Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Favorite 2016 Films

I haven't posted on this blog since August. The past few months I tried getting a job and failed, resorting to an unpaid internship which turned out to be the best internship I've had so far. Anyway, the other night I saw a film that I unexpectedly love and decided to write a post summing up my three favorite films from this year.

All in all, I was very impressed with the films that came out this year. Okay, well basically just my three favorite films to be honest, but I know that they will be longtime favorites of mine and shows that amazing films are still being made. Looking back, the films that I saw last year were quite discouraging, so I'm very pleased that 2016 was an outstanding year in comparison and I hope next year's films will only be better. 

Arrival (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)

What separates this films from the other two, in my opinion, is that this film is intended to appeal to a larger audience. The score, cinematography, acting, writing, and effects were all on point creating such a spectacular film. While the premise may appear to be a typical sci-fi film, like most sci-fi films, it goes beyond science and is actually a reflection of our society. Apart from aliens invading Earth, Arrival is about humans communicating with one another and the importance of doing so. At the end, there is a stunning plot twist that shows how brave Louise (Amy Adams) is and how significant she is to the mission. Continuing with Amy Adams, this is without a doubt my favorite performance of hers and there really needs to be more strong female characters like Louise in Hollywood. 

American Honey (Dir. Andrea Arnold)

I put off seeing this for a while because I was really turned off by the plot. If I were to describe all of the characters in this film, you would wonder why the fuck was there even a film made about characters like these, but what I've noticed about Andrea Arnold's films is that it is not about explaining, but experiencing the characters and their lives through her films. There are so many shots of the landscape, insects, and of Star (Sasha Lane) observing her environment that you feel as if you are in the film. I love how Arnold hired basically most of the cast off the street which makes the characters feel more real. Sasha Lane did a great job, I didn't even know this was her first acting job, and of course Shia LaBeouf was AMAZING. Like I said, the plot is off putting, but somehow 2 hours and 43 minutes wasn’t long enough.

Moonlight (Dir. Barry Jenkins)

I easily cry while watching films, but no other film has moved me or made me cry like Moonlight did.  Separated into three acts, the film shows three defining stages of a man's life. Moonlight doesn’t tell us what Chiron is feeling, we can see it and feel it ourselves.The film is so subtle, but powerful and emotional. Just like American Honey, I don’t think my words could ever do justice on the film's beauty and it is something you have to watch yourself.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Against the Crowd Blogathon 2016: Gone Girl and Suicide Squad

Against The Crowd 2016 Hosted by Dell On Movies and KG's Movie Rants

The rules:
1. Pick one movie that “everyone” loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have a score of at least 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tell us why you hate it.
2. Pick one movie that “everyone” hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of less than 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tell us why you love it.
3. Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.
4. Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own.
5. Comment at Dell on Movies or KG's Movie Rants with the two movies you intend on writing on.
6. Publish your post on any day from Monday August 22 through Friday August 26, 2016.

This blogathon was made for me. Typically, I hate movies people love and love movies people hate, would could be more perfect? The two films I am featuring in this post are two popular recent films that are strongly loved or hated. There are spoilers.

Gone Girl
This film frustrates me. I found it underwhelming, boring, and almost everything was predictable. Nothing shocked me about this film and I feel like that was the whole point of Gone Girl. One of the reasons why I had an issue with this film was that the author of the book, Gillian Flynn, claims her book and the film is empowering to women. Okay, yes, it's okay that Amy got her revenge on Nick, but I don't understand why Amy would force Nick to stay with her, that goes against empowering women. I'm sure there could have been another way Amy could have ruined Nick's life without blackmailing him to continue their relationship. It's as if the book and film are saying it's okay to stay in a relationship with someone you framed for your murder after finding out he cheated on you. Am I missing something?

Suicide Squad
First off, I will admit that this film is not the film we all waited for. I think it could have been way better and I probably enjoyed it because I had such low expectations from reading the horrible reviews. My friend was kind enough to warn me that Joker is not the villain the squad goes after, but it's Enchantress, and that is my biggest fault with the film, like I'm assuming for many others. I don't know why anyone would choose a lame mythological character as the main villain over Joker, it is beyond me. But anyway, let's get to why I actually enjoyed this film a lot. I loved the main characters in Suicide Squad. I didn't like Margot Robbie in Wall Street, so I expected her to do poor as Harley Quinn, but I was obsessed with them both in this film. I also really liked Deadshot and Diablo. Like Wendell said in his review for the film, though these characters are the bad guys, you can't help but to sympathize with them and that's why I think I enjoyed the film so much. And lastly, the Joker. I think Jared Leto is an amazing actor so I wasn't worried how he'd play Joker, but I wasn't really a fan of the tone Joker had. Definitely not as serious or realistic as Ledger's role, but that's just my preference. I will agree that the editing was a bit weak, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this hated film. 

Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Let's talk about it below!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Scandinavian Language

This week's theme for Thursday Movie Picks (hosted by Wandering Through the Shelvesis Scandinavian Language. This theme is perfect for me because I love Scandinavian films, my favorite region of foreign films (does that even make sense?), and I once took a class all about Scandinavian films. It was quite hard for me to narrow down my choices, I didn't even get Bergman on my list, but these are my personal favorites.

Festen (The Celebration) (1998)
I recently recommended this film on one of my posts. Since a lot of people enjoyed The Hunt and put it on their list, I highly recommend Festen. It's by the same director and has a very similar story. It's unusual to say a film about a man sexually abusing his kids is a good film, but trust me on this one. 

                                                                                                              Let the Right One In (2008)
I really enjoyed the American remake of this film and though they are very similar, I prefer Let the Right One In. The film explores a tender relationship between a lonely boy and a girl who is actually a vampire. An strange premise, but it is actually a very beautiful film.

The Hunt (2012)
It is a sin that I have not included a Bergman film on my list, but I think it would be a sin if I didn't include this film. The Hunt is also an odd film to say it's good, since a man is being accused of sexually assaulting children, but it's so emotional with Mads Mikkelsen's performance, it's too good to miss. 

**I haven't had a chance to post for Against The Crowd yet, but I will tomorrow so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thurdsay Movie Picks: Crimes Gone Wrong

This week's theme for Thursday Movie Picks (hosted by Wandering Through the Shelvesis Crimes Gone Wrong. I was going to pick all Coen films, since they are very good at making those types of films, but I thought I'd pick films from different directors. Crime films are fun, but they are even more fun when they don't go as planned. 

Pickpocket (1959)
The film is about a guy, Michel, that can't stop pickpocketing. Once he finally gets caught, there is a chance that Michel actually wanted to get caught, so is it a crime gone wrong? Whether Michel wanted to get caught or not, this is a great crime film. I saw this twice at school and one of my classmates pointed out that you could watch this film without the subtitles (it's a French film) and because Bresson heavily focuses on visuals, you could still understand what the film is about. Pretty neat, right?

Fargo (1996)
How could I not put this on my list? I was not a fan of this film when I first saw it, I thought it was very underwhelming, but with a lot of Coen films, it seems as if they are asking you to give it another watch. I recently re-watched it and I loved it! It seems so mundane with the characters and the setting, but that's what makes Fargo so great. The best part of the film was definitely Frances McDormand's character, we need more female characters like her. 

Seven Psychopaths (2012) 
This film is quite underrated. A pretty decent comedy with a great cast. I mean the film is based around Woody Harrelson in attempts to find his Shih Tzu, what more do you want?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Favorite Films I Watched At School

I recently graduated with a BA in film studies. While studying film, I was able to see a lot of films that I have probably never seen on my own time or even have never heard of a lot of films. Ironically all of my favorite films I saw are all foreign and most of them were made by female directors. Proof we need more female directors.  I saw a lot of films at school, mostly bad ones, but some amazing. Maybe you have never heard of the films I picked, I didn't know of them until school, so hopefully I will be suggesting films you didn't know existed!

Cache (2005, Michael Haneke)

I just briefly wrote about this film here, but since that contained spoilers, I will write a spoiler free summary. A French couple keeps receiving videotapes of the front of their house. It is a mystery on who records them and why they exist. Eventually the setting of the videos change, leading the protagonist to his next clue on why these tapes exist. I did not understand it the fist time watching it and that's the fun part! It's a great psychological thriller that leaves you with more questions than answers. 

Beau Travail (1999, Claire Denis)

This is the most beautiful film I saw at school. The cinematography is amazing, I love how the mise-en-scene tells more about the story rather than the dialogue, and I love the final two scenes. I will admit I didn't enjoy watching it nor understood it at first, but after I did my readings regarding the film, it all made sense and I saw it's beauty. 

Festen (1998, Thomas Vinterberg)

This film is an odd choice to be a favorite of mine, being about a son accusing his father of child molestation. I watched this film while taking a film on Scandinavian cinema, my professor enlightened us how this film comments on how Danish people celebrate, ignore controversial topics, and can be racist. In that class I wrote about this film and Vinterberg's other film Jagten (The Hunt), which I plan on posting soon. Both films handle the issue of accusation of child molestation, and it's odd to say both films are good, but they actually really are. 

Wuthering Heights (2011, Andrea Arnold)

It is kind of odd for me to put this on my list because I'm not telling you guys to watch this a soon as you can or that its the best movie ever, but this film really moved me. I watched this film learning about how films can portray senses, and with the close ups, I felt as if I could feel the wind blowing and the connection the two characters had. I'm not going to lie, I cried a lot during this film and if I watched it alone, I'm sure I would have cried much more. I haven't read the book, but I think the director made an emotional and moving film.

Les glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000, Anges Varda)

It's quite hard to say what my favorite Anges Varda film is. I really enjoyed most of the ones I saw in my class that was solely about this amazing French director. I wrote a guide to my favorite and essential films by Agnes Varda here, so check out which ones I recommend the most. But perhaps Gleaners is my favorite since it was the film that peaked my interest in the director, and it's a great documentary too. 

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975, Chantal Akerman)

This is by no means an easy film to watch. The film is 3 hours and 45 mins of what seems to be Jeanne doing such mundane tasks, but it's actually very important to see Jeanne do these things. If you can handle slow burning films, watch this! And the last scene is quite unexpected so avoid spoilers of this film. I'm very glad I saw this at school, because I probably wouldn't have watch it all the way through.

Crimson Gold (2003, Jafar Panahi)

Before watching this in class, I joked calling it the pizza driver version of Taxi Driver, which ironically we watched in that class prior to watching this. What was my professor getting at? Anyway, this was my favorite film I saw at school for a while. To be honest, I don't think I can say I have a number one favorite because the films I liked are different from one another. What I loved about this film is that I really felt for the main character, Hussein. The director lingered on Hussein to show us moments of how he struggled and how he was a part of the lower class. A very sad film and well-made, way better than Taxi Driver in my opinion.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Repressed Memories Reappear From Videotapes: Lost Highway and Cache

While re-watching Cache, I realized that the opening scene is basically the same scene in my favorite David Lynch film, Lost Highway. In both films, a couple receives videotapes of their front house. Creepy, right?  Now both films have different plots and reasons why these videotapes exist, but they both have the same reasoning behind them. After the male protagonists watch these tapes, their past and truth come forward. David Lynch and Michael Haneke have not discussed the mystery behind their films, so both films are open to interpretation, but these tapes are the start of repressed memories being revealed. Except the last paragraph, there are spoilers from this point.

In Lost Highway, Fred (Bill Pullman) and his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) receive a videotape of their front house. They receive another one, of them sleeping, so the police investigate, but are no help. At a party, Fred meets a mysterious man (Robert Blake) whom claims he is also currently at Fred's house. At the end, we find out that the Mystery Man is the one responsible for the videotapes, Mystery Man is Fred's reality and subconscious. Shortly after the party, Fred receives another tape of him hovering over Renee's dead body, Fred then arrested for the murder, then turns into Pete (Balthazar Getty) while in jail. Pete meets Alice (Arquette), who is Renee but with blonde hair. Fred didn't want to deal with the pain and reality of killing Renee, so he created Pete in hopes of being with Renee in another world. The film ends with the beginning of the film, the story looping together, giving me reason to think that the videotapes are a part of Fred's subconscious that reminded Fred that he killed Renee's lover, later killing Renee too. Early in the film, Fred told the police that he doesn't like owning a video camera because he likes to remember things the way he remembers them, "not necessarily the way they happened". Because of what Fred said, it makes sense that these videotapes are a reminder of reality to Fred, which he wants to forget and ignore.

In Cache, Georges and his wife Anne receive a videotape of a recording of the front of their house. In Cache, it is unknown who and why these videotapes exist, but they are the reason why Georges remembers his past that he purposely repressed. This film has a historical reference to Georges ignorance, Haneke referring to the Paris Massacre of 1961, though Haneke said his film could reference any homicide where people ignored what happened. The videotape footage changes settings, leading Georges to Majid. Georges' parents once adopted Majid, but Georges told lies about Majid so he'd be sent off to an orphanage. Georges denies responsibility for doing so, saying that he was only a child and does not feel bad for Majid nor his son. Throughout the film, Georges has nightmares and flashbacks of when he was younger, the viewers learn that Majid was adopted since Majid's parents where killed in the massacre. The videotapes Georges and Anne keep receiving remind Georges of his repressed memories and his unwillingness to take blame for what he did, just like the Parisian police in the massacre.

No more spoilers, you can breathe again. I will admit that my summaries do not do justice for how amazing both films are: suspenseful, mysterious, and chilling.  If you have not seen either films, I highly recommend them. Now if you excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Summer Camp

This week's theme for Thursday Movie Picks (hosted by Wandering Through the Shelvesis Summer Camp. I haven't seen a lot of films taking place at a summer camp, so I kind of bended the term 'summer camp' for this challenge. I have spent many summers at day camp and once I went away for a week into the woods, which did not go well (though none of the camps went well for me). If only summer camp was as fun as it is in the movies. 

Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Though not taking place at a summer camp, Troop Beverly Hills is a comedy about a chic girl scout troop attempting wilderness activities during the summer. This film will always remind me of my childhood, not because I can relate, but I watched the film so many times while growing up. 

But I'm A Cheerleader (1999)
Might not take place in the summer, but the film is about a cheerleader being forced to go to a camp that attempts to make her heterosexual again. This film is so relevant now, deconstructing gender roles as well as societies views on sexuality. Though I only watched But I'm A Cheerleader because I knew it had a lot of sexual innuendos, I ended up liking it and thought it brought up important situations about being yourself whether others approved or not.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
It would be a sin if I didn't include this film. Though I would expect this film to be on a lot of peoples' lists, I feel like Wet Hot American Summer is so underrated at the same time too, even after the TV show. The comedy level of this film is genius and I still choke from laughing just thinking about the scene when Coop and Katie exchange jackets.