Library Haul

I’m back in the United States which means I’ve checked out an inappropriate amount of books and movies from the library.

Here’s what they are:

Books:

  • White Negroes: When Cornrows were in Vogue… and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation, Lauren Michele Jackson
  • Women who Run with Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  • Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and Sublime from Tin House
  • Forty Stories, Donald Barthelme
  • In the Gloaming: Stories, Alice Elliott Dark
  • The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, Toni Morrison
  • A Village in a Valley, Beverley Nichols

 

Movies:

  • Pick of the Litter
  • Becoming Astrid
  • Cold War
  • Good Manners
  • Land of Mine
  • Room 237
  • Maria by Callas
  • Mandy
  • Night Comes On
  • Shadow (the one from last year)
  • You Were Never Really Here
  • Miss Hokusai
  • Prospect
  • November
  • L’Amant Double

Most Anticipated Movies of 2020

As with all of my posts, and perhaps all posts in general written by people afraid of being held to their word, we will begin with a short disclosure.

Movies that are given release dates tend to be bigger budget studio films, i.e. the films I’m generally less interested in.  Many of the films that were on my 2019 most anticipated list I never even bothered watching (Looking at The Curse of La Llorona) and many of my big loves were films I had no knowledge of at this time last year.

But there’s something like 30+ films that have already caught my eye, so I figured out list them out and give quick descriptions, probably stolen from IMDb.  And at the same time I’ll add them to my private ‘to watch’ list (it’s 40+ pages and you will never see it).

