Well, here we are! We’ve come to the end of another year, and the hosts of CinemAbysmal: The Podcast are here to round up their favorites. We’ve included some surprises, like some stuff showed on (gasp) television! Amazing writers and directors are choosing this medium over Hollywood lately, so get over it. Anyway, enjoy the picks and let us know if you agree with the selections or want to let us know about any of yours!
10. Logan Lucky
9. Thor: Ragnarok
8. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
5. Legion (FX)
3. Baby Driver
2. Blade Runner 2049
10. Baby Driver
While I will contend that this film is style packed on to very little substance, the style is enough to carry this fucking joy of a film. Ansel Inglberghumperdink kills it, though every shot looks like a different actor. Wright is the king of this kind of movie and a heist flick is always welcome in the Lemons Casa.
This is a brutal fucking film that takes the Alien film and turns it on its microscopic head. Boasting a boring title and a lackluster ad campaign, this film snuck under many noses as just more space peril, but the stellar cast and nihilistic viewpoint thrive in this earth-shattering, intense horror sci-fi flick.
Sure it is French and not as fucked as we could imagine a French horror being, but the thrill of this film comes from the humanity within it. Focusing on a vet student with a lust for human flesh, we see the making of a monster in her most vulnerable and interesting state: maturation.
7. Logan Lucky
Soderbergh is officially king of making films better than they have to be in this rural heist movie; a genre that produces at least one interesting film a year. The film is funny, inventive, and builds around a story of idiots making smart moves.
Pennywise is back in this 80s remake that feels fresh and new, despite rehashing the same King notes down the line.
5. Kong: Skull Island
A frolicking flick for fans of 70s creature horror and Vietnam action fare. A nice mix of old school fun and new school aesthetics bring out the best in a revival of the Kong series.
4. John Wick 2
Easily the most fun I had watching a film all year. Non-stop action pours out and rubs against your legs in a manner that would be creepy if it weren’t so beautiful.
3. The Bad Batch
KEY-AH-NEW! We get more Keanu as he plays a minor villain (?) in a story of a girl caught between warring factions in a dystopic wasteland. Cast, thrills, and story is a lovely morality tale in a land without morality.
2. Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villanueve fucks us all real hard and good in bringing to life the future of Ridley Scott’s world in a film that is brilliant on its own before blasting your mind brain apart with its connections to the 1985 classic.
1. A Ghost Story
Every couple years comes a film that blows your heart apart and depicts some epiphany about the world around us. It changes the way you speak to your loved ones and the way you see yourself. A Ghost Story is that film 100 times over. A triumph unlike anything else.
Just Missed the Cut:
- Kong: Skull Island
- Wonder Woman
- Thor: Ragnarok
10. The Bad Batch
As far as straight-up coolness goes, no film matched this one in 2017. Between the literal trippy scenes, the music, and the jaw-dropping cinematography, this almost alternate dimension, post-apocalyptic thrill ride is sure to quench any action fiend’s thirst. Plus, Jim Carrey being weird as fuck.
9. Marjorie Prime
Holy shit. This is one crazy good flick. Jon Hamm is a hologram. Tim Robbins is at his best since The Shawshank Redemption. Geena Davis’ performance will tear your heart out. If you’re easily upset by dementia and Alzheimer’s in film, this one will probably get to you. It’s a little too indie to catch any awards action, but if I had a vote, I’d be all over this little wonder.
8. A Ghost Story
Oof. Speaking of having your heart torn out. Yeah, yeah, Casey Affleck is an asshole. Don’t fear, though. He spends most of the film under an actual bed sheet. That is beside the point of this incredible movie, though. Casual movie watchers beware: this is not a horror film. There’s hardly any dialogue for long stretches of time. But what it says about us as humans and the mark we leave on those we love is just heart-wrenching. Absolutely beautiful movie.
