Saturday, December 31, 2016


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"It's not easy for me to admit that I've been standing in the same place for 18 years!" "Well, I've been standing with you! I've been right here with you, Troy! I got a life too! I gave 18 years of my life to stand in the same spot as you!" That's an excerpt of a brutally honest & intense argument between Denzel Washington & Viola Davis in Fences, one of the best-acted films of the year. The film is based on the 1983 play of the same name by August Wilson. Set in 1950's Pittsburgh, Washington plays Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball player who now works as a trash collector, alongside his friend, Jim Bono (played by Stephen McKinley Henderson). Troy believes it was the fact that he was black that he never made it to Major League Baseball, but it was really because of his age. Troy lives with his wife, Rose (played by Viola Davis), & his son, Cory (played by Jovan Adepo). Troy's brother, Gabriel (played by Mykelti Williamson) lives close by, but suffers from a mental disability caused by a head injury during World War II. Also, Troy's son from a previous relationship, Lyons (played by Russell Hornsby), stops by infrequently to borrow money from Troy, which upsets Troy, as he believes Lyons should get a real job instead of being a musician.

One day, Cory gets scouted by a college football team, much to Troy's dismay, as he doesn't want to see Cory fail like he did, but he also doesn't want his son to be more successful than him at sports. But this is only the first of many pitfalls, as Troy has been hiding a huge secret, a secret that could lead to his downfall.

The cast is phenomenal. Denzel Washington's direction is excellent. August Wilson's screenplay is a flawless adaptation of his play. The cinematography from Charlotte Bruus Christensen is amazing. The film editing by Hughes Winborne is excellent. The costume design by Sharen Davis is amazing. The production design by David Gropman is excellent. And the film score by Marcelo Zavros is beautiful. This is an excellent adaptation of one of the greatest American plays.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Every night, I imagine that I'm walking those streets home, & I know every step of the way, & I whisper in her ear, 'I'm here.' " That's an emotional quote from Dev Patel in Lion, an absolutely amazing film. The film is based on the 2012 book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, which was based on his true story. Patel portrays Brierley (also portrayed as a child by Sunny Pawar), who was born in India. In 1986, at the age of 5, Saroo went with his older brother, Guddu (played by Abhishek Bharate) to go from their village of Ganesh Talai to a nearby city to help lift bales of hay. That night, Saroo falls asleep at a train station in the nearby city, while Guddu went to check on the worksite, saying he'll be right back. After waking up, he is alone, & he goes on a train, believing Guddu is on it. He falls asleep on the train, & when he wakes up, he finds himself on a train, from which he can't escape. He ends up in Calcutta, 1,000 miles away from home. When he gets there, he can't communicate with anyone (Saroo speaks Hindi, Calcutta is mostly Bengali-speaking), & he ends up at an orphanage. Although they have put him as missing in a newspaper that reaches 15 million people, no one has replied. Believing that he won't be reunited with his family, they arrange for him to be adopted by an Australian couple, John (played by David Wenham) & Sue (played by Nicole Kidman) Brierley, who live in Hobart, Tasmania.

25 years later, Saroo is a fluent English speaker with an Australian accent, about to go into hotel management. At a seminar, he meets Lucy (played by Rooney Mara), whom he becomes smitten with. After the seminar, Saroo & Lucy go to a party, where a few other people from the seminar, some Indian, have gone to. At the party, he says at first that he was from Calcutta, but then tells them his story. One person there mentions Google Earth, a new site at-the-time allowing people to search the world through satellite images, & suggests using it to find his hometown & search his way back from Calcutta to Ganesh Talai through all of the train routes out of Calcutta. Saroo then embarks on a search for his way back home, spending hours trying to find his way home.

The cast is spectacular, with Patel's performance being his best yet. Garth Davis's direction is phenomenal. Luke Davies's screenplay is brilliant. The film editing by Alexandre de Franceschi is excellent. The cinematography by Greig Fraser is astounding. And the film score by Dustin O'Halloran & Hauschka is amazing. This is one of the year's best films.


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy." That's an iconic quote from Natalie Portman in Jackie, an absolutely amazing biopic. Portman portrays First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who is reeling after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in Dallas on November 22, 1963. She reflects back on her time in the White House in an interview with Life magazine journalist Theodore H. White (played by Billy Crudup). She also looks to her brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy (played by Peter Sarsgaard), & her secretary, Nancy Zuckerman (played by Greta Gerwig) for guidance. She is also struggling to plan the funeral & wondering how to tell her children, Caroline & John Jr., that their father is dead. During this time, she also has a crisis of faith, & wonders how her husband will be remembered.

The cast is great, with Portman giving one of the best performances of the year. Pablo Larraín's direction is phenomenal (with this being his first English-language film). Noah Oppenheim's screenplay is brilliant. The film editing by Sebastián Sepúlveda is excellent. The cinematography by Stéphane Fontaine is absolutely breathtaking. The production design by Jean Rabasse is beautiful. The costume design by Madeline Fontaine is amazing. And the film score by Mica Levi is excellent. This is definitely one of the year's best films, an absolute masterpiece about one of the most influential people in our country's history.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

La La Land

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"That's L.A. They worship everything & value nothing." That's an awesome quote from Ryan Gosling in La La Land, the greatest film musical ever made. Gosling plays Sebastian Wilder, a jazz musician. During a traffic jam, he meets Mia Dolan (played by Emma Stone), a struggling actress/barista. After that, they begin to run into each other at various places, including the club that Sebastian works at, Mia's coffee shop & at a party where Sebastian is the keyboardist for a 1980's cover band. This eventually leads to them going on a date, where Sebastian & Mia talk about their hopes & dreams, leading to romance. Sebastian is eventually asked by a high school classmate, Keith (played by John Legend), to be the keyboardist in his jazz band, to which he accepts. Also, Mia is working on a one-woman play, So Long, Boulder City. But Sebastian & Mia's dreams that they have worked so hard for are threatening to tear apart their budding romance.

The cast is spectacular, with Gosling & Stone looking like definite locks for Oscar nominations. Damien Chazelle's direction & screenplay is phenomenal. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is absolutely breathtaking. The film editing by Tom Cross is amazing. The production design by David Wasco is beautiful. The costume design by Mary Zophres is excellent. The sound editing & sound mixing are excellent. And Justin Hurwitz's film score & original songs are some of the best in film history. This is the best film of the year so far.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Rebellions are built on hope." That's a great quote from Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, an excellent spinoff of the Star Wars saga. Jones plays Jyn Erso, whose mother was killed when she was a child, & her father, Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen), was taken away by Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn) to work on the Death Star, leaving her to be raised by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker). Fifteen years later, Jyn is released from Imperial captivity by the Rebels, who want her to track down Galen, telling her they will extract him; however, they secretly plan to kill him in order to stop the Death Star's completion.

