Timecode (2016) Short Film Review

“Luna (Lali Ayguade) and Diego (Nicolas Ricchini) are the parking lot security guards. Diego does the night shift, and Luna works by day.” This is the IMDb description for Juanjo Gimenez Pena’s short film Timecode. It is terse and unassuming, seemingly mundane. Yet the CCTV cameras in the lot, when set to secret timecodes, tell a different story.

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There is a heartening simplicity to Timecode. Marked by its levity and brevity, the short film follows Luna in her isolating Continue reading Timecode (2016) Short Film Review

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Graffiti (2016) Short Film Review

Seven years after an unknown “incident,” one man (Oriol Pia) lives in a world of isolation. Graffiti is quiet in this regard. Indeed, no words are spoken. The most we get out of Pia verbally is him howling in a call-response fashion with his dog.

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Graffiti has a familiar feel to other post-apocalyptic stories, most overtly Continue reading Graffiti (2016) Short Film Review

13th (2016) Movie Review

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States abolished slavery, effectively guaranteeing every American citizen be free. That is to say, every citizen who is not a criminal.

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Ava DuVernay’s historical documentary makes pertinent use of this word. With every mention of the word out of interviewees’ mouths, the term “CRIMINAL” flashes on the screen. And with each instance, Continue reading 13th (2016) Movie Review

Fences (2016) Movie Review

Fences is an adaptation from the stage written by August Wilson (the playwright) and directed by/starring Denzel Washington (the star on stage). It is the stage talent taking the play and directly adapting the source material to the screen. And it feels like it takes place on a stage.

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Sets, even the city streets filled with film reference shops like Rosebud beauty salon and the Grand Hotel, feel like Continue reading Fences (2016) Movie Review

Jackie (2016) Movie Review

The biopic is a tiresome genre. It is predicated on formula and stuffy grandiose representations. When a film like Jackie comes around, then, it acts as a feat of restorative faith in the biopic.

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Jackie is shot with opaque symmetry. There are many angular, straight on shots that mirror the subject’s mournful resolve. It is an elegant Continue reading Jackie (2016) Movie Review

Top 15 Best Movies of 2016

With 2016 winding down—half of America wanting to forget the entire election cycle, most lamenting the year as the most trying in recent memory, everyone hoping no one influential dies in 2017—it is time to look at some things that were actually good during the last calendar year.

2016 felt like a typical, unsurprising year at the movies. The box office didn’t blow up with mega-hits like last year’s The Force Awakens or Jurassic Park. There were your standard issue blockbusters and flops. Some movies were great. Some movies were God awful. And most of them were woefully in-between in that grotesque nether-region that is mediocrity.

Here, I have outlined my top 15 movies of 2016. Keep in mind that this list does not include some key late-year releases that I have yet to see and review, including but not limited to Fences, Silence, and Jackie. It also does not include documentaries, even though the likes of Weiner, Tickled, O.J.: Made in America, and 13th would all be strong contenders.

If you wish, click on the green titles to read the full review.

 

Honorable Mentions

The Neon Demon

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Nicolas Winding Refn continues his divisive oeuvre with this Summer’s soft release The Neon Demon. While it might not feel it, the film is more Continue reading Top 15 Best Movies of 2016

Lion (2016) Movie Review

The first notable aspect of Lion, the international homecoming story from Garth Davis, is the abrupt sound design. The vibrant score of piano and strings that accompany massive birds-eye-view shots of the countryside is immediately striking.

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The mechanical dissonance of trains and people in a busy market are contrasted by immense silences, as when Saroo (Sunny Pawar) loses his brother Guddu (Abishek Bharate) in a train station. When the train pulls off with Saroo Continue reading Lion (2016) Movie Review