Pencilstorm contributor Rob Braithwaite is watching 366 movies this year, so you don't have to, here is part se7enteen of his continuing 2016 rundown......
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = I can’t see giving anything that I’ve seen once five stars
★ ★ ★ ★ = get to the theater / move it up in your queue
★ ★ ★ = “three stars is a recommendation” - The Empire [magazine] Podcast
★ ★ = if the remote is too far away, you could do worse
★ = if the remote is too far away, get someone to move it closer then throw it at the TV
Odd Thomas (2013) ★ ★ ★
stars: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe
director: Stephen Sommers
A short-order cook is able to see demons that walk among us. He is our only chance for survival against an attack from Hell.
The script is overly chatty. Heavily narrated, it feels like the CW show iZombie in the way it often recaps what has happened and what is going to happen and what is happening. Normally that would be a problem, but the movie is breezy and fun.
double feature pairing: Men in Black
The African Queen (1951) ★ ★.5
stars: Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn
director: John Huston
At the dawn of World War One, a drunk riverboat captain and a missionary decide to attack a German warship.
I can see how this movie was influential in the romance/adventure genre. Maybe I prefer the more contemporary takes, because I couldn’t find a care for this.
watch Romancing the Stone instead
What’s Up, Doc? (1972) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’Neal, Madeline Kahn
director: Peter Bogdanovich
Four identical suitcases usher in a wacky screwball comedy. Yes, pies are thrown.
There’s some really funny stuff here. The dialogue has a great rhythm.
double feature pairing: Foul Play
Sugar (2008) ★ ★ ★.5
Algenis Perez Soto, André Holland, Michael Gaston
directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Flack
The American Dream is within reach for a Dominican baseball player called to the States to play professionally.
It's the kind of sports story you don’t hear about. How a person adapts to culture differences and language barriers is just as important as his talent.
double feature pairing: El Norte
Warcraft (2016) ★ ★.5
stars: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster
director: Duncan Jones
A war between ogres and humans, overloaded with CGI, couldn’t be as bad as the reviews say, could it?
It’s a good story that ends with a shrug. There is no true resolution because the arrogance of Franchise Hollywood expects sequels. Threads are dangled for the next movie(s) to pick up, but I’m not sure it did well enough to allow another one to be made.
I can think of only one example where movie arrogance was correct in expecting more and yet the potential franchise was left to wallow in the one-off bin…
watch Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins instead
Oasis: Supersonic (2016) ★ ★ ★
stars: Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher
director: Mat Whitecross
Within three years Oasis went from playing to nearly no one to selling out a field that held a quarter of a million people. The documentary is jammed with old footage and stories of debauchery, sibling rivalry, and rock & roll.
double feature pairing: Warrior
Fish Tank (2009) ★ ★ ★
stars: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing
writer/director: Andrea Arnold
At fifteen, Mia’s life isn’t the greatest. She has a plan. Her mom has a new boyfriend.
The “wrong side of the tracks” setting is brutal in its routine of mischief and rage. The pacing and runtime is a little brutal, too. And yet, I don’t think the last third would have the same impact if that time wasn’t spent.
double feature pairing: Fresh
Yoga Hosers (2016) ★.5
stars: Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp
writer/director: Kevin Smith
Two Canadian convenience store clerks stumble onto a dormant evil, eh.
Look, I knew this wasn’t going to be good. I still have a soft spot for Kevin Smith. He wanted to make a movie with his daughter. He was able to do that. So he did. I chuckled a few times and was amused by a subtly absurd visual gag. But even on the sliding scale of Kevin Smith movies, this is shockingly bad.
watch Strange Brew instead
The Jungle Book (2016) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray
director: Jon Favreau
It’s like the original Disney cartoon, except it’s drawn much better and there’s a real boy running around.
I liked it a lot. It felt more dangerous and threatening than the story I’m used to. The songs are gone except for “The Bare Necessities,” which was incorporated very well into the story, and “I Wanna Be Like You,” which was not. “Trust in Me” was dispatched to play over the end credits. And… there aren’t any other songs, are there? Well, never mind, then. The songs are still there, except for “Trust in Me,” which was played over the end credits.
double feature pairing: Gorillas in the Mist
Frida (2002) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Mía Maestro
director: Julie Taymor
The life and pain and art of Frida Kahlo is incredibly presented Julie Taymor and Salma Hayek.
double feature pairing: All That Jazz
Miss Stevens (2016) ★ ★ ★
stars: Lily Rabe, Timothée Chalamet, Lili Reinhart
director: Julia Hart
Miss. Stevens takes three of her students on the road to a drama competition.
Let’s not argue about the reality of a drama competition. For this purpose, it exists. What works here are the relationships between the teacher and her students, one of whom is a little too in to her.
double feature pairing: Summer School
Mistress America (2015) ★ ★ ★
stars: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Matthew Shear
director: Noah Baumbach
When Tracy contacts her stepsister-to-be, she quickly falls into the slipstream of her personality and energy.
It’s always a treat to watch Greta Gerwig. It sorta settles into a stage play for a while. I found that interesting.
double feature pairing: The End of the Tour
Lights Out (2016) ★ ★ ★
stars: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello
director: David F. Sandberg
The monster comes out when the lights go out.
It’s a pretty good horror trip, despite the plentiful jump scares. It’s also an effective story of depression. So much so that some took issue with the resolution. The A.V. Club spoke to the director about the ending. It’s an interesting look into how test audiences can factor into a movie’s final cut. Read the article HERE. Obviously, spoilers.
double feature pairing: 30 Days of Night
The Best Offer (2013) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks
writer/director: Giuseppe Tornatore
An auctioneer is hired to appraise the estate of an heiress who refuses to be physically seen.
