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The 10 Most Overrated Movies of 2019 (So Far)

Summer movie season has kicked off and it has not started off hot. Each week brings another blockbuster blunder after another. From the horrendous Hell Boy released in April to the critically and financially disappointing Men in Black: International released just last week, audiences are already questioning if 2019 is going to a film year that lives in infamy.

Though it has its share of films that have come up short, 2019 has still produced some diamonds in the rough. Jordan Peele’s Us is destined to hit the horror hall of fame and Booksmart impresses everyone who has the privilege to watch. There’s also been Robert Pattinson’s outstanding performance in Claire Denis’ psycho-sexual space study High Life.

Then there are the films that are masquerading around as this year’s best when they’re actually missing that special something to deserve it. Whether it be passionate fan bases or comparison to the radically worse this year offers, there are films in 2019 that disguise themselves of being far better than they actually are. Being overrated doesn’t mean all these films are bad, however, their reputation doesn’t match their overall quality.


10. Detective Pikachu

Though pleasing to one’s nostalgia, the apparent faults of Detective Pikachu outweigh any of its positives. The script is the biggest culprit as it never seems to figure out how to properly play to its audience. There an imbalance between the mature themes of loss mixed with the overly childish antics and punchlines. The not so subtle adult humor also fell felt as there was never any build.

Too often it felt like a Pikachu was telling a dirty joke just because they thought it would be ludicrous for a Pikachu to tell a dirty joke. As the film progressed the storytelling became far too familiar with the generic and left no room for unpredictability. The conflict of the film was also shockingly similar to the much more deservedly acclaimed Zootopia which only came out three years prior.

It’s easy to understand why something so deeply mounted in feelings of childhood garners the admiration that it did. Looking out of the nostalgia lens though there isn’t much that Detective Pikachu delivers.


9. Penguins

Disney Nature has produced a slew of feel-good hits based all over the animal world(Bears being its best), so it was disappointing when Penguins hatched this Earth Day. Critics responded fondly to Penguins.

Admittingly it is entertaining to follow a year in the life of a clumsy penguin trying to be the best dad he could be, however, the film lacks the imagination and earned emotional investment of its predecessors. This is mainly due to the fact that one of the most iconic documentaries of the 21st century is also about the migration of penguins.

Disney’s choice to feature an entire documentary based around penguins when March of The Penguins is still relevant and referenced in today’s pop culture is baffling. Though the subjects are a different breed of bird the story and location are almost one in the same.

Ed Helms voice, however, is not Morgan Freeman’s thus the film feels more like a knock-off opposed to what one comes to expect with the creativity associated with Disney.


8. Brightburn

Presenting the hypothetical “What if Superman became a monster, not a hero?” Brightburn had a fascinating premise to hook audiences. The overall product though was remarkably poor. What was intended to be the birth of the superhero horror genre instead burned upon impact.

There are fans though that still cherish and praise the attempt by director David Yarovesky and the writing and production team of the Gunn family. This alternative to the abundance of mainstream superhero movies has made its way into fans hearts as a symbol of something different. Though strides like this are much needed for Hollywood’s current franchise landscape, Brightburn is not a worthy leader in this counter charge.

There are moments in Brightburn that are laughably bad. Not that the whole film is a painful experience to sit through, the absurd and maybe even parody just play as sloppy filmmaking.

Elizabeth Banks could be considered for a Razzie with her performance but it isn’t like the rest of the cast is much better. Brightburn isn’t effective at portraying what the filmmakers intended it to be. The horror relies too heavily on forced jump scares and disturbing graphics opposed to real frights.


7. Gloria Bell

When Gloria Bell first premiered, the narrative for Julianne Moore’s guaranteed best actress nomination began to sprout. Since then it has almost come to a complete halt along with all other enthusiasm for the film. Initially, Gloria Bell was praised by critics and fans as an amusing tale of a divorcee discovering her newfound identity in the forms of clubs and a fresh love interest.

The performances in the film are sensational. Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, and Brad Garret capture their characters awkward yet alluring essence perfectly, making their anxiety driven encounters with each other feel like a car wreck you can’t look away from. This is very apparent in Moore and Turturro’s problematic relationship with one and another.

Gloria Bell is a good film but not a great film like it is commonly deemed. Though good, the film lacks enough qualities of excellence to keep it’s longevity as one of the best of the year.


6. Pet Sematary

The comment “Sometimes dead is better” can be applied to the remake of Pet Sematary. Not that the original was a sacred artifact that dare not be replicated, but in the sense that Paramount, like other studios, have done before, capitalized on the name Stephen King and story that was already widely known through parodies.

Coming out of SXSW Pet Sematary captured positive reactions that might have been more related to big festival vibe rather than the virtue of the film itself. Like most remakes, the biggest issue is that Pet Sematary didn’t bring many new ideas to the table. The performances and look of the film are better than the original but the content is a more by the book retelling.

The horror never hits its mark in a way to truly scare audiences. Directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer are successful in capturing the creepy tone of the film, but that can only go so far when there isn’t anything exciting and new for audiences to engage with.

10 Great Sci-fi Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

The sci-fi genre has gained a huge fan base through blockbuster movie series such as the “Star Wars” and critically acclaimed movies from legendary directors like Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” or Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. Here is a list of some criminally underrated gems of the sci-fi genre you have probably never seen.


10. Brainstorm (1983)

Directed by Douglas Trumbull, “Brainstorm” is a thought provoking sci-fi drama that explores the complex theme of thought sharing. It is not only one of the most underrated sci-fi films of the 1980s, but also Natalie Wood’s last film.

To be more specific the film follows the unsettling story of some scientists as they develop a virtual reality device that records human thoughts and feelings. When the two lead researchers of this project, Michael Brace (Christopher Walken) and Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher) perfect this unique device, the government becomes interested in their work.

Michael has to deal with not only the government who wants to use the device for a different purpose, but also the tragic death of his co-worker Lillian. In addition, Michael tries to fix his broken marriage with Karen (Natalie Wood) as well as to sabotage the government’s unethical project.

It goes without saying that Douglas Trumbull manages to create an underrated hidden gem of the sci-fi genre. Despite the fact that it is a slow paced drama, the powerful performances and the experimental direction create a tense atmosphere.

Christopher Walken delivers a sensational performance as a scientist struggling to save the world as well as his broken marriage. Additionally, Louise Fletcher’s performance is breathtaking, whereas Natalie Wood is also great in the last role of her career (she died during the shooting of the film).

Moreover Douglas Trumbull, a visual effects pioneer (“Blade Runner”, “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”) enhance this weird sci-fi journey with astonishing visual effects.

Overall, “Brainstorm” isn’t just one of the most underappreciated sci-fi films of all time, but also a jewel of cult cinema.


9. Kafka (1991)

Inspired by Franz Kafka’s real life and great works such as “The Castle” and “The Trial”, Steven Soderbergh creates a unique blend of reality and fiction. Although the main character is named after the legendary writer, the film is an amalgam of Kafka’s vision and Soderbergh’s interpretation of a kafkaesque world. The film was written by the prolific sciptwriter Lem Dobbs.

Jeremy Irons stars Kafka, a shy clerk working for an insurance company who writes weird stories in his free time. When Edward (Kafka’s coworker) is murdered, Kafka discovers a mysterious underground group trying to expose a secret society that controls the world.

Thus, Kafka embarks on a bizarre journey to reach the castle in order to stop this secret organization. He has to deal with not only some mad scientists and their experiments, but also Edward’s lover Gabriella (Theresa Russell).

Although the film begins as a classic film noir with witty dialogues, it soon becomes a suspenseful sci-fi thriller with gorgeous black and white cinematography. It is quite obvious that Steven Soderbergh manages to capture the essence of a kafkaesque world.

The conspiracy theory, the depiction of a bureaucratic system and the magnificent performance by Jeremy Irons enhance this claustrophobic tale of madness. It is not only a stylish drama with visually stunning photography, but also a philosophical study of existential anxiety and absurdism.

All in all, “Kafka” is a great effort to reimagine Kafka’s vision of a terrifying world. A great lo-fi sci-fi film for those who enjoy Kafka’s work.


8. Liquid Sky (1982)

Liquid Sky

“Liquid Sky” is undoubtedly one of the weirdest sci-fi movies of all time. This low-budget gem of cult cinema is also an important movie of the post-punk and new wave movement of that era.

This bizarre tale follows the story of Margaret, a drug addict fashion model who lives in a small apartment with her lover Adrian. Margaret is a bisexual model who has to deal with the people of the fashion industry as well as Jimmy, another androgynous model.

When a small flying UFO land at the top of Margaret’s apartment, everything goes out of hand. These aliens, who came to Earth to look for some heroin, are now interest in Margaret’s sex life. What follows is a series of psychedelic scenes involving murders, aliens and drugs.

Directed by Slava Tsukerman, “Liquid Sky” is genuinely unique film that captures excellently the underground scene of New York of the 1980s. The experimental direction, the great selection of songs and the psychedelic animation create a marvellous presentation of the post-punk subculture.

On the other hand, the catatonic characters of Margaret and Jimmy are both portrayed excellently by the sensational Anna Carlisle.

In addition, Paula E. Sheppard is also great as a weird musician with a quirky personality.

Taking everything into account, “Liquid Sky” it remains one of the most underrated movies of all time. It is not only a great experimental sci-fi film, but also a hidden gem of the cult cinema that deserves more attention.


7. The Endless (2017)

“The Endless” is a bizarre sci-fi movie created by the talented directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The two visionary directors have managed to create one of the most original sci-fi movies of the 21st century. They have not only directed, written and produced this low-budget gem, but also played the roles of two main characters.

The film tells the story of two brothers, Aaron and Justin, who have left a mysterious cult a long time ago. When they receive a videotape with footage from the cult, they decide to visit for one last time the cult’s campsite. The cult is set in a secluded camp in the countryside, where everyone seems to be very happy.

Everything looks perfect until the two brothers discover some weird Polaroid photos and cassette tapes. Then everything gets out of control, as the two characters are trapped in this sacred place where even time is distorted. They have to not only find a way to escape, but also fight a battle against an unforeseen divine threat.

Despite the fact this is an underrated low-budget film, it is a great effort to create a magic universe of endless possibilities. It is not only a marvellous study of mysticism, but also an essay about faith and religion. Additionally, the experimental direction, the existential themes and the gorgeous scenery enhance this creepy and suspenseful atmosphere.

“The Endless” is not only a genuinely unique sci-fi tale, but also one of the best independent movies of the 21st century.


6. The Quiet Earth (1985)

The Quiet Earth

Directed by Geoff Murphy, “The Quiet Earth” is one of the best New Zealand films of all time. The film is a loose adaptation of Craig Harrison’s novel of the same name.

Bruno Lawrence, one of the greatest New Zealand actors of all time, stars as Zac Hobson, a scientist working on a classified project about global energy. One day he wakes up to find himself alone in a post-apocalyptic world. He desperately tries to not only find other survivors, but also find out what happened.

When he realises that the project he was working on may have caused this tragic event, he becomes mentally unstable. After a few weeks he has an unexpected encounter with Joanne, a young girl that has also survived. Then the two lone survivors along with Api (a guy they met) team up to save the world from another future destruction.

“The Quiet Earth” is obviously a thrilling post-apocalyptic tale about human extinction and loneliness. It is not only a bleak depiction of a nightmarish world, but also a great study of existentialism and nihilism. This sci-fi tale also stands out as a social critique of the alienation of modern life.

Furthermore, Bruno Lawrence delivers a spellbinding performance as a tragic character who seeks for a purpose in a meaningless world of total chaos.

All in all, “The Quiet Earth” isn’t just a great post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure, but also a rare gem of the New Zealand cult cinema.

10 Great Movies Made By Little Known Directors

Slow West

There are some directors who have enough name recognition that people will flock to the cinema to see a film just because they’ve made it. And while, obviously, it’s not just the work of a director that makes for a great film, there are some fantastic movies whose directors deserve more recognition.

This list will recommend 10 films from directors who may have only made one film or were never given the opportunity to make another or, for some reason or other, were simply over-looked.


1. Slow West (2015)

Slow West is the story of a young boy from Scotland who travels to America in pursuit of girl from his village with whom he is madly in love. He’s met by a gunslinger, played hilariously and brilliantly by Michael Fassbender, who agrees to take him to meet his love. On the way they will have to dodge bounty hunters, villains and all sorts of threats.

Slow West may be a contender for one of the most visually impressive Westerns, and that’s a highly contested category. But rather than shots of Monument Valley or sweeping desert, director John Maclean decided to film this in New Zealand. The landscape and the colours are spectacular and, while they certainly fit their setting, the film looks unlike any other Western.

The script feels somewhere between a Coen brothers’ movie and a sitcom and has enough jokes and existential queries to satisfy fans of both. Despite its title this is not a slow film, but perhaps a gentle film. It has a historical setting but it’s an idealised one and the film works best when it leans into that providing an entertaining feast for the eyes.


