Michael Lane’s Top 10 Films of 2018

Banner credited to Michael Lane

2018 certainly was a year, wasn’t it? I graduated from college, even landed a job just a handful of months after, and in between dreading school, work, and the awful act of applying for work, I still found an unreasonable amount of time to go to the movies. There was originally a sizable list of contenders vowing for inclusion on this list, and while I’d love to talk about each and every one of them, I unfortunately had to slice this thing down to the resulting 15 you see below. There are so many movies I enjoyed this year, and even more that I missed out on seeing completely (perhaps your personal favorites belong in those categories!). And while I enjoyed a large swath of movies this year, it wasn’t until the very end of the year when I found that one particularly standout entry that I instantly knew would top my list. What film is that? Read on, friend, and find out for yourself.

Honorable mentions:

Really some great films on that list there, but 10 others managed to be just that much better in 2018. So, with that out of the way, we can finally get to what you’ve all been waiting for: My Certified Top 10 Films of 2018. I think you’ll like the list, and I especially hope you may find some new movies to watch. Happy viewing, everyone!

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Student Feature: 3 Student Perspectives on “Donnie Darko”

Found below are three reviews of Richard Kelly’s 2001 film, Donnie Darko, written by Lewis University students Hannah Cross, Megan O’Brien, and Joseph Pryzdia.

Hannah Cross:

Donnie Darko
https://imdb.to/2PIyFEk

Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly, sends its audience down the rabbit hole (almost literally) into a twisted idea of time travel. The movie is suspenseful and brilliant as it alludes to other great works, notably: Alice in Wonderland. Donnie is followed by a white rabbit, which is the basis for his hallucinations and visions throughout the film. This movie’s genre lies somewhere in the spectrum of mystery, sci-fi, and teen angst in the John Waters tradition. The audience can easily relate to the feelings that Donnie has about being the outcast, not only in school but also in his family. Its satirical elements bring out some of the darker and dry humor in the movie. The canted cinematography and jagged editing of this film add to the eerie, chaotic, and unsettling feelings to the audience. While the majority of scenes are bright and colorful, every scene with the rabbit becomes visibly dark and muted by design to foreshadow the impending dark side of the film. Continue reading

Michael Lane’s Top 10 Films of 2017

Banner credited to Michael Lane

Would it be a cop-out if I were to concede and say that there were simply too many exceptional films this past year? So many, in fact, that even ranking a top 10 is quite near impossible for me? Because in forming this list (which you’re likely eagerly scrolling through to the bottom only to see my number one choice), I’ve had to not only sacrifice a number of extraordinary films, but have also infinitely gone back and forth on where each of these movies fit into the order. Really, in a year with less competition, each of my top six choices could have easily sat atop a year-end list at the number one spot.

As always, I wasn’t able to catch every film that I wanted to — although I did make it out to theaters over 50 times this past year. And it’s because of that that I can safely say that 2017 was the best year for film in recent memory; I was consistently amazed week after week by the incredible work reaching into theaters and beyond. Before we get to the official list, I have included a handful of honorable mentions as well.

Honorable Mentions:

Now that those good (but just not good enough) films are out of the way, below you will find what I consider 2017’s absolute greatest output in terms of motion pictures:

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Michael Lane’s Top 10 Films of 2016

Don’t even try to tell me that 2016 was a bad year for film. I found myself falling in love with new films week after week from the beginning of the year until its final days. Be it the year’s biggest blockbusters, the indie-est of horror flicks, or those found in between, the output from filmmakers in 2016 was absolutely remarkable.

