bschmidt1996's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

It Comes At Night

A masterful exploration of distrust, paranoia, and personal tragedy.

Lake Placid
Lake Placid(1999)

There is something about a deeply unfunny movie that is convinced that it's funny that makes me angry. One of the most unpleasant movies that I have had the misfortune of seeing.

The Foreigner

An effective action film, even if it does wreak of a screenwriter desperately cramming a convoluted novel into a 2-hour screenplay.

Stalker
Stalker(1979)

As with other cinematic titans, like Bergman and Kubrick, the great Andrei Tarkovsky opened up a different plane of communication through art. He dealt on a deeply spiritual level, and this may very well be his magnum opus.

A religious odyssey that explores the journey of human beings from nothingness to something greater. At times a Christ allegory, and at others a twisted and surreal adventure. This is cinema as art on the highest level imaginable.

It isn't that the film is vital viewing for artists or craftsman, it should be considered a kind of unofficial requirement.

Scary Movie 5

A collection of references is not a movie. Films like "Airplane" and "The Naked Gun" worked because the sight gags and absurdist humor were meshed into an original story that, on the surface, spoofed a popular genre, with the occasional pointed reference. Those pointed references aren't enough to build a solid film on. Plain and simple.

This is not a movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Unprecedented levels of fan service. Cameos that go nowhere, and serve nothing narratively. A cast of uninspired, poorly developed characters (perhaps partially due to the time eaten by needless cameos).

The major positives that I will give the film are the, I felt, seamless visual effects, and the way in which Gareth Edwards communicates the size and scale of objects. Beyond that, I haven't much to say.

As a die hard fan of the Star Wars franchise, it was neat being served, but as a filmmaker, and as a fan of original stories, there was a lot left to be desired.

I just can't, for the life of me, discern why this story had to be told in the grand scheme of things? It offers nothing. Fans accepted the Death Star plot hole (pun intended), and none of these characters carry over into subsequent films. So, why tell the story?

Also, the film is wildly over-edited. The cutting in the first fifteen minutes alone is very jarring.

Rosemary's Baby

A breathtaking horror masterpiece about male-female relationships in the 1960s, and religious zeal and paranoia.

There are strong performances by Sidney Blackmer, John Cassavetes, and Maurice Evans. However, the work done by Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon is nothing shy of amazing.

Transformers: The Last Knight

I understand that it's cool to hate "Transformers", but this is downright incomprehensible.

Just to give you an idea; we get twenty minutes and THREE major action set pieces in before any of the characters actually give us their names. The film opens with an epic battle sequence that is paced and structured so poorly that we intercut between the battle and a character that we just met giving a lengthy monologue that we do not understand, because he is neither the lead, nor even remotely relevant to the film's central conflict.

We aren't INTRODUCED to any of the characters properly until nearly a half-hour into the movie.

The only positive that I feel comfortable giving to this film is the wonderful performance by the young and talented Isabela Moner. She is doing work that is far better than the film she's in. I sincerely hope that she goes far; she has genuine talent.

I could talk for hours about all of the myriad of ways that this is an example of soulless, incompetent corporate business disguised as a movie.

Our Souls at Night

A simple, sweet, and insightful story about dealing with grief, complicated feelings, and the passage of time.

It also serves as a terrific vehicle for two American icons: Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. Also, I can't forget the always amazing Bruce Dern added for good measure.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi
½

It's an entertaining and compelling film, but make no mistake; this movie still features all of Michael Bay's completely unmotivated and unnecessary cuts, shots, use of slow motion, and musical queues.

Transformers
Transformers(2007)
½

A fun action film with precious little else to offer.

Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor(2001)

I'm in an odd spot here. On one hand I can't stand what Randall Wallace did to a potentially heart-wrenching drama by turning it into a lackluster love triangle. However, I can't deny that the second act of the film is pure movie magic. Something that generally Michael Bay doesn't quite have a universal knack for.

I'm appalled at the lack of empathy in this movie, but nevertheless am impressed by the spectacle. Michael Bay has once again placed me in a moral quandary, but, I must say, this is one of his more impressive efforts, even if it is a shallow, uber patriotic wash with no concern for the loss of human life.

Blade Runner 2049
½

It can't hold a flickering birthday candle to Ridley Scott's revolutionary original, but an average film directed by Denis Villeneuve is still ten times better than most anything else of the time.

I so wanted to walk out of the theater at the end, and say to myself "I understand why this needed to be made. It all makes sense." Unfortunately, I didn't have that in the end. I was left feeling conflicted, but still entertained.

The most interesting piece of this sequel may very well be the thematic reversal. Scott's original was a sci-fi exploration of humanity's deep-seeded yearning for immortality. This chapter explores those granted near-immortality yearning for the mortal soul. It's a fascinating idea.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

A masterpiece about what it means to be human, man's relationship with technology, and our search for immortality.

Live Free or Die Hard

Fantastic action sequences with big, brash, old school stunts, an Average Joe hero, and a surprisingly engaging plot.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

A masterful thriller that throws John McClane into an exciting story that doesn't require him to shoot his way out of every situation. Don't fret! He does plenty of that as well, but he is forced to use his brain along with his brawn, and I still believe Willis' work as McClane; an average, ordinary cop that is thrown into a situation he can't handle on his own.

Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2(1990)

It's a weaker movie in comparison to the first, but entertaining nonetheless.

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)

It's the blueprint for a perfect action film. Involving characters, consistently great action, spectacular performances, and a brilliant script.

There's nothing else to say. It's perfect.

A Good Day To Die Hard

Come out to the movies... We'll get together... Have a few laughs...

It's a "Die Hard" movie in which John McClane's presence is entirely unnecessary. He has no character arc, and he doesn't directly effect the story in any real way.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

The most fun I've had at the movies in a long time. Matthew Vaughn has truly outdone himself.

This movie has it all: consistent humor, intense action that is beautifully choreographed and shot, a stellar cast of Britain's finest, and so much nostalgia it's hard not to keep smiling.

Vaughn is clearly a James Bond fan, but not the gritty Bond that we're so accustomed to now. They literally say it at one point in the film. He's a guy who loves what the audience loves: a convoluted and ridiculous plot, a flamboyant villain, and impossible technology.

Fantastic Four
½

As underwhelming an experience as one is likely to have at a superhero movie. However, I respect the drive to do something with a classic property. The sequence when our four heroes discover there powers and are more horrified than impressed was superb.

But that's this movie's structure, more or less. Singular great moments in a severely unfocused film that is teeming with the stench of outside interference.

mother!
mother!(2017)

A film about man's relationship with God. This is a horror story in the way that human history is a horror story. We have torn our world apart, beaten down purity and love, and chosen legalism above faith. It's also a story about the things that are unknowable to humanity. Purity calls out in the chaos, but God must allow chaos in order that all things can be reborn. Sacrifices have to be made, but purity will still be honored. The whole thing won't burn down until purity gives sway to faith. Aronofsky's "Mother!" is a film that is challenging, but it also celebrates spirituality, and it examines the way that we treat each other and the world that God gave us. It's about life, death, abuse, gentleness, and all of the endless complexities of human beings.

This is a masterpiece. A challenging piece of art that I felt immediately spiritually compelled by in a way that only Malick's "The Tree of Life" and Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" have before.

It
It(2017)
½

A fun horror movie that, while being a bit over edited and over scored, is still effective. For the most part, the performances were impressive all across the board. Much of the horror imagery was quite scary; sometimes I didn't get the opportunity to look at it long enough, but I digress.

Andy Muschietti did a good job with good material. It's rare to see a horror film that is an event anymore, and this one certainly qualifies. I'll support that no matter what. Horror is almost always better in a packed house.

Kong: Skull Island
½

The movie is a tonal catastrophe, and I never actually cared about any of the characters. That being said, Larry Fong is an exquisite DP, and this movie -- like Guillermo Navarro's work on "Pacific Rim" -- shows the gold standard for what digitally shot blockbuster action films should look like.

Demon
Demon(2016)

A breathtaking film about the relationship between the past and the present; the physical and the supernatural.

Baghead
Baghead(2008)

Creating a horror-comedy story that is effective is exceedingly difficult. What's even more difficult is creating one with this much subtext and genuine human drama. The Duplass brothers are forever true indie darlings.

Digging Up the Marrow

A fascinating hybrid of a movie about imagination, parenthood, and belief. It's scary, it's funny, it's truly entertaining, and it's handled with love and care. Adam Green has made something truly special.

Also, Ray Wise gives a genuinely brilliant performance.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The finest practical vehicle-based action sequences since Indiana Jones first chased after the Ark of the Covenant. This is one seriously incredible action movie!

At 70-years-old Dr. George Miller is crafting more exciting and original action scenes than any young action filmmaker working in the studio system today. Because he focuses on the thing that big blockbuster action flicks so easily forget: tension. There is a near constant state of tension and fear for our heroes throughout this movie.

It's also an action movie with more than one thing to say. This isn't just about telling a good story, it's also about respect for human life, even in the midst of complete and utter chaos. It's also about hope, seeking redemption, and caring for others above yourself.

This is an action movie with heart, purpose, and the most bonkers (but coherently shot and edited) action sequences you're likely to see this year! It's the kind of risky, bold, and exciting action entertainment that Hollywood just doesn't make anymore. It's miles ahead of Avengers! Go see it!

Digging For Fire
½

I love Joe Swanberg's work, because he seems to understand the importance of the truth in a human moment; whether that moment be a literal second in time, or a period in someone's life.

This is a beautiful story powered by compassionate direction and strong performances about marriage, love, maturity, impatience, procrastination, growth, and realization of self. Some of Swanberg's finest work.

The Hitman's Bodyguard
½

At times, it was a little bit difficult for me to get past how unlikable and annoying I found Sam Jackson's character. However, everyone does their best with the material, Patrick Hughes directs some tight and impressive action sequences, and the cinematography by Jules O'Loughlin was terrific.

Overall, a harmless and entertaining action film from a director whose debut I found very impressive, and am still holding onto high hopes for.

Good Time
Good Time(2017)

A work of creative force that lingers. There's an honesty in this art that is present in "Heaven Knows What", but, this time 'round, is married with a visual tapestry that was absent before. The use of light and color add to the odyssey-like pace, and are plenty stunning to look at.

The Safdie brothers have outdone themselves with this crazy, hair-raising, brutal portrait of wandering and brotherhood. It's a story about discovering who you are, and why you are. Needless to say, it feels as though, creatively, the Safdie brothers have done just that.

Charlie Countryman

"Charlie Countryman" isn't a perfect film, but it is inarguably a beautiful one, both in spirit and in presentation. This movie celebrates feeling. Where it falters is the way in which it undervalues the eternal, but it certainly does a wonderful job of celebrating spontaneous emotion and action. It's a creative burst that is fighting for a narrative, and I mean that in the best way. Sure, it's pretentious, but it's also extremely wide-eyed and ambitious.

[Rec] 2
[Rec] 2(2010)

This movie does exactly what a horror sequel should. It not only takes what the original left behind and capitalizes on it, but, in many respects, improves upon it. What made the original so scary was the helplessness, and the claustrophobic atmosphere, and that is cranked up to eleven in this even better sequel. What a great movie!

Afflicted
Afflicted(2014)

Found footage horror still has a chance! Derek Lee and Clif Prowse have created a fresh, original, and
genuinely scary movie with plenty of great performances, passionate directing, incredible tension, and shocking imagery. The most well-directed, well-realized, beautifully crafted found footage horror film since "[REC] 2".

Goosebumps
Goosebumps(2015)
½

A surprisingly wonderful movie! It reminds me of a bygone era of family films where kids were put in real danger, and faced real monsters. It's a bit of "Gremlins" with a little bit of "Monster Squad", and a spoonful of "Night of the Creeps".

A Woman Under the Influence

Something that fascinated me with the way that Cassavetes directed this film was the distance between the camera and the story at hand. Most things are shot on long lenses, putting a distance between us and this family, giving it an almost documentary style naturalism when paired with the harrowing performances.

John Cassavetes was a revolutionary artist, and a true maverick of American independent cinema, and this may be his masterpiece.

The Brood
The Brood(1979)

Simply put, it's a lovingly crafted psychological horror film about a desperate divorced dad that loves his daughter, and is terrified of being separated from her.

It's the scariest of Cronenberg's films that I've seen, and it is, apparently, his most personal. Plus, I could watch another eight hours of Samantha Eggar's amazingly demented performance.

La La Land
La La Land(2016)

Damien Chazelle's LA LA LAND is a movie brimming with life, energy, melancholy, music, and the incomparable joy of cinema. Every moment is a joy to behold; it's beautiful, romantic, and magical. This is movie magic.

It's a film about the purpose of someone's presence in your life, and the risk and excitement of turning your dream into a goal.

Don't Think Twice
½

A charming and beautiful human story about community, success, friendship, and the danger in following your dream.

8 1/2
8 1/2(1963)

There's an organic shifting of perspectives and feeling that happens in the second and third acts that has always struck me. I believe that there's something almost noble about a confident artist totally in control of their medium. That's what Fellini is here; an artist totally in control.

While not my favorite Fellini, this is a work of manic and measured genius that is entertaining, poetic, beautiful, and utterly psychotic in the best way. It's the best that the form has to offer; some of the greatest cinematography, performing, blocking, editing, and creative insight in all of cinema.

Fellini performed a cinematic magic trick with this one. I don't know that there's any other way to adequately explain it; a magic trick.

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman(2017)

Certainly the finest thing that the DC universe has produced thus far. That being said, it was nothing that reinvents the wheel in terms of structure. Maybe it's simply superhero fatigue on my part, but I feel that I was oversold.

There are, however, some great character moments, exciting action, and two terrific performances from Gal Gadot and Chris Pine.

Caché
Caché(2005)

Michael Haneke demands a lot of his audience. He never patronizes, and he trusts that the viewer is intelligent enough to deduce the human complexity on display. At the same time, he brilliantly creates excitement and tension by making us investigate every frame. He only uses close-ups when there is complex, hidden emotion to decipher; every master shot is voyeuristic and haunting.

This is masterful, sophisticated filmmaking. A brilliant story about trust, morality, and consequences. Plain and simple.

Doctor Strange

A thrilling and fun superhero film while also being a deeply felt story about one's own ability to be redeemed. This is a story about the faith journey; the true importance of willingness and an open mind.

It doesn't break the mold structurally, but it does push the boundaries of what's previously been established in the MCU. Needless to say, I was quite impressed.

Undisputed III: Redemption

Despite the use of slow motion being a bit too liberal, the fight choreography by Larnell Stovall is terrific, the direction is relatively solid, and, arguably, the most underrated leading man in American action cinema, Scott Adkins, does a fine job.

The Way of the Gun

The film has a bit of a sloppy set-up, but it's very seldom that we get to see action sequences with such a great sense of geography. Christopher McQuarrie and his team shaped a well-written, well-directed, and well-edited action flick that, though not perfect, is a far cry better than some others in this all-but-played-out subgenre.

Dunkirk
Dunkirk(2017)

A work of immense artistic weight, historic power, purity, reverence, complexity, sophistication, heroism, respect, and tense entertainment.

Truly this is Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. He is a brilliant filmmaker that refuses to talk down to the audience. Nolan demands a great deal of attention, and internal searching from the viewers, and he continues to blow me away.

The Jungle Book

Unlike many other blockbusters, this epic adventure is a groundbreaking visual spectacle that doesn't forget that it's allowed to have a heart, and a brain as well. Jon Favreau directed this special effects marvel with a boyish hopefulness and outstanding sense of movie magic. Certainly the best movie I've seen so far this year.

The Evil Dead
½

It's entirely irrelevant to me whether or not the film itself is technically good. This is proof that anyone who truly wants to make a movie can and will do it with or without the proper resources.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

This is the result of an indie artist given a pricey toy box to play with. It's silly, exciting, hilarious, terrifying, and endlessly watchable. The ultimate midnight horror movie; a masterful story powered by happy accidents, and meticulous creativity.

Chasing Amy
Chasing Amy(1997)

There's a charm to the honesty of Kevin Smith's filmography. Much of his crowning achievements lack style in the same way that life does, but they do embrace the substance in frank dialogue and human communication.

Clerks
Clerks(1994)

A prime example of the uniquely creative and crass gems produced by the American indie renaissance of the 1990s. "Clerks" is a beautifully listless and witty reflection on the boring day-to-day lives of the average Joe Schmoe, and the indie community is all the better for its existence.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

A masterful addition to the "Apes" franchise. It is an exciting and compelling sci-fi tale that is also a deeply complex story about cohabitation, human nature's shallow inclination toward violence, and the link between parents and children.

War for the Planet of the Apes
½

It may be my least favorite of this prequel trilogy, but that isn't to say that it isn't excellent. Matt Reeves is a master at building to moments. He doesn't structure entire scenes or sequences around single moments, but he knows how to capitalize on them in order to create beautifully complex and wonderful character moments.

Andy Serkis is terrific as always. I do wish that Woody Harrellson had more to do, but he was also great. The big standouts this time around, for me, are Steve Zahn and Amiah Miller. An amazing pair of performances.

The Squid and the Whale

An honest look at divorce, as well as the pains of being stuck in the middle; the difference between being brilliant and pretentious, and the bitterness that forces it's way into tough situations.

Noah Baumbach may be the heir to Woody Allen's seat as the patron saint of upper crust New York comedy-drama.

Frances Ha
Frances Ha(2013)

A lovely and charming bit of Woody Allen inspired storytelling about finding your way.

Dogma
Dogma(1999)
½

A hilarious, expertly written satire that praises faith while taking the earnestness out of fundamentalism. This is a movie that is mistakenly labeled as blasphemous by many; it's, in fact, one of the most pro-faith movies that I've seen in some time. It just is also staunchly anti-religion.

Shaun of the Dead

A cult classic that marries cold, deadpan British humor with horror thrills reminiscent of the zombie classics it pays beautiful homage to.

This isn't the movie that introduced me to the brilliance of Edgar Wright (I have "Hot Fuzz" to thank for that), but "Shaun of the Dead" certainly cemented him in my mind as a solid artist to watch for.

Wright comes from a primo school of directors: the Tarantino's, the Kevin Smith's, the Guy Ritchie's; guys with a distinct voice and disctinct stories to tell.

"Shaun of the Dead" plays to all of Wright's strengths as a storyteller: quirky yet relatable characters, a pension for stylized violence, and a hysterical script that never stops being entertaining.

Baby Driver
Baby Driver(2017)

I can't remember the last time that I saw a film this ceaselessly entertaining in a theater.

The skill on display in directing most sequences in the film perfectly in time with a given song is excellent on it's own. Pair that with exciting action, and a script that's cool as a damn cucumber, and you have a joyous bit of movie goodness.

Thank you, Mr. Wright. You've done it again.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Edgar Wright is a meticulous artist that makes strong stylistic choices, particularly in the way that the elements on screen seem to be working directly in tandem with the scene transitions. It's pure creative joy, and it's a wonder to watch.

La Dolce Vita

It feels immense, but at the end of the day this is simply about a scared and insecure man's efforts to project false confidence. He keeps his eyes locked on what he believes will satisfy him, only to find that all paths have trials.

Birdman
Birdman(2014)

A cinematic masterpiece. Plain and simple. This is a film with purpose in its steps, and a big brain (that of brilliant co-writer and director Alejandro Inarritu) on its shoulders.

This is a story about knowing yourself, and never yearning to please those who don't determine the next step. There's subtlety, subtext, and nuance in every character. We pull from every single one. Amy Ryan's pent up frustration; Emma Stone's dissatisfaction with herself, projected onto those around her; Edward Norton's want to be the three-dimensional person he is on stage in the real world; Naomi Watts' misplaced want for recognition and affirmation.

Thank you, Mr. Inarritu. This is the type of film that is going to spur on a whole new generation of creative minds to make original films.

La Haine
La Haine(1996)

In my young life, few pieces of art have left me as shaken as Mathieu Kassovitz's "La haine" did.

Violence begets violence, and all of the victims in this cycle can and should be avoided. However, once the wheel begins turning, it becomes difficult to stop. Much like other great socially conscious works, like Inarritu's "Amores Perros" and Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing", don't look here for answers to all of the addressed problems. But I don't feel that it's the responsibility of art to solve problems, or even always present solutions. It's about starting a dialogue. That's what a film like "La haine" does so well; it puts names, faces, personalities, goals, dreams, talents, struggles to the statistics left behind by unnecessary violence, and, in that, forces the viewer to come to terms with the world as we, unfortunately, still know it today.

American Hustle
½

David O. Russell is steadily building a signature style, and I like it. "American Hustle" is confident, hilarious, entertaining, and impressive. It is a low stakes gangster film with a self-deprecating sense of humor that readily admits its own low stakes.

Vantage Point

"Rashomon" this is not, but, for an intriguingly plotted, suitably entertaining thriller, this thing works pretty well.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
½

Yes the writing is absurd, the acting is overall just as silly, and the directing is overconfident and overstuffed, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have fun watching this movie. The action was a lot of fun, and the plot was just formulaic enough to pass for a genuine G.I. Joe plot.

Return to Me
Return to Me(2000)
½

A charming and sweet little movie.

Minions
Minions(2015)

We're currently living in a world that is host to films like "Inside Out" and "Toy Story". So, why on earth would any thinking parent waste their time taking their kid to see this pre-sold, interminable, empty-headed wash?

This is the worst kind of art, because it has no purpose other than to be bought and sold as Happy Meal toys and t-shirts. It's merchandising that they decided to turn into a movie. "Minions" is ugly and hollow.

To all parents, show your children "Inside Out". Why? Because it has something to teach them. "Minions" is a lazy movie that acts as an hour-and-a-half long babysitter that only hurts, it doesn't help. This film feeds the low standards of contemporary family films. Nowadays it seems that family films don't have to teach anything to kids. They're simply about shutting your brain off, as well as your kids', and watching drivel, of which this film is a prime example.

I have nothing against the artists themselves. What I have a problem with is the low standards that this movie shores up. It's a shame to say the least.

This is my least favorite movie of the year, hands down, which is a shame because this movie was one that I was looking forward to.

The Void
The Void(2017)
½

If you can get past the weak characterizations, this is a fun and effective monster movie excellent practical effects, and plenty of B-movie gory goodness.

La Promesse (The Promise)

A compassionate and honest work of art about the hard adolescent realization that your parents are simply flawed (sometimes outright immoral) people like everyone else. Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne did an impeccable job. This is a film brimming with empathy and humanity.

Two Days, One Night

This is less a story about doing the right thing or caring for the least of these, but rather a story about seeing from the perspective of the least of these. Marion Cotillard gives an incredible performance, with the most honest and accurate portrayal of depression that I've seen.

The Dardenne brothers have an anti-establishment strategy and style, but with a deeply measured and empathetic execution. They're experts of the unbiased, compassionate camera.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit
½

A work of sheer movie magic, but not the type of magic that can be expressed in words or music; this has to be seen to be felt or believed! It's enchanting, fun, and endlessly entertaining from the word 'go'.

Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump(1994)

A sterling masterpiece and pop culture phenomenon that explores the virtues of innocence, and the pain in being unable to look past the clouds. It's a sappy and sentimental affair, to be fair, but it is also an incredibly balanced one.

American film icon Robert Zemeckis keeps things moving at a brisk pace, and directs some stellar performances from his extremely talented cast.

The Invitation

From the beginning, Karyn Kusama ratchets up the tension to the point where the audience has no chance to relax. In the typical horror film, there are the expositional scenes where fans can expect to be relatively at ease; establishing geography, introducing characters, etc. However, Kusama establishes all of that with an introductory scene that drips with tension and anxiety. I've not been this anxious or on-edge during a thriller in some time.

The slow-burn is the best part; all of the questions, anxiety, and palpable fear are what carries the film. That's what this jump-scare-free stroke of genius has going for it that few other films do nowadays: a sense of fear for the characters on-screen.

Those with patience will likely love it.

A Cure For Wellness

Were it not for a lackluster final ten minutes, I could confidently call this bizarre venture into the gothic and the psychological a masterpiece. Alas, it is still a brilliant work.

Visually stunning, to say the least; breezy pacing, and a skillful establishment and maintaining of tension, with the added benefit of a terrific villain performance from Jason Isaacs, this thing is excellent.

A Man Escaped (Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut)

There has never been a better connection of image of sound to elicit a feeling. That's not to say that this is the greatest film of all time, but this is the greatest film ever to use sound individually and image individually in order create suspense.

Robert Bresson was a maverick; a man that doesn't want to follow the rules, but rather wants to redefine the rules.

Perhaps the best film about liberation, freedom from emprisonment, and the universal want for one's own life to matter beyond simply sustaining self. It's a chilling and deeply hopeful film about grace, hope, and perseverance.

Au Hasard Balthazar

Why do bad things happen to innocent people? That's the question that Robert Bresson is seeking to explore. It's a masterful and profound allegory about enduring hardship.

Warrior
Warrior(2011)
½

An affecting and beautiful family drama with strong performances by Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, and Joel Edgerton.

Pride and Glory
½

An uninspired police drama with a truly impressive and desperate fight scene closing the third act. Say what you will about the rest, but Gavin O'Connor knows how to efficiently direct violence.

Narc
Narc(2002)

The opening sequence of this film is one of the most intense, urgently paced, and anxiety-inducing chases that I have ever seen. Joe Carnahan's crime drama is truly edge-of-your-seat; cliche as that tag may be.

In the Mood for Love

A graceful work of genius that is riddled with pain, yearning, melancholy, and regret. Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan truly are in love, but this movie lives in the painful space of them desperately wanting to be together, and knowing that they could justify it, but ultimately knowing that they can't resort to treating their respective spouses the way that they've been treated.

Wong Kar-wai is a master of the omniscient camera. Nearly every shot moves with a dance-like grace and elegance, except for when it doesn't, and those are the moments where the communication hits its peak. Every shot is like a painting; a single moment that is a work of art in and of itself.

The words are almost insignificant in this film. The real storytelling happens in the faces; in the nuance and the unspoken emotion behind every look, every movement, every close encounter. That is cinema.

Following
Following(1999)

Simple, elegant, bizarre, and incredibly intelligent. A true micro-budget master class thriller.

Memento
Memento(2000)

A thrilling story that is brilliantly structured, written without a flaw, and performed with authenticity. Christopher Nolan set a stunning precedent with this masterpiece, which was preceded and has been followed by the like ever since.

Blue Is The Warmest Color
½

A masterful examination of relationship dynamics, if not a somewhat exploitative portrayal of sexuality.

This film's saving graces are the lead performances, which make the unbridled (arguably pornographic) sexuality easier to take. However, the drama is deeply compelling.

Guardians of the Galaxy
½

This is the most fun I've had at the movies in a very long time. James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy" is that rare blockbuster that inspires one to make a movie simply by being inventive and unique, a breath of fresh air in the ever-expanding, never changing Marvel cinematic universe.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

When will Michael Bay understand that too much action makes for a boring film? The reason that none of these people are interesting is because he refuses to give them any breathing room between set pieces.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

The worst sequel I've ever seen, and Shia LeBouf agrees with me.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

One of the few installments with genuine intrigue or grit. Now, the characters are still uninteresting, the cast is still filled with baffling stars that could (and probably should) be doing other things, and much of the action is still difficult to read.

Heat
Heat(1995)

Yes, the LA shootout is the most exciting 10 minutes of film in American movies. Yes, the incredibly scripted and performed coffee shop sequence is an iconic piece of cinema. However, the film that those two sequences inhabit is still incredible. Michael Mann is a master class filmmaker, and he did something truly spectacular here, all across the board.

The ensemble cast, the authentic and urgent action, the gorgeous night cinematography, and the breezy pace. This thing rocks.

Fight Club
Fight Club(1999)

Complex, stylish, and deeply socially conscious. This is a future American classic with the core of social commentary about how we are a society driven by consumerism above human connection; capitalism above compassion, and the danger in being blinded by idealism.

This is a visually-stunning, biting, hilarious, and brutally violent masterwork that is easily one of the most brilliant and approachable pieces of pop art.

The Exorcist
The Exorcist(1973)

Friedkin and Blatty masterfully explore the mystery of faith, the danger in valuing intellect above belief, self-sacrifice, and a parents devotion. This is a truly terrifying and deeply affecting masterpiece.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
½

A suitably fun and involving addition to the Marvel cinematic canon that is everything that you go to these movies for, nothing more and nothing less. So much of what goes into these movies is a clear love for something that, possibly, only another filmmaker could spot: a love for sci-fi fringe.

Visually, this movie does bear similarity to tent pole science fiction like "Star Wars" or "Star Trek", but there is a wide range of sci-fi epics and adventures that Gunn clearly loves. Films like "Krull" or "Battle Beyond the Stars" that are, stylistically, deeply engrained in the '70s and '80s, as is this film.

Hush
Hush(2016)
½

An extremely efficient, genuinely scary, and skillfully crafted thriller with all of the earmarks of a future cult classic.

Pickpocket
Pickpocket(1959)

Robert Bresson is a filmmaker that clearly believes that he has discovered the perfect means of making films (voiceover, no close-ups on faces, no professional actors, and measured visuals). Anyone that has seen his work may not totally be in a position to refute.

On the Waterfront

If anyone can watch the climax, having followed these vividly realized and beautifully portrayed characters, and not be moved to tears, they are a stronger person than I.

Brando, Malden, and Saint give three of the finest performances that I've ever seen, and Kazan directs with so much compassion and empathy.

Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)

Something that lacks in many contemporary thrillers is the confidence and sure-handedness in the way that the films are shot. Clouzot's "Diabolique" is a beautifully shot, confidently shot and paced thriller, and a perfect blueprint for the suspense story.

Headshot
Headshot(2017)
½

It lacks the smooth direction of "The Raid" films, which it is frequently compared to given that it has many of the same creative minds behind it. However, it also lacks the edgy confidence of Stamboel and Tjahjanto's last directorial effort, "Killers". Also, the computer-generated muzzle flashes and blood have no visual impact, and immediately take me out of the film.

That being said, it is still an intense, gnarly, brutal, and unashamedly violent example of the proficiency behind modern Indonesian action cinema.

The Raid 2
The Raid 2(2014)

Both an elegant crime epic to satisfy the art house audience, and a kick-ass flurry of fists that will drop the jaw of even the most jaded audience members.

Gareth Evans has made an action film that more than defies expectations. It takes all preconceived notions from the first film, and gives you the sequel that you didn't realize that you wanted.

The Raid: Redemption
½

In a word: awesome. This movie is decidedly by-the-numbers, but it's ingenious director knows it and won't let that stand. Gareth Evans takes the simple premise of a bunch of cops versus a seemingly endless army of deadly criminals, and turns it into a tension-filled display of awesome action and creative filmmaking. With the numbing pace of a side-scrolling video game and the visual creativity of an art house film, Evans is the movie's real breakthrough star (no disrespect to Iko Uwais, of course). This is a fast and creative piece of bone-crushing action that I could watch again and again! I love it!

American Graffiti
½

A charming and sweet coming-of-age story about the reluctance we all feel to grow up and move on. Simpler times, cooler cars, and less conveniences. Pepper in George Lucas' love for cars and evocative direction, and Eveslage & D'Alquen's technicolor cinematography, and you get a wonderful little movie that touches on the fact that teenagers, despite time and place, never change.

Walk the Line

A deeply felt character piece that is beautiful and heartbreaking. James Mangold does exactly what you're supposed to do with this type of story. He shows you the reality, explains that reality, and never makes any excuses for it. He doesn't attempt to justify the shortcomings in the life of Johnny Cash, but he also doesn't pander by overly criticizing them. This is a movie that is justifiably angry at times, but is also tremendously empathetic. Beautiful stuff.

American Honey
½

A beautiful and complex ode to youth and reckless abandon that asks the viewer only to never judge. That's what the heart and soul of this film is: to understand the uncertainty of coming-of-age, and to look on adolescence with empathy.

That being said, some of it is difficult to take. Arnold is breathtaking filmmaker, and a tool in her tool belt that she utilizes often is the way that she welcomes honest discomfort. There's a lot of that here, which I appreciated in the narrative, but will probably dissuade me from watching it again.

Hannah and Her Sisters
½

Without having seen one, you would think that Allen is a filmmaker with a set demographic, and not a lot of wiggle room outside of that. I don't know that that's necessarily true, and I think that "Hannah and Her Sisters" is a prime example of that.

The upper crust New York intellectualism is certainly there, but there is also traditional comedy musings and deeply felt characters that have universal struggles. Much like Allen's favorite filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, all of his characters are either in a state of confusion or of apathy. Nevertheless, they are compelling.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
½

Even the least compelling of Wes Anderson's work is still ingenious and brilliant. Like all of Anderson's masterful work, this is a movie that is brimming with invention, humor, and excitement.

Rashômon
Rashômon(1951)

In the end it doesn't matter which of the stories is true. In truth, as the great Robert Altman once said of this film, "they're all true, and none of them are." Those trying to decipher the mystery itself have missed the point, in my opinion.

"Rashomon" is about the nature of truth and justice; the separation between truth and facts, and the sad cynicism of the sinful nature. People are capable of great cruelty and evil; man's inhumanity to man fills this movie, but, even in the end, we're left with hope, ambiguous as it may be.

Enter the Void (Soudain le vide)

Though inspired and brilliantly crafted as it may be, Gaspar Noe's bleak and sullen outlook on humanity is often too much to bear.

