see how his peers like Jennifer Lawrence might love his stuff, as she mentioned on their “Actors on Actors” interview. But at some point, his comedies became more gross and more annoying (“Jack & Jill” anyone?), his shtick was also getting tiresome and outdated, and when he started to work with Netflix, his now far lazier material has turned into total garbage.

It’s understandable that there’s a lot of hate around him, but despite this, once in a while he manages to surprise even his biggest haters. In 2019, he received two Emmy nominations for his comedy special and SNL hosting gig, but also earned critics awards for the first time in his career for a movie performance. He’s worked with some auteurs and even came close to working with Quentin Tarantino (“Inglourious Basterds”), Michael Mann (“Collateral”) and Scorsese (“Dino”). Here are some of his most surprising performances of his very strange career.

 

10. Men, Women & Children (2014)

Sandler has collaborated with several acclaimed directors, but the result hasn’t always been good, filmwise. Even when he tried to make a commercial comedy film with more established names (Nora Ephron, Chris Columbus), things didn’t always work out. In 2014, he made “The Coddler” with Tom McCarthy, who directed films like “The Station Agent” and “Spotlight,” which was certainly a different kind of role for him; but with such undercooked material, he couldn’t manage to shine.

In the same year, in Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women and Children” the script is hardly much better. Reitman handles most of the material surprisingly very heavy-handedly and it came a bit of a shock since his previous films were all good up to that point, and the movie just stops engaging you after a while. But if there’s one complicated and complex side of the film, it’s Sandler’s performance, which is absolutely perfect in the movie. He shines here, especially in his final scene, and it’s one of his best dramatic moments.

Reitman himself was impressed by his dedication to his craft, saying, “I can’t imagine two tougher scenes for an actor to do as an adult than in this movie but, as soon as he said yes, he was 100 percent in. He was so committed, never scared and was lovely about everything.” So hopefully if they’re going to collaborate again, Reitman will have another great role for Sandler, but this time in a better movie.

 

9. Airheads (1994)

A trio of rockers sneak into a radio station brandishing plastic Uzis and force the DJ to play their single, but the situation grows out of control. “Airheads” is not some comedy masterpiece but it’s still an underrated feature of the ‘90s and probably one of the most watchable comedies of Sandler’s career. First of all, it’s not an “Adam Sandler comedy” but rather just a comedy that he ended up having a role in. There had to be at least one of his mainstream comedies on the list, but instead of something popular, it’s better to go with “Airheads,” since it’s more underrated and different.

It’s not like Sandler was a total no-name; he was already enjoying success on SNL, but this was the first film that gave him a large role. This is an interesting part because he’s rarely in a supporting role and even though there are several elements here that will become part of his trademark comedy persona in the future, it’s interesting to watch his comedic abilities without him overplaying or turning them into some kind of a brand.

There’s some sense of innocence in his character that makes him likable and engaging; his chemistry with his co-stars is very good and the movie shows that he doesn’t always need to be the lead actor in comedies as he can also be a scene-stealer in a film. Maybe he doesn’t have to be the leading man all the time, and should try some supporting roles, too.

 

8. Click (2006)

One of his best comedies. Period. “Click” is, first of all, a decent movie. No, it’s not without its gross and stupid moments, but it’s also a fine escapist, high-concept entertainment, with a great cast (I mean, Christopher Walken? Henry Winkler?). No, it’s not overly original, but it has its funny sequences that allow Sandler to show his comic side; his character’s relationship with his wife manages to get his romantic actor side to shine and his chemistry with Kate Beckinsale works out fine here.

“Click” is also a risky project for a typical Adam Sandler movie, because at some point it starts to take a surprisingly dramatic and even depressive turn. Sure, the second half of “Big Daddy” had a lot of sentimentality going on as well, but not quite like this. Unfortunately, at some point, they stop sticking to it and the ending is a total cop-out, but when it was on, it really was on.

There’s one scene where Sandler’s character sees his father for the last time and it’s kind of… heartbreaking? Yes, manipulative, but still impressive. And that’s not the only scene – the third act is almost full of back-to-back dramatic moments and Sandler is perfectly committed to his role. Not to mention, there’s no other film where Sandler does his usual comedy thing and then suddenly goes this hard to sad places. Sandler’s fan base isn’t exactly full of people who might enjoy all of his dramatic/non-typical films, but this was a great opportunity to show his own audience that he’s capable of being a dramatic actor.

 

7. Spanglish (2004)

Sandler’s “Anger Management” co-star Jack Nicholson won two of his three Oscars for James L. Brooks films. Brooks made an interesting choice to cast Sandler in a film that one wouldn’t consider among his best, but still can be called as a moving portrayal of the difficulty of family problems and self-identity.

It was one of the benefits of “Punch-Drunk Love” as Brooks was so impressed by Sandler’s performance in that film that he decided it’d be a good decision to give him another dramatic role, and he’s really strong in this. He plays a loving father and husband, as well as a chef and owner of a restaurant, who finds himself in some unexpected events. His scenes with Sarah Steele in particular are very loving and touching.

Sandler had to turn down Michael Mann’s “Collateral” to make this film, which is a movie that earned Jamie Foxx an Oscar nomination. Well, this one didn’t do as good, obviously, but at least he didn’t turn “Collateral” down for doing “The Longest Yard” or whatever. Some humorous moments can be found here, but “Spanglish” is still mostly a dramatic movie and another great showcase for Sandler’s dramatic talent.

 

6. Funny People (2009)

We mentioned that he turned down “Collateral” for doing “Spanglish,” and he also turned down Eli Roth’s character in “Inglourious Basterds” to make this movie. Which one is a better character is, of course, up to the audience to judge; again, at least he didn’t turn down Tarantino for Frank Coraci but rather for Judd Apatow.

It is a flawed film because as usual with Apatow’s stuff, “Funny People” is way too long; but it was also Apatow’s most mature movie up until that time. Both Apatow and Sandler were roommates back in the day, so the script has a way of playing into Sandler’s strengths. Sandler plays a middle-aged comedian-turned-actor who made a fortune over the years but keep making poorly received movies (does it remind you of anyone?). But recently he’s been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Thinking he is going to die, he decides to go back to stand-up.

One of those rare character dramas that featured Sandler in the leading role, it’s another good case for him to show an unexplored side of his talent. It’s also a kind of character that Sandler rarely gets to play: a complex one! His chemistry is pretty good with his co-stars and the script lets him deliver some witty lines as well. The movie is way too long, so if you’re not too interested in the characters or the storyline or just don’t care for Apatow’s style, it may be hard to sit through. But if you go with the journey, you’ll witness some of Sandler’s finest moments.

10 Great 2019 Movies You May Not Have Seen

2019 is officially over and now we’re in 2020, a whole new year and a whole lot more to look forward to. 2019 saw a lot of major events happening in the film business. At the moment I’m writing this eight films have grossed over a billion dollars (6 of which being Disney), streaming services like Netflix have been taking over with astonishing works like “The Irishman” – proving that even the old masters are delving into this new breed of filmmaking, and foreign cinema is making major headlines here in the States with films like “Parasite” achieving blockbuster status of success. So, needless to say, there’s a lot of big stuff to see from this year.

But there are thousands of films released every year and there’s no way we can see all of them even if we tried. So, with this list I hope to showcase some overlooked or unknown gems that were hidden away through all the massive stuff going on. Here are 10 Great 2019 Films You May Have Missed, and feel free to announce more that aren’t mentioned here.

 

1. Apollo 11

apollo-11-buzz-aldrin-1969-courtesy-of-neon-cnn-films

“Apollo 11” is the kind of film that illustrates why documentaries are made. There’s no talking heads or any narrator tracking through every moment telling what’s happening. It’s a feeling of watching the monumental space odyssey that occurred 50 years ago as if it’s happening in real time right now. It’s comprised of thousands upon thousands of hours of archival footage and audio recording from the mission in 1969 and that’s all we need. No explanation is necessary for the wonder and awe that this spectacle achieves.

Even though this is clearly a documentary it feels as though you’re watching a work of fiction play out. The footage and audio we’re seeing and hearing is more than enough provide us what we need to know to understand what’s happening. The footage shows a lot of the mundane routines these astronauts went through that we would take for granted, but watching it makes us realize how crucial every step along the way was to making that one giant leap for mankind.

 

2. An Elephant Sitting Still

There’s a tragic story to be told with this film. It was written and directed by Hu Bo and based off his own novel “Huge Crack”, during the production there was (shall we say) much disagreement between Bo and the producers, and unfortunately this proved to be the first and final film of Bo’s career. Shortly after filming was completed, Hu Bo committed suicide at the age of 29. Afterwards, the film was made in the vision he intended it to be.

A near 4 hour journey through contemporary China, following a multitude of stories and characters in the city of Manzhouli. Manzhouli is a largely industrialized city on the border of Russia and soon becomes a point of obsession for the people we follow in this endeavor. The film tracks through just one day in these lives, from morning till dawn, and how the environment they’re living in is pushing them to where they’re going. The world they live in is one of bleak isolation. The town they’re in is overcast with dark clouds, drowning out any color and life out of every single moment.

In Manzhouli, this city is the busiest land of import in China with railways transporting goods and services all the time. The lifeblood of this area is moving in and out all the time, and their residents are suffering for it. Despite the sound of drudgery, Bo’s film has a beat of humanity and hope within it. These people are people after all, they search for something to let them escape what’s happening. And by the end, it seems like they can finally move and breathe.

 

3. Ash is Purest White

“Ash is Purest White” tells a romance spread over several years that takes turns and chances. From 2001 to 2017, we watch as criminals and innocents are united in a mess of a relationship that’s unshakable. Bin is a criminal gangster but is strangely everything that makes a man, loyal, resourceful, and intelligent. His girlfriend, Qiao, is likewise everything in return to him despite his getting into trouble. She’s willing to take a pinch for him when he’s caught, even if it means that years of their lives will be lost it still means that after some time they will be together. The surroundings they live in is troublesome, crime and surprises are living on every street corner and only serve to entrap them in a world of violence and gang warfare even more.

If you’ve seen director, Zhangke Jia’s previous films like “A Touch of Sin” or “Mountains May Depart” then you’ll get a similar telling of anthology style stories here. As is expected, it’s shot and lit with a wondrous sense of luminosity. China is a very mysterious place and the area they’re in has a new spin every step of the way, keeping us in mystery. Just another great to add to Zhangke’s filmography.

 

4. Birds of Passage

The Birds of Passage by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego

“Birds of Passage” is roughly based on true story. Structuring itself on anthology storytelling where the film is divided into four chapter, each running roughly 30 minutes – not to mention a short epilogue. It tracks events throughout the 1960’s – 1980’s as regions in Columbia were working in drug smuggling. Material like this has made for numerous drug subject stories to be told, many of which inspired by the events of Pablo Escobar. But directors Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego don’t fall into the norms of drug cartel sensationalism but rather focus on the harrowing tales of damage these regimes brought upon the tribes and people who’ve been victims of them.

This is a film far more concerned with culture than it is gun shootouts and drug addiction. The actors and crew are made mostly of people from this region, creating an authentic recreation of their customs. At times it feels like a documentary of their tribes and people. This follows in the tradition we see in the world far too much where ethics disappear due to wealth and power, and this film is a great evolution in this tale we know all too well.

 

5. Giant Little Ones

“Giant Little Ones” works in different ways as it goes through its run time. The beginning stages of the film are a sort of music video style, the songs playing are strumming us along with the events that are occurring. The beginning act shows us the routines of a small group of friends in high school as they’re dating, partying, and enjoying the company of one another.

The main character we follow, Franky (Josh Wiggins), is nice enough but even so we can tell there’s something not quite right. When he’s with his girlfriend, Priscilla (Hailey Kittle), and he ‘confesses his love’ it doesn’t feel genuine, you can tell there’s an insincerity to his claims. He seems more comfortable with his childhood best friend, Ballas (Darren Mann), but that soon turns into something that wasn’t intended to happen.

I won’t go further than that, but needless to say a gap is made between Franky and everyone else because of a lie that’s told due to so many characters wanting to distance themselves from their feelings. It’s not until Frankie’s dad, Ray (Kyle MacLachlan), that everything is brought home. How people deny things to themselves and need to confront who they truly are to make peace.

10 Great Cult Horror Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Exploitation may not do the business it once did, but in terms of sheer numbers, it’s just as vibrant as it ever was. What’s more, the new ones can often go toe-to-toe with the classics, and a few of them — Sharknado, for one — become genuine cultural phenomena. It’s an impressively giant industry populated by talented people that continues to pay the bills all over North America, which was always kind of the point.

With that in mind, I’ve mixed things up a bit: I’ve gone through some forgotten gems of the early days and mixed them in with the new ones, so that the wild and the crazy of yore can meet the out-there and “let’s just get this done so we can keep calling ourselves filmmakers” of today. Some of these are worth watching for their insanity; others for the sheer unwatchability. You’ll see. Here they are:

 

1. Zombie Tidal Wave

After the bizarre success of the Sharknado series, the world was left wondering: what next? It was the crowning achievement of the shark craze, which includes Shark Exorcist, House Shark and — my personal favourite — Sharktopus. So what was left?

Of course, the solution was to take another time-honoured monster and combine it with a different natural disaster. Made by the same folks who brought you Sharknado in the first place, Zombie Tidal Wave combines the balls-out insanity of those movies with the classic zombie tale in a way that’s equal parts familiar and novel. Sure, it knows where it comes from — even naming its on-screen punk band “The Fulci’s” [sic] — but it also has a taser sword. And where have you seen that before?

There is nothing else in this whole list that’s as adept at pressing the pleasure button as often and as forcefully as possible. It has the beautiful, nigh-on naked women; it has the hacking-through-bone fun of the zombie movie; it’s ridiculous. Zombie Tidal Wave is easily the most fun movie of 2019 (excluding the joke-a-minute Marriage Story), and can only be recommended to anyone and everyone who claims to have good taste.

 

2. Boar

In 1984 there was an Australian movie called Razorback about a group of people getting killed in the outback by a gigantic wild boar. In 2017, the movie Boar debuted, featuring a young family getting hunted by a giant wild boar in the Australian outback. In the b-movie field, if something worked one time, it’s worth trying as many times as possible — and then maybe try it a few more times, just to be sure.

A great example of what’s called “natural horror”, this is a style of movie that reached its peak with Alligator in 1980, the essential premise of which is that something is horribly wrong with nature. The fear of being exposed, of being ripped away from civilization to experience the raw violence of the natural world through its most deadly creatures is what all these films base themselves upon.

Some of these movies have featured piranhas, some giant rats, but let me tell you: of all these creatures, none of them is as terrifying as the wild boar. There’s something about the snorting, the protruding tusks and the fact of being consumed by one that’s almost paralyzing. Don’t you think?

Found on the incredible Shudder streaming service, Boar is certain to be spoken of in hushed, traumatized tones by shivering, shuddering masses. Trust me. It’s wild.

 

3. Bloody Blacksmith

David DeCoteau makes movies quickly. He notoriously depends on long sequences where a hidden killer stalks a shirtless man through the woods, a man who then meets his demise off-screen. Many of his movies follow exactly this formula. It sounds disappointing: it’s actually kind of fun.

Bloody Blacksmith is about a group of history students who are sent on an Easter egg hunt to collect the supposedly cursed tools of a long-deceased homicidal blacksmith. The problem is, the blacksmith has returned: and somebody’s using him for murder.

Sound exciting? Sure it is. And if not, you’ll at least get to see beautiful British Columbia.

 

4. Evil Exhumed

David DeCoteau makes movies quickly. He notoriously depends on long sequences where a hidden killer stalks a shirtless man through the woods, a man who then meets his demise off-screen. Many of his movies follow exactly this formula. It sounds disappointing: it’s actually kind of fun.

Oh wait, did I just repeat myself?

I admire prolific artists — even above skillful ones — and I’ve not only seen plenty of movies who copied earlier ones almost down to the minute, but loved them, as well. Evil Exhumed, however, copies Bloody Blacksmith not just down to the minute, but almost down to the frame.

Don’t believe me? Try it. It’s a strangely rewarding experience. There’s the opening monologue describing the backstory, the lone traveller talking to someone on the phone, the scopophile who turns out to be controlling the killer watching from the British Columbia woods and, finally, the killer, who watches his victim for a while before dispatching of him off-screen. And that’s just the first sequence. It goes on.

None of which is to be interpreted as criticism. I don’t know that I know, but I think I get it: you’ve gotta be prolific, and whatever you need to do to get you there is part of the fun, not just as the filmmaker, but as the viewer. Doesn’t everybody like to hear about how Plan 9 was made? Isn’t the story behind The Terror the best part of the movie? I mean, what did you expect, Casablanca? We’re into movies that are not only weird, but made weirdly. So what’s the problem?

Just watch this one. It has a mummy in it.

 

5. Triassic World

I was once like you. I used to look at The Asylum’s titles and think, “God, how do they get away with ripping so many people off?” To me, their business model seemed obvious: you release a cheaply-made knock-off with a title so similar to a hit movie that people accidentally buy it, and you make boatloads of money. But that’s when I was young. I’ve grown up. And I love The Asylum.

The first one I saw that convinced me of their merit was Flight 666. It’s about a haunted airplane — cool premise, right? But the result is every bit worth the price of entry, with some scary moments, great characters and a claustrophobic atmosphere. My shock was just the same as everyone else’s: the guys who make Transmorphers make good movies?

Which isn’t to say they all are. Blumhouse doesn’t release gold every time; Disney just put out a Star Wars movie that everyone seems to hate. Sure, The Asylum releases some duds. But Triassic Park is not one.

Recalling Roger Corman’s Carnosaur, Triassic World follows a group of scientists who are trapped in an experimental facility after a cloned dinosaur escapes and goes on a rampage. “But why,” you ask, “should I watch this instead of Jurassic World?” Because you want gore, don’t you? Violence — mayhem?

Whatever Jurassic World’s pretensions towards being a b-movie, Triassic World is the real deal. Forget Spielberg: get into The Asylum.

10 Movies That Tried Too Hard To Be Cool

Every movie, to some extent, tries. Effort is fundamental to any worthwhile or meaningful art. Most of the worst films ever made are the ones that just truly didn’t try. Then there the films that tried just a little too hard. The ones that got a little too excited. The ones that bit off a little more than they could chew.

One of the most common ways this happens is when a movie tries to be “cool.” Coolness has become a common flavor of contemporary cinema; as vague as the word is, scores of well-meaning films of the 21st century want nothing more than to be considered “cool” or “edgy.” Some succeed. But many got a little carried away with the “cool” factor, completely ruining the product. This list focuses on movies that tried too hard to be cool.

 

1. The Happytime Murders (2018)

The Happytime Murders is one of the most notorious films of 2018 in terms of how ridiculous its premise was: a typical raunchy Melissa McCarthy comedy fare, but with puppets. Somewhere deep down, there might be a good movie to be made out of The Happytime Murders, but it’s no secret that Happytime Murders is a failure of a film from just about every angle.

Using a childish motif like puppets in an adult context is not a new idea. Films often repurpose innocent visuals in a more sinister light for an increased edge or coolness. But the presence of this subversion in and of itself isn’t enough to carry a film. The sad reality The Happytime Murders has to face is that watching puppets say bad words isn’t exactly funny. It could be funny, when backed by witty writing, deliberate storytelling, or even a level of irreverence and trashiness present in films like Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles (1989).

But The Happytime Murders just hits this incredibly awkward middle ground. It wants despretedley to be seen as an edgy, over-the-top comedy with a creative premise and worldbuilding, while also attempting to be an accessible crowd-pleaser in the vein of McCarthy’s past work. In execution, the film is a mind-numbingly stupid and a total insult to the audience’s intelligence. Watching puppets ejaculate is not funny or cool.

 

2. Peppermint (2018)

Starring the usually competent Jennifer Garner, Peppermint is a film that takes itself so incredibly seriously, and tries so incredibly hard, that there’s something almost admirable about it. This is the only film on this list that reaches so-bad-it’s-good territory for its sorely misguided attempt at being “cool.”

The film looks, feels, and plays like an extended NCIS episode, or a 103-minute long preview for a failed TNT show. As a suburban mother turned vigilante executioner after her husband and child are gunned down by, wait for it, the drug cartel, Garner plays her character with a straight face – as if she were part of some bigger, noble movement in DIY violence. Least to say, the film’s moral compass feels a bit skewed.

Why did Jennifer Garner accept the role? How did her character get so good at shooting people? Why is every villain in the film a face-tatted Hispanic man, and who signed off on that casting choice? Is this a literal call to arms for white suburban mothers of America? Who’s to say. Peppermint tries to be and say something, and it really, really fails.

 

3. 964 Pinocchio (1991)

964 Pinocchio (1991)

964 Pinocchio is one of the more notable films to come out of the Japanese cyberpunk film movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s, hosting cult classics like Death Powder (1986), Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo series, and the works of directors like Gakuryuu Ishii. The director of 964 Pinnochio, Shozin Fukui, was himself a major maverick and pioneer of the movement. In spite of his overall influence on cyberpunk, 964 Pinnochio is an incredibly overbearing and rather unnecessary film.

“Coolness” is a typical driving factor of left-field cyberpunk media from this era, whether accomplished through unconventional special effects, industrial soundtracks, frantic camera work, or sexually subversive imagery. But 964 Pinnochio overextends itself to appear edgy and countercultural in this way.

The plot is inconsequential and the majority of the film is just drab and aimless, focusing on a couple of degenerates, a homeless girl named Himiko and a memory-wiped sex slave cyborg. The duo wanders around urban Japan, spazzing out and just acting generally unpleasant in public places. Queue the notorious scene of Himiko vomiting for five minutes straight near a subway. If five minutes of uninterrupted vomiting isn’t trying too hard, what is?

The film’s apparent low-budget roots are admirable, but not enough to pardon its clear shortcomings, especially considering how fantastic like-minded films that operate on similarly limited resources are, a la Tetsuo the Iron Man (1989). 964 Pinnochio has all the right aesthetics of a cyberpunk film at its disposal, but none of the heart, energy, or creativity to prove a worthwhile feat. Unless you enjoy watching people scream, hurl, drool, and chew with their mouths open for an hour and a half, steer clear of 964 Pinnochio.

 

4. Pi (1998)

pi 1998

As much as Darren Aronofsky has contributed to cinema over the 21st century, the man has undoubtedly found himself at the punchline of countless jokes about “art film,” especially once people began to pick up on his formula: person goes crazy (or do they?), the camera is super shaky, character looks at themselves in the mirror and freaks out, it’s all a metaphor, etc. This formula is laid out plain as day in his feature-length debut Pi (1998).

Like 964 Pinnochio, Pi has all the aesthetics of a grimy, kinetic sci-fi pyscho-thriller but with none of the heart to back. The performances also feel a bit clunky and awkward for such a claustrophobic, introspective character study. Pi feels like a film put together by film students in a burst of creative energy after someone watched Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) for the first time. It is nowhere near as good as the films it imitates, but it tries its best. Even if there’s a great movie buried somewhere in Pi, the final product feels incredibly underdeveloped.

 

5. Run Lola Run (1998)

Run Lola Run

Undoubtedly, Run Lola Run broke major ground formally. Few narrative films before had combined such kinetic camerawork with such hyper-stylized, music-video-esque editing techniques. It would be foolish to diminish the film’s impact on contemporary film language. That said, the film hasn’t quite stood the test of time as a standalone work.

Ultimately, Run Lola Run feels more like an assault to the senses than a cohesive or meaningful narrative work. The extreme aesthetic of the film ultimately feels dissonant and chaotic, a collage of impressive visual ideas that, in moderation, could be interesting, but in combination are more headache-inducing and often frustrating. The attempted cool factor and style of the film is really its primary drive; when you strip back of the layers of flashy packaging, the narrative at core feels a little silly, especially in its understanding of the butterfly effect and time mechanics.

All of Lola’s iconic encounters with pedestrians and the hypothetical flash-forward montages of their future that result are total nonsequiturs based on her interactions with them. The film feels more self-satisfied with introducing the idea of the butterfly effect than it does portraying this cause-and-effect relationship in a reasonable or thought-provoking way. Again, the importance of Run Lola Run as a landmark in cinematic language conventions should not be ignored, but by today’s standards, the film is transparently preoccupied with form over content.

The 10 Most Uplifting Movie Endings of All Time

When you consider the aesthetic pleasure of gazing upon masterfully shot and edited scenes that draw the strength from unique elements of cinema, along with the inescapable sympathy that great screenplays and atmospheres combine, the impact might be enormous at the end of the film.

Whether it’s catharses, events, or situations that infiltrate our lives, as well as atmospheres that are strong enough to exceed the limits of the screen, there are so many great elements of cinema that are uplifting, promising, and which allow us to look at our lives more carefully.

Here are the 10 most uplifting movie endings of all time.

 

10. Whiplash (2014)

Damien Chazelle offers a ride that reinforces its purpose by approaching his role as a musician. He manages to control a script that could have turned into a cliche, with clever moves from great acting performances.

Having played the drums from an early age, Andrew wants to become a true master of his work. He enters the Shaffer Conservatory, which he considers to be the best music school in the country. He trains hard and eventually draws the attention of one of the school’s toughest teachers, jazz veteran Terence Fletcher.

Fletcher, who is notorious for his brutality as much as his success, wants to push Andrew’s capacity to the end. In front of the young drummer, there is not only a professional test but also a psychological test.

In the finale, we see the band play “Whiplash,” a piece Andrew has struggled with throughout the movie. And his incredible, fiery, and unplanned drum solo leaves Fletcher, the band, and the audience stunned.

Chazelle does not completely bless the success stories and the path to them, nor does he deny the attractiveness of the situation. In all of this, he conveys the struggle for success and perfection with all its nakedness.

 

9. Sideways (2004)

Sideways (2004)

Adapted from Rex Pickett’s novel of the same name, “Sideways” is a warm comedy-drama road film directed and co-written by Alexander Payne.

Miles, who became depressed after his separation from his wife, is also an artist who suffers artistic blockages. Miles has a vacation planned with his close friend Jack, who will marry a few days later, to distract him before the wedding. But nothing will go along with Miles during this journey, as they walk through California’s roads and vineyards.

The film’s simple and great finale shows that sometimes we can find the secrets we have kept even from ourselves on the road, and despite all of the despair that sometimes surrounds us, we can easily discover our own reality.

After the journey, Miles finds out that his ex-wife is pregnant from her new husband. He becomes devastated. Time passes, and Miles returns to his routine life, and one day he receives a voicemail from Maya, who says she enjoyed his manuscript and invites him to visit. Miles drives back to wine country and knocks on Maya’s door for a new beginning.

 

8. Billy Elliot (2000)

billy_elliot_jamie_bell

“Billy Elliot” is a harsh film that demonstrates the social and economic situation of the working class that struggles with forced conditions. It also touches on issues such as homophobia and social environmental pressure against homosexual individuals.

