Sunday, December 31, 2017

Movies: 2017

Hey hey hey, it's my annual Sisyphean movie post effort! Make sure you read every word instead of scanning just the movies you've already seen. My sponsors won't pay me unless people read every word.

Top 77 Movies of 2017!

So here are all the  2017 releases (according to Letterboxd.com (and sometimes Rotten Tomatoes when it suits me)) I saw between January 1st 2017 and December 31st). There are gonna be a few prestige pictures that are just coming out that are technically 2017 releases, but since I won't be able to see them before the year ends, they'll have to go into next year's list in a weird little 2017 supplement. Some of these aren't movies, but special events that only took place in 2017 (like the 48 Hour Film Project, etc.). Quite a few of these are 2017 releases that I didn't see in the theater, but were popular on streaming services (bad omens for the future of cinema, but oh well). Weird year. I really really liked around the top 35 of these, but I had a really difficult time ranking between them. Also, even though there's a lot of like, I think I generally have a bigger number of minor criticisms. Usually number 1 is obvious, but this time around it could have gone anywhere, really.

77. Red Christmas
Thought I was walking into a cheesy film from 30 years ago, but it’s just a cheesy film from todayish. Nobody will walk into it 30 years from now. In case you're wondering, this movie makes my list for one of the worst movies ever made about a botched abortion. Perhaps it's not fair I saw it at all. I needed to see 10 movies in October at Tower Theatre in order to get a T-shirt.

76. The Babysitter
Everyone needed to die before they started talking. But they talk a lot and they're awfully sure of themselves. The movie acts like I act when people ignore my jokes so I just say them louder in order to get recognition.

75. The Circle
Emma Watson is a great actor. Why does she seem to be delivering so many dubbed lines that sound like she's reading them for the first time? The story is a super scary tale about losing privacy through the internet that we all already believe and are way resigned to by now. I have a hard time believing the blind enthusiasm of this crazy corporation's meetings, but then again they remind me of the gatherings within my own big round corporate work building, so yeah, whatever. Kind of refreshing that the villains don't really have THAT nefarious an agenda, but then again, we're denied knowing what they're hiding, so what's the fun in that? Dull.

74. Before I Fall
This is one of TWO movies this year about a vapid high school girl caught in a Groundhog Day-like loop. "Hey. Sociopath at twelve o'clock!" I'm sure there are girls that talk like this IRL, but lines like this should be removed from movies. Seems especially phony (even if the characters are phonies themselves). The script could use a lot more naturalism rather than Mean Girl 101-speak. This is especially troublesome with the blatant Groundhog Day plot, where the unnaturalism is repeated over and over. Zoey Deutsch is the one in the loop. I'm a bit annoyed that she chooses to wear the same dress on the fateful repeated day. I'm sure the director may say it's a representation of the monotony, but I think we all know it was just for efficiency in the shooting schedule. There's one corny romantic line about striving to become the hero to a hero. Corny, but I like it. Afterward though, we get back to the main idea, which is "hey, maybe, like, let's be nice, mkay maybe?" Seen at Sundance. Thinking about it a while after I saw it, it's a pretty fun hate-watch.

73. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Felt more like TWO thousand planets. Because it's so long. I'll work on that one. Good job on Luc Besson for casting such stiff cardboard-like leads in order to make all the CG characters more lifelike. Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne talk like the two a-holes played by Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig on SNL. If you ever have a chance to see this, it's like 50 hours long, but there's a 5-minute sequence when Rihanna does a sort of shape-changing dance that's pretty magical, actually.

72. The Lovers
Didn't actually see this. Bought a ticket so I could get validated for the covered parking.

71. Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities
Bit too much Ken Burns-y especially toward the beginning. A bit of that is expected since so much is from the 19th century with not as much available footage. Constant voice overs and talking heads over incessant music makes my mind wander, though. As this was a Sundance movie, there was a good talk with the director afterward. Unfortunately, both the movie and the talk didn't really address the pros and cons of black colleges fading in favor of more integration across all colleges in the present day. I had the chance to pose this question to the filmmaker himself, but being the whitest person to ever be born on this planet, I abstained.

70. Their Finest
One of THREE (!) movies this year about the Dunkirk thing in World War II. This aspect of the Dunkirk story involves the propaganda used to get the British subjects onboard. There's a point where characters exuberantly outline the plot points of the film within a film. I doubt very much the same meeting occurred in the real world regarding this movie. Crammed in humorous one-liners and especially incessant symphonic music throughout really wipe the picture with unwelcome Hollywood polish. Still, delightful movie-making process mixed with delightful musings on what a film's purpose is. Is that main guy Finnick? Job well done. Bill Nighy as well. We could all hope to be as adorably self-assured someday.

69. The Comedian
Captures a bit of the high of live comedy, but mostly captures the cringiness when it's not welcome in the 23 other hours of the day. By the way, this is a 2016 release according to Letterboxd, but a 2017 release according to Rotten Tomatoes. I'm pretty much just adding that for myself in case I confuse myself when I check my records years from now. Also, I saw this at the beginning of the year and pretty much remember nothing about it, so I'm padding out this capsule.

68. Win It All
Not sure it's possible to ever take Jake Johnson seriously -- even when he's surprisingly emotive. Technically this is a straight-up comedy, but still, characters' lapses into lightness are out of place and awkward. Joe Lo Truglio is a treasure.

67. War Machine
Not really a movie, but an acquisition of Brad Pitt and Topher Grace and a bunch of other talent by Netflix to help legitimize the company as a major player in cinema game, even though it doesn't go to the cinema and everyone just streams it at home while they do laundry. Definitely feels like a straight to Netflix movie.

66. LBJ
2017 was a super big year for historical docudramas. We even get this thing about Lyndon Johnson. Apparently it's pretty hard to act past all that makeup and music. With all the artifice, I wonder what the  point or passion was to begin with.

65. Victoria & Abdul
Pearl Clutching Colon The Movie. Stiff Brits say "Oh my!" amidst this cute platonic tale about stiff western royalty learning something from eastern... friendliness I guess? Weird taste in my mouth about this one. The message seems to be to open your mind to other cultures, but the story to illustrate that also turns a blind eye to larger social injustices of the time. The movie acknowledges this, but brushes aside the character that voices it. I'm not sure the simple message of acceptance is able to regain its footing. Instead we get a sour taste of naivete.

64. The Square
Elisabeth Moss brings welcome levity to a meandering non-story as a sweetly unaware nag of sorts. Unfortunately, she's not as essential to the film as expected. The film’s point remains ungrasped by me -- or at least I don’t feel much for pushing mere discomfort in place of an actual message of social change.

63. Thank You for Your Service
It's rough out there for our vets and we get cold anecdote after cold anecdote in this one. Well at least they get to play with those night vision goggles, I guess. The film is kind of like reading a cardboard sharpie "help me" sign by the side of the road (except someone else wrote the sign, because asking for help would be undignified).

62. Justice League
First half seems like a bunch of superhero vignettes far more fun than the usual DC fare, but also hardly meaningfully connected to each other -- almost like a series of webisodes. Once the heroes are finally together, the poor actors are forced into an awkward and unearned false camaraderie. Poor Ezra Miller is supposedly the comic relief but his “wacky” lines must have been written by committee (a committee composed entirely of dudes who need to wear ties to their usual jobs). Before going in I knew Superman would likely show up again. I thought it might be toward the very end. Actually pleasantly surprised that a big bulk of the movie (seriously!) consists of grave robbing and mad science to force the resurrection along. As tickled as I am about it, I still maintain the most interesting elements are of Bruce Wayne and company musing about the sorry state of the world of men. Somehow finding human determinism in the absence of a god-superhero would have been more interesting than dealing with Zombie Kal-El. At the very least, the movie could’ve shown a spinning Daily Planet with the headline “Superman Resurrected!” It would be great to see how the paper would explain the semi-obscure sidebar from the same day that says “The Daily Planet also enthusiastically welcomes the coincidental resurrection of one of our very own, Clark Kent.”

61. Kong: Skull Island
Too much Creedence. I prefer to live without any more CCR needle drops. Also, there was a tense part where Brie Larsen yells "STOP!" to everybody and they all silence and look at her. I thought FOR SURE that's when she was gonna say "I'm pregnant" and I thought NOW we got a movie! Unfortunately, that's not how it pans out. Sorry. I guess the fact that I daydreamed this scenario during the movie is a sign that King Kong as a story captured magic in the early days of cinema. This is at least the fourth reboot. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge this story just isn't meant to go on forever. It's meant to remain timeless from long ago.

60. The Glass Castle
Pretty weird at first, but then I realized I had mistakenly walked into The Glasshole. Thought I figured it out, but the next screening I walked into was to The Ass Castle. What weird part of town do I live in, anyway? Okay okay sorry. Anyway here's the second Brie Larson movie in a row! Hey, what is up with all that unappetizing forgiveness? Jeannette Walls must have come to terms with A LOT of stuff between book publication and movie. Loved the book, btw. But this isn't just about the book being a better. I'm all for forgiveness and dropping the weight of toxic relationships, but the movie actually crosses the line into building monuments to monsters. Also, I'm suuuuuuper sick of Woody Harrelson's loud underbite drawl.

59. 48 Hour Film Festival Results 2017
Didn't win. Again.

58. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
First thing out of the way, this may not be a popular opinion, but I hate Baby Groot's toddler-dance choreography. This movie is an improvement on the original. I believe in the chemistry of the Guardians just a touch now where I didn't before -- even though we need to wallow through Bautista's unfunny roar and Zaldana's wet blanket "I can't believe we're talking about this when we should be fighting the monster" lines. Let's get real, though. The movie loses two stars for only having one good song ("The Chain") on the entire so-called Awesome Mix Vol. 2. I admit it's not much my scene or era, but the rest of the mix sounds like Cat Stevens wannabes (and also one sub-par Cat Stevens song). Stay for the credits because that's when the Cheap Trick and Parliament finally pipe in. Oh, and I like the concept of a society based on snooty arcade game players -- that part is pretty silly-rad.

57. The Little Hours
Humble little picture saved by big stars. I certainly laughed the first time Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci anachronistically berate a poor farmhand with femtacular f-words. The weird modern vibe is only held together by the entire cast (which are all recognizable funnypeople) and not any spectacular filmmaking methods. Apparently they filmed in Italy and not Liberty Park (which is what it looks like). Not uproarious, but I respect there is a LITTLE bit more care to the subject matter than perhaps the perceived filmmakers' obligation requires.

56. The Fate of the Furious
Way down down down on this until the New York "Maximum Overdrive/Zombie Carmageddon" sequence. Unfortunately there's an hour of dullness before it, and an arctic sequence after it moves like a glacier. Charlize Theron is very embarrassed to be there. New white guy Paul Walker replacement is whinier and less charismatic than '77 Mark Hamill. Hey, why bring in a new white boy now? They could have had an entire cast of color and nobody would have made a big deal of it. Could have been subtly subversive. Alas...

55. Murder on the Orient Express
Too much of a Belch accent from Kenneth Branagh. Actually, this one wasn't too well received in general. I think people didn't connect with some of the unnecessary camera angles or silly exaggerated acting, but my problem may be with the story itself. This is the first time I've been exposed to this particular mystery. Perhaps if I received it in a better-executed way I'd feel different, but I'm fairly certain the ultimate resolution is something I simply hate and find uninteresting and sort of cop-outy.

54. Deidra & Laney Rob a Train
Standard fun "normal people try petty crime while avoiding the stuffed shirt villain." I like the characters and I like the jokes, but the comic timing is just ever so slightly off. Perhaps it would be funnier if it didn't wait for its own jokes to land. And a shorter movie by five minutes is almost always a good thing.

53. Girls Trip
Just marveling at the size difference between Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah held my interest for the entirety of the film. I don't mind Tiffany Haddish, which is nice, because I'm sure we'll see a lot of her in the next five years or so.

52. Wind River
I guess the whole POINT is that the setting is dull and repetitive and crazy-inducing, so I guess I can't BLAME the movie for being pretty boring for the first third. Probably would prefer the POV to be a little bit more Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and a little less Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), but that's just me. See this one if you're in a good mood and could use a downer. Also, probably a good movie to see in the middle of summer because there's so much snow 'n stuff.