Irréversible
½

This is a cinematic exercise that challenges the film goer to try and find comfort or hope. Many believe that comfort and escapism are givens in cinema. Gaspar Noe strives to rob the viewer of all of those notions in most of his work, and here he succeeds in spades. That doesn't necessarily make it a good film however.

I won't relegate this film to subgenres like "torture porn" like so many have. I will, however, say that not all of the risks that Mr. Noe takes pay off.

Milk
Milk(2008)
½

Van Sant's work ranks among the finest of his career while Penn's performance takes its place among the best of all time.

Being a Christian and also a filmmaker, I see a lot of people in my community putting walls up against this film (and all films that portray the LGBTQ community - the best of which also come from Van Sant) unjustly. This is a film for all people who are encouraged by stories of liberation from abuse.

It is rousing, inspiring, beautiful, heartfelt, heart-breaking, and deeply moving. Gus Van Sant is an important figure in the world of American indie cinema, and he always will be. This is the type of work that cements one's legacy in the history books.

Logan
Logan(2017)
½

A brutal and grisly, yet deeply felt and unapologetically human film. James Mangold's "Logan" is a surprisingly touching story about rediscovering hope in the midst of violence and tragedy.

The Witch
The Witch(2016)
½

Both a thoughtful character piece that dissects evil in its earthly forms, and a genuinely terrifying and methodical nightmare.

Silence
Silence(2017)

A masterful exploration of faith, desperation, turmoil, lamentation, and martyrdom. It's a heart-wrenching work of art from the greatest living filmmaker.

This is neither an indictment of Christianity, nor an endorsement of it. It is, however, a beautiful work that is willing to take an unbiased look at faith as a concept that permeates all of humanity. There is the picturesque, '50s Japanese cinema inspired cinematography from Rodrigo Prieto, the deeply complex and naturalistic performances from the incredible ensemble, and the magnificent direction by Scorsese.

All of it adds up to something special; something that I feel that I've experienced true faith in. I am a Christian, and I went in believing, but great works of art that explore the faith or man's search for God, I believe, have a way of affirming that belief in some way. "Silence" is a film that endowed my faith with vitality and artistic beauty in a way that no film has since Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life". I didn't need to see this film to believe in Christ, but my faith in Christ was challenged and then uplifted and affirmed by the art. I'm grateful for this movie.

Art and creativity defy any linear or logical earthly thinking on humanity and creation. It is a purely unnatural act; it isn't needed to survive. It is created to be shared with a community or with another individual. "Silence" is a prime example of fine art that deserves to be celebrated and discussed.

The Immigrant
½

An elegant, beautiful, sure-handed period piece that flew too far under the radar. James Gray is a filmmaker that I know little to nothing about, but his talent for re-creating a world of the past and bringing it to vivid life is something magical.

The film's lead trio (Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Renner) all deliver world-class performances that are subdued and nuanced, acting off of each other with bold naturalism and skill.

This is a movie that is less about the immigration experience and more about the struggles of an immigrant. As a dramatization of the immigrant experience in the '20s and '30s it certainly succeeds, but where it shines is its attention to individuality in the midst of the free-for-all. It's all about individual struggles, and how those struggles translate in their daily lives, from being manipulated by natives to the sheer paranoia of the unknown. This is a film that is very much making a statement about our present predicament with immigration reform. It reminds us that people aren't statistics, they're people, and that they all have a long story that we couldn't ever possibly understand.

Overall, this is breathtaking visual experience and a headstrong fable about life in the modern world. Well done, Mr. Gray. This is a true masterpiece.

George Washington

A poem about the beauty of human relationships. An observation of adolescent hopefulness. A somber remembrance of the moment that that hopefulness is lost. David Gordon Green's "George Washington" is a lot of things. Among those things, it is the best that 21st century American independent cinema has to offer. It is a masterpiece.

Pineapple Express
½

An excellent comedy that actually utilizes all of the tools available in film. It isn't a couple of hours of improvisation and talking heads; it uses of slow motion, visual gags, animated performances, great cinematography, and an excellent understanding of how to elicit laughs from the edit.

It's a perfect marriage of great artist (David Gordon Green), and entertaining material (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's hilarious script).

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

An honest and raw character study that, like many of Aronofsky's other films, is about desperate people clawing toward status; deeply complex humans that are utterly dissatisfied with their place in life.

Requiem for a Dream

Visceral, inventive, hallucinatory, and downright terrifying. Darren Aronofsky has made something that is objectively compelling. This is strong Gen X filmmaking that also plays host to one of the strongest performances of modern cinema: Ellen Burstyn's transformative performance as Sara Goldfarb.

It's a masterpiece with purposeful hip-hop music video energy about age, addiction, greed, and empty, desperate clawing toward status. The characters in this cautionary tale all begin with focused gaze and perseverance, which devolve into a nightmare of sin, evil, and shame.

Blow Out
Blow Out(1981)

An excellent thriller that is, at the end of the day, a perfect example of a thriller made by a student of Hitchcock.

The use of sound (particularly in the extremely suspenseful climactic chase sequence), Travolta's driven performance, the inquisitive score by Pino Donaggio, the balanced direction by Brian De Palma, and the exquisite editing by Paul Hirsch all make this film a cut above the rest. It is a film that is keenly aware of the sound in the world around it in a way that I've never seen before.

Inception
Inception(2010)

A deeply human, extraordinarily unique heist thriller that is unlike anything else in cinema. Information and manipulation are king in a Christopher Nolan film, but this one supersedes them all with the immensity of complex, well-conceived information being communicated without a hitch.

"Inception" is intellectual blockbuster entertainment of the highest order. Nolan has cemented himself into the history books with this one.

Flash Point
Flash Point(2007)

The story is paper thin, and the characters aren't the least bit compelling, which makes the tremendous action somewhat regrettable. Action sequences can be good without a strong narrative, but they can only be great if the audience is engaged. I was not engaged. However, the film's now-famous final showdown is a prime example of close quarters action with many cuts done legibly and with skilled choreography. American action cinema should take notes.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is a sweet and entertaining coming-of-age story that I relate with, and am touched by. However, that doesn't make it a great film.

Firstly, there is the script. Not a word spoken feels like what an actual teenager would say. Now, I am aware that this meant for the fringe, but there are some universal truths where teens are concerned, and this film acknowledges none of them. For instance, there are many manufactured moments simply created for the sake of a punchline or self-indulgent melodrama. Nothing happens naturally.

Secondly, the characters. They have real struggles at play, and too much wisdom to share. The fact is that, for all their cunning and wit, teenagers are still unwise, and these characters are wise beyond their years in the worst possible way.

Everything, Everything
½

Can we just have a coming-of-age film where teens actually talk and act like real teens? "American Graffiti" and "Dazed and Confused" are perfect in that way. They feel written by someone who actually remembers what it feels like to be a teenager rather than pretentious reflection on those years. Teens don't talk or act that way.

The Fate of the Furious
½

Previously this franchise has taken it's fair share of bonkers logic leaps, but this one hits the peak of sheer craziness. Leaps in both logic and physics that are honestly difficult to forgive.

There's a certain point where I simply stop caring about what's happening, because everything leading up to the action has established that the characters don't care that much either. There are no complex characters in this movie; no one is feeling more than one thing at a given moment, and none of them are ever genuinely afraid. Therefore, I, as the audience member, have no reason to be invested or involved in anything that's happening, because no one is in any real danger.

Looking back, this movie is a giant blur. I don't remember much, and that's not a good sign, because the previous three films were nothing if not very memorable experiences for many reasons. Whether that be because of how laughably ultra-macho they are or how genuinely and self-seriously they seem to have embraced the most unthinkable lapses in logic imaginable.

Beauty and the Beast

A perfectly adequate Disney adventure with all of the traditional earmarks, and not a whole lot else of substance. One major positive, however, is the superb production design.

The Social Network

This is the very best that filmmaking in the 21st century has to offer. It's a film that is made with so much confidence in the innovation of digital cinematography that I really wouldn't want to see a version of this on film. THE SOCIAL NETWORK is something of a callback, as well. It feels like the bold dramas that studios used to take chances on. Much like this movie's Silicon Valley players, this is a risk that payed off handsomely. A deft exploration of greed, experiencing too much success too quickly, and man's inhumanity to man as a result of that success.

Get Out
Get Out(2017)

A powerful film driven by a well-defined perspective, and efficient scares.

Wild Strawberries

The most impressive feat of this film? The transitions in tone. Ingmar Bergman moves from the dark and dreary tone of the Professor's first dream; meditating on how he is unwilling to deal with the inevitable end of his life, to a jaunty and quite hilarious exchange with his lovely housekeeper, played marvelously by Jullan Kindahl.

This is a fantastic film with a lot to say, even if it not all of it comes across as prominently as others. Victor Sjöström delivers the performance of a lifetime, and Ingmar Bergman directs this film with fine and precise direction. Masterful storytelling from top-to-bottom.

The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet)

I have never seen a film that challenged me spiritually in the way that "The Seventh Seal". It is a film that deftly explores God's relationship to man, the apocalypse, the ever-impending nature of death, man's inhumanity to man, and much more while also being beautifully made, entertaining, genuinely funny, and thought-provoking.

Alien: Covenant
½

"Alien: Covenant" loses it's way here and there, and subdued to temporary logic lapses, but overall I was satisfied. Ridley Scott seems to have embraced 21st century filmmaking in a big way, which both helps and hurts this movie.

The cold, gray color scheme becomes a bit of an eye sore at times, but it's saved by both Mr. Scott's pacing and the gorgeous photography by Dariusz Wolski.

It also lacks the patience and elegance of Ridley Scott's two previous Alien films (the original "Alien" and "Prometheus"). There is a helplessness and claustrophobia to the original that doesn't exist here, because Scott's primary goal seems to be making the universe even bigger, at the detriment of the horror atmosphere. This, I think, is a mistake, because the Alien mythology works best narratively when it's confined.

All that being said, the film still succeeded in scaring me, gripping me, grossing me out, and engaging me. It isn't a bad movie by any stretch. It's just simply disappointing at times.

Ouija
Ouija(2014)

Shallow, vain, and painfully illogical. This is a movie that has no real understanding of its own world's rules. So much so that the major reveal at the end doesn't actually make any sense.

"Ouija" is devoid of any purpose or meaning. It's simply a forum for pretty people to get terrorized without any real emotional weight, which is not as common in horror as people make it out to be.

Alien
Alien(1979)

What this sci-fi horror masterpiece boils down to is quite simple: a monster movie in space. That's what you're getting at the end of the day, but you're also getting brilliant direction from the great Ridley Scott, an incredibly commanding lead performance by the wonderful Sigourney Weaver, bone-chilling, atmospheric music by Jerry Goldsmith, and a collection of revolutionary special effects. This is a well-oiled machine of a horror film that functions highly on every conceivable level.

Paterson
Paterson(2016)

For all of this film's gentleness and beauty, there's something very punk rock about Jim Jarmusch deciding to make a movie about all of the things that you are not supposed to make a movie about: the mundane and the familiar.

The way that I thought of the structure of this film, it is as if each scene is the start to a new conflict that could springboard into another movie, but it never does. Such is life. We experience small conflicts, and we make the choice to pursue them or not.

It is all like if a filmmaker stopped and asked "why not make a movie about the inbetween?" Besides, that is what we spend most of our life doing. The long, mundane goings on separated by brief and ever-so rare moments of excitement. Thanks to, Mr. Jarmusch, for celebrating that in such a way that only he could.

"Paterson" is a poetic masterpiece, and Jarmusch's best achievement since the "Stranger Than Paradise" and "Down by Law" years.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)

Visually-stunning and filled to the brim with bold and outstanding ideas. This is a perfect experience in headstrong science fiction. Well done, Ridley Scott.

Much like Kubrick's "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY", this epic film raises deep-rooted psychological and spiritual questions that it doesn't have any answers to. That's bold.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This thing moves at an entertaining pace with charm, off-kilter comedy, a wild sense of fun and adventure, and striking editing.

It's a well-intentioned, feel-good tale about the complexities of family dynamics, the purity of a child's spirit, and the failures of the system.

What We Do In The Shadows

A masterful gem from two comic geniuses powered by one of the very best screenplays that I've ever heard.

Imperium
Imperium(2016)
½

A tense, compelling, shamefully overlooked thriller that plays host to superior tension building, stellar performances, and nerve-jangling realities. This is a story about exposing the truth, looking at ourselves as a nation, and understanding the dangerously strong presence of racism.

Stupendous filmmaking from a skillful subtextual communicator. Daniel Ragussis is a name to be watchful of in the future.

Sinners & Saints

A great little piece of underrated action filmmaking. Smooth, easy-to-follow action, a decent plot to keep things moving, and an above average cast that turns in fine performances.

Jules and Jim
½

A film that moves with whimsy and joy. Truffaut wasn't making a straightforward love story, or a straightforward story of any kind, really. No, this is a story about what it feels like to reflect on being in love. It's about falling in love; time is irrelevant, realism is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is truth.

An American in Paris

The dance sequence by the river is the finest example of storytelling through dance that I have ever seen. We see the lovely Leslie Caron and surprisingly vulnerable Gene Kelly at once denying their feelings and reluctantly giving into them, told entirely through the amazing choreography done by Mr. Kelly himself.

Seconds
Seconds(1966)

A sci-fi infused, high concept thriller about the burden of freedom and the danger in relinquishing it from a master of the thriller.

This a movie that, for having been made 51 years ago, feels strangely contemporary. It has been a clear influence on modern thrillers, particularly David Fincher's "The Game".

Also, is it possible to get tired of Rock Hudson's mind-blowing work? I don't think so.

Bluebeard
Bluebeard(1944)
½

A somewhat ineffective thriller that is saved by a stellar lead performance by John Carradine.

Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) (The Bicycle Thief)

A masterpiece about class politics, the bond between father and son, daily moral and spiritual conflict, and the desperation of a society trapped in a recession.

There's a climactic scene in this film where De Sica so perfectly communicates indecision and internal conflict. It is a gorgeous moment in cinema, and an excellent moment of shot language that can only exist in film. He weaves a tapestry of emotion by showing us the real secret weapon of cinema: the human face, and it's quiet desire.

The Mission
The Mission(1986)
½

A grand and adventurous epic about the difference between knowing what the right thing to do is, and making the choice to do it.

Manchester by the Sea

It's a rarity in cinema for a film to capture the nuance and subtlety of every day life with such skill and proficiency. This is a beautiful, compassionate, and harrowing look into a family dealing with loss.

Thank you, Kenneth Lonergan, you've done something truly special.

Good Will Hunting

As a filmmaker and film critic, there's a few times a month that someone will ask me what my top ten favorite films are. That list fluctuates and changes over time, but there are a few constants: Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," Tony Kaye's "American History X," and Gus Van Sant's "Good Will Hunting."

This film has something special about it, outside of the obvious elements of a great script and a stellar cast, which is it's striking ability to shift between pathos and uplift. That's not easy to do, but Van Sant achieves it in spades.

The meat of the film, however, comes from the beautiful subtext. This is a film with purpose. It's about individuality versus ability, self-worth versus self-sufficiency, knowledge versus wisdom, and striving to discover one's own purpose and fighting to achieve peace. "Good Will Hunting" is an important film.

Elephant
Elephant(2003)

A gentle story weaving an unconventional narrative with efficiency and a stoic atmosphere. Gus Van Sant's brilliant anti-violence sentiment rings quietly, but can certainly be heard.

Oldboy
Oldboy(2005)

The revenge film to end all revenge films. Park Chan-wook is a master filmmaker. He's consistently making unconventional action choices, moving beyond simple fight choreography and blocking.

Oldboy
Oldboy(2013)

A film that is fine, and nothing more; saved, for the most part, by a terrific lead performance by the always great Josh Brolin.

Ronin
Ronin(1998)

John Frankenheimer shoots and paces one of his only straightforward action films with ease and sure-handedness. For all intensive purposes, this is an easy action film experience that is made by a master of the thriller genre.

This Is England

Shane Meadows tells an intimate, yet unrelenting, story about desperately wanting to belong, the racial conflict that still remains in the west, and the pains of growing up.

Manhattan
Manhattan(1979)

The ultimate cinematic love letter to a given city. Woody Allen talks about the city life with an almost reluctant love at times. For all his neurotic tendencies, Allen loves this city, because he sees exactly as the audience does. Thanks to the lensing of Gordon Willis and the great writing and directing of Mr. Allen, we see New York like a grand cityscape filled with impossibly weird and complex people, and a painterly landscape that moves and breathes.

This is also a celebration of unrequited love, missed connections, and ambiguity. For all his musings on how pointless life ultimately is to him, Allen is a man who keeps coming back to "fate" or purpose, and that's all over this film.

Small Crimes
Small Crimes(2017)

A fine rainy day thriller that poses interesting moral questions, but doesn't do much in the way of originality. However, that's not really a qualm, so much as an observation.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg)

A beautiful and thoughtful musical that is both a celebration and an indictment of young love and first romance.

What makes this film great isn't just the music, the performances, the sweeping, yet selectively intimate and invasive, cinematography, or really anything to do with technique at all, though there is masterful artistry on display at every turn. It's the lofty goal of throwing an audience into a world where life sings, and making them believe and be enchanted without a moment to catch their breath.

Thank you, Mr. Demy. This one is truly, truly special.

Moonlight
Moonlight(2016)

A compassionate masterpiece with veins that run red with empathy and humanity. "Moonlight" is a story about adolescence, self-discovery, the pains of growing, and the vital importance of compassionate and strong parental roles.

One thing that I respect most about this film is the fearlessness found in this film's moments of silence. It's efficient, heavy use of silence that is never without purpose or a function within the narrative.

Straight Outta Compton
½

I don't connect with the material, which is nothing to do with the film itself, but more my separation from the subject matter. However, I was blown away by the airtight direction from F. Gary Gray, the pitch perfect script, and the truly Oscar-worthy performance by Jason Mitchell.

Natural Born Killers

The news media is a peculiar entity in that they criticize violence and violent people under the allusion of "explaining" or "seeking to understand", yet they relish in that violence. Dead people means that the living left behind will have their TVs on for explanation or comfort. Those TVs equal ratings, which equal money. Advertisers want to advertise on networks that everyone is watching. Those advertisers bring money to the network, and how do you keep getting that money? By keeping those frightened viewers in search of answers.

That's what Oliver Stone is satirizing here; he's not glorifying violence as he's been accused of. In fact, he's condemning it by way of condemning the news media that relishes in it.

That is why I think that this film inspired the Columbine killers, contrary to popular belief in the artistic community. I believe that it was them seeing the fame and recognition that Mickey and Mallory received that inspired them. The media makes killers famous, and the two boys from Columbine high school wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, knowing that they would be studied, pondered, and discussed forever. Looks like their mission was a success.

Hidden Figures
½

Impressive and uplifting. An efficently told true story that's inspiring and full of hope.

Ikiru
Ikiru(1956)

A dark and heart-wrenching, yet beautiful analysis of what a life well-lived really is. Akira Kurosawa elevated the form with this gorgeous masterpiece of Japanese cinema. With the empathy and truth brought to characters seen in his grand epics, combined with an intimate atmosphere, Kurosawa gets to the heart of the human condition. It's a story about the inevitability of death, but it doesn't bore you or depress you. Rather "Ikiru" shows a man on the brink passionately observing life in motion, that fleeting thing that he's missed out on all this time.

Under the Skin
½

A brilliant poem about man's inhumanity to man.

Amarcord
Amarcord(1974)

With more bawdy humor than one may expect from Fellini, this eccentric and breathless work of sheer genius has you in its talons from the word go.

With few exceptions, Fellini tends to prefer the truth of a moment rather than simply calling attention to the craft with flashy camera work. As such, "Amarcord" is not a flashy film, but it is bright, fun, well-intentioned, and gentle of spirit.

I've noticed that Federico Fellini's work tended to be more about finding detail and intimacy in the midst of a grand design. Every moment feels like a lavish set piece of costuming, subtext, writing, directing, and performance.

It's about fascism, young love, education, family, and the daily goings-on in a very specific Italian town. But you never feel the weight of those ideas unless he wants you to, because he's a master craftsman, and this is as confident a work as one is likely to see from him.

The Purge: Anarchy
½

A solid action-horror movie that actually capitalizes on the intriguing premise teased in the disappointing original. James DeMonaco wasn't at all the problem with the original film. He is a very talented filmmaker, and he made two genuinely well-directed films, this one is just far superior. It's a lot of fun to watch, and sure it has the political subtext, but it doesn't ever insult the audience's intelligence by trying to be anything more than it is: a fun, shoot-'em-up action-horror movie with a very impressive action hero turn by the insanely talented Frank Grillo.

Lights Out
Lights Out(2016)
½

Effective and genuinely scary. There's nothing here that's reinventing the game, but nevertheless this is an efficiently made horror film, and that's all that I wanted from it.

David Sandberg shows promise, and I genuinely look forward to what we're going to see from him in the future.

Furious 7
Furious 7(2015)

This franchise has so obviously decided to embrace it's own absurd implausibility, and this is the most outlandish, physics-defying chapter yet. The steady hand of Justin Lin is certainly missed, and I'd rather that James Wan focus his directing talent on smaller projects like INSIDIOUS or even another gritty, street-level thriller like DEATH SENTENCE. That being said, Wan did a truly wonderful job. FURIOUS 7 is pure fun and adrenaline top-to-bottom with kindergarten dialogue, but a purposeful, excited tone and atmosphere.

That's what the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise has going for it that other major franchises like G.I. JOE or TRANSFORMERS don't have: a devotion to self-aware fan service. Every action beat, one-liner and song selection is perfectly timed, as if the script had "insert overzealous audience reaction here" written on every page. Making movies is fun, and the twelve-year-old-boyish minds behind FAST AND FURIOUS know how to have a genuinely fun time making a movie.

Moana
Moana(2016)

A fun and beguiling animated film.

Before Midnight

There were times when I thought that it may be an exercise in punishing those that have made it this far with Jesse and Celine. However, that's true love; you have to take the good with the bad, and it's beautiful to see the trio of Linklater, Hawke and Delpy examining the bad.

We saw the mystery and hope of new love in "Before Sunrise"; the joy and uncertainty of reunion in "Before Sunset", and now we see the growth and pain of time in "Before Midnight". It's a perfect ending to a perfect trilogy.

Before Sunset

There's so much more nuance here than in "Before Sunrise". That doesn't make it a better or worse film for that reason, but it is one of the film's strengths. We're disappointed by so many things, and even more disappointed that they aren't outwardly more disappointed in each other, because we're still in love with Jesse and Celine after all that time.

In Jesse I see a man that has a romantic notion of his reunion with Celine, but is quietly hurt. He's afraid that their night together meant more to him than it did to her. Celine is afraid of what will happen if she gives herself over to him again.

Before Sunrise

The conversational nature of Richard Linklater's writing lends itself so breathlessly to a love story, and what a perfect love story this is. "Before Sunrise" is at times a tragedy, but often times a celebration. This is a celebration of new love; the happiness and the mystery of getting to know someone thoroughly and truly.

The Blackcoat's Daughter (February)
½

Upon a shallow glance, this premise seems to add up to nothing new. But, once I dove in, I was pleasantly surprised by how effective and scary this twisty-turny horror story is.

Avoiding cliches like the plague, this is a movie in the new renaissance of horror films that refuses to be relegated. It was like if Argento's "Suspiria" got together with Robert Eggers' recent film "The Witch", and had a weird, terrifying baby that came out of the womb speaking perfectly, which brings me to the script. This film prizes language as being an equally effective tool to scare the audience as, say, shot composition or music. Everything comes into play when scaring the audience, but immediate fear that permeates throughout the movie is paralyzing fear of the unknown.

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

Oz Perkins is a great communicator. The problem here is not his direction, which is sure-handed. In actuality, the problem is the script, which is preposterously pretentious, and sure of itself when it certainly shouldn't be. It has no reason to be. It's piss poor at communicating who these people are beyond the vague idea of them.

The bright, shining star in this mess (beside the wonderfully talented and promising Oz Perkins) is the charming and wonderful Ruth Wilson. She carries herself with excellent fluidity and intrigue that resembles that of an actress from another era. She isn't giving a naturalistic performance, and yet you believe her. She reminded me of Hitchcock's leading ladies: unassuming and bright, doubtful and intriguing, like Janet Leigh in "Psycho" (co-star to Mr. Perkins' late father, the great Anthony Perkins) or Tippi Hedren in "The Birds".

Shadows
Shadows(1959)
½

A complex and creative portrayal of racial prejudice and youthful promiscuity in New York City.

Empire of the Sun
½

A great piece of inspiring and uplifting epic filmmaking. Spielberg doesn't subject us to the horrors of the camp, but that's useful in this case. He cements into a child's perspective. All that he can see is the silver lining with brief flashes of grief and tragedy. So, that's what Spielberg shows us.

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

A timeless work of genius. It's been nearly sixty years since this film was originally released, and it feels as though it hasn't aged a day. The low expectation of the incoming generation, the complex parent-child relationships; it all feels so familiar, and yet it was made halfway across the planet by a man who lived a life I haven't in a culture that I'll likely never experience. That's great cinema.

We understand that Doinel is simply a misguided kid that is acting in direct consequence of the lackluster parenting he's given. That's why so much of what he does frustrates us so. We want to have high hopes for him, but we know that he has to experience the bottom before he can be better. It hurts to watch. That's part of the magic trick that Truffaut brilliantly performs; he puts us in every possible point-of-view to this kid's life. We're his parents, his teachers, his friends, and, most importantly, we're him.

Complicated, rich, natural, and honest. This is a masterpiece. The perfect coming-of-age story.

Everybody Wants Some!!
½

A movie with energy and moxie, but not the pointed exploration that "Dazed and Confused" was. This is a great comedy with the pitch-perfect meandering quality of all great films by Linklater. However, this one does feel out of its time. "Dazed and Confused" arrived at a perfect time in cinema, and a perfect time in Link's life, but this feels like a movie made too late.

That being said, Linklater's worst (few as they may be) are still better than most others at the top of their game. This thing is fun and witty from the jump, and that's good enough for me.

Slacker
Slacker(1991)

A defiant, fist-raising statement. This thing is punk rock, baby. From square one, the young and excited Richard Linklater lets the audience know that this isn't your daddy's night at the movies by giving us long takes, seemingly endless assertions about life, politics, conspiracy theories, relationships, dreams, books, movies, and everything in between.

This isn't a movie with a story or a plot, but rather a reflection on the sinew that binds it all together. Linklater's mellow, unintentionally masterful "Slacker" feels like the movie that happens around all of the other movies. As if you're watching some other movie, and an extra walks by in the background. Richard Linklater made a movie about where that guy is headed, and where the guy that walked behind him is headed, and the other guy, and so on and so forth until he ran out of assertions.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

A perfect storm of talent. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton give two of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. George Segal and Sandy

This pitch perfect masterpiece feels like a burning fuse; a bitter and angsty work of genius that is volatile and angry. Mike Nichols' stupendous direction has an omniscience to it that keeps things rolling along with ease.

About Schmidt

A deeply felt, tragic, and beautiful story powered by satire and honesty. Only once before have I seen a film about wasted time and appreciation for the necessities that carried this much weight.

Ninja Assassin

Violence for the sake of violence. It's tasteless and cruel. The narrative has nothing to offer beyond that of a live action attempt at the energy and style of an anime. How on earth this came from the same mind behind V For Vendetta is beyond me.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

Does it take the mythology too far? Yeah, probably. Is it too over-the-top? Maybe. But I actually enjoyed this movie much more than the sequel. The action is breathtaking, and the chemistry between the lead cast is definitely still there, but it doesn't regain the magic of the first installment. Even so, it's a big, loud, noisy fantasy movie that never doubts itself, and never apologizes. Also, the final act in the maelstrom was an absolute spectacle, and the creation of that sequence is totally fascinating.

You're Next
You're Next(2013)

A terrifying, satirical, brilliantly crafted horror flick that is endlessly watchable. I sincerely hope that Adam Wingard is here to stay.

In a Valley of Violence

It feels as though there are three quarters of a stellar film here. It's within that last quarter that I feel Mr. West wasn't totally sure what it was all adding up to.

However, Ti West is still a tremendous filmmaker --- he's proven that time and time again --- and I will still see whatever he puts out next. I'm also interested to see him work in more varying genres.

The City of Lost Children (La Cité des Enfants Perdus)

A masterful visual feast from a pair of master filmmakers. What else could you want?

The Counselor

I have no idea what this film is about. How in the world did this cast and crew fail? This movie is appalling.

The script is directionless, and the cast has nothing to do. Whatever Ridley Scott saw in this material beyond Cormac McCarthy's name is beyond me.

Its like an ultra-violent Calvin Klein ad. There's a lot of nonsensical flashy images, mindless sex, dialogue that goes nowhere, and pretty people. Don't look for anything substantive beyond that, because it isn't there.

Blue Ruin
Blue Ruin(2014)

There's something to be said for the fact that the quietest, slow-burn thriller in a long while is also the most gut-churning. Jeremy Saulnier has an eye for the deep, intricate methods of communication in the human face; that's the language this film is in at the end of the day. This is a movie about people, misunderstanding, misinformation, and the violence that erupts from that vicious combination.

Green Room
Green Room(2016)
½

One of the more well-paced thrillers in recent memory. Jeremy Saulnier's GREEN ROOM is a near perfect genre movie experience. It's pacing is perfect, the acting is spectacular (namely by the great Sir Patrick Stewart in an atypical villain role), and the direction by Saulnier is airtight.

I saw BLUE RUIN, Saulnier's previous film, not long after it came out, and I eagerly anticipated what his follow-up would be. Needless to say, GREEN ROOM didn't disappoint in the least.

For genre aficionados, this will be a more than pleasing experience; film enthusiasts will appreciate the truly impeccable artistry at work, and the casual moviegoer will find themselves responding to the movie out loud. Much like Saulnier's BLUE RUIN, this movie has built-in call-and-respond moments.

I don't feel at home in this world anymore.

Wow! Macon Blair, a highly underrated actor, has made an enormous splash with his directorial debut. This is a funny, twisted, knowing crime story with a lot to say about the apathetic cultural attitudes of today.

A tip of the hat, Mr. Blair. This one's a masterpiece.

Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland(2015)

Bubble gum for the senses, and hot cocoa for the soul. This is a film made with an audience of creative, caring people in mind. Brad Bird is an artist, and I'm hopeful that in the next ten or twenty years it will be revisited, and beloved as a result.

It Follows
It Follows(2015)

A flawless scary campfire yarn bolstered by flawless filmmaking.

Fireproof
Fireproof(2008)

Shallow, unconvincing, uninvolving, and so didactic that it will make you beg for the comparably subtle days of the Billy Graham films of the 1950's.

Marley & Me
Marley & Me(2008)
½

Sometimes it's a sweet and heartwarming exploration of the connection between man and dog, but the rest of the time it suffers from being a cloying attempt at a tearjerker. I respect the effort, but there are definitely better movies about the unquantifiable connection, like "Hachi: A Dog's Tale," for instance. It's enjoyable, but only so.

Star Trek Beyond
½

Skillfully made and very exciting.

Deliver Us from Evil
½

Disappointed. Scott Derrickson blew me away with both Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but this is, in my opinion, not his finest hour. However, I will say that the ten or fifteen minute exorcism sequence in the interrogation room, ignoring the unresolved elements, was just astounding. He really stepped up. Just wish the rest of the movie had capitalized on all of it's potential.

Sinister
Sinister(2012)
½

The core of every great horror film is a purpose for existing. That's the special sauce that separates great horror flicks from mediocre ones.

Take, for instance, two of the great horror stories of all time: Spielberg's revolutionary tale of a giant shark, "Jaws", and William Friedkin's nasty, uncompromising possession tale, "The Exorcist". These are stories with real characters, and a reason for being. "Jaws" is a story about a trio of genuine, three-dimensional characters, and a man overcoming fear. "The Exorcist" is a story about the mystery of faith, and a man who loses and regains the Christian faith. "Sinister" is a story much like those. It's a story about a self-conscious man learning that it isn't the physicial and tangible things that make life worth living.

This is a brilliantly crafted, beautifully acted, effectively shot, and chillingly scored horror instant classic.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

As excellent and fun an action comedy as one is likely to ever see.

Spring Breakers
½

Harmony Korine created a bizarre, self-aware, vicious, and alive exploration of all that he hates about this generation.

John Wick: Chapter 2
½

Slick, thrilling, brutal, and totally badass. "John Wick: Chapter 2" is a self-aware, never dull, never tedious, brilliantly crafted sequel to a film that fans were actually clamoring for more of. It's everything that I loved about the first movie, and nothing that I didn't; the world is still fascinating, the action is still gorgeously choreographed, and Keanu Reeves is still relishing his role as the ultimate hitman.

For once, a brilliant action film that doesn't ask the audience to accept any major logic leaps. The writers understand where their boundaries are, and they tow that line beautifully.

I Confess
I Confess(1952)
½

Hitchcock valued highly the emotive capability of the human face. He never did a simple shot-reverse-shot when he filmed dialogue. Takes were always long, reactions were vital to his structure, and everything is intentional.

We learn about the inner workings of a given moment by the expression of the actor or actress therein. Faces are the language of cinema, and clearly Hitch knew that.

On the level of story, we don't have to do much chasing; we aren't on the edge of our seat much. In that sense, I was a little bit disappointed. However, on a technical level, this is truly brilliant. There's a purposeful drive behind every shot, every cut, every movement.

With all that being said, this isn't one of Hitchcock's best, but it is memorable nonetheless.

Carol
Carol(2015)

This is an ageless and beautiful antique of a film.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
½

A very well-directed and well-acted bit of thrilling escapism. It's nothing new, but it is a diverting spy tale with a great showcase for Kenneth Branagh, Chris Pine, and Keira Knightly to do some charming interplay.

Cinderella
Cinderella(2015)
½

Kenneth Branagh directs this whimsical fairy tale with charm and love. It's bright, fun, and falls into that rare category of fairy tale where it's paced perfectly for both children and adults.

Room
Room(2015)

Keep your eyes on the transfixing work of Larson and, especially, Tremblay. The subtlety and understanding in young Jacob Tremblay's work is a revelation.

There's so much to be seen here; so much beauty and insight and truth.

Lenny Abrahamson's work is what we go to see films for: it's a means of provoking thought, showing a new perspective, and granting us an understanding of those things we can't put into words. The world is so big and beautiful, and complicated and painful, and hopeful and compelling. ROOM reminds us of that.

This is a story about purity; a celebration of life in all its complexities and blessings.

The Last Picture Show

"Important" is a tag that I save for very few films. There are only a select few American films that will fall into that category in the history of the craft. Peter Bogdanovich's masterpiece, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, is an important movie.

The performances, the direction, the writing, the cinematography; it's all vivid and brilliant. Speaking to the pains and pleasures of growing up in a small town.

Only a few coming-of-age films truly capture the way that teenagers live, move, and breathe. There's Richard Linklater's DAZED & CONFUSED, George Lucas' AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and, most importantly, Peter Bogdanovich's master work in question.

Inherent Vice

"Inherent Vice" is as perfectly groovy a film noir as we're likely to see in a lifetime. P.T. Anderson has done it again.

Now, there will be people who say that this movie is horrible. I won't argue. There will be those who say this is the best film ever made. I won't argue with them either. Paul Thomas Anderson has never made films that are for the regular viewing audience, and as such he's never really had a film that everyone everywhere agrees on (the closest he's had thus far has been "Boogie Nights").

Me personally, I think he's wonderful filmmaker, and one of my absolute favorite artists working today. But he's not everyone's cup of tea. The same could be said about this film.

Film noir has always interested me in their use of shadow and atmosphere. What's interesting here is that Anderson flips the formula for how film noir is made. There's no heavy shadows or booze-addled detectives. Rather there's bright colors, a breazy and surreal atmosphere, and a cast of hilarious characters, including our hippie hero, Doc.

Jason Bourne
Jason Bourne(2016)

In my opinion, the second best of the Greengrass "Bourne" films. This begins as a suitable action thriller that morphs into an extremely exciting piece of action filmmaking in the third act.

Paul Greengrass is a filmmaker with an intense dedication to pacing. All of his films move at a snappy and exciting pace, and this film is no exception, which, for some reason, seems to be a lot of people's gripe with the movie. This is a film that seamlessly fits into the Bourne catalog. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Train to Busan (Busanhaeng)

Thrillingly, viscerally, beautifully alive. This is a masterful horror film soaked in tension and excitement with a big heart, and a cast of emotionally effecting performances.

The Kings of Summer
½

Charming, funny, endearing, and incredibly sweet. This isn't earth-shattering by any means, but it's definitely a welcome installment into the coming-of-age genre.

Courageous
Courageous(2011)

As a Christian who seeks to live devoted to the gospel, and a filmmaker devoted to communication and art, this is exactly everything that I hate about the ever-growing "Christian film industry". Weak filmmaking, pandering and simple writing, and a level of propaganda that is infuriating even to me.

Loving
Loving(2016)
½

Jeff Nichols is a master of portraying the south on film. This is a sure-handed, compassionate, and deeply felt film. This is a wonderful and beautiful celebration that deserves to be treasured, like the rest of Nichols' work, and like the story he's telling.

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga are at the height of their craft.

This is a gentle film about love; the pursuit of happiness, safety, security, and hope under God.

Drag Me to Hell

A silly, terrifying, thoroughly entertaining, and gleefully preposterous horror ride that returns Sam Raimi to the form that made us all fall in love with him back in 1981. This wild thing has cult classic written all over it.

Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, Ich seh)
½

There's an undeniable, unseen skill required to create dread in a given moment, let alone an entire film. Few artists working in the genre have it, but you know it when you experience it. Needless to say, Franz and Fiala have it in spades.

This is a contemporary horror ideal in terms of structure and execution. Film is supposed to show, and tell as little as possible. "Goodnight Mommy" is all show, and never tell, which leaves room for the good stuff: nuance, striking imagery, non-verbal acting, and moments of subtle dread that loom large over the movie as a whole.

And what's the point of it all? Tragedy. This is a recovery story, or, perhaps, a lack-of-recovery story. After tragedy and heartbreak, we aren't the same. Or maybe it's a refusal to deal with tragedy, to face the road ahead. Maybe it's a story of resistance.

The Babadook
The Babadook(2014)

The biggest compliment I can give this movie is that, at the end of it all, it doesn't actually matter whether the Babadook is real or not. It's ultimately a metaphor for grief and how one comes to terms with their own monsters.

Now that we have my little bit of pretentious movie reviewer stuff out of the way, let's talk about the scares because there's a lot of great ones. It's no secret that the horror genre has been in a pretty bad way lately as far as original material and original scares, and this movie is such a giant leap in the right direction. Jennifer Kent doesn't just throw shocking images and jump scares in front of you. Rather she relies on atmosphere and a constant state of paranoia to keep the viewer engrossed in this hellish nightmare of a movie.

Jennifer Kent has given us the thinking man's horror movie, and given it to us in spades. This is a movie that will NOT be enjoyed by the majority of the viewing audience sadly. It's just too original and too ambitious. The modern horror audience doesn't want original properties. Instead, they want franchises and jump scares and found footage. All of which have their place in cinema.

Overall, this is a movie that chooses not to scare you simply with images of a scary monster or loud noises or creepy imagery, but rather with the psychological decomposition of a grief-stricken woman (played flawlessly by Essie Davis in an Oscar caliber performance). This is an absolute masterpiece of a film, and one of the first truly terrifying movies we've had in some time!

Hacksaw Ridge
½

It's flawed in its portrayal of warriors in war, but it is a well-intentioned piece of classic Hollywood filmmaking that is challenging, vivid, theatrical, uplifting and inspiring, which is exactly what the telling of this story should be. The violence notwithstanding, this feels like the type of morality tale that Frank Capra or Howard Hawks may have made back in the golden age of movies.

There's something beautiful in the film's strictness of morality and hopefulness. Unlike other films of the genre, like Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" and Scott's "Black Hawk Down", realism and actuality don't appear to be the goal, as seen in theatrical moments like action film-esque heroics in battle and perfectly crafted moments of melodramatic romance between young Doss and Ms. Dorothy Schutte.

It's a morality tale that tells a moral story in a moral way. A breath of fresh air that holds to true classic Hollywood form in a way that hasn't been seen in a long time. Not perfect, but certainly welcome.

31
31(2016)

Gorgeously shot, superbly directed, and genuinely tense at times. It's all of the elements that I watch a Rob Zombie film for: visual style, brilliant design, great casting, and a bizarrely macabre story.

The film itself is rough around the edges, but, if nothing else, I'd watch ten more hours of Richard Brake's performance as Doom Head. That monochrome monologue that he drops in the opening scene chilled me to the core.

The Strangers
½

A sharp and genuinely scary slow burn thriller. Gorgeously shot and briskly paced with plenty of kick.

Godzilla
Godzilla(2014)

This movie had two distinct jobs: to restore Godzilla back to Hollywood relevance, and to simultaneously satisfy the audience with disaster and destruction.

People have been complaining about a lack of definition in all the human characters. I agree with that given that there's no real arch to any of the humans, but is that really what we wanted? I will agree that we see too much of the humans, and not enough of Godzilla at times, but the final forty minutes or so of this movie was beyond wonderful.

Gareth Edwards broke new ground with his masterpiece "Monsters", and he was clearly like a kid in a candy store with this material. If I have any complaints, it would be that he tried to do the same human drama within significantly more ridiculous subject matter. Needless to say though he did a masterful job with the action, and he created a scene that I will likely never forget in the skydiving sequence.

Ex Machina
Ex Machina(2015)
½

A masterful question-and-answer session with no answers, which may be a negative for a lesser film, but not for this thinking man's sci-fi film.

Lat sau san taam (Hard-Boiled)

Gareth Evans may have the fight scene department pretty much squared away for now, but no one can touch a John Woo shootout. Long takes, insane choreography, and endless rewatchability. There is a kind of airy, dance-like quality to them. I call it beautifully chaotic. No buts about it, this is John Woo's total masterwork. There will never be another like it.

As far as story is concerned... Well, things huff and puff during the lulls, but that third act is enough fire and blood to fill a hundred other thin stories. So, I'm forgiving.

John Wick
John Wick(2014)

What a ride! This thing is unabashedly cool and viscerally, intensely alive. A simple premise to get its foot in the door, and a perfectly realized world to keep itself there. The action is thrilling, gorgeously shot, and endlessly exciting. A beautiful escape with brains and balls to spare in equal measure.

Vacancy
Vacancy(2007)
½

Nimrod Antal does something very impressive here. He keeps things moving, maintains a sense of urgency, and composes beautiful images while making us care. It's like the blueprint for making an effective, yet bloodless, slasher story.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)

The last great comedy?

Todd Phillips did something great here that no other filmmaker in American comedy is doing: he took artistic risks. This is a bizarre, consistently hilarious comedy that is stealing the beats from a basic mystery thriller. So, how do you shoot that movie? Phillips says in the same way that you would shoot a thriller.

Edgar Wright and Todd Phillips are the only guys left in west comedy that are taking genuine creative and artistic risks, and that's part of what makes "The Hangover" a masterful comedy.

The Amazing Spider-Man
½

A solid superhero movie that does a good job of retelling the classic origin story without rehashing Sam Raimi's original. Andrew Garfield doesn't quite embody what many envision when they think of Peter Parker, but he delivers a fantastic performance with some sincere emotion and great development. But Emma Stone is the big standout. She is absolutely wonderful! Her chemistry with Garfield is perfect and she is really entertaining to watch. The visual effects are great, but the action sequences really aren't all that exciting. The direction is magnificent as well! Marc Webb paces this film perfectly and pulls some great performances out of the entire cast. A really fun movie that I suggest to any fan of the superhero genre!

500 Days of Summer

Marc Webb's warm, wonderful, complex romantic comedy is something special.

Sicario
Sicario(2015)

I've seen around twenty movies in the theater this year, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that "Sicario" is the very best film I've seen in 2015.

Being a huge fan of Villeneuve's prior two films, "Prisoners" and "Enemy", I've been anticipating this film for what feels like a very long time. This may just be his finest work to date, but the beautiful thing is that I don't know if I can really say that, because each of his films are so distinctly different. While "Prisoners" was very direct and bleak, "Enemy" was much more nuisanced and cerebral. "Sicario" is a wonderful hybrid of them both, as well as being a brutal portrayal of the world we live in, and the one that most of us don't.

I judge the success or failure of a film based on the following elements: the consistency in pace and tone, the film's performances, visual elements (i.e., the cinematography), and the engagement of the story. This film succeeds in all of those areas in spades.

As far as the cast goes, the film's major standouts to me are, first and foremost, Emily Blunt who gives the very best performance of her career, Benicio Del Toro, who's good as always, Josh Brolin, who's always great as well, and a strong side performance from the criminally underrated Jeffrey Donovan.

However, my absolute favorite element of the film is the visual wizardry by the great Roger Deakins. Deakins, next to only Emmanuel Lubezki, is the greatest director of photography currently living, and the beautiful elements of this film are a distinct reflection of why that is. A shot in a film done by Roger Deakins isn't simply thrown together. He'll never just lock down a tripod and let her rip. Deakins has a sense of tone that supports the director, as well as a strong subtext to each shot. It's because of people like the lovely Roger Deakins that I've come to truly appreciate the power of an image.

Overall, this is a spectacular piece of thrilling filmmaking that soars under the guidance of a master craftsman. I was absolutely blown away by this film. This is a masterpiece that truly deserves to be seen by everyone.

Prisoners
Prisoners(2013)

Its a dark psychological thriller, but it's also a quiet human drama with a lot of emotional complexity. Denis Villeneuve crafted one of the most perfectly directed and complex films I've ever seen. It's one of those rare movies where instead of just simply watching things happen the story is unfolding before you, and I believe much of it is due to the slew of incredible performances, absolutely flawless cinematography and the tone of dread and discomfort. An amazing work of art! One of my absolute favorite thrillers!

Arrival
Arrival(2016)

An intellectual masterpiece about the importance of communication and the perilous danger in miscommunication; about the danger in operating based on assumption. This film takes all of the audience's presuppositions about the characters and the events, and then subverts them completely. You won't be able to stop thinking about it for days afterward. It's like a cinematic restless leg, if you loved every second of it.

Red Hill
Red Hill(2010)

A fine example of how to make a more-than-just-acceptable thriller in a culture over-saturated by content. Patrick Hughes is a fine artist with a bright future.

Would You Rather
½

For all the lackluster "thrills" that the plot brings, this is a suitable showcase for better-than-they-need-to-be performances from a solid cast.

13th
13th(2016)

There's no other way to say it. We needed this film.

Selma
Selma(2014)

The most potent, narratively strong, and powerful film about the struggle for civil rights in recent years.

This could've easily been a puff piece biopic, no different from a well-acted PBS docu-drama. What makes this film different is the fact that Ava DuVernay allows Dr. King's great works to speak for themselves, but sheds some light on his more human side. It's added complexity, not character assassination or character grandiosity that makes this biopic so much different.

Enemy
Enemy(2014)
½

I don't understand the depths of Denis Villeneuve's vision for "Enemy", and, therefore, won't insult your intelligence by pretending to.

It's been described by Villeneuve as a look inside of his own subconscious. What that means as it relates to the existential crisis of Gyllenhaal's character (or characters, depending on how you read things), I may never know, but I do know compelling art when I see it, and that's what "Enemy" is: fearsome, tense, headstrong and truly compelling visual art.

I feel that I'll more than likely be revisiting this one from time to time with fresher eyes.

Split
Split(2017)

The reason to see this film is James McAvoy giving the performance of his life. However, Shyamalan isn't asleep at the wheel here. His script is tremendous, and his direction seems sure-handed enough to keep things moving.

Also, stay seated for that twist, because it's a doozy for Shyamalan fans.

Beautiful Girls

A witty script, charming performances, and sufficient direction. It's a perfect encapsulation of the best of Miramax's mid-1990s catalog.

True Romance
True Romance(1993)
½

Its difficult to get bored during a film that's this unabashedly cool. Tony Scott's energetic direction combined with Tarantino's, as per usual, flawless screenplay makes for one groovy movie. This movie is violent, funny, romantic, off-the-wall, tongue-in-cheek, excessive, absurd popcorn movie fun time at its most perfect. There's only been one movie like True Romance, and that's True Romance. There has never been another one like it and there never will be another one like it. A classic!

L.A. Confidential
½

A juicy and entertaining little noir that somehow manages to never putter or trip up.

The Big Lebowski

The rare type of cultural hit comedy that is also a blistering masterpiece. It's the type of movie that whenever it crosses your mind, you ask yourself why you aren't watching it right now.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)

As remakes go, this one was bound to come eventually. However, what no one expected, including me, was that the remake would supercede the original in craft, entertainment, grace, grandeur, and sheer ingenuity. How about that? A remake with ingenuity.

Blood Simple
Blood Simple(1984)

What interests me most is the way that the film presents itself, which is as a simple, cut-and-dry Southern fried thriller. However, this movie is a total rabbit hole. The farther you go, the more complicated things get, and the more you want.

The Coen brothers announced their arrival as meticulous, reclusive artists with an eccentric flare with their sophomore film, "Raising Arizona". No one is arguing that, but don't turn your eyes away from "Blood Simple", because this wild thing is as perfect a film as you're likely to see. It's that rare moment in cinema where I can't think of a single thing that I would change.

Ant-Man
Ant-Man(2015)
½

It doesn't break any barriers, and it doesn't bring any kind of new flavor to the Marvel cinematic universe, but it's certainly fun and that's enough for me.

Paul Rudd is phenomenal in the lead as the newest member of the Marvel movies team.

Pan
Pan(2015)

Is it hokey? You bet, but that doesn't change a thing for me. This film is pure imagination and fun with some striking imagery and fantastical charm that feels reminiscent of the first time I saw "Harry Potter." Is it in league with the craftsmanship of the Harry Potter franchise? Not in this life, but it gives me the same feeling of discovery and wonder.

Joe Wright is one of the finest visual artists on the planet right now, and, though this lacks the highbrow skill of "Atonement" or "Pride and Prejudice," he's like a kid in a candy store.

Area 51
Area 51(2015)
½

The entire first act of this film was a total waste of screen time. I really have enjoyed Oren Peli's work in the past, but somehow he just lost all sense of pace and atmosphere on this one.

The whole first twenty minutes or so of this mess could be cut out and it wouldn't effect the overall story at all. There's a party scene where it's implied the story's lead is abducted/probed by aliens, and they've told him to come to Area 51 or something. That would be interesting if it ever came up ever again. Getting the characters to Area 51 is the easy part when writing a movie like this. You have a trio of people going in, and the driver waiting outside who changed his mind about going in.

Okay, so, why not just write it as a band of misfits who develop a strong fascination with Area 51 and decide that they want to see inside? It would lead to less wasted time, and more time for us to be scared while they're actually in Area 51.

Truth be told, I have no real overall opinion on this movie. See it if you like or don't. Man, this is a shame, because "Paranormal Activity" is one of the best horror movies in ages.

Comet
Comet(2014)
½

Complicated, scrappy, beautiful, and defiantly original. This movie is like an indie band writing a punk rock song. There are flashes of defiance and fist-raising originality, but they're wrapped in this lovely, sweet, and saturated indie romp. It has warring ideologies of style and humility, and, yet, it's still a beautiful, endearing and cohesive piece. I look forward to seeing more from Sam Esmail.

Killers
Killers(2015)
½

This wild thing gets its claws into you early, and keeps them there by way of spectacular direction and pair of sure-handed, albeit at-times melodramatic, performances by Kazuki Kitamura and Oka Antara, whom I feel shines the brightest.

"Killers" is that rare confident, (possibly) pretentious, and always tense breed of psychological thriller that you give your express permission to kick your teeth down your throat in the visual assault.

The Hurt Locker

Simply put, it's one of the most thrillingly alive films ever made. The suspense holds a cloud over the events; every moment of the film feels dangerous. Everyone is in danger, and no one can be trusted. In the all too real world of "The Hurt Locker", there's distrust and even tested bonds of brotherhood, as well as the limits of basic human forgiveness and understanding.

This isn't a war movie, persay. It's a movie about people in war; human beings tested to their absolute limit, and once they reach that limit, they're nothing shy of addicted and terrified in equal portion.

Zero Dark Thirty

A brilliant film that shows perspectives interwoven with true events. It's less about facts, and more about human beings and what happens to them in circumstances beyond their control, especially those that they're trying to control.

This is a masterpiece of naturalism, and a work of mad genius by a stupendously talented filmmaker, and a revolutionary: Ms. Kathryn Bigelow.

Cape Fear
Cape Fear(1991)
½

Part remake of a classic, and part tightly told exercise in Hitchcockian filmmaking. Martin Scorsese is arguably the finest filmmaker working today, and this film feels like all of his passion for the classics being strung together in a better-than-it-needs-to-be remake of a landmark thriller with a viciously alive performance by the great Robert De Niro that gives Robert Mitchum a run for his money.

Nymphomaniac: Volume II

The second half of Lars Von Trier's poem of human sexuality and addiction therein is a sore disappointment in comparison to the masterpiece that precedes it, in my opinion. It's all very telling of Von Trier's low opinion of his fellow human beings. The final scene of this film is almost as if to say that perversion and corruption are the defining factors of the human experience, and there's no escaping it. At the end of this story there's no hope for Joe, and that doesn't sit right with me. However, I'd be lying if I were to say that human beings aren't perverts, but I believe that there's always hope, and perhaps it's the point of the end of this film that the audience not accept the final ruling.

Nymphomaniac: Volume I
½

Quite possibly the least sexy thing I've ever seen, and that's the best compliment I can give this movie. Lars Von Trier's finest achievement as a director thus far. Its cold, dark, calculated, and atmospheric. This masterpiece also sports a brilliant, tour de force performance, as always, by Charlotte Gainsbourg. One of the most uncomfortable experiences I've ever had watching a film, but masterful all the same. I was blown away!

Eyes Wide Shut
½

As a great admirer of Kubrick's work, "Eyes Wide Shut" had me at a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, I'd like to simply classify it as a movie about the temptation of sex, and thereby dismiss it. On the other hand it's also a movie about love. But not in the traditional sense. We're never really given the impression that Cruise and Kidman's characters actually love each other, all we sense is anger and resentment with any feelings of love coming out of feelings of obligation. I think this movie begs the question: is love something of the heart or the subconscious?

It also has a lot to say about dreams, given that much of the film feels like a dream, at times even a nightmare. Kubrick paints a picture of our lead characters that is relatable, but also beyond reason. Which further drives home the point that it could all be a dream. The whole film is lit with this fantastical, hazy lighting which is all very theatrical and over-the-top, commonplace in a Kubrick film. But the only time that we have simple lighting is the moments when he's in his bedroom with his wife. One particular scene when she wakes up from an erotic nightmare.

Thematic material aside, this is great filmmaking. Kubrick is one of the most skilled artists to ever grace the silver screen, and this is a fitting swan song for him. It has beautiful, lush visuals, layered performances, beautiful cinematography, a score that will stick to your ribs, and a plot that explores love and sexuality unlike any other.

Overall, much like recent films like Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" or Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine," if you watch this movie simply for the sex than you've completely missed the point. This isn't simply elegant pornography, it's a work of art that is puzzling and tough.

2001: A Space Odyssey

An epic exercise in seeking the unknown, and accepting the unknowable.

The notorious monolith, for instance, is like God. Even in the midst of technology advancing beyond anything before, it is a constant; it never changes. It always challenges, and every time that simple creatures seek to understand or conquer it, they're met with confusion and failure.

On a cinematic level, this is a film with more vision than anything before or after. Stanley Kubrick's finest work of his career, and a landmark that has bred generations of dreamers and filmmakers.

Lawrence of Arabia

Simply put, this epic cinematic landmark has some of the most beautiful imagery ever committed to celluloid.

A film of incredible scope that dwarfs nearly all contemporary epics. It's a war epic that is crafted with a great sense of scale. Every moment, even those brief scenes simply in an office or a tent, carry this enormity; this physical depth.

Boyhood
Boyhood(2014)

A beautiful celebration of life and what it really means to live well.

Amores Perros

A masterpiece about how our lives are irreversibly interconnected. When we share the earth, we are family.

Nacho Libre
Nacho Libre(2006)
½

I think of this film in the same way that I do anything by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. This is the type of film where if you find yourself ever complaining about the tone or inconsistencies in the film you've missed the point entirely.

The LEGO Movie

Wow! This movie blew me away! A masterpiece of gorgeous animation, biting social commentary, hilarious writing, and a talented cast of all-star voices. Everything you want in an animated entertainment with a solid head on its shoulders.

School of Rock
½

Quite simply one of the most seemlessly funny and touching American comedies of the last several years. There's no doubt about it, this is one of Linklater's most endlessly watchable movies.

Blue Jay
Blue Jay(2016)

A gentle masterpiece about dormant feelings and truth in love. The beauty of direction in films like this is that it's, in a sense, the purest type of direction; you know that there's a mastermind pulling the strings, but his work soars under the radar. You feel as though you're simply following two people as they live and move and breathe, and rediscover what makes young love so exciting.

Resident Evil: Extinction
½

Say what you will about the startlingly bad climax, underdeveloped and painfully uninteresting characters, overwrought script and terrible performances; this action-horror fiesta is nothing short of exciting and fun. If we're being honest with ourselves, why else would we be here?

Resident Evil: Afterlife
½

It's official, folks. We are unabashedly, joyfully off the rails. Anderson knows it; Jovovich knows it; we all know it.

Resident Evil
½

The weakest of the franchise. This is where we're supposed to care---before we understand what this series is---and we just so deeply don't care.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

A staple of my childhood, and a piece of trashy, B-cinema gold. Paul W.S. Anderson is a man who likes what he likes, and I suspect all applying do as well.

Resident Evil: Retribution

This is the point in this inexplicably long franchise where if you're here, you're not a new convert. And, as far as this movie is concered, if you're here you're likely enjoying yourself. Having grown up on the first two films, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy myself, shamefully so.

Boogie Nights

Bold, emotional, hilarious and unforgettable. This '90s masterpiece takes the classic rise and fall story, but plays with it in the '70s porn industry and pairs it with strong and ambitious themes. An extremely talented ensemble cast delivers a plethora of skillful performances. Paul Thomas Anderson is a master and he hit an amazing creative stride very early on in his career with this near flawless character study.

This film, however, studies the porn industry as a kind of single collective character. It's shallow, vain, naÃÃ,¯ve, and relatively unintelligent, but we see that these are human beings with aspirations and goals in life, people that are capable of love.

Magnolia
Magnolia(1999)

Few films encapsulate a singular idea as beautifully as P.T. Anderson's epic masterpiece MAGNOLIA. It's very simple: this is a perfect film.

This movie is quite obviously about mishandled relationships, specifically parents and children. Anderson's opinions on father-son relationships are really fascinating to me. There are very few secure or healthy father-son relationships in Anderson films. Dirk Diggler walks all over his impish, emasculated father in BOOGIE NIGHTS, Daniel Plainview realizes his incapability to choose his son over his own greed in THERE WILL BE BLOOD, and Barry Egan only has female familial relationships in PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE.

City Lights
City Lights(1931)

An endearing and sublimely beautiful piece of film history. Arguably, Chaplin's masterpiece, just barely edging out "The Gold Rush".

A masterful piece of silent era filmmaking so timeless and yet so brilliantly about a place in time. It lives in the 1930s almost as vividly as it lives in the heart of the viewer. So lovely in Chaplin's admiration of the beautiful flower girl (played with magnetic sweetness by Virginia Cherrill) and so thoroughly hilarious in its hijinks with the millionaire (played with superior comedic ability by the great Harry Meyers) even after over eighty years. It tells such a tender and sweet story; performing a cinematic high wire act of balancing outlandish slapstick humor with moments of subtlety and nuance not commonly found in silent cinema, nor in modern film for that matter.

"City Lights" is a work of sheer genius that thrives on the ceaselessly funny shoulders of the Tramp, a true cinematic renaissance man that showed the power of the image before film had a voice.

Also, just as an aside, if that final shot doesn't melt your heart, you may have fallen asleep or are otherwise without a soul.

Crimson Peak
Crimson Peak(2015)
½

What it lacks in scares and compulsion, it more than makes up for in it's excellent direction and gorgeous cinematography. Don't listen to the detractors, this is a masterful film in the tradition of classical haunted house epics like "The Cat and the Canary" and "House on Haunted Hill". However, there's something that separates this film from other nostalgic Hollywood horror epics. That something is its fullness and pension for romance.

Short of the distracting CGI ghosts, if Alfred Hitchcock were to have ever dabbled in the supernatural I can't help but feel that this may be close to what it would've looked like. It's robust, fantastical romanticism at it's contemporary best.

The only thing shaving a star-and-a-half off of this wonderful piece of cinema is, I'm sorry to say, Guillermo del Toro's attention to characters or lack thereof. We, the audience, feel the only real closeness with Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain's characters, which is unfortunate because we aren't following Hiddleston and Chastain. As for our lead, played by the skillful and beautiful Mia Wasikowska, we feel a kind of shallow coldness. That makes her infinitely more unrelateable than she would've been.

All that aside this is a masterful piece of visual storytelling from a master filmmaker in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock, the true master filmmaker. It's a great film. Highly recommended.

Cronos
Cronos(1994)

A theatrical macabre parable about the dangers of temptation, and the sheer seduction of immorality. As a work of subtext, this is a masterpiece. And, furthermore, as a horror piece, this is truly unnerving and bizarre.

A Walk Among the Tombstones
½

For all of its narrative shortcomings, this private eye (played by Liam Neeson) is a deeply interesting character in the way that the detectives of the classic film noir were. The only difference is that here Mr. Neeson has the whole breadth of independent cinema freedom to play with, and the camera can do more.

However, for all of the disturbing and unsettling, 21st century cinema specific elements, this is a truly old-fashioned mystery story that doesn't try to reinvent the wheel or change the form. Simple cinema told with complexity, and isn't that what we're after from suspense stories anyhow?

Grown Ups
Grown Ups(2010)

It's quite dumb. However, it gets an enthusiastic single star from me for the comic chemistry between its cast; though the gimmick isn't enough to save the sinking ship, these five best friends are clearly having a good time. That must be worth... something. Right?

Holy Motors
Holy Motors(2012)

One of the great cinematic magic tricks that I've had the pleasure of seeing. What is real? What is fabrication? The truth is that I don't really think we're too discern which is which. We, as the audience, are simply left to surmise what we will from the powerful cinema at hand. It's a film about cinema; about the deeply sad information and deeply hopeful misinformation in cinema. For such a breathlessly ravishing and awe-inspiring piece of surrealism, it really is a quite sad movie. But perhaps that's the point, that, for all the magic and possibility in the movies, it's made by people, and we're all, on a fundamental level, yearning for a real reason and purpose that can't be found outside of, in my opinion, the objective Truth that exists right in front of us in this harrowing story called life.

Rain Man
Rain Man(1988)

A masterpiece of intimate cinema; a beautiful story about the unspoken bond between brothers and the unbreakable bond of family. Simple in theme, but beautiful, complex and subtextual in execution.

Radio
Radio(2003)

An emotionally-manipulative story that chooses to, rather than simply showing handicapable people to be just like all of the rest of us, show us a story about the magical power that all people on the autism spectrum have. The points awarded to this film are on account of Ed Harris' performance. The man could play bread crumbs and he would be spectacular.

Casino Royale

The high note of the Bond franchise, in my opinion. This film functions in a way that no other Bond film does; as both a strong Bond film that ticks nearly all of the proverbial boxes (while adding much needed depth to Bond as a person), and as a spectacularly effective action film.

There's something uniquely nuanced about Craig's Bond in this particular installment. He feels self-deprecating in a way that no other James Bond has. Rather than relishing in being a suave super spy, he seems to despise the job and himself for being the one who has to do it. This is a brutal and calculated Bond that also happens to be a charming detective, rather than the latter being his sole attribute.

Quantum of Solace
½

A different Bond film; an art house Bond film, which, as a fan of both the silliness of past Bond outings and the character depth of this film's predecessor, I didn't think I wanted. Turns out, I did.

Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

One of the worst viewing experiences I've ever had. I didn't laugh once.

The Revenant
The Revenant(2015)

A beautiful and brilliant survival tale about the complicated coexistence of man and nature, as well as spiritual growth in the midst of horrible physical pain. Truly a masterpiece, and an unforgiving experience.

Singin' in the Rain

Romanticism, whimsy, innocence, optimism, and pure craftsmanship.

The direction of your typical musical is to mold the song and dance elements into the film's story organically. This is not Stanley Donan's priority. He's making something bombastic and beautiful, and he won't let you have a moment to get ride of that smile on your face. For that, on behalf of the scores of filmmakers and filmgoers that this masterpiece has inspired, thank you, sir.

The Man with the Golden Gun

Though it lacks many of the classic Bond tropes, I'd pay to see two more hours of Christopher Lee as Scaramanga.

Goldfinger
Goldfinger(1964)

The quintessential Bond film that has been praised the highest, quoted the most, and ripped off from end to end. This is escapist filmmaking with style and sophistication, minus any inkling of pretension.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
½

George Lazenby doesn't relish the role of super spy James Bond in the same way that his predecessor and several successors did, but nevertheless this is a suitably lavish, over-the-top, and exciting entry in the series. It may very well be one of the best of the franchise.

The Spy Who Loved Me

Truly spectacular stunts that will wow even the most jaded of moviegoers, and a classic blueprint for a capable Bond plot. It's absurd and fun, and I love every minute.

The Silence of the Lambs

Quintessential suspense filmmaking that represents the very best of cinematic communication.

Live and Let Die

A great sense of fun and adventure to counteract some of the less ageless elements. As a piece of film, this is a truly silly piece of work. However, as a Bond film, this one is certainly ticking all of the quintessential boxes.

Do the Right Thing

A masterpiece of tremendous energy and insight. Spike Lee touches on what drives hatred and hypocrisy with biting intellect.

The Last Temptation of Christ

A fascinating and different exploration of the character of Jesus Christ. This is a brilliantly directed film that doesn't seek to be controversial, but rather to shed a different light on the life of the Lord.

The Skin I Live In

Pedro AlmodÃÃ,³var directs the twisted material similarly to how Banderas performs it. There's a precision and a beauty to his direction, but he won't gloss over the grotesque side of it all. Don't take this as a horror movie, because it isn't. Its a twisty-turny experience about devotion that is far more grotesque than the typical love story.

Sabotage
Sabotage(2014)

The misuse of cinematic violence for no discernable purpose is staggering. I'm shocked at the lack of pulchritude or decency displayed here. Truly shocking.

If the unlikable characters and laughably profane dialogue weren't enough, it doesn't even have the courtesy of being a cheap morality tale.

The Cold Light of Day

Everything that's wrong with this movie can be summed up in the title alone, in that the title means nothing. THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY is an empty phrase that plays no role in the events of the picture, and means nothing. That's all you need to know; generic, empty nothingness.

XXX
XXX(2002)

Sound and fury signifying nothing.

Don't Breathe
½

A well-structured, gorgeously shot, and truly thrilling horror story with strong, sure-handed direction from a master in the making. Certainly one of my favorite films of the year.

Black Mass
Black Mass(2015)
½

A savage piece of gangster cinema that is gorgeously shot, incredibly well acted, and convincing, at times, to the point of stomach churning. Not to mention it plays host to one of the best ensemble casts I've seen.

OUT OF THE FURNACE and CRAZY HEART were both terrific, but Scott Cooper has truly outdone himself. This is something really special.

Alone in the Dark

A work of near inexplicable ineptitude that gets a half of a star from me for sheer watchability.

Cash Only
Cash Only(2016)

A fine little crime thriller that has big expectations of itself, and nearly fulfills them all. Nearly.

Only God Forgives
½

Refn isn't one for straightforward, clean narratives, but this takes it to a whole new level. I have no earthly idea what this film is about. Yet I loved it. The style, the stunning cinematography, and the strict commitment to creative vision is impressive. This is a bizarre, pretentious, beautiful, disturbing slice of new age filmmaking.

Xanadu
Xanadu(1980)
½

A competently directed and shot piece of musical gobbledygook, but gobbledygook nonetheless.

Whiplash
Whiplash(2014)

A genuine and exceedingly complex piece of cinema about proving people wrong that is more exciting and tense than any blockbuster action film of the past ten years. Damien Chazelle is a monumental talent that has crafted a contemporary masterclass that has razor sharp editing and a script that bites hard. This is one of the most impressive sophomore films of all time. A true masterpiece.

Les Misérables

A towering landmark of a film that is one of my favorite movies of all time without question. Tom Hooper is a gentle master with a distinct cinematic voice that, in my opinion, deserves to be recognized with the likes of other British masters like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.

The Nice Guys

A breezy, exciting mystery. This is easily my favorite Shane Black film to date. It's exquisitely written, confidently directed, and acted with such energy and excitement that it's hard to wipe the smile off of your face once the credits have rolled.

Paper Towns
Paper Towns(2015)
½

This film is certainly misguided, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't swept off my feet by this incredibly charming and hopeful coming-of-age story.

As a big fan of John Green's previous smash hit, the surprisingly bold and mature "The Fault in Our Stars", I was obviously very much looking forward to this movie, and, while it doesn't carry quite the weight that that film does, I didn't leave disappointed. It's a lovely little escapist exploration of adolescence in the 21st century that doesn't pander or pretend.

This film reminded me a lot of some of John Hughes' work in that no one will walk away with nothing. Every person who sees this movie will see themselves on screen in one way or another. This prospect is tiring to an extent, but it's also very disarming.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the spectacular writing, as well as the wonderful cast navigating through it with feverish energy and excitement. Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne give stellar performances, but the film's true charm and approachable nature comes from the trio of best friends (Wolff, Austin Abrams and Justice Smith). These three young actors do something very beautiful here that so many other movies forget to even try at: they make you forget that you aren't just hanging out with your three best friends. Whatever depth that their characters lack is totally made up for simply by their on-screen chemistry.

Delicatessen
Delicatessen(1992)

A truly bizarre and twisted dystopian fairy tale of a horror-comedy.

Alien Resurrection
½

Hmm. If you pluck this movie from Jean-Pierre Jeunet's filmography, it works well as a Jeunet picture. However, as another installment in a long-running franchise, this thing doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Aliens
Aliens(1986)

Seldom does a major blockbuster akin to this masterpiece give me a burst of raw creative energy the way this film does. This movie is a doozy from the word 'go'.

Top Five
Top Five(2014)
½

Not only is "Top Five" hilarious, biting, and fascinating, but it's also one of the greatest comedies I've seen in some time. Chris Rock is brilliant in the lead performance, but he's also stellar behind the camera, as well as at the writer's table. Rock utilizes the talents of an amazing, all-star cast and manages to craft an incredible comedy masterpiece without resorting to any cheap tricks or lazy gags.

Tusk
Tusk(2014)

Kevin Smith, you beautiful madman, you have done it again. This is a movie that exists for the sake of originality; it's more of an idea, or an artistic endeavor, than a film persay. However, it doesn't matter how you slicd it, this things work in exactly the way it's supposed to.

It's also, arguably, the best looking of all Smith's films. Though he's not known for his visual prowess nearly as well as he is for his witticisms and monologues, this is a gorgeous-looking movie.

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter
½

A surprisingly fine prequel to a masterful cult classic.

Smokin' Aces 2: Assassin's Ball
½

Here's a severely confused prequel that believes the major draw for the original film was the action. This film lacks the well-written, albeit overly eccentric, dialogue, and energy of the original, but it has two bright spots: Michael Parks and Vinnie Jones. Both of which seem to be having the time of their lives.

Smokin' Aces
Smokin' Aces(2007)

I'm still momentously impressed by Joe Carnahan's command of the scenes he orchestrates. This thing could have very well been a runaway train with only brief moments of successful action, but his script and the talent of the cast always seems to persevere. That being said, the energy reaches a fever pitch at times that is quite unsustainable, and that forces the film to, despite the strength in other areas, simply lie there; seemingly unsure of where it's headed.

That's the great curse of this film: Joe Carnahan, talented as he may be, tried to fit a TV miniseries inside of a 110 minute movie that is only handicapped by its lack of available time to elaborate.

Her
Her(2013)

I love this film. Not because I understand it completely, but because I don't. This is a masterful love story, no doubt, but Spike Jonze is making declarations about love, relationship, and technology that I'm not yet mature enough to understand, I suspect. Nevertheless, this is a masterfully told tale that I look forward to revisiting at a different time in my life.

Red State
Red State(2011)

Kevin Smith's finest achievement. Just when you think you know where its going he takes a sharp right turn.

Fanboys
Fanboys(2008)

Fun, frank, and consistently watchable. For all its narrative flaws, this is a truly entertaining road comedy.

Grease
Grease(1978)
½

I've never felt the Hollywood charm and nostalgia that's typically granted to this simply enjoyable movie, but I must say that, for the material they were given to work with, this is a much better film than it needs to be.

For this romantic, coming-of-age musical premise to succeed all they had to do was choreograph a little dancing, move the camera occasionally, and throw a winning pair of young leads on screen. It's nice to be able to say that the filmmakers went above and beyond to create something far better than the written source material. They made a good movie that, though it could've been a great movie, did undeniably satisfy me.

Overall, "Grease" is a fun little gem with a lot to offer it's demographic.

The Breakfast Club

A no-pussyfooting, genuinely beautiful and entertaining coming-of-age film.

Alien3
Alien3(1992)

Are there bumps along the road? For sure. However, I don't believe that makes this a bad film by any means. No one can say that David Fincher didn't do a stellar job of creating a sense of dread and fear all throughout, even if reshoots and plot elements in the latter act do undermine all of that narrative success.

Wrath of the Titans
½

Surprisingly enough, even now, years after having seen it, I still look fondly on many of the action set pieces. Now, it's not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it achieves the goal: to escape from reality for a couple of hours.

Clash of the Titans

It's not great as a piece of film, but it's tremendously entertaining cor what it is. I sincerely believe that Sam Worthington has it in him to be a great leading man; he has acting chops and a great face for the big screen. However, studios forced him into too many potential franchises too quickly to allow anything to effectively stick short of "Avatar".

Krampus
Krampus(2015)
½

A goofy, fun ride that is self-satisfied in the best way. Michael Dougherty created a film so dead set on satisfying the true midnight movie crowd that he may have left everybody else out of the equation. However, as a staunch lover of midnight movies, I thank him.

Dogville
Dogville(2003)

Structurally, there's nothing else like it.

Antichrist
Antichrist(2009)
½

Though very difficult to take, this film was compelling and extremely ambitious. Lars Von Trier crafted a well-rounded, brilliant psychodrama.

This is the kind of film where I can tell that the director has a lot to say. Lars Von Trier has a way of communicating themes that's very unconventional. He uses graphic and explicit content in a way that immerses the audience, but doesn't sacrifice the integrity of the narrative. This film also has a visual grace about it that's oddly beautiful even though what he's showing us is horrific and disturbing. The prologue for this film is one of the most impressively shot sequences I've ever seen.

Another very impressive aspect of the film was the performances. There's only two to speak of, but they totally blew me away. Wilem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are acting titans. They took so many risks and were so vulnerable, especially Gainsbourg. She put herself out there in a way I haven't seen in a long time, and I think that helped me to track with her when she went to those dark places in the last act.

This film was disturbing, ambitious, nasty, chaotic, compelling, dark, nightmarish, and, overall, extremely brilliant. One of the most haunting and original films I've ever seen!

Trollhunter
Trollhunter(2011)
½

A perfect horror-comedy in that it doesn't undermine either element. Ovredal directs with dread and humor in equal portion, the likes of which America hasn't had since the early films of Sam Raimi.

Gangs of New York

A masterful work of art that bowls over with energy and life. Some of the finest editing of any American film ever made, and bracing direction that moves with an organic pace and a feeling of scope and scale. Arguably, one of Scorsese's finest films to date.

Jack Goes Home

One of the most maddening experiences I've had all year. I'm a filmmaker, and, therefore, acknowledge that making a film is a very revealing, personal, terribly difficult thing. However, this is a movie with all the earmarks of a terrific ghost story that is weighted down by one of the most angering scripts I've ever heard. At one point, this terribly pretentious screenplay compliments it's own vocabulary via Lin Shaye's perplexingly unnatural character. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is this movie is dripping with pretension that is so frustrating and nonsensical that I actually couldn't believe what I was hearing.

It feels like the product of a writer that has surrounded himself with people that compliment his writing, which wouldn't surprise me if that were the case. There are a shocking number of high-reaching ideas that aren't being fleshed out or explored in any kind of meaningful way.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

As an addition to the wizarding world of Harry Potter, I couldn't have enjoyed it more. However, on a screenwriting front, Rowling's first ever outing as a screenwriter lacks a lot of the character definition typically found in a story this grand with this lofty of ideas. Working in a novel format, I'm positive these problems wouldn't exist.

I never felt that I knew who Newt, Tina, and Jacob were as people. Even so, I can't wait to spend more time with them in this film's eventual sequels.

All issues aside this is a thoroughly entertaining and exciting adventure with charm and beauty to make up for its developmental shortcomings. A great fall adventure in one of the most beautifully realized cross-medium universes of all time.

The Good, the Bad, the Weird (Joheun-nom, Nabbeun-nom, Isanghan-nom)
½

An easy, fun, and exciting spectacle that is expertly crafted by a master filmmaker. This is the type of thing I would've had on repeat as a young moviegoer.

"The Good, The Bad, The Weird" puts any and all American filmmakers in the action genre to shame.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
½

It sends the Middle Earth franchise off in glorious fashion, but watching it separate from the others softens the blow a little bit. That being said, it's still jaw-dropping visually. Peter Jackson has crafted something truly unbelievable with his Middle Earth films.

Also, my only other complaint really is the shoehorned love story between Tauriel and Kili. It just felt disjointed and more than a little unnecessary.

Dead Alive
Dead Alive(1993)

Possibly the strangest viewing experience I've ever had in the best way. Peter Jackson makes so many bizarre and wonderful choices that it's difficult to count.

Shut your brain off, have a seat (without snacks or drinks), and enjoy this gruesome, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek cult masterpiece.

Happy Christmas
½

More charming observational cinema from a masterful indie auteur. That all sounds very pretentious, but it's true. Joe Swanberg is a genius with an eye for naturalistic filmmaking. I've learned a lot from him.

Also, how bizarrely mismarketed was this movie? This film and Swanberg's previous movie DRINKING BUDDIES were both marketed in such a strange way that isn't at all indicative of the actual tone or atmosphere.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman
½

This is the definition of a filmmaker trying desperately to have his cake and eat it too. Though Darren Grant competently directs this confusing piece of work; make no mistake, this movie belongs to Tyler Perry, and I'm confused as to what he was trying to do here.

DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN so clearly wants to be a melodrama about the struggles of the modern black woman (with the incredibly talented Kimberly Elise at the center of it all), but it also desperately claws at slapstick comedy that works on its own, but crowds an otherwise strong narrative. This thing is the Frankenstein's monster of drama-comedies. It's roughly assembled parts of other movies that successfully comes to life, only to meander confused and frightened.

Drinking Buddies

An amazing piece of art that drops you in on the story as a casual observer. Joe Swanberg is an incredible, well-rounded artist in every sense, but particularly in his talent for verité storytelling.

Some may complain that it's a story with no ending, but I would argue that that's exactly the point. This is a story where, much like life, things will just keep going. Whenever a sense of closure comes about, another story emerges. This is a movie that could've believably gone on for another four hours, at least.

Napoleon Dynamite
½

Yeah it's funny at times, but the whole film is paced like one long filler scene. There's no plot at all which takes someone like me out of it immediately, and I understand that that's what they were going for, but it just didn't work for me. I did however think that Jon Heder created a scene that will prove iconic in the future with that dance sequence.

Quirky? Yes. Tongue in cheek? Yes. Hilarious? No.

Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher(2012)
½

A fine little action thriller with strong direction from Christopher McQuarrie.

White God
White God(2015)

A beautiful and complex mixture of elegant art house and anarchist cinema.

The Uninvited

The greatest haunted house film of all time. Everything we know about the ghost story subgenre, we owe to two films: William Castle's HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, and this 1944 masterpiece from Lewis Allen.

The Uninvited
½

The premise doesn't work so well cross-culturally.

I Saw the Devil

An absolute masterpiece. It's a film that transcends the revenge genre, and transforms into one of the most powerful thrillers I've ever seen, as well as a brilliant examination of the nature of evil, and the line between obsession and passion. It's pure, masterful filmmaking, and an unforgettable experience!

The Last Stand

This is a far better film than this premise deserves. In the masterful hands of Kim Jee-woon, this goes from a schlocky Schwarzenegger action movie to a witty, tongue-in-cheek, shoot-'em-up popcorn flick that you're never bored watching.

A History of Violence
½

What fascinates me about this movie isn't actually the premise for the film itself, but it's implications. This movie suggests that violence isn't enstiled in people themselves, but the circumstances those people find themselves in. Also the fact that for the premise that this movie has it isn't particularly masculine. Its very subdued and impartial which was interesting to me. This could've easily just been an action movie, but in the hands of David Cronenberg it became something entirely different and all together better.

Immoral Tales
½

Despite being gorgeously shot, and directed with a careful eye for the human form, this down trodden, ugly expression of psychosexuality is twice as hard to think back on, as it is to watch. It feels like the result of perversion, not artistic yearning.

Deadly Code
Deadly Code(2013)

Skilfully directed, beautifully shot, and impressively acted.

Dead Man's Shoes
½

For better or worse, no one can deny that Shane Meadows makes you feel as though you're in the room with the characters. It's nothing if not compelling.

The Age of Adaline

A fun little romantic adventure with some fine performances and good direction, but not much else. It feels uninspired but still original. Anyhow, it's a fun movie that isn't hurting anyone and will surely be viewed by teenage girls and hopeless romantics for years to come.

300: Rise of an Empire
½

The action sequences were directed with a music video-like grace, or lack there of, and the direction walks the same line. The bright spot of this all-in-all forgettable blockbuster is the over-the-top, scenery chewing villain that we get from the lovely Eva Green. It may be forgettable, but she certainly isn't.

Jason X
Jason X(2002)

Wow! This sucker gets two stars for the surprise factor.

Behind Enemy Lines

A nifty, big budget action movie with suspense, and charisma from the somewhat out-of-place Owen Wilson.

Max Payne
Max Payne(2008)
½

It's a glass of whiskey with flashes of brilliance, but it's been watered-down by what I have a hunch is studio meddling. This is a prime example of the makers not quite understanding the property they purchased.

That being said, I can't deny that the action was tremendous, and Mark Wahlberg appears to be trying.

Neighbors
Neighbors(2014)
½

Short of a few funny sight gags, I didn't find this very funny. It's just not for me, I suppose.

From The Dark

An effectively directed horror movie with a great deal of technical skill, and a consistent atmosphere of fear and suspense.

The Hallow (The Woods)
½

WOW! I don't know what else to say. It's as if some genius combined Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" with the scariest possible version of Dante's "Gremlins".

Corin Hardy's work on "The Hallow" provides everything that any good
horror film needs to excel: strong performances, a tight narrative, beautiful cinematography, terrifying scares, and convincing effects. "The Hallow" has all of those things and then some. I couldn't have been any more impressed.

Top praise for this film goes to the incredibly talented Joseph Mawle for his astounding performance as Adam. He plays off of Bojana Novakovic's terrified Clare with grace and naturalism that rivals many of this year's so-called 'Oscar bait' movies. What separates this cast from so many other horror films casts of this year is the way they both go above and beyond to play one of acting's most difficult emotions to convincingly portray: fear. Not for a second did I not believe that they were terrified.

This may very well be one of the best creature features I've seen in recent years. Compellingly directed, more than competently acted, beautifully shot, and shockingly scary. This is downright masterful filmmaking.

The Awakening

I'm not so sure that the plot twist works beyond the moment it's delivered, but this is an elegant haunted house tale that harkens back to the classics, like Lewis Allen's THE UNINVITED and Peter Medak's THE CHANGELING.

This is also a very complex portrait of a woman struggling with control. She's trapped by fear and unbelief, and in the end we don't get closure, but we're happy that she did.

Knight of Cups
½

I can't stop thinking about this film. It's about the yearning to return to a simple life, and how, in a culture obsessed with vanity and wealth, we're less connected now than ever before. How people don't see each other as individuals anymore, but as members of an entity or a group. Simply put, not all that glitters is gold, but this film certainly is.

Terrence Malick is a masterful artist that has taken the art of cinema, and molded it into something methodical. He writes poems with all that cinema has: words, images, sounds, and, most importantly, people.

The Big Short

If anyone told me five years ago that Adam McKay would make a better film about Wall Street than the great Martin Scorsese, I'd tell them they're crazy. However, here we are.

Simply put, THE BIG SHORT is one of the finest comedies ever made, and a superior film to THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (a different film that is great for different reasons, but one that is easily compared to the movie in question).

This is a masterpiece that is hefty in its ideas, but all of them are fleshed out with fine-pointed accuracy, and an incredible pension for juicy dialogue. Hats off to Adam McKay.

Goat
Goat(2016)
½

A masterful piece of storytelling that takes a subject that could've resulted in torture porn with the thin veil of purpose, but excels to something more. What we get is a film that isn't actually about hazing at all. This is a story about moving on, and the realization that you aren't defined by other people's perceptions of you.

First and foremost, I have to give a tip of the hat to the genius work by the brilliant Ben Schnetzer. It's a layered true life performance about a young man struggling with the hard expectations of the world around him to fit into it's mold of masculinity.

Though the themes aren't limited only to hazing, the sequences of hazing aren't easy or comfortable. In fact, the hazing is downright gut-wrenching and ugly; it's incedibly difficult to watch from the word 'go', in a way that not even most horror movies are.

Treasure Planet

A spectacular and imaginative sci-fi adventure that is equal parts thrilling and heartwarming. This is a Disney adventure that I will never forget; a benchmark of my childhood, and one animated film that I've consistently revisited. A truly stunning work of visual filmmaking; puts most major science fiction blockbusters as of late to shame.

The Interview

For the most controversial movie of the decade it's suprisingly restrained. Apart from the over-the-top action, it's surprisingly average. It isn't funny, it's not charming or even really all that entertaining. I really didn't like this movie at all. Just not for me.

The Night Before
½

As someone who hasn't been a fan of Evan Goldberg's previous work in comedy with the likes of Seth Rogen, James Franco, and company, I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised! This was a fantastic film.

The big difference between this and the team's previous work in films like "Neighbors" and "The Interview" is the distinct lack of tired, physical gags and more reliance on dialogue and character-driven comedy. "The Night Before" is a hilarious film, let that be clear, and there's plenty of sight gags, but not nearly as many as one would think. What makes the difference here is clearly the strong direction of the wonderously talented Jonathan Levine.

The star of the show is easily Seth Rogen's inspired performance as a coked-up, tweaked-out nightmare of a soon-to-be father. He was nothing short of phenomenal from start to finish. In fact, at first it felt as though he was sort of phoning it in as the middle-aged stoner buddy, but he adapted to the character and the film therein, and he elevated the script to something wonderful.

Also, I can't say enough about the chemistry between the main trio of charming actors: Rogen, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. They're charming and wonderful and incredibly likable.

Overall, it's a fantastic comedy with plenty of creativity, hilarious humor, cameo roles, and heartwarming fluff to make everyone happy. It's a genuinely wonderful comedy.

Final Destination 2
½

The opening is spectacular, but that's about it.

Final Destination
½

What saves this film is the fantastic skill shown in the development of palpable tension and suspense.

Final Destination 3

Say what you will about this schlocky and ridiculous gore-fest, but this is a stupendous exercise in the absurd and the macabre.

The Secret Life of Pets

A harmless little animated romp that, in some ways, fails to quite hit the mark in tone. I understand it, because kids love that sort of freewheeling entertainment, but, as an adult, it was a little bit boring. Keeping in mind, however, that I'm not the core audience, it's a great movie! Kids are going to LOVE it.

North by Northwest

The phrase "they don't make 'em like they used to" has never had more meaning to me than when I watch this daring feat of extraordinary thrills, wit, and action. Hitchcock, for my money, never set his sights on a story that didn't crest perfection, and the thrilling and, surprisingly, hilarious NORTH BY NORTHWEST is no exception.

This one doesn't quite make the peak (that battle is still being fought by PSYCHO and REAR WINDOW), but this masterpiece is still closer to the most perfect spy film than any other before or since, with the one exception of Coppola's THE CONVERSATION.

Fatal Attraction
½

There's one reason to watch this movie, in my opinion: Glenn Close.

Breach
Breach(2007)
½

I defy anyone to try and take their eyes off of Chris Cooper's performance.

Saving Private Ryan

A perfect film. From Spielberg's on-the-fly direction to his attention to the raw details, this is a movie that is directed so perfectly that it defies description. Where most war films shows you the combat, this epic, timeless masterpiece shows you the humanity in the midst of it.

Dazed and Confused

I may be the last poor schmuck to see this movie, but I'm glad I waited as long as I did. You see, I graduated from high school nearly three years ago, and I think I'm the perfect age for this movie: still wayward, still figuring out what God has in store for my life, and still looking back with both endearment and hopeless embarrassment on my high school years. They feel close enough that I can touch them, but I don't want to.
Richard Linklater's perfect coming-of-age comedy is about growing up and staying young in equal turn. The point is that everyone will walk away from this gem with something different. That's the beautiful, insightful, transcendent quality that this side-splitting flick has going for it: timelessness.

DAZED AND CONFUSED launched careers of some of the biggest stars of the '90s and 2000s, but my favorite performance of the bunch is easily Rory Cochrane as the easy-going, thoughtful stoner Slater. He shines very brightly in this movie among a cast of spectacular stars.

This movie can't be missed.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The best film of 2014. Its a perfectly constructed, staged, and written film, and it may just be Anderson's supreme work. Its a masterpiece.

Marked by Anderson's trademark sense of pattern and symmetry, along with his amazing dark humor and offbeat dialogue.

Ralph Fiennes delivered one of the best performances of the year, and he created a free-speaking, quirky character that you love every second of. I loved him.

This is not only the best movie of the year, but it may just be the best comedy I've seen in years. Quirky and awkward, but also precise and calculated. Amazing work! That prison break scene will live on in my mind as one of the great scenes of all time. I couldn't have possibly loved it more!

The Other Woman

Some of the jokes, to their credit, start out with a few chuckles but it feels like they never end. Every gag is beaten to death.

This movie is also just downright mean-spirited and, oddly enough, very misogynistic. Its supposed to be a girl power movie, but all of the women are stereotypes. They aren't strong, bold, powerful women. They're caricatures that we've seen a million times in a million other better movies.

Leslie Mann, a very talented actress who's work I've enjoyed, plays a dutiful housewife who is devoted to her cheating husband. Cameron Diaz plays a man-eater who can only seem to develop the courage to do anything with the guidance of her misogynistic father. And finally Kate Upton plays the big-breasted bimbo sidekick who meanders off from reality without the guidance of a man.

And to top it all off the entire plot of the movie puts this cloud over it that implies that all three of these one dimensional women apparently need to combine forces to gain the intellectual stamina to catch up to their male nemesis, and all that they can seem to conjur up is giving him diarrhea and sending him through some glass.

I generally don't attack movies that I know other people like, but this one moves from a somewhat passable bad movie to an angering, harmful movie about how it's okay to hurt other people to an outrageous degree, as seen in the horrendous final minutes of the movie.

Please. Don't give any of your money to this movie. This movie gets a half of a star simply because Flixster won't allow me to publish this review without a star rating.

Easily the worst movie I saw in 2014.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Tongue-in-cheek, energetic, exciting, and deftly directed. This is a terrific spy movie.

The Searchers

The greatest American western of all time, in my opinion. There are two things that drive that point home: John Ford's willingness to show us the American spirit (good and bad), and some of the most gorgeous American landscapes ever put on celluloid.

Few films grab you immediately from the opening shot, but John Ford's THE SEARCHERS does it better than anyone else.

12 Years a Slave

An eloquent, beautiful, inspiring, horrifying, disturbing and striking portrayal of the darkest time in American history. Steve McQueen has crafted something devastatingly brilliant.

This is cinema's potential to make us feel truly realized. A harrowing tale of survival, faith and perseverance.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs(2015)

Aaron Sorkin already writes the kind of dialogue that shuts you up, but that incredible dialogue paired with Danny Boyle's airtight direction and a cast of phenomenal performances makes this not only a great film but one of the best biographical dramas that I've ever seen.

A Serbian Film
½

Through the abhorrent violent and sexual content, I truly do believe that the storytellers at work are trying to say something meaningful about the industry that pornography has become. That being said, I can't, in good conscience, give this movie a higher rating than two-and-a-half stars, because of the way in which the film's shocking content borders on exploitative, rather than purposeful.

Trainwreck
Trainwreck(2015)
½

Here are all of the things that make Judd Apatow's TRAINWRECK a truly exceptional comedy: 1) All of the performances are tremendous. (Specifically from Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.) 2) The direction is fearless. Judd Apatow has never been afraid to go to genuinely dramatic places in his films, and TRAINWRECK is no exception. 3) When the script does take dramatic turns, it feels natural and accessible, unlike so many comedies that try to throw in dramatic elements as a means of giving the movie a purpose for being. This is a movie about knowing your worth; finding your worth things other than the world's gauge of success. 4) It's endlessly watchable. This is a truly entertaining film that isn't at all afraid.

To The Wonder

Much like all the rest of Terrence Malick's work, you can't slap it with labels like 'good' or 'bad'. It simply exists for whatever purpose find in it. It's a movie about love, and the difference the vice of lust and the joy of love. No, there's no narrative strength, but Malick is a non-narrative filmmaker. He doesn't tell stories, he writes poetry, and the only way he knows to do it is with images.

The casual movie viewer isn't any less intelligent or perceptive for not enjoying this movie. I know plenty of fellow filmmakers that don't care for Terrence Malick's work, but, if you have the time, and you're willing to pick things apart, than you'll, at the very least, be compelled by TO THE WONDER.

Midnight Special

Jeff Nichols is a master at putting raw, American exteriors on the big screen with a romantic, filmic quality, and this wonderous little genre thriller is no exception. The film feels as if someone combined Spielberg's E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL with an art house-superhero hybrid. This is a bizarre, Frankenstein-esque concoction that is sweet, emotional, exciting, and incredibly brilliant.

Zootopia
Zootopia(2016)
½

I disagree with the political inclination of the film, but wow! What a script this is! The writing is tremendous.

Suicide Squad
½

Unfortunately, this is a case where, for me, the critics got it right.

I'm in the camp of really wanting the DC Comics films to be good. I liked (not loved) MAN OF STEEL, and, upon a second viewing, I enjoyed BATMAN V SUPERMAN. However, for all my gripes with the previous two films, they both were paced well, to say the least. This may be the most poorly paced comic book film I've seen in recent years.

This feels like an incomplete film to me. For instance, when Dead Shot refuses to kill Harley Quinn, even when his daughter's security, as well as his own freedom, are on the line. That makes no sense in the overall structure of the film, because Ayer hasn't shown us any developing chemistry between them. We have no reason whatsoever to care about anyone in the story. This feels like a rushed film; a film where the writers were given a checklist of things to introduce to the cinematic universe with little regard for character and story.

I'm sorry to say, I really didn't enjoy this movie at all. In my rating I did give it one-and-a-half stars, and that's because some of the action is strong, and the performances are all solid across the board.

City of Life and Death

A flawless and paralyzing film that manages to examine the true horror of war and just how dark humanity can be without being insensitive or exploitative as lesser filmmakers would have been. An absolutely brilliant film!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Though it isn't the film that I had expected, for better or for worse, this is still a strong film in many ways. Zack Snyder has only dug his heals deeper into this DC Universe since MAN OF STEEL, and things are looking even better.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)

Say what you will about the always controversial transition from paper to celluloid, but this is a masterful piece of visual storytelling. Snyder is a brilliant composer of images and less a proprietor of character work, and that fact is generally what deters me from his work, his stunningly strong re-adaptation of DAWN OF THE DEAD notwithstanding. However, WATCHMEN has the added benefit of being based on one of the great literary works of all time, as well as an astounding cultural study and a study of human nature, using superheroes as the catalyst for that.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)
½

Oddly enough, my opinion on the Warner Bros and Zack Snyder DC universe films have changed quite a bit. I recently revisited BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, and I enjoyed it significantly more, which has caused me to reconsider many of the things I disliked about Snyder's previous caped outing, the wild and epic (albeit somber) Superman tale, MAN OF STEEL.

Although it contours to a lot of my generations blockbuster tropes, such as enormous explosions and a climax that involves an alarmingly casual and brutal desolation of a city, MAN OF STEEL has a lot of story. What it lacks in character, it makes up for in complexity of story, and sheer movie spectacle.

My generation has had an adverse reaction to the new wave of movie magic. When I think of movie magic, I think of innovators like Spielberg, Zemeckis and Lucas on a practical set with real effects and real costumes. This upcoming generation thinks of artists like Joss Whedon, Michael Bay and Zack Snyder on a mixture of

Baskin
Baskin(2016)

Perfect horror filmmaking; a strong devotion to tone, and a wide range of methods to scare the audience. Can Evrenol is clearly a genius, and he refuses to paint his characters into a conventional narrative.

No doubt, this is a divisive film. It has a lot of ideas that don't gel with the casual horror audience. The visual style, for instance; there's a poetry in the way that scenes are lit and shot. Specifically in the recurring color scheme of harsh oranges and reds, and light blues. Also, the script isn't very typical, being that many of the characters have undefined arcs, which is fine, because this is a movie devoted to story and theme.

Cleanflix
Cleanflix(2009)

A fascinating documentary on a subject that I'm quite passionate about. The lines between safe censorship and altering an artist's vision is a thin one, and Cleanflix was a company that floundered on the side of altering an artist's vision, especially when that vision incurs realities of the world we live in. I'm a nondenominational Christian, and we're told in the Bible to be in the world, yet not of the world. Part of being in the world is be able to confront the horrors, alongside the beauty.

Traffic
Traffic(2000)

One of the great achievements of American filmmaking. TRAFFIC is a deftly directed, brilliantly edited, startling portrayal of a vicious epidemic in the world, and the multiple levels of society that it directly effects.

Men in Black
Men in Black(1997)
½

A perfect hybrid of sci-fi, action and dry, deadpan comedy. What makes this movie genius is the fact that it's shot and directed in such a way that it could stand as a serious sci-fi mystery without the comedy; the hilarious comedy is simply a bonus. Barry Sonnenfeld is a genius.

The Host
The Host(2007)

As perfect a horror-comedy as one is likely to ever see.

The Count of Monte Cristo

With a scenery-chewing villainous performance by the wonderfully talented Guy Pearce, as well as some gorgeous production design, and enough swashbuckling sword fighting and foot chasing to satisfy moviegoers, this is an overall success.

It's, at times, unfocused, but Kevin Reynolds' THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO always has its heart in the right place, and it never stops paying respect to its source material. An at-times great, and consistently enjoyable adventure. Check it out!

Safe House
Safe House(2012)

A great cat-and-mouse thriller with two terrific leads who have great chemistry. It also has one of the grittiest and most convincing fist fights I've ever seen.

That being said, it's still forgettable. You get this feeling as you're watching it that you've seen this movie before, and chances are you have. Still, it's a fun watch.

Friday the 13th Part 3
½

I have plenty of defenses for the first two films, but I have difficulty with this one. However, if you're looking for a fun, goofy movie to talk at with your buddies than look no further.

Friday the 13th Part 2

It may not have the nostalgic charm of its predecessor, but FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART 2 is a perfectly fine and acceptable horror flick with fun to spare. The performances are better than the previous movie, and the scares are more efficient. Also, Steve Miner is a tremendous filmmaker with a talent for building tension. I watched this film thirty-five years after its original theatrical release, and even so I was very entertained and even scared at times.

