This is the first part of my year in review series, this post will be about the superhero genre during 2016. You can expect a list of the best and worst movies at the end of January once I’ve seen La La Land, Jackie, Silence, Hacksaw Ridge and any other potential Oscar nominee.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Back in January 2009, Chesney ‘Sully’ Sullenburger (Tom Hanks) was departing from a New York airport to Charlotte, North Carolina, when his plane was suddenly hit by a flock of Canada Geese. This knocked out both engines meaning that the plane was essentially a glider. Suffering loss of thrust above one of the most densely populated areas in the world, Sully quickly deduced that it was impossible to arrive at any of the surrounding airports, and the only option was the river Hudson. Sully landed the plane with remarkable skill, but the ordeal wasn't over yet as water flooded in. The rescue services acted quickly and all 155 people on the plane were saved. Eastwood’s most recent film is about the heroic actions of Sully, and the recent aftermath which includes traumatic flashbacks and the NTSB investigation.
Saturday, 17 December 2016
Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the ex CIA worker who leaked confidential documents about the mass surveillance operation conducted by US agencies that involved spying on average Americans as well as World leaders. Snowden is a dramatic retelling of the story.
Friday, 16 December 2016
Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, Paterson, is about a bus driver named Paterson in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. The film is about a week in the life of the poetry loving bus driver and his relationship with others, such as his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) who is a stay-at-home artist.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Ali Abbasi’s film, Shelley, has a great number of interesting ideas about the fear of pregnancy and the sheer desire to have a baby, but interesting ideas don’t always add up to a great movie. Louise and Kasper live in an isolated cottage in the countryside, they require a maid, Elena, to assist Louise in her day to day activities following her operations. This operation renders her childless and unable to conceive so they ask Elena to be the surrogate mother, and Elena agrees. With all the loud, jump scares of modern, mainstream America horror cinema, it’s easy to appreciate the more measured, slow burn approach but not to the extent it becomes rather boring. As impressive as the film’s visuals and make up effects are, its rather dull and left open to interpretation a little too much for one’s liking, a little closure goes a long way but the film is to obtuse it ends up being rather frustrating.
It’s early in the morning on the fourth of July and the police have received a complaint about some party animals have started the 4th of July celebrations early. The police arrive on the scene only to discover a bloody massacre with a single survivor. Meanwhile a group of friends are planning an exciting drink, drug and sex fuelled party at a remote cabin. However, something sends the 20somethings into a rage fuelled state, was it the locals? The shot that they’d all taken? Or the drugs, if so this film works well as an anti-drugs commercial.
I was deliberately more vague regarding the cause of rage fuelled zombie like behaviour in comparison to official plot synopsis which deemed it fit to reveal the cause of the infection, it perhaps did the film a disservice revealing far too much. Anyway there’s a habit with these types of films to present all of the characters as deeply unlikable, there’s one arrogant and cocky guy whose death would be most welcomed and most of the other characters don’t fare much better. It's a mystery why this happens so often, we need characters to care about.
The basic plot of The Evil in Us is one that’s been told many times, the clichés are certainly there as the creepy locals (who the young group of friends predictably annoy) and remote cabin feel very familiar. However, despite the fact that the zombie genre is inflated with gallons of crap, there’s some relatively new ideas here and ones that actually gets you thinking about how such a crisis would be resolved.
The literal blood bath of the opening credits sets the precedent for what to except as the excellent make up and gore effects thrill and some filmmaking techniques (such as depicting the visual hallucinations bought on by the infection) work in the film’s favour.
Rosie (Alex Essoe) and John (Josh Stewart) are drug mules for their uncle (played by Skipp Sudduth in a wonderfully foul performance), for that reason they live in relative seclusion but for one, seemingly normal, neighbour. That is until Rosie (going all Rear Window) spots the neighbour (Bill Engvill) in question beating someone to death with a spade and disposing of the body.
