Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Top 10 best movies of the first half of 2017...

I'll refrain from saying too much and just get to the list. There are quite a few obscure movies on my list, so I've included trailers for the lesser known movies.

It should be noted that my #7 and #1 pick are actually movies I saw at TIFF last year, but I chose to refrain from adding it my 2016 list, because they never got a theatrical release in 2016. Now that both #7 and #1 got actual theatrical releases in 2017, they're now on my list.

Honorable Mentions:

Hidden Figures, Kong: Skull Island, Logan, Beauty and the beast, Hush, Catfight, Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Now for the rest of the list, and I guess I better defend my #10 pick since it got A LOT of hate.

10. The Great Wall ****

Yes I know, it's yet another movie where a white guy saves the day. Yes, the movie isn't all that smart, and for people who are big fans of Yimou Zhang, this movie lacks the depth of the House of Flying Daggers and Hero. But god damn it, this movie is a visual feast; especially in Imax 3D, it was the trippiest movie of the year so far with spectacular 3-D (and best use of shit flying out of  the screen effects in a long time). It's like Lord of the Rings battle scenes with the gorgeous color pallette of House of Flying Daggers with The Great wall of China as a backdrop, awesome wire work, and Zhang Yimou even out-Michael Bays Michael Bay with absolutely over the top epic explosions, often exploding into your face in 3-D. Come on, people! The battle scenes absolutely fucking ruled, and the movie was gorgeous to look at. I have the feeling I may look back at this review and shake my head when I watch this movie sober on a regular TV. Oh well, time will tell.

9. Heel Kick ****

To the die hard wrestling fans, this movie is an absolute must see. To the non-wrestling fans who love a good low brow sense of humor, give Heel Kick a chance; wrestling knowledge isn't required to laugh, but the smarks will appreciate it just a little more. Not only is this easily the funniest wrestling movie ever made, but it's also the funniest mockumentary in the past few years.

I'm sure most wrestling fans will agree that most wrestling movies suck; especially comedies. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of one good wrestling comedy. Leave it to a low budget Canadian film to finally break that curse, with knowledge of the industry that doesn't insult the audience's intelligence, great performances and improv that feel so natural (to the main actor's credit, I had a beer with him after and he is absolutely nothing like the character he plays), and even a nice coming of age story for characters that seem redeemable. The ending is actually quite uplifting.

It's not an easy movie to find. Film festivals were too pretentious to accept a wrestling movie, they've toured it around U.S and Canada and I think it'll get an online release. I'll just say follow their facebook page and hopefully it'll get a release soon. I will very gladly watch this again.


Trailer:

8. John Wick: Chapter 2 ****

A rare sequel that has one hell of a conundrum that has plagued my mind since seeing it...was this better or part 1? I still don't know. It's a question that can be deeply pondered, debated and may need repeat viewings of both to come up with a good answer. Unlike TAKEN, where that sequel seemed to forget what everyone loved so much about the original (PG 13 sequel? Get the fuck out!), John Wick 2 absolutely remembers and delivers everything that was so great about part 1, from the absolutely brutal violence (I'm hard pressed to find a movie with more point blank shots to the face than this one) to the quirky characters to some great dark comedy. While I preferred the simplicity and sillyness of part 1's plot, part 2 may have had the more memorable action sequences. The scene of Keanu Reeves and Common trying to discreetly kill each other in a very public area is one of the most absurd, but hilarious moments, and what a great, quirky feud they have. Another conundrum...is The Raid Redemption series better or John Wick? I think we need a part 3 of both to answer that question.

7. My Entire Highschool sinking into the sea ****

This was one of my favorite movies at TIFF. It's a very funny, creative, abstract, random and trippy as fuck animated movie. What struck me about it, you just get a sense of the director and animator having so much fun making it, throwing the rule book out the window, doing whatever the fuck they want. There's even a charm to some, "the director clearly couldn't give 2 shits how this scene was animated" scenes which lead to some of the biggest laughs, ie: the lunch lady bearing the shit out of a bunch of high schoolers, which looked like it was animated by a 12 year old. And talk about randomness, there is that one part where the director is clearly fascinated by a single dot on a page which leads to a psychedelic, fractal zoom deep into the dot, in the middle of a chaotic scene. 

Beyond raving over the randomness and trippyness, its premise for a highschool sinking into the sea actually makes for a great metaphor for highschool itself and trying oh so hard to fit in. Remember back in the day when being popular was the most important thing? Here's a movie that captures that stupid teenage angst in a very zany, random as fuck way and it's one of the most unique highschool movies ever made.

Trailer:

6. Wonder Woman ****

I know a lot of people will pick LOGAN as best super hero movie of 2017, but I'm going with Wonder Woman, to which I went in skeptical about whether it could live up to all the hype, and walked out surprised as fuck at how much it actually exceeded all the hype. Wonder Woman's screenplay and performances are what elevate the movie to greatness; the action scenes are just the icing on the cake.  

I hope Wonder Woman isn't just lazily labelled as a girl power movie. It's actually a thoughtful, profound look at human morality, and I like how Wonder Woman's power grows the deeper she understands both the bad and the good of humanity; of violence, greed and jealousy vs. love and selflessness. Wonder Woman is also surprisingly a great comedy for the first half, with not just great fish out of water comedy with Wonder Woman trying to act like a normal human being in London, but I'm hard pressed to find a duo this year with better comedic chemistry than Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (who delivers one of the best straight man performances in a while), and a relationship that grows into something far deeper later in the movie. Congrats to Patty Jenkins for one hell of a return to the big screen after Monster...it only took 14 years. 

5. My Life as a Zucchini ****

I saw a critic label this French animated movie as a kids claymation version of SHORT TERM 12 to which I had to say, "If that's true, I'm 100% sold on this movie!" After seeing it, fuck yes that's accurate. It's not quite as poignant, but it's a kids movie; it shouldn't be. Both movies take place in a group home, with abandoned, damaged children and the caretakers who pour their hearts out to take care of them.
This is the most powerful movie I've seen this year, and to be able to get that type of emotion out of the audience using clay figures is a fucking accomplishment.

 I really am curious if parents were taking their kids out to this movie in France, because this is really heavy dramatic stuff for children to handle. It's charming and funny, but raw, and honest about the emotional scars children carry. Most importantly, it's a celebration of love in its many forms, in a group home where abandoned children feel like no one out there loves them. 

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nRwYWVxjRU

4. The Devil's Candy ****1/2

The Devil's Candy is the best horror movie of the past 2 years. It may not be a purely scary horror movie, but it's directed with such creativity and originality. How often do we get an artsy horror movie, let alone a heavy metal horror? We've seen many haunted house horrors, but none like this. I love the concept of an artist getting haunted through his paintings, where a demonic force takes over his mind, making him paint really fucked up shit. 

Beyond the artsyness, the movie is intense as fuck. It's not just a haunted house horror, but also a slasher movie with one hell of an unforgettable villain. The scene with the daughter duct taped in the bathroom is one of the most suspenseful scenes in recent memory. Give us something original, and give us characters that are well developed, that we actually give a shit about, and the suspense will work. If there's one knock against the movie, maybe the director doesn't understand how fire works, or simply didn't give a shit...ah fuck it, that scene still ruled. 

3. I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore ****1/2

What a nihilistic, misanthropic, but fucking hilarious, shocking movie. It starts with a character who's had steaming piles of shit thrown at her life non-stop. She just wishes that people can stop being assholes. Then people break in and steal her shit, and that's the last straw. What takes place from there is a brutally violent dark comedy that would make the Coen Brothers proud. One critic described it as Blood Simple meets The 3 Stooges; I think that's accurate.

I don't have too much else to say. I never knew where the movie was going, and it just never fails to be unpredictable, and to surprise and it holy shit does it build up to shocking, goofy, quirky, dark comedy at its best. You still take everything seriously, despite how silly certain things are and that's the mark of an accomplished dark comedy.

