Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Top 10 best movies of the first 3/4 of 2018

Fuck the pretentious introductory paragraph about my observations of 2018 movies. Let's just get on with the list, shall we?

Honorable mentions:
Upgrade, American Animals, Game Night, Unsane, Red Sparrow, The Insult, The In between, The Death of Stalin, Nobody Famous, The Avengers: Infinity Wars

10. Searching ****

What a birthday gift! Released in Canada on my birthday, watched it on my bday. While the approach of seeing a movie primarily through the protagonist's computer screen, I believe this is a first for a mystery thriller. It's an effective, creative approach, not only to see what life is like for the family for an emotional connection, but also effective in showing the mindset of the protagonist. He's like a computer nerd Sherlock, solving all the clues and finding everything out through social media, and learning more about his daughter, a girl he really didn't know all that well.

By the end of the movie, I was a little disappointed at myself for not seeing the ending coming. It is to the movie's credit that they drop clues that maybe should have given it away, but then misdirect, and when it comes full circle...it's kind of brilliant. While most Hollywood movies are content to entertain, but be forgotten after the credits roll, I found myself really appreciating the story after the credits and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together in my head. This is not just a captivating mystery, but quite an emotional one as well.

9. Antman and the Wasp ****
I may be the only person saying this, but this is the best super hero movie of the year.    I’m shocked to say this is the absolute trippiest movie of the year, and hands down the best 3-D movie so far.  Especially the scenes where characters are shrunk to the size of cells and attacked by body bacteria in 3-D…Absolutely tripping balls!  This movie is just so energetic, so much fun, it’s creative especially with its car chases, and shocked to say this…just a delightful movie.    

8. Three identical Strangers  ****
Can you imagine if you were adopted, then one day you find out that you have two identical twins living in other parts of the country?  This documentary had my attention from the first minute to the end.  What starts as a feel good story about these three people who have a new found joy and love in their lives unravels into a truly fucked up, unbelievable, poignant, sad story.  

7. Mom and Dad ****
For every 6 to 8 horrible Nic Cage performances where his over the top acting is laughably horrible, there’s always 1 where his over the top acting makes the movie, and you can’t possibly picture any actor doing it better than Nic Cage.  Well, this is the case, in a horror movie about a curse that makes all parents homicidal maniacs trying to murder their children, no one could possibly have been better casted than Nic Cage as a homicidal dad trying to murder his children.  He delivers some of the best monologues in the history of monologues.  This is my single favorite performance of the year.  Give Nic Cage an Oscar, god damnit!  Such a fun dark comedy/horror that never takes itself seriously.  

6. A Spy Gone North ****1/2

Spy movies just aren’t my thing.  If they don’t have a shitload of action or comedy, a 2+ hour spy movie with a convoluted plot…I don’t know, I just don’t generally enjoy them.   So going into a 2.5 hour South Korean spy movie described as a completely anti-James Bond/Mission impossible and where I have to read subtitles for 2.5 hours sounded fucking boring.  

I’m very pleasantly surprised to be including this in my top 10.  Despite almost no action, this movie is at times intense as fuck, as there’s so much at stake.  Its plot is captivating from beginning to end, and what starts as a kind of simple story about a spy from South Korea infiltrating the North to find out if they have nukes turns out to be so much more, where the line of good guys and bad guys is blurred, politics plays a big role, and despite being on opposing sides, friendships can still happen as regardless of where we’re from, we are united by morality and compassion, and a key friendship in this movie kind of had me in tears.  

I still won’t pretend like I completely understand the relations between North & South Korea, but I feel like I understand it better, and this is the best spy movie to come along in quite some time.

5. Annihilation
This is one motherfucking mindfuck of a movie; an absolute fucked up trip.  At times brutally violent, at times stunningly beautiful, and so creative with what it does with the small piece of land where evolution works in a very different way.  Especially if you’re bored with Ridley Scott making a new mediocre Alien movie every few years, this is a movie that couldn’t possibly be more out there.  

4. Blindspotting
I feel like this is the movie that captures the voice of the Black Lives Matter movement (there are two more movies about unarmed black people getting shot by the police coming out this year, so it’ll be interesting to compare them to this one).  When people are outraged by NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, they need to watch this movie to understand what the protest is all about.   

