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.

A Decade of Films, 2015

The funny thing about the making of these lists is that it’s becoming increasingly clear to me when I got more seriously into movies.  I watched almost nothing the first year or two of college, but I definitely made up for lost time.

As a result, I have more than 10 favorites this year, but I’ll narrow it down just the same and put the others in some honorable mentions type purgatory.

My top 10, in no particular order:

  • The Force Awakens: I’m not wholly pleased with the newest trilogy, but The Force Awakens is my favorite of the three. I loved it then and I love it now, even as a film, not just as a Star Wars film.
  • The Witch/The VVitch: Everyone needs an evil devil goat that makes babies disappear.
  • The Revenant: Bleak, very bleak. It’s a mood.
  • Sicario: Frankly I’m having trouble remembering much beyond that I quite liked this film.  I refuse to watch the sequel.
  • Spotlight: Sometimes the whistle-blowing newspaper dramas are GOOD. Extra points for Boston setting.
  • Crimson Peak: Sorry not sorry, I loved this.  It was poorly/inaccurately marketed and I think that led to a lot of the dislike.  It’s not a horror film. It’s a weird gothic melodrama with ghosts and incest.
  • Eddie The Eagle: One of the best feel good sports movies I have seen.  Aaron Egerton and Hugh Jackman are both excellent.
  • The Dressmaker: Quirky semi-surreal film starring Kate Winslet.  Quite bizarre, quite good. It kind of borders on magical realism.
  • Trumbo: A biopic that looks into the Hollywood blacklisting and its effect on the life of Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), a Hollywood screenwriter. Excellent cast if you pretend Louis CK isn’t in it.
  • A Man Called Ove: This is a really touching and undersign Swedish comedy drama about an irascible elderly man, depressed after the recent loss of his wife.  I don’t want to go more into the plot, but my heart felt a bit tenderized after watching it.

Honorable mentions: The Big Short, The Danish Girl, Brooklyn, Inside Out, and Creed.

Movies that I have not yet seen: Room, Straight Outta Compton, Green Room, Mustand, Beasts of No Nation, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Victoria, Our Little Sister, Anomalisa, Tangerine, Land of Mine, Son of Saul, Slow West, Embrace of the Serpent, The Assassin, April and the Extraordinary World.

Review: Moviepass and Recent Movies

Moviepass and I have a love/hate relationship.  It is hard to rationally hate a program that allows you to see 4 movies a month (or a movie a day, depending o your plan) for a fraction of the regular cost.  And yet.
Most people who have Moviepass, myself included, still somehow manage it.

Why?
Because the customer service is straight out of the seventh circle of hell.  Imagine the speed of the DMV and the helpfulness of, well, something extremely unhelpful.

I’ll share my own personal story, but if you want details there are tons of anecdotes online of various customer service fails.

Having heard about Moviepass while in France, I was very excited to sign up when I returned to the US.  As I understood it, Moviepass was a risky business venture that would allow one to see a film a day for a fixed price (approximately $10).  My guess is that they operate this way in the hopes of raising theater attendance enough the theaters come to rely on the new influx of viewers, and are willing to give into Moviepass’ demands. A cut of the ticket or concessions sales, perhaps?
Anyway, I have no idea how that’s working for them or even if it is actually their planned course of action.

When I got back to the states Moviepass had just stopped offering one-a-day passes in favor of four movie a month passes and access to some radio channel.  The two plans are approximately the same price.  When I first saw this on the Moviepass website, I emailed asking if it were no longer possible to sign up for the film-a-day option.  After a week and a half with no answer, I subscribed to the only plan available to me- the four film a month one.  It has been just over a month since my account was activated (ten days later, when I received my card).  I have never used my radio account (as pretty much expected).  Maybe another week later, around the time I got the Moviepass card, I received an email back from a customer service representative, telling me that they had checked my account and I was subscribed to the four-film option. No shit, Sherlock. That’s because I didn’t receive a response for more than half a month.
Shortly thereafter, Moviepass beginning offering the unlimited option again. I emailed explaining my position and saying that I would like to switch plans.  After another rather extended wait, I was told that that was not recommended and that I could wait until my three months of plan had elapsed and then could switch.  If you cancel your plan before it is completed, you must wait something like nine months before you can sign up again.
So yes, Moviepass, super bad customer service.
Also, not my complaint, but the complaint of many others- they have a tendency to change the conditions of your contract without giving you the option to opt out, without forewarning, without any price change.
Meh.  It’s a first world problem to the tenth degree but it’s frustrating and rude.

Films I’ve seen since I got home:

No spoilers.

A Quiet Place: I wasn’t super into the trailer but heard so many good films I had to see it. They were all true, it’s amazing.  And worth seeing in a theater, the eerie and tense silence of everyone in the audience is a really interesting atmosphere.

Solo: Not so great, guys.

Deadpool 2: I liked Deadpool better, in large part because it was such a breath of fresh air and had never been done before. Of course, a sequel doesn’t have that advantage. The humor was still good, if you liked Deadpool the first you’ll probably like this, and it was a fun watch, but I don’t need to see it again.

Will You Be My Neighbor?: Mr. Rogers is a prince among men and we should all emulate him.

