My Sundance 2017 Preview

It might seem crazy but this year is my first time attending in mass the Sundance Film Festival! Last year I went as a guest of rotoscopers.com to review the film Snowtime and interview the creators but I didn’t really attend the festival. This will be my first time really attending every day and I’m very excited!

The reason I have been reticent to attend in the past is the lack of ratings for the films. Sundance films are more artistic in nature and so I worried I would be wasting my money on films I wouldn’t want to see content-wise. Well, this year I figured I’d give it a shot and if a film is super bad I can always leave. Nothing ventured, nothing gained right? 🙂

Make sure you follow me on snapcat @smilingldsgirl and on other social media because I will update throughout the days on how my experience is going and what I think about the films I see. But I thought it would be fun to give you a preview of what I am seeing.

My Life as a Zucchini-

The first and probably most highly anticipated is the animated film My Life as a Zucchini. This is a stop motion animated Swiss film about a little boy who deals with his grief while becoming a part of a new group home.

Lady Macbeth-

I’m a little nervous about this one because it looks pretty steamy but I love Macbeth so much and I thought it looked like a good film. The tagline is “Alfred Hitchcock meets Wuthering Heights” caught my interest. I would share the trailer but it is very spoilery and so I’d rather you not see it. The movie is about a shut in in 1865 who is basically kept inside by her husband. She meets and falls in love with a servant and the story goes from there.

lady-macbethSTEP-

This is a documentary about a group of high school seniors from Baltimore who are part of a step dance team and their struggles to get into college and compete.

stepRISE-

Billed as a docuseries, RISE is 3 episodes about the struggle of Native Americans and indigenous citizens.  There is a Q and A after so I hope it is good! I see both RISE and Step on my birthday so another reason to hope they are good.

riseAnimation Spotlight-

Of course I had to see this. It is 10 shorts in a variety of styles and subject matter. I think they will be pretty great!

animation-spotlight

The Good Postman-

A documentary about a Bulgarian man who helps the Syrian refugees who are coming into his town.

Band Aid-

This has an engaging cast and it looks like it could be a fun dramedy. It is described as about “a couple who can’t stop fighting embark on a last-ditch effort to save their marriage: turning their fights into songs and starting a band”. I hope it will be good! Could it be 2017’s Sing Street?

Band Aid - Still 1The Hero-

This film is about an aging western movie star played by Sam Eliot who gets a cancer diagnosis and has to face his life. It looks like it could be very sweet.

heroThe Yellow Birds-

This Iraq war story was mostly sold to me on the people behind it. It is written by David Lowery who did Pete’s Dragon, which I loved and stars Alden Ehrenreich and Tye Sheridan who I also love. Jennifer Aniston plays Sheridan’s Mom which I can’t really imagine but I’m looking forward to it.

yellow-birdsRebel in the Rye-

I don’t know much about this one but it stars Nicholas Holt and is about JD Salinger before he wrote Catcher in the Rye.

rebel-in-the-rye-movieI had a ticket for Wilson staring Woody Harrelson but after seeing the trailer it really doesn’t look like my thing, so I think I will try and exchange it.

So there you have it! Do any of my selections intrigue you? I wanted to see A Ghost Story which is directed by David Lowery but it is at the same time as Yellow Birds so I picked the latter.

I’m definitely the most excited for My Life as a Zucchini and the animation spotlight! I hope they are great!

Cheers to Indy filmmakers!

Sherlock Season 4 Sucked

sherlockWell, we have reached my Batman v Superman. You know how last year Batman fans were so disappointed with Zack Snyder’s latest film? Well, I’ve never been that big on Batman so I wasn’t that disappointed that it sucked. What I have always been is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and as such I was eagerly anticipating season 4 of the BBC show Sherlock. Boy was I let down. Actually that’s not strong enough. Sherlock Season 4 sucked so bad I can hardly believe I sat through it.

I have been a big fan of Sherlock since way back in 2011 when it first aired in the US. I wrote about it on my other blog- https://smilingldsgirl.com/2011/01/14/sherlock/. I normally don’t like modern retellings of classic stories but this managed to keep true to the spirit of the Conan Doyle books and characters and so I fell in love with it. Plus, it introduced me to Benedict Cumberbatch who we have all grown to love as one of the great actors working today.

Since then we have gotten 2 more seasons that were solid but season 3 started to feel a little bit gimmicky with Sherlock escaping death and them never explaining it. I should have known because season 4 took that path and went off the deep end.