I love how Blindspotting weaves its message around a very entertaining buddy comedy about a black man who’s just gotten out of jail, serving his final week of parole and the friendship with his trouble making criminal White friend, quite possibly the last person he should be hanging out with if he wants to stay out of trouble.  Despite addressing gentrification, the movie even gets some good laughs out of black neighborhoods being taken over by Hipsters, as the movie has some fun taking shots at hipsters. 

The film is directed with a lot of creativity and the director Carlos L√≥pez Estrada takes some huge risks.  The climax will divide audiences, but I applaud him for thinking way outside the box.  

3. Thoroughbreds ****1/2
If you have a fucked up, twisted sense of humour, dark comedies don’t get much better than this.  This is one hell of a twisted coming of age/friendship movie. It has easily the best comedic dialogue writing of the year.  Olivia Cooke who had been seemingly typecasted as a sweet girl suffering from a disease pulls a complete 180, playing a girl who is incapable of experiencing any emotions, and I'm starting a best actress Oscar campaign for her. Let's not forget Anya Taylor-Joy who seems like a normal girl, but there is some dark shit going on in her mind too.  The two of them have phenomenal chemistry and it’s easily the most memorable relationship of any movie this year. It never tries to be sentimental.  Its tone is dark, cynical and bad ass from beginning to end, and I never knew where the story would take me.  Might I add, throw in some interesting avante garde filmmaking while we’re at it.  I’m still torn between the placement of this movie and my #2.  I could see this movie up higher at my end of year list after a re-watch.  

2. Eighth Grade ****1/2

I am insanely jealous of Bo Burnham's talent.  At 18, he was already coming up with better stand up/performance comedy than almost any comedian out there.  Now he's 27, and no 27 year old making his directorial debut should be able to make a movie as flawless as this.  I have almost nothing to criticize about this movie whatsoever.  What the fuck?!  It’s not fair for the rest of us aspiring artists that Bo is this damn good at such a young age.   

Eighth Grade is simply a wonderful movie.  Heartbreaking, authentic, low key and funny movie without resorting to quirkiness or over the top characters!  Everything about it feels so accurate and realistic about the lives of eighth graders today, in this social media controlled life.  

I agree with my friend who says this is the movie LADY BIRD tried to be. I will also add, I think this a better coming of age movie than BOYHOOD. Final addition: I think it captured the heart and teenage insight of one of my favorite novels - The Perks of Being a Wallflower better than that actual film adaptation of that book. But Bo...now that you're a great filmmaker, please don't quit your stand-up comedy.  You can do both!  

1. Paddington 2 ****1/2










To get the first question out of the way, no I wasn't stoned when I saw this movie, but I will be when I re-visit it. I should also add that this is the #1 rated movie on rottentomatoes. A true definition of a family movie, where adults will get just as much out of the movie as the kids. 

I thought Paddington 1 was an over-rated, generic comedy.  This may be one of the best sequels of all time, absolutely superior to its predecessor in every way imaginable.  Paddington 2 is simply the most fun I had at the movies all year; the most delightful movie of the year.  

One thing that must be stressed…this is a good fucking comedy, with some very creative physical comedy that we don’t see enough of these days. Paddington's brutal honesty, his inability to know that sometimes honesty can be hurtful also leads to some great comedy. Despite how many times Paddington fucks up, he’s so good intentioned, and has such a heart, you can’t help but love him. Hugh Grant does his funniest work in years, playing a super narcissistic, master of disguise burglar, and in my opinion the best villain of 2018 so far.    

The majority of Hollywood movies have feel good endings, but very few movies left me in such a euphorically uplifted mood like this one. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

The top 10 best movies of 2017...

Welcome to the best top 10 list out there. I've included trailers for the lesser known movies.

Like usual, there's honorable mentions, my top 10 and my special awards at the end.

There's one tie in this top 10. Now some of you may complain and say, "There shouldn't be 11 movies in a top 10! You don't know what the fuck you're doing", to that I say, "It's my top 10, I'll do what I want, dickwad. Also in that tie, one "movie" isn't technically considered a movie. But, it's 72 mins long, it still does work as a movie if you watch it on its own, so fuck it. This "movie" was better than 90% of other actual movies out there.