Halloween
Halloween(2007)
½

I didn't want to like this movie because of its senseless brutal violence, mountains of gore, and, at times, nonsensical screenplay, but the direction and cinematography are just too fantastic.

The Amazing Mr. X
½

THE AMAZING MR. X is a consistent, suspenseful, and visually stunning piece of lost cinema. This was a very pleasant surprise.

Bloodlust
Bloodlust(1961)

Bafflingly silly in its adaptation of one of the great stories of all time, and absurd in its characterizations, but, at the end of the day, it's all charming and harmless. This is a movie that has something to say and do, and it accomplished both as it flounders admirably. I enjoyed myself with this admittedly ridiculous B-movie classic.

The Bourne Identity

Though it pales in comparison to its sequels, this is still a tremendous piece of action filmmaking that doesn't skimp on story.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Quite simply, a perfect action film. There are only a few in American cinema, but Paul Greengrass made one. This movie moves at a breakneck pace, and you don't mind one bit, because Greengrass has earned every ounce of our attention and respect.

Lincoln
Lincoln(2012)

In contemporary cinema, there are two types of movie magic: 1) The fantasy and adventure of escapism. 2) Transporting an audience to the past, and re-creating history. Steven Spielberg has redefined both of these breeds of movie magic in the past thirty years of moviemaking.

Spielberg's LINCOLN shines as a strong example of the latter. It's a pure, breezy, well-paced example of an excellent director telling a story excellently.

Also, how could I not mention the acting, which is almost inarguably the best aspect of the movie. Lee Pace, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Sally Field, (briefly) David Oyelowo, and David Straithairn all give brilliant performances, but it goes without saying that one stands out above the rest: Daniel Day-Lewis. He gives a performance so striking and compelling that it will surely stand the test of time as a towering landmark, much like the figure he portrays with such quiet humility and excellent pacing.

Simply put, this is a masterpiece.

House of 1000 Corpses
½

Derivative as it may be, this is a crazy adrenaline rush of a slasher flick that stands out among the crowd. Not for its storytelling necessarily, but for Rob Zombie's love and devotion to strong horror stories, as well as Sid Haig's breathtaking, scenery-chewing turn as the maniacal Captain Spaulding. This is a fun splatter fest from the word 'go'.

Mud
Mud(2013)

This is southern dramatic crime lore at its best! Jeff Nichols has created something truly special here. Something I really enjoyed about Nichols' 2007 film "Shotgun Stories" was the concept of stillness interrupted. Jeff Nichols takes that concept and plays it on a crime drama. That was enough to have me sold right away. There are solid performances all across the board, namely from the young Tye Sheridan and the powerful leading man Matthew McConaughey. This film also has some really beautiful cinematography, perfect pacing and some emotional complexity evoked by both the performances and the compelling directing. One of the best of 2013 thus far!

Kill Bill: Volume 2
½

It doesn't quite satisfy the blood lust some may have had after the barrage of action and chaos in the first film, but it certainly has plenty of solid action, and quintessential Tarantino dialogue to go around. This movie is spectacular!

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

A remarkable comedy masterpiece with many of the greatest names in Hollywood of all time all packed into one coked up, mish-mash of an epic that never loses steam and never falls apart.

Stanley Kramer, a man not known for comedy, directed this film with a real, tangible commitment to making it the most zany and crazy comedy epic of all time. It has everyone from Sid Caeser to Mickey Rooney; Buster Keaton to Ethel Merman, and even briefly the Three Stooges.

This film couldn't possibly happen in a Hollywood landscape like the one that exists today. It's a reflection of a time when comedians came together in the name of comedy, for the sake of helping people forget all of their problems for a couple hours.

Hardcore Henry

For depth of character, you'd best look elsewhere. However, for an involving plot, a bonkers character performance by the great Sharlto Copley, and some tremendous action set pieces, this is nirvana.

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver(1976)

The greatest American character study ever shown on the silver screen. "Taxi Driver" cemented Scorsese in my mind as not only one of the best American filmmakers in the history of cinema, but also my personal favorite artist currently living.

Robert De Niro brings to life a deep and fascinating character crafted in a breathtaking script by the great Paul Schrader.

Travis Bickle is the most fascinating character I've seen in American filmmaking, because he deceived me like no one else had. He has a deep yearning and loneliness that I believe all viewers will understand, but it's the way he betrays the viewer's trust that sets him apart from the psyche of the average moviegoer. He has the chance to do something meaningful that he wasn't given the chance to truly do in Vietnam yet he chooses the path of violence and death.

Martin Scorsese's direction is light and jazzy, similar to his masterpiece "Mean Streets", and different from the rigidity in structure found in films like "GoodFellas" and "The Departed". It's a film with dark and probing themes dealing with a man's search for intimacy and purpose, but is crafted with an airy sensitivity that is matched by the authenticity of De Niro's earth-shattering performance.

Also, the musical contribution by the great Bernard Hermann can't at all be understated. His scoring in this film IS New York City. The difference is that this music doesn't carry the optimism we hear in other New York films. Hermann's music is the seedy, dicey, ugly underbelly of New York that Scorsese wants you to see.

I could gush about this masterwork of cinematic ingenuity and invention all day, but sadly I must find a way to sum things up. In a word, "Taxi Driver" is magic. It's trickery and illusion; it meshes the real with the unreal; the spiritual with the physical. It touches on so many things from true love versus faux intimacy to justice versus violence. This is my favorite of all time, and, in my opinion, a perfectly directed film. If you haven't, stop what you're doing and watch this movie.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
½

Sound storytelling be damned! This is a cartoon come to brash, uneven life, which is exactly what they should have been aiming for this whole time.

As a longtime fan of the Turtles, I've seen everyone try to take TMNT, and make it a crossover hit; something for adults and kids alike. It's not. The Ninja Turtles are a children's property, plain and simple, and this goofy adventure embraces that.

Captain America: Civil War

This is excellent filmmaking that is fun, expertly-written, and viscerally directed with an intense devotion to character. Simply put, this epic work of movie magic makes you laugh, cry, and, unlike another superhero epic that pitted hero-against-hero, care; this movie makes you care.

X-Men: Apocalypse

In a nutshell: underwhelming. This is a solid superhero epic with far more good than bad, but this feels less like a product of Bryan Singer's creative genius, and more a studio product of the previous film.

Independence Day: Resurgence

I'd like to start this review by saying that this is a better sci-fi epic than I could ever make. However, this is one of the most lazily written films I've seen in some time.

There's an unbelievable amount of wasted screentime in this movie. For instance, the character portrayed by Nicolas Wright is entirely pointless, which would be forgivable if his character added something to the story or provided comic relief, but his role is entirely pointless and drained of all relevance or charm.

Unfortunately, the same could be said for Judd Hirsch's character, and that really hurts. I love Judd Hirsch, and I thought he gave a tremendous character performance in the first movie. Every time his character came on screen, I cared less and less, and therein lies this movie's problem: it's too dense. There's just too much happening at one time, and they give us no time to care about any of it.

Say what you will about the original INDEPENDENCE DAY, but last time Roland Emmerich gave us twenty-five minutes to meet our characters and come to care about them even a little bit. You didn't care about all the exposition though, because it was all charming and fun. Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum were phenomenal, and all of the supporting cast appeared to be trying.

My point is that, for all the chaos and destruction that rains from the sky in the first movie, Emmerich earns it all by inhabiting the set pieces with strong characters.

I.D.: RESURGENCE is populated almost entirely by disposable and empty characters. They try hard to make you care about Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe, and not even a little bit with Jessie Usher.

There are two people in this movie that we care about, despite strong work by Hemsworth, Monroe and Usher, and that's Bill Pullman as President Whitmore and Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson. That's all. One of which comes to a very unsatisfying, unceremonious end in an abrupt, ugly way that is totally mishandled.

Roland Emmerich lit up my imagination as a kid when I saw INDEPENDENCE DAY, and again with THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. However, he let me down this time. That's not to say that it all can't be redeemed with yet another sequel, which is sure to come some day!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

A fantastic coming-of-age movie with a big heart, big aspirations, and an airtight script. However, the core of this movie is what got me: the message. Similar to the leading character (played with great acting prowess by Thomas Mann), this is a movie that starts out trying to be cold and cynical, but eventually morphs into a tender story about the importance of community and having the backs of those you love.

99 Homes
99 Homes(2015)

I'm confused by the reaction to the performances in this film. People have been pinpointing Michael Shannon as the standout, but I feel wholeheartedly that Andrew Garfield is unquestionably brilliant in this film. He's one of the most subtly brilliant actors I've seen, and he's out in full force here.

10 Cloverfield Lane
½

A tremendously paced, stunningly directed contained thriller that brims with tension and suspense. David Trachtenberg has an extremely promising career ahead of him.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., and, in my opinion, especially John Goodman all give great performances as well.

To call this movie a pleasent surprise would be a disservice. This movie was spectacular!

Death Sentence
½

I can hardly think of tale this well-told that is also this hopeless and cynical. Wow. What a tragedy of a viewing experience. The only finer point of the film is the tight and focused direction from James Wan.

The Conjuring 2
½

It isn't quite the masterpiece that the first film is, but I'll be darned if this isn't a great horror flick. James Wan has delivered yet another spectacularly entertaining haunted house movie.

Two things impressed me most about this brilliant film: (1) The core of faith and hope, brought to the table by the tremendous writing duo, the Hayes Brothers. (2) Genuinely interesting characters to populate the horror set pieces.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson gave a great pair of performances.

Mr. Holland's Opus
½

A touching and beautiful piece of genuinely well-directed storytelling with an outstanding performance by Richard Dreyfuss.

Hugo
Hugo(2011)

If ever there were a film that makes me want to make films, it's Martin Scorsese's masterpiece HUGO. The combination of top-of-the-line visual effects with the soulful tribute to where film has been brought a tear to my eye.

Scorsese is one of the few "old breed" American filmmakers left in the world, and I would argue that he's the very best in the world. His films typically pull from a certain vein: purely American. His films are about American culture, history, ideals, misgivings, blunders, etc. This is a universal picture that seeks to do one thing: make the kind of cinematic magic act that the great Mà (C)liès would have made himself, had he been given the technology we have now.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)

Is it all a gimmick? Possibly. Does that make it any less charming? No chance.

This is a thrilling and endlessly charming homage to the glory days of movie stars and red carpets; before tabloids and TMZ.

Calvary
Calvary(2014)

A deft, thought-provoking drama that explores the authority and power of God with the eventuality of death. Great movie with crisp, paced direction and a stunning performance by the great Brendan Gleeson.

Raising Arizona

Easily, the most manic of the Coen brothers comedies. This brilliantly written, irreverently acted, and ingeniously directed comedy is a major win from start to finish.

Men in Black II
½

Despite the poor reception, this is a solid continuation of MEN IN BLACK with all of the deadpan humor, sci-fi excitement, action-packed set pieces and fantastic chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones that made the original great.

The Soloist
The Soloist(2009)
½

There are some wonky shifts in tone, the major one being the flashbacks to Nathaniel's younger life, but they don't at all distract from the brilliant acting at large in the film.

Joe Wright is a visionary director, which tends to cultivate most notably in his work in the form of two distinct things: gorgeous visuals and brilliant performances. Now, in some instances, that can distract from the actual message, but not here.

Moonrise Kingdom

Without question, one of my favorite films of all time. Wes Anderson is one of the few filmmakers left that has a style all his own, yet he's still telling stories with purpose and style that keeps the viewing experience purely cinematic and interesting.

The cast has an extensive pedigree, the script is precocious and sharply witty, and Wes Anderson's devotion to a universally deadpan tone, color, symmetry and pattern is inspiring. This is a movie all about the feeling of falling in love, whether it be fresh or time tested, and it's beautiful from start to finish.

Clearly from the schools of both Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick, this feels like Anderson truly hitting his creative stride. Most would say that he came into his own with THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS or maybe RUSHMORE, but this one stands out because the style is consistent and bright without deviation.

Overall, if you've not seen it yet, see this film. MOONRISE KINGDOM is one of the finest American movies of the decade thus far.

The Poker House

It feels to me like assembled bits of other stories. All of them compelling on their own, but none of them quite gelling as a singular narrative.

Dope
Dope(2015)

I haven't seen a coming-of-age film with this level of individuality and uniqueness in some time. The pace is breezy, the cinematography is clean and bright, the direction is fun and just on the fringes enough to qualify as escapist, and the soundtrack is downright infectious.

Despite being morally inept at times, this is a solid movie.

The Good Dinosaur
½

A colder Pixar film, which was quite disconcerting. This is a film that is screaming to be a layered work, but it sees the lowest form of Pixar's means of engagement: objective sadness. They try to make you sad, not make you care.

That's not a knock against the filmmakers, because this is a project that's had problems from the jump, but it is a knock against the product they created.

However, people seem to enjoy it, and I did enjoy bits of the film. I'm glad people like it; I just didn't enjoy this one. Maybe it's because it was following INSIDE OUT, arguably the best animated film of my generation.

God's Not Dead

I don't just dislike this movie as a filmmaker and a fan of good movies, but also as a follower of Jesus Christ. This is not at all an accurate representation of a healthy debate on the eternal in any way shape or form. Immediately the filmmakers alienate or otherwise unplug the audience that they're trying to debate with by demonizing atheists as being universally bullies.

The fact is that the filmmakers were far more concerned with cramming shallow perspectives on socially-relevant issues than making us care about what's happening or who it's happening to. Oh, and also, if you aren't a fan of Newsboys or Duck Dynasty than sorry, because they may as well have given A&E and the Newsboys marketing team top billing for their multiple ham-fisted product placements and cameos.

This is a film devoid of integrity, as well as a basic understanding of the Scriptures it clearly thinks that it holds so dear. We're told in the Bible that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood." (Ephesians 6:12) Whereas this film and it's filmmakers are more concerned with winning an argument than spreading the gospel. America doesn't hate God, it hates politicized Christian media, and this movie has done nothing to help.

It gets one star for the only noteworthy performances: Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain.

Insidious: Chapter 3

A surprisingly strong performance by the young Stefanie Scott.

Jupiter Ascending

A trees-over-forest film I've ever seen one, but a delightfully escapist one at that. This is a movie that is so caught up in pontificating on its own subtext that it doesn't quite concern itself with telling a strong narrative story with characters that we care about. Though I feel that this material would've served better as a television series or miniseries rather than a movie, this is still a fun and compelling journey from the Wachowski brothers.

The film's largest detriment is Mila Kunis, however. She's a wonderful actress and a delightful human being, I'm sure, but in this role she not only doesn't seem to care, but she really doesn't even seem to be trying. In her defense, though, her character isn't exactly ripe.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

A long time ago in a neighborhood smack dab in the middle of Kansas there was a little boy whose dreams and imagination were brought to life in the form of four VHS tapes: "A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back," "Return of the Jedi," and "The Phantom Menace." These four films shaped the way he looked at creative thinking, art, imagination, and the allegorical link between the spiritual and the physical in the form of an epic space opera that is akin to Homer's "Iliad."

J.J. Abrams continues that tradition set in motion twenty years before I was born by George Lucas. He does the saga justice, and never tramples on the hearts of the die hard fans. He has truly done the fans proud with this terrific piece of pure fantasy and imagination. "The Force Awakens" is the most imaginative and spectacular yet emotionally intimate and engrossing film I've had the pleasure of seeing all year.

Let's begin with the new cast: John Boyega as the flawed Finn, Daisy Ridley as the yearning Rey, Adam Driver as the determined villain Kylo Ren, and Oscar Isaac as the "best friggin' pilot in the galaxy" Poe Dameron. All of these people gave it their all, and all of these people will go on to be legends in the same ranks as the iconic returning cast Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fischer. The cast performed beautifully and they brought this gorgeous story of adventure to life in a big, big way.

Overall, this movie expands the mythology, presents classic ideas with new characters, and brings to life an adventure unlike any other. "The Force Awakens", I can confidently say, is my favorite of the Star Wars films since "The Empire Strikes Back".

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas(2012)

This is a visual poem. It's a poem all about the consequences of the choices we make in life, and how all those choices have a ripple effect; the things we say and do in this life leave marks, invisible ones. This may be neck-and-neck with THE MATRIX for my favorite Wachowski film.

Even if you aren't a fan of the heady themes that are being thrown at you in this movie, this is a film worth seeing purely for the reason that there will never be another movie like it in this lifetime. I liken it to Tarsem Singh's THE FALL, another masterpiece in its own rite. It was a film that not many understood or cared to understand, but those who did were inspired to make more and more meaningful art as a result of the film's inspiration.

That's the weight this movie carries: if nothing else, it will make you want to add something to the culture at large. I want to make something for the service of others (1 Peter 4:10) after seeing a movie like this.

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)

As a believer, this is one of the finest cinematic achievements of all time. Never before has a genre narrative more beautifully paralleled the path of the Christian faith: Neo inquires about the truth (making missteps along the way), sees the truth, accepts that truth, and is freed from the burden of ignorance; he's shown a higher enlightenment within and without the world that he currently lives.

Breathtaking action, gorgeous cinematography, palpable tension, a classic performance by Laurence Fishburne, and a wonderfully epic exercise in cinematic spectacle. The Wachowski brothers crafted one of the greatest American films of the past century, and it's a marvel to witness, enlightened or otherwise.

The Matrix Reloaded

I understand the backlash that many fans have had for the film since it's initial release. It was the first time we'd seen the Wachowski brothers really delve into their craft in a way where they were essentially told: "Do whatever you want." Therefore, we saw the methodical and philosophical nature of what would eventually become their style come about.

Bottom line, whether you completely understand the themes that this film carries or not, this is a breathtaking visual achievement. It's packed with exciting action, including one of the very best car chase sequences that I've ever seen, and a gaggle of new content to build a universe on.

Jurassic World

This movie has been called by two sources an "uncritiqueable" movie. I think they're right, and that's the real beauty of it. Colin Trevorrow made a film with the sole purpose of capturing people's imagination, and providing a perfect experience in escapism.

JURASSIC WORLD is big, noisy fun at the movies with something to say about business ethics, and what we as human beings do and do not have the right to do. Once again in Steven Spielberg's JURASSIC PARK series, we see the consequences of when man tries to play God.

This is a fun action movie that isn't trying to do anything other than be a fun action movie with truly fantastic direction from an up-and-coming director with amazing talent.

One Body Too Many

A spooky and charming, worthwhile horror-comedy with some cool, gothic imagery and a very funny performance from Jack Haley. However, masterful character actor Bela Lugosi felt a little underused.

Inside Out
Inside Out(2015)

This is the best animated film that's come out as long as I've been alive. It carries itself very well, and it has something meaningful to say.

"Inside Out" opens up a conversation between parents and children, and it assists in kids' understanding of bad days, and how it's okay to have them. This is an important film.

Deadpool
Deadpool(2016)
½

It's fun filmmaking, but this one just isn't for me.

Spotlight
Spotlight(2015)

This isn't just one of the best films of the year, this is the best film about hard-hitting journalism since "All the President's Men".

With Tom McCarthy at the helm, a stellar cast (spearheaded by Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, and Mark Ruffalo), and an airtight script, all the elements for a good movie are there. However, "Spotlight" won't settle for just good. This is a great story that deserves to be told greatly and so it is.

There are tricky themes and taboo subject matter at play that will no doubt rattle the overly-sensitive, but nevertheless this is a film that dives deep into the system and turns it inside out with razor sharp claws and a clear focus on exposing the truth. I may not agree with many journalistic practices, but this goes beyond simple journalism. It's about exposing false teachers and purging the church of God of a deep unrighteousness.

This is the kind of timely, acutely detail-oriented, and sharply directed work of art that a society attempting to divide itself from art that asks the hard questions needs. This is an important film.

Days of Heaven

Simply put, Terrence Malick directed the most beautifully shot romance melodrama of all time and here it is.

The New World

Visually moving and powerfully acted (this is the first time I've ever bought the relationship between John Smith and Pocahontas), but ultimately not quite at home in Malick's style. This feels like someone trying to turn a commercial film into a Malick picture. However, a Malick picture hidden under thin layers of convention is still a Malick picture, and this one is still spectacular.

The Tree of Life
½

I won't give this film a full five stars, because, in my opinion, Malick is misguided on his perceptions of where the distinct morality and conscience that humans feel comes from, but I will come close, because this is an unconventional stroke of genius from a truly visionary auteur filmmaker.

Sean Penn, whose character I'm still deciphering, once said this story could have worked as a more "conventional" narrative. Not to argue with a man who clearly knows more about Malick than myself, but I disagree. This is a film founded on the memories of a child who grew up. It's about the human condition, and we don't remember things as a straightforward narrative; everything is remembered as a series of singular moments or events, and that's what this movie is: a series of moments that all communicate an idea.

Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the unbelievably gorgeous visuals from Emmanuel Lubezki, arguably the greatest cinematographer living, as well as the brilliant work by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

Facing the Giants

A lesser film, in my opinion, than its predecessor, "Fly Wheel," but still an inspiring production nonetheless. I have nothing but respect for the total devotion that the Kendrick brothers have for their films. They truly have followed God's call, and are creating films they're proud of.

Fly Wheel
Fly Wheel(2003)

First off, I'd like to say that, for such an amateur production (not meant as an insult being as I'm an amateur myself), this is a smoothly directed film. They don't try to take on too much with their premise, and they never try to compensate for the lack of funds. It's a noble production that is intended 100% to inspire and uplift with the life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Also, I must say that Alex Kendrick gave the best performance I've seen from him.

This is a charming, simple, uplifting, passionately made piece of faith-based filmmaking that doesn't ever pretend to be more than it is. "Fly Wheel" is a wonderful little indie.

The Thin Red Line

Terrence Malick's films are what I like to call "free range" in that they don't fit into a mold or a model. They are visual poetry with something deeply spiritual to say. There's a blissful lack of cohesiveness in his work; they move like poems rather than typical narrative stories.

THE THIN RED LINE is his best film, in my opinion. He does something in this film that no other war story has been brave enough to do: he values feeling above history. This isn't a war film, because a war film is about the war itself; this is a film about what the human condition looks like in the midst of war.

There isn't any moral high ground in this film, because, I believe, that Malick has taken the stance that there is no moral high ground in war, there is only the taking of life; there is only destruction and death, not life and love. Malick's interpretation of THE THIN RED LINE is as morally ambiguous a World War II film as you are likely to ever see.

Being a believer, I feel that our war mongering society has destroyed itself and attempted to destroy the godly principals that this nation was founded on. War used to be a last resort to protect people from harm or a greater evil, not a means of displaying power. It's nice to see that Mr. Malick feels the same way.

Simply put, this is a masterpiece that rivals war films the world over.

Touch of Evil
½

This is the most visually arresting film noir I've ever seen. Everything about the direction and visuals of this film are far ahead of its time.

Creed
Creed(2015)
½

Anyone who watches this film and doesn't feel anything has something terribly wrong with them. Not only is this a phenomenally inspiring sports film and a wonderful addition to the Rocky franchise, but this is an extremely tight film. Ryan Coogler is a brilliant filmmaker, and he never gives into the temptation of the paycheck. This entire film feels like a labor of love. I was a fan of "Fruitvale Station," and so I was locked in right off the bat. This is a film that doesn't carry the weight of "Fruitvale Station," but I will argue with anyone who says that this isn't a better film.

The Night of the Hunter

When you watch a film directed by a Welles or a Hitchcock, you know that you're about to see a great film. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is a very different story. This is a first-time director, child actors, a scenery-chewing villain, pre-established source material, and a backwoods setting. In many cases throughout film history these elements have amounted to something strange or just downright repugnant. Not here. Here, the combined efforts of the great Charles Laughton, the great Robert Mitchum, and the great Stanley Cortez all add up to a film so good that it's difficult to compliment it without simply regurgitating what other, more qualified people have already said before.

Simply put, if you're an aspiring filmmaker looking to direct a thriller or a suspense tale, don't look to books or articles or pontification, but rather seek out two things as the models for how to properly tell a suspense story: the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and the film (singular) of Charles Laughton. This is a film so dark and strange that the whole affair's overall mystery rivals even that of its own antagonist. See it.

Miracle
Miracle(2004)
½

Not just a fine sports movie, but a sharply edited, finely tuned, highly formulaic yet entertaining, and so well-acted that it's hard to believe that it shares a list with many other sports movies. This is a great film all the way around. Also, the sound design by Elliot Koretz, and leading performance by Kurt Russell are both magical. I have little to no complaints about this wonderously inspiring little charmer.

The Shining
The Shining(1980)

Stanley Kubrick was a man with a fine-tuned sensibility. There's no happenstance in a Kubrick film, everything is deliberate, and "The Shining" is as fine-tuned a film as Kubrick ever made.

Horror films generally have an easy pace and predictable progression, but Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" throws all that out the window. Nothing about this macabre masterpiece is conventional. This isn't anymore a conventional horror film than "2001: A Space Odyssey" is a conventional science fiction film.

From the opening frames of the film we're greeted with some amazing visuals from the iconic, late John Alcott who set a whole new standard for the establishing shot.

Ruby Sparks
Ruby Sparks(2012)

A masterful piece of filmmaking that explores the difference between one being alone and being lonely. It's not exactly fun at times, but this movie's dark sense of humor, paired with an airtight script makes for a beautiful and ingenious piece of movie magic.

Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan's touching and unconventional chemistry makes this movie standout from the crowd, which is why it's an absolute crime that this movie is so underrated. This pairing will forever be one of my favorite on-screen couples, imaginary or not.

But easily the best part of this film is the script. From the creative premise to the pitch-perfect dialogue, this is a perfect storm of indie cinema gold.

A masterpiece. Touching, beautiful, hilarious, and oddly haunting. This is a near perfect movie. Criminally underrated.

Lean on Me
Lean on Me(1989)
½

Morgan Freeman's performance is nothing short of spectacular, but Avildsen's portrayal of Eastside High School's actual day-to-day feels so over-the-top that it hurts any impact it may have. It's a well-intentioned social issue drama with its heart in the right place, and plenty of uplift and inspiration to go around.

Red Dawn
Red Dawn(1984)
½

It's not one of my favorite classic action films, and I don't much care for the episodic pacing, but John Milius directed this movie with such sure handedness that it's hard not to crack a smile.

Great action sequences that actually feel dangerous, an A-list cast of '80s heartthrobs, and a talented director at the helm. What's not to like?

Glory Road
Glory Road(2006)

Formulaic as it may be, this rousing, inspiring sports movie is powered by strong direction from James Garner, a driven leading performance by Josh Lucas, and an uplifting subtext about overcoming racism and hatred in the name of love and equality.

Kiki's Delivery Service

Another masterwork from Hayao Miyazaki. What more is there to say? Miyazaki is a filmmaker for all time. None of his films inhabit a single time or space, they transcend time, and exist as pure movie magic. Not too mention they're also visually wondrous from the word 'go'.

Castle in the Sky

I recently first encountered Hayao Miyazak with his masterwork "Spirited Away," and I was blown away by the pure imagination and genius of his work.

Nothing possibly could've prepared me for the stroke of genius that was to come when I first watched "Castle In the Sky." This isn't just the very best of his work that I've seen, it's one of the very best animated films ever made.

The Godfather, Part III

It falls short of the cinematic heights of its predecessors, but it's still truly entertaining. However, that's where "The Godfather: Part III" ceases being great. Where the original two films are nothing short of perfection, this one is satisfied to simply be a very well-made, highly entertaining film. I can think of several other crime dramas off the top of my head that are better than this movie. That isn't how I should feel after seeing a Coppola directed "Godfather" film.

However, I must say that Andy Garcia does the best work of his career, and that sequence in the opera house is genuinely great cinema.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This film gave me a feeling that few films have in recent years: a feeling of awe. As of right now, this movie is ninety-three years old, and it hasn't lost a single step.

Silent films are known for their lack of subtlety, but this masterpiece's two leading performances by Lon Chaney Sr. and Patsy Ruth Miller show surprising restraint.

The Losers
The Losers(2010)
½

Sylvain White directs this movie with a lot of flash and appreciation for over-the-top cheese, but he also gets a lot of charisma and chemistry from his leads while creating a handful of fantastic action scenes.

Marvel's The Avengers

This is the quintessential comic book movie, being as the majority comic book fans didn't think it would ever happen. And now that it has, it has become an instant classic. It's a piece of filmmaking that strives to capture the imagination, nothing more or less, and it does that with a flawless ease.

Joss Whedon has made something thoroughly impressive here. Not only is it a fun summer blockbuster, it's just a genuinely well made film. This is our generation's "Star Wars," because it's a talented filmmaker working with rich and creative source material, unbelievable visual effects, an all-star cast, and a consistently fun and exciting atmosphere.

I couldn't have possibly enjoyed this movie more. It's one of the best summer movies I've ever seen!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed with clarity and attention to detail, this may just be the most mature chapter in the Marvel cinematic universe thus far, even though it isn't necessarily my favorite. I also wish that Bay would pay attention to the way the Russo brothers stage this movie's action. Long takes, no quick cutting, CGI only when it's necessary, and a clear sense of urgency. This is some of the most skillfully staged and filmed action I've seen in quite a while from an American studio film. A great ride that's loads of fun, and further states that superhero movies are more than just a gimmick now.

Once Upon a Time in America

Here we have a gangster film, second only to The Godfather, that goes beyond the realms of a typical crime epic. It moves beyond crime and explores the violence and greed within people rather than actions. Sergio Leone is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and here we see him in top form. The editing is razor sharp, the performances are near flawless, the cinematography is some of the most beautiful ever committed to film, and the direction is ambitious and bold. I couldn't possibly have loved this film more.

The Godfather

This isn't just a saga of an American crime family, it's the transformation of a single human being: Michael Corleone, played perfectly by Al Pacino. "The Godfather" is a story about the corruption of a single human being, and all the lives that it touches. Epic in scope and scale, perfect in execution, and intimate in character and story.

Simply put, this is the greatest film in the history of American cinema.

The Godfather, Part II

It mirrors the original in a few ways, but it never duplicates it. With "The Godfather Part II" we excel beyond the story of the original film. Though, in my opinion, we never quite reach the cinematic heights.

Night of the Living Dead

Is there anything I could possibly think to say about Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" that hasn't already been said by someone more eloquent? Probably not.

See it. If you haven't seen it, stop putting it off. If you have seen it, see it again.

The Monster Maker

A fun and accessible classic monster movie with great performances, and wonderful make-up effects. It's simple, shallow, goofy, and absurd, but also very entertaining.

Everly
Everly(2015)

This should be the standard format for all shoot-'em-up action movies: Sure handed direction, involving characters, and very smoothly shot action sequences. I really can't quite grasp the hate this movie is getting. This is a stunningly well-made action film from a very talented director with a bright future ahead of him.

House On Haunted Hill
½

Short of a side character or two, this film doesn't have an ounce of fat. The iconic horror mastery of William Castle shines through to brilliant effect, and it still scares and thrills to this very day, 62 years later.

An American Werewolf in London

As flawless as a movie about werewolves and nightmare Nazi zombies could be! The characters feel less developed than I would like, but who cares? Its hilarious, its scary, Rick Baker's amazing make-up effects still hold up, the chemistry between David and undead Jack is great, and John Landis' direction is just as brilliant and darkly funny all these years later. The perfect monster movie!

Spy Kids
Spy Kids(2001)
½

Pure imagination and fun. Robert Rodriguez has proven that it isn't impossible to make a good special effects-heavy movie on a relatively small budget.

Nightmare Castle (Gli Amanti d'oltretomba)(Lovers Beyond the Tomb)(The Faceless Monster)
½

More can be said for the film's score and cinematography, and Italian star Barbara Steele's wonderful duel role as the disgruntled ghost wife and twin sister than anything else in the film. Mostly because of the lack of subtlety in the script---the kind of script in which the writer will quite literally spell out plot elements. It's a good thing that those plot elements are intriguing and entertaining.

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

It isn't as focused as its predecessor, but it is certainly an exciting and fun family film.

Tommy Boy
Tommy Boy(1995)

Is this stupid? You bet! Did I laugh non-stop the whole way through? Absolutely.

Black Hawk Down
½

What it lacks in subtlety, "Black Hawk Down" more than makes up for in bracing combat and high octane filmmaking from a true master.

Unknown
Unknown(2011)
½

So, the plot twist doesn't quite tie up the loose ends like I would've liked, and there are moments of absurdity, but that's fine, because this is a film with sure-handed direction, strong performances, and a lot of well-rounded, well-directed action that was memorable and exciting.

Run All Night

It's what you expect from the pairing of Liam Neeson and Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop), and that's not exactly a bad thing.

Yeah, the action is a little jarring at times, but Neeson gives the best performance of his newly found career in action movies, and that's enough for me.

My only major issue with this movie is the tone, being as I'm not entirely sure what they were going for. There are times when it feels very slick and state-of-the-art with Common's gadgetry and the camera moves that travel around the city. But everything else in the movie tells me that it's a gritty crime thriller. From the setting to the characters to the violence. It all screams mafia movie.

Those small issues aside, it's a fun movie with good performances and cool action.

Taken 3
Taken 3(2015)

What bothers me about this movie isn't just the jarring, ugly editing or the incoherent action, but the fact that it's a rip-off of a much better movie, and I get the feeling that the writers are aware of that fact.

In 1993, Andrew Davis directed a masterful thriller that transcended genre clichà (C)s and became a multi Oscar-nominated classic that still thrills and excites people today. That movie was "The Fugitive" (based on the television series of the same title). Harrison Ford plays a man who is falsely accused of murdering his wife, and is determined to prove his innocence while simultaneously running from a manhunt police task force, led by a hard-nosed detective played by an award-winning character actor.

