Ex Machina

Film List of 2015

 

I’ve seen most of these in a theater, not at home. Based on personal reaction, opinion, enjoyability and gut feelings. Not a critic’s critique. A LOVED to LOATHED list, nor Best and Worst. All titles are linked. Thank GOD for foreign films; without them it would be like living in an America with no New York or California. Feedback welcome. Film is my ‘drug of choice’.

ALL TITLES HOTLINKED to IMDB, Rotton Tomatoes, Trailers.

LOVED:

EX MACHINA

High concept that lays in your mind for days. No false moments and sexy too. Another futuristic world (like 2017) that is terrifyingly real, and beautiful. Four character play on film. Genius soundtrack. Great suspenseful story telling. Believable and FREE on Amazon Prime.

 

Who would have thought Kenneth Branagh could make Cinderella relevant and contemporary. Cate Blanchett doesn’t hurt and the effects are calm and unobtrusive. And Lily James from Downton Abbey is a gift.

Mustang

Seems like a hidden camera was installed in a Turkish home as we watch five sisters find out that life is what you make it, as long as you don’t play by the rules. Performances so natural and wise. No horses were injured or used in this film.

High wire film making. Suburb, stunning and extremely entertaining explanation of an American swindle that only the 1% could create, celebrate and get away with. The truth shall set you free to make you feel powerless and envious. Worthy of Oscar buzz.

Anger provoking and sad as as shit. A loss of Hendrix, Morrison and Holiday proportions. Music that transcended the earthly, touching the angelic. Tragic story of eating disorders and fame’s death machine. Or was it just her father. Gives Jews a bad name.

Fun movie. As tasty as a chocolate covered communion wafer. All The President’s Men meets Jerry Sandusky Scores Again. Ensemble cast at the peak of their strengths and love-ability. And Rachel McAdams’ beauty does not distract …for a change.

Truth
Speaking of All the President’s men Robert, we have Cate Blanchett again, thank God. She’s magical, and this true story about corporate media should send shivers up your spine. Saw it twice. Enjoyable and frustrating.

Stallone is genius for having Fruitvale Station’s auteur Ryan Coogler write and direct this excellent sequel. Forget 3-6, This is Hollywood via Philly at its best. Father son, boy meets girl. Overcoming incoming fists.

Guidance

OMG. Laugh out loud throughout the entire film. Wicked comedy, and perfect stoner film. Gary Goldstein of LA Times says, “It’s a creative hat trick of wildly amusing proportions.” Other review, “Pat Mills has concocted a subversive, silly and oh-so-comically Canadian version of failed-actor-turned-guidance counselor.” ON NETFILX.

Man Up

Top Critic: “Lake Bell and Simon Pegg, both terrific comic actors, mine small gestures and reactions for laughs. But they’re at their best when they’re talking, and they talk a lot in “Man Up.” Non-stop, real time, one night in the life of FUNNYNESS.

Carol

Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and director Todd Haynes bring Patricia Highsmith’s ahead of its time novel to glorious full color life. Sumptuously realized with New York as a leading character. And powerful performance by ‘Coach’, from Friday Night Lights.

Trainwreck

Enjoyed ever moment. Best romantic COMEDY of the year. Never a dull or stupid. More bona fide laughs than Hollywood usual settles for. Amy Schumer is a comedy goddess. Whatever that means. SHE”S IT. And LeBron James? Nothing but net!
 


 

LIKED:

Interesting take on Mr. Apple. Limited yet well done. I pray someone else does a more tradtitional bio-pic. Seems like this was as much about Aaron Sorkin as Jobs. Perfectly over the top performances. Compelling yet forgettable.

Astounding performance. Saoirse Ronan is in every seen of this hour and fifty one minute film that seems much longer. Rich visuals but in the end, doesn’t ring true.

 

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

Perfect popcorn movie after a long day of culturally enriching activities at work. Enjoyable performances by Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson and Jeremy Renner matched Tom Cruise’s action hero demeanor nicely. Thank God I had my Virgin America ear plug with me.

 

This is a mildly amusing 1hr. 41 min. advertisement for pot smoking, Don’t take anyone under 40. There should have been someone in the lobby selling joints. Possibly secretly produced my the 1000 weed dispensaries in California.