51. Brigsby Bear
Quirky with very few jokes. Very sad, but sad on purpose? Maybe? Obviously I'm not sure I latched onto the intended tone. Part of me respects that, but another part of me feels they did this thing where they sort of tried to make it funny, but then pull the rug out from the audience and imply we're wrong to laugh at all. I kind of hate when they do that. Perhaps they didn't and I'm projecting. BUT, just the fact that it's Kyle Mooney in here pretty much implies comedy. Sorry Mooney, but if you wanna make a drama, you do have that albatross. A shame perhaps. Hey, quick story. I went and saw a movie at the Tower last year and I saw Kyle Mooney just sitting there in the audience. I chatted him up wondering what on earth he's doing at the Tower Theatre in SLC. Turns out he was making this movie, or in pre-production or something. He did NOT want to talk to me, I could tell. Flashforward to Sundance 2017. I see him walking on the sidewalk and I go "Hey Mooney! Good to see you again!" and he's like, super-pumped and he says "Hey man! You too!" He did NOT remember me, BUT it just goes to show how moods change once your movie is finally made.

50. Happy Death Day
Hey, here's the OTHER Groundhog Day clone. Way funner than Before I Fall and doesn't take itself nearly as seriously. The other one is a hate-watch, but this is more of a camp-watch. HOWEVER: look, if I were constantly waking up in a stranger’s dorm bed over and over again, I’d DEFINITELY shower more.

49. 78/52
This documentary is a bit more down to earth than Room 237, but kind of the same concept. The premise is that it's examining with opinion JUST the shower scene of Psycho. Thankfully it doesn't live up to its premise as most of the interesting stuff is the examination of other scenes in the movie (albeit contextual). Obviously some of the interviews are better than others. Some come to very reaching and very boring (unlike Room 237) conclusions. Would have enjoyed a bit of interview curation. Elijah Wood and buddies are a highlight with a great combination of wide-eyed wonder and intellectual observance.

48. War for the Planet of the Apes
Lemme get this straight. The apes' BIG plan to get out of the cage was to throw feces at the guy with the keys until he, alone, got mad enough to LOCK HIMSELF in with ALL THE APES. Once that happened, rather than rushing him, the apes CONTINUE to throw feces at him in order to position him DIRECTLY OVER one of the tunnels where ONLY ONE unseen ape grabbed him. Absurd. ZERO STARS. Just kidding. Four stars. Out of six. Could use a better title. This one is the smallest in scale of the Apes movies. We can't just throw the word "war" around willy-nilly. Well, maybe IRL, but not in movies.

47. Logan
Slightly different perspective on one of my favorite fictional universes, but I'm the victim of mistaken expectations. Somehow I was under the impression beforehand that the violence would be brutal, yet somewhat illuminating. Turns out it's brutal only. "I hurt some people." "All the same." In the end there are more splashes of blood, but the enthusiasm of seeing sadistic villains suffer is still the same as before. The R-rating could have gone more interesting places in violence examination and criticism. P.S. Why haven't I been calling him Hugh Jassman this whole time?

46. Ingrid Goes West
Certainly captures the thrill and addiction associated with positive people pings from social media. Never do people seem more permanently in 8th grade than here, and nearly believably so. Nearly, but not quite. The characters are stretched just a little too extreme. Not unbelievable as individual characters, but actually unbelievable in that such extreme characters couldn't possibly exist in such proximity to each other. O'shea Jackson solidifies his presence here though. Turns out he's more than just a guy who looks like his famous rapper dad. He's very missed in every scene he's absent. Quick character moment I like: O'shea isn't just a big Batman fan, but his favorite is Batman Forever. I find this especially humorous and especially sincere -- especially with O'shea Jackson's sincerity.

45. The Founder
Really picks up a few minutes in when we meet Nick Offerman and John Carrol Lynch who play loving brothers Grumpy McDonald and Happy McDonald, respectively. The middle is lots and lots of agitated Laura Dern with her head disappointingly cocked askew. Could do with a little less family drama (strangely no kids in any family relationships in a movie about McDonald's) and more of an emphasis on the conflict between two major themes of the American dream: honest hard work and beating the other guy at all costs. Obviously the second one always wins, but only because the first one doesn't see a need to play such a terrible game. If only the middling middle played this up as much as the film's conclusion. P.S. Still haven't eaten McDonald's in like a decade, but I knew 15 minutes in that I needed a burger and fries immediately. I'm nothing if not American.

44. I Am Not Your Negro
Yet another reminder of my title as the whitest person to ever exist on Earth. In my ignorance this is my intro to James Baldwin. A pleasure to hear, but may need a few more tries to fully grasp most of the philosophical eloquencies.

43. Casting JonBenet
So this bleakness is what truth is now -- the collective perspective of the masses. We're not all experts, but maybe if we talk things through enough, truth will somehow bubble up. I like this, though. The subjects (I guess that's what we call them) are human, emotional and invested and are treated with complete respect. Before the movie I was completely unaware of the Jonbenet stuff, but this is a fascinating way to hear the story. The process of acting is tied together with the process of discovering the truth (or delivering the falsehoods).

42. 48 Hour Film Festival 2017
Perhaps I shouldn't include these every year. I don't know where else to talk about them, though. This year our submission probably suffers from a bit of overstory. When you only make a five-minute film, it's probably best not to have several concepts that need to be explained. Also, I know another complaint is a scattered amount of tone changes from scene to scene. A valid complaint, but at the same time, something I personally appreciate in this particular case. It's to my liking, but unfortunately I can't intellectually defend it. Just feels good to me. Alas, that problem is my favorite thing amidst other problems. Fun to act again. Usually I don't get to do much of it. Next year I may demand to sit in the editing chair the entire time just to get a good base when the clock starts running out. I don't remember any of the other entries. I'm just happy they also suffered.

41. Death Note
Be careful or be Death Note! Heard a lot of shade regarding this one and its sloppy pacing, but I rather enjoy this ride. A good straddle between taking itself seriously and not. Mix me in a lot of bad teenage decisions based on the eyes of a pretty girl, and I'm totally in. It's like a good afternoon serial, which is how I enjoyed it -- in pajamas on Netflix.

40. Faces Places
Great faces. Great places. This digestible documentary follows a crew traveling France, printing giant photos of local inhabitants onto large objects. The film displays a valid genuineness with all the people they meet, but the banter of filmmakers Agnes Varda and JR feels too manufactured. I like dismissing such a sacred icon like Varda, but a shift of emphasis to the newfound subjects would have been welcome.

39. World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts
Abrupt in ending and in total. Feel a bit more Emily Prime than Emily 6 in terms of grasping the story's consequences. Hertzfeldt is again very amazing at concocting an animated piece that pulls your heart into it without realizing if it's the ultimate sadness or happiness or something new entirely. Not up for debate is how Emily Prime is the cutest character of this decade. This one's only 22 minutes and I have it rented from Vimeo for a week. Let me know if you'd like to see it and maybe you can just log in as me.

38. Mr. Roosevelt
Whiplashingly both charming and frustrating. Wondering if Noël Welles has had a rough life since SNL. Welles needs a lot of credit for supplying a lot of energy to what could have been an easy mumblecore exercise. Still, the manic-ness is a bit tiring to view and it's always a bit tricky to make the main character the one with all the flaws. It's painting into a corner between resentment and relatability.

37. It Comes at Night
Like Krisha, a palpable look at the extra weight of discomfort in a lousy situation. If only society lasted long enough to trust each other. And help each other. Somehow, Trey Edward Shultz previous movie about an unremarkable Thanksgiving provides more scares than this straight-up horror. Perhaps the devils we know are the real scary ones. Well anyway, he's better at illustrating such a thing. Great great great forbidden hallway vibes, though.

36. The Disaster Artist
Oh hi James. Do think it good idea make movie about danger relationship and not reveal anything about one of person in relationship?

The best part is the end when they compare actual scenes from The Room with the same scenes the crew shot in this movie. Unfortunately, here's a case of the best only able to equal the charm of the source material without being able to supercede it by definition. James Franco's impersonation of the actual man goes out of the way to steer clear of any type of insight into what I'm guessing is an interesting character. It's up to the Dave Franco character to supply emotion and substance, but the one-sidedness of relationship flails rather than stabilizes.

35. It
1989 is SO the new 2017. Effective enough. Smart to devote such effort into characters (or at least characters' tics) so we can tell them apart -- even if there are way too many. Pretty King-move out of On Writing. If I remember right, Stephen King doesn't actually care much about plot so much as he cares about characters' true actions once they're created and alive. Don't cram characters into a plot. Let the characters tell the story. Anyway, I find it unfortunate that It itself as a character is especially chained to the plot. With It's powers, and eventual emotion, I don't believe It's actions by the end when they result in a such a favorable group-power setting (and the perfect kid group 80s throwback for us). Wiser, though, It sets up a few parallel sequences that match up the plot toward the end. Perhaps plot does trump character, at least in King cinema and not books.

Terrible nit picks:
1. Adam Driver-esque bully went to too much Bully Posing School.

2. Even if it's a small town in 1989 Maine, there's no way that every kid has a bicycle from the 40s rather than a BMX.

3. Shut up librarian! You've said enough with "It's summer, you should be out playing." No need to tack on the very unnecessary "Don't you have any friends?"

34. Logan Lucky
Can't believe they rebooted the Logan franchise just a few short months after the first Logan movie. Personally, I could have done without the drawling slowtalking. Perhaps I'm being ignorantly generous, but I'm willing to bet that actual hillbilly rednecks are able to present themselves more intelligently. Still, the simple demographics of this one make it much better than any of the Ocean's movies. Finally, some people who actually need money. I'm real sick of heist movies where the actual budget of the heist is in the millions of dollars in the first place. What a breath of fresh air to see a heist on a shoestring budget. That's the way it should be.

33. Okja
This Bong guy seems to do well adding whimsy to unwinnable situations. All parties have a point and the movie has a very cynical viewpoint regarding any sort of world solution. Fortunately, there's a believable emphasis on changing individual lives rather than societies amidst the complexity.

32. Wonder Wheel
Winslet brings the Blanchett. Despite the problematics IRL, I don’t get tired of the usual Woody Allen ethics dilemmas, even when we’ve seen the same ones a bunch over the last 50 years. Still, maybe one film every two years would help iron out such needed line reworkings such as “I’m consumed with jealousy over you.” Not sure how relatable such despicable characters are to most people but if you can't relate to the these flawed characters in the slightest bit, I envy you.

31. Gerald's Game
Nice to know that if ever handcuffed with no means to escape, at least losing your mind helps stave off the boredom. The well-composed in-room brain cameos carry what would be a boring story of accidental imprisonment toward something fluid and unexpected. A bit like 127 Hours, but the technique brings the brain activity further into the real world.

30. Too Funny to Fail: The Life and Death of The Dana Carvey Show
Here's a documentary about a TV show I wasn't aware of (featuring first screen appearances from Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert). Exhilaratingly sad. Especially love the anecdote of only ten pieces of fanmail with one of them from Carell’s Mom with a phony name. Pitfalls of creativity on tragic display. It’s hard to make people happy. Especially when that’s all you wanna do.

29. The Beguiled
There's all that sexual tension in the house, but I would think it would be alleviated by the girls carting poop out of Colin Farrell's room all the time. They must have made that nerdy turtle girl handle all the poop stuff.

Not totally sure where Sophia Coppella's going with this. Perhaps a commentary on how sharp a turn it is from a woman's perspective when a man goes from gentleman to psycho douchebag. Kind of a lady boner killer (or its accurate biological equivalent).

28. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Third time's the charm... ish! I can really appreciate a strict return to high school, but most of the action scenes have the darkness/closeness/editing problem. At at least three different events, I had no idea what major thing was supposed to be happening. The two gems: the home movie at the beginning and our hero helpless in the skyscraperless suburbs. Also: Chris Evans' best work since Sunshine.

27. Wonder Woman
Is it weird I fell way more in love with Chris Pine than Gal Gadot? The duke in distress really fits (but with an ample amount of idealistic (yet panicked) independence). Also what's up with him and motorcycles? Diana a bit Leeloo especially at the beginning, but enjoyed the Splash shopping sequence. Would have appreciated a false villain as implied 2/3 through. Could have given Pine's speech a lot more meaning and an abrupt ending probably would have contributed even more positive conversation by subverting the superhero villain concept.

26. Alien: Covenant
When Alien movies are done well, the quiet parts are the most scary. I think it happens again here and it's much appreciated. Interesting, though, that we get a return to the Prometheus universe more than the Alien one. In Covenant the metaphors of gods/parents being replaced/murdered by their children adds deeper levels in terms of artificial offspring, mixing in with the already dizzying complexities of biological life. Whether we have kids the old-fashioned way, mix them in a lab, or build them in a workshop, we never really know if we get Cain or Abel do we? ALSO, Fassbender on Fassbender action is always hot.

25. Blade Runner 2049
I really appreciate the idea of making sequels that take decades rather than months (See also T2 Trainspotting). Gives time to form some dwelling and weight to the themes and ideas. The look and sound of the blade running world is exhilarating, but I can’t help but feel that whatever themes of relationships, identity, consciousness, memories, etc. are somehow lost on us because they’re locked in the characters and vision onscreen. I like this brand of sequel, but the inevitable side effect is being beholden and derivative of the original by definition. We do get the uniquest love scene I’ve ever seen. Of course maybe in the next 30 years we’ll argue the sentience level of the character of Joi.

24. Colossal
Anne Hathaway's inadvertent control of Kaiju monsters a half world away is an intriguing way to inject high stakes into a low-key setting. Perhaps such stakes are a good illustration of why people stay in co-dependent relationships? Sudeikis is pretty great at making me hate and fear him while still getting in some chuckling one-liners.

23. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
I may be a sucker for these sort of family dramadies. The first hour just sets up some quirky family members squabbling and associating. The next bit is just a confusion of love and frustration peeking past the surface. Somehow I tend to be easily suckered in and when the words come out it seems very close to my own family despite my family having next to nothing in common with the screen family. Maybe I’m easily duped or perhaps Baumbach weaves a string of subtleties so well that I’m drawn in without realizing.

22. Thor: Ragnarok
Good ‘n funny with a brilliant lasery soundtrack. Buuuuuuuut, I’m not sure the humor works all that well in the context of like a million people dying. The tone seems to slightly aim for the balancing act achieved by my favorite movie ever, Flash Gordon. The thing that works with FG is the lack of awareness by the characters that they’re in a rollicking galactic comedy. Ragnorak’s jokes have the unfortunate context of a much more serious MCU. For that reason it’s a shame this story isn’t a complete one-off. Would be far more believable in a completely fresh universe.

Hey how’s this for an idea? What if instead of the characters saying funny jokes, all the humor comes from just physical stuff (i.e. people falling from high places and landing on their faces)? That’d be sweet.

 Mark Mothersbaugh makes me really really want to dust off GarageBand.

21. John Wick: Chapter 2
This sucker's got the expected assortment of rapid fire body/head point-blank bullet combos, which are simultaneously exciting and stress-inducing. A bit of respect for making the hero the boogeyman. Leaves me identifying mostly with the poor sap minions with their kneecaps blown off hoping to crawl for safety before Wick gets back around 30 seconds later for the coup-de-gras. Must be all silly minions' first day on the job. They're only REALLY good at cutting around corners into slaughter. Also very smart of the filmmakers to continue to emphasize this crazy side world of criminals with an alternate economy and quirky industries. This deepens a bit here with the implication that this side world isn't limited to an exclusive underground, but that EVERYONE is a part of a horrifying cruel system. Our day jobs and surface lives are just fronts for our true value -- shooting minions in the head.

P.S. -- if someone's name is "John," they shouldn't be called "Jonathan" in formal settings. Trust me. They're two totally different names.

20. The Breadwinner
Even though this takes place in Taliban-controlled 1990-something Afghanistan, this animated movie starts as something adorable to be put up with. As the movie progresses, the emotive care of the animation becomes more and more noticeable. By the end we’re treated to a series of white-knuckle events perfectly cross-cut with each other. Bonus points for the bratty pimply-faced teen Taliban soldier. Come-upance isn’t required, but the desire for it proves audience investment.

19. Band Aid
Sing Street has happysad this one has happymad. Moves from a higher concept premise to pop psychology men from Mars and women from Venus by the end. By that time, though, the emotional investment is there (and addicting).

18. Lady Bird
Not as positive on this perhaps I should be, but we've seen very similar before. The know-it-all female high schooler oblivious to a supportive populace and city would be far more tired if Soairse Ronan didn't put her whole weight into the performance and didn't look back. Also Greta Gerwig's direction is almost frustratingly assured. An added bonus that I think I only picked up on subconsciously (but was later pointed out to me) is the attention character in everybody else and not just the main girl. They have lives of their own and don't exist just to react to the firecracker of a main character. The biggest unfortunatuality (I'm wording that) is that I don't care for Dave Matthews Band much.

17. The Trip to Spain
Needs a little more small man in a box and a little less Moore. Actually, I love the Roger Moore stuff. Please cheer up Coogan! Not sure what else to say. I mean, this is the third movie in the series and I want to see more and I don't want them to change anything. Keep the impersonations. Keep the insults. Keep the awkwardness of those caught in conversation with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. If they do another one they could potentially drastically change the story based on how this one turns out. Could still be great. Impersonations to survive, maybe?

16. Dunkirk
The bizarre three-tiered time reckoning and watch-ticky/heart-beaty soundtrack sure Inceptioned the hell out of this. An hour after the movie and I realize Nolan's cynicism for heroism. It needs to be spur-of-the-moment. It simply can't linger. The three timeframes are also three measurements of heroism. Certainly Tom Hardy is the most heroic, with the largest sacrifice within his hour timeframe. In the meantime, the mole people are the most savage and cowardly. After at least a week, heroism hardly cuts it. After that, it's simply enough of this war garbage.

15. The Big Sick
Strangely feels like four acts, but that's a good thing. Perhaps real life has four acts where three are expected. Being based on so much fact, there's obvious room for so much truth. It's fortunate the facts don't actually get in the way of a cinematic truth here. The two sets of different parents bring lots to mine from in both love and conflict to bring a strange universality to the whole specific situation.

14. T2 Trainspotting
This sequel hit me in a way I didn't quite expect. Sometimes you just can't handle the "Lust for Life" needledrop. Sometimes the weight of nostalgia overpowers the joy of it. Sometimes that's the story that needs to be told. Perhaps sometimes should be usually. Maybe we should make every sequel take 20 years to force us to not only take stock of the past, but seriously contemplate our present story.

13. The Shape of Water
Despite a surprising amount of Hawkins skin, this has a powerfully welcome throwback vibe complete with on-the-nose music and a villain who would surely twist his mustache more if he had fingers (and if he had a mustache). Interesting choice to go pretty blatant in the damsel/beast relationship in a way that would only be sort of implied in monster movies in the past. Such a choice really brings a present-day complexity.

12. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Macon Blair's direction is a bit more lighthearted and goofy than Jeremy Saulnier's but the shocking violence is still intact. Can I say I love the violence Saulnier/Blair brings? Not sure if I'm supposed to like it, but it shocks me in just the right way. Like a 60/40 of nervousness and laughter. Again like Saulnier, Blair has a knack for making beauty portraying messiness. In this one in particular, there's an odd bit of horror/comfort in knowing that making the world better often means more destruction than status quo.

11. The Florida Project
There’s a weird thing in life where you can resent someone, but then spend enough time with them and you become like siblings -- even when their behavior (and yours) doesn’t change. Not sure if this is a positive mutation of humanity or if it’s even universal, but this is a great example of the concept. Also, about three quarters into my viewing I giddily noticed that I wasn’t checking the time and didn’t care to leave the theater anytime soon. Not too much plot here. It’s mostly loud kids and rambunctiousness, but the bulk of the story unfolds in the last few minutes. Effective to have 90 minutes of bonding with the characters before then.

10. A Ghost Story
It's got the feel of a short film, but it's not as boring as so many short films manage to be. Meloncholy: The Movie, maybe. I have some (likely incorrect) interpretations about the meaning of it all. Perhaps the things that make us endure actually go beyond time. Perhaps those aspects that make us human aren't our contributions, but just our discovery of what is already eternal.

The neighbor ghost made me cry.

9. Columbus
Here's a beautiful representation of show AND tell. The picture is framed in (usually non-moving) shots of stimulating architecture, leaving the action to come in the words. Nothing much happens, but that doesn't mean people opening themselves to each other can't be one of the most exciting things to experience.

Who is this director Koganada anyway? Why the one name? I remember when Catwoman came out, Roger Ebert’s review said something about the director Pitof maybe starting his life with two names, so maybe for his next feature he should use his other one. I HOPE THIS IS PITOF’S COMEBACK.

8. Baby Driver
So the baby Ansel Elgort pulls out of the car is actually the title character that grows up to be Ryan Gosling in Drive?

I certainly dig how Edgar Wright is focusing on rhythm and editing here. I mean REALLY focusing -- like a constant music video. Weird how so many in the MTV generation never bothered to combine visuals and sound so deliciously. If there's a problem, it's that Elgort's charisma doesn't carry things when he's not driving or running or dancing. Fortunately the music's always pumping. The fate of Jamie Foxx's character is just about the most memorable event this year. I don't think all the characters are as formed as they could be, but despite others' objections' I think the turn the movie takes toward the end in switching antagonists is one of the refreshingest story adjustments in cinema.

7. Get Out
It's something undefinable in method, but somehow the intensity is there right from the beginning in the seemingly harmless (on paper) asides of the whiteys. Perfect paranoia portrayed the best since the '78 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This is saying something as the whitest person in the universe. I'm extremely pleased with the LACK of comedy here. A Twilight Zone with a loving fluff of nightmarish subtlety.

6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Thinking in six months I’ll change my mind about merits of the film’s lack of message where perhaps a strong moral message is needed. Maybe changing minds is the message and then my mind changing toward the negative will only validate the meaning I didn’t get before and that forces me into a positive review again. The real villains are truly unseen and may as well be non-existent. What’s left are the innocents either looking for justice or, more likely, trying to protect what they already have. Such interests hardly overlap, creating conflict fueled by unwavering viewpoints. There is a dual idealism here. One for never giving up on what’s right no matter the cost, and the other for opening up to outside points of view. Clever how both themes collide in a work absent of true antagonists. In the end we're left dealing with a situation that humanizes revenge, but certainly doesn't forgive it.

5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I definitely commend Rian Johnson for taking the story and characters to places I didn't anticipate. There’s a surprising “ending” here. More so than I would have thought in the middle volume of a trilogy. Again unexpected because I was hoping Johnson would steer clear of conclusions (since I tend not to enjoy the way he usually ends films). Again a lot of cribbing from the original trilogy. The smart trick here is borrowing straight into Return of the Jedi for the character moments while retaining the plot moments of Empire. Kylo Ren’s strange relationship with all around him is still the most exhilarating part of the new trilogy. Spreading his psyche across scenes and across space is gonna be the creative legacy of the third Star Wars act. Here we get the added bonus of a sudden turn, followed by an orgasmic fight sequence, followed by an almost post-coital “what is our relationship status now?” kinda moment. Leading into Episode IX we’re left wondering this same thing. A great place to be instead of wondering about silly ol’ plots.

On my second viewing, lots of the stuff that bugged me didn't bug me anymore. Rose is more appealing and Planet Gamblor isn't as big a part of the whole as I previously remembered. Overall, the universe is contracting and we're left with a surprisingly intimate little cadre of characters. I'm also supremely tickled that there's an outspoken group of Star Wars loyalists who HATE this movie. With the T2 and Blade Runner movies this year, I think we can finally usher in a new era of sequels that are capable of building on what came before, and more importantly, changing direction -- instead of repeating the same story again.

BUT, there's a cute pilot girl that dies early on and I'm pretty pissed about it.

4. mother!
This movie is meant to be an OBVIOUS allegory of the Biblical Fall and Christ sacrifice, but up until I saw Javier Bardem's name in the credits, I somehow picked up on something else entirely. By the last 20 minutes I settled on this interpretation: part 1 deals with the consequences of creating children, while part 2 deals with the consequences of creating art. It’s the second sequence that really grabs a hold of me with the ultimate battle between ego and inspiration among dim masses that know nothing else but to destroy anything good. There's a certain criticism of humanity’s very need to create when the results only lead to savagery. I’m hoping Aronofsky doesn’t have all these details as sorted out as many think, but instead successfully purposefully made something that holds to a dozen other interpretations. Regardless, he nails nightmare vibe logic.