2. Son of Saul (2015)

Son of Saul

With his feature length debut Nemes László brings both a fascinating, new narrative voice and amazing technical skill. Son of Saul, set in Auschwitz in 1944, is not an easy watch, but nor is meant to be, by the end the film leaves you shaken and drained, an experience that will not be forgotten in a hurry.

Saul is a prisoner at Auschwitz charged with helping lead fellow inmates to execution and disposing of the bodies afterwards. At the beginning Saul finds a body that he believes to be his son and he becomes obsessed with finding a Rabbi to give him a proper burial. Saul is never judged for his role in the camp, the film operates in a space beyond normal morality; instead this is a film that studies humans living in an environment of extreme and unimaginable horror.

László made the movie in the uncommon Academy aspect ratio keeping a very tight frame around Saul and the camera never leaves him, it follows him everywhere and never shows the audience more than Saul can see or hear himself. As a result the horrors of the camp are never fully shown; we see the beginnings of them as Saul walks passed while what happens next is off screen, left to our imagination. It is a difficult watch but there are very few films like Son of Saul.


3. The Selfish Giant (2013)

The Selfish Giant

Clio Barnard’s incredibly powerful film takes its name from Oscar Wilde’s short story but changes the setting to rural Bradford. It follows two 13-year old working class boys who try to make money wherever they can so that they might be able to leave their lives of poverty. This leads them to a scrap dealer (the giant in this version of the story) who tasks them with finding, and stealing, bits of scrap for money.

Barnard’s film is brutally realistic and incredibly empathetic to it’s setting and it’s characters. Most of the cast are non-actors originally from Bradford and each one of them gives truly heart-rending performances. This is not a cheerful watch but the emotional power of this film is something to behold.

By updating the fairy tale Barnard is able to tell a story that the audience will be familiar with but still manages to breath new life into it via the change of setting. Most importantly it shines a light on stories that are not often told and by using realism to win the audience’s empathy it can prove that fiction and reality are often two sides of the same coin.


4. Good Vibrations (2012)

Good Vibrations

Many films set in Northern Ireland, and focusing on the troubles, can be an informative but harrowing watch. Good Vibrations certainly delivers this feeling but it also brings something else; humour, fun and inspiration. It accounts the true-life story of Teri Hooley who opened up a record shop in the middle of war-ridden Belfast.

Good Vibrations is many things; pop music, biopic, historical drama, tragi-comedy and its to the credit of directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn that they’ve delivered a film that perfectly blends all these themes together. Focusing mainly on Hooley’s discovery and promotion of The Undertones it can juxtapose all the hilarity and craziness you’d expect from music biopics with the shocking horror of bomb threats and police raids.

It will have you laughing one minute and gasping the next and all the while amazingly captures the spirit of British Punk; the world is falling apart but people still deserve music to reflect that world and to escape from it.


5. Beast (2017)


For a film that is so drenched in sun, Beast leaves behind a dark and unsettling shadow. The feature debut from Michael Pearce is set on the island of Jersey and follows Moll, a young woman still living at home under the rule of her overbearing mother.

Moll is an outsider in her own family who insist she needs to be looked after. But a dark secret in her past suggests that they might be more scared of her than concerned for her. When she meets the mysterious Pascal they begin a romance, but an on-going murder investigation has Pascal as the chief suspect.

Pearce expertly creates mystery and tension in the film, not by drop clues and hints but by exploring each lead character and their relationship with each other. As their relationship grows we can’t help but feel happy for Moll and wish that all the rumours surrounding Pascal would go away so they can be happy. Before we know it we’ve stopped asking whether or not he did kill anyone and instead question whether we’d care if he had.

The title, Beast, is not just a reference to Beauty’s but to real-life serial killer the Beast of Jersey, who terrorised the island for decades. Evoking both fairy tale and real-life horror story the film has a dark spirit to it that radically affects how we see the story. Michael Pearce is a director to watch.

The 10 Most Original Movies of All Time

DogvillePhoto Credit: Rolf Konow

Cinema, just like mankind, has evolved with time. The transition has seen the medium reconstructed and refined to what we know it as today. There’s a great possibility that this might change as well some decades down the line.

Through these years of experimenting, there are a few that stand out, both in their inception and execution. Different aspects of film, such as story telling, character development, or camera techniques, were all challenged, culminating in the replacement of traditional wisdom with an intriguing and enthralling revolutionary hydra that might yet stand the test of time. Listed below is a list of some of the most original films in cinema’s long life. Leave your choices in the comments. Happy reading!


10. Satantango (1994, Béla Tarr)

Sátántangó (1994)

If there’s one film that’s challenging even for a hardcore cinephile, it is Satantango. Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr wrote his name in history books with this mammoth seven and a half hours long effort, which carries pure cinematic genius in every second.

The episodic feature follows the turbulent times in a small village in Hungary, marred by the decline of Communism, the great equalizer, and its disheveling consequences on its inhabitants. Through a motely of troubled characters and their ominous life stories, Tarr explores an unrepresented world through his patient lens, crafting in the process an incredible slow-burning masterpiece, that is truly the shining star of all filmdom.

Without being dull or languid, Tarr weaves together a mesmerizing universe that you gradually become an inseparable part of. If the he enthralling visual splendor isn’t enough, Satantango offers effective light-toned reprieves in between its heavy dramatic exposition.

Watching Satantango is a daunting task, one that requires great patience and maturity. But if you overcome the initial hesitance and the trivial, unavoidable technical formalities, an experience of a lifetime awaits.


9. My Dinner with Andre (1981, Louis Malle)


If there were to be a film that truly captured the binary perspectives of contemporary human psyche and philosophical history, it would be My Dinner With Andre. Featuring just two characters, Wally and Andre, the film’s run-time completely engages in a vibrant, yet vague, conversation between the two about the experiences of their lives. Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory play fictionalized versions of themselves, somewhat like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, only way less toned down.

The two characters each take a half of the film and immerse you with their life experiences. While Andre’s anecdotes indicate toward his existential crisis placed in spiritualism, impulsiveness, and extravagance, Wally’s humanist and rather modest depiction points towards a man in mid-life crisis.

Andre is critical of the world around him, filled with pessimism and regret. Wally, on the other hand, veils his experiences, both good and bad, with a misguided and commonplace sense of optimism, thereby becoming more accessible to the masses as against Andre, whose musings might seem to ‘surreal’ to many.

The two also share credits for writing the screenplay, which is quite evident through their naturalistic delivery. There isn’t much director Louis Malle has to do, other than some routine close-ups and shot setting. The film’s transformational halves make it a distinct novella-like audio book, which will take some time to grow on you, but do so eventually with devastating effect.


8. Waking Life (2001, Richard Linklater)

Linklater’s experimental filmography features more hits than misses. One of his biggest ones was Waking Life, an animated surrealist drama that revolutionized indie filmmaking and made DV camera stock an interesting alternative in the industry.

Shot on a shoestring budget, Waking Life embodies a visual spectacle, one that can’t be bought with studio-money and cutting edge technology, but is imagined and brought to life by a visionary auteur purely and wholly dedicated to his craft.

Not only is Waking Life’s aesthetic completely different from anything ever attempted before it, but also its highly intelligent and creative writing packs an ever-mightier punch. Linklater’s existential stamp is quite evident in the film’s starkly intense conversations about the meaning of life. In a series of different dreams, we are taken through every possible perspective on life and its philosophical grounding.

Linklater gambles big-time on almost everything with Waking Life, but comes out unscathed, saved by his love for movies and an immeasurable compassion for life.


7. Songs from the Second Floor (2000, Roy Andersson)

Songs from The Second Floor

The world is hopeless and is slowly marching towards a dead end, we are totally out of ideas and that’s where Songs From The Second Floor shines, satirizing self destruction in a light hearted fashion and despite of having a pessimistic theme it is melodious and amusing too.

Set in a city where everything goes wrong, the film follows the daily life of some of the citizens and their problems only. Andersson has shed a light upon Man’s inability to move on, the characters seem to be stuck in limbo. In the ultra modern city businesses fail, a man burns down his own shop, people protest (but against whom?) and even a girl is used as a sacrifice in a hope for the betterment of the situation.

And through the eyes of Anderssson we experience something totally out of the book where melancholy meets anarchy and both are fused with music and even pain and misery looks funny here. The camera is static at most of the parts and the atmosphere is gripping, Andersson’s vision is surrealistic, the events are illogical but the film looks realistic and a perfect satire on despair.


6. Koyaanisqatsi (1982, Godfrey Reggio)

The art form of film has seen many inventions. The genesis can be traced down to silent movies with a coherent sequence of moving pictures to tell a story. This was followed by the vividness of Technicolor and the integration of sound and dialogue with the existing element of pictures.

With time and advancement in technology, people started experimenting with style and substance to create more affecting imagery and personal work. Koyaanisqatsi, though, does not fall into either category and derives its inherent uniqueness and significance from the very fact.

Helmed by Godfrey Reggio, this American film takes you on an unexpected and startling ride through the vastness of human civilization and the impending doomsday. The title means ‘unbalanced life’ in the Hopi language.

A generous mix of hyper-accentuated and languid, glacier-like imagery, Koyaanisqatsi is Reggio’s expression of his discontentment and indignation with the changing human ideals and lifestyles. The lack of written dialogues and absent voice-narration is explained by Reggio as “[…] not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It’s because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live”.

Underscored by highbrow Kurdish symphonies and with its remarkable penchant for capturing human life in its purest form, Koyaanisqatsi is a life changing experience and a watershed moment in cinematic history.

The 10 Worst Movies of 2019 (So Far)


Every year, same story. For every great, original, well-written film, we get a clichéd, misguided film with lazy writing and uninspired direction, sometimes with flat acting. The year 2019 is hardly different. This year has given us great films like “Us” and “Gloria Bell,” but then we also got some major disappointments.

A pretentious sci-fi film full of plot holes, a very poorly-made reboot of a beloved comic character, an uninspiring remake of a classic comedy, or just yet another clichéd horror with the cheapest jump scares? Yes, this year has them all. Let’s take a look at some of the stinkers of the year.


10. Serenity

That was sure something. Is it because of Steven Knight’s reputation and previous work that this script got made? It’s interesting how he came up with this movie in general. The trailers for this seemed alright.

The movie industry needs more adult thrillers and they sort of tried to make it look like “Body Heat.” And movie seems intriguing, even if it’s full of ridiculous elements to some point. Then the twist happens, which explains some of the weird moments of the film, but you wish it won’t.

Knight obviously had some interesting ideas in his mind, but he turned it into something fully absurd and the more you think about the twist, the more weird the whole movie becomes. And if you think that it just stops there – no, it doesn’t. It just keeps getting more and more insane.

The film had so many well-known names in the cast, but unfortunately they all are wasted, except maybe Jason Clarke, who chews the scenery and is just fun to watch; he overacts for a reason and it works.

Yet there’s no need to put this movie any higher on the list because it has that “so bad it’s good” element to some degree. Yes, it takes itself too seriously at times, and that’s what can turn it into a cult film in the future. It’s crazy and it acts like it isn’t crazy. Surely a film to remember.


9. Replicas


Basically a worse version of “Sixth Day.” Having lost his entire family in a car accident, the genius scientist does everything he can to bring them back to life, while ignoring any scientific fact out there – because why not? Keanu Reeves is having one of his better years with “Toy Story 4” and “John Wick 3,” but this is yet another wooden performance from him in another terrible film full of plot holes.

Now the premise isn’t that bad; the idea of cloning and the morals behind it is interesting, but the film doesn’t know what to do with it. The second half of the film is even worse. The film gets so pretentious that you can’t help but laugh.

Now for the positive part: it’s not a predictable movie, but because it’s a weird mix of different kinds of sci-fi clichés, you don’t know what they’re trying to do. Even the much-trashed “Godsend” was a better movie. Sometimes they’re seemingly out of ideas to where there really isn’t anything happening for huge stretches of time. The ending is kind of unpredictable, yet also ridiculous like the rest of the movie.


8. The Professor

Johnny Depp just keeps delivering. He has had an interesting career trajectory; he was one of the most interesting actors in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, he’d made some questionable choices.

Around the turn of the 21st century, he became a bigger star thanks to films like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but his smaller film choices were mostly failures and he had rarely given a notable performance (except maybe “Black Mass”) for more than a decade already.

In this glib portrait about a dying academic, Depp actually tries to do something acting-wise, but like some of his recent efforts, he comes off unnecessarily hammy at times and in the end up turns out to be unconvincing.

Though, everything about this film is unconvincing. Many of the story elements just don’t make any sense. It’s also hard to care for the central character, and every supposedly unique trait about him comes off as extremely clichéd and annoying. Everything feels so surface-level. Even if you’re not annoyed by the movie, it’s something that you’ll hardly find yourself thinking about afterwards.


7. The Curse of La Llorona

With the exception of “Annabelle: Creation,” all of the films in this so-called “The Conjuring Universe” that don’t have the word “Conjuring” in their title has been a massive disappointment. They’re simply cash grabs, and how can you blame them when their box office returns often end up being surprisingly strong?

