Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Jul20

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Once upon a time in the land of the early-90’s an oddly revered sci-fi romp called The Fifth Element graced the silver screen.  Sure, it was derivative, oddly paced and featured Bruce Willis in full Die Hard mode while surrounded by alien beings but it had a certain verve (and a breakout Mila Jovovich) that has cemented it as a nostalgic burr in our minds.  Director Luc Besson had a string of interesting work in the 90’s and has worked steadily since, with less success.  His 2014 film Lucy had ScarJo as a supped-up experiment gone wrong that was as stupid as it was mind-blowingly bat shit.

Dunkirk Jul18

Dunkirk

I watch every horror movie generally the same, with my hands over my eyes but my fingers just cracked enough that I can see the screen.  It’s the 1st grader, peeking out the blinds method – one I’ve perfected over the years.  I also love that feeling – of the tension ratcheting up from the fellow poor souls littered in the theater around you.  Collectively you’ll bring the room temperature just praying for some sweet relief from the torture you’re putting yourself through.  What’s amazing is that Christopher Nolan has accomplished that same feeling with Dunkirk – a film of awe-inspiring and staggering intensity – that is unlike any war film ever made.

War for the Planet of the Apes Jul12

War for the Planet o...

If the NBA Finals and blockbuster Hollywood trilogies have one thing truly in common it’s that close-out games are the hardest to pull off (unless you’re the 2017 Golden State Warriors.)  The 2016 Warriors had a 3-1 lead and booted three-straight closeout games.  Hollywood has also failed to stick the landing numerous times.  Godfather Part III suffered from the cardinal sin of adding a precocious tween to the mix, sullying the legacy of the previous classics.  Return of the Jedi introduced a merry band of teddy bears that looked like mangled Jim Henson characters and actually ended with an Olympics-style medal ceremony and ghost send-off.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Jul06

Spider-Man: Homecomi...

Over the last decade I’ve collected many nits worth picking with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Little things bug me here and there and they seem to plague each film to varying degrees.  That’s not to say the MCU is without merit – the accomplishment of creating such a universe is somewhat staggering – but the problem often lies in tone and execution.  The films of the last 5-years have felt like assembly line creations, arcs we can digest easily and never remember.  It felt lazy.  Smash-cut to 2017 and we’ve already had two-spectacular superhero films (Logan & Wonder Woman) that avoided this pratfall simply by allowing the characters and story to stand on its own.

Baby Driver Jun26

Baby Driver

There are many things to admire about Director Edgar Wright.  He’s an incredible young visionary that writes and directs with such verve and candor that it’s impossible to mistake his work for someone else.  That’s what I love most about Wright, how singular his vision is.  From Shaun of the Dead to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – he’s never compromised (which is probably why his Ant-Man movie never happened) and if you ride for his style you should be very excited about Baby Driver.

The Book of Henry Jun15

The Book of Henry

In 2014, a very popular novel The Fault in our Stars was adapted for the screen.  I don’t think it’s a particularly good movie but that didn’t stop me from being completely manipulated by its maudlin nature and sweepingly romantic indie soundtrack.  I wept like everyone else in the theater for those cancer patients and their teenage romance.  Very similar tactics are employed for the first two-thirds of The Book of Henry – Colin Trevorrow’s new film. 

It Comes at Night Jun08

It Comes at Night

There is a stillness at the center of Trey Edward Shults’ new film It Comes at Night that’s disquieting and at times completely upsetting.  Shults imbues the film with this, creating a sense of dread that’s unrelenting.  His characters feel it through extreme closeup as their already well regimented and very remote world seemingly closes in around them.  It’s a testament to Shults as a filmmaker and also a screenwriter.  He shows us all we need to know while never relenting from the dreadful paranoia encompassing his film.

Wonder Woman Jun01

Wonder Woman

Let’s get this out of the way first – Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman.  The Israeli-actress is so convincing as the do-gooder Amazon princess that I wanted more.  Her wonderfully earnest performance brings out the best in the rest of the cast while anchoring the film in a stark WWI reality.  It’s a credit to Gadot and Director Patty Jenkins that they accomplished this.  Diana is as much an idealist as Superman but her film employs it with much more candor while Supes has been bogged down by Snyder-smashing masculinity.  Diana is not only the superhero we need in 2017, she’s the superhero we’ve always wanted.

Baywatch May24

Baywatch

Oh boy, is Baywatch dumb.  Those were my exact words as I left the movie on Tuesday, word vomit that I could barely contain.  It’s not that The Rock, Zac Efron, Kelly Rohrbach, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Priyanka Chapra and Jon Bass aren’t aware (they seem to be EXTREMELY aware) but despite their best efforts they can’t contain it.  That’s not to say you’ll be repulsed by the stupidity…I mean…what do you expect from Baywatch (shit what did I expect from Baywatch!?)

