The Top 10 Films of 2015

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Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Normally, you’d see lists like these at the tail end of a year, or within the first week of a new one. That would ideally be the case for us, but unfortunately, MediaBrewPub isn’t a full-time commitment for us (though it can be, if you’re a rich benefactor á la Abel Magwitch and want to support us). That being said, January tends to be the month when I attempt to watch as many films from the previous year that I wasn’t able to catch in theaters. January has now passed, and the time has come for me to finally release this list. Perhaps it isn’t as comprehensive as it can be, but given my budget and spare time, it’ll do.

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CryTitle: Carol | Rated: R | Duration: 118 min | Theaters wide (reducing)

The best parts of any romance lie in the details. In regards to details, I’m talking about the glances, the brushes of fingertips, the way someone conducts him or herself around certain people, and the attention that he or she gives to that certain someone. These make up the language of love, and what’s fascinating about them is that they can be both overt and subtle, depending on the amount of attention you’re paying to a relationship. Now, when you have a taboo love story, those details matter all the more, especially when the couple in question can’t always be open. Indeed, that’s the relationship at play in Carol, the delicate and intense adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking lesbian romance novel, The Price of Salt.

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REVIEW: The Revenant

ShelterTitle: The Revenant | Rated: R | Duration: 156 min | Theaters nationwide

Typically, there are two transformations occurring in any survival story. One, of course, stems from the physical struggle with the beautiful yet relentless Mother Nature and her elements, forcing the human body to constantly take on more than it can possibly bear. The other is the metaphysical, where the survivor’s experiences forever alter his or her perception and understanding of the world. Depending on the storyteller, both matter equally, or one more than the other. Recent Oscar-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu clearly favors the latter approach to The Revenant, a beautifully photographed film that’s in love with its theme but barely puts any weight behind it.

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REVIEW: The Hateful Eight

Ruth and OB and WarrenTitle: The Hateful Eight | Rated: R | Duration: 187 min (Roadshow) / 168 min (wide release) | Theaters nationwide

One of the opening shots of The Hateful Eight proves to be quite telling – an extreme close-up on Jesus Christ’s forlorn face, before the camera slowly pulls back to reveal a wooden crucifix alone in a snowy wasteland, with not even a visible rock to keep it company. Here, Christ’s sacrifice to remove the sins of mankind has compelled humanity to commit more evil than ever before, abounding in even greater sin. His work ultimately amounting to nothing, he is forgotten. The world he tried to save instead has hatred running amok, and mercy is nonexistent. With that shot, writer-director Quentin Tarantino draws us into the world of his latest feature film, a mean-spirited and surprisingly political piece that’s surely his most divisive film yet.

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Into the Badlands: I Already Miss It

ITB-KeyArt-1200x707Six episodes. SIX. Goddammit AMC, why do you do this to me? Those clever sons of bitches. To ensure they do not invest too much into a show most of their shows (maybe all?) have short first seasons. I hate it. I hate it so much because I love their shows. So now, after six heart-racing episodes of Into the Badlands, I sit here re-watching them all because, goddammit, I love this show. So in honor of these six episodes, I’ve got six questions for the (hopefully) upcoming Season 2 of Into the Badlands. Spoilers Ahead. Continue reading

REVIEW: In the Heart of the Sea

OfficersTitle: In the Heart of the Sea | Rated: PG-13 | Duration: 121 min | Theaters wide (reducing)

Survival stories are among the most fascinating that you’ll ever hear or read about, especially if they’re true. Survival is such a compelling subject matter due to the idea of humankind stripped of any easy way out, left to pit only knowledge and wit against Mother Nature’s ruthlessness. In the Heart of the Sea, adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick’s award-winning book of the same name, seeks to recount the incredible story of the whaleship Essex, but its punches don’t have the effects that it desires.

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

TrioTitle: Star Wars: The Force Awakens | Rated: PG-13 | Duration: 135 min | Theaters nationwide

Really, what can you say about Star Wars? It’s one of those intellectual properties that define a generation (in this case, my parents’). It’s one of those film series that transcends the medium of cinema to become a cultural and global phenomenon, a revolution even. Almost anywhere you go in the world, you’ll likely meet someone who can recognize a character’s name, a ship, or a musical cue from the films. Chances are, that someone will also know that the series essentially consists of an excellent original trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) that ran from 1977 to 1983, followed by an underwhelming prequel trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith) from 1999 to 2005. Since the prequel trilogy, Star Wars fans haven’t had much to celebrate about, until Disney acquired the property and announced the development of a sequel trilogy in 2012. Three years of hype-building later, the first installment of that trilogy, The Force Awakens, has arrived. Although its story beats resemble ones from A New Hope too much for its own good, this generally fast-paced film introduces and builds from its excellent new characters, who prove to be charming and compelling.

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