Sound familiar?

Immortals
Immortals(2011)

It may not have the high-minded aspirations of Tarsem Singh's previous masterpiece "The Fall," but it certainly is visually marvelous.

Mississippi Burning
½

I must, first, compliment the pure craftsmanship put into telling this story. It's a great filmmaking 1-0-1, so to speak. Packed from top to bottom with gorgeous and gritty cinematography, a great cast of leading men/women and talented character actors, a dramatic and involving story with subtext and importance, and a script that cuts you to your core. Bottom line it's great storytelling with something meaningful to say.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
½

This is the kind of movie where you really do get exactly what you would expect from a premise this ludicrous. That being said, I'd be lying if I said it isn't a fun ride. Uneven and even too strange for itself, but directed with a great deal of certainty.

People have criticized the movie's lack of character definition and total disregard for coherent storytelling, but, I mean, seriously? The movie is called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Allow me to say that one more time: the movie - the movie is called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." This is a movie that actually manages to take itself more seriously than I'd expected.

It's just serious enough to keep me involved, and more than absurd enough to make me want more. Timur Bekmambetov did a great job, and gave the material a better film than maybe it even deserved (not to insult the source material). I don't care what the critics say, this is a downright fun movie that doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't, and I respect that.

I Am Sam
I Am Sam(2001)
½

I appreciate the film's message with my whole heart: Parenting is hard no matter how intelligent you are, and it takes a strong heart and open arms to raise up a child (but it takes faith in a God greater than this earth to truly raise one right, in my opinion). However, this is a film that wallows in sentiment more than a little bit.

The color palette for the film is odd and unorthodox to a fault, and tends to muddle the experience for me, just a bit.

That being said, the combination of efforts from the director and the stellar cast on an acting front is nothing short of a marvel. Sean Penn gives one of his most transformative performances, Michelle Pfeiffer does a magnificent job expressing subtle emotions in an otherwise not-so-subtle role, and the wonderously talented Dakota Fanning gives a fantastic little performance, and manages to stand toe-to-toe with the heavyweight acting prowess of Sean Penn.

Overall, this is a performance-driven film that seems to be striving for something more; it all just felt a little bit condescending sometimes. I know this is a favorite of many people, and I truly applaud the effort from the makers of this film, because this is very treacherous territory, but it just wasn't for me. Great performances though! Some of my favorite performances in fact.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

The perfect way to end a perfect trilogy. In the tradition of the second film, this film expands on the Toy Story universe with the same ambition and creativity as the first two films. It was a shame to see the loss of John Lasseter as the director, but Lee Unkrich took up the helm with the same cinematic spirit as Lasseter's first two films. This is an amazing achievement and one of my favorite animated films of all time! Its absolutely perfect, as is per usual in the Toy Story franchise.

Spirited Away

What is there to say? I'm sad to say that this is my first experience with Hayao Miyazaki, and it may just be one of my new favorite animated films of all time.

What makes this masterpiece so fun and enchanting isn't just the beauty of the hand drawn 2D animation or even the story itself, but the fact that Miyazaki allows the story to live in a space of pure imagination. He doesn't bend over backwards to explain the universe that this tale lives in, nor does he waste a single second of screen time on anything that isn't bold and original.

Chi-Raq
Chi-Raq(2015)
½

People have been criticizing the "inconsistencies" in tone in Chi-Raq. Those people have clearly never studied Spike Lee's work before. Spiritual flaws aside, this may be one of the most potent and authentic pontifications on the subject of real world violence that I've seen in recent years.

I'd like to make something clear, if I may. Many have gone so far as to accuse Spike Lee of outright hating white people. I think that notion is ridiculous. He doesn't hate white people; he hates racism and social injustice. The difference between his films and other street level cinematic explorations of racism is that he will never beat around the bush. Spike arrives at the point and beats it into the ground with powerful images, lyrical and poetic dialogue, and commanding performances.

This is the finest work I've seen from Spike Lee since Do The Right Thing. Anyone open-minded enough to admit the faults within themselves and the system we feed needs to see this film. Simply put, I loved the message that this beautiful satire bears on it's shoulders. We all are to blame for gangland violence, because while the United States began to eat itself alive on the streets, we all just sat by and did nothing and rolled our eyes at those brave enough to step up.

This is an important film.

Force Majeure
½

A devilishly intrusive and insightful piece of family drama. It does the best thing that a relationship tale of this kind should do: It demands from the viewer. Not only does it beg the question 'what would you do in this situation?' But it also forces you to take a look at yourself, and question your own priorities.

Ruben Ã-stlund directs this movie with quiet attention to detail, and pulls top notch performances from a wonderful pair of child actors (brother-sister acting pair, Vincent and Clara Wettergren).

Gone Girl
Gone Girl(2014)

David Fincher is one of only a few filmmakers that is continuously growing as an artist.

The Intern
The Intern(2015)
½

A welcome change of pace as of late for acting titan Robert De Niro, as well as just a charming little movie from the woman who practically invented charming little comedy-dramas as we know them, Nancy Meyers.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)

James Cameron has a talent for epic filmmaking. However, this is not his best piece of storytelling. That isn't necessarily a knock on the film, in lou of the visionary effects, but it most certainly doesn't play to its benefit all the time.

If you'd like to see this type of story somewhere else, look no further than "Dances With Wolves" or Disney's "Pocahontas". But if you want to experience this kind of visual tale and visceral immersion into an unfamiliar mythology that is founded solely in cinema than it can only be James Cameron's "Avatar".

Cameron did something with this movie that no one felt was possible in the studio system the way it is. He created a mythology with no basis in any other artistic medium. "Avatar" isn't based on a comic book; it isn't based on a novel; it isn't based on a video game. This is purely from the mind and the imagination of a master filmmaker.

Overall, this isn't exactly an original piece of storytelling, but as a visceral theatrical experience, this is a great movie.

American History X

This is a powerful and condemning portrayal of the consequences of racism in a contemporary American family without resorting to overt melodrama or sentimentality to communicate. It's also lead along by an awe-inspiring lead performance by Edward Norton.

Roger Ebert complained that film plays like a series of powerful and compelling vignettes without any kind of organizing principle. I must disagree in that the film's themes and narrative purpose are the string that hold it all together, and it holds it together beautifully.

Tony Kaye may be a slightly strange gentleman, but he's an incredibly talented artist, and this may very well be one my favorite film ever to tackle racism, as well as one of my favorite films of all time in general.

Bullet to the Head

I'm convinced that there are two reasons for the narrative success of this movie: Sylvester Stallone and the great Walter Hill.

Jarhead 2: Field of Fire
½

You change the title, and this is a perfectly acceptable B movie. But you place this movie behind the cinematic greatness of Sam Mendes' "Jarhead", and this is nothing short of cheapo absurdity.

Schindler's List

Throughout history there have been only a few films that transcend the terms 'good' or 'bad', and come as close to perfect as a film can. Steven Spielberg's flawless masterpiece "Schindler's List" is part of that blessed few.

Across the Universe

A wonderful psychedelic musical odyssey populated by intimately known characters, even if we don't know as much about them as we'd like. This movie is a visual marvel and a bracing work of originality.

The Hateful Eight

This has been a phenomenal year for movies with disappointment being few and far between. Tarantino's new whodunit masterpiece "The Hateful Eight" continues in that tradition of conquering expectations begun by Matthew Vaughn's "Kingsman: The Secret Service" back in February.

My love for Tarantino began when I first saw "Reservoir Dogs" when I was fourteen-years-old. While his dialogue and characterization saunters with grace and subtlety, his pension for sudden and extreme violence snaps like a whip with no regard for all in it's wake.

Blazing Saddles

No question, this is one of the most brilliant and irreverent comedies in the history of film. Mel Brooks' epic masterpiece has me rolling from the word 'go', and seldom lets me up for air. I love this film!

Spaceballs
Spaceballs(1987)

Screwball, irreverent, stupid and ridiculous. All of those elements add up to a absurdly fun and outrageous parody of the "Star Wars" saga. Some of Mel Brooks' best work.

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)
½

A fun popcorn movie with amazing visuals, and brilliant character development, but a dry, unfulfilled story that is ruined halfway through with a ridiculous plot twist. About an hour into this movie I began to understand the point. Its giving Tony Stark layers while bridging the gap between "The Avengers" and "The Avengers 2". Both of which it does very well, but it fails to answer any of the viewer's obvious questions.

As someone who doesn't really read comic books that much at all, I tend to not question the plot twists in superhero movies like someone who loves the comics might, but I was done after this movie's little twist. In the first half Shane Black sets up Ben Kinglsey's character, a terrorist named the Mandarin, to be this incredible villain who is being played impeccably by Kingsley, but then they ruin it all by making him an actor hired by the real villain to take the stage as the poster boy for their evil campaign. After that I was done with this movie.

Something I must say is that Robert Downey Jr. was at the top of his game. His emotions, especially for in a superhero movie, were so natural and convincing. He adds a lot of depth to Tony Stark. And I say Tony Stark instead of Iron Man because you really don't see a whole lot of Iron Man this time around, which I was alright with in the long run. As in any third chapter in a superhero franchise, his relationship with the heroine is tested, and that was very predictable, but I was still entertained I suppose.

The action sequences were of course the big draw for moviegoers and they got plenty of it. The action was fantastic. The directing wasn't what I expected from a master of originality like Shane Black, but it was still good. The screenplay was a little lacking; what with the forced humor, cheesy dialogue between Downey Jr. and the kid from "Insidious", and the blatant lack of explanation.

Which leads me to my next point: what was the goal of the villain? I understood one thing: he was trying to make the vice president into the president and he was going to use some military engineered thing called Extremis to do it. What is Extremis you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked because I don't know either. This movie introduces possibly intriguing plot points like the Extremis thing, and does nothing to explain it. Lazy writing.

Overall, this movie was fun and entertaining, but extremely disappointing.

Slow Learners
½

Save for a few moments of a little bit unsure direction, this charming and wonderful indie comedy had me rolling from the word 'go'.

Why, you may ask? Adam Pally and Sarah Burns. Wow! These two were fantastic! They strike up such an immediate and likable chemistry that had me melting in my seat.

I also must take a moment to talk about this supporting cast. I will argue until the day I die that Bobby Moynihan deserves more roles in film. Yet he's only one of a few wonderful supporting players, which also includes the always wonderful Kevin Dunn, the quirky Gil Ozeri, the hilarious Kate Flannery, and the lovely Cecily Strong.

A lovely little indie that will warm even the most cynical of moviegoers.

Django Unchained

Tarantino doesn't use subtlety. He is a direct, stylish, self-expressive guy with a passion for movies and a pension for the grandiose. Not since "Pulp Fiction" has all of that mad genius shown through with such bold exuberance and artistic fervor.

You show me a Tarantino film, and I'll show you a film that is unafraid and totally uncompromising. It takes a cinematic genius to navigate racism, especially in the context of slavery, in this direct of a way without making mad those who haven't already decided to be mad.

"Django Unchained" has a vision and an excitement that is lacking in many of today's soulless blockbusters. I see this gem becoming one of American cinema's most iconic contemporary western folk tales.

Where the Wild Things Are

This is a quaint and sweet tale of imagination, feeling misunderstood, and childhood hardship wrapped inside of a rousing and powerful adventure brimming with artistry like only Spike Jonze is fully capable of.

Babe
Babe(1995)

"Babe" is family entertainment at its most hilarious, original, beautiful, emotional, and charming. This movie is a true masterpiece from start to finish, spearheaded by an endearing and emotional vocal performance by the late Christine Cavanaugh.

Insidious
Insidious(2011)
½

Atmospheric, tense, and terrifying. This is an incredibly skillful, albeit familiar, horror film that overcomes its intentional nostalgia with near flawless technical direction, a literally chilling score, perfect artistry, and brilliant in-camera effects that give me chills every time. James Wan is a master.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Frank Capra's films encapsulate what we pretend are American ideals now: hopefulness, love for your fellow man, and trust in something much greater than one's own intellect. Similar to his iconic masterpiece, "It's a Wonderful Life," this charming tale works as both a comedy-drama and as an amalgam of all those beautiful, forgotten ideals.

Today's America (I don't care if you are a Republican or Democrat) has completely forgotten all about the ideas that give legs to Capra's dream country.

James Stewart is America's big brother, and this is Stewart the everyman at his most relatable. The man worked with the greatest cinematic mind of all time, Alfred Hitchcock, multiple times, but he never reached the heights of his true acting prowess in the presence of Hitchcock like he did with the likes of America's director Frank Capra.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

The quintessential sci-fi adventure film! Its uplifting, entertaining, bold, brilliantly directed, and visually stunning even after all these years. The entire cast strikes up great on-screen chemistry right off the bat, and the plot is immediately engaging. Its one of the greatest adventure movies of all time!

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Its darker and significantly more intense than the original chapter, but it's equally adventurous and entertaining. This movie has a much greater appreciation for the depth and the philosophy behind the Star Wars franchise than any of the other chapters. Irvin Kershner takes up the helm as director of this juggernaut with so much feverish ambition and vision that it's impossible not to be blown away by the, then young, franchise's transition from sci-fi blockbuster with a heart to sci-fi blockbuster with a soul.

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

Creative, fun, and utterly harmless. When I think of the classic Rankin and Bass TV Christmas specials, I don't think of "Rudolph" or "Frosty the Snowman," but I immediately think of this lovely little gem.

Scooby-Doo
Scooby-Doo(2002)
½

A fun and silly little romp into the goofy and ridiculous that is equal parts unbearably absurd and charmingly nostalgic.

I first saw this movie in theaters at the age of six, and I

It's a Wonderful Life

Uplifting, inspiring, and downright joyful. Powered by Frank Capra's vital energetic and sensitive direction, and Jimmy Stewart's powerful trademark performance, this is the most beautiful and endlessly rewatchable movie I've seen. A true classic!

A Farewell to Arms

Unquestionably, this is one of my favorite romance films of all time. The set pieces, gorgeous cinematography, epic scope, and absolutely incredible chemistry between Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes are all just fantastic.

It functions on two levels: an epic romance and a powerful anti-war statement.

There isn't anything else to say, this is an absolute masterpiece.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
½

Impressive! This was a fitting end to an exceptional franchise. Having read the books, some things felt a little bit flat in comparison, but that's to be expected.

This is a fantastically well-made film with an incredibly strong anti-war and anti-political media subtext.

Night of the Living Dead
½

Although a shot-for-shot remake, it's nevertheless a compelling story that pays perfect homage to Romero and his perfect intentional lack of style or flair.

House (Hausu)

WHAT!? I don't know whether to be inspired or totally put off. Ã"byashi has done the impossible: made a horror-comedy that transcends ALL genre conventions.

From the surrealistic romanticism to the general horrific zaniness, this is a movie that draws no justifiable comparisons or equals.

Now onto the film itself. First off, the movie has a deliberateness to it. For all its weirdness and nonsense, it's certainly well-calculated weirdness and nonsense. Ã"byashi did something odd in this film: intentional shallowness. The characters have no depth and the story itself doesn't seem to say a whole lot in and of itself, but that's kind of the point. It feels, in some ways, like a send-up of Western horror cinema of the time.

This may just be one of the most original films ever made, and what a year for it to be released. While Lucas was changing the world of blockbuster filmmaking with "Star Wars", Ã"byashi was changing the world of filmmaking with an insipid borage of cultural commentary. As if he combined what he sees in West film culture with what he sees in the Western world's portrayal of Asian culture and society.

This is a masterpiece. To try and explain this film would be an exercise in futility.

Carnival of Souls
½

What makes this a significant addition to the canon of horror cinema is not only the bold direction of Hero Harvey, but rather the incredible subtlety. Its obvious in hindsight that this was an independent production, but nevertheless it plays with even more efficiency than any major production of the time.

The infamous ghostface scare in the car looks simple and hokey now, but then it was revolutionary. It didn't feel overly directed or overwrought by circumstance. It was just as simple as a scarred woman driving to her escape from pain who found all new, unprecedented torture in the form of terrifying ghosts.

This film rings true to me, because it gives a young filmmaker like myself, and even legends like David Lynch ("Eraserhead") and George Romero ("Night of the Living Dead"), inspiration to push on. It has simple set-ups and effective pay-offs in equal measure, and none of them disappoint. The scares are staged as simply as putting a man in pale-faced make-up into a pool and having him open his eyes. However, you take that simple and unsettling image and pair it with the film's haunting organ score by Gene Moore, and it becomes something incredibly subtle yet scary.

This is an incredible achievement!

The Gold Rush

This is comedy in film as it was originally intended. Geniuses like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin not only adapted the formula, but practically created it in mainstream cinema.

"The Gold Rush" is a perfect film in nearly every way. The set pieces are fun and wacky, the performance by 'the tramp' himself is something to roar about, and the narration in the 1941 re-release (which is the version I watched) is top notch.

The Flowers of St Francis (Francesco, giullare di Dio) (Francis, God's Jester)

In cinema history there are two films that lend a simple beauty and grace to spiritually complex subject matter. They are Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Roberto Rossellini's "The Flowers of St. Francis".

This is a film that dares to approach the subject of enlightenment and application of faith with minimalism and purity. The film isn't romantic or colamitous in any way, which isn't all that abnormal in a film except this film isn't aiming for that. It isn't some kind of pretentious goal of the filmmaker, but rather a side effect of honest storytelling, and that's what "The Flowers of St. Francis" is on a fundamental level: honest.

Whether you're a believer or a heathen, if you walk away from this movie without feeling some semblance of joy and hope than you're either daft or dead. This is a masterpiece about harmony and love for one's fellow man while serving and admonishing God.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)

Its the first Bond film in ages that doesn't ride purely on the nostalgia of the character. This is rather a celebration of the character, and a psychological exploration of what comes along with all those years of wear and tear.

Sam Mendes directs this film with a child-like excitement, like he's been dreaming of directing this movie his entire life. He also maintains the same respect and maturity that was brought to the two previous Craig outings.

Also credit must be given to Javier Bardem, who blew it out of the water. His villain is so intelligent and slimy that he's almost respectable. I loved every second he was on screen and I especially loved his interplay with Craig. In my humble opinion, he was robbed at the Oscars.

Overall, Mendes brings the franchise back to its roots, but not before he wows us with excellent filmmaking and exciting action. The best Bond film in years and a genuinely brilliant movie. I love it!

Spectre
Spectre(2015)

A fun Bond movie that just happens to follow the most cinematically adept Bond film of all time. I'm not sure what everyone was expecting, but I got what I'd hoped for: a thrill ride with gadgets, gizmos, and gloss galore.

It's a shiny and timely Bond film that beautifully counterbalances the grit and singularity of "Skyfall". This is a fun movie! Everybody just needs to relax and remember that it's a James Bond movie.

28 Weeks Later...
½

An adequate sequel that is very entertaining, and just as well made, but lacks the emotional heft that made the original a classic. This movie gives moviegoers who weren't pleased with the original, because of its lack of killing, the gore they crave. Which is still entertaining, but quite disheartening at the same time.

Love & Mercy
Love & Mercy(2015)
½

Wonderful performances, a sharp and admirable lack of convention, and a script that'll make your hairs stand on-end. This is a fantastic movie that rests squarely on the shoulders of the duel performance from Paul Dano and Jon Cusack.

Aloha
Aloha(2015)

I really don't understand the hate. This film was marvelous! Some of Cameron Crowe's best work since "Jerry Maguire", both as writer and director.

The performances are top notch, the writing is fabulous, and the direction is coherent yet irreverent at times. Crowe knows when to be serious and when to ease off the throttle at just the right times, he always has. Whether he's helping Matt Damon buy a zoo, falling in love with Renee Zellweger or making Patrick Fugit feel uncool, Cameron Crowe is as reliable a filmmaker as there's ever been, and he shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone light up the screen in a whirlwind of charming wit, romance, and spot-on chemistry. They make for a really charming and funny couple that recycles the formula in a witty and wonderful way without patronizing the audience.

My advice: don't listen to the critics, see this movie. It's fun, romantic, hilarious, incredibly well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable. I enjoyed this movie from top to bottom.

Kill List
Kill List(2012)

A masterpiece! This is no doubt one of the most underrated horror films in recent years.

It's directed by Ben Wheatley with a kind of surrealism, but it's shot with a gritty attention to detail. It begins like a crime thriller, but not a normal crime thriller. It's like a crime thriller with this black cloud hanging over it that creates a sense of dread. Then it slowly unravels into a psychological horror show that challenges the viewer. You follow this pair of killers; these hitmen who take lives for money. But Wheatley breaks them down to their bare bones, and shows the viewer that it's actually the world around them that's crazy.

It has masterful direction, powerful and precise writing, strong acting, and a plot so unique that it puts many other genre films to shame. It will turn even the most hardened and experienced of fans into scared children. It's terrifying and visceral, but, above all else, it's brilliant. I absolutely love this movie!

The Peanuts Movie
½

This is a fabulous movie, plain and simple. "The Peanuts Movie" is a pure and heartwarming little romp that is something to be treasured, not just in its honoring of the source material but also in its purity.

What I mean by 'pure' is the family-friendliness. That's something that is thrown around quite a bit, but it isn't in a way that's actually accurate. This is family-friendly because this movie doesn't pander to anyone. Parents will enjoy it without the writers having to talk up at them from the perspective script, and kids will love it without the script talking down at them. It's purely fun; purely beautiful.

This is a phenomenal family film that I will most likely be quoting for a good long time. It's a close runner up for the best animated film of the year thus far behind "Inside Out".

Cowboys & Aliens

A fun romp with exciting action, an interesting enough plot, and a cast of talented actors that doesn't take itself too seriously. Jon Favreau doesn't get enough credit for this one, because he made a good movie. It just wasn't quite on par with some of his other work.

Gravity
Gravity(2013)

It's the kind of film that ten years ago would've been quite literally impossible, and in that we can only assume that it will remembered for all time as the masterpiece that it surely is. Alfonso Cuaron is a master class filmmaker, and this is his finest work to date.

I predict that this will go on to be the seminal moviegoing experience for the next generation of genius filmmakers.

Not since Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" has a film given me such a deep appreciation for the vastness of God's incredible universe. But never before has a space movie been quite this intimate and hopeful. It's a film that's ultimately about finding faith in the midst of tragedy and fear, and it sends you off, no pun intended, floating on hopefulness and sheer positivity.

This is an important film that most certainly deserves to talked about, studied, learned from, and, most importantly, remembered for all time. "Gravity" is the most important American film since P.T. Anderson's "There Will Be Blood".

Side by Side
Side by Side(2012)

Fascinating stuff for any up-and-coming filmmakers.

The Brainiac
The Brainiac(1962)

It's the kind of outrageous movie that it's impossible to get mad at. This is a movie that's so ridiculously goofy that, if it were to come out today, it would torn to shreds, but because it came out in a time, it's a movie for that time. However, it is definitely good for some corny thrills on a late October night.

The Horde (La Horde)

An excellent little action-horror piece that capitalizes on the gore and gush of the genre without sacrificing character.

The action comes early in this little gem, and I enjoyed it from the get-go. Things slow down a bit in terms of character development in the latter half of the film, but I didn't mind, because I was still having a fun time.

Dream House
Dream House(2011)

This may have been an enjoyable little thriller if I hadn't had the whole thing spoiled for me in the alarmingly bad marketing campaign.

Mask of Death
½

A well-intentioned, albeit misguided bit of action movie cheese with one of Hollywood's classic overlooked action stars, Lorenzo Lamas. This movie defies all expectations, in a good and bad way, and I thoroughly enjoyed. I officially dub this movie so bad it's good!

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

It's a disgusting exercise in poor taste, but that's sort of the point, isn't it? Tom Six directs this movie with a kind of sick satisfaction that is intriguing to watch. I just wish the images he puts on-screen were more bearable. It isn't a good movie by any means, but it's definitely an interesting filmmaking exercise, however tasteless and ugly.

Backcountry
Backcountry(2015)
½

This is a surprisingly wonderful little horror movie! Man-versus-animal and man-versus-nature are the two most fascinating horror subgenres, and this nightmarish combination of them both.

"Backcountry" is beautifully shot and realized from head to toe, but this movie is worth seeing for the first encounter with the bear alone.

Despite a few inconsistencies in the movie's characterizations, this is a really solid horror movie, and it's very much recommended to any horror fan. It's like a hybrid of Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster "Jaws" and David Sheldon's underrated creature feature "Grizzly".

The Martian
The Martian(2015)

Wow! What an experience this film was. Ridley Scott has crafted a truly masterful piece of filmmaking, which sounds completely clichà (C), but there's no other way to put it. This is a work of art, and a masterpiece in suspense and vision.

Not once during this film do not feel exactly as Scott wants you to. I try to measure a filmmaker's success based on the consistency in pace, as well as the communication of emotion of the film in question. This is a great movie that creates and maintains a sense of tension and adventure on Mars, and effectively creates an equally tense and nerve-racking tone on Earth as the clock quickly winds down.

Overall, this is an incredible film that strives to overcome any genre clichà (C)s that this type of film will inevitably evoke. This is a work of art that blew me away. Ridley Scott hasn't been better since "Gladiator".

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

A beautiful masterpiece that reminds us that summer blockbusters weren't always big, bustling action epics. This is when family entertainment was held to the same standard as all other entertainment. People went into a family movie like "E.T." and weren't disappointed, because the studio knew they had a great film in the hands of a great filmmaker. They didn't crank out five of the same kind of movie a summer and then greenlight sequels before they're even sure if fans want one or not.

The Houses October Built
½

You know exactly where the movie's headed right from the get-go, but it transcends those clichà (C)s and winds up succeeding as an entertaining little horror flick.

Bobby Roe establishes a clear tone and progression for the film, which isn't always easy to do and still be entertaining in a found footage film. Once you've established characters' reason for filming in a found footage story, if it isn't believable, you've lost your audience. This is the biggest hurdle for a director in a found footage story. Not only to establish a good reason for filming, but also a strong cast that can sell that reason to an audience. This is the movie's biggest strength in my eyes.

Right away we don't know much about the characters, but we're rooting for them, because we begin to feel a comradery with them via the chemistry with each other, and the goal of found footage is to create a sense of realism and put the viewer right there with the subjects. Not for a moment did I feel taken out of the film, which was sold in part by the actual interviews with real spook house patrons spliced in throughout the film that provide an authentic and scary segway into the next chapter of the story.

The Mist
The Mist(2007)
½

I went into this movie, the first time of many, not entirely sure of what I was getting into, but what I found myself watching was one of the best horror movies of the last 20 years. Frank Darabont, a filmmaker known primarily for his grandiose period pieces, has created a horror film with a purpose: to comment on the power of suggestion, as well as our human need for answers.

Unlike Darabont's previous films, the cinematography isn't elegant, it feels much more organic and in-the-moment, but it's nevertheless very effective.

Easily the most impressive aspect of the film, however, is the impeccable host of Oscar-worthy performances that Darabont pulls from his cast. This movie without the work done by Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, and the great Andre Braugher is just any other well-directed monster movie. Darabont's brilliant work paired with the amazing cast help this movie emerge a masterpiece.

Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer(2014)

People tend to throw around the word "good" when they talk about a well-made movie, and I think it gets thrown around far too much. A good movie isn't just a movie that gets the job done, it's a movie that achieves it's goal and takes the audience for an entertaining ride at the same time. Now that we've established that, 'Snowpiercer' isn't just a good movie. 'Snowpiercer' is a masterpiece.

From the dystopian world of the rattling ark to the video game like action sequences, this is a movie that refuses to quit. This is one of those rare cases where I really can't seem to find a single flaw with this movie. I haven't felt that since 'The Dark Knight.'

Let's get into the performances. Chris Evans gives the performance I expected, which isn't at all a bad thing. He's strong, courageous, and just. The real standout, to me anyway, is Tilda Swinton. Swinton is a lovely lady, as well as an elegant actress, and she flat-out knows how to chew scenery. She chews every scene to bits in this movie.

Overall, this is a movie that I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed. Every moment is brilliant cinema.

War Room
War Room(2015)
½

Is it an uplifting experience? Absolutely! Is it a well-made film? It walks the line.

Hitchcock
Hitchcock(2012)
½

Excellent performances from the masterful Anthony Hopkins, as well as the brilliant Dame Hellen Mirren. But, sadly, apart from the lovely homage to the greatest filmmaker of all time, Alfred Hitchcock, there isn't really much worth remembering here for my taste. I'm glad that others seem to love it, though.

Ghostbusters (1984 Original)

What to say about "Ghostbusters"? This is a movie I've seen too many times to count, and it just gets more fun with every viewing. It's a mish-mash of dry, deadpan comedy and special effects that still hold up to this day.

Back to the Future

One of the most well constructed films of all time, and arguably the most fun. With the combination of Zemeckis' passionate and energetic direction, an instantly likable cast, and one of the most perfectly paced scripts ever makes this a seriously unforgettable movie experience. You're either soulless or dead if you don't have at least a little fun during this crazy ride! I love it!

The Shawshank Redemption

A perfect film. Among a select few films in the history of American cinema, Shawshank Redemption is absolutely flawless. There isn't a single technical or directorial flaw. Not one flaw in the film's writing, acting, visuals, editing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this movie. Frank Darabont has truly left a benchmark on filmmaking history. A masterpiece.

Signs
Signs(2002)
½

A fascinating and brilliant thriller about finding faith and hope in times of absolute cynicism and tragedy. It isn't just one of Shyamalan's best, it's one of the best movies about aliens I've seen.

Lady in the Water

A fascinating fairy tale that suffered from a terrible marketing strategy that treated it like any other of M. Night Shyamalan's darker thrillers. Make no mistake, this is not a thriller by any means. This is a children's story told in an adult way.

This is a film that it's easy to pick on, because it's a film that it's very easy to misunderstand. Shyamalan is a filmmaker that never works to just collect a paycheck. Shyamalan's films always have something to say, and the beauty of Shyamalan's direction is the way he communicates that purpose to the audience with love and passion for both his audience and for his work. That's what I see here. Shyamalan is a good director. Simple as that.

This movie is a tragic victim of classic studio mismarketing of a film that they don't understand.

The fact is, this is a beautifully shot, solidly directed, well paced fantasy that challenges typical conventions of the genre. Is it perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Is it even one of Shyamalan's best? Not in my opinion. But is it the worst movie ever as so many others seem to think? No way! This is a good movie, plain and simple.

The Visit
The Visit(2015)
½

The master is back! I'm a big time supporter of M. Night Shyamalan for the same reason that I support all good filmmakers, because he's a good filmmaker. Now, he's had a few missteps, but let's not forget that he's made some spectacular films, not the least of which is "The Visit."

From the genuine terror and drama, brought to life by an extremely talented cast, to Shyamalan's mature direction, this is one of this year's best horror films.

The Village
The Village(2004)
½

One of my personal favorite thrillers of all time. Shyamalan once said that he judges a director's talent where it concerns a single film based on their ability to maintain a consistent tone, and this is a film with a great tone and atmosphere. It's scary, it's fun, it's thought-provoking, and it's very well realized.

Also, I'd be remiss if I don't mention the astounding cast in this film. We have Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sigourney Weaver, Adrian Brody, Michael Pitt, Jesse Eisenberg, William Hurt, Brendan Gleeson, and even the great Celia Weston. This is an unbelievably talented cast that all collectively deliver genuinely great performances.

Another thing that impressed me, and always impresses me in any Shyamalan film, is his ability to light a scene effectively based on the needs of that scene. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a thriller that undermines it's thrills with haphazard lighting that does away with all the genuine tension, and outshines (literally and figuratively) all that hard work by the director up to that point in the scene.

This also may be Shyamalan's most impressive visual film. It's shot by the wondrously talented Roger Deakins, arguably the greatest cinematographer currently living, and he does not disappoint. From the gorgeous opening zoom to the haunting final shot, this is a film with an incredible visual style.

Overall, this is my favorite of M. Night Shyamalan's films. I love this film so much!

Dear White People

"Dear White People" is a brilliant satire that explores not only racism's prevelance in our culture, but also prejudice and ignorance in general. It swims in the grey area, so to speak, and never shies away from telling it exactly how it is.

Justin Simien is a bold and strong new voice stylistically, as well as thematically. He is working in a way that's different from somebody like Spike Lee. Lee works in a world of finger-pointing and white shaming, a world that he's genius at exploring on film, but a voice like Simien's stands out to me, because he isn't picking a side. He acknowledges that all of us, in our own way, are morons.

This is also one of the most witty, wordy, and wonderful screenplays I've heard in some time, and the impeccable cast deliver it all with strength and naturalism that balances perfectly with the film's deeply satirical style.

From the sensational performances to the sharp editing to the beautiful stylistic cinematography, this is a film that takes you be the hand and, just when you think you're going for a leisurely stroll, it tears into a crazy sprint that flies by and makes you feel alive. This is a spectacular work of art, and a truly hilarious film.

Gremlins
Gremlins(1984)

I'm sad to say that at 19-years-old I'm just now getting around to seeing the classic "Gremlins," and I can honestly say this is absolutely spectacular. This is an effects-heavy piece of filmmaking nostalgia that is unbelievably exciting, and carries plenty of fun to be had for adults and kids alike.

This movie is a testament to why exactly the '80s produced the very best of kids entertainment. It was always in the hands of competent artists like Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante, and it was always self-aware enough to be charming without falling into self-parody.

