The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rouge) (2016)

This is one of the very few animated productions where Studio Ghibli’s fantastic storytelling is given a hint of European flavor. While “The Red Turtle” is branded a Studio Ghibli production it garners much of the same elements from Ghibli’s library including a wide open world, a menacing series of creatures and the overtones of the symbioses of nature and humanity. It’s best to think of “The Red Turtle” as a fairy tale, as the movie relies on a lot of inexplicability to tell its thin narrative. The narrative being thin is by no means a criticism as “The Red Turtle” is a lot about raw events, and simplicity at its finest.

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My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de courgette) (2016)

I truly, truly hope that when “My Life as a Zucchini” comes to the states that people to come to see it. I want people to seek it out, I want people to take their families, and I want everyone to tell others about what is easily one of the best animated movies I’ve ever seen. “My Life as a Zucchini” is simple and it’s short, but its rich in human themes, and complex characters that you’ll fall in love with. Rest assured I fell in love with every single character, and understood even the antagonists. “My Life as a Zucchini” isn’t a film that shoehorns in a villain. It’s merely a slice of life about the pitfalls and emotional turmoil that comes with being an orphan in a very cruel, and often difficult world.

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Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Mamoru Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell” is the natural successor to “Blade Runner,” it’s an anime masterpiece that works both as an action film and a very evocative and thought provoking science fiction thriller. Through very engaging characters and still incredibly stunning visuals, “Ghost in the Shell” approaches themes like the idea of consciousness and existence, and what living is, and how it’s fairly impossible to prove what sentience is or isn’t. In 2029, law enforcement has been enhanced to the point where human beings can transport their consciousness and memories in to cybernetic shells that grant them amazing abilities used to keep law and order.

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Timecode (2016)

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE – I love a good romantic movie and I especially love it when directors approach the genre from a different angle. The reason why “Timecode” might just win an Oscar come February is because the way director Juanjo Giménez approaches the love of two people. The romance is built through technology, but not in the way you’d assume. Director Juanjo Giménez unfolds his short film with very little dialogue and a lot of acting that relies on facial expressions and heavy reactions to events that ensue.

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Fucking Bunnies (2016) [Sundance Film Festival 2017]

Director Teemu Niukkanen’s is a dark and demented comedy about living in a place where pretty much anyone can move in next door and how we can rush to judgment too often and brush off some pretty nice people. Thought it’s only a short film, “Fucking Bunnies” could work as a hilarious and twisted feature film about the uneasy friendship between two very different men. Raimo is a middle-aged Finnish man living in the suburbs in an apartment complex in Helsinki. He’s a very settled and tightly wound man who lives his day of monotony joyfully. One day when the new neighbors move in next door, he learns that they are a cult of Satanists that indulge in orgies, and sadism.

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Train to Busan (Bu-San-Haeng) (2016) (DVD)

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.

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We Are the Flesh (Tenemos La Carne) (2017)

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.

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Five Movies to Watch Instead of “Fifty Shades Darker”

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.

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