In England 1984, the period in which miners strike against the conditions due to the methods employed in the North, Billy Elliot is a mature, 11-year-old boy despite his age. He participates in strikes with his father and older brother.

One day, he quits boxing and says he wants to practice ballet, and his family opposes him. Following his father’s ban on ballet, Billy continues to lessons with the help of his teacher. And finally his father catches Billy dancing in the gym and realises his son is truly gifted.

Thanks to the money collected by those around him, he auditions for the Royal Ballet School. Despite the fight in the audition, Billy is accepted to the school and leaves home to attend. And in the finale, the 25-year-old Billy takes the stage to perform the Swan in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, as his father, brother and best friend watch from the audience.

When the tale of a boy who follows his dream despite all obstacles and describes dancing as “like electricity,” uniting with the one the most emotional endings in history, the impact is sublime.

 

7. The Truman Show (1998)

the-truman-show

The inhabitants of one of the most beautiful islands in the world leads an enviable utopian life. With a beautiful wife, Truman was buried in his perfect life until the day he saw his father, who he thought was dead, on the street. He is sure to see his father, but he suddenly disappears. Truman realizes that something is not going well and begins to question the reality of his life.

With the development of the television industry, advertising and the elements of the capitalist order is often emphasized with subliminal messages. Everything we see on TV is a life sold to us. The human being turned into an object must obey authority. This points to the pit in which modern man has fallen.

In the finale, we see Truman finally reach the edge of the huge dome and find an exit door from this fake world. He takes control of his own destiny and steps out the door to a complete unknown.

“The Truman Show” reveals that we’re becoming a monotype. Even though we realize this and want to get out, we just can’t do it, because we are miserably accustomed. But when this film’s excellent finale leaves us speechless, we realize that our own consciousness forms the world and subjectivity is the center of the world.

 

6. Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold, a young, wealthy man who is obsessed with death, finds himself forever changed when he meets Maude, who is 70 years old, at a funeral. They soon develop a pleasant friendship. Maude is one who is full of life, and is his exact opposite. With the energy transfer between them, Harold comes to such a level that he tells his family that he wants to marry Maude.

“Harold and Maude” has the spirit of an era in which concepts such as anti-war, civil rights and sexual revolution rise up. Through the liberating love of the characters, it demolishes the fusty and rotten structures and the ideology they represent that tries to dominate the individual in various ways.

In its splendid finale, legendary director Hal Ashby emphasizes that Maude’s death is not an end. It is a beginning that will make Harold aware of the other beauties that will come, and make it possible to love more.

“Well, if you want to sing out, sing out, And if you want to be free, be free.”

10 Great Western Movies Recommended By Quentin Tarantino

Love him or hate him, Quentin Tarantino is undeniably a walking, talking human encyclopedia of film. The video store clerk turned award-winning director exhibits this not only in his interviews and top-movie lists, but in his movies themselves. He steals from the best, and pays homage through the cinematography, music, scripts and actors he selects. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, he’s flattering a lot of people.

The “genre film” is his bread and butter, and Westerns – or maybe more specifically Spaghetti Westerns (a term American critics used to describe the Western films coming out of Italy in the 1960s – apparently coined by the Spanish journalist Alfonso Sánchez) – are at the root of every Tarantino film – from the grimy characters and violence of Reservoir Dogs, to the cutting of Pulp Fiction, to the title of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

His use of Ennio Morricone’s music in Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained; the Django name (and Franco Nero) in Django Unchained; the snow-covered mise en scene of The Hateful Eight; and the revenge tropes that run rampant in the Tarantino universe, are all nods to some of Tarantino’s favorite Western movies.

In appreciation of his expertise, here are ten of the best Western films recommended by Quentin Tarantino.

 

1. The Grand Duel

The Grand Duel

Directed by Giancarlo Santi (Leone’s Assistant Director for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Once Upon A Time in The West) The Grand Duel (aka Storm Rider and The Big Showdown) tells the story of an ex-sheriff turned guardian angel of sorts. Clayton (played by the venerable Lee Van Cleef) is out to prevent the murder and capture of Philip Wermeer. Wermeer recently escaped prison, where he’s been wrongfully sentenced to death for the murder of the Saxon family patriarch. Clayton knows who really killed him, and will go to any lengths to protect the innocent Wermeer – no matter how much trouble it brings.

The movie’s comedic elements – some of the voice dubbing, chase scenes, and secondary characters – lend a lighter tone to the film than those of Leone, but overall the shots, story, cast and music can’t help but bring to mind Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. But unique plot twists and some idiosyncratic characters allow the film to stand on its own.

The music was composed by an uncredited Luis Enríquez Bacalov – he also composed the soundtracks for Django, A Bullet for the General, and countless other films. Quentin Tarantino used Bacalov’s score in Kill Bill Vol.1 during the animation sequence in which O-Ren Ishii recalls murdering the Yakuza boss who murdered her family.

 

2. Django

django

Sergio Corbucci’s cult classic spaghetti western, Django, has over thirty unofficial sequels and has been referenced everywhere from the anime film, Fist of the North Star, to the Playstation 2 video game, Red Dead Redemption, to the Rancid song, “Django,” and the Danzig video for “Crawl Across Your Killing Floor.”

The film features an ex-Union soldier named Django (Franco Nero’s first major role) who is out to avenge the murder of his lover by the ex-confederate Major Jackson. He drags a mysterious coffin behind him (which we learn is housing a Gatling gun) and strikes fear into the eyes of everyone he meets – with the exception of Maria, who he’s rescued from the clutches of some confederate soldiers, and he protects from would-be predators.

Django is a lone gunman who sips whiskey, draws his gun quickly, excels at bar fighting, and refuses to side with the confederates or Mexican revolutionaries they are at war with. He hangs out in the “neutral zone” at a bar where he plots the assassination of Major Jackson, fights off red-masked Klansmen, and tricks revolutionaries out of gold.

Tarantino has borrowed heavily from the Corbucci classic, and it’s no secret that he loves this movie. Django Unchained borrowed the Django name, used Bacalov’s score from the original 1966 film for the opening, used identical typeface for the title sequence, and even featured a cameo from original Django actor Franco Nero. Nero’s character comes face to face with Jamie Foxx’ Django and discusses the spelling of the name Django. In Reservoir Dogs Mr. Blonde (aka Vic Vega), tortures a man and cuts his ear off – clearly inspired by Hugo slicing the ear from Brother Jonathan and making him eat it.

 

3. Death Rides A Horse

Death Rides a Horse

A tale of revenge, Death Rides A Horse pits Bill (John Phillip Law) in a race against Ryan (Lee Van Cleef) to kill the men Bill watched slaughter his own family when he was a child. But Ryan just spent fifteen years in jail on account of the same men and is looking for some justice himself. Bill recognizes a skull necklace Ryan wears around his neck from the day of the murders and is forced to make some difficult decisions.

The script was written by Luciano Vincenzoni (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, Duck You Sucker) and the film was directed by Giulio Petroni (Tepepa, A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof).

Tarantino has cited Death Rides A Horse as one of his favorite Westerns, and borrows from it for Kill Bill. He uses pieces of Ennio Morricone’s score, recycles the film’s famous line, “revenge is a dish served cold,” uses the same revenge plotline for O-Ren Ishii’s flashback animation sequence (the skull necklace becoming a skull ring), and when The Bride is ready to take revenge on any of The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, there’s a close up of her eyes and an orange flashback – the same as Bill’s in Death Rides A Horse.

 

4. Machine Gun Killers

Also appropriately known as Gatling Gun, Machine Gun Killers is a fictional story of Richard Gatling and his famous invention – the Gatling Gun. Set to the backdrop of the civil war, Gatling invented this new machine gun and very few people knew whether or not he had created a prototype – though Abraham Lincoln was in the know.

Gatling is kidnapped by Tarpas (John Ireland) who in turn attempts to get a million dollars out of the North for the return of Gatling, and a million dollars out of the South for Gatling’s weapon. Chris Tanner (Robert Woods) goes undercover in an attempt to recover Gatling and his weapon for the Union. But Tanner has been accused of multiple murders and has some serious hurdles to jump through to keep the gun out of confederate hands.

Directed by Paolo Bianchini, the film features a jazz-inflected psych western soundtrack by composer Piero Piccioni (his scores have been reused in The Big Lebowski, and sampled by DJ Khaled, and Soulja Boy).

Tarantino has cited Machine Gun Killers as one of his top 20 spaghetti western films of all time for The Spaghetti Western Database (SWDB).

 

5. One-Eyed Jacks

One-Eyed Jacks

Marlon Brando directed one film in his career, and one film only – One-Eyed Jacks. He also starred as the protagonist, Rio, a bank robber who’s been double-crossed by his partner Dad Longworth. Rio spends five years in jail before breaking out, and is hell-bent on revenge.

The film was originally going to be directed by Stanley Kubrick, but after running into some issues with the studio he decided to drop out of the project. Several writers had a crack at the film including Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), Sam Peckinpah, Calder Willingham (The Graduate) and Guy Trosper.

In a May 1993 interview with Graham Fuller, Tarantino named One-Eyed Jacks as one of his top three favorite Westerns. It’s also revered by the likes of David Lynch – the brothel/casino in Twin Peaks is called One-Eyed Jacks – and Martin Scorsese.

10 Great Animated Movies Every Animal Lover Should See

Fantastic Mr. Fox

The world is coming to its Last Judgment and it’s because of a plague called ‘humanity’, which, by living for their own interests, destroyed nature. The high toxicity of the air, uncontrollable fires, oceans full of plastic, the drought and melted glaciers. This environmental crisis has left a fatal victim: the animal kingdom.

Displaced, without food, and in danger of extinction, animals fight against the destruction of their habitat. Under the power of their survival instincts, they fight against backhoes as in “Fantastic Mr. Fox”; against domestication in “My Dog Tulip”; for the life of the forest in “Princess Mononoke”; with a militarized world in “Isle of Dogs”; against the disgust of the different in “Ratatouille”; against hunters in “The Plague Dogs”; or just against humans as in “Pom Poko.”

These animals free of muzzles, moorings, and chains show us the other side. It’s no longer the landscape of romantic fishermen on their docks; it’s the view from below, from the bottom of the sea, where fish hooks descend to tear the flesh of the animal.

Since animals are universal (birds fly without nationality), it allows spectators to identify with them in an easy way. Through identification, these anthropomorphic animals make us think about our human behaviour in a cathartic way.

Animation takes advantage of the fact that as humans, we don’t understand the way in which animals see reality, and offer us to see it in a fantastic or allegorical way. Dealing with issues such as pain, violence, fear and death, from the eyes of a child or an adult, these films hide deep ecological and loyalty teachings.

Animals have accompanied us since ancient times and were conceived as gods. For those who still see the beauty of creation in animals, this list is for them.

 

1. Isle of Dogs (2018, Wes Anderson)

Dogs treated as garbage are exiled by the government to an island of industrial waste. A pack of nomadic and homeless dogs will join Atari in the rescue for his dog. Together, they give life to this western Japanese cyberpunk odyssey, where they will face the oppressive government that presumes a possible destruction of the island.

This ode to dogs narrated in a choral way and with stop-motion technique teaches us the eternal relationship of loyalty between a child and his dog and how this is able to beat the callousness of a world ruled by the heartless and corrupt. With a haiku, the movie ends as it begins, in a perfect circular story: “What happened to the dog’s best friend? Who are we?”

Once again we face the unique style of Wes Anderson with an obsessive symmetry, a wonderful plasticity and aesthetic. These pack of furry lived-eyes dogs will make you fall in love.

 

2. Princess Mononoke (1997, Hayao Miyazaki)

Princess Mononoke (1997)

Ashitaka goes in search of the Forest Spirit to free him from a lethal infection caused by fighting a demon. But soon he will be caught in the middle of a war between humans and the forest’s mythical creatures.

San, who was raised by wolves and defends nature, goes against Lady Eboshi, who represents modernity and has brought pain to the forest. Ashitaka will join this war as a mediator so that humans and animals can share in harmony.

The development of deeply contradictory characters leave us unable to place them as heroes or villains. Even animals have a dichotomy. According to Japanese folklore and Shintoism, they are gods that live in the forest, but if the forest is threatened, they become demons infecting those who meet them.

This is how different ways of conceiving the world are confronted, and teach us to respect others, no matter how different they are from us. Take care of nature to survive in it.

 

3. The Plague Dogs (1982, Martin Rosen)

“The Plague Dogs,” despite being based on a children’s novel, remains grim and melancholic.

The film surrounds the escape of two dogs from a laboratory. When they reach freedom, they wander through beautiful meadows, yearning to find a master. But all hope will be destroyed as we discover that they are being chased by hunters and that the outside world is even more hostile. In order to survive, their wild behavior will leave behind many deaths. This situation unleashes a paranoia in habitants of the field, where everyone will see them as a plague that must be destroyed. From the shore to the sky, they are being stalked by the army.

The story is sharp and crude. Without symbolic ornaments, it shows us that it’s impossible to escape the cruel nature of humans. These ones are shown impersonally, without face or feelings, but animals remain loyal and continue seeking love in them.

 

4. Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird)

Ratatouille

Remy, a peculiar rat who feels extreme devotion to taste and smell, is misunderstood among his peers because he doesn’t want to eat from the garbage. Instead, he wants to discover what happens if he mixes mushrooms with cheese and rosemary.

His dream of cooking begins with the slogan of a famous chef called Gusteau: “No matter where you come from, everyone can cook.” A clumsy young man will be the medium where Remy will take his first steps in the kitchen, by pulling his hair, through involuntary movements, turning him into the best chef of Gusteau’s.