Vertigo
Vertigo(1958)

No filmmaker will ever capture a moment the way Hitchcock did. His precision, his elegance, his humor, his unmistakable confidence. Alfred Hitchcock was the most influential filmmaker to ever live, and this is one of his most towering works.

No shot in a Hitchcock film is a matter of happenstance. There are no happy accidents on a Hitchcock picture, because every frame is so carefully conceived and determined.

What makes "Vertigo" a masterpiece isn't just Bernard Hermann's complex score or Jimmy Stewart's authentic performance or even the mystery of Kim Novak's character, but rather the act of unfolding the story and the changing perspectives.

Cinema is a type of language with many different dialects. There are films that speak with spirituality and profundity. Films that speak with naturalism and authenticity. Other films speak romantically with great melodrama and theatricality. Alfred Hitchcock simultaneously speaks all three at once in his films. There's a strong subtext that lives in a realistic world, but at the same time it's clear that we're in the hands of a master of romanticism.

In the grand scheme of things there are three filmmakers that cemented themselves in cinema as the most important names in narrative cinema history: John Ford (The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath), C.B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Show on Earth), and, of course, Alfred Hitchcock. Directors everywhere owe a great deal to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and "Vertigo" is no exception. While "Psycho" remains my favorite of his films, "Vertigo" is, in a word, perfect.

The Cabin in the Woods

Its a slick, dark, sharp, witty and darkly funny satire of horror film clichÃÂ (C)s. This film, effects wise, has three very distinct acts and each one morphs into the next with so much liquidity and grace. Its a really fantastic film. Those who appreciate subtle satire will love it, but anyone who doesn't will probably think this is the worst movie they've ever seen. As for me, I loved every minute of it!

There Will Be Blood

Here's what makes "There Will Be Blood" one of the greatest films of my generation: the audience. This is a movie with no clear driving force or antagonist. You ask some people, they would say that it's a movie about the oil business. Others would tell you it's about a maniacal cult in a starving town. Some people might say Daniel Plainview, played to sheer excellence by Day-Lewis, is the film's villain, being as he does some very villainous things. Others might say that the also impressive Paul Dano's cult leader is the villain because of his deception.

The truth is that this movie is left entirely up to the viewer, in a sense. One thing can be said for certain though, and that's that every single solitary minute of this film is pitch perfect moviemaking.

Paul Thomas Anderson broke onto the filmmaking scene with his highly energetic and potent dramas like "Hard Eight" and "Boogie Nights," which earned him widespread acclaim, including a couple of Oscar nominations. But this time around he tosses the viewer into total uncertainty. Character roles aren't clearly stated much of the time. Some elements are never even explained. It's a very ambiguous film with a lot to say, and Anderson tells all.

Much of it feels like Anderson trying to break down the traditional romanticized view of the "American dream." At other times it feels like him making a grand statement about religion versus faith. Other times he tells us the complex story of a man who adopts a boy as a baby, and the turbulent life that they lead as father and son. To be honest, it feels like this movie is about all of these things.

One of the most interesting reviews I've heard of this movie was from an older friend of mine who said "it wasn't about anything." Some would say he missed the point, but I don't think so at all. If anything, his eyes are open wider than most others.

This is also a perfectly shot film. I may even argue that this ranks among the most beautifully shot films ever made.

P.T. Anderson crafted a work of art that rivals nearly all others in my opinion. One of the greatest films of all time.

The Conjuring

With films like "Sinister," "Paranormal Activity," and James Wan's prior films, we seem to be in a new age of haunted house movies. The major difference between this new age and the golden age is that filmmakers like James Wan won't let us forget where the genre was born: chilling atmosphere, cold yet elegant cinematography, and genuine scares that don't pander to the audience.

James Wan reminds me of the great horror filmmakers like Sam Raimi, William Friedkin, William Castle and so on in that he refuses to scare you with misinformation. Are there birds that fly into windows? Yes, but the real tension isn't wasted on those moments, false as they may be.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead(2013)

What it lacks in humor, this modern horror masterpiece completely makes up for in absurd gross-out special effects and old school gory absurdity.

Many have said that they enjoyed the homage to the classic, messy B-movies of old, but weren't exactly scared. Maybe I'm a lightweight, but, as a filmmaker whose dabled in horror and a lifelong fan of the genre, I was absolutely terrified. This is a perfectly executed horror flick, title aside.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
½

A wonderful allegorical fantasy epic that is arguably one of the most fun fantasy movie-watching experiences.

Adventureland
½

A charming and endearing coming-of-age romance that manages to maintain its dry wit without having to compromise it's surprisingly real and involving story of young love.

It seems to have become a trend in coming-of-age movies of this ilk to set the stories in decades past, but this one actually feels like an '80s teen movie. I'm not saying it's on the level of a John Hughes film, but it feels the way an '80s movie does as opposed to a movie set in the '80s. In a movie set in the '80s, like "Take Me Home Tonight" and "The Wedding Singer," the point is purely to capitalize on over-the-top '80s cliches. This movie is a clear exception, because, despite a hair metal music video or two, this movie is simply about growing up, nothing more and nothing less.

Easily my favorite part of this film is the surprisingly wonderful chemistry between the previously hit-or-miss Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. They both not only deliver beautiful and subdued performances, but they also strike up an almost immediate romantic relationship. Now, typically, in romantic comedies this is a recipe for disastrous pacing, but these two loveable kids had me sold from the get-go. I fell in love with them both.

Overall, this is a coming-of-age tale that I fell in love with right away, and put off seeing for far too long. This is a spectacularly charming and cute love story that is at the same time incredibly hilarous!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

A haunting and beautiful work of art that brings one of the greatest long-running franchises of all time to a thundering close.

This franchise has transformed and grown more mature along with the audience. That's what makes this cinematic poem the perfect end to a near perfect franchise.

The Gift
The Gift(2015)
½

An elegant and quiet thriller from a very talented filmmaker.

Jason Blum of Blumhouse Pictures has a lot going for him as a creative force. For example, the following: he hires genuinely good directors and actually lets them direct, he keeps the budget low, and surrounds the material with the best talent available.

All of that is on display here and then some. This may just be the best suspense film to come out of Blumhouse since the first "Insidious" back in 2011. Now, don't get confused, "The Gift" is vastly different from "Insidious" in almost every way, but, needless to say, they're both fine films.

"The Gift" is a movie that I was certainly interested in when I saw the trailer, but I eventually forgot about the trailer and even forgot it was coming out until the week that I decided to see it. Having seen it, I can now confidently say that this is a spectacular film.

Joel Edgerton knocked this one right out of the park, no question. For a first time director, his approach feels so mature and sure-handed. The way he moves the camera is smooth and slow, so as to create an odd mix of calm and tension. Wonderful work.

Speaking of Mr. Edgerton, that brings me to the performances. Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman do the finest work they've ever done in this film, hands down. Joel, in a role that could've very well been played with a lot of wacky scenery-chewing, creates an eerily quiet and subdued performance that just knocked my socks off. I really enjoyed it.

Overall, this is the most mature and methodical thriller I've seen in a while and possibly one of the best films I've seen thus far this year.

Hitman: Agent 47

Maybe I'm crazy or high or some such, but I went into this movie expecting exciting action, modestly acceptable performances, terrible performances, and plenty of video game nostalgia. And you know what, that's exactly what I got.

It's a shallow movie, sure, but it's also loads of fun. The action is very sure-handed and exciting, there's a lot to love for fans of the franchise, and not to mention the fact that it's significantly more successful at adapting the video game.

One more aspect of the film that I really enjoyed was, surprisingly enough, the cinematography. Ottar Gudnason did a spectacular job with the visuals. It has a slick, over-the-top, stylish look which meshes pretty perfectly with the equally slick, over-the-top, stylish tone established by the talented Aleksander Bach.

Overall, this movie fails on many fronts. It fails to get me to care about the characters, it never really cements itself in terms of pace, the atmosphere is a bit confusing at times, but it does exactly what a shoot-em-up action movie based on a video game is supposed to do: entertain. This is one that I really wouldn't mind seeing again.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(2010)
½

If I want to watch a fun epic, I'll watch the "Hobbit" trilogy or "The Ten Commandments." I didn't see this movie to have fun, I saw this movie to see the last living master of epic cinema, Ridley Scott, deliver on the promises of an epic premise, and, for the most part, I wasn't disappointed.

First off, if you want to see a movie about stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, I recommend the masterpiece "The Adventures of Robin Hood" from Michael Curtiz. If you want a gritty battle picture about fighting tyranny and taking a stand for what's good and just, this is the film for you. With "Robin Hood" Scott combines the grit and authenticity of "Kingdom of Heaven" with the attentiveness and in depth characters of "Gladiator," which makes this one of his finest films to date.

District 9
District 9(2009)

The science fiction genre seems to produce one indisputable masterpiece at least once in a generation. My grandparents had "Metropolis." My parents had "Star Wars," and I have "District 9."

This is a near perfect film in every sense. From the performances to the cinematography; the visual effects to the incredible action, and, of course, Neil Blomkamp's sure-handed skill behind the camera, this is a fantastic work of art. This is a film that needs to be celebrated for what it is: the most unique and important film about institutionalized racism to be produced since "Schindler's List."

It's a film about how ignorance toward another race or culture does cause very real problems in the world and how it's our job as people to be accepting and never speak out of ignorance, as we've gotten into the habit of doing.

Overall, this is an important film with a lot to say, and it says it all with what I found to be raw beauty and grace. Blomkamp doesn't sugarcoat anything, and he certainly doesn't pander. For those who care to look, there is an incredible expression of sociopolitical dissatisfaction here. I loved it!

Open Grave
Open Grave(2014)

I love the atmosphere and visually it isn't bad, but I got this sinking feeling that I wasn't going to be satisfied by the surely impending plot twist as the movie went on, and sure enough I wasn't.

Wet Hot American Summer

Minus a few speed bumps, this is comedy gold. Critics can have their opinions, this is a comedy for fans of situational comedy that is just funny without pandering. Is it goofy? Yep. Is it stupid? Oh, yeah. Does that make it a bad movie? Not at all.

The Great Gatsby
½

As a fan of the novel, I'm not completely satisfied, but as a fan of visual filmmaking, I was blown away! Baz Luhrmann has always had amazing visuals, even when the movie itself isn't good, but in this case he paired his incredible talent for visual filmmaking with a near flawless leading cast. The visual effects are nothing short of Oscar worthy, and the cinematography was gorgeous! Tobey MacGuire was actually less impressive to me than I thought he was gonna be. Carey Mulligan was perfect; her outlook is romanticized, and her delivery melodramatic. Isla Fisher was great, Jason Clarke was awesome. And while Leonardo DiCaprio was obviously a standout as the title role I just feel like this is the kind of great performance he could do in his sleep. I will say though that he really did a great job of embracing Gatsby's vulnerability. The biggest standout for me was Joel Edgerton! He was genuinely fantastic and it really seemed like he was working to deliver the best possible performance. Overall, the visuals were some of the most impressive I've seen, the performances were great, and Baz Luhrmann melded the fantastical elements of "The Great Gatsby" and the realism behind the performances perfectly. An entertaining film with genuine artistic merit, and the best adaptation yet!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
½

It's simple and relatively familiar, but what separates this Disney comedy from the menagerie of other family comedies from the last ten years or so is the fact that the jokes actually land. There are, of course, cynical critics that go into this sort of light and airy family comedy with the wrong expectations, meaning anything other than a clean, fun movie for the whole family.

I'm a 19-year-old filmmaker and I'm not ashamed to say that I enjoyed every minute of this film. I had a blast!

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)

This is potentially my favorite crime film ever made for one reason: the wonderously eccentric and talented Quentin Tarantino.

Without Tarantino this is just some indie gangster movie, but this plot paired with Tarantino's signature dialogue and cast of Oscar-worthy character actors becomes a cinematic masterpiece.

This script has an odd tone and pace to it where it's very much exclusively driven by dialogue and character. Typically this is the recipe for a disastrously boring gangster flick, but in the hands of a master like Quentin this film morphs into a dialogue-driven stroke of pure genius.

The Wizard of Oz

A sweet and adventurous fable that arrests you with its loveliness and inescapable charm. Potentially the most beautiful movie ever made.

How could anyone have known that Victor Fleming would change cinema forever with two films in the same year? Not only did he set a whole new standard for how epic films are made with "Gone with the Wind" but he also shaped the future of movies forever with this impeccable work of art. No question, "The Wizard of Oz" is a total masterpiece.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

This marvelous little gem fits the formula for a good movie: brisk pace, sharp editing, wonderful direction, beautiful cinematography, an uplifting message, and a cast of fantastic performances, specifically by Helen Mirren and the criminally overlooked Om Puri.

Not only is this a fantastic movie, but it's one of the best I've seen in some time.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

I try not to view "The Two Towers" as a sequel, but rather as one third of a much grander movie. In that, this is a film that stands just as tall as its predecessor.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (Død snø 2)

This is an experience similar to that of "Evil Dead 2". The sequel serves up basically the same dish as the first time around, only this time with more eccentricity and a heftier dose of the blood and guts that made the first one so much fun.

Tommy Wirkola is a talented director. I didn't care for "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," but that's not to say that I don't care for him as an artist. This movie rounds up to 75% of his work I've enjoyed, which is more than I can say for some.

Wirkola has a great self-awareness to his work, even in "Hansel & Gretel". You knew what you were getting yourself into, and that's exactly what you got. "Dead Snow 2" is no different. If you go into this movie expecting an Oscar contender, you'll be disappointed. If you go in wanting a movie about people fighting Nazi zombies with guts, laughs and all the trimmings, you'll be overjoyed.

Double Jeopardy
½

A diverting thriller that is just fun enough to not be terrible.

A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick's dystopian work of art explores many probing themes concerning self identity, finding one's purpose in life, and the difference between redemption and temporary reformation.

This is my favorite of Kubrick's films. Not because of the gut-wrenching violence or shocking imagery, but because of the laser focus. Not many directors have that level of devotion to their craft. There will never be another like Kubrick.

God grants us all the will to choose our own path in life, and this film explores the government's manner of persuasion. These earthly leaders try to convince the common man that they have their best interests in mind, but only the Lord knows what's truly best for us, and, when we trust Him with our path in life, true purpose is revealed.

Kill Bill: Volume 1

This is the film that separates true fans of Quentin Tarantino and fans of crime movies. It seems excessive to the uninitiated, but, to those who are familiar with Hong Kong action cinema, Quentin created a pitch perfect kung fu film.

This is easily Quentin's most visual film, both in its decidedly elegant cinematography, as well as its stylish atmosphere.

Inglourious Basterds

Tarantino is the master of excessive cinema, and this movie shows us exactly why. Quentin Tarantino sat down and said "I'm going to kill Hitler."

This Is Where I Leave You
½

"This Is Where I Leave You" is very quirky and witty, but I can't help but feel like it's just "The Big Chill's" less impressive but still impressive little brother.

The tone has organic shifts, the script is paced well and feels light and natural, the direction is stock but still good, and the performances are all winners, especially from Adam Driver, Corey Stoll and Jane Fonda.

The story itself may not be wholly original, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all the same.

The Judge
The Judge(2014)

A serviceable courtroom drama with extraordinary performances from Duvall and Downey Jr. The film itself leaves much to be desired in the way of character development, but it serves as a light and uplifting drama with a strong escapist quality to it, as well as a phenomenal cast.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

As exciting a spy actioner as one is likely to see this summer. Potentially the most fun installment in the franchise thus far.

Tom Cruise never ceases to amaze me with his devotion to the viewer experience. He's 54-years-old and he hasn't even remotely lost a step in terms of acting prowess and stunt capability. Much of his stunts in this film were filmed practically, and, keeping that in mind, it adds a level of tension to all of the stunts that otherwise wouldn't have been there.

As far as the story itself goes, however, I don't really have a whole lot to say. Rebecca Ferguson proved to be a formidable frienemy for Ethan Hunt, but apart from her interactions with the IMF team there really isn't much intrigue in the film.

I must say though Sean Harris was an impressive villain with a strong sense of presence.

Overall, this is an extremely fun and exciting action thriller with some truly astounding practical set pieces that will blow you away, even if the story leaves some to be desired. This one is highly recommended.

Home
Home(2015)

It's fun escapism with a message for kids that some adults will more than likely find cute. As for me, I'd rather sit my kids down in front of the vastly superior "Inside Out" than this movie.

Now, that being said, I did enjoy it. Just not nearly as much as I'd hoped.

The Fault In Our Stars

This is a romance that, I must admit, I didn't really have terribly high expectations for, but I absolutely loved it. What makes this film so great isn't just the fact that the material is wise beyond its years, but that it's so strictly cemented into the generation that will be experiencing it. The use of some quirky, little idiosyncrasies and text messages make the film pertain specifically to my generation. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort have absolutely amazing chemistry, but Elgort is the big standout. One of my favorite films of the year.

The Benchwarmers

Is it good? Not technically. Is it bad? Not quite. Is it unfunny? Not a chance in the world!

I first saw this movie when I was about ten or eleven-years-old, and I loved every second of it. Now, about a decade later, I've grown to have less appreciation for the slapstick and a great appreciation for the wit and humor.

Rich Hill
Rich Hill(2014)

Masterful documentary filmmaking that explores human stories of real people in search of acceptance.

Judgement is simply falsely entitled ignorance put into practice without any understanding or compassion, and that fact is propped up and put on display with no frills or romance. This is honest and real, and your heart breaks for them.

This is a special film. It's incredible.

Creep
Creep(2015)
½

A wonderously slow and methodical horror comedy that delivers on some bone-chilling scares while never sacrificing it's dry and dark sense of humor. This is a phenomenal film!

It's a rare breed of horror film that is becoming a lost art, it's slow, but never boring. And it's also very hilarious, much to the credit of Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass' natural chemistry.

The shining star of this movie isn't just Mark Duplass' near perfect performance as the suspicious yet likeable Josef, but Patrick Brice's sure-handed first time direction that never strikes you as amateurish or inexperienced, but rather as a work of unbridled passion for filmmaking. This feels like the work of a very, very passionate young filmmaker that is eager to get to it.

Gods and Generals

The worst offense this overlong Civil War epic makes is the fact that it's so clearly drunk on itself. Gods And Generals is a movie so tedious and ugly that it could mistaken for a masterpiece. Don't be fooled. This racist, misguided celebration of war thinks very highly of itself and it can't even seem to compose a single coherent performance (despite some promising moments from Stephen Lang).

This is a very bad movie. There really isn't any other way to put it. It's just bad. Historical accuracy doesn't make a film automatically good, in the same that making a film about the Civil War doesn't make it automatically interesting.

The Fox and the Hound

"The Fox and the Hound" is a truly remarkable animated film for the same reason that nearly all Disney animated films are remarkable: it teaches it's young audience something meaningful.

Hostage
Hostage(2005)

An exciting thriller that keeps you hooked, but doesn't offer much else. And, to be honest, there isn't much else that this sort of movie needs.

I'm not familiar with any of Florent Emilio Siri's other work, but if this is indicative of his overall talent as a filmmaker and not a fluke than I'll be watching for him. He understands a few fundamental things that so many thriller filmmakers don't: the magic of editing, how to properly film violence, and how to use light.

An enjoyable and diverting crime thriller that doesn't quite reinvent the wheel, but doesn't make the mistake of trying to.

The Guest
The Guest(2014)
½

In a world where every thriller to come out of the Hollywood machine is color-by-numbers, this lovely indie nugget towers over them with style and nostalgia. Its not Adam Wingard making a John Carpenter movie, it's Adam Wingard making a movie and simultaneously thanking filmmakers like Carpenter, but still making his own movie.

The tone is dark and edgy with a subtle air of dark comedy, the action is slick and intense, and though the script isn't the most original they definitely have loads of fun with it. Also, I mean come on, the soundtrack is downright infectious.

Also, I have to say, Dave Stevens gave a phenomenal performance. He chews the scenery to pieces, and you can tell he's just loving every second of it.

I really loved this movie! A great ride!

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
½

Hayden Christiansen is still the wrong choice for Anakin, but this epic conclusion to the prequel trilogy brings the entire series full circle with its breathtaking attention to characters and, of course, the always fascinating Star Wars universe. Its a darker take than any of the previous films, but it succeeds in its ability to be dark and violent without being self-indulgent or treating the darker content as action or entertainment. This is a genuinely great movie.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Possibly my least favorite of the franchise on the acting and directorial front, I can't deny that in terms of narrative strength and just pure focus this is a significantly better movie than The Phantom Menace. I just wish we didn't spend so much time on the most awkward and unconvincing on-screen relationship I've ever seen: Hayden Christiansen and Natalie Portman. Portman is trying her hardest to convince you and I know that Hayden is too, but not once did I feel that they actually loved one another. It just feels like another stepping stone toward the eventual end that everyone wants to see more than this: the final transformation into Darth Vader.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
½

Loads of eye-popping visual effects and uproarious entertainment make this movie easy on the eyes. What sinks this movie is the very little attention to part of what made the original trilogy great: the chemistry between the lead cast. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor did the best with what they had, but I just didn't buy it, and things got even worse on the acting front when the incredibly underwhelming Jake Lloyd showed up. Ultimately we got an entertaining, albeit familiar, outing in the Star Wars saga, a franchise that was built on going above and beyond simply entertaining.

Casino
Casino(1995)

A shockingly underrated American crime film from one of the very best filmmakers of all time, as well as one of the greatest films I've had the pleasure of seeing in my few years on earth.

Martin Scorsese is the greatest of all filmmakers currently living, there's no justifiable way to dispute that. He has created some of the most bold, compelling, relevant, complex and beautiful films of all time. "Casino" is one of them.

I've seen many of Scorsese's films, and this is film, as well as arguably the greatest film ever made "Taxi Driver", that I always come back to.

As far as Scorsese's gangster films go, everybody goes to "GoodFellas". Now, "GoodFellas" is a masterpiece, but I may be the only one who prefers "Casino" to "GoodFellas" and "The Departed" and Scorsese's other films of the like. Now, the reason that is, is because this is Scorsese's most finitely detailed film to date. Many of the film's small details ultimately are irrelevant, but it makes the experience so much more immersive than it would've been otherwise.

Knight & Day
Knight & Day(2010)
½

A solid action movie with a great cast that has chemistry and plenty of exciting action set pieces. It's also a movie that isn't much else, nor does it pretend to be, and in that it's an enormous success.

James Mangold is yet to make a bad film in my eyes. He showed his strong dramatic chops with "Walk the Line," as well as great action prowess with his stellar remake of "3:10 to Yuma". He's a well-rounded filmmaker from top to bottom, and this is probably his most 'fun' film to date.

Tom Cruise is one of the world's few remaining true to form 'movie stars'. His name alone can sell a movie for almost any audience and this film is proof of why that is. He's just as charismatic and physical an actor as he was in the 1980's, and he more than sells the character's over-the-top tone with a great mix of self-aware comedy and clichéd drama.

Cameron Diaz, who I typically don't care for, also shines in this movie. Her chemistry with Cruise is just magnetic. Now, she's no Oscar contender as of yet, but she fits this role like a glove. A much better fit than the miscast Katharine Heigl in the significantly worse "Killers," which has drawn a lot of comparison to "Knight and Day".

Overall, this is a slick action movie with a lot of exciting action from a profoundly talented director and a cast of interesting characters. I really enjoyed this stylish spy action comedy!

Jerry Maguire

Is it overly sentimental? Maybe. But so what? This is a fantastically well made film with strong performances and fabulous writing.

Regardless of how you feel about the ending or the often times cheesy dialogue, this script is tight and focused with a clear direction and a clear focus on the goal, which is to tell a sweet love story.

Cameron Crowe is one of the best filmmakers working today, because he uses

Showtime
Showtime(2002)
½

It's just... nothing. The script felt lazy, De Niro and Murphy clearly aren't trying, and the direction is boring. I have no opinion, which is somehow worse than it just being bad. It's not art, because there's nothing behind it. It's like the worst version of "Lethal Weapon" and the best version of "National Security" had a baby... That's not a good thing.

Toy Story
Toy Story(1995)

Its the perfect animated film. Every aspect of this movie blows me away every time. The pacing is perfect, all the characters are memorable to one degree or another, and Lasseter's skillful direction is very passionate. What makes this film's direction so incredible is the fact that it was all entirely new ground. This movie is like watching a budding romance between an excited filmmaker and a whole new league of moviemaking technology. I absolutely love every second of this movie!

Insidious: Chapter 2

Yet another scary and exciting exercise in the macabre from James Wan, the brilliant mind behind the original "Insidious" and the horror masterpiece "The Conjuring".

Spy
Spy(2015)

It was good. Just good. In a sense I'm glad I went to see a good movie, but on the other hand "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat" are two of the most sharp and funny comedies I've seen in a recent years.

Melissa McCarthy also didn't seem very up to par, in comparison to the solid performances she gave in her other two collaborations with Paul Feig.

But this movie does have two bright spots that work incredibly well: Rose Byrne and Jason Statham. These two steal absolutely every scene they're in, despite some underutilized things surrounding their characters.

Overall, I don't really have much to say about "Spy", which is sad because I had lots to say about Paul Feig's other work. The action is solid, the cast has great chemistry for the most part, and I left the theater fairly entertained, but there isn't really much else to say.

Last Man Standing
½

A good ol' fashioned gunfight action picture that doesn't pretend to be anything more.

Walter Hill (best known for "The Warriors") is a director that firmly believes in style. Some would argue that style over substance is a bad thing, and in most cases they'd be right, but not this time. Hill directs this film with the atmosphere of a western, the tone of a film noir, and the action of a classic shoot-em-up. All of that adds up to a deliciously fun action extravaganza with energy to spare.

Bruce Willis is surprisingly stoic in this role. Typically we see Willis in the role of the wise-cracking hero that we see in movies like the classic "Die Hard" or even "Hudson Hawk". But here is the quietly invincible hero that a story like this needs. One of my personal favorite performances of his.

Fun as it is, it certainly has flaws. Just before we get to the climax of the story, where we're treated to a barrage of extraordinary gunfights, the film suddenly crawls for a few minutes. I'm of the belief that just because a movie is a slow doesn't mean it's boring, but those few minutes were very boring.

Also, I felt that much of the supporting cast didn't quite match each other's tone at times. They were all trying to play the over-the-top henchman, but some to varying degrees, which was distracting at times. But these are small things.

Overall, it's over-the-top and it's overtly violent, but that's kind of the point in a movie like this, which isn't a bad thing. This movie screams fun from top to bottom, and I enjoyed it as such.

The Rundown
The Rundown(2003)

One of the most underrated action films I've ever seen. Unbelievable fun with charming characters, exciting action, and a surprisingly involving story.

I would love to see Peter Berg do more straightforward action films, because the direction in this movie is incredibly sure-handed. All of the action is very smooth and exciting, and the story moves at a strong pace that doesn't shortchange the few more dramatic scenes.

Dwayne Johnson is one of the few remaining true-to-form movie stars in Hollywood today. And, in my eyes, this is the film that sent him right to the top of the list of underrated but still bankable movie stars. To see him skyrocket in movies the way he has recently has been very cool to see.

Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the stunningly charming villainous performance by Christopher Walken. The man is a master-class actor. We all know that, but here he gives us the kind of villain performance that is totally devoted to the audience's experience in the theater. Every little thing he does in the movie is to best serve the fun atmosphere of the film. Really admirable work in a role that could've very well just been another forgettable action movie bad guy to be dispatched by The Rock.

Overall, this is a phenomenally well directed action film with a charismatic lead performance from Dwayne Johnson, a wonderful villain, great comic chemistry with Sean William Scott, and a handful of jaw-dropping, practical action scenes.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
½

In the pantheon of filmmaking, it's a rare feat for a sequel to supercede it's predecessor in every possible way, but "The Wrath of Khan" is certainly one of those rare instances. From its Star Wars-inspired space battles to its rich characters and enormous scope, this is the best Star Trek film there's ever been.

Easily my favorite aspect of the film, and I think most would agree, is the classic scenery-chewing, villainous performance from the wondrously talented Ricardo Montelban.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
½

A whole two-and-a-half hours of glory shots of the Enterprise.

The D Train
The D Train(2015)

The single most awkward and unfunny comedy I've seen this year... And I saw "Get Hard".

Jack Black shines in his strangely layered performance as the odd and dissatisfied Dan, and James Marsden plays the unjustly cocky, secretly dissatisfied Oliver Lawless. The two are phenomenal, but this premise is one that's best suited for a thriller, minus a few glaringly obvious plot points that I found unnecessary.

The direction is good, I will say that. It's a very well directed movie with a strong pace. The only problem is that well-paced awkward, unfunny scenes are still awkward and unfunny.

I don't know what to say anymore. I really don't. See it if you like.

The Stupids
The Stupids(1996)

How on earth did the title never get changed? Think about all the hands this script was in just during pre-production: script readers, an entire team of producers, an entire cast of professional actors, and even the film's world-class director John Landis. None of them made any objections?

But then again, I think about the movie itself, and... well... yeah.

Léon: The Professional

Here we see the brilliance of Luc Besson; his talent for taking the familiar and making it utterly breathtaking. We've all seen hitman/apprentice movies before, but it's Besson's tentative attention to the characters that makes it different and ultimately more special.

Everything about this movie works. From the slick but never gratuitous violence to the breezy pace, this is an action movie that doesn't pride itself on how loud it can bark, but rather how quietly it can whisper and still hit you where it hurts.

Easily the two best aspects of the film are the performances and the script those performances bring to life. My favorite of the film is Jean Reno. While I too feel that Gary Oldman's looney, scenery-chewing performance as the villain is a stroke of genius, Jean Reno sets the stage early on for what we think will be the cold nature of his character, but he constantly surprises us.

It's an action film that packs great action sequences, but never relies on an overabundance of action to keep things moving. Rather, Besson first gives us a strong narrative to follow and then he gives us the action. The same could also be said for his work on the French action masterpiece, "La Femme Nikita".

Don't miss this one, it's a true piece of art! Gripping from the word 'go'.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

As someone who made short films all through high school, no one has ever even come close to this in terms of understanding what it's like to make films as a kid. This is a summer movie unlike any other.

It has the fun and mystery that we haven't gotten since "E.T." and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," but it combines that sense of wonderment with a delightful coming-of-age charm and romance. It's complex, it's nostalgic, and it's insightful.

It's made clear from the get-go that J.J. Abrams was a movie buff as a kid, which no doubt resulted in a slew of movies of his own. Abrams understands what it's like to be a young and aspiring filmmaker, and he hasn't lost that aspiration. It's like he's making the movies he watched as a kid.

This is a summer blockbuster that's packed with action, mystery, humor, charm, and a beautiful adolescent filmmaking spirit.

Special ID
Special ID(2014)
½

Been-there-done-that story, a cast of uninteresting characters, and the same action movie tropes that all audiences (American or Chinese) are getting tired of seeing. But I'd be lying if I said Donnie Yen isn't a bonafide action hero. The bottom line is that the action sequences are what we're all here for and they deliver. Just wish the story wasn't so watered down.

American Sniper

It explores war similarly to "The Hurt Locker" and "Saving Private Ryan," in that it isn't actually about a war; it's not about politics. This is a movie that is about an otherwise ordinary man put into very extraordinary circumstances who rose to the occasion and acted extraordinarily.

Clint Eastwood totally won me over as a director with "Letters from Iwo Jima," and this just further cements his status as the finest director working in this kind of subject matter today. He doesn't shy away from the harsh realities, he doesn't exploit, and he doesn't dwell on politics. He films war in a way that there is no real enemy. He tells his audience that everyone is the enemy to someone, and that the harsh reality that comes with taking the life of another human being will always supercede political agendas.

Also, I must say, after having seen interviews with the real life Chris Kyle, Bradley Cooper delivered one heck of an authentic performance.

I continue to disagree with the war, but I absolutely support the troops, because they are doing an incredibly hard job that I could never even fathom doing myself. That's what this movie is about: a soldier. It's not about a war, it's about a man. This is an awesome achievement with very confident direction from Eastwood, and a confident leading role to boot. This movie was very good from top to bottom.

Eagle vs Shark
½

It's goofy and odd, but it's also witty and adorable. From the delightfully offbeat chemistry of the two leads to the uplifting and wonderfully cheery atmosphere, this is a been-there-done-that indie comedy that still manages to feel original.

The direction for this film is more than a little interesting. It's like if Jared Hess and Wes Anderson's styles had a baby, and it came out British.

This movie never really made me laugh all that hard, but it definitely won me over with all its charming awkwardness.

No Tears For The Dead
½

I really don't understand the critical response to this film. There are some elements that feel convoluted, but the movie still has incredible action that is visually astounding.

Easily my favorite aspect of the film is that we aren't oversaturated by the action. When it does occur it's amazing, but it doesn't occur often, which really helped the film in the long run. I also really liked how coherent it was. I liked the Man From Nowhere, but the action was less jarring to me this time around.

Another thing I enjoyed was Dong-gun Jang. We aren't told a lot about his character, but that's fine because the layers of the character are in Jang's performance, and in what isn't said. Jang is an actor, like many other great action stars, that tells a lot with his eyes.

Overall, the action is jaw-dropping, the direction is very strong, the performances are even stronger, and the pace is consistent. I can honestly say that this is a great action movie.

Stuart: A Life Backwards
½

A lively and energetic biopic that is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking. It's also home to two absolutely brilliant performances from Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The kind of exciting, light-hearted, swashbuckling adventure story that Hollywood doesn't tell anymore. It's theatrical, over-the-top, and totally unapologetic.