Spoilers ahead!

So why does season 4 suck so much? Let me count the ways.

Episode 1

Episode 1 started out with some promise as it was focused on an actual case involving the disappearance and death of a young man. There are busts of Margaret Thatcher being destroyed at homes across town, which totally seems like classic Sherlock Holmes style storyline.

Then they have to tie it back into Mary and her being a super spy, a plotline I hated from season 3. I really could care less about Mary as some secret spy and then the melodrama keeps getting piled on.

And worst of all THEY MAKE JOHN A CHEATER!!!  John Watson who is the moral center of the series cheats on his wife and daughter for no discernible reason at all (not that there is ever a good reason to cheat). It seriously goes nowhere the cheating plot. Urgh!!!

And then Mary dies and we are supposed to feel bad about this but I so didn’t care. Plus, knowing this show I felt it wasn’t a real death so it didn’t really move me the way it should have.

Episode 2

So I was very annoyed by Episode 1 but little did I know that episode 2 was going to be even worse.

In this episode they abandon the simple case all together and have it be focused on a murderer named Culverton Smith played annoyingly by Toby Jones (and his teeth are so gross!). Then the episode becomes a cat and mouse game between the two of them with one cheap reveal after another.

We get tons of fan service in this episode with lines like ‘The game’s afoot’ designed to appease hard core Sherlock fans- which I thought I was. In between you have groan inducing gimmicks that are supposed to shock the viewer but just made me angry instead.

There is nothing smart about what Sherlock does to solve the problems. He kind of just survives the melodrama. And of course we have more Mary sentiment thrown in to annoy me.

Episode 2 was also shot poorly and felt like a cheap M. Night Shyamalan knock-off.

Episode 3-

How could it get worse than episode 2? Well, step right up to episode 3 my friends.  Oh my gosh. I just can’t believe how awful it was.

This episode leans on every tired and boring horror movie cliche. The last hour I felt like I was watching a Saw movie not an episode of Sherlock. Again, they dilute Sherlock down so that everyone is smarter than him and they spend the entire time in a room basically getting tortured.

The fact the torturer is his secret sister is just more annoying than anything else. And we see people shot and kill themselves and tortured with nothing interesting to say about anything and no character development for anybody. It was horrible. Occasionally they would show Moriarty laughing to titillate fans I guess but it was just annoying. I didn’t feel fear or tension or anything but mindless gore.

There’s some gay baiting that is lame. It’s just all lame.

We also get this lovely bit of special effects…

sherlock2I just can’t believe how bad it was. The dialogue was horrible. The stories were plodding, melodramatic garbage and the episodes weren’t even well made.  It was first class junk!

I can’t overstate how much I disliked Sherlock Season 4 and what a complete disappointment it was. If I wanted to see a lame gimmicky horror movie I could go see The Bye Bye Man in theaters this week. Not watch Sherlock. They manage to ruin all of the characters especially John Watson and focus on Mary, a character I could care less about.

I’m very annoyed and very upset right now. Garbage. Total junk.

My Top 15 Films of 2016

It’s finally here my friends! The moment you have all been waiting for. My top 15 best movies of 2016 list!

Here is the youtube version:

You guys have no idea how much thought I have put into this list. I have moved films around and thought weighed the pros and cons countless times. It’s so hard because I like all of these movies for different reasons and how do I decide which reason is better than another? Well, I did the best I could. I must admit I am kind of proud of my list. I think it is thoroughly unique and represents me very well.

So let’s get started!

hidden-figures215. Hidden Figures- I love movies that make me want to cheer and this movie did that in droves. I loved how it chose to forgo the evil redneck violent racist and instead took on institutional racism which I think can be just as virulent and much harder to strike down. I loved all the performances and that it is PG so kids all over the world will know about these amazing women.

hell-or-high-water14. Hell or High Water- Basically a perfectly executed film about two brothers pushed to the edge and the officers who are following them. It has such a sense of place and feels very relevant to many issues we face today. I felt for the characters and was engrossed the entire time. Not my typical genre but it won me over any way.

