Top 11 Films of 2017

There were many films that I loved this year. This made it tough to narrow them down to a top 11 list, but this are film that I found to be perfect.

1) Get Out


One of the biggest surprises of the year. One of the most subversive horror films in year. I am happy when a film like this one is successful. It was one of the best experience I had at a theater this year


2) Tigers Are Not Afraid 


No film pull harder on my heart strings than this one. In a year with a lot of great Child performances; this one had the best one. The director Issa Lopez is one you should look out in the future.

3) Bad Genius


The best heist film I saw this year. It takes place in a high school and its about kids cheating of test.

4) War of the Planet of the Apes

war of the planet of the apes

It neatly ties all the knots of this trilogy and sets the future world of planet of the apes.


5) Dunkirk


I feel bad for you if you didn’t get tow watch this film in a big screen. Nolan knows how to shoot epic scenes. Its amazing the way in which the 3 stories of the Dunkirk evacuation are edited together.


6) The Shape of Water


Guillermo Del Toro gives us an amazing adult Fairy Tale. This is the closet we are going to get to Del Toro’s Creature from the black lagoon film.

7) Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri


This a great gray film, in which there not clear good or bad guys. It shows that life is more complicated that we think. I love this film does not take the easy way out in its choices.

8) Coco 


Its been a while since Pixar has made a film I love. This feel like a welcome return to the Golden Days of Pixar.

9) Logan 


It show you don’t have to follow the regular comic book formula to make a great comic film. A film that stands tall in taking comic book movies in a different direction. We get without doubt the best Xmen film of all time.

10) Most Beautiful Island


One of the most important film in the age of Trump. A great immigrant story, about a new arrival trying to survive in the USA.


11) Top Knot Detective


The funniest film I saw this year. I was also surprised that it has a great dramatic story. The only thing that disappointed is that I can’t watch all the episodes of this forgotten Japanese series.



Fantastic Fest Review: Top Knot Detective


          Top Knot Detective is the funniest film I saw at Fantastic Fest and one of the best I seen this year. This is an amazing documentary about a forgotten Japanese television I never heard from before. It’s supposedly one of the worst TV shows ever made. It’s a crazy show that features lesbian cannibals, penis monster, and time traveling baseball bats. We get to see footage from the show that were rescue by fans that recorded episodes in VHS tapes. Even with all the craziness in the show the behind the scenes stories of the making of this show are even crazier; especially from its creator Takashi Takamoto.

The show starred, written and directed by Takashi Takamoto. He is not the nicest guy; it seems that he always had to be the center of attention. At the same time, he has the loyalty and love of a small group of people that worked on the show. The one person of the crew that hates Takashi is His friend/rival Haruto Kioke the more talented actor/stuntman of the show; he is constantly berated by Takashi. Their relationship is the core of this story as it reminded me of one of the greatest Simpsons episode “Homer’s Enemy” Haruto is the Grimes of this story. He can’t believe a man as incompetent as Takashi can get the fame, the fortune and the girl.

The Show is about a Samurai that after his lord is murder, leaves his clan and becomes Ronin. Well I should say he decides to become a Samurai Detective. He roams the lands of Japan to seek vengeance on the person that kill his lord.

One of the best film about Japanese Business Media Culture. You see the way in which their stars are groomed and their reputation are protected. You get to see the way in which the entertainment industry can destroy the life of an actor after embarrassing their company. The thing I seen many of this film. You also get to learn about the way in which the entertainment industry is run in Japan. Which too many of us look like a parody of commercialism.

The film has a lot in common with films like The Disaster Artist and Ed Wood in that your following a person with lots of passion; but not the knowledge of how to make a film. There is bad edit, bad special effects and a crew member walking into the camera. The film takes a different direction when a murder plot occurs in the behind the scenes of the show.

Top Knot detective is a film that you must watch if you like watching films about filmmaking. This is a film that you can watch many times as you start noticing new things every time you watch it. Now, the film does not have any distribution. I hope they do as this one of the funniest films I seen this year.  Oh Yeah, I totally forgot to tell you everything about this documentary is fake.

Fantastic Fest Review: Haunters, The Art Of The Scare


              Haunters was my favorite documentary at Fantastic Fest. It was funny, educational and frightening. I am not joking when I say Haunters is one of the most terrifying films I ever seen at this festival. The terrifying parts are small; but quite significant; I will get back to it later

The documentary is about the people that work and create haunted house across the USA. We follow its history and design of them. This is the weird world of haunted house were people want to give you the ultimate scare.

