Of course you saw Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Creed but what about those films that went under the radar? 2015 was a wonderful year for films, especially those indie flicks. A couple of the below films may make Ryan's and my own top list of 2015 but others are just films that I didn't know existed. Enjoy.
Director: John M. Maclean | Starring Michael Fassbender & Kodi Smit-McPhee
Blake's Take: ★★★½
Michael Fassbender (X-Men, Steve Jobs) plays Silas Sellick, a western bounty hunter looking to cash in on a $2,000 reward for Rose Ross and her rather who have fled to the Americas from Scotland following an accidental murder of Lord Cavdendish. Set in the mid 1800's, Sellick runs across Rose's unrequited love, Jay Cavendish, who followed Rose to North America to proclaim his love to Rose. Smartly, Sellick uses Jay to track down Rose for his bounty. Along the way begins the tale of redemption for Sellick that climaxes as they finally track down Rose and her father.
First-time director and writer John Maclean does a splendid job making one of the best westerns since the True Grit remake. The film builds up the tension nicely and Fassbender does a perfect job playing Sellick. Slow West wasn't largely released so no surprise if you missed it but take the 90 minutes and give it a watch.
Reason to watch: Visually beautiful and and a nicely developing story.
THE END OF THE TOUR
Director: James Ponsdolt | Starring: Jason Segel & Jesse Eisenburg
Blake's Take: ★★★★
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) plays the critically acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace on the final leg of his book tour for Infinite Jest. Jesse Eisenburg (The Social Network) plays David Lipsky, a columnist for Rolling Stone and a writer himself with on book published. While initially skeptical of Foster's national best-selling book, Lipsky follows Wallace on the final leg of his tour to conduct interviews for a Rolling Stone article. The film follows both characters as they develop a friendship and discuss everything from Infinite Jest to questions of life, Wallace's alcoholism and self-identity.
Jason Segel is incredible and delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. The film does a beautiful job with the writing and the constant dialogue between Segel and Eisenburg, especially dealing with Wallace's personal life. Wallace eventually committed suicide in 2008 and many of the topics and themes of the film deal with Wallace's problems with humanity and personal self-identity. The End of the Tour takes two young men who are at a turning point in their lives and dialogues their struggles, questions and expectations. Truly beautiful.
Reason to watch: Great dialogue thanks to some outstanding writing. Jason Segel play a career-changing role.
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E
Director: Guy Ritchie | Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander
Blake's Take: ★★★
This is for those that were disappointed by Spectre. As is the definition of Ryan's three stars, The Man From U.N.C.L.E is good, forgettable entrainment, but worth a watch. Set in 1963, Henry Cavill (Man of Steel), plays an undercover CIA agent Napolean Solo works with Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) in order to stop a mysterious criminal organization bent on gaining the secrets to nuclear power and world domination. The film is based upon a 1964 television series.
Overall a largely forgettable film, but its a nice mix of the well-known Get Smart and James Bond franchises. We see that Henry Cavill can play other roles outside of Superman and he does a fair-enough job portraying the classic James Bond-esque agent that sleeps around and is dryly comedic. Biggest flaw turns the story which turns out to be extremely predictable. Seeing that I didn't know about his movie until it was opened by my brother at Christmas, y'all probably didn't hear about it either.
Reason to watch: Fun entertainment.
Director: Alex Garland | Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Issach, & Alicia Vikhander
Blakes Take: ★★★★½
Domhhall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) plays Caleb, a programmer who wins a competition to visit his CEO Nathan, played by Oscar Issach (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside Llewyn Davis). Caleb travels to the Nathan's secluded house to discover that the CEO has built a artificial intelligent humanoid and will use Caleb to administer the Turing Test, which measures the AI's ability to persuade a human. I won't say much else to save the plot but they embark upon administering the Turing Test and along the way come across surprises. Yes, that's vague but you'll have to watch it to get the rest.
Every actor is brilliant and the film is touched with mysterious, philosophical and comedic scenes throughout. From start to finish Ex Machina will have your brain whirling. By the end it's all a jumbled mush of questions about life and reality. Never before have I seen a movie that made me question myself and dealt with the questions of humanity to such great and rare depths. One of the best films of 2015 and possibly all-time.
Reason to watch: It'll make you rethink what it means to be human.
Me and Earl and the dying girl
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | Starring: Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke
Blakes Take: ★★★½
Thomas Mann (Project X) plays Greg Gaines, a young awkward teen who gets through high school by broadly associating himself with everybody and making films with his closest friend Earl (RJ Cyler). When a classmate of his, Rachael Kuschner, played by Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel), is diagnosed with cancer, Greg's mom forces him to spend time with her. The two have barley spoken since kindergarten but slowly they develop a unique and caring friendship. As Rachael's cancer progresses, Greg spends more time with her and decides to make a short film about her life.
A beautifully done coming of age film with a heavy emotional focus. There is nothing here that hasn't been done before but the relationship between Greg and Rachael is really beautiful to watch. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl focuses on the friendship rather than creating an easy romance between the two and it's better because of it.
Reason to watch: A film full of youth and tenderhearted emotional moments.