3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Big MVP award to Sunny Suljic. This kid falls on his face like five times and is a total champion at it. High rating because upon viewing, I experienced such an adverse reaction. When everyone’s talking as if they’re robotic body snatchers, I want to scream out loud and punch things. THEN it gets into weird emotional territory. The stiff style is annoying, but weirdly effective. Almost more honest than melodrama, but effective on the other edge of the scale. I’m still twitching and nervous and aggravated.

2. Atomic Blonde
The true hero of this movie is Francesca Tolot, Charleze Theron's make-up artist. More than her physical ability, I think Theron may have been cast for her eyes. Her ice stare has a way of somehow adding a static beat to every piece of music (which amazingly is all from my own personal 1989 mixtape). The music is ALMOST too on point. I'm not complaining about that, but the musicless nearly one-shot sequence on the staircase should sway anyone thinking the crisp neon soundtrack is a crutch. Neon, yeah. That's what all these dark, gritty action films need.

1. Raw
My first impression was just a little warmer than lukewarm, but this thing has been in my head almost the entirety of the year. The French have a thing for cannibalism, right? Burgeoning sexuality mixed with bad role models certainly yields mighty fine independent film. The coming of age concept may be a tired theme, but it's executed with precision and power here. The movie swings from sheltered shame to the exhilaration of giving into the basest of nature (which is quite feral if nothing else). The opening shot is the perfectest shot I wish I'd framed (giant foreground trees along a road stretching into the screen with a vanishing point nearly pixel-sized and a walking pedestrian gently marching out). Btw, saw this at Sundance, but the director didn't show up for questions. Would've been interesting considering the movie's implication that eating meat is like raping a human.

The 14 movies that TECHNICALLY came out in 2016, but I didn't see until 2017!

This is that weird awkward section with movies from last year that I saw this year. Usually this includes high-profile stuff released at the very end of the year for Oscar-attention. For the second year in a row, this didn't really happen. Nowhere else to put these, so they go here. That's not to say the number one here doesn't earn its spot. It could be number one on just about any list.

14. Better Off Single
Reminds me of the quirky screenplay I wrote after college about my own self-indulgent thoughts about being single and misunderstood. However, the break-up scene is pretty good and sorta unique in this movie.

13. Gimme Danger
Stooges documentary. Probably needs more original footage.

12. The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Kudos to that newcomer with the job to lay naked on a table for 80 minutes. Still more acting than that Steven Hawking guy. Really would have appreciated a different direction at the end. Potential is there. It ascends creepiness, but doesn't crest where it should.

11. The Bad Batch
Weird movie with Kal Drogo and a girl with missing limbs. Really captures the mundane boredom of a post-apocalyptic cannibal society.

10. Free Fire
Maybe I play too many old video games. Maybe I'm just lousy at orientation. This movie needs an overhead map to tell me where all the characters are and who they're shooting at. Third Brie Larsen movie of the year!

9. Split
McAvoy's dream role: all the roles. We gotta talk about the ending. Have you seen it? Could the ending have been pulled off where we're not annoyed? I feel like on paper it might work. It just doesn't though.

8. American Anarchist
The part of me that tried to download The Anarchist Cookbook in 8th grade was compelled, but another part of me was turned off by what I think is excessive on-camera shaming. Turned off, yet fascinated. Ever see that Star Trek episode "Conscience of the King"?

7. Hidden Figures
Pretty good. I was expecting a bit of ignorant racism portrayed. I saw a bit of ignorant racism portrayed. For some reason I get the feeling the movie didn't expect me to expect the ignorant racism. Also, this is completely beside the point, but Janelle Monae=supacute.

6. The Girl with All the Gifts
Adding fungus to the zombie mythos.

5. Author: The JT LeRoy Story
Doc about one of those absurd celebrity lies that shouldn't have worked. Another example of how tenuous truth is when reality is 95% perception and perception is 95% what we want to be true. Makes sense that Winona Ryder was that supremely fooled enough to cold open this thing with her naivete.

4. Cameraperson
Like a sort of stock footage festival of humanity sprinkled with lots of touches of very touching stuff (the casual resuscitation of the newborn is especially gripping). If there is a narrative, I suppose the main characters would be the mother and the daughters in sort of a happy/sad circle of life and lucidity. A written review isn't really fair. Only after seeing it I realize I should have filmed my various facial expressions as I watched the movie and then posted that as my review.

3. The Greasy Strangler
A bit of Stockholm syndrome with this one. It's offensive in the worst way: not just extreme content, but obvious provocation to the audience. It's sincere in its blatant desire to annoy. Why did I laugh so much then? Was I just worn down? Is it a genius hypnotism at play? Perhaps. I need to give it a review right down the middle, though, because even with my (possibly nervous) laughter, every image and every sound of this thing are the last things I would ever want to experience.

2. Toni Erdmann
I don't even know. Certainly hoping for much funnier (heard reports about how laugh-out-loud it is, alas). Definitely succeeds at cringe-y. The birthday party is horrifying to my prude self. I do like the complicated heart of it all. One would think just lightening up is the obvious lesson. The movie makes the right decision in assuming that's what's wanted already without the characters' needing to be told (to an extent).

1. Tower
We've got to acknowledge that this is further from a documentary than just about any other documentary, right? I mean they needed to hire actors AND THEN rotoscope those actors. It's like twice removed from actual footage. Thing is, though, it weirdly gets at a truth. By the time it mixes in the actual footage and the actual interviews, we're deadly, deadly deep into the thing. And also, I really grew to love these people.

The 37 old movies I saw for the first time in 2017!

Alrighty, here's the list of all the movies older than 2016 that I finally got around to seeing. This section seems to be getting weirder every year. The original movie year is in parentheses.

37. The Closet (Le Placard) (2001)
36. Suburban Commando (1991)
35. Police Academy (1984)
34. The Bad Seed (1956)
33. Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four (2015)
32. Predestination (2015)
31. Slums of Beverly Hills (1998)
30. Desert Hearts (1985)
29. Roar (1981)
28. The Hunger (1983)
27. Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940)
26. Melancholia (2011)
25. Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
24. The Phantom Carriage (1921)
23. Frailty (2001)
22. The Boondock Saints (1999)
21. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
20. Waking Life (2001)
19. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
18. Match (2014)
17. Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)
16. Magic Mike (2012)
15. The Apple (1980)
14. Murder She Said (1961)
13. Ten Little Indians (1965)
12. The Innocents (1961)
11. Sherman's March (1985)
10. Serpico (1973)
9. What If (2014)
8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
7. The Devils (1971)
6. To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
5. Crossfire Hurricane (2012)
4. Another Thin Man (1939)
3. Murder By Death (1976)
2. Stop Making Sense (1984)
1. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

The 39 movies I'd already seen, but watched again in 2017!

This list is the most unfair one because I usually only re-watch movies if I like them (like a sensible human, I suppose). Weirdly missed It's a Wonderful Life this year. Long story.

39. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
38. Begin Again (2013)
37. Escape from New York (1981)
36. Shaolin Soccer (2004)
35. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)
34. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
33. White Christmas (1954)
32. Jurassic Park (1993)
31. World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts
30. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)
29. Top Gun (1986)
28. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
27. Superbad (2007)
26. Papillon (1973)
25. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
24. The Room (2003)
23. Innerspace (1987)
22. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
21. Suspiria (1977)
20. House (1977)
19. Psycho (1960)
18. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
17. Caddyshack (1980)
16. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
15. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
14. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
13. Hot Fuzz (2007)
12. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
11. Scream (1996)
10. Primer (2004)
9. La La Land (2016)
8. Somewhere in Time (1980)
7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
6. Tower (2016)
5. Sing Street (2016)
4. The Terminator (1984)
3. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
1. Flash Gordon (1980)

Silly little movie-watching facts and statistics from 2017 that only I care about!

Some of these numbers may not add up because of repeat viewings, special screenings not included on the other lists for whatever reason, and good old-fashioned human error.

Total number of movies seen: 169 (20 fewer than last year -- getting old)
Total number of 2017 movies seen: 80
Total number of non-2017 movies seen: 89
Year of oldest movie:  1921 (The Phantom Carriage)
Total number of movies seen more than once within 2017: 5 (Night of the Living Dead, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Tower, White ChristmasWorld of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts)
Biggest movie-watching month: January (25 (thanks again Sundance and 24-hour movie marathon!))
Most days in a row of movie-watching: 8 (between March 1st to March 8th)
Smallest movie-watching month: February (7 (damn you non-leap year!))
Movie seen most in 2017: 5-way tie with the ones I've seen more than once (see above)
Movies seen with others: 46
Movies seen alone: 123 (not as pathetic as last year (137)!)
Movies seen at the cinema (excluding Sundance showings): 71
Most popular theater:  Broadway (20 showings (good year for the Salt Lake Film Society -- Tower Theatre in second place with 15))
Movies seen on Netflix: 35
Movies seen on DVD/Blu-ray: 21
Movies seen at Sundance: 9
Movies seen at the annual 24-hour movie marathon: 10
Movies seen on an airplane: 0
Movies seen as part of a special screening/special event: 4
Movies seen on Amazon Prime: 5
Movies seen on Hulu: 6 
Movies seen on YouTube: 2
Movies seen on Shudder: 2 
Movies seen on HBOGo: 0
Movies seen on iTunes: 2
Movies seen on Vimeo: 2 (but it was the same movie twice)
Movies seen on straight-up broadcast TV: 0
Average Rotten Tomatoes score: 79.77% (hey, lucked out there! (in case you're wondering The Circle currently has the lowest score with 16% (beating The Room!))

End of list! Again, tell me if you got this far and give me your insights!





Saturday, December 23, 2017

Airing of Grievances 2017

It's Festivus. I reveal now this year's Airing of Grievances. By this year, I mean things that have bugged me pretty bad in the last 24 hours.

Gum in the urinal (seeds too)-
What kind of dumb animal are you? Going to the bathroom is an annoying enough part of life, but can I at least pee on something uncluttered? I don't want some kind of archeological mark from the previous standing inhabitants. And you know, right, that somebody is gonna need to use their hands to get that gum out? Is that why you spit them there? Proving your power by making someone else clean up after you in the uriniest place in the building? Gum is bad enough, but sunflower seeds? Why are you even indoors chewing on sunflower seeds? You gotta spit by definition. Don't choose to spit indoors.

Overtaxed mouths-
When we invented ourselves why on earth did we assign one orifice to breathing, talking, spitting, kissing, drinking, AND eating? Also, when we decide to get together to talk socially (and romantically), why does it tend to be around food? We sit down to eat AND talk. Several different things are going in and out of our mouths at the same time. If I wanna hear your pretty words, I also get your ugly food. We need AT LEAST one more mouth with some assigned tasks. I propose at least three mouths total. One for eating and one for talking. There's one more in reserve just in case the nose is out of commission for breathing. This way we'll finally be able to talk AND kiss AND eat all at the same time!

Semicolons-
I see no need for semicolons; they're just useless. Well, I guess we need technically need them for lists within lists, but otherwise their only use is for the writer to point out a working knowledge of them. You get more punch with a period. Full stop.

Breaking into groups-
If you're running a lesson or a training or a presentation, don't send us off into groups. I don't wanna choose between the loser on my right or the weirdo on my left to solve this world problem. Also, it's not a world problem. You're just trying to take up time. Do your job and stall for the duration of the presentation. That's on you, not us.

Trucks that park up on the curb-
Like seeds in the urinal, this must be some kind of territorial thing. Perhaps it saves space, I guess. Maybe just having a smaller car would also save space. No need to tow a massive payload to the Even Stevens parking lot, you know.

No good Hanukkah movies-
How much do I know about Christmas through movies? Everything. How much do I know about Hanukkah through movies? Nothing. I want to celebrate the season, but nobody's telling me how. And yes, yes I know what you're thinking, but I hear Eight Crazy Nights is terrible. Plus that's only one movie anyway. I want to naturally absorb Hanukkah without needing to do outside research. These don't need to be movies about the holiday. They can be movies like Die Hard, where it's just the background setting. Who wouldn't want to watch the Hanukkah Die Hard? Eight nights... of action!

Breakfast potatoes definition-
The breakfast committee needs to decide what breakfast potatoes are. Sometimes they're cubed with onions and sometimes (like this last time) they're sliced like carrots and deep-fried. It's like we didn't want to be chained to hash browns, but breakfast used its newfound freedom to just generalize. And also, maybe a snazzier new name than "breakfast potatoes."

