Special 100th Post!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s my 100th post! It’s hard to believe that in summer of 2015, I launched Donttalkaboutmovies.net with my review of Jurassic World. I want to thank everyone who’s followed my site since then, and I have a special treat.

I took a voting poll last month on what my readers wanted between an about me story and a top 10 all-time favorite movies countdown. Since I honor the popular vote, let the countdown begin!

10) Drive (Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn) (2011) – I saw this film in theaters, expecting a cool thriller with Ryan Gosling as a charming criminal. Drive is more than that. It’s a tribute to 80’s Neo-Noir, the French New Wave era, and even Slasher films. Gosling has received criticism for playing quiet characters, but his facial expressions highlight a number of the Driver’s emotions. He’s charming, awkward, protective, loyal, sad, and violent, making  the Driver one of the most complex characters in recent years.

9) Blade Runner (Dir. Ridley Scott) (1982) – Blade Runner is a science fiction film I see something new about every time I watch it. It’s not only an artsy hybrid of science fiction and Neo-Noir, it’s a commentary on death, life, and existentialism. Harrison Ford’s on-set misery bolsters Deckard’s own moral ambiguity. Without Blade Runner, we wouldn’t have been introduced to Christopher Nolan or Denis Villeneuve.

8) Se7en (Dir. David Fincher) (1995) – Okay, so I like Neo-Noir, but Se7en is more a horror film to me. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman’s buddy cop chemistry adds much-needed charm to this grim tale of nihilism. Special shout out to the iconic “What’s in the box?” scene, and its legacy.

7) The Dark Knight (Dir. Christopher Nolan) (2008) – I honestly have nothing special to say about The Dark Knight that other people haven’t already said. I will say it’s an epic superhero film that set the standard for modern superhero and action films, but you probably heard that already.

6) Aliens (Dir. James Cameron) (1986) – Aliens is the action film that both thrilled and terrified me. I first saw Aliens when I was nine, and my dad regretted letting me watch it then (lots of nightmares). From today’s standing point, I admire Aliens because it pulled off the near-impossible task of topping Alien. Alien is a brilliantly artistic horror film, while Aliens is a nonstop action-packed ride. Sure, it’s funnier and lighter than Alien, but it still maintains Alien’s fierce horror and shocking gore effects. Game over, man!

5) The Thing (Dir. John Carpenter) (1982) – The Thing, along with Carpenter’s other films, is part of my annual October horror marathon. It’s sad Carpenter’s career nearly ended due to The Thing’s financial losses. This is a horror film with gruesome effects, a cynical tone, and one of my favorite morally ambiguous endings.

4) Boogie Nights (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson) (1997) – Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest filmmakers. He makes an epic ensemble comedy reminiscent of Scorsese and Kubrick’s finest works. Anderson also has a talent for taking rather mediocre actors and directing top-notch performances out of them (Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds in this case).

3) True Romance (Dir. Tony Scott) (1993) – My compatibility test film is also Quentin Tarantino’s best film of his filmography. I know he didn’t direct True Romance, but this Bonnie & Clyde-esque film has his charm, dark humor, and sharp dialogue. It’s a brilliant blend of romantic comedy, crime, and action genres, and it’s also my favorite romantic comedy.

2) The Big Lebowski (Dir. The Coen Brothers) (1998) – Jeff Bridges’s The Dude is my movie role model. The Coen Brothers combine Film Noir with Stoner Comedy and Art-House film, creating a surreal and hilarious experience. I’m still grateful my mom showed me The Big Lebowski. The Dude abides!

1) Fight Club (Dir. David Fincher) (1999) – Fincher made Se7en, Zodiac, and The Social Network, but Fight Club is his masterpiece. It’s a transgressive work of art, bringing out the best in both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. In a way, it’s underrated because without Fincher’s vision, we wouldn’t have gotten other great works like USA’s Mr. Robot. I wouldn’t have gotten into film without Fight Club.

Honorable Mentions: The Departed, Toy Story, The Shining, Inglourious Basterds, Shaun of the Dead, and There Will Be Blood.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this post, along with the remaining donttalkaboutmovies posts. Stay tuned!

The Best Movies Of 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s my favorite time of year and my favorite review to write – MY FAVORITE MOVIES (OR FILMS) OF 2015!!!! This year was a solid year, especially in the genre films department. Now I have a couple of disclaimers.

  • I go see at least three or four movies a month, but it’s hard to catch everything. So films on other peoples’ lists like Straight Outta Compton, Room, and Carol won’t be on the list.
  • I really wanted to see The Revenant, but it won’t be out until a week after the new year, so it’s unfortunately not a contender.
  • There are a few movies you’ll see on this list and think, “Hey, why didn’t you review or mention this?” It’s because I either saw them before I launched this blog or after they were released on video.
  • A grade doesn’t mean I have to rank an A+ over an A. There’s even a movie I gave an A+ that’s not on the list at all!

On that note, I have some honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut, but are still worth mentioning:

  • Beasts of No Nation (the only A+ movie not on the list) was a beautiful and harrowing war film about innocence lost, featuring Idris Elba’s finest performance to date.
  • Creed restored my faith in the Rocky franchise, thanks to Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.
  • The End of the Tour is the best road trip movie I’ve seen in the last few years and featured Jason Segel’s finest work.
  • Ex-Machina was a disturbing and suspenseful sci-fi thriller that had great commentary on objectification.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service – was the best spy movie I saw in a year loaded with spy movies, and featured one of the most innovative and memorable fight scenes to date.
  • Trainwreck was a very funny and surprisingly dramatic comedy that introduced me to the talented Amy Schumer.