Pretty disappointing, actually, because having a successful horror universe in mainstream cinema would be so cool. This installment is particularly weird, because it has almost nothing to do with the other

“Conjuring” films, but yet they use it on several promotions along with James Wan’s name. Well, what they do with the marketing is perfectly fine; everybody wants to sell their material, but here the problem is the film itself. When you read the Mexican folk legend “La Llorona,” it’s actually really creepy and interesting. This movie does zero justice to the legend.

In fact, they don’t do anything with it and the film isn’t even set in Mexico. They just use the name of La Llorona for…. no particular reason? The story is very generic, the jump scares are predictable and clichéd, and there’s nothing inspiring about anything in this film.

La Llorona herself is not scary; it feels like a different variation or some kind of cosplay of Valak from “The Nun.” The director of this movie is also going to handle “The Conjuring 3,” which is pretty worrisome.


6. The Hustle

Gender-swap films can work and sometimes they do, but the problem is that the creative team behind most of those movies doesn’t try to make a clever update on the material; instead, they try to sell their movies based only on that narrative. “What Men Want” was another disappointment where the writers could have done so much with the premise for our modern times, but instead we got an exhausting experience.

“The Hustle” is another gender-swap remake, this time based on the comedy classic “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which in turn is based on the lesser-known original “A Bedtime Story.” Now “Scoundrels” was a hilarious film with Michael Caine and Steve Martin at the top of their game. While here, the chemistry between leads doesn’t work, the tone is dull, the story doesn’t do anything creative with the material, and the jokes fall flat.

Anne Hathaway, who was the best part of the mildly entertaining gender-swap remake of “Ocean’s Eight,” feels one-dimensional in this poorly written part and it’s her second film on the list. It may sound like she’s having the worst year of her career, but no worries as she has two baity films upcoming this year: “The Last Thing He Wanted” and “Untitled Todd Haynes Project.”

10 Great Movies Whose Stories Imitate Actors’ Own Lives


So in my last article I discussed films that I felt their directors were born to make. And fittingly enough I find myself with another similar task but this time with my focus being on the actors. There’s something to be said about the right casting that goes into a film.

The best decisions can often be a matter of what actor is going to immerse themselves in the role better than any other. This calls to mind method actors like Daniel Day Lewis who go to extremes to live like the character and use every part of their aura to embody what that character will say, think, and do. But there’s another idea that goes into casting, and that’s who best fits the role and can slip into this material like a glove on a hand?

These 10 actors and the films they were in are the best examples I can think of in regards to this. Actors who lived a life so similar to the characters they play that the quality of their work came as naturally as breathing. After all, what better stories are there to tell but our own personal stories? With that, these are 10 Great Movies Whose Stories Imitate Actors’ Own Lives. (Alphabetical order)


1. All About Eve (1950) – Bette Davis

One of the reasons Bette Davis was such a great presence on screen for so long is because she was willing to age before our eyes, while so many tried to maintain their youth Davis was mature enough to grow in experience.

This is greatly demonstrated in “All About Eve” in which she gives her finest performance as a highly respected but fading Broadway actress, Margo Channing. Margo encounters an enormous fan named Eve (Anne Baxter) who slowly but surely works her way into Margo’s inner circle, first becoming a hopeless fan, then becoming her secretary, her understudy, and eventually her rival.

Margo is painted as a person, she’s in love with her work but isn’t an exhibitionist, she’s a professional. Eve is a type, starting out as nothing more than an insincere pair of eyes and working her way into a light she’s undeserving of.

There are a great many of performances in here from an ensemble cast including Thelma Ritter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, and one of Marilyn Monroe’s first appearances. Many of which were nominated for Oscars, which in turn gave the film a record setting 14 nominations, a record only matched by “Titanic” in 1997 and “La La Land” in 2016.

But award recognition isn’t what defines this film, it’s the almost real portrayal of an actress as she’s caught off her guard by the ones around her. “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”


2. Annie Hall (1977) – Woody Allen

I’ve always been amazed, even to this day, with how prolific Woody Allen is. This is a guy who probably makes a film every year and somehow finds a way to remain fresh and inquisitive almost every time. What he does in “Annie Hall” is simply tell the story of a relationship built upon two eccentrically weird and awkward people.

Alvy Singer is essentially Woody Allen himself and Annie Hall is essentially Diane Keaton, especially seeing as how their character names were nicknames in their own lives. One gets the sense of straight forward honesty from this but Allen has a way of going further than that, his style is something that gives this film an identity all its own.

Allen runs the gamble of comedy theory and talent through every scene of this film, ranging from relief theory to incongruity theory and interlaces it with precise writing, direction, dialogue, acting, editing, and timing.

When Alvy and Annie talk on the rooftop and start making pointless banter about a picture in her apartment we see words appear on screen showing what they’re thinking while they’re talking. There’s text, what we say, but then there’s context, what we mean, and when Alvy is asking about this picture but is really thinking “I wonder what she looks like naked?” it rings so true and feels far too familiar. All the while Allen sets the bar for romantic comedies and to this day you still see movies try to emulate the standard he set over 40 years ago.


3. Bicycle Thieves (1948) – Lamberto Maggiorani


In truth I could probably summarize this entire pick as the entire cast and not just the main lead. During the 40’s Italy was experiencing social and economic strains as WWII took its toll in the national psyche and living conditions of their country. As a response to this the Italian film industry shifted focus of their films to reflect the current wave of poverty, oppression, injustice, and desperation.

A trademark of what films would do during this time was cast unknown actors or even just find regular, everyday people to act in the films. The result is a collection of films that have a bitter sense of truth behind them because the actors act out what their daily routines were on screen where the world was brutal and unfair.

“Bicycle Thieves” is no exception to this as we are dropped into the center of poverty stricken Italy with a father who scraps up everything he has to have a bicycle to work and provide for his family. When it’s stolen there’s not much to do because the social and political system they live in could care less. It’s a rough time and it’s a rough life, often times there are decisions made that are regretted instantly and there’s not much hope for redemption.


4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) – Michael Keaton

Edward Norton - Birdman

This is a casting choice that’s either really dumb because of how obvious it is or one of the most brilliant decisions because of how uncanny it parallels with life. A washed up actor, most famous for playing a superhero way back in the day, putting forth everything he has to rejuvenate his career and be taken seriously again. Hmmm, that sounds a lot like Michael Keaton doesn’t it?

The funny thing about this character is that Keaton wasn’t even in their mind when the part was being written but upon completion it was like an Epiphone that screamed “Michael Keaton is who we need for this role!” The result is a highly autobiographical, somewhat spiritual experience in which Keaton taps into unknown potential none of us knew he had.

There’s an energy to “Birdman” that’s unlike anything I’ve seen in film before. A sense of hyperactivity, style, and electricity that flows through every moving moment the film has to offer. Part of that energy comes from Keaton’s combination of heart and fire. A love for his family after alienating them for so long and his almost psychotic dedication to his art for which he tries to find his place in life.


5. Easy Rider (1969) – Peter Fonda

Easy Rider (1969)

Throughout the 60’s Peter Fonda was described by many as a counterculture icon, Playboy magazine stating he had established a “solid reputation as a dropout”. He hung out with the likes of The Byrds and The Beatles and frequently took LSD because that’s what the 60’s was immersed in.

We love to celebrate films that are timeless and seem to stay relevant to this day. But we tend to forget the celebration we can feel with something that is truly a “time capsule”, and that’s exactly what “Easy Rider” is.

The film stars Peter Fonda, the son of the legendary Henry Fonda, when Henry saw his son in this for the first time he said he walked out a puzzled man. He couldn’t understand what he saw and what it meant, I think this fascinating tale perfectly describes the feeling of this wonder of cinema. The old guard at the time probably couldn’t see what the young kids saw, or better yet what they experienced, to them it was probably crazy and devoid of story.

But in truth Dennis Hopper stars and directs to simply take us on a ride through what an entire generation was looking for. It’s as simple as you can get with 2 men who hop on their bikes and go riding in search of ‘America’, all the while it celebrates drugs, sex, rock n’ roll (with a great soundtrack of ‘Born to be Wild’), and above all else freedom.

The 10 Most Heartbreaking Movie Endings of All Time

Creating a satisfying ending to a movie is not for the faint of heart. Get it wrong and the audience will hate you for it. You’ll be mocked for years afterwards. Ok, it might not get that bad, but why take the chance?

Creating a satisfying ending to a movie that is heartbreaking, as well, is doubly difficult. The audience has to care. The story has to ring true. The ending has to sing. And, then, if you’re lucky, then, the heart will break.

These 10 movies do all that and then some.


1. Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)

Blow Out

We kick off our list with an ending so heartbreaking that it will make you want to track down the filmmaker and plead him to change it. He won’t, though. He’s done it before and he’ll do it again.

Pilfering the hook of Antonioni’s “Blow Up”, Brian De Palma pushed his dynamic hyper-realistic style to its limits in crafting a dazzling, heart pounding thriller about a film sound man, Jack Terry, who believes he has accidentally recorded a political assassination.

John Travolta stars as a sort of exile who has fled the part of him that gives a crap. This goes back to his days wiring undercover cops. One job failed and a cop died. Reeling, Jack fled to a job doing sound for a scuzzy producer of blood and boobs spectacles. Now, though, teamed up with a girl, Sally (Nancy Allen), who is linked to the assassination, and with the tape in hand, redemption is so close Jack can almost hear it.

The dark genius here is that the story pairs Jack’s attempt to expose a crime with national implications to a lame request from his producer to find a better scream for a doomed cutie in his latest pic, called, “Co-Ed Frenzy.”

In a slow, dark descent down to a hell of an ending, Terry uses Sally as bait as he wires her up in an unconscious attempt to redeem himself and erase the memory of that disastrous wiring job that haunts him. But, his dream of playing hero is cut short by the ice pick of a deranged madman played, with creepy credibility, by a young John Lithgow. The nightmare of a failed wire job and a fresh corpse, this time Sally’s, recurs for Terry.

But wait, there’s one more tragic touch and it’s a doozy. Inside the projection room, at Independence Pictures Incorporated, Terry plays the scene from, “Co-Ed Frenzy”, where the doomed cutie is about to get sliced to bits. Her lame scream has been replaced. The new one is Sally’s very real scream mere seconds before her life was ended. The producer loves it.

For Jack, though he plugs his ears, there is no way he is ever going to stop hearing that scream.


2. Il Bidone (Federico Fellini, 1955)

Il Bidone (1955)

Despicable characters deserve their own heartbreaking endings, too. It is earned, here, in an under-appreciated early Fellini gem about the sad lives of a group of aging petty con men.

A starkly rendered visual poem for lost souls everywhere, the movie’s main con centres on Broderick Crawford’s Augusto dressing up as a Monsignor. With his co-conspirators at his service, the gang head into the country where Augusto oozes authority and deftly dishes out divinely inspired wisdom to easily separate peasants from the little that they own.

Though an ensemble piece, in the end, it’s Crawford’s show. His sad eyed, puffy brute of a face is lost opportunity and wasted ambition made flesh. But, Augusto is ready to start anew. He’s even put the ball in motion. Sadly, it doesn’t roll for long.

Hoping to use the take from yet another round of the Monsignor con to help the daughter he’s recently reunited with, Augusto hides the cash in his shoes. To cover his tracks, he tells his cohorts that he was too moved by the latest family to take their money. They don’t buy it. Chasing him down a steep mountain slope, they throw fist sized rocks at him. One strikes him in the head and down he goes. They find the money and leave him to die.

There he lays throughout the night and into the morning. As dawn breaks, a desperately weak Augusto hears singing coming from the road up above. Gathering all his strength, he slowly struggles up the slope. Nearing the top, he calls out to a group of peasants with his hoarse voice. They don’t hear him and continue walking down the road.

Fitting that the final thing Augusto sees is a group of people he played for suckers walking away from his final request. Still, somehow, you feel for this man and you’re on that mountain side with him, clinging to those rocks, as the already faint light inside him slowly fades out.


3. Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966)

Few endings this devastating begin with a thoughtful talk from a kind grandfatherly figure, but this one does. Kindness sometimes carries a knife.

A box office bomb upon release, this visually daring adaptation of David Ely’s 1963 novel about a bored, middle-aged businessman offered a chance at a brand new life by a secretive corporation, is now considered a cult classic.

Rock Hudson’s name is above the title, but he doesn’t show up until the 40 minute mark. Until then, it’s character actor John Randolph’s film. Playing the “before” to Hudson’s “after”, Randolph, as Arthur Hamilton, is a weary wonder as a man who is walking through life in a daze. He’s barely present at his job or in his marriage. His get up and go has got up and gone.

Arthur takes the offer and, after plastic surgery and a strict physical regimen, emerges as the handsome Antiochus Wilson (Hudson). From there, “Seconds” follows Wilson as he tries to adjust to his new life as a painter in an artist’s colony on the coast of Southern California.

Frankenheimer and celebrated cinematographer James Wong Howe went all out and captured the scarred emotional reality of the story while also playing to its’ more surreal elements. Hand held cameras and bizarre camera setups mix with fish-eye lenses and actors flown by wires to create an emotionally authentic and hauntingly off-kilter masterpiece.

