Girl on the Train, The (2016)

I am a big fan of mysteries and thrillers.  Throw in a little mental illness and psychological drama and I’m hooked.  The aspect of this film that I liked the most was the slow development of Rachel’s story, played by Emily Blunt.  The speed of this film has been one of the most disliked aspects, but without it there would be no story.  The disjointed nature of the film keeps the viewer guessing, although I will admit it grasps unnecessarily at plot points.  The arc of the film and the mystery itself is not especially earth shattering or novel.  It is Rachel’s story outside of the murder mystery that I find most engaging. 

Suicide Squad (2016)

I am not 100% sure what I was expecting when I went in to this one.  I had a good idea from the trailer that it was going to be full of cheap, gimmicky laughs and overdone, bland action sequences.  That turned out to be wishful thinking.  I wanted to enjoy it as the concept of a villain cast is much more appealing, or at least refreshing, than just another good guy action flick with little to no turmoil or struggle.  Unfortunately, DC relied too much on the antihero theme, explosions, and corn ball lines instead of character development.  I suppose I should have set my standards to generic blockbuster action flick, but I was hoping to get a little more out of it.  The biggest impact this film had was introducing people to Harley Quinn in a cinematic way and setting the stage for the most popular Halloween costume.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Like most animated pictures these days there is a story aimed at children that also has a subtext for adults to follow.  In this story Kubo is challenging his elders to consider paradigm changes that were initiated by his parents.  Societal views are always evolving and the only way to ease the constant transition is to be compassionate and forgiving.

Witch, The (2015)

This directorial debut for Eggers was pretty intense.  I feel like this is what people were expecting when The Village, by M. Night Shyamalan, was released.  This film follows a puritan family exiled from their village to the edges of a forest.  The film shifts from a thriller to a horror relatively quickly and keeps us guessing as to what is going on until the absolute end.

Arrival (2016)

Villenueve has been successful with several movies in recent years, including Prisoners and Sicario.  In his latest film, Arrival, he takes on a the concept of time and memory.  In the opening sequence we hear Louise, played by Amy Adams, say,” Memory is a strange thing… It doesn’t work like I thought it did.  We are so bound by time; by its order.”  Villenueve is priming us for a thoughtful journey that focuses on time, memory, linguistics, and humanitarianism on a global and personal scale.  I found the techniques that Villenueve used to weave his story together to be refreshing and surprising.  Language plays such a huge roll in this film in both the script and the cinematography.  There is a poetic vision that seems to shine through so many aspects of the film, the landscapes, the aliens, and their vessels, to name a few.  The cyclical nature of the universe also comes across in this film, from the opening shot to the credits there are countless circles, rings, halos.  The screenplay by Eric Heisserer is one of the best of the year.  I can’t say enough about this film except for that it is a must see.  I know I will need to watch it again.