Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Top 10 Movies of 2016

It's so hard to make this list every year. I've seen so many great movies... How do I narrow it down to just 10? Well, after a lot of thinking I've finally done it. I know some of you might not agree with the movies that are on my list or the order in which I've placed them. That's fine. We're all entitled to our own opinions. Anyway, here it is. As always, I'll start at number 10 and work my way up. 

10. La La Land
•A late edition to the list. I'm so glad I decided to wait until after I saw this sweet and charming movie. I'm not going to go into details here because I just posted the review last night but go out and support this movie people. It's a wonderful throwback to the classic Hollywood musicals. 

9. Captain America: Civil War
•This is everything you could possibly want in a superhero movie. There's so many characters and yet they take the time to develop each one. Also, the action/fight scenes are so well choreographed and amazing you'lI have a massive nerdgasm in your seat. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I was watching this. 

8. Moonlight
•A gripping coming of age story about a young African American man who struggles to find his place in the world. Told in three parts- you see him as a child, teen, and adult. While I felt the third act was a little weak (but by no means bad) in terms of the acting and writing, it was definitely worth seeing. 

7. Zootopia
•Disney once again hits it out of the park with a movie that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. The story centers on Judy Hopps, who becomes the first bunny cop in the city of Zootopia (where animals both predator and prey live peacefully together) As she struggles to prove herself, she teams up with conman fox Nick Wilde to solve a case where several predator animals are reverting back to their savage ways. Such a heartfelt story (that I'll admit had me tearing up at times) with themes that are so relevant to today's world. I could watch this one over and over again and never get tired of it. 

6. Lion
•If you don't cry during this one there's something seriously wrong with you. Based on the incredible true story of Saroo Brierly (played as a child by Sunny Pawar and as an adult by Dev Patel), who at 5 years old boards a train in Calcutta while looking for his brother and wakes up nearly a thousand miles from home. He's eventually adopted by an Australian couple. 25 years later, with the help of Google Maps, he sets off to find his birth family. Dev Patel is really good in this, but the real star here is Sunny Pawar. He shows such incredible acting abilities for someone so young. You spend a good chunk of the movie with him and watching this part of the story is so heartbreaking. Makes you really appreciate everything you have. 

5. The Eagle Huntress
•Had a chance to see this movie at the film festival this year. A beautiful true story about a 13 year old girl from Mongolia named Aishlopan, who becomes the very first female eagle hunter in her country. With the help of her very loving and supportive family, she sets off on her journey. I was sucked into this story right from the beginning with its strong message and stunning cinematography. Gave me chills and earned a standing ovation from the whole audience when it was over. This is one I really think everyone should see, especially young girls. 

4. Loving
•One of the most beautiful love stories I've seen in years. Joel Edgerton & Ruth Negga play Richard & Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were arrested for getting married (which was illegal at that time) in Virginia. Their case went to the Supreme Court and paved the way for many people today. I really admire director Jeff Nichols for choosing to focus this movie on the love story instead of the court case (which most directors probably would've done). It's pretty much a given now that Joel Edgerton & Ruth Negga are going to get Oscar nominations. And it's well deserved. 

3. Manchester by the Sea 
•This movie was such an emotional punch in the gut. Not that that's a bad thing. Far from it. Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, who returns to his hometown near Boston after his brother dies and reluctantly becomes the guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick. Being back in town also forces him to deal with another heartbreaking tragedy that was the reason he left town in the first place. While some might be bothered by the slow pace of the film, I think it really works here. They might as well just give Casey Affleck the Best Actor Oscar now. 

2. I, Daniel Blake 
•This is a movie that I think most people can find something to relate to. As someone who has dealt with being unemployed in the past, it really hit home with me. Features a very strong cast, including Dave Johns. He plays Daniel, a man in his late 50s who is recovering from a major heart attack which has left him unable to work. He's forced to navigate through the U.K. version of the unemployment system and along the way he meets a young single Mom and her two kids. I'm so proud of director Ken Loach for making such a strong statement here with this very raw and honest movie. Hopefully more people will watch this and maybe bring about change to these very flawed systems. 

I spent a long time going trying to figure out where I was going to place these next two movies. In the end, I just couldn't put either of them at anything but number one. I absolutely love both of these movies for different reasons. They made such a strong impression. So yes, it's a tie this year. 

1. Hacksaw Ridge
•Probably the best war movie I've seen since Saving Private Ryan. Say what you what about Mel Gibson, but he can make a damn good movie. He doesn't sugar coat war at all- you see every horrifying moment in graphic detail. And not only that, but he shows you the effects it can take on someone mentally, even years later. Featuring a strong cast including Andrew Garfield, who gives the performance of his career. Not for the weak stomached but something I feel everyone should watch at least once. 