Trailer:

2. Dream Big: Engineering Our World (IMAX DOCUMENTARY) ****1/2

I am a huge fan of going to the Ontario Science Centre for 40 minute Imax documentaries for its breathtaking cinematography which this movie has plenty of, but from a pure storytelling standpoint I think DREAM BIG may be the best of them all. It is by far the most inspirational Imax movie of all time and surprisingly very touching.  

It's a great celebration of smart engineering ideas that have changed the way we live our lives, saved lives, and solved massive worldwide problems. The ideas they present are absolutely fucking brililiant and at times mind blowing. This will give you a sense of awe at the ingenuity, and creativity of engineers. It's not only educational, but it tells very human stories as well about ambitious engineers, of varying ages and varying dreams. The most touching stories were the bridge building in Cairo and the highschool robotics team competing against the top colleges. 

DREAM BIG should be required viewing for science classes in elementary school, highschool, hell, show the movie to first year engineering students in college. This is a movie that will fire people up about science and we need young minds to feel inspired to change the world, because there's going to be a shitload more problems in the future; but first they have to dare to dream big. Yeah I know, that was cheesy, fuck off.  

Trailer:

1. Colossal ****1/2

This was definitely my favorite movie at TIFF. My pick for #1 is actually the most absurd movie of the year and really requires a suspension of disbelief. If you cannot accept the movie's premise then it will be hard to get into. It was easy for me, because I admired the movie's audacity to pull off a premise like this. Absurdity + comedy + originality works for me, and if you're going to go absurd, go all the way and don't hold back.

This is the movie for people who utter that annoying phrase, "Everything's been done. There are no original ideas." That seemed to be the case for big creature movies. For those that seem to be getting bored of the big creature movies of the same CGI orgies of giant creatures destroying shit, along comes Colossal, a movie that's best described as Godzilla meets Being John Malkovich. Now that's a combination I never expected to see. Hell, maybe throw in a little Rachael Getting Married (though not nearly as depressing), as this is Anne Hatheway's best performance since that movie, and her character will remind you of her character from that movie.

Instead of summarizing the plot, just watch the trailer. As much as I've talked up the movie's absurdness and weirdness, it still is a good character study, showing the lives of small town people, not really going anywhere in their lives and their battles with alcoholism; Anne Hatheway gives an Oscar worthy performance, Jason Sudekis is great, and Tim Blake Nelson is so under-rated as an actor who is never not hilarious every time he's on screen, and he loves to play a dumb Hillbilly despite being one of the most profound directors. The emergence of the Godzilla monster, unknowingly controlled by Anne Hatheway can be seen as metaphor for alcoholism, but to me it's simply the funniest movie of the year. Even the fact that the CGI and visual effects are all for comedy is also a refreshing change from every big creature feature.

Earlier I said, if you're going to go absurd, then go all the way; just when you thought the movie couldn't be any more absurd, the climax happens, and I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Trailer:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Top 10 best movies of 2016...

This is a solid fucking list; an interesting, unique list. God damn it, the majority of critics' list are the same shit, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight and La La Land topping every list.

2016 was a really shitty year for humanity and the world, but the silver lining is that it was a phenomenal year for movies. This top 10 list is easily a better list of movies than last year, or the year before. Without further ado.

Very special honorable mention:
Colossal, a great movie I saw at TIFF which originally made my list. Since it's not getting a theatrical release till late 2017, I decided it'd be pointless to include it on my list if no one can see it. So, you'll be sure to see it on my 2017 list. It's definitely the weirdest, funniest, most original Godzilla type movie ever made.

Honorable Mentions: 

Deadpool, Train to Busan, Sleeping Giant, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Bad Moms, Other People, Jungle Book, Moonlight, Lights Out, The Shallows, Nerve, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Kubo and the Two Strings

10. Captain Fantastic ****1/2

Manchester by the Sea is the dramedy that's been getting most of the acclaim, and while it is a great, darkly funny, and devastating movie about grief, Captain Fantastic holds similar qualities, but it's more memorable to me. It's a more original story, with more unique characters, and so interesting...oh shit, Viggo's character hates the word "interesting" when critiquing art.

This isn't typical "escapist entertainment", but I just loved spending time with this fascinating family, living in the wilderness away from civilization, with a father teaching his kids important survival skills, and teaching them to be profound, independent thinkers, and treating them like adults even at the earliest age. I could watch a whole fucking TV show that's just their lives in the wilderness, but they do eventually have to make the trip into civilization, where they try to relate to the city people, and it makes for some great comedy, some emotionally wrenching moments, and a good debate about parenting.

Captain Fantastic also has the performance of the year by Viggo Mortensen and the best cast of child actors of any movie, who play such challenging, and unconventional child roles. t's a movie that'll stay with you for a while. I definitely want to re-visit this movie soon.

9. The Handmaiden ****1/2

There was a lot of hype at TIFF over this movie, and wow it sure as hell lived up to the hype. Maybe I need to look into more Chan-wook Park movies. If Oldboy was the most fucked up revenge movie of all time, Handmaiden takes the cake as the most fucked up, erotic, con artist/romance movie I can think of. What starts off like a simple story with a seemingly simple con, is full of twists to which I admit that every single twist got me. 

It tells a story with a 3 chapters structure, often presenting the same moment, but unravelling new details and different vantage points, as the audience slowly pieces everything together, but getting tricked multiple times while trying to piece if all together. 

A friend of mine saw this at TIFF and sold me on this movie about awesome lesbian sex scenes. I saw it and texted her to tell her how much I loved the movie and she asked whether I still would have enjoyed the movie without the explicit lesbian sex. I'm like, "Fuck yeah. Even without it, it's a great movie and tells a great story, and it's kind of beautiful. But...the lesbian sex scenes are like the icing on the cake. They didn't really have to be there, well maybe they did, but they didn't need to be THAT explicit to almost porno territory, but it kind of made the movie even more awesome. 

8. Sing Street ****1/2

LA LA LAND is a great musical; it broke records at the Golden Globes, it won the people's choice award at TIFF, and don't be surprised if you see it win best picture at the Oscars. With that being said though, LA LA LAND was the 2nd best musical of the year.  

John Carney has created his own subgenre of "grounded in realism low budget musicals" which takes the cheesiness and contrivance of having characters break into musical numbers, and instead has the musical numbers come in completely realistic, low key ways. First he charmed audiences with ONCE, then there was BEGIN AGAIN, and now I think SING STREET is his best; a celebration of music and its transformative power in our lives. John Carney is especially fascinated with how music can bring 2 people together to form a truly special connection. 

No matter what bullshit is going on, we have music to get us through it, as a catharsis for our pain. Most of all, Sing Street is one hell of an inspirational movie reminding all artists to take whatever pain and bullshit that's going on in their lives and turn it into art, because why the fuck not? Pain and suffering can be the best inspiration. Just like John Carney's other movies, Sing Street is the kind of movie that will make you want to hug the fuck out of anyone in sight after watching it.

7. The Little Prince ****1/2

By a landslide, the best animated movie of 2016. Although it's a family movie and there's enough cool visuals to keep the kids entertained, I think adults will be far more moved by this than kids. It's a great coming of age story, a little girl who truly learns what it means to grow up, against her mother's vision of what it means to be a grown up. As the aviator says, "Growing up isn't the problem, forgetting is." 

Childhood is the period of our the world is a true wonder, how much of that are we losing we age? Little Prince kind of reminded me of Bridge to Terebithia in being movie directed at children that's bittersweet about dealing with loss, but ultimately what you get out of it. It also has a lot in common with my pick for #4, though this one is not quite as tear jerking. Most of all though, it's a very entertaining movie, weird and abstract at times, with very well developed characters and although not hilarious, its sense of humor is clever when it's there. There would be no Oscar upset that would make me happier than to see Little Prince pull a shocking upset for best animated movie. The favorite to win is ZOOTOPIA, which I guess I'm kind of okay with; as long as it's not Finding Dory, fuck that mediocre bullshit! 