Jyn, Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna), & K-2SO (played by Alan Tudyk) travel to Jedha, where the Empire is mining crystals to power the Death Star. On Jedha, they find Gerrera, who shows Jyn a hologram from Galen, who tells Jyn that he has secretly made a flaw in the Death Star's construction, allowing it to be destroyed. He says that the blueprints for the Death Star on the planet Scarif. Jyn, along with Cassian, K-2SO, Chirrut Îmwe (played by Donnie Yen), Bodhi Rook (played by Riz Ahmed), & Baze Malbus (played by Jiang Wen), devise a plan to steal the Death Star's blueprints to give to the Rebellion to stop the Empire, but the Empire will stop at nothing to stop them.

The cast is excellent, especially Jones. Gareth Edwards's direction is excellent. Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy's screenplay is great. The editing by John Gilroy, Colin Goudie & Jabez Olsen is amazing. The cinematography by Greig Fraser is amazing. The score by Michael Giacchino is absolutely brilliant. And the visual effects are nothing short of astounding. This is one of the best films in the Star Wars franchise.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Miss Sloane

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"It's about making sure you surprise them, & they don't surprise you." That's an amazing quote by Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, the most important film of the year. Chastain portrays Elizabeth Sloane, a political lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Known for cunning tactics, Sloane will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She works at a lobbying firm led by George Dupont (played by Sam Waterston), who is against a bill that requires strengthened background checks for gun purchases. Sloane is met by Dupont & a member of the gun lobby, who want her to go against the bill, to which Sloane declines. Sloane is then met by Rodolfo Schmidt (played by Mark Strong), president of Peterson Wyatt, another lobbying firm. Schmidt wants Sloane to help support the bill, to which Sloane agrees. Sloane quits Dupont's firm, taking several of their members with her, causing infuriation from Dupont & Pat Connors (played by Michael Stuhlbarg), a colleague of Sloane's. Sloane must now try to get 60 senators to support the bill, but a Congressional hearing about her tactics threatens to destroy her reputation & the bill.

The cast is excellent, especially Chastain, who gives one of the best performances of the year. John Madden's direction is amazing, with this being his best film yet. Jonathan Perera's screenplay is brilliant. And the editing by Alexander Berner is excellent. This is the most important film of the year, as we are now in a country where politics is corrupt & diabolical, especially after this election.

Office Christmas Party

★★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Did you rent a live baby?" "It's cheaper than you think." That's a hilarious excerpt of a conversation between Jason Bateman & T.J. Miller in Office Christmas Party, the funniest Christmas comedy in a long time. Bateman plays Josh Parker, a Chief Technical Officer at the Chicago branch of Zenotek, a technology company. Zenotek is failing, causing CEO Carol Vanstone (played by Jennifer Aniston) to come in to the branch, run by her brother, Clay (played by T.J. Miller), whom she holds resentment towards, believing their father favored Clay over her. She is threatening to close down the branch unless they can secure a partnership with finance tycoon Walter Davis (played by Courtney B. Vance). Josh & Clay, along with tech head Tracey Hughes (played by Olivia Munn), go to talk with Davis, who turns down their offer. After this, in order to save their branch, they decide to invite Davis to the company's Christmas party that night, to which Davis agrees to attend.

The Christmas party is extremely expensive, much to the chagrin of Human Resources head Mary Winetoss (played by Kate McKinnon). The party is a failure, at first, even with Chicago Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler (played by himself) at the party. However, after an incident where Walter is doused with cocaine that was accidentally put into a snow machine, the party goes insanely out of control. Now, as more & more people come to the party, & as the party gets more out of control, Josh, Clay & Tracey must try to strike a deal with an extremely cocaine-addled Davis, & keep the party under control.

The cast is absolutely hilarious, especially Kate McKinnon, who is one of the funniest comediennes out there today. Josh Gordon & Will Speck's direction is great. The screenplay by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, Timothy Dowling, Justin Malen, Laura Solon & Dan Mazer is great, filled with hilarious lines. While it does have some cliches, it's still one of the funniest films of the year.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Manchester by the Sea

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I can't beat it. I can't beat it. I'm sorry." That's an emotionally devastating quote from Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea, the greatest film of the year so far. Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a janitor & handyman in the Boston suburb of Quincy. He is emotionally distant, & likes to get into bar fights. One day, he gets a call saying that his brother, Joe (played by Kyle Chandler), has suffered a heart attack. Lee makes it to the hospital... an hour after Joe passed away. Lee returns to his North Shore hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea to take care of his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (played by Lucas Hedges), but is shocked to discover that Joe has named him Patrick's guardian. While in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Lee runs into his ex-wife, Randi (played by Michelle Williams), & must re-encounter a horrible tragedy that forced him to move out of the town & changed his life forever.

The cast is nothing short of spectacular, with Affleck, Williams, & Hedges all looking like locks for Oscar nominations. Kenneth Lonergan's direction & screenplay is perfectly understated & feels so undeniably real. The cinematography by Jody Lee Lipes is astounding. The editing by Jennifer Lame is amazing. And the film score by Lesley Barber is absolutely beautiful. This is one of the 10 best films I've ever seen, & it's a cinematic experience you will never forget.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I still got a long walk ahead of me." That's a great quote from Joe Alwyn in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, a brilliant film about the cost of war. The film is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Ben Fountain. Set in 2004, Alwyn plays Billy Lynn, a soldier serving in the Iraq War, who has become famous for a video that showed him saving his troop from a battle in Iraq. Billy & his troop are celebrated as heroes & are sent back to the United States for a victory tour, culminating in a halftime show featuring Destiny's Child during a Thanksgiving Day NFL game in Dallas. While home, he reunites with his family; however, his sister, Kathryn (played by Kristen Stewart) is upset, knowing he will return to Iraq after the victory tour, & she tries to get him to open up, but Billy says that he is fine.

During the victory tour, the troop, led by Sgt. David Dime (played by Garrett Hedlund), also buries their former leader, Virgil "Shroom" Breem (played by Vin Diesel), the only member of the troop they couldn't save. At the game, they are met by Albert (played by Chris Tucker), an agent who is trying to get a film made about the troop, & by team owner Norm Oglesby (played by Steve Martin). Billy also falls in love with Faison Zorn (played by Makenzie Leigh), a team cheerleader. During the game, Billy has flashbacks about the war, & realizes the tragic truth of war, not just on the battlefield, but at home as well.