American Animals: I have very mixed feelings about this film and it’s subject: the true story of four college freshmen who plan and execute a heist on one of their campus’s rare book library.  They’re both disgustingly entitled and kind of sympathetic. The soundtrack is great.  Some interesting film and narrative choices are made that slow down the action and pull you out of the story a bit, but they ultimately make the film much more unique and interesting and give it more depth.

Hereditary: An amazing amazing film. Scary, yes. But there are so many layers to it, so many readings and so much subtle foreshadowing that you only notice in hindsight. Ultimately a viewing experience that left me feeling respected by all involved in the filmmaking process, which is pretty rare. And it’s a film for which close-watching really pays off. Like you feel rewarded watching it by all of the little ties you notice. Brilliant.

Coming up next?

Incredibles II.

 

Links 6/4

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Due to a weekend-trip hiatus (NYC was great, thanks), this links post is a bit later than usual.  Coincidentally, many of these links seem to have a bit of an LGBTQ theme.
Happy Pride!

Let’s get the smell stuff out of the way first:

  • Auklets are a bird species in which males demonstrate fitness not only by very fancy and sexy crests, but seemingly also by emitting a strong tangerine scent, research finds.
  • Study finds that activation of a certain smell receptor speeds the progression of prostate cancer, suggesting new treatment methods via blocking of the receptor.
  • Department stores reevaluate traditional beauty and fragrance marketing techniques as the beauty industry changes.

All the feels:

Film thoughts:

Current events:

Odds and Ends:

Friday Links 5/18

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Happy Friday! It seems like a pretty good day 9a bit nippy) and I’m looking forward to some exciting doings this weekend.

How about you?

Links and Things

After a short hiatus that coincided with finals period and stress and projects, I am back in the US of A and home in Boston where there are cats and vegan food and gardens that need working it.

And a smallish backlog of links.

Friday Links 1/19

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Happy Friday! I have the day off, which is many kinds of wonderful (not least because I get to go out and buy a pastry and check some travel guide out from the library and maybe find a waterproof pair of boots.)
(You know, the real problem is that I just want these ten year old riding boots to be new again, or to find a pair of Chelsea boots that are pretty similar. But the Vogue right now seems to be for combat boots or boots that are combat-adjacent so I’m having some trouble).

Anyway, links!

  • Collider (one of my favorite youtube channels on the film industry, frequently mentioned on the blog) doesn’t usually discuss anime, but Emma’s here to decode some common visual tropes and gags.
  • More things I’ve learned from my amazing and diverse ISIPCA classmates? Dan from Australia taught me about ‘Firehawk’ raptors, which spread bushfires to flush out their prey.
  • There’s a Star Wars-themed Creperie in Paris. The dishes are named after the planets by which they were inspired.  Not at all vegan-friendly, but I’m so amused.
  • I know I hate on GP’s goop, but this is actually a pretty good article about how our negativity is in many ways an adaptive strategy, a self-defense mechanism to protect us from past threats- and so a lot of negativity may no longer really be necessary (and may actually be counterproductive) to leading happy lives.  I know I sound super woo woo so I’ll stop, but it does resonate with a lot of what I’ve observed and thought re: my own negativity and cynicism.
    But yeah, no, I only skimmed the article.
  • What do I really want? Continuing to love Mari Andrew’s illustrations.
  • Also Poorly Drawn Lines’s send up of this classic Lion King scene.
  • Screen Junkies (another favorite youtube channel on the film industry) presents their annual Screens awards for the best and worst in movies and television.
  • Unforgettable movie style moments. Some (Keira Knightley’s green Atonement dress) would definitely be on my own list (which, hey, will maybe happen someday).
  • I hope you made it through Blue Monday (the most depressing day of the year, apparently) okay. If you’re still feeling a bit of residual down-ness, here are some lovely feel-good movie dance scenes. I still always listen to Dancing Queen when I need a boost. I have to say I think Moses Supposes from Singin’ in the Rain is actually more feel good than the title song, but whatever. Again, maybe this is a moment when a personal list is needed.
  • You’ve heard of the KonMari Method. Maybe you’ve even partaken in some Swedish death cleaning (I’m only 22 and I know I have. One needs to be prepared)- now t’s time for the hot decluttering trend of 2018: American Apocalypse Purging.
  • Another anticipated 2018 film (see earlier post): Love, Simon.
  • I watched I, Tonya and thought it was pretty good (Blades of Glory is still the best figure skating film), but you know what I’d love to see? A film about figure skating legend Surya Bonaly. Because a backflip is almost as difficult as the Iron Lotus.
  • The mindset of men and women re: sex and during sex itself, and how this influences the way women write about sex.  A really interesting read.
  • A very cogently written account of the issues with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It’s always brilliant when you find an article that explains your gut feelings. Beautiful film, serious problems.
  • There’s a Colette film coming! Keira Knightley’s going to star! I’m not sure those two go together! But I love both separately!
  • On Aziz Ansari and sexual assault vs sexual coercion: I don’t believe sexual coercion is sexual assault. But it’s not exactly enthusiastic consent either.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask men to interpret mixed signals, particularly when sexual violence against women is so common and fear of the consequences of refusal is so real.
  • If becoming a perfumer doesn’t work out, maybe I can go into gourmet ice cream.