Shipping-
I work at Overstock and I'm an Amazon Prime member. Neither of those things help me get stuff to me. Ordered on December 17th, but thanks oh so much for getting that It's a Wonderful Life DVD to me by December 27th.

Other shipping-
Hey when you see a new TV show or movie or whatever, maybe don't play matchmaker with the characters immediately. Romance is great (maybe), but consider all the other fulfilling and interesting types of relationships we don't see so much of in media. Perhaps instead of romantically shipping characters you can ship in the most exciting platonic way yet dreamed in society. That'd be new. We've covered romance, let's see how hardcore we can get with this platonic thing.

Non-retractable headphones on every phone-
Need stupid headphones 24/7 because I don't know what kind of stupid content with sound I'll be sent (or stupid surf to when wasting time) throughout the day. Just playing sound through speakers in a public area is right out (grievance in itself -- don't do it if you do). Corded earbuds have a superpower to get caught on every single corner. Not sure what witchcraft went into that. Anyway, all phones everywhere need to have the earbuds included in the actual phone along with a button that retracts them like measuring tape or the power cord to a vacuum. That way we stick our buds in and then retract the button and the cord hugs up against our body and doesn't get caught on anything. I have yet to try air buds.

Charging cables-
Old news from the past 15 years, but every phone charging cable is exactly five inches too short.

Headphone adapter-
Ugh, okay this is as lame as I thought it would be. You know what I'm talking about, right? I don't even wanna type this. I've got iPhone earbuds that plug right in to the phone, but if I need to use my external microphone with the phone I need the 1/4" adapter, which exists only in my car for the 1/4" auxiliary port in there. My computer at work and home uses a separate USB headphone set. Anyway, the point is, I have three different types of headphones. This was not a problem five years ago. For like 30 years we had all that headphone garbage under control.

Podcasts app-
Obviously Apple has the sadistic iTunes development team working on the iPhone's Podcasts app. I don't know how these imps see life or the human condition, but they're continuing to use their alien ways to make the Podcasts app a nightmare of organization. Right now it's gone from aggravating to absolute curiosity. I can't even figure out a logic for which downloaded podcasts are displayed. Is it possible they just display randomly? But the organization can't be completely random. It's almost as if through state-of-the-art machine learning the application has learned my habits, but using that information to specifically obscure what I'm looking for. If the machines are after me, at least the T-800s have the decency to put a face to the enemy.

Apple watch-
I still don't know what my watch does. I feel it should be more intuitive than it actually is. I could go online to find out all its secrets, but I feel like my watch should be the one to tell me.

Journeys socks-
Journeys stopped making my favorite tube socks with the stripes on them. Now I'm out of socks for the rest of my terrible life. I've gone 15 years resisting the lameness that is ankle socks. I will knit my own socks before I give into ankle socks. I've seen you dealing with ankle socks looking dorky and also slipping down into your shoe like a star-nosed mole.

Sliders coupons-
Arby's shouldn't have a coupon for 12 sliders for 12 bucks. It's not that good of a deal. You won't lose too much money with two coupons for six sliders for six bucks. I've recently discovered that I can't actually eat 12 sliders in one sitting.

280 characters-
Tweets shouldn't have two paragraphs (36).

Unpopular on Twitter-
I should be more popular on Twitter. Consider these tweets:

Why doesn't Victoria's Secret have an Oktobrafest?

That one should have 2,000 likes and 900 retweets, right? Nope. Just nine likes.

Not at all surprised USA lost to Trinidad and Tobago. Soccer's hard enough without playing two teams at once #USMNT

That one only had three retweets.

Okay by contrast here's a random tweet by Anna Kendrick:

There was a "Corgi Halloween Parade" in Vancouver today and NONE of you told me??? I'm calling the cops.

6,492 retweets and 57,900 likes.

C'mon.

Proud ignorance-
I believe this is a repeat from a previous year, but I'm repeating it now. No matter how empty you perceive it to be, there's absolutely no nobility in claiming ignorance to any subject. Yes, fine. You DON'T know all the Kardashians' names. That's not worth pointing out. If you don't know it, you don't know it, but don't feel all sorts of special by not bothering to know such a thing. Feel special by what you do know, not just what you want to look down on (but obviously know enough about to define).

Side confidence-
The world is complicated these days. People who disagree with that worry me. What's up with the confidence on either end of the political spectrum? Those that have a yelly answer for everything have a surety that I envy, but I simply don't have enough faith in. The only bliss is in extremes. The rest of us in the middle are merely terrified.

Merry Christmas-
I don't feel like I can say "merry Christmas" anymore. It's not because I feel oppressed. It's because I feel that by saying it, I would actually be communicating a spiteful victory chant regarding a non-existent war. Thanks Trump, but invoking the name of Christ in order to spite others is one thing Christmas definitely never needed. Looks like it's back to "Festivus ahoy" to all I see.

Girls in charge-
This is a future grievance. It's actually likely after all this harassment stuff dies down, things will go to exactly how they were before (or a little worse), but there's a small chance girls might be totally in charge in the future. If that happens, ladies, stop making the same mistakes we made for the last 10,000 years. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that because you're in charge, you should emulate the asshole attributes of past people in charge. If there is a difference between us, please bring the goodness of femininity rather than the brutality of masculinity.

Grieving to me-
Okay I grieve and I grieve. I do what I can. Don't think I have any solid answers. To anything. My head is filled with question marks constantly. Keep this in mind next time you ask me anything.

--Btw, we discussed a version of this list on Rhett's "Going for Zero" podcast. Maybe look for that in your faulty Podcasts app.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Movies: 2016

Here we go again. I'm hoping this takes you more than ten minutes to read because it likely took more than ten hours to write.

Just like last year, we're going to break this down into a few separate sections.


Top 82 movies of 2016!

Here are the movies that (according to Rotten Tomatoes) were released in 2016. There is a bit of overlap slightly with last year (for example, I managed to see The Witch at Sundance last year, but it's sort of still a 2016 release). Also, there are lots of things that I didn't see in the theater but were either exclusively streaming anyway, or were such early releases that I managed to catch them streaming later. Regardless, it's a pretty good year. I legit hated very few of these (listed first).


82. Suicide Squad
In a way, I'm glad this exists. I have a lot of negative energy pent up inside me and I need a reservoir for it. Who knows, this year, I probably would have developed a tumor or something if I didn't have Suicide Squad as the most obvious of all punching bags to vent rage on. We were so excited before, but Suicide Squad makes Batman v Superman seem actually pretty alright. About halfway through Suicide Squad I realized that we're still on the same dull, grey mission and we're not gonna get a fun montage of the Suicide Squad saving the day over and over again. Not to say superhero movies can't be good if they're just a single mission, but THIS mission? Hastily put together, dark, messy, unfulfilling, unmotivated -- obviously a reflection of the making of the film itself. Also, everybody thinks they're soooooo cool. These characters aren't good enough or bad enough -- like your friends who always yell to you about how kooky they are. Plus one of them shows up only for the purpose of having his head explode. I wouldn't hang out with these people. Not because I would fear for my life, but because I know our conversations would be boring and pointless and their stupid weapons are stupid boomerangs.

81. Masterminds
Far out, Jared Hess movies can be really annoying. I really wish he liked his characters just a little rather than directing a charge for us to gleefully look down on them. 

80. Sausage Party
I'm not sure I can totally put my finger on why this annoyed me so much. Yes, there's a lot of smug atheism attached, and I think that's what most people would think I'd be annoyed at. There's something else, though. It is a bit one-note and unsustainable. Is that it? The rules of the universe are pretty murky here. Look, all I can tell you is that I hated watching it and I didn't laugh, at least not after the first half hour. 

79. The Blackout Experiments
Seen at Sundance. It's an insincere documentary about people who attend fright rooms willingly. The movie is like a Russian nesting doll sequence of lame exhibitionism. 

78. How to Be Single
Not the worst, but I literally considered punching myself in the face while watching in order to feel something. Script seemed to be composed of the most basic set of Magnetic Poetry. 

77. Oscar Nominated Shorts 2016
These are always so forgettable. Please see previous years' lists for my thoughts. I only watch them to get an edge in my Oscar pool.

76. Sleight
Fun inner city plot about a teen magician. Hilariously stilted direction and editing. 

75. The Brothers Grimsby
Never much cared for his world-shaming comedy terrorist antics, so not too torn up that this Sacha Baron Cohen movie is a miserable mugging waste of time. Fortunately that bit of Schadenfreude got me through this disaster. 


74. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
"It wasn't THAT bad" should be the quote they put on the Blu-ray box. Hopefully, this budgetsplosion of a picture puts to end the grey, gritty, grimy method of portraying so-called superheroes. Well, Suicide Squad is the true ender, I suppose (we can only hope). The actual, title though-- the actual fight -- THAT was pretty cool. If I had my way, it would be the pre-credits sequence for the Justice League movie (minus the "Martha!" part of course) and the rest of this picture would be abandoned completely.

73. A Bigger Splash
Certainly different and character-driven, which is always nice. These little pictures of old friends coming together with a bit of tension and perhaps a few new variables have that fun element where you can't quite tell where it's going (at least not as much as your basic superhero or spaceship movie I'm still so fond of). I do wish I could bust through the personas of these characters a little more. We have a shared love of The Rolling Stones, but their world isn't super relatable to me. Not to say I can't relate to people who are different than I am. I'd be able to if the movie would just help me out a little bit more. Also. Long. This one was super long. Ralph Fiennes does do some awesome Elaine-like dancing, but you love it because he's so into it.

72. Jason Bourne
Points for Vikander! Other than that, whatever. The Bourne series takes a step back here. The fourth movie pretty much has literally been taken over by machines. Maybe inject some humanity into the next one. His motivation is revealed to be less interesting than before, and the Bourne thrill is just gone by now. Not much enthusiasm seems to come with the new story. I think they may have filmed a bunch of action scenes and then added dialogue over it later to justify its existence. Also, shouldn't the title actually be David Webb? This is objectively the weakest in the series, but allow me to say one thing about the whole franchise anyway. We needed Bourne in the early 2000s to be a totally different kind of cool than James Bond. The unfortunate thing about Bourne, though, is that kind of silent, non-party cool just doesn't have a high shelf life. Sure, we'll get tired of Bond every ten years or so, but there's a reason the charm of Bond always comes back. It's irresistible. Groan-inducing? Sure. But it never gets boring (like Bourne inevitibly does even if this latest Bourne movie were any good).

71. X-Men: Apocalypse
I'm the biggest fan of the X-Men franchise that I know. This one's dull as dirt though. Perhaps it was a mistake to make a movie with the actual character of Apocalypse. I've read 300 X-Men comic books and that character's always been a big problem for me anyway. Really dull motivations and super vague powers. Still, more of an effort on the rest of the movie would have gone a long way. Recasting Storm and Jean Grey is fine, but they really flattened the characters out when they had a perfect chance to embellish them.

70. Elvis and Nixon
People say this is charming and funny. It's got Michael Shannon as Elvis. Regardless, my mood must have been too poor to enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed. For me, the jokes are flat and the premise tiresome from the start. Sorry Elvis fans and Nixon fans if there are any.

69. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
I'll be honest, I just had this one on in the background to catch a few glimpses of Lucy Boynton. So inevitably, not enough Boynton. This one's a very slow burn. Haunted house-ish. That one lady from Luther (I think) is in it and it's pretty much a psychological one-woman show (with a weird catatonic grandma on the side). Didn't follow it super well, but seems like it should be a half-hour Twilight Zone episode.

68. Snowden
Pretty good. Pretty scary. Yeah, we live in a terrible world where information isn't safe, but it probably works far better as a documentary. JGL is pretty over the top with the Snowden voice and it's pretty distracting. Also, it's pretty established early on that the government is spying on us, but we get this annoying narrative loop of Snowden quitting in disgust and then taking another job later and getting just slightly more jaded than before. I suppose that probably really happened, but it's dull believability in a movie narrative.

67. Bad Moms
They weren't really THAT bad (perhaps not a super great Blu-ray cover quote). I wouldn't mind seeing a movie where a bunch of moms legit didn't like their kids. I think that would be funny. Probably wouldn't be a hit. Anyway, Bad Moms had jokes in it and I laughed sometimes.

66. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
I sure wish Tina Fey put more of her stamp on stuff she stars in. Did she write this one? I don't think so. Okay I just checked. She didn't write it, but that Carlock guy she often works with did. That's surprising. If she had more input, maybe I'd remember a line or two from this.

