So, I’ve finally reached the end of the road. It’s been such a fun, enlightening experience that I’ve decided that I’m going to do this for ANOTHER year (yes, I’m that crazy). If you would like to follow my Year Two journey, follow me on Letterboxd for early sneak peeks. Now let’s get on to the final round of Year One reviews!
DAY 354 – THE SURVIVALIST (2015)
A brutal, realistic look at life after catastrophe, The Survivalist is a wonderful, underrated gem. The actors are fantastic, the story is compelling, and the claustrophobic feeling the film evokes adds to the atmosphere. Some viewers will be turned off by the nudity, some story elements, and graphic material, but these elements add a living, breathing touch to the movie. If you like this type of movie and are mature enough to watch The Survivalist, I highly recommend it.
DAY 355 – TEETH (2007)
I’ll just go ahead and say it, this movie is pretty terrible. The acting is bad, the story had potential but squandered it, and all of the male characters are portrayed as horn dogs. The only redeeming quality of this were some of the ridiculous yet hilarious scenes involving certain male body parts being dismembered. This is a hard (no pun intended) pass.
DAY 356 – EXTREMIS (2016)
An Oscar nominated short film, Extremis covers the difficult topic of end-of-life decisions. The film shows a couple of patients and their families as their lives are coming to an end, and the painful choice both the families and doctors have to make in regards to the patients’ well-being. I feel like this film is both too short and also the perfect length. It’s such an emotionally grueling film that the length helps, but I also feel like because Extremis is so short, it doesn’t allow us to fully get to know the patients and the doctors involved. Keep some tissues handy if you watch this.
DAY 357 – YOUR NAME. (2017)
A beautiful anime about two teenagers who unexpectedly start swapping bodies, Your Name. is one of the best films of 2017. We follow Mitsuha and Taki as they discover that they randomly wake up in each other’s bodies, and have to figure out how to function as the other person. Then the film takes a sharp turn into a different genre, and that’s when this film cements it’s fantastic status. Beautiful, emotional, and though-provoking, Your Name. is a must-watch, even if you’re not usually a fan of anime. The English dub is great, the animation is beautiful, the soundtrack from Radwimps is catchy as hell, and the story is so compelling, you’ll be thinking about it days after watching it.
DAY 358 – MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)
I’m a HUGE fan of the novel this film is based on, and I personally enjoyed this adaptation. Kenneth Branagh is wonderful as the amazing detective Hercule Poirot, and he also directs the hell out of this movie. The rest of the cast are amazing as well (even though there are so many characters that each actor only has a handful of lines). This is a cracking yarn that recalls classic mystery films, and I recommend it if you’re a fan of the novel or love old-fashioned detective stories. Otherwise, you might be bored, due to the slow-burning story.
DAY 359 – GOLDEN TIME (2014)
A delightful short film about a TV that finds itself in a junkyard, Golden Time is a treat to watch, with an unexpectedly emotional message hidden under its classically animated veneer. There is no dialogue in this short, but the story unfold so naturally that you grasp what’s happening. Watch this ASAP.
DAY 360 – THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (1985)
A delightfully whimsical film, The Purple Rose of Cairo centers on a woman named Cecilia (a wonderful Mia Farrow), as she escapes an abusive marriage by going to the local cinema. She becomes enamored with a film called, well, The Purple Rose of Cairo and a supporting character named Tom Baxter (a dashing Jeff Daniels). One day, Tom steps out of the screen and whisks her away on an adventure. Of course, this has repercussions. The actor who portrayed Tom, Gil Shepherd (also Daniels), wants to usher Tom back into the film, and the film industry is befuddled by this occurence. Cecilia also has to decide if she’ll be with Tom or continue living her humdrum life. Beautifully acted and shot, The Purple Rose of Cairo is a delicious escape from reality that also provokes thought.
DAY 361 – THE READER (2009)
The film that netted Kate Winslet an Oscar, The Reader is adapted from the book of the same name and follows the life of a man named Michael (portrayed by David Kross and Ralph Fiennes). Michael meets a beguiling older woman named Hanna (Winslet) when he’s a teenager, and she ends up irrevocably changing his life. Their affair both molds who he becomes, but also hinders him in some ways.
The performances are excellent, and the cinematography is gorgeous, but the pacing was what knocked this film down a notch for me. The beginning is strong, but the middle is weak. The ending picks up steam, but most viewers probably won’t make it all the way through, which is a shame. This is a powerful story with meaningful messages, but the story holds The Reader back from being truly great.
DAY 362 – PHANTOM BOY (2016)
A charming movie with the nostalgic animation style of classic 80’s/90’s cartoons, Phantom Boy follows a boy named Leo (Marcus D’Angelo) who is suffering from an unnamed illness. He learns while in the hospital that he has the ability to leave his body while asleep, and teams up with a detective (Jared Padalecki) to stop a criminal that is threatening their town. Sure, the movie has some flaws, such as being a little too long, but it’s cute and uplifting, while also tugging at your heartstrings. Worth a watch if you’re into this kind of film.
DAY 363 – BRIGSBY BEAR (2017)
A surprisingly sweet film about discovering yourself and following your dreams, Brigsby Bear sees James (Kyle Mooney) being rescued from his supposed parents (actually his kidnappers) after twenty-five years. After returning to his actual family, he learns his favorite TV show Brigsby Bear was actually created by his captors and becomes determined to make a Brigsby movie to end the series in a respectful way. The performances are fantastic, especially from Mooney, Greg Kinnear, and Mark Hamill, and the story is so strange that it’s compelling. The characters are also relatable, and the underlying messages are inspirational. This is definitely one of 2017’s most underrated movies.
DAY 364 – NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1994)
Oliver Stone’s satire on the media and its fascination with serial killers will definitely NOT be everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally found this to be an enthralling film. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are wonderfully batshit crazy as Mickey and Mallory Knox, while Robert Downey Jr. and Rodney Dangerfield turn in equally insane performances. The unique editing and cinematography lend a hallucinogenic feel to the movie, and the story (written by Quentin Tarantino) is gorily gonzo.
DAY 365 – JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)
Check out my video review for my full thoughts!