Ego, an acclaimed critic, visits Gusteau’s restaurant and is delighted with the taste of the food. Already knowing that it was the rat who cooked, he writes in his critique: “The world is often unkind to new talents and new creations. No anyone can be a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

This movie tells us that when there is a revolutionary thinker in this world, many can judge him. Alone and devoid of any company, if he decides to continue on behalf of his dreams, then as many doors as he wishes will be opened. Only with persistence, can resistance be strong enough to consolidate as a victory. The one who don’t take risks don’t cross the river.

 

5. My Dog Tulip (2009, Paul and Sandra Fierlinger)

This film adapts the literary features of the novel on which it was based and invites us through the protagonist’s voice, to an introspective portrait of his relationship with his dog.

In an elegant and sketch way of drawing, we discover that the owner of this dog with a bad reputation, is fascinated with its antisocial behavior. We witness successive reflections on the dog, ranging from the strange ritual they make when spreading cow dung through their bodies, or, “If a million years ago, the dogs took humans under their protection, tried to tame them and failed.”

Under a tone of devotion, “My Dog ​​Tulip” works as a perfect portrait on the close or distant relationship of humans with dogs, without falling into the humanization of these ones. The old man finds the best company in Tulip and takes refuge in her to avoid dealing with the outside world. Likewise, Tulip barks and bites because she protects her master. Dogs blend in and adopt their master’s character, and that is the responsibility of raising a dog. He becomes like a son who learns from you, but still having the behaviour of a dog. “They read the world by their nose and write their story through urine.”

The 20 Best Sci-fi Movies of The 2010s

The decade is coming to a close, which means we’ll be getting lists on top of lists on top of lists, but why should we complain about that? That just means that critics will metaphorically throw countless film recommendations at eager movie lovers. Not every recommendation will enthuse every reader, but that just gives commenters something to debate about, so maybe it’s best to look on the bright side.

This list is one of several that will discuss the best movies of the decade. This particular list will focus on the greatest science fiction films to come around between 2010 and 2019. Aside from release year, the criteria is relatively lax. As a result, there should be a little something for everybody here.

Of course, there’s a solid chance that a reader’s favorite won’t be included, but keep in mind that this decade was filled to the brim with modern sci-fi classics. We’ve narrowed it down to twenty, which means that possible fan favorites could have barely missed the cut. Before the pitchforks come out, be aware that the decision-making process was tough. It was painful to cut things like Coherence, Upstream Color, and Predestination, but it had to be done.

 

20. Dredd

Dredd’s path to success is well-documented. Following a less-than-stellar theatrical release, this 2012 reboot eventually found its sea legs when it became a cult classic. Its status as a box office flop is unfortunate, but its ability to bounce back in the face of adversity overshadows any and all negativity. This underdog story is important to this particular article because it helps show the amount of well-deserved love people have for a movie that initially fell flat on its face.

Word-of-mouth wouldn’t have spread so rapidly if Dredd didn’t deserve the acclaim. This is a stellar movie that easily erases the horrible memory of the embarrassing Sylvester Stallone adaptation. Although the overwhelming levels of camp have been removed, this latest take on the source material more than makes up for that with stylish action and enough grit to make Tarantino blush. For fans of the genre, it’s an essential viewing experience.

 

19. Upgrade

We should have known we were in for something special when Upgrade was labelled a “cyberpunk action body horror” film. Seriously, if that isn’t a recipe for success, what is? Jokes aside, this genre-blending work of art is a trashy slice of grindhouse fun that continuously ups the ante until its blood-soaked finale.

It’s especially refreshing to see a movie that completely ignores the recent obsession with hard sci-fi. Directors have become so concerned with creating the most scientifically accurate movie, and who can blame them? Those movies do incredible well when it comes to awards season, but Upgrade doesn’t seem to care about awards. It wants to entertain, and it does a marvelous job.

 

18. Gravity

Gravity-film-Sandra-Bullock

Gravity is one of the best reviewed movies of the decade, but your enjoyment mostly depends on your ability to appreciate the stellar technical achievements in light of a simplistic narrative. Like Avatar, Cuarón’s reliance on special effects led many viewers to believe that the end product was hollow. It’s universally considered a technical masterpiece, but that unfortunately doesn’t make it a storytelling masterpiece.

To some degree, these complaints are warranted. Gravity’s story is not going to blow anyone’s mind, but that’s not the intention. This is a simple survival story pieced together with breathtaking visuals and earth-shattering sound design. The actual plot isn’t as ambitious as it could be, but Cuarón’s ambitions lie elsewhere.

He takes a run-of-the-mill premise and elevates it by presenting it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The visual effects are still a sight to behold today, and while new viewers likely won’t be able to catch it on the big screen where it belongs, there’s still a lot to appreciate. It’s just important to understand what kind of experience you’re going into beforehand.

 

17. Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

Following a few duds in his directorial career, Doug Liman came back with a bang. Edge of Tomorrow is the sci-fi Groundhog Day we didn’t know we needed. With skilled direction and a likable cast, it’s hard not to appreciate the amount of effort put into this project.

To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot of appreciation following the North American release, but international audiences helped Edge of Tomorrow succeed at the box office and become the hit it needed to be. It needed to be a hit because it basically had “sequel” written all over it. With a confirmed sequel on the horizon, it’s time to pray for something that approaches the same quality. We’re hoping to include Live Die Repeat and Repeat on the next list in ten years.

 

16. The Endless

At this point, Taste of Cinema has talked about The Endless ad nauseam. As a result, frequent readers may have heard it all before, but everyone else needs to understand what makes this indie darling so special.

Basically, The Endless is a pseudo-sequel to an independent horror film titled Resolution. Though not a direct sequel, this film builds upon everything created in its predecessor, and that’s why it shines so brightly. Co-directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson clearly know a thing or two about worldbuilding. They didn’t need a massive budget to tell their story. In fact, the pair of filmmakers make the most out of what appears to be a shoestring budget.

It’s astounding that the worldbuilding is only one small piece of the puzzle. The Endless isn’t defined by this one aspect; it’s just enhanced by it. In reality, there are innumerable examples of filmmaking brilliance on display. This is clearly the product of two talented filmmakers. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.

 

15. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Prior to the release of Rise of the Plenty of the Apes, there was a collective shrug whenever a new movie in the series was announced. The older sequels soured the experience, and then Tim Burton’s remake came along and scared just about everyone away from the massive franchise. Then, miraculously, some no-name director came in and repaired all the damage. This reboot helped kickstart a trilogy that took his ideas and improved upon them.

A lot of praise was directed at Wyatt’s rebooted Planet of the Apes, but the sequel really set things in motion. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a rare breed of blockbuster filmmaking that challenges viewers expectations while simultaneously keeping them glued to their seats until the very end. Defying expectations is one thing, but blowing people away is another. Matt Reeves delivered an unforgettable sequel that was more than capable of blowing people away.

 

14. Interstellar

interstellar-2014

Although Nolan’s diehard fans may disagree, Interstellar is not quite this century’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is, however, a damn good movie in its own right. The flattering albeit untrue comparison makes it so that people have all kinds of differing expectations. Yes, there are some parallels between the two films, but Interstellar is its own beast.

With that small rant out of the way, let’s get to the actual discussion. Christopher Nolan proves time and time again that he loves to challenge himself, and this is no exception. Interstellar is a film that’s ambitious to a fault. In fact, it has a tendency to collapse under the weight of its own ambitions, but there’s a giant asterisk attached to that criticism.

The thing is, most viewers are going to be perfectly okay with the flaws because the emotional highs make the overall experience worth it. Plot holes be damned! Jessica Chastain didn’t act her ass off just so people could complain about scientific accuracy.

This response is of course hyperbolic and filled with logical fallacies. Movies like Interstellar shouldn’t be immune to criticism. The complaints are perfectly valid. Let’s be real; they will be deal breakers for certain viewers. At the same time, the overwhelmingly positive response is equally valid. Regardless of the issues, Nolan created something special here.

 

13. Looper

Looper

Before he became the internet’s favorite punching bag, Rian Johnson was just a budding director trying to make a name for himself. Back in 2012, he certainly had the critics in the bag, but casual filmgoers were a different story. His previous efforts earned him acclaim, but they also failed to sell tickets. The same can’t be said about Looper.

While Looper didn’t set the world on fire, it did surprisingly well for a modestly budgeted R-rated movie with no ties to an existing property. Movies like this are a tough sell, especially during the decade of remakes, reboots, and sequels. Johnson and company faced an uphill battle, but strong word-of-mouth and skilled marketing helped them in the long run.

This acclaim is well-deserved. Two solid movies later, Looper remains a highlight in Johnson’s filmography. It’s admirable to see a film that feels so fresh, especially when it seems like fewer directors are willing to take risks. In this case, the risks paid off big time.

 

12. The Martian

The early 2010s were not particularly kind to Ridley Scott. The man who gave us Alien and Blade Runner was seriously struggling following multiple critical mishaps. This is especially true when you look at the back-to-back releases of The Counselor and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Say what you will about Prometheus, but those two films were borderline inexcusable. Fortunately, Scott ended up redeeming himself with the release of The Martian.

The film works so well because it’s a straightforward crowd pleaser that does more than enough to differentiate itself from any form of competition. Although it doesn’t experiment to the same degree as several other entries on this list, it offers something else: pure popcorn entertainment. Drew Goddard’s heartfelt script works in conjunction with Scott’s confident direction and Damon’s charismatic performance. Put simply, everything is in sync.

 

11. Annihilation

You have to admire Alex Garland for refusing to take the easy way out for his sophomore effort. He could have played it safe by directing something simple, but that wasn’t his cup of tea. Instead, we got something that openly disrupts the status quo. It laughs in the face of Hollywood conventions because it wants to challenge viewers, and it succeeds.

By tackling complex subjects like grief and humanity, Annihilation allows itself to stand out in a crowded genre. To add to that, these topics are addressed in ways that feel refreshing. Plenty of films have attempted to make bold statements about the aforementioned motifs, but none of them do it like Garland. The arthouse leanings are bound to alienate certain viewers, but they feel necessary in the long run.

See, without the bolder, more experimental aspects, Annihilation would feel empty. It works because it joyfully defies expectations. Don’t let the simple premise fool you; this is the type of movie that will floor you. Just make sure you’re on board for a little experimentation.

The 10 Most Disappointing Movies of 2019

Last year was filled with great movies and an up to par ending to a fantastic decade. However, there were also the other kind of films, the ones that left us disappointed and wondering how on earth could some potentially great ideas come out so bad.

While we didn’t have too many expectations, yet they still managed to somehow disappoint us, the even more disappointing films of 2019 were those coming from directors whose previous work led us to believe that their latest efforts would be much better than they actually turned out to be. That’s why some of the titles on this list are not horrible movies and they get some things right, but they still failed to match our much higher expectations.

What follows are the 10 (actually eleven) most disappointing films we’ve seen in 2019. Let us know in the comments which are the movies that disappointed you the most in the previous year.

 

10. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

After the middling experience that “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was, we didn’t have too many expectations from the latest and last entry in the new Star Wars trilogy, even with J.J. Adams back in the director’s chair. Yet, despite our lowered expectations, “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” was somehow still an underwhelming time at the cinema.

Despite some beautiful cinematography, arresting CGI and exciting action sequences, the film feels emotionless, suffers from a convoluted narrative, doesn’t take any risks and relies too much on recycled plots, fan-service, and nostalgia. It feels like after Rian Johnson did what he did with “The Last Jedi” Abrams didn’t know what to do with the plot and the characters and had to improvise on the fly.

This is far from being the worst film of the year and there were some things we enjoyed about it, but we expected a little more from this supposed final chapter of one of the most celebrated film series ever.

 

9. Yesterday

What if one day no one but a struggling unknown musician remembers The Beatles? This is the concept behind Danny Boyle’s film “Yesterday”. Himesh Patel plays Jack Malik, an unsuccessful musician who is about to give up on his dreams of becoming famous. But a miracle happens: one day, electricity goes off in the entire world for a few seconds and, at the same time, Jack gets hit by a bus. When he wakes up, he finds himself in some kind of an alternate reality where The Beatles never existed and seizes the opportunity to assume their songs as his own.

When we first saw the trailer for “Yesterday”, we thought it was a pretty fun concept that might work. While hearing so many Beatles songs in one movie makes it instantly better and the film is at times charming (mostly due to Malik’s lovely character), cringy jokes, too much Ed Sheeran, and a bland, clichéd script make “Yesterday” a rather forgettable experience and one of the weakest entries in Boyle’s body of work.

 

8. Velvet Buzzsaw

“Nightcrawler” was one of our favorite movies of 2014 and we had reasons to expect that Jake Gyllenhaal and director Dan Gilroy would treat us with another great piece of cinema.

“Velvet Buzzsaw” has a great cast (Toni Collete and John Malkovich are also part of this film), a decent premise, and starts out pretty interesting, yet unfortunately it all goes downhill from there.

The film presents itself as a funny satire of the art world, but comes off as pretentious and rather uninteresting, and doesn’t even come close to the greatness of “Nightcrawler”. Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays a snobbish bisexual art critic, does a good job with what he’s been offered and his performance is one of the redeeming aspects of the film, but unfortunately his presence alone wasn’t enough to save “Velvet Buzzsaw” from mediocrity.

 

7. The Laundromat

Coming from Steven Soderbergh, “The Laundromat” is a star-studded comedy inspired by the Panama Papers scandal. Soderbergh tried to make his own version of Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” and assembled an impressive cast which included Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas. but the results were disappointing.