Wilson bombs out in his new life and returns to the company for a third plate. But, the company has other plans. Strapped to a gurney, being wheeled to meet his maker, Wilson violently twists and turns in a too late attempt to escape his fate. Into the surgery room once more, but this time, he’s being prepped to play the dead body to another man’s attempt at a new life.

All the hope and all the promise contained within this stuck man vanishes in an instant in an ending that has you wishing against the worst even though you know it won’t do any good. You watch his glassy eyes, the surgeon’s drill move towards his head, and a superimposed image of a beach and a dream that never will be. You hope that ending will not stay with you for days – but it will.


4. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

city lights

Conclusions of the cracked coronary kind can also leave you smiling and love struck with the entirety of humanity. To be seen for who you truly are and loved – that’s where it’s at.

One of two comedies to make the cut, “City Lights” is Charlie Chaplin’s most beloved film.

Here, as his world famous Tramp character, Charlie befriends a blind woman selling flowers on the street. She thinks he’s wealthy. The Tramp gladly plays along – just happy that someone, anyone, wants to be his friend.

In an ingenious parallel story, a wealthy man pals around with the Tramp as well, but only when he is drunk. When he sobers up, he discards the Tramp like an old rag. The wealthy man’s drunken episodes are akin to the flower seller’s blindness. He accepts the Tramp as worthy of his company only when he’s blind drunk.

Turns out, the lovely flower seller and her mother are in dire straits. They need money for rent. Snapping into action, the Tramp takes a job and enters a prize fight. Later, when he finds out about a free, revolutionary new eye operation that could restore the flower seller’s sight, he, once again, eagerly rushes off, this time looking for enough money to pay for the flight to get her there.

Mission accomplished, time passes and the Tramp and the blind flower seller lose touch. Months later, the Tramp returns to the sidewalk searching for her. Turns out, she’s no longer selling flowers on the street – she’s selling them inside in a nice shop. They lock eyes.

The ending to this film is perfect. You cannot improve upon it. It’s moving, exquisitely pantomimed and charged with an aching suspense. The suspense being that when the flower seller, who can now see, finds out that the Tramp is not a wealthy man, but a vagrant, will she accept him or will she reject him like all the others?

If you haven’t seen this film, yet, you are missing a key, early classic movie watching experience that flies way above the treetops of most films. Chaplin never made a film this funny or this wonderful again. It’s all about acceptance and a genius made it. That’s why this ending is one of the most heartbreaking the cinema has ever known.


5. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)

Vertigo (1958)

How about two heartbreaking endings for the price of one? This, the granddaddy of all second chance films, walks you into the dark heart of devastation and leaves you there all alone and broken.

The late, great Jimmy Stewart plays retired detective John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson. Scottie is hired by an old college buddy, Gavin Elster, to keep an eye on his wife, Madeleine. Seems, Elster thinks she’s possessed by the spirit of a doomed woman, Carlotta Valdes, who killed herself long ago.

Scottie is just the man for the job. He has one fatal flaw, though. He suffers from vertigo.

What follows is a mesmerizing spiral into sexual obsession and mind bending betrayal. Scottie loses Madeleine and then himself in a hypnotically paced nightmare that has him struck numb with desire and desolation.

“You shouldn’t keep souvenirs of a killing.” Boiling with rage, cut down by desire unfulfilled, nakedly desperate and pleading, Stewart is a marvel in these final moments. All the suffering in this man is on display. He can hide it no longer.

The pitch black poetic ending is a doubly devastating heartbreaker due to the fact that Scottie brings it all on himself. His fatal flaw, it turns out, is not so much his vertigo as it is his willful walk into the shoes of his tormentor. Poor Scottie.

10 Movies To Watch When You Want Something Suspenseful

Suspense is a difficult thing to achieve in film. Alfred Hitchcock said that suspense means letting the audience know more than the characters. However, while Hitchcock’s definition is very well put into words, suspense is much more than that.

To make suspense in films, you have to grab the viewer’s full attention and you have to create interesting situations which feel plausible and whose outcome is hard to guess. But more than all, to get a viewer to feel the suspense, you have to make him care about the characters he watches on screen.

In other words, you can’t feel anxious about something or someone you don’t care about. This is why many of the so-called suspense films fail. They have the best of ideas but directors forget that, first of all, you have to let the audience be invested with the characters.

If you do that and you have a good idea – be it a detective trying to find out who the murderer is, a woman trying to evade her abductors or a man finding out a dark secret – your film might not turn out a masterpiece, but at least it should keep the viewer interested.

But enough with the ramble, as this list contains 10 titles which are not only thoroughly suspenseful films but also great films in all respects. And before asking us where are the classics such as “The Silence of The Lambs”, “Se7en” or “Misery”, we’ll say that we’ve tried to select films which are (a little) less talked about when it comes to this kind of list. Of course, these are not obscure films no one’s heard about, but you still might have missed some of them.

Please let us know in the comments what other suspenseful movies do you recommend watching.


1. All Is Lost (2013)

All is Lost

“All Is Lost” is a one-man survival film which stars Robert Redford as an unnamed sailor who finds himself fighting for his life after his boat hits a stray shipping container and starts to flood. Redford’s character has to save the boat from sinking and to escape the dangers of the tempestuous Indian Ocean before all is lost.

If you are not afraid of deep waters, trust us, this movie will make you feel like the ocean is the scariest thing out there. For its entire 105 minutes length, “All is Lost” keeps you on the edge of your seat and gives a masterclass in suspense and acting. Robert Redford, who was pushing 77 at the time this film was made, gives one of the best performances of his career and he is even more praiseworthy considering that his character has virtually no lines to say during the entire film.


2. The Ghost Writer (2010)

Roman Polanski’s best work after “The Pianist” (2002), “The Ghost Writer” is based on Robert Harris’ popular novel “The Ghost” and stars Ewan McGregor as a ghost writer who gets hired to finish the autobiography of former British prime minister Adam Lang (played by Pierce Brosnan and based on real-life former British PM Tony Blair) after the initial ghost writer is mysteriously found dead in what seems like a drowning accident.

Soon after McGregor’s character starts working on the book, he starts discovering some dark secrets about Lang, who is suspected of having had links with the CIA and allowing the torturing of some prisoners suspected of terrorism.

“The Ghost Writer” is a suspenseful and intelligent political thriller that makes up for a top-notch adaptation of its original source material and (once again) showcases Polanski’s outstanding talent as a film director.


3. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Sidney Lumet’s final film before his death in 2011 didn’t receive as much recognition as his more famous works such as “12 Angry Men” or “Dog Day Afternoon,” but it is nonetheless nothing short of a masterpiece.

“Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” film follows Andy and Hank Hanson (played by Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman), two brothers who decide to do some crazy things in pursuance of getting money.

The siblings decide to rob their own parents’ jewelry store and in order to do so they hire an experienced thief to help them with their scheme. However, things don’t go according to plan when their mother accidentally gets shot. From there on, everything in the brothers’ lives falls apart.

This film amazes, not only through the award-worthy performances from its talented cast but also through the unconventional, utterly captivating nonlinear storytelling. It feels like a puzzle, always taking you back and forth in time, and in the end constructing a perfect observation on the downfall of a family.

Thrilling, dramatic and funny at the same time, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” is one of the most suspenseful films of this century.


4. Hounds of Love (2017)

Set in 1980’s Australia, “Hounds of Love” tells the harrowing story of a teenage girl from Perth who is kidnapped and terrorized by a sick couple. The film pretty much follows the kidnapping movie formula, but it’s the execution and the terrific performances that take it to another level.

After critically acclaimed films such as “The Babadook,” “Snowtown” and the “The Loved Ones,” it seems that Australian filmmakers have a knack for producing great small-scale thrillers/horrors, and “Hounds of Love” doesn’t disappoint, either.

While it has its flaws, mainly some unrealistic decisions the main character makes throughout the film, and the exaggerated lack of interest from the police, as an overall experience “Hounds of Love” remains a very gripping thriller that benefits from a riveting lead performance, great cinematography, and enough suspense to deserve comparisons to the likes of “Misery”. If you are into small-scale, single location thrillers, you definitely shouldn’t miss this one.


5. Prisoners (2013)

prisoners movie

In Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners”, Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, a man whose daughter is abducted while playing in the neighborhood on Thanksgiving day. When the police led by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) fails to come with answers, Jackman’s character takes the matter into his own hands and, desperate to find his missing daughter makes some frantic decisions.

“Prisoners” is a gritty, brutal thriller which perfectly mixes suspense with drama and benefits of two superb performances from Jackman and Gyllenhaal. It is the kind of film which will take a toll on you – not an easy watch at all – but definitely a rewarding experience.

The 10 Most Disappointing Movies From Great Directors

Filmmaking is all about chemistry. Apart from the chemistry between the actors that is always evident on the screen, there are other kinds of bonding that must happen if a quality film is to be made. The technical crews should bond with each other and with the director of that film, the casting has to be perfect so that it matches the script’s demand, and all of the related persons should be in the highest order of their energy. If it doesn’t happen, the film is bound to be mediocre at best.

This has happened with the best of directors through the decades where a genius made a very bad film according to their repertoire. Another reason could be the inexperience of a legendary filmmaker in their rookie filmmaking days; the chaotic atmosphere on the set could cause even emotional and mental turmoil. The weather forecast may not be right, the dates of the lead players might have clashed, and it also adds to the struggle of the film that has to overcome.


1. Aloha – directed by Cameron Crowe

Cameron Crowe has built a solid reputation as a renowned American filmmaker with “Jerry Maguire,” “Almost Famous,” and the controversial American remake of “Abre Los Ojos” called “Vanilla Sky.” After a gap of four years, and after making the small niche film “The Union” based upon the collaboration of Elton John and Leon Russell in 2011, Crowe made  “Aloha” in 2015 with a stellar cast featuring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski and Bill Murray.

All of the compliments for gathering so many wonderful actors in the same space end there. Blatant accusations of whitewashing came about because apart from the talented actors, the casting was a mess, especially with Stone as a native Hawaiian female. 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures marketed the film as a rom-com, but all the easy-breezy fun of a romantic comedy was nowhere to be found in this film; it was backgrounded under an uneven, lackluster script and illogical events.

There are frequent mentions of Cooper’s changing profession,, while the female characters are underdeveloped, maintaining Crowe’s stereotypical egotistical male character who falls in love with fellow women in an instant, then rethinks his decision. Cameron Crowe misses the point here.


2. Vicky Cristina Barcelona – directed by Woody Allen

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Prolific filmmaker Woody Allen has a delicate balance in his filmography with an equal number of hits and misses. There are films that are arguably worse than his 2008 Spain outing “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” but this film is the biggest example of exploiting and playing with the audience’s expectations because of the good reputation he has built throughout the years. At least Allen was honest and admitted that he made this film for money and for a holiday in Spain: it is the only relief.

The Spainish government asked Allen to make a film based on their country and he grasped the opportunity to cast sultry beauties in exotic locales. Javier Bardem acts with his omnipresent charisma and talent, while Penelope Cruz surprised with her excellent turn as painter Bardem’s alcoholic self-destructive wife.

Cruz was the best part of the film, eventually winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2009, but the rest of the cast had nothing to do in the film other than travel and bicycle in the exotic locales. The narrative device employed by Allen backfired; the voiceover present in the film in the style of an audiobook to emotionally guide the viewers is just bad, and the plot is very predictable. When the film ends, no special moment can be taken home by the viewer.


3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – directed by David Fincher

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Using his popular repertoire as a manipulation device, David Fincher ripped the soul out of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in his 2008 romantic drama film of the same name. It tries the use the long running time to its advantage to discuss and analyze the tragic philosophy of a unique experience, but fails to strike the right note with its overly sentimental tone.

As a film, Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” most likely will be considered a cult film because of the strangeness of the story, but as always, his previous reputation caused it to become a classic. This could be a tragic love story, and the audience would likely weep if real chemistry was shown shattered in unfortunate events, but Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett share no chemistry in the film.

The execution of the doomed relationship is absolutely pretentious, which is extremely difficult to explain in words. It was never a good decision from the start to stretch this classic short story for a feature film and ruin it; it’s a bad entry in one good director’s filmography.


4. Hannibal – directed by Ridley Scott

Hannibal movie

It’s always difficult to make a successful follow-up film to a commercially and critically beloved original movie. In 1991, Jonathan Demme broke a record: he made a horror film based on the novel by Thomas Harris of the same name, which won five Oscars including Best Picture. It was the first time a movie from the horror genre won this prize. Naturally, anticipation was high for a sequel, which was adapted from Thomas Harris’ novel and helmed by Ridley Scott.

Scott failed to made “Hannibal” an interesting film, with a bad script and characterization. He tried to replicate the philosophical intrigue and the dark comedy of the first film but failed. Hannibal Lecter was a genius psychologist and master manipulator, but the events that would lead to his first close capture is stupid.