1.  Hell or High Water 
•This brilliant western, crime/family drama kept me on the edge of my seat and so engrossed in it that I lost all track of time. The movie stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two brothers who rob a series of banks in order to save their family ranch. Hot on their trails is Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), who is nearing retirement, and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham). I think one of the things I love most about this is you're not only routing for these two brothers, but you're also routing for the police as well. There's not a bad performance as well. I just wish this was getting more recognition, especially for the acting and breathtaking cinematography. I can't recommend this movie enough. I proudly own it on blu ray and will watch it over and over again. 

Honorable Mentions:
The following movies didn't quite make the cut. Not because they weren't good enough, I simply ran out of room. They're still worth checking out. 

Queen of Katwe
The Companion
Florence Foster Jenkins
Eye in the Sky
Sausage Party

Friday, December 30, 2016

La La Land

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a struggling jazz pianist, falls in love with Mia (Emma Stone)- an aspiring actress. 

•I can see why this movie is getting so much Oscar buzz. It really is a throwback to those classic Hollywood musicals. So nice to see that again. 
•Damien Chazelle was the perfect choice to direct this (he also directed Whiplash, another movie I love). He wrote the story as well, which is so sweet and charming that I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. He's so talented and I can't wait to see what he does next. 
•Catchy musical numbers. I could listen to them over and over again. 
•Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have such strong chemistry. I totally bought them as a couple. I think it's pretty safe to say they'll both be getting Oscar nominations. 
•Stunning cinematography 
•Flawless editing. 
•If you're a fan of musicals, you're going to love the hell out of this. 

•The only thing I can think of is in my opinion Ryan Gosling doesn't have the strongest singing voice. He's far from the worst singer I've ever heard. That being said, his charm and the way he put everything into this role more than makes up for it. 

My Rating: 10/10

Friday, December 23, 2016

Manchester by the Sea

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) finds himself returning to his hometown north of Boston after the death of his brother (Kyle Chandler) and becomes the guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). 

•They might as well just give Casey Affleck the Best Actor award now. Easily the best performance I've seen this year. You start off seeing his character living a very quiet existence. He doesn't show a whole lot of emotion and you can clearly tell it's hard for him interacting with people. As the movie goes on, through flashbacks, you slowly start to find out just what happened to him to make him this way. And also why he's very reluctant to assume the role of Patrick's guardian despite clearly loving his nephew very much. It's absolutely heartbreaking and a huge emotional punch in the gut. Casey just nails it. Wow!!!
•Lucas Hedges also does a really good job here. For some reason I thought going into this that he would annoy me but quite the opposite happened. You can totally understand Patrick's reaction to everything. His scenes with Casey Affleck were definitely some of my favorites and had me sobbing several times. 
•Even though Kenneth Lonergan doesn't have a whole lot of experience directing (this is only his third movie) with this you would think he'd been doing it for years. He's able to get very powerful performances out of all of his actors. He wrote the script as well I believe and it's so raw and honest. The whole story is a huge emotional punch in the gut. Also, I really like how he showed the aftermath of someone dealing with all the things that need to be taking care of after a family member dies, right down to the smallest detail. You don't usually see that in movies. 
•Michelle Williams doesn't have much screen time at all but you can see why she's getting a lot of Oscar buzz as well. 
•Beautiful locations and cinematography. 
•I walked out of the theater just in awe of the  amazing movie I just watched. I have a feeling I'm going to be thinking about it a lot over the next few days. I highly recommend it to everyone. Just bring plenty of tissues. 

•I'm not taking points off for this nor was it something that bothered me, but some people aren't going to like the way this is paced. This is a movie that takes it's time. I was completely fine with it (not once was I bored) and think it was important to tell the story this way. 

My Rating: 10/10

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is recruited by the Rebellion for a dangerous mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. 

•This is very much a war movie. Very dark and gritty. It looks like the original movies while at the same time incorporating the amazing technology we have today. 
•While we all know the outcome of this story, I still felt invested in it. The writing was very good. Even some of the lines I heard in the trailer that I felt were a little cheesy really worked in the content of the scenes. 
•Two words- Darth Vader. One of the most bad ass villains in history. He's only in a handful of scenes but holy shit was he terrifying. 
•So many parallels to the political scene today that it's scary. 
•Looks amazing on an IMAX screen and the 3D is actually pretty good. 
•Well choreographed action scenes, especially in the third act. I got chills watching them they were that good. 
•Alan Tudyk as K-2SO stole every scene he was in and provided some much needed humor. 

