Seattle Cinema Survey : Love Triangles

Hello all and thanks for joining us once more for the Seattle Cinema Survey.

In this week’s rundown of me passing along questions about the world of movies to the area’s critics, bloggers and writers, on the eve of Bridget Jones’s Baby, I asked; What’s your favorite love triangle in film history?

For myself, the answer has to be the troubled trio of the magnificent James L. Brooks film Broadcast News. At the heart of it is Holly Hunter’s Jane; the finest brain for the world of modern (aka the 80s) journalism. A person with the highest of standards for her work, that same intensity has led to a love-life that is often abysmal. She is loved by her best friend and longtime collaborator Aaron (a never better, or sweatier, Albert Brooks). Their connection is tight and confusing. Then the handsome devil arrives in the form of William Hurt’s Tom, an aspiring reporter with innate likability and a distinct lack of polish.

The movie is funny and heartbreaking in equal measures, with the pinnacle coming after Aaron’s grandest televisual failure leads to a host of unspoken feelings rushing out with passion, sincerity and fury.

Mike Ward of Should I See It @ShouldISeeIt
Hands down the first cinematic love triangle that comes to mind is the one germinating between Luisa, Julio, and Tenoch in Alfonso Cuaron’s still incredible 2002 drama Y Tu Mamá También.

Luisa (Maribel Verdú) is a married woman, flirted with by two high school boys (Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal), just graduated, at a wedding on the eve of their summer. The boys invite her to join them on a road trip to a beach resort and she dismisses them. However, soon she gets blindsided by a series of events (some known to the audience, some not revealed initially…) and on a whim, with seemingly nothing to lose, Luisa joins the boys for a road trip to a place called “Heaven’s Mouth.”

Cuarón’s film pushes past the tropes of being just a “road trip” movie and gives us three deeply compelling characters, lost and confused with what comes next for each of them. Sex, drugs, it’s all there for the taking. But as they get to know one another, and each find out more about themselves, brilliant narration segments keep things in perspective. This is a movie pushing boundaries and comfort levels every step of the way. It is raw, honest, uncomfortable, and beautiful all at once. And at its heart are two boys, older than they want to be, and a woman, clinging to youth she never realized she still had.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic
There are so many non Twilight movies to choose from. My pick is Nola (Scarlett Johansson) Chris (Jonathan Rys Meyers), and Chloe (Emily Mortimer) in 2005’s Match Point.

Chris stumbling into a wealthy family and falling for his brother-in-law’s ex is creepy enough. What’s even creepier is the lengths he goes to maintain his marriage during his fling.

I’ve seen Scarlett Johansson, so I totally get why Chris would gamble his entire life for a few moments with her. His ability to put that mask back on and go home was insane. One of the great things about Match Point is how they slowly turn Chris from a lovable fool into a crazed, adulterous maniac.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
Alfonso Cuaron has been changing the cinematic landscape since the turn of the century and for all his technical achievements (OG longshot reigning champ) the Mexican director has never been steamier than in his lauded 2001 feature, Y Tu Mama Tambien. Within, two teenage boys – Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal – take a cross country road trip accompanied by a luscious older women (Maribel Verdú) who’s just recently been scorned by her husband. The film charters an exploration of sensuality and sexuality that erupts into one of the most meaningful and sexiest parables on maturation to ever grace the screens. The sex was hot but the relationships – and subsequent performances – behind the sexual debauchery felt organic and lived in.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
Hokey love triangles are a staple of every wannabe young adult dystopian franchise, but they don’t always have to be sappy, overwrought, and desperately melodramatic. Rick, Ilsa, and Victor in Casablanca is one of the greats of all time. Y Tu Mama Tambien and its core romantic threesome may well still be Alfonso Cuaraon’s best movie. Then there’s Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, and mighty stop-motion gorilla in King Kong. Hell, even most of Star Wars features a love triangle, at least until we learn two of them are siblings and shit gets awkward.

Casablanca is probably the greatest cinematic love triangle, and if not the most effective use of the trope, at least one of the top few. Not to mention the most famous. But as far as favorites go, I really, really enjoy the one at the center of Fight Club. Three people, one of whom is totally made up and only exists in Edward Norton’s head, it doesn’t get much more twisted than that.

Brian Taibl of Brian the Movie Guy @MovieGuyBrian

You say ‘movie love triangle’ and the first few runner-ups for me are the zany and saccharine-sweet Roxanne, the cinematically trailblazing Chasing Amy, the pugilistically puzzling Fight Club and the classically kinky The Graduate – all great films!

But nothing, for me, beats the chemistry-rich duality of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – where a battle for hearts, minds and money brews between petty Freddie Benson, suave Laurence Jameson (aka James Nedenvedden, aka Laurence Fells, etc) and the naïve soap queen, Janet Colgate.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a measured, crafty, witty, cynical, goofy and downright hilarious comedy classic – a movie that falls squarely in the arena of ‘they don’t make ‘em like this anymore’. And because everybody is playing a role, perhaps love hexagon is a more apt description…

I’ll take the cork off my fork if I’m the only one who’s tossed this comedy masterpiece in to the mix…

Jason Roestel @filmbastard

This one was easy. We could call it a love rectangle if we include the one ring, but the triangle between Frodo, Sam, and Gollum was one fraught with joy, passion, and heartbreak. Gollum ultimately loses the war for Frodo, but gains the grace of the ring for a few seconds before burning to death with it in his grubby little hands. Sam and Frodo do end up working out the kinks in their relationship after their spat on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, but only for a few years. Sam eventually ends up in the arms of a bar Hobbit named Rosie Cotton, while Frodo moves on to commit gradual suicide on the Elven shores of The Grey Havens. Love in Middle Earth is a risky prospect no matter how you cut it.