6. How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town ****1/2

This was a solid year for Canadian Cinema, but How to Plan an Orgy definitely takes the top spot as best Canadian movie of 2016, and the funniest raunchy sex comedy I've seen in a long long time. I'll call this the highest brow low brow sex comedy. There's a uniqueness to the gags, and everything about the awkwardness, inadequacies, and problems in the bedroom, including how no one can control their orgasm face which is captured with such hilarity and artistry. Let's not write this off as just low brow American Pie like trash. There actually is a lot of wit and intelligence to the dialogue writing as well.

I really enjoyed the ensemble approach, highlighting that all the characters have something different or a different motivation to get out of the orgy. But what surprised me is that despite how absurd the premise of the movie is, when the comedy dies down for some drama which usually fails in just about every raunchy comedy, it actually works in this one. I'm impressed that a movie called How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town has surprisingly very good character development, with the most beautiful and poetic ending imaginable.

5. Mei Ren Yu (The Mermaid) ****1/2

This is the #1 highest grossing movie of all time in China, and well deserved!! 

If you've seen Dances with Wolves, Avatar and Pocahontas, you'll definitely recognize the exact same structure this movie will go through, but this one takes a much wackier, comedic approach, while still delivering social commentary about human greed and how badly we're fucking up the environment. 

It's kind of like a Chinese Avatar meets a Chinese Monty Python though I take The Mermaid over Avatar, Wolves and Pocahontas any day. It pulls everything off in a brisk 90 minutes, and my god is this movie funny! You don't need to be Chinese to appreciate the humor; there's a uniqueness to its sense of humor that's sorely lacking in Hollywood comedies. Hollywood comedies rely a lot more on pure dialogue humor nowadays, and there's just something so much more creative about this movie's comedy. It's very goofy, but clever in its goofiness and has its fair share of physical comedy as well as some great dialogue writing. 

There's a scene of a billionaire that walks into a police station to report that he'd been abducted by mermaids. I don't know how much of this scene was improvised, but holy shit, funniest scene of the year! When this scene began, I knew it'd be funny, but it just absolutely blew my expectations away. This scene should be studied by all comedy directors. 

So, the CGI is a little cheesy, but there's a charm to it and a sense of filmmakers being very aware of how cheesy it looks, and just having fun with it. 

To my fellow Chinese people, you absolutely must watch this movie!! For the non-Chinese who's bored of the same shit from Hollywood and want something different, give this a try! There is no other comedy movie like it.  

4. A Monster Calls ****1/2

I think all movie theatres that play A MONSTER CALLS need to give out packets of tissues with the purchase a ticket and maybe free counseling too (okay maybe the latter is an exaggeration...or maybe not!) I think it's without a doubt the heaviest drama I've seen in a long time, and I'm surprised that a dark fairy tale could have so much more of an emotional resonance than most actual dramas. You may need to sit there till the credits are finished rolling to fully compose yourself.  

I hope I don't make it sound like an all out depressing movie; it's a beautiful movie that very maturely deals with grief, and coming to terms with loss, confronting pain, and the psychology and conflicting emotions of seeing a loved one fight for their life. I almost think that if you've lost very close loved ones, this movie may even be therapeutic. It uses a giant tree monster (and a very inspired casting choice to go with Liam Neeson to voice the monster) as a metaphorical device, as he shows up to try to help the child come to terms with his mom's cancer and help unleash the monster inside of him instead of holding all the pain and sadness inside. 

With that said, it goes about it in a very entertaining with some very impressive visual effects, and directed with great style, including some brilliant water color animations that are used when the monster tells stories to the child. There's a nice light comedic chemistry between the boy and the monster. I've never heard of Lewis MacDougall, but best child performance I've seen in a long time. You may feel emotionally drained by the end of the movie, but it's worth it, damnit! 

3. Maggie's Plan ****1/2

I love going into a movie with mediocre expectations and being absolutely blown away. MAGGIE'S PLAN is the best romantic comedy I've seen in a very long time. If I can give an award to the best dialogue writing, the wittiest one liners, this is it. The dialogue writing rivals Woody Allen in his prime. 

It's been described as Woody Allen meets Noah Baumbach, but I think it beats any Woody Allen movie of the past (goes through Woody Allen's imdb) 20 years and sure beats any Noah Baumbach movie. The movie has one of the most quirky, memorable love triangles, a very unique premise, and has such fun, interesting, eccentric, messy characters. It's a hilarious celebration of the messiness of love, and how perhaps it can be our flaws that connect us together. Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore all have great comedic chemistry with each other and are all so good in their own ways, it's hard to pick the best of the 3. 

This is not a movie I can recommend to everyone. It definitely requires a level of nerdiness to appreciate a lot of the humor, and the more english and literature you've studied in college, the more you'll get out of it, as it has a lot of fun with taking the piss out of the pretentiousness of academia, and high art culture which are not targetted enough in comedies.  

2. Eye in the Sky ****1/2

Eye in the Sky is the best political thriller I've seen in a long time; it's almost like a war movie stage play. It is absolutely fucking intense and suspenseful from beginning to end. It's a morally challenging movie that can be debated well after the credits roll. There is no easy answer to the dilemma. You have the most dangerous terrorists you can take out with a drone attack, but you also have an innocent little child nearby who is very likely to die from the attack. What is the right thing to do? Is killing a child justified if it results in saving the lives of many from a future attack?

We hear about drone strikes in the news all the time, but we still know very little about it. Eye in the Sky is fascinating at shedding a light on everyone involved in drone strikes, from the military to the politicians to the drone pilots themselves and the psychological mindfuckery that comes with their jobs and of course the most unfortunate thing about the drone strikes: the innocent victims that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It also looks at the political and propaganda ramifications of drone strikes. This movie is uncompromising, unforgettable, and at times disturbing.

It also includes the best performance from Helen Mirren in a very long time, and a great final performance by Alan Rickman.

1. Doctor Strange *****

Hoooly shit!! was the thought that popped in my head, over and over and over again through-out the entirety of Doctor Strange. I kept thinking, "If the movie stays this awesome, it'll be the #1 movie of the year. Please stay this awesome." And you know what? The movie got even awesomer, and awesomer, here it is, not only taking #1 by a fucking landslide, but I think it even makes my top 10 best movies of all time. 

My mind is still blown by this turn of events. Never in all my days post-getting a degree in film studies and becoming a huge film nerd/snob (I'd like to think I've become much less a film snob over the years), and repeating the whole, "Go indy films! Fuck mainstream Hollywood movies!" rants over and over at bars, to family members, to other film snobs, on messageboards, on facebook...never did I ever predict that one day I'd be putting a fucking Marvel comic book movie as my #1 movie of the year.

Here's the thing. I still believe that creativity, imagination, surrealness, being out there; those are qualities more often associated with independent films; DOCTOR STRANGE shows that when you take those exact qualities and give it a huge budget, then holy shit nothing compares. DOCTOR STRANGE is the most visually dazzling movie in...the forever. It has the most impressive visual effects I've seen in such a long time. Every time you see an awesome action scene, it ends up getting topped by the next one, and then the next action scene tops that one, and you can never predict just how wacky, offbeat, batshit crazy, insane and psychedellic the action scenes can get. The movie plays around with time manipulation, bending space, and when INCEPTION teased at the whole folding a city, but doing nothing with that, here's DOCTOR STRANGE bending space and delivering the most insane action scene. 

I've been splooging all over the visuals, but let's not write this off as a leave your brain at the door movie. The screenplay is every bit as good as its visual effects and that says a lot. It's every bit as mind blowing as it is trippy as fuck. The movie is fucking hilarious with far more intelligent dialogue writing than you'd expect from a Marvel movie, delivered by such amazing A-list actors; I'd give a fucking Oscar nomination to Benedict Cumberbach, who puts on the best performance, the best character arc, and funniest person ever in a Marvel movie. Hell, even the first 40 minutes of Doctor Strange, showing his car accident and his long road to recovery is a solid fucking drama. 

I don't have too much more to say than that. I think I've done plenty of splooging on this movie. It's not just another blockbuster popcorn movie. This is escapist entertainment at its best, done with so much creativity and energy. 

Other Special awards:

Trippiest movie of the year: 
Doctor Strange
Special honorable mentions: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, and Trolls

Best Use of 3-D in a movie:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best visual effects:

Doctor Strange, by a landslide.

