Back to it… let’s finish the list (for now)!
12 Years as a Slave (2016) – Drama, Timepiece – Score: (9/10): This is a film I went into viewing quite ignorantly, to be honest, as in I had no idea what to expect. I was shocked I hadn’t gotten around to seeing it after its high praise at the Oscars several years back. I was truly and deeply affected by what I witnessed in ways I really didn’t ever anticipate. The experience I had watching this film was one of the most uncomfortable, painful, physically gut-wrenching, sad and heartless, all while exploring stories of the horrors of slavery during the first half of the 1800’s. The sheer depiction of brutality, the incredibly ambitious focus on the slave trade and all its depravity in every conceivable way was bold to say the least. But it conveyed the message it was looking to convey in the absolutely best way possible. Every 15 minutes or less, I found myself cringing and physically sick to my stomach watching anything from brutal treatment of the slaves by the slave owners, whippings, poor living conditions, tense moments… it really had it all. And what really put the icing on the cake for this one is that it accomplished it’s intended affect in the most profound way possible. I left this movie feeling no resolution, no sense of satisfaction, no redemption, no feelings of joy or happiness – just a shallow shell of sadness and grief that this poor man had been through so much for reasons he never deserved in the first place.
And the worst part is – none of the men and women who treated he and his fellow slaves throughout the film EVER received any sort of punishment or redemption. It made me physically angry and I was shouting in my head demanding justice for these humans who had been treated worse than animals for hundreds of years without an afterthought at the hands of the slave owners. It was the most accurate depiction of slavery I have certainly ever seen, and I’d imagine one of the best ever made. This movie is not easy to watch, believe me. It hurts, and it leaves you feeling incredibly drained. But you have to power through – because it provides an enlightenment into an era swept under the rug of american history as if it never really happened. The fact that so many Americans had the pure evil and broken moral compass to perform this horrid shit makes me question so much about humanity and what, deep down, the kind of evils so many of us hide within us. Cultural beliefs and years of appropriation are dangerous tools, and I can only hope that in our new day and age, we can continue to recognize (and I genuinely think we are doing a food job doing it right now) that every life has value, regardless of their background, skills, intelligence, race, etc. We are all humans, all deserving of the same manner of respect and opportunity as our fellow man, so long as we are not infringing negatively on the lives of others. All in all, this movie should be shown to anyone questioning slavery or what it really meant in the early days of our ignorant country. Times change, people change, and cultures change – but these things take time, far too much time to the point where the affects of slavery are still being felt in society today. This film showed me he horrors men can do when pushed into a society that enables their behavior, even when it lacks any complacence of a moral compass. And that, genuinely, scares me. What a powerful, fantastic film – although one I font think I will ever be able to watch again.
Deadpool – 2016 – Action/Comedy – Score: (4/10). Sorry Ryan, I think you’re a great guy and all, but what was the hype about? This is a C+ action flick at best. I mean yeah, the action scenes were well done and clever, exciting and climactic (although you knew Ryan was always gonna pull through, obviously because the due is literally superman healing strength which made it much less appealing to me). I think me and Simon (my viewing buddy) realized about 1/3 of the way through that the constant, constant commentary from Reynolds character became so annoying that we almost had to stop watching completely. It was so damn in love with himself that I wanted him to actually get the shit kicked out of him half of the time. The humor was directed at the 10-18 year old demographic (which is fine), but like it also had these incredibly violent scenes and some sexual innuendos everywhere. I didn’t really see any clear direction on where this was going, who it was for, or why it was even made. Acting was sub par to say the least. Save your money (and time) and explore something else.
Air Force One (1997) – Action/Thriller – Score: (6.5/10) – I’ve been on a Harrison Ford kick lately, and honestly I’m loving it. This was your classic Ford scenario, a well loved and respected intelligent character, thrust into an incredibly dangerous and outrageously serious situation where the offs are no incredibly stacked against him. In this case, being the sole free man on a hijacked plane full of hostages. Instead of escaping (which he totally could have done 1/3 of the way through the film), he chose to pull his routine bad-ass trend and stay with the ship to save his family and crew. I had a lot of fun with this one, and loved the tension, the buildup before every encounter, and the epic conclusion that leaves you more satisfied than ever. Oh, and this film is PACKED full of big name actors, like it’s actually outrageous and made the whole like like 10x more entertaining. Gary Oldman as the terrorist leader was such an great surprise (HUGE fan). It has its share of cornball moments (as to be expected), but let;s be real – you can have a great time with this movie with not too much serious investment. A Terrific popcorn film and fun the whole way through. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good hostage situation though (I’m thinking Die Hard or something to that affect).