I ended up condensing this down from a lengthy list of 35, and it wasn’t easy. Actually, ranking these films could’ve been an even harder task, but I sadly didn’t get to see every film I wanted to in 2016 — the most unfortunate among them being Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and Jackie, which I’m sure would have all been strong contenders. And before I get to the actual list, below you will find a number of standouts that just barely missed the cut for the top 10.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Captain America: Civil War – Dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (streaming on Netflix)
  • The Witch – Dir. Robert Eggers (streaming on Amazon Prime)
  • Zootopia – Dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush (streaming on Netflix)
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Dir. Mel Gibson
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane – Dir. Dan Trachtenberg

Like I said before, there were plenty of films I loved this year. Here are the best of the best:

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The Wilhelm Scream: Torture

[Spoilers for The Green Inferno]

http://bit.ly/1LQFhHT
http://bit.ly/1LQFhHT

After being in development Hell, The Green Inferno finally came out this year. This is a typical Eli Roth film, considering it is a Torture Horror film. It is very similar to his most popular work, Hostel. While this may seem like just another torture porn film, there was actually a lot of interesting things that lead up to this film’s release.

The Green Inferno was filmed in 2012 and was scheduled to be released in early 2014. Due to financial troubles, the film’s release was delayed until this year. Since the film centered around an indigenous tribe, Eli Roth wanted to film with an authentic tribe. They found a tribe, but they were so secluded that the production team and the government had to explain to them what a movie even was. Roth was using the film Cannibal Holocaust as the main inspiration for his film, and that’s the film that they screened for the tribe.

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An Alien Way of Telling a Story

[Spoilers for The Martian]

http://bit.ly/1S7XMbX
http://bit.ly/1S7XMbX

Hollywood has become very successful at making a profit. The studios have a formula that they stick to for almost all their films. While this may not be a traditional step-by-step guide, it does shape how American films are made. For example, in most movies today, there is a “good versus bad” dynamic. There is almost always a definite and happy ending. However, some of the details in this formula seemed to be challenged recently. There are a lot of changes happening because the way we consume media is going through some of the biggest transformations ever.

Television is moving from cable to online streaming and with that change comes a change in the style and quality of production. Shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are becoming more and more popular. These shows are made to look and feel like movies. They also play with traditional conventions. There is no longer a good guy or bad guy. We do not always get all our questions answered. A recent film that played with traditional conventions is Jurassic World. It took little things — like a woman running through a jungle in heels — and made fun of them to show how predictable Hollywood has become. With all this change will come new innovations. The Martian is one of those films that pushes the boundaries of what films are usually too afraid to do.

Looking at The Martian without doing too much research will make you think that it’s just another typical Hollywood movie. It has a big budget, a cast full of big stars, was heavily marketed, and is full of action. In reality, this film was breaking tradition before it even became a film. Andy Weir is the author of the novel the film is based on. When writing, he did his research to make sure that all the science was as realistic as possible. It helped a lot that he had a background in computer science and that his father was a particle physicist. The Martian shows how books are changing a lot these days as well. With no luck in getting previous work published by traditional means, Weir decided to self-publish his novel chapter by chapter for free on his website. After his novel gained some traction, fans demanded that he publish it as an e-book. It became a bestseller soon after.

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A Dream Come True

Cinderella
http://bit.ly/1F6TU7F

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Disney seems to see a benefit in making live-action remakes of the classics. We have seen Snow White and Sleeping Beauty already, and Disney plans to bring Mulan back too. These movies have been hit-or-miss for audiences, but Cinderella was a step in the right direction. With a few movies under their belt, Disney finally shows the potential that all of these live action remakes have.

Cinderella seems like it would be a tough project to make in live action because it is a simple story with magical things going on in the background. At first glance, it could be brushed off as potentially cheesy or too childish because of the content, such as Cinderella talking to animals.

Despite this, it was actually handled really tastefully. All of the supernatural events still happen, but they are toned down to match the style of a live-action film. You aren’t forced to suspend belief because they do it very subtly. The animals do not talk, but they are clearly in a friendship with Cinderella. The cinematography helps too because it is done very romantically and makes everything look just a step above real life. There are shots of castles, fields, and forests the way they only exist in fairy tales.

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