10_cloverfield_lane13. 10 Cloverfield Lane- I don’t see that many thrillers/horror movies but this one blew me away. I loved how it kept surprising me. I really didn’t know where it was going or what was going to happen. I loved Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman in the leads and even the ending that others didn’t like I kind of dug. It’s one of the only times in recent years I had genuine fun at a horror movie.

presenting-princess-shaw-poster12. Presenting Princess Shaw- 2016 was an amazing year for documentaries and this was one of my favorites. As a youtuber, this story of Samantha from Atlanta who ends up as part of a video for an Israeli man named Kutiman meant a lot to me. It reminded me that this sometimes toxic medium can be a powerful tool to serve others and bond with strangers.

pete's dragon 811. Pete’s Dragon- Yes, I’m kind of ashamed of myself that this didn’t make my top 10 because I loved it so much. This is the kind of movie I want Disney to make. It was small, intimate with humongous heart. I can’t believe they pulled off the dragon on such a small budget. I loved the cast especially Oaks Begley as Pete. Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford were completely lovely. It reminded me of live action movies we used to get from Disney that weren’t afraid to be real and deep with kids. Now we get the next warmed over bland remake…

tower410. Tower- This documentary was new and fresh and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It profiles a sniper standout at the University of Texas in 1966 but it uses animation to make the experience more rich and textured. The different characters were compelling with a variety of reactions and getting to see them in the real and animated forms was very absorbing. It amazed me how some had never really dealt with the incident after all these years making the documentary very raw.

zootopia poster29. Zootopia- I admit some of the criticisms of Zootopia had started to get to me and then I rewatched it and remembered how much I love it. Sure the metaphor has holes if you overthink it but it’s still powerful for children and the movie isn’t only the metaphor. There are lessons about never giving up, facing bullies, forgiveness and friendship. Mostly it is about not letting our fears dictate our behaviors. I love Judy as a character and the friendship between her and Nick is very heartfelt. The world building is amazing and it is so funny.

things-to-come8. Things to Come- This film has 100% on rotten tomatoes and there is a reason why- it’s amazing! Isabelle Huppert is incredible in this role of a woman who’s life goes completely upside down in every way possible. She’s devastated of course but it actually becomes this empowering experience for her. It’s a very fly on the wall kind of film without a strong plot but I loved it. Huppert is so great in the lead role and the writing is honest and powerful. It’s the only time I have felt moved to tears by the speech of an agnostic explaining her views on life.

red-turtle107. The Red Turtle- A combined project between director Michael Dudok De Wit and Studio Ghibli is one of the most stunning films I saw all year. With no dialogue, The Red Turtle manages to tell a stirring story about fate, love and how nature sometimes knows best. The animation is awe inspiring and the music is the best of 2016.

lion6. Lion- This is how you do a true story right. I loved everything about this movie. The child actor is incredible and I felt his chaos, joy and fears as he carries the first hour of the movie. Then Dev Patel comes in and does a great job showing the highs and challenges of adoption. Nicole Kidman was fantastic as his mother and the cinematography and music were so well done.

love and friendship35. Love and Friendship- This movie gave me a new Jane Austen book. How can I not love it for that reason alone but it’s not just that. It’s super funny and has an energy and pizazz to it the other Austen adaptations (as much as I love them) don’t. Lady Susan is kind of an anti-hero who’s self-interest ends up being to everyone’s benefit in the end. The dialogue is hilarious as well as the costume, product design and everything else. I love it more each time I watch it.

moana144. Moana- I can hear the shocks now. I am sure most thought this would be my top pick. I really do love it so much. I love Moana as a character. I love how unselfish her quest is. I love the animation, music, humor, and characters. I love that it focuses on Polynesia, which has my heart. I really don’t have any big flaws with it. I just felt my top 3 were a little more unique than this but I LOVE Moana!

hacksaw_ridge_poster3. Hacksaw Ridge- Moana entertained me. Hacksaw Ridge made me want to be a better person. Yes it is super violent but it’s a rare case where the violence actually made it a better movie. I love that Desmond’s abstaining from war is not dictated by his faith but is a personal covenant between him and God. It reminded me of Daniel and the Lions Den. Sure he could pretend and play along, just hold the gun, but that wouldn’t be true to his promise to God. So, when he cashes in that faith with his pleas for ‘One more Lord’ it blew my mind. It made me want to go out and be more faithful and serve others more.

sing-street2. Sing Street- This movie is like joy in movie form. I watch it over and over again. I love everything about it. I love the relationship between the brothers and their dialogue. I love the romance and how they make each other better. I love the music and the payoff concert. It’s a movie I could watch 100 times and never tire of.

your-name31. Your Name- I thought long and hard about it and I believe Your Name is the best movie I saw in 2016. It’s so original, stunning and emotional. It starts off as a fun body swap movie and then a friendship grows which is challenged when a complication is introduced. Then it takes on a sci-fi element that was surprising and I had no idea what was going to happen without being too twist dependent. I loved the characters and what they learn from each other. The animation is stunning and the music (both score and songs) are perfect. It’s a movie that each time I watch I see layers I had missed the first time. It’s stunning and my favorite movie of 2016!