Alien: Covenant May18

Alien: Covenant

In 2012 Ridley Scott revived the Alien franchise with Prometheus – a mildly effective but ultimately disappointing return to his xenomorph littered hellscape. The film reached for depths never even hinted at in the earlier films – attempting to expand the universe while raising intense philosophical debates about the birth of mankind. Scott’s signature anamorphic style was on display but his characters were so dumb, so unreasonable that it undercut the bigger, meatier questions that lurked underneath. I still defend Prometheus as a valiant attempt to wrestle with these questions while still being a summer horror blockbuster but it’s faults are apparent.

Snatched May11

Snatched

First of all, Snatched is a completely harmless, forgettable comedy that will have a long life on cable. It nabs a laugh here and there mostly on the backs of the very capable cast, but it’s little more than that. What’s incredible is Amy Schumer somehow got Goldie Hawn to come out of retirement. The Oscar-winning actress hasn’t worked since 2002’s The Banger Sisters and, although she’s underused here, I hope she continues.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword May11

King Arthur: Legend ...

I think it’s safe to say after two-decades we know what we have in Guy Ritchie. The man is a gifted filmmaker who’s been shaped by his contemporaries and not necessarily for the better. Contemporary Ritchie is a weird combination of Tarantino and Michael Bay churning out studio blockbusters with faint whiffs of his gangster movie past. He surprised everyone in 2015 by releasing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that combined his schizophrenic style with a 60’s spy aesthetic that was charming and fun.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Capsule Review) May08

Guardians of the Gal...

In 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy single handedly kept me interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This, mind you, was no easy task. The well was by no means dry in the MCU just incredibly stale, with cookie cutter sequels and blue energy beams to outer space. Then, seemingly out of nowhere stepped a wild group of space misfits, thrust together for one reason or another to defend the universe against a blue Lee Pace with black goo dribbling down his chin. Let’s get weird Marvel!

The Lost City of Z Apr20

The Lost City of Z

“So much of life is a mystery” – says Charlie Hunnam’s Percy Fawcett – an early 20th century British explorer with a penchant for grand philosophical musings.  It’s the thesis of The Lost City of Z as well as the driving motivation for Fawcett’s Amazonian exploits.  Discovery and danger pulls him away from his family for years at a time while Fawcett believes he is moving closer and closer to a discovery that could “change the course of human history.”

Free Fire Apr20

Free Fire

When a movie is clearly borrowing heavily from a classic it can be a massive detriment and at the very least distracting.  Given the dearth of Tarantino imitators out there since his early-90’s rise to fame it’s obvious when another one hit’s the market – and is usually met with a healthy eye roll.  Initially this was my reaction when I saw the trailer for Free Fire – a single location shoot em up with an A-list cast and 70’s leisure suits. 

The Fate of the Furious Apr12

The Fate of the Furi...

Every two years we are blessed with a new Fast & Furious movie (you’re welcome America) and each time I still marvel at the miracle of it all.  A little franchise that started with little fanfare in 2001 and was left for dead after its third time around the track in Tokyo in 2006 has somehow become one of the largest franchises in the history of cinema.  We are on #8 for god’s sake – The Fate of the Furious (easily the worst, laziest name yet)

T2 Trainspotting Mar23

T2 Trainspotting

The infamous dive into the toilet.  The baby on the ceiling.  The foot chase through Edinburgh, culminating in the most famous movie smile of the 90’s.  Danny Boyle’s breakthrough Trainspotting roared into the pop-culture lexicon in 1996 and remains just as relevant today.  Boyle’s classic combines his now ubiquitous style (quick cuts, freeze frames, oddly placed subtitles) with the travails of a group of heroin addicts in the hellscape port of Leith.

Beauty and the Beast Mar15

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture.  In 1991 it was considered ahead of its time – featuring a heroine who was into BOOKS and LEARNING (mouths agape.)  Sure, she fell in love with her captor but it sort of seemed by her own volition… and he had adorable singing furniture so, ya know.  But above the normal trappings of plot soared one (if not the most) iconic soundtracks in the history of cinema.  One by one the songs of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken swept over you, leaving their indelible print in your memory.  It’s Disney at its most powerful and memorable.

Kong: Skull Island Mar09

Kong: Skull Island

Count me as a fan of Peter Jackson’s 2005 love letter to one of his inspirations, King Kong.  It was self-indulgent, way too long and entirely dated – but I found much of it inspired.  Jackson could never capture the poetry of the 1933 original but his homage was admirable (not to mention the state of the art effects that brought Kong to life.)  Every few decades the King returns, for better or worse to wreak havoc on unsuspecting humanoids.

