Top Movies of 2016: Jeremiah’s Picks

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Hello and welcome to Jeremiah Trotter’s top 10 movies of 2016. Now, let’s be clear: these are the top 10 movies that I enjoyed the most from 2016… that I saw. So, of course you will have different opinions and different ideas of what is “the best” of 2016, but maybe you discover something on this list that you’d like to check out. And I’m definitely not opposed to debating the merits of individual films. Anyway, let me know how you feel in the comments if you get the urge. Continue reading

Your Guide to the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Superhero Movies of 2017

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Below is your guide to the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero films of 2017—complete with trailers, release dates, pros and cons, and an Excitement Rating that quantifies Big B’s interest in each film.

The Lego Batman Movie – February 10th – Warner Animation Group & DC Entertainment

Pro: the possibility that Will Arnett will be the best Batman yet; the realization that this movie is essentially an animated amalgam of all the Batman memes that exist on the Internet Continue reading

Top Movies of 2016: Mo Money’s Picks

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Below are Mo Money’s top films of 2016 excluding movies that originally premiered in 2015 outside of the United States.

1.) The Love Witch

This isn’t camp or kitsch; this is a feminist thesis in the guise of a murderous witch film. Anna Biller took years writing this film after Viva, and the end result was worth the wait. If you don’t know her work, fix it! Continue reading

Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War 3I’m a huge super-hero fan and one of my first introductions into actually reading comics was the Civil War event. The political stand-off and the idea that heroes could disagree and fight against each other in such a grand way, disagreeing over basic beliefs, was enticing to me. So, of course, I’m excited to see them try something similar in the MCU. Though, there is no way they can replicate the true scale of the crossover; I think that Captain America: Civil War has touched on something remarkable in the interaction of its heroes that makes this movie shine, even if the source material’s depth was hard to live up to.

The action in this movie was visceral and intense. The film allowed the heroes to use their powers and abilities to the fullest. Even from the start, we saw some awesome combo attacks and a wide range of new abilities and intense action scenes that are absolutely the best in the genre so far, and as the film progressed it only got better. In terms of action, if you were upset by the slow pace and low choreography of some other superhero films, this is definitely not an area where Civil War will disappoint. Continue reading

10 Reasons Why BATMAN V SUPERMAN is a Fantastic Movie

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THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Many reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seem to forget one fact: Zack Snyder has a distinct directorial style. As I’ve noted before, anyone who buys a ticket for any film by the director of 300 and Sucker Punch—which includes Batman v Superman—and is offended by the lack of subtlety and Loki-style humor has not considered Snyder’s reputation as a director.

A director’s signature style matters. I would not see a Tarantino movie if I wanted a kid-friendly romantic comedy; I would not expect a film by Sam Mendes to highlight the positive qualities of suburbia; and I would not look for Spaceballs-style comedy in an Iñárritu film. Zack Snyder was never going to allow Batman v Superman to look or feel like Joss Whedon’s lighthearted and arguably formulaic Avengers films.

Below are ten reasons why Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an entertaining and impressive movie.

1. The Opening Scenes

Critics enjoy mocking the excessiveness of Superman’s Metropolis-based battle against Zod in Man of Steel. Shortly after the movie premiered, the hazard-assessment team at Watson Technical Consulting quantified the damage. According to the team, “in terms of the strictly physical damage done to the city, the initial estimate is $700 billion.” And the death count is equally striking: “129,000 known killed, over 250,000 missing (most of whom would have also died), and nearly a million injured.” Many moviegoers look at these numbers with disgust.

So does Batman. Continue reading

Review: Victoria (2015), or “Help Me, Alessia Cara!”

VictoriaVictoria opens with strobe lights, club music, and bathroom graffiti. The first few minutes of the film feel like a particularly intoxicating blend of A Night at the Roxbury and Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void. Victoria, a young Spanish girl played by Laia Costa, dances her way through a crowd and is quickly harassed by several “real Berlin” guys. This is when the film becomes frustrating to watch.

Despite their reprehensible, arguably predatory moments early in the film, the “real Berlin” guys—primarily Sonne, Boxer, and Blinker—induct Victoria into their close-knit, Trainspotting-style group. Sonne and Victoria begin to develop a relationship, and all seems well in this hazy late-night version of Berlin—until Boxer needs a favor. Then this one-shot film becomes a blur of guns, lights, and muffled dialogue.

Like a dark, more visceral version of Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco, Victoria’s story questions the necessity of maturity. Though, as a character, Victoria has strength and courage, she possesses a sort of self-aware naïveté, a seemingly conscious willingness to allow the forces around her to guide her actions. The fact that this film is a single continuous take enhances the idea that Victoria’s life is one steady stream of pressures and obligations—she never has a moment to reflect. In this way, Victoria is more relatable than many films: there are no cuts, no blackouts, no second attempts. The audience can analyze how the ugly minutiae of every moment impacts Victoria’s spirit. Continue reading

Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 cloverfield laneI loved Cloverfield. As an avid monster movie fan and gamer—I liken the feel of Cloverfield to a mix of Call of Duty and Resident Evil—this is not the type of sequel I anticipated. When the marketing for 10 Cloverfield Lane came out, I was baffled that what looked like a psychological thriller bore the Cloverfield title and was the supposed next entry in a giant alien monster movie franchise. All these things left my expectations low but hopeful.

