2) Troy’s Pick – Mandy
Troy understands that there is a current backlash to Mandy. He kindly asks all of the detractors to die in a dumpster fire. Check out his Mandy review here.
2) Daniel’s Pick – Mission Impossible – Fallout
Anyone who truly knows me is aware of the fact that I am a James Bond fanatic. Superspy films give me joy on a level that few other genres do, outside of horror and science fiction. It’s an obsession I have carried with me for almost 25 years that has yet to diminish. While I very much enjoy Daniel Craig’s era as Bond, it’s been inconsistent enough in terms of overall quality that another superspy competitor’s run has surpassed of late. If you had told me even ten years ago that I would be more excited for the next Mission: Impossible film than the next Bond outing, I’d have said that would be impossible. Well…need I even finish this sentence?
Despite some stumbles along the way, Tom Cruise’s pet espionage action saga has been a favorite of mine since the first one arrived in 1996. These days, however, it’s simply sublime. 2015’s Rogue Nation delivered the perfect modern superspy vs. an evil agency tale that I had hoped Spectre might (but ultimately failed to) accomplish. Now we have Fallout, which picks up the reins and hands over a film just as good. Combined they form a towering achievement for both this franchise and its action subgenre that is unlikely to be topped anytime soon. 007 might be my all-time favorite spy, but Ethan Hunt has quickly become a close second. Mission accomplished, Mr. Cruise.
2) Mike Flynn’s Pick – Destroyer
They don’t make them like this anymore. Colder than the dead stare of Nicole Kidman’s soot-covered face, Karyn Kusama’s L.A. noir remembers a time when the heralds of justice never bothered taking the form of a white knight, nor a time when scribes composed their aspiring masterworks by the advice of their professors’ screenwriting bibles. As I mentioned in my review late last year, Destroyer recalls the humanity of punishment that permeated crime films of the 70’s and 80’s.
Up is down, black is white, and the school of nihilism is in session. As Erin Bell, a chirpy sheriff deputy corrupted by a federal undercover detail, Kidman has never played a more vicious or unstable role. She’s come undone from the first scene, and when the screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi kicks in, there’s no break. We know from her staggering body language that life was ever fair to Erin. She compensates, and she does so with brutal, knowing impulse.
The current landscape of film deserves a sucker punch like Destroyer. It’s the kind of electric shock I felt in my formative years, discovering the go-for-broke intensity that defined names like Friedkin and Bigelow. Likewise, Scorsese once said when he makes a film, he’s the audience. It’s safe to say Kusama is her own audience. Destroyer comes from her heart, and it’ll go right through yours.
2) Jamie’s Pick – Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is why Jamie pays for Netflix. He wants Western anthologies that feature jaunty songs from Tim Blake Nelson. Everything else can go blow.