We’re halfway through the year, and I’m confident movies are “back on track”. 2014 had some admirable features, but it seemed like everyone collectively decided to focus on technical achievements. As far as award darlings are concerned, our minds have yet to be blown by this year’s selections. However, 2015 has given movie goers wonderful experiences.
Killers made me feel queasy, but in a good way. Its story about two serial murderers was absorbing, even though the graphic violence was repelling. Kazuki Kitamura was terrifying as Nomura, a narcissistic, ruthless being. Whenever he locked his eyes on someone, you could see a plan materializing in his head. Countering his insanity was Oka Antara as Bayu, a journalist who options for murder when justice is begging to be served. V/H/S/ 2’s directorial duo The Mo Brothers applied their talent for hard-hitting action and gripping storytelling, and made an excellent movie that was hardly seen.
On a more sentimental note, the Canadian romance Tru Love featured Shauna MacDonald and Kate Trotter in two of the best performances I’ve seen this year – so far. The film was a little too soapy, but they were lovely together.
Let’s not forget about those weird performances. Al Pacino was hammy in The Humbling and Michael Douglas was off his rocker as he hunted a hunk in Beyond the Reach. Hopefully Douglas is back in business for this Summer’s Ant-Man. The lethargic horror film It Follows is in the running for being the most overrated film of the year, while The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water is the most underrated movie I’ve seen so far. It’s too bad some immediately label Sponge out of Water as a kiddie cash-in, and disregard its trippy hijinx and hilarious subversiveness.
For a first-time filmmaker, Michele Josue’s gives her film an invigorating style, using various ways to show the rapid change in Shepard’s life. Through his travels to different destinations, to the range from Matt’s lighthearted outlook to his darker moments. While the film deals with heartbreak, it encourages movie goers to find inner strength.
Documentarian Brett Morgen has peeled back the musician’s enigmatic career to find the origin behind his hurt and disassociation. ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’ is an epic documentary that takes viewers from life to death. It’s marvelous to watch as well as heartbreaking.
#1. White God
‘White God’ is perfect. It’s an amazing achievement in filmmaking and features some of the best animal integrations I’ve ever seen in a movie.
What isn’t off the shelf about David Hewlett’s lazy futuristic space horror? A movie so disinterested in itself that it doesn’t bother to disguise that the production is recycling its sets.
Within the first five minutes of ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’, Paul’s mother gets hit by a truck and dies. She had it easy – she didn’t have to watch the movie.
‘Why Don’t You Play in Hell?’ features characters who are crazy about filmmaking. And with cruel irony, ‘Why Don’t You Play in Hell?’ made me want to abandon movies.
This is tough. Its been a pretty good year so far.
It came down to three choices, but I have go with the film I’ve already seen multiple times. Unfortunately, it isn’t Mad Max: Fury Road; although this epic two hour long car chase featuring my man love Tom Hardy was near perfect. I also couldn’t pick Ex Machina either even though it’s probably my favourite directed movie of the year so far with a wonderfully compelling script. No, for my number one of the year so far, I had to choose the movie that had me giggling like a schoolgirl throughout. The film that made me want to go out and buy a $5000 suit the next day. It’s of course the delightfully violent, charming, and hilarious film Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Without a doubt: Jupiter Ascending. “Studios” get a lot of shit for stifling creativity and making notoriously stupid decisions, but I think they need to step in here and stop giving the Wachowskis free reign.
They reportedly started with a 600-page script. That doesn’t sound impressive – that just sounds silly. How they figured they could cut 450 pages and still keep their vision is beyond me. It obviously didn’t work out because this story about a janitor who is actually queen bee of the universe and falls in love with a werewolf alien hybrid while they hover roller skate around the city is by far the worst film I’ve sat through in a while.
What can to be said about a comedy that lets you laugh at mental illness, then carefully reminds you how serious it is? Welcome to Me’s on-again/off-again relationship with laughing at mental illness isn’t something to denounce, but rather embrace the warmth and heart it takes toward the subject matter. What really sells it though is the fantastic ensemble cast, who all do a darn good job.
Get past the frustratingly bland script and insultingly clichéd characters, and there’s a good half hour, maybe 45 minutes to watch really cool dinosaurs. It’s a waste of a collection of talented actors (Pratt, D’Onofrio, Greer, Johnson, Wong) hamming their way through what is essentially a B-movie with a runaway budget.
What We Do In The Shadows
It could be that I’m just a sucker (no pun intended – I swear) for found footage horror films, mockumentaries and New Zealand accents. Or, it could be that this film managed to be refreshing and funny while also deconstructing many of the tropes of the genre. Either way, I’ve found myself recommending it more than any other film I’ve seen in 2015 so far.
I can do without a coherent, engaging plot; and I can do without character development. But, honestly, I can’t do without both. Stunning visuals alone can’t make a film worth the price of admission.
The Best (alphabetical order):
Blackhat (DIR. Michael Mann)
Mann has always eschewed narrative coherency. While critics saw fault with Blackhat’s narrative flaws, they ignored the masterful digital cinematography, where urban space begins to resemble the complex, circuitous nature of hardware.
The Nightmare (DIR. Rodney Ascher)
Like Ascher’s previous film, Room 237, The Nightmare – a film about sleep paralysis – isn’t exactly informative. But, its many recreations of the sleep paralysis experience are haunting. Its reluctance to deny the theory that sleep paralysis is linked to the paranormal might not have any scientific grounding, but its ambiguity is enthralling.
Paddington (DIR. Paul King)
I have nothing profound to say about Paddington. It is unmistakably charming, despite what its creepy marketing campaign suggested.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (DIR. Roy Andersson)
The third part in Roy Andersson’s “living trilogy,” Pigeon… is a painterly dark comedy about life and death. Appropriately broad in its themes, Andersson’s film, while occasionally overwhelming, offers a compelling and insightful journey that is as enlightening as it is funny.
Inside Out (DIR. Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen)
Another hit for Pixar: Inside Out is clever, thoughtful, and emotionally-charged. Unlike most animated features, Inside Out manages to entertain without having to resort to abundant pop culture references, and marks yet another perfect balance between family-friendly entertainment and mature themes such as loss and depression.
The Worst (alphabetical order):
The Avengers: Age of Ultron (DIR. Joss Whedon)
Loud, annoying, and clearly written to please fan-fiction writers, Age of Ultron was a mediocre filler episode of a blockbuster.
Cinderella (DIR. Kenneth Branagh)
Branagh has gone from making seminal Shakespeare adaptations to Tom Clancy adaptations and Disney live-action films. Cinderella takes the opulence of the 1950 animated feature and makes it as aesthetically unappealing as possible.
Jurassic World (DIR. Colin Trevorrow)
While it’s generally agreed that none of the other Jurassic Park sequels are any good, at least they reached the sanitization levels of Jurassic World. It’s like taking the shark from Jaws and turning it into Flipper.
The Lazarus Effect (DIR. David Gelb)
Gelb’s previous feature was a cute little documentary about sushi. The talented documentarian clearly should stick to docs; horror isn’t his specialty. The concept of The Lazarus Effect is hardly unconventional and borrows so heavily from so many other films (from Lucy to Jurassic Park) that it’s barely its own film.
Tomorrowland (DIR. Brad Bird)
Tomorrowland’s optimism would be forgivable if it wasn’t so pedestrian, predictable, and utterly laughable. Maybe I’m too cynical, but who can resist the temptation to criticize a film that overshadows the complexity of world issues world by blaming it all on an evil plot device from a futuristic dimension?