By their very nature, sequels promise more of the stuff we loved last time. In John Wick: Chapter 2, the titular hero returns to shoot a lot more people in the head. But while he’s at it, John also breaks more arms, stabs people with knives and other pointy objects, and even runs at least a dozen people over. Yeah, he’s still a bad ass, and the body count is somehow more insane than the last time around.
Author Daniel Tucker
While imprisoned in a Confederate girls’ boarding school, an injured Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women’s hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him. Stars Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, and Nicole Kidman. Directed by Sofia Coppola.
Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness clocks in at a running time of 146 minutes, and features incest, graphic tooth extractions, naked old people, creepy masquerades, a villainous Jason Isaacs, borderline cannibalism, a creepy setting with a violent backstory, malicious eels, and a tortured Dane DeHaan at the center of it all. It’s bloated and excessive, but entertainingly nihilistic and never boring. It so enthusiastically throws everything at the screen that even the things that don’t stick are somehow just as fun to watch as the things that do. Add Verbinski’s eerie style into the mix, and you have a bloated yet consistently entertaining thriller that somehow was funded by a major studio.
Another fantastic year for movies has come to a close, and our staff has collectively compiled their year-end lists to bring you the very best of 2016. From persecuted padres and tap-dancing lovers to mourning brothers and profane superheroes, here are our picks for this year’s Next Projection Awards!
I first saw Oren Shai’s The Frontier at SXSW last year, but it has been seared into my mind ever since. His directorial debut is electric cinema, something tailor-made for people who love a very certain kind of cinema. His post-screening Q&A stood as one of my favorites I’ve ever been to. His passion is palpable and infectious, and his sheer talent for storytelling undeniable. I had to pick this man’s brain.
On paper, Jackie always seemed like little more than Oscar bait. With the arrival of an excellent teaser trailer and now a stunning full-length trailer, Pablo Larraín’s film rests easily among this writer’s most anticipated 2016 films yet to see release. Stéphane Fontaine’s stunning and moody period cinematography alone is enough to turn heads, but the trailer also showcases some excellent writing in addition to what promises to be a very compelling turn from Natalie Portman. Word of mouth is already very positive for the film, and it’s likely to having a strong showing when Awards season officially begins in the coming weeks.
Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast is going to make Disney a lot of money. An obvious statement, but one more solidified after the release of the film’s first full-length trailer. Disney seems to be lying heavily on nostalgia and fandom to sell its live action adaptation of the 1991 Oscar-winning animated film, highlighting an array of familiar scenes and characters that at first glance doesn’t really bring anything altering to the table. However, with people like Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) working on the script, I doubt that we’re in for just a straightforward remake.
There’s a moment in the latter moments of Loving where Joel Edgerton’s Richard expresses his frustration with his wife Mildred (Ruth Negga) about her decision to continue talking to the press. They’re deep into serving their 25-sentence banning from their home county due to their illegal interracial marriage. They’ve tried many times through many different scenarios to overturn the court’s decision, but it’s a process that takes years. The ACLU talks of taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court, but there’s no discernible progress being made. Why does Mildred insist on talking to the press about their case when the attention has brought them nothing but harm in return? There are people who want to help them, she notes. And maybe, just maybe, they can help other people.
In a time where the world feels more divided than ever, Arrival’s messages on the importance of communication and working together feels more like an urgent warning than an idyllic, potential paradise. An examination of the intricacies of communication would be enough to imbue Denis Villeneuve’s with some depth, but screenwriter Eric Heisserer throws in some musings on grief and even a dash of existentialism for good measure as well. The end result is a film brimming with great moments and compelling ideas, but, despite terrific hypnotic and moody direction, they never really meld together to create something wholly compelling.
Michael Manasseri’s The Pickle Recipe is the cinematic equivalent of easy listening music in that it feels refreshingly and comfortably familiar, but unique enough and lovingly made so that you want to buckle in for the entire ride instead of just letting it play out in the background. This movie depicts a Jewish family’s internal drama, but like many other films of its type (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, for example), it supersedes its cultural roots and remains incredibly appealing to a mass audience.