So there you have it! What did you think of my list? How does it match up with your list and what are your favorites of 2016?

And if you were wondering my 16-20 are

16. Kubo and the Two Strings

17. Queen of Katwe

18. Midnight Special

19. Kung fu Panda 3

20. Manchester by the Sea

If you are wondering I will see My Life as a Zucchini next week at Sundance and then I will do my 2016 animation ranking.

Now on to 2017!

Best Movie Moments of 2016

Hey guys! I’m still working on seeing a few more movies before I unveil my top 15 movies of 2016. In the meantime I made this video of my top 15 movie moments of 2016. Some of my top 15 won’t make this list because they are more great all around but not for a particular moment. Other movies that I liked but didn’t love or were even disappointed in still had a memorable moment that made the list.

Here is the countdown!

 

15. Family Montage- Storks-

This ending montage of families of all types getting babies ended the film on just the right note. On my blog review some readers mentioned how much being included, even for just a moment in an animated film meant to them. I also love the Lumineers song to accompany it.

14  Ending- Jungle Book-

I enjoyed this more realistic take on Jungle Book and probably my favorite part is the ending. I like it because I hate the ending of the original animated classic. I don’t like the girl singing about being an indentured servant her whole life and then hypnotizing Mowgli with her beauty to leave his friends.  In this new version we have an empowered Mowgli who figures out a way to defeat Shere Khan by himself.  That was awesome!

13. La La Land Opening-

la-la-land5The hyperbole on this film has started to grate on me but it is an entertaining movie. The beginning steals the show for me with its energy and innovative ideas. If only traffic was always this fun.

12. Dory finds her Parents Again- Finding Dory-

We’ve been following Dory through 2 films and to see her reunite with her parents was truly touching. The film’s message on disabilities is wonderful highlighted by Dory’s parents reassuring her how proud they were of her.

11. Finding Internet Success- Presenting Princes Shaw

I loved this documentary about a small time youtuber who gets found by a musician who uses one of her songs for his compilations. The two meet and it was heartwarming and lovely. This scene is when she first hears her song on youtube. It’s powerful stuff!

10. The Flood- Queen of Katwe

I don’t really have a great picture or video for this one but Queen of Katwe moved me emotionally and I wish more people had been to see it. One moment I was particularly struck by was when a flood comes and destroys everything. It is devastating and intense.

9. Captain America: Civil War

I love the way Marvel combines action with witty banter, and the airport scene in Civil War is one of the best examples of this. It was so freakin entertaining!

8. Agnostic Eulogy- Things to Come

This wonderful movie starring Isabelle Huppert features the only speech on agnosticism to ever make me tear up. The film is about the world of Huppert’s character falling apart and so this eulogy was so heartfelt for the character.

7. Darth Vader Throw-down- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I was disappointed in Rogue One for the most part but I did enjoy this awesome thrown down with Vader showing his strength more than we have seen before. It was awesome

6. Standing on the Ground- Fences

Viola Davis could give acting class based on this movie. It is such a compelling performance and  made me feel angry right along with her.

5. Brown Shoes- Sing Street

After being picked on by the principal for wearing brown shoes the concert at the end of Sing Street is so engaging. I was cheering and had a smile on my face for days.  It also doesn’t hurt that the songs are super good.

4. Acid Scene- 10 Cloverfield Lane

I’ve seen this movie a number of times and my jaw still is on the floor when this scene happens. It is intense and scary and a particular moment completely shocked me.

3. Frozen Chicken Scene- Manchester By the Sea-

There are a number of moments I could have picked from this film but the breakdown the teenager character had I could highly relate too.  He is troubled by his father not being able to be buried  and seeing the chicken reminds him of that.  It was very powerful.

2. How Far I’ll Go- Moana

Everything about this scene is Disney magic. I love the voice actor and the songs and builds momentum very well. I was cheering for Moana!

