If you hate zombie movies, and think there’s nothing left in the sub-genre, you’ll be surprised with Yeon Sang-ho’s “Train to Busan” and what it does with big budget zombie movies. Director Yeon Sang-ho practices the tradition of George Romero’s horror movies with thick social commentary, while also tapping in to the blockbuster crowds and proves you can have one without losing the value of the other. “Train to Busan” came completely out of left field for me back in 2016, and was not only the best horror movie of the summer, but one of the best movies of the year, easily. Yeon Sang-ho explores how a massive society is destroyed by flesh eating, rabid zombies, all of whom are relentless and charge rapid fire at their victims from around corners.
Emiliano Rocha Minter’s “We Are The Flesh” is arthouse, horror, fantasy, surrealism, experimental. It’s also droning, boring, and at barely eighty minutes goes on way too long. “We are the Flesh” begins as something of a post apocalyptic tale where two wandering Mexican teenagers find a demented older man living by himself in isolation as a hermit in a humongous building. Everyday he forages for resources, and makes new resources which he trades for food by some unseen entity behind a wall. The minute the pair finds him, they’re taken in to his bosom, and are dropped in to demented world that is either Eden or Damnation. Quite clearly, Emiliano Rocha Minter seeks to take all kinds of imagery and use it as a sense of multipurpose provocative metaphor and symbolism, and pretty much all of it is a chore to sit through.
Despite the truly awful 2015 adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” audiences are being handed the sequel to the erotic stinker next month with “Fifty Shades Darker.” Sure to attract its hardcore following and some surefire curious audiences, rather than pumping more money in this pseudo-erotic wannabe arthouse junk, I thought I’d suggest five titles you can watch instead. These are five very erotic and entertaining films that explore the ideas of BDSM and sado-masochism, I suggest experimenting with over the watered down dreck hitting theaters in February.
This year brought a lot of film festival coverage opportunities for me which means I was able to attend and/or cover twelve film festivals/events. That being said, these paired with a ton of good independent titles meant I had very little time for wider theater releases. This not mean the latter were not good, it only means that I saw a grand total of three major releases (Deadpool, Rogue One, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) on the big screen.
First, here are my special mentions: L’Elan, Deadpool, Saving Mr. Wu, The Laundryman, Realive, Bed of the Dead, Let Her Out, Alena, Corp Etranger (Foreign Body), They Call Me Jeeg Robot, Karate Kill, The Eyes of My Mother, Rogue One, The Witch, Southbound, Antibirth, The Love Witch.
With no further ado, here is my top ten favorite movies from 2016:
Another very rare Studio Ghibli film is finally coming to the states as director Tomomi Mochizuki’s “Ocean Waves” is opening for audiences anxious to visit the lesser known entries in the Ghibli catalogue. “Ocean Waves” is described as one of the very few movies not made by Isao Takahata or Hayao Miyazaki and has rarely ever been seen outside of Japanese television. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Saeko Himuro, “Ocean Waves” is a short (At barely eighty minutes) but very well realized teen drama about two teenage boys hopelessly enamored by a gorgeous young girl named Rikako, who is often given to flights of fancy and adventurousness that allow the two friends Taku and Yutaka a chance to break free from the monotony of their busy school lives.
La Chasse-Galerie, or the Flying Canoe (aka The Bewitched Canoe) is a well-known legend from Québec about a group of travelers making a deal with the devil to get home. In this cinematic version of it set in 1863, a group of men travelling home are slowed down by a snow storm. After they request help, the devil gives them a flying canoe to take them home but with some conditions that come with harsh punishment if not followed. After one of them cheats the devil, vengeance is taken on his descendant 25 years later.
A woman receives a VHS tape one morning from an anonymous source. After watching the video and its odd, violent animation, she is puzzled and feels like she is being haunted. She soon decides to look for answers. Directed by Richard Mansfield (and have no verifiable writing credits online to check who did what), the film takes the premise of a found tape leading to investigations by those who have found or received it and turn it into what can be described as mostly found footage with touches of first person POV and other filming styles. The story is fairly basic with just a few characters and works as a found footage mystery for most of the film. It uses many story telling techniques with varied degrees of success creating a film that feels disconnected in places.
A woman finds herself in physical rehab after a major skiing accident; there she heals from this accident and from her past relationship with her wild ex. Written by Etienne Comar and Maïwenn with the latter directing as well, the story of “Mon Roi” follows a woman going through a good part of her life led by her love and passion for a man who may very well be quite destructive. As she works on being able to walk again, literally and metaphorically, her past is seen through a series of long flashbacks. This is handled in a way that works perfectly here, showing her life basically from the moment she met him and keeping these long flashbacks in chronological order. This actually leads to almost forgetting that the main character is thinking back on these moments until these scenes at the rehabilitation center become longer.