Archive for January, 2017

Crash! Landen’s Best 10 Films of 2016

Posted in A Few Old, Short Words, Lists with tags , , , , , , , on January 1, 2017 by Crash! Landen

Having seen fewer films than I normally see in a year, I had some difficulty coming up with 10 films ‘worthy’ of a ‘Best of’ List. Much happened in 2016, I suppose, that limited my movie outings. There are a few much hyped movies that I have not yet seen (such as Embrace of the Serpent, Hacksaw Ridge, the new Bourne movie and Notes on Blindness amongst others) that I will see in the near future that probably will have me rewriting this to some degree. I can’t see them all (and I try to avoid dome of them anyway).

You might notice some of the films on this list were originally released in 2015, but as I always say, I build my list on when movies are released in my part of the world. And some of these like The Revenant  feel like they are 2015 movies even though they were not viewed by the general public until January of 2016, because they won 2015 awards. Not my problem. As always, the hardest part of the list was from  6 to 10, but here they all are.

the-neon-demon

#10 The Neon Demon I have liked most of Director Refn’s work ; his largely minimalist art house films framed with stark violent visuals. This  is his most bare-boned film that I’ve seen and is one of those films that makes you question what you just saw. Some have called this a horror film (there is that bit of cannibalism… and regurgitating eyeballs and….), but I think its more satire/social commentary than outright horror. It’s definitely not supposed to be taken literally.

8room

#9 Room A good-hearted film  with disturbing subject matter. It may be a little fairy tale-ish given the reality of victims of this sort of crime, but… I liked it for the most part.

thefamilyfang

#8 The Family Fang A very odd little indie low budget movie. I didn’t like it the first time I saw it, but 3 more viewings later… It’s humorous in a dark sort of way about children and the parents that they’re stuck with, recovering from a damaging childhood…Or something like that.

8anthropoid

#7 Anthropoid Just a claustrophobic account of the attempt to assassinate  Reinhard Heydrich (central architect of The Final Solution) by Czech agents in their Nazi occupied homeland during World War II. This really captures the feeling of what it probably feels like to engage in a real and necessary suicide mission (as opposed to the lip service of the film that made my Worst 10 list). It’s not a feel good film in any shape or form, but it is very well made and captures a tone that I think few movies  have.

6bfg

#6 The BFG Just liked it. Had a weak third act, but he title character is unique in hismuttered  warblings. It is a children’s book come to life, so I guess it doesn’t matter that everything doesn’t entirely make sense. Spielberg works as well with kids as any director as he does here with the adorable Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. Visually brilliant, there are some awesome set pieces from Spielberg’s depiction of London after midnight to the BFG’s home to the Dream Country past Giant Country. A great kids’ film as is the next one on my list…

4finding_dory

#5 Finding Dory Took me a while to see the follow up to Finding Nemo, but it was worth it. Pixar wins again. Doesn’t quite deliver the level of laughs, nor reduce one to quivering blubbers (as many other Pixar films do), but still a solid movie about finding one’s home.

5hailcaesar

#4 Hail, Caesar! One of the Coen Brothers’ lighter, flimsier films, but still a lot of fun. Some critics stated that this was proof that the Coens hate Hollywood, but would that it were so simple (trippingly), I think it proves the opposite showing quite a bit of nostalgia for the way films used to be made  strung together with Josh Brolin’s Christ-figure Eddie Mannix, washing away the sins of those under studio contract. Chuckled all the way through this.

3theniceguys

#3 The Nice Guys Laughed all the way through this one. Very much in tone with the director’s first film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but maybe a lot funnier. For me, anyway. Neat to see Kim Bassinger Russell Crowe  in another film, too (LA Confidential being that other one). I hope there’s a sequel.

2therevenant

#2 The Revenant Got DiCraprio his Oscar for portraying a guy having a really bad time of things and his quest for revenge. Ended how I thought it HAD to end to make this a truly great film in its own way. but, I remember flicks like The Outlaw Josie Wales made an entirely different statement on the question of revenge and they’re not wrong, either I guess. Tom Hardy probably  should have gotten some awards for his role, also, but all of the cast did a top notch job, surest sign of a good director.

