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The Master

Every film you've watched in 2016

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Deadpool: I enjoyed myself.

Mortal Kombat: It's goofy and it can't seem to decide on it's own rules but, overall, a fun movie. It's reall just a cheap excuse to string together action sequences and drop lines from the game but ehh. There are much worse video game movies out there.

Films: 16

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The Magician - Not a great movie, but its influence on Universal's horror films of the '30s and '40s makes it interesting. 

Laugh, Clown, Laugh -  Lon Chaney plays a clown tortured by the realization that he's in love with his adopted daughter. It's a melodramatic plot, but Chaney, being one of the greatest silent actors, gives it a degree of pathos no other actor could.

The Howling: Reborn - Reviewed with Des on Dread Media 442.

Films: 41

 

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River of No Return - Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe play a pair who can't stand each other but are forced to travel together down a raging river to a settlement. For Monroe, it's to reunite with her husband who's making a gold claim. For Mitchum, it's to get revenge on the same man for stealing his rifle and horse, putting him and his son in jeopardy. The opening is the strongest part, with the impressive mining camp set and Preminger's meticulous direction of the camera as it weaves through the settlement and around Monroe as she sings. The bulk of the movie is the travel down the river though, and that's where screeches to a halt. There's a lot of traditional Hollywood beats that really need to be sold, but Mitchum and Monroe don't have the chemistry to make the movie worth noting for more than the beautiful nature photography. 

Carmen Jones - Preminger's adaptation of the Broadway play, which in turn was based on the opera Carmen. There's a noir-ish element to the storyline that resonates with Preminger's work in the form during the '40s and '50s, but it being a full color musical, he's not able to put it in that context. It's pretty remarkable as a major studio release from 1954 with an all-black cast, with Dorothy Dandridge being the first African-American nominated for the Best Actress Oscar.

Bunny Lake Is Missing - A woman's 4 year old daughter goes missing from school, but a detective's investigation raises questions as to whether the child even exists. On a technical level, it's superb, a textbook on the filmmaking school of long takes and camera movement. The narrative gets caught up in the process and the details of investigation more than the story and characters at times, so it's not entirely successful. The weirdness of the ending (which has become stock now) ends it on a strong note. 

Cop Car - Solid. The boys are good, Kevin Bacon switching between the frenzied search for his cop car and the "good old boy" persona he adopts when speaking to dispatch is great, and Shea Whigham threatens to kill the family and pets of a couple of kids. There's some tense scenes out of the kids screwing around with the car and what they find in it. The ending feels like it's from another movie though, so it leaves you a little disappointed. Jon Watts is directing the new Spider-Man movie, so I guess it worked. 

Tomorrowland - A review I read equated it to the "I'd like to teach the world to sing" Coke commercial, which I'm not going to try to top.

The Girl in the Book - Emily VanCamp plays an assistant editor who has to work on the re-release campaign for a novel, which the author wrote while taking advantage of her when she was a teenager. With the conversation sparked by Kesha's current situation, its story of an older man preying on a creative young woman and how it affected her life feels pretty damn relevant. 

Films: 47

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Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey: I will at least give them props: They're trying something different when it would have been easy to completely retread the material from the first film. It's not as good as the original but it's still fun. I love Death.

Films: 17

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Dillinger - Solid gangster movie, Lawrence Tierney's face is in a permanent scowl the whole time. There are a couple moments of implied violence, a broken beer mug jutting toward the camera and Dillinger walking off with an ax, that show the artistry that can rise above a low budget. The King brothers licensed the bank robbery from You Only Live Once, which just reiterates how masterful that sequence is. 

Ant-Man - It's no secret that I don't like Marvel Studios movies, so I'm going to go through this quick. They should've chosen between Robin Hood or criminal instead of half-assing it. I don't care about the generic father-daughter motivation. I felt embarrassed for Michael Pena every time he was on screen. I wonder how much money Corey Stoll gave Kevin Spacey for using his performance from Superman Returns. To have Hope lay out why she was much better qualified to do the mission, and then have her drop the "it's about damn time" line mid-credits in such a self-satisfied way, was one of the most condescending things I've seen in a long time.