•A certain character appears from the original movies, but in cgi form. The effects are so bad on this person it's distracting. Normally this would be something I'd take a point off for but the movie is so fucking good that I'll let it slide this time. Everyone needs to stop what they're doing right now and go see this movie. This is the prequel we always dreamed of. 

My Rating: 10/10

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall), a tv reporter in the 1970s who struggled not only with her professional career but severe depression as well. 

•Rebecca Hall gives a powerful, heartbreaking performance. Easily one of the best this year. As someone who has struggled with depression/anxiety for years, I can tell you she really nails it. From the tone of her voice, facial expressions/body language, to her social awkwardness... wow. She put her all into this. 
•Even though you know what is going to happen (and if you don't do a quick google search on the real Christine Chubbuck. It'll pop right up), every minute leading up to the sad conclusion is so tense. Major props to the director. 
•The supporting cast did an amazing job as well. I especially enjoyed the scenes with Rachel Hall and Tracy Letts (who plays Christine's boss Michael). Very strong. 
•I like how the director paid so much attention to detail and made the movie look and feel like the 70s- the color tones, the way each scene was shot, clothing, etc. 

•I really can't think of any. This movie made such a strong impression on me and had me tearing up several times. I highly recommend it to everyone. 

My Rating: 10/10

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Certain Women

The lives of three women (Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, and Kristen Stewart) in Montana loosely intersect. 

•This movie is really just three short stories put together that are VERY loosely connected. I thought the first story with Laura Dern was actually good. I liked the dynamic between her and Jarred Harris. Very interesting. If only the whole movie was just about them. I would've liked it a lot better. 
•Ummm..... I guess if you're having trouble sleeping put this movie on. You'll be out within minutes. 

•This director's movies are not for everyone, myself included. While it wasn't as agonizing as I thought it would be, it was still dull as fuck. Everything from the way she would linger on a shot to the last two stories had me wanting to nod off in my seat. 
•At the end of it all I found myself thinking, what was the point of all this? What exactly was she trying to say? Especially the second story (which is by far the weakest) where not a damn thing happens except Michelle William's character and her husband going to an elderly neighbors home and by sandstone from him in order to build a new house. That's it. I kid you not. 
•I'm not really going to waste any more time on this movie than I already have. I can't really recommend it to anyone. Not even as a check it out on Netflix if you're bored kind of movie. It's far from the worst thing I've seen this year but it's certainly not the best. 

My Rating: 5.5/10

Friday, December 2, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge

Based on the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield)- an Army Medic serving during World War II who, due to his beliefs, was against violence and refused to kill. However, he still wanted to help people. He went on to save the lives of 75 of his fellow soldiers. All while never firing a single weapon (and no I don't consider any of this summary a spoiler because it's all in the trailer). 

•Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but he is a top notch director who knows how to make a damn good movie. Hacksaw Ridge being no exception. Everything from the way he shoots the battle scenes to the way he directs his actors is nothing short of amazing. He had me engrossed in this incredible true story that until recently I didn't know anything about. I walked out of the theater with tears in my eyes and my heart pounding in my chest. And not once did I feel the urge to look up at a clock and see how much time was left. That's how good it was. 
•Andrew Garfield gives the best performance of his career. I always knew he was a good actor. He really embodied this character and if it weren't for it already being a crowded year in this category, I could see him getting an Oscar nomination. Who knows. It may still happen. 
•The supporting cast was outstanding as well. Especially Hugo Weaving and Vince Vaughn. With Hugo Weaving's character, you really see the toll that war takes on someone even years later. 
•This movie is NOT for the faint of heart. I really appreciate that they didn't shy away from showing the brutality of war. You see every horrifying event in graphic detail. There's blood and guts everywhere, men on fire running around screaming in agony, men literally getting blown in half, and so much more. I highly recommend going into this on an empty stomach. 
•While faith plays a huge part in the story and who this man is, it isn't one of those movies where religion is forced down your throat. 
•Really beautiful cinematography. 
•Powerful score by Rupert Gregson-Williams

•The only one I really have is that there were some scenes in the beginning where Desmond meets and falls in love with a young nurse named Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), who eventually becomes his wife, that felt extremely cheesy. Mainly their dialog (luckily it gets better as the movie goes on. Plus the two of them have great chemistry). Normally I would take a point or two off for something like this and I briefly considered it here. But I just loved this movie so much that I'm willing to let it slide. 

