Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Top 20 Movies of 2016


As 2016 finally comes to an end, the general consensus seems to be this was a pretty lousy year with things like one of the nastiest election campaigns ever, numerous terrorist attacks, and several iconic celebrities passing away. Unfortunately, it wasn't a very good year at the movies either. This has not only been the worst year since I started getting paid to writing movie reviews in 2012 and started watching over a hundred movies in a given year, but there were long stretches where I started to really believe we were seeing the implosion of the big studio movies.

The independent movie scene remained strong and will likely always be the creative refuge for filmmakers who want to tell stories about things other than superheroes or major intellectual properties. There were still some cases of wide releases that were intelligent movies or at least were smaller in scale and more character driven. There is a lot to be scared about with the movie industry especially with their franchise and sequel obsessions but there was still a lot to praise and a reason to cling to the hope that quality matters and creativity can thrive.

I typically have done a Top Ten Worse of the Year and then a Top Ten Best of Year. I feel there has been enough articles and lists to pound out how disappointing 2016 has turned out. If you need to chug your negativity juice then it is frothy and fresh in many spots. I've decided to just spotlight the positives, because this year needs it. I have gone with a Top 20 of the Year list plus another 10 honourable mentions. That gives you thirty movies that have my top endorsement and show 2016 was packed with some high quality.

I should note that living in Brantford means that I miss out on a lot of smaller indy darlings that got released during the second half of the year or the majority of the big Best Picture hopefuls, because they don't get screened around here until January (full reviews for the movies  that do make it here when they come). This does mean that my list is missing many movies that made other critics best of the year due to not having watched them yet, such as Silence, Moonlight, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Paterson, Love Witch, The Handmaiden, and several others. I also just didn't have the time to review The Wailing, The Treasure, The Boy and the Beast, The Meddler, Where to Invade Next, and The Wave. Hopefully, I can review at least a few of those in 2017. Though my hope is 2017 ends up being a pretty busy year for movies where I'm churning out at least one reviews of a new release a week and have plenty to champion.

But 2016 isn't done yet, and there was lots to praise despite its reputation. Here are my favourites from the 129 movies that I saw that were released in 2016.

20. 10 Cloverfield Lane: A monster movie that shows that monsters can come in many forms. It is the creature feature you'd hope from a picture attached to the original Cloverfield, but it is also a slow, simmering, disturbing thriller that toys with you and challenges you on who you can trust and what is the truth. John Goodman is fantastic as the man who captured our heroine for her own good, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead creates a lead character that is right up there with Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor as average women that must become kick-ass warriors. I initially has no use for a Cloverfield franchise, but this was great enough to make me highly anticipate the next anthology instalment.

19. The Confirmation: Though not marketed as such, it feels like a modern retelling of the 1948 classic, The Bicycle Thief (Bicycle Thieves). Clive Owen's divorced, alcoholic, down-on-his-luck Walt gets his son for a weekend but ends up having to spend it travelling around town for his stolen carpenter tools that he needs for a much needed job on Monday. It is a slice of story that at times is funny and other times heartbreaking but always packed with true emotions and interesting, believable characters. It speaks into the modern concerns and worries of our society but tells a tale about family and life's struggles that are timeless.

18. Snowden: The Oliver Stone that directed classics like Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, and JFK has returned with this slickly paced, stylishly directed political thriller based on the real life events of Edward Snowden making top secret NSA files accessible to the public. Snowden is a controversial figure and the movie makes sure to avoid deifying him (though it is clear Stone is on his side) and allows him to be a complicated figure with flaws and conflicting views. Joseph Gordon-Levitt proves yet again he is one of the most underappreciated top actors in the business and conveys a true living character that connects with the audience.

17. The Shallows: 2016 did turn out to be the year that the big studios delivered some great horror features that had relatable characters, complex themes and some well-earned chills. But the movie that I had the most fun had Blake Lively vs. a giant shark, which felt like a throwback to campy grindhouse pictures of the seventies but also packed some big scares. Lively proves her immense skill with a great performance where she mostly just has a killer fish and a seagull to play off. Jaume Collett-Serra earned his place as a genre director to keep an eye on.

16. Edge of Seventeen: Hailee Steinfeld is an actress that I have been championing ever since I saw her in True Grit, and it is her charisma and great screen presence that makes this picture such a wonderful treat. She has fantastic chemistry with Woody Harrelson where they share some of the funniest scenes in any movie this year. It has a great mix of humour, drama, and heart that earn it a spot along the best John Hughes movies. Kelly Fremon Craig shines in her directorial debut, and show the coming of age tale is still very much alive.

15. Barry:  A story about Barack Obama's college years as he tries to find his racial identity, come to terms with his family relationships, and figure out his own future. It is the rare biopic that doesn't have several smash you over the head scenes that outright tell you the subject's genius can be seen from the start but rather trusts the presence and performance of Devon Terrell to signal the future greatness of the 44th president. Like all good biopics, it is less about that point in time in Obama's life and more about bigger issues such as race relations, the need to belong, and different ways of overcoming guilt.

14. Moana: Disney has done a lot in the last few years to push for diversity and provide heroes that can represent groups often ignored. Not only do we get the first Polynesian Princess, but a movie that embraces the culture with vibrant colours and immensely catchy music. The picture is full of life and one of the most beautiful animated movies ever, but also just a really great adventure. It is also no small deal that Moana is a strong and independent woman who earns her tribes respect right from the beginning and gender is never an issue in the story. It is also Dwayne Johnson's best performance ever and you can feel his passion for this story.

13. The Lobster: An oddball, quirky comedy set in a near dystopian future where single adults need to find a partner in forty-five days or be turned into an animal of their choosing. The premise is both brilliant and absurd, and the humour comes from the odd behaviour of the characters and the almost monotone delivery of dry dialogue. This movie is destined to turn off a lot of people, but this world is so fully realized and so silly that there is an indisputable charm about this picture. It also has a well delivered deeper message about the dangers of absolutes and strict institutions even when their cause is just. Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz are wonderful together and their lack of chemistry helps elevate the message and themes of the picture.