Logan Mar01

Logan

Anyone who has read even a modicum of my superhero coverage on DrunkSunshine knows I’m not particularly fond of the recent output from the Marvel or DC Universe.  Over the last 3+ years I’ve come to mostly loathe the cookie cutter nature of each plot, the dull character developments and predictable action beats.  There have been exceptions (Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool) that haven’t exactly broken the mold but at least messed with the playdough.

John Wick: Chapter 2 Feb09

John Wick: Chapter 2

When John Wick hit theaters in early-2014 it was a shock to the cinematic system.  Not only did it contain a return to form from America’s favorite savior Keanu Reeves but it was a stunning spectacle, harkening back to the real stunts of the 70’s-grindhouse era combined with Steve McQueen physicality.  It was exactly what it was and nothing more, a refreshing middle finger to the bloated slate of spandex and robot punching that pollutes our summer months.  John Wick has far more in common with The Raid than Transformers and was so much better for it.

Split Jan19

Split

Count me in the (I’d assume growing) faction of online critics who is rooting for the Shyamalanaissance.  The man has thrilled us in a myriad of ways over the year – whether it was seeing dead people, a seemingly unhurtable man with a calling or aliens who go bump in the night – his modern Hitchcockian yarns have been wonderful and spooky.  That said, he’s also slipped – like face on the concrete slipped. 

Top Ten of 2016 Jan06

Top Ten of 2016

2016 was a year filled with momentous moments…mostly all of them horrific or just plain bad.  Surprisingly, outside of the typical summer slate of garbage – the Cineplex delivered.  To come up with a Top Ten this year was next to impossible…so I included 11.  I could’ve included 20.  So in a year that took so much at least we were given time to escape. Without further ado, the DrunkSunshine Top Ten (11):

Silence Jan04

Silence

It’s been reported leading up to the release of Silence that Martin Scorsese has been trying to get it made for roughly three decades. Hollywood’s preeminent struggling Catholic has scraped tooth and nail between projects to get this film made, to reckon with his own faith, his own doubts. It’s all at once a noble effort and one that threatens to alienate even his most ardent fans.

La La Land Dec15

La La Land

“Here’s to the fools who dream,” is the beautiful refrain that carries the dazzling new La La Land. It’s a simple throwback to the musicals of the 1950’s that simultaneously celebrated and revered Hollywood in all its glamour. Damien Chazelle squeezes every ounce of that nostalgia on screen through his beautiful lead actors and gloriously over-the-top song and dance numbers.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Dec14

Rogue One: A Star Wa...

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is unique for many reasons. It finds new and interesting ways to contribute to the Star Wars canon while simultaneously indulging in deeply satisfying fan service. It’s by far the most diverse cast ever assembled in the galaxy with a cast that includes a woman, Asian, Mexican, Muslim and a disabled person. Even with those wonderful attributes the most freeing aspect of Rogue One is it’s the first movie ever that is (nearly) completely removed from the Skywalker family.

Office Christmas Party Dec08

Office Christmas Par...

A movie called Office Christmas Party doesn’t have to accomplish a whole lot. It has to, at a base level, feature a party…preferably in an office. If it can clear that incredibly high bar it should probably be funny, or at the very least amusing. Office Christmas Party accomplishes one of those things. The point is, to even be a passable comedy that gets a decent annual run on TNT it doesn’t have to accomplish a lot.

Allied Nov22

Allied

Over the last decade Brad Pitt has slain a lot of Nazi’s. Whether it was as Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds or Wardaddy Collier in Fury – the man has done his fair share in WWII. Now he’s back as Max Vatan in Allied – a handsome Canadian-fly boy with a penchant for undercover Nazi murderin. If Pitt keeps this run up he may have to switch wars.

Arrival Nov11

Arrival

Twelve 1,500 foot alien hockey pucks appear in seemingly random locations across the globe. The collective population descends into panic – evacuating businesses and schools while scrambling a swift military response. It’s an eerily resonant response that doesn’t feel a bit outside of what we might expect. Earth’s first visitors have arrived.

Doctor Strange Nov03

Doctor Strange

Anyone who knows me knows I have a bit of a problem with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not that it hasn’t produced entertaining films or interesting characters, in fact they’re littered through the MCU. It’s simply that it’s so familiar, the formula so cut and dry that no risks are ever taken. At this point the MCU is the McDonald’s of the Cineplex – satisfying in the moment but ultimately just a fleeting memory and an upsetting dump before work.