  • The Invisible Man: When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
    Oh look, an adaptation of the only HG Wells story I give a damn about. The director (Leigh Whannell) also did Upgrade, so that’s a big plus. As is Elisabeth Moss.
  • A Quiet Place II: Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.
    I liked the first one, it’s that simple.
  • No Time To Die: James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
    If the ‘one good, one bad’ pattern continues, this will be a good Bond. Also always here for Ana de Armas, Lea Seydoux, and Rami Malek.
  • Antlers: A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, become entwined with a young student harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences
    Based on the trailer my guess is that his Dad is a wendigo.
  • Antebellum: Successful author Veronica finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late.
    She would appear to have been time swapped to a slave plantation, which is no place for anyone, let alone Janelle Monae.
  • Soul: A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.
    Looks much more interesting than Onward, in terms of Pixar offerings, tbh.
  • Saint Maud: Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.
    I love movies about dangerously obsessed people. Also: focus on women, directed by a woman!
  • Candyman: A “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror film ‘Candyman’ that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.
    I’ve never seen the original, but I’m excited for this- not least because there are a lot of great names attached to it including Nia DaCosta, Jordan Peele, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen.
  • Tenet: An action epic revolving around international espionage, time travel, and evolution. Possibly about a man trying to prevent World War 3 through time travel and rebirth.
    Nolan with an exciting story and packed cast. Come on.
  • Last Night in Soho: A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences.
    Edgar Wright is finally back post- Baby Driver, with Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Thoroughbreds, The Witch).
  • The French Dispatch: A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch” magazine.
    Isle of Dogs really pissed me off so I’d like a good Wes Anderson.
  • Benedetta: A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.
    Oh look, a psychologically twisted costume/period drama with lesbian overtones. I am predictable.
  • The Lodge: A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.
    Similarly, I am also a sucker for strange and frightening events.
  • Promising Young Woman: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
    Based on the trailer it looks like she tricks men into thinking they will get to have sex with her extremely inebriated self and then wreaks bloody vengeance. Cathartic. I hope Carey Mulligan doesn’t kill Bo Burnham.
  • Nightmare Alley: A corrupt con-man teams up with a psychiatrist to trick people into giving them money.
    I can’t remember if I’ve seen the original 1947 film noir, but regardless I am here for Guillermo del Toro and Cate Blanchett.
  • Undine: Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.
    I love the Undine myth and I would love to be able to turn into a seal. I get few opportunities to live vicariously as a seal. Plus the main actress and director have worked on other projects that I need to get to.
  • Deep Water: A well-to-do husband who allows his wife to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of her lovers.
    After Knives Out, I want to follow Ana de Armas’ work. Especially because this is based on a Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Price of Salt) story.
  • The Last Duel: King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.
    Adam Driver, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon in period French clothes having a duel? What?
  • Palm Springs: When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
    Someone already gave away the twist to this and I’m kind of pissed.
  • Mulan: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father. A live-action feature film based on Disney’s ‘Mulan.’
    I’m on the record as being vigorously anti-live-action-remake. But I’m vaguely interested in a Mulan that hews closer to the original legend and incorporates wuxia traditions. And Donnie Yen.
  • Mank: Follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s tumultuous development of Orson Welles’ iconic masterpiece Citizen Kane(1941).
    Probably Oscar bait, but could be quite good. I like film history.
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things: An unexpected detour causes a woman who is trying to figure out how to break up with her boyfriend to rethink her life.
    It’s listed as a drama horror thriller and it’s starring Toni Collette and Jessie Buckley. Give it to me.
  • Annette: A stand-up comedian and his opera singer wife, have a 2 year old daughter with a surprising gift.
    A musical with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.
  • Rebecca: A young newlywed finds herself in living in the shadow of her wealthy husband’s previous wife.
    I’m interested to see how far this adaptation is from measuring up to Hitchcock’s.
  • Next Goal Wins: Adaptation of the 2014 British soccer documentary which follows Dutch coach Thomas Rongen who attempts the nearly impossible task of turning the American Samoa soccer team from perennial losers into winners.
    Taika Waititi, Elisabeth Moss, and Armie Hammer sounds good to me (especially because AH is in Rebecca and I feel bad).
  • Ammonite: 1840s England, an infamous fossil hunter and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
    Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet, period drama with lesbian overtones.
  • The Hunt: Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen – for a very specific purpose – The Hunt.
    Famously controversial film originally slated for 2019. Google it.
  • Da 5 Bloods: A group of veterans from the Vietnam War return to the jungle to find their lost innocence.
    Chadwick Boseman and Spike Lee.
  • Into the Deep: A Swedish journalist disappears near Copenhagen and is discovered to have been brutally murdered by Danish inventor Peter Madsen aboard his homemade submarine.
    It’s not every day you get a Swedish submarine murder. Oh, and by the way, it’s a documentary.

My Oscars Predictions

Yes, I know the Oscars already happened but my Wifi was down so I wasn’t able to post my predictions. So I’m sharing them now, and you can have the benefit of passing judgment on past-pessimistic me.

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I am referring of course to my belief that the Academy would go with the relatively safe pick of 1917 for both best picture and best director, while they instead went with Parasite, one of my two favorite twisted Korean dramas about conning the rich while struggling to avoid their creepy basements (check out Handmaiden). This makes Parasite the first foreign language film to win best picture.

I guess I should have had more faith in the Academy. Hard to believe this is the same voting body that gave the award to -Green Book- last year.

A Decade of Movies, 2019 Favorites

And today is the day! Only 1 month late (and change).But I’ve been scrambling to catch up on as many 2019 releases as I can- and I’m ready to admit that at this point the payoff is decreasing.

I’m picking 8 favorites because there is an immense tier of excellent runner ups and I can’t choose.