Honorable mentions:
I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore, Creep 2, The Square, Wonder Woman, Wind River, Shimmer Lake, John Wick: Chapter 2, Kong: Skull Island, Heel Kick,

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

Best horror movie of the past 2 years; takes a massive shit on IT. 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.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpRnCZQWqDU&t=

9. The Kingsman: Golden Circle ****1/2

Talk about a ballsy, batshit insane mainstream action movie. This movie goes down some dark fucking places you don't expect from a popcorn action flick, but I have a fucked up sense of humour, so I fucking loved it. The wood chipper scene in FARGO is almost tame in comparison to the first scene where we meet Julianne Moore who has one of those ground beef grinders as her disposal. She has so much fun playing the most twisted villain of any movie this year. For a spy movie, I found the plot actually quite refreshing and creative. You have to love a scene where a spy calls his girlfriend to tell her that he must cheat on her and have sex with this hot girl to save the world, but he doesn't have time to explain. 

When it comes to spy franchises, fuck Bond. Fuck Bourne. I want more Kingsman as long as Matthew Vaughan stays on as director. Matthew Vaughan really has to be put up there as one of the best action movie directors of our time. Stardust, Kick-Ass and Kingsman 1 and 2? Name an action movie director with a better resume than that. Okay, maybe you can name a few, but not that many! 

8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ****1/2

What a surprise to see a movie with such a morbidly dark sense of humour, and such politically incorrect language to win the people's choice award at TIFF.

This is the best dark comedy of the year. You have to hand it to Martin McDonagh; when it comes to making a tragedy out of a storyline of a grieving, angry mother, who can never again live a normal life after her daughter was raped and murdered and the killer was never caught, you don't read that storyline and say, "I see this being the funniest movie of the year"; yet I struggle to think of any other movie that had me howling with laughter more than this one. Frances Mcdormand puts on the most memorable performance of the year; hilarious without ever trying to get laughs. She's simply that way because of horrible life circumstances that made her that person.

With all that being said, the movie still pulls off the very difficult job of balancing such opposing tones of comedy with such a tragic storyline. These are very well developed characters and it's a joy to see them grow and develop. There are no true good guys and bad guys. No one is completely good, nor is anyone completely evil. They're driven by anger, by the circumstances that life gave them that put them in that place. This could have been a typical murder mystery, but McDonagh opted for something more mature and thoughtful. I think I still prefer McDonagh's IN BRUGES, it was funnier, but I don't know. This one had more depth to it.

Best Trailer of the year:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jit3YhGx5pU

7. Okja ****1/2

When it comes to movies about a friendship between a child and a giant creature that the bastard adults want to take away from the child, I'm hard pressed to think of a weirder, more outlandish, darkly funny, gorgeous looking, and awesome movie than OKJA, and what a follow up this is to SNOWPIERCER; any movie to come from Bong Joon Ho truly is an event movie. 

This movie is kind of like CHARLOTTE'S WEB on steroids, crystal meth, and weed combined (replace the cute little pig with a super pig). I can't recommend it enough. Like I mentioned, the cinematography is stunning, it's darkly funny, it has its social commentary, and my god are some of the action scenes absolutely thrilling and so well captured. Best CGI creature of the year goes to Okja, the unforgettable super pig.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjCebKn4iic

6. Columbus ****1/2

What a charming movie; the ultimate friendship movie of 2017. I loved this movie in the same ways that I loved Lost in Translation, except this one was better.

This movie absolutely should win for best cinematography. It has the most stunning shot compositions of any movie this year which is fitting for a movie about architecture. Speaking of archiecture, this movie is very likely to permanently turn you into an architecture nerd and make you far more observant of just about any building you see from the outside and inside.

But besides all that, it's just a beautiful low key movie about two strangers who meet under undesirable circumstances. They're both going through rough times in their lives and the friendship that happens at just the right time to help them both move on and become better human beings.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3dcnV6Z9Zs

5. Colossal ****1/2

This was definitely my favorite movie at TIFF last year. It may be 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." 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. 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 I just enjoyed it as a very original, outrageous, and one of the funniest movies 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:

4. TIE: Blade Runner 2049 and Black Mirror Episode - USS CALLISTER

Blade Runner 2049 ****1/2:
I have no clue how a movie like this got a massive $150 million budget. When the studio read the script, someone must have said, "Mainstream audiences are going to hate this!" Someone had to know this movie was going to lose money. But, I'm grateful at the studio's lack of business sense, because we truly got a movie that's the best of both worlds: An arthouse script with a mainstream budget. Let's get one thing straight, this movie wouldn't have been nearly as good with the budget of Deus Ex Machina, Primer, or The Fountain. It's $150 million was truly put to amazing use, and just an absolutely jaw droppingly stunning, beautiful movie to look from the breathtaking sets to the best visual effects of any movie this year.