Michael Curtiz and William Keighley direct this action-packed family tale with so much heart that it's difficult to watch it and not smile. This is the perfect adventure film.

Also, Hollywood hasn't given us a movie star quite like Errol Flynn since. He wasn't exactly an Oscar contender, but he did exactly what a movie star is supposed to do: he lit up the screen. You look at him in this role and you just know that he's the hero. I don't know anything about him as a person, but his adventurous on-screen persona never ceases to enthrall. Modern audiences may not know his name, but his legacy has left an immovable mark on movie history.

Overall, this is a movie that is about something. It's heroes aren't exactly humble, but they do strive for peace, goodness, and equality. This is a fun and family-friendly Hollywood classic with a constant sense of wonder, and some of the finest sword fights ever put to film. I couldn't have possibly enjoyed this movie more.

Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Using the fiery medium of heavy metal music to explore the tragedy of the war in Iraq, as well as the tiredness of it, this is a powerful documentary that will change your outlook on not only a severely misunderstood genre of music but the futility of war.

This is the ultimate kind of peaceful protest wrapped in a passionate and chaotic package. I really enjoyed this film from top to bottom.

Hancock
Hancock(2008)
½

The thing I don't understand about this movie is the fact that, apart from the hospital finale, the best parts of the film have no action at all. The best parts of this film is just watching the chemistry between Jason Bateman and Will Smith. Those moments are just a little too few and far between.

The Insider
The Insider(1999)

This film is the definition of intense filmmaking. It's a thriller without set pieces, chases, shootouts, fist fights. It's a thriller that relies on silence, paranoia and tension above anything else to create thrills.

What makes this such a special thriller, to me, is the fact that Mann has shown multiple times that he can work in violent cinema to thrill, the most prominent being the legendary shootout in Heat. But this film shows that he doesn't have to.

One of the most exciting scenes of the film is two actors simply faxing back and forth. There's no dialogue, little music, and no complex editing. But the tension created by Mann keeps your eyes glued to the screen.

Crowe, Pacino, Plummer, and Gambon are all brilliant in their roles, but a good actor isn't worth much without a good film to act in, and this is most certainly a film that goes above and beyond good.

This is a master class thriller that I've put off seeing for far too long. And it is now one of the finest thrillers I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
½

Is it better than the first one? No. Are there flaws? You bet. Does that make it a bad movie? Not at all!

This is a good movie! That's the thing about being a fan. Love isn't about blinding yourself to flaws, it's about acknowledging that it has flaws and enjoying it despite them.

Let's start with the good! Firstly, the action is some of the best we've seen in a superhero movie to date, and it wastes no time getting right to it. From the first frames of the movie we're thrown right into an absolutely spectacular, action-packed tracking shot featuring all of our heroes.

Secondly, the team. The Avengers themselves still have an absolutely incredible natural chemistry, and that's never been more evident than in a scene where each member takes a whack at picking up Thor's hammer. They're just sitting and talking, and I enjoyed every single second of it.

Lastly, James Spader as Ultron. He steals every scene he's in. From his quippy one-liners to his charm and intimidation to the fabulous voice work of Spader himself. He is my absolute favorite villain we've had in the MCU thus far.

Now onto my problems with the film, which I don't have many. Firstly, the movie's pace. Whedon has said that his original vision for the movie would constitute a three-and-a-half hour movie. Ultron's creation and turn felt very rushed and choppy. I bought it, but it was still far too quick.

Next, the Maximoff twins didn't feel terribly fleshed out or engaging to me. I mean, they were good, I guess, but they just didn't feel as defined as I would've liked.

Overall, this is a welcome and fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with fun action, a bold and sinister villain, an ensemble cast of standout stars, and one of the best post-credits scenes I've ever seen. I really, really enjoyed it!

The Grey
The Grey(2012)

What separates this from just a ridiculous animals-eating-people movie is the cast of fleshed out characters that make the movie worth while. The performances are fantastic, the suspense is palpable, and Joe Carnahan's directing is tense and exciting. A great movie!

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)
½

Maybe it's my own nostalgia talking, but this will forever be one of my all time favorite superhero films. Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" isn't just a great comic book movie, it's a comic book come to life.

Lake Mungo
Lake Mungo(2009)
½

Not only is this film incredibly scary and incredibly well-made, but it's refreshingly original. This is the model for how to direct a mock-umentary. Convincing, unknown actors, convincing "archival" news footage, and just the right amount of realistic tension.

Pitch Perfect
½

A very pleasent surprise. When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I was convinced this was one I was going to avoid like the plague. But then my friends saw it and said it was hysterical.

Trusting my friends, I finally saw the movie and, low and behold, it was hilarious. The cast's chemistry is infectious, which makes for more convincing performances, which makes for bigger laughs. No matter how sappy and ridiculous the material gets, you're locked in. The reason? Because there's a small part of everyone, whether they'll admit it or not, that desperately wants the Bellas to win.

Solid writing and an all-star ensemble cast. I really enjoyed this movie.

Short Term 12

Beautiful and heart-breaking. This is an unconventional coming-of-age tale of sorts that explores love and family in a way that doesn't alienate or pander it's audience. That's becoming far too rare.

Brie Larson keeps things moving, but she wasn't the standout to me. This film's standout, to me anyway, was the wildly talented Keith Stanfield. Where did this kid come from? He gets to complex and emotional places that I've seen adult actors with years of experience fumble around with. This kid has a bright future.

This is also a movie with powerful, yet grounded direction. It touches on the subject of abandonment without simply acknowledging that it's a prevalent issue and doing nothing with it. This movie offers comfort, and things like that aren't possible just by the talents of a great cast, that comes from talented direction. And Cretton is absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, a talented director.

This is a touching movie that doesn't cater to the audience's boundaries. Cretton tells it like it is, and doesn't apologize for it. This is an important movie.

Pain & Gain
Pain & Gain(2013)
½

Its a morally destitute film, but an undeniably well-directed film at that. This movie is much more well made than it needs to be. Michael Bay has no moral compass, but if he were to direct every movie he made with this kind of creative fervor than I would have so much more respect for his work.

Titanic
Titanic(1997)
½

Overrated and shmaltsy as it may be, this is a spectacle of a film. Visually it's timeless, and it has the kind of scope that is genuinely arresting. It's a great movie, for sure. The greatest romance of our time? Not quite.

This movie has boldness and scope, and is directed with plenty of weight and emotion by James Cameron, but it also employs pre-marital sex and unmotivated nudity to get the job done. Look at the grand scheme of this film. It literally didn't do a single thing to the progression of the film. The accusations against Jack still would've worked in the script, the painting could've worked with her clothes on, and the ship still would have sank. So, tell me, why did she have to be nude?

But I digress. This is a fine movie that is extremely well made, and extremely well conceived. Is it deserving of the eleven Academy Awards it took home? No offense to the artists who worked on the film, but absolutely not!

Rambo: First Blood Part II

What makes this one of the finest action films to come out of the 1980's, a decade that offered a plethora of choices, is that it knows what it is. That was the best part of action movies in the 80's, they were big and dumb, and they knew it.

True Lies
True Lies(1994)
½

Witty, exciting, hilarious, and all-in-all shameless. This is a movie that answers the question, "what if Arnie did a James Bond movie?"

James Cameron directs this movie with an awesome sense of earnest purpose. He understands that the persona Arnold has created is a little ridiculous, and he plays on that, but he isn't at all pandering about it. He doesn't underestimate the intelligence of his audience.

Also, I must say, this movie has some of the most exciting and inventive action sequences I've ever seen. It has all the shootouts, explosions, and bathroom fist fights that one could ask for in an action film, and then all the ones you never even thought of.

It also has the added benefit of a positive theme, celebrating the reignition of a broken marriage, as well as the good that comes from honesty, and how lies only leave hurt feelings and brokenness in their wake.

This is truly one of the best action movies ever made. From the script to the direction to the unbelievable action, this is an absolutely stellar movie that seeks to entertain and be enjoyed and nothing more.

In Your Eyes
In Your Eyes(2014)

Joss Whedon wrote this movie at the age of 25 as he was moving to Los Angeles, and it's clear. It's a movie that flows in such a way that it had to have come out of a time of change. A time where everything was new and interesting.

This movie is simply charming. There are moments where the creativity of the premise is exhausted, but this is one heck of a script. It gives all of the actors more than enough to do, as well as rich characters to explore.

The direction may be a little bit underwhelming, but all of the performances are good, and the script is fantastic. This fun romance fantasy is like the anti-Nicholas-Sparks movie. It takes tired beats and makes them interesting by doing what almost every Sparks film I've seen has failed to do: it takes it's audience seriously. This is a movie that doesn't insult the intelligence of its audience. This is a great movie.

The Homesman
The Homesman(2014)
½

It's a perplexing film with a lot to say, but it doesn't exactly communicate. Tommy Lee Jones does a stellar job, as always, in both positions as actor and director, but he just doesn't do much communicating.

It's a compelling film with loads to be compelled by, but there are times when you just aren't sure what purpose it holds.

I must say though, this is certainly one of the best casts I've ever seen. Jones is great, Swank is great, Streep, of course, is great, but surprisingly the big standout to me was James Spader as the Irish inn keeper. I could've watched another two hours of just him.

Overall, it's performances are great, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the writing is compelling. A great movie that I just don't quite get.

Son of a Gun
Son of a Gun(2015)

Wow! This is a severely underrated movie. "Son of a Gun" has all of the excitement and suspense you want from a prison break/heist movie, but without the patronizing.

Brenton Thwaites is fantastic, but the real standout is Ewan McGregor who has never been better.

Above all else this is a movie that's about finding your place in a world that has already pegged you as something you don't want to be. It has a strong script, brutal action, fantastic visual direction, and a cold pace that reminds me of classic heist flicks. A solid movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Though their efforts to re-simplify the franchise and pull it away from the slightly convoluted mythology don't go unnoticed, this is a movie that just isn't quite up to snuff. It's not bad by any means, but it, yet again, can't seem to capture the movie magic of the first film once again. It's not horrible, but it's certainly an entertaining watch.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
½

While it falls short of the original film, it expands on the mythology of the franchise in a way that feels like actual pirate lore. Also, the sword fights are beautifully orchestrated (specifically one involving three men and a giant hamster wheel of sorts), and the motion capture performance by Bill Nighy was spectacular, as always. This is a suitably fun and entertaining sequel that isn't quite as good as the original, but still boasts exciting, non-stop action and a wonderfully paced script.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

It's a boisterous and exciting action-adventure epic that is a masterclass in the art of escapism. It's packed to the brim with action sequences that feel as though they could be right out of an Errol Flynn movie, and a cast of memorable characters.

Gore Verbinski clearly has a deep appreciation for escapist cinema, but good escapism that doesn't pander or pretend to be something that it isn't.

I ate up every moment of this movie with a childlike excitement and total exuberance for pirates. It's a near perfectly paced summer adventure movie with just enough wit, action, and quotable characters to become a movie classic.

Liar Liar
Liar Liar(1997)
½

"Liar Liar" is among my absolute favorite comedies of all time.

Life Itself
Life Itself(2014)

What makes this documentary great, as opposed to other biographical documentaries, is that we don't simply get a notion as to what the life of this man may have been. We get the reality of things, sometimes the harsh reality. Ebert was a strong man, but he was also a complex and flawed man. Meaning, once we cut out all the cake and watermelon, he was simply a man. A man who was passionate about the medium of cinema, and the weight that it has carried throughout the generations.

Steve James has not only crafted a wonderfully intuitive documentary, but he has given us a window into the life of a competitive, strong, artistic, creative, misguided, flawed, spiritual, joyful, thought-provoking person. Fascinating work.

Interstellar
Interstellar(2014)
½

Christopher Nolan has created a brilliant piece of visual storytelling about respecting the beautiful and amazing world that God has given us, as well as respecting the God that created us.

I will say definitively that the reason mankind failed in this prediction of earth's future is because they totally abandoned hope in the Lord. God is the ultimate power in the universe and the moment we stop trusting in Him is the moment we fail.

Get Hard
Get Hard(2015)
½

I love the chemistry between Ferrell and Hart, but I actually forgot that I saw this movie an hour later. That's not an exaggeration. For a little bit, I actually forgot.

Oh, and also, if you didn't know that there's a lot of rape in prison, Etan Cohen is going to remind you an exhausting number of times.

Overall, this is the sub-par and sophomoric comedy that you expect. The comedy is sometimes funny and rarely hilarious, but all the humor is just too few and far between to save the movie. It's not very good.

About Alex
About Alex(2014)

The chemistry is there, and the cast is near flawless, but what separates this movie from a movie of the same rite like The Big Chill is the fact that this movie doesn't do much to help. The Big Chill spoke to the solace and love that's found in friendship in the midst of tragedy, but About Alex only uses suicide as a plot device to get all the characters in one location.

The performances are stellar though. Specifically from the wildly talented Aubrey Plaza and Max Greenfeld, who has never been better.

I also really appreciate Jess Zwick's direction, just not so much his script beyond moments of clever dialogue. He embraces the opportunity to allow chemistry between his actors without sacrificing the visual storytelling.

Overall, it's a well-directed and very well-acted piece of filmmaking. It just brings up to many glaringly obvious comparisons to films like The Big Chill and St. Elmo's Fire, both of which handle the subject matter to much better avail. I enjoyed it, but not enough to make me want to recommend it to others.

Disneynature Monkey Kingdom
½

A beautiful, surprisingly complex, and heartwarming celebration of God and His amazing creation!

This being my first experience with a Disney Nature film, I didn't have a lot of expectations for this movie, but from square one I was locked in. The gorgeous cinematography and fun story building pull you in right away, but it's the story that keeps you there.

The Passion of the Christ

I'm confused by the reviews for this film. They all seem to condemn the violence of the film over everything else. Why is that?

Mel's direction is a little askew at times, but this is the closest we've come to a Biblically-accurate epic since John Huston was lambasted for thinking outside the box with "The Bible: In the Beginning".

I am indeed a follower of Christ, but I'm also a filmmaker, and I felt that this was a masterpiece. People don't want the harsh realities of scripture so they like to condemn Biblical films that make an effort to be accurate. Instead people like cushy, inaccurate movies like "Ten Commandments" and "Exodus: Gods and Kings".

Paddington
Paddington(2015)
½

Fun, hilarious, sweet, and incredibly charming.

Milius
Milius(2013)
½

A fascinating look inside the life of a fascinating Hollywood bad boy. This is both a brilliantly put together documentary, and a visceral look inside the Hollywood machine. I loved this movie for the sure-handed editing and passionate devotion to the hard facts. John Milius is officially the most fascinating man in Hollywood.

Epic Movie
Epic Movie(2007)

It's sad that the best this poorly conceived, one trick "satire" can do to mock other BETTER movies is to conjure up unoriginal bawdy humor. The reason that movies like "Naked Gun" and "Airplane" were hilarious and still hold up to this day is, because Leslie Nielson was a total comedic genius, and he could sell all of the wackiness. Seltzer and Friedberg are really bad about latching onto premises that have promise, and then picking the most one-dimensional, unfunny cast possible. This breed of satire isn't funny anymore, because we've seen it a million times before. Look at movies like "Kingsman" or "Cabin In The Woods" or "You're Next," for instance. Those are great movies that entertain on the same level as the movies they're poking fun at, and they don't sacrifice the satire and comedic possibilities. This breed of sophomoric poop and fart humor just is NOT funny.

Unfriended
Unfriended(2015)
½

It pales in comparison to the master work that was "It Follows," but this is certainly a step in the right direction for the horror genre.

Last year was an absolute nightmare for horror fans. From the atrocity that was "Annabelle" to the boredom of "The Quiet Ones" to the nonsense of "Ouija." We had one genuinely good horror film from last year: "The Babadook."

So far this year we've had good, solid horror movies pretty regularly. In my opinion, "It Follows" is the most sharp and ingenious piece of horror filmmaking since "The Conjuring," and I really didn't dislike "The Lazarus Effect" all that much considering it was his second time directing, and his first time making a genre film.

"Unfriended" is a movie with a bad marketing campaign and a gimmicky premise that proved to be creative and surprisingly emotional. The film's atmosphere, or lack thereof, leaves the viewer in a constant state of awareness, but it doesn't ever let you feel in control. We're put in the shoes of the lead character from square one, and the movie really benefits from it.

Also, I must say that I was extremely impressed with the performances as well. Shelley Hennig was spectacular. All of the actors had great chemistry and that really helped carry the film along even when things get a little melodramatic or too theatrical.

Overall, this movie was a pleasent surprise. It was entertaining and unsettling, even though it wasn't terribly scary. I honestly really liked this movie.

Maps to the Stars

It's impressively directed, as is usual with David Cronenberg films, but it's decidedly angrier than any other film of his. I must say though that at least it's about something. It's the first movie I've seen about filmmaking that isn't actually about making films. It's about the darker side of Hollywood that movie fanatics like myself prefer to pretend doesn't actually exist.

It also features an extraordinary supporting performance by the immensely talented Julianne Moore. Her best of the year was definitely "Still Alice," but she was insanely good here. As was the majority of the cast, each in a different respect.

Overall, it's one of Cronenberg's less memorable outings, but it's certainly powerful when it wants to be.

Romeo + Juliet

This film seems to get a bad rep because of the not so impressive hyperkinetic style, and while I may not agree that that was the best approach to "Romeo and Juliet" I think Baz Luhrmann achieved exactly what he was aiming for: the most hyperkinetic, unique, and thoroughly original adaptation of Shakespeare there's ever been. Also the performances do the legendary source material justice. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes develop a convincing chemistry and deliver the dated dialogue in perfect fashion, and of course they have the help of some amazing supporting performances by Harold Perrineu, Paul Sorvino, and Pete Postlethwaite. A film that I probably wouldn't watch again and again, but definitely a film I enjoyed and a reasonably well meaning adaptation.

The Signal
The Signal(2014)
½

A more than competently made sci-fi thriller with great performances by Brenton Thwaites and Laurence Fishburne, as well as some beautiful cinematography.

The movie's strongest factors are the cast and the direction, for sure. The cast handles the material with natural chemistry and realistic emotion while William Eubank fights to pull a coherent narrative from a slightly convoluted script.

Into the Woods

I went into this movie knowing nothing about the stage musical or even what the story was, and all I have to say is wow!

Rob Marshall directs in such a way that it literally feels as though the play was simply pumped up with steroids. He pulls performances from his actors that feel very reminiscent of a stage play. Similar to the way he directed CHICAGO. He finds layers of dramatic heft in the midst of all the craziness as well. Particularly from the baker and his wife.

All of the performances are stellar, but I must say that my personal favorites were Daniel Huttlestone and Emily Blunt.

Huttlestone brings such a brightness to everything he's in. He has an incredible ability that not a lot of young actors have: he can sing like nobody's business and he can emote while doing so. It sounds simple, but it makes a big difference.

Also, I had no idea that Emily Blunt could sing, but she was phenomenal. She achieves something that's difficult, particularly in musicals, which is she's believable. Generally in musicals the tone is set very over-the-top and melodramatic. Emily achieves that and she also achieves a level of dramatic believability.

Overall, this was a beautiful Disney extravaganza that loses a little steam in the second half, but is ultimately still a brilliant movie! It's uplifting, it's bright, and it's just downright fun! I loved it!

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)

An underappreciated masterpiece.

Enchanted
Enchanted(2007)

Whimsical, wonderful, and never patronizing. It's a fairy tale that admits it's a fairy tale and never pretends to be anything more than just that. Amy Adams takes the reins of this Disney adventure with the same whimsy and fantasy as any one of the animated Disney icons from decades past. This is the kind of rare, spectacular, uplifting, joyful film experience that feels as though Walt Disney himself was involved.

Slither
Slither(2006)
½

There's clearly a lot of respect in the making of this movie. Respect for both itself and for the outspoken fandom that this sort of film attracts. This is for fans of Romero, Raimi, the reformed Peter Jackson, and, of course, the great Roger Corman. There are points where I felt a little drained by it, but that's completely forgivable considering how delightfully fun and self-aware that the rest of the film was. Awesome fun! Creepy and disgusting mixed in with some solid, outlandish comedy!

Superman II
Superman II(1981)

As much as I loved the original, I was surprised to find that this movie was actually better in a sense. This film relies much more heavily on its action and the tension between Superman and Lois Lane. It doesn't, however, have the same smooth direction from Richard Donner. But, that being said, what this superhero classic does better it does much better.

Superman
Superman(1978)

From top-to-bottom it's a brilliantly paced and directed superhero movie. You have the perfectly cast hero, the dastardly villain, the beautiful love interest, and the endless fun of a comic book come to life with boisterous energy.

Let's start at this movie's core: the extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime casting of Christopher Reeve, who embodies the quintessential hero with grace and humility.

Also, how could I not mention Gene Hackman? The guy is master class in every sense, and he transforms into Superman's arch nemesis with great ease. A standout performance.

This movie is fun so unsaturated and pure that it rivals even the likes of other classics like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Back to the Future". I loved this movie!

Exodus: Gods and Kings
½

Racist and inaccurate as it may be, it still maintains that God's faithfulness and unwillingness to give up on us was the source of Moses' victory. It dives deeper into the history around the miracle, and it does so with an enormous scope and scale that may be truer to the real events than any other adaptation of this miraculous and inspiring true story.

We are blessed enough to be under the rule of a powerful and mighty Creator who loves us. I serve a God who uses crooked sticks to make straight lines. Moses was a flawed man who lost his way, but God had a greater plan for him than he saw for himself. Nothing is outside of the will of God, and He always makes the best decision possible, even if the road to that decision's fruition is a challenging one.

This was a flawed, but truly epic film that may not be as masterful as Cecil B. DeMille's "Ten Commandments," but is certainly as spectacular. I loved this movie. I would've rather it kept to the Holy Scriptures, but it stayed true to the powerful truths about God and the service of Him that we know to be true. I really enjoyed this movie.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This was a complete blast! As a die hard fan of the classic Ninja Turtles, I wasn't crazy about Megan Fox as April O'Neal or the changing of the origin story, but they actually worked great. The chemistry between the turtles was easily the highlight of the film. They completely stole the show. This movie was just fantastic! I had an extraordinary amount of fun with this movie! It was fun, ridiculous, goofy and completely absurd, exactly what I expect and love about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles both as a hardcore fanboy and as a moviegoer!

Session 9
Session 9(2001)

Palpable tension and paranoia are what keeps the scares coming rather than jump scares and gore. It's a creative take on the haunted house genre, and, even though I watched it in broad daylight, it still scared the crap out of me. I loved this dark and paranoid masterwork. This movie is sorely unappreciated.

The Sacrament

Ti West has an extremely bright future. He's going to change things in the horror genre. Its a little bit been-there-done-that in it's performances, but West's talent for building and maintaining tension is enough to make me want to watch this again and again. He just blows me away with every movie.

The Innkeepers

This movie really impressed me. The cinematography was fantastic, the directing and editing were great, both due to the talents of Ti West, the sound design was amazing, and Sara Paxton delivered a really good performance. These kinds of films are what keeps classic genres like ghost stories alive and well. This is also the kind of horror movie that separates the horror film aficionados and the basic horror fans. Its slow but not boring and clichà (C) at times but not entirely unoriginal. Ti West may just be the brightest new name in the horror community.

The House of the Devil
½

While it isn't my favorite of Ti West's films, I was still extremely impressed. It's brilliant storytelling from top to bottom. The scares don't come at you very fast, but when they hit they hit hard. West's visual grace and perfect pacing mark this movie with future cult classic status. It's visually stunning and genuinely scary. I love this movie!

Saw
Saw(2004)
½

More gruesome than it needs to be and not nearly as scary as I would've liked, but James Wan's technical proficiency and visual talent are just amazing. I won't ever watch it again, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't very impressed with how well-directed it was.

The Hangover Part II

One laugh. I'm not exaggerating. I laughed once in this movie, and it isn't until the last half hour of the movie.

It's vile, disgusting, and all-in-all sinful. It's horrendous.

The Lazarus Effect
½

It's just so-so. I generally enjoy most of the horror films that Blumhouse puts out, because they have a talent for finding talented actors and passionate directors who are all willing to work on a small budget. While that is still the case here it just didn't work out as well here as it did for James Wan and Scott Derrickson.

The movie is riddled with lazy jump scares. And the frustrating thing is that those lazy jump scares begin with a genuine sense of tension. You feel like you're in for something interesting, but you're not a lot of the time.

There's no real follow through on any of the interesting themes to do with mortality and the afterlife that are established early on in the movie.

I must say though, David Gelb did some very cool visual things. Namely a chilling scare with a broken mirror that I thought was very creative and very scary.

Overall, it's a movie I'll probably forget happened and I didn't particularly like that much, but I may watch again. Who knows.

Still Alice
Still Alice(2015)

Julianne Moore delivers a brilliant performance with so much subtlety, honesty and bravery that it's just astounding.

Glatzer and Westmoreland also craft the movie with honest progression that shows not only accurate progression of the disease, but also in a way that cements it in Moore's perspective. You don't just see the good days, but, more importantly, you see the days that she remembers whether that be good or bad.

The only drawback of the film is the performance by Kristen Stewart. I'm sure she's a wonderful human being. She is, however, simply serviceable in the role, but it was very distracting, because she was in a movie occupied by predominantly award-worthy performances.

An Oscar well-earned for Julianne Moore, as well as a masterful piece of acting from almost everyone involved. I absolutely adored this emotionally involving movie!

The Imitation Game
½

A commanding performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, and honest direction from Morten Tyldum. While I personally don't feel, at least for now, that this film merited a Best Picture in comparison to films like "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Whiplash," it's still a fantastic film achievement with strong pacing and a sense of purpose that doesn't become overtly self-indulgent. It's a really solid movie with a masterful performance that transcends all biopic clichà (C)s. A really great film.

Valkyrie
Valkyrie(2008)

It feels like those classic escapist historical thrillers, ala "The Dirty Dozen" or "The Great Escape". Tack on Bryan Singer's fully realized direction and a slew of great performances and you get a movie that's much better than it needs to be. A really fantastic movie!

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Whoa! This is possibly the most hard and twisted psychological thriller I've seen in recent years. It sports several strong performances, namely a pair of Oscar-worthy performances by the always wonderful Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller.

It's twisted, disturbing, involving, dark, horrifying, and unbelievably well-made. This one shouldn't be missed by anyone who appreciates horror that's elevated beyond jump scares and cheap thrills.

The Way Way Back

A perfect coming-of-age movie. It's unabashedly uplifting and fun with fresh characterizations, and sharp and witty dialogue. An incredibly fun movie! I loved it!

Unconditional

An affecting testament to the power of God's unconditional love for us; the indisputable power of the one true God and how He shows Himself to us in things like simple acts of love, hope and kindness. It's also just downright uplifting, which this world desperately needs at the moment.

The performances are relatively strong, and the passionate direction elevates the potentially ham-fisted material (corny as it may be from time to time).

"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." - 1 John 4:8

Seven Psychopaths

Well, I'm officially convinced of it now.

White Bird in a Blizzard
½

It's a unique achievement purely in its tone and atmosphere, which I think may have lost some viewers, but what really makes this movie pop is the performances.

Shailene Woodley was marvelous as always, but the showstopper is Eva Green. She chews the scenery to bits and pieces, and you relish every minute of screen time that she gets.

An odd, campy little movie that was very entertaining.

War of the Worlds

A beautifully directed sci-fi epic with a strong performance by Tom Cruise and phenomenal direction from Steven Spielberg that capitalizes on the sense of claustrophobia and chaos that H.G. Wells created.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

Simply put, this is an expertly directed action movie with a strong central narrative that, though it is certainly bleak and cynical, is more compelling than most others.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Every time I see a Fincher film I feel as though it's perfect. Maybe not to me, but to him. He doesn't care about the audience because he made a perfect film in his eyes, and I find that really interesting. That being said, this is the perfect thriller.

Pessimistic and uncomfortable as it may be, this is an amazing cinematic achievement and potentially Fincher's most underrated work.

He doesn't try to do the original justice beyond the story, because he's not making that film. He's not making the novel or the Swedish film, he's making something that's entirely his own and you can see that in every single solitary frame of this masterpiece.

Fincher makes the kinds of movies that make me want to make movies again. He's a madman, but he's also a complete genius.

The Theory of Everything
½

Wow! As a performance piece, it's masterful. As an emotional work of art, it's tender and sweet.

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones have infectious chemistry, and they both deliver Oscar caliber performances. Specifically in the case of Redmayne.

Longford
Longford(2007)
½

Tender and beautiful. Its a film about unlikely friendship, but even more so it's about forgiveness. Its about how forgiveness is immediate and trust is earned, but once trust is earned it can't be taken away because of what was forgiven in the first place.

It's a great little movie that is expertly paced and directed by Tom Hooper. It's also performed with more grace and naturalism than I've seen in a while from the likes of Andy Serkis, Samantha Morton, and, as always, the great Jim Broadbent.

The Replacement Killers
½

A stylish and well directed, but fairly empty piece of escapist action. It's not all that interesting, but it's very entertaining when it wants to be.

The Muppets
The Muppets(2011)

It's the perfect family film! This will provide plenty of laughs for parents with its tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and clear nostalgia, and will enthrall kids with its crazy and zany music and bright positivity. There is no possible way I could have enjoyed this movie more!

Birdemic 2: The Resurrection

You know what makes this terrible movie even worse than the first one? This one wasn't an accident.

The Room
The Room(2003)

Tommy Wieseau's isn't a bad movie, it's an anomaly. The Room is like a guidebook on what not to do.

Act of Valor
Act of Valor(2012)
½

It's a respectable effort with some great action set pieces that totally the intriguing premise of all drama and complexity. It's a good movie to just shut your brain off and enjoy the mindless action, but I was really hoping for something more.

Total Recall
Total Recall(1990)

What makes this Verhoeven sci-fi adventure a masterpiece isn't that it has the best cinematography or any Oscar-worthy performances, but the fact that it's so fantastical and bright. It has solid action, just the right amount of excess, and a plot that unravels in such an insane way that you'll believe just about anything.

Paul Verhoeven, you dastardly evil genius, you've done it again.

Starship Troopers
½

It's a movie that, much like another Verhoven film by the name of Robocop, has ideas that reach higher than the action and overzealous gore that it puts up. This is a movie that, while enjoyable purely for the action and entertainment of it, is about the futility of war. The excessive gore and absurdly large body count are to show how ridiculous war truly is. It's also a glorious send up of military recruiting tactics and propaganda.

Paul Verhoven is a high-minded and masterful filmmaker with big and bold ideas that also enjoys a little mindless escapism. He seems to be one of only a few directors who can successfully achieve a combination of the two ideals. A couple others being Takeshi Kitano and Quentin Tarantino.

I really liked this movie, even if the acting was carboard.

The Master
The Master(2012)

I don't agree with what Anderson says about the link between religion and deception here, but anyone who says that this isn't a masterfully made film is a fool.

Anderson employs a sense of tone and atmosphere similar to his previous film There Will Be Blood, but he does it in such a way that it's significantly more surreal.

This is also a gorgeously shot film with extraordinary use of focus, and a direct link between the frame and the tone of the scene.

Anderson's bold direction is also paired with two of the best lead performances I've ever seen: Joaquin Phoenix as Freddy Quill and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd. I absolutely love this movie!

The Expendables 2

It's what I was expecting: a larger than life action extravaganza with no real depth to speak of, and that's okay. This movie caters to a specific audience: through and through action movie fans, and I think those fans not only got exactly what they wanted, but their expectations were blown out of the water. Extreme action, goofy one liners, moments of nonsensical dialogue, and a paper thin plot. I absolutely loved it!

The Expendables 3

There's no fun to be had here at all. It's an overpopulated movie that takes no time to make you care about any of the characters. Except for Kellan Lutz. I must give them credit, they made an effort with him. Also, I have to give credit to Antonio Banderas and Mel Gibson, who are the only additions to the cast that actually make a conscious effort to better the movie they're in.

It's also COMPLETELY lost the soul of why they started this franchise in the first place. It was meant to be a callback to classic action films. They failed, for the most part, with the first attempt. They hit the nail on the head with the fantastic second film, and then they just fumbled the ball like never before with this shameful cash grab.

Poorly animated CGI explosions, a cast of uninterested actors (the worst of which was Ford), and a plot so dull and lifeless that not even the surprisingly excellent turn from Mel Gibson as the villain can save it.

This is one of the worst action movies I've seen in a very, very long time. And the sad part is that Sly hasn't even tried to defend it.

It gets one star ONLY for Gibson and Banderas.

Commando
Commando(1985)

It's every action movie cliche wrapped up in one boisterous, bouncy, absurd package that packs a wallop.

Is it stupid? Yeah. Is it goofy? Oh, yeah! Is it fun? More so than anything else.

I love this big, dumb movie!

The Marine
The Marine(2006)

One of the funniest movie experiences I've ever had! John Cena, you really can't act, but if you keep delivering performances this hilarious I may just call myself a fan of yours!


But seriously....this was really bad.

Bad Boys II
Bad Boys II(2003)

It's all just too violent, homophobic, racist, joyless, unfunny, unoriginal, and just generally inappropriate. But, you know, it's a Michael Bay movie.

Fantasia
Fantasia(1940)

Walt Disney's masterpiece. This is a perfect animated film that totally embodies the Disney spirit, even if the final chapter is some of the most haunting and scary imagery ever committed to an animated feature.