The use of smelling experts is perfect meme material and Julianne Moore, the great chameleon, had one the worst roles in her career as Clarice Starling. In “The Silence of the Lambs,” Lecter was not the focus of the story; in “Hannibal” he is the protagonist. Still, it can’t match the genius fright fest of the original film and is a sore entry in the filmography of genius Ridley Scott.


5. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace – directed by George Lucas

Jar Jar Binks - Star Wars I The Phantom Menace

The sheer brilliance of the original Star Wars trilogy by George Lucas is always diluted with the notoriety of the prequels. Lucas made the prequel trilogy decades after the original films, and this could be the reason for the degradation of quality.

Lucas is a gifted filmmaker, there is no doubt about that with his films “American Graffiti” and “THX 1138,” but he is also more inclined for commercial success, and that backfires in this case. The inclusion of Jar Jar Binks is strictly a business decision to start a profit scheme surrounding merchandise, and he annoys us big time without any comedy or laughs.

Even if we excuse the bad CGI because of the film’s production year, which was only a year before the 2000s, the film still has its problems. Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into a devil from an annoying nine-year-old child is redundant and could have been exposed through minimal dialogue; you do not need the extra time and space to tell the audience that Anakin was a good boy in his earlier life. The action sequences in this first prequel entry feel clumsy and non-innovative, the casting is bad, and the filmmaker forgot its target audience.

A film series that is popular among the teenage population for its fantasy elements unnecessarily introduced galactic politics in its plot. Sadly, this is the one where, and not by the twist of politics but rather because of it, the innocent teenage populace as well as the older  audience discards “Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace” as a good film.

10 Great Horror Movies That Surprisingly Never Got A Sequel

Most successful (and sometimes even not-so-successful) horror movies receive unwanted sequels. Sometimes they turn out to be good, but mostly they end up being poorly-made cash grabs. Horrors are usually cheap to produce, yet they can do well at the box office.

Not just their sequels, but these days universes like “The Conjuring” also manage to do it. They don’t spend much effort with any of the original film’s spin-offs, but they just keep doing well. Blumhouse Productions is also seemingly an expert at this recently.

So when a movie gets popular, obviously the studio is interested in making as much money as possible by using the popularity of the original film or character. Sometimes they’re popular enough to get a theatrical release; sometimes they better fit into the straight-to-video market. Though, for some reason, these films listed below didn’t get a sequel, despite being successful at the box office or having gained enough of a cult following/popularity.


10. The Skeleton Key (2005)

The Skeleton Key

This was certainly not the best era for commercial studio horrors, but “The Skeleton Key” felt like a fresh air. It was actually entertaining. In a rare case where we get to see Kate Hudson in a good movie, she played a hospice nurse who begins a job at a Terrebonne Parish plantation home, and becomes entangled in a supernatural mystery involving the house, its former inhabitants, and voodoo rituals that took place there.

The critics were way too harsh on it; they claimed it was slow, its characters were unpleasant/uninteresting (I mean, John Hurt and Gena Rowlands have the ability to make any character interesting. How could they claim that?), and even though it had suspenseful moments, it was just dull and formulaic.

While it’s obviously not a masterpiece or anything, it was a much better film than they claimed it was, and it’s still somewhat known among the public. Even the recent “Get Out” got comparisons to it. Despite the fact it grossed over $90 million, the studio strangely didn’t bother with a sequel, even though its themes has a lot of material to make one.

Actually, there’s an independent micro-budget horror spoof comedy that has the title of “Skeleton Key 2,” but it has nothing to do with this movie. It’s also hard to find any sequel talk around it, so there has probably never been a plan.


9. The Craft (1996)

The surprise box office hit and cult favorite “The Craft” is another one that surprisingly didn’t get a sequel. At least not yet, but we can very well get one. Even though it didn’t get the best reviews when it was initially released, its reception has grown better since then and many people praised its relevance.

In 2016, producer Douglas Wick said there is some kind of mix of a remake and sequel in plans. “There will be callbacks to the original movie, so you will see there is a connection between what was happening in the days of ‘The Craft,’ and how these young women come across this magic many years later.”

It doesn’t always work out. Just recently they tried to do this with “Flatliners,” but then they thought the scene, where it’s revealed that Kiefer Sutherland plays the same character he did in the 1990 version, got cut out simply because the audience would find it too confusing. But here, maybe they have found a way to make it work. That said, the project has been developing very slowly.

This year there was news that the remake is still in works and finally Zoe Lister-Jones has signed on to direct the remake. Will it also be a sequel as was said before? We will have to wait and see.


8. The Burning (1981)

The Burning (1981)

After the success of “Halloween,” we got back-to-back low-budget slasher films. There were more than you thought there were. While most of them were garbage, there were also good ones that went unnoticed.

“The Burning” was one of those that flopped at the box office while actually being a very decent slasher film that actually cared about its characters. The makeup effects were also cool for its time. The film, just like several others on the list, turned out to be a cult classic and it’s referenced in popular culture these days. For example, the very fun underrated genre comedy “The Final Girls” made several references to the film.

But for some reason, the film never got a sequel, unlike many slasher films at the time. Not even for the direct-to-video market. Nowadays, the film’s reputation has gotten darker.

It was basically Miramax’s first film; the story was in fact co-written by Harvey Weinstein himself and for obvious reasons, anything with his name on it sounds toxic right now to the public. 


7. Near Dark (1987)

Near Dark

No disrespect to “The Lost Boys,” but the best vampire movie of that year was Kathryn Bigelow’s “Near Dark.” A genre film with a surprising amount of nuance and full of well-written characters, “Near Dark” is a modern vampire classic that delivers on all levels. Despite a poor box office performance, the film was applauded by critics and was a hit among horror fans.

It obviously got talk of a remake at some point, but nobody bothered with a sequel. Yet, Bigelow’s co-writer Eric Red got to think about a possible sequel “in a way that stayed true to the modern vampire western fundamentals of the piece. The vampire clan of Jesse, Severn, Diamondback, and Homer had to have kin, after all,” and he shared some sequel talk online.

He also adds that “the movie will never get made,” which is sad because there doesn’t seem to be any interest in a sequel anywhere; it has been a long time and Bigelow would probably not return to direct a movie like this. We would like to be proven wrong, of course.


6. Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas

A landmark of a horror movie. Before “Halloween,” there was “Black Christmas,” which has been very influential to this day. It’s understandable why it never got the popularity “Halloween” reached, but it’s basically the grandfather of all slasher flicks. It is also praised for concluding without revealing the identity of its villain.

Bob Clark had a great year in 1974 as he also made the criminally underrated “Dead of Night.” But he made it clear that he didn’t come to the business just for the horror genre, and he was never interested in making a sequel to “Black Christmas.”

Instead, we got a terrible 2006 remake. They could have gone for the sequel again without revealing the identity of our villain, and keeping things as simple as possible while giving depth to characters and finding other fresh ideas to frighten the audience.

The 10 Best Jump Scares in Horror Movies

The horror genre employs a number of techniques to scare audiences, whether it be gore that makes us flinch, psychological chills that mess with our minds or playing on our deep, dark childhood fears. But one long standing technique used in horror is that of the jump scare. Not only is it an enduring aspect of the genre, but it is one of the simplest yet most effective techniques.

One of the greatest things about that jump scare is its ability to fit seamlessly into any subcategory of the genre. For example, jump scares are used in traditional horror films such as Halloween and Carrie, but they also work just as well in sci-fi horror such as in Signs and The Thing and even in dramas such as Mulholland Drive and Unbroken.

For some, the jump scare is seen as a rather crude and rudimentary technique, but regardless of whether audiences see it as a clever bit of filmmaking or a lazy one, it cannot be argued that jump scares work on the even the bravest and most unflinching audiences.


10. Candyman (1992) – The medicine cabinet

The film: Researching urban folklore and superstitions in the housing projects in Cabrini Green, Helen, a student from the University of Chicago investigates the legend of the Candyman who supposedly appears when someone looks in the mirror and repeats his name five times. But it is only after a mysterious man matching the Candyman’s description begins stalking her, that Helen begins to realise that the legend may be true.

The scene: Helen approaches the bathroom mirror and stares at her reflection. She opens the medicine cabinet and turns around, suddenly the Candyman’s hook crashes through the cabinet.

In this scene, the tension is built up in a way that suggests that something might happen but because of the focus on the mirror, it is expected that something will appear in the mirror. So when the hook crashes through the actual cabinet, it is an effective jump scare.

Trivia: The bees that feature in Candyman were real and bred specifically for that purpose, only twelve hours old so their stings were less powerful. Tony Todd allowed his face to be covered with bees and to have bees put into his mouth. Overall, he was stung twenty-three times. But it wasn’t all bad, as his lawyer had negotiated a contract where he was paid a bonus each time he was stung – a thousand dollars a sting.


9. Friday the 13th (1980) – Jason in the lake


The film: Camp Crystal Lake is reopened many years after being cursed by terrible events. Although the cautious locals warn against it, a group of young counsellors decide to stay at the deserted summer camp. Soon they find themselves in a fight for their lives as they are picked off one by one by a crazed murderer.

The scene: Finally, it seems as though Alice is headed towards safety, as she drifts towards the policemen on a canoe. Raising her head, she looks at them in relief. When suddenly, Jason appears from the depths of the lake and drags her under.

Lulled into a false sense of security, as the audience believes that the film is coming to an end and Alice is safe now, Jason suddenly appearing is both terrifying and shocking.

Trivia: The filmmakers never intended for this film to launch a franchise. Jason was only meant to be a plot device and it was never intended or thought that he would carry on his mother’s murdering ways and grisly work.


8. Jaws (1975) – Jaws appears next to Brody


The film: When a woman is killed after going for a late-night swim, her remains cause Police Chief Brody to suspect that there may be a shark on the loose. However, the Mayor refuses to close the beaches, mindful of the roaring summer tourist trade. But after more victims are discovered, Brody teams up with a visiting ichthyologist and local fisherman to get rid of the dangerous predator once and for all.

The scene: As Brody churns the water, he shouts up to Quint when suddenly Jaws appears behind him.

In this scene, Brody is cleverly kept to the right of the frame but because his actions are otherwise mundane, we do not expect to suddenly see Jaws fill the left of the frame, causing a jump scare.

Trivia: The other jump scare scene in the film was not originally scripted. Director Steven Spielberg added it in because he “got greedy” after seeing the test audiences’ reactions to the above-mentioned scene.


7. The Exorcist III (1990) – The hospital scene


The film: When a police detective starts noticing similarities between his current murder investigation and the crimes carried out by a murderer who was executed fifteen years ago, he soon discovers a man who claims to be the dead serial killer. Visiting the hospitalised mental patient, he begins to investigate how the two men may be connected.

The scene: We watch a long shot of the hospital corridor as a nurse checks a room and then comes out of it and locks it. As she walks away, suddenly a figure appears behind her and decapitates her.

Often cited as one of the scariest scenes in horror, this jump scare is so effective because it is so sudden and unexpected. It is also horribly violent.

Trivia: The film is based on the novel Legion by William Peter Blatty. It was decided that it would be called The Exorcist III for commercial reasons, even though it doesn’t feature any exorcisms. After principal photography, the misleading title was noticed, and producers decided to add in additional scenes in order to make the film more viable as a sequel to The Exorcist.


6. Poltergeist (1982) – The creepy doll under the bed

Poltergeist (1982)

The film: The Freelings live an ordinary life as your typical Californian family, until one night when strange and mysterious things begin to happen in their house. They are drawn to the television set, where ghosts begin to commune with them. At first the interactions are friendly but when the youngest daughter goes missing, the Freelings are forced to call in the help of an exorcist.

The scene: Robbie looks at the clown doll sitting at the end of his bed and throws a cushion at it, causing the bell on its hat to jingle. Settling down to sleep, he sits up again to see that the doll has moved. He looks around for it, and slowly looks under the bed on one side before carefully looking on the other side. As he sits up, the clown is behind him.

Another clever piece of misdirection as the scene is played out as though the doll will appear under the bed. When the doll appears behind Robbie, it is sudden and violent.

Trivia: This was Steven Spielberg’s first film as a producer. In the scene where the hands pull the flesh off of the investigator’s face in the bathroom mirror, the hands are Spielberg’s.

All 7 Bong Joon-ho Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

He Looked Just Ordinary - Memories of Murder (2003)

This year a Korean won the most prestigious award at the most prestigious film festival, the Palme D’or from the Cannes Film Festival, making it the first time for a Korean to ever do so. That Korean was not Hong Sang-soo or Kim Ki-duk, or even Lee Chang-dong or Park Chan-wook, it was none other than South Korean director Bong Joon-ho.

And it was about time.

Parasite is the second of his films to be in competition for the coveted award and the first to win it because it is the ultimate culmination of everything he’s become: a genre-blender telling social tales full of twists that have a dark sense of humor, deliberate camerawork, eccentric characters played by a determined ensemble cast, a harsh criticism of humanity, and seamless tonal shifts.

So to honor his achievement, here’s a list of all the hits from the Bong – ranked.