Horror movie of the year:
Lights Out

Most memorable performance of the year:
Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic

Funniest scenes of the year:
-The Mermaid - Billionaire goes to the police station to report being abducted by mermaids
-Bad Moms - Kathryn Han explains to Mila Kunis how to handle uncircumcized penises, using the hoodie that Kristen Bell is wearing as a demonstration for handling foreskin. Kristen Bell stays silent the whole scene, but steals it with one line of dialogue.
-The Handmaiden - The hanging scene...I won't give anymore away, but great dark comedy!

Best Ending:
How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town

Monday, November 7, 2016

In Fear of a worldwide Trump Dump - a shit filled metaphored blog about a shit-show election...



I will coin the term of “The Trump Dump” which I define as the very moment that billions of people all around the world simultaneously shit their pants and I mean that literally (though figurative too), when Trump is announced as the new president.   Have you shit yourself before conversations would be like:

“Have you shit your pants before?”
“Yeah”
“What?  You’ve shit in your pants?! Haha!!  I’m telling everyone!”
“Yeah!  When Donald Trump became president.”
“Oh right.  Come to think of it, so did I.”

And seeing how Trump doesn’t believe in climate change, wants to withdraw from the Paris Climate Deal, abolish the EPA and likely appoint a new Supreme Court judge that probably thinks climate change is a hoax, Mother Nature is likely shitting her pants too!...this time figuratively speaking.    

If it hasn’t been stated enough, my butt cheeks are in a constant state of clenched togetherness (I know this is bad English, but if a presidential candidate can use words like “Bigly”, then I think I get a pass to say clenched togetherness).  I can’t ever remember an election where the potential result is actually the most terrifying thing to happen to the entire world.  Even when George W. Bush beat John Kerry, my reaction to that was just an, “Aw shucks!”  This is another fucking level of scary.  It says something when even George W. actually comes off relatively smart and sane in comparison to Trump or the entire Republican party today.  “Don’t mis-underestimate me” or “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…you ain’t gonna fool me again!” doesn’t come off all that dumb anymore.  Trump has raised the bar.  

Yes, I know that Hillary is not that great of a choice, I know.  Bernie would have been so fucking amazing and maybe the coolest politician ever, but we’ve got Hillary and she’s the only person standing in the way of a candidate that gives the KKK wet dreams; a candidate who's rallies not only resemble KKK rallies, but Nazi ones too. 

And I’m getting tired of seeing Susan Sarandon with her, “Oh, Hillary Clinton would be just as bad as Donald Trump”, oh shut the fuck up Susan Sarandon!  It’s not even close.  Bernie Sanders himself is telling everyone to vote Hillary, and a shitload of his ideas are in the current Democratic platform; he even says he agrees with 80% of what’s in the Democratic platform and he holds that blue book with pride.  You seriously think Trump will enforce any of Bernie’s ideas?    

This election is like, you have a menu and you only have two choices:  a $2 steak or a turd sandwich?  That one’s an easy choice, right?  Or choosing Hillary over Donald is like… choosing a punch to the face over getting a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wires to the balls.  Or it’s like choosing to be in the same elevator as Chris Christie as he rips silent deadly farts over Chris Christie actually pinning you down and farting in your mouth.  Or like, you’re looking for a new roommate and you only have two choices: a former best friend who slept with your girlfriend, or Satan; the choice in all these hypothetical are easy ones, right?  I don’t consider my analogies to be hyperbolic at all.  I stand by my analogies and I’m very very proud of them!  In fact, no one comes up with better analogies than me! It's especially better than Bill Maher's shitty "Order the chicken" analogy. 

I don’t remember when, but I came to an epiphany that there’s one fictional character that is totally Donald Trump, and that is Eric Cartman in South Park.  I was happy with what I thought was an original thought, but then I googled “Eric Cartman is Donald Trump” and found that many bloggers made that same observation.  In fact, I won’t even try to write a better blog comparing the two, because this writer has done a phenomenal job:


I’ll just make reference to one South Park episode and that one is Cartmanland.  In that episode Eric Cartman inherits his grandmother’s money $1 million, and ends up deciding to buy a failing amusement park.  When the previous owner warns him that business is bad, Cartman is like, “That’s okay.  The amusement park is just for my enjoyment, that’s it.”  First he changes the name of the amusement park to Cartmanland, and the joy of getting to enjoy everything all to himself brings him to tears.  Soon, he makes commercials advertising Cartmanland, gloating about the fact that the only person that can get into Cartmanland is him, and nobody else is invited.  But, when the amusement park starts costing him a lot of money, he reluctantly agrees to let a limited number of people in the park to pay the costs.  When the costs get even bigger and he’s forced to allow anyone in, he’s miserable and wants to give up owning the amusement park. 

Trump will be like a little kid acquiring an amusement park.  I believe the sole reason why Trump wants to be president, is to make life as awesome as possible for himself with all this new found power.  He will constantly test the limits of all the shit he can get away with doing, having the most powerful job in the world.  He will be like a kid who’s spent his whole life playing kiddy Nintendo games, discovering Grand Theft Auto for the first time, utterly fascinated by endless array of horrible, crazy shit you can do.  Instead of only spending $20,000 of Trump Foundation money on a portrait of himself, he could now have endless taxpayers money at his disposal, for the Statue of Trump, made of bronze with his hair made out of gold.  Putting a giant gold TRUMP on top of the white house, I wouldn’t put that past him.  He can have the most powerful military that can do whatever he tells them to do.  Hey, let’s just bomb the shit out of this country, because that’ll be fun, Secretary of State, come up with a  bullshit reason we’re bombing them.  He could probably ask for the NSA’s help in winning twitter wars.  “NSA, dig up information on this WesAndersonFan69 who keeps calling me a midget handed monkey fucker.  I want to remind this WesAndersonFan69 that I have access to drones.”  Do I have to remind everyone that he’s asked a foreign policy expert 3 times why they can’t use nukes if they have them, because ya know…it’s a waste of nukes to not use them? 

The man is obsessed with his power and fame.  I’m sure he gets a hard on every time he fires someone.  He bragged to Howard Stern about being able to walk into women’s changerooms, might I add this includes changerooms of TEENAGE girls.  Of course the infamous Pussygate is once again, gloating about power and fame.  “I can get away with sexual assault, because I’m rich and powerful.” His new form of gloating will be, "My God, as president I got away with doing so and so..." fill in the blanks, I'm afraid to speculate.

It’s appropriate to use children in these analogies, because Trump is a man child.  He’s a spoiled child already living an extremely privileged life who throws a hissyfit when anything doesn’t go his way.  Any time something doesn’t go his way, the system is rigged against him, because who faces more repression than a white billionaire? I'm behind in the polls? The election is rigged. I'll accept the results...if I win!  What more proof is there that he's a man child?  I think the funniest example just happened yesterday...

I was wondering why Trump was so quiet on twitter, and it turns out that his campaign took away his twitter account, because he couldn’t stop himself from getting into childish twitter wars. Isn't that an absolute fucking joke for a guy who's running for fucking president?!

Finally though, I want to address this idea that all of a sudden, Trump will be a savior of the middle class, fighting for their rights, making America great, running the country like he runs his business.  Just look at his history as a business man, can you name one philanthropic thing he’s done to better society?  Have you heard any stories about the things that Trump has done to better the lives of his employees?  And no, donating to the Veterans after lying about it, being exposed for your lies, and then donating after people found out your lies doesn't count. Now if he has a history of being involved in thousands of lawsuits, scamming people on a mass scale with Trump University, and a reputation of not paying his contractors, wanting to fire women who work at his golf course because they’re unattractive, spending Trump Foundation money on settling lawsuits and a $20,000 portrait of himself…

What the fuck makes you believe he will all of a sudden transform into this kind, caring man that will fight for the middle class, when he never bothered to do so, when he had fuckloads of money and the resources to do so?  Even the website pornhub has a far better philanthropy record than Trump, and I would trust the owner of that site over Trump anyday for president. Seriously, the dude uses his website and people hornyness to raise money for different causes, it's actually kind of funny, but cool he does that.

