Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The movies of 2015.

Saw only 44 movies this year. I'm slippin'.

10. The Hateful Eight - Though it could've used more time in the editing room, an evocative (and bloody) Western.

9. Trumbo - Fascinating look at McCarthyism and its effect on mid-century Hollywood, brought to life by a top-notch cast.

8. Focus - Lively yarn of con artistry, with attractive leads and a twisty script.

7. Star Wars: the Force Awakens - For my first dip into the universe of Star Wars, very exciting and well-drawn.

6. Kingsman: the Secret Service - As over-the-top as any of the more ridiculous Bond movies and a good deal of fun.

5. The Martian - Entertaining interstellar drama, helped by an infectious sense of humor.

4. Ant-Man - The stronger of the year's Marvel movies; a thoroughly engaging mix of comic book and heist movie.

3. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - The series continues to impress, with some hair-raising stuntwork and exotic locales.

2. When Marnie Was There - Animated feature from Studio Ghibli speaks to me as no other film did this year.

1. Inside Out - This concoction from Pixar is as colorful (in every sense) and emotionally rich as anything they've ever done.


Avengers: Age of Ultron - Action-packed and quippy; not as strong as the first movie (what could've been?), but still delivers the goods.

Cinderella - Disney's desire to bring its animated features to live-action may well succeed if they're as unpretentious as this adaptation.

The Good Dinosaur - Pixar's second effort of the year doesn't score as well as the first, but is quite entertaining in its own right.

Jurassic World - Dinosaurs run amok (again) in this uneven but entertaining follow-up in the series.

Mad Max: Fury Road - Exciting and well-wrought, this is less a movie than an experience.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - Exceptional revamp of the 60s TV series; Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer make a good team.

Mr. Holmes - Ian McKellen's fantastic performance buoys this sedate though engaging look at an elderly Sherlock.

The Peanuts Movie - Even with the sheen of CGI, beautifully captures the style and spirit of the comic.

Spectre - This latest Bond movie has style to spare and a pair of terrific adversaries.

Spy - With a good script and a strong supporting cast, this is one of the better Melissa McCarthy vehicles.

Underrated: Crimson Peak, Project Almanac and Tomorrowland

Overrated: Dope and Paper Towns (A pair of youth-oriented sleepers; well-acted, esp. in the case of the former, but...Dope lost its way with its sloppy writing - if you were on your way to Harvard, would you let some drugged-out broad drive you to an all-important meeting? - and Paper Towns substituted the heart of The Fault in Our Stars with unbridled quirk.)

Guilty pleasures: San Andreas, Seventh Son and The Transporter: Refueled

Didn't think this was so bad: Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Ted 2

Kind of a letdown: Hitman: Agent 47

My favorite things in movies - 2015:

Britt Robertson pays a visit to George Clooney's house in Tomorrowland

Colin Firth in Kingsman: the Secret Service, especially his church greeting

The escape from the airport in The Transporter: Refueled

The evocation of turn-of-the-century Western New York in Crimson Peak; who knows what inspired Guillermo del Toro to set the first third of this movie in my neck of the woods, but it certainly blew my mind

The flashback to Minnie's Haberdashery in The Hateful Eight

Grandma Omi treats the family to a story in Krampus

Henry Cavill enjoys a picnic on the water in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

"I name him, I keep him." - The Good Dinosaur

"It would seem my story's ended. Now, tell me yours." - Cinderella

Jason Statham and Peter Serafinowicz in Spy

John Goodman goes to bat in Trumbo

The long-take opening of Spectre

Michael Pena's storytelling technique in Ant-Man

The New York Comic Con brawl in Ted 2

"Nice jacket." - Focus

Nicholas Hoult in Mad Max: Fury Road

Paul Bettany in Mortdecai

Paul Giamatti in San Andreas

The prologue in Ant-Man

The scenes between Liam Neeson and Ed Harris in Run All Night

Will Ferrell requests a do-over in Daddy's Home

Holy shit, was that...?

Adewale and Alan Tudyk in Trumbo
Rick Fox in Dope
Burn Gorman and Jonathan Hyde in Crimson Peak
Greg Grunberg in Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Wallace Langham in Taken 3
Nick Nolte in Run All Night

What a tragic waste... (Sometimes, you see a movie and you wonder why someone doesn't get to do more in it. Maybe, the part was underwritten or the meat of the role was left on the cutting room floor. In any event, these people should've had more to work with.)

Monica Bellucci in Spectre
Judy Greer in Ant-Man...and Jurassic World...and Tomorrowland (oh, for fuck's sakes!)
Laura Linney in Mr. Holmes
Bruce McGill and Genesis Rodriguez in Run All Night
Max von Sydow in Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Sigourney Weaver in Chappie

Random thoughts:

- At one point, I thought about that Kevin Hart movie where he helps a dorky white guy by pretending to be something he's not, thereby forging a bromance and freeing him from his ball-busting lady love (played by an actress on a break from her sitcom that flourished on Thursday nights) and how different it was from the other Kevin Hart movie where he helps a dorky white guy by pretending to be something he's not, thereby forging a bromance and freeing him from his ball-busting lady love (played by an actress on a break from her sitcom that flourished on Thursday nights). And who says Hollywood is running out of ideas?

