A few words about all the movies I watched in 2016

I’ve been keeping a list of every movie I watched this year… those I’ve seen before and those I saw for the first time. For each of them, I wrote a very brief reaction. Some are thoughtful, some are irreverent. All are honest. Here’s the list, in sequential order of my viewing: Babel – makes Tokyo and Afghanistan and Mexico seem like another planet Revenant – more movies should be filmed 100% with natural light Winter on Fire – meanwhile in America the Kardashians what?? Big Eyes – the guy in this movie is a huge asshat Moonraker – are they serious? They can’t be serious. I love it The Big Short – Steve Carrell should always play this character Dallas Buyers Club – …

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Sorry Good Will Hunting, I Need that T.P.S. Report By Monday

Two movies from the late 1990’s stand out as favorites, for me and many others: Office Space and Good Will Hunting. Both truly stand the test of time, and entertain now just about as well as as they did when released. Both also have something to say about what “Work” is, and what kind of man should pursue what line of it, and what’s respectable or questionable about the choices they make along the way. Construction labor plays an understated role in both narratives, repelling one protagonist and rescuing the other. Will Hunting (Matt Damon) begins his story as a workman, who is encouraged and motivated to find his way into a more intellectual profession. Peter (Ron Livingston) begins his story as a cubicle …

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on the Oscars and Being Liked

If you haven’t seen Birdman, Boyhood, or the Imitation Game, maybe don’t read this post yet. Three of the films nominated for Best Picture this year had climactic scenes in which characters confronted the importance of ‘being liked.’   Coincidence? Or important cultural phenomenon, captured? I’m leaning towards the latter. The ‘being liked’ discussion did heavy lifting in these narratives, and served as a critical character-defining plot point in each. In Birdman, Michael Keaton’s character Riggan is overwhelmed by the criticism and potential of failure he faces for trying to re-define his legacy. As a former action-movie star, now forgotten, his quest for recognition has led him to produce a serious drama on Broadway. He tries to explain his motivations to his …

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two Films worth Seeing

Sidewalls (Medianeras) For English speakers, the crown of ‘best quirky foreign-language romance’ has been passed from Amelie to a touching film about two neighbors in Buenos Aires. The characters ring true in the age of paranoia about digital loneliness, and their internal dialogues about trying to connect are sincere. Without any sappy, jokey, over-the-top acting, Sidewalls is funny without losing its credibility as heartfelt. Overall, a great portrait of modern urban life both by virtue of the characters and the photography. The Tree of Life When I saw Terrance Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ as a teenager, I wasn’t sure what to think. The lyrical, poetically visual style was a departure from the combat movies I was used to (ahem, …

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Stepping in the Right Direction

Many franchises, celebrated in the 1980’s and 1990’s, have evolved into fodder for parodies, disasterous sequels and awful spin-offs.  The “Alien” and “Terminator” movies were once highly regarded, as difficult to believe as that may now be.  Both have continued trudging along the trenches of box-office blow ups, releasing sub standard films that dissapointed audiences and tarnished the brand name.  The “Alien vs. Predator” series, with limitless potential to become a great addition to the original films, was a let-down to fans and an industry dud.  The post-Arnold Terminator sequels have been bland and boring (I haven’t seen the most recent, but judging by criticism in the media it hasn’t broken any new ground.) Standing out from the crowd is …

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