Pencilstorm contributor Rob Braithwaite is watching 366 movies this year, so you don't have to, here is part seven 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
Our Brand Is Crisis (2015) ★ ★.5
stars: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Joaquim de Almeida
director: David Gordon Green
She was out, but they pulled her back in! A retired political consultant comes down from the hills to head a presidential campaign in Bolivia against her fiercest rival.
The movie does a pretty good job of illustrating how a campaign can be more a personal battle between competitors who aren’t running for office, and in this case, don’t even live in the country in which they are campaigning.
A few moments of levity swing too broadly. And the principle of keeping the native tongue is abandoned when the American needs to overhear something.
watch The War Room instead
Black Mass (2015) ★ ★
stars: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch
director: Scott Cooper
An FBI agent allows his childhood friend and adulthood gangster James “ Whitey” Bulger to go unchecked under the guise of an informant.
The much more interesting story of how an FBI agent covers for a criminal is buried under the distraction of making scenes for a Goodfellas remake. It’s only at the end that we get a sense of how the agent was able to protect Bulger. Even then it's glossed over. Bulger should have been like the shark in Jaws. Rarely seen.
watch The Departed instead
The 33 (2015) ★ ★.5
stars: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche
director: Patricia Riggen
Despite being a true story, it opens like a bad disaster movie. We meet some of the thirty-three miners who will be trapped in a mine. There’s the I’m Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today guy, the My Wife Is Pregnant guy, the Two Weeks Until Retirement guy, and the I’m Telling You The Mine Isn’t Safe guy.
The second half is a better, even though it continues to have characters speak in exposition.
watch Ace in the Hole instead
Too Late (2015) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: John Hawkes, Crystal Reed, Dichen Lachman
writer/director: Dennis Hauck
A private detective receives a call from an old acquaintance for help.
An incredibly familiar yet unique movie experience. Shot on 35MM film and only shown in theaters able to project it in 35MM. Each reel, about 10-15 minutes, is a single take, except for one, which falls into the narrative line but gives it a feeling of unreality and gives Tarantino a run for his grindhouse sensibility. It would have added up to a gimmick if the storytelling wasn’t sound. The movie unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, revealing surprises and humor all along the way.
double feature pairing: Rope
Kilo Two Bravo (2014) ★ ★ ★
stars: David Elliot, Mark Stanley, Scott Kyle
director: Paul Katis
A company of British soldiers find themselves trapped in a Afghanistan minefield.
Knowing this really happened brought a little reality to it. As a movie, it was fine.
double feature pairing: Fury
Paper Moon (1973) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal, Madeline Khan
director: Peter Bogdanovich
A cross country hustler agrees to take a recently orphaned child to her nearest relative. He quickly learns he has met his match in the grifting game.
Easily one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Tatum O’Neal, 10 years old at the time, crushes this movie. Her fire is that of a Marion Ravenwood. In the scene when Addie first goes toe-to-toe with the hustler Moses, I heard Marion screaming at Indiana Jones: until I get my money back, “I’m your goddamn partner!”
double feature pairing: The Brothers Bloom
The Driver (1978) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Ryan O’Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Adjani
writer/director: Walter Hill
In a movie where no one has a name, The Detective is so determined to catch The Driver that he goes beyond the limits of the law to get him.
This is some fine pulp grit. Excellent car work that employs Peter Hyams’ patented car POV shots.
double feature pairing: The Transporter
When Worlds Collide (1951) ★ ★ ★
stars: Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen
director: Randolph Maté
In short: we are going to die!
This isn’t an era of film making and genre that plays it subtle. It opens with a bible scripture of Noah and his ark. See, the first body, a star, will cause great earthquakes and tidal waves, the second body is a planet that possibly could support life. A rocket ship is created for a select few to make the journey.
It’s an enjoyable watch. Some dated unintentional humor. The lack of subtlety is a hoot. A sign over the animal pens reads: WEIGHT WILL BE A PROBLEM. DO NOT OVERFEED.
double feature pairing: Knowing
Midnight Special (2016) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Jaeden Lieberher, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton
writer/director: Jeff Nichols
A boy with mysterious powers is tracked by the government and a religious cult from which he’s escaping.
I’m looking forward to seeing this again. Nothing is laid out. Information comes slowly as the boy and his father try to get away. Seems, however, the light touch might be too light at times. A few questions linger of destination and backstory, and how one character pulls a critical piece of information out of the air. Maybe clues are there in a re-watch.
double feature pairing: Starman
Black Sunday (1977) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller
director: John Frankenheimer
“What is this… ‘Super Bowl’?”
An engaging and suspenseful thriller about a terrorist group’s plot to detonate a bomb over Super Bowl X via the Goodyear blimp grinds to a screeching halt for the climatic event. I probably saw more football during that movie than I did all year. We see the players of both teams walk from the buses into the stadium. We hear the introductions of the starting line ups. We hear the national anthem. We see several touchdowns, turnovers and tackles. All quickly cut and scored with great intensity because, when it’s all said and done, we’re watching a blimp slowly make it’s way to the stadium.
double feature pairing: The Last Boy Scout
The Killing (1956) ★ ★
stars: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards
director: Stanley Kubrick
A bunch of crooks hatch a scheme to rob a race track.
It’s a good scheme. But it’s presented like an episode of Dragnet. The omniscient narrator tells us who people are, the time things are happening and other useful information like, “Four days later, at 7:30 AM, Sherry Peatty was wide awake” as we watch Sherry Peatty get out of bed.
watch Let It Ride instead
Hotel Transylvania (2012) ★ ★.5
stars: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez
director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Dracula is overprotective of his daughter.
It’s cute. There’s a song and dance number at the end to get the runtime over 80 minutes. If you have a kid that plays movies over and over again, you could do worse.
watch Transylvania 6-5000 instead
Green Room (2015) ★ ★ ★ ★
Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat
writer/director: Jeremy Saulnier
This trailer is safe to watch. Don’t watch any others because they ruin so much of the movie. If you need to know something, a traveling punk band plays a gig and something happens. It’s suspenseful and plays out in logical ways.
double feature pairing: Cube
Murder By Decree (1979) ★.5 [AS, Re]
stars: Christopher Plumber, James Mason, David Hemmings
director: Bob Clark
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson take a crack at the Jack the Ripper case.
This is soooooooo booooooring.
watch Without a Clue instead
High-Rise (2015) ★ ★ ★
stars: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller
director: Ben Wheatley
A tough movie to summarize due to a lack of a clear plot and probably a bear to adapt from the J. G. Ballard novel, in which residents of an apartment high-rise double for a capitalist society. Screenwriter Amy Jump and Wheatley turn in another fascinating movie.
double feature pairing: The Towering Inferno
The Big Red One (1980) ★ ★ ★
stars: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine
writer/director: Samuel Fuller
The missions of a military unit during World War Two are tied together by some terrible narration. Some sections are presented better than others. It’s amazing how far the portrayal of war in film has come. I’m guessing this was thought of as gritty in 1980. Now, it’s a bit small scale.
double feature pairing: Patton
103/366 movies (19 movies off pace)
15/52 movies directed by women
THE TOP THREE