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Seattle Cinema Survey -Most Anticipated 2016

Welcome to another round of the Seattle Cinema Survey, host to me tossing a variety of questions at local critics, writers and the like.

After last week’s – rather intense – poll of the best films the 21st Century has offered, a calmer, casual inquiry; What are you most excited to see in 2016?

With new films by the Dardennes and Olivier Assayas getting the maaaaaaybe 2016 release dates, my eyes look to Mr. Almodovar, who for my money is one of the best directors of the past thirty years. His Julieta is about women, their loves and relationships to their daughters; so the usual mine of which he’s produced a bevy of gold.

Drew Powell of Queen Anne News/Drew’s Movie Blog
This is a tough question because there are a lot of movies coming out that I don’t know much about (and I like to keep it that way) and therefore I’m not “excited to see.” Denis Villenuve’s Arrival, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and the new Blair Witch come to mind but I guess at this point I’ll go with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I was skeptical at first; the idea of a spinoff Star Wars set between Episode 3 and Episode 4 sounded uninteresting to me. Spoiler alert: we know that the rebellion crushes the empire and Darth Vader dies. But after seeing those two theatrical trailers and that star studded cast I’m firmly on board. This could be a truly great standalone Star Wars film. Fingers crossed.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic
My indie pick is Moonlight. I love what A24 puts out. The film I’m most excited to see is Doctor Strange. At this point Marvel Studios is playing with house money. They turned B level characters into billion dollar franchises. They even made Guardians of the Galaxy a hit. The next big test is Doctor Strange. I’d Marvel can show his story and mythology on screen the right way, the sky is the limit for what they can do.

I also love how diverse the cast is.

Michael Ward of Should I See It @ShouldISeeIt
It will be interesting to see if Gavin O’Connor can return to form with The Accountant. Though saddled with a cumbersome title, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk boasts a curious cast, a timely story, and the potential, on paper, to be one of the year’s best.

Then, toss in the only film from 2016 to make the recent 100 greatest movies of all time list from the BBC Critics poll, German import Toni Erdmann, the Amy Adams sci-fi epic Arrival, Tom Ford’s follow up to A Single Man, the suspense/thriller Nocturnal Animals with Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Plus, we have our first actual cinematic Star Wars spinoff arriving just before Christmas, with Rogue One, which is a bit of a wild card for the fall.

And what to make of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, which looked to be an Oscar frontrunner until Parker’s past rape case from his college days seems to have derailed plans for an Oscar push, but nonetheless leaves a compelling film on the way.

Really, two projects bubble to the surface as films I am most intrigued to see this fall.

Damien Chazelle’s musical follow-up to his 3-time Oscar winning Whiplash, is the Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone-led musical La La Land, which has won over virtually every single person who has seen it thus far. With the precision that Chazelle showed us with his incredible Whiplash, his take on the “movie musical” could be dynamic and memorable.

And then, I can’t seem to ignore A24’s Moonlight. A story that feels bold, brave, and audacious. Not only does it shine a spotlight on growing up as an African-American male in America across three generations, the film also looks at what it means to be black and gay, a subject largely ignored by the motion picture industry.

So Moonlight and La La Land with a dozen or so others right behind it.

Brian Taibl of Brian the Movie Guy @MovieGuyBrian
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the easy answer here…

So, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

If you need a bloated answer in the arena of ‘why’, then I don’t (with all due respect) care to know you…

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
Looking down the barrel of the gun, we have a cannibal horror romp from groundbreaking director Ana Lily Amirpour with The Bad Batch, Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash in the Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone-starring La La Land, Denis Villeneuve’s foray into heady sci-fi with Arrival, Telluride Film Fest breakout smash Moonlight which marks distributor A24’s first film they’ve built from the floor, Martin Scorsese’s sweeping religious epic (currently weighing in at 3 hours, 15 minutes) Silence and, of course, the first ever Star Wars Anthology film in Rogue One all staring us smack in the rest. I’m looking forward to all for completely different reasons. Were I forced to choose one, I would probably make the wrong decision so call it a big ol’ tie.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
Despite some giant misses over the summer, I’m still pumped to see a ton of movies in 2016. My list includes big blockbuster-y things like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (even with the unwieldy title) and Doctor Strange, both of which look like they could bring a welcome new wrinkle to their respective cinematic universes. Then we have award bait-y things like Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land—I’m fairly certain that was made just for me.

I’m starting to lose count of the movies debuting on the fall festival circuit that I don’t know when we’ll actually get to see. Nacho Vigalondo’s giant monster flick Colossal premieres soon, the Mo Brothers’ Headshot is on the way, and Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire is making the rounds. Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch just debuted at Venice—an artsy, indie, post-apocalyptic joint, I’m also fairly certain this movie was also made with me in mind. Kim Ji-woon’s Age of Shadows opens in South Korea this month, but who knows when the rest of the world will get a crack at it?