12. Allied:  Not sure when the term "old-fashioned" became a criticism, because this is a movie that has a plot, style, and feel from decades ago. This is Robert Zemeckis homage to the sweeping war romance picture, especially the iconic Casablanca. It is part spy thriller and part grand love story, and both work thanks to great pacing, gorgeous set pieces, fun twists, and great chemistry between Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. It borrows and follows the classic romance war movies of the past, but it has been so long that something like this has been tried at the big stage that it feels fresh and it is always absorbing. This is Zemeckis' strongest and most assured movie since returning to live action and was sadly underseen, so catch it when you have the chance.

11. Hunt for the Wilderpeople: A New Zealand adventure dramedy does something most American comedy releases failed this year: keep me laughing all the way through. The story of orphaned Ricky escaping into the woods with his cantankerous adopted father, Hec (played by Sam Neill in a great performance) to escape child services, who want the boy after the adopted mother unexpectedly passes away may have a predictable resolution and is smothered in sweetness but also ends up being one of the most original and irreverent movies of the year. The script is crammed with wit, and Julian Dennison and Neill has a fantastic energy with each other. The movie is rugged but also full of heart, and it is impossible not to fall in love with the characters.

10. The Jungle Book:  This movie proves that the complaints of extensive CGI or a movie being a remake/reboot isn't the real problem, because when both are done well it is magical. The standard for special effects have soared to the heavens with the cutting edge CGI that creates full breathing and realistic animals and a living jungle from a sound stage. Director Jon Favreau plays to nostalgia for several scenes but still transforms the story into something new, exciting, and original. I am a big fan of the animated The Jungle Book, but this newest tale fixes several of the thematic issues including now demonstrating a tribe or family can consist of different species and it just takes love to justify inclusion. Even if you don't dig for messages or themes, this is a fantastic jungle adventure that I see several kids wanting to replay in their back yards and is elevated by a great performance by a young Neel Sethi.

9. 13th: A must-see and powerful documentary by Ava DuVernay that looks at how the 13th Amendment allows for the prison system to continue the injustice and control of Blacks after the abolition of slavery. It has such a detailed history and its arguments are so in-depth that it is a valuable documentary for those on any side of the political spectrum. After seeing it, I think almost anyone would have to admit to their being some truth, or the very least that it is a masterfully created and compelling piece of cinema.

8. Deadpool: Hands down the very best comic book movie of the year but even on its smaller budget, one of the very best big studio actioners. It follows the beats of the typical origin story but elevates it with its irreverent humour, in-your-face bloody action, and an unforgettable performance by Ryan Reynolds. It is a cliché but this was the role he was destined for and erases all memories of Green Lantern (though he makes fun of that in the movie). Deadpool is the reason there is suddenly a slew of R-Rated movies coming out in the next year, but its success has nothing to do with it rating but everything to do with it having a vibrant energy and daring to be different then all the cookie-cutter big budget superhero movies. Even though it is raunchy and violent, it also have a lot of heart and an uplifting spirit, and I'd argue it is a better Valentine movie than what most studios try to put out.

7. The Witch: People looking for a jump-scarefest will be disappointed, as this horror is much deeper and about so much more than making one spill their popcorn. It is a slow-building but tension filled story about a Puritan family that left their community because they felt it was disgracing God, but once they go out living in the wilderness bad things start to happen like losing the newborn son. It is yet another horror that explores the importance of family but also explores the dangers of putting your values and religion over love and having unwavering views even when it can cause harm to those close to you. Anya Taylor Joy is a super-talented actor on the rise (this year she starred in both Barry and Morgan and stars in the upcoming Split), but her role here as the daughter accused of witchcraft proves her skills have already arrived as a top star. The movie is set in the 17th Century and the language, aesthetic, and style makes it feel like it was a story written from that time and then passed down the generations. This is proof that horror can be high-art but also still damn frightening.

6. Sing Street: The story of a teenager who forms a band so that he can convince a girl he likes to star in their music video. I wish I was that smart as a teenager. It is directed by John Carney who has given us other music driven movies in Once and Begin Again, but I like this one best as it has more complex characters and is elevated by the mid-1980s Dublin setting. It embodies the doubts and worries of the financially struggling working class while exploring the power of music and being a fantastic coming of age tale. It isn't afraid to dig into dramatic themes like the danger of dogmatism, mental illness, need to belong, and acceptance, but coated it all with a sense humour and bounce in its step. This movie reminded me quite a bit of another coming of age story set in the 1980s and is about a band being formed, We're the Best - a movie that made my best of 2014 list, and both are on Netflix so you have a double bill for tonight.

5. The Nice Guys: There is this constant complaint that there is nothing new in the cinemas or people tiring of superhero adventures, yet this Shane Black directed noir-crime thriller soaked in seventies nostalgia was a box office flop despite being everything audiences claim they're starving to see. It has a distinctive style, well-earned plot twists, action sequences that have purpose, it is hilarious, it is emotional, and it is distinctly its very own things even if also a homage to past movies. Ryan Gosling proves he has amazing comic skills and Russell Crowe is a fantastic straight-man for him. Angourie Rice instantly proves she is a future star with her great stand-out performance as Gosling's daughter. Even though this is a crazy, violent, action adventure, it is packed with genuine heart and a great story about the bond of family. If you say you love movies or claim to be pining for something different that is geared towards adults, this is a must watch. Destined to be a cult classic.

 4. Zootopia: The best animated movies are the one where you go the first time for the story and a second time to catch all the stunning visuals and details in the backgrounds. Zootopia feels like a living place where every character has full lives and things are constantly happening around the main characters; the attention to detail in this feature is phenomenal and as a visual feast it is a classic. It also has two of the most intriguing and fun lead characters in Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, and they go on a buddy adventure that rivals the very best of the genre when it comes to twists, action, and humour. It also tackles the ideas of diversity, acceptance, and equality in an intelligent and creative way that gets across valuable messages that really need to be heard based on the state of politics but avoids being preachy or hamfisted. It is one of the most thoughtful and creative movies of any genre and is proof that Disney (along with Pixar who they own) is back as king of the animated features and show once again that cartoons sure aren't just for kids and often tell stories better than live-action pictures.