The cast was excellent, especially newcomer Joe Alwyn. Ang Lee's direction is amazing, with this being one of his best films yet. Jean-Christophe Castelli's screenplay is excellent. John Toll's cinematography is stunning. And Tim Squyres' editing is great. This is one of the best films of the year, showing the sad truth of what happens when our veterans come back home, for we praise them when they're fighting a war, but when they come home, we don't do enough for them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Nocturnal Animals

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"You know me. I never sleep." That's a dark quote from Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals, one of the best thrillers of the century. The film is based on the 1993 novel Tony & Susan by Austin Wright. Adams plays Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner in Los Angeles. Her life seems perfect with her husband, Hutton (played by Armie Hammer), but things are not what they seem. Susan's life is troubled, Hutton is cheating on her, & Susan's first husband, Edward Sheffield (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) has sent her a manuscript of his new book, Nocturnal Animals, the title being very familiar to Susan, as Edward used to call her a "nocturnal animal."

The book tells the story of Tony Hastings (also played by Jake Gyllenhaal), whose family is disturbingly harassed & attacked by three troublemakers during a night road trip in West Texas: Ray Marcus (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson); Lou (played by Karl Glusman); & Turk (played by Robert Aramayo). Tony's wife, Laura (played by Isla Fisher), & his daughter, India (played by Ellie Bamber) are viciously raped & killed by the three troublemakers. Tony becomes guilt-ridden after this, & seeks help from Det. Bobby Andes (played by Michael Shannon) to get vicious revenge against the killers.

Susan, disturbed by the content of the novel, has flashbacks about her relationship with Edward, falling in love with him at first sight, despite her mother, Anne Sutton (played by Laura Linney) asking Susan not to marry her, warning that the things she loves about him now are what she will hate later. Susan goes on with the marriage anyway. But Susan does something that will change everything.

The cast is spectacular, especially Michael Shannon, who is the best actor out there today. Tom Ford's direction & screenplay is brilliant, building off of his brilliant filmmaking debut, 2009's A Single Man. Joan Sole's editing is excellent. Seamus McGarvey's cinematography is amazing, with a series of excellent shots of the wide-open Texas landscape & the Los Angeles skyline. The costume design, production design, & makeup & hairstyling are all excellent. And Abel Korzeniowski's dark & disturbing film score is nothing short of excellent. This is one of the best films of the year.

Monday, November 28, 2016


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Tell the judge I love my wife." That's a heartbreakingly beautiful quote from Joel Edgerton in Loving, one of the year's best & most powerful films. The film is based on the true story of Richard & Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were involved in the 1967 court case Loving v. Virginia, which declared interracial marriage bans to be unconstitutional. Set in 1958 Caroline County, Virginia, Edgerton plays Richard Loving, a white man, who when his girlfriend, Mildred Jeter (played by Ruth Negga), a black woman gets pregnant, they decide to get married in Washington, D.C., because Virginia is one of 24 states in the country at the time that has banned interracial marriage. After their marriage in Washington, D.C., they return to Virginia, where Richard builds a house for him, Mildred, & their child just a few blocks from Mildred's family home.

One night, in their sleep, the police raids the Lovings' home & arrest them both. Richard points to their marriage license, but it is not valid in Virginia. They plead guilty & are sentenced to one year in prison, but their sentence is suspended provided that they cannot return to Virginia for 25 years. Because of this, they move to Washington, D.C. to live with an old friend of Mildred's. However, they return to have Richard's mother, a midwife, deliver Mildred's child; once again, they are arrested, but are freed again after their lawyer reveals he told them they could go back.

After returning to Washington, D.C. with their three children, Mildred becomes disillusioned with living in the city & longs for returning to the countryside, so she writes a letter to then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who refers her to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who then asks lawyer Bernie Cohen (played by Nick Kroll) to take the case. Cohen quickly concludes that the case could go to the Supreme Court, & it could overturn all interracial marriage bans across the country. On Cohen's advice, Richard, Mildred, & their three children quietly return to Virginia in a rural area of King & Queen County.

The case gains wide attention, namely from Life magazine, who sends photographer Grey Villet (played by Michael Shannon) who comes to take pictures of the Lovings for the magazine. This gives more attention to the case, & in 1967, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous landmark decision, decided in favor of the Lovings, declaring interracial marriage bans to be unconstitutional.

A post-credit reveals that only eight years after the case was decided, in 1975, Richard Loving was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. Mildred never remarried, & continued to live in the house that Richard built for her until her death in 2008. In an interview shortly before her death, Mildred said this about her husband: "I miss him. He took care of me."

The cast is spectacular, with Edgerton & Negga possibly receiving Oscar nominations for their performances, & Kroll excelling in a dramatic performance, in a huge departure from his comedic roles on TV series such as The League & Kroll Show. Jeff Nichols' direction & screenplay is amazing, solidifying his place as one of the best directors of the 21st century after directing films such as 2007's Shotgun Stories, 2011's Take Shelter, 2012's Mud, & 2016's Midnight Special. This is the most important film of the year.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rules Don't Apply

★★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"You're an exception. The rules don't apply to you." That's a great quote from Alden Ehrenreich in Rules Don't Apply, one of the best comedies of the year. Set in 1958 Los Angeles, Ehrenreich portrays Frank Forbes, a religious conservative driver for Marla Mabrey (played by Lily Collins), a devout Baptist beauty queen from Virginia. After many failed screen tests, & after Marla's mother, Lucy (played by Annette Bening) goes back to Virginia, Frank & Marla fall in love, but since Frank works for Howard Hughes (played by Warren Beatty), he cannot date Marla because anyone who works for Hughes who dates an actress under contract will be fired, & also, Frank has a fiancée, Sarah (played by Taissa Farmiga). However, Frank & Marla frequently see each other in secret.

Meanwhile, Hughes has had some financial trouble. He's in debt, he's being told to sell his airline company, & he's said some odd things & forgotten some stuff, & is in danger of being sent to a mental hospital. In order to not be sent to the mental hospital, he must get married. And after an incident with Marla, things begin to unravel for everyone.

The ensemble cast is great. Warren Beatty's direction & screenplay is great, marking his first film that he's directed since 1998's Bulworth. The cinematography by Caleb Deschanel is excellent. And the costume design, production design & makeup & hairstyling are all amazing. While it does hit a few bumps in the middle of the film, it is still a great return to form for Warren Beatty.

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Merlin's beard!" That brilliant quote that's been told time & time again is now said by Eddie Redmayne in Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, an excellent spinoff of the Harry Potter franchise. Set in 1926, Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, a Hogwarts alumnus interested in magical beasts traveling to New York on his way to Arizona. While in New York, he hears a woman named Mary Lou Barebone (played by Samantha Morton), a No-Maj (American Muggle) speak about how dangerous witches & wizards are. Distracted by this, a beast called a Niffler sneaks out of his magical suitcase, & in the confusion of trying to find it, a No-Maj named Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler) mistakenly walks away with Newt's suitcase. Because Newt is an unregistered wizard, he is arrested by former Auror Tina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston), hoping to get her former position back. However, Seraphina Picquery (played by Carmen Ejogo), President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), & Auror Percival Graves (played by Colin Farrell) dismiss the case.