Any South Park fan would be terrified with Eric Cartman as president.  Well with Donald Trump, we’re not that far off.  We have an actual adult in Hillary Clinton vs. a spoiled man child.  To end off this blog, I want to re-post this video, because nothing demonstrates the childish, spoiled, thin skinned nature of who Trump truly is more than this. The most ridiculous lawsuit filed of all time, was filed by Trump. I challenge ANYBODY to tell me a lawsuit more ridiculous than this one. It's a 5 minute video.


That's all I have to say about this. I was stoned and drunk when I wrote a lot of it, because...this is one crazy, scary ass shit show of an election. If Hillary wins, I'm ready to celebrate like a motherfucker. Honestly, there's nothing I want more in life right now than for Trump to not be president. If a genie offered me $1 million or a 100% guarantee that Trump doesn't win, I'll take the latter. That's how fucking terrified I am of a Trump presidency.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Top 10 best movies of the first half of 2016...

It's been a very solid year so far. The most notable thing is, what a year for Canadian cinema so far!! 3 movies on my top 10 list come from Canada, including my pick for #2.

Like usual, I have my top 10, honorable mentions, and instead of picking worst movie of the year, I've decided to go with "Meh movie of the year", which I give to a movie that really should have been so much better than a "meh". It's also because of its 95% at rottentomatoes. That is ridiculous.

I have a bigger bone to pick with this movie than the worst movie of the year which was The Brothers Grimsby, but like...it got shat on by the critics, it did horribly at the box office, so I really don't have much more to say that hasn't been said already. Anyways...

Honorable mentions:

The Secret Life of Pets, Captain America: Civil War, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Embrace of the Serpent, The Legend of Tarzan, Independence Day 2: Resurgence

10. The Nice Guys **** (out of 5)

For those that loved Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for the great comedic chemistry between the two leads trying to solve a murder in a convoluted plot (Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer) and its wickedly dark sense of humor, you will love The Nice Guys for the exact same reasons.  Shane Black has pretty much employed the same formula, except with Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe (maybe the funniest duo so far this year) trying to solve a mystery this time in the porn industry (though this time a plot that’s easier to follow), and a wickedly dark sense of humor that might be funnier than Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  When I think about it, The Nice Guys is better than Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, so if you’ve seen the former, but not the latter, what are you motherfucking waiting for, dipshit?  

9. My Internship in Canada ****

Flying Air Canada is pretty fucking terrible, and their delays are appallingly preposterous.  Though if there is one good thing about this god awful airline, they do offer a good selection of Canadian cinema, and on a much delayed flight back home to Toronto from Vegas, I discovered this movie.  A French Canadian movie about Canadian politics seems like a sure-fire way to fall asleep on the plane, but 20 minutes in, I was hooked.  It’s very funny, and surprisingly very fascinating movie about the bullshit, the scheming, back stabbing and the dirtiness of Canadian politics.  In fact, who knew that such a low key, charming movie about Canadian politics would have one of the most unpredictable twists that had my jaw drop wide open?  I was pissed at Air Canada for getting me home 5 hours later than I was supposed to, but to discover this movie…it was worth it.     

8. Deadpool ****

While the makers of Kick Ass must be like, “What the fuck?  Why couldn’t that be us?”, very happy to see an R rated super hero movie like Deadpool do so well at the box office, and kudos to them for absolutely milking its R rating the way that George Lucas milked the fuck out of Star Wars.  What else is there to say that hasn’t been said about Deadpool?  What I loved most was the way that DEADPOOL did not pull any punches whatsoever with its dark sense of humor, not giving a shit about offending the PC police; absolutely nothing is taboo and I love seeing that in a super hero movie.  It’s also refreshing to get a protagonist who’s a bit of a dick with questionable morals, and the movie never tries to make him likable.  Most of all though, I think one of the most memorable movie relationships has to go to Deadpool and his friendship with the blind woman which leads to some of the biggest laughs of the movie.  I liked Cap. America, but Deadpool is by far the super hero movie of the year.  

7. Sleeping Giant ****

I saw this at the Canada top 10 film festival which included a Q & A with the director and main actor, and even one of the actor's grade 6 teachers showed up to the screening. That was cool.

I have to say that the thought of travelling to Northern Ontario never occurred to me until watching this movie. I loved this movie, and I almost want to travel to Northern Ontario to see all the key landmarks that were captured by this movie, especially Todd's Cliff. It may be an over-simplification to call this the STAND BY ME of Canadian cinema, but I'll just go with that. 

It's maybe the most beautiful looking movie I've seen this year, and shot with such a fresh, energetic style. Most of all though, it's great in its simplicity, a slice of life of one summer in Northern Ontario, and how it forever changes the lives of 3 teenagers. It feels so authentic and it was cool to learn that all 3 actors had little to no experience acting and were very much playing themselves. During the Q&A, the director talked about casting Nick Serino who showed up to the audition with this grandmother, and when he observed how funny the interactions were between them, he ended up asking the grandmother to be in the movie to play the kid's grandmother and for an old woman who's never acted, god damn she was good. All the performances feel so natural, and it never feels like anyone is "acting". It's simply and realistically observing life and you get completely lost in this world, from all the hilarity, the immature, delinquent shenanigans, to the profound disappointments, and hard lessons they learn about life. 

6. The Jungle Book ****

I hope you all got a chance to see this in Imax 3-D as that was definitely the best way to see it, and the most deserving movie of as big a screen as possible, to fully immerse yourself in the jungle. I am hard pressed to think of a better animated film to live action re-make than this one. They took a fun, but cheesy cartoon and turned it into a raw, intense as fuck movie with such an energetic style. It's a testament that a movie with talking animals with even a few musical numbers never came off cheesy. There's a lot of great voice acting, Bill Murray is a very inspired casting choice to play Baloo, but the best performance goes to Idris Elba who plays the tiger Shere Khan. I cannot think of any villain in any 2016 movie that was more menacing than Shere Khan. I don't have too much more to say about Jungle Book. I haven't met one person yet who didn't like it. 

5. Sing Street ****1/2

John Carney has created his own subgenre of "grounded in realism low budget musicals" which takes the cheesiness and contrivance of having characters break into musical numbers, and instead has the musical numbers come in completely realistic, low key ways. First he charmed audiences with ONCE, then there was BEGIN AGAIN, and now I think SING STREET might be his best. Sing Street is by far the most charming movie I've seen all year. Just like his previous movies, Sing Street is an absolute celebration of music and its transformative power in our lives. No matter what bullshit is going on in our lives, we have music to get us through it, music as an outlet and catharsis for our pain, and music as a way of connecting with other human beings. Most of all, Sing Street is one hell of an inspirational movie reminding all artists to take whatever pain and bullshit that's going on in their lives and turn it into art, because why the fuck not? Pain and suffering can be the best inspiration. 

In comparison to John Carney's other work, the music in this movie is not quite as good as Once, but as an overall movie I was far more moved by this movie. Sing Street is the kind of movie that will make you want to hug the fuck out of anyone in sight after watching it. Once again, it's the John Carney musical effect, because I felt the same way after Once and Begin Again. 

4. The Little Prince ****1/2

Not only is this the best animated movie of 2016 by a landslide, it's actually the most touching movie I've seen this year, and yes...the biggest tear jerker. It's a shame that the best animated movie of the year made the least money, and has been seen by the least amount of people. Shame on Paramount for dropping the movie like a bad habit. 

Although it's a family movie and there's enough cool visuals to keep the kids entertained, I think adults will be far more moved by this than kids. It's a great coming of age story, a little girl who truly learns what it means to grow up, against her mother's vision of what it means to be a grown up. As the aviator says, "Growing up isn't the problem, forgetting is." Childhood is the period of our the world is a true wonder, how much of that are we losing we age? Little Prince kind of reminded me of Bridge to Terebithia in being movie directed at children that's bittersweet about dealing with loss, but ultimately what you get out of it. Most of all though, it's a very entertaining movie, weird at times, with very well developed characters and although not hilarious, its sense of humor is clever when it's there. There would be no Oscar upset that would make me happier than to see Little Prince pull a shocking upset for best animated movie over the incredibly over-rated, forgettable and generic Finding Dory. I think even a best adapted screenplay nomination should be in store for Little Prince. 