The talented cast is misused in a tonally uneven, disjointed film that, despite its fascinating topic, comes across as gimmicky and unfocused, and not even as well-directed as Soderbergh’s other recent efforts. It’s surprising to see such a misfire from a director whose work in the last ten years has been consistently impressive.

 

6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Richard Linklater and Cate Blanchett making a film based on Maria Semple’s bestselling novel sounded like a match made in heaven, but the “Boyhood” director failed to impress us with his latest film.

Here, Blanchett plays Bernadette Fox, a once-successful architect who suddenly disappears, leaving her seemingly perfect family behind. It is then up to her 15-year-old daughter Bee to find out where her mother has gone and, in the process, to discover more about her troubled past.

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” was one of our most anticipated movies of 2019, yet its unlikeable protagonist, poorly adapted script, an abundance of unnecessary subplots, and bland cinematography turned it into one of the biggest disappointments of 2019 and also one of the worst efforts from director Richard Linklater. Unfortunately, a good cast, a good director and a good source material don’t always add up to a good movie. If you want to know where did Bernadette go, you’re better off reading the novel.

The 20 Worst Movies of The 2010s

What is it with bad films that make them majorly appealing? After the success of Tommy Wiseau’s terribly hilarious cult movie, ‘The Room’ back in 2003, people from all over the world are constantly seeking out the next garbage movie they can watch and laugh at with their friends.

However, times have changed exponentially and trash cinema along with it. The niche ‘bad movie’ market has become oversaturated throughout this decade, with boring ‘self-aware’ shark movies or films by, ‘The Asylum’, who make intentionally awful rip-off’s to cash in.

Which is why there’ll be some ground rules:

No intentionally awful films, such as parodies, Asylum produced movies or Birdemic’s/Sharknado’s of the world. You know they’re bad, they’re actively trying to be.

Only one Adam Sandler film. He’s made far too many awful films this decade that the whole list could be films produced by him. So, for variety, just the one. Apologies.

The list will actively go after big budget films that producer’s thought were going to do much better than they did. It’s one thing laying it on a bunch of awful indie movies but at this point, it just seems like low hanging fruit, how about a real challenge?

So, without further ado…

 

20. Suicide Squad

As many of the films featured in this list will be box office bombs or conventional ‘trash cinema’, what better way to start than with a hugely popular smash hit, Suicide Squad. Despite having a sizeable mainstream following and inspiring waves of thirteen-year-old emo kids to flood their Tumblr pages with Joker and Harley Quinn fanart, this didn’t stop the film from being heavily disliked amongst most audience demographics.

With reasons such as: massively underdeveloped characters, strange and jarring music choices, odd pacing and straight up atrocious editing, Suicide Squad disappointed many fans and felt like a nail in the coffin of the DC expanded universe.

Oh, and Jared Leto. The way he hyped up his performance made it out to be some of the best acting ever put to screen but was three minutes of him coming across more like a lisping Machine Gun Kelly than The Joker. Rubbish.

 

19. Foodfight

Foodfight is a strange beast that defies most rational explanation. An animated film with a huge budget of around $50 million, Foodfight was stuck in development hell for nearly 15 years for a variety of strange reasons (one bizarre excuse of the development taking so long includes the brains behind Foodfight, Lawrence Kasanoff, stating that the original film was originally stolen in an act of ‘industrial espionage’).

For a time, it seemed like Foodfight had long passed its expiry date, so to speak. But as US audiences in 2013 found out, some things are better off dead, as Foodfight finally released to overwhelmingly negative reviews.

Reasons for criticism included the ghastly Nintendo 64-esque animation with nightmarish looking characters straight out of your sleep paralysis dreams, a nonsense story and boring world that just screams, ‘we only read the logline to Toy Story and decided to make our own’, unoriginal design with pre used 3D assets and models along with creepy jokes and references, the main villain is literally a food Nazi for god’s sake.

This, however, certainly makes the film more appealing to the ‘bad movie’ crowd. There’s so much incompetence to enjoy, and Charlie Sheen as lisping noir film Indiana Jones dog, ‘Dex Dogtective’, is such a bizarre but unintentionally hilarious main character that brings you along for the inept ride that is, ‘Foodfight’.

 

18. Yoga Hosers

Yoga Hosers movie

What a strange little film Yoga Hosers is. Kevin Smith, creator of contemporary comedy classics such as, ‘Clerks’ and ‘Chasing Amy’, saw his 2014 film, ‘Tusk’, and thought: ‘Hmmm, how about I make a full feature film about the two gas station attendants in one 45 second scene in Tusk and just make it up as I go along?’.

What follows is a painfully unfunny and horrifically made train wreck that has a screenplay that plays out like a game of mad libs. For a film with a $5 million budget, Yoga Hosers honestly feels like something Smith made at home with his daughter for not even a quarter of the budget. Did all that money go to Johnny Depp?

Regardless, Yoga Hosers is lazy, overly offensive and supremely insulting to independent filmmakers who work tirelessly to get projects made. Want a film with a $5 million budget? Just make it about bratwurst zombies, Canadian Nazis and quirky yogis. Are you laughing yet?!

 

17. Wish Upon

Now, here’s a bit of a reversal: a horror film that absolutely fails at being scary but solidifies itself as one of the decade’s funniest films. Huh.

Wish Upon had horrendous reviews and for good reason, it’s why it’s on this list. But, according to many bad movie connoisseurs, it’s an unintentionally hilarious rollercoaster ride through the teen horror genre and the tropes that come with it.

With a script that seems like it was written by an alien (‘Yo, you dig on multiverses too?!’, one teen says to another in a scene that is DEFINITELY not written by 65 year old men), horrific acting and scares/death scenes that seem to be ripped straight from a Laurel and Hardy skit.

Wish Upon is an exercise in PG-13 horror box ticking, there are overused jump scares, a protagonist who continuously makes stupid decisions and brutally set up death sequences without any blood. Regardless, Wish Upon is likely the most beloved by bad movie fans on this list, so if any of what was said here sounds appealing to you, maybe get some friends and check it out.

 

16. Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt feels like a film that was made by aliens. Not only does it feel like it’s from a whole different decade, it’s set out like a film from another dimension entirely.

This beautiful, out of touch train wreck features white actors as Egyptians fighting through a PS2 rendered ancient Egypt while gradually coming to terms with how bad the film they’re in is and attempting to make the most of it.

Surprisingly, the king of mediocre acting himself, Gerard Butler, absolutely steals the show as Set, an angry and all-powerful god who comes across more like a slightly miffed union boss at the docks whose paycheck is a few days late, making the more ‘dramatic’ scenes an absolute blast to watch as he can barely keep his eyes open.

The film is an idiotic mishmash of horrendous visual effects and wooden acting, but does this stop the film from being hilarious? Absolutely not, in fact, this has helped Gods of Egypt build up a minor fanbase who love how bad it is, and if you think it sounds hilarious, then check it out.

 

15. God’s Not Dead

Another three-letter film with, ‘God’ in the title, this film is entirely different in every way to, ‘God’s of Egypt’, but is just as problematic and tone deaf. Even though the film seems more like something you’d seen on lifetime, it got an international cinema release and did well enough to warrant two sequels with its simple idea and message.

An evangelical student, Josh, refuses to sign a petition set up by his, ‘ evil atheist professor’, to basically say that God isn’t real. Would this ever happen? Especially in white middle class America where the film is set, you’d expect much more a public uproar about something so controversial, but no, college professors want to WIPE YOUR BRAINS AAAAHHH!!

What follows is essentially a battle of ‘wits’, where Josh and his professor face off with their differing opinions. There’s some side stuff in there, such as showing a girl’s Muslim father as an abusive maniac and even tying in professor evil’s personal life of being horrible to everyone he meets and pinning his hatred of god on his mother’s death long ago. Also, there’s a tiny subplot dedicated to Duck Dynasty and some of the stars of the show appear in the film, because of course they do.

‘How can you hate something you don’t think exists?’, squeaks Josh to his professor in its embarrassing, ‘atheism is CANCELLED’ moment. Honestly, one wonders how this tone deaf, poorly acted and badly made film spawned a trilogy but one things for certain: God’s Not Dead is godless.

The 20 Best Movies of 2019

What a great year for cinema 2019 was! Old-timer directors and actors returned to the big screen, horror movies continued to impress us with their renaissance, DC Comics released their best film in years, foreign cinema was in top form, A24 produced another batch of excellent independent films, and Netflix has once again proved itself capable of coming up with award-worthy movies.

Choosing the titles for this list was a difficult challenge and we are sure there will be some cases where you won’t agree with us. For a few more films which we couldn’t fit on the list, please check out the honorable mentions sections at the end of the article.

Also, bear in mind that when selecting the titles for this list we took into consideration their initial release date. This is the reason why you might find some titles missing despite their 2019 release dates in the USA or other countries. To make things simpler, we chose not to include animations and documentaries.

As always, let us know in the comments which were your favorite movies of 2019.

 

20. The Peanut Butter Falcon

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” is one of the most touching films we’ve seen last year and a fantastic directorial debut from Tyler Nielson and Mike Schwartz.

The film focuses on Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome who lives in a care home and dreams of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of his hero, the Salt Water Redneck. One night, Zak runs away from his care home to chase his dreams in a lengthy and life-changing journey.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a funny, lovely and very emotional film with a strong and beautiful message about overcoming odds. The film also benefits of great performances from Dakota Johnson, who plays an employee at the care home, Shia LeBeouf, who gives a career-best performance as a thief Zak meets on his journey and, of course, Zack Gottsagen, who absolutely shines with his performance.

 

19. The Souvenir

the-souvenir-sundance-honor-swinton-byrne

A semi-fictionalized version of director Joanna Hogg’s experiences at film school, “The Souvenir” is set in the 1980s Sunderland and stars Honor Swinton Byrne as Julie, a young film student who falls in love with Anthony (Tom Burke), an older man who works at the Foreign Office. What starts as an intense relationship shortly stumbles because of Anthony’s untrustworthy character and hidden addictions.

Joanna Hogg’s might have benefited from a shortened runtime as it drags during its second act and at times becomes a little tedious, yet charming performances from Byrne and Burke combined with Hogg’s very personal script and David Raedeker’s grainy cinematography make “The Souvenir” stands out as one of 2019’s better-crafted dramas.

 

18. Monos

Monos

This Colombia and United States co-production was present on some critics’ end of the year lists and has won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and been selected as the official Colombian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, yet we still feel that it went a little unnoticed last year.

Set on a remote mountain in Latin America, the film follows a group of armed teenage guerillas who is assigned to watch over an American hostage, Doctora (Julianne Nicholson). Playing out like an alternate version of William Goldings’ novel “The Lord Of The Flies”, “Monos” impressed us with its lush cinematography, great performances from its young actors, and unique subject. While it didn’t always live up to its premise, this is still one of 2019’s most memorable films.

 

17. The Farewell

A Chinese-American family discovers that their beloved grandmother Nai Nai has only a short time left to live after she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Hiding the bad news from Nai Nai, the entire family decides to pay her a farewell visit and travel from America to China under the pretext of a wedding celebration.

Partly based on director’s Lulu Wang personal life experiences, “The Farewell” is a touching drama which mixes heartfelt moments with slices of humor and, despite playing it a little too safe to be considered something truly outstanding, there is no doubt that it is one of the best family movies of the year.

 

16. A Hidden Life

Since his 2011 Palme d’Or winner film “The Tree Of Life”, the reviews for Terrence Malick’s movies were mixed, with many critics complaining about his experimental narrative choices. “A Hidden Life”, which has also competed for a Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, is Malick’s most straightforward film in years and in many ways feels like a return to his roots.

The film depicts the life of Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), an Austrian farmer and devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. This is an epic and at the same time intimate story about a man whose faith and convictions were more important than anything, yet we have to say that the most impressive aspect of “A Hidden Life” was the way it was presented. The cinematography, which uses wide-angle lenses, looks incredible and gives the film an ethereal, dreamlike atmosphere that makes even the most common images like a field of grass or a dusty road seem grander than they are.

 

15. Waves

Trey Edward Shults, who has directed the impressive yet underrated “Krisha” (2015) and “It Comes At Night” (2017), solidifies his place as one of the most talented newcomer directors with his 2019 movie “Waves”.

Set in South Florida, “Waves” tells the emotional story of a suburban family that is collapsing in the aftermath of a personal tragedy and is one of the most intimate, honest and heartbreaking movies of the last year. Apart from a moving story and great performances from its entire cast, the film also benefits from a fantastic soundtrack (songs from Radiohead, Tame Impala or Kanye West come to mind) and, like Shults’ previous work, exquisite cinematography and camerawork that are so good that they even stopped some of the film’s narrative flaws from bothering us.

 

14. Knives Out

With an impressive ensemble cast that includes Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer, Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” was the best whodunit mystery film we’ve got in years.

Inspired by old murder-mystery tropes, the film begins with the untimely death of renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) just after his 85th birthday. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives at Thrombey’s estate to investigate Harlan’s dysfunctional family and devoted staff and has to sift through a web of red herrings and lies in order to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s death.

The film’s abundance of renowned actors and great performances is complemented by an excellently written script and a clever modern twist that turn it into one of the most entertaining experiences we’ve had at the cinema last year. While “Knives Out” is not the kind of movie to receive awards or to come up with groundbreaking filmmaking techniques, it is just perfect for what it sets out to do.

 

13. The Irishman

“The Irishman” was one of the most anticipated movies of 2019 and saw Martin Scorsese reunite with Robert De Niro and ex-retired Joe Pesci and doing what they do best. Al Pacino also starred in the film, marking his first-ever project with Scorsese.

