Make Movies Great Again: 2015 Cinema in Review

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I’m writing this in the middle of 2016, and looking back to 2015 fees like looking back at simpler, more innocent times even though we’re only seven months removed. Writing about the films of the past year, looking at their themes, and then seeing the state of the world today got me thinking about the role of art, particularly films, has in shaping our perspectives.

Though not every film is important, even seemingly-disposable entertainment like Spy, MacFarland, USA, or Sisters have something to say about things like the importance of family, race relations, and gender issues. Admittedly a lot of people watch movies to kill time, but do these themes not manage to somehow get ingrained in people’s minds enough to at least challenge their perspectives even if for a second? Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows had everything it needed to be a good time at the movies. It has a silly story about the Turtles struggling with their place in society while their arch nemesis Shredder escapes from prison, only to be recruited by Krang, the sentient alien brain that is protected by a robotic suit, in an attempt to rule the world. It also introduces mutant rhinoceros Rocksteady, mutant warthog Bebop. It also had director Dave Green, whose directorial debut was the lovely found-footage Amblin homage Earth to Echo.
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The Oscars in Retrospect: 2014 Best Animated Feature

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2014 was probably the most controversial year for this category. This wasn’t necessarily because of the content of the films that were eligible or nominated, but because the nominations announcement showed that the Academy, as antiquated and predictable as they may seem, can definitely go their own way when you least expect them. Continue reading

2016 So Far

I haven’t done a “Best of the Year So Far” post for the last few years out mainly due to laziness, but this year I felt inspired. I’m not going to do write-ups though- I’ll leave those for next year if the films I list are good enough to make it into the top 25.

Why do I do this in August rather than the end of June like everyone else? Well, it is mostly because by I’ve only seen very few of the year’s films offerings, mostly the stuff that gets easily to Kansas. However, I still like to do it right before Fall festival season starts to see how the year has shaped up before the studios take out their heavy hitters.

So, how has the year been? As someone who has not ventured out into the multiplexes a lot, it has been alright. I’m very happy with my top 10 so far and it would make for a very solid year-end list. In fact, I’m certain that at least my top 2 will not move very much, if at all, as I watch more films.

You know, what it’s been a good year for? Male supporting performances. After the top 10 I highlight some superlatives in the categories that I usually do in my lists of the best films of the month, and when it came to this category, I couldn’t narrow it down to a couple of choices. Same for Best Actress, but given that usually there’s not much going in the Best Supporting Actor category, I’m more impressed.

Enjoy. Continue reading

July 2016

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I’m noticing that July is never a big month for movies, as far as quantity goes. I ended up with only 12 first-time viewings and half as many re-watches. I enjoyed all of them to some degree, except for one, so I’ll just go ahead and list the top 6 this time around

Also, if you haven’t read it, I published my extensive look at the best of 2015. Check it out.

On with the show. Continue reading

Review: Justice League: The New Frontier


Justice League: The New Frontier | Directed by Dave Bullock | 2008 | ★★½

It’s hard not to watch Justice League: The New Frontier and immediately compare it to its source material. After Darwyn Cooke, the writer and illustrator of various well-regarded DC comics, passed away, I decided to read the title that came up the most in remembrances for him: “The New Frontier.” By the time I finished it I had no doubt that it was one of the greatest things I had ever read. It imagines various DC characters in the 1950s, with the primary focus being on Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern, Martian Man Hunter, The Challengers of the Unknown, and the Flash. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman play an important part in it, but their appearances are glorified cameos. Continue reading

Review: Hush


Hush | Directed by Mike Flannagan | 2016 | ★★★

Hush is a breath of fresh air for the home invasion thriller. It follows Maddie (Katie Siegel), a woman who lost her hearing and speech to meningitis when she was a teenager. She is an author and has recently moved to the country to try to get distanced from some of the things that made her life frustrating. She lives alone and relies on facetime and text messaging to communicate with her friends and family, including her neighbor who is trying to learn sign language to communicate properly with her. One night, however, a masked man (John Gallagher, Jr.) stalks her, and once he realizes she’s deaf, he decides to make her live through the worst night of her life before killing her. As for her, she must figure out how to make it out of the situation alive. Continue reading

Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

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Kung Fu Panda 3 | Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni | ★★★

One of the things that made Kung Fu Panda 2 such a great film was the mystery at it’s center about Po’s family. Him finding out being the only panda left alive gave it an emotional core that helped elevate the incredible action sequences. In the end it was revealed that not only was his father still alive, but there was a thriving population of pandas in a secret village. That put Kung Fu Panda 3 in my list of my most anticipated films of whatever year it would be released.

Perhaps such high anticipation was a mistake since I just ended up being disappointed. Continue reading