2016 eh? Bunch of stuff happened didn't it? Yes, that and there were some great movies released this year. There were a lot of shit ones too but then everything's a balance.
This year I chose to do twenty movies to demonstrate the good health of cinema but mainly due to the high form of stuff I caught at Frightfest clogging up the top ten, they showed some proper shit too but then there's that balance again.
The rural multiplex didn't fair so well with only three out of the top ten getting a showing over the road. It is no surprise that the rural multiplex showed some serious shit as well though, everything's a fucking balance.
Here's twenty films that if you haven't yet seen, find a moment and see them. Then there's ten you can comfortably avoid as well, they are poor as piss.
20 Favourite New Films That I Saw On A Cinema Screen
Ryan Reynolds finds the perfect role allowing him to ruthlessly quip to his hearts content whlst his overbearing smugness is thankfully hidden behind a mask. Further notched up the list by appearing at just the right time and skewering the po-faced seriousness that now drowns many superhero movies.
19: The Girl With All The Gifts
An excellent book, trimmed down to the barest character motivations to communicate a brand new angle on zombie infestation. Not just a 28 Days Later clone but does take a lot of what makes that brilliant before romping off down it's own unique path.
18: Goodnight Mommy [Ich Seh Ich Seh]
An exercise in chilling Haneke style minimalism. The ending is too garish and clearly broadcast for it to truly stand next to such a master but echoes of his cold devastation can be found throughout which is why it's here.
17: The Ghoul
Sits so comfortably within the incredibly restrictive confines of its budget that you stop noticing the basic sets and instead focus on excellent acting and a moebius strip script that begins as police procedural, heads towards mental illness and finally ends somewhere most unexpected, most welcome and with a distinct whiff of Alan Moore's work about it.
16: Captain America: Civil War
Marvel change up a gear calling on their untouchable expertise with episodic story structure, swift and immediate character introductions (one panel with a funny quip in a comic book, one scene and a funny quip in a film, and they're in!) and regular moments of constantly inventive spectacle. Handles so much world building whilst ruthlessly clinging to its own story throughout, it's easily leaving any attempts to compete in the dust.
15: Nocturnal Animals
Packed to the brim with existential angst, nasty relationship fallout and grim emotional catharsis. But mainly makes it here because Michael Shannon's delivery of the line 'fuck off' is the best I've seen all year.
14: Midnight Special
Shannon once again on fine form as an intensely unhappy man shepherding a glowing faced boy toward awe filled conclusion. With added bonus of consistently excellent supporting cast.
13: The Nice Guys
Shane Black has now honed his only movie, a witty bickering duo caught in a maelstrom of dark action-comedy, to a near diamond level of perfection.
12: Free Fire
Ben Wheatley leaves behind disorientating editing and experimental abstraction for an exercise in pure form that zings with both insults and bullets, managing to maintain momenutum even when everybody's dragging themselves around the floor on their elbows.
11: Man Underground
Another low budget gem anchored by superb performances, this one dabbles in alien conspiracy, flawed human relationships and amateur film making.
10: Green Room
A tightly controlled siege movie with intermittent explosions of violence presided over by a quietly terrifying Patrick Stewart. Slowly shifts from generating stomach churning disgust to being hideously cathartic.
09: The Arrival
Less a film, more two hours of slow dawning realisation.
08: The Witch [The VVitch: A New England Folktale]
A fantastic journey into puritanical brutality and harrowing devil manifestation that would probably get this far on the talking goat alone.
07: Under The Shadow
Set against the Iran war of the eighties so plenty of room for political statement, though none of this ever gets in the way of the truly brilliant traditional ghost story at its core contrasting fictional chills with the very real horror of humanity's squabbles.
06: Hail, Caesar!
The Coens continuing to just calmly shit out masterpiece after masterpiece.
05: Found Footage 3D
Uses the 'rules aware' horror tropes of Scream to highlight the daftness ingrained in the Found Footage genre. Yet at the same time is also a perfectly executed Found Footage horror movie. All filmed in 3D. Which is as totally idiotic as it is totally brilliant. It's very brilliant.
04: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Star Wars movie full of darkness and moral ambiguity that everybody really wanted when Force Awakens was released turned out to be a really good film. Really fucking good in fact, though I'm glad Force Awakens wasn't this because now we have both.