3. Mei Ren Yu (The Mermaid) ****1/2

This movie broke just about every box office record in China, and currently stands tall as the highest grossing movie of all time in China, and it is very well deserved. If you watched the trailer to this movie, you'd have no idea that's one of the funniest movies of the year, though the trailer unfortunately makes it look like a cheap Chinese Avatar wannabe. 

If you've seen Dances with Wolves, Avatar and Pocahontas, you'll definitely recognize the exact same structure this movie will go through. I'd say it's more like a Chinese Avatar meets a Chinese Monty Python. I take The Mermaid over the movies I mentioned above, it pulls everything off in a brisk 90 minutes, and my god is this movie funny! If you're a fan of comedy, give this movie a try, and you don't need to be Chinese to appreciate the humor; there's a uniqueness to its sense of humor that's sorely lacking in Hollywood comedies. It's very goofy, but clever in its goofiness and with its fair share of dark comedy. 

There's a scene of a billionaire that walks into a police station to report that he'd been abducted by mermaids. I knew at the start of the scene that they were going to deliver some big laughs, but it transcended my expectations and this is by far the funniest scene of the year. This scene should be studied by all comedy directors and all aspiring comedy directors. 

There's no doubt that the CGI of this movie are cheesy, but there's oddly a charm to it. At some point though, the laughs die down for the movie to deliver a very important message about how badly we're fucking up the environment and a condemnation of human greed. While it's not exactly subtle in the way it delivers its message, it's not overly heavy handed either. To my fellow Chinese people, you absolutely must watch this movie!! #1 movie of all time in China, come on, what are you waiting for? For the non-Chinese who's bored of the same shit from Hollywood and want something different, this is your movie! 

2. How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town ****1/2

It was a tough call for "Funniest movie of the year" between this and my #3 pick, but I think I might give this a slight edge. 3 Canadian movies made my list, but this is the best movie from Canada this year, and the funniest raunchy sex comedy I've seen in a long long time; I'll call this the highest brow low brow sex comedy. There's a uniqueness to the gags, and everything about the awkwardness, inadequacies, and problems in the bedroom, including how no one can control their orgasm face is captured with such hilarity. Funniest appearance, there's a nerdy looking guy who looks like a skinnier Jason Segel, and oh my god does he steal the show! But, when it comes to the low key dialogue based humor, the dialogue writing is sharp and witty.

I really enjoyed the ensemble approach, highlighting that all the characters have something different or a different motivation to get out of the orgy. But what surprised me is that despite how absurd the premise of the movie is, when the comedy dies down for some drama which usually fails in just about every raunchy comedy, it actually works in this one. I'm impressed that a movie called How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town has surprisingly very good character development, might I add that I was very surprised at how beautiful and poetic of an ending it was. This is a movie that goes all the way with its raunchy gags, but has a lot of heart and is much smarter than you'd expect too.

1. Eye in the Sky ****1/2

After walking out of this movie, I knew for a fact that it would be #1 on my half year list. It wouldn't surprise me if it ends up at #1 at my end of the year top 10 list either. Eye in the Sky is the best political thriller I've seen in a long time; it's almost like a war movie stage play. It is absolutely fucking intense from beginning to end. It's a morally challenging movie that can be debated well after the credits roll.

We hear about drone strikes in the news all the time, but we still know very little about it. Eye in the Sky is fascinating at shedding a light on everyone involved in drone strikes, from the military to the politicians to the drone pilots themselves and the psychological mindfuckery that comes with their jobs and of course the most unfortunate thing about the drone strikes: the innocent victims that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It also looks at the political and propaganda ramifications of drone strikes. This movie is uncompromising, challenging, and disturbing.

Of all 2016 movies so far, this is the first true contender for best picture for the upcoming Oscars. It's the best work that Helen Mirren has done in a while, and what a great final performance for Alan Rickman.

The Meh movie of 2016:
Finding Dory  **1/2

It's not that Finding Dory is a bad movie, because it's not. But, it's meh, and that is so fucking disappointing. We hold Pixar to higher standards due to their resume, it's the same director as Finding Nemo and Wall-E, it's the sequel to arguably one of the best animated movies ever made, there was an over 10 year gap between the movies...and this was the best they could do?! Unlike Toy Story 2 and 3 that truly felt like creatively motivated sequels, this sequel truly felt like an uninspired money grab. Finding Dory is completely generic. It does absolutely nothing new that wasn't done better in the original. There is not one moment in this movie that sticks out. There is not one memorable chase scene. The comedy writing is uninspired, once again...are there any quotable lines of dialogue or jokes that anyone can remember? When you hear lines like, "Holy carp!", you know the writers are desperate.

I bet anything that a year from now if I were to ask you about the movie, you'll forget most of what happened. The only things I'll remember about this movie are how utterly fucking irritating the speaking whale was (too bad, because that was many people's favorite joke from Nemo), and the incredibly heavy handed attempts at drama, with those cheesy ass flashbacks to Dory's past. My god did the director try so fucking hard to get tears from the audience.

If this was not a sequel to Nemo, and it wasn't made by Pixar, then I would be much more forgiving to this movie. For them to make a sequel to one of my all time favorite not just animated movies, but movies in general, I wish they had an inspired idea for why a sequel is necessary and this sequel was clearly not. But hey, it made Pixar a shitload of money, so bring on Cars 3 or 4 or which one are they at now? And Toy Story 4 (yes, let's make an additional sequel to the most perfect trilogy ending imaginable to part 3), and Inside Out 2, and why not make a Ratatouille 2 and Brave 2 while you're at it? How about Monsters Highschool? Then Monsters Elementary school? I didn't include Incredibles 2 in that rant, because I can actually see a lot of creative possibilities in that.

The Little Prince, Secret Life of Pets and Zootopia are far superior animated movies, and Pixar's supposed to be the best.

Other Honorable awards worth mentioning:

Trippiest movie of the year (best movie to see high):
Independence Day: Resurgence

Trippiest end credits:
Warcraft

Best Use of 3-D:
The Secret Life of Pets

Best action scene:
Captain America: Civil War - Airport scene

Funniest movie:
How to Start an Orgy in a Small Town

Tear Jerker of the year:
The Little Prince

Performance of the year: 
I was originally gonna give it to a serious role, but fuck it...

I'm giving it to Chao Deng who plays the Chinese billionaire who eventually falls in love with the mermaid in MEI REN YU (THE MERMAID). Simply the funniest performance of the year!

Ensemble cast of the year:
Eye in the Sky, hands down!

Villain of the year:
Idris Elba as Shere Khan in Jungle Book

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The top 10 best movies of 2015...



Honorable mentions:
Backcountry, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, The Walk, We Are Your Friends, Spring, Tangerine, Chappie, Ex Machina, Steve Jobs, Creed, Beasts of no Nation, Lace Crater, The Night Before, Kingsman, Predestination

10. Crimson Peak

If you didn't see Crimson Peak in Imax, you absolutely fucking missed out. In Imax, Crimson Peak was the most visceral, immersive horror movie experience I've had at a theatre The movie didn't even need 3-D to give me that immersive, "I am there in that haunted house" feeling. All this talk of "Crimson Peak is not really a horror, but it's a Victorian romance with horror", STFU! It's a horror movie with a Victorian romance to it.

This is horror filmmaking in its absolute top form. It's maybe the most beautiful looking horror film I've ever seen. I know it won't win, but god damn it, give them an Oscar for best art direction, as the haunted house is absolutely incredible and gorgeous to look at, might I add Oscars for cinematography, and sound editing/mixing as well. Name me one horror movie with more effective sound effects than this one.

All that aside, I think the performances are solid, I dug the romance, and while the movie picks its few moments of violence, holy fuck does the movie deliver on its violence and it really makes it count. If you haven't seen Crimson Peak, and if you don't have a big TV, try to seek out a friend with a big ass TV (at least 50 inches) with a damn good sound system as well. This is a horror movie to truly lose yourself in this world.