“The true measure of a good tale is in the telling, and writer-director Noah Buschel spins his yarn in an unexpected, ultimately satisfying fashion.” RodgerEbert.com. “t’s Crudup who steals every scene, whether he’s waxing philosophical about the benefits of iCloud or blackmailing Bud with a charming, unsettling grin.” Entertainment Weekly ON NETFILX and Amazon.

Star Wars-The Force Awakens
One of the best sequels ever. Like a camp reunion where you don’t feel like you’ve aged better or worse than the other campers. If as many Americans voted as will see this film, we could have an actual democracy.

Winner of the 2015 Audience Favorite Award at the REEL Recovery Film Festival & Symposium. Starring Peter Coyote, Taylor Spretler and Mackenzie Phillips. Heartfelt direction by Jay Silverman. Sweet intervention, equine, rehab, reawakening coming of age story.

Imperfect Sky

Fantastic entry in this year’s REEL Recovery Film Festival. “The lead actor playing Skyler is named Blake Scott Lewis and he is so captivating I dare you to not ask “Who is this guy?” Incredible would be an understatement. A tight, but nicely rounded out cast make this more than a single dimensional character study.” User Review. Stunning exploration of addiction in Hollywood. Two brothers whose love can conquer all, or can it?

The old gang is back and better than ever. How often does a sequel exceed the original. A charming, crispy papadum of spicy enjoyment.

Far From The Madding Crowd
Carey Mulligan, Carey Mulligan, Carey Mulligan, Carey Mulligan. Amazon Pay.

A joy to see and hear. “Encyclopedic rocktrospective chronicling the contributions of a group of unheralded studio musicians who anonymously created the soundtrack of an entire generation.” Kam Williams, Baret News. ON NETFLIX.
 

DISLIKED:

David O. Russell, the king of hits and misses. Misses by a mile.
Strange atmosphere and performances. Only 2 hours and 4 minutes, but seems to take a lifetime.
Bleak and boring. Everyone loved this too. Painful. Russian politics much less colorful than hot or chilled borscht.

Clouds of Sils Maria
It lures you in. You’re almost mesmerized. Then Kristen Stewart shows up and takes Juliette Binoche down with her, Oh the scenery is gorgeous. Just don’t let anyone speak. Not even French. “Twilight’s Kristen Stewart burnishes her art house credentials in Clouds Of Sils Maria, a tiresomely talky and self-consciously cerebral French film from director Olivier Assayas.”
 


The Martian
“You’d think they could break at least one cliché, but no. This narrative is gooey smooth like an oyster without a grain of sand with which to make a pearl.” I liked every scene Matt Damon was in, but still walked out because I either knew how it would end, or didn’t care.

Bridge Of Spies
I could watch Tom Hanks tie his shoe laces and be interested, but this film is so safe and UNsuspenseful and dull, it praciically UNamerican. Like 60 Minutes and Movie of the WEEK screwing, then having a boring baby. The finale was the most fake looking scene I have ever seen. The snow on the beidge looked like it had been in the fake snow prop department since Miracle on 34th Street. And the bridge was happy to be indoors somewhere. No tension. “highly-polished garbage from almost the beginning, with no relief from its elderly ministrations all the way through to the end.” by Walter Chaw – Film Freak Central

 

LOATHED:

Fake from the first frame, Unbearable. Complete dis-service to David Foster Wallace and his work. Jesse Eisenberg was fantastic in Social Network but have you loved him in anything else? Unwatchable. Jason Segel looks like he had a head injury wearing that giant headband.

 

I love Will Smith as much as the next boomer. BUT, this is garbage, that hasn’t been picked up in weeks.
 

Everyone liked it but me and this guy. “Another wildly elaborate parody of the James Bond school of action/espionage/world-threatening thriller, Spy is naturally undone by its gratuitous violence, meaningless potty-mouth and the wild overacting of top-billed Melissa McCarthy.” by Mad Dog Bradley

 

WISH I HAD SEEN:
Straight Outta Compton
The New Girlfriend
The Walk
Son of Saul

 

Television is back:
Homeland
Newsroom
Girls
Downton Abby
The Affair

 

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY FILMS TO RECOMMEND OR CAUTION AGAINST.
Too many great films at the REEL Recovery Film Festival to mention here.

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Happy New Year,
Leonard Buschel

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