Hello and welcome to White Wolf Movies and Entertainment. What a year 2016 was for movies. You more than likely saw the blockbusting bangers like ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and other global hits, but some other films flew under the radar that beg your view. So let’s begin with the top seven films you may have missed that you must watch. Don’t worry, its not too late!
-Kubo and The Two Strings
Stop-Motion is an art that has been on the decline for way too long. Fortunately, ‘Kubo and The Two Strings’ eagerly and successfully pushes it back into the limelight. The Claymation is stunning and beautifully makes evident that this is the best art form for the story. Kubo begins his quest after tragedy strikes the “Island Oasis” of life that was once his to enjoy. Kubo humbly and bravely rises to the occasion only armed with a magical instrument and newly found friends “Monkey” and “Beetle”. Their mission is to seek answers in regard to his father, the greatest samurai in history. To their misfortune and our viewing pleasure, they find that following the trail of the greatest samurai comes with a few deadly adversaries. All the riveting adventure is heightened by the films gutsy choice to gift the audience with encouragement and aid to grieving the right way. ‘Kubo’ is one of the best animated films of 2016 and overall.
-The Neon Demon
A seemingly pure and innocent young lady is ready to embrace the fashion world. Judging by the title of this movie you probably are assuming it is not as light and fluffy as the first sentence. Well, you would be correct in assuming so because this film will mess with your mind. Villainous cohorts rise against our main character, played by Elle Fanning, whose pure heart sticks out like an angel in hell. Elle gives the best performance of her career playing this sweet, naïve, and gentle soul and is not ready to conform to the alien rules of her new career. This movie captures psychological warfare in the most haunting way. The visuals the cinematography and direction provide will stay glued to your mind well after the movie is over. If I didn’t include this movie, I would be doing a major disservice to all those who like to have their minds tripped.
-Hell or High Water
Who knew you could make a Western that takes place in our modern time? This movie was well aware. Chris Pine and Ben Foster star as brothers who have a vendetta against a certain bank and rein their vengeance upon the various locations. Jeff Bridges is an officer of the law who is so close to retirement he can taste it. Unfortunately the lawman’s retirement is forced to a later date after the brothers many heists leave a trail that crosses his path. This is not a high-octane action explosion of a movie. The writing allows for a slow-burn course the audience has to take in order to get to know each of the main characters, their intentions, feelings, and environment. Instead of this causing boredom it, instead, felt like a breath of fresh air. The investment in the characters and their story pays off big time when things go down in the third act. The main reason I call this film a western is all thanks to the cinematography. Ordinarily one might call this a “Crime-drama”. Whoever claims this definitely is not wrong, but the with all of its’ rusty railroad tracks, tiny towns, and charm, West Texas never felt so Western. After viewing ‘Hell or High Water’s’ refreshing dialogue, endearing characters, masterfully told story, and beautiful scenery, I cannot recommend this one enough.
‘La La Land’ is all the rage at the moment, with people calling it one of the best musical films ever made. I definitely agree but I cannot leave another fantastic 2016 achievement out of the picture. ‘Sing Street’ in tone feels like a British version of the American “classic,” ‘School of Rock’. I am not ashamed to admit that the British made the better one. I love the always rocking and rolling Jack Black and that movie but ‘Sing Street’ hits one too many sweet notes that makes it stand tall amongst many music-related film classics. Set in the 1980s, the fourteen-year-old Conner tackles puberty, private school, and his dream girl the best way possible…pretending he is in a band. Without knowing how to sing or play guitar well he wins a date by asking pretty lady “Raphina” to be in his nonexistent band’s new music video. After acting out of pure hormonal ambition, Conner realizes he has to actually have a band to impress the girl. Duh? Hilarity then ensues with private school buddies filling the various instrumental roles and Conner learning how to rock the stage 80s style. The comedy subsides when Conner is dealing with his parents bickering, bullies, and more heart-wrenching moments. The music and score of this movie fits in with the best of the 1980’s rock trends. The song “Drive it like you stole it” is total ear candy and one of my favorite songs of the year. This movie is one you cannot miss! I might suggest you turn on the subtitles, as the thick Dublin accents are sometimes difficult to understand.
-Swiss Army Man
A man who washed up on an Island is done with life. He loses all hope that he will ever be saved and decides to end it all with a rope. At the last minute a dead body washes to the shore. This man is dead. This man becomes his friend and helps him on his journey to find a way off the island. Yes, you read it right. A man who is alive becomes best friends with a man who is dead. In fact the dead man proves himself useful in many ways, hence the title “Swiss Army Man”. Let me just say this movie isn’t for everyone, but I beg that you give it a chance. There are reports online claiming critics stormed out of the theatre at just the beginning of the movie when this was screened at festivals. I do not know if this is accurate but I can say that if you stay for the whole film, you will not regret it. I commend this film for being an utterly imaginative and original piece. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliff whole-heartedly give outstanding performances as the quirkiest characters on an even quirkier journey. Through all of its’ silliness, foolish demeanor, and unsettling moments, ‘Swiss Army Man’ teases that it has so much more depth than what was expected.
-The Little Prince
Quite a few extremely well made animated movies hit theaters last year. I am seeing a trend grow where animated movies are written very well in order to cater to audiences of every age. These are, more specifically, movies disguised as cartoony entertainment for little kids but have a heart and soul about them that speak to our deepest and hardest life struggles or controversies. These animated films seek to relate to every person and I am very fond of the several films that successfully have accomplished this. ‘The Little Prince’ is an entirely underrated and overlooked one that hit Netflix in 2016. Based off the popular book series, this movie paints a magically unconventional world inside of reality. A little girl is expected to live like a full-grown adult every day by her controlling mother. After moving to a new place, she is swept from her overbearing life by a senseless old man with a heart of pure gold. The old man tells the girl tales of his aviation days when he went on bizarre adventures to strange places. The main story here is that the girl becomes entranced with his stories about The Little Prince and dreams of returning with the old man to see the prince. These stories come to life and much like the animations of recent years, deep and profound messages about love and other key proponents of life become the focal point. This film is fun, heartfelt, and deserving of your time!
Mike Flanagan directs a wonderfully claustrophobic tale of a deaf writer (Kate Siegel) whose secluded life in the woods is abruptly taken hostage by a masked psycho. John Gallagher’s wicked portrayal of this intrusive villain begins by playing twisted games with the poor deaf woman. Stalking the solitary area is his first tease, and for being a film that takes place all in the same area, Flanagan is superb at building the tension for the whole runtime. Just this masked man peeping through windows is scary enough, thanks to the genius direction and most importantly, the sound design. The film pays homage to many of the classics of yesteryear, but brings a glorious amount of refreshing ideas to the table. It trades typical horror beats for inventive twists that soundly carry the narrative while keeping the audience on edge. The fact that it has less horror elements and more thrilling aspects should open the door to a grander audience—at least those who like to be gripping their seats. Looking forward to more from Mr. Flanagan and I thank him for making this genuine and passionate horror-thriller, with emphasis on thriller. Flanagan’s motto for the movie seems to be “less is more” and I want other directors to take notes.
Thanks for checking out the list. Make sure you see some of these fantastic movies! Keep it locked in to White Wolf for more on movies and other topics.