My Rating: 10/10

Sunday, November 27, 2016

St. Peter's and the Papal Basilicas of Rome (3D)

A tour of the Papal Basilicas of Rome. 

•Beautiful locations and cinematography. 
•Wonderful soundtrack that fits well with each scene. 
•It's only an hour and a half long. 

•The movie is SO dry. Unless you're a big fan of history and/or art this will probably bore you to tears. 
•The narrator spoke with such a monotone voice that I found myself falling asleep more than once. 
•While there were a few nice moments in terms of the 3D, overall it didn't pop out to me the way it did in other recent movies similar to this one. 
•Not worth paying to see this in theaters. 

My Rating: 6/10

Friday, November 25, 2016


Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) is the only daughter of the chief of her tribe. They come from a long line of navigators. In desperate need of help for her people, she sets sail for a fabled island along with the demigod Maui (Duane Johnson). 

•As much as I love the classic Disney princess movies, it's always refreshing to see a princess (and yes Moana definitely counts as one) who doesn't have a love interest. Someone who's very strong and independent. Such a great message, especially for young girls. 
•Gorgeous animation which from Disney I expect nothing less. The movie is mainly 3D but has some 2D as well. 
•The music. Most of the songs I really enjoyed. Catchy as well. While it may not be my favorite out of all the Disney soundtracks, I'll definitely be adding this to my iPod. 
•Duane Johnson just keeps getting better and better. He did a great job as Maui. You could tell he had a blast doing this. And surprisingly he's a decent singer. 

•It did drag a little in spots. 
•The villain wasn't anything special and nowhere near as memorable as some of the classic Disney villains.

My Rating: 8.5/10


A story told in three parts that chronicles the life of a young black man named Chiron as he struggles to find his place in the world. 

•A very well written coming of age story told from a perspective that we don't normally see in movies. 
•Strong acting not only from the first two actors to play Chiron (Alex Hibbert when he was a kid and Ashton Sanders as a teenager) but from the supporting cast as well. I especially liked Mahershala Ali as Juan, a man who becomes a father figure to Chiron. I really hope they get some recognition come award season. 
•Direction by Barry Jenkins (who wrote the screenplay as well). He's able to tell this beautiful story that kept me engrossed in it the whole time. 

•Nothing too major. If I had anything negative to say it would be that I felt liked the first two thirds better in than the last third in terms of the story and acting. Not that the actor who played the adult Chiron was bad by any means. He was actually pretty good. But the actors in the first two parts left such an impact that he ended up being the "weakest". 
•The ending was rather abrupt. I was so into this story and then all of a sudden the credits roll. I was like, "What?? That's it? God damn it I want more!"  Still, a very good movie that I think everyone should see. 

My Rating: 9/10

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Queen of Katwe

A young girl from Uganda named Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) is introduced to the game of chess and her life is changed forever. 

•Madina Nalwanga... Wow!!!! She gave an amazing, award worthy performance. Such a powerful young actress. I really hope we see her in more movies. 
•Speaking of performances, I also thought David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'o were really good as well. I've always been a big fan of both of them. 
•Strong writing and well developed characters. This is based on a true story and it left me wanting to know more about the real life people. 
•Stunning locations and cinematography. 
•The movie is a little over two hours long but it didn't feel like it. It moves at a decent pace. 

•I really can't think of any. This was one of the best movies I've seen this year. Everyone PLEASE go see this!! It's a wonderful story with a strong message. 

My Rating: 10/10

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (IMAX)

Takes place in 1926 about 70 years before the beloved Harry Potter series. After a worldwide adventure in search of all sorts of magical creatures, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York. While there, an incident occurs that could mean trouble for both the wizard and muggle (in America they call them No-Maj) communities. 

•Eddie Redmayne was the perfect choice to play Newt. I found his character very fascinating, especially his awkwardness and the way that he was more comfortable around creatures than he was humans. 
•J.K. Rowling's script. I'm happy to see this amazing world she's created be expanded on. You get to see what the American wizarding community is all about and how it differs from the one we're use to seeing in England. 
•Major props to the people who designed all the creatures. They looked great and a lot of them were so adorable! I found myself saying "Awww!" out loud several times. 
•Dan Fogler's character was honestly one of my favorite things about the movie. He's so funny and steals every scene he's in. 
•Should be seen in IMAX  but in 2D if your theater has that option. The movie is already dark as it is and I have a feeling that IMAX 3D would make it really hard to see. 
•There's so much more I want to tell you but then I'd be getting into spoiler territory. If you're a huge Harry Potter fan like me, you're going to love the hell out of this. 