So many of my most anticipated titles probably won’t get to us until 2017, so the one I’m most excited about that I know definitely opens before the end of the year, is Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden.

One of my favorite filmmakers, anything the Oldboy director does immediately jumps to the top of my must see list. It doesn’t hurt that The Handmaiden looks tense and ominous and strange and sexy and absolutely gorgeous in every regard. A period piece about a con artist who places a maid to spy on a wealthy heiress isn’t Park’s usual territory, but it can’t get here soon enough.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
I’m certainly looking forward to Birth of a Nation, controversies aside. The Accountant looks intriguing. The Girl on the Train should be good pulp. Hacksaw Ridge has my attention because Mel Gibson. Fantastic Beasts has some big shoes to fill, but who can resist more Harry Potter? Office Christmas Party looks like a lot of fun.

But, I’m going to have go with my heart and say Boo! A Madea Halloween is my most anticipated movie of 2016. Halloween + Tyler Perry is a combo made in heaven–or hell–and it surely will be among the year’s top films.

But seriously, come on. All those movies I listed above (minus one) could be great, but there’s only one that stands among the rest in terms of pure excitement factor. And that movie is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The trailers have been fantastic, and the standalone plot may mean we’ll get a less generic Star Wars adventure this time out.

Seattle Cinema Survey – The Top 25 Films of the 21st Century

Recently, BBC polled a huge swathe of critics for the best films of the 21st Century. Every week, I survey local critics and writers some random thing, also often about the 21st Century film scene. So…why not ask said locals what their personal picks are for the greatest pictures to hit since Y2K.

Last week, I posted my personal top ten. For this round, I selected a deeper 25, while additionally gathering the same number from Michael Ward (Should I See It), Sara Michelle Fetters (MovieFreak/The SGN), Jason Roestel (formerly of Examiner), Tim Hall (The People’s Critic), Brian Taibl (Brian the Movie Guy) Matt Oakes (Silver Screen Riot), Brent McKnight (CinemaBlend/The Last Thing I See), Erik Samdahl (FilmJabber), Drew Powell (Drew’s Movie Blog/Queen Anne News) and Nick Tiffany (the originally titled…Nick Tiffany.com). What I received was quite a few surprising picks, including a few that cracked the top 25 of the masses multiple times), some personal head-scratchers and proof that we’re living in a time of sensational cinema.

The results were ranked with #1 selections garnering a max of 25 points, #2 getting 24 and so on until the last selection. Not a single movie cracked the Seattle 25 while only being voted on by one person, which is nice and fitting. All ties were broken by which had a higher top selection. So, without further ado, let’s count them down.

2408_5_screenshot25. Unbreakable

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24. A Separation

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23. There Will Be Blood

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22. Midnight in Paris

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21. The Dark Knight

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20. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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19. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

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18. Spirited Away

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17. Zero Dark Thirty

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16. Drive

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15. Ex Machina

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14. Toy Story 3

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13 Inside Llewyn Davis

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12. Children of Men

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11. In the Mood for Love

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10. The Prestige

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9. Zodiac

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8. The Royal Tenenbaums

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7. No Country for Old Men

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6. The Social Network

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5. Inglourious Basterds

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4. Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World

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3. Before Sunset

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2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Seattle Cinema Survey – Meryl Streep

Hello all and welcome to another edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, home to local critics and writers kindly responding to the – likely – inane things I ask.

With Meryl Steep’s latest arriving in the form of Florence Foster Jenkins, there’s some regular chit-chat about an actress that many consider the best talent in this country’s history. So, the pondering went ; What’s your favorite Meryl Streep performance?

This, of course, is a ridiculous query. Most actors and actresses would punch a Pope to have a career with as vital of turns as Streep gives in a decade. Any of her decades. The troubling mindset seems to be that The Streep is merely a piece of pretige fodder, always grasping for acclaim and awards. This. Is. Nonsense. Streep is an agent to warm hearts and quickly break them, inspire distress and cause empathy for her pain, and make one laugh, laugh, laugh. Yes, she has an army of Oscar noms and victories, but an honest look reveals that even The Queen manages to be overlooked for her comedy stylings by the Academy.

So, I stand here to sing the praises for Madeline Ashton, Streep’s wickedly youth obsessed, increasingly demented figure from Death Becomes Her. Be it the sharp glares when Goldie Hawn’s paws begin to crawl back into the realm of Madeline’s husband (an underrated bit of madcappery by Bruce Willis) or Streep’s pure-as-snow pronouncement of “I’m a girl” when she sips upon a rejuvenating elixir, Death Becomes Her is a reminder that few have the comedic chops of Le Streep.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
It’s hard to parse my favorite performance of hers from my favorite
film starring her so I’ll meet somewhere in the middle with Adaptation. Streep delivers an unusual tour de force as a lovestruck author wrapped up in Charlie Kaufmann’s pseudo-biographical quest to adapt her character’s celebrated novel. Streep plays both sides of theaisle here, waffling between lover and killer, artist and maniac and thrives giving a performance that is complex and unique without
reeking of prestige.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @FilmJabber
Meryl Streep is absolutely fabulous in Doubt. That final scene, that final moment, is just killer.

Seattle Cinema Survey: Favorite Summer Seasons

I say good-day to all of you readers, followers and the like, and welcome to the latest edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, where local writers answer the various, probably odd, questions I lob there way.