Based on Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses”, “The Irishman” has many resemblances with Scorsese’s 1990s epic mob films “Goodfellas” and “Casino”, but it is a more contemplative film that dwells a lot on old age, loneliness, life, and death. The movie tells the real-life story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a truck driver who became a labor union official with mob connections and claimed to be involved in the killing of labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

“The Irishman” received positive reviews and was particularly praised for the performances given by De Niro, Pesci and Pacino. It is another great entry in Scorsese’s filmography and perhaps the swan song of a generation of actors. However, while there are many things to admire in Scorsese’s passion project, the exaggerated runtime and occasionally distracting CGI de-aging kept us from placing it higher on this list.

 

12. Midsommar (The Director’s Cut)

Ari Aster blew us away with his 2018 horror drama “Hereditary”, a film that set him up as one of the most promising emerging directors and received widespread acclaim as a masterpiece of the genre. Coming up with a second film that lived up to the mastery of his debut was a hard job for Aster, but “Midsommar” proved that he was far from a one-hit-wonder movie director and received widespread acclaim for its ambitious subject and excellent craftsmanship.

Inspired by Robin Hardy’s “The Wicker Man” (1973) and the ancient Pagan rituals of the Midsummer festival, the film follows a group of college students who attend a Swedish summer festival that turns into a daymare. From its very start, which features one of the main characters going through a traumatizing event, “Midsommar” establishes itself as one of the most unsettling movies of the year and for its remaining runtime it only gets more and more disturbing. It is a memorable film and, while less affecting than “Hereditary”, it is bigger in scope and shows even more prowess from director Ari Aster.

 

11. The Last Black Man In San Francisco

Joe Talbot’s debut film amazed us with its jaw-dropping cinematography, camera work, and a soundtrack that is hard not to fall in love with. The film follows Jimmie Fails (played by Jimmie Fails) a young Afro-American who dreams of reclaiming a Victorian house that was once owned by his grandfather. Along with his best friend Montgomery (Jonathan Majors), Jimmy starts refurbishing the house despite the owners’ complaints, hoping that one day it will become his own home.

With many memorable scenes, likable characters and a very original script, this was one of the biggest surprises of 2019. And while it is uneven and its first half is much better than its second, “The Last Black Man In San Francisco” contains some of the best film moments we’ve seen all year and is the kind of movie where the visuals and atmosphere are so good that they make the plot flaws less disturbing. This is a must-watch for every film lover.

10 Great Movies To Watch If You Liked “Knives Out”

We get Agatha Christie adaptations more often than you think; Kenneth Branagh recently took on “Murder on the Orient Express,” which was unfortunately not good. Despite the all-star cast, it lacked something. Same goes for “Crooked House,” an adaptation nobody watched. The audiences may love the “whodunit?” formula, but they are seemingly tired of uninspired adaptations. So, Rian Johnson came up with something fresh: “Knives Out” was a surprise critical and box office success with an all-star cast led by Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig with wonderful supporting turns all around.

It had an amazing balance; it didn’t mind mocking some clichés of the genre, but it didn’t treat its mystery as a joke, it was a compelling story with a lot of wit. Now, if you’re among the people who watched and loved the film and are looking for something similar – especially if you’re not too familiar with the genre – hopefully this list will help you. Even if you’ve seen most of those, “Knives Out” may remind you that they may need a re-watch to enjoy it all again.

 

10. The Mirror Crack’d (1980)

This, or basically any Agatha Christie movie adaptation.  But “The Mirror Crack’d” and “Murder on the Orient Express” are seemingly particular influences on “Knives Out.” At least Rian Johnson claims so. Since “Orient Express” is already quite popular, it’s better to give “Mirror Crack’d” a place here. And while the film’s star Michael Shannon is not too familiar with Christie, this was the one he remembers most from his childhood.

The film is based on Christie’s “The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side” and is set in the fictional English village of St. Mary Mead and features Miss Marple, one of Christie’s best known characters. Here in the film, a local woman is poisoned and a visiting movie star seems to have been the intended victim. Since the police officer investigating the case isn’t so sure of what’s going on, he finally asks his aunt Miss Marple to investigate the case.

“Mirror Crack’d” is not often mentioned alongside “Murder on the Orient Express” and “And Then There Were None,” which are admittedly superior film adaptations, but it’s now somewhat of a camp classic that is worth watching not only for its fun whodunit storyline but also for Angela Lansbury’s excellent performance. The movie remains as a very fine adaptation; the pace is fine, dialogues are witty, and the story itself is engaging.

 

9. Radioland Murders (1994)

One may wonder what happened to Mary Stuart Masterson’s career. She was getting great parts back to back in “Immediate Family,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “At Close Range,” “Benny and Joon” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Nowadays she randomly appears in thankless roles in network shows or indie films. “Radioland Murders” is one of her last high-profile films that unfortunately flopped at the box office and didn’t get enough love from critics, but they were a little too harsh to it. “Radioland Murders” is a decent homage to 1930’s screwball comedies.

Produced by George Lucas, “Radioland Murders” follows writer Roger Henderson’s efforts to settle his relationship issues with his wife while dealing with a murder mystery in a radio station. Sure, some of the elements are overused, but it’s still funny and full of colorful characters and great lines. It may not be something big and spectacular, which is why it doesn’t often get enough credit among the best of the genre, but that’s the point – it’s small, lovely film that fans of the genre should check out. To get a better sense and idea of the film, you may like to check out some of the 1940’s mystery-comedies like “Up in the Air” and “Who Done It?”, which are also set in radio stations.

 

8. 8 Women (2002)

8 Women (2002)

Francois Ozon’s crazy entertaining “8 Women” is a modern-day French film classic and it has basically everything: it’s a murder-mystery, it’s a comedy, it’s a musical, it’s a drama, it’s full of social and political tones with some nostalgia elements here and there. The art direction is spectacular, as is the setting. The cast of eight women, which includes Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve, are all amazing. The film follows them as they gather to celebrate Christmas in a cottage, only to find the family patriarch died with a knife in his back. Now they all are suspects and they all have their secrets.

Just like the film above, this one is also a homage to the 1930’s and 1950’s screwball comedies with so many rich themes. “Knives Out” got a lot of praise for its social and political undertones, but one can argue that “8 Women” is richer with its themes. Since the movie is based on Robert Thomas’ “Huit Femmes,” it creates the theatrical feeling of the play but at the same time, Ozon still manages to bring cinematic sensibility into it as he also pays homage to the history of film and some of the actresses’ filmography. Even though it was a major success in France, it seems the movie is not that popular everywhere. For instance, it doesn’t get much mention in American cinephile circles, but “8 Women” is a delicious experience that deserves even more popularity.

 

7. Brick (2005)

Rian Johnson is a versatile director, but he explored the mystery genre before in “Brick,” which was hailed as one of the most original and best films of its year. The film follows lonely teenager Brendan, portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who finds his former girlfriend Emily dead and, in investigating the murder, he finds his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring.

This is an unusual film. It’s a cynical, hard-boiled thriller, but it also excellently staged a daring experience that by no means appeals to everyone. But if you get engaged in the storyline, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most original and entertaining films of its year. Since the movie is set in high school it may make you bit skeptical, but the movie actually benefits from that fact as it makes the story go to unpredictable places. One can say “Brick” is among the best teen-focused mystery films, but it also has one of the best young casts of its time and Gordon-Levitt absolutely shines in the leading role. Johnson’s other mystery effort “The Brothers Bloom” may also get a mention here as that one is comedic but still, “Brick” is a stronger effort.

 

6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

kiss-kiss-bang-bang-1

A homage to neo-noir films, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is an ideal choice if you love a good modern noir with comedy. The script is partially based on the Brett Halliday novel “Bodies Are Where You Find,” and it’s an excellent mix of humor with whodunit, a compelling and kind of complex mystery. Writer/director Shane Black went for a tongue-in-cheek tone and it worked out great. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer are hysterical together and make for tons of quotable scenes. Downey Jr. still counts it as one of his own personal favorites and it was also his ticket to his “Iron Man” role.

The movie has a pretty original premise; Downey is a burglar, but things go wrong; his friends are getting shot. Downey suddenly finds himself in an audition while trying to escape from police, but he unintentionally impresses the people there. They take him to L.A. for a role of private investigator and they pair him with real life detective Val Kilmer to research the role, but he finds himself in a web of mystery and murder. The movie has its own fan base, but one feels like it still not has been watched by enough people, so it deserves more popularity. Meanwhile, if you love this, also check out another similar Shane Black movie called “The Nice Guys” (2016).

The 25 Best Arthouse Films of The 2010s

Arthouse movies are difficult to describe and analyze. Art films aren’t made for money, and they’re not seen by a large number of people: they’re deep and intriguing, complex and daring. They’re often experimental, with symbolic content and made for artistic and aesthetic reasons.

During the 2010s, many excellent art movies were released: it’s not easy to write about this kind of films in a proper manner and in a charming way, but here there are 25 superb pictures that are worth your time.

 

25. The VVitch (Robert Eggers, 2015)

The best American horror film of the last 20 years is Robert Eggers’s directorial debut, which is set in the 17th century England. With an extraordinary style that can be compared to Bergman’s, “The VVitch” puts its director at the center of attention due to his maturity and technical efforts.

The film is not just a magnificent horror flick, but it’s a portrayal of human’s fears and paranoia: Eggers make us feel uncomfortable in showing a family’s decay. The viewer proves a sense of anguish and impotence because of the incredible events that follow each other in an unexpected and relentless way.

Wise direction and an awesome screenplay for a film that’s able to amaze from start to finish: an excellent analysis of an era and its contradictions and a criticism of superstitions that can cause pain and sufferance.

 

24. Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2015)

Our Little Sister

One of Kore-eda best films’, “Our Little Sister” is a delicate love letter to the family’s loves and affections. The Japanese director caress the characters with his graceful touch and adds another dowel to his precious and brilliant filmography.

Kore-eda shows his trademarks and achievements in directing and screenwriting and realizes another family parable rooted in Japanese culture but expressing universal values. Inspired by masters like Ozu, Kore-eda stages a poignant drama about the love between sisters, without ever being banal or nauseating.

 

23. Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)

Shoot a remake is always a risk, especially if the original source is both a cult and and a masterpiece such as Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” (1977). Guadagnino’s take on Argento’s classic is something unexpected and surprising: expanding the original story on new, unexplored lands, Guadagnino realizes a film with a majestic visual impact and a complex screenplay filled with intriguing themes like motherhood, perception, guilt and national fault.

Guadagnino directs a complex and stratified film that, like its illustrious predecessor, has its main force in the visual and aesthetic component, but also offers a deepening of the characters and a wealth of topics not indifferent.

Guadagnino’s mise-en-scène is personal and different from Argento’s: the latter pointed to a raw style that highlighted the very essence of fear, as opposed to Guadagnino that seduces the spectator thanks to a curvy and elegant direction, and a photograph of inestimable beauty, which makes 2018’s “Suspiria” an exemplary remake.

 

22. mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

Extremely controversial since its debut at 2017 Venice Film Festival, Darren Aronofsky’s latest movie is and metaphorical and hallucinating hell of a ride into the life of a writer (Javier Bardem) and his wife (Jennifer Lawrence). The movie can be interpreted as a biblical allegory and a description of a creative crisis at the same time.

“mother!” is a great test of direction of Aronofsky that, helped by an impeccable editing, puts the protagonist at the center of the action – and the framing itself – reducing the distance between viewer and character: the two overlap and are thrown furiously in an absurd and intentionally exaggerated hell.

Moral parable and important ecological work – criticized for wrong reasons – “mother!” is an overwhelming film; difficult, deep, fascinating and unique.

 

21. Roma (Alfonso Cuaron, 2018)

Winner of the prestigious Golden Lion at 75th Venice Film Festival, “Roma” is the most personal and intimate work of Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron. The Author stages a semi-autobiographical tale set in early 1970s Mexico, showing a family and their housekeeper during an important and turbulent period.

An enveloping and magnificent black and white photography takes us to live the streets and places that formed Cuaron itself, and that in the film are the scene of emotional events that have as protagonist Cleo, the sensitive housekeeper played by the excellent Yalitza Aparicio.

“Roma” is a movie about the memoir, the growth, the independence, the pain and a glorious and refined praise of femininity. It’s the most human, personal and intimate film a director can make; it’s Cuaron giving a piece of his heart to the public.

 

20. El Club (Pablo Larraìn, 2015)

El Club

Winner of the Jury Grand prix at 2015 Berlinale, “El Club” is the darkest and bleakest movie realized by Chilean director Pablo Larraìn. Telling the story of four retired Catholic priests, Larraìn explores important themes such as sin and fault with the help of a masterful direction and splendid photography.

“El Club” is a furious and desperate cry against injustice, all contained by a staging of enormous finesse and elegance. A film of burning actuality that poses many important questions, and shows a part of our world that little is shown.

Larraìn confirms itself as one of the most interesting voices on the contemporary world scene: a courageous Cinema that must be considered because it enriches and educates.

 

19. 3 Faces (Jafar Panahi, 2018)

The latest movie by Iranian author Jafar Panahi is a brilliant mixture of fiction and reality at its best. Panahi is able to shoot an involving and compelling history, but also a documentary of contemporary Iran at the same time.

An almost miraculous balance of drama and sharp irony, fiction and truth, “3 Faces” is aggressive and revolutionary in its touching delicacy. The film shows Panahi with a precise vision of what he wants to tell, and “3 Faces” is the highest expression of his Cinema: free, poetic, honest.

 

18. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)

The Lobster

The English-language debut of acclaimed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is everything you expect from the key Author of the Greek Weird Wave.