65. April and the Extraordinary World
Whimsical animated French movie about an alternate universe without 20th century invention. Charming enough at the time, and I certainly have no problems with this one, but I certainly wish the animation style would give something spectacularly memorable that I could mention here. Funny enough, I've always had a hard time with animated young women wandering through a world unlike our own (Alice in Wonderland for example). So it makes me really sad that I have such a hard time remembering all the Nazi mad scientists and steampunk amazement that surely littered this movie.

64. Swiss Army Man
Certainly an award should be given for this one for being so one-of-a-kind. The magic doesn't quite wrap together for me. I somehow have some issues with the ending. Not quite sure what the message is besides maybe we should fart in public more. If the movie has no other legacy, I think that's a worthy one. Years from now, historians will probably study this movie as the source of the cultural shift where everybody just started farting all the time in public instead of holding it in. Maybe it will actually be healthier for all. Oh, btw, if you don't know, this movie is about a stranded man who finds salvation in a flatulent corpse. The corpse is played very well by Daniel Radcliffe. Mary Elizabeth Winstead continues to play my favorite person.

63. Magnificent Seven
Never seen a more egregious example of a bad guy using the Brannigan method of sending wave after wave of his own men to their deaths in an open range shoot-out. Fewer people died on Alderaan. More damage was inflicted on this town than World War II. Fortunately, good guys can stand in open area freely and not get hit. That's in the Bible somewhere. Also bullets in the gut make Chris Pratt run faster. Despite these expected complaints, still pretty fun. Pratt gets one-liners that are charming despite seeming sorta anachronistic. Would have liked more time with the China guy. His lines are strangely the easiest to understand. Hints and a small tortured monologue from Ethan Hawke make me want more from him, but maybe it's the right balance with the rest of the non-serious story. Oh, one more positive. Despite her anguish, grieving widow Haley Bennett dressed like she was getting a tan. Points a little down for not re-addressing the cost of protecting what's yours by the end. Perhaps just a little less of a triumphant musical queue when showing stacks and stacks of dead bodies -- even if they're bad guys.

62. Mascots
As usual, there's some delightful Christopher Guest improvisational mockumentary dialogue here. New people like Zach Woods and Chris O'Dowd make things fun as well. There isn't a tremendous amount of heart in it though. Either that, or sensibilities have changed since the last Christopher Guest movie, so making no adjustments to the formula feels a little like phoning it in. It's straight to Netflix in case you're wondering how you missed seeing a new Christopher Guest mockumentary.

61. Sully
This is made surprisingly riveting through a strange touch of non-linear storytelling and an interesting focus on several passengers. However, it ends hilariously with something right out of a sitcom freeze frame of a dad joke. I'm very hung up on the method used to convey Sully's inner strife. I find it extremely strange that he's haunted by nightmares of what could have been if he'd made the decision NOT to land on the Hudson. Why would that keep anyone up at night? That's the decision he denied so why would he feel those consequences? His nightmares should have been either that he landed in the river and wound up killing everyone OR that he he safely turned around and landed at the airport with no fuss. I think people consider this a minor decision, but I'm completely hung up on it. I don't think it's because I have a mental illness. I think it's big enough to derail the whole movie for me because it completely extinguishes any doubt about whether or not it was the right decision in both Sully's mind and in ours. Hence, no conflict and no real story.

60. The Fits
Too bad I didn't see this in the theater, because it was very difficult to hold my attention while watching it streaming at home. This one's getting incredible buzz from a lot of critics, but I don't feel the same way. There are lots of great elements, but seriously, we need to stop praising independent movies so much for providing so much "restraint" in the dialogue. In my opinion, lots of indies, such as this one, need to take some chances and supply some freaking dialogue. There comes to a point where "realism" steps over the line into unrealiastic territory because the main characters never speak. This is no longer restrained. It's distracting. Bring me back the days with good crisp dialogue where people talk about their wants and dreams and fears and aches and they also DO things, but it's not considered a one or the other kind of deal. Anyway, this movie is about a group of girls that have seizures for no reason. Or IS there a reason? Yes, of course there is. Let's think about it for a while (but don't talk about it!).

59. Manchester By the Sea
This is a sad movie that's really really sad, but it has some jokes, but is otherwise sad. Well, it's not super sad. It's objectively sad. Sad stuff happens, so I get why it's considered sad and certainly why the characters are sad, but it's really the aftermath of sad, so we're not necessarily taken on the rollercoaster of sad. It's mostly the boring part of sad where the sad thing happened and then we're just sort of stuck with sad. It takes a long time for Michelle Williams to finally deliver her Oscar speech, but she's crying so much that I can't understand the dialogue. Far out, this seems like a really negative review of Manchester by the Sea, but it's actually pretty good. Well, it's alright. I suppose it's going to be up for Best Picture, but I'll like the nine others a lot more. Okay. To sum up -- this movie is very long.

58. Oasis: Supersonic
Intriguing, yet a bit watered-down. The producer credit for both Noel and Liam may explain this. Still, Oasis has always been a more interesting spectacle than sound just because of the world-famous volatile nature of the sibling rivalry. I can't look away even as I plead, can't you guys just shut up and relax for like a single second? Strange how brother bands tend to breed that kind of weird imbalance. In this case it's pure swagger vs. pure talent with a giant spectrum of weaknesses in between. Certainly did appreciate a strange bit of humility from both by the end with a bit of implication that what they did wasn't necessarily all that special, but the fact that so many people showed up for it was.

57. Where to Invade Next
I sure wish Michael Moore wouldn't preach to his choir so much. If he actually needed to convince people, he would actually make more of an effort. I rather enjoyed his premise that some of the psycho weird socialist stuff that seemingly works in other countries are actually American ideas. When the world collapses, I'll take comfort in knowing that at least America had some great ideas.

56. Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
Being Werner Hezog, this one goes far beyond "maybe machines and the internet are hurting us in some ways." It's more more apocalyptic, but also more philosophical and hopeful. I'm glancing at it right now on Netflix to remind myself of it. It actually spans some massive ideas and is still detailed enough for thoughtful messages. I just watched a sequence on self-driving cars and then a sequence of soccer-playing robots and then a sequence on the cyber-bullying of a dead girl's family. Lots of good, lots of bad and plenty interesting.

55. Deadpool
Enjoyed quite a bit, but I do have some resentment about its popularity. I mean it's not THAT funny. Maybe this is just a great signal that we're allowed to have sorta fun movies in February. Also, I would have appreciated a bit more of a reason for the fourth-wall breaking. Best part of the movie is how he keeps forgetting his guns. There's a rumor of sorts that the reason he keeps doing that is because the studio kept cutting the budget of the movie, so they had to let some of the action-packed gun scenes go. The workaround was to just have Deadpool forget them. I sure hope that story is true. It's IRL funny.

54. 48 Hour Group B
I think we lost again this year, so yeah, whatever.

53. 48 Hour Awards
Actually, I think we won best costumes or something.

52. The Meddler
Not bad, but do you know what this movie could have used? More meddling. Actually, maybe it's nice that this one's pretty sweet and not an over-the-top diatribe against obnoxiously caring parents. Okay, the real mistake is taking Rose Byrne out of so much of the movie. I've probably mentioned that I have deep feelings for her.

51. The Intervention
Pretty okay indie young adult comedy. The name says it all. We get some wacky young people together and they communicate and come to terms with each other and themselves. Some funny bits. When I saw it, I gave it a positive review, but it hasn't held up for me at the end of the year. These end of the year lists are always interesting for me. I know I felt differently at the time, but there are so many movies (like this one) where there's not much that is able to resonate all the way to the end.

50. Trekoff: The Motion Picture
An online friend made this documentary about Star Trek and his relationship to it through his podcast. This guy and his partner are exuberant enough for several hours of screen time, so the energy is totally there. Plug for me, btw! If you ever see this movie, watch for me. I make an appearance at about 45 minutes in. Unfortunately I also listened to the DVD commentary for this and they don't mention how cool I am.

49. For the Love of Spock
Here's a documentary on Leonard Nimoy that you can easily watch in the comfort of your own home thanks to the miracle of Netflix. Standard Star Trek stuff is here (which is awesome because it mostly has to do with Spock and he's the best one (if you didn't already know) mostly because Nimoy melded with the character so hard), but there's also a lot of some of the other stuff Nimoy did that was pretty cool (like the 70s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- ever see it? It's like the third best movie of the 70s). Nimoy's son Adam put this thing together and it's mixed with some very personal details, especially considering how troubled the father-son relationship was.

48. Rifftrax Live: MST3K Reunion
Not really a movie. More of a workshop on how to make fun of movies. MST3K has probably done more to contribute to my sense of humor than anything else. You all have that to blame. Sorry I don't worship something you like more.

47. Ghostbusters
I think I can safely say it's actually funnier than the original, but only because it has more jokes (have you seen the original lately? There are seriously like five jokes). Chris Hemsworth is actually pretty brilliant. It's almost a shame he's spent so much energy the last ten years or so maintaining a god-like physique for Marvel movies (in possibly the weakest Marvel character role) when he could have easily just been funny sitting at a desk. With all the jokes though, I sure wish the movie were stable in its identity. Maybe all those jokes should have gone away in favor of a cohesive world. And what's up with adding the black ghostbuster as a complete afterthought? We don't need to adhere to the original in THAT way. Also, probably a mistake to put both Wiig and McCarthy in straight roles. Their bouncing off of each other is pretty inert here. Funny though. Funny as a long sketch and not as a movie with a story or anything. I want to like this more, if for nothing else to hush up all the anti-girl supernerds on the internet.

46. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week -- the Touring Years
Ever hear of these guys? They were apparently a pretty big deal. I don't recall anything truly revolutionary with this movie regarding any new documentary techniques, but there's a lot of old footage that's plenty fascinating. Lots of participation from everybody too. So yeah, not revolutionary, but all the information is there and it's used to paint the scene just as good as anything.

45. Saturday's Warrior
Let's get this out of the way right now. I'm very unashamed of my love for the story and music of Saturday's Warrior. You should too. If you're a gentile, just have fun with it as cultural mythology. If you're devout, don't knock it because of the fictionalized doctrine. If you've enjoyed even a minute of any production in the Joseph Smith Building on Temple Square, you don't have a case there. It's ours and the music's great. I'll fight you and cut you if you disagree. THAT SAID, why did they take out the best songs and put in new, worst songs? This is especially perplexing because the 70s setting is still there, so the new smooth jazz tunes don't jibe with the nostalgia. The void of the missing songs is unsuccessfully filled by too much dialogue and bad transitions between the talking world and the singing one. Also, the bad hippies may have also been too nice, but then again their little crusade was never really nefarious anyway. Semi-kudos for not backing down on the very militant Mormon 70s pro-life message (although these days it makes me extremely uncomfortable). Hey, it's a swell time capsule.

44. Blair Witch
Not reviewed well, but lemme tell ya, it sure is effective for me. I don't get scared easily, but being lost and confused in the woods certainly does it. There's a combination of the intimidation of vastness while at the same time being pressed into a claustrophobia. This movie probably could have been its own thing rather than a sequel. It may have been better if so, but it would have to go against the obvious comparisons. No big. I don't hate that it's a sequel.

43. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
I can appreciate the ways in which the creators departed a bit from the first movie, especially with the puppy dog neediness of the Zac Efron character. Again though, it's Rose Byrne with my favorite comedic performance of the summer.

42. 13th
Fascinating premise that the 13th amendment continued to allow for slavery, but only among convicted inmates -- and therefore a system was put in place in our country to target black men for incarceration. There have actually been a few documentaries this year that have pointed out my naive whiteness. The fact that I academically started this summation as "fascinating premise" probably sheds a lot of light on how ignorant I actually am on race relations here.

41. Weiner
I guess it's too bad that there's so much of the Anthony Weiner story that happened just barely. There's plenty that happened before, though. Kind of weird how people in certain positions of authority fail in fidelity almost as though they have no choice in the matter. The all-access the crew received for the making of this is pretty unprecedented, so this movie's got to be pretty one-of-a-kind for covering this kind of stuff.