7. The Big Sick
I finally got around to watching this movie today after hearing about it nonstop for the last year. Oh man. I really dig Woody Allen films, and though this movie reminded me of Allen’s golden age in the late 70’s, it’s something entirely different. With that signature Apatow feel, this true life story between Nanjiani and wife Emily Gordon is funny as hell at times, and gut-wrenching at others. Also, they could not have gotten a better cast together for this. Zoe Kazan is amazing, Ray Romano is hilarious, Holly Hunter kills it, and god damn. Who knew Kumail Nanjiani could carry a film in a lead role? Also, Michael Fucking Showalter directed this! Looking forward to his new career path. Upsetting to see this got snubbed at the Golden Globes, but I recommend this one for anyone that’s enjoyed any Judd Apatow or Woody Allen films.
6. Legion (FX)
I know. It’s TV. But fuck, watch these 8 ‘episodes’ (creator/god Noah Hawley calls them ‘Chapters’) all together and it’s one of the coolest movies you’ll ever see. Yes, it’s Marvel. But it’s nothing like you’ll ever see in that universe. The music is incredible and the cinematography is one of my favorites in anything that I’ve ever seen. I’m fairly sure I watched the seventh chapter four times, and it’s absolutely thrilling to watch. Speaking of snubs, where the hell is Aubrey Plaza’s nomination? Seriously though, check this out if you haven’t yet. It’s essential.
Wow, man. I waited too long to see this one. I love Westerns, and this – though it’s a Marvel film – is one of the best Westerns I’ve ever seen. There’s no cowboys, but there’s pretty much everything else. I really dig James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and Cop Land, and the Rated R feel is perfect in this. It’s different than Deadpool, as much of this film is not funny at all, but the violence seems to never let up. I think Patrick Stewart delivers one of the best performances of his career, not to mention Hugh Jackman’s stellar and heartfelt spin as Wolverine. I know that Disney just power-grabbed Fox, but I’m really hoping we’ll get more R-rated superhero flicks. We deserve it.
4. Get Out
There’s not much to say about this flick that hasn’t already been said. So instead, I’ll just tell you how it made me feel. I have never been more uncomfortable sitting in a movie theater. At times, Jordan Peele’s funny side shows, but it’s more like nervous laughter than anything else. Peele designed the film this way, knowing white dudes all over the country were going to be watching it. I sunk lower and lower in my chair as the movie progressed, and though the movie isn’t particularly scary, the chills are incredibly effective in other ways. One of the better metaphorical film packages I’ve ever seen. Jordan Peele directing is going to be pretty damn awesome for years.
I really don’t like going to movie theaters, but I couldn’t pass this one up. So I went twice. Pennywise has been in my life since I was a kid, and I just read the book again last summer to refresh myself for the film. Though I like to fantasize what the first part of this two-headed monster could have been with Fukanaga at the helm, I think Muschietti did a damn fine job bringing history’s most horrifying clown to life. One of the most important things to remember with Pennywise is that It is not just a clown. It’s an interdimensional being out of time as we know it, and this film captures that perfectly. Not to mention, holy shit, some of the finest kid acting I’ve ever seen. I love this damn movie and can’t wait for Part Two.
2. Blade Runner 2049
I noticed that all three of us made this our second favorite film of the year. And if it weren’t for the next one, it would have been my favorite by far. I really dig the original movie, but everyone knows that it’s got its share of problems. Not 2049. This movie is perfect in every single way. Gosling was the perfect choice as the lead, his performance muted, yet commanding. Ford is great as an older Deckard, but the performances are just a small part of this gigantic event. The music, cinematography, story – everything is absolute perfection in this. From beginning to end, I was floored in its scope. Villenueve may be the greatest living director we have…but he’ll have to wait for this next guy to leave the throne first.
1. Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime)
It’s not technically a movie. I know. But fuck off. It is filmed like a movie, and it’s the weirdest, most fucked up, absolutely beautiful thing we’re ever going to get in a theater or a television set. I’ve been waiting for a return to Twin Peaks for most of my life (not to mention a return from David Lynch doing anything), and now that I’ve finished this round, I don’t think I could be more satisfied. No, it wasn’t the same Twin Peaks. Like, even a little. But what we got instead was David Lynch free to do whatever the fuck he wanted for 18 hours and it is the most batshit insanity he’s ever produced. It’s violent, maddening, ridiculous, beautiful – just one of the craziest things that has ever been produced in any medium. I love that Showtime did this and hope it opens doors for other creative geniuses. Kyle Maclachlan turns in one of the greatest performances of not just his career, but television and film history as not just Dale Cooper, but three brand new characters. And don’t even get me started on Part Eight. This is the greatest hour I’ve ever seen on television, and may be the best and most Lynch piece that Lynch has done in his illustrious career. Fight me. I could legitimately go on for hours about his glorious cinematic event, and if you know me personally, you’ve probably caught some of it already. I’ll leave it here, though: we’re never going to get anything as insane as this again. So if you get a chance, sit down for a weekend and crush this. It’s the best and craziest “movie” you’ll ever see.
What is ‘Sloppy Saturdays’?
I realized that I own over 300 movies, many of which I have not watched a second time. Whether on Blu-Ray, DVD, or the legendary LaserDisc, I have a lot of films I need to watch again. So, I’ve decided I should probably go through these and justify why I own them, and perhaps, why you should too. I put them all into a database and will randomly mix them up once a week. Come back every Saturday for a new review.
-Nick, Editor of CinemAbysmal
Sloppy Saturdays – Volume Three
Arachnophobia (1990) – Comedy |Thriller
Directed by: Frank Marshall
Starring: Jeff Daniels and John Goodman
Format I Own: LaserDisc
Arachnophobia begins like a lot of other movies in the ’90’s: Big city doctor (Jeff Daniels) moves to a small town with the intention of taking over the town’s only medical practice. Little does he know, a spider-bitten corpse from Venezuela was just dropped off and the carcass brought a huge and aggressive, 8-legged freak with him. Somehow, this baseball mitt-sized tarantula mates with a spider in this tiny farm town, and soon all Gremlinsesque hell breaks loose.
What I Love
I think love might be too strong of a word to describe how I feel about this movie, but I did love it as a kid and it’s definitely got some nostalgic value to it. By no means, though, is it a great movie. The effects are dated, they tried really hard to make it funny, which comes off as unnatural, and it’s hard to have Jeff Daniels carry your movie. Every scene with John Goodman is pretty damn good, but really, there’s not quite enough. The musical score is goofy as all hell, as well. But really, if you saw this as a kid, you’ll probably enjoy it merely for nostalgic reasons like I did.
My Favorite Scene
For almost the entire movie, Marshall and crew dog hard on this couple that really likes food. This guy is the town mortician and is constantly eating Ruffles around the corpses, and at a dinner party, he and his wife take full paper plates of food home. Well, when it’s time for the outbreak of spiders upon the town, one climbs into a disgustingly buttery bowl of popcorn that the portly couple is eating out of while watching Wheel of Fortune. It’s standard ‘it’s funny ’cause he’s fat’ fodder, but I still enjoyed it, especially when the murdering spider crawls out of the mortician’s nose after killing him.
What You Might Not Like
I think based on the title, it’s pretty obvious why a lot of people would not be able to handle this film. From the beginning, the spiders are big, they’re aggressive, and their actions play on everyone’s basic fears of spiders that bite. While watching, I admittedly lifted my feet off the floor a few times in momentary fear of some scuttling beings. They hiss, they jump and fly through the air, they have dripping, black fangs and they really couldn’t be more frightening.