1 One More- Hacksaw Ridge

Seeing our lead character go back into horrific battle time and again to rescue his fellow soldiers was incredible to watch. The violence makes his action all the more inspiring and significant to our posterity.

Just thinking of these moments makes me happy! Have you seen any of these films and if so what did you think of my picks?

Fences: Stage vs Screen

Over on my personal blog I compare a local stage production of Fences with the recent movie.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

fences

Last month a movie called Fences came out starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. This naturally caught my attention and then I realized it was based on a pulitzer prize winning play of same name by August Wilson written in 1983 and I got more excited.

Then I found out that Pioneer Theater Company here in Utah was doing a production of the play at the same time the movie was released. So I thought it would be fun to see both the play and movie and compare/contrast them.

I was going to do a video analysis but the truth is they ended up being so similar I didn’t have much to go off of.  Nevertheless, let me profile both as there is still plenty of time to see both if you are interested.

Fences Summary- Before I go into both versions let me give a quick plot summary. Fences…

View original post 1,076 more words

Meh and Overrated Films of 2016

overrated-2016

When you see as many movies as I do you don’t always agree with the critical consensus around a film. I’m a unique person and I have my own unique thoughts. Especially with some very artistic films I may not respond to the risks taken the way others do.

So here is my list of movies others loved that I either thought were meh or didn’t like at all.

Denial- 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. I wonder if people are applauding the real life story and not the movie itself. I thought the screenplay was very poor at building the case, creating tension and making Deborah a likable character I could root for.

My ranking 111/143

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot- 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again- I don’t get Tina Fey. I don’t think she’s funny and her movies outside of Mean Girls have been terrible. Here is another. I didn’t believe any of the characters, some are in brown face and it’s a bunch of entitled white guys partying in Afghanistan without any insight beyond you can be a jerk anywhere.

My ranking 123/143

Swiss Army Man- 68% on Rotten Tomatoes but I’ve seen it on a lot of top 10 lists. I appreciate artistic risk but the screenplay was very poor. Instead of insight I got lots of bodily humor and the same supposedly enlightened ideas repeated over and over again. Not for me.

My ranking 113/143

Lights Out- 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’d heard great things about this horror movie but I was very underwhelmed by it. It wasn’t scary and was so predictable. The actors try but only for schlocky horror fans

My ranking 109/143

Little Prince- 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. This is a watchable movie but is by nowhere near a 93% in quality. It was boring and preachy and didn’t do anything interesting until the end when it became weird and dystopian. It looks pretty but for most of it I thought it was lame

My ranking 105/143

The Lobster- 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The problem with this movie is it takes a Twilight Zone episode and stretches it to 2 hours. It’s clever premise became extremely frustrating for me as the message is repeated over and over again. I get it. Human beings are lonely and yet society is built on relationships; thereby ostracizing single people. You’d think I’d love that message being single but I became exhausted with the film after a while. I also felt when it ran out of ways to say the same thing it shocked you with sensuality. I really didn’t like it

My ranking 106/143

Jackie- 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. I guess I am a traditionalist when it comes to biopics. I didn’t like the way they turned Jackie into a robot. I felt disconnected from her which made the film feel extremely heavy handed. I know they are Camelot. Do we really need to hear the song played twice over montages of her drinking and trying on clothes? I guess others found this insightful. Not me, which is frustrating because I think she’s probably a very insightful person.

My ranking  91/143

Hail Cesear- 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m sorry but I think we have director bias here. I love the Coen Brothers but this film was a mess. The plot was all over the place and a lot of the comedic sequences weren’t funny like a long scene where Channing Tatum delivers a speech on a submarine? That wasn’t funny. Pretty much only part I liked was the Alden Ehrenreich segments.

My ranking 101/143

Other movies that I liked, sometimes quite a bit, but not as much as most people-  La La Land (23/143), Arrival (45/143), Edge of 17 (49/143), Nice Guys (73/143), Nocturnal Animals (64/143), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (84/143), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (85/143), Eye in the Sky (89/143).

Movies I thought were ok to great that others hated – Assassin’s Creed (94/143), Ghostbusters (77/143), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (69/143), Magnificent 7 (67/143), Allied (74/143), Miracles from Heaven (80/143), The Mermaid (81/143), Ratchet and Clank (98/143), Snowtime (92/143), Hologram for the King (95/143), RACE (99/143) and Star Trek Beyond (24/143)

I also didn’t think The Wild Life (122/143), Ben Hur (108/143), The Boss (107/143) or The Angry Birds Movie (102/143) were that bad; although they certainly had big problems.

