The Films of 2016

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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Andrew_VB
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Re: The Films of 2016

#76 Post by Andrew_VB » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:07 pm

man, i loved the first 2/3 of mountains may depart but it fell off so hard in the third part. incredible first two acts, though.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Films of 2016

#77 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:07 pm

Andrew_VB wrote:man, i loved the first 2/3 of mountains may depart but it fell off so hard in the third part. incredible first two acts, though.
Indeed. Really good, until it totally went off the rails for the final segment.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Films of 2016

#78 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:44 pm

Saw Salesman -- and was not especially impressed. This is the second film I've seen by Farhadi -- and while I didn't _dislike_ either film, neither did they produce any great love. I found Salesman pretty artificial. The characters never seem "alive" the way they are in Kiarostami's film -- rather they mostly just do what is convenient to the plot.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2016

#79 Post by knives » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:54 am

If you've been curious what's happened to Where the Wild Things Are's Max Records it seems he's turned into a missing Culkin sibling and managed to star in a fairly R rated YA adaptation that flaunts some decent nostalgia credentials with the casting of Christopher Lloyd (who seems to be enjoying himself) called I Am Not a Serial Killer The film hits a lot of the expected YA notes, though it conforms to my favorite tactic of the genre ala the first Cirque du Freak of having it be mundane until the last moment though I suppose kid who wants to be a serial killer discovers a serial killer is not the most mundane plot in the world. That these elements aren't just transposed to horror, but for most of the runtime placed on the serial killer thriller gives a new enough sense to the plot points. It also helps that most of the time is spent in Records' head exploring his thought process which allows a lot of time to visualize the exploratory elements so many of these adaptations miss out on.

There are a few silly things here, why is the mum surprised at his behavior when she has him doing autopsies for what seems like years, and the cinematography is off in a way reminiscent of some early DV films though my understanding is this was shot on 16mm, but it manages to be one of the better YA films in recent years.
Last edited by knives on Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Films of 2016

#80 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:21 am

This past week, I saw and loved both My Life as a Zucchini (Barras) and Neruda (Larrain). If I were making a best of the year list, they'd both find places on it. Also saw The Red Turtle (Dudok de Witt), which I found visually very impressive.

I sensed the spirit of Ruiz hovering about here and there in Neruda (in a good way). While the politics were more overt than those I've seen in Ruiz's work -- the sort of humor and the playing with reality/fiction seemed Ruiz-like.

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A man stayed-put
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Re: The Films of 2016

#81 Post by A man stayed-put » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:52 am

I saw Neruda last night and loved it too. I went in blind and was slightly distracted by its artificiality at first, until I twigged to what it was doing and it became an utter (melancholic) joy. Looking forward to seeing it again (with the interesting Ruiz comparison in mind).

Speaking of wanting (needing) to see things again, earlier in the day (there's a mini film fest going on here in Cardiff where these are getting, for now, one-off screenings) I also saw Anocha Suwichakornpong's By the Time It Gets Dark (Dao khanong) her second feature following the Second Run released Mundane History. It's an ambitious, discursive and excitingly unconventional film packed with Godardian flourishes- one strand seems to directly quote Le Mépris- and I'd be lying if I said that I grasped half of what the film is doing, but found it frequently exhilarating in its execution.

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Ovader
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Bonjour Anne/Paris Can Wait (Eleanor Coppola, 2016)

#82 Post by Ovader » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:39 pm

‘Paris Can Wait’ Lands At Sony Pictures Classics – Toronto. I was just watching an April 2016 interview with FFC and he mentions his wife has directed her first feature-length film Bonjour Anne/Paris Can Wait and I'm curious if anyone has seen this yet? It was at TIFF and a review from SXSW.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2016