3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:  I've been a Star Wars fan for the majority of my life and there may be even a chance I came out with a Kenner Early Bird Certificate Package in hand. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that this made my list, and if you remember, The Force Awakens nailed number one last year. I will fully admit my strong love for this world does cause me to look past some of its bigger flaws and I allow myself to be swept away back to my childhood as I'm engrossed for over two hours. This is what Rogue One and Force Awakens excelled at, live up to my childhood nostalgia, make me feel like a kid again, and take me to a familiar world while offering up exciting new stories. This is the prequel that I always wanted, and it is incredible how well this turns out as a companion piece to the original Star Wars movie as these events build right the literal start of that movie. It has a slew of winks and Easter Eggs for the hardcore Star Wars fan with lots of fun and unexpected cameos, but it is also one of the easiest to get into if you have never seen one of the movies before.  It is also the darkest and edgiest Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back, and it takes some very bold directions for a picture considered for families. Felicity Jones is great in the lead role and does the legacy of strong Star Wars females proud, which of course started with the late great Carrie Fisher (you will be missed).

2. Kubo and the Two String: Laika Studios isn't anywhere as well known or financially successful as Pixar, and on opening night I am usually watching their movies in a half full theatre (that never happens for Disney or Pixar), but from a quality standpoint it may be even more consistent than Pixar (which is the only studio that I highly anticipate their upcoming movie without even knowing a plot). Kubo is Laika's best animated feature yet with its unique but gorgeous animation, the amazing amount of creativity put into the story, action sequences that are more thrilling than anything attempted by the big budget summer tentpoles, and a real sense it was embracing elements of Japanese culture and mythology. Even though it has some big action sequences and is an adventure story, it is also a very gentle and kind picture that believes in second chances and open mindedness. It is a movie about the power of storytelling and how the tales must be passed down the generations. Speaking of generations, it is a story that values family in all its forms and was one of the most spiritual experiences I had watching the big screen this year. This is another great but underseen feature, and if you complained loudly about the state of movies, then you need to check this one out.

Honourable Mention: Amanda Knox, Captain America: Civil War, The Conjuring 2, Eye in the Sky, Doctor Strange, Green Room, Hacksaw Ridge, Hush, The Invitation, Maggie's Plan

1. Arrival:  It is sci-fi and it is an "alien invasion" movie, but not the type we've been conditioned to see. There are no cities being decimated, there isn't a single big battle scene, and the climax has nothing to do with a big explosion, but the movie is tense, thrilling, and deftly paced the entire time. There are high stakes, but the issues and conflicts are more about major government's insecurities and fears that can cause global disaster. Amy Adams is fantastic in conveying a strong women who also is deeply hurt by her past, and the audience can connect with her instantly. The movie is about the need for understanding and challenges government's tendency to see the outsider as an enemy. In many ways it is a subversive film that counters many of the main ideas of modern times, but it is also intimate and heartfelt. It is a movie that demands close attention to catch all the details and stay connected to the plot, and the type of movie that almost needs a second viewing to properly appreciate it (though I saw it only once and it owns my spot as favourite of the year). There is a big twist ending but one that comes about it honestly and is hinted at throughout the movie. The Arrival is a visual spectacle and firmly plants Denis Villeneuve as one of the best directors, and gives good reason to be excited about the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. It feels like a big event picture but has the smarts of the very best prestige movies, and would be a best of the year contender even during a very strong year.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Breakdown on Indefinite Hiatus Plus the Fifty Billionth Blog Address

The Breakdown postponing from a few weeks back has now turned into a Gru stole the moon-like disappearing act. There have been a variety of issues that are best kept secretive but at this point, I am not sure about the future of the Breakdown. It likely will be back but not sure of that date at this exact moment.

What this has meant for the blog is that it has returned to Ghost Town status, one that has been far too common for the past few years. There has been no denying that 2016 outright was rotten for the blog being active.

It hasn't been for a lack of talking points as personally there has been significant events like Everett's second year at school or Danika proving to be mischievously different than her brother. Plus even though most of the news hasn't been very uplifting this year, it has been one worthy of extensive think pieces and analysis. Over the last few years there has been public figures that have played a huge role in my life that have passed away such as Shirley Temple, Ultimate Warrior, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Roddy Piper, Wes Craven, Dusty Rhodes, Prince, Gene Wilder and Muhammad Ali that I had lots of thoughts to share. On a daily basis there has always been something that I could write about, but I have allowed sinister voices to prevail and have simply bottled up my creative energy. It is hard to say where my current fisticuffs with depression have emerged from but it has gained a lot of strength from me not allowing my natural instinct of writing to thrive.

Luckily. 2017 is loudly knocking on the door. It is a fresh start for weekly reviews of Netflix originals and new theatrical releases. It is a chance to share the daily adventures of the Spicer family. An opportunity to write tributes to significant figures that I neglected to honour when they passed away. A chance for my passionate thoughts on major events to be shared. It is the year that the novel can be written and finally find a home with a publisher. It will be the year where more of my writings show up in other places and the links will be posted here. My 2017 resolution is something get posted here every single day on the blog, though depending on my work load the time may change (will aim for morning but sometimes may need to settle for late night or just a link be that day's contribution).

2017 may be looking to be a scary year when it comes to politics and the world stage, but my vow is that it will be a rocking year for my writing career and for this blog to get back to being an interesting place again.

Thank you for those readers who have stuck with me these last few years. I promise your patience will be rewarded with a great 2017 for The International House of Spicer.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Man of His Word

During the summer on the Breakdown podcast, we had a Summer Box Office Challenge where Scott and I had competing predictions over what would be the highest grossing movies from May to August. To make it a bit more interesting this year, we added a prize where the winner would get to choose three movies the loser would have to see and then verify that they saw them by posting a review on their blog. Well, I luckily won that competition and have been patiently waiting for my reviews ever since. One of my picks was the critically smashed disaster known as Sex and the City 2; a movie that I largely picked because I was annoyed how excited Scott was over Winter's Tale leaving Netflix and felt I needed to find something even more inhumane and venomous. 2016 may be almost over and the outside makes the summer seem like the distant past, but Scott has posted his review for Sex and the City 2. You can join me revelling over the poor guy's misery over at his blog. While you're there, check out some of his other reviews, because he also happens to be a fun and talented writer.