40. Krisha
Alienating and pristine. So, like, one of my absolute biggest pet peeves is when people talk about a movie and they say something like, "I hated that movie! It was so sad!" or "It was so scary!" I just can't stand it when people actually talk in a negative way when a work is obviously so effective in portraying its message. I'm gonna do that right now with Krisha. I kind of hate this movie. Not because it's poorly made, but because it's effective. It brings to me a very real sense of social anxiety and claustrophobia. Throughout the picture set in a traditional family gathering, I feel the weight of ridicule and shame as if held back just out of sight by paper walls. I guess my big complaint about the movie is to the filmmakers. WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO FEEL THAT WAY?

39. Rams
I like to think that the girl I took to this has fonder memories of me than of this movie. Not likely. It was a brief romance and this movie is actually pretty good. Lots of movies about brothers this year. This one is of a deeply troubled grudge of several decades, but with a tiny spark of love that perseveres.

38. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Tremendous to hear all the NZ accents again. Certainly that's the winningest aspect here. Didn't recognize Sam Neill for first half hour. Super respect to him for disappearing into a husk of grizzletude so well.

37. Midnight Special
I love this. Sci-fi plot, but handled by Jeff Nichols, a very grounded director. Bizarre and thrilling, but I can't place why it doesn't COMPLETELY work. Perhaps it's a teensy bit not weird enough.

36. De Palma
Really De Palma is closer to a long podcast interview with a director than anything else. All this picture is is Brian De Palma going over each of his movies one by one with the added bonus of movie footage from his stuff as well as his influences. It may not have a formal structure with ebbs and a storyline, but it's at least as engaging (and addicting) as a Buzzfeed listicle where you're curious about each and every list item. The most straightforward presentation as could possibly exist and it's not a bad move.

35. Don't Think Twice
I have some problems with a scene with Gillian Jacobs having this massive therapeutic breakthrough while onstage. Other than that, this one's pretty real. Certainly tapping into a Salieri-esque sense of professional envy and the dynamics that shift within friendships when some see some semblance of success while others are left behind. Also, there's the old factor. I really feel and relate to Mike Birbiglia's character -- super old but not as interesting as he thinks.

34. Doctor Strange
A way better title would be Doctor Strangle -- not because he strangles people, but it just sounds way cooler. They'd have to turn him into a villain I suppose. Actually, hey there's this -- if Marvel is reading, please consider a mirror-universe adversary for the sequel called Doctor Strangle. Anyway, I like this more than I thought I would. I only say that because I'm really reaching peak Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point. There are sooo many superheroes and while more is more fun, we're really getting to a point where the personalities and powers are very similar. I don't think the superhero bubble will break over this though (DEFINITELY by 2018). It's juuuuuust different enough to be interesting. I like the touch of sparkler embers to show this particular magic in place (even though I can't figure out why magic has embers). I'm a bit weirded out by the space karate (also see the entry on Rogue One (also with Mads Mikkelsen)). I think Benedict Cumberbatch should have asked something like "You guys do space magic AND space karate?" and then Chiwetel Ejiofor could have just paused for a while and then exasperatingly said really quick but non-sarcastically, "YEAH."

33. Lion
About time Dev Patel got attractive enough to deserve the super hot girl he got in Slumdog Millionaire. Yes, I know that's not a review, but that's what I was thinking the whole time I was watching this movie. Anyway, you've probably heard the story. I think I must have heard it on Fresh Air or something, but it's about the little boy in India who was accidentally carried from his home on a train and is then adopted by a couple of very nice Australian folks. I'm happy to report that the movie spends a good chunk of time wallowing in a bit of survivor's guilt. Okay, on to the real review! Lion is pretty good.

32. The Nice Guys
Shane Black is always reliable for conversation and characters that I want to be a part of. Unfortunately The Nice Guys suffers from a trailer that's actually better than the movie. This is a silly criticism of course. Not many movies can hang on to the consistent tone of a two-minute trailer. There are just some minor draggy bits, but for the most part, this is a fun and funny sort of Hollywood noir.

31. Star Trek Beyond
This one probably edges out the other two new Star Trek movies for me, even though (like the other two) there are some pretty massive flaws. This one's funner though, and I think we all realized very early on with this franchise, that the light touch provided by the charismatic cast is the real strong suit. One thing I've been really sick of in Star Trek films for the past 20 years is the need for a crazy megalomaniac villain every single time. Please, someday give me a Star Trek movie about something more weird and mysterious rather than obvious. At least this one somewhat goes in the direction of seeming sort of like an episode of the original series, and that's why it's got the edge for me.

30. Moonlight
It's making a lot of year-end lists, so you likely know all about it. It is true. It is quite good. Try as I might, I'm not sure what I can add to the rest. Three actors portray this kid at various points in his life and while the actors don't look super similar to each other, little glimpses of the performances reveal a connection. The movie sits in a tightly-woven middle ground commenting on inner-city society and social norms while being anchored solely in one individual experience that doesn't necessarily depend on any bigger picture.

29. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Pretty sad that all Lonely Island movies fail box office-wise. They're always legit-funny. Obviously that's subjective and there are lots of people who can't stand Andy Samberg's wide dinosaur mouth full of teeth. Fine. Even so, the movies are impeccably produced, which is something I really respect when people take that much care in comedies. Usually they're just staged to set up jokes. If nothing else, the songs are great. Actually, that's really the whole point. I can't remember the story.

28. Jackie
Here's an odd combination of flashbacks and re-created footage that somehow brings forth the vibe of the initial malaise of sudden recent grief. It sets a jumbled, horrifying mood, but somewhat overcomes it by the end with a higher good (yet bleak) resolve. Also Portman is breathy as all get out. A bit distracting, but I guess that must be how women from Southampton spoke 60 years ago.

27. Arrival
I get why people really latched onto this little sci-fi piece, but it didn't leave me in a crying heap. I get it though. I got no kids, so I got no cry. Still, though, much respect for big mainstream movies that do stuff like this. It's a great reason for a science fiction setting to play with themes of parenthood and its sacrifices.

26. Hail, Caesar!
Somehow exists in a weird limbo between comedy and drama. When it's funny, it's funny, but I've never seen a slapstick-type movie try so hard to not even bother with humor. It's certainly very Coen-y. Personal in the same way some of their quieter movies are, but this time it's a bit of a toast to movies themselves. They make a strange religious connection to movies to possibly explain how films are so effective on people -- as a sort of spirituality. It's not joke reference either. It's pure reference. Silly connection taken seriously by a non-humorous semi-comedy. The Coens have probably earned their own genre.

25. Pee-Wee's Big Holiday
I put this one on just to pass the time while I checked email for a few minutes. Wound up canceling all my plans and watching the whole thing straight through. I've never even really been a big Pee-Wee fan either. Go with what works, I suppose. This is pretty much a remake of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. I don't mind it here, even though I was plenty offended when they did the same thing with Star Wars last year.

24. Eye in the Sky
Since robots are doing our fighting for us now, it's really worth it to have this piece that still has human beings arguing about the ramifications of each attack. Alan Rickman is still alive in this movie and he plays a smart (rather than moronically bloodthirsty) military leader in the midst of the debate. Also, drones. Some pretty cool ones too.

23. Other People
Landry being all sensitive. Standard Sundance fare (big city gay guy goes home to his flyover state and is different than everybody else), with just the right amount of feeling seeping through the Indie shell.

22. First Girl I Loved
Lovely little movie about a love triangle full of friction when a girl spurns her Duckie in favor of another girl. Another Sundance one. Maybe this will never be seen again.

21. Christine
This one's sort of lovingly oppressive. Rebecca Hall is a national treasure (actually, she's an honorary national treasure, because I think she's British). Anyway, she's pretty great as a severely awkward newswoman in the 70s fighting a lot of battles while seemingly manipulated by her own issues. Based on truth, I don't think the story gets to the bottom of anything, but it's straightforward in its presentation. If not intellectually understood, Rebecca Hall still brings a tremendous understanding to the performance.

20. Cafe Society
Still like Woody Allen. I think this one is stepping in the right direction even if he's made these steps dozens of times already. At this point, Woody Allen movies are universal within themselves. It's always just a tinge of the greener grass or what could have been or discovering the grass isn't as green as it should have been and there's no possible way to have all the grass. Just a puzzle where the pieces don't fit nicely.

19. Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
My buddy made this movie and it's a great movie about a bunch of kids that got together and made a movie that's a remake of another movie waaaaay before people did movie stuff like that. Anyway, this documentary delves further than that with a bit of analysis of the adolescence of these kids and their circumstances and the need to complete such a seemingly absurd task.

18. 10 Cloverfield Lane
We need more movies like this that are weird sequels, but connect to the movie in a sideways way both in plot and style. This one takes a turn from fiery, open wreckage of the other movie, to a tense, quite claustrophobia here. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is in my top five btw. I really appreciate the bleakness. Not to get too spoilery, but there's a certain hopelessness in both potential outcomes. It kind of makes the WTF ending a bit justified and inspiring.

17. The Love Witch
I would like to have a sandwich restaurant and the most popular sandwich there would be one called "The Lovewich." Anyway, these types of non-ironic (I think?) throwback movies are becoming more and more common and I certainly welcome them. This one is unmistakably swinging 60s (or maybe me-decade 70s? Whatever, I wasn't around and I'm no historyologist). It's about time we got to an era where we can create a loving homage to the cheapness and the cheese of yesteryear without blatantly making fun of it. I mean, the movie's director is also the costume designer for cryin' out loud. The result is complete immersion into this throwback world. Also, kind of like The Lobster, I really enjoy the not-so-subtle dialogue about the state of romance and the trips and falls associated with gender roles getting in the way even after they are used to spark the initial fire.

16. The Witch
Surprise! Not only do we have two witch movies in a row, but this one actually made my list last year! Check it: http://jonmadsen.blogspot.com/2015/12/movies-2015.htmlhttp://jonmadsen.blogspot.com/2015/12/movies-2015.html. Anyway, I watched it again and it's really pretty good. Well, I shouldn't call it good because evil and despair are pretty overwhelming, but it's certainly good in that the vibes certainly lead to engaging drama.

15. Zootopia
Finally caught up with this on Netflix. Another example of just putting it on while I did something else, but then got totally immersed in it. And hey, what a nice way to tackle racism. They kind of take a sort of Star Trek approach where they don't necessarily say that this animal equals white people and this animal equals black people and this animal equals the Dutch or whatever. This is a completely different world with a different set of race relations so there are aspects of all sorts of different dynamics that we can see in different ways. Pretty kudos. Also, pretty funny. I think it's really funny. I think this one got a bit of blowback, but I'm not sure the reasons. Please enlighten me of its flaws.

14. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
We're probably all going to come to our senses on this one and dismiss it along with the prequels. Right now, though, I love it. The faults are many (CGI characters, images crammed from previous movies, unexplained motivations, sticks are stormtroopers' biggest weakness, why in the world is an Imperial probe droid on Jedha (there's already an Imperial presence there, so what's it probing?)), but I think the movie expands the universe in a way that's needed. I was actually looking forward to the film because the trailer feels so very Star Wars-y, but it's the out of place feel from the rest of the movies that really endears me to this one. It's moving out from tales of boys' wonderment about a new world and moves right to the tone of a World War II war movie. There's some convoluted stuff about the different factions of the rebellion, but it's the very definition of rag-tag. The sloppiness beyond the sheen of Star Wars is welcome for me. For now. Oh, and also this one has Mads Mikkelsen (like in Doctor Strange!) and also space karate (like in Doctor Strange!). Hey, is it kind of weird that this is a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but it's still the Asians of this universe that utilize the space karate?

13. The Witness
Ever hear that story of the woman murdered in New York and 38 people watched it happen, but didn't do anything? Here's a documentary about that, but wowie wow, things turn out way different than you may think. The movie follows the brother of the victim looking for answers. Turns out history is wrong, but it's wrong with reason. There's a lot more to the story and it goes beyond the motive for murder and delves into the motive of storytelling too.

12. Tickled
I can't really say much about this, but as dumb as it sounds, it's really great and twisted and dark and eye-opening and infuriating and a lot of other stuff. If you don't know, this movie starts, no joke, as a documentary investigating the world of "competitive tickling." Yes. That's really a thing. KIND OF. Then the movie gets psychotic. For real and far beyond the initial playful premise. It leads to some interesting and very sad stuff regarding power and personality.

