A Decade of Films, 2014

So 2014 was a great year for films, to the extent that I have 10 favorites and 44 honorable mentions. And of course a handful of films I haven’t seen.

And I’m still trying to catch up on 2019’s films. Three films over this past Friday-Saturday-Sunday, which means I’ve watched about 50 of last year’s films. I also did some OCD research last night to see how much I felt I should see before committing to my list of favorites- that would be 32 films still to see. I won’t get through them all, but I can try.
It’s not like the Oscar voters watched all of last year’s movies anyway.
In fact, I’ve probably seen more than Stephen King. (Why does he get to vote for Oscars anyway? He’s a writer. The one great film that was made from his work (The Shining) is one that he’s essentially disowned because it’s too far from his novel. And that’s because his writing sucks isn’t good.)
If you’re not sure why I’m picking on Stephen King, he’s said some questionable stuff about the Oscar nominees’ lack of diversity. And he hasn’t reflected very much on the issue, apparently.

OKAY, SO MY FAVORITES MOVING ON!

In no particular order:

  • John Wick: I’m not in love with the sequels, but the original film is an original concept executed electrically.  And sneakily deep for a film that explores how many deaths it takes to avenge a puppy (dude, if you’ve ever met/seen a puppy you know it’s A LOT).
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: Again, not a huge fan of the sequel, and there are definitely some moments in this that give me serious pause, but on the whole it’s a great time.  Like, the kind of good time where you want to use the word “rollicking”.  An excellent secret agent film for a post-Bond world. With a sprinkle of class conflict examination.
  • Ex Machina: I’m a bit conflicted on this one because while I quite like Ex Machina, it does feel like it tries a bit too hard to be deep.  There’s a whole lot of navel-gazing going on.  But the performances are all excellent, Oscar Isaac’s dance scene is the most disturbing thing I could ever imagine, and the message is interesting.
  • Fury: It’s an excellent ensemble war film about the crew of a tank, focusing on the newest and youngest member.  Bloody, dramatic, and tragic.
  • Whiplash: I’m not the hugest fan of Damien Chazelle, but this is my favorite of his films so far (the others being La La Land and First Man).  But I’m always into stories of obsession and the clash of disturbed personalities, so there you go.
  • Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson, Ralph Fiennes, early Saoirse Ronan, and many more exciting faces, plus a pink hotel and Andersonian hijinks. I’ve been feeling a bit deflated about Anderson post-Isle of Dogs, but this was back in the good old days. And I watched it with my family over Thanksgiving break. Anderson has another film coming out next year, so maybe that will get me back on the train?
  • Nightcrawler: Brilliantly chilling thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who sells grisly camera footage to news outlets.  Rene Russo is also great and similarly distressing to watch.  Examines the ties between unethical journalism and consumer demand.
  • Big Hero 6: Completely different from the preceding film, Big Hero 6 has a very big heart and watching it is like receiving a very big hug.  I remember it was very popular when it came out but it doesn’t get talked about as much anymore, which is a shame.
  • Ernest & Celestine: A French animated film based on a children’s series, depicting the touching friendship between a big bear (Ernest) and a little mouse (Celestine).
  • The Book of Life: So I guess 2014 was a big year for animation, for me.  To save the love of his life, Manolo sacrifices himself and must journey through the Land of the Remembered, meeting his ancestors along the way. Stop comparing it to Coco. Do you know how many Christmas movies there are? We can have more than one film about the Day of the Dead and Mexican tradition. Thanks.

Honorable mentions: The Wind Rises, Gone Girl, Edge of Tomorrow (good film but if I see poor Emily Blunt do the sexy stretch one more time I’m going to break something), Imitation Game.

I have not seen: Boyhood, It Follows, Highway, or The Lunchbox.

Best Movies of the Decade, 2012

2012 was a much better year in terms of movies than the one that came before.

My favorites as follows, in no particular order:

  • The Secret World of Arrietty: An excellent Studio Ghibli animated film based on the book The Borrowers. A good watch if you, like me, are someone who likes imagining what you would do if you were very very tiny. I blame a childhood spent watching George Shrinks.
  • 21 Jump Street: I don’t usually enjoy modern comedies, but this is one of the few exceptions.  Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are great together, the premise is good, and performances are good all around.
  • Moonrise Kingdom: Moonrise Kingdom was my first Wes Anderson movie and one of the first movies where I really realized how amazing the theater experience can be.  It’s an aesthetically beautiful movie, a musically beautiful movie, and my enjoyment of it was certainly aided by the freshness of never before having seen Anderson’s particular style of quirk.  That all said, it’s one of his best and is probably one of the more important films in my movie-viewing history.
  • Rise of the Guardians: This is an underseen, under-rated animated Christmas film that takes place around Easter.  Long story short, a group of magical mythical heroes (The Tooth Fairy, Santa, the Easter Bunny, Sandman, and Jack Frost) must team up to protect the children and the hopes and the dreams from Pitch Black/The Bogeyman.  The Easter Bunny is Hugh Jackman.  Santa/North looks like a very Daddy version of Auguste Rodin. Jack Frost is also hot. Wholesome content.
  • Skyfall: I very much like Daniel Craig James Bond and this is one of his better ones (Second to Casino Royale).
  • Django Unchained: I used to think I couldn’t stand Quentin Tarantino but have come to a change of opinion, largely through Inglourious Bastards and Django Unchained.  I was thinking recently about how some of Tarantino’s movies seem to show a desire to retcon history, to take injustices and rewrite them.  I like him best when he plays in this sandbox.