“The Lobster” is set in a dystopian future where everybody must have a partner and nobody can be single. Lanthimos’ brilliant and ferocious satire is a bizarre and though-provoking report of today’s world, of a society where there is strict control and lack of freedom, of people who are afraid of loneliness but quietly love violence and power.

Ingeniously written, well directed and gorgeously photographed, “The Lobster” is disturbing and ironic at the same time, intelligent in the way it deals with humanity and society, and perfectly coherent with Lanthimos’s poetic and vision.

Every A24 Movie From 2019 Ranked From Worst To Best

From its funding in 2012, A24 has helped revive the American independent cinema and has been the distributor and producer of many of this decade’s most acclaimed films.

From Academy Award favorites (“Moonlight”, “Lady Bird”) to staples of modern horror cinema (“The Witch”, “Hereditary”) and career redefining movies for actors such as Robert Pattinson (“Good Time”) or Adam Sandler (“Uncut Gems”), A24 has become equivalent with high-quality cinema and this year they continued to give us some great films.

On this list, we ranked all the 20 movies produced by A24 in 2019 from worst to best. And as a testament of A24’s high standards, while there are a couple of duds, more than half of the films on this list are great ones. Let us know in the comments which A24 movies you’ve seen this year and how would you rank them.

 

20. Outlaws

“Outlaws” (also known as “1%”) was directed by Stephen McCallum and follows an Australian motorcycle gang leader who, after getting released from prison, comes into conflict with the gang’s temporary president who wants to make a risky alliance with a rival gang.

Despite some good performances and a promising start, “Outlaws” is ultimately a clichéd and pretty much forgettable film. If you want a better biker gang drama, you’d better go watch “Sons of Anarchy”.

 

19. Native Son

Based on the 1940 novel of the same name by Richard Wright, “Native Son” follows Bigger “Big” Thomas (Ashton Sanders), a young African American man from a poor neighborhood who accepts a job for a wealthy businessman named Henry Dalton (Bill Camp). Bigger starts working as a chauffeur for Mary (Margaret Qualley), Dalton’s spoiled young daughter which he is reluctant to befriend. Unfortunately, after an unexpected accident, things go horribly wrong for him.

While Ashton Sanders gives a strong lead performance and the film is very well-shot, “Native Son” is ultimately a messy film. Despite its promising start, the movie suffers from a problematic third act, mostly because of an out-of-nowhere tonal shift that nearly ruins the whole buildup.

 

18. The Hole In The Ground

After leaving her husband, a mother moves to an isolated near-the-woods house in the Irish countryside and tries to start a new life along with her young son. One night, her son disappears into the forest, and when he returns he starts acting increasingly stranger. Soon, his mother links his unusual behavior with a mysterious sinkhole in the forest.

This horror film has its share of creepy moments, some beautiful cinematography, a great soundtrack and pretty solid performances from its cast. However, its pacing problems and undeveloped story turn it into a middling experience. Still, this is better than the average horror movie and you should check it out if you’re a fan of the genre.

 

17. Low Tide

This straight-to-the-point, simple coming-of-age thriller follows a group of teenage boys who break into vacation homes and steal valuables in order to fund their lunches at the burger stand and their evening boardwalk parties. When they decide to break into an isolated log whose wealthy owner recently passed away, the discovery of a buried treasure escalates tension between the four boys and puts their friendship to the test.

Entertaining, but far from ground-breaking, “Low Tide” suffers from lack of character development and a too predictable plot. However, the atmospheric story, surprisingly good cinematography and fine performances from its cast make it a decent effort, even more considering this is director Kevin McMullin’s debut film.

 

16. The Kill Team

Based on real events, “The Kill Team” follows a young soldier who faces a moral dilemma after he witnesses his teammates killing innocent civilians in another country under the commands of the ruthless Sergeant. At the risk of his own life, he wants to take action and report what he saw to higher authorities.

While it benefits of great performances from Skarsgård and Wolff, an interesting story and a powerful message, in the end, “The Kill Team” is pretty formulaic and overall inferior to the 2013 documentary of the same name, yet still a decent enough war film to be worth checking out.

 

15. Skin

Based on the 2018 Oscar-winning short film of the same name, “Skin” stars Jamie Bell as Bryon Widner, a young white supremacist who turns his back to hatred and violence, undergoes treatment to remove the racist tattoos that cover his body and face and, with the help of his girlfriend and a black activist, tries to change his life.

While it has its moments, “Skin” is nowhere as good as “American History X”. However, fans of the aforementioned film will most likely enjoy this, especially Jamie Bell’s awards-worthy performance which made us put this movie so much higher on this list than it would have been otherwise.

 

14. Share

“Share” was directed by Pippa Bianco and stars Rhianne Barreto as Mandy, a 16-year-old girl who, after discovering a disturbing viral video of her being taken advantage of by boys from her high school on a night she does not remember, has to find out what happened and how to deal with the consequences.

In terms of filmmaking, this is not a groundbreaking movie, but we were really impressed with its strong message about a highly topical subject and the great performances, especially Rhianne Barreto’s, who managed to make her character feel very real.

 

13. The Death Of Dick Long

Imperfect, yet funny and filled with quirky characters and situations reminiscent of a Coen Brothers comedy-thriller, Daniel Scheinert’s film follows a group of friends who, after a night of partying, loud rock music and lighting fireworks, get into deep trouble. Without showing the audience what exactly happened, the movie throws us in the middle of an emergency: one of the three friends, Dick Long, is heavily wounded and ends up in the small town’s hospital, where he eventually dies. For the rest of the film, the remaining two friends try to keep a low profile as the police discover more and more evidence that can link them to Dick Long’s death.

It sounds like a thriller, but “The Death of Dick Long” is much funnier than its premise suggests. The characters in this movie are not very smart and, as a result, they get themselves in all kinds of laughable situations. This is a very entertaining film which, if it were to be a little more polished, would have unquestionably been one of the best black comedies in recent memory. Unfortunately, a questionable reveal and a pretty lackluster ending make it fall short of greatness, but you will still get enough enjoyment out of this to make it worth watching.

 

12. In Fabric

Directed by Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”, “The Duke Of Burgundy”) is a Giallo-inspired horror-comedy about a cursed dress and the devastating consequences it has on two of its unlucky owners.

The reason why this isn’t higher up on this list is the film’s second part that felt like a repetition of the much more compelling first act and thus a little anticlimactic. While the first hour of “In Fabric” is very captivating and builds up a couple of interesting characters, Strickland chooses to split the narrative into two nearly separate stories and most of the characters from the film’s first half become nearly nonexistent in its second one.

Nevertheless, aside from its somewhat disjointed narrative, this is another highly stylized, surrealistic and very original entry in Strickland’s catalogue and, while it certainly isn’t a film for everyone, if you are into Giallo or you’ve enjoyed the director’s previous work, you will surely find many things to like about “In Fabric”.

 

11. High Life

Claire Denis’ ambitious science-fiction film features Robert Pattinson as Monte, a troubled man who has been sentenced with a death trip to space.

When he was young, Pattinson’s character was sentenced to prison after killing one of his friends over a dog. In the present day, along with a bunch of other prisoners, he is part of a deadly space mission whose purpose is to find a black hole and extract an alternate form of energy from it.

On the ship with them there is also Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche), an older woman who we later find out is guilty of some very nasty deeds and who has another mission of her own: she is obsessed with artificial insemination experiments and demands the males on-board to donate their semen.

The ship is also equipped with an unusual room called “The Fuckbox” where crew members go to masturbate and which is the setting of a very erotic scene featuring Binoche. As you might have already noticed, Claire Denis has merged together some oddly interesting ideas for this film. Surprisingly, they work together very well and the result is a dreamlike movie that differentiates itself from every other sci-fi we’ve seen in recent years.

“High Life” is a strange movie and its non-linear, somewhat confusing narrative and slow-burn atmosphere might not appeal to everyone. However, Pattinson’s magnificent performance as the complex protagonist proves him to be one of the best actors of his generation and makes Denis’ film a must-watch.

The 10 Most Overrated Movies of The 2010s

Subjectivity constrains and widens the lens through which we view and experience life, and our own taste of culture and art is widely determined by it. It is infinitely difficult to trace how subjectivity births in us – it can very well be the result of our hierarchical social standing or the cultural influence and upbringing in our youth. Since, even after using these sociological terms, subjectivity maintains an air of mystery, we can generally attribute it to the random play of our DNA.

This article is not about the philosophical argument concerning subjectivity, but its influence on cinema. Why a film hailed by some as a masterpiece of the medium is thrashed by another, or the frequent distinction in the critical evaluations of a film by the masses and scholars – the answer is still awaiting. Cinema is also a product of time, a worthy friend of life. So, it is not so surprising that the success and acclaim of a film would depend upon a particular time, and the political and social tension and standpoint of that era.

Viewers and critics would always have some bias in their evolution; after all, they are very much human. So, sometimes the technical and cinematic mastery of a worthier contender is overlooked, and a more sentimental but uninspiring film will take all the accolades. It has happened over and over and this is the subject of the list. The films listed in this article are unfairly presented with unprecedented love and acclaim from the masses, while the latter-day critical evaluation says the opposite or the opposite is expected to come soon. Without further ado, here are the 10 most overrated films of the 2010s.

 

10. Les Miserables

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Musicals always strike a chord with Hollywood viewers; it is a sure crowd-pleasing genre, but the great critical appraisal of “Les Miserables” was still hugely unexpected. “Les Miserables,” the film adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, is soothing to the ears, pleasing to the eyes, but the appeal doesn’t extend to the intelligence. The camera is seldom static, in order to give a sense of extra dimension, but this constant frantic movement doesn’t give a scope to invest in the great emotional story or simply obstructs it.

There is a great deal of close-up and fish-eye lensing that doesn’t add anything to the story apart from a stylistic decision, and as the performers are never comfortable in their singing capability, this revelation weakens the impact of the melodramatic flow. Classic film fans will love the film, but it’s not a great film for all-encompassing appraise.

 

9. Wonder Woman

“Wonder Woman” was a breath of oxygen to the DC franchise who was falling behind its competitor Marvel films. The film is surely one of the good ones from the superhero franchise films of DC comics, but it is not one of the better films of the decade. Gal Gadot is amazing as the titular character, the script supplies a much-needed feminist storyline in it and the action set pieces shot by “Monster” director Patty Jenkins. But other than that there is nothing in the film to take home to think about or gladly remember about.

“Wonder Woman” has its fair share of cringe-worthy dialogues, stupid building of political tension when the story comes into a contemporary setting, and the usual bad CGI that attracts bad attention. “Wonder Woman” is a charming film for a while, but the charm soon looses out in favour of a lacklustre pace. Here, Jenkins has shown that she can direct action scenes pretty well, but the human emotions are not compelling to hold to. Perhaps, the familiar studio meddling story has something to do with it.

 

8. Spectre

Spectre

The opening scene of “Spectre” is spectacular with a long chase scene amidst the Day of the Dead festival. Taking over from Roger Deakins, Hoyte Van Hoytema creates a remarkable action sequence in the festival with Bond frequently missing his target in the crowd; but as the film progresses, the uninspired writing becomes prominent and the fantastic visuals can’t help the film to maintain its quality.

“Spectre” was concerned to maintain the blockbuster quality of the recent mainstream offerings and tried to maintain the serialized storytelling from “Skyfall”; as a result, the film suffers and can’t stand on its own. Daniel Craig later declared that he is tired of the role of James Bond and this boredom is evident in his performance in the film. The urgency is missing in “Spectre,” which is a distinctive quality of the Bond franchise films. “Spectre” only gets its praise for the visuals and for Craig, and to a lesser extent, because it is a James Bond film. Its overpraise is an indication of today’s mediocre sensibility.

 

7. The Square

The Square

In the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, “The Square” surprisingly won the trophy of Palme d’Or, the top prize of the festival. The response of the film was good throughout the festival, but not even the biggest romantics hoped for “The Square” to win the biggest one. Since then, the film has been overtly accoladed, which sometimes questions the film’s true merit. The best cinematic device to expose uncomfortable truths – using sharp satire filmmaker Ruben Östlund – deconstructs the art world and its laughable under-the-cover histrionics.

“The Square” is episodic by nature and truly, some parts of the film are extremely laudable, but the quality is varied in the segments. Thus comes another weak point of the film – the narrative structure is loose and borderline incomprehensible for the general audience. Because of the cluelessness of the narrative, the film sometimes becomes a burden to watch. It may have made a great short film, but for a fictional film, “The Square” is certainly over-appreciated to a great extent.

 

6. American Hustle

american hustle renner and bale

“American Hustle” loosely bases itself upon the infamous Abscam case, a curious and complicated political scandal in the history of the United States. Just like the case itself, the film is also a complicated and bloated mess, only balanced by the superior performances from the lead cast. But the incoherent plot always distracts the viewer to enjoy the performances from the lead cast, and the bad visuals don’t work either.

The art direction is overwhelming to create an exuberant period setting, but the composition is flat. “American Hustle” works for some and fails for the rest for a singular reason – the theme of the shattered American Dream. This is no Scorsese film, only a rework of various masterpiece genre pictures.

The 10 Most Bizarre Movies of 2019

Joker, Jojo Rabbit, Us…these are just some of the films that weren’t weird enough to make it onto our list of the most bizarre films of the year. In a time when CGI and niche platforms allow genres to plumb the depths of fantasy, futurism, and depravity, what does it mean to be bizarre?

Yet 2019 was filled with such bizarre delights that even listing the most mainstream ones came out at well over ten. A few caveats to this list. It is very Western-oriented. Unfortunately, many of the jewels of the African and Asian continents didn’t make it to this viewer in time. A more accurate title of this list would be 11 of the Best Bizarre Films of 2019 from the Western World.

