It’s inevitable that after a passing year one must go about with talking upon what they’ve witnessed while time had gone on and with 2016 gone, a great year of cinema has indeed passed upon us and we’re only hoping for even more with a new one. In this blog entry, what I wish to cover are some of the best and worst films that I caught all throughout 2016 as of February 25, 2017. Continue reading “2016: The Standouts”
The films of Gore Verbinski have their audience but it’s abundantly clear when he feels more in touch with himself and when he’s willing to appease. Now heading back to the horror territory after a remake of Ringu he comes out with A Cure for Wellness, a film that seems to be drawing divided reactions from both the positive and the negative. Positive comments aim towards the atmosphere of the piece where negative comments attack it on a count of predictability in spite of a sense of visual beauty it provides. I fall on the more positive side of the fence with A Cure for Wellness, evidently a more ambitious turn on Verbinski’s own end and perhaps his most fascinating film since Rango. Amongst the more mainstream releases in years, it’s nice to see something of this sort carrying the ambition it has but it’s also rather saddening that it might likely go unnoticed at the box office.
One of my grandmothers turned 90 years old in January. We took her on a trip to the Philippines for Christmas so that she can celebrate her family back on her homeland, and although it almost seemed nice to see her happy to be back home for probably one last time, a thought of sadness hit me as I came to remember something she once told me. I’ve lived inside of a pessimistic shadow and the thought that she might possibly go away sometime sooner, from something I don’t want to think about. When I watched Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D., I was always keeping what she said in mind – and once the film reached its end I only found a greater fear growing in myself. A growing fear that this will life will become my own. And I’ve not prepared myself for it, no matter how late or soon it may come.
Among many things that I’m fairly certain of, this movie would have not been something that could grab my interest on the spot but Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion just came by and hit me in such an unexpected manner. In some way it brought back my own memories of Clueless and its self-awareness for the sorts of characters it features leading the way. But I never expected anything of this sort to come out from similar veins because upon outlook it would only seem just like a fun, if dated comedy – only to find that I was proven wrong as it moved along. I thought from its outlook it seemed like some buddy comedy aimed towards girls but a different sort of film was what Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion turned out to be, in the best sense at that.
I’m not so sure how to describe the sort of mood I felt watching The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on the spot – but if there were one that always struck my mind, just happiness in how free it felt. Something I only wish I had felt more of because I’m not an overly confident person with my own orientation. Yet as I was watching Priscilla it only came clear to me why I was finding so much pleasure with what I was seeing from the first scene all the way to the last. Films like Priscilla seem so rare in terms of what they are standing for, given as it’s a film that obviously feels so good about whom it’s representing, and seeing how lovingly it embraces that only makes me happier inside.
At the risk of starting up controversy it was something that I still feel is worth noting anyways because in spite of being an LGBT Canadian, I don’t care for the films of Xavier Dolan outside of Mommy. While I have nothing but great admiration for the efforts that are put into the work given Dolan’s young age I still face great trouble even trying to connect with many of his own stylistic choices and said feelings have held me back from watching It’s Only the End of the World. Dolan carries a very aggressive nature when it comes to talking about how some of his own films feel, but nowhere has it ever been nearly as aggravating as it was in here. It highlights the worst sort of melodrama, and even as someone who is not a particularly huge fan, it was the least I would ever expect of Dolan.
The closest that Spike Lee has ever gotten to touching what he managed to leave behind in Do the Right Thing was his own presentation in Malcolm X, a biopic about the famous Afro-American activist. I still remember when I first watched Malcolm X quite vividly, I was only reading about him during one of my history classes and in order to prepare for an essay, I turned on Spike Lee’s feature about the man, for I didn’t see only what I would have thought I could learn about Malcolm X only from reading a textbook. By the time I came out, I still found it hard enough even attempting to finish the essay although it seemed I knew what Malcolm X was like and I got a greater understanding of how he succeeded. He was not a man without his controversies but it’s amazing to see what Spike Lee made of his own life story in here: arguably one of the most important American films of its time, and still a subject worth noting in the present.
The experience of watching an epic silent film like Napoleon for the first time is already a draining one in itself – something that I haven’t felt coming towards me since I watched D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance. Prior to having seen Napoleon, I had already experienced once Abel Gance through The Wheel although I was still unready for what I was set to experience again. Reportedly it was only the first of what was supposed to be a series of five films covering Napoleon and if it were the case, then such a journey would only be heavenly to all degrees from what I can only imagine. Even trying to write about something so ahead of its own time is already a difficult challenge in itself, but ultimately only the best shows and it was unbelievably rewarding.
The first John Wick film was a nice surprise to find within the modern state of action films in Hollywood being dulled down by an overtly serious approach to their drama and with a directorial style that feels so aware of the sort of ridiculousness coming along the ride, it felt all the more joyful. John Wick: Chapter 2 is no different, however, for as a sequel it certainly is a perfectly adequate follow-up to a wonderful throwback to what we loved most when we watched action films. In some sense it does exactly what the first film already did but it still carries the appeal with such ease and provides only what could ever be most expected of this sort of experience, a pure definition of fun all around.
It’s nice to see an action film that acknowledges its own ridiculousness and uses said aspect to its own advantage come from Hollywood, given as it is a trait that made John Woo’s Hong Kong gun fu films so distinctive. In that sense it may be a perfect film but to blow off a good hour and forty minutes, one can go ahead and look no further than the fun that comes along the ride with Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s John Wick, with Keanu Reeves at some of the most energetic he’s been with an action movie since the 1990’s in Speed and The Matrix. This sort of joy comes around like a video game inviting oneself to play along, and its awareness on that count makes for something undeniably fun.