2014 Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
5Jan/200

Forever connected: a comprehensive list of the best and worst films of the decade

I am not a fan of lists, and when I decided to do a list covering the best and worst films of the last decade it became clear that I needed to do the whole thing or none at all.

With that in mind, here it is, a comprehensive list of the best and worst films of the decade. This list covers 2010 to 2019 and, starting from the top, goes from the best on down. Each section is broken up with an image of reviews that reflect my best as a writer or a film that has earned special consideration of some kind.

The exception are my picks for the two best films of the decade, tied at #1, and a brief explanation about why they are at the top. After that, I hope that you'll join me through this decade of writing and growth. I've had stumbles, to say nothing of trying to figure out my voice, and haven't been able to review much recently. But I'm hoping to change and get back on my feet again starting with this overview of the last decade in film.

Let's begin at the top.

Our always-connected age means that we are more directly in contact with one another's feelings than ever before. It's overwhelming. One minute you could be happily watching a puppy play in snow then scroll down to find live camera footage of someone being killed. Scroll further and you'll see someone trying to sell you hair grooming products then further down a friend talking about the crippling pain they live with. It's overwhelming trying to figure out what to do with yourself amidst this never ending deluge of feeling. Good, bad, elated, traumatic - if you want to live in this world there's no way of turning it off anymore.

The best two films of the decade both confront what it's like to live in our always-connected age but take vastly different approaches. Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz's Upstream Color approaches our connection with experimentation and uncertainty. Zack and Deborah Snyder's Man of Steel mythologizes the open nerve of connection with grandeur and spirituality. Upstream Color is the angrier of the two, seeing those that would profit on our pain as aloof emotional vampires. Man of Steel is the more hopeful, watching the savior we don't deserve experience the worst of humanity while still finding the strength to go on by our ability to sacrifice for one another.

It feels impossible to discuss these two films in some kind of neutral state. In Upstream Color's case, the film has so few that have seen it and those that have struggle to find the words for the pain it so directly confronts. For Man of Steel, passions between what it did or didn't do to the legacy of Superman have become so embedded in neverending cultural and political warfare. Neither benefits from languishing in relative obscurity or being the cultural battleground for online liberals and conservatives alike.

Both have exquisite music that highlight our connection while confounding it. Upstream Color's melodies shying away from catharsis as one of Carruth's messy tracks bleeds into the next. Man of Steel never shies away from hope, finding the note to soar even in the most militant-sounding of Hans Zimmerman's compositions. One might seem sonic years away from the other, but in each I hear the same yearning to be felt and touched. To be reminded that what we feel is not what makes us alone.

The images match their conclusions. In Upstream Color, two people huddled in fear that don't understand their connection grow to accept the mystery, and one another, while they reach beyond species to comfort all living things. In Man of Steel, the scared boy who doesn't understand why his sacrifice frightens others grows to draw strength from that sacrifice as he inspires the best in his fellow humans. We are always connected and, many times, we are scared. But there is hope at the end of that painful connection.

Let their examples guide us. Do not accept the vultures that seek to profit off of your misery. Do not accept those in power who would deny the possibility of a messiah because they weren't born in your homeland. Accept that we are all that we are and, even if it doesn't feel like it, we have the capability of inspiring the best of one another in our darkest moments.

The Best

Great

Good

Zone of Indifference

Bad

Wretched

28Aug/172

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)

If you enjoy Can't Stop the Movies, contributions help me eat and pay rent. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution via PayPal.

If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

Twenty years before the release of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (just Shadow of Mordor moving forward), what I then knew as Final Fantasy III came out for the Super Nintendo.  In a sequence more inventive than anything in Shadow of Mordor, the main scenario splits into three paths and I followed the martial artist Sabin as he witnesses the kingdom of Doma withstand a siege from the Empire.  To break the siege, nihilistic antagonist Kefka poisons the water supply of the Doman people.  This sends the Doman warrior Cyan into a frenzy, trying to take on the Empire's siege camp alone, and puts Cyan on a collision course with his grief after deciding to join up with Sabin.

I might be old-fashioned - feel free to fire away if you agree - but I'm starting to miss protagonists who are heroic.  In an early mission of Shadow of Mordor, the player character Talion moves stealthily into an Uruk encampment to poison their food supply.  Upon completion of the mission I was treated with the sight of orcs foaming at the mouth as they writhed in pain to their eventual death.  This is more war crime than battle, and had Shadow of Mordor taken a nuanced look at Talion's rage then there might have been room for commentary on what we collectively accept in war when our side is in the "right."

13Apr/170

Changing Reels Episode 13 – Beyond the Lights

If you enjoy Can't Stop the Movies, contributions help me eat and pay rent. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution via PayPal.

The world of pop music is often explored in film through a satirical lens. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights is one of those rare films that takes an honest look at the complexities of the industry. Centered around a romance between a pop star and a police officer, the film boldly examines topics such as race, depression, and the objectification of women in the media. We also take a moment to discuss our short film picks of the week: Elizabeth St. Philip’s The Colour of Beauty and the Michael K. Williams starring Am I Typecast?

Show Notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes! If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com). You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons below, or join the Twitch stream here!

Filed under: 2014, Podcasts No Comments
9Oct/160

Changing Reels Episode 2 – The Caveman’s Valentine

If you enjoy Can't Stop the Movies, contributions help me eat and pay rent. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution via PayPal.

In episode two of Changing Reels we turn our focus to Kasi Lemmons’ 2001 thriller The Caveman’s Valentine. The film follows a homeless man, Romulus (Samuel L. Jackson), who was once a promising composer but now lives in a cave in New York City. When the frozen body of a young man appears in a tree near his dwelling, the paranoid schizophrenic Romulus ignores the police’s assessment, of it being an accidental death, and embarks on a quest to find the killer.

We also discuss our short films picks of the week: Ryan Coogler’s Locks and Sara Kenney’s Angels and Ghosts.

Lastly, you can now subscribe to our show on iTunes!

Show Notes:

  • 0:58 – Locks by Ryan Coogler
  • 7:59 – Angels and Ghosts by Sara Kenney
  • 14:08 – The Caveman’s Valentine by Kasi Lemmons

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons below, or join the Twitch stream here!

Filed under: 2000's, 2014 No Comments
3Aug/160

Denis Villeneuve Podcast: Enemy (2014)

If you enjoy Can't Stop the Movies, contributions help me eat and pay rent. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution via PayPal.

Enemy

Courtney Small of Cinema Axis joins Andrew for a conversation about the surreal, and spider-laden, examination of sex, education, and power in Denis Villeneuve's Enemy (previously reviewed by both Andrew and Courtney.)

Both the introduction and outro on the podcast come from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario ("The Beast") and Prisoners ("Through Falling Snow").

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons below, or join the Twitch stream here!