Alex Essoe shot to fame (at least within the minds of horror fans) with her superb performance in the disturbing Starry Eyes, her latest film The Neighbour is slightly more conventional but still an excellent exercise in tension. The Neighbour is more of thriller than a horror, but there's a lot tension surrounding what the neighbour is up to (and it's clear that he is up to something) and when its revealed that he is up to something fishy the film sets itself within the thriller genre. Marcus Dunstan does a fine job in the director's chair (there are, however, moments where the film is superficially over-stylised) but credit goes Alex Essoe and Josh Stewart whose chemistry as the married couple in peril helps the audience find something to be engaged in.
Three people with financial issues are selected to take part in this edcuational experiment where gifted children are confined to stay undergroud in order to reach their potential. It seems a bit odd from the start, but things turn from strange to downround deadly
Let's be Evil sets its self apart from a majority of horror films by making use of augmented reality as a way to tell the story. It's an interesting way to tell the story, and the film uses it to exmaine its themes, which include the use of technolgy in the educational system and the way the kids have limited play time even though research suggests that playtime is benefical to the student's learning process. The film has it's moments, it's often tense and exicting the augmented reality adds an interesting dimension. It's, however, a little rough on the edges, and threat by the kids isn't fully convicing (there's a scene where the evil kids a literally patting one of the central characters) and it's a bit on the predictable side.
Monday, 12 December 2016
Barry Jenkins’ film tells the story of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) in three stages of his life, the first stage is where Chiron is a target of local bullies for his small size and structure, and suspicions that he is gay (something that Chiron isn’t fully sure but suspects so) the second is his life as a teenager where he begins actually experiment with his sexuality and the third and final stage where Chiron has begun his life as a drug dealer in Atlanta.
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
In the small Korean village of Goksung there’s a strange infection spreading through the village that creates horrible boils on the body and sends people into horrific convulsions. Meanwhile there are some brutal killings taking place in the same village, and it’s suspected that a Japanese visitor is responsible for the strange going ons. Is the Japanese visitor the cause for these strange happens or is there something, more sinister, pulling the strings?
Sunday, 27 November 2016
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York with an illegal cargo of magical animals, which are banned in the United States. Newt is trying to prove that there is nothing to fear from these magical animals and they should be protected. However, the animals escape and with help from Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and muggle, or No-Maj, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Newt tries to return the animals back to the suitcase and to safety. Meanwhile, in the muggle world there is anti-magic sentiment brewing which threatens to lead to war.
Friday, 25 November 2016
At the end of the Second World War, a young French doctor, Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) finds a Covent home to a group of nuns some of whom are in different stages of pregnancy. Because of these women’s faith, the discovery is forced to be kept a secret which hinders Mathilde’s ability to do her job as she can’t seek assistance from fellow doctors, leaving her with a difficult job in very testing circumstances.
There’s literally hundreds of zombie movies out, some of which stink out the genre with its foul, rotting stench so strong that the film was probably dead on arrival. With Night of Something Strange, The ReZort, Train to Busan, and Viral all coming out in the same year you could probably make a comprehensive top 10 Zombie films of 2016 alone. Joke titles are a thing too, think Cockneys vs Zombies or Juan of the Dead (even the Cuban film industry are getting on the act) and now we have The Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies…with a distinct lack of lederhosen.
Thursday, 24 November 2016
Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Bobby Dorfman (Jessie Eisenberg) leaves his family in New York to live in Los Angeles to work for his Uncle, Phil (Steve Carell), a busy talent agent. In LA, Bobby is introduced to Paul’s secretary, Veronica (Kristen Stewart), who Bobby is instantly smitten with. Veronica, however, has a boyfriend who she claims is a journalist named Doug, in reality the boyfriend is Bobby’s uncle, Paul.
Friday, 18 November 2016
Thursday, 17 November 2016
Susan (Amy Adams) is an art gallery owner married to a philandering husband (Arnie Hammer), she is lonely and unhappy with her life. This is her second marriage, she left her first husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and the pair haven’t spoken for almost twenty years. So when Edward sends her a violent novel, which was dedicated to her, she feels a little uneasy and wary when reading the novel’s most brutal passages.
Tuesday, 15 November 2016
In twelve locations across the globe an alien spaceship touches down just above the planet’s surface, what they want is a mystery. One such ship touched down in Minnesota, not far from where linguist professor Louise Banks works. Having security clearance due to previously helping the army in an earlier job, and being one the best linguist experts in the country, Banks is the ideal person to try and help translate the alien responses.
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Nicolas Winding Refn is a divisive filmmaker among critics with his detractors labeling his films as style over substance and those who celebrate him proclaiming his films as visual masterpieces. The best example of Refn’s divisiveness as a filmmaker is Only God Forgives which was booed and cheered in equal measure at the Cannes Film Festival. One is just as likely to think Only God Forgives is a tedious waste of time as much as one would think it a visually hypnotic, deranged and violent masterpiece. I’m in the latter camp, and The Neon Demon has been described as a similar film to Only God Forgives, so I should love it right?
Friday, 4 November 2016
There's a small trend where movies tend to come in pairs, back in 1971 there were two movies in which an ordinary person (or persons) savagely kill intruders in their house. In 2010, there were two movies heavily based on Ancient Greek mythology and in 2013 there were two films about a foreign invasion of the White House. 2016 saw two films about a boy raised in the jungle by animals, these were The Jungle Book and The Legend of Tarzan both of which were based on classic literacy works.
Thursday, 3 November 2016
Inspired by the Warcraft franchise, Warcraft is set in the land of Azeroth where orcs are arriving into the world via a portal that transports them from their dying world. The races of Azeroth get wind of this and decide to leave it to the humans (and some dissenting orcs) to deal with.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
In recent years Werner Herzog has been a prominent documentary filmmaker exploring the sparseness of the Artic, the ancient history of the Chauvet Caves and the controversy of the death penalty, in fact the guy has two documentaries out this year alone (his other film is called Into the Inferno). Herzog has explored different environments which include the Artic and the Amazon Rainforest and now he looks at the connected world and the internet, an environment with just as many dangers. Herzog’s film is about the rise of the internet, from its origins in the late 60s to the benefits and threats the internet poses today.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
It’s the third film of the holiday franchise from the late Garry Marshall with New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day receiving the same saccharine treatment as Mother’s Day did in the third film of an unofficial trilogy. Like the last two films, Mother’s Day follows a number of loosely connected people on Mothering Sunday and their varying relationships with their mothers.
Saturday, 29 October 2016
Set in a time before history, Egypt is the centre of the world and Gods and men live in harmony. It is a rich, glorious and prosperous place, it’s such perfect place any God would be honoured to rule over it. So, when Osiris (Bryan Brown) hands power to his son, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), his other son, Set (Gerard Butler), allows jealously to overcome him and he reacts by killing his father, blinding his brother and taking the kingdom for himself.
Thursday, 27 October 2016
Doctor Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the world’s top Neurosurgeon, capable of performing even the most complex operations. However, he suffers a terrible car accident that destroys the nerves in the hands, meaning that his livelihood is destroyed. Strange hears a strange story about a former paraplegic who regained the ability to walk, this leads Strange to even stranger things in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. In Nepal, Strange finds a society, led by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), that dedicates their lives to protecting the world from the evils of the dark dimension, which former disciple, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), wishes Earth to become part of.
Another Thursday Movie Picks, this week it’s about Epidemic, Pandemic, and Outbreaks. Please check out WanderingThrough the Shelves
Monday, 24 October 2016
The Zander family run a well meaning but emotionally manipulative business where they pretended to contact recently departed loved ones by staging a show (blowing out candles, doors creaking open, the usual). However, when Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) buys an Ouija board it turns out that you can contact the spiritual world as her youngest daughter, Doris (Lulu Wilson), is able to contact the dead. The family use the board to try to contact the father, but something else attaches itself to Doris. When events starting take a more serious turn, they enlist the help of Father Tom (E.T’s Henry Thomas).
Friday, 21 October 2016
Jacob ‘Jake’ Portman (Asa Butterfield) is a lonely teenager in California whose closest friend is his grandfather, Abe (Terrance Stamp). For years Abe has told Jacob magical stories of his past, all of which feature monstrous beasts and peculiar yet remarkable children. These children are known as Peculiars and reside with Mrs Peregrine (Eva Green) in her home in the Welsh countryside which Abe lived several decades ago.
Thursday, 20 October 2016
A new Thursday Movie Picks for you, this week it’s Science Fiction Horror – check out http://wanderingthroughtheshelves.blogspot.co.uk/
Monday, 17 October 2016
A few days before I watched Race I was watching a documentary about the Nazi Olympics and pondered a question ‘who is worse FIFA or the IOC?’. It says a lot about the two organizations that I didn’t include the Nazis in that question. Obviously I am being facetious but both organizations have gotten themselves involved in numerous scandals.
Friday, 14 October 2016
Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960s John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven (which itself was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’’s The Seven Samurai), and stars Denzel Washington as Sam Chisolm, a warrant office and leader of The Magnificent Seven, who agrees to help a town in their fight against Bart Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Sam recruits a group of fighters which include drunken, gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), war veteran Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and exiled Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Based on the Paula Hawkins best selling novel of the same name, Emily Blunt stars as a Rachel, a divorced alcoholic who takes an interest in this seemingly perfect couple who live in a house which Rachel’s commutator train passes everyday. The couple’s tranquility is broken when Rachel spots Megan (Haley Bennett) kissing another guy. Shortly after this, Megan vanishes, and in the morning following Megan’s disappearance Rachel wakes up with a bad gash on her head. blood on her hands and without any memory of the night before. How involved was Rachel in Megan’s disappearance?
Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Five years after directing The Beaver, Jodie Foster returns to the director’s chair (she did direct two episodes of Orange is the New Black and one episode of House of Cards during this period) with a very topical financial thriller. Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a TV presenter who advises his audience on commerce and Wall Street, his show is hijacked at gunpoint by a down on his luck and bankrupt viewer, Kyle (Jack O’Connell), who claims that the system is rigged. The show’s director, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), must calm Kyle down in order to save Lee’s life. However, as the hostage crisis goes on it appears that there is something fishy about IBIS’s sudden loss of $800 million dollars.
Monday, 10 October 2016
Antonio Campos’s film Christine bears no resemblance to the Stephen King film adaptation, but it is, in its very own way, very much a horrific story. Christine is based on the infamous true story in which 1970s TV news reporter Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) took her own life, live on air with a handgun she smuggled into the news room.
Sunday, 9 October 2016
I got the chance to see the European premiere of Manchester by the Sea, one of the biggest films of 2016. When I mean ‘the chance’ I actually meant I forked out £60 for two tickets to see Kenneth Lonergan’s latest film. Touted as an awards contender, Manchester by the Sea sees Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) return to his home town, Manchester by the Sea, following the death of his brother, Joey (Kyle Chandler) who suffered from a serious heart condition. In returning to his home town, Lee has to deal with his history, including a traumatic past event, his ex-wife (Michelle Williams), and his brother’s son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).
Thursday, 6 October 2016
As it's October and fast approaching Halloween, a day where kids are allowed to take sweets off strangers, it is time for some scary Thursday Movie Picks. This week it's witches and warlocks, please check out - http://wanderingthroughtheshelves.blogspot.co.uk/
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Following on from the horror hit (in indie circles at least) of A Girl Walks Home Alone, Under The Shadow uses the success of the aforementioned film to boost itself into becoming one of the most hotly anticipated films among horror fans with positive buzz from Sundance and Frightfest only increasing the anticipation. Set during the latter stages of the Iran-Iraq war, Under the Shadow is about a mother and daughter terrorised by an evil spirit known as a Djinn. After her husband, a doctor, leaves to work in a dangerous military zone and her neighbours leave a war-torn capital Tehran, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) finds herself alone and isolated.