This week, in honor (?) of seemingly everybody and their cat being disappointed by this summer’s run of high-profile films, I asked: What’s your favorite summer movie season?

Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak & The Seattle Gay News @MovieFreakSara

Considering a number of my favorite films of all-time saw their release during the summer of 1982, this ends up being a remarkably easy question for me to find an answer to. John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, George Miller’s The Road Warrior, John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian, Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, Nicholas Meyer’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Steven Lisberger’s TRON and Clint Eastwood’s Firefox make this one of the greatest science fiction/horror/fantasy stretches in all of Hollywood history, each film making an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape that is still being felt today.

But that’s not it. Woody Allen’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, Taylor Hackford’s An Officer and a Gentleman, Ron Howard’s Night Shift, Alan Parker’s Pink Floyd The Wall, George Roy Hill’s The World According to Garp, Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIMH, John Huston’s Annie and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky III all hit theatres as well, each proving to stand the test of time rather nicely (and, in some instances, rather surprisingly). This was also the summer of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Friday the 13th Part III, Young Doctors in Love, Grease 2, The Last American Virgin, Megaforce and The Beastmaster, and while no one is going to mark any of those as classics to say none of them still don’t have their rather vociferous supporters would be Trump-sized lie. Heck, speaking of that whack-a-doo Presidential candidate, even that bizarre, close to unwatchable teen sex comedy featuring everyone’s favorite Donald supporter Scott Baio Zapped! premiered, and if that doesn’t put 1982 over the top I’m not sure what else does.

Oh. Wait. Yes, I do. Star Wars, Bambi and Raiders of the Lost Ark all saw major reissues, each playing once again to enthusiastic sold-out houses.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @FilmJabber

Well, I imagine that some people may scour the summers of the last three to four decades looking for the greatest collection of movies to be released in any given year. But since I haven’t been alive for four decades, and certainly didn’t care what summer movies were coming out when I was eight years old, I restricted my search to 1995 and later, a time period where I can confidently say I actively sought out movies.

It may be odd that the year I’ve selected boasts one of the biggest summer disasters of all time – an infamous film I’m certain no one has watched in the last decade called Wild Wild West – but it also was home to the release some great movies, and at least a bunch of solidly good ones. This summer saw the release of The Iron Giant, The Sixth Sense, Arlington Road, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, The Blair Witch Project, Eyes Wide Shut, The Wood, American Pie, Deep Blue Sea, Tarzan, Run Lola Run, The Red Violin, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Election, The Mummy, Notting Hill, and yes, Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but one that kicked off the summer in high fashion nonetheless.

The year was 1999, and it was the best summer movie season I can remember.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend & The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight

To be honest, I could probably pick any summer movie season from like 1982 to 1989 and be satisfied with my choice. 1982 gave us E.T., The Road Warrior, Conan the Barbarian, and more favorites. 1985 dropped The Goonies, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Fletch, and Weird Science into our laps. And 1989 introduced us to Dalton in Road House (I thought he’d be bigger), Michael Keaton’s Batman, and everyone’s favorite English teacher in Dead Poet’s Society.

But I have to go with 1984. That summer gave us The Karate Kid, Gremlins, The Never Ending Story, Purple Rain, Once Upon a Time in America, Revenge of the Nerds, The Natural, and Bachelor Party. Val Kilmer has still never topped Top Secret! Ghostbusters remains one of my all-time favorite movies. I have an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom tattoo for Christ’s sake. I may have even pitched a book-length essay about Red Dawn to a publisher once upon a time. (Perhaps more than any of these other movies, Red Dawn had a massive formative influence on my life for many, many years.)

I was seven-years-old that summer, and probably way, way too young to reasonably watch and understand a number of these movies. But this year, and maybe one or two on either side, was the era where I really fell in love with movies. This is where I became a more active viewer, where movies became something more than a collection of images on screen, and where film took on a place of great importance. And we all know where that lead.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom

First a qualifier: I’m only going to select a year in which I’ve been (semi-) professionally writing about film so although there might some years that blow the roof off, I’m sticking solidly with modernity. Ok, onward. In 2014, I wrote an editorial praising the alarming population of quality flicks (http://silverscreenriot.com/695-has-the-summer-of-2014-been-the-best-in-years/), from indie sleepers to popcorn hits. Its sparkling, gilded quality only seems more apparent in summer 2016, which has seen a verifiable dearth of good films. Seriously, even the Bourne movie was a solid let down. Let me just list some flicks from summer ’14, shall I? Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a superb highlight of heady intellectualism and top-notch effects work; X-Men: Days of Future Past, one of the finest in a standout franchise; Snowpiecer, Bong Joon-ho’s madcap Occupy Earth parable; Edge of Tomorrow, underperforming though it was, this remains one of the best action films of the decade; 22 Jump Street, where a hysterical pairing meant bristling satirical overload; Guardians of the Galaxy was an unexpectedly weird jolt of energy for the Marvel camp (and even though I’m not on record as being a huge fan, Captain America: The Winter Soldier admittedly drove many fans mental); As Above So Below was a shockingly effective horror/thriller; The Rover kicked a malevolent storm of dust in our faces; Luc Besson’s Lucy was utterly insane, an undeniably unique deconstruction of the genre; Godzilla, though admittedly not perfect, had major high highs; Chef from Jon Favreau was a scrumptious father-son dramedy; Obvious Child as thoughtful as it was hilarious; Calvary from John Michael; McDonagh was a moving portrait of faith in humanity, misplaced; How to Train Your Dragon 2, easily the best animated film of the year, unless we factor in The LEGO Movie which was far better than it had any right to be; oh and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was naught but the cherry on top. Seriously, look through that list. It’s insane. Insane. If we’re factoring in the last decade, you just can’t compete with 2014.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic

BZ!!! This is too easy. The Summer of 2008! Check out this amazing list

Iron Man
Sex and the City
Kung Fu Panda
Wall-E
The Dark Knight
The Pineapple Express
Tropic Thunder
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Wanted

Seattle Cinema Survey: Favorite Matt Damon Film

Welcome to another edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, home to know-it-alls disagreeing with one another.

On the eve of the return of the Bourne franchise, now seems a good as time as any to ask; What’s your favorite Matt Damon film?

The list is ample, with Damon having quality blockbusters (The Martian, the aforementioned Bourne films), comedies (The Informant) and a string of exceptional dramas (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Gerry, many more). It oddly enough comes down two top picks I debated between a few weeks back when inquiring on the century’s best remake; The Departed or Ocean’s Eleven. As there, it’s Marty’s masterful cops and robbers piece that I must shout for most vigorously. Damon uses his innate charm and likability in a conniving manner here as a first-class manipulator and liar, forging personal success via the downfall and deaths of others.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
I enjoy the Bourne movies well enough, he carries The Martian, and Good Will Hunting is great. But my favorite Matt Damon movie, or at least my favorite Matt Damon role—the movie is a hot, steamy, raccoon-infested trash heap—has to be Donny in 2003’s Eurotrip. The front-man for a snotty suburban punk rock band, he sings a song about fucking the main character’s girlfriend. It’s even better because he did as a favor to three college buddies who happened to be the writer/directors. It’s not Damon’s best performance, and it’s damn sure not the best movie he’s appeared in, but Donny is far and away the most (maybe only) memorable thing about Eurotrip.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRDotcom

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic

I really enjoyed Matt Damon in Interstellar as Dr. Mann. Damon’s “Do you see your children? It’s okay. They’re right there with you” scene is one of my favorites.

My favorite Matt Damon movie is The Talented Mr Ripley. When I originally saw it back in 1999, I HATED it. I even referred to it as The Talented Mr Ripoff.

Years later, I learned to love the film, and especially Damon’s performance as Ripley. Damon’s even more impressive when Ripley is trying to live Dickie’s life. There’s that great piano scene when Ripley is confronted by Freddie (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the opening sequence, and the final scene with Peter when he says “I came out to find you” is fantastic.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
Wow. Tough one. Matt Damon has been in so many good movies, and has been instrumental to the quality of most of those movies. I’d say Saving Private Ryan, except he’s really a bit player (despite being the title character). Ocean’s Eleven is fantastic, but he’s just one of many. The Bourne Supremacy is one of my all-time favorite action movies.
But I’m going to go with Good Will Hunting, a fantastic and entertaining drama that showcases Damon’s brilliance. Perhaps more than any of his other films—especially the films most people would consider “great”—Good Will Hunting relies on Damon’s talent. The movie features one of his most complex characters, and one of his best performances.

Seattle Cinema Survey – Directors Trying Sci-Fi

Hello nerds and welcome to the latest edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey where other nerds reply to the nerdy questions I ask them. Nerds.

Speaking of nerd-stuff, a little franchise by the name of Star Trek has a new installment arriving this weekend. At the helm is Justin Lin, best know for his work revitalizing the Fast & Furious series, having directed the third through sixth films. Lin is now trying something seemingly different, if still about a bunch of gadgets and the racially diverse teammates that use said gadgets. So I pondered; what director would you like to play around in the science fiction genre?

Wes Anderson is the answer for myself. Sci-fi, perhaps too often, can be drowned in a self-serious tone. There are oodles of classics that do this, with just as commonly the genre spurring action for action-sake; the laughter can be a tad lacking. Give me Anderson in a world where aliens, blasters, teleportation and the like can be fiddled with for a gag. The visuals would be an equal treat, surely a step away from the shiny steel or washed out dystopias that, in the wrong hands, read as solely cliche.

Jason Roestel @filmbastard
Easy. David Fincher’s recently shelved project Rendezvous With Rama is perhaps one of the great tragic losses of the 21st century. I can’t help but believe that if Ridley Scott had ignored science fiction early in his career his career wouldn’t carry the same weight and wouldn’t be nearly as prolific as it is now. Fincher’s tailor made to create the perfect storm of hard science fiction and popcorn art. I can’t imagine why he hasn’t yet. Rama was all geared up to be something fresh and thoughtful – and, I firmly believe – radical in a genre now mass franchised by super studios like Disney. For every 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek The Motion Picture (you heard me) Under The Skin, and Sunshine (Danny Boyle’s film) there’s fifty Guardians Of The Galaxy. Not that I’m complaining, but science fiction should never settle for softcore. I’ve still got my fingers crossed that David will pick up the script for Rama someday, blow the dust off the dust-cover, and finally get to work making it. Also…. why didn’t Michael Mann ever dip his toe in this well?
Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
He’s talked about it a number of times over the years, though it has never come to pass, but holy fuck goddamn do I want Quentin Tarantino to make a sci-fi movie. Once a year or so, the Pulp Fiction mastermind teases an idea for a foray into the genre he has, at least up to this point, never touched on film.
Though he rarely reveals much in the way of details, he’s said that it’ll be earthbound rather than “spaceship sci-fi.” Back in 2014, however, he did say he was interested in putting his own spin on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, showing it from the pod people’s perspective, making the audience root for the extraterrestrial trespassers. He’s made a career out of aligning us with murderers and outlaws, making us empathize with hoodlums and general ne’er do wells, so it makes perfect sense he’d want tell a story like this.