1sonofsaul

#1 Son Of Saul did some things that I have not seen onscreen. It follows the central character Saul, a Hungarian Jew,  through roughly a day in his life as a Sonderkommando (see the movie for an explanation) in the the chaos of Auschwitz death camp run by the Nazis. The thing that really sets it apart from any film that I can remember is the way that it’s shot, remaining mostly in closeup after the opening shot where a soft spoken Géza Röhrig (portraying Saul) walks into focus from the blurred  forest landscape. It’s amazing the number of subtle emotions that Röhrig  gets across while keeping an extreme stoicism. The ending kept me thinking about the film for days afterwards. What’s strange, is that what I just said about the theme of revenge in The Revenant and the film’s statement of resolution was viable just as the opposite was true in other films such as The Outlaw Josey Wales… whereas here in Son Of Saul, the point of the film is entirely contradictory to my feelings on its ultimate statement if that makes any sense. i don’t think I can say anymore without talking about the ending, but in any case, even if I don’t agree with the point being made entirely, it’s still my #1 movie of 2016 (of the films from 2016 that I’ve seen thus far).

10 Cloverfield Lane * 13 Hours * A Hologram For The King * Anomalisa * Anthropoid * Arrival * Backtrack * Batman vs Superman: DOJ * The BFG * Bloodfather * Cafe Society * Captain America;Civil War * Captain Fantastic * Cell * Central Intelligence * Coming Through The Rye * The Confirmation * Criminal * Dad’s Army * The Darkness * Deadpool * Demolition * Doctor Strange * Don’t Breathe * The Driftless Area * Eye In The Sky * Everybody Wants Some!! * The Family Fang * Fathers & Daughters * The Fifth Wave * Finding Dory * Genius * The Girl On The Train * Green Room * Hail, Caesar! * Hell or High Water * The Huntsman: Winter’s War * I Am Not A Serial Killer * Into The Forest * Intruders * I Saw The Light * The Jungle Book * The Lobster * Midnight Special * Miss Peregrine’s Home For peculiar Children * Mojave * Money Monster * The Neon Demon * The Nice Guys * The Revenant * Room * The Shallows * Star Trek: Beyond * Star Wars:Rogue One * Son Of Saul * Suicide Squad * Sully * Synchronicity * Term Life * X-Men: Apocalypse * Zoolander #2

Crash! Landen’s Worst 10 Films of 2016

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , on January 1, 2017 by Crash! Landen

Hello!

Every  year I try to come up with the Best and Worst 10 films that I have seen in the past year, which has become increasingly more difficult given that I’m far more selective than I once was. Why watch a sequel to  a film that I didn’t like (Independence Day 2, for instance) or watch a film by a filmmaker that consistently grinds out cinematic vomit (I’ll regret that comment later…)? I’m finding, though, that even  with perspicacious selection skills, that it is far easier to find celluloid grunge than it is to discover something worthwhile. Making a film that resides in the lower tier of the quality scale, at least for me, appears to be the norm, not the exception. Having to come up with 5 great films was difficult. Making this list, the WORST list was… Well, I could have probably catalogued the Bottom 50 for the year easier than I came up with my Top 10. It almost sounds like I hate movies, doesn’t it, but that’s not true. I feel you just have to sift through an awful lot of crap to find the hidden gem. These are not one of those….

10central_intelligence

#10 Central Intelligence… For me, the best part of the film was the tagline on the poster. It’s a comedy, though, so what you find funny and what I find funny may be completely different. I thought it was dumbed down, sort of repulsive in some parts and was definitely was not in the target audience.

9the_darkness_poster

#9 The Darkness… Derivative of quite a few better horror flicks; mainly Poltergeist, predictable and just stupid. I thought it might be interesting given that Kevin Bacon was in it, but I was so wrong. SO, so wrong.

8intotheforest

#8 Into The Forest… Probably should be lower on my list. It’s like they started out to make one of those ‘breakdown of society/apocalyptic’ films and just lost interest, turning it into some sort of a rape survival with really questionable logic and a complete lack of conflict, but that’s just me…

7criminalposter

#7 Criminal…Apparently, one film about a guy being downloaded into another guy’s body was not enough for Ryan Reynolds (see 2015’s Self/Less). This was the weaker of the two to be kind. It’s amazing that the cast consists of Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman (in his most abrasive role ever;he shouts the entire film… almost literally every sentence), but is as uninteresting a ‘thriller’ as I’ve seen in quite some time. Hopefully all of these people will be in good films again in the future.

6backtrack

#6 Backtrack… Technically a 2015 release, but didn’t open in my area until 2016, hence it being on the 2016 list. Adrien Brody has been in a few of these  SyFy Channel style ghost stories lately. All of them have been forgettable with twists taken from better more well know films or with twists that are so apparent from the start that you really can’t call them twists. The movie proves that Sam Neill just loves collecting a paycheck (as do we all).

