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.