03: The Neon Demon
Winding Refn responding to 'style over substance' accusations by sculpting a fantastic homage to substance free exploitation cinema from a huge solid chunks of pure style, demonstrating that the phrase 'style over substance' need not necessarily be shorthand for shit.
02: The Similars [Los Parecidos]
Sets its stall out early as Twilight Zone pastiche, then piles on the weird by constantly finding new inventive explanations for just what the fuck is going on. Frequently made me laugh just as hard as it freaked me out.
01: The Greasy Strangler
Endlessly quotable. Endlessly stomach turning. Endlessly perverse. Endlessly hilarious. Endlessly insane. Enlessly greasy. Endlessly brilliant.
10 Shittest Films That I Saw On A Cinema Screen
10: X-Men: Apocalypse
After making the one amazing X-Men movie we all knew Singer still had in him he went on to show it was the only amazing X-Men movie he still had in him with this insipid CGI particle spunkfest.
09: Suicide Squad
A hopeless muddle of characters doing very little other than expressing various attitudes and waiting for a plot point that will require their ability. 'There's water? Well I'm a fucking crocodile, let's try and actually do something!' Though this never happens for Captain Boomerang because who needs somebody whose best special ablity is not being able to act in a film?
08: Don't Breathe
Inconsistency and everybody being a wanker leaks all the tension away and then it ends with a turkey baster moment that's somehow worse than when Sunset Beach did it in the nineties.
07: The Conjuring 2
Crosses a fine line that seperates genuinely unexpected scares from laughable Where's Wally style ghost spotting. 'Where's it going to jump out from? Where is it? Oh. It was the dog. It was inside the dog? What the fuck am I watching.' etc.
06: Blair Witch
A textbook rendition of everything that is wrong with modern found footage movies. So many glitch-cut jump scares even the characters started complaining about it, people doing inexplicable things for the sake of maintaining a running camera (I almost had a hernia from laughing at the girl trying to get a drone out of a tree with a broken ankle) and forgetting what made it work so well in the first place by having a shabby old lady jogging about the last twenty minutes.
05: Without Name
Made it's lead character such an unlikeable prick, it made the entire film into unlikeable shit.
04: The Legend Of Tarzan
Shows absolute contemptible disregard for the source material, geography and basic physics.
03: Blood Feast [2016 Remake]
Remakes are unecessary at the best of times but remaking a legendarily bad film then packing it full of terrible lines, hopelessly inept acting and a woman in her late thirties playing a teenager isn't funny, it's bollocks.
Tries to pass off a particularly nasty stalker tale as a love story in space, tainting everything that happens and making Chris Pratt an irredeemable prick no matter how many spaceships he fixes or fucking trees he plants.
An atrocity on every level from direction, script and special effects right the way through to what the fuck is everybody wearing? Cusack and Jackson visibly could not give a fuck about what's happening around them and it has three endings and the clever thing is they're all shit.
Saturday, 31 December 2016
Zombies made all the more terrifying by being able to run, use anything they can as a weapon from knives and axes through to machine guns, form co-operative groups to do things like break in to buildings or cut power sources, operate all manner of heavy machinery and fly themselves in to the city in the first place in a giant plane.
Friday, 30 December 2016
Contains an outlandish setup involving a team of criminals on the run with millions of dollars in a massive cargo plane piloted by an innocent father/daughter combo who presumably own a massive cargo plane for shits n giggles. Then due to an unexplained betrayal the plane is forced to land next to a field packed full of supernatural scarecrows, although due to budgetary limitations only a maximum of two of these ever move at the same time. The scarecrows clearly take a dim view on the avaricious tendencies exhibited by the criminals and summarily stab them all which is something to do with a photo on a wall that is shown repeatedly but never explained.
Despite all this, still manages to be a 'good effort'.
Saturday, 24 December 2016
In twelve months time Jennifer Lawrence appears to have gone from playing the strong willed, independent Joy in David O. Russell's film of the same name to portraying a vapid rendition of feminity that has no purpose in life until she becomes somewhere to put Chris Pratt's dick and forgives his outrageously heinous transgressions because he's good at fixing things.
Spectacularly mishandled bollocks.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Sunday, 11 December 2016
Thursday, 24 November 2016
Quite literally Found Footage in that a man picks up a camera from a pawn shop and finds a tape full of barely watchable camcorder footage of people endlessly shrieking and running about as they endure unecessary rape, demonic possession and people appearing suddenly in doorways. He then sits down to watch this atrocity in a bar full of people and I spent the entire film wondering why he didn't just turn it off whilst quietly ignoring the fact that I could be doing the same.