9. Cop Car

I thought TAKEN had the single best threatening scene of all time with Neeson's iconic, "I will find you and I will kill you" speech, but Cop Car has a scene where a character issues a threat to two children, and it's darkly hilarious, demented, and absolutely fucking menacing and it's a speech you will never ever forget. Cop Car states a case that sometimes simplicity is a good thing. A simple premise, two children find a cop car with keys in it, and they go for a joy ride, not knowing what's in the trunk, or the fact that the cop that the car belongs to is one crooked, evil fucker played by Kevin Bacon in one of his best roles. 

I've ranted about this a lot, but I'll do it again. You don't always need a big budget to make a thrilling movie. Cop Car had probably 1/100th of Fast and Furious Seven or MI's budget; while those movies were fun eye candy, they sure as hell didn't have the intensity and raise my pulse like COP CAR, where the action scenes are low key and subdued, but intense as fuck. That's what happens when you take the time to establish and develop the characters; you make the audience more invested in the action scenes (and kudos to the filmmakers for their leisure pace as I'm sure some people would get restless, but I thought the pacing was perfect). Very good dark comedy as well. It was sort of like Stand by Me meets Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. 

8. The Big Short

My picks for #8 and #7 are both movies about the real estate economic collapse clusterfuck of 2008, which take different approaches to the subject matter. My pick for #8 is a bigger, more grand scale explanation of the financial collapse, while my #7 pick tells a much more personal story. Both movies are great in their own ways, and it was almost tempting to make this spot a tie between both movies...but ties are for pussies.


Of all the movies nominated for best adapted screenplay, I really hope The Big Short gets this Oscar. It was also robbed of the best comedy golden globe award. What these filmmakers have done is incredibly difficult. To be able to take such a dry, complicated subject matter like the real estate - world economy collapse of 2008 and turn it into such an entertaining, hilarious as fuck comedy movie, while being educational and explaining every little detail about the financial collapse in simple terms to people who don't understand this financial shit at all is a huge fucking accomplishment. This must have been one difficult script to write. Credit goes also to Adam Mckay for directing this movie such an energetic, unique style. It's a movie that very well could have been boring, but a boring moment is rarely ever found. 

What a solid cast! Steve Carell was robbed of an Oscar nomination as his role was far more memorable than Christian Bale's. And Ryan Gosling makes for one of my all time favorite narrators. Every time he's on screen, he never fails to make the audience laugh. Adam Mckay has manged to make one of the funniest movies of the year out of a subject matter that really seems difficult to make funny, so kudos to him! I now forgive Mckay for Anchor Man 2.

7. 99 Homes

I'm giving this one the slight edge over The Big Short. Is it necessarily the better movie? They're both great movies in what they try to achieve, but I think this one resonated with me a little more as it tells a more personal story. 99 Homes moreso than Big Short puts a lot more focus on the victims; the low income people who's lives have been completely turned upside down due to the greed of the richest 1%. An early scene of our protagonist (Andrew Garfield) and his family getting evicted is so fucking raw and intense, and unless you're one of the heartless 1%, that scene will absolutely make your blood boil.

99 Homes is fascinating because it does present an interesting moral conundrum. After being evicted, unable to find work, and moving his family into a fucking motel to live, through perhaps contrived circumstances, he ends up getting a job with the ruthless business man that evicted him (a role that absolutely should have won Michael Shannon an Oscar, let alone nominated...what the fuck, Oscars?). Michael Shannon's character teaches him the business and all the shady illegal ways to make a fuckload of money, and Andrew Garfield's character soon enough takes over the job, evicting poor people from their homes.

It makes for a very interesting moral conundrum. It's easy to judge him, but for the rough shit he goes through, can you really blame him? Can you say with all certainty that you wouldn't do the same thing if your family was evicted and living in a motel?  Maybe greed is within us all. If we had the same opportunities to get rich as the Wallstreet bankers, how do we know we wouldn't jump all over that shit?


99 Homes has been described as the Wallstreet of real estate, and the similarities are definitely there including the relationship between the young man and his mentor (Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas/Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon), the borderline villainous greedy rich guy that takes the young man under his wing and teaches him the business. Michael Douglas's Gekko and Michael Shannon's Rick Carver even both have a monologue justifying greed. The similiarities are definitely there, but 99 Homes to me the much better movie, with better developed characters, a more interesting moral conundrum, and as good as Michael Douglas's "Greed is good" speech is, I think Michael Shannon's Noah's Ark speech about how America only bails out the winners is phenomenal, and yes, the latter takes a huge shit on the former.

6. Inside Out

Pixar's best movie since Toy Story 3, and a definite return to greatness! This is what we want from Pixar movies which has been lacking for the past few years, a visually dazzling movie that will entertain the kids, but an intellectually stimulating movie for adults, as well as one that will emotionally resonate as well, with an original premise.

Inside Out is probably the most psychologically complex movie Pixar has done so far. The human brain is the single most complex object in the entire universe, and the representation of the world of the brain in Inside Out is done with so much imagination. Making characters out of each human emotion and how it controls the person is brilliant. I have read a complaint which I do agree with, which is that Joy and Sadness's journey does go on a little long (this is mostly to entertain the kids), but their journey does lead to the movie's big moral which I won't give away, but god damn what an important life lesson it is.

5. The Stanford Prison Experiment

Here's a rare movie that gave me Psychology 101 nostalgia. Instead of the excitement of seeing a novel come to life in a movie screen, I felt like a huge nerd exclaiming, "This study I read about in my psychology textbook over a decade ago is being adapted to the big screen! Can't wait!" The experiment in a nutshell: Dr. Philip Zimbardo designed an experiment, taking 18 students, then splitting them up: 9 guards and 9 prisoners, using a school basement as a makeshift prison, and the experiment was supposed to last for 2 weeks. Keep in mind these are all smart, educated students, with the identity roles picked at random. The results were truly shocking when the guards ended up taking their roles way too seriously, abusing their powers to no end, while the people playing the role of prisoners ended up being passive, folding to the power of authority, even being convinced of their fake wrong doings to end up in prison. It's a fucking weird thing about the human psyche, someone can appear to be a very normal, nice, level headed person...slap a cop uniform on, give them a little power, and they completely transform into a different person.

This is a fascinating, disturbing psychological study of conformity, authority, and identity roles and the roles that it plays on the human psyche. What was the most interesting insight the movie provided which I don't remember reading in the textbook, the actual psychologists who designed the experiment themselves, the experiment even turned them into monsters; in fact Dr. Philip Zimbardo who designed the experiment arguably became the biggest monster himself out of everyone; even worse than the guards and couldn't even see it. A small part of me was rooting for the prisoners to revolt, but...that didn't happen in real life and showed that ultimately humanity bows down to power and obedience prevails. This is not an easy movie to sit through as it's frustrating and bound to anger you to no end, but it's the truth about humanity. I don't remember the last time the very last line of dialogue in a movie sent chills down my spine the way this one did.


4. What We Do in the Shadows

Easily the funniest movie of 2015. If I had seen this movie in theatres, there would have been cases of missing certain jokes due to laughing so hard at the previous one. At least watching at home, I was able to pause the movie, wait for my uncontrollable laughter to stop then resume. It is unfortunate the movie loses a bit of steam towards the last act, but for the number of gargantuan belly laughs this movie gives, it's very forgivable.

Vampire movies and shows have been done to death, but I love the idea of a mockumentary/reality show premise of simply following the lives of 3 vampires living in the same apartment. Among vampire problems such as sunlight, this movie addresses a bigger issue such as, how do you bite into a human without hitting one of the main arteries? Although this movie is a comedy, it sure as hell doesn't hold back on its gore which it uses to a hilarious effect. Premises like these, I often think like a comedy writer and think and complain about potential jokes that they missed. This one however, I can't think of any missed opportunities.They took the premise and made the absolute funniest movie possible.