Breakdown Postponed This Week

No Breakdown this Monday morning, unfortunately. On Friday I was given the gift of being able to spend several hours in bed with a trusty and well-used bucket by my side thanks to the good ol' Mr. Flu. Things got worse again Sunday morning when we normally record, which would have made for an awkward show of Scott talking while I hobble away at regular intervals. Our apologies for missing a show this week and you will all be getting your refunds in the mail shortly.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Bridesmaids' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'


The Breakdown is a Delorean this week as we look at two old movies held up as classics. First we have the raunchy female comedy that made the careers of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig with Bridesmaids. After that we look at the adaptation of Lee Harper's massive bestseller, To Kill a Mockingbird. It is over 90 minutes of in-depth discussion and analysis of these two movies as we look at their impact on cinema, what made them into hits, and how it effected the careers of those involved. It is a fun show for movie lovers and if you know one that is missing out on the weekly show then please pass on the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

'The Mummy' Trailer Going in a Different Direction By Being Every Other Blockbuster


One positive about the upcoming The Mummy reboot/remake is that at least isn't just going to be a retread of the Brendan Fraser franchise. Too many remakes just end up being retreads that have no reason for existing, but being different isn't always good. While I always endorse Tom Cruise in a lead role of an action picture, I'm not totally excited about the direction of this hoping to be cinematic universe launcher. The Fraser series was campy and tongue-in-cheek homage to adventure serials that had an Indiana Jones battling ancient monsters like vibe that had a fun energy and compared to most of today's blockbusters would come off as something pretty fresh. This first trailer promises a much more intense and gritty actioner full of explosions and CGI chaos, or also known as most big studio movies we see every summer. There is nothing here that really screams different or fresh, but rather just hero trying to save the world with the villain this time happening to be a creepy century old magic lady. But maybe I'm just getting too cynical and some of you think this is a smoking bag of awesome. At least it is pretty clear we will get lots or running Cruise.



One positive is that director Alex Kurtzman is claiming that they aren't blatantly building to a big Avengers style movie right away but rather concentrating on making good movies with small little tidbit hinting towards a wider universe. The fact he and hopefully the studios are aware that the forced universe building and promoting of future movies that happened in Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a failure and the best way to get fans excited about future movies is just to make really good movies. Now, I just hope I am wrong about this trailer and this is a fun start to the Universal monsters world.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Moana', 'Allied', 'Mercy' and 'Sexy Beast'


The Breakdown has three piping hot reviews of new releases that include the feature introducing the latest Disney Princess in Moana and a romantic spy thriller set during World War II, Allied. After a 2016 that has been pretty lacklustre, November is pulling its weight and there is a lot to praise on this show. We're also very happy with the past as we dial back to 2000 and look at Jonathan Glazer's crime movie, Sexy Beast. As always we really hope you enjoy the show and if that turns out to be true, please spread to the word to other movie fans (as it is the best way we can grow and keep up doing this every week).

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Ratings Rundown:

Moana ***½ (CS & SM)
Allied **** (CS)
Mercy ** (CS & SM)
Sexy Beast **** (CS & SM)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

1966's 'Batman' Reminds Us Every Creative Work is a Homage and Tribute to the Past


As some likely already know, Scott and I discussed 1966's Batman during our in-depth spoiler filled analysis segment on the Breakdown yesterday morning (recorded Sunday morning). During the discussion, I argued that the campy movie is less a parody of the Batman comic books and more a satire of 1960s pop culture. The movie and series is crammed with references and tropes that were popular from the time, as well as works from the past that were still well known.

What I failed to mention in the podcast but discussed with Scott in detail after the recording ended (a far too regular occurrence) that the 1960s Batman series (and to an extent the movie) was a clear homage/tribute/slight-parody of popular serials of the 1930s and 1940s. A serial was a single story that was divided into "chapters" that would air on a weekly basis (a child's Saturday at the movies consisted of one serial, an animated short or two, a newsreel, and two feature films). There were a wide variety of stories but some of the most popular were Flash Gordon, The Lone Ranger, Buck Rogers, Batman, Dick Tracy, Captain Marvel and The Shadow (and many Westerns were also popular because they were cheap to film and studios could reuse sets, costumes, and props). By the time the Batman TV series came, the serial was long gone but there would still be significant nostalgia for it.

Many of the elements that made Batman endearing was coming from those past serials such as most episodes ending on a cliffhanger, the hero about to be killed is saved by luck rather than skill, the over-the-top tongue in cheek dialogue, the made from home looking costumes, and the heroes stating a positive message directly to the audience. Back during the series' first run, almost everyone watching the Batman TV series was well aware that it was deeply indebted to the serials of the past, but 50 years later, Batman is now seen as its own oddball original that some younger audiences believe invented things like the narrated cliffhanger and the straight delivery of cheesy lines.

This isn't a criticism against the Batman series, because it wasn't hiding its influences at the time and was openingly mimicking that formula. It is more a sign how quickly the past of the pop culture can be forgotten and replaced. It is similar to how if someone is criticizing a sci-fi motion picture for being derivative than it is often accused of ripping off Star Wars, which is a film series praised for its originality and creativity. The fact is George Lucas did not hide the heavy influences of Flash Gordon, Akira Kurosawa films, the works of Joseph Campbell, and Lawrence of Arabia (to name a very few). On top of the storytelling aspects, things like the droids' look were heavily influenced from movies like Silent Running and Metropolis. Actually, early conceptual drawings show that C-3PO was almost identical to Maschinenmench (Metropolis), except for being golden and male.


I love Star Wars, and it shows an incredible imagination and an exemplar example of world building. But what gets forgotten in today's whining over lack of originality is that almost every great work is influenced by something before it. Stephen King is one of the great creative minds and novelist, but he admits his canon has been shaped by his love for H.P. Lovecraft and E.C. horror comics as a boy. The fact inspiration is evident in King's stories or Star Wars or especially '60s Batman series is not a negative, but rather just a reality that their existence relies on many classic (and not-so classic) works. The finger prints of past works are smudged over every creative endeavour. Allowing the past to help shape a present work doesn't make it unoriginal or lacking creativity, but I do think it is crucial for creators to know their influences so they can purposefully shape and craft the new work into something new. This is one of the reasons to respect the works of King or Star Wars or Batman, because in all three cases, there is clear acknowledgement that the rich history of literature and cinema and various other forms of entertainment aided in their creation.

It is sort of unfortunate how out of tune and disconnected modern audience can be with the history of pop culture. Most people today would watch the old Batman series and view it as a quirky, oddball campfest without even being aware of the existence 1930s and 1940s serials that shaped that series, just like many young Stephen King fans read his stuff without knowing the name H.P. Lovecraft. Of course, it is futile to whine how much modern audiences are unaware of past novels or movies or TV series, because that isn't a new thing but just the nature of society in every generation. One is always more interested in the now than the past, and only a few chosen works really stay embedded in the evolving zeitgeist.

