Must See Movies of 2015

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I just came back from seeing the best or most important movie of the year, maybe the decade, The Big Short, go see it now. To borrow a line from the overrated flick, Network, when you walk out of the theatre, “You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!'”

If you want to know why so many people support Bernie Sanders and even Donald Trump, this movie helps explain where the anger and discontent, the distrust of all our institutions, comes from. It pulls back the top layers of our corruption, our avarice, our indifference to each other’s pain and our naivete.

Yes, Americans, we who inspired and trained ISIS through our wars in the Middle East, who developed the CDOs, Collateralized Debt Obligations, which destroyed the economies of whole communities, heck whole countries; and us, the folks who pay for and support  police murder while we eschew politics-we still pretend that we are exceptional, that we are  models to the world.

So, go see the Big Short. It is your obligation as a citizen of a country with this kind of power-to face up to what is really going on. If you want to “make American great again” that means you have to fight to bring back opportunity and some hope for equal justice under the law-to be that Tom Hanks character in The Bridge of Spies, an entertaining and true story which can remind us of our best selves.

I am a former history teacher. I taught American History to 8th graders, then Government to young adults. During the economic meltdown, I taught Economics for the first time including Credit Default Swaps and subprime mortgages. I learned along with my students as together we watched our economy rupture-parents lost their jobs and families lost their homes.

BTW, that institution, Adult Education, which had survived the Great Depression and world wars, did not survive the subprime meltdown so I no longer teach nor learn these things  along with my students. Our Republican Governor from Austria with help from the Democrats ended the funding for an institution which provided second chances to those who needed them the most.

Let me add the other best, most influential movie of the year, Straight Outta Compton. It’s a powerful film which is so relevant, it’s almost supernatural, coming out in the year of #Blacklivesmatter. The scene where NWA performs Fuck Tha Police at a huge concert in Detroit is the most powerful scene in a film I’ve seen this year. You gotta go see it. This is a film which demonstrates the best and the worst of the so-called American Dream.

It was a truly interesting year at the movies (I was tempted to write “in film” but that sounds pretentious, they’re just movies.)  I saw Trumbo and Spotlight, the Black Panthers:Vanguard of the Revolution, and Brooklyn and loved them all.

I found Amy affecting and Trainwreck had some very perceptive moments. Love & Mercy was weird but there wasn’t enough of the Beach Boys and too much of the crazy to make anybody want to live through Brian Wilson’s life if they didn’t have to.

On the flip side, I thought Ex Machina and the Clouds of Sils Maria were a waste of screen time. Star Wars:the Force Awakens ranged from cute and funny to boring and silly. Some of it parodied itself on purpose and some of it was clearly meant in earnest which rendered it all the flimsier a franchise. Adam Driver’s character as the bad son or the evil Jedi twin was more the lost hipster looking for that perfect flat by the Lake or Williamsburg, if you will. “What no hardwood floors-I will destroy the world!”

The movies I saw this year reminded me that we have been through dangerous times before; and if this year has taught us anything, we must acknowledge that we are entering them again. Spoiler Alert-I don’t actually know the ending of this tale. I can’t predict if we are heading towards facism or a period of righteous struggle. The only thing I know for sure is that we all have a part to play.

6 Comments on "Must See Movies of 2015"

  1. Check out Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next, too.

  2. The ONLY movie I have seen in y9ur review is “Love and Mercy”. Because I usually see the movies for free at the senior Center. (Oh I DID see “Straight Outta Compton” with you and a few friends because I doubted if the Senior Center would show it!)
    I OVED “Love and Mercy”. I feel such sadness for Brian Wilson. He is a genius and sometimes a little madness accompanies genius….

    • It got included on many of the year’s best lists so you must be right. Reviews are all very subjective anyway.

      • Sue Yascolt | January 6, 2016 at 10:38 pm |

        Too true. I always seemed to agree with Roger Ebert and never with Gene Siskel…. But thank you for taking on the task of writing reviews… It IS helpful to know what other people (that I respect) think.

  3. Oakland was well represented in strong films this year. Three local filmmakers made terrific films. Anthony Lucero’s EAT SIDE SUSHI was a lovely film that showed off Oakland as the beautiful city can be.

    Ryan Coogler made the leap from FRUITVALE STATION to the knockout (no pun intended) big budget CREED. I am not a boxing fan but hometown filmmaker made it exciting, funny and touching. Don’t miss it.

    Cary Fuganaka has impressed with SIN NOMBRE and took a huge leap with BEASTS OF NO NATION, powerful stuff.

  4. Thanks, Gary, those are important movies to patronize. Too bad the Academy didn’t see it that way. Shame on them.

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