7. Barking Dogs Never Bite

The beginning of Bong Joon-ho’s cinematic voice of course started in his feature-length debut, Barking Dogs Never Bite, and it’s not because it’s bad that it’s at the bottom of this list. It’s only because he’s still figuring out, quite assuredly, the sort of films he wants to make. Sometimes it takes a few films for a filmmaker to decide but Bong seemed to know right away. This is what makes this debut so impressive.

It foreshadows everything he’s now known for: the cinematography knows what it’s doing, it mixes genres, there are uncomfortable things to laugh at, it has cast members he will later work with at least once more, and the main character is on the lower end of the economic hierarchy.

Barking Dogs Never Bite is about an unemployed college professor who’s had enough with unemployment, his nagging pregnant wife, and apparently dogs that won’t STFU. It’s mostly the first two that drive him to the edge, to kidnapping and attempting to kill a dog, setting off a goofy but dark chain events.

It pretty much sounds like a student short film concept stretched to 115 minutes, and it pretty much is, but being Bong Joon-ho it’s much better than that. Although that’s not to say it’s perfect. Its pacing is a bit sluggish despite its jazzy score because Bong isn’t quite capable of gracefully balancing subplots and mood changes this early in the game, and the black humor doesn’t go as far as it could. When watching a dark comedy about a dognapper then there better be some good dognapping LOL shenanigans!

Currently on Netflix.


6. Snowpiercer

The year 2013 was kind of an odd, coincidental year. Three South Korean filmmakers made English-language debuts. Kim Jee-woon made The Last Stand starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville, Park Chan-wook made Stoker with Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman, and Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer had an all-star US cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Tilda Swinton, and Ed Harris.

It is pretty clear Bong got most of the creative say with his English-language debut; unlike the others he got to co-write it, have a South Korean editor, and even cast his boy Song Kang-ho in a significant supporting role. It’s also the better reviewed of the three on Rotten Tomatoes (not that that means anything).

Based on the French graphic novel, “Le Transperceneige (The Snow-Piercer)”, Snowpiercer is centers around Chris Evans’ Curtis leading a revolution aboard a perpetual-motion train circling the globe after most life on Earth is destroyed by a global warming experiment. The train is divided by class – the poor in the back, the rich in the front. To reach the front for their revenge, or just to have their voices heard, they have to go through sections of the train that represent the agriculture industry, the education system, and so forth.

Needless to say, the allegory is a bit heavy-handed, which ultimately hurts the film, and it certainly doesn’t help that Ed Harris delivers what feels like a 20-minute monologue of exposition near the end. It’s hard to ignore the craft though, and it’s definitely a thrilling ride with some twisted revelations.

Also currently streaming on Netflix.


5. Okja

One can say whatever they want about Netflix productions but sometimes they produce one that even the haters can’t help but talk about. Bong Joon-ho’s Okja is one of those.

What sets it apart from most, however, is that it’s not a full-foreign Netflix production and it’s not a 100% American Netflix production either. Half the story takes place in South Korea, the other half takes place in the United States, with a young non-English speaking South Korean girl in the lead.

Okja is exactly as David Ehlrich of IndieWire describes it: “E.T. on crack”. Instead of an alien from outer space that’s taken by the US government, it’s a genetically engineered “super pig” that’s taken by the US corporation that created it. Its friend, the young South Korean girl Mija, sets off on a mission to get it back and teams up with the ALF (Animal Liberation Front) to do so, of which Paul Dano plays the leader.

Tilda Swinton co-stars in a dual role (because why not?) and Jake Gyllenhaal co-stars as a morally compromised Steve Irwin whose performance is clearly inspired by anime. The whole film, regardless of not being a wholly Asian film with an all-Asian cast, has an Asian sense of humor that definitely makes for a unique experience.

While Okja is obviously preachier than Snowpiercer, it just has so much heart and is actually rather morally unbiased. The Miranda Corporation is factory farming animals, yes, but they’re factory farming a new animal they created (in an effort to be more eco-friendly) – is that better, worse, or the same as factory farming real, existing animals? The ALF wants to save animals, yes, but Bong occasionally pokes fun at their moral grandstanding and even ensures some of their methods are questionable at best.

When all is said and done Okja correctly suggests that one doesn’t have to be vegan to be pro-animal. In fact, it suggests eating animals isn’t inherently immoral – it’s how the animals live and how they’re treated beforehand that should be questioned and taken seriously.

The 20 Best Movies of 2019 (So Far)

We’re already at the midpoint of 2019 and anyone of the opinion it’s been a mediocre movie year just wasn’t looking hard enough. Even narrowing the list down to a workable 20 titles was no small feat – many worthy movies didn’t make the cut and there’s still six more months to go – and a cursory glance at the titles assembled here shows a wonderful and wide-ranging miscellany. Enjoy!


20. Starfish

UK-born, LA-based director/composer/writer A.T. White makes a splash with his visionary debut feature, a monster-permeated, apocalyptic-set indie. This artful, horror-themed character study stars Virginia Gardner as Aubrey, a young woman mourning the unexpected death of her best friend, Grace.

Grieving is a personal and complicated journey, and Starfish does this potentially dour theme justice by exploring how self-condemnation can be a painful factor in saying goodbye. Holed up in Grace’s small town apartment, Aubrey soon discovers that while she was wracked with guilt something utterly cataclysmic –– and let’s just say it, Lovecraftian –– has happened to the world.

Thankfully for Aubrey, Grace has left a series of clandestine clues about the unfolding Armageddon via cassette tapes she’s stashed around town. “This Mixtape Will Save the World” reads one, and that’s enough to get Aubrey down the rabbithole in this melancholic and consistently imaginative little movie.


19. Non-Fiction

Olivier Assayas’s 12th film, non-Fiction, is a comedy of errors and relationships that reteams the director with his occasional muse Juliette Binoche.

Selena (Binoche) is a successful actress wed to Alain (Guillaume Canet) a publisher who’s too stressed-out for his own good. Sadly for Alain, Selena’s grown bored with him and when Leonard (Vincent Macaigne) and his wife Valerie (Nora Hamzawi) appear on the scene –– Leonard’s a very demanding novelis that Alain must deal with –– a very verbose comedy of manners materializes.

As quirky as Assayas’s finest films, Non-Fiction packs visual flair and verbal brio. For fans of razor-sharp dialogue and clear-sighted conversation à la Linklater, don’t miss this fine French confection.


18. Shadow

Visionary filmmaker Zhang Yimou is back, and as always a sensory spectacle is guaranteed. Shadow is a period piece set during China’s Three Kingdoms era (AD 220-280), and pairs palace chicanery with amazing martial arts.

The plot is an elaborate and convoluted affair pinned by an impressive dual performance from Chao Deng as both the cunning military leader Commander and his “shadow” the heroic Jing, with the Commander’s wife, Madam Yu (Li Sun) caught in the middle.

As a “shadow”, Jing is a formidably conditioned and trained double for the Commander, so convincing that even the king (Zheng Kai) cannot tell them apart.

Rendered almost entirely in mist and rain, this is a large-scale epic of engaging and occasionally brutal elegance. The bewitching harmony of Shadow’s many compositions, best represented by the yin and yang pattern at the film’s center –– and the film’s near total black-and-white flush –– give Shadow its best stab at seduction. As far as style over substance goes, it’s elegant eye-candy.


17. Brightburn

This fast-paced genre entry from producer James Gunn and director David Yarovesky takes a nasty nosedive into rather unexplored waters in the form of superhero horror.

Working with an inspired screenplay from Brian and Mark Gunn (two of James’ prolific brothers), Brightburn reimagines elements from the oft-told Superman origin story that posits the question: what if a child from another world were to crash-land on Earth and be raised amongst us? Only where Clark Kent became a hero to mankind, Brandon Breyer (Jackson Dunn) has much more sinister intentions.

Despite the loving and altruistic efforts of Brandon’s human mom (Elizabeth Banks) and dad (David Denman), once his superpowers start to kick in, he terrorizes his small town in the most murderous means imaginable. The lower-jaw trauma and eyeball injuries so graphically displayed herein will linger long in the memory of even the most jaded and scrupulous gorehounds. Brightburn works as an effective digression and subversion of superhero tropes, making for an unforgettable freakout.


16. All the Gods in the Sky

Billed as “the debut feature from French madman Quarxx” it’s apparent from All the Gods in the Sky’s very first scene that it’s a visionary inauguration from an artist possessing both vision and craft, not to mention a subversive and transgressive gradient perfect for a midnight movie experience.

Simon (Sebastian Barrio) is a middle-aged man living in a dilapidated old farmhouse who’s wracked with intense guilt over a childhood accident that left his younger sister Estelle (Melanie Gaydos) severely disabled. Simon is on a slow and steady descent into madness as he cares for Estelle, all the while invoking ominous extraterrestrial intervention.

If you enjoy sci-fi fantasy, and fairy tale-like storytelling balanced by relatable yet forbidding human incident, this gobsmacking little picture might just blow you away.


15. The Dead Don’t Die

At first it seems an odd fit that American indie filmmaking legend Jim Jarmusch should mix and mingle with zombies, but if you look closer at his filmography his many genre diversions jump out at you. He’s done road movies aplenty (Stranger Than Paradise and Broken Flowers being only two examples), an acid-western (Dead Man), a hitman/samurai flick (Ghost Dog), and a vampire romance (Only Lovers Left Alive) amongst his most admired films. So maybe making a multi-protagonist horror comedy isn’t that out of the blue after all.

Set in the quaint town of Centerville, The Dead Don’t Die spans a few days during an undead uprising that will herald the end of man. And our guides during the final days are drawn from the filmmaker’s repertoire; Steve Buscemi, Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Iggy Pop, RZA, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Waits amongst them.

Non-fans may well be alienated by how these characters rather nebbishy accept their lot; cops Cliff (Murray) and Ronnie (Driver) shrug and carry on their duties as their community is overrun with zombies. It’s only police woman Mindy (Chlöe Sevigny) who seems to reel in appropriate terror as news reports underscore that severity of it all.

Rarely does the end of times land with such eccentric ruefulness and whimsy. Sure, there are hit-and-miss moments, and not all the satire is shrewd, but isn’t the sight of Carol Kane as a chardonnay-obsessed ghoul worth the ticket price alone?


14. Aniara

Adapted from Swedish writer Harry Martinson’s epic 1956 poem, directors Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja offer one of the year’s most visionary and melancholic sci-fi films with Aniara.

Comparisons to Douglas Trumbull’s 1972 environmental-themed post-apocalyptic SF film Silent Running and William Golding’s 1954 dystopian literary classic “Lord of the Flies” are apt in this daunting and ambitious achievement.

Mimaroben (Emelie Jonsson) is part of a group of pilgrims leaving our dying earth for the Mars frontier when their ark-like spacecraft is knocked off course and left paralyzed without fuel. Slowly coming to terms with their forlorn lot, the passengers start to explore extreme means of coping, such as spending unhealthy amounts of time in virtual realms and joining cults that partake in depraved rituals. As fanaticism, hedonism, and cruel totalitarianism take over, Mimaroben fights to retain a sense of prevalence, even attempting to start a family and find love.

Audaciously spanning some 5,981,407 years, Aniara proves to be that rare thing that serious sci-fi aspires to be: both deeply philosophical and utterly fantastical.


13. Hellboy

No doubt people will scoff at the inclusion of Neil Marshall’s Hellboy reboot on any list purporting to be a “best of” anything. I’m here to tell you that the critics and the public got it wrong when they brushed it aside and treated it with contempt. This Hellboy iteration, the third live-action adaptation of Mike Mignola’s comic book hero, is a diabolical delight.

David Harbour is fine as our eponymous half-demon, a dude who files his horns so he can wear hats, and the film draws on elements from some of Mignola’s strongest Hellboy tales (“Darkness Calls” and “The Wild Hunt” in particular), delivering us nothing but a gory good time.

Hellboy’s an old school 1980s/90s-style monster movie full of early Sam Raimi/Peter Jackson-era splatter that plays out like Evil Dead II meets Labyrinth and now I ask you, how the shit does that not sound completely and totally awesome?


12. The Art of Self-Defense

Writer-director Riley Stearns’ remarkably assured second feature isn’t just a rattling character study, it’s also an uproarious satire of toxic masculinity in modern times. Jesse Eisenberg’s Casey is a milquetoast bookkeeper and dachshund-lover who, after a violent nighttime attack from motorcycle thugs, finds himself signing up at a karate studio in hopes of learning how to better protect himself.

Soon Casey finds himself under the sway of Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), as well as being captivated by Anna (Imogen Poots), a stoic karate instructor. Casey’s unsure trajectory takes on shades of Fight Club as Sensei ushers him into a dark fraternity. As The Art of Self-Defense deepens, so to does the offbeat and utterly enjoyable inanity of it all (“He’s a dachshund you son-of-a-bitch!!”).

