Best: The Beta Test
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The Beta Test is a movie that could never have been made in Hollywood. More than a satire, it is an full frontal assault that takes no prisoners. Jim Cummings is amazing in the lead role and the jokes and commentary come hard and fast. The film features a captivating mystery that explores loneliness and the way people interact in today’s world. An incredible watch.
For some reason, the disappointing movies of the past year left more of an impression than the truly awful ones. But there is one film that has remained with me since I saw it at the beginning of the year. #Like seems to want to be a commentary on violence and female empowerment. Instead, it asks the audience to look at a possible sexual predator with sympathy while minimizing what victims and their families go through. Even the worst female revenge movies try to provide a sense of satisfaction through retribution. Writer-director Sarah Pirozek’s attempts to be clever regarding child predators reeks of “Hey, look at what I did!” instead of focusing on the issue.
Best: C’mon C’mon
Huge disclaimer up top: there are still some flicks I need to see before calling it quits this year for film (I’m looking at you, Licorice Pizza). That being said, C’mon C’mon is the best thing I’ve seen so far this year. I went in with my arms crossed. How could Mike Mills top his previous film, 20h Century Women?
But with Joaphin Phoenix and one of the best child actors ever, Mills crafts a quietly moving drama that touched on, well, everything. The passage of time, growing up, adulthood, the gap between parents and children, the list goes on. But it never feels like we’re being force fed themes and messages. The film simply unfolds like a documentary, stacking moments upon each other until we’re left in a warm puddle of introspective tears. It’s almost impossible to not walk out of the film in a contemplative daze; given a newfound perspective on life and our purpose in the scary yet wonderful world.
Worst: Earwig and the Witch
I haven’t seen all Studio Ghibli movies, especially not the ones considered…bad. However, from what I’ve seen, this is the worst one. For some reason, Ghibli decided to go for 3D animation despite that not being their specialty. The synopsis reads: “A headstrong orphan discovers a world of spells and potions while living with a selfish witch.” Sadly: that’s the entire extent of the movie, which feels like just the first act of an unfinished, bad, children’s book. Ugly and boring.
While there were some movies that I definitely loved more (love at first sight with The Last Matinee), Malignant was the surprise hit for me. Malignant premiered to mixed reviews. Some people straight up hated it, while some instantly loved it. I was intrigued from the start, but was not sure how I felt. Then the big Basket Case-esque reveal quickly pushed me into the fan camp. Malignant did some excellent things with visuals and stunt work. It was a horror movie for horror fans. Malignant delved into the ridiculous and did so joyfully. Sure it raised a lot of questions, many unanswered, but it had fun doing so.
Worst: Deadly Illusions
Deadly Illusions could have been wonderful. It had the tension and set up of a sleazy 90’s suspense film, but could not pull the trigger in committing to its campiness. Kristin Davis stars opposite Greer Grammar as a happily married woman who is seduced by Grammar’s innocent but sexy nanny character. This film also raised questions, but instead of amusing the audience, the awkward plotting only confused and disengaged viewers. As a fan of Kristin Davis (Sex and the City), I’m happy to see her step away from a Charlotte type role, but this movie took the subtle route when it would have been better suited to give into some of the over the top aspects. The movie was a Charlotte when it should have been a Laney, the pregnant college friend who performed a strip tease to prove she was still more outrageous than Samantha.
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