My Top Two Favorite (minor) Movies From 2016

Let’s start the new year off right.

"I'm in."

“I’m in.”

These are my two favorite movies from last year. Well not out of everything. I loved Civil War and Rogue One and Doctor Strange and I still haven’t seen Arrival and Captain Fantastic and Nocturnal Animals. But those movies are on everybody’s lists. I call these two “minor” movies because no one is really screaming about how good they both are. Maybe nobody liked them as much as me. I don’t know. They ARE different.

And I fucking loved them both.

I’m talking about Zoom (2015) and The Neon Demon.


“What an amazing movie. I loved it profusely.” he wrote, striking the keys with an almost electric intent. “Zoom is phenomenal. I’ve watched it three times already.”


“Do you really need to add ‘already?’ Isn’t it enough to say you watched it three times?”


He tossed the words into the trash.


Nothing but net.

"What does any of that even mean?" "I don't know. I think he's trying to be clever. Read it again."

“What does any of that shit even mean?” “I don’t know. I think he’s trying to be clever. Let’s read it again.” “YOU read it again.”


While the second film, The Neon Demon, takes well-experienced shots at the modeling industry with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Yet you know, as weird as the movie is (it’s weird), that it’s probably just a step over the absurd line. That the movie depiction isn’t so far off (not hard to swallow, so to speak) from the harsh reality. It’s as though all of a young aspiring model’s screwed-up experiences are condensed into our hero’s crazy cinematic and outrageous drug-trip of one.


“Aspiring or Expiring?” What is the expiration date on an aspiring model anyway?

These aren’t reviews so much as raves.

So let’s get right to it.

Rave on…

Zoom 2015 (Elevation Pictures)


Directed by Pedro Morelli

Written by Matthew Hansen

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal as Edward Deacon, Alison Pill as Emma Boyles, Mariana Ximenes as Michelle, Tyler Labine as Bob, Jason Priestley as Dale, Don McKellar as Horowitz, Claudia Ohana as Alice & Jennifer Irwin as Marisa

I can’t even put into words how much I loved Zoom (I say that a lot don’t I? And then I go on to do exactly what I say I can’t do). Because it’s not something to be described with words or drawings or pictures. It needs to be seen. Zoom is a little movie from late 2015, but as always these things take a while to get to my brain pan. The most artistic and creative film I’ve experienced since the phenomenal Room last year. It’s been a long time since I wanted to marry a movie. I want to marry this movie.

"This is not technically a movie but more like a mind fuck."

“This is not technically a movie, more like a mind fuck. But I will be your best man.”

It’s hard to know where to start when talking about the story, so I’ll start with Alison Pill because I’ve loved her since forever. Zoom is about a comic book artist creating a graphic novel about a film-maker. (I used to draw my own comic books when I was a kid) Wait. Let me start over. Zoom is about a film-maker, Gael Garcia Bernal (from Mozart in the Jungle), making a movie about a writer. (And that was my second love… film-making, my major in college) One more time. I can do this. Zoom is about a novelist writing a book about a comic book artist. Actually it’s all three. And you guys know how much I love circles. I love circles.

"Who doesn't love circles. I love circles." "Everybody loves circles."

“Who doesn’t love circles? I love circles too.” “Everybody loves circles, Jason.”

Zoom is about an artist, drawing a story about a director, making a movie about a writer, writing a book about an artist. Every character is a character in another character’s work. And it’s not just a clever premise. It’s extremely well done. Zoom is like a religious experience. I loved this movie so much.


“I wonder if Mel realizes that you can’t actually marry a movie.” she thought trying not to picture the handsome blogger naked. “I wasn’t actually thinking that.” she said aloud.

Zoom is like Richard Linklater making a movie about Robert Rodriguez making a movie about Woody Allen making a movie about Linklater. It’s like if Vladimir Nabokov wrote a book about Charles Bukowski who in turn was writing about Samuel Delany writing about… you guys get it. It’s like Pale Fire meets Dhalgren meets Bukowski’s Women. I want this movie injected directly into my blood stream.

But maybe I’m over selling it a bit.

Next up…

The Neon Demon (Amazon Studios)


Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Written by Mary Laws, Nicolas Winding Refn and Polly Stenham

Starring Elle FanningKarl GlusmanJena MaloneBella HeathcoteAbbey LeeChristina Hendricks & Keanu Reeves

The Neon Demon is a sensational movie about the modeling industry. A good movie to watch stoned. No seriously. This is a great thriller and it’s great by itself. Perhaps a little too trippy at times if your’re totally straight. It reminded me of Kubrick and Coppola (the good one… Sofia) with large helpings of Tarsem Singh (you know with all the colors and shit). But if you’re nicely toasted, it is a fun and beautifully filmed and trippy and disturbingly surreal and strange and strange and ugly and beautiful film depiction of a messy business. And a total surprise.

Jena Malone is quietly becoming one of my favorite actresses

Jena Malone is quietly becoming one of my favorite actresses. She does great work.

The Neon Demon isn’t any where close to what you might expect. The film takes turns for the disturbingly awesome along the way. With twisted twists and stomach turning turns. It can become hard to watch at times. Being ugly and beautiful at once.


Cattle Call… Tall Teenagers Wanted.

Elle Fanning plays a girl straight off the bus but blessed genetically and a young threat to the only slightly older other girls. The movie is twisted and goes well off the deep end toward the finale. Into the mouth of madness for sure. I’m not giving anything away just be prepared. (I wasn’t and I nearly swallowed my tongue)


What are they feeding these Fanning girls? They are both so fucking talented.

But Elle Fanning is spectacular as always. And The Neon Demon is creepy and upsetting and unsettling. But also really really good. The Neon Demon is entertaining and I recommend it highly if you don’t mind being a little disturbed. It’s disturbing in a bunch of ways and one huge way. It’s sensational.

But maybe I’m over selling it just a little.


Both these films can be found if you try hard enough. I think one is on Amazon and the other is on Netflix. But if you’re looking for something to watch stoned in 2017, either of these movies will enhance your buzz.


…or drive you over the edge.

I can never be sure.

More movies to come,

– Mel


7 thoughts on “My Top Two Favorite (minor) Movies From 2016

  1. Zoom sounds really interesting. I had never even heard of it before. Neon Demon is one I’ve been wanting to see, I’m just always late with movies as I wait for most to hit streaming or the premium channels I have. Just added both of these to my Watchlists on Netflix and Amazon. Will be seeing them sober though… will see how it goes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Top 10 for 2016 | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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