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

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Oliver Stone's movie about former NSA agent Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon Levitt), who leaks their illegal surveillance techniques as well as thousands of classified documents to the press. 

•Acting is pretty strong for the most part. Especially Joseph Gordon Levitt and Rhys Ifans. 
•Overall a well made movie. 
•Nicholas Cage cameo. 

•This is fairly toned down for an Oliver Stone movie but every so often he'd go back into his crazy conspiracy theory mode. You could totally tell when it would happen by the music. 
•I just found myself not caring that much about the characters. 
•The portrayal of Snowden's relationship with his girlfriend. I'm not sure how it is in real life but here it was awful the way he treated her and that she put up with it. 
•I still prefer the documentary about Snowden (which I highly recommend if you want to know more on this subject) that they did not that long ago over this. 
•Not enough Nicholas Cage. 

My Rating: 7/10