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Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Top Ten Movie Picks of 2016

Image result for snowden movie poster1. Snowden * * * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "Overall, Snowden is heads and tails above Oliver's box office bomb Alexander, his weak sequel in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and his conventional World Trade Center from a decade ago. It feels like the flick he was born to make." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 61%
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2. The Edge of Seventeen * * * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "Now make no mistake about it, The Edge of Seventeen is not some cutesy high school flick that is deemed appropriate for young teenagers. No this is a darker affair with various sweet moments kind of buried beneath the R-rated raunch and the R-rated angst. The writing is nevertheless crisp, the casting is almost spot-on, and there are some adequate character revelations." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 94%
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3. Sully * * * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "Sully starts out mid-plot, starts out as non-linear, and feels a little draggy (no pun intended). It then turns to aviation while switching into high gear. So far it is one of this year's best films, a harrowing technical achievement, a fascinating recreation of events in the weakest of our economic times." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 85%

Image result for fences 2016 movie poster4. Fences * * * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "Fences is a talky picture, made somewhat for the stage with its extended group scenes and singular moments of standoff violence. Don't shy away though. This is still powerful stuff, with timed acting of the highest order." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 94%
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5. Elvis & Nixon * * * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "Director Liza Johnson (2011's Return) and three screenwriters fashion something whimsical, something special, and something kind of offbeat with Elvis & Nixon. Nothing in frame seems to be taken too seriously." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 76%

6. Don't Breathe * * * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "Don't Breathe is bloodily violent and stomach-turning but not in a demon sort of way. Instead, it absorbs you as if you've been in the theater for 2-plus hours. It's a little movie made on a tiny budget (under $10 million) but it nestles in your brain and has a big chip on its shoulder. If you're a fan of suspense and like simple agog, genre pleasures, "Breathe" is the ticket." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 87%
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7. 10 Cloverfield Lane * * * 1/2 Stars  My quote as a critic: "10 Cloverfield Lane with its bedazzling score, its claustrophobic setting eliminating plenty of storyline holes, and its 1950's bunker overtones, is an effectual, nerve-shredding thriller. It evokes Hitchcock, The Twilight Zone, and doesn't need extra images of monsters to invigorate you, the viewer." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 90%

Image result for war dogs movie poster8. War Dogs * * * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "War Dogs is a step above most cinema endeavors that have hit theaters in the "dog" days of August. Just call director Todd Phillips the surprising lovechild of 90's Scorsese and Andrew Niccol. The only difference is that he is not quite as self-serious." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 60%

9. Hell or High Water * * * Stars
My quote as a critic: "Hell or High Water is familiar stuff. Heck, if you've seen Public EnemiesBanditsPoint Break, or even 1986's Wisdom, you know what you're getting into. Oh well. Director David Mackenzie (SpreadStarred Up) does an admirable job to boot. He creates a world in which "High Water" feels like the type of flick the Coen brothers would have made years ago. It's bullets and blood undercut with a little darkness, a little tongue in cheek humor, and shades of a modern-day Western." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 98%

9. (tie) The Confirmation * * * Stars  My quote as a critic: "The Confirmation despite being a little too dogged and small scale, is still a winner much of the way. With facile chemistry between the leads, it's more entertaining and less arty than most independent flicks." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 91%

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10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story * * * Stars
My quote as a critic: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is sumptuous, gritty, unwashed, and beautiful. It's like cinematic, Empire perfume for it truly stinks pretty. Granted, this isn't a Star Wars endeavor that will bring out the kid in you. This is more attuned to the adult or young adult for that matter." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 85%

Honorable mention: Manchester by the Sea, Bad Moms, Eddie the Eagle, Hacksaw Ridge, Hail, Caesar!, Nerve, The TakeThese are good films that didn't quite make the cut.

And the worst...

1. Undrafted * Star
My quote as a critic: "Undrafted is about a crass, intramural team trying to win a meaningless, seven inning game. Supposedly, it is based on a true story involving the director's brother (John Mazzello). Real-life Johnny boy failed to make the Major League Baseball draft. If this is an admiral tribute to him, well then you can just call me the veritable Cal Ripken Jr." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 17%

2. Precious Cargo * Star
My quote as a critic: "Precious Cargo has villains in it that don't shoot straight, a typecast Bruce Willis who gives yet another ho-hum performance (he seems to play the heavy a lot these days), and tongue-in-cheek interludes that are truly out of sync. Added to that, the acting is beyond poor with shootouts that are stupidly violent." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 0%

3. Exposed * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "When its best performance is given by a washed-up, recluse rapper (Big Daddy Kane), you know the proceedings are in trouble. When its opening sequence takes forever and sets a bad precedent for what lies ahead, you know the proceedings are in trouble. And finally, when its director doesn't want to reveal his (or her) actual name, you know the proceedings are in trouble. Exposed can easily be renamed, Excruciating." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 5%

4. The Darkness * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "The Darkness with a budget of $4 million, is a Poltergeist I and II wannabe, a feeble account of the supernatural. Its director is Wolf Creek's Greg McLean. In between moments of not being able to hold his camera steady, McLean also sets up sequences in which things go bump in the night. It's all for show and not even for effect. He actually tries to frighten his audience by having stuff about demons explained on YouTube (coupled with some standard, background music). Talk about a desperate attempt." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 4%

5. The Boss * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "Edited in a slipshod manner by Craig Alpert (he chopped Ride Along and The Sitter), taking place in Chicago with a lazy, pedestrian-like use of its locales, and containing a scene in which the leads pet each other's breasts for three minutes straight (excruciating), "Boss" is not even offensively funny. It's just plain offensive." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 22%

5. (tie) Blair Witch * 1/2 Stars
My quote as a critic: "So OK, Blair Witch (my latest review) is the direct sequel to The Blair Witch Project. It is made for more money, it is indisputably made to be more modern, and it is more tech-savvy. No matter. 2016's "Witch" lacks the intensity, extremity, and psychological warfare that made 1999's "Project" such a worldwide financial success. It takes the worn out path, reveling in systematic jump scares that are drawn up out of thin air. Translation: "Witch" is sadly, half hitch." Rotten Tomatometer Score: 35%

Written by Jesse Burleson

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