We meet the creators of this haunted house and the workers that are dressed up scary costume and make up just waiting around the corner to scare you. You get to see a lot of the Haunters do this for fun; a lot of the spend their own money for this Haunted Houses. It also shows the dangers that people that work on this places face. Such a lady that has been injure numerous times by their costumers

One of the unique things about Haunters (which is only a small part of the documentary) was the coverage of Extreme Hauntings. I had never heard of them before. This was the most terrifying part of the documentary. This are Haunting were they torture you; I mean you get waterboarded, verbally abuse, fed you disgusting things and other awful things. I was disturbed by this segment; it made me avert my eyes from the screen.

The best example of an extreme haunting is the McKaney Manor. It’s a haunted house run by Russ McKaney, a former navy man and currently works as a wedding singer. He looks like the squarest person you ever meet; but he hides a completely different face. McKaney Manor is his love project. The only type of payment he accepts to enter his haunted house is can dog food; which goes to an animal shelter. People from around the USA and the World come to be frighten by McKaney Manor. The footage of the people going thru the Mckaney Manor looks like something out Guantanamo people get waterboarded, drowned, fed disgusting stuff, and verbally torture. It’s disturbing seeing the frighten look of the people being scare. They look like they are about to do die at any second. While this all happening, Russ is shooting it with a video camera that is close to your face. In my opinion, that if Russ wouldn’t be doing this extreme haunting, he would be a serial killer. He gets too into frightening people that come to his haunted house. Even with all the things they do; nobody has ever sued them. There are even people that return to be frighten again.

              Haunters is a great documentary is a fun documentary that takes a lot of different turns; including that is more terrifying that most horror films. If you want to know more about Haunted Houses Check out this documentary. It is now available for download in itunes.



              At SXSW, I got a chance to see an early screening of The Disaster Artist, which at the time had the working title THE MASTERPIECE. In attendance were stars of the film JAMES FRANCO and SETH ROGEN; but in attendance were also two stars from the Room; TOMMY WISEAU and GREG SESTERO.


              The Disaster Artist is an adaptation of Greg Sestero’s book of the same name; about the making of the film THE ROOM. A film that has become an underground cult film because its shoddy production, terrible acting and direction. It is a film that doesn’t seem that have been made by human beings.

The first thing to point out about the movie is its leading actor and director JAMES FRANCO. I am not kidding when I say JAMES FRANCO at a minimum deserves an academy award nomination for best actor for his performance as Tommy Wiseau. This role could have easily fallen into a Saturday Night Live parody. Franco makes Tommy look like a real human being; instead of a cartoon. There is a moment in the film in which Tommy (Franco) is at club and he is trying to impress by dancing to the song Rhythm of The Night. In that moment I saw the amazing effort Franco was put into this performance.

Besides Franco, the rest of the cast do a great job; Such as Dave Franco that plays Greg Sestero; A naïve young actor that wants to be an actor for a living; but is insecure. He meets Tommy at an acting class and its fascinated by his fearlessness. Greg decides to throw his luck with Tommy. Their friendship comes from the fact that there are constantly hyping each other. You love this character as he is like puppy dog. You want him to achieve his dream and not be destroy by Tommy’s decisions. Seth Rogen once again shows he is a great straight man in a comedy. He plays the script supervisor that can’t believe Tommy directing decisions. He is also suspicious of were Tommy is getting the funding to make this film.

I haven’t loved a film about bad filmmaking this much since Ed Wood. You get to see all the bad decision that lead to the making of the room. According to Franco they shot around 30 minutes of shot for for remake of the room. You can see the effort they actors put to reenact those scenes; as it is more difficult than you think to act badly. If your familiar with the Room you will see making of all its famous scenes, Like Hi doggie and the most awkward sex scene.

This is a great twisted comedy about people trying to reach their Hollywood dream. I was surprised to discover that Tommy is not the hero in this film. He is portrayed as a selfish jerk that is vindictive towards people around him. In a weird way, this is also a heartful story about two friend that took an unlikely route to reach their dreams of stardom and pull it off. I mean even though the room is a terrible movie. It goes them the fame they always craved. This film can be summed up by the line of one of my favorite comedies “Nothing Last Forever” You will get everything you ever wanted; just not in the way you expected.

The Disaster Artist will make you laugh and inspire you. I won’t be surprised if after watching it you would want to see the Room.