  • 1917: It’s a fairly traditional war film shot to appear as though it were one or two long takes.  The cinematography is beautiful, it’s fun to see the cameo Brits (Benedict Cumberbatch, the Hot Priest/Moriarty, and Mark Strong, among others), the characters feel real and sympathetic, and the stakes are high.
  • Parasite: Absolutely and delightfully twisted, intricately layered, and a masterpiece.  Here’s a really excellent reading of some of the film’s themes.
  • Jojo Rabbit: An enthusiastic Nazi youth has an imaginary best friend. The imaginary best friend is Hitler.  And then his world gets turned upside down when he discovers that his mother is sheltering a Jewish girl in their home. And I literally can’t think of any director who could pull this off except Taika Waititi. I think my mouth was gaping open like a fish the full first five minutes.
  • Ford v Ferrari/Le Mans 66: I’m hearing this described as a “Dad movie”, maybe because it’s ostensibly about cars? But the deeper story is about people’s willingness to put everything on the line- to fight hard- to do the thing they love.  Christian Bale is always excellent.  Matt Damon is also excellent this time.  And this movie kind of broke my heart. It was really rude of it and I had to call my Mom for a good vent afterward.
  • Knives Out: Rian Johnson’s whole thing seems to be turning classic genre structures on their head- this time he’s taking on the whodunnit with the help of an expert cast, all of whom seem to be having a fabulous time (especially Daniel Craig and his extremely theatrical Southern accent).  Chris Evans (the ultimate Hollywood Chris) wears comfy sweaters.
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire: Once again, we come to my happy place with and erotically loaded costume drama.  A young painter is hired to create the wedding portrait of a young woman… but in secret, because the woman doesn’t want to be painted, much less married. Guys, it’s so so good. Watch it.
  • Us: I think I may be one of the few who likes Jordan Peele’s (admittedly convoluted) second entry better than his first (Get Out).  The soundtrack stuck with me, there are so many ways to read it, Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke kill, the child actors are great- it’s a rewarding watch on every level. If my problem with Get Out was that everything felt too bluntly metaphorical, Us’ ambiguity does it for me. And because I’m extra, here’s my favorite interpretation video.
  • I Lost My Body: Okay, here me out. It’s animated. And it’s about a decapitated hand traversing Paris in search of it’s lost body.  The hand even gets in a fight with the Metro rats.  It’s haunting and moving and even- dare I say it- romantic.

Honorable Mentions: Uncut Gems (Amazing but WAY TOO stressful for me), Ready Or Not (fun fluff horror), Fighting With My Family (heartwarming underdog female wrestling story with Florence Pugh), Rocketman (should have been nominated for best costumes at the VERY LEAST), Klaus, The Art of Self Defense, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Little Women, The Irishman, The Lighthouse (This is where I draw my weirdness line), Marriage Story, Bombshell, Midsommar (really tough when you’re a follow up to Hereditary), Just Mercy, The Two Popes, Hustlers, Frozen 2, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Judy, Waves, Peanutbutter Falcon, Togo, Dolemite is My Name, Honey Boy, The Farewell, Brittany Runs a Marathon (I couldn’t finish because I found the exercise/body image focus triggering), Wild Rose.

I have not yet seen: Pain & Glory, Midnight Family, Ash is Purest White, Queen & Slim, Tigers Are Not Afraid, Bacurau, One Cut of the Dead, First Love, The Souvenir, La Llorona (The one NOT in The Conjuring universe), End of the Century, An American Factory, The Vast of Night, The Blonde One, Shadow, Belle Epoque, The Mustang, The Platform, Clemency, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Little Monsters, Atlantics, And Then We Danced, Les Miserables, Weathering With You.

I tried guys!

A Decade of Films, 2018

We are at the penultimate! Which is great because I’ve pretty much closed in on my top 10 of 2019 (or at least as close as I will get until I manage to see certain hard-to-find things).

I did do a top 10 of 2018 this time last year, I don’t think I blogged it but it was definitely up on my Instagram and maybe Facebook.
But that doesn’t matter because this list is different!
Why? I’ve seen more of the 2018 films in the intervening year and, as I’ve had time and space to think on the films I saw earlier, surprising things have stuck with me while others have faded out a bit.