The Visit - M. Night Shyamalan returns...and makes a pretty standard found footage movie. It examines how children deal with a parent running out on them and gestures toward family members beginning to suffer dementia, so there's a degree of thought put into it that these movies have no time for. There are also these inexplicable moments where you're not sure if you're supposed to laugh or be scared.   

Films: 50

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Citizenfour: Personally, I don't want to get into a whole political back and forth about the whole Snowden thing. I liked this movie, I think Snowden's a nice guy who did a brave thing. 

Films Watched: 29

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The Toxic Avenger Part II: Not as good as the first one. This was a launching pad for family friendly Toxie with cartoons and toys. So fucking weird.

Features: 40

Shorts: 19

Documentaries: 3

 

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The Gunfighter - Gregory Peck plays a legend of the west who's hoping to reunite with his wife and son before he moves somewhere nobody will know him, but his reputation won't give him a moment's peace. I was surprised how structurally similar this was to High Noon, which came out two years later. Also like High Noon, it's an early deconstruction of Western myth. 

The Man from Laramie - Jimmy Stewart is out for revenge against whoever it was that sold guns to the Native Americans who killed his brother. That's actually the least interesting part of the movie, the most interesting being the conflict between two potential heirs to a ranch, and the question of whether blood or skill matters more. There's a shot of the desert at dusk that captures shadows in Technicolor in a way few directors could. 

Coffy - Pam Grier's breakout role, where she wrecks havoc on pimps up through government bureaucracy in retribution for her sister getting addicted to drugs. It's directed by Jack Hill, so it's trashy and there's some offensive stuff, but you can see why Grier resonated with people. For all the schlock, it does also hit some social issue points. 

Straight Outta Compton - I really liked the first half of this: putting together the tracks, the emphasis on what N.W.A stood for during the tour, and the implosion of the group. Then in the second half it slid into TV movie, with super villain Suge Knight and Eazy-E dropping the classic "I'm going to die" cough several times. O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube and Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre were great.

Spectre - A middle-of-the-road Bond movie for me, I guess, largely on the interactions between the MI-6 cast.  The pile of problems with it is large though. Retroactively tying all the Craig films to SPECTRE is baldly that and doesn't work at all. The reasoning for Dr. Swann's storyline to go the way it does is weak, as is the backstory for Blofeld. The section where Blofeld and Bond finally meet face to face is pretty anticlimactic, really. And I know this isn't fair, but the lip-service paid to SPECTRE having control of a global security network doesn't instill much dread after having seen four seasons of Person of Interest. But, I've seen much worse blockbusters from last year, and certainly none look as good as this does. 

Films: 55

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Turn Me On, Dammit: one of the all-time great honest films about teenage sexuality. Right up there with Virgin Suicides and Kids. This one is in between those. Not as metaphorical as VS and not as crude or grim as Kids, it's probably the most modern. There is a heavy truth to it, too which is delightful. It's also moderately idealized but what film about teenagehood isn't? Maybe Gummo? That's why we idealize teenagehood. Because if we didn't there'd be a lot more suicide. I don't know what this all says about the film. It's Norwegian, and I'm drunk.

Features: 42

Shorts: 19

Documentaries: 3

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Vixens of Kung Fu: scrolling through Exploitation.TV: watch an X-rated Kung Fu film, you said.. It'll be interesting, you said. Seriously one of the worst things I've ever seen. Not only is it way more vixens than it is kung fu, but the sex isn't even hot or interesting. The kung fu is just people moving their arms around in the air. Ugh...gross.

Features: 42

Shorts: 19

Documentaries: 3

 

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The Crow: City of Angels: Yikes.

Films Watched: 30

That movie was fucked over so hard by the producers. There's clearly another movie in there, but the studio wanted, basically, The Crow 1.5. For me, it's hard to watch, because I can see the outline of a really good movie that was edited into a remake of sorts.

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