After Jacob discovers the beasts in Newt's suitcase, Newt & Tina find them & take him to the house of Tina's sister, Queenie (played by Alison Sudol), who is a Legilimens (she can read minds). Queenie & Jacob become instantly attracted to one another; however wizards & No-Majs cannot get married or interact with each other.

Meanwhile, strange incidents occur around New York, believed to be caused by an Obscurus, a dark force created by children forced to conceal their magical powers. Graves visits Creedence Barebone (played by Ezra Miller), Mary Lou's adopted son, & offers to free him from Mary Lou in exchange for helping find the Obscurus. After a Senator is killed, Newt is believed to be the Obscurus, & both him & Tina are sentenced to death by MACUSA; however, they escape, & it's now up to them, along with Jacob & Queenie to stop these events.

The acting is great, especially Dan Fogler's performance. David Yates's direction is great, along with J.K. Rowling's screenplay. The cinematography by Philippe Rousselot is wonderful. The film score by James Newton Howard is excellent. And the costume design, production design & makeup & hairstyling are all amazing. This is an excellent rebirth of the Harry Potter franchise.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Edge of Seventeen

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"There are two types of people in the world: the people who radiate confidence & naturally excel at life, & the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion." That's a hilariously true quote from Hailee Steinfeld in The Edge of Seventeen, one of the best coming-of-age films of the century. Steinfeld plays Nadine, a teenager who is a complete outcast at her high school. However, her older brother Darian (played by Blake Jenner) is one of the most popular students at her high school. Nadine has had a rough life: her father died of a heart attack right in front of her at the age of 13, & her mother, Mona (played by Kyra Sedgwick) has always favored Darian over Nadine. But through all of this, Nadine has always had her best friend, Krista (played by Haley Lu Richardson) by her side, at least until Nadine catches Darian & Krista having sex. Nadine is upset at Krista for this, & as their friendship starts to fall apart, Nadine's life also starts to fall apart as well. But when she strikes up a friendship with a socially awkward teen named Erwin (played by Hayden Szeto), along with being guided by her brutally honest history teacher (played by Woody Harrelson), Nadine starts to realize that things may not be so bad after all.

The cast is absolutely stunning, with Steinfeld building on the promise of a great film career that started with her amazing Oscar-nominated performance in 2010's True Grit, & Harrelson giving one of his greatest performances ever. The direction & screenplay from first-time director Kelly Fremon Craig is nothing short of wonderful. This film perfectly captures teenage life in the 21st century, & I can really relate to this, & many of my friends can relate to this as well. It is both a hilarious comedy & a heartfelt drama. This is a coming-of-age classic, along with The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Heathers, Say Anything..., American Pie, Ghost World, Juno, & The Spectacular Now.

(One last note: Why did the MPAA give an R rating to a film that's perfect for teenagers? This film is so relatable to teenagers in high school. There's next to nothing in it that should make it R-rated. This film should be required viewing for teenagers).

Sunday, November 13, 2016


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?" That's a brilliant quote from Amy Adams in Arrival, an awe-inspiring sci-fi masterpiece. The film is based on the 1998 short story Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang. Adams portrays Dr. Louise Banks, a renowned linguist. Banks is haunted by the past memories of her daughter, who recently passed away from cancer. Due to her translation skills, she is selected by Col. Weber (played by Forest Whitaker) to go to Montana to help communicate with an extraterrestrial spacecraft (nicknamed "Shell"), one of 12 that have landed on Earth. Also selected to help is Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist. 

After first contact with the aliens (nicknamed Heptapods for their seven arms) come to the realization that communicating with the Heptapods through spoken language is impossible, so they then try to communicate through written language. The aliens' written language is composed of circular symbols, which proves complex when the aliens create a message that sends many of the countries into a panic.

The cast, especially Adams, was amazing. Denis Villeneuve's direction is absolutely amazing, with this being his best film yet, even better than 2013's Prisoners & 2015's Sicario. Eric Heisserer's screenplay is excellent. The film editing by Joe Walker is astonishing. The film score by Jóhann Jóhannson is excellent. The cinematography by Bradford Young is breathtaking. The sound mixing & sound editing is brilliant. And the visual effects are eye-opening. This is the year's best film so far, & years from now, this will be considered to be one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time, along with 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, Blade Runner, & The Terminator.


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I'm me, man. I ain't trying to be nothing else." That's a brilliant quote from Trevante Rhodes in Moonlight, the best independent film of the year so far. The film is based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Rhodes portrays adult Chiron, AKA "Black" (also portrayed as a child by Alex Hibbert & as a teen by Ashton Sanders), whose life is chronicled from childhood to adulthood in Miami. As a child, Chiron is nicknamed "Little" due to his meek personality & small size. As a child, he meets Juan (played by Mahershala Ali), who takes Chiron in for a night at his house with his girlfriend, Teresa (played by Janelle Monáe). Juan advises Chiron to make a plan for himself for the future. After staying with them for the night, Chiron is taken back to his house, where he is greeted by his crack-addicted emotionally abusive mother, Paula (played by Naomie Harris). The only real friend Chiron has is Kevin (played as a child by Jaden Piner, as a teen by Jharrel Jerome, & as an adult by André Holland), who he becomes attracted to as a teen. Chiron must learn to put everything in perspective & figure out his life.

The cast, mostly composed of unknown actors, save for Harris, Ali & Monáe, is amazing. Barry Jenkins' direction is absolutely spectacular. The screenplay by Jenkins & McCraney is amazing. The cinematography by James Laxton is absolutely astounding, with the camerawork perfectly showing the urban landscape of Miami. The editing by Nat Sanders & Joi McMillon is excellent. And the film score by Nicholas Britell is amazing. This is one of the year's best films.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Help me get one more. Help me get one more." That's an amazing & emotional quote from Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge, one of the best war films in recent memory. The film is based on the true story of Pvt. Desmond Doss, who saved 75 lives during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II without holding a gun. Garfield portrays Doss, who grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, with his brother, Hal (played by Nathaniel Buzolic) & his parents, Bertha (played by Rachel Griffiths) & Tom (played by Hugo Weaving), who is an abusive alcoholic, never getting over the deaths of his childhood friends in World War I. After almost hitting his brother in a play fight with a brick as a kid, Desmond's religious beliefs are reinforced, especially in the Sixth Commandment: "Thou shalt not kill." Years later, Doss is now in his late-teens, & becomes smitten with a nurse, Dorothy Schutte (played by Teresa Palmer). 