11. Everybody Wants Some!!
Linklater does this strange thing where he seems to make movies about absolutely nothing. You walk out and you're like, why was that a thing? What was the point? I don't think there's some hidden deep meaning in this. It's not profound, but it sort of captures the feeling of profundity as felt by certain characters at certain times of their lives. I've heard criticism of this one because it treats the women as mere items for the male tools to use. I can totally see how that's a valid point, considering that's how the world's been for several thousand years and it's understandable that some people are fed up with it. I don't find it a problem here, though. The females are only as shallow as the males and in a very real and obvious sense, they aren't victims, but use the men in the very same way. Really, the movie captures the shallowness of youth across the board, but with a hope and a clean slate to project toward something great. Watch the movie and consider the friend that is removed from the story partway through. Notice the weird youthy attitude of the rest of the gang. Shallow and exciting with no room for sorrow.

10. Green Room
Gorgeously violent and tense. Like a Nirvana song that builds with loud-quiet-loud. Of course at the beginning of the year, I wasn't nearly as worried about Nazis...

9. The Edge of Seventeen
Teen comedies are my thing (along with 30 other things), so I'm very particular about them. This one's good. It really approaches the troubles of this kid as human problems rather than just teen problems. Some of John Hughes' best stuff does it the same way. Somehow the main character is quite lovable and I feel for her, even though she's actually pretty self-absorbed and annoying (like teenagers are). Her obnoxiousness and yearnings really come together for a delicious sort of salted caramel character.

8. Nocturnal Animals
This movie is about Amy Adams reading a book. That's it, but it's pretty riveting and pretty. Jake Gyllenhall sends it to her and just that action alone provides a setting of mindgames that sit in the background as she gets absorbed in this troubling story. Gyllenhall also plays the main character in the book and, as a replacement for Amy Adams, Isla Fisher plays his book wife. This is totally my favorite because I think Amy Adams and Isla Fisher look exactly the same. This casting must have been very deliberate. Anyway, the movie is cold and weird and disturbing (but just lovely enough).

7. O.J.: Made in America
This sucker's like seven hours long, so stop wasting your time reading this list and fire up Hulu and watch this thing right now. It's actually pretty easy watching. Not boring at all. Very engrossing and very informative. It makes a supremely great choice in expanding out the setting first of all, addressing the tense race relations that were just deep background during the original crime and trial. The context the film provides is astounding. It brings a new level of motivation to the verdict as well as a host of surrounding actions. Like 13th, I experienced a bit of unease with tackling some race issues I wasn't necessarily familiar with. Also, get a load of that amazing lost footage of home movies from the day O.J. got home from trial.

6. Captain America: Civil War
Really an Avengers movie, since pretty much all (except the lame ones) are here. I've always said the most interesting parts of any Avengers movie are when the Avengers themselves are fighting with each other. I wish every Avengers movie could be that. Intriguing how it's hardly an obvious good/evil conflict. Just a bit of complication in summer superhero blockbusters goes a long way (or the wrong way (see Batman v Superman)). Also, the fight scenes aren't nightmares to watch. They're fun! Amazing.

5. The Neon Demon
I get a sick and sinister smile on my face whenever I hear the title of any Nicolas Winding Refn movie. This one I think takes a step in the right direction combining vivid visuals with some initially playful symbolism (a literal wild beast arriving through a door Elle Fanning didn't close) to absurdly beyond symbolic (what happens to Elle Fanning near the end). Literal beauty has never been composed with such deep and glorious ugliness. Sweet music. Sweet seizure-inducing strobes. Sweet dreams on the edge crossing into nightmares.

4. Hell or High Water
If I didn't land a job looking at product copy for a major corporation, I'd probably be a pretty good bank robber. By pretty good, I mean I probably wouldn't really excel at it, but I would enjoy it because I always love good bank robbery movies. Hell or High Water is a good bank robbery movie. Also, it's a good movie. Also, it builds characters the way movies are supposed to in that the riveting plot leads us into revealing motivation and gives us empathy for everyone on all sides of the story conflict.

3. The Lobster
I'm not sure if I completely understand the symbolism, but if nothing else I can attest to the absurdity this movie associates with relationships as well as the absurdity of relationship denial. I love the rebellion of the characters to the setting, but what I love most of all is the one universe rule they don't even consider breaking, even though it's the most obvious one -- the necessity to have the same singular trait as your partner. As a Tinder-user I relate too much to the silliness of this, but it's a part of our culture more than ever even if it's hardly an important aspect of a loving relationship. Actually, I have no right to say that. What do I know?

2. La La Land
Joycrack, better than most Christmases, like biting into a cob of joy endorphins -- these are the terms I've used to describe La La Land to friends. The music and dancing are wonderful and joyous. You should know this by now because you should have seen this by now. What really sticks with me, though, is the bittersweet aspect of it. Damien Chazelle also made Whiplash and he touches on the sacrifice of passions quite a bit. Passionate people have passionate relationships, but passions just simply can't be multi-tasked (like singing and dancing). There's that ebb of negativity, but the positivity and delight completely overpowers the film -- and I hardly think in a superficial way.

1. Sing Street
Let's say this upfront. This movie was engineered in a lab specifically for me to like. U.K., 80s, new wave hits, coming of age, romance with a super fly Dublin bird. Everything. Regardless, my heart actually grew two sizes more because of all the fun I wasn't even expecting. The movie's portrayal of mixing artistic influence with day-to-day life experience to make something special is joyous to behold. The 80s-style original songs are pure and amazing (actually overshadowing the brilliant vintage soundtrack). Additionally, we share in the creation of them. Consider the writing of "Riddle of the Model" up until the video is completed. Rough? Sure, but exhilarating in seeing it come to life. Now consider the same thing with the one-take shot to illustrate the creation of "Up." Then of course there's the American Prom sequence of "Drive it Like you Stole It." They work wonders in illustrating the profound exhilaration that comes with discovering the power of creativity as a teenager. The enthusiasm and futurism of the 80s is finally somewhat recognized even though people in my theater may have thought it a bit too silly. What was considered cool then is quaint now, but it does have the benefit and excitement of having never been done before. Also, Lucy Boynton has the eyes of the greatest angel eyes and there's the acknowledgement that Head on the Door is the greatest Cure album. This one's on Netflix now. We're friends if you watch it.


The 10 best (and only) movies that technically came out in 2015, but I saw in 2016!

Okay I always have this weird section here to cover any movies that came out last year, but didn't make my list last year because I hadn't seen them yet. Usually there are a bunch of Oscar noms on this overlap list, but it's surprisingly short this year. Most of these just happen to be 2015 movies that I happened to see recently. Ranked, as usual, from worst to best.

10. The Ridiculous 6
Adam Sandler not even phoning it in, but rather telling everybody else to barely sell the lamest Western gags in the history of cinema. 

9. Ctrl Alt Delete
Got access to some kind of screener or something? This is not a real movie. It's a passion project -- or maybe it was an assignment. Anyway, nobody will ever see this. Good luck even finding it. Anyway it's about a zombie virus or something maybe?

8. Cop Car
Freaky-deaky Kevin Bacon chases a couple of weirdo kids because they hiliariously stole his car.

7. The Hateful Eight
Very long. Mafia-esque. Also very The Thing. No redeeming characters, which isn't something I complain about often. Not so much invested in the conflict. When someone's head gets blown off, not happy or sad about it in the context of the lines that are drawn. Western dialogue not quite spot on. Kind of phony in the same way Shakespearean dialogue seems phony. Took me a while to realize it, but Kurt Russell is certainly channeling John Wayne (perhaps better than the guy I get him confused with, Jeff Bridges, did in True Grit). Anyway, don't worry, I still like all of Tarantino's other stuff.

6. Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police
Documentary on The Police from Andy Summers. He does not have good things to say about Sting.
 
5. She's Funny That Way
Peter Bogdonovich farce that's sorta fun, but hardly What's Up Doc? 

4. The Revenant
Long like Hateful Eight. Cold. Simple, but simply done perfectly. Tom Hardy has the conviction of the assiest hole right to the end. The true showcase is that Lubiesck cinematographer guy. 

3. Bone Tomahawk
A Western. Search party. Guy gets ripped in half. 

2. Anomalisa
Puppets! Also, the saddest. 

1. Straight Outta Compton
A lovely picture about young entrepreneurs moving up in life. Also, guns and AIDS! 

The 49 old movies I saw in 2016!


Alrighty, this section is just the older movies I saw for the very first time this last year. Again, worst to best. The year of each movie is listed in parentheses.

49. The Velvet Vampire (1971)
48. Wake in Fright (1971)
47. Long Live Death (1971)
46. Monsters (2010)
45. Balls of Fury (2007)
44. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
43. Devil Fish (1984)
42. Adult World (2013)
41. The Brothers Solomon (2007)
40. Drunken Master (1978)
39. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973)
38. American Gangster (2007)
37. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
36. Night Shift (1982)
35. The Uninvited (2009)
34. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
33. The Vanishing (US) (1993)
32. Belladonna of Sadness (1973)
31. Stone Cold (1991)
30. Handel's Messiah (2014)
29. Children of the Corn (1984)
28. Flight of the Navigator (1986)
27. The World's Greatest Athlete (1973)
26. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
25. Body Double (1984)
24. Time Chasers (1994)
23. The Campaign (2012)
22. The Fury (1978)
21. Akira (1988)
20. Scary Movie 3 (2003)
19. Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS (Part 1) (2014)
18. Cruel Intentions (1999)
17. Sunrise (1927)
16. The Hustler (1961)
15. Videodrome (1983)
14. Short Term 12 (2013)
13. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
12. Re-Animator (1985)
11. The Legend of Hell House (1973)
10. The Vanishing (Spoorloos) (1988)
9. Double Indemnity (1944)
8. Misery (1990)
7. Husbands and Wives (1992)
6. Capricorn One (1977)
5. They Live (1988)
4. Paths of Glory (1957)
3. Sherlock Jr. (1924)
2. The Commitments (1991)
1. Gimme Shelter (1970)


Revisited movies watched in 2016!

Here's the ranking of all the movies I had already seen, but watched again. Most are gems! That's why I watched 'em again!

35. Knuckle (2011)
34. The 'Burbs (1989)
33. Major League (1989)
32. Clerks (1994)
31. The Island at the Top of the World (1974)
30. Election (1999)
29. Let Me In (2010)
28. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
27. Bowfinger (1999)
26. Lethal Weapon (1987)
25. White Christmas (1954)
24. Room 237 (2012)
23. Legend (1985)
22. SLC Punk (1998)
21. Let the Right One In (2008)
20. Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (1989)
19. Oldboy (2003)
18. Fight Club (1999) 
17. Return of the Jedi (1983)
16. Snowpiercer (2013)
15. Boogie Nights (1997)
14. Blue Ruin (2013)
13. MacGruber (2010)
12. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
11. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10. Whiplash (2014)
9. Love Actually (2003)
8. Trainspotting (1996)
7. Ghostbusters (1984)
6. Point Break (1991)
5. Highlander (1986)
4. The Shining (1980)
3. What's Up Doc? (1972)
2. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Silly facts and stats of the 2016 movie-watching year that only I care about!

Total number of movies seen: 189
Total number of 2016 movies seen: 82 (some more than once)
Total number of non-2016 movies seen: 99
Year of oldest movie: 1924 (Sherlock Jr.)
Total number of movies seen more than once within 2016: 7
Most popular theater: Broadway Theatre (29 showings)
Biggest movie-watching month: January (26 movies (thanks Sundance and 24-hour movie marathon!)
Smallest movie-watching month: October (7 movies (very weird -- must've forgotten the usual slate of horror this year (it also means because of my Moviepass, I actually spent like 40 bucks on the one movie I saw in the cinema in October -- Masterminds (which REALLY sucks in so many ways)))
Movie seen most in 2016: Sing Street (4x)
Movies seen with others: 52
Movies seen alone: 137 (Sadder every year! (but not really -- we're not supposed to talk during movies anyway))
Movies seen at the cinema (excluding Sundance showings): 84 (thanks Moviepass!)
Movies seen on Netflix: 32
Movies seen on DVD: 27
Movies seen at Sundance: 5 (I got sick and missed my showings of Sing Street AND The Lobster!)
Movies seen at the annual 24-hour movie marathon: 11
Movies seen on an airplane: 0
Movies seen on Amazon Prime: 8
Movies seen on Hulu: 7
Movies seen on Blu-ray: 4
Movies seen on YouTube: 3 
Movies seen on straight-up broadcast TV: 2
Movies seen on HBOGo: 2
Movies seen on iTunes: 1

If you've read this far, let me know. I'd love to hear from you.