2015 Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
5Jan/203

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

31Jan/180

Changing Reels S2 Episode 2 – Straight Outta Compton

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This week we revisit F. Gary Gray’s 2015 film Straight Outta Compton.  The film recounts the rise of the group N.W.A. whose music revolutionized Hip Hop culture and inspired a generation in the process.  For our short film spotlight, we discuss Melville by James M. Johnston and Missy Elliott’s Work It by Dave Meyers.

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1Dec/170

Cibele (2015)

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

Two stories, one likely apocryphal and the other a friendly bit of advice.

In the 19th century, a man and woman meet by chance and go their separate ways.  They continue to communicate via telegraph, their communication blossoms into romance, and they decide to meet once more.  Neither has a clue what to do with the other when they share the same space again, until they have an idea to move their conversation back to the telegraph.  What was awkward now flowed naturally, and their romance continued in the tiny clicks of the telegraph where the silence stood.

The advice comes from a man I knew back in my insurance days.  He was a "worldly" sort, but had the wide swath of knowledge and good nature to back up his image.  I was talking about some problems with my then-girlfriend with him and he said, "Remember, there are three people in the relationship.  There's you, there's her, and there's the two of you together."  Great advice, but the truth is more complicated than that.  There was me and her, sure, but she was shocked at how different I was when hanging out with other friends, and I was similarly surprised at how she changed depending on the social temperature.  The "me" and "her" existed in constant flux, adapting to suit the situation, and we each discovered things about the other when our social dynamic changed.

Cibele thrives in this flux.  You play as Nina, a teenager trying to find her footing in college, as she moves from one personality to the next hoping to find what will make her happy.  The majority of the gameplay comes from searching Nina's desktop, rifling through folders of old poetry and photographs, watching her change as the months pass and the scattered ideas she has of herself come together to form Nina.  The key is to realize none of these fragments are false.  Some are cosmetic experiments - hair dye here, change of clothes there.  Others delve into herself by writing poetry and blog posts.  The conflict comes from those fragments colliding with the world outside her desktop, where the solitude of experimentation ends and messy human interaction begins.

5Oct/170

Changing Reels Episode 28 – Creed

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Ryan Coogler’s Creed, much like its protagonist Adonis Johnson Creed, strives to carve out its own path while dealing with the weight of his legacy.  The seventh film in the Rocky franchise, not only pays homage to the films in the series that came before it, but forges its own identity while carrying the torch for a whole new generation.  In this episode, we are joined by film critic Ryan McNeil to discuss why Creed ranks amongst the best boxing films in the last couple of decades.  We also take time to highlight our short film picks: Quand J’ai Remplacé Camille by Nathan Otaño, Rémy Clarke & Leïla Courtillon and Standing 8 by Michael Molina Minard.

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!

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31Mar/170

Changing Reels Episode 7 – The Midnight Swim

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Sarah Adina Smith’s The Midnight Swim is not a film that can easily be summarized.  At its core it is a family drama about the connection between three half-sisters and their mother who has mysteriously gone missing.  However, it also features elements from the found footage genre, a wonderful musical number, a shawl that is downright creepy, and deep questions about the transcendent nature of death.  Needless to say there is a lot to chew on in this episode.   We also discuss our short films picks of the week:  Donato Sansone’s Journal Anime and Ben Brand’s Life is Beautiful.

Andrew’s note: shortly after Donato Sansone’s Journal Anime was featured on Short of the Week, and after Courtney and I were able to view and discuss it, all available versions of it online have been made private.  Sorry for the inconvenience, and for those still interested you can find the remnants of the initial post we discussed here.

Do you have a film that you would like hear us to discuss on the show? Want to share some thoughts on this episode? If so, you can reach us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC) or by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com).  Also, you can subscribe to our show on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher!

Show notes:

  • 1:56 – Journal Anime by Donato Sansone
  • 11:28 – Life Is Beautiful by Ben Brand
  • 19:26 – The Midnight Swim by Sarah Adina Smith
  • We also discuss Kurt Halfyard’s interview with Sarah Adina Smith that can be found at Screen Anarchy.

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