This is why modern artist like JK Rowling or David Robert Mitchell or Quentin Tarantino or yes Stephen King (he has been around long enough I get to use him in both situation) are so important because they are aware of past and often pay tribute in creative and fresh ways. Someone like Tarantino actively champions the past and will point his biggest fans to what he sees as defining works.

Their originality comes from taking those homages and past ideas while incorporating their own life experiences, their fears, their varied interests, and daily observations. A creator is able to be aware of everything around them and formulate every tidbit they encounter into something entirely new and exciting.

But now, I've got carried away, because this was meant as a short addendum to the 1966 Batman podcast. My point in all this is that something can be its own thing and be green leafy fresh, but still be reliant on the past before it. In creative circles, originality is making something exciting and innovative out of old and well-worn but still sturdy parts.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', 'The Edge of Seventeen', 'Divines' and 'Batman' (1966)


The Breakdown has reviews for three brand new releases including a trip to the world of wizards in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and a coming of age dramedy, The Edge of Seventeen. From there we go all the way back to 1966 with an in-depth look at the original Batman feature. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.




Rating Rundown:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them *** (CS)
The Edge of Seventeen ***½ (CS & SM)
Divines ***½ (CS & SM)
Batman (1966) *** (CS) & **** (SM)

Monday, November 14, 2016

'Patriot's Day' Trailer Shows What You'd Expect from Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg


Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have become a team over the last few years in making movies that appeal to the sensibilities of Middle America and glorify the hard working middle class and their ideals. While I can tire of Berg's tendency to slide into "rah rah America", he has proven to have a distinct filmmaking style that immerses you into his action pictures. Wahlberg does well playing the meat and potatoes type lead. Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon were both pictures that follow all the instincts of a Michael Bay movie but have a sense of style and the use of effects that give the movies a higher pedigree. For that reason, Patriots Day is probably worth a look even if my feeling is that David Gordon Green's Stronger will be the more thoughtful and dramatic movie about the Boston Marathon bombing. The cast is solid and even if Berg is never the director I get excited about. I keep finding myself recommending his movies.

My biggest hope is that especially in Trump's America that this movie has a delicate touch and amongst the pro-America, it stays away from demonizing an entire demographic. You can make heroes without creating an army of villains.

'Beauty and the Beast' Vying to be the Latest of Disney Remake Hits


As much as my natural instinct is to groan over Hollywood's obsession with remakes and reboots, I have to align myself with Team Live Action Remake of Disney's Entire Animated Library. The initiative has paid off with good to great movies with Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book. Those movies have all done a good job of balancing nostalgia for the originals while reworking the movies to make them relevant for modern time. The new Cinderella was not only a gorgeous and visually sumptuous spectacle but this time it played the classic fairy tale with a strong feminist take. The Jungle Book had many of the classic scenes but did some major tweaks to the plot and story so that it was now about inclusion and how a family can take many forms (rather than the original problematic message of one being better suited to their own kind). Before those movies I'd have seen no point in doing a CGI-heavy live action adaptation of the Disney animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, but this trailer not only shows a beautiful production with a top rate cast (and Luke Evans), the past hits give me hope to believe that there will be enough twists and additions to the story to make the picture feel fresh while also playing to many fan's childhood nostalgia. The first trailer largely seems full of memorable scenes from the original and following the same plot, but it is also trying to appeal to a crowd with fond memories of the first. Disney has built up enough goodwill with their live-action remakes to be excited for a fresh and exciting take on a classic.

Even if it ends up being the same movie but live action and CGI, Emma Watson is a superstar. She looks absolutely marvelous in the little peaks shown here. I couldn't think of a better Belle.

The Breakdown of 'Arrival', 'True Memoirs of an International Assassin', and 'District 9'


This week the Breakdown has two reviews for 2016 releases as we look at Denis Villeneuve's entry into sci-fi, Arrival and Kevin James latest comedy, True Memoirs of an International Assassin. We also open up the vault and have an in-depth spoiler filled analysis of the sci-fi movie and 2009 Best Picture nominee, District 9. We also go on a slew of tangents that include birthdays, Donald Trump, and rude movie goers. As always if you enjoy the show then spread the love to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Arrival **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
True Memoirs of an International Assassin ** (CS & SM)
District 9 ***½ (CS) & **** (SM)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Today Needs a Large Dose of Cuteness

I've already stated my heartbreak over last night's results. I read something this morning that lifted my spirits a bit, which is that the election does not stop how I decide to live and more importantly, change my love for friends and family. So, as a pick me up here are some pictures over the years of my life and loves.




















Disaster


Don't underestimate anger. Definitely don't ignore those who capitalize on that anger and hate and bitterness. Every media outlet was shocked when Rob Ford was elected mayor but there was a restless and hurting population that saw the opportunity for drastic overhaul. It seemed everyone outside of Toronto were scratching their heads and in shock; sort of like the same feeling many are experiencing right now. Ford was elected because there was enough that needed their voice heard and they needed to see change and they needed to feel like they had power again.

When there is a significant population that feels forgotten or beaten or neglected or hurt it has been shown in history that is when the shocking new power rises. It usually isn't the sane choice or the right choice or even the choice that fixes the problems, but it demonstrates a population that is hurting and desperate. Many angry Americans have elected a misogynist, a bigot, a racist, and a con man as the ruler of the free world. It is hard to shake feelings that the worst president in history has just been elected. It is hard to shake feelings that we are in for some toxic and poisonous times. But just like everything else in life, we have to wait and see how this will all really turn out.  Even more importantly, we need to cling on to hope.

This election proves a lot of things. It prove Hillary Clinton's campaign was over confident and underestimating the tide in America. They weren't aware the damage done by those emails or how much Trump was able to dig his thumb into the wounds of America to stir up rage. The biggest thing this proves is that America is more damaged and more divided than most believed. This also means that this revelation opens the chance for American to try to come together and start the healing. I have no confidence the new president has any ability or interest in doing this, but maybe Americans can rise above the person they put in charge.