Fantastic Fest Review: Tigers Are Not Afraid


Written by Antonio Quintero

              Tigers are not afraid is my favorite film of Fantastic Fest 2017. The film was made by Mexican Filmmakers Issa Lopez. It’s a beautiful film; but also, an important film about the crimes that are happening to our neighbors to the south. I was aware about the violence occurring in Mexico due to the drug war; but I was not aware about the Children that have been left orphan on the street by the drug war; as their parents were taken by the Narcos and never heard from again.

              The film takes places in the town of anywhere, Mexico. It follows a young girl named Estrella. One day after coming home from school she finds her mother missing. After days of not hearing from her she goes into the streets to find her. In her journey, she meets group of orphan children living on the street. They lost their parents due to the Narcos. She joins them to survive on the street. They eventually get into conflict with their local criminal gang when they find incriminating evidence of the gang’s boss.

              Tigers are not afraid is a mixture of Fantasy and Neo-Realism, a combination of Terry Gilliam and Roberto Rosellini. In the film Estrella is having this moments where she is seeing supernatural images around her. It’s kept ambigious whether these images are real or only in her head. This doesn’t matter as it gives the film a fairy tale atmosphere.

              I see this film as a story about the way in which Children are affected when living in a war zone. In this environment of war; imagination is not just a flight of fancy; but a survival mechanism. The reality is so harsh for Estrella to face.

              This film has amazing cast of kids. We had a lot of good kid’s performance this year; such as in Strange Things and the It film; the cast of Tigers are not afraid joins this group of distinguish child actors. You will fall in love with these kids, they try to act tough; but then you see their vulnerability and realize there just kids. The film does not pull any punches, this children are in mortal peril from the Narcos.

The direction and cinematography are amazing. It reminds me of Spielberg’s direction in E.T. Were your seeing this film thru the eye of the children. You get this moment were you are just seeing the world were the kids are the only thing on the screen and you don’t see any adults.  Most of the adult are seen by them as a threat.

One of the best film I seen out of Mexico in a long time. If you have the opportunity to watch this film do not miss it. At the moment it has only been release in Mexico and its playing in a few festival thru out the USA. It has not yet gotten an official release in the USA.



Review Written by Tron DeLapp 

Director: Nattawut Poonpiriya

Starring: Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Chanin Santinatornkul, Eisaya Hosuwan, Teeradon Supapunpinyo

            Do you remember a pretty good little heist/caper from 2004 called The Perfect Score, where Erika Christensen, Matthew Lillard, Captain America and the Black Widow break into the Princeton Testing Center in an attempt to steal the SAT answers in an effort to get perfect scores?  Bad Genius is a Thai heist thriller in the same vein about students attempting to scam the International SAT test in an effort to ensure perfect scores.  Bad Genius is not a remake, rather a thriller in the same mold based on true events with more of an emphasis on class issues and teen social issues.  However, if you were pleasantly surprised by how good The Perfect Score was chances are you’ll enjoy Bad Genius, which I believe was a far superior film… and I’m a fan of The Perfect Score!

            Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) is a straight-A secondary school girl living with her father who is a teacher.  He gets her enrolled into a prestigious school  as he wants her to have all the advantages that he didn’t have.  She quickly asserts herself a one of the top two students in the school, along with a kid named Bank (Chanin Santinatornkul), a prudish do-gooder no one really likes.  Lynn becomes friends with a nice but intellectually challenged girl named Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan) who convinces Lynn to tutor her.  However, Grace has an ulterior motive.  She dates a super-rich kid named Pat (Teeradon Supapunpinyo) who is also not too bright.  Pat’s problem is his rich dad graduated from Boston University and has a desire is to see Pat graduate from his alma mater.  Pat, however, is as dumb as a stump so this is going to prove difficult, unless he can get Lynn to tutor him too for a ridiculous sum of money… well, him and a few friends, each one paying a ridiculous sum.  Lynn is resistant until she finds out the school she goes to extorts the parents of students to pay a maintenance fee above and beyond tuition and she is scandalized her poor, hard-working father is being extorted like that.  Now it’s game on.

