December 2016 Roundup

And 2016 is over! What a year, huh? I’m not feeling in the most reflective mood, so I’ll just do a quick rundown of what I watched in December, and forget the rest of the year. I got to the cinema twice in December: to see La La Land, which I adored (my December favourite), and Rogue One, which…I did not. It makes the second of my favourite franchises to disappoint me this year (if you count Fantastic Beasts as part of the Harry Potter franchise) and I think I’m just a bit burnt out on franchises, at the moment. Of course, I’m still very much looking forward to Episode VIII and Wonder Woman, so I won’t be avoiding them. I watched 17 new to me movies for December, nearly half of which had Colin Farrell in them. Ha. One of them, happily, was my other favourite for the month: Seven Psychopaths.

As for news and things that got me excited, well, there wasn’t much, really! I saw that Amy Schumer is slated to be in the upcoming Barbie movie, which I’m now not looking forward to. I don’t find her funny at all and her brand of comedy just really seems a poor fit for the Barbie brand. I’ll probably end up seeing it, though, as Barbie is my other big love in life.

For more of an overview of my 2016 movie viewing, you can see my year in review page at letterboxd (which is probably only of interest to me, but I find it quite fun). If you don’t want to follow the link: I watched 325 films total, 215 of which were first time watches, Clue was my most (re-)watched film, Mario Bava was my most watched director and Colin Farrell the most watched actor.

December Favourites

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Hands down, my favourite for December was La La Land. I haven’t been that moved by a film in so long, nor that excited. I already wrote all about it here, though.

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My other favourite was Seven Psychopaths which I had meant to see at the cinema but, well, never got around to it. Better late than never, though, right? I had such a great time with that movie. I had to pause it a couple of times to catch my breath from laughing so hard. I’ll definitely be watching it, again. (Though I would say it’s not quite as good as In Bruges).

I also very much enjoyed: Those People, For the Love of Spock and Winter’s Tale.

Directed by Women

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I only watched two new to me movies directed by women for December: Madame Bovary and Maggie’s Plan. Both had been on my annual watchlists (for 2015 and 2016, respectively) so I was quite looking forward to them, but they didn’t live up to my expectations. Madame Bovary was intensely dull, but pretty, and Maggie’s Plan was good but definitely not my favourite. I’m glad I watched them, though.

First time watches: Madame Bovary, Maggie’s Plan

Re-watches: Girl Asleep, Miss Julie

What I wrote

La La Land, 2016

Frances Ha, 2012

What I read

8 Great movies based on unusual literary source material at Literary Hub

Directed by women, January 2017

Australian release dates.

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The Edge of Seventeen directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, release date 5th of January (via Palace Cinemas)

Mercury has two screenings of Queen of Katwe in January for anyone, like me, who missed it in December.

 

For those in Sydney, Flickerfest has some films directed/co-direced by women in their programme, including: Battalion to my Beat, Va Banque, Shan and Kate, The Crossing, and Crush. Check out the full programme here!

Check below for where the films are screening*:

Palace Nova; Hoyts; Wallis; Greater Union; Reading Cinemas; Moonlight CinemaCapri Theatre; Odeon Star; The Regal Theatre/Trak Cinemas; Gawler Cinemas; Mercury Cinema**.

As always, I’m just one (forgetful and easily overwhelmed) person and can sometimes miss things so, please let me know if I have.

*I’ve focussed on cinemas that have chains in SA/only SA cinemas.

**Mercury screens limited current releases.

Frances Ha, 2012

“Do I look old to you?”

“No. Yes. How old?”

“Older than I am. Older than 27.”

“No. 27 is old, though.”

Here’s a little story: I first saw this on my 27th birthday. It was at a free screening a friend I didn’t know very well (but knew better then, than I do now) had invited me to. She didn’t know it was my birthday, until after, when I mentioned the coincidence of seeing this on my 27th birthday. 27 is a weird age to be. But I don’t think I’ve come far in the last 3 years.

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Frances Ha, directed by Noah Baumbach (and co-written with Greta Gerwig who plays the titular Frances), follows a New York woman in her late 20s, stumbling through life as she tries to follow her dream of being a dancer, and navigate relationships, particularly with her best friend, Sophie. Since I first saw it, it’s become one of my favourites and this will be more of a personal post than a review of the film.

I recently watched this again, because I was feeling sad about my life, but the irony is that Frances? She has her life way more together than I do. So, it didn’t make me feel much better, except that it also did because, I do see a lot of myself in Frances. (Something a lot of people like to sneer at – how cliched, how woman-child of me, how awful to find comfort in seeing myself in a flawed fictional character!) I’m undateable, I’m a mess, I feel like my peers are so far ahead of me.

But it mostly made me sad because I feel so disconnected from my friends. I think this is something I’ve always felt, or felt for a long time, but my social circle is getting smaller and smaller the older I get.

I love, though, how this shows friendship in a way I feel so many other films still don’t (even, yes, ones about women). As something to prioritise but also the tenderness between Frances and Sophie, the betrayal Frances feels, that’s usually reserved for lovers onscreen. I’ve seen people comment on how Frances looks at Sofie, that this isn’t how we look at our friends but…isn’t it?

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Actually, I was thinking of how I like watching interviews or seeing photos of celebrities with their friends, and seeing that adoration in their eyes when they look at each other. There’s a gorgeous photo of Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain that I think is a beautiful illustration of that.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, isn’t it nice to see media that doesn’t have such a strict definition of what friendship is meant to look like, how it should be written? I’m so tired of the narrow view of friendship that exists even in so-called progressive circles. Friends do give us butterflies in our stomachs, stars in our eyes, they break our hearts and hold our hands. They’re our soul mates.

(That’s not to say this reflects my own friendships with women (or anyone). Far from it. Maybe as a teen but not as an adult. I rarely hug my friends. I’ve told my best friend I love her once in twelve years after her wedding (other friends more but only in response if they say it first and not actually because I want to but because I feel like I have to). I’m emotionally constipated and can only communicate to my friends via pop cultural references half the time, but it doesn’t mean I love them any less. But that’s why I want to see more varied and nuanced portrayals of friendship – because they’re as complex as the humans involved in them are. Sometimes they are sharing the same bed, sometimes they’re not seeing each other for months on end.)

I’m not saying their relationship can’t be interpreted other ways (I encourage it – I love the way everyone will read movies and other media differently) but I balk at the idea that friendship cannot, or should not, look like this. It seems a very narrow view to me and I think it’s important to break down the idea of what certain relationships ‘should’ look like, so we can start to build relationships that work for us as individuals.

Originally posted on letterboxd.

La La Land, 2016

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Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess we make.

A love song to LA and to old Hollywood (musicals), La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, transcends, reinvents the genre it so clearly adores. It’s familiar but it’s not a copy, not trying to be. It’s romantic and nostalgic, just like its main characters Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Magic, pure and simple.

The movie centres on Mia and Sebastian, an aspiring actress and a jazz pianist both living in Los Angeles. The film tracks their story as they meet, fall in love and follow their dreams.

I haven’t had a movie hit me this hard in a long time. I wrote this, nearly an hour after I left the cinema, and I still wanted to cry (did cry) from the sheer beauty and joy (and more than a little melancholy) of what I had just experienced. I didn’t want to step out of this film, come back to reality.

It was more than those feelings, though – it was also that I love musicals so much. They mean so much to me. And to see a movie that is basically an extended love song to them, to that classic period of (Hollywood) musicals, that is also a really beautiful, moving film on its own was overwhelming.

(In the car, on the way home, I am asked what’s wrong? And I say, through my blubbering, ‘I just liked the movie so much.’ (And I temper my words, I loved it, not liked it, because emotions embarrass me, but my tears tell another story).)

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The chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is fantastic, they play off each other beautifully. The music, even in the ‘worst’ songs conveyed exactly what it needed to. It’s also one of the most magically beautiful movies my eyes have feasted on in some time. The costumes are perfect and it is photographed exquisitely. The observatory scene was whimsical and moving. The whole ending sequence took my breath away. I nearly couldn’t contain myself through it. A little sob escaped me.

Is this what audiences felt like in the 40s and 50s seeing the stars dance across the screen in technicolor? Those glorious sets and costumes and colours, more real, more beautiful, than reality, and all the better for it. To be whisked away to this magical place left me breathless. It’s not that other new movies don’t bring me joy or awe me but this was a whole other experience. I almost can’t articulate what it was. The feeling as I was writing this, the feeling I had watching the film. It filled me so that words could not capture it. Maybe music could. Maybe jazz could.

Also, I am more than ready for a musical renaissance. Surely the time for their resurrection has come! Not this dribbling of releases we get, but a full flood. Please.

La La Land opens in cinemas around Australia on Boxing Day.

Originally posted on letterboxd.

Further reading:

‘La La Land’ Makes Musicals Matter Again at The New York Times

November 2016 Roundup

November was a slightly better month for me, than October. I managed to watch more movies and even got to the cinema five times, to see: Arrival, Nocturnal Animals, Their Finest, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them and A United Kingdom. I think that’s a record for me. Arrival was hands down my favourite. It went straight to the top of my 2016 list (but has since been surpassed by La La Land). I didn’t think as much of Fantastic Beasts, which is a disappointment for a huge Harry Potter fan, but it did seem to spark two new crushes (on Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller), which is always fun. My other favourite for the month was definitely The Nice Guys. I missed it at the cinema, but went and hired it and it definitely lived up to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (one of my favourites, also directed by Shane Black).

Aside from that, I was very excited to see the trailers for Wonder Woman and T2. I’m going to have to rewatch Trainspotting soon – it’s been too long since I’ve seen it.

Oh, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is going to be a movie trilogy akin to Indiana Jones! I’m tentatively excited.

November Favourites

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My top November watches were all 2016 releases! I mentioned Arrival and The Nice Guys in the summary above, but Their Finest, which I saw at the BBC First British Film Festival and A United Kingdom were both excellent, too. Arrival was just a breath of fresh air, for me. Not exactly what I was expecting, which I loved. The Nice Guys left me in tears (of laughter), Their Finest was also very funny but in a drier way and A United Kingdom was moving and beautiful. Highly recommend all of them.

Directed by Women

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I watched three movies directed by women in November: Their Finest, Our Kind of Traitor and A United Kingdom. Their Finest was my favourite, followed closely by A United Kingdom. I found Our Kind of Traitor to be entertaining and nice to look at, but ultimately I suspect it will be forgettable.

What I wrote

Girl Asleep, 2015 review

What I read

ARRIVAL: When is now? at David Bordwell’s website on cinema

Adelaide’s Changing Cinema Landscape at Broadsheet (for the gorgeous photos of the cinemas)

Female Directors Don’t Need ‘Experience’ — They Just Need To Get Hired at Forbes

Ida Lupino, a Woman of Spine on Both Sides of the Lens at The New York Times