I doubt we’ll ever see a QT sci-fi movie. If he does retire after his tenth movie, which seems unlikely (remember when Steven Soderbergh “retired”?), that means he only has two left in the clip. Even if he does keep making movies at his usual leisurely pace, he doesn’t sound super stoked on sci-fi, but wouldn’t that rule? I can’t help but imagine a paranoid, John Carpenter-eque thriller, packed with references to obscure movies that can only be found on grainy bootleg VHS tapes.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
I would go ga-ga to see The Coen Bros take on sci-fi. Their astute idiosyncrasies lends itself to finely tuned worlds – I mean, hell, even the otherwise straight-forward Raising Arizona almost operates as a fantasy film – and that kind of narrative construction is where sci-fi lives and dies. When you’re dealing with science fiction, tone is king and these boys are absolute maestros of tone. I would imagine that their brand of sci-fi would much more resemble a 1984 dystopia, a la Blade Runner, than an all-out hard, action-tilted sci-fi the likes of The Matrix but what I wouldn’t pay to see the Minnesota Boys give it a whirl. They’ve slayed the Western genre, why not expand the horizons even further? To infinity and beyond.

Drew Powell of  Queen Anne/Drew’s Movie Blog
David Fincher. But I don’t want him to direct a franchise film like Star Wars or Star Trek (I doubt he would even do it unless he was guaranteed total artistic freedom). Considering his expertise in making dark crime drama/thrillers, it would be cool to see him tackle a smaller more intimate Sci fi noir in the vein of Blade Runner.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic Blog @peoplescrtic
I would love to see Kathryn Bigelow try her hand at sci fi. She’s got a knack for creating tension and shooting action. I think she’d be great. Imagine Zero Dark Thirty as a space hunt for an evil alien. I would be first in line for that movie.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
While I’d be curious to see what Quentin Tarantino would do with a sci-fi movie, I’m going to have to say Sam Mendes. The Spectre disappointment aside, the guy makes some fantastic movies and has proven his ability to go big budget while still telling a great story with deep characters. At the very least, whatever he does, we know it would be a gorgeously crafted film.

Seattle Cinema Survey – 21st Century Remakes

Remakes are in the air, and always will be. However, a lot of dumb ones are convinced the latest one – Ghostbusters – will be bad because girls are gross and definitely not funny.

So, on this week of a weirdly controversial remake, I asked a variety of Seattle’s critics, writers and general movie nerds; What’s your favorite remake of the 21st Century?

The answer is tougher than one might think, since remakes, understandably, are easily mocked. There are quality remakes for horror (Dawn of the DeadThe Ring), comedy (Freaky Friday) fantasy (King Kong), period action (13 Assassins) and surprisingly more. For me, it’s a toss-up between two basically perfect films; The Departed and Ocean’s Eleven. Both are nearly impossible to stop watching once they begin, each distinctly tight narratives of large casts and twists, with one honing in on anxious tension and the other double-downing on more of “How can they get away with it this time” variety. I love them both dearly, but in the end, The Departed kicks me in the gut each time, and in that original go-around even more so. Plus, it has the advantage of remaking a superb film (Infernal Affairs), without merely being a copy and paste job.
Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
There are a couple solid selections here (Ocean’s Eleven being a standout), but I’ll say Dawn of the Dead. I know a lot of people hold George A. Romero’s original in high regard, as they should, but if you watch that film now, its low budget and pacing have not aged particularly well. On the other hand, the new Dawn of the Dead is an extremely tense, exciting and entertaining piece of work.

Some may forget, and you perhaps wouldn’t even realize when watching the movie, that it was directed by Zack Snyder, now known for making somewhat emotionally flat action pieces with lots of special effects. Dawn of the Dead was Snyder’s first feature-length film, and it offers everything that many people would say his current films do not: likable, engaging characters; tight storytelling; and fun factor.

With my wife out of town this weekend, I’ve now thought of a movie I should pop in…

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @ SSRdotcom
Although I admire what Fede Alvarez was able to do with Sam Raimi’s demented love child Evil Dead, the honor of greatest remake must be bequeathed to Marty. That it took a remake for the Scors to earn his first Best Picture win and a little slice of Oscar gold of his own in the form of a Best Director statue, the value of The Departed should not be understated. Bleak, darkly comic and set ablaze by a cast that seems beamed in from some fantasy draft of actors (Dicaprio! Nicholson! Damon! Wahlberg! Sheen! Winstone! Baldwin!) The Departed adapts Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, giving it an identity of its own through a novel cultural lens without muddying what made the predecessor work so well. A grubby, unsettling, brilliant shitkicker of a crime epic, it’s hard not to include The Departed among the very finest of Scorsese’s career, a career that includes such masterworks as Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. This is how you do a remake.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
Whether it’s remaking hardcore cult classics or American filmmakers reworking international films because domestic audiences don’t want to read, horror has more solid remakes than any other genre. Sure, we’ve had to wade through the new Nightmare on Elm Street, those Texas Chainsaw Massacre debacles, and countless other subpar rehashes, but we’ve also had exemplary updates like Dawn of the Dead (still Zach Snyder’s best movie), The Hills Have Eyes, and Evil Dead. Then there are English-language translations of modern foreign horror joints like The Ring, Let Me In, and We Are What We Are, which all stand close to the originals.