I've got a lot of negativity, confusion and nausea swirling around my body. All I can do is cling to hope that that these next four years won't be the apocalypse being predicted on all social media.  Maybe Trump will wake up realizing he is unfit for his position and ensure his charade continues by hiring personnel and aligning himself with smart and decent people. He can at least give himself a competent speechwriter and listen to advice of those that actually care about their country. Hopefully, his advisors notify him that this isn't a reality TV show or a publicity stunt. He is more than the leader of the angry white males who haven't connected to the fact the world and their country is progressing and changing. He is going to be president and I sure hope he figures that out soon and acts like one.

I have been trying real hard to not reference Adolf Hitler. There are enough memes scattered throughout the internet making that point. Trump has been vile, despicable, and sickening for the majority of his campaign and I am still waiting for the point he proves to even be mildly competent. But he is also now going to be president so the only thing that can be done is wait and really hope he shocks us again. Right now it feels like one of the worst things that has ever happened to America yet its own people chose this. Maybe this narrative still has a few twists and something wonderful can rise out of the wreckage.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Breakdown of "Trolls", "Doctor Strange", "Hacksaw Ridge", "The Ivory Game" and "MASH"


The Breakdown has reviews for four new releases including the latest Marvel spectacle Doctor Strange and the latest animated feature, Trolls. As well we have an in-depth analysis of the Robert Altman black satire, MASH. As always if you love the show then spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.




Rating Rundown:

Trolls *** (CS)
Doctor Strange ***½ (CS & SM)
Hacksaw Ridge *** (CS)
The Ivory Game *** (CS & SM)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

108 Years


The longest running gag in all of sports is no longer relevant. One of the jokes that has showed up in time travel or other science fiction stories can no longer be used without feeling dated. The 108 year curse was shattered in one of the best and most twist-filled World Series Game 7 10 inning baseball battles ever. The Chicago Cubs are finally world series champions, which is a thing that no one currently alive has seen or the very least no person would have first hand memory about it. This also means that now the Cleveland Indians not only have to lick their wounds after blowing a three games to one lead but they now are bestowed as the team in the Major Leagues with the longest championship drought. But they also get to be part of one of the most iconic games I've ever seen and the reason that I'm going to be accidentally spreading yogurt on Everett's sandwich. It was worth staying up, though of course, I'd rather Blue Jays be in this thrilling win. Once they went to the golf courses, I knew I'd be rooting for the Chicago Cubs to finally win that elusive championship. For the last two decades Cub fans got to see Boston Red Sox, San Fransisco Giants, and even their neighbours the Chicago White Sox end several decade long droughts. Now, it is their time. History has been made and now science fictions writers will need to find a new sports joke to slip into their prose.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Breakdown of "I am the Pretty Thing in the House", "7 Anos" and "Into the Inferno"


Happy Halloween from the Breakdown. To celebrate we discuss what is needed to make a good horror movie. As well we review three new Netflix original movies that include the latest Werner Herzog directed documentary, Into the Inferno and the haunted house horror, I am the Pretty Thing in the House. As always if you like the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

I am the Pretty Thing in the House ** (CS) & **½  (SM)
7 Anos *** (CS) & ***½  (SM)
Into the Inferno *** (CS) & ***½  (SM)

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Breakdown of "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back", "Ouija: Origin of Evil" and "The Sixth Sense"


The Breakdown is trying something new this week as we will be spending an hour doing an in-depth and spoiler filled analysis of the picture, The Sixth Sense. It will be less a traditional review and more a look at its historical impact and influence on the movie industry and judging where it stands in movie canon. As well we have reviews for two new releases in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and Ouija: Origina of Horror. Let us know what you think of the new segment, and as always if you love the show then please let other movie fans know about our podcast.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back * (CS)
Ouija: Origin of Evil *** (CS & SM)
The Sixth Sense **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Breakdown of "The Accountant", "Mascots". "Sky Ladder: The Art of Guo-Quaing" and "Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids"


The Breakdown has reviews for four new releases this week including the Ben Affleck starring thriller, The Accountant and the latest Christopher Guest mockumentary, Mascots.  We also avoided watching Max Steel but found a way to talk about it anyway by exploring if the failure of smaller superhero and IP movies will eventually cause audiences to tire of the big pictures from Marvel. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Mascots **½ (CS) & *** (SM)
The Accountant **½ (CS) & *** (SM)
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Quiang *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids *** (CS & SM)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Finally, an 'Armageddon" for Those That Hate Space


John Travolta's latest sure to be straight-to-video-on-demand spectacular, Life on the Line reminds me of Michael Bay's 1998 Armageddon, except lots of TV mini-series style sparks instead of big blockbuster special effects, working class men trying to save a forest instead of working class men trying to save the world, and nobody watching it instead of the biggest hit of the summer. Just like the meteor movie it is trying to turn laborers that no one really thinks about and turn them into action heroes. Plus you have the whole father upset his daughter has fallen in love with someone from his workforce. I'm pretty sure just like Armageddon that the rogue boyfriend will prove himself by saving the day, and Travolta will give his blessing right before he dies or maybe he survives after breaking a leg or having his hair catch on fire. No matter what, this is Armageddon for the new era, except without all the pesky stuff like being popular or having a fan base.

The Breakdown of 'The Girl on the Train', '13th', 'Siege of Jadotville' 'Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life' and "Amanda Knox"


We're baaack! After a week hiatus, the Breakdown returns with five review for 2016 new releases including the latest sensual thriller based on a huge bestseller, The Girl on the Train, and Ava Duvernay's documentary on the history of racism in mass incarceration, 13th. We also have three big topics that include looking at the career of the "Godfather of Gore" Herschel Gordon Lewis and the death of the streaming service, Shomi. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans. If we can grow an audience, then we can continue to do this show every week and have the chance to improve what we can offer.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

The Girl on the Train ** (CS & SM)
The Siege of Jadotville **½ (CS & SM)
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life **½ (CS)
13th **** (CS) & ***½ (CS)
Amanda Knox ***½ (Cs & SM)

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Still Determined to Win the Race

So, much for that fresh start. But I am still here and I have words to unpack. Actually, I'm hoping there is going to be a drastic increase in content over the next month. It was almost three years ago that I saw a golden treasure chest that when I came in closer turned out to be yellow spray painted shoe box. With stained hands all I had to show for my hunting. I shied away from exploration. I still had a trusty race horse that I was sure would give me that fame; he wasn't championship caliber but he was what I had, so I raced him constantly ignoring all other opportunities. Then I suddenly realized I didn't have a horse at all but an overweight gasping three legged mule that did a somersault on my leg and never got up. I was rattled without my steed and hopping along on the journey on one leg without any idea how to get to a golden destination. But I found a bike that lacked some shine but I thought would be reliable for years and years. I have always believed you can't rely on one way on the freelance journey and the blown out tire and mangled frame proved I should have followed it. But this time I'm not going to be shaken or depressed or lost wandering in the woods. This is my wake up call.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