•The big battle scene towards the end felt a little too disjointed at times. Also it did that thing where it had like five different endings which I normally can't stand. But I just love this movie so much that I'm willing to overlook these minor flaws and not take any points off my rating. 

My Rating: 10/10

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Man Called Ove

An unlikely friendship develops between Ove (Rolf Lassgård), a grumpy retiree, and his new neighbors. 

•Such a beautiful story with well written characters. It sucks you in right from the beginning. You slowly learn about Ove and why he is the way he is. You really feel for him. 
•Moves at a pretty good pace. 
•Clever dialog 
•Strong acting by the entire cast. They all had really good chemistry. 

•The trailer is kind of misleading. They make it seem like a comedy and yeah it has some humorous moments, but it's more of a dramedy. Be sure to have plenty of tissues handy. 
•The story itself, while very good, is predictable. 

My Rating: 8.5/10

Friday, November 11, 2016


Expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications after a group of spacecrafts land across the globe. 

•Amy Adams gives an outstanding performance. She really carries this movie. That being said, Jeremy Renner does just as good a job in a smaller role. The two of them had great chemistry. 
•For those of you going into this expecting your typical action packed alien invasion where lots of shit blows up, then you'll be very disappointed. This is a very smart, slow burning science fiction movie and while I won't lie to you and say I understood everything, I still appreciate it. 
•Strong direction by Denis Villeneuve. Right from the beginning I found myself sucked into this beautiful story he's created. Everything from the muted color tones to the way he shot each scene really added to the experience. 
•Flawless editing. 
•Simple but effective musical score. 

•I can't really think of any. I knew the movie would be good but I had no idea it would be THIS good. Wow!!I guess some people won't care for the way the movie is structured and how it ends. However, I was fine with it. One of those movies you'll have to watch more than once in order to really get it. 

My Rating: 10/10

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Girl on the Train

An alcoholic divorcée (Emily Blunt) gets entangled in a missing persons case where nothing is as it seems. 

•Outstanding performance by Emily Blunt. I've always been a fan of hers. 
•Musical score by Danny Elfman was very haunting and perfectly fit with the tone of the movie. 
•Some nice cinematography. 

•Tried way too hard to be the next Gone Girl. There's an interesting story there but I feel like it wasn't as executed as well as it could've been. Maybe if I had read the book I would've gotten more out of it. 
•Some issues with the editing and the way it would jump back and forth in time. I have no problem when movies do this but this director Tate Taylor (who most recently directed Get On Up, a movie I liked overall but had similar issues) clearly has no idea how to. 
•A few rough spots with the dialogue. 
•The camerawork was a little nauseating in a couple of scenes. 
•Not the type of movie I'd rush out to see in theaters. But it's worth a look if you're into these types of movies and come across it on Netflix. By all means check it out. 

My Rating: 6.5/10

Friday, November 4, 2016

Doctor Strange (IMAX 3D)

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbaych), a talented neurosurgeon, searches for healing after a terrible accident and is drawn into the world of the mystical arts. 

•The Academy should just give them the award for Best Visual Effects now. WOW!! The trailers only give you a small sample of what it's all about. You have no idea what an amazing, mind blowing experience you're in for. 
•Benedict Cumberbatch was perfectly cast as Doctor Strange. He really gets this character. 
•Strong writing overall. I actually gave a shit about most of these characters. And no I'm not just saying this because I've been a huge fan of writer C. Robert Cargill since the Spill days. 
•Do whatever you have to do to see this in IMAX 3D. It's the kind of movie that is made for this format. Best 3D I've seen in a long time too. 
•STAY DURING THE CREDITS!! There's two scenes- one in the middle of the credits and the other at the end. Loved them although I feel like they should've reversed their order. 
•Does its own thing while also fitting into the universe Marvel has created. 
•There's a love interest (played by Rachel McAdams, who does a pretty good job)but they don't focus too much on it which I appreciate. 

•I really only have one minor complaint and that's with the villain. Mads Mikleson is fine in the role but I feel like they could've developed his backstory and motivations a little more. Not the worst villain in this universe though that's for sure. 

My Rating: is 9/10

Monday, October 31, 2016

Film Columbia 2016

Another year another film festival has come and gone. Once again I had a blast. Most of the movies I saw were really good. As usual, these are going to be just some quick thoughts and my ratings for each. There's no way I'd have the time or energy to write full reviews for all of them (34 in total!!). Enjoy! :) 

Oh and just so you know there might be a few slight spoilers (mainly I'm talking about the Elle review) so... SPOILER ALERT!!!