After Hal enlists in the Army, Desmond enlists as well. Since he is a conscientious objector due to his Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs, Desmond enlists as a medic. At basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, under the command of Sgt. Howell (played by Vince Vaughn), Desmond becomes an outcast because of his refusal to carry a gun nor train on Saturdays, as that is the Sabbath for Seventh-Day Adventists. After several setbacks, including an arrest for insubordination due to his refusal to carry a gun, Desmond is eventually allowed to go into battle without a firearm. He is then sent to Okinawa, where he saves 75 lives, some who were close to death.

The cast was superb. Mel Gibson's direction was spectacular, along with the screenplay by Andrew Knight & Robert Schenkkan. The editing by John Gilbert is excellent. The cinematography by Simon Duggan is amazing. The film score by Rupert Gregson-Williams is excellent. And the battle scenes are some of the best ever in film. This is definitely one of the year's best films.

Doctor Strange

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I don't know what my future holds. But I can't go back." That's an awesome quote from Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange, one of Marvel's best & most visually-stunning films. Cumberbatch plays Dr. Stephen Strange, a New York neurosurgeon with a pristine track record & an inflated ego. One night, he gets in a car accident, causing him to lose the use of his hands. Although his friend/ex-lover Christine Palmer (played by Rachel McAdams) tries to help him move on, Strange tries to pursue experimental surgeries, all to no avail. 

After learning of Jonathan Pangborn (played by Benjamin Bratt), a paraplegic who was suddenly healed, Strange visits Pangborn, & is sent to Kamar-Taj, a place in Kathmandu, Nepal. When Strange arrives there, he is taken in by a sorcerer, Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), & is introduced to The Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton), who teaches Strange of other dimensions. Strange begs her to teach him, to which The Ancient One agrees, despite his arrogance, reminding her of a failed former student of hers, Kaecilius (played by Mads Mikkelsen). After learning, & eventually perfecting his sorcery, along with the help of master Wong (played by Benedict Wong), Kaecilius & his zealots summon the evil & powerful Dormammu, Strange must defeat them all & send them back into the Dark Dimension.

The cast is excellent. The direction from Scott Derrickson is superb, along with the screenplay from Derrickson, Jon Spaihts & C. Robert Cargill. The visual effects are mind-blowing, with the effects similar to those of The Matrix & Inception, creating effects that are, for the lack of a better term, "trippy." And the soundtrack is amazing, especially the use of Chuck Mangione's 1977 jazz classic, Feels So Good. This is one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I've been defending my right to stand up against someone who wants to pervert the truth." That's a powerful quote from Rachel Weisz in Denial, one of the best films of the year. The film is based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier by Deborah E. Lipstadt. Weisz portrays Lipstadt, a historian at Emory University in Atlanta in 1994. During an event where she is speaking, Lipstadt is confronted by noted Holocaust denier David Irving (played by Timothy Spall), who says that the reason Lipstadt doesn't debate with Holocaust deniers is that she can't because she could learn some "facts". Two years later, Lipstadt is sued in London by Irving for libel, claiming that Lipstadt's labeling of Irving as a "falsifier of truth" in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust is untrue. Irving files the lawsuit in London because unlike the United States, where the libel laws state that the accuser must prove the accused were libelous, the United Kingdom's libel laws state the exact opposite: the accused must prove that the accuser's accusations are untrue. Now, Lipstadt, along with her legal team, including Richard Rampton (played by Tom Wilkinson) & Anthony Julius (played by Andrew Scott) must prove that Irving was falsifying the truth.

The cast was excellent, especially Wilkinson, who is one of my 3 favorite actors of all time, & Spall, who is one of the best British actors of his generation. The direction from Mick Jackson is excellent, along with David Hare's screenplay. And Howard Shore's film score is amazing. This is definitely one of the most important films of the year.

American Pastoral

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I raised her the way I thought best." That's an emotionally devestating quote from Ewan McGregor in American Pastoral, the greatest & most underrated film of the year so far. The film is based on the 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Philip Roth. McGregor plays Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete at Weequahic High School in Newark, New Jersey in the 1940's. His nickname, "Swede", came from his Scandinavian looks, an anomaly in his Jewish family. He was a hero in his predominantly Jewish neighborhood, especially to Nathan Zuckerman (played by David Strathairn), who narrates the film. After World War II, he marries Dawn Dwyer (played by Jennifer Connelly), a former Miss New Jersey. They then move to the suburb of Old Rimrock, & have a daughter, Meredith (played by Dakota Fanning), who has an extremely debilitating stutter. Also, Seymour runs a successful glove manufacturing company in Newark, with help from his secretary, Vicky (played by Uzo Aduba). Everything is going great for Seymour, Dawn, & Meredith. They are living the perfect American life.

Eventually, things change. It's the 1960's. The country is in the midst of the Vietnam War, & racial unrest is occurring in Newark's inner-city. But the biggest problem is Meredith, who has become involved with a Weather Underground-esque group, & hates both Seymour & Dawn. Eventually, as she disappears, the post office in Old Rimrock is bombed, killing one person. As the authorities start to investigate her disappearance & her alleged involvement in the bombing, Seymour's life starts to fall apart, making him wonder if everything was perfect in the first place.

The cast was spectacular, especially Fanning, whose role is so different from her previous roles in her childhood, & Strathairn, who has always been an excellent & underrated actor. McGregor's direction is perfectly minimalist, shining in his directorial debut. John Romano's screenplay brings an excellent novel to the screen in an amazing fashion. Alexandre Desplat's score is nothing short of excellent. And Martin Ruhe's cinematography is breathtaking. This is a perfect adaptation of Philip Roth's novel, & also criminally underrated.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Accountant

½★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I have a pocket protector." That's an absolutely dreadful & cringe-inducing quote from Ben Affleck in The Accountant, the year's biggest disappointment. Affleck plays Christian Wolff, an accountant with autism. Wolff had many problems during his childhood alongside autism, including his mother leaving him, his brother, & his father. Now, Wolff is an accountant for some of the most diabolical men on Earth. This attracts Treasury Department head Ray King (played by J.K. Simmons), who sends new recruit Marybeth Medina (played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to find him, threatening to disclose her former criminal history if she doesn't find him. Wolff decides to do accounting for a company called Living Robotics, where he discovers $61 million dollars is missing. He then meets in-house accountant Dana Cummings (played by Anna Kendrick), who then works with him to find who did it. Later, the CFO of the company is murdered, & CEO Lamar Black (played by John Lithgow) lets Wolff go. Now realizing the company is after him, Wolff reveals his dark, violent & murderous side, & must protect Dana.

The cast was terrible, with Kendrick & Simmons giving mediocre, but committed performances, while Affleck was extremely unconvincing in a more "dorky" role. Gavin O'Connor's direction was terrible. The screenplay from Bill Dubuque was dreadful. And the pacing of the film was extremely awful, along with the plot, which was extremely confusing, trying to tie everything together & failing miserably. This is one of the worst films I've ever seen.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Birth of a Nation

★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Sing to Him, a new song!" That is a dramatically charged quote from Nate Parker in The Birth of a Nation, a great film about one of the darkest moments of American history. The film is based on the true story of Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion in 1831, only to last 48 hours, leading to his death. Parker plays Nat Turner, a slave who lived on a plantation in Southampton County, Virginia. His financially-strapped master, Samuel Turner (played by Armie Hammer), orders Nat, who learned to read at a young age, to preach to his fellow slaves as a means of trying to stop them from rebelling. During this time, Nat marries a fellow slave named Cherry (played by Aja Naomi King). While Nat is preaching, Cherry is viciously beaten & raped by a group of slavecatchers led by the vicious Raymond Cobb (played by Jackie Earle Haley). Sickened by this, Nat then believes God has told him to rebel. He then starts a rebellion against the masters, killing anyone who is against him. This eventually leads to an epic battle against Cobb & other masters, with several casualties, eventually leading to Nat's execution by hanging.

The cast, especially Parker, Hammer, King & Haley, is great. The direction from Parker is great as well, along with the screenplay by Parker & Jean McGianni Celestin. The editing from Steven Rosenblum is brilliant. The cinematography from Elliot Davis is astounding. And the film score from Henry Jackman is amazing. While the film doesn't reach the cinematic heights of other films about slavery, such as 2012's Django Unchained, or 2013's 12 Years a Slave, it is still a great film that takes an unflinching look at our country's disturbing history.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"We're what's known in common parlance as peculiar." That quote is from Eva Green in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an absolutely brilliant film. The film is based on the book of the same name by Ransom Riggs. Green plays Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine, the headmistress of the titular home for peculiars, children who have special powers. The children are: Emma (played by Ella Purnell), who can control air; Enoch (played by Finlay MacMillan), who can resurrect the dead; Olive (played by Lauren McCrostie), who is pyrokinetic; Millard (played by Cameron King), who is invisible); Fiona (played by Georgia Pemberton), who can control plants; Bronwyn (played by Pixie Davies), who has super-strength; Horace (played by Hayden Keeler-Stone), who has prophetic dreams; Hugh (played by Milo Parker), who has bees in his stomach; Claire (played by Raffiella Chapman), who has an extra mouth hidden behind her head; & the Twins (played by Joseph & Thomas Odwell), who are two masked gorgons. The home is located on the Welsh island of Cairnholm, stuck in a time loop on Friday, September 3, 1943, the day the home was bombed by the Nazis; however, they live forever by re-living the past 24 hours. 

In 2016, young Florida teenager Jake Portman (played by Asa Butterfield), witnesses the death of his grandfather, Abe (played by Terence Stamp), who before his death, tells Jake to find the bird, the loop, & September 3, 1943. Determined to find out what this means, & after gaining more clues from his aunt, Jake, along with his father Franklin (played by Chris O'Dowd), travel to Cairnholm. While there, Jake enters the loop & meets the peculiars. Jake becomes attracted to Emma, & learns more about the peculiars. He learns that a group of peculiars, called Hollowgasts, led by Barron (played by Samuel L. Jackson), are after peculiars called Ymbrynes, like Miss Peregrine. They kidnap Ymbrynes & eat the eyes of their children to regain humanity. They must now defend themselves against the Hollowgasts, & also try to stay in the time loop.

The cast, especially Green & Butterfield, were great. Tim Burton's direction is absolutely astounding, proving that he is an absolutely visionary director. The screenplay from Jane Goldman is great. But the best things about this movie are the costume design, editing, production design, & cinematography. The costume design by Colleen Atwood is absolutely amazing. The editing from Chris Lebenzon is excellent. The production design from Gavin Bocquet is absolutely wondrous, as it is with all of Tim Burton's films. And the cinematography from Bruno Delbonnel is astounding. This is one of Tim Burton's best films.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Deepwater Horizon

★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"My wife's name is Felicia, my daughter's Sydney, & I will see them again!" That's a great & determined quote from Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon, a great action-thriller about one of the worst disasters in recent memory. The film is based on The New York Times article Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours by David Barstow, David Rohde & Stephanie Saul. Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, a chief engineering technician on the Deepwater Horizon. He has a wife, Felicia (played by Kate Hudson) & a daughter, Sydney (played by Stella Allen). He leaves on a helicopter to go to the oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, in the Gulf of Mexico, about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. While on the rig, he meets with Jimmy "Mr. Jimmy" Harrell (played by Kurt Russell), the boss of the rig, & Donald Vidrine (played by John Malkovich), a BP representative. Williams & Harrell are concerned with the fact that certain stability tests were not performed, but Vidrine tries to reassure them that everything is fine. However, that night, an explosion occurred, eventually causing the rig to be engulfed in flames. Now, Williams, Harrell, Vidrine, & crewmembers Caleb Holloway (played by Dylan O'Brien) & Andrea Fleytas (played by Gina Rodriguez) must try to survive.

The cast, especially Wahlberg, Hudson, Russell & Malkovich were great. Peter Berg's direction is great, along with the screenplay from Matthew Michael Carnahan & Matthew Sand. The editing by Colby Parker Jr. & Gabriel Fleming was excellent, & the cinematography from Enrique Chediak was amazing. Although there were some missteps with the film, it is still a great action-thriller.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"What we lost in the fire, we found in the ashes." That's a legendary quote from Denzel Washington in The Magnificent Seven, a great action-filled Western that does fall short of being a classic. The film is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, which was also a remake of the 1954 Japanese film, Seven Samurai. Washington plays Sam Chisolm, a bounty hunter who is hired by Emma Cullen (played by Haley Bennett) & Teddy Q (played by Luke Grimes) to defend the town of Rose Creek from Bartholomew Bogue (played by Peter Sarsgaard), a corrupt industrialist responsible for killing many townsfolk, including Emma's husband, Matthew (played by Matt Bomer). Chisolm then sets out to find others to help with defending the town. He finds 6 men to help him: gambler Josh Faraday (played by Chris Pratt); sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (played by Ethan Hawke); tracker Jack Horne (played by Vincent D'Onofrio); assassin Billy Rocks (played by Byung-Hun Lee); outlaw Vazquez (played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo); & warrior Red Harvest (played by Martin Sensmeier). Now, the seven must defend Rose Creek from Bogue & his men.