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#5 Captain Fantastic was not fantastic. I like Viggo, he takes on interesting roles. I guess you can give him that, the premise was interesting: a father raising 6 kids as multi-lingual, historian, math genius, scientist survivalists. Contradicts itself repeatedly, scolding society while ultimately engaging in the same.sins. Has a hypocritical moral arrogance about it that I just didn’t care for. It’s hard to get behind a film where the director is constantly putting matters of opinion and idealogical beliefs as fact, especially when some of those facts are so wrong that they could even be considered offensive.

3suicidesquad

#4 Suicide Squad… I’ve never really been a fan of the government controlled supervillain team from DC comics. It never made much sense to me logically, even if I liked the comics that they first appeared in together (Legends, the 1980s DC Comics  limited series). But the filmmakers maybe should have looked at that series to try to understand how to make a coherent story. If you combine Joel Schumacher Batman & Robin garish neon colored visuals with typical Frank Miller ‘grim and gritty’ comic book tone, I think this is what you would get. For me, not a good combination.  There is (mindless) action in this, so at there was something going on onscreen as opposed to Miller’s film The Spirit, where absolutely nothing happened for most of the running time. Much of the film is spent on introducing each and every one of its 79 characters to their own classic rock/oldie tune cranked up so loud that at times it’s difficult to hear any of the poorly written dialogue that the actors are delivering. The plot as far as I could tell, was the team being put together to stop one of its team members. No, really… I did manage to stay awake for the entire movie, which is more than I can say for #3 (and others) on my list.

3colonia

#3 The Colony… Could. Not. Get. Through. It. I tried on 2 occasions. Stopped at almost the same point about a half hour in.  Maybe there was an important story there, but I couldn’t get past the pretentious stilted acting(and I mean everyone onscreen… or Hermione as a stewardess. I think with a little more effort they might have made a good comedy out of this… I’ll never know.

2mojave

#2 Mojave… Another good example that it’s usually the director that makes the film, not the actors. Garrett Hedlund made an appearance in the Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis (with co-star Oscar Isaac playing the titular character). That’s one of my favorite movies of the last few years and I highly suggest seeing it if you have not. this might be Oscar Isaac’s worst film by some distance. Mark Wahlberg turns up in a cameo, bit why he wanted to make an appearance in this  is baffling as I doubt Isaac will be highlighting this in his acting resume. It’s completely forgettable and  there’s never any reason given to like either of the two main characters who are supposed to be carrying  a movie.

1everybodywantssome

#1 Everybody Wants Some!! Sigh… Did Linklater HAVE to soil a great Van Halen song (from Women & Children First) by using it as his title for his crap film? Based on his films I’m guessing he listened to a lot of Gary Numan and Pat Benatar… Never been a big fan of writer/director Richard Linklater, even if I’ve occasionally liked some of his movies. Way too pretentious for my tastes. It’s amazing that here he combines ‘obnoxious jock’ behavior with pretension, which makes for a whole host of characters, each defined by one cliched trait, that are extremely hard to listen to or more importantly hard to empathize with. If you can’t find anything likable about a character, even if that character is an anti-hero (or possibly a villain in a lead role), then it’s going to be hard to stay with that film. As with The Colony, I found that I would rather be spending my time with something a little more appealing, like slamming doors on my fingers. Maybe it’s just me, though. There are people that actually liked the film Dazed And Confused (to which this is the “spiritual sequel” to that one as the poster purports) which is unfathomable to me, but as film critic Mark Kermode commonly states “There are other opinions available.” Now to make the list for my Best 10 of 2016…

10 Cloverfield Lane * 13 Hours * A Hologram For The King * Anomalisa * Anthropoid * Arrival * Backtrack * Batman vs Superman: DOJ * The BFG * Bloodfather * Cafe Society * Captain America;Civil War * Captain Fantastic * Cell * Central Intelligence * Coming Through The Rye * The Confirmation * Criminal * Dad’s Army * The Darkness * Deadpool * Demolition * Doctor Strange * Don’t Breathe * The Driftless Area * Eye In The Sky * Everybody Wants Some!! * The Family Fang * Fathers & Daughters * The Fifth Wave * Finding Dory * Genius * The Girl On The Train * Green Room * Hail, Caesar! * Hell or High Water * The Huntsman: Winter’s War * I Am Not A Serial Killer * Into The Forest * Intruders * I Saw The Light * The Jungle Book * The Lobster * Midnight Special * Miss Peregrine’s Home For peculiar Children * Mojave * Money Monster * The Neon Demon * The Nice Guys * The Revenant * Room * The Shallows * Star Trek: Beyond * Star Wars:Rogue One * Son Of Saul * Suicide Squad * Sully * Synchronicity * Term Life * X-Men: Apocalypse * Zoolander #2