Listen, I understand how huge the original Blade Runner was back in the day, how influential it was, bla bla bla. But, watching these back to back now, no fucking contest, 2049 is such an inspired sequel and far superior to the original. Ryan Gosling makes for a better protagonist, where every single discovery he makes and every twist he encounters, you feel his confusion, but most importantly his pain. I love the story, I love how unpredictable it is, and when I thought I knew where it was going, it surprised me by delivering something far smarter. This is kind of like an AI existentialism movie. At what point do we value an AI's rights as much as ours? If they are built by us, but are conscious beings with actual emotions, are not as human as we are?

It's intriguing, it's beautiful, its set pieces are amazing. I heard a lot of people complain about the close to 3 hour runtime. Despite how long it is, I didn't feel bored for a single minute and I wouldn't lose any of that movie.

Black Mirror - USS Callister ****1/2

Yes, this is a Black Mirror episode. Technically speaking this is show, not a movie, but damnit it's 72 minutes long which is a movie length, and really does stand on its own as a self contained movie. Viewers can watch this as its own story having no knowledge of Black Mirror or having seen any other episode. Therefore, I'm counting it.

In a year that gave us some very entertaining space operas like The Last Jedi and Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, leave it to Black Mirror to deliver a space opera/sci-fi that may not have the budgets of those movies, but boy did it deliver something 10X more intense, with one of the most interesting ideas for a villain, and bit of an existential mindfuck too, when you really put deep thought into the characters' journey.

I love how it starts coming off as a spoof of a really cheesy Star Trek wannabe. Then, we see reality and find out that this cheesy space opera is a virtual reality game, and that the main character escapes here to escape the harsh reality of life. Then the story gets a whole fucking lot darker, and it almost feels like Charlie Kaufman was asked to write a Star Trek type script and was given 100% creative freedom and we got this dark, intense, creative and original as fuck, thought provoking mindfuck. It's every bit as edge of your seat entertaining as it is thought provoking. I don't know why I'm not giving this 5 stars. Maybe one of the solutions at the end is not 100% believable. I don't know. I can't get myself to rank this higher than Blade Runner, even though down the road, I may hold this in higher regard. But, this is easily my favorite Black mirror episode, and I'll take this any day over any space opera out there.

3. Imax - Dream Big: Engineering Our World *****

I am a huge fan of going to the Ontario Science Centre for 40 minute Imax documentaries for its breathtaking cinematography, but from a pure storytelling standpoint I think DREAM BIG may be the best of them all. It's not only the most inspirational Imax movie of all time, but it's easily the most inspirational movie of any movie in the top 10. To all the dreamers out there, regardless of whatever industry you're chasing, watch this movie! You may have shed a few tears here and there too.  

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 brilliant and at times mind blowing. This will give you a sense of awe at the ingenuity, and creativity of engineers.

This also tugs at the heart strings, as 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. I took my dad to see it and he observed that every single story in this documentary really could have been their own full length documentary movies. Agreed, but all the stories are equally fascinating.

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:

2. Coco *****

Of all movies, none transcended my expectations like this one. I thought Pixar's best days were in the past. I am so happy to be wrong. I think I'll rank this as the 3rd best Pixar movie behind Nemo and Incredibles.

40 minutes in, I felt like I was watching yet another Pixar B movie; a kid ends up in the land of the dead and can talk to and see dead people; we've seen this done better in ParaNorman. Then the movie introduces a new plot point that is a complete game changer. All of a sudden it goes from an adventure movie to something really profound. Then at some point I'm like, "Ha, I saw that coming. So predictable" and shortly after my smart ass thought, the movie hit me a new plot twist that was completely unpredictable and shut down my smug mind. 

