Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The 2016 Movies I Didn't See

I wrote this feature last year to sort out my own feelings toward some of the more prominent movies I had made a conscious decision to skip, doing some navel gazing to see where my own media biases were. Since I'm working through the last handful of 2016 films on my list, mostly foreign films with later domestic releases, I thought I'd do a 2016 version. The only movie from the last list I ended up watching was "Mustang," which was thankfully not the feel-bad movie that I expected it would be.

So below are seven movies that didn't make the cut this year. I reserve the right to revisit and reverse these decisions in the future. However, I watched well over 150 films from 2016, more than usual, so the likelihood isn't as high as in previous years.

"Voyage of Time" - Terence Malick's latest is currently only available as a 40 minute IMAX presentation. A 90 minute 35mm version is apparently also in the works, but I have no idea when it will be available. And though it has been described as a visual wonder, with effects work by Douglas Trumbull, there's no getting away from "Voyage of Time" essentially being a grandiose nature documentary. I'll be happy to sit down with it someday, eventually, but I'm not going out of my way to make time for it, or hold up my Top Ten list for it either.

"Gold" - I was a cheerleader for the McConaissance, but the shine has definitely worn off recently. "Gold" was one of several true life "get rich through shady business" movies that came out this year, and was positioned as an Oscar contender. It proceeded to get absolutely no critical traction whatsoever, which deflated my anticipation. It also, frankly, doesn't have a particularly appealing story or characters. I'm also skipping Gus van Sant's very badly received "Sea of Trees," which finally had its US release last August after several delays.

"Sing" - I'm probably going to end up watching this one eventually, because it was extremely popular. I don't even think it looks all that bad, and the critics were pretty positive on it. However, I already sat through one iffy-looking Illumination Studios film from 2016, "The Secret Life of Pets," and was remarkably bored throughout. There's nothing about the karaoke singing anthropomorphic animals of "Sing" that I find remotely interesting, nothing even potentially off-kilter or unique like the "Trolls" movie turned out to be. So it can wait.

"Hello My Name is Doris" - Sometimes these smaller indie films featuring an older actor can be great. However, everything I read about this one set my teeth on edge. I have nothing against Sally Field, but everything about the character she's playing and the particulars I've heard about the downer plot just sounded like an awful slog. Also, the last film that writer/director Michael Showalter made any significant contributions to was the absurdist comedy "They Came Together," which I detested. So I'm not going to return Doris's "Hello."

"Jane Got a Gun" - I'm sorry to everyone involved, but the moment that Lynne Ramsay left the project, I completely lost interest in this Natalie Portman lead western. Gavin O'Connor is simply not someone I'm going to get excited about, especially after I watched the other film he directed this year, "The Accountant." It doesn't help that the film also lost Michael Fassbender and Jude Law during the cast shuffle and the critical response was pretty sad. The drama going on behind the scenes seemed far more interesting than the film.

"Hardcore Henry" - A first person shooter movie! My stomach is lurching already! This is actually the type of film that I usually push myself to watch because it's doing something new and innovative. After all, "Hardcore Henry" is told using a particular kind of visual language commonly associated with video games. However, I kept putting this off, and putting this off, and there had been nothing to convince me that it's worth tracking down a copy anytime soon. Nobody seemed especially impressed with it, even its core audience of gamers.

"Don't Breathe" - This is the film I wrestled with the longest, because it has been highly acclaimed by certain critics and movie lovers that I tend to agree with. And horror is certainly one of those genres that I try to keep an open mind about. However, even when a home invasion film has a great twist and Stephen Lang playing a psycho blind man, it's still a home invasion film, and I tend to find them pretty tedious. I have to be in a very particular mood for them, and the mood hasn't struck me in some time.


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