#20 – Ex Machina – by Nick Andersen

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Ex Machina is an R-rated 2015 science fiction thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland. It stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno and Oscar Isaac. It tells the story of a programmer who is invited by his employer to perform the Turing test to a humanoid android with artificial intelligence. This is Alex Garland’s first film as a director and after watching it you could say that he struck gold, so to speak. It’s brilliant, clever and psychological. Some say it’s a masterpiece. I say it’s one of the top best of 2015.

Spoilers at the end of the post

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#18 – Defiance – by Nick Andersen

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Defiance is an R-rated 2008 action drama history film directed by Edward Zwick and written by him and Clayton Frohman. Some of Mr. Zwick’s popular films include The Last Samurai (my review here), Blood Diamond, Legends of The Fall, Glory and Traffic along with many others. The film tells the true story of the Bielski partisans, a group led by Polish Jewish brothers who saved Jews in Belarus during the Second World War. It is an adaptation of Nechama Tec’s book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. It’s an incredible story of how these brothers rescued and protected so many Jews in the forest from the Germans. I strongly believe that this is Daniel Craig’s best performance of his career. His Bond character vanishes as he completely becomes Polish Jew, Tuvia Bielski, fighting for the survival of his people.

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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#17 – The Men Who Stare At Goats – by Nick Andersen

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The Men Who Stare At Goats is a 2009 R-rated drama comedy directed by Grant Heslov inspired by Jon Ronson’s book of the same title. Both Jon and Peter Straughan are the writers for this film. The war parody of the true story behind the New Earth Army, an experimental US army unit of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers. It’s funny at times and entertaining but feels like it stretches or has you lose interest once in a while but then brings you back. Although a good cast, it’s a slightly weird film but with a funny touch.

NO SPOILERS

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#15 – Dances with Wolves – by Nick Andersen

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Dances with Wolves is a 1990 adventure, drama and western film directed by Kevin Costner and written by Michael Blake based off of his novel with the same title. Don’t let the genre, western, make you look away in case you don’t enjoy them. I personally am not interested in the western times, much less films about it. But in Dances with Wolves, it is not centered on the modern day life of the people of that time. It is centered on the way of life of the forgotten Sioux tribe. If you are looking for entertainment, you will not find it in this film. This film teaches many lessons, and is about the bonding of people and the respect towards nature. A simple enough idea to have but ruined by another idea. The idea that one person decides that he/she is superior to others.

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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#13 – Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – by Nick Andersen

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Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is an R-rated 2014 comedy and drama film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. The film’s script was written by the director himself along with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo. It stars Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough and Amy Ryan. It is the story about a faded Hollywood actor, who once was famous for his iconic role as Birdman, now struggling not to lose his career by adapting, directing and starring in a Broadway play written by Raymond Carver. The film is quite extraordinary. Iñárritu’s one-take illusion is mesmerizingly unbelievable! Michael Keaton’s performance is the winner in this one; truly one of his best. Edward Norton’s was excellent as usual. Whatever is shown to us in movies, whether relevant or not at the time, it is important to keep those things in mind, for if we ignore them, we won’t be able to come up with more than one interpretation in the end and this movie definitely has more than just one!

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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#12 – This Is England – by Nick Andersen

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This Is England is an R rated 2006 crime and drama film directed and written by Shane Meadows based off of his own experiences. The film
centers during a 1983 summer in England in the times of Margaret Thatcher as first Prime Minister and the Falklands War. Shaun, a
fatherless 12-year old loner, becomes part of a friendly Skinhead group but things get more dramatic when dangerous neo-nazi Combo returns from prison. It’s an interesting change of scenery if you’re used to American-made films. The film deals with the times of mass unemployment and the xenophobia of the group of these Skinheads. We see how things are through the eyes of young impressionable Shaun. This film is not for everyone. Some love it and others dislike it. My opinion is right in the middle.

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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#11 – Mr. Nobody – by Nick Andersen

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Mr. Nobody is an R-rated 2009 sci-fi, drama and romance film directed by Jaco Van Dormael starring Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger and Linh Dan Pham. In short, Mr. Nobody is a gem. It’s wonderfully unique. It’s fantastic and complex. Not a lot people will like it, much less understand it. But for those who did understand it, wow, what a story! The theme in this film is about our actions and their repercusions. Cause and effect. It is visually stunning with beautiful close-up shots. Its soundtrack is beautiful and sets the mood just right. From lead singer of 30 Seconds To Mars to his Oscar-winning role in Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto is unique in all his activities and does a good job in this one. I was asked by someone if this film was better than n (whichever). I told that person that you cannot compare this to any film. It is however one where you have to pay close attention to, so if you enjoy those kinds, then you’re in for a very interesting ride with this one.

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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#8 – Chronicle – by Nick Andersen

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Chronicle is a 2012 film directed by Josh Trank starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan. It is based on a story by both Josh Trank and writer Max Landis. This is the type of film that is mostly recorded as a first person with old model cameras (2004) and camcorders rather than the professional cinematic cameras that weigh a lot and are highly expensive. The movie is not exactly a superhero one but it deals with superpowers and that is always exciting! Don’t let the first person view throw you off! This independent film really succeeded in creating an enjoyable story with the theme of superpowers.

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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#6 – Stand By Me – by Nick Andersen

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Stand By Me is a memorable 1986 coming of age film and an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Body. Directed by Rob Reiner, starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell. I was not born in the 80s or late 70s, but I can tell that this is the type of movie kids loved growing up and consider it today a childhood classic. Surprisingly, it’s an R rated one instead of a PG-13 as one could believe.

A few spoilers ahead !

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#5 – Oldboy (2003) – by Nick Andersen

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Oldboy is an R-rated 2003 South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook. It stars Choi Min-sik, Yu Ji-tae and Kang Hye-jung. This is my first watching a Park Chan-wook film. I had added this one to my list a while ago because of the 8.4/10 score it has on IMDB. From the sypnosis, I had somewhat an idea of what I was about to watch: A man is released after being imprisoned for 15 years by an unknown captor. This is his story of revenge…

!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

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