            Lynn is a musical genius as well and, since almost all the tests they take are standardized, she devises simple musical cues with her fingers that transmit the answers during the test.  This works fantastically, even when the school puts out multiple copies of the same test, until one of the dumber members of the group lets slip to Bank that he’s not smart enough to do the music thing and offers him money to let him copy.  Bank immediately narcs the dumb kid out,  resulting in Lynn getting reprimanded by the school and almost expelled.  Instead it blows her chance for a scholarship, a scholarship in which her only competition was Bank.  With her life in a downward spiral, Pat comes up with a plan to cheat the STIC test (the International SAT’s) which will earn them millions of dollars.  Lynn doesn’t see a way to do it until she studies time zones and figures out that Australia will technically take the test first so if she flies to Australia and memorizes all the answers she can transmit them back to Thailand and they can all get rich as well as posting a fantastic score on the test.  However they can only do it with Bank’s help and since he’s such a good guy he’d never assist them in a scam of this nature.  In a bizarre  twist of fate, Bank is beaten up while he attempts to help his poor mother run her laundry service and misses the test, thus ruining his future as well.  He is brought in by Lynn and Pat and agrees to fly to Australia and help Lynn memorize the answers and transmit them back until the night before they leave and Pat lets it slip he paid the thugs to beat Bank up, putting the scheme in jeopardy.  Can Lynn and Pat convince Bank to continue on with the job?  How much more will it cost them?  Will Lynn go through with the scam when she finds out Bank was set up by Pat?  Will they be able to work together in Australia to pull the scam off?  Is Australia nice this time of year?

            I had heard that several people found Bad Genius to be slow and a little boring but I would very much disagree with that assessment.  Bad Genius manages to build a tension in the film from the first test forward which is surprisingly effective.  Everything goes swimmingly until the school pulls a few tricks on Lynn and her cohorts, forcing them to come up with some very creative solutions to standard problems, such as the aforementioned multiple test copies.  The screenwriters anticipate a lot of problem areas by having researched methods of standardized tests as well as actual methods for cheating those types of exams as seen on the news.  The script took a year and a half to complete and the story was developed in the vein of a Hollywood thriller while still being grounded in socio-political framework that would be relatable to a Thai audience and they succeeded like gangbusters, becoming the highest-grossing Thai film of 2017 and garnering tons of International acclaim, such as this piece right here.  The ‘will they get caught and when/how’ question permeates the narrative and builds quite a bit of dramatic tension as you know something’s going to go horribly wrong, then surprise when the cast extricates themselves from the dilemma only to go rushing into the next untenable situation… and the next… and the next.

            Part of what makes Bad Genius work so well is the cast, made up of largely unknown actors.  The character of Lynn, especially, was extremely well done and the actress, Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, was a fashion model before taking on the role.  The other supporting cast had also not been in a feature film before this one yet they do such a good job of inviting you into the characters that I’m sure this will not be their last effort.  Both Lynn and Bank are lower-class kids who have a real desire to help their families and raise themselves up from their underclass lives through education while Pat and Grace are rich kids who also seek the approval of their parents through academia.  They have money but no intellectual aptitude while Bank and Lynn have all the brains in the world but no money with which to ease their lives.  It’s when these two economic classes meet that decisions are made that could change all of their lives for the better…. provided they can get over the illegality of their plans.  Several times the question is put forth to Lynn, “wouldn’t it be better to teach them?” and it’s one of the driving themes of the picture – difficulty versus ease.  Risk versus reward.  Intelligence versus money.  Rich versus poor.  All wrapped up in a caper film that’s very much deserving of attention due to the fact that the filmmakers were very smart about posing those questions in a movie that walks a tightrope between the morality of the kid’s choices aside a thrilling adventure yarn and damned if it doesn’t succeed mightily.

            Bad Genius is a caper film that manages to balance Thai social and political themes among the framework of a modern Hollywood thriller and manages to succeed on both levels, largely due to a great cast, a tightly researched script grounded in real life events and an idea that lends itself well to entertainment and commentary.  The film has proven to be a success overseas, confirming the concept isn’t just limited to Asian audiences and provides more than it’s share of entertainment value, taking a mundane subject and infusing it with genuine thrills and suspense.  It’s no surprise, then, that Bad Genius comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  



Review Written by Tron DeLapp

Director: Jimmy Henderson

Starring: Jean-Paul Ly, Tharoth Sam , Dara Our, Celine Tran

            I am a huge fan of Asian cinema and a big proponent of martial arts films so when a film festival like Fantastic Fest comes around I make sure to pay strict attention to any movie that seems to encompass those categories.  It goes without saying that as soon as I saw the trailer for Jailbreak I knew that it was not only going to make my ‘must see’ list I was pretty sure I was going to give it a favorable review.  This piece here serves to confirm the truth of those statements. 