#83 Post by knives » Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:30 pm

Paul Schrader's recent DYI period isn't producing his best, but boy are they producing some interesting ones. Last year's Dog Eat Dog is the best so far though definitely an acquired taste along the line of those later Alex Cox films. Much of it plays out like a meeting of Suzuki and John Waters with the central three being the most vile, racist, and just plain unpleasant characters to come along in a long time. Certain eccentricities like Dafoe's fetish for carpeting keeps the movie itself from being totally off putting as does some fairly surreal stylistic effects. The movie feels like a last film in a lot of ways, though I'm sure next year will see another cheapo production, revisiting several themes and stories. In particular it recalls Blue Collar (though Cage is back in babynapping territory) with its central three and their right wing politics made weird and maybe even ironic by the presentation of their character. Schrader is utterly misanthropic with the modern world treating it as one stupid Honey Boo Boo thing. For all of the exhausting effect though there are enough small and calm moments that make me wish Schrader would do something more like Affliction again with an intimacy and the slowness to get a full sense of the psychology of the characters which is where he flourishes anyway.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Films of 2016

#84 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:18 pm

Miss Sloane (John Madden) Reminiscent of Draft Day, here’s a fast-paced career professional pic steeped with back-stabbings and secret intel and with the action upended by a final coup de grace that is absurd in the best sense of narrative function. And like that film, it’s a lot of fun and a great, glossy, heavily-Hollywood experience. I especially liked how Jessica Chastain’s lobbyist is so driven to win that the moral question of coming out against the gun lobby is never factored into her decisions. As in a Sorkin film, the movie gives us an asshole who is the best at what they do operating on multiple, highly improbable levels and barking orders and machinations at underlings. Nothing here reinvents the wheel but I did find it refreshing that the film depicts Chastain procuring the services of a male prostitute, as this isn’t something we see often in film unless the genders are reversed. This is an entertaining popcorn flick with no real moral questions or debate, which is just as well, as the movie’s feather-light nature would not be able to support any such thing.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: The Films of 2016

#85 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sat Apr 15, 2017 1:05 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:Saw The Handmaiden -- and didn't particularly like it. Obviously I am not the audience for which PCW writes his films. ;-)
It's just had a UK release. I really liked it. I hadn't read the Waters novel, nor seen the BBC adaptation, but I thought the
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who's crossing who from different perspectives
was handled pretty well. I wasn't prepared for the 'more graphic than Blue is the Warmest Colour' sexy bits. Hints of Chen Kaige's Temptress Moon too, though I doubt it's too overt - a declining colonial family with shades of incest.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2016

#86 Post by knives » Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:56 am

Under the Shadow is the scariest film since I've seen since, I don't know, The Descent so for that alone kudos are due. For taking Polanski's psycho-sexual fear and applying it for the total opposite of purpose though Babak Anvari really has earned himself some serious notice. Whereas something like The Tenant which this steals pretty heavily from is all about how living othered through a diaspora experience like a hated exile forces one to become insane this film is working through how change by those you are connected closely with, particularly the conservative revolutionary change of Persia becoming Iran, is an oppressive demon. This metaphor works extremely well especially as it emphasizes the toll it can take on family with resentful husbands and children that see you as foreign. My only complaint is that I wish Anvari leaned even closer to Polanski by never making explicit the djinn. The CGI is just a silly mess and leaves the last ten minutes all sorts of silly. Even before that though all of the moments that take this out of the metaphorical just don't sit right.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: The Films of 2016

#87 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:01 am

Hush is another Blumhouse horror movie - usual kind of deal, a home invasion thriller - a dude's trying to bust into a woman's home to kill her. The twist? She's deaf so it's filmed pretty much as a silent film, so it riffs a little on Wait Until Dark but I was also a little reminded by You're Next where
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the female 'victim' turns out to be way more resourceful than the killer expects
. All in all, pretty tight and suspenseful fare.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Films of 2016

#88 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:16 am

While Hush has a couple of sequences that are unique to the sub-genre as a result of its central conceit, I was a little disappointed in how closely it hewed to the tropes of this type of movie, especially
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the overconfident serial killer who passes up several opportunities to finish off the main character so he can continue to play cat and mouse with her, even as his injuries pile up.
It's definitely above average for a home invasion horror, for what that's worth, but not a lot more than that.

