By: Henry J. Fromage –
My wife decided recently that Dane DeHaan is totes the hottest, so that and catching up on new releases are the themes of this week. Total young DiCaprio.
71. Get Out
Every bit as amazing as you’ve heard, this African American Horror Story is a stunning filmmaking debut by the somehow still 38 year old Jordan Peele and a subversively funny, extremely effective thriller executed with the kind of confidence most seasoned genre veterans couldn’t boast.
72. Life after Beth
This DeHaan-starrer is one hell of a weird film, in which he pines for his just deceased girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza) only for her to return from the dead a few days later and just a little bit different. Things spiral progressively out of control and in strange and hilarious directions from there. I’m not even sure if its good, but it’s certainly enjoyably unique.
73. The Shack
I had this one for review, because, spoiler alert, it was at the bottom of everybody’s list for March. It’s a strange watch, because there’s some good lessons buried deep in there about not judging others and the meaning of faith, but it’s all delivered in such a borderline inept, Hallmark-polished manner that it’s really hard to quantify its quality.
This documentary about the 1966 University of Texas Tower sniper grabs your attention first from its rotoscoped reenactments of a day that claimed the lives of 14 people out of a clear blue summer sky. Where it really starts to impact, though, is when it begins to intercut the real participants being interviewed in the present day. As gripping a film as has come out this year.
So much for Matthew McConaughey’s winning streak. While I’m one of the few that’ll stand by Free State of Jones, even that was admittedly pretty bloated, which is an adjective you could also apply to this erstwhile Wolf of Wall Street. Unfortunately, it doesn’t approach a tenth of the forward momentum of that modern classic, instead falling into the realm of blandly forgettable.
76. The Lego Batman Movie
An absolutely stellar, tongue in cheek, convention-lampooning first 30 minutes slides into something less special as the demands of plot and obligatory (and laudable, but still) life lessons begin to take over. Overall, if this is the direction kids flicks are going in the future, I’m all for as many of these as they want to make, but I’m not exactly blown away, either.
77. Dark Night
This oblique, harrowing, and beautiful drama came closer to putting me in that blown away state. Following several residents of a Florida town in a lazy summer day leading up to a mass shooting based on the Aurora Dark Knight massacre, Director Tim Sutton shies away from showing the violence, which makes the cloud of doom, and the uncertainty as to which of these young men are victims and which are the eventual shooter, that much compelling and tragic. Helene Louvart turns in an early contender for best cinematography of the year as well… what an eye.
Mike Flanagan has been quickly making a name for himself as one of the new young masters of horror, often turning much less than promising premises into big screen terror gold, from Oculus to the surprisingly on point Ouija: Origin of Evil. He also works like a madman, turning in Before I Wake in addition to Ouija as well as this film for Netflix, in which a deaf and mute woman is driven to her limits in trying to fend off a brutal home invader. While it’s not always satisfying from a character choice perspective, that’s part of the allure- every character, including the killer, feels entirely human and limited by that fact. It gets damn brutal, though, and never once loses your attention- definitely a must for horror buffs.