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Geordie Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) has recently suffered a heart attack and his doctors have come to the conclusion that he is unable to work and must apply for out-of-work sickness benefits. However, because his heart attack doesn’t stop him lifting his hands above his head he fails to reach the required points to qualify for benefits and thus is rejected. This leads Daniel is great financial difficulty, but he finds solace in helping single mother Kate (Haley Squires) who has recently moved to the area.
Friday, 30 September 2016
Zoolander is a cult hit and has many fans despite it’s somewhat offbeat humour. Personally, I never really cared for it and I care for Zoolander 2 even less. Both Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) have been out in the wilderness for years (both literally and figuratively) as a result of the collapse of the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good but are brought out of retirement by Interpol agent Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz) when numerous celebs are murdered.
Thursday, 29 September 2016
Monday, 26 September 2016
Hell or High Water is not a dissimilar film to the Coen’s No Country with Old Men with its grizzled cop, sudden explosions of brutal violence and bleak and cynical outlook on the modern day American West where two brothers are forced to rob banks to pay off the mortgage on their ranch that the bank is about to foreclose. These two brothers are divorced dad, Toby (Chris Pine), and convicted felon, Tanner (Ben Foster), who decided to rob the banks of Texas, hot on their heels are two cops (played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham).
Friday, 23 September 2016
Due to the recession and his parent’s financial difficulties, Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) moves to a much rougher school where he becomes the target of tyrannical teachers and boisterous bullies but luckily for him it appears to be the case that apparently musical talent impresses girls (I have zero talent let alone zero musical talent). So, in order to impress this gorgeous girl, Raphina (Lucy Boynton), who hangs outside his school, Conor lies about being in a band so Conor, and group of mates, start a band and invite her to be in a video.
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Back in 1999 The Blair Witch Project made quite a lot of noise, rumours circulated that the film was real and the actors actually died whilst making the film. Even I vaguely remember hearing about a ‘real’ horror film despite being only 8 or 9 years old at the time. Obviously, it wasn’t real and film’s success was perhaps due to the masterpiece of marketing (the infancy of the internet helped the film become a massive hit) even if the film went on to influence horror for the greater part of the following decade.
Sunday, 18 September 2016
In a supermarket various food products have established a whole world of their own with different cultures and personalities but just one belief system, a belief in the utopian Great Beyond. Frank (Seth Rogan) is a sausage who believes in the Great Beyond and he wants to escape to this Utopian world with his love, a bun named Brenda (Kristen Wigg). However, everything is thrown into chaos when a jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) returns from the Great Beyond and proclaiming it a lie. In the ensuing chaos (a crashed shopping trolley) both Frank and Brenda are standard aisles from home.
Saturday, 17 September 2016
The sequel to Bad Neighbours, titled Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising, is pretty much a rehash of the first film (why change a winning formula?) but the ‘antagonists’ of the piece are sorority girls rather than a fraternity. Mac (Seth Rogan) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are trying to sell their house and have found some buyers but the neighbouring house is brought by Sorority. With the house in escrow (a thirty-day period where the buyers can pull out at any time) the behaviour of the sorority girls has to be good, but it turns out they’re just as bad as the guys and both Mac and Kelly have to go to war once again.
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Three teenagers, Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) all have dreams of escaping the impoverished suburbs of Detroit, Michigan to live in sunny California. They need money and their next target might be the chance they were waiting for. Their target is a blind man (Stephen Lang) who lives in an empty neighbourhood and just so happens to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in his house. An easy task, surely? But things quickly spiral out of control.
Monday, 12 September 2016
Florence Foster Jenkins is like the Eddie the Eagle or Eric the Eel of the musical world. Both Eddie the Eagle and Eric the Eddie were treated somewhat as a joke in their respective sporting fields (ski jumping and swimming) but went on to gain respect and a loyal following despite being critically lambasted in newspapers.
Friday, 9 September 2016
After some pondering I thought it’ll be a good idea to rank the 25 films I saw at Frightfest 2016. Obviously, number 1 is the best film I saw. I’ll update this list as I see more films from this year’s festival when they’re released on DVD/VOD.
Looking at list I seem to have been rather positive throughout most of the festival as I positively reviewed 19 of the 25 films I saw.