So there you have it. What are your contrarian opinions on 2016 movies? What do you think is overpraised? What did you feel differently than most of your friends?

Hidden Figures Review

hidden-figures2Today I had the chance to see Hidden Figures, and I could just as easily title this blog- ‘doing what others so often fail to do in a bio-pic’. Rarely have I been to this type of film and the audience cheer loudly throughout. Of all the movies I’ve seen in 2016, Hidden Figures, is one of the most rewatchable and it is one I am eager for friends and family to go and see.

Hidden Figures tells the real life story of 3 African-American women at NASA as they prepared to send John Glenn around the earth. Some may dismiss it as a formula film but that is underselling some of the standout choices it makes. Most importantly it avoids theatrics and instead shows the smaller more systematic racism women like these 3 faced on a daily basis.

Most of these kinds of movies have the evil redneck racist who is gathering the KKK. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for that. There absolutely is but sometimes such violence can make the racism harder to relate to and in a way more easy to shake off. It’s more little things that can impact me more. For example, in one scene Katherine comes into a room and a man expects her to take out the trash. Might we still sometimes expect people of certain races to do such work? We shouldn’t and movies like Hidden Figures help remind us of that.

hidden-figuresThe 3 women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, are played by Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae respectively. They are all completely lovely as brilliant mathematicians and engineers who find a way to push through the systematic racism that existed everywhere at that time. Most of the people they work with would never consider themselves racists and yet they lazily engage in stereotyping and discrimination all the time.

It can be a very simple thing like using the bathroom, drinking communal coffee or more serious things like being made a supervisor or getting the information needed to do your job. I love movies about work and the way particularly the Octavia Spencer character Dorothy maneuvered her way through the office politics was very impressive and brilliant.

hidden-figures4Kirsten Dunst is great as a supervisor over the white computers. She thinks she is being respectful of Dorothy when she really isn’t. There is a scene between the two of them in a bathroom that is so well done.

I also liked Mahershala Ali as Katherine’s beau, Glen Powell as John Glenn and Jim Parsons as Katherine’s stick in the mud colleague Paul Stafford.

hidden-figures5I remember when I used to dread seeing Kevin Costner’s name in a film and now after McFarland USA and films like that I look forward to him. He’s great here as Katherine’s boss. He just wants the job done and this makes him a bit blind to what Katherine is going through, which leads to another scene the audience cheered at.

I guess if I was going to nitpick the movie, the only real flaw I had was the music. I felt they kept playing the same snappy Pharrell Williams song as a cheap way of saying ‘look how sassy these women are’. I grew a little tired of it.

But that is a very small complaint. This is a movie you can take your kids too. It’s PG after all and afterwards have a conversation about the small and big ways we discriminate against others. Talk about how these women were heroes and made a real difference to our country despite the challenges they faced.

hidden-figures3In some ways Hidden Figures reminded me of last year’s Brooklyn (except this is true story). Both are simple, old-fashioned storytelling, about important parts of our history. They both have great messages and wonderful performances you can’t help but like. This is more family friendly than Brooklyn but please do not dismiss it because it takes the crowd-pleasing approach. It’s honestly one of my favorite movies of 2016 and I hope it gets remembered come Oscars. Regardless, take your family and be inspired by Hidden Figures.

Overall Grade- A

Overlooked Films of 2016

Today I posted a video on films I think were underrated or overlooked in 2016. Some of these got good reviews but nobody saw. Some of them I think critics were a little tough on and others have a little of both. I’d love if you check out the video and let me know what you think.

Overlooked Films of 2016 (in no particular order)

The Dressmaker– Very weird messy revenge movie that I liked. Kate Winslet is great and Liam Hemsworth is very hunky in it. I can see why others wouldn’t like it but it was just strange enough to work for me.

Florence Foster Jenkins– A seemingly cloying underdog story that is so much more. There are a lot of subversive elements particularly in Florence and her husband’s unusual relationship. It’s heartwarming but also very sad.

13 Hours- I think if this wasn’t directed by Michael Bay it would have gotten a lot more credit. It was kind of lost in January but I think it is an absorbing visceral depiction of the events at Benghazi and not as political as you might think.