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Michael Kerpan
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A Man and a Woman (LEE Yoon-ki, 2016)

#89 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:35 pm

A Man and a Woman (LEE Yoon-ki, 2016)

Possibly Lee's most unrelievedly (and intensely) downbeat film (after a 5 year break since his last film, which was also atypically downbeat). This film is centered an adulterous couple, each the parent of a mentally-troubled young child. It starts and ends in Finland, but most of the film takes place back in Korea. Lovely cinematography and good performances -- including but not limited to JEON Do-yeon as the female lead and Kati Outinen, in an extended cameo (as a taxi driver) during the film's coda. I did admire this, but look forward to his newest film, One Day, which (based) on reviews has a greater mix of light and dark. (The Korean Blu-Ray has English subtitles).

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Films of 2016

#90 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:59 pm

Last Princess (HUR Jin-ho 2016)

Hur moves from the realm of small-scale stories to that of sweeping historical drama. This film presents a highly embroidered version of the life of the last Korean princess -- who was forced to move to Japan in the 1920s by order of the Japanese government (basically as a hostage) and blocked from returning home after the war by the (American backed) dictator. During much of her time in Japan as an adult, the princess Deokhye suffered from mental problems -- which would have ruled out the adventures depicted in the film. But this is a very good-looking film, with good performances (especially SON Ye-jin as the grown-up princess). My one regret as to this film is that (following its source novel) it strays so far from real (and credible) history.

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Brian C
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Re: The Films of 2016

#91 Post by Brian C » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:52 pm

Una (Benedict Andrews)

In some ways, this is not a good film. Primarily, it's directed with a heavy-handed art-movie portentousness that doesn't suit the material very well, and the script can't really get beyond the unnatural staginess left over from its origins as a stage play. Overall, I felt often distracted by the artificiality of what I was watching. It just seemed unnecessary - filmmakers getting in their own way.

What I did appreciate, though, is how it captured the complex psychology of Una, a woman in her early twenties who had been involved in a sexual relationship with her dad's friend, Ray, as a 13-year-old. The film picks up as she confronts him for the first time since he was arrested.

I've gone back and forth on Rooney Mara in the past, but she's really outstanding in this role, playing a woman whose emotional growth all but stopped as a consequence of that relationship and Ray's subsequent arrest and disappearance. She alternates - usually with lightning fast changes in mood - between the anger she feels (not just towards him but towards the world that she sees as having forced her during the aftermath into a life of shame and hurt) and the naive feelings she had towards him as a child, and Mara's real insight as an actor is showing how these feelings coexist, always competing with each other in her mind.

Ben Mendolsohn is also very good, playing Ray as a man who may be a perfectly decent man in most circumstances, but has a weakness he is unable to control ... or alternatively, maybe he's just a simple predator. The ambiguity is, I think, the most insightful aspect of his character. As I'm sure we all know, predators in real life are often difficult to spot before the damage is done, as opposed to the way they're usually portrayed in movies, as weaselly, socially maladjusted grotesqueries.

But it's Mara who really owns the film, never resorting to attention-grabbing hysterics, and making Una into one of the most interesting, and ultimately heartbreaking characters I've seen in a film in a long time. If only the movie had been actually better crafted.

Still, it deserves to be seen more than it has; after debuting at Telluride last year, it seems to have completely disappeared. It's playing this week here in Chicago, but at Facets, projected from a Blu-ray onto their comically tiny secondary screen, a theatrical viewing experience that I wouldn't wish on Monster Trucks. Kind of a bummer.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2016

#92 Post by knives » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:21 pm

Couldn't help but think of this post throughout Nocturama which I found to be an extremely wanting film. I see that the main criticism against the film seems to be using ambiguity in the context of terrorism. Truth is not only do I find the film to not be all that ambiguous, but what lack of clarity there is to the film is useful to its ends since ultimately the film is just using terrorism while having no interest in the action itself. That's why I found the linked post so relevant. This is a film that uses terrorism, never shying away from its violence, as an allegory for teenage ennui. That just strikes me as hysterical and pushes its already very trying aesthetic into an eye roll worthy silliness. It's also incredibly overlong for the points it is aiming for. The meat of the film is the second hour and the film 70 minutes could easily be cut in half to better effect. Not least due to how the narrative style changes in the second half to a more traditional delivery style. The moments, mostly the musical ones, which strip away the allegory and just become a grumpy John Hughes film are the most effective ones and suggest a good film lying underneath. Unfortunately those moments are too fleeting in a bloated mess of a film.

