Sunday, February 4, 2018

My Favorite Films of 2017

To think my last post on this blog was My Favorite 2016 Films, more than a year ago. In 2017, I did have a few posts drafted, but I've learned that I am the type of person that won't publish something unless I am proud of it. I have been editing a specific essay for a while now, I will talk about that a bit later in this post, so another post will be coming up soon. Please enjoy and let me know your thoughts/your favorite films of last year. This post is spoiler free!

Get Out (Dir. Jordan Peele)

I used to be a huge horror fan, so it was refreshing to see a horror movie this markable since Insidious. Okay, Get Out is definitely more of a psychological thriller, but I consider it a horror film. Anyway, what I admire about this film is that basically everything said or done has meaning to it. It is a complex story that requires you to pay close attention to its details, also involving many plot twists. Daniel Kaluuya's performance is astonishing and it's actually a pretty emotional film. To be honest, I am a bit surprised that a horror/thriller film has been nominated for so many awards this season, but Get Out is very worthy of them so I'm glad that it's getting the love that it deserves. 

Atomic Blonde (Dir. David Leitch)

Indeed it is a very stylish film with a fun soundtrack, but my favorite part is that most of the fighting scenes are so much more realistic than in most action movies. There is one scene in particular where Charlize Theron's character, Lorraine, is fighting off men in a stairway and eventually inside an apartment. In this scene, all of the characters get tired out, you can see that they are struggling to fight and it is harder for them to maneuver. There are so many times when I have see other action movies and wonder how the fuck are these characters able to fight as if it is no big deal and walk away not injured or exhausted. In my upcoming post, I wrote about female action heroes. I was about to publish it, but then I remembered that Red Sparrow is coming out in March, so if I am able to write about the film, it will be added to my essay. Expect me to talk about this film a bit further in my upcoming post. 

Call Me By Your Name (Dir. Luca Guadagnino)

My absolute favorite of last year. I actually did not plan on seeing this because I don't like romance films, but with all of the good reviews I decided to take a chance. There is a good reason why everyone, including myself, is obsessed with Timothée Chalamet, I don't think I can think of a better performance from another actor. His character goes through many emotions in the film, especially the last scene, and my weird observation about Timothée's performance was how he also used his body to portray emotions. For example, how his character Elio would playfully wrestle Oliver, Armie Hammer, and that Elio thought he wasn't very confident, but was aggressive (not in a harmful way) when he would kiss Oliver. Besides the performances, everything else was perfect: the music, cinematography, wardrobe, and the story. I truly wasn't expecting this film to be so beautiful and if you haven't seen this yet, you might be pleasantly surprised as well.

Honorable Mentions:
The Florida Project
I, Tonya
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri 

If you want to see my updated My Favorite Films tab, click the link! Thanks for reading!

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, 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.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What You Need To Know About Wiener Dog

Going into the theater to watch this film, I only knew of the cast and the basic idea of the plot, not seeing the trailer prior. While watching this film, I didn't really laugh at the humorous parts, as well as wanting the film to end because it was too awkward for me. The conversations between the characters are indeed awkward and sometimes a bit outrageous, but at the end of the film, I knew there was something more to the film considering it's irony. 

There are four acts within the film, along with a very cute intermission after the first two acts. As each act passes, the new owners of the dog are older. We start with a young cancer survivor boy and end with an older women (Ellen Burstyn) who basically wants to die. The film actually doesn't revolve much around the dog itself and more so with her owners. If you are sensitive to graphic images or an animal lover it may be important that you read the following *spoiler* that a dog gets run over by a car. 

The film may seem cynical with it's humor so dark that it's almost not even funny, but there is a reason why the film appears pessimistic. Each act deals with a sense of death, mortality, and making choices that can change your life. I am not sure exactly what Todd Solondz is saying with his film, but I guess he is making fun of the absurdity in the way people live their lives. 

There is probably a guarantee that this film will shock you while watching it. I most likely won't see this film again for a while, but I can't deny how oddly good it is in comparison to a lot of other films with it's originality and liveliness it has. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Is Hollywood Playing it Safe?

Let's take a look at what is currently playing at my local theater (this theater does not play independent films):

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates*
The Secret Life of Pets
The BFG*
The Legend of Tarzan*
The Purge: Election Year*
Independence Day: Resurgence*
The Shallows
Central Intelligence
Finding Dory*
The Conjuring 2*

*Films either based off, a reboot, or a sequel.

From the list above, there are only three out of eleven films that are not a part of an existing story or franchise. I have a theory on why Hollywood mainstream films follow this pattern. 

Is Hollywood possibly releasing films that are based off of existing stories, reboots, and sequels since people are more likely to watch something they are familiar with? People know who The Fantastic Four are, people know the Peanut characters, so perhaps it is a guarantee that a lot of people will see a film they already know something about. Of course I am not saying that people will not see The Shallows or Central Intelligence because it's a new concept, but if you're a fan of the X-Men films like I am, you're more than likely to see the newest film of that franchise, an instant successful box office for Hollywood.

Now this is just my observation on the recent Hollywood mainstream films that have came out within the past few years, and this isn't the first time this trend has popped up in American cinema. I know that there are more creative films out there too and I am not ignoring independent films, but this is just what I have noticed with the mainstream films. Agree or disagree with me? Let me know!