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Added by robertstackvoice on 11 Jul 2015 01:11
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Side B 2015

Every year I have the SIDE B list. Ten films that I love, but don't quite get on the BEST list. Despite it being kind of honorable mentions, often these are the films I'd recommend FIRST for people to see or even re-visit. Usually the list will include genre films, extreme films, offbeat films, sleeper hits, critically panned, financial bombs that I feel deserve attention or films that divided audiences (those are often the best). That #1 spot is always important to me. In past years its gone to The Raid (2012), You're Next (2013) and Interstellar (2014).

These ALMOST made the cut...

*Goodnight Mommy
*Soaked in Bleach
*Turbo Kid
*The Big Short
*The Gift
*What We Do in the Shadows
*White God
*Straight Outta Compton
*Slow West
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After being a punchline for about a decade M. Night Shyamalan finally hit back. The Visit was way more fun than the majority of found footage films. While there is a certain suspension of belief at times for why someone would still be recording by and large it works. The two child actors are bound for bigger things if that wit and charisma keep up. As for M. Night, well he needed this. It feels a little like he hit reset on himself and started having fun in the genre; rather than struggling to tie all events into a larger meaning. Hopefully this is a creative surge for him and not merely a lucky one off.
After Warner Bros. paid $2 million to make Lost River they sought to sell it off. Later they switched gears and released it on VOD in the spring. While I get why, it's really a shame to see a studio act in fear. Especially after having a number of big budget bombs this year. Ryan Gosling's Lost River is weird. Really weird. But so much fun to watch. As a debut it's pretty confident in what it's aiming for. It's a little Lynch with some Refn, Malick and Argento thrown in. Lost River builds itself on emotion, visuals and sound design rather than dialogue. Art films can make that work or sometimes come off as trying to hard (Beyond the Black Rainbow comes to mind). But this never oversteps it's bounds. Lost River isn't trying to tie things together for a larger purpose; it just is. A weird, slightly fucked up, occasionally funny adult storybook mix of ideas that's mind melting fun for 90 minutes.
Spike Lee's Chi-Raq has no shortage of creativity. It tries balancing elements of a stage musical, a melodrama, a sexy comedy and a fierce social political commentary. Does it all gel? No. But it's exciting to watch it go down. Despite the occasional heavy handed piece or gag that falls flat, there are a ton of great things thrown at you. Old school vets like Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Angela Bassett, Steve Harris, Jennifer Hudson, Dave Chappelle and Wesley Snipes stroll through and deliver masterful performances. But it's newcomer Teyonah Parris that really breaks out. Seriously she's got super-fucking-star written all over her. If this were a stage play I think it would've played excellently. As a film it is a little misshapen, but with it's heart very much in the right place. This is Lee using his anger and creativity to get a little grandiose and why not? Truly it is a subject worth getting riled up for.
Weird doesn't quite cut it. What begins simply (or not so simply) as a bored man spicing up his life with the occasional dominatrix attack, slowly turns weirder. By the finale R100 is bigger and more nightmarishly cartoony than you could predict. This is the ultimate NOT FOR EVERYONE kinda flick. However, if unsexy perversions with a dash of body horror-humor is your thing then R100 is for you.
South African auteur Richard Stanley could've, should've, almost was and maybe could still be a big deal. By this point everyone has either seen or heard of the 90's Dr.Moreau. Brando in pancake make up, Val Kilmer pissing everyone off and the smallest man in the world creeping us all the fuck out. Now we hear what might have been if New Line Cinema not been scared off by some early issues in production and replaced him. While this isn't as poetic or heartbreaking as Jodorowsky's Dune, Lost Soul is incredibly fun. You get rumors either confirmed (with proof!) or dismantled to find out the reality. Tons of great original art from Stanley and his original team. It's a look at how the creative process can get hijacked under the weight of egos, fear and business politics.
One critic phrased Cop Car as 'Amblin child wonder mixed with No Country for Old Men level violence'. That's very accurate. Cop Car is a simple thriller where two boys find an abandoned police cruiser in the woods and take it for a joy ride. The problem is this cruiser wasn't abandoned, but contains a few secrets the sheriff definitely doesn't want let loose. Kevin Bacon plays the mega mustached sheriff who is neck deep into some bad shit and needs that car back. But what makes Cop Car special is that much of that stuff doesn't matter. It's just about these two kids almost blissfully unaware of the level of danger they are in. I'm a firm believer that the 90 minute thriller is one of the hardest things to write. Thrillers can easily push themselves into over complication, but Cop Car is a very simple and wonderfully shocking ride.
Easily one of the funniest movies of the whole year. If you've seen the trailer or have any notion of what it's about then I refuse to spoil the surprises. Adam Scott (Park and Rec.) and Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) are new to the city. They befriend a charming couple in the park played by Jason Schwartzman (pretty much every Wes Anderson film) and Judith Godreche and make plans for a date night at their home. You might think you have it all figured out, but happily YOU DON'T. There's a lot of honesty throughout that's relatable. Mix that together with some completely outlandish scenes diving into each personality and I don't know how this didn't get a bigger release. Well... I do have ONE idea why, but it's worth seeing to find out.
Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (Oscar winning writer of The Usual Suspects and director of The Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher) and co-writer Drew Pearce (Iron Man Three and Pacific Rim 2) have made the fifth installment of the MI series one of the best. In a summer season that was (for me at least) pretty bare bones Rogue Nation was a high point. 50's Tom Cruise continues to morph his career to be that of 30s Jackie Chan and I love it. Simon Pegg's Benje is one of the most progressed characters in a major franchise. I'd put down money that he could remain on the series after Cruise departs.