•Decent Brazilian drama with a strong performance by Sonia Braga. I enjoyed the music as well. It had a lot of pacing issues and could've done with another round of editing (it didn't need to be almost two and a half hours) though. My Rating: 7/10

Into the Inferno
•It's always an interesting experience whenever you watch a Werner Herzog film. This time he tackles volcanos. Or at least that's what the description said. Part of it is that but then in true Herzog fashion he goes off the deep end. At least the cinematography is nice. Not the type of movie I'd normally see in theaters. My Rating: 6/10

•Natalie Portman give a powerful, haunting performance as Jackie Kennedy that will most likely earn her another Oscar nomination. I liked that it wasn't a typical biopic and instead focused on the days after JFK's assassination. Also, Peter Skarsgard does just a great job in a supporting role as Robert Kennedy. My Rating: 9/10

Death of a Bureaucrat 
•Hilarious 1966 black and white comedy that  was recently restored. A little too over the top at times but overall it's worth seeing. My Rating: 7/10

The Human Thing
•A robber steals the manuscript of an author and enters it in a contest in order to pay off a mobster. The story was good and it had some decent acting in it. Although I didn't find myself caring much about the characters until the end. My Rating: 7/10

The Companion
•I was just blown away by this amazing movie! Takes place in Cuba in the 80s during the AIDS epidemic. A disgraced boxer is assigned as a companion to an AIDS patient at a sanitarium. Powerful performances by both lead actors. Loved seeing their relationship develop over the course of the movie. I can see why this is Cuba's selection for Oscar consideration this year. I highly recommend everyone see this. My Rating: 10/10

Memories of Underdevelopment
•FUCK THIS MOVIE! I came so close to walking out of this, mainly due to the horrifying short films shown before which were basically sickening propaganda. This was such a chore to get through. I'm not going to waste anymore time with this other than to say that this was worse than Gods of Egypt. You heard me right. My Rating: 0/10

Beyond the Snowstorm 
•A moving documentary about a young man trying to get to know his Grandfather better, more specifically his time as a German soldier in occupied Ukraine during World War Two. Very interesting subject but I felt like they could've done more with it. My Rating: 6/10

Elevator to the Gallows
•A classic 1958 black and white crime drama. Good acting. The best friend part was the music by Miles Davis. They don't make movies like this anymore. Did drag a bit at times though. My Rating: 8/10

Prison Dogs
•An documentary about Puppies Behind Bars- an amazing program where prisoners train puppies to become service dogs for veterans. I strongly suggest everyone see this movie. Very touching. My Rating: 10/10

My Internship in Canada
•Hilarious political satire about a young man interning for a member of parliament in Quebec who had the deciding vote for whether or not to go to war. The two main actors had great chemistry. I had a blast watching this. My Rating: 9/10

I, Daniel Blake
•Brutally honest drama about a middle aged man trying to navigate the U.K. Social Welfare system after suffering a major heart attack and unable to work. Along the way he meets a young single mother in similar situation. This really is a movie that everyone should see. Very relatable and relevant. I hope it gets recognized come award season. My Rating: 10/10

The Red Turtle 
•Beautiful adult animated movie (with no dialogue) about a man stranded on an island and the encounter with a red turtle that changes his life forever. The music gave me chills and will definitely be added to my iPod at some point. My Rating: 8.5/10

Land of Mine
•A group of young German POWs in the aftermath of World War 2 are made enemies of the state and forced to dig up 2 million land mines with their bare hands. Well made (aside from needing some tighter editing) and acted, especially the actor playing the Sergeant in charge of overseeing the whole thing. It was interesting seeing him develop from the beginning to who he was at the end. Definitely something I suggest everyone seeing but be prepared for a MAJOR downer. My Rating: 8/10

The Future is Planning a Farewell Tour
•An interesting documentary about science fiction movies and their impact on the world. The movie is still a work in progress so I can't really comment on the editing and technical aspects of it. But if you're a big science fiction fan like myself it's worth seeing when it comes to Netflix. My Rating: 6/10

The Salesman
•Well acted Iranian drama about a married couple who are performing in the famous play Death of a Salesman. One night something terrible happens and things slowly begin to unravel. Wasn't quite what I was expecting but that's not a bad thing. My Rating: 7.5/10

•Impressive directorial debut of Garth Davis. Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley (played as a child by Sunny Pawar and as an adult by Dev Patel) who as a child became lost on the streets of Calcutta and eventually adopted by an Australian couple. 25 years later ,with the help of Google Earth, he searches for his birth family. I can see why this is getting early Oscar buzz. Such a heartwarming story with incredible acting, cinematography, music, etc. If you don't cry when you watch this something is seriously wrong with you. Stands a good chance of making my top 10 list. My Rating: 10/10