Audacious and uproarious, Stearns sets his sights on fist-pumping dudebros endlessly seeking antagonistic one-upmanship, on soulless workplace tedium and on the incel-like radicalization close to America’s repute in these Trump-addled times. This is a pull-no-punches jet-black comedy where all the crude quips and brute antics land with precision.


11. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Intense and ultra-violent action abounds in the third installment of the John Wick neo-noir action thriller series. Chapter 3 finds ex-hitman and dog-avenger John Wick (Keanu Reeves, perhaps the purest human being on the planet) stripped of the international assassin’s guild protective services and with a lofty $14 million bounty on his head.

But don’t worry, escaping the blood-soaked neon-lit streets of New York as the world’s most skilled and ruthless killers are after him is par for the course. Before this chapter’s done you’ll see some stunning equestrian vs. motorcycle mayhem, senses-shattering knife-fighting, brutal and balletic dog-attacks, and more. Rarely is carnage so elegantly choreographed, and Parabellum offers the best action set-pieces of the series so far.

Pop cinema this exciting and entertaining while also being brutal and bloodthirsty will have you paraphrasing Keanu from his other beloved franchise: “Whoa!”

10 Great Comedy Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

Living In Oblivion (1995)

As film fans, we seem to pay so much attention to our favourite directors, or waves, that sometimes it’s difficult to really find the time to explore something that we aren’t sure if we’ll like – it just makes much more sense to spend your time on something you are certain you’ll enjoy.

So, with this list, the hope is that you can save some time by coming back here whenever you want to try out something new, just to see where it may take you. Comedy being so subjective, it’s hard to say that someone could really love all of the entries here, but there should be something suitable for everyone on here somewhere!


1. The Ladies Man (Jerry Lewis, 1961)

The Ladies Man (1961)

One of the weirder entries on the list, Jerry Lewis’ entire filmography is… strange, to say the least. His madcap antics seem to bore some to sleep but absolutely enchant others, which makes him very interesting to look into in more detail.

The Ladies Man is maybe even his weirdest film, as in the hardest one to really grasp, with next to no plot (the plot is literally only there as a way to connect gag to gag) and Lewis consistently shocking the audience by putting jokes aside and going straight for the heart (for example, the scene where he has a heart to heart with one of the women in the home rather than continuing to goof around as only Jerry Lewis does).

It’s unpredictable insanity, with pacing so fast it’s difficult not to get whiplash at the end, and yet, it’s completely and utterly hilarious in its innocence and creativity. It’s constantly funny, from the incredible opening sequence to the last, but also surprisingly heartfelt at times… and it may just be Jerry Lewis’ finest work, which is really saying something.


2. Throw Momma From The Train (Danny DeVito, 1987)

This best choice is… surprising in many ways. Whether that surprise comes from the Danny DeVito director credit, the constant Hitchcock references sprinkled throughout or just how fun this film is, it’s up to you.

Throw Momma From The Train is just wonderful. It’s witty, it’s incredibly fun, it’s brilliantly acted and the writing is so memorable it almost hurts. Billy Crystal gives one of his most charismatic performances in the comedy which focuses on his character, Larry Donner, and one of his students, Owen, played by Danny DeVito, as they accidentally end up in a scenario (literally) taken straight out of Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train.

It’s mesmerisingly tongue in cheek, so brilliantly funny it almost hurts, full of great little references to Hitchcock and a huge range of other classical mystery thrillers that make this film so easy to watch it’s almost ridiculous.

DeVito’s direction also has a surprising amount of style to it, and had many subtle touches of Hitchcock snuggled in just to add the extra fun of being able to notice when he is playing on the Master of Suspense’s techniques. It’s just such a great time.


3. Boudu Saved From Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932)

Boudu sauvé des eaux

Coming from Jean Renoir, a man known mostly for the beauty of his films (A Day In The Country) or his hilarious satirical nature (The Rules of the Game comes to mind), Boudu Saved From Drowning is – to little surprise – one of the most relentlessly funny films ever made, and not without its’ satirical bite, either!

Boudu focuses on a man – unsurprisingly called Boudu – a homeless man with a dog, who jumps into a river when he loses said dog, only to be saved by a bourgeoisie family who own a library. With one of the best physical performances of all time from the incredible Michel Simon as the titular Boudu, surrounded by a film that has the anger of somebody like Spike Lee (more on him later…) and the playfulness of Tati, even at times bringing to mind the work of Luis Bunuel.

It’s a staggeringly clever film, and one of Jean Renoir’s very best achievements – which is really saying something taking into account the power that do many of his films have. A phenomenal film from a larger than life director, and one of the funniest films ever made.


4. A Countess From Hong Kong (Charlie Chaplin, 1967)

It’s definitely understandable seeing the more mixed reception to this one. Charlie Chaplin’s last film, and there’s surprisingly little resemblance to his astronomically more popular silent outings of the 1920s and 1930s – no iconic Tramp character, in fact, Chaplin doesn’t even show his face in A Countess From Hong Kong. Instead, Marlon Brando of all people leads the film, playing the American Ogden whose stateroom is taken up by Russian countess Natascha, who has been forced into prostitution in Hong Kong.

Despite lacking just about every marking of Chaplin’s involvement, it’s just one of the most wonderful films ever made. It’s pure bliss, complete and utter joy – to the point that even the sadder moments are made bittersweet as opposed to simply being bitter.

Sure, it gets repetitive, but it’s entirely intentional and it only serves to make the point that Chaplin had been making for so long – so often, people are so focused on keeping up appearances that they forget to be themselves, a beautiful message to send in Chaplin’s swan-song, and one he communicates beautifully. It’s a gentle, touching film and one that manages to completely capture Chaplin’s ideals despite the fact that he never shows his face in it.


5. Theatre of Blood (Douglas Hickox, 1973)

Theatre of Blood

One of the lighter films on here despite how grizzly the premise may sound, Theatre of Blood revolves around an actor who, when one of his performances isn’t recognised as much as he wanted, exacts revenge on his naysaying critics in all kinds of grizzly ways.

Starring Vincent Price as the Shakespearean actor turned serial murderer, this horror comedy is just a great time. It’s one of the most impressive mixings of horror and comedy in that it is able to create genuine laughs and genuine gross out gore back to back without ever making the mistake of alienating the audience through these switches.

Price is just excellent in it – possibly his most fun and enjoyable performance because he just seems to be having an absolute blast – and some of the killings are so funny, so gross and so satisfying that it’s almost impossible not to have a good time with this, even if that final kill can be a step too far for some audience members with a weaker stomach.

The 10 Most Entertaining Movies of The 21st Century

Major Dieter Hellstrom in Inglourious Basterds (2009)

With the changing habits of modern humans, plenty of shallow films that seem to need stupidity and exaggeration are getting more common day by day.

Even though sometimes it feels like this kind of garbage is more easy to consume, there are still bright directors who make delightful movies that are powered by wit, and that offer a pure sense of humor and a joyful cinematic experience. And they prove that aside from its great impact, cinema can be great, quality entertainment.

Here is the list of the most entertaining movies of the 21st century that provide upbeat and diverse entertainment.


10. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Martin Scorsese is one of the most successful directors in American cinema. His funny, dynamic, and immersive masterpiece “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which pushes the limits of all extremes in the sex-money-drug equation, is the prominent proof of his exciting cinematic language.

It tells the story of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, the founder of the well-known investment company Stratton Oakmont. He becomes very rich in a short period of time and challenges Wall Street in the early ‘90s.

Like with “Goodfellas” (1990) and “Casino” (1995), he perfectly converts a biographical crime film into a biographical crime comedy. Scorsese reveals the other side of American society – the wolf packs in the New York stock market. And the wild war between them, their ambitions, and extreme events offers intense entertainment.

This brilliant modern-day mafia story was adapted by Terence Winter, from an autobiographical novel by Jordan Belfort. Like with HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” Winter helps Scorsese to create a very realistic and rigid crime world.

Despite its three-hour run time, it’s far from boring thanks to its fast rhythm and masterful editing.


9. WALL-E (2008)


The importance of Pixar in the development of the animation genre is an undeniable fact. And one of their best WALL-E demonstrates this impact.

The most important hobby of the robot WALL-E, who spends its time collecting garbage and placing them in appropriate places, is finding interesting antiques while collecting garbage. It accumulates these antiques in its private section of the container in which it lives. WALL-E’s only friend is a cockroach. The life of the robot turns upside down by the arrival of a giant spaceship coming from the sky and a female robot.

“WALL-E” elaborates on the society of loneliness, love, friendship, and consumption culture through a garbage disposal robot that humanity has left behind. It masterfully manages to be funny and touching at the same time. It also makes important comments about the damage to the natural environment created by the human species.

In short, “WALL-E” is an unforgettable adventure that can be enjoyed from beginning to end, and is quite enjoyable with its sharp humor and thought-provoking atmosphere.


8. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

O Brother Where Art Thou

In “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, Joel and Ethan Coen were inspired by “The Odyssey,” the classic work of Homer. They turn this into a tragicomic story of an outlaw in 1920’s America.

Ulysses Everett McGill is a notorious convicted offender in prison, but he soon plans to escape. Determined to come out of this hole at any cost, McGill convinces two prisoners that he would find the $1 million treasure he had buried before being sentenced. Inevitably, plenty of strangeness occurs on the journey of these three men.

The wonderful acting of George Clooney, John Goodman, and John Turturro takes the film to the next level. With the mastery of the past-tense aesthetic and the gorgeous wide shots from Roger Deakins, it becomes one of the most visually successful films ever.

Giving a different and quite entertaining view on America’s Great Depression, this screwball comedy is very enjoyable to watch. Thanks to the Coens’ whimsicality and unique humor, it is hypnotic and outrageously inventive.


7. Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Seven Psychopaths

“Seven Psychopaths” is a quite funny and unconventional film. Martin Mcdonagh (“In Bruges,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) creates plenty of hilarious characters and plays with them in an absurd way.

Marty is a writer who tries to write down his book called ‘Seven Psychopaths.’ With his crazy friends, he kidnaps a Shih-Tzu dog for a ransom. But the dog is owned by a psychopath and a notorious gangster…  and these three buddies inevitably join into a rather dangerous and hilarious game in the underworld.

This amazing film also has an all-star cast with Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Abbie Cornish, Christopher Walken, Michael Stuhlbarg, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Waits, Gabourey Sidibe, and Olga Kurylenko.

“Seven Psychopaths” is one of the most entertaining works of the 21st century with its Tarantino-like explosive atmosphere, delightful lines, fluency of lateral stories, and great music.


6. Wild Tales (2014)

Wild Tales

“Wild Tales” is a kind of thriller-comedy that transitions between species, adorned with absurd elements. It’s a delicious, extreme, and hilarious masterpiece produced by Pedro Almodovar and directed by Damian Szifron.

The film tells us what will come out as a result of the unexpected reactions of individuals who are against the injustices we face in everyday life. The scenario technique that we are accustomed to seeing recently and which has become traditional is an intersection of different stories. And we’re supposed to think, “Wow, what a small world.” But “Wild Tales” puts a lot of effort into doing the opposite. It comes up with six completely independent stories. Revenge is the dominant feeling in these delightful and dranged stories.

“Wild Tales,” which includes degeneration, decay, and injustice, simply brings out the notion that we will not suffer from a bit of madness. The characters show us how the existing rules or the normal course of life can change as we delve and expand upon the boundaries.

It is located in a very special and different place among most anthology films. It doesn’t allow you to get bored for even a moment. “Wild Tales” is absolutely the most entertaining film of this era, an insanely funny ride that takes anger into the focus and explores the extreme points of human behavior.

10 Movies That Aren’t As Pretentious As You Think

The definition of pretentious is attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or talent than is actually possessed. In the world of film many directors and films are given this label when audiences feel the material is heavy handed, or in most cases when a director overindulges in their certain style or motifs.

These so called pretentious films can be looked at as lesser or lacking artistic value because of their pretentiousness. But in some cases there are reasons for overindulgences and artistic flourishes, usually because a director has a point to get across, or they are trying to further along the story through stylistic motifs rather than using dialogue. These are ten unpretentious films that really have a lot to offer.


10. Rumble Fish (1983)

Rumble Fish (1983)

From the start the black and white cinematography could be too much for some viewers, but Coppola’s reasoning for it fits the characters and themes of the film. The black and white cinematography represents the color blindness of the motorcycle boy, played by Mickey Rourke in one of his finest roles.

It is also an homage to the Film Noir and German Expressionism periods in cinema, which is why scenes like the fight between Matt Dillon and a rival gang member are set in foggy, dirty, dim lit subways. Many of the street scenes harkin back to the films of the French New Wave.

Coppola’s use of drifting clouds and clocks show the passage of time in the film. A companion piece to Coppola’s previous film “ The Outsiders”. Both films were released in the same year, featuring screenplays by S.E. Hinton and an all star cast of some of the eighties top up and coming stars.

Matt Dillion as the lead Rusty James is able to hold is own in the scenes with the legendary Dennis Hopper and Mickey Rourke. Some of Coppola’s later filmography was not able to hold up to his classics like “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” but “Rumble Fish” is an underrated gem in the filmmakers career.