For my favorite remake of this millennium, however, I have to go with 2010’s Piranha 3D. French maniac Alexandre Aja took the manic camp of Joe Dante’s 1978 schlock fest about a swarm of killer fish devouring spring break and jacked that shit up to absurdist highs. No joke, it was my favorite movie that year by a landslide. Like the back end of a drive-in double feature, this is nudity and gore and the best use of 3D technology I’ve ever seen. (I don’t care about being immersed in some fully realized alien world, throw a chainsaw at my face and give me geysers of blood and we’re gold.) This movie makes me clap and giggle just thinking about it.

Seattle Cinema Survey – Underrated Actors

Hello and welcome to another addition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, where I lob inquires about the world of movies to the area’s critics, bloggers and snooty snoots.

In this addition, with the criminally talented Viggo Mortensen getting praise for his turn in Captain Fantastic, I asked our crew; Who is the most underrated actor working today?

There are a host of excellent options, some of which are highlighted below, with Viggo being my initial thought. However, I wanted to pick an actor with zero major nominations to their names for his film work. As such, I went with Ben Whishaw, he of so many strong performances. He has been cruelly funny in things like The Lobster, heartbreaking in a project like Cloud Atlas, romantic in Bright Star, brainy in the Bonds and whatever else you need. He has the chops to lead a film and the ability and lack of ego to support a scene without chewing his way through it. For my money, he could be the best actor of his generation.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
Per usual, there’s a handful of selections I’d like to tip my hat to (Paul Dano, Ben Mendelson, Oscar Isaac, Michael Shannon, Jason Schwartzman, Michael B. Jordan) but I will rather target someone who’s lingered on the periphery of the public sphere for the past 15 years, getting the rare spotlight turned upon him. A figure who is ignored far more than he ought to be: Idris Elba. The London native cut his teeth on HBO’s celebrated ‘The Wire’ and ever since been the focus of a cult petition to land him as the next 007. He’s appeared as a secondary character on a number of big budget blockbusters (The Thor franchise, Prometheus, Pacific Rim) and more recently has lent his voice to a number of animated projects (Zootopia, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book) but it’s his dramatic work that makes him the undervalued thespian brute he is. Elba missed out on a much-deserved Oscar nomination for his outstanding, complex work in Beasts of No Nation but his best work (and that which makes him such a prime candidate for Bond) is on the BBC’s outstanding series ‘Luther,’ which Elba leads with dramatic gravitas and boiling fervor. He’ll next appear in Star Trek Beyond encased in latex before leading the long-awaited adaptation of Steven King’s The Dark Tower and both seem like further potential waste of his talent. We’re hoping that even if he doesn’t nab the Bond suit (he won’t), Elba’s path will cross an exponentially greater number of toothy dramatic roles.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber

Tom Cruise. I’m sure ther are other actors that are extremely talented and not getting the mainstream attention they deserve, but Tom Cruise is one of those guys, especially in the last decade, who elicits more hate and complete dismissal than anyone else working today. Yes, he has had his cooky moments, and yes, he belongs to a baffling, how-can-I-take-him-seriously religion, but not only is Cruise a very talented actor, he is arguably the most consistent actor when it comes to being in quality films. Seriously, look at his filmography.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
To be fair, Ben Mendelsohn likely won’t be flying under too many radars for much longer, especially as he has lead villain roles coming up in both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One. The Australian character actor has been churning out strong work since the mid-1980s, but those two roles are easily his biggest yet.
Though he’s been around and was already familiar to many cinephiles, it was 2010’s Animal Kingdom that made a lot of folks sit up and say, “Holy fuck, this dude rules.” And with good reason. Since then he’s shown up in Killing Them Softly, The Dark Knight Rises, Slow West, and more, gathering up momentum with each role. (Let’s agree to pretend Exodus: Gods and Kings doesn’t exist, that strategy has worked out for us so far.) If you haven’t watched ‘Bloodline, on Netflix yet, rectify that at your earliest convenience and get ready for Ben Mendelsohn to take over your life.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic

Mine would be Brendan Gleeson. From The Guard to Edge of Tomorrow, he always delivers. He even shines in that Taylor Kitsch movie The Grand Seduction. Gleeson may not be a guy who sells movies by being on a poster. He will always be a guy who sells movies by what he does on-screen.

Brian Taibl of Brian the Movie Guy @MovieGuyBrian

For me, ‘underrated’ means that a particular person doesn’t seem to get enough credit for almost exclusively delivering an intriguingly offbeat or superbly intense performance to the big screen (independent of the quality of the film they’re currently in).

