Last year was arguably the finest year ever for the film industry. Boyhood, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel (those are my three favorites), Interstellar, The Imitation Game, Gone Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomorrow, The Theory of Everything, Citizenfour, Ida, Still Alice, American Sniper, Leviathan, Selma, X-Men: Days of Future Past, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6- these are just a few that come to mind (and yes, I’m proud to say that I did go out and see a few of these movies alone). Unfortunately, since February 22nd, when the 87th Academy Awards (Oscars) Ceremony went down, there hasn’t been as mighty of a current of world-class movies, but there have certainly been a few greats. I realize, however, that a top 10 list of them would be too dull and overwhelming; I chose to list only my top four favorites in the hope that you all who haven’t seen these will actively go out and try to watch them.
Let me begin by telling you that you don’t need to be an Amy Winehouse fan to enjoy this biopic. In fact, not being one probably enhances the overall experience; I knew like two of her songs (Rehab and Valerie) when I walked into the theater. As for the movie, it compiles her concerts, interviews, clips from her younger years, etc. and enhances them with voice-overs from her, her family, friends, and coworkers. It powerfully explores Amy’s short but extravagant life, how her raw talent and passion for music and drove her to the top, and the toll that fame and alcohol/drug addiction had on her life—and her death. “Amy” is a truly beautiful work of art and, although sad, manages to do what nobody was able to do: explore her human side. She was worshiped as a singer, but, as a person, was reduced to punchlines from late-night comedians—and nobody ever managed to give her the help she needed. I’d recommend this to any mature adult.
Rating: It’s rated R for language and drug material. Length: 2 hours and 8 minutes (the screenshot above, which I got from the Flixster app, is wrong; it’s not 1 hour and 30 minutes). Accessibility: it just recently came out and is still in theaters. For you fellow Dallasites: you’ll find plenty of showings at Angelika.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
At first glance, for me and the friends I forced to see this, Mad Max seemed kind of cheesy and stupid. It’s a post-apocalyptic action movie that follows a hero’s journey. But it is so much more. Imaginative, fresh, rich, intense, emotional, adrenaline, and entertaining are just a few of the words that describe this. Every minuscule detail in this two-hour continuum of action contributes well to the movie as a whole. At any given time, you’ll feel a weird mixture of hope, fright, and thrill. And if none of the details above are enough, there are so many complex nuances scattered throughout the story that say a lot about us and our world, but sometimes aren’t noticed on the first watch. To top it all off, Mad Max ends exactly the way it should end-something you don’t often see in dystopian films. I’d recommend this movie to any adult male.
Rating: Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images. Length: 2 hours. Accessibility: Available for rent/DVD on September 28th.
2. Ex Machina (the “ch” is pronounced like a “k”) Oh great, another movie about artificial intelligence. But seriously, this film blew my mind. Unlike Mad Max, though, it’s more about its ideas than its action and effects. Filmed with a low-budget and primarily at only one facility, it says a lot about our technology culture and its future. We are subjected to true artificial intelligence in this, artificial intelligence that has human level self-consciousness and cunning manipulative social abilities, and are expected to transcend the stereotypes of typical AI movies, resulting in a much more personal, contemplative encounter. I recommend this to all the adults out there who have been profoundly affected, on micro and macro levels, by the perpetual acceleration of technology and science.
Rating: R for nudity, language, sexual references, and some violence. Length: 1 hour and 48 minutes. Accessibility: It has already available for rent/DVD.
1. Inside Out. There, there. You knew it was coming. Inside Out, Pixar’s most recent wonder, captures all of the emotions of life. Great for children, it’s aesthetically exhilarating, imaginative, and beautiful. Beyond that, there are many aspects to the movie that adults would understand best. The thing about this movie that you can’t find anywhere else is how well it captures the duality of the unrealistic visual portrayal of the brain and the very emotionally impactful, realistic world of humanity. Seriously, the main characters are visual representatives of emotions (joy, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness) that work together in our brains to shape our actions and personalities. Colorful, literally and figuratively, it also shows us in a strange existential way how nothing in life is black and white and that we can utilize anything monotonous, boring, or fearful to our liking. You’ll see yourself constantly laughing, smiling, crying, and attentive throughout this movie. This is easily my second favorite animated movie of all time—if you haven’t seen Spirited Away, my long-shot favorite, I strongly suggest that you watch it pretty soon—and I recommend it to all of the 7.26 billion human beings on Earth.
Rating: PG “for mild thematic elements and some action”; it should be G and it is suitable for any audience. Trust me. Length: 1 hour and 34 minutes. Accessibility: It came out over a month ago, but is still being screened at lots of movie theaters (including Inwood and Northpark).
Feel free to contact me if you want more info about these movies. They’re all great and I’d love to hear you that you guys went and saw some of them after reading this! Otherwise, feel free to like, follow, share, comment- you know the drill. Happy movie watching, friends!