9. One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

One-Eyed Jacks

Clocking in right under the two and a half hour mark, Marlon Brando’s one and only directed film might be too much for some viewers. Acting as a bridge between the Old and New Hollywood styles, “One-Eyed Jacks” is definitely a great indication of what Brando would have brought from the directors chair if he continued, but the films troubled production history probably burned him out. It was said that Brando waited for the waves to be just right before would start filming, resulting in the most iconic scene from the film.

At the time what made this film so different from the usual Hollywood Westerns from the past was the change from characters with white hats being good and black hats being bad. Brando portrays both leads as grey characters, with Brando and Karl Malden robbing a bank from the start to set them up as antiheroes. The film is a perfect example of method acting at its finest.

Almost all of the dialogue in the film is improvised, most notably the scene where Brando is whipped by Malden in the town square resulting in Brando unexpectedly spitting in Malden’s face. Moviegoers might be turned off by the sort of forced relationship between Brando’s character Rio and Pina Pellicer’s Louisa who brings a real weight to the film, giving Rio a second chance at life. The rumored original cut of the film was much longer, with much of Rio’s time in jail being left up to the audience’s imagination.


8. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Au Hasard Balthazar

Showing the brutality of life through the eyes of a donkey could sound pretentious to some, but Bresson’s ability to portray the donkey’s emotions through it’s facial expressions allows the viewer to connect with Balthazar, feeling his pain. Bresson mainly stuck with non actors in his films to give off a more authentic feel.

The film might feel slow and tedious for many viewers, with each of Balthazar’s landing spots acting as the seven deadly sins. Almost everyone Balthazar lives with treats him cruelly, in most cases it is through hard labor but sometimes local boys from the town set fire to his tail for no reason. The only really nice person to Balthazar is Marie played by Anne Wiazemsky.

The ending sequence might be one of the most beautiful scenes in film history. Some might feel that Bresson is pulling to hard at the audience’s heart strings, but it is needed to fully convey Bresson’s message. You can see the compassion and pain of the world all in one film.


7. Wild At Heart (1990)

Wild at Heart (1990)

From the Elvis impersonating Nick Cage performance to all of the “Wizard Of OZ” references, David Lynch’s “Wild At Heart” might be to much of a style overload for some people to handle. Actually this is one of Lynch’s more lighter films. His usual themes are present such as an innocent young couple diving into the dark underworld. The recurring fire imagery connects the murder of Loula’s father and her love for Sailor. William Defoe delivers one of his standouts supporting character performances as the grimey Bobby Peru.

At times “Wild At Heart” seems like a “Twin Peaks” spin off with many of the series characters appearing in the Lynchism heavy Big Tuna, Texas sequence. But that’s what makes a David Lynch film unique from other films.

Half of the time you are confused by what he puts on screen but eventually it will all make sense. Although the film had mixed reviews, Lynch was able to capture the Palm d’Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, starting the rise of early nineties independent cinema in America.


6. The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant (1972)

Die bitteren Tranen der Petra von Kant

With an all female cast and being shot only in a single room, it is easy to see why one Of Fassbinder’s masterpieces might appear pretentious on face value. But this film is all about the characters and their power dynamics over one another. The single location strips the film of flashy locations, allowing the actresses to drive the story. It also represents the isolation and pressure a codependent relationship can create.

You can see Petra’s obsession and desire for Karin played by the immortal Hanna Schygulla. Schygulla uses facial and eye movements to show her characters selfishness. The character Marlene almost goes unnoticed in the background, mirroring the models throughout Petra’s house.

Eventually Petra begins to mirror Marleane, willing to do anything to gain Karin’s love resulting in her melt down. The ending might leave some puzzled and wanting more but now that Petra is no longer the narcissist she was in the beginning, Marlene has now has no use for her.

10 Documentary Masterpieces You’ve Probably Never Seen

In any genre, there are bound to be brilliant films that we simply miss, not out of any kind of ignorance but just because we accidentally skim over films sometimes. Documentaries seem to suffer from this even more, being the most undervalued of all genres, with many only seeing the most popular and acclaimed of them all.

This means that hundreds of interesting documentaries slide under the radar, and even the occasional masterpiece, so… to save you the time of digging through hundreds of documentaries looking for the one to really grab your attention and hold you, use this list to save a little time. Here are ten documentary masterpieces you may have (but hopefully haven’t!) missed.


1. Warrendale (Allan King, 1967)


Starting off with the very best, from the most overlooked documentarian of all time, Allan King’s Warrendale is a cinema véritè masterpiece that really started the véritè movement within documentaries. King’s documentary focuses on a group of children in a home for the emotionally disturbed.

The power of the documentary lies in the way that King simply observed what happens, focusing on capturing the spontaneity of his surroundings in the first of a series of films he would call “actuality dramas”.

The film creates some of the most harrowing moments ever put to screen, observing the situations in a way that doesn’t make a comment either way, doesn’t have any bias and simply lets the audience see what happens and decide for themselves what they think about it.

One scene in particular focuses on a meeting held to discuss the death of a worker, which turns into a complete meltdown that King’s camera follows very closely, letting the audience watch as the workers do everything they can to keep the children under control, even if in some cases it leads to… questionable decisions on their behalf.

King’s film is an absolute masterclass in documentary filmmaking, and as if that wasn’t enough on its own, it also happens to be one of the most soul-crushing experiences one can have. Interestingly, it is said that the children asked King and his crew why their faces were blacked out in pictures of them in the newspaper, asking “what is so awful about us that we can’t be seen?”, and so, King let us see them, just as they are.


2. Law and Order (Frederick Wiseman, 1969)

Another great example of the cinema véritè movement in the late 60s and coming from one of the most prolific of all documentary filmmakers, Frederick Wiseman’s Law & Order follows police officers as they patrol various areas.

Their encounters with civilians are always very interesting, with the véritè style leading to a very honest and laid back approach allowing the audience to just observe the protocol and decide for themselves how they feel about it and, in a similar way to Warrendale, there’s also the interesting point (accidentally) made about how protocol and treatment from authority has changed over time and what is deemed right and wrong now compared to what was deemed right and wrong then.

The changes are bigger than you’d think. Wiseman’s steady cinematography also help make this one stand out when compared to others, as does his never intruding camera. As troubling as it is insightful, Law and Order is really an essential 60s documentary with a focus on the American police. Also worth noting that the film does focus on police brutality and came out just after the peak of racial brutality (aside from the L.A. 1992 issues).


3. Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)

Of Time and The City

Coming from one of the greatest British directors to ever touch a camera (or grace it with his presence), Terence Davies extremely personal documentary focused on the city he grew up in, Liverpool and how it has changed over the years. Bringing to mind a range of different films, from Berlin: Symphony of a City to all of the other work Davies has done collectively.

Through rather deadpan narration, Davies looks back on his fond memories of Liverpool and his childhood spend there, also quoting numerous authors and philosophers and relating the changes in Liverpool as well as his experiences there. With some really cathartic imagery from the archival footage used throughout helping the viewer understand the beauty and the nostalgia that Davies feels towards Liverpool, the documentary is just gorgeous as it is nostalgic, making it one that has to be seen by anyone from Liverpool, but also by any fan of Davies in general.


4. The Imposter (Bart Layton, 2012)

the imposter

Now, one for fans of stranger than fiction documentaries. This mind-bending documentary, a stunning combination of fiction and non-fiction, tells the story of a family losing their son before having him reappear three years later in another country with some differences including a complete change in accent, however, the family are so happy to have their son back that they welcome him with open arms, despite the glaring differences.

Layton’s directorial debut is one of the most consistently thrilling and shocking documentaries made this century, following these events with incredible pacing and beautiful editing, using reconstruction footage and interviews to keep the pacing flowing perfectly.

The constant twisting and turning, the excellent interview footage and the editing make this an absolute must watch for any fan of documentaries and… Hell, any film fan in general. By the time it finishes, you’ll be disturbed, hyper aware of who you trust and delighted by the unbelievable quality of this documentary. It cannot be recommended enough.


5. When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts (Spike Lee, 2006)

When the Levees Broke (2006)

Spike Lee’s 4 hour mammoth masterpiece, When The Levees Broke, is more than likely to be cited as one of the essential documentaries as time passes. Focusing on Hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermath, Lee’s documentary takes hundreds of differing perspectives and puts them all together, creating this chilling cry of humanity to the government who simply didn’t do enough about this huge problem at the time.

Using footage made by people at the time of the hurricane, photography of the event, endless interviews, footage of debates, music, celebrity appearances and so much more to create a horrendous image of the tragedy and the lack of relief that came after for New Orleans and the people living there, with a specific focus on a group of individuals whose lives were forever changed by the tragedy (whilst simultaneously alluding to the fact that there are thousands just like them, too).

It’s endlessly frustrating, upsetting, infuriating, crushing… but of course it is, coming from Spike Lee, who managed to direct this so perfectly and also capture so much with it that it’s hard to believe that something this sprawling can even exist. It’s one of the most important documentaries ever made, and it demands four hours of your time. It is genuinely required viewing.

8 Famous Movies Banned Overseas For Ridiculous Reasons

There’s no official or objective criteria for what is or isn’t obscene. Even still, it’s understandable (though not commendable) when films get banned for promoting extremism, offending sexual sensibilities or being extremely violent.

Yet, because offense is in the eye of the beholder, every blue moon a film gets banned for reasons that are ironic, silly, or just plain odd. Here are ten movies banned overseas for ridiculous reasons.


1. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extraterrestrial is a film about children that truly understands children in part because most children take the good adults in their lives for granted and see strange adults as their enemies.

Apparently, the adults in Scandinavia don’t know that children often distrust adults or at least want to curb this, so Scandinavian governments banned children under twelve from seeing E.T. because its portrayal of adults trying to destroy Elliot’s friendship with his alien buddy could lead to children seeing adults as their enemies. God forbid that children realize that adults can do bad things.

Nordic children apparently weren’t too thrilled by this development and started precious little protests demanding that they be allowed to see a little extraterrestrial speak broken English and fly around on a bicycle – it’s a human right after all. Scandinavia’s chief film censor, Gunnel Arrback, was unmoved; she believed that the film’s storyline would traumatize children, leading one to question how Scandinavian children could be so sensitive when they live in such a brutally cold environment.

Children who protested against the age restrictions put on seeing the film may have come to the conclusion that adults are sadists intent on ruining their fun, ironic given the intent behind the ban.


2. District 9

District 9

Alongside James Cameron’s Avatar and J. J. Abram’s Star Trek, District 9 was part of a miniature trend from ten years ago that used extraterrestrials to represent a racial “other” and presented conflicts between humans and aliens to as metaphors for racial hatred.

More than the others, District 9 is intended as a rallying cry against racism against black people, which is ironic considering that it was widely interpreted as being racist against black people. A group of Nigerians in the film are portrayed as ruthless gangsters, leading the Nigerian government to see the film as an attack on their nation as a whole and ban it. While District 9 got mostly positive reviews form critics, director Neill Blomkamp and company clearly dropped the ball in a major way if their intended anti-racist movie was getting called out for racism.

Sony Pictures responded to this controversy by stating that “no offense was intended toward any country or person” and stressing that District 9 is a work of fiction, as if that somehow precluded it from being racist. The Nigerian government eventually allowed for the film to have a limited release in the country but that didn’t prevent the controversy from becoming a permanent stain on the film’s reputation.


3. Offside

Iran has a law against women and girls entering sports stadiums. The justification for this law is that if women enter sports stadiums, their delicate little ears might hear men swear. This law is minor, but it managed to inspire a well -received comedy film, Offside. Offside gently mocks the law and its effect on female sports fans through its cute story about women trying to sneak into a soccer stadium in drag to see a big match.

The film isn’t an attack on Islam, the Iranian government as a whole, or the totality of Iranian gender roles, it just gently ribs this one law. That was apparently too much for Ali Khamenei and the Iranian government who banned any screenings of the film in the country, both to try to prevent its message from spreading and for a more petty reason: to prevent the film from qualifying for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film put its director, Jafar Panahi, on extremely poor terms with his country’s sharia law government and contributed to his later imprisonment for supposedly spreading anti-Iranian propaganda through his films. All for making some cute jokes.


4. 2012


Even a government as abusive a North Korea’s can occasionally protect its people from harm. Case in point: Kim Jong-il prevented his countrymen from seeing Roland Emmerich’s disaster of a disaster film 2012, even if he did so for self-serving reasons.

Essentially, Kim Jong-il and company wanted to have a monopoly on 2012 predictions. Emmerich’s film asserted that the (alleged) Mayan 2012 doomsday prophecies were true and that countless innocent people would be killed through tacky displays of CGI.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, however, predicted that 2012, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of their regime’s founder, Kim Il-sung, would coincide with the rise of the nation becoming a major superpower.

Because of this, the government banned the film and threatened to heavily fine and imprison anyone caught with a bootleg copy of the film. Surely, anyone whose taste in movies is so bad that they want to watch 2012 unironically probably deserves some form of punishment, but jail time in North Korea is a bit too much.