And now let’s get down to it! My top 10 favorite films of 2015 are:

10) It FollowsIt Follows may have the ridiculous concept of a dark sex comedy, but it’s also a very disturbing commentary on teen sexuality and a strong message to young kids about safe sex.

9) Sicario – Perhaps the darkest and most nihilistic movie on my list, Sicario shines through the darkness, thanks to Denis Villeneuve’s visceral direction and powerful performances from both Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. This is one cartel thriller that isn’t for the faint of heart.

8) The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s newest Western is also not for the faint of heart, but still an absolute blast. Part murder mystery and part classical Western, Tarantino’s beautiful direction brings out the best work from its cast, particularly Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins.

7) Love & Mercy – I hate music biopics, but Love & Mercy is more of an engaging psychological study of a broken man than a generic Brian Wilson biopic. Paul Dano plays young Wilson with frenetic energy while John Cusack portrays the older fragile version of Wilson in this unique music film.

6) Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – Thank you, J.J. Abrams, for giving us a great Star Wars movie for Christmas. New and old blood, nostalgia mixed with more character-driven storytelling, Star Wars ranks among the best Star Wars installments to date.

5) The Martian – Ridley Scott returns to form and directs the year’s most optimistic movie featuring this year’s most likable protagonist, Mark Watney (Matt Damon in his best performance). This is a survival sci-fi tale that will have viewers laughing while engaged in science and disco music.

4) Steve Jobs – Director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin crafted the best film that no one saw this year! Shame on the film goers for skipping a visionary fast-paced biopic, featuring a brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender as the titular character.

3) Spotlight – Likely this year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight is a gripping and important journalism piece that follows people (not heroes or villains) and their struggles writing an investigative piece on molestation in the Catholic Church. Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel MacAdams all deliver standout performances as our protagonists.

2) Inside Out – Pixar is back with the very beautiful, funny, and emotional Inside Out. Director Pete Docter (Up, Monster’s Inc.) continues to combine basic genre formulas with innovative storytelling in the form of an animated film. In this case, a disaster movie with insight on emotions.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road – What a film! WHAT A LOVELY FILM! That’s the fanboy part of me talking, but the reason why Mad Max is #1 is because George Miller rebooted his own franchise and topped his previous installments. Between the action sequences with stuntmen and reliance on basic props for visual effects, we rarely get an action movie with as much effort put into it as Mad Max: Fury Road. Also, I can’t remember the last time I saw an action movie that treated an ensemble of female characters as powerful people and passed the Bechdel test. These reasons are enough to please all film goers and not just action fans.

Thanks a bunch for reading this countdown! At the bottom, tell me if you agree or disagree with my list. Also, what was your favorite film of 2015?

 

“The Hateful Eight”

Restraint has been quite popular this year for a few filmmakers who had seemed to forgotten the meaning of the word. Quentin Tarantino is the latest with “The Hateful Eight”.

“The Hateful Eight” is Tarantino’s second Western film, and it’s set in a violent blizzard in Wyoming. Colonel Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) sits on a pile of dead bounties and a stage coach featuring fellow bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and convict Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) offer him a ride.

Along the way, they pick up a dimwitted sheriff named Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), and the four find themselves in a lodge with four other strangers – retired confederate general Smithers (Bruce Dern), cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), British hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), and lodge owner Bob (Demian Bichir).

It’s when the eight characters meet each other that “The Hateful Eight” turns into a bloody Western play with elements of dark comedy, murder mystery, and even a brief moment of body horror. This is not “Django Unchained” (which is good, but not his best) or “Inglourious Basterds” (which I loved). This is a glimpse of what Tarantino’s future looks like as a playwright/novelist.

Tarantino uses 70mm film stock to beautifully photograph exterior landscapes and pay close attention to detail within the elaborate lodge set-piece. His script is cleverly written since he’s restrained his humor and ego. I mean that we hear Tarantino’s character’s talk; not Tarantino.

The characters are by far the best part of “Eight”. Jackson’s Warren is a menacing vengeful sociopath who takes pride in bounty hunting and his role in the civil war. Russell’s Ruth is an arrogant and misogynistic bounty hunter who respects his hardened allies. Leigh’s Daisy starts as a foul and quirky convict who gets increasingly psychotic throughout the film. Goggins’ Mannix is the most dynamic character, seeing he’s a bigoted-yet-noble sheriff.

The first half of “The Hateful Eight” is all about mystery and tension, which is masterfully built and paced, thanks to Ennio Morricone’s mesmerizing score, eerie shots reminiscent of John Carptenter’s “The Thing,” and interactions between the characters. The second half gets meta and over-the-top with loads of blood splatter and revelations.

I love Tarantino and I was greatly impressed with his execution in “The Hateful Eight”. It was less of a film tribute and more of an actual film. Even with the trademark heads blowing off, the racial slurs, and the similarities to “Reservoir Dogs,” it’s one damn innovative Western.

Grade: A