If any more proof was needed, writing last year’s incarnation of this list, I missed two of that year’s strangest efforts: animated offerings House of the Wolf and Lajka.

This list is also quite mainstream, and there were numerous runners-up. Documentaries offered truly bizarre helpings, including Los Reyes, The Raft, and Cold Case Hammarskjold. Were this list less about quality, then truly bizarre films like The Perfection, Serenity, and Mister America would be here.

I simply could not find copies of The Wandering Soap Opera, Koko-di Koko-da or The Long Walk in time for this list. And while they seemed plenty bizarre, two entries about seemingly homicidal males, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, didn’t quite cut it. Just missing the list were also Relaxer, Atlantics, Wounds, and The Mountain.

 

10. The Day Shall Come

Chris Morris’ sophomore feature was unceremoniously dumped in theaters with little publicity and less attention. While it is one of the more down-to-earth entries on this list, it has a bizarre sensibility all its own. Essentially about how post-9/11 security policy preys on the mentally ill to rack up terrorism charges, The Day Shall Come approaches the rampant, real-life injustice with a madness that is fitting.

The film focuses on Moses, a family man who talks to animals and leads his small congregation in duck walking and marches around his Florida neighborhood preaching about the downfall of the accidental dominance of the European race. His desperation to keep his “farm” puts him on a collision course with various US security agencies that are happy to frame him as a serious terrorist. Morris’ film was called, among other things, “overcooked”, which is not inaccurate, but it also speaks with a zany restraint that is more interesting and devastating than the heavy-handed polemics Hollywood tossed out this year.

 

9. I Lost My Body

I Lost My Body is a neat little puzzle of a movie, a melancholy exploration of how one’s sense of self can be challenged, projected, severed, and redeemed. And it’s done with a sense of magical realism that Disney couldn’t touch. I Lost My Body is the only animated film on this list, largely because some genres seem less bizarre simply by being part of a genre where the bizarre is expected (case in point, Promare).

I Lost My Body tells two parallel stories. In one, Naoufel is a young adult who was orphaned as a child and seeks out a place in the world while in severe need of guidance. In the other, a severed hand transverses an unromanticized Paris, complete with rats and rudeness, in search of its owner. It’s the hand that literally runs away with the film, conveying all the emotions the fully formed humans seem incapable of articulating. It’s a whimsical but grisly adventure, and while its bizarre nature is largely confined to its premise, when it’s willing to get weird, it doesn’t hesitate.

 

8. The Lighthouse

Robert Eggers’ follow-up to The Witch kept its predecessor’s dedication to historically accurate production design and diction, and this barely scratches the surface of the weirdness that is The Lighthouse. There are hints of inter-species sex, menacing seagulls, and enough drunkenness to give the proceedings the heavy feel of a hangover worsened by the clanging of a strong stormy wind.

Robert Pattinson continues to rack up experiences with the most exciting directors of his time, delivering another weird performance to add to his collection. Not to detract from his strong work, but The Lighthouse seems too weird even for him. Willem Dafoe runs away with the film, and even he has to work for it against a one-eyed seagull and a mermaid figurine that both command the screen. It’s a testament to The Lighthouse’s bizarre nature that every object drips with character and the fury of a raging nor’easter.

 

7. Parasite

Is there anything left to say about Parasite, with its Palme d’Or, adoration by film critics, and numerous award nominations? For all its social commentary, there is something bizarre at the root of Parasite. Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho immediately puts the audience on his wavelength, such that everything that comes next ambles into place with a madness that somehow feels entirely natural.

But Parasite is bizarre, largely because its premise unfolds with this assuredness, and more so because each ridiculous development is made possible by the obliviousness of the rich. Doppelgangers and infiltrators populated late-2010s cinema, and Parasite is arguable the strongest entry because it turns these anxieties into farce and in the process shows how valid and troubling they really are.

 

6. Little Joe

In a way, this slot should be shared with the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems, another film that tells a conventional-enough story through an unorthodox use of sound. While Uncut Gems gets a tip of the hat, here is the place to honor the rather coldly received Little Joe, which despite winning best actress at Cannes, still inspired an odd indifference among critics.

A lazy description of this film would be Little Shop of Horrors meets Kabuki theater, but Jessica Hausner’s film, is not content to be that staid or straightforward. The film maintains an ethereal sensibility, lingering its bizarre stare on everything that comes before the camera, from the ant farm at the beginning to the effervescent pollen we see throughout. Each cast member does double duty, as well, each in their own way playing variations on themselves until we are a part of the world that it depicts.

The 10 Most Underrated Movie Sequels of The 2010s

This decade has been filled with sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots of sorts, and many have complained that Hollywood has lost its originality and is forever dependent on previously existing material. While it is true that there have been many unnecessary sequels made in the last ten years, it’s also true that revisiting the same material can sometimes be rewarding, and that sometimes the right filmmaker can use a sequel to delve deeper into the material.

Due to their frequency, sequels nowadays aren’t quite events anymore, and due to the sheer quantity of sequels released, many have become forgotten or received critical disdain. Yes, many deserve that status, but some are better than their reputations suggest and deserve a critical reevaluation. Here are the top ten most underrated sequels of the 2010s.

 

10. Men in Black 3

While 1997’s Men in Black was one of the most popular science fiction comedies of the 1990s, the 2002 follow up Men in Black II was a critical dud that soiled the franchise to the point that it took ten years for a third film to materialize. Men in Black 3 took a different spin on the relationship between K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith), as the time travel related plot sent J back to the 1960s to interact with a younger version of K, played by Josh Brolin. Brolin’s charming impersonation of a young Tommy Lee Jones ended up bringing a new life to the series that was reminiscent of the first film’s iconic status.

The 1969 setting allowed for the filmmakers to incorporate 60s culture within the world of hidden extraterrestrials, with clever references to everything from Andy Warhol to the Apollo 11 mission. Brolin is genuinely great, and seeing a less grizzled and more optimistic version of the K character ended up making the buddy cop adventure more interesting. What really sets the film apart from its predecessors was its surprisingly heartfelt use of time travel to tell the origin story of J’s character; by showing how the character came to be, Men in Black 3 added a new depth to the series.

 

9. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

The Jack Ryan series has been one of the most untraditional film sagas of all-time; after Alec Baldwin played the titular character in the classic The Hunt For Red October, Harrison Ford took over the role in the sequels Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, with Ben Affleck rebooting the series with the 2002 prequel The Sum of All Fears. However, the most forgotten film in the series has been 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, an origin story that shows how a young Ryan, played by Chris Pine, came to become a spy and investigated the Russian businessman Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh).

Branagh directs the film with agility, combining a nuanced dissection of the current financial market with breathless action that reflects the everyman quality of Ryan. While he is trained to handle dangerous situations, Ryan also feels like an everyman caught in over his head, and Pine brings the inherent likeability needed for the character. Branagh himself is also strong, and brings surprising layers to a character that is more than a stereotypical Russian villain. It’s a shame Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit failed to make waves, as it would’ve been interesting to see where Branagh and Pine could’ve taken the character in the future.

 

8. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Before venturing into more serious territory with The Big Short and Vice, Adam McKay returned to the world of his beloved comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy with the thoroughly underrated sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which finds Ron (Will Ferrell), Brian (Paul Rudd), Champ (David Koechner), and Brick (Steve Carrell) straight in the middle of the 1980s 24 hour news cycle. If the first film satirized gender roles and misogyny in the news industry, the sequel satirizes consumers’ constant gravitation towards sensationalism, and also managed to poke fun at the impact of corporate sponsorship within journalism.

The satire is razor sharp, but McKay’s film is also just as insane as its predecessor, with an ending news battle filled with surprising cameos and fourth wall breaks. Ferrell retains his endearing charm, and even when the film allows Ron to grow as a character, it never prevents the audience from laughing at his strange antics and indulgent nature. Comedy sequels rarely succeed because they are too reliant on repeating the same jokes and story arcs, but Anchorman 2 is the rare sequel that is able to reinvent past jokes in a new way as well as take the story in new and exciting directions.

 

7. Doctor Sleep

A sequel to The Shining was always going to be a challenge, as it had to please both fans of the novel and of the 1980 Stanley Kubrick classic. Mike Flanagan’s film is respectful to both King and Kubrick, and peels back the layers behind the Overlook Hotel by focusing on the internal struggle of a grown up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), who is now suffering from alcoholism as he struggles to come to grips with his father’s legacy and consider the larger world of magic users that exist. Danny’s journey into the mystical continues as he encounters Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), another child whose life has been uprooted by magic.

It’s a film that considers how surreal and scary events affect someone’s psyche, and McGregor gives an incredibly restrained and powerful performance as a man wrestling with childhood trauma. The richness of King’s world comes to life with the depiction of the True Knot, a group of sorcerers that steals the life force away from living beings, and Rebecca Ferguson delivers a bizarre and sinister performance as Rose the Hat, the group’s enigmatic leader. While it will always be debated whether King or Kubrick had the better adaptation, Doctor Sleep is a showcase for Mike Flanagan’s ability to craft slow burn tension and gripping human drama, and should be commended for its unique approach.

 

6. Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Sicario Day of the Soldado

After Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 film Sicario became a surprise hit, screenwriter Taylor Sheridan once again penned the sequel Sicario: Day of the Soldado, which gained director Stefano Sollima. While the film saw the return of Benicio del Toro as the ruthless hitman Alejandro and Josh Brolin as CIA Agent Matt Graver, it noticeably saw the absence of Emily Blunt’s character Kate Macer. However, Blunt’s absence was integral to this film’s story; the first film followed Kate, an innocent character, as she ventured into a world of corruption and crime, and the sequel offered an even bleaker world with no clear cut heroes.

By making Alejandro the protagonist, Day of the Soldado chooses to tackle the moral issues of the border war head on, and del Toro is absolutely captivating as the notorious warrior, and gets the chance to explore more of the character’s backstory. Once again, the film’s action sequences are realistic and brutal, and Alejandro’s final escape after a near fatal attack near the film’s conclusion makes for a shocking sequence that is impossible to look away from. Like the first film, Day of the Soldado is a cautionary tale about the cycle of violence that has emerged on the border, and it’s riveting ending shows how people like Alejandro are formed, and how a new generation will take their place.

The 10 Most Thought-Provoking Sci-fi Movies of The 21st Century

The 21st century has brought us some of the poignant and riveting science-fiction films ever constructed, some being original creations and others having been adapted from spellbinding novels and novellas.

With the rapid rise of CGI, as well as independent entertainment companies such as A24 giving more freedom and money to filmmakers, the past 20 years has given us an overwhelming abundance of excellent science-fiction pictures, with the genre being more successful and main-stream then ever before. With that in mind, here is ten of the most thought-provoking science-fiction movies of the 21st century.

 

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (United States, Michel Gondry, 2004)

Directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has hit a seemingly legendary status by fans of indie-cinema. Told in a jumbled, non-linear narrative, the film explores the human psyche and its relation to time and love, driven by excellent performances from Jim Carey and Kate Winslet.

Winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the film has developed a cult following and is now regarded as one of the best films of the 21st century. Its thought-provoking nature derives from the unconventional plot and story-telling devices, about an estranged couple who erase each other from their memories, only to discover each other again. Poignant and beautiful.

 

9. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (United States, Steven Spielburg, 2001)

artificial intelligence movie

Originally a Stanley Kubrick film, director Steven Spielburg picked A.I. Artificial Intelligence up after the legendary director’s unfortunate and untimely demise. Still splitting audiences 18 years after its initial release, A.I.’s irregularity and eccentricity is behind lots of its consistent establishment within film discourse, especially when discussing science-fiction.

With a haunting central performance from Hayley Joel Osment, A.I. tells the story of David, a robotic boy who is adopted by a couple for an experiment. While the theme of artificial intelligence is present in many science fiction stories, what makes A.I. different is its more heartfelt and sensitive take on the subject, offering an unforgettable story which asks the audience what is means to be human.

 

8. Upstream Color (United Kingdom, Shane Carruth, 2013)

Upstream-Color-628x348-628x348

Having flown under many critics’ radars back in 2013 (mainly due to the plethora of many amazing films that year), Upstream Color is an unconventional romance about two people whose lives are hugely affected by a complicated parasite. It’s strange and touching and has to be seen to be believed.

 

7. Under the Skin (United Kingdom, Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

An inconspicuous van stalks the worn-out roads of Scotland, luring men into a black abyss where the laws of physics are a fantasy. At the helm of this seemingly innocent machine is the seductive alien known as Scarlett Johansson, who’s sensual but predative aura along with her growing empathy are the heart of Under the Skin. One of the most memorable and idiosyncratic films of the last decade, Jonathan Glazer’s controversial third feature film, and his first in nine years, is an unforgettable, uncomfortable and wholly unconventional effort, with a haunting score and perfect main performance.

 

6. Hard to Be a God (Russia, Aleksey German, 2013)

Hard to Be A God

A film this grimy, polluted, and filthy should be quarantined indefinitely. Being sporadically filmed over a 6-year period, followed by extensive post-production and eventually premiering at the 2013 Rome Film Festival, Aleksey German’s Hard to Be a God is a 177-minute science-fiction epic detailing the story of 30 scientists who travel from Earth to an identical alien planet, 800 years behind, culturally and technologically.

Based on the novel of the same name by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (the same minds behind Tarkovsky’s Stalker) Hard to Be a God received universal acclaim from English-language and non-Russian-language critics alike and has remained a staple in thought-provoking 21st century science-fiction since its release.