It’s a pretty good mystery that’s fueled by obsession and desire.
double feature pairing: Trance
Always Shine (2016) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Mackenzie Davis, Caitlin Fitzgerald
director: Sophia Takal
Two friends take a weekend away from the grind of Hollywood. Beth is on the verge of stardom as Anna struggles with perceptions and expectations of an actress that reach beyond the set into everyday living.
The direction and script expertly toy with reality and identity without resorting to a cheap trick.
double feature pairing: 9 to 5
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes
director: Derek Cianfrance
A carney takes to robbing banks to provide for his new child.
There is a compelling crime story here, but the movie’s power lies with its portrayal of father and son relationships.
double feature pairing: Synecdoche, New York
Stories We Tell (2012) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: The Polley Family
director: Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley’s mom died with a secret.
An incredible documentary of a family trying to re-frame their history. Sarah Polley does an amazing job visualizing perception.
double feature pairing: Ghost Story
Uncle Nick (2015) ★ ★ ★
stars: Brian Poeshn, Paget Brewster, Melia Renee
director: Chris Kasick
It’s Christmas time! Look out, kids! Outrageous Uncle Nick is coming for dinner!
Or at least that’s the crude comedy that the marketing team wants you to think it is. It isn’t without adult situations and crude humor, but it’s no Bad Santa. There’s more character.
The disastrous Christmas dinner unfolds in tandem with Uncle Nick’s recounting dime-a-beer night, a misguided attempt by the Cleveland Indians to boost game attendance. It’s a questionable narrative device with a lovely payoff.
double feature pairing: Major League
Blue Jay (2016) ★ ★ ★
stars: Mark Duplass, Sarah Paulson
director: Alex Lehmann
Two high school ex-sweethearts coincidentally bump into each other as they visit their hometown 20 years later.
If you’ve seen a Duplass Brothers production, you know what you are getting: an outline of a story with largely improvised dialogue. It’s a formula that isn’t always paydirt. This effort has some rough patches to get through. There are some sweet moments too.
double feature pairing: Diner
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) ★.5
stars: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza
director: Jake Szymanski
Two bros need respectable dates for their sister’s wedding. They think they found a couple to suit their need. What are female bros called?
I don’t know. The movie is pretty bad. I wonder how much of the script read: [actors riff].
watch Wedding Crashers instead
The Eyes of My Mother (2016) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Kika Magalhes, Diana Agostini, Olivia Bond
writer/director: Nicolas Pesce
My mom said Cujo was scary because it was something that could really happen. That’s how I feel about this. It is horrific.
double feature pairing: Prisoners
Frank & Lola (2016) ★ ★.5
stars: Michael Shannon, Imogen Poots, Justin Long
writer/director: Matthew Ross
Frank and Lola meet. Frank and Lola begin an intense relationship. Frank gets weird.
For a movie called Frank & Lola, there’s not much focus on Lola’s perspective. It’s very much the story of Frank’s jealously and obsession. Only the beautiful final shot hints there was another story to be told.
Michael Shannon is great, as usual. I think this is the third movie that featured Imogen Poots this year. The kid's on a good run.
double feature pairing: Punch-Drunk Love
Christine (2016) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts
director: Antonio Campos
Based on the true story of a local TV reporter’s struggle with depression and the troubling direction of rewarding sensationalist news reporting.
Rebecca Hall is amazing. The story is gut-wrenching.
double feature pairing: Broadcast News
Nocturnal Animals (2016) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon
director: Tom Ford
An art dealer receives a copy of her ex-husband’s new novel, the contents of which cause her to reexamine their relationship.
Talk about a tale of two movies. The real world of the art dealer is so goddamned boring. Lot of style and very mopey. The fictional world of the novel is so fucking good. Vibrant and one of the best revenge flicks out there. Every time the movie snapped back to the real world, I was sad. As the movie rolls on, lines between the two are blurred and the ending made the boring bits worth it.
double feature pairing: Stay
For the Love of Spock (2016) ★ ★ ★
stars: folks talkin’ ‘bout Leonard Spock
director: Adam Nimoy
A documentary about Mr. Spock began production to commemorate Star Trek’s television premiere 50 years ago. Leonard Nimoy died before it was finished, so they added more about the man who wore the ears.
It’s a total shine. Nowhere is it mentioned that Leonard Nimoy hated being called Spock for a time. There are veiled mentions that he and his son, the movie’s director, didn’t get along for years. His alcoholism didn’t seem much of a problem to kick. There seemed to have been a divorce at some point. AND not even a passing mention of his work on Fringe! So, if it wasn’t related to Star Trek or a glowing sentiment, mum’s the word.
Still, it’s nice. Some good stories.
double feature pairing: Galaxy Quest
Office Christmas Party (2016) ★ ★.5
stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller
directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
What better way to woo a company-saving client than to invite him to the most insane Christmas party ever?!
A lot of funny people. Not a lot of funny jokes.
watch Christmas Vacation instead
The Good Neighbor (2016) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: James Caan, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist
director: Kasra Farahani
Two teens decide to make their elderly neighbor think his house is haunted and film his reaction. The outcome is not what they expected.
I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not a fan of movies shot like “found footage,” but the movie moves between a “found footage” and conventional style. It's works. It’s an interesting story, and I’ll leave it at that.
double feature pairing: The ‘Burbs
341/366 movies (13 movies off pace)
51/52 movies directed by women