Quick 2016 Reviews
September is filled with wrapping up 2015 reviews followed by the 2015 RyMickey Awards.
However, I'm still seeing some currently released 2016 movies as well.
Full reviews will pop up in October, but for now, here's a little sticky post with very quick thoughts.
Florence Foster Jenkins - Nice performance (as always) from Meryl Streep and an amusing story, but not imperative to see it on a big screen
The Light Between Oceans - Beautifully filmed, fantastic performance by Alicia Vikander
Pete's Dragon - Well-acted, but rather dull and not enchanting considering the whimsical subject matter
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
With little plot from which to build interest, the audience is placed squarely at the mercy of the actors onstage, reliant on them to create reasons for us to comprehend their characters' feelings and emotions. This quartet does a fine job of taking us on their individual journeys which may very well start the play in one hemisphere and end the play in one that is its polar opposite. While guest actor Robert Gerard Anderson and debuting REP member Hassan El-Amin both nicely portray the masculine attributes gifted them by playwright Yasmina Reza (and translated from French by Christopher Hampton), for regular REP-goers, the real treat lies in seeing longtime troupe members Kathleen Pirkl Tague and Elizabeth Heflin spar one another with great gusto. Their mannered civility quickly devolves and the interactions between Annette and Veronica seem to shift minute-to-minute from hostile to considerate and then back again, yet these two talented actresses make their characters' motivations and feelings always ring true.
Taking place on a rather lovely, sophisticated, and somewhat posh apartment set created by the talented REP designer Stefanie Hansen -- the type of environment that seems too ornate to really be lived in like the initial façades worn by the characters -- director Kate Buckley shrewdly utilizes the setting of the REP's small black box Studio Theater by constantly moving her actors around so all three seating locations of the audience feel as if they're squarely in the action of the play's increasingly brutal and hilarious proceedings. As the god of Carnage begins to emerge onstage, I can't imagine there was a bad seat in the house.
Ultimately, a repeat viewing would likely help with better grasping the various motivations of characters' ever-shifting allegiances and tones. Don't get me wrong, nothing here is confusing in the slightest, but there were a few minor instances here or there where I found myself going, "Why is X reacting this way to Y at this very moment?" This is in part because your focus as an audience member is pulled four different ways at nearly every moment. Who do I want to have my eyes on now because they're all great, you find yourself asking. And that's a good thing. For a play to create four characters all with their own distinct personalities, desires, and motivations which are all relayed to you in the audience so vividly in a real-time setting -- meaning the 85 minutes in the play are 85 continuous minutes in the lives of these characters -- is quite a feat. The REP is certainly up to taking on this task and they open their season with much success. I've wanted the REP to tackle this play for quite a while now (I even hoped for it in this 2012 review) and I greatly appreciate the group tackling some of these more modern classics as part of their great repertoire. I'll say this again -- you can't get a better deal on theater than the Resident Ensemble Players at the University of Delaware.
Friday, September 23, 2016
The visceral, in-your-face style Ryan Coogler (and his cinematographer) bring to the fighting sequences of Creed haven't been seen before in Rocky flicks. The lengthy one-take fight sequence is blissfully choreographed and amazingly shot, leaving me awestruck. Coogler also adeptly lets the quieter moments shine as well. Fantastic work from this young director in what is only his second film.
4 - Lenny Abrahamson - Room
Mr. Abrahamson keeps the audience riveted with a emotionally intense relationship between a mother and son, getting great performances from his two leads. In addition, he is adept at formulating a suspenseful atmosphere (that escape sequence!) as well as wonderfully lensing both the confines of Room and the wide-open spaces outside of the small enclosure. (SoA)
Could Sebastian Schipper have found a way to make his lengthy story a bit shorter? Yes. However, what he was done with his 132 minute-long single take movie is astonishing. No tricks, just masterful camera work and well-thought-out timing. Sure, it's a gimmick, but it's a gimmick that I always love. (SoN)
Brooklyn is a film that could've been made in the 1950s and director John Crowley embraces the simplistic and gentle aesthetic accompanying that era. It's a heartwarming story filled with fantastic performances that exudes charm and elegance. Plus, it's beautifully and lushly lensed. (SoH)
Lensing Aaron Sorkin's talky script is no easy task, but Danny Boyle steps up to the plate and hits a home run with Steve Jobs. He creates a rhythm that causes this talky, play-like film to move at a surprisingly breakneck pace. The real-time aspect of the film (broken up into three acts) ingeniously keeps the tension palpable. Plus, the decision to film each act using different formats of film (16mm, 32mm, and digital) creates unique visual imprints for the viewer. Stunning work. (SoH...Sept 24)
Thursday, September 22, 2016
A solid year for screenplays, for sure, including what I think is one of the best screenplays of the last decade (which was inexplicably not nominated for an Oscar).
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Because of that stipulation above, I'm going to remove the fantastic Saoirse Ronan from Brooklyn from the equation. She was likely 20 when filming Brooklyn, but the film was released over six months after her 21st birthday, so I drew the line. Needless to say, she'll show up in a future list so I don't feel so bad.
(SoN = Streaming on Netflix // SoA = Streaming on Amazon // SoH = Streaming on HBO)
(in alphabetical order)
Asa Butterfield - A Brilliant Young Mind
Perla Haney-Jardine - Steve Jobs (SoH...starting Sept 24)
Jacob Lofland - Little Accidents (SoA)
And the Top Five Are...
#5 - Elias and Lucas Schwarz - Goodnight Mommy
Monday, September 19, 2016
Shameik Moore - Dope
#5 - Abraham Attah
Beasts of No Nation
#4 - Alex Garland
writer/director - Ex Machina
#3 - Dakota Johnson
Black Mass, Cymbeline, 50 Shades of Grey
#2 - Jacob Tremblay
#1 - Alicia Vikander
Burnt, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Saturday, September 17, 2016
(Underlined films will link to original reviews)
Friday, September 16, 2016
With that said, the movies listed below deserve your utter and complete consternation. Watching them is a risky proposition that I wouldn't undertake were I you.
Unable to balance an abundance of storylines, Aloha is a film that is unsure of where it's going evident by the fact that an hour into the flick, I had no clue what the main plot point was.
Yes, even this self-proclaimed Disney lover is able to place one of their films in his bottom ten. So ambitious, yet so painfully lacking in the story department.
A low budget tv movie that made it to the screen because of its "star" in J. Lo and the fact that it showed male buttocks. (SoH)
A horror film that so literally dark -- meaning lit so poorly -- that I couldn't tell what was happening onscreen. (SoN)
One of the blandest films I've seen in a long time that tries to morph into an action film in its final act, but it's much too little too late. (SoH)
Its eighty minute runtime feels interminable with no scares whatsoever as it brings out every horror cliché in the book. (SoN)
A heinously unfunny comedy in which two actresses are forced to try and act their way through one of the most poorly-written scripts I've seen in a long time. (SoA)
I really enjoyed the Wachowski's Cloud Atlas, but Jupiter Ascending was a mess with a script that barely makes sense and a group of actors that are typically good floundering about in some of their worst roles to date. (SoH)
Perhaps the worst directed film on this list, I turned this one off forty minutes in only to finish it because I knew it would end up near the top of this ignominious list. (SoH)
A purported comedy, not only did I not laugh once, but a smile never even came across my face. A jumbled mess of tone and style, this film never finds its footing. Attempts at being a sex comedy come across as childish. Action sequences are out of place and poorly staged. Everything about Johnny Depp's performance as a bumbling art dealer is so over the top and heinously misguided by the director with Depp feeling as if he were taking part in a completely different film.