            The first thing I thought when the trailer played was this film is Cambodia’s version of The Raid except set in a prison and that assessment isn’t that far off of Jailbreak’s end result.  The movie acts as a vehicle to showcase the ‘knees and elbows’ fighting style of bokator and succeeds at this dramatically with the fight scenes coming fast and furiously, ala The Raid, which is why the comparison between the two films is rather apt.  There was enough fisticuffs and humor in the teaser trailer alone to ensure that this was going to be a great time in the theater and the movie did not disappoint one iota.  The criticism I heard levied at the film came from problems with the plot, which to some seemed rather thin; I counter with the people who thought that don’t get out and watch very many martial arts films.  Jailbreak isn’t Gone With The fucking Wind and isn’t going to waste a ton of it’s 100 minute run time adding subtle nuances to it’s characters or adding complex sub plots about the socio-political status of the country of Cambodia, nor should it.  The reason Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was so well received is it was an aberration in the milieu of Asian martial cinema, more of an art piece with martial arts rather than a martial arts film and that works great for what it’s trying to accomplish.  However, as great as Crouching Tiger was, Iron Monkey proves to be a more entertaining film.  Jailbreak, much like The Raid, is striving to be Iron Monkey rather than Couching Tiger and it succeeds mightily.

            The story centers around the character of Playboy (Savin Phillip ), a notorious criminal caught by Cambodian police, who are sure he’s the leader of the infamous Butterfly Gang.  Playboy is not and sees this as an opportunity to reduce his sentence so, as he’s exiting the courtroom, makes the bold statement to the press that he’s willing to cough up the name of the real leader of the Butterfly Gang if he can be set free.  This, of course, royally irritates the real leader of the Butterfly Gang (adult film actress Celine Tran in her film debut) who is already stinging from Playboy’s betrayal.  She finds out which prison Playboy is set to be transferred to and contacts a prisoner inside, Bolo (Siriwudd Sisowath), offering large amounts of money if Playboy suddenly found himself dead before the big reveal.  This doesn’t bode well for the four police officers set to do a routine prisoner transfer by bringing Playboy to his new accommodations.  The transfer goes off without a hitch but on the way out of the prison, the cops discover Bolo has been a busy guy, releasing all but the most hardened criminals with the mission of killing Playboy.  Now, trapped in a prison with hundreds of vicious thugs screaming for Playboy’s blood, the cops must go back into the mouth of the beast in order to save Playboy, a scumbag that deserves what he gets.  To make matters worse, due to some prisoner double-dealing, the Butterfly Gang themselves decide that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself, descending on the prison to right their own wrong.  Good thing these cops kick a lot of ass.

            The movie goes from there to non-stop mortal combat in 3.2 seconds.  The police in the prison are made up of stunt choreographers and real-life MMA bad-ass Tharoth Oum Sam (who was at our screening and personally greeted and thanked everyone on the way out of the theater) so you know the fight scenes, of which there are many, have an element of realism that sets it above most martial arts thrillers.  At the Q+A we were told they attempted to put 22 fight scenes in the movie but due to it’s shorter run time they were only able to work in about 19, all of them brutal.  Tons of scenes with one or two of our hapless cops, just trying to save their own lives as well as that of a key witness, being descended upon by hoards of screaming prisoners and forced to defend themselves abound in Jailbreak, with choreography so inspired I saw things even I’ve never seen in action films of this type and I’ve seen plenty.  This creates a relentless, adrenaline pumping tone which is carried throughout the entire rest of the film, especially when the hyper-violent criminals, including the cannibal, enter the fray.  The action works like a video game, where tons of underlings attack at once, creating a frenzy of fists, elbows, knees and environmental attacks that permeate the screen, bodies flying everywhere, that ultimately leads to a battle with a slightly tougher enemy, escalating in such a manner until the final confrontation which isn’t as final as you’d believe.  The film is not without it’s elements of humor as well, which helps off-set the almost constant fight scenes and brings a certain self-referential element to the movie, showing the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing while making this type of thriller.

            It goes without saying that if you like an almost non-stop action thriller like The Raid, combined with a sense of humor that wouldn’t be out of place in the works of Sammo Hung, Jailbreak is definitely the film for you.  Chock full of brutal and relentless fighting, amazing pacing and enough goofy comedy to take some of the bite of the brutality out, Jailbreak stands as a testament to how to make a fun and engaging action thriller and should be doubly praised for coming out of Cambodia, a country not well known for it’s genre film output.  Hopefully this isn’t the last we’re going to see of Jimmy Henderson and his talented cast and stunt team they had to build from scratch.  Seeing as how The Raid got a sequel, I’m sure Jailbreak will turn enough heads to warrant the same consideration.  Of course, it’s TOTALY RECOMMENDED.