With those parameters in mind, I’ve narrowed it down to my five standouts:
Michael Shannon (99 Homes, Premium Rush, Take Shelter; most recently in Midnight Special)

Ben Mendelsohn (The Place Beyond the Pines, Killing Them Softly, Animal Kingdom; most recently in Mississippi Grind)

Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Alpha Dog, Lone Survivor; most recently in Warcraft)

Scoot McNairy (Argo, Killing Them Softly, Gone Girl; most recently in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)

William Fichtner (Heat, Go, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; most recently in Independence Day: Resurgence).

Seattle Cinema Survey – Best of 2016 So Far

Welcome to another edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, where the area’s most pretentious people try to out-pretentious one another when it comes to – ahem – cinema.

We’re at the midway juncture of 2016, a time in the calendar that is ripe for looking backwards. As such, I asked our crew; What’s your favorite movie to get released in 2016?

I’d like to think I have the most arrogant of answers. It’s also my legitimate response. Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday finally made it’s way stateside after sitting on the shelf since 1991 as one of the many superb Studio Ghibli films in Japan. It is the animated story of Taeko, a woman in her late-20s that is, of a sorts, the outlier of her family. The proverbial free spirit, Taeko travels outside her usual city dwellings to work at a farm, where her life begins to take new shape, all while she can’t stop recalling her life as a pre-teen. Based on the manga by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone, Only Yesterday is a kind, quietly moving film that bares the feel and rhythm of a novel, where scenes can take their time and the plot is never too interested in making itself known.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
This is a tough one. Though we’ve seen a number of massive potential blockbusters face plant into the concrete, 2016 has, at the halfway point, been kind of great, and depending what time of day you ask, my favorite movie thus far will probably be different.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a tight, tense three-handed thriller that’s so, so much better than its predecessor. The farther I get from it, the more I dig Steven Caple Jr.’s skate rat crime drama The Land. Under the Shadow and The Witch are both destined to be new horror classics. Sion Sono’s Tag is not only bonkers, it’s a surprisingly sharp take on sexism in geek and gamer culture. Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution is an unnerving body horror nightmare, and the Turkish horror Baskin is a brutal genre hellscape with an unusual narrative construction. It’s divisive, but I love the shit out of Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, and Shane Black’s sleazy, nasty, foul-mouthed buddy cop yarn The Nice Guys may wind up the most enjoyable movie of 2016.

As far as the top of my list, I’m going to cheat and name two. South Korean director Na Hong-jin (The Chaser) took his sweet time following up The Yellow Sea, but The Wailing was worth every second we waited. Eschewing gritty crime thrillers for supernatural horror trappings, it’s soaring and operatic, gorgeously photographed, and rough, unsettling stuff. Pulling elements from various horror subgenres, Na synthesizes them into something simultaneously hideous and exquisite, and The Wailing is never what’s expected.

Then there’s Green Room. Jeremy Saulnier delivers a full frontal blast of punk rock energy; a compact, streamlined, punch-you-in-the-teeth thriller. Unflinching in its violence or relentless pace, the story of a hapless band fighting for survival against vicious white supremacists, sets Saulnier up as one of my favorite up-and-coming filmmakers. Green Room may forever change the way you look at Patrick Stewart, though there’s an added layer of sadness after the tragic death of Anton Yelchin, who’s just ferocious in the lead.

Jason Roestel of Examiner @filmbastard
I hate playing my hand early, but Saulnier’s Green Room might be the best thing I’ll see in 2016 in six months. It’s like watching two cars going 130mph – one with SKINHEADS painted on the hood, the other with PUNK BAND – smash into each other, with every passenger ejected through the windshield to collide, yet again, with each other. It’s a spectacular mess. Green Room is as raw, basic, and uncompromising as one of my favorite cult films of all time – George Miller’s original Mad Max. Green Room and Mad Max are easily the most punk rock films ever made.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @filmjabber
While I loved most of 10 Cloverfield Lane and Green Room was a blast, I have to go with The Witch, a movie that is consistently unsettling, gripping, and different from most movies you see these days. From the music to the aesthetics to the performances, The Witch is just a perfect brew of ingredients (see what I did there?). Of the three films I listed, it’s also the one that is least likely to appeal to mainstream audiences, however. Oh well.

Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak/The Seattle Gay News @MovieFreakSara

At the midpoint of 2016, I find I could easily construct a list of top ten films for the year I’d be perfectly comfortable with if this were December and not the end of June. Knight of Cups, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Viva, Green Room, Nina Forever, The Witch, The Fits, Sing Street, Finding Dory, A Hologram for the King, Midnight Special, The Lobster, One More Time, The Wave, the list is a strong one, each of these motion pictures an inspiring, thought-provoking achievement worthy of additional exploration.

For my money, though, Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship stands head and shoulders above them all. A glorious adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, this pithy, pitch-perfect comedic jaunt is a joyous evisceration of gender hierarchies and male-female relations that is borderline perfect. The man behind late 20th century classics like Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco is working at the top of his game, his handling of the material and its myriad plot tangents absolutely superb. Coupled with a career-best performance from Kate Beckinsale as the notorious woman at the center of this late 1790’s British society maelstrom, the movie is a consistently inventive marvel, one that navigates increasingly murky interpersonal waters with confident aplomb. Make no mistake, this film is a marvel, and right now to my mind is easily 2016’s best, most invigoratingly entertaining cinematic feat.