  • A Quiet Place: A novel idea for a horror film, expertly executed. I’m looking forward to the sequel this year. Apart from the killer monsters with excellent hearing, it’s also about the importance of family, forgiveness, and sacrifice. And does anyone else have the hots for ingenuity in films? I love watching characters come up with resourceful solutions. It reminds me of when I obsessively read and reread Robinson Crusoe as a child.
  • Hereditary: One of the best horror films of the modern era, more artful and deep than A Quiet Place.  It has a lot of shock value on the first watch but is so multi-layered that it really rewards rewatches and interpretation.  One of my favorite things about it is that even though the characters try to make the smart decisions, the non-stupid-horror-movie-character decisions, it’s not enough to save them.
  • The Favourite: We talked about Yorgos Lanthimos yesterday, and, oh look, he made a psychologically twisted, erotically loaded costume drama. In other words, he made a film specifically for me.
  • Spiderman: Into the SpiderVerse: It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s astoundingly beautifully animated.
  • Bad Times at the El Royale: Weirdly prescient of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, down to similar soundtracks (Hush by Deep Purple is one of my favorite songs ever no lie), locations (Nevada/California), time periods (60s/70s), and plots (I see a murderous hippy cult leader).  But if what you associate with Tarantino is non-stop violent action, this one is more Tarantino-y, despite not being the Tarantino film. Quite weird, quite overlooked. Look for Cynthia Erivo, Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, and Dakota Johnson.
  • BlackKklansman: A suspenseful day comedy about a black man infiltrating the KKK. I’m going to marry both John David Washington and Adam Driver. And also Spike Lee. How was this only Spike Lee’s first Oscar win?
  • Annihilation: A sci fi where the alien invader isn’t a ‘who’ so much as a ‘what’.  Centered on women. With beautifully disturbing visuals and jarring perils.
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: A very warm and fuzzy-feeling teen drama that put Noah Centineo on the map. I believe this is another one that is getting a sequel this year.
  • Game Night: Smart modern comedies are few and far between, but Game Night proves that when you get a good one it can be really really good.
  • Upgrade: Wikipedia is describing this film as ‘cyberpunk action body horror’, which I’m not going to try to parse. Long story short, a paralyzed man goes on a revenge mission with a little help from a piece of implanted tech that allows him to move again- except of course that can’t be all that it does. Long story short, it’s excellent.
  • Shoplifters: A Japanese drama film about the ties that bind a makeshift petty criminal family, it’s members assembled by need and necessity rather than by blood.  It pulls your heart in all the best ways.

Honorable Mentions: Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, The Hate U Give, If Beale Street Could Talk, First Man, Incredibles 2, Eighth Grade, Ca You Ever Forgive Me?, Tully, Searching, Wild Rose, American Animals, Blindspotting, The Tale, Girl.

Haven’t Yet Seen:

A Decade of Movies, 2017

2017 was a very good year for me, in term of finding favorites- to the extent that, even after narrowing my list down, I find that I have 14 in the top tier.

They are as follows:

  • Call Me By Your Name: Every aspect of this movie is perfect- from the atmosphere to the plot to the chemistry between characters (notably Elio and Armie Hammer and Elio and his father).  I want a pair of vintage-y swim trunks. And maybe a peach.
  • It: It Chapter 2 disappointed me a bit, but happily this one stands very well on its own.
  • Dunkirk: A stylishly-executed war drama about the evacuation of soldiers from Dunkirk. A few people have criticized the “confusing” pacing of the film, but I found that the manipulation of time serviced the feeling of different types of combat in a really interesting way.
  • Baby Driver: The use of diegetic music (music incorporated as part of the plot, rather than disconnected soundtrack) in this really blew me away, particularly during action sequences. Shame about Kevin Spacey, but there’s enough Jon Hamm, Jaime Foxx, and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers to provide a good distraction.
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: I’m struggling not to start every single one of these descriptions with “This is one of my favorites”. Frances McDormand is a queen, the supporting cast is amazing, and I hope Sam Rockwell can break out of playing incapable racists (see also Vice and Jojo Rabbit).
  • The Shape of Water: This is almost one of my favorites but it is at the same type so elegantly done that I would be amiss not to include it.  Yes, it is a fish sex movie. Yes, I watched it with someone I was trying to dissuade from his romantic intentions toward me, not realizing the first scene would be bathtub masturbation.  The music is beautiful, the wetly green colors are slimily luscious, the acting is all great. They need to cut out the random musical number. There is some controversy about the disabled marrying literal monsters that is very much worth reading about.
  • Coco: Coco is highly predictable, fairly formulaic, and astonishingly beautiful.  yes, clearly if I were to take two films off of this list, they would be Coco and The Shape of Water, but I’m including them, so deal with it.  I can’t stop thinking about the skeleton who is forgotten, I believe his name is Chich. The true star. Along with that beautiful flying tiger animal.
  • Phantom Thread: A psychologically twisted costume drama, one of my favorite genres.  For fans of Daniel Day Lewis, couture, Paul Thomas Anderson, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (you’ll understand).  Also good on a rewatch (I rarely rewatch because there is so much new to see, but this was on a plane).
  • The Killing of A Sacred Deer: You may know Yorgos Lanthimos from The Lobster (too weird for me) or, more recently, from The Favorite (a psychologically twisted costume drama for which Olivia Colman won best actress).  The Killing of a Sacred Deer seems less well known than those two and deserves to be more widely seen. It’s disturbing and will put you off spaghetti.
  • Hostiles: In 1892 a legendary US Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne chief and his family back to their lands through dangerous territory. Frankly, I really liked this movie and did not find it to be too problematic or too forgiving toward white people in an era when we did a whole lot of bad shit, but it’s been long enough since I saw the film that I am unprepared to thread the needle of an accurate description with adequate historical disclaimers.
  • Wind River: We’ve already covered Sicario and Hell or High Water- this is the third and last installment of Taylor Sheridan’s trilogy. In my mind, it is the best of the three and hideously underwatched. It’s cold and bleak and fairly devastating. Jeremy Renner rides a snowmobile.
  • Ingrid Goes West: It’s a compulsively watchable dark social media satire about a disturbed Aubrey Plaza who worms her way into the life of an Instagram influencer.
  • Thoroughbreds: Unfortunately not about horses. Fortunately about two teen girls who hatch an evil plan.
  • Detroit: A fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots. I put off watching it for a long while after hearing about how absolutely brutal it is to sit through. I wish I hadn’t, because it’s also appallingly necessary viewing.

Honorable Mentions: Get Out, The Wife, Annabelle: Creation, The Breadwinner, BPM, Good Time, Logan Lucky, Mother!, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beast, and I, Tonya.

I have not yet seen: Okja, You Were Never Really Here, One Cut of the Dead, Tigers are Not Afraid, The Rider, On Body and Soul, A Fantastic Woman, Au Revoir La Haut, November, and Foxtrot.

A Decade of Films, 2016

I feel like I’m asymptotically approaching my “Best of 2019” list.  Which is good because I’m also asymptotically approaching having watched all of the films of 2019.

Let me explain: I still have to write this post. And then comes 2017 and 2018.  I should probably also do a retrospective of my 2019 ‘Most Anticipated’, which I didn’t actually post here but did post on Facebook.  And I could space my posts out more to give myself more time to finish up 2019 films, but my list of favorites is hovering around a nebulous nine, so it’s probably about time to throw in the towel.  Even though there are a few films I feel a sneaking suspicion I would love, but that I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to see for another few months (Here’s looking at you, Bacurau).  But it seems silly to push off my best of 2019 for months.  Even posting it end of January-ish (which it looks like I will be doing) is a bit ridiculous.
And so far as asymptotically approaching having watched all of the 2019 films that I want to see, in the way of all things, necessary titles keep getting added to the list.  Happily, my list of 32 remaining films to see has been whittled down to 24, but it’s still entirely possible there is something not on the list at all that I might consider the best film I’ve seen in my entire life.  It’s thoughts like these that drive me (a completionist)(is that a word?) mad.

Anywho, 2016. A good year for films, a bad year for life in general.
In that vein, I’m choosing 12 favorites. As always, in no particular order.

  • Rogue One: I liked this grimmer take on Star Wars.  Was genuinely invested in the ‘group of misfits’ that got pulled together.
  • Hacksaw Ridge: I don’t like Mel Gibson, but Andrew Garfield using a severed torso as a shield is always a fun time.
  • Moana: All of this movie is perfect.  Brave and Frozen get all of the credit for not having a main love interest, but I would pick Moana over either/both combined any day.
  • Zootopia: Yes, some of the real-world parallels don’t really hold up but -fun fact- it’s a kids movie.  The deeper meaning still gets to me and the fox is sexy.
  • Your Name: I would have missed this if a new (at the time) friend hadn’t turned me onto it.  Absolutely amazing anime. The director has a new 2019/2020 (depending on where you live) film, Weathering With You, which is (Grrr) on my need to watch list.
  • The Handmaiden: “Erotic psychological thriller” from South Korea. Sinister, sumptuous, and splendid.
  • Silence: A Scorsese passion project that is frankly a million times better than The Irishman. And not just because Adam Driver is in it. Perhaps in part because Adam Driver AND Andre Garfield are in it.  But also because it is a hard-hitting, emotionally taxing, historical epic that’s just extremely well done.
  • Hell or Highwater: The middle entry into the loose trilogy that also includes Sicario and Wind River.  There’s a pair of brothers and they’re robbing banks. That is, until Jeff Bridges catches up with them. It features one of the Hollywood Chrises (the second best Chris, actually) but the real standout is Gil Birmingham as Jeff Bridges’ partner.
  • Lion:  Never Give Up is a great samba.
    Just kidding.
    I mean, I’m not, it is a great samba, but the movie is beautiful. One of the few times I didn’t get mad at a film that relied really heavily on heartstring tugging.
  • A Silent Voice: Another anime entry, this time one that abuts heavy topics like bullying, isolation, and suicide.  A sweet story and I think I must have gotten invested, because I can remember yelling at the screen when I watched it.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings: Laika deserves way more credit for their offerings.  The house that brought you Coraline now presents Kubo and the Two Strings, a criminally underseen film.  A fantasy featuring musical magic, origami, a legendary suit of armor, a quest, and evil spirit, and a friendly monkey and beetle.  In other words, only the most necessary ingredients.
  • Elle: A French thriller from Verhoeven in which the CEO of a video game company (the inimitable Isabelle Huppert) tries to discover the identity of the man who raped her.  I appreciated this for being, not a portrayal of how women “react to rape” but a character study of the ways- both expected and unexpected- that rape effects one individual’s psyche, and how she moves forward (or not).

A striking 5/12 of these are animated, which is fun.

Honorable mentions: Deadpool, Nocturnal Animals, Train to Busan, The Founder, The Edge of 17, Jackie, Christine, My Life as a Zucchini.

Not yet seen: The Invisible Guest, Sing Street, Perfect Strangers, The Love Witch, The Salesman, Frantz, In This Corner of the World, Dancer.

There were some big films in 2016 that didn’t make it on to my favorites list or my recommendations.  You may have heard of them: La La Land, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Manchester By the Sea.  They’re all interesting films and I would be remiss if I didn’t give some explanation as to why they don’t figure here.

I just pooped out around the hype about La La Land. It’s a good film, but for me was much more about prettiness than substance, kind of like candy fluff.

Hidden Figures is a white savior movie.

Moonlight is beautiful visually and emotionally but exceedingly taxing and a bit slow.

I’ve seen Manchester by the Sea described as white people sadness porn and that really sums it up. Casey Affleck, also not my favorite Boston-area resident.