The cast was great, especially Washington, Pratt & Hawke. The direction from Antoine Fuqua was great, along with the screenplay from Nic Pizzolatto & Richard Wenk. The cinematpgraphy from Mauro Fiore was excellent, with beautiful shots of the Western landscape. And the score from the late James Horner & Simon Franglen is amazing. While it does have a few misfires, it is still one of the best Westerns in recent memory.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Listen, they're going to come for me. And now that we've made contact, they're going to come for all of you, too." That's a sad, but true quote from Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Snowden, the greatest film of the year. The film is based on the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, & Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena. Gordon-Levitt plays Edward Snowden, the infamous NSA contract worker who revealed thousands of classified documents in an interview with journalists Laura Poitras (played by Melissa Leo), Ewen MacAskill (played by Tom Wilkinson), & Glenn Greenwald (played by Zachary Quinto). Snowden originally enlisted in the US Army Special Forces, but was discharged after breaking both legs. After this, Snowden meets Lindsay Mills (played by Shailene Woodley), starts a relationship with her, & joins the CIA. While there, he is mentored by two CIA recruiters: Hank Forrester (played by Nicolas Cage) & Corbin O'Brien (played by Rhys Ifans). 

Snowden is then sent to Geneva, where he meets Gabriel Sol (played by Ben Schnetzer), who alerts him about how the NSA is spying on the American people. After resigning from the CIA, joining the NSA, breaking up & reconciling with Lindsay, & having a seizure, Snowden is sent to Hawaii to work for Booz Allen Hamilton, a government contracting firm. Eventually, Snowden becomes disillusioned with the government's use of mass surveillance, & leaves to go to Hong Kong, where he reveals the documents to Poitras, MacAskill & Greenwald, eventually leading to him living in Russia, seeking asylum.

The cast, especially Gordon-Levitt, Woodley, Leo, Ifans & Wilkinson, is excellent, with Gordon-Levitt's performance being one of the best performances of the year so far, perfectly capturing Snowden's voice, appearance, & mannerisms. Oliver Stone's direction is spectacular, with this being his best film since his 1991 masterpiece JFK. The screenplay from Stone & Kieran Fitzgerald is brilliant. The editing from Alex Marquez & Lee Percy is the best of the year so far. And the cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle is amazing. This is the best & most important film of the year. Whether you like or hate Edward Snowden, you owe it to yourself to see this film & make a decision for yourself on this absolutely important topic.

(Also, this film shouldn't have received an R rating. There were only a few uses of the F-word, & a couple brief, non-graphic & non-explicit sexual references. Why is the MPAA not letting teenagers (without a guardian) see the movies that they need to see? This film is extremely important for our generation, because we are the ones who are growing up in this era of mass surveillance, & it's up to us to change it).

Don't Think Twice

★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Anyone from the industry shows up, you turn into a one-man audition tape!" That's a hilarious quote from Mike Birbiglia in Don't Think Twice, one of the year's funniest & best films. Birbiglia plays Miles, a member of an improv comedy group named The Commune. Also in the group are: couple Jack (played by Keegan-Michael Key) & Samantha (played by Gillian Jacobs); graphic novelist Allison (played by Kate Micucci); struggling writer Bill (played by Chris Gethard); & unemployed-yet-wealthy Lindsay (played by Tami Sagher). They perform at a theater in Brooklyn, which is about to close. Miles previously taught most of them in improv classes, yet is upset that many of his students are now extremely successful. They all want to be on or work for Weekend Live, a SNL-type show. Eventually, Jack auditions for Weekend Live, & gets cast on the show, causing the group to unravel & their friendships to deteriorate.

The cast is spectacular. Birbiglia's direction & screenplay are both excellent, creating an honestly real atmosphere. This is definitely one of the year's best films, & the best independent film of the year so far.

(On a side note, I must address the rating this film received. The film was rated R for language & drug use. By language, I mean 9 uses of the F-word, & by drug use, I mean brief instances of adults smoking pot. Those things should definitely not mean an R rating. Those are things that are said & done in real life. There's no violence, no sex or nudity, just language & drug use. Yet, films like Suicide Squad get a PG-13 rating where you see numerous instances of violence. This is outrageous where a film can get an R rating for saying the F-word more than 4 times, yet a film can get a PG-13 for being extremely violent. There's something definitely wrong with the MPAA. And it needs to be stopped).

Sunday, September 11, 2016


★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Everything is unprecedented until it happens for the first time." That's an excellent quote from Tom Hanks in Sully, a brilliantly constructed masterpiece. The film is based on the book Highest Duty by Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger & Jeffrey Zaslow. Hanks portrays Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, an airline captain, who flew US Airways Flight 1549 on Thursday, January 15, 2009, en route from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, with direct service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. However, about 3 minutes into the flight, the plane hit a flock of Canadian geese, crippling both engines. With no power, & unable to return to LaGuardia, or make an emergency landing at either Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, or at Teterboro Airport in Teterboro, New Jersey, Sullenberger, along with First Officer Jeffrey Skiles (played by Aaron Eckhart), decides to make an emergency landing in the unbearably cold Hudson River. Against all odds, Sullenberger succesfully ditches the plane in the river, with all 155 people on board surviving, with several minor injuries, & only a few serious injuries.

Sullenberger is hailed as a hero by the press & civilians. However, the National Transportation Safety Board's inquiries indicate that the left engine was still usable, giving the plane enough power to land at LaGuardia or Teterboro. Sullenberger & Skiles, both believing that isn't true, must now convince the board to take a second look at the landing.

Hanks & Eckhart's performances were excellent, with Hanks' performance being one of the 10 best of his career, & Eckhart's performance being one of his 3 best performances, along with 1997's In the Company of Men, & 2006's Thank You for Smoking. Clint Eastwood's direction is amazing, with this being one of his best films of the century. Todd Komarnicki's screenplay is great, along with the editing from Blu Murray. The cinematography from Tom Stern is amazing. And the visual effects, especially the visual effects during the flight scene, are absolutely astounding. This is definitely one of the year's best films.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Light Between Oceans

 - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"One day, this will all feel like a dream." That's an inspiring, but also, emotional quote from Michael Fassbender in The Light Between Oceans, an emotionally devestating masterpiece. Fassbender portrays Tom Sherbourne, who has just finished serving in the Australian military on the Western front of WWI. Tom, asking for some time alone to himself, accepts a temporary job as a lighthouse keeper on the secluded island of Janus Rock, a hundred miles off the coast of Western Australia, between the Pacific & Indian Oceans. Eventually, he is called back to the mainland town of Point Partageuse, where he is told that his job is now permanent. On the mainland, he meets Isabel Graysmark (played by Alicia Vikander), the daughter of the town's reverend. Eventually, after months of writing letters, they get married, & both return to Janus Rock.

However, after two miscarriages during their marriage, Isabel becomes severely depressed, sitting by the graves they set up for their stillborn children. One day, an astonishing event occurs. A small boat washes up on the beach, with a dead man & an infant girl in it. They look after the baby for a few days, before Isabel wants her & Tom to raise it. Tom wants to report the incident, so they could eventually adopt it, but Isabel, fearing that they wouldn't let them adopt her because they live in seclusion, does not want that to happen. She believes that since no one knew she miscarried again, they could say that she gave birth early & no one would be the wiser. Eventually, Tom agrees, buries the man's body, & they raise the girl, naming her Lucy, & all is well on Janus Rock.