Bridget Jones’s Baby- Sure this film has a million cliches but it made me laugh harder than any film in 2016. Particularly any scene in the newsroom I thought was funny. It is an R rated comedy, like all the Bridget Jones movies, but I liked it.

Eddie the Eagle- Charming underdog sports movie with great performances from all involved. I was having the worst week when I saw this film and it really cheered me up. It’s a must see if you love inspirational true stories or are an Olympics fan.

London Road- It’s been the year of musicals and this is an underseen one. They take the unique approach of using police transcripts as the lyrics for the musical. It is a mystery and as the crimes are investigated we get to know all the citizens of London Road. Plus, Tom Hardy sings in it.

Kung fu Panda 3- This made a good amount at box office but I think it has largely been forgotten by most and I think that is a real shame. The animation was so beautiful and I loved the messages of adoption and Po learning to be a teacher. My favorite of the series.

Knight of Cups- My kind of art film by director Terrence Malick about the bad sides of entertainment and Los Angeles. The cinematography is gorgeous and the acting is top notch. It won’t be for everyone but I thought it was a lovely companion to Tree of Life.

Passengers- Recently this film received a lot of attention because of a plot element determined as ‘sexist’ by some. I disagree. The lead character makes a poor choice but I thought they established why he did this and gave him punishment for it. The movie looks gorgeous and the leads have great chemistry, which is important since it’s a romance.

Midnight Special- Where everyone else is flipping out over Arrival, I prefer Midnight Special. I love the way this film dives you right into the action and doesn’t waste time on exposition and backstory. I loved the acting and what it says about the way different people believe.

Queen of Katwe– A criminally underseen movie. It turns the Disney sports movie on its head by telling a story in Africa about an impoverished girl who learns to play chess. The acting is tremendous and I was impressed how dark and gritty Disney was willing to go. I was really moved by it and I think families should watch it.

Lion- Beautiful film about a boy who is lost in India and then years later works to find his family via Google Earth. I loved everything about this movie from the story, to the performances (especially the child actors), to the adoption message. It was perfect.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life- I wish people could appreciate when a film is done well for a particular demographic. Why must every movie please every person? Anyway, this movie is made for the pre-teen crowd and it is made well. I really liked the way they integrated animation into the story and I thought the performances were heartfelt with a surprisingly emotional message about grief and loss.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople– More of a drama than a comedy for me but a very sweet film about a boy and his foster Dad who must explore the wilderness of New Zealand. I didn’t laugh as much as some but I liked these characters and performances. It has such a big heart and looks gorgeous.

Loving- A very different film than advertised. The court case is a small part of it. Most of the movie is about the couple and how they get through life’s struggles together. I really liked it. My only flaw is that it is a little hard to understand Edgerton sometime.

Have you seen any of these? What did you think? Let me know in the comment section and take care!

Ethel & Ernest Review

ethel-and-ernest

ethel-and-ernestAs much as I love complex movies that take large artistic risks, I also love simple movies that execute their vision well. Such is the case with the recent UK export Ethel & Ernest. What a lovely portrayal of a marriage and life. It might be too simple for some but that’s what makes is so special.

Ethel & Ernest is based on the graphic novel of the same name written by Raymond Briggs about the life of his parents. Starting in 1928, Ernest a simple milk man, falls in love with a house-maid named Ethel. They decide to get married and end up having a son named Raymond.

ethel-and-ernest2Their love is simple and yet it carries them through the tough times including the trials of World War 2. They work through these hardships together and we see Raymond grow into an adult making his own choices of love and a career. The whole thing is completely adorable and I defy anyone to not be able to relate to some part of their lives.

Some people might think such a story is boring but not me. I love seeing stories about life and it gives me hope that good things can come when life is hard. It gives hope that the life of simple men and women like Ethel and Ernest actually matter and that there is beauty in their simplicity.

ethel-and-ernest3The animation in Ethel & Ernest is a simple hand drawn water color style but I loved it. It was refreshing and added to the sense of wistful nostalgia in the story. The vocal work by Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn is top notch (two of my favorite actors). You really can’t imagine these characters with any other voices.

I guess if I was going to fault Ethel & Ernest it’s probably not something I will remember in 10 years, but I don’t know if I care about that. While I was watching it, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The music is also excellent including a new song by Paul McCartney!

So if you are looking for something to brighten your day and make you feel hopeful than give Ethel & Ernest a watch. I think you will really enjoy spending time with this wonderful couple and learning about their life together.

Overall Grade A-