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Re: The Films of 2016

#93 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:50 pm

Taylor Hackford's The Comedian isn't what I'd call a diamond in the rough but I found it more easy to digest than some of the reviews I've read. It's clear that it was a passion for De Niro to play this kind of role, because he seemed very committed to the part, to the point that this might be the funniest thing he's done since Midnight Run (Charles Grodin even has a small bit part in this). Not all of it lands well and the digital looks very cheap, but it has it's own charm. His chemistry with Danny De Vito, Leslie Mann and of course Harvey Keitel lift this a bit above expectation and the weaker parts of the story.

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dadaistnun
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Re: The Films of 2016

#94 Post by dadaistnun » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:20 am

Faced with paralyzing indecision about what to watch one day, I clicked play on Forêt Debussy on something of a whim. As far as I can tell, this had no U.S. release, but it is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. The image they are using for the poster, the tagline ("Let in the past"), and even the one line synopsis ("A former pianist follows her mother to live in a spiritual mountain to recover from a traumatic past in this psychological drama.") would appear to be selling this as coming-to-terms type of emotional journey, but it hews closer in spirit, though not style, to something like Kielsowski's Blue, in the way the characters resolutely avoid the past. The title makes reference to the main character's career as a concert pianist; as in the Kieslowski, music takes over the soundtrack at moments of memory's intrusion, though this is not as much of a stylistic motif as in the earlier film.

There's very little dialogue (three or fours pages, tops); it works mostly through mood, atmosphere, and sound. What little plot the film has is parsed out incrementally, and if I have any major fault with the film it's that director Kuo Cheng-chui seems to place more importance on dynamics of the traumatizing incident than is necessary given how well the film works otherwise in a more subjective psychological register. Both actresses are excellent, with Gwei Lun-mei's shocked into submission portrayal of grief and depression particularly affecting. She and Lu Yi-ching, who plays her mother, play off each other beautifully, their body language speaking volumes more than the meager amount of dialogue. There's a quasi-survivalist element at play here, making the physical component of the performances as vital as the emotional ones.

The location filming is lovely, and there are bits that play with spatial perspective in an interesting way, but sound really is the key here. Flashbacks are aural; mention is made of Debussy's inspiration from the sounds of nature; the sounds of the forest - rain, wind, streams, birds, insects - are all enveloping. I would love to see this on big screen, but if you don't have the greatest home theater set up, I found watching this with headphones to be very rewarding.

I don't want to oversell the film. This might be pretty weak tea for some, but I did want recommend it given the underwhelming promotion it's received.

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tarpilot
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Re: The Films of 2016

#95 Post by tarpilot » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:23 am

The only way I can fathom the existence of The Last Heist is as some kind of weird heist movie parody in which every single character's every single decision makes zero sense, starting with the serial killer who keeps his victims' eyeballs in clear plastic containers in his safe deposit box at the bank. That, and the serial killer is played by Henry Rollins, who spends most of the movie scurrying through the bank's ventilation system in order to cut out the bank robbers' eyeballs to add to his eyeball collection. And the hostages' eyeballs, too. That's right: nobody's eyeballs are safe from Henry Rollins. Which is ironic, 'cause he's pretty hot as a psycho silver fox in D-FENS glasses. But I guess there was no room in the budget for vent shots, so we're stuck with a lot of offscreen banging above the heads of actors trying surprisingly hard to lend credibility to dialogue so lousy it quickly puts to rest the notion that any of this might be intentional. The film is also afflicted with that antiseptic digital nothingness and robotic visual "competence" so endemic to the new generation of sleazoid exploitation films that it's enough to send one screaming into the scuzzy arms of Andy Milligan and the Polonia brothers. As if one needed any more motivation.

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