However newcomer Rebecca Ferguson is the absolute show stealer. Much like Furiosa in Fury Road, Ferguson's character is the one we're all really watching. Trying to figure who she's playing and for what. She has a wit and charm that mixes perfectly into this stunt show spy thriller. So much so that in addition to McQuarrie returning (the first director to do two MI films) she too will be back in action for the sixth installment. I won't talk about the stunt showness of the picture except to say watch it on the biggest, nicest screen possible.
Elisabeth Moss is knocking at the door to being 'a thing'. I mean one of those performers having a stable of films designed around her character in it. Queen of Earth has some of her best, most show stopping work. All set in Alex Ross Perry's 70's melodrama styled lens. Sometimes funny, but always a little tense you see a character unravel during a weekend retreat. Not everything is spelled out in Queen of Earth and I like that. It's asking the viewer to feel out this situation as the unease mounts. It's on Netflix finally so give it watch. It's another film that clocks in under 100 minutes and feels just right doing so.
If you asked for a show of hands of who liked Guillermo Del Toro's gothic horror film Crimson Peak after a showing I'd guess it would be pretty bare. On the one hand I get it. Universal marketed a straight up ghost story to the public and they did it for nearly a year. The flip side to that is what we still got was pretty impressive. A lavish romantic costume drama that devolves into a bloody horror show in it's finale. Let's face it we've all seen a hundred and twenty haunted house movies. But a Del Toro haunted house movie was always going to spin in a different direction.

Crimson Peak most resembles his own Devil's Backbone. A story where the ghost is lifted up as your villain, but only because the audience is used to that. It's not until later you understand he's meant to warn not to harm. Human beings are the true monsters of Del Toro's worlds (look into his life story and see why). The trio of Wasikowska, Chastain and Hiddleston is a solid mix, although I've never quite been a Wasikowska fan and this didn't change that. But there is a balance in how the three are played that's important. A shifting in power dynamics that comes into play in a fun way by the end.

Visually Crimson Peak has a lot going on. There's impossibly beautiful interiors and unnerving exteriors thrown at you left and right. Sometimes its a lot to take in, but when you get a good glimpse at everything it's pure art. But that doesn't serve the main issue I suppose. Crimson Peak is not scary. Really it isn't. There's some great ghost effects and some brutal operatic violence, but none are done to convey terror. Like the violence and the oddities of the real world, Crimson Peak presents it to us in a matter of fact way.

The best way I've learned to explain how I see the film is as such. Set in a perfect world where Walt Disney wasn't trying so damn hard to please 90% of the population. They would still take risks like in the old days. Crimson Peak is a Disney princess story for the first hour or so that slowly turns its gears into emotionally centered psychological and somewhat supernatural horror. The beginning feels carved out of a fairy tale, while the entire ending put me in the headspace of Empire of Passion. Beautiful but horrific as well defined characters devolve to their primal, truer selves.

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