Four years later, they return to the mainland for the first time with Lucy. While there, they meet Hannah Roennfeldt (played by Rachel Weisz), a local woman who encountered a horrible tragedy. Four years prior, her husband & daughter died at sea. They both recognize immediately that Lucy is Hannah's daughter, Grace. Tom wants to tell the truth, but Isabel is adamant that they do not tell her that they have her daughter. This leads to a harrowing series of events that changes everyone's lives forever.

Fassbender, Vikander & Weisz give heartbreakingly excellent performances, making you feel sympathetic for them all. The direction & screenplay from Derek Cianfrance is amazing, with Cianfrance directing another excellent film after 2010's equally emotionally devestating Blue Valentine, & 2013's underrated The Place Beyond the Pines. The film score from Alexander Desplat is beautiful. And the cinematography from Adam Arkapaw is breathtaking, with absolutely stunning shots of the ocean. This is definitely one of the best & underrated films of the year so far.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

War Dogs

 - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"GOD BLESS DICK CHENEY'S AMERICA!" That's an absurdly hilarious quote from Jonah Hill in War Dogs, one of the funniest & best films of the year. The film is based on the book Arms & The Dudes by Guy Lawson. Hill plays Efraim Diveroli, who, in 2005, started a company called AEY Inc., which fills arms orders for the government for the war in Iraq, & gives his best friend, David Packouz (played by Miles Teller), a high-ranking job in the company. Packouz, although he is unsupportive of the war, takes the job on account of the fact that his also-anti-war girlfriend, Iz (played by Ana de Armas) is pregnant, his massage therapy job isn't paying much, & he's not good at selling bedsheets. Efraim tells David to bid for the smaller arms orders that still cost millions of dollars. One of these orders, an order of Berettas, sends them right to Iraq, after an arms embargo from Italy to Iraq deroutes the shipment to Jordan, but instead of waiting of a permit to fly the shipment to Iraq, they instead drive to Iraq & finish the deal, putting them on the map. 

Eventually, Efraim & David secure larger deals for more money, including a multi-million dollar deal to supply Afghanistan with AK-47 ammunition, but it sends them on a downward spiral caused by Efraim's instability & rising ego & a partnership with Henry Girard (played by Bradley Cooper), an arms dealer on the US terrorist watchlist.

Hill & Teller were extraordinary, with Hill playing against type by portraying a person with a growing antagonistic mindset, & Teller showing off more of his acting range. The direction from Todd Phillips was great. The screenplay from Phillips, Stephen Chin & Jason Smilovic was also brilliant. The editing from Jeff Groth was excellent. The cinematography from Lawrence Sher was breathtaking. And the soundtrack was amazing, showing that 2016 is a great year for film soundtracks. This is definitely one of the funniest & best films of the year so far, perfectly depicting the monstrosities of war & arms dealing.

Don't Breathe

 - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Now you see what I see." That's a distrubingly terrifying quote from Stephen Lang in Don't Breathe, an absolutely tense, brutal, & unforgiving thriller. Lang portrays Norman Nordstrom, a blind war veteran from Detroit, who is still grieving from the death of his daughter after being hit by a car, with the driver being set free after her rich family from Grosse Pointe paid a large sum of money to him. Meanwhile, three delinquent teens: Rocky (played by Jane Levy); Alex (played by Dylan Minnette); & Money (played by Daniel Zovatto) decide to rob Nordstrom's house for the money. The three have robbed countless houses in order to fund Rocky's move to California with her younger sister in order to get away from her abusive & neglectful mother & her alcoholic boyfriend. After some reluctance from Alex, they agree to rob the house. However, when they go to rob the house, it completely goes awry; Nordstrom kills Money, & now, Rocky & Alex must find a way out & try to avoid Nordstrom.

Lang, Levy & Minnette were excellent. The direction from Fede Alvarez is excellent, along with the screenplay from Alvarez & Rodo Sagayues. The editing from Eric L. Beason, Louise Ford & Gardner Gould is great. The cinematography from Pedro Luque is brilliant. And the plot twist is one of the greatest in film history. This is a brilliant thriller, & is one of the best films of the year so far.

Hell or High Water

 - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"I may have one hunt left in me." That's a great quote from Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water, one of the 3 best films of the year so far. Bridges plays Marcus Hamilton, a Texas Ranger just days away from mandatory retirement. Hamilton, along with his partner Alberto Parker (played by Gil Birmingham), who is repeatedly teased by Hamilton for his mixed Native American/Mexican heritage, are sent to find two bank robbers in economically downtrodden Northwest Texas. The bank robbers are brothers: Toby (played by Chris Pine) & Tanner Howard (played by Ben Foster), who have robbed multiple banks in order to save their family's farm, which has been recently discovered to have oil on it. Toby wants to pay off the debt so he can leave the farm for his estranged sons. However, due to Tanner's wild nature, the bank robberies start to go awry, eventually culminating in a shootout in a desert mountain.

Bridges, Pine & Foster were excellent. Bridges's performance is his best performance behind his performances in 2009's Crazy Heart & 1998's The Big Lebowski (which is my favorite film of all time). Pine's performance is his best yet, & Foster's performance is his best since his short stint on the classic HBO series Six Feet Under. The direction from David Mackenzie is excellent, along with the screenplay from Taylor Sheridan. And the cinematography from Giles Nuttgens is amazing, with absolutely breathtaking shots of the desolate Texas landscape. This is definitely one of the best films of the year so far, & I expect it to rank highly on my list of the 10 best films at the end of the year.

Lights Out

 - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"If she's not a ghost, then what is she?" That's a disturbingly inquisitive quote from Teresa Palmer in Lights Out, a great horror film that falls just shy of being a horror classic. Palmer plays Rebecca, a woman living alone in an apartment who is estranged from her mother, Sophie (played by Maria Bello), who is mentally ill & suffers from depression. Rebecca left home after her father abandoned them. Sophie talks to an imaginary "friend" named Diana (played by Alicia Vela-Bailey). Rebecca's younger brother, Martin (played by Gabriel Bateman), has suffered from insomnia after seeing Diana. Rebecca, fearing for her brother's safety, takes Martin with her to live with her & her lover, Paul (played by Alexander DiPersia). However, social services takes him back to Sophie, where she tells Martin that Diana was a childhood friend of hers when she was at a mental institution for her depression. Diana was extremely sensitive to light, & she died after being exposed to it for too long. Diana is trying to kill anyone who gets between her & Sophie, so now, Rebecca, Martin & Paul must stop Diana at any price.

Palmer, Bello & Bateman were great. The direction from David F. Sandberg is great, along with Eric Heisserer's screenplay. And the editing from Michel Aller is really good. Although it does have a few rough spots, it does provide legitimate scares.