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Epic/Action/Adventure – Score: (10/10): This film deserves all the praise it gets, truly. It is an incredible, amazing, groundbreaking film simply from a cinematography perspective that helped influence countless directors on their paths towards greatness for many years to come. There is really nothing in this movie that is poorly done – nearly every scene, every piece of dialogue, every cut, take, angle and shot was so deliberately constructed that you can tell David Lean’s director was instrumental in crafting this masterpiece. Oh and he also directed The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India – just to name a few. The man has a taste for epics, and this is his magnum opus in every sense of the world. The setting itself is gorgeous and draws you in from the moment Lawrence arrives in the hostile desert environment. The sights the sounds, the colors, the culture – it is all captured so artistically and beautifully in settings both small (a bar or restaurant) or across the sweeping dunes of Arabia. My only gripe about this film is that it is quite long (like we’re talking its broken into two-parts, long). But hey, it is a true Epic in every sense of the word, and it deserves its time on screen – very little is wasted. The standout acting performance from Peter O’Toole as the enigmatic British hero of the first World War is beyond amazing and will have you hooked early as you follow his amazing journey into the battlefields of Northern Africa and beyond, driven by his own moral compass and a strong intuition and incredibly tactical mind that one would never expect from a man in his position. I really can’t say enough about the cinematography and filming here, though. The shots of the Moroccan desert brought me back to travels many years back and gave me this nostalgic feeling I really enjoyed. The scenes of Toole traversing the desert, the shots of him leading his men into battle, and the ginormous scope of the film is just extraordinary for its time and place in the history of film. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest films ever made. and the best part, it was filmed in 1962!!! Incredible. It touches on so many intense, real, visceral themes of life, including authority, respect, passion, morality, courage and inner strength and bundles it into one astounding package. A movie for every film buff, indeed.
The House of the Devil Score: (7/10): this film was a refreshing take on the horror/slasher genre (I tend to stay away from Slasher-types in general), and I was very pleasantly surprised by the uniqueness of this film. A mysterious caller requests a babysitting job at an odd hour which brings a young teenage girl to the home of she accepts a babysitting job even after she finds out there is no baby. Mr. and Mrs. Ulman are the older couple who lure Sam out to their creeky Victorian mansion deep in the woods, just in time for a total lunar eclipse. Victor at first seems like just a creepy guy lurking around the house, but quickly makes it clear that Sam will end this night in a bloody fight for her life. There are plenty of throwbacks to the tense movies of Halloween, and Friday the 13th, but I really enjoyed how they went their own way with this one. The atmosphere this film builds is terrific, and in my opinion is one of the most essential elements to any successful or actually impactful horror or thriller film. Lots of vert TENSE moments spent wandering the house, looking for clues and trying to figure out what the hell was going on – which really helped me as a viewer step into her shoes in a way many movies fail to do so. Worth a watch!
James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) – Action/Spy – (Score: 8/10) Not much to say here, just a perfect action film. I’ve seen every bond film at least once and regularly come back for a showing when I’m needing a little popcorn time. I’m a massive bond fan (as I’ve said before and a sucker for Pierce Brosnan flicks for some reason. This particular one takes you down a complex rabbit hole, following the exploits of a media mogul mastermind (strangely reminiscent of the word of today – hint-hint) who is scheming to start a war to capture all of the media coverage across the world, utilizing his international conglomerate of media leaders to drive terror in the headlines and create fear. “Words are the new weapons” according to our villian, and in many ways, this holds truer now more than ever. Certainly one of my favorite bond villains because he is so distinctly different from many (and played by the wnderful Johnathan Price) ho usually are just trying to cause mass destruction or chaos. While this is not entirely NOT his goal, they way he approaches it through the lens of the media s a powerful and interesting take on how the world responds to information , particularly the biggest news headkubes, and how they shape our world in eery conceivable way. Aside from that, youve got some amazing action as always, a fun bond girl who can actually hold her own in Michelle Yeoh, and Brosnan leading the charge from submarine to scuba to bike to car to anywhere in between. Great gunfights, stunts – everything is really on point here. I think it’s my favorite Brosnan behind Goldeneye and the World is not Enough. Maybe I am biased as a bond fanatic, but man, these movies always get me, despite the underlying cliches and corniness that are inevitable.
Annihilation (2018) – Sci/Fi / Horror. (Score: 8/10)
I had this movie recommended to me by a friend who commended it as being both a thriller and “psychedelic”. I can confirm it was both of those two, and a whole lot more. This is a movie that I think you should go into blindly, like we did – no preconceived notions. All you need to know is Natalie Portman stars, and that’s good enough for me. The pacing on this film is fantastic, while watching, we felt like the 2 hour run time went by in 20 minutes, we were gripped and genuinely intrigued by what was going to happen to the crew of misfits investigating this strange, unexplainable new world. It takes you into the hearts and minds of these characters, without much semblance of backstory (which worked very well for some reason), in the sense that you are sort of thrown into this situation without too much context or general information on where, what, why, or how the “thing” as I will refer to it, is happening. That is vague as hell, I know. but in a nutshell I would describe it as much more of a sci-fi / psychedelic thriller with a lovely ending that can be left up to the viewers interpretation. I’d highly recommend this one.
That.s enough for now – plenty more coming in the next few weeks! stay tuned my friends and thanks for reading 🙂 love y’all