No Breakdown This Week

Right around this time I should be wrapping up the weekly Breakdown recording, but I'm not. Because unfortunately, there won't be a Breakdown posted this week due to some unforeseen circumstances. There is always another week because that is how life works, and it will be that week where another jam-packed Breakdown will be posted. Next week expect reviews for the latest adult thriller, The Girl on the Train, the Ava DuVernay documentary The 13, another documentary in Amanda Knox and the war drama, Siege of Jadotville.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It May Be Time to Invest in a Typewriter


We're almost in October and I still haven't written a 'Back to school' post with accompanying darling photos of Everett in backpack and fake smile. Such photos exist and my boy is definitely back to school with enough stories to keep this blog rolling for weeks. But I didn't want to post the piece until I could put up those pictures and my computers, which are insanely jealous of my children, have done everything in their power to stop me. They've also done a great job of teaming up with my anxiety and crippling self-doubt in hurting my productivity and providing me with my excuses that produce giant eye rolls from everyone that I try to elicit sympathy.

The great computer tragedies started when Everett decided May was a spectacular month to ride a toy bus over my laptop, which may explain its hatred towards my kids and definitely explained why my battery charger outlet and plug were broken. No problem, I dropped over two hundred dollars and all was fixed.

The laptop didn't like my sense of relief and just a few weeks after that a wire in my monitor burned out so I had the joy of dropping another hundred plus dollars to fix that. While the laptop was at the shop, my desktop got sympathy for its fallen friend and decided to give me the dreaded blue screen every 10 minutes or so. Luckily, my parents had an old laptop they didn't use so I had something to keep up my sale copy and other client work (not much on the blog though as this year has proven).

This lead to the glorious summer where my laptop now had a working monitor and my desktop was back home after the shop found a virus on it that was believed to be the problem. But again my computers' believed not enough money had really been spent on them, and so one day my desktop decided that the log-in screen needed to be corrupted so that I couldn't sign in. Once I ran back to the shop to solve that issue, I was informed my hard drive was ready for retirement just like Roger Murtagh (which would make my laptop Martin Riggs, but neither have solved any crimes or starred in a 1980s buddy cop franchise or brand new ill-advised TV series).

I got the joy of buying a new hard drive and also paying to get all my photos and documents backed up, because I needed a life lesson on the importance of backing up one's files on a regular basis. And that seemed enough to call it a bad year for computers.

Except that isn't enough, because my desktop with its shiny new hard drive still freezes with a non-responsive mouse and keyboard when on a web browser. And my laptop felt it was time to take this story full circle with my charger cord almost causing a bonfire and now needing to be replaced. I am happy I never gave my parents their old laptop back.

So, the long story is my back to school photos are trapped on my laptop (yep, didn't back those up yet) and my personality is one where I don't want to do a piece without those photos posted with my words.

The lesson of the day is my computers hate me and I have a quirky personality. Also maybe I need to get a lot better at backing things up right away.

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Yes, I realize this wasn't a movie review or an exciting tale of my adventures in parenting or anything that I've been promising for months. But it was a thing that I wrote and I hope for many more such things in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. No more excuses. Even if all three computer explode and I just need to start posting things on my iPhone. Did I ever mention that I have one of those now? Call me the man of the 21st century now, and the guy whose provider keeps trying to convince he needs a more expensive plan.

And just because my fingers are now moving furiously and they just don't want to quit, I swear and promise to not use crippling self-doubt or depression or anxiety or a fear of cucumbers as an excuse to not write on here anymore. It will be active again. I just am trying to figure out the format. Since I have your attention, I am contemplating three possible directions,

A) Movie reviews of all movies watched for podcast (around 500 to 800 words each) along with a few weekly long form pieces about film and my parenting adventures (likely one a week on my kids and two or three on movies).

B) Movie reviews of new theatrical releases, and several short daily pieces on movie news, events in my life, and whatever pops in my head.

C) Post variety of photos about all the kinds of pot roast. I currently am aware of one kind. I call it pot roast.


If you have a preferred format, then let me know in the comments. If you don't then keep on doing what you've all been doing for years and say nothing. Either way, I'll do what I want anyway.

Hope to end the final months of 2016 with a positive emotional state, lots of postings on this site, and computers that work on a daily basis. If I can't have the above three, then maybe I'll settle for learning how to cook a really delicious pot roast. The photo has made me hungry.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Breakdown of 'The Magnificent Seven' (2016), 'Storks', 'Audrie & Daisy', 'Runaway Bride' and 'Blazing Saddles'


The Breakdown has reviews for five pictures this week that includes two westerns in the 2016 remake The Magnificent Seven and the 1974 Mel Brooks' satire Blazing Saddles. It is also that time for another animated feature so we will be reviewing Storks. Then we will discuss the life and career of the great filmmaker Curtis Hanson. If you enjoy the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers and if you don't, let us know how we can improve it.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.




Rating Rundown:

The Magnificent Seven (2016) ** (CS) & **½ (SM)
Storks **½ (CS)
Audrie & Daisy *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Runaway Bride ** (CS & SM)
Blazing Saddles **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Snowden', 'Blair Witch', 'Bridget Jones's Baby', 'ARQ', 'Extremis' and 'The White Helmets'


The Breakdown is ripping at the seams this week as we've stuffed it up with reviews of six 2016 releases and a discussion of the season finale of Stranger Things. We look at two sequels to movies that happened over a decade ago with the romantic comedy, Bridget Jones's Baby and the found footage horror Blair Witch. It is also the big return of Oliver Stone with the based on true events thriller Snowden. If you enjoy the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


Rating Rundown:

Snowden ***½ (CS)
Blair Witch ** (CS & SM)
Bridget Jones's Baby *** (CS & SM)
ARQ *** (CS & SM)
Extremis *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
The White Helmets ***½ (CS & SM)

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Sully', 'The Invitation', 'The Producers' and 'Love Story'