Everybody Knows... Elizabeth Murray
• Documentary about artist Elizabeth Murray. If you're an art fan you'll definitely want to check this out. My Rating: 7/10

The Spiderwebhouse 
•An odd German drama about a single mother of three with mental issues who goes away to "sunny valley" to get treatment for the weekend, leaving 12 year old Jonas in charge. A weekend turns to much longer. I'm not sure what to make of this. It had almost a dreamlike quality to it and was hard to distinguish what was real and not real. The three child actors were amazing, especially considering they had never acted before. My Rating: 6.5/10

Restless Creature: Wendy Whalen
•Insightful documentary about Wendy Whalen- a now former ballerina for the New York City Ballet. You really get a good look at what life is like for a ballerina and the toll it can take. My Rating: 8/10

After the Storm
•From the same director of the 2013 Japanese film Like Father Like Son (an excellent movie). While I like that movie better this was still pretty good. This directory does a nice job at developing characters. My Rating: 7/10

•A broken hearted woman reflects back on important events in her life and that of her estranged daughter. A little too melodramatic for my liking but the acting was good and there were some beautiful locations. Plus the movie moved at a face past which is always a plus. My Rating: 7.5/10

Land of the Gods
•Well written Indian movie about a man who returns to his village after a long exile. Strong acting and peaceful music. My only complaint is they would suddenly switch from speaking in Hindu to English for no particular reason. My Rating: 8/10

By Sidney Lumet
•Documentary featuring a never before seen interview with Sidney Lumet where he talks about his long career as a director. Very insightful despite being a little dry. My Rating: 7.5/10

Things to Come
•The great Isabelle Huppert gives a good performance as a woman struggling to deal with the death of her Mother, getting fired from her job, and her husband leaving her for another woman. The movie overall felt very tedious. Not sure what the point of it was. My Rating: 6/10

•HOW THE FUCK DID THAT GET A STANDING OVATION AT A MAJOR FILM FESTIVAL?!?! For the love of god do not go see this movie!! Especially if you're a woman.  It's from the director of Showgirls. I mean Showgirls was bad but at least it was funny. Elle was just fucking offensive. There were 6 rape scenes. Yes you read that right... 6!!! Isabelle Huppert is a great actress and way too good for this shit. My Rating: 0/10

The Eagle Huntress
•Breathtakingly beautiful movie about a young girl who breaks with centuries of tradition and becomes the first female eagle hunter. Such an empowering movie. My Rating: 10/10

•Adam Driver gives a quiet yet charming performance about the week in the life of a bus driver/poet who lives with his wife and his adorable dog Marvin. That's it. I wouldn't call this a bad movie by any means but it moves painfully slow. Definitely not for everyone. My Rating: 6/10

Peter and the Farm
•Just to warn you all, this is a documentary about a meat farmer. If you're an animal lover you'll want to avoid this since it shows the slaughtering of animals in graphic detail. I just didn't care for this movie. What was the point? Only nice thing I can say is it's competently made and there's some beautiful locations. My Rating: 4.5/10

•Drama about an inspector who hunts down Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda in the 1940s for joining the Communist party. From the director of another movie I saw at the festival this year- Jackie. You could tell by the similar camera work and color tones. Well written and acted although at times hard to follow. Also, it had too many endings. My Rating: 6/10

•One of the most beautiful love stories I've seen in a long time. Based on the true story of Richard & Mildred Loving an interracial couple who in 1958 were arrested for getting married. Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court and paved the way for many people today. I can see why this movie is getting so much Oscar buzz. Outstanding direction by Jeff Nichols and strong performances by Joel Edgerton (who plays Richard, a quiet man who loves his family so much and just wants to take care of them) and Ruth Negga. Wow!! Everyone please go see this movie when it's released. My Rating: 10/10

Fire at Sea
•A documentary about the island of Lampedus, where hundreds of refugees flee to. I felt so bad for the refugees and felt like they should've spent more time on them instead of showing the everyday life of the islanders. Those parts were so dull and pointless. My Rating: 6/10

Sand Storm
•Well acted Israeli drama about a mother and daughter both trying to rebel from traditional society in their own way. My Rating: 8/10

Toni Erdmann
•German comedy about a father trying to connect with his businesswoman daughter and get her to appreciate life and not take things so seriously. The biggest issue here is that the movie is nearly three hours long when it didn't need to be. A scene in the last 30 minutes almost makes up for it though. Very funny. My Rating: 6/10

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ouija: Origin of Evil

Set in the late 60s. A widowed mother named Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters Doris (Lulu Wilson) and Lina (Annalise Baso) add a Ouija board to their Medium scheme. As you probably guessed, they accidentally invite real evil into their home. 