How You Can Watch
- Rent for $2.99 on Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu
Final Score: 2.5/4
Similar Films: Gremlins, The Mist, Eight Legged Freaks
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) – Action | Drama
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Lucas Black and Sung Kang
Review by Eric Scot Lemons
And then there was Tokyo Drift. The Fast & Furious film chronology can easily be split into two parts, best defined by their look. The first three films produced, of which Tokyo Drift is included, are flashy, neon colored affairs that center almost exclusively on bragging rights involved in racing cars. The later three (that I have seen to this point) are hued in metallics and deep blues, focusing on heists and acrobatics. However, due to the strange chronology of the series, the events of Tokyo Drift take place after the events of the sixth film, in which the character Han dies during a car chase. It is all so confusing and stylistically jarring if you are watching the films in the same order as I am.
Story is not this film’s strong point. If you’ve ever seen a film, you have seen this story play out: fish out of water must prove himself. Sean (Lucas Black) is sent to live in Japan with his father, who I assume is in the Navy because every time he is seen, he is wearing a shirt that says “Navy.” He got in trouble for racing in America, so that’s his punishment. He goes to a formal Japanese school where he doesn’t understand the customs or the language and they suck as much “comedy” out of these situations as possible. He meets Twinkie (Bow Wow) and gets introduced to drifting, or sliding your car. He meets Han and they start racing together, and there are a fuckton of training montages, and a hot girl that the bad guy is dating, and there is a final showdown. So yes, you’ve seen this movie before.
This film is definitely the worst of the old school and therefore, the worst of the series. Lucas Black is brought in to be the Paul Walker RIP analog, which I read was the studio’s decision, believing Walker RIP to be too old to continue making F&F movies, but you showed them, right, Paul? RIP. Black has the badass look but is a terrible actor. There are moments when he is telling someone about something and I just am curious why he wants to kick their ass. His tone never matches the scenes. He is full of unnecessary intensity and creepy unmatched goofiness. Bow Wow is clearly a Ludacris analog. And just like the first film, Asians are corrupt as fuck. The only trustworthy people are expats living in Tokyo – including Han – the best motherfucker of all the motherfuckers.
Let’s talk at length about Han, cause he is my favorite subject when it comes to the Fast & Furious films. Sung Kang is such a natural and cool actor that despite being of Korean descent, isn’t a tech genius or a member of the Yakuza, or a martial arts expert. He is just a charming dude making money – which is what doesn’t make sense. Han’s past with the Torretto clan had him raking in millions and millions of dollars in capers, yet he goes to Japan and runs minor scams and skims money from the Yakuza. High risk, low reward type shit you’d think he’d be over.
Also, at the end of the 6th film, we see Han heartbroken over the loss of his love, Gal Gadot. In Japan, he seems carefree and untouched by any trouble ever. Now, I totally understand that the character was given so much more depth in the subsequent films to be produced after TD, but they could have worked harder to mesh these two worlds. Clearly, Justin Lin just loves working with Kang, whom has such an amazing presence in this world. But makes some connections, dude.
Ultimately, the film is flawed due to its title. This is a film focusing on car drifting. Which sounds cool, but after the first time you’ve seen it, you’ve seen the extent of what is going to happen. It is a highly technical racing skill, I am sure, but doesn’t translate well to film. Especially after I just saw F&F 6 in which there are people flying through the fucking air and grabbing love interests before they fall to their death. And this makes the film a strange subject. Like I’ve said, this film should be seen after 6, but really doesn’t fit in with latter F&F flicks. I knew it was going to be bad going in and it was still such a let down, due to what I am used to from Lin & Co. Try to avoid this one, unless you really love Han, or have to witness every piece of Furious lore. But seriously, it isn’t worth it.
The acting is phenomenal. Hugh Jackman gives it his all in his 10th (and apparently last) credit playing Wolverine. What a ride it’s been. From his ridiculous jumping from a car onto a helicopter in slow motion film, to this raw heart wrenching portrait of a man who has seen some shit go down and is kind of ready for it all to end.