The Breakdown was recorded a few days early this week so we now have totally irrelevant box office predictions because that is how we roll. We also roll with four big movie reviews including the 2016 "based on true events" drama starring Tom Hanks in Sully. We also honour the career of two legends by reviewing beloved movies in Arthur Hiller's Love Story and the Gene Wilder starring The Producers. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Sully *** (CS & SM)
The Invitation *** (CS & SM)
The Producers **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Love Story **** (CS & SM)

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Morgan', 'Don't Breathe', 'The Lights Between the Oceans', 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead', and 'XOXO'


It is a jam-packed episode of The Breakdown with reviews for five big 2016 releases including the home invasion thriller Don't Breathe and the period piece drama The Light Between the Oceans. We also continue our series review of Stranger Things, and we remember the comedic icon, Gene Wilder. We also somehow end up reviewing two movies about EDM despite neither of us being fans or knowing much about it, so listen to find out if we can be won over. As always if your love the show then please spread to the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Morgan ** (CS & SM)
Don't Breathe *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
The Light Between the Oceans **½ (CS)
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead *** (CS & SM)
XOXO * (CS) & *½ (SM)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Breakdown of 2016 Summer Movie Season Podcast


The moans of school returning are echoing through the halls, so it must mean it is the end of the summer. It is time for the Breakdown of the 2016 Summer Movie Season. It was a rough summer for the big budget studio tentpoles but a great one for mid-budget comedies, thrillers and horrors. We analyze the last four months to see what worked, what failed and what it all says about the future of big studio tentpoles. As well, in our news bite segment we discuss the controversy surrounding Nate Parker and his movie The Birth of a Nation. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word to other movie lovers.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' has the Feel and Beats of 'Whiplash'


La La Land feels exactly like the type of movie director/writer Damien Chazelle would helm. On the surface this musical about a jazz pianist (played Ryan Gosling) falling in love with an aspiring actress (played by Emma Stone) set in Los Angeles looks to be entirely different than his debut movie, Whiplash. Even though the dark movie about a talented drummer (played by Miles Teller) who allows his obsessions with greatness tear apart his life as he does everything to impress his abusive and harsh instructor (played by J.K. Simmons) was not a musical or a love story, you can see some commonality with that movie and this trailer. Every shot, plot progression, bit of dialogue, and editing felt like music and had the beats and poetry of a professional drummer. It was a non-tradition musical that didn't have people break out into song but had the flow, beats and groove of one extended song. La La Land is a love story and has bright scenes and moments of pure fantasy, but there looks to be a darkness and the theme of obsession is peaking out the seams. I expect a bounce and a sense of wonder, but it also will deliver an emotional punch. No matter what is the direction or themes, Chazelle is a filmmaker that has already earned the cred to make all his work worthy of anticipation, and Stone and Gosling are amazing talents that have also proven in the past to have a sizzling chemistry.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Moment You Thought Hollywood's Creative Bankruptcy Couldn't Be Worse, a 'Cops' Movie is Announced


I thought I was at the point where I could accept the fact that studios were going to adapt every single intellectual property into a movie. We live in a world where upcoming features will include an animated adventure based on emojis, an actioner based on a talking toy robot from the 1970s, a comedy inspired by the app where you slice fruit with your fingers, and a sci-fi adventure about building blocks. Yet somehow I still got floored today when Deadline reported that the director of Zombieland and Gangster Squad, Ruben Fleischer, has been signed on to helm "an edgy narrative feature with a buddy comedy bent on the order of a Lethal Weapon" adaptation of the FOX reality series, Cops. Yes, that show. The one about police officers driving around at night and arresting angry drunks who have blurry faces. A show that is best remembered for its theme song, "Bad Boys". A show that nobody except some dullard executive ever thought "now this is a movie franchise we can build an entire empire upon." Cops was a pretty awful show that existed because FOX had space to fill on Saturday nights and considering modern tension with police, may not exactly be the type of content hordes are ready to embrace. More importantly, there isn't really any original narrative from that show that would make for an enticing movie, especially since it is being pitched as a buddy cop flick (a subgenre that has been overdone for decades). Essentially they announced another Ride Along except with a horrible generic title and potentially a pretty cool theme song (I'd assume they realize the song is the only personality of the entire franchise). For the sake the long term health of the Boies/Schiller Film Group, I hope they at least have the brains know this needs the Blumhouse type budget. We better get prepared for an onslaught of action adaptations of TV shows that no one cares about since CHiPs, Baywatch. Power Rangers, Equalizer 2 and The Six Billion Dollar Man are all coming next year. What a time to be alive.

'Kidnap' Trailer is Catharsis for the Worried Parent


The first trailer for Kidnap dropped today, which means Relativity will actually release a movie this year as this one is scheduled for December 2. This seems to be avoiding the typical kidnapping drama formula where a mother sits panicked by the police bugged phone and a cop tries to trace the call to find the hidden baddie. Instead, this movie seems less interested in reality but rather be a visceral and cathartic experience for parents. Every parent deep down has a fear that they may not be strong enough to protect their child from the evils of the world. There is a hope pushing hard against that fear that if something horrible happens that they would be able to hang off the car of the kidnapper, be focused enough to avoid the dropped phone, and be brave enough to drive backwards on a highways. The coolest moment of the trailer that sent a chill down my spine was Halle Berry channeling a 1980s action star with the line, "You took the wrong kid." Right there epitomizes what a parent hopes they can spout if trouble ever came towards their child; it declares to the intruder that they are messing with the wrong family and nobody is going to harm their child. We are parent and hear us roar.


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The Breakdown of 'Kubo and the Two Strings', 'War Dogs', 'Ben-Hur', and 'Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2'


Mid-August is supposed to be the time big studios unload their giant disasters but the Breakdown reviews some movies that are worth making the trek to cinemas (and a few disasters too). We review four 2016 releases this week including Laika Studio's latest animated feature, Kubo and the Two Strings and the 'based on a true story' dramatic comedy, War Dogs. As well, we review episode five of Stranger Things and look at the life and career of director Arthur Hiller. If you love the show then please spread the word to other movies fans looking for a fun movie review and discussion show.

Read my written War Dogs review here.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Ratings Rundown:

Kubo and the Two Strings **** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
War Dogs *** (CS & SM)
Ben-Hur * (CS)
Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2 ½* (CS) & * (SM)