•Started off strong. Had some interesting ideas. 
•The color tone and the way it was shot made it look like it was really filmed in the 60s. 
•The little girl who plays Doris is really creepy in this. 
•At least this was bad in a funny sort of way. It's best to view this as a comedy otherwise you'll end up pissed off and cursing at the screen. 

•Falls into the same shitty horror cliches we've seen a million times. Which is sad because the movie had potential. 
•Cringeworthy dialog. 
•Weird editing. Some scenes would end very abruptly. 
•Cheap looking special effects. I know this had a $6 million dollar budget but that's no excuse. I've seen plenty of low budget movies that looked really good. 
•The ending. Are you fucking kidding me?!? 
•Never trust Rotten Tomatoes. How this shit is at 80% I'll never know. 
•I can't even recommend you watch this when it comes to Netflix. Do yourself a favor and just watch The Conjuring instead. It's a MUCH better movie. 

My Rating: 5.5/10

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Author: The JT LeRoy Story

Documentary about the fictional persona JT LeRoy, created by author Laura Albert. 

•A fascinating story. It was crazy how Laura Albert was able to pull this off and fool so many people for so long. As the movie goes on you learn more and more and in a way I kind of feel sorry for her. 
•I liked some of the animated scenes that they used to tell part of the story. 

•Does drag a big, especially in the middle. 
•Sometimes it was a little too out there. 
•Not a bad movie by any means but at the same time I wouldn't rush out to see it. 

My Rating: 7/10

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Accountant

An accountant named Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) uncooks the books for some of the most dangerous criminal organizations as the Treasury Department closes in on him. 

•Very well shot and choreographed action scenes. Some of the best I've seen in awhile. 
•I'm a big fan of Gavin O'Connor. He directed  one of my favorite movies- Warrior. I'll say this about him, he's great with actors. There's really not a bad performance here. I especially liked Ben Affleck (the main reason I even wanted to see this movie), JK Simmons, and Anna Kendrick. Ben and Anna and very good chemistry. Would love to see them do another movie together. 
•They did a decent job portraying people with autism. I mean, it wasn't offensive in any way. 

•The trailer is kind of misleading. I thought it was going to be an interesting dramatic thriller. It ended up being not only that but Batman with autism and without the costume. Add in a dash of James Bond and Jason Bourne. I'm dead serious. 
•Jumped all over the place. It had me very confused as to who was working with who and what they're motivations were. 
•Too much exposition in certain scenes. 
•Could've used another round of rewrites. Hell, they should've just let Gavin O'Connor do it since he's just as talented of a writer as he is a director. 
•This is far from the worst movie I've seen this year. However,  it's not really a movie I'd recommend paying money to see in theaters (luckily I didn't since I had enough points on my Regal card for a free movie pass). Wait until it comes to Netflix. 

My Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Takes a glimpse into documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson's footage shot over her 25 year career. 

•Some nice imagery. 
•If you're having trouble falling asleep just put this on. I guarantee that you'll be out within minutes. 

•This is not a movie. It's just someone's very long demo reel. I don't necessarily mind something that's non linear but good lord! They just threw a bunch of random footage together. Just when I would get interested in a story they would cut away to something completely different and most of the time never come back to it. 
•Fucking shaky cam!!!

My Rating: 4.5/10

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Birth of a Nation

Based on a true story. Nate Parker plays Nat Turner- a literate slave and preacher who, after witnessing countless acts of brutality against his fellow slaves, orchestrates an uprising. 

•Powerful performances by all, especially Nate Parker and Aja Naomi King. 
•Beautiful cinematography. Loved the hazy look to the movie. 
•This is one of those movies that I think everyone should see but you'll only watch it once. It's VERY brutal but in a different way than 12 Years a Slave. 12 Years a Slave showed you everything whereas this shows you some things, but will cut away and show the aftermath. Which honestly is just as devastating. 
•Musical score. 

•A few rough spots with the editing and writing. Although considering this is Nate Parker's directorial debut I think he did a great job. 
•They rushed through the uprising way too fast. It was the most important part and you'd think they'd want to spend more time with it. 
•Angel scenes
•While I love the music, it was overwhelming in some scenes. 

My Rating: 8.5/10