The latest Chloë Grace Moretz type to tackle the big screen is Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, a mini me version of the Wolverine with steel claws in her hands and feet. She doesn’t say cunt or anything like that, but she does kick ass. She also packs a much more serious punch, killing more than twenty people before we even hear her speak a word.
Patrick Stewart is back possibly for the last time as well as Charles Xavier, who has recently done something terrible, is losing his mind, and is suffering from seizures. Logan works to keep Charles hidden away in a water tank in Mexico, shooting him up with seizure medication to make sure he doesn’t accidentally paralyze the world with one of his super earthquake seizure things. Stewart oddly enough adds a lot of comedy to the movie. The audience has grown up with Xavier, watching him learn to control his powers in previous films, build his school and train the X-Men, and now we watch him decay into an old man with a brain problem. He’s tired, needs Logan to help him pee, wants to take advantage of a nice family’s hospitality and endanger them for a night, likens himself to a box of avocados, and watches old westerns with Laura. Stewart makes the movie funny, sad, but mostly endearing.
Overall Logan is a strange, but wonderful movie to experience. As long as the audience doesn’t go in expecting to see another X-Men movie, I think most will leave the theater entirely pleased with the end of Wolverine’s story.
Get Out (2017) – Horror | Comedy | Thriller
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams
How I Watched: Theatres
Review by Nick Spanjer
Here’s the thing about the first big horror movie of 2017: it is not that scary. Now before you turn away from this review, know that I loved the film. While each trailer wraps it in a pretty horrific little bow, the truth is, the film is more of a psychological clusterbomb, meant to fuck with the heads of the droves of white audiences filing in to see it. I know you’re thinking, “Oh man, Jordan Peele just made a movie to rip on Trump voters?,” but, no.
The smartest part of Get Out, was not that it rips on Trump, Trump voters, or even white people in general. What the movie actually does is firebomb the white, liberal elite; those same ones that were sure Hillary Clinton had the election in the bag. At one point, a terrific Bradley Whitford, who plays main character Chris’ girlfriend’s father, tells Chris that if he could have, he would have voted for Obama a third time. This sort of forced validation with the “black” community that Chris represents shows how out of touch these people really are.
I’m not going to go too much further into the plot, but what I can tell you, is that this movie definitely did its job in making me horribly uncomfortable. Being a white liberal, I could just feel the awkwardness of Bradley Whitford and his wife (played by an awesomely creepy Catherine Keener) almost giving each other pats on the back of how accepting they are of their white daughter’s new black boyfriend. The musical score does its job to inflict unease (with the exception of one over-the-top section at the end of the film), but the most discomfort is caused by the characters’ interactions. While there are plenty of classically tense “horror” moments in this, these moments are the most uncomfortable. And trust me, there are plenty of them.
I think my favorite performance in the film came from Caleb Landry Jones, the brother of Chris’ girlfriend. From the get-go, you can tell the character is off his rocker and it is one of the more well-acted pieces in the film. There is a dinner scene in which I was sinking further and further into my chair as the tension built. There are also moments which made me think of films like Rosemary’s Baby and Under the Skin, where the movie almost descends into a dreamlike abyss, causing you to feel the worst case of inescapability. At one point, Chris is hypnotized and his state of claustrophobia was nearly infectious upon me.
Get Out is not a horror movie in the classic sense. Yes, there are jump scares and there is some pretty gruesome violence. In all reality though, this is Jordan Peele’s living nightmare on film. He took what he saw was happening in our country and all over the world, and made it into a film. Our world has become a pretty horrific place for a lot of us, and there are funny moments, as well as really uncomfortable ones. We do not treat each other right, and we have not been treating each other right for a long time. This is the movie that shows us just how awful it has gotten – and that is the most horrific part of Get Out.
Final Score: 3.5/4
Similar Films: Rosemary’s Baby, Green Room, The Stepford Wives