- A Minion in a thong? There is not a punishment violent enough for the person who signed off on that. (And why am I the only person to notice that (however accidentally) the Minions will eventually kill Gru? Seriously. Watch the trailer again. Then watch the Honest Trailer. Notice a pattern developing?)

- Badass Digest described Hot Tub Time Machine 2 as Back to the Future if Biff Tannen were the protagonist. While I liked the film (in spite of universally toxic reviews; seriously, dude at Entertainment Weekly, if this is the worst movie you saw in 2015, you had a charmed year, period), that description still cracks me up.

- Hardly the biggest problem with the sequels, but it still burns my toast that Famke Janssen got to do a grand total of fucking nothing across three Taken movies

- And while I'm venting my spleen about the Taken movies, I know they're not known for their brains, but it truly feels like 3 went out of its way to be moronic. The freeway chase that most certainly resulted in the deaths of innocent motorists was bad enough, but, in the biggest twist for the sake of a twist since Smokin' Aces, it turns out that [SPOILERS, but - like I said around this time last year - who cares?] Stuart masterminded Lenore's murder and the frame-up on Bryan...even though he knew full well what Bryan was willing to do to save Kim not two movies ago. (Also, he takes Kim hostage...yeah.) You see, this is the sort of crap that makes Joe Anybody believe that they can write a movie...and Lord knows I have enough competition.

- Still not sure why Mortdecai needed to be rated R. That bit in the trailer where Mortdecai insisted he didn't need someone to carry his bags because 'I have a bloody manservant.', then makes a 'What's the matter with you?' face at the hotelier cracked me up. In the movie, the line is 'I have a fucking manservant', which would've made a great PG-13 F-bomb moment if it were the only one.

- Speaking of those, the pickings were rather slim compared to those in 2014. Seventh Son had the best one, though there were some decent ones in The MartianSan Andreas and Krampus.

- I'd never been to a drive-in before. There was one close to my house until 2007. Quite a pity that I got my license in 2010. The only drive-in theater in town (a euphemism; it was quite far from my town) was, fortunately, playing Mad Max: Fury Road. I'm sure I'd have enjoyed the film just as much in a traditional theater, but seeing it at a drive-in made for a perfect viewing experience.

- I'm pretty sure this was copyrighted in the mid-2000s by "At the Movies", but still, a Wagging Finger of Shame to Universal Pictures. They've had an almost-unprecedented run of successes this year, some fairly deserved (Jurassic World, Straight Outta Compton) and some far less so (Fifty Shades of Grey, Minions). Sadly, that success did not extend to a wide release for their gangster biopic Legend. Seriously, what is the logic behind this thinking? Moreover, what is the logic behind spending money on a movie, then short-sheeting the promotional push (*coughCrimsonPeakcough*)?

- American Ultra and Victor Frankenstein. A pair of competent-yet-unremarkable genre entries penned by Max Landis. If two movies released in the same year that I wrote went belly up, sure, I'd be upset about it. I'd probably yell, scream, punch a wall, but I sure wouldn't be ignorant enough to vent my spleen online. It's one thing to complain that people ignored your 'stoner Jason Bourne' movie because it wasn't original (enough?), but to build up your other movie while tearing down another (more prestigious) movie from the same studio that released your movie...seriously, is hubris a hereditary trait in the Landis family?

- I said it all over the net, but it still holds true: turning Rusty Griswold into a carbon copy of Clark may have fit Ed Helms like a speedo, but it pisses in the face of everything we know about the character; who wouldn't fight like hell to avoid becoming their father if he was like Clark?

- Briefly about Jem and the Holograms: didn't see the "film" and (even without the toxic reviews or paucity of imagination) I probably wouldn't have anyway (seriously, the current comic is so much better, it's mindblowing), but, in this "movie's" favor, Juliette Lewis. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks that she'd have crushed the role of Pizzazz, once upon a time.

- This doesn't really have anything to do with a specific movie from last year, but since it came from last year and concerns the movies, I think it's fair game. The new Cartoon Network series "We Bare Bears" had an episode called "Shush Ninjas". In it, the bears are hired by a movie theater to keep the moviegoing patrons quiet, but they take it too far. At the end, Grizz gives a stirring speech that speaks to why so many (myself included) endure all the talky, cell phone nonsense of seeing a movie in theaters. Here it is:
"Movies. 'Why movies?', you ask. Why are we here in this dark and kind of smelly room with total strangers? We go to the movies to be a part of something together. Just think of all the memories we've shared; all the times we've spread our imagination wings and allowed ourselves to soar! We've opened our arms to new adventures filled with moments that warmed our hearts. Moments that are windows to our past and help us shape our future. We are these characters. We understand all their imperfections; they love like we love. There's no telling what mysteries will unfold, or who we'll meet along the way. But life is never boring when you go to the movies! In conclusion, who needs a telescope to look at the stars when the stars shine the movies?" Indeed.



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