I didn’t see: Monsieur Lazhar, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Magic Mike, Samsara, The Master, Looper, A Late Quartet, or Amour.

Links 4/07

I hope you had a lovely Saturday. I took a forty minute detour to claim a vegan cinnamon roll, visited the Louvre’s special Delacroix exhibition, and ate a pizza (also vegan).
Keep an eye open for an upcoming ‘best vegan pizzas in Paris’ post. The sequel to the Boston edition- we’ve relocated.

So here’s what’s happening on the interwebs, carefully avoiding the trend for snorting condoms.

  • The city of lights from the sky
  • I’m fantasizing less about these outfits and more about the swoon worthy descriptions of spring weather
  • Body glitter is now the only appropriate use for the Kira Kira filter. I am entranced.
  • What happens when you add illustrations to those random snippets of overheard conversations
  • I would stay here– books and beds are the only things I need in life
  • For it to really be Paris he would have an accordion
  • Infernal Affairs and The Departed– for me The Departed wins because Boston, but I have yet to see Infernal Affairs (it’s been on my list SO LONG) so that’s not worth much. It does look excellent, doesn’t it?
  • If you’re a Royal Wedding fan, maybe you want to enter this social media contest to suggest its defining ice cream flavor?
  • The unstoppable rise of veganism, about which I have mixed feelings (more people want to eat my cinnamon bun but more places sell vegan pizza).
  • The benefits of a plant-based diet for health and the environment.
  • Congrats to Yale and congrats to Nathan Chen.
  • An interview with my favorite makeup artist
  • A follow up on the Orientalism inherent in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, and in the broader world of American cinema (with a very interesting segment on 2015’s Met Gala theme).
    “It’s Japan purely as an aesthetic — and another piece of art that treats the East not as a living, breathing half of the planet but as a mirror for the Western imagination.” And perhaps the only thing that will lead to a more fair, just, and equal portrayal of Asians in cinema and pop culture is the spending power of that huge sector of the world population.
  • Turkish Rondo in finger snaps
  • Molly Ringwald reflects on the problematic legacy of John Hughes movies in the era of #MeToo

Friday Links: 4/1

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I’m weirdly exhausted by life/final exams/the sporadically broken heating system in this  house. But I have a backlog of links and they’re all exciting so there’s no putting them off any longer.

And because it’s a new month, the picture above is my new desktop background. Set to tile, as per usual. People swimming in a sea of stars.

What else? 19 days. So close yet so far.

  • Reviews of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. I’m still pumped because I like Wes Anderson (and dogs), but it sounds like there are some pretty ishy us vs them components.  Won’t be seeing it in the theater. Here’s a review from MovieBob and here is a deeper plunge into the problematic nature of the Japanese setting, the estrangement from the Japanese human characters created by the language barrier,  cultural tourism, and the white savior complex.
  • The movies that influenced Call Me By Your Name. Be right back, adding ALL OF THEM to my list. (Except A Room With A View- I honestly didn’t love that).
  • Other things I’m adding to my film list? These twisted fairy tales (from female directors).
  • A trailer for The House With a Clock in it’s Walls– speaking of twisted fairy tales. Cate Blanchett! Luscious steam-punk-y visuals! Jack Black doing his character actor thing! Creepy! Childlike! I’m kind of tentatively intrigued. Post-Jumanji, is Jack Black due for a resurgence?
  • A discussion of Saoirse Ronan’s costumes for the film Brooklyn, and the deeper meaning behind them. So interesting (and a great film, if you haven’t yet seen it).

Let’s talk about perfume:

  • Five fabulous orange blossom scents, courtesy of Angela at Now Smell This. Of these, the Serge Lutens is my favorite, but I would add Rubj by Vero Profumo to the list if I could. (And on the more gourmand side, Hansa Yellow by DSH and Unknown Pleasures by Kerosene).
  • Carlos Benaim (love) and Frederic Malle on their new lavender-focused fragrance, Music For a While.
  • Hermes releases a new cologne. Unfortunately I missed the Saut Hermes (a jumping tournament at the Grand Palais), but here’s a photo.
  • If you’re feeling science-y (I always am) here’s a study that shows evidence of significant interactions between perfumes and individual body odor.  The takeaway: “The odor mixture of an individual’s body odor and their preferred perfume was perceived as more pleasant than a blend of the same body odor with a randomly-allocated perfume, even when there was no difference in pleasantness between the perfumes. This indicates […] that people choose perfumes that interact well with their own odor. Our results provide an explanation for the highly individual nature of perfume choice.” So cool.

Fashion and celebrity people:

  • Lena Waithe is amazing and I love her style and attitude.
  • Bill Cunningham’s secret memoir. When can I read it?
  • I know I’m late, but in honor of spring (and Easter) some floral looks from Moschino’s S/S 2018 RTW collection: and 2.

Relationships?

  • The maternal grandparent advantage. Rings true for my family (although that also has something to do with geographic proximity). And congratulations Mom and Dad, you are likely to be more involved with my future children than my future parents in law!
  • Your friendship Myers-Briggs. As an INFJ, apparently I’m a bandaid and I’ll take it.
  • For work relationships. I’m living vicariously through the drama of this twitter thread.
  • In old age, shoplifting to find community. Heartbreaking.

Books and other tidbits

  • I saw this adorable kid’s maze book at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. It reminds me of an immense Sesame Street board book I once had. But rather more portable.
  • Mari Andrew’s book is out! Love her illustrations and down to earth wisdom.
  • Another reason to go home for the summer? Archery tag.
  • A French waiter in Canada says firing for rudeness is discrimination against his culture. He’s not wrong.
  • If you’re not a fan of the lack of privacy re: data and personal info online, console yourself with the fact that if you ever disappear in a national park, amateurs can keep looking for you for decades. But it’s actually a very interesting, well-written article.

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Links Actually on Friday: 3/23

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I’m getting out a links post actually on Friday, pre-classes, pre-full-day-of-smelling-synthetic-raw-materials.

  • Welcome to space. Meet Steve.
  • Congratulations to John Oliver (and best wishes to Marlon Bundo and Wesley).
    Love is love.
  • …There’s going to be a live-action Lady and the Tramp.  Can someone please explain why CGI counts as live action? And can someone also please explain why, in general?
  • The beauty and power of fandoms. Read it for the first, introductory segment alone.
  • A super interesting read on the ‘brand-influencer power struggle’. An examination of the rise of Instagram influencers and bloggers as fashion personalities, how they’re compensated, what it means, and how it’s changing.
  • Honest Trailers does it again.  On the slate this week: every Wes Anderson movie. One of my pet favorite directors and they get his idiosyncrasies so right.
  • “Visitors are encouraged to create drawings, one of which will be interpreted into a personalized Diptyque scent.” Diptyque is opening an interactive shop in Soho! I’ll have to visit once I’m back in the US (because lord knows there aren’t enough Diptyque shops in Paris).  Don’t want to miss out on the fun? You can also submit online.
  • “I will insist on my grandchildren referring to me as Grandmamá, with extra emphasis on the á.” All the Glamorous Things I Will Do When I AM A Rich Old Lady. Honestly- goals. But also, don’t wait! Get that Burmese python now! Or, you know, perfect your posture).
  • Roland Mouret on his scent preferences and his newish perfume, Une Amourette.
  • Olivia de Havilland, 101, alive, and very much kicking. I watched In This Our Life, featuring her and Bette Davis, this week while studying. Not the best movie ever but watching them was like visiting two old friends of mine.

Most Anticipated Film Releases 2018

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I’m back in France (landed yesterday morning) but still thinking about films. Some things never change.

  • The Post: They’ve asked tons screen this at the White House which I find very interesting given 1) the content and 2) the presence of the very-overrated Meryl Streep.
  • A Fantastic Woman
  • Loveless
  • Winchester: This doesn’t actually look good but I love creepy house films and I could be wrong.
  • Red Sparrow: Ballerina Jennifer Lawrence becomes Russian Intelligence agent. Could be good. Could be Atomic Blonde 2, Atomic Redhead.
  • Isle of Dogs: Wes Anderson!
  • Lean on Pete: Horses!
  • You Were Never Really Here: Joaquin Phoenix and guns!
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story: There’s been a lot of behind the scenes drama with this project. I hope it turns out well because I will never not love a good Star Wars. And I’ll be sad if they besmirch the Harrison Ford/Han Solo legacy.
  • Deadpool 2: Of course.
  • Ocean’s 8: I was questioning this on a kind of Ghostbusters remake basis but the trailer looks excellent and has assuaged most of my fears. Love that the heist is set at the Met Gala.
  • The Incredibles 2: Edna’s coming back!
  • Mulan: Live action Mulan. I’m torn. I don’t believe there’s a need but if one is coming I might be here for it.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody: Another film with a lot of behind the scenes drama, but I’m excited. Queen is cool.
  • Creed 2: It didn’t need a sequel but I did like the first Creed quite a bit.

You’ll notice that the list os largely big Hollywood films, as these are the ones that tend to schedule their release dates far into the future (as opposed to the smaller independent films I tend to prefer).

Friday Links on a Friday

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I continue to be in France! That’s it for updates really (for now. stay tuned).