And then the final unpredictable thing happened...as the credits rolled, I sat there and I cried through the entire end credits. Don't get me wrong, I heard a lot of crying in the theatre, but I don't think anyone was hit as hard as I was. I did not expect most powerful fucking drama of the year from fucking COCO. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun adventure movie, but it ends up being so much deeper than what you would expect from it; a meditation of life and death and the legacies we leave behind long after we're gone. Toy Story 3 has one of the most tear jerking endings, and the opening of UP is also loved, but COCO has its one key dramatic moment at the end that might be Pixar's best. If you claim that one scene didn't bring you to tears, you're full of shit!! 

1. The Big Sick *****

I knew when I saw this movie it was going to be my #1 pick, though Coco did give me 2nd thoughts briefly. Is not "just another Judd Apatow" movie. Yes, it was produced by him and it may share a similar raunchy sense of humour, and it's another movie with stand up comedians, but this is the first Apatow movie that deserves a best picture Oscar. Interestingly, I didn't even know it was based on a true story when I went in, but what a story. Often painful experiences make for the best art, and comedy is our medicine to get through the worst shit in life.

How fucked must it be to break up with a girl, then find out soon after that she's in the hospital in a medically induced coma. And it's beautiful how it's the time he spends with her parents, as they share each other's pain and anxiety where a true friendship forms, and he realizes how dumb he was to let her go. As good as the movie is as a romance and as electric as the chemistry is between Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, the true heart of the movie is the friendship he forms with her parents while she's in a coma, played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter who both deserve supporting Oscars. Their characters are given plenty of depth, with their fair share of flaws and marital problems.

Big Sick is just so good at making you feel empathy for the situation. Every piece of bad news the hospital gave, I felt as devastated as the characters on screen, and when Holly Hunter's character contemplates moving her to another hospital, it's powerful stuff when Kumail screams at the father for being weak and not standing up to his wife. As bad as her decision seems, it's love, and sometimes we just never know what's the right thing to do.

Then you also have Kumail Nanjiani's family, their constant attempts to set him up with a Pakistani girl, and all the lies he tells his parents to keep them happy. I've always been fascinated by stories about culture clashes between generations, the traditional parents vs. the Westernized kids and trying to find a middle ground. But, his parents are very set in their ways, and just yet another obstacle this romance must break through.

The Big Sick just works on every level. I laughed a lot, I cried a lot, and I just fell in love with all the characters; I think it's the finest ensemble cast, and hell, they even got Bo Burnham in there. I would call it the best romance since Before Midnight, but it's also so much more than just a romance.

Other Various awards from I:
Trippiest movie of the year & Best use of 3-D: 
The Great Wall in Imax 3D. 
The battle scenes were like Lord of the Rings with House of Flying Daggers colour palette. People were too harsh on this movie. It was so visually stunning!

Trippiest scene of the year:
Beauty and the Beast - Be our Guest musical number in Imax 3-D. Ooooh my god, what a spectacle this scene was. It took the animated version and multiplied the epicness by 11.

Best Cinematography:
Columbus 

Best Visual Effects:
Blade Runner 2049 

Most Inspirational movie:
Imax: Dream Big: Engineering our World

Biggest Tear Jerker:
Coco. Holy shit! 

Shoot em Up Award for Most ridiculously awesomely absurd action scene:
John Wick: Chapter 2 - Keanu Reeves and Common trying to discreetly shoot each other in a crowded area. I laughed my ass off at the audacity of this scene.

Most Memorable monologue:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Frances McDormand tearing the priest a new asshole about who he associates himself with

Best Ensemble Cast:
The Big Sick (I know it won't happen, but god damn it, all 4 leads deserve an Oscar nod. If I could only pick one, maybe Holly Hunter, but they're all so fucking good)

Best Screenplay: 
The Big Sick

Best Social Commentary on Humanity:
The Square

Kudos for taking Unsuspecting people's money and shocking the living shit out of them:
Mother! (Seriously, kudos to Paramount for releasing THAT nationwide in over 3000 theatres. I don't blame the mainstream audience for detesting the movie. I'm glad Paramount did it though. Take the mainstream crowd out of their comfort zone every once in a while. I wish I could have been in a theatre to hear the gasping, unsuspecting crowd having no clue a Jennifer Lawrence movie would be this fucked up)










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