The beginning starts cautiously, establishing the mood with a strong and foreboding score at the forefront. You are given details and character hints without any dialogue. Then, once you’ve been established in the world and you settle in for what you expect to be a slow build to the first tension of a slow psychological thriller, everything explodes on screen in full audio and visual. I think this opening epitomizes the shock that I felt throughout the entire film. This movie is an odd but pleasant surprise throughout, and definitely nothing I was expecting.

The thing that stands out first is the score and the sound mixing. The mechanical noise of the door opening and shutting, the clatter of objects, the jostling of a car shaking and rolling; all the sound in the film feels like it’s turned up to 11 and it presents a visceral world that keeps you braced for something terrible yet to come. At some points I thought the sound and the score might’ve tried a little too hard to push the drama of a scene, but they played a big part in shaping it as well. Ultimately, as the film rises to its peaks the sound really stands out in delivering the drama of each scene. Continue reading

Brilliant Short Films You Can Watch Right Now

Don HertzfeldDon Hertzfeldt is an impressive artist. Hertzfeldt is a two-time Oscar nominee, and a 2012 Indiewire Best Director poll placed Hertzfeldt above filmmakers like Richard Linklater and Steven Spielberg. While the short film genre has always been an artistic platform for profound ideas, few short films have captured the public’s attention more than Hertzfeldt’s. Rejected, for example, has gained a cult following. Rejected was first screened at the San Diego Comic Con and has since been viewed by Cartoon Network audiences and Sundance Film Festival attendees. Rejected is a simple, absurd animated short film that tackles big concepts. In about nine minutes, Hertzfeldt introduces audiences to an assortment of supposedly rejected cartoon clips. Though the characters seem basic and the narrative seems fractured, the short film as a whole shines a somber light on the plights of the forgotten.

Hertzfeldt’s latest short film, World of Tomorrow, is now on Netflix. Of World of Tomorrow, culture commentator David Sims writes:

The idea of the copy-pasted brain, and the moral quandaries that could stem from it, has enjoyed a quiet revival in sci-fi recently, with World of Tomorrow as the must-see standard-bearer. Hertzfeldt, whose work always tends towards the absurd, had never experimented with the genre before making this short, which was his first digitally produced film. As Emily and her clone drift through the “outernet,” the virtual reality through which all people in the future apparently communicate, the environment pops and crackles around them. But for all of his fantastical imagery, Hertzfeldt triumphs by focusing tightly on his protagonist’s emotions, which are seemingly haywire thanks to their being a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox. “I am very proud of my sadness, because it means I am more alive,” the clone proclaims, while acknowledging that she has occasionally fallen in love with inanimate objects in the past.

As World of Tomorrow proves, short films can wrinkle your brain as much as feature films can. Below are some short films (some by Hertzfeldt) that you can watch right now. Enjoy!

Everything Will Be Ok (2006) dir. Don Hertzfeldt

Created after Rejected and before World of Tomorrow, this animated short film is the first portion of a three-part story about Bill, a passive, thoughtful stick-figure man. Everything Will Be Ok is seventeen minutes of social commentary that slowly transitions from amusing and relatable to unsettling and poignant.

Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? (2005) dir. Miguel Arteta

Written by Miranda July (The Future) and starring John C. Reilly (Step Brothers), this short film features three different responses to a seemingly simple question. Bob Davidson calls it a “profoundly simple short.” (Warning: Film may be a trigger for those with depression.)

Continue reading

Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013): “We love you, Zach Braff!”

Oz BalloonOz the Great and Powerful suffers from some inconsistencies. The pacing is questionable, and James Franco occasionally confuses Oz with his character on General Hospital. But, all in all, the movie is enjoyable, and a great deal of the credit goes to Zach Braff.

Zach Braff plays Finley, Oz’s talkative, winged-monkey sidekick. Though the movie focuses on the plights of Oz, including Oz’s awkward love quadrangle with Theodora, Evandora, and Glinda, Finley steals the show whenever he appears on screen. Finley’s banter with Oz has enough of the spunk and humor of Scrubs that Oz the Great and Powerful could almost be an extended John Dorian daydream.

Oz Monkey and DollOther characters have their moments, of course. Rachel Weisz is a wonderful Evanora; Michelle Williams inspires as the uplifting Glinda; and Mila Kunis gives a decent performance as Theodora. And there’s the awesome China Girl, voiced by Joey King. Director Sam Raimi also comes across as talented, given the film’s stunning visual effects. Still, even as Franco soared above a beautiful CG world in a bubble, I found myself hoping that Finley would say something again. Continue reading