3. Unfriended

A horror movie that takes place entirely in a Skype chatroom,where the horror comes in the form of some sort of cyberghost. Talk about an idea that's audacious as fuck, but also could have been a colossal failure as well. Whatever doubts I had were silenced immediately in the opening scene of the movie where my jaw just dropped wide open. Unfriended is creative as fuck in how it gets its scares. 
It's easily the most under-rated horror movie in the...forever? It got very little love from the critics and tanked at the box office. But, perhaps seeing it in the theatre may not have been the best way to experience it. I very heavily recommend that the best way to watch Unfriended is on your computer, by yourself, in the dark with your headphones on. It'll almost make you feel like your in that chatroom with the characters. 

Over the past decade, a lot of the best horror movies have leaned a little more to the comedic side, like Cabin in the Woods and You're Next, but Unfriended really is the best pure horror since The Descent (Which is saying a lot, as The Descent is my all time favorite horror). Generally in horrors, when a suspenseful moment is happening, I smile in anticipation, in my brain I'm saying, "Give me a good scare! Come on! Give me something good." While watching Unfriended, I actually sat there, tense as fuck, not asking for a good scare at all, and it's so rare for a horror movie to have that effect on me.

Talk about a gimmick and running all the way with it, Unfriended finds such unique ways to get scares out of its skype format. For example, even something like a computer lag is so good at building up suspense and tension. Beyond a horror, it's a very relevant parable about the horrors of cyber bullying and how easy it is to use the internet to ruin someone's life. While most horrors have shallow, 1 dimensional characters, here's a movie that constantly presents the characters with tough moral choices, and presents a bunch of normal, seemingly good people and slowly reveals more and more, challenging these characters' notions of themselves, seeing how they all believe they are good people who haven't done anything wrong.

In our present technological age, where smartphones dominate, people feel the need to document everything in life, and privacy is slowly being stripped away, and anyone can get caught doing anything and put on youtube for the world to see, I think Unfriended really is the most relevant horror movie of our time.

2. Dope

It's cliched to say that Dope was dope. Maybe I'll use this analogy and say that Dope is the equivalent of the finest, stankiest, crystal laden purple kush you can find. (Maybe a bad analogy as the drug used in the movie is MDMA, or "molly", a term I had never heard until I saw this movie) This is easily the most entertaining movie of the year, and one of the funniest. It's like a mix of Boyz N the Hood, Friday, a tiny little bit of Dear White People and maybe a bit of a black version of Better Luck Tomorrow. When it comes to black people comedies, I think this one just might be my all time favorite...and yes, I'm picking this one over Friday. None of the comedy feels forced. All the humor feels so natural to the situation and it never feels like the filmmakers are trying to get laughs.


What is a harder life than being a black guy living in the ghetto? Being a black nerd living in the ghetto. I know some people will complain that the narrative is all over the place, but I enjoyed just going with it, as it's nice when you're unable to predict where the movie's going. To quote James Berardinelli's review as he sums it up a lot better than I could, "Criss-crossing genres like an out-of-control hip hop song, Famuyiwa dabbles in the teen sex comedy, the urban gangster story, and the fish out of water scenario. He gives us suspense, gross-out humor, a cute romance, and a sermon about the status of race in America."

Sadly Dope under-performed at the box office, and I hope it can find an audience when it's out on DVD. I hope that Dope can join the likes of Do the Right Thing, and Boyz N The Hood as the most iconic black movies as I think it's every bit as good.

1. The Voices

This movie easily gets the #1 spot, as it's simply the most out there movie by far this year. It's the most fucked up, most audacious, most original, and unforgettable movie of the year. If you look up the word "audacious", the end credits of The Voices appear...granted you're using some sort of new-age dictionary that actually has voices. K, let's move on from this "looking shit up in the dictionary" cliche.

I do have to start this by saying that this is a really really fucked up movie. I would even say that Dexter comes off as a Disney show in comparison to how dark and fucked up The Voices is. You've been warned. This movie is not for everyone, but if you're willing to go into really dark place, you will appreciate The Voices. Once the violence starts...oh man. 

Talk about transcending my expectations, this is the best serial killer movie I've seen in a very long time. The trailer makes it look like a one dimensional dark comedy (our main character has full on conversations with his pets...who are awesomely hilarious characters might I add); fact is, I don't remember the last serial killer movie that went as deep into the psychology of a psychopath, and his slow descent into madness as well as this one, which include his past and the mental problems of his mother.

The filmmakers sucessfully put you into the guy's head. When he's off medication, he imagines that his pets actually talk to him (hilariously his cat is constantly shit-talking him and sort of like his id, convincing him to do evil shit, while his dog is the loyal one, always making him feel better about himself, and sort of his super ego, being the voice of reason)...and shit gets darker from there. The relationship between psychopath and his talking pets is really funny stuff. You'll never see a movie like BABE the same again after seeing The Voices. When he take his meds, you can see how bleak his world seems, and you kind of understand why he wants to go through life without his meds, which unfortunately leads to him being a huge danger to society.

The Voices is a phenomenal character study, on top of being such a morbidly dark comedy, and being pretty fucking suspenseful as well. I was surprised to learn that this was directed by the same girl who directed Persepolis. Talk about a female filmmaker with much bigger figurative balls than the majority of male filmmakers to make a movie this fucked up.

Worst Movie of the year:

My pick from earlier this year still says; It's the pretentious, most annoying postmodern movie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Yes, I saw Pixels and while that movie was a steaming pile of shit, this one just annoyed me a lot more. Going into Pixels I knew what I was going to get. 

If this movie didn't come with such a wave of praise, I might be easier on it, but this is one case where I truly feel the critics got it wrong. This movie is irritating! Instead of trying to be an authentic dramedy about someone dying of cancer, it becomes a big self indulgent, hipster, try so hard to be quirky and hip wank fest. First time I'll say this, I think intellectual, postmodern pandering is every bit as irritating as pandering to the lowest common denominator. This movie reeked of filmmakers being all pleased with themselves being like, "Hey look, we're referencing Ingmar Bergman, look how smart we are! We know our classics." Or even more irritating, having our main character read his college essay in a Werner Herzog accent. Right, like every teenager in highschool knows who Werner Herzog is. It feels like a movie that panders to intellectuals who are pleased with themselves for getting all these obscure references. It's a movie that lacks its own identity. Enough with this meta shit already! I don't see how people can be annoyed by JUNO trying so hard to be hip and quirky, but defending this movie. This one is 1000 times more irritating, with a much shittier sense of humor.

Here's the thing...this movie's comedy writing is fucking awful! The characters are rather 1 dimensional and the movie spends so much time trying to be all hip and cool that the drama just completely fails. Barely any of the movie felt authentic. It really is sad state of things especially for an indy film when I sit there watching it, wishing I was watching the mainstream, chick flick tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars instead. That movie sure as hell has much better comedy writing, much better developed characters, better performances, and it's simply a more powerful, authentic drama about cancer.

While I haven't seen every cancer movie, from what I have seen...worst cancer movie ever! 
 

 Other Awards:

Best use of 3-D in a movie: The Walk
by a fucking landslide. No 2015 movie was even close. If you didn't see The Walk in imax 3d, you  missed out.

Best pot dealer character/performance of all time: Michael Shannon in The Night Before

Best movies to watch stoned: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Kingsman, and The Night Before 

Best action scene: Kingsman...the church massacre...holy fucking shit! Maybe one of the best action scenes ever made.

The metaphorical bonerific award for most beautiful film to look at: Crimson Peak

Most unfairly shat on movies that were actually kind of awesome: We Are your Friends, and Pan

Single best line of dialogue: I won't give away the line, but What we Do in the Shadows, a vampire explains why virgin blood is the best, and uses a sandwich as an analogy to explain it. All I can say is, I laughed so hard, I had to pause the movie to calm down. 

Best opening scene: Spring (I was in tears in the first 3 minutes. Absolutely fucking powerful)

Best Ending: The end credits of The Voices. All I have to add to that is an, "Ahahahaha!" and you'll only understand if you watch it. The fucking audacity of these filmmakers! (I mean that in a good way)
Runner up: The Stanford Prison Experiment