Sunday, 20 November 2016
JKR: I've got this lovely tale about a wizard who loses some monsters in New York and has to round them up again.
WB: That's nice, it needs more story.
JKR: No, I don't think it does. It will focus on the awe and wonder of these mystical creatures with a bit of glib characterisation from a few sidekicks along the way.
WB: We have amazing cast lined up for the inconsequential roles that more story will generate. Big names.
JKR: More cast would just get in the way surely, and an extra story would be an unecessary distraction from the funny tale about the wizard and his exotic menagerie.
WB: (slams fist in to table) WE WANT SEVEN MOVIES OUT OF THIS DAMN IT!
Friday, 11 November 2016
Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Saturday, 5 November 2016
Long-winded mystery that contains a comedy accordian, an old lady getting thrown head first in to a fire and an overlong convoluted final monologue that explains every weird detail that happened, except for why the old lady got thrown head first in to a fire.
Sunday, 30 October 2016
Friday, 28 October 2016
Sunday, 23 October 2016
It's so rare to see a film as compellingly unique as this. The closest comparison I can draw is that it's a bit like a Russ Meyer horror movie with less tits but that doesn't come anywhere close to describing the astonishing levels of insanity, hilarity and stomach churning disgust generated by this absolute gem.
Saturday, 22 October 2016
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Sunday, 16 October 2016
Six films in and Wheatley shows absolutely no signs of slowing down in the excellence stakes. This one is far more straight up than the others but ably compensates with a bunch of cracking performances, consistently deft humour and a fuck-tonne of bullets.
A dizzying swirl of shifting narrative and insidous weirdness. Loved it, but then this kind of thing is so far up my street it goes all the way round the globe and ends up back at the beginning of my street. That clever bit of praise works much better once you've seen the film, go watch it now.
Saturday, 15 October 2016
A superb trio of narratives entwined into a rope of seething hatred. Sometimes it's hatred for the lives being led, sometimes it's hatred of the people involved in those lives or in the case of Michael Shannon it's a compulsively watchable hatred of fucking everything.
Monday, 10 October 2016
Attempts to distance itself from shitty slasher movies by examining the aftermath of a campsite massacre and the psychological fallout endured by the only survivor. Until a hamfisted attempt at a twist that is, at which point it uncomfortably wedges an entire shitty slasher movie into the final ten minutes.
Sunday, 9 October 2016
Saturday, 8 October 2016
Friday, 7 October 2016
Sarah Michelle Gellar uselessly ambles about somewhere she's never been before having freaky flashbacks to things she's never seen before, all building to a twist that finally makes her relevant but hinges on the unlikely notion that nobody, not her best friend, not even her dad would ever mention to her that she was in a car crash when she was eleven.
Thursday, 6 October 2016
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Monday, 3 October 2016
Sunday, 2 October 2016
Adapted from a book already best described as Tim Burton's X-Men. Which means with the heavy lifting done for him he can focus on making a film that is both his best since the nineties and that odd rarity, better than the book.
When I asked the teenaager if she liked it I got both a dismissive shrug and a 'yeah'. Whatever that means.
Saturday, 1 October 2016
Friday, 30 September 2016
One day I'm going to write a book about Found Footage horror movies, I'll devote the first chapter to the genius that is the game changing, shit yourself terror of The Blair Witch Project and the final chapter will detail the myriad faults of this disappointing pile of piss. For now this paragraph will have to do.
Tuesday, 30 August 2016
Monday, 29 August 2016
(Frightfest Day 5)
Fantastic nest of contradiction. It has moments that are as funny as they are unsettling, the film looks as polished as it often looks amateur, it rips the piss at the same time as it expresses undying love for the movies and most impressively it fucks wholesale with form as it presents itself as a DVD extra at the same time as being the main feature.
Sunday, 28 August 2016
(Frightfest Day 4)
Starts with a title card explaining that this is a fictionalised version of a documentary about a perceived curse. This coupled with its serious tone gives it the feel of a Channel 5 true story. Then when the curse kicks off and the seriousness gets juxtaposed with the usual stylised genre trappings (fast edits, loud noise, bleeding faces etc.) it just ends up feeling a little bit tasteless.