Last week, I saw:
- Her (2013) – The instant the film ended, my friend asked, “And why isn’t this Criterion?” Her is nothing short of brilliant, exploring universal themes of relationships and connection set in the not-too-distant future. In a similar level to Inside Out, Her is a profound and emotional statement on the human experience. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
- Le Amiche (1955) – I love movies about rich people, but I’m still brewing about how I feel on Le Amiche (I’m always iffy with Antonioni). Five girlfriends, including one newcomer, in postwar Turin share gossip and boyfriends. Each is well defined, and her intentions made clear to the audience. The story felt a little slow and directionless, but was also true to life…. yeah, still out on this one. TBD.
- Ghostbusters (2016) – I almost liked this one. I really wanted to like it. Kristen Wiig is the standout comedy actress of our time, and the rest of the gang all has done solid work in the past. As the movie went on, certain elements just started chipping away at my overall enjoyment – lines would misfire, we’d revert back to lazy “jump” scares, and worst of all, cameos/throwback moments thrown in for… what exactly? To elevate the quality of the film? (This Dorkly post on the continuity of ghosts didn’t help either.) NOT RECOMMENDED.
- Armageddon (1998) – This big-budget disaster movie is a bona fide disaster, with director Michael Bay either unaware or unwilling to bring it down. From the opening titles literally exploding to Liv Tyler & Ben Affleck embracing in a NASA rocketship, everything in Armageddon is laughable. I’m amazed this hasn’t become a camp classic a la Mommie Dearest or Valley of the Dolls, but we need to make that happen. NOT RECOMMENDED.
What did you see last week? Am I wrong about the new Ghostbusters?
I can’t believe I went an entire week (June 26 – July 02) without any movies. And this week was a slow one too! I saw:
- The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) – Very thoughtful and respectful biopic of the pin-up queen of the 1950s. The film’s greatest strength, and bravery, lies in its blending of Miss Page’s career choices and spirituality not as contradictory, but complementary in forming a complex, confident woman of the 20th century. Gretchen Mol shines in the title role. RECOMMENDED.
- Ghostbusters (1984) – Rewatching the original to prep for the remake’s launch the following week. It’s been years since I’d seen it, so I was a little surprised by the slower-than-expected pacing as well as the dirty jokes (PG was a different time back then!), but the moments of sheer insanity are still thrilling. RECOMMENDED.
- Ghostbusters II (1989) – First time with this one – not quite as good as the original, but there were some great laugh-out-loud gags and character interactions. RECOMMENDED.
What did you see two weeks ago?
I had fully set my expectations for next week, but lo and behold here came the new titles announcement right on (unofficial) schedule, the 15th of the month!
We’ve got a couple that were confirmed plus a few that weren’t even on my radar – excited to check them out!
- The Executioner
- The Tree of Wooden Clogs
- Short Cuts – Blu-ray upgrade
- Boyhood – This one is the “winner” of the month for me. Loved it when I first saw it in theaters almost two years ago and have been holding off for the long-confirmed Criterion release. My original review is posted here, and can’t wait to revisit this film in October with even more perspective of time and growing up.
- Pan’s Labyrinth – I liked (but not loved) Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale when it first came out, but I’ll probably rent it again to double-check before its Criterion release.
Which titles are you picking up?
2016 in film has been an interesting year to say the least.
This summer is all but cursed, with disappointing sequels and lackluster starts to would-be franchises opening nearly every weekend. The term “box office poison” was used to describe Hollywood stars of the 1930s, but one could almost apply it to the bizarro movie season we’ve had lately.
In between the weeds, however, several sequels and original stories are making an impact among audiences and critics alike. Some of my favorites from 2016, in order of release, are:
- The Witch – An early American horror film with arthouse sensibilities. This wasn’t for all audiences (I recall a fella in my crowd declaring “This some bullshit!” as the house lights came back on), but The Witch is just the right pace for the set who prefers slow-cooking scares over a torrent of “jump” scares.
- Zootopia – For a film buff, the best kind of movie-going experience is getting to revisit a classic and uncover layer upon layer with each additional viewing. Zootopia is one such film, and after four viewings (in less than one year, mind you) I always find something new in this remarkably mature, complicated take on inequality and prejudice in the animal kingdom (which isn’t too different from ours). I’m still amazed, but greatly pleased, that this dialogue-driven, morally challenging animated flick has been such a hit with audiences.
- Finding Dory – I’m too in the “honeymoon phase” to say whether this sequel surpasses its classic predecessor, but Finding Dory offers a substantially different and more emotionally resonant story than Nemo did over ten years ago. Similar to Zootopia, this movie about talking sea life is an often upsetting look at how we treat nature and each other.
I’m also just now realizing that my three favorite films of 2016 all feature talking animals.
What are your favorite movies of 2016 (so far)? Reply below in the comments!
I was lurking on the Criterion web site and stumbled upon the following Phantom Pages – also added my hopes/guesses for possible spines in the future: