10 Cloverfield LaneI’m not a big fan of horror movies, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is more of a psychological drama filled with twists and turns and solid performances that keep you on the edge of your seat for a surprisingly entertaining – or at least, attention-holding – two hours. For more (spoiler-free) insight and debate on 10 Cloverfield Lane, Knight of Cups, Embrace of the Serpent, and more, check out the latest CinemaClash podcast with me and my cinema nemesis Charlie Juhl:

Did you listen? Just in case the answer is no or the link disappears, here’s the quick take:

10 Cloverfield Lane is a satisfying psychological thriller that is a part Room, part Lost, part sci-fi, part drama, part horror. It’s a whole lot of ‘parts’ that adds up to a very intriguing movie. Here’s the gist: John Goodman plays a survivalist type who kidnaps or maybe rescues/saves a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) after a car accident and tells her the world outside his bunker has been decimated by some sort of alien invasion. A young guy with a broken arm (John Gallagher Jr.) is also in the bunker and together, the two guys and gal morph into a family unit of sorts. That’s all you get. Enjoy the ride, trying to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

Knight of Cups is from Terrence Malick, the ‘auteur’ who created The Tree of Life, my least favorite movie of 2011. He’s on a roll. Knight of Cups is my least favorite movie of 2016! Despite an A-list cast that centers on Christian Bale and includes (albeit briefly) Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman, this movie is simply abstract to the point of non-sensical and weird. I’m sure it’s a metaphor for something grand and prophetic and poetic. But I was just bored by the stream of consciousness art that won’t appeal to anyone other than devout fans of Malick. It’s not for the mainstream crowd.

Embrace of the Serpent isn’t for the mainstream crowd either, but at least there’s a bit of a narrative involved in this Columbian film that made the Academy’s short list for best foreign film. It’s about a shaman named Karamakate and two researchers who enlist his help decades apart to help them find a sacred and rare healing plant in the middle of the Amazon. I’m told the film – shot in black and white – is quite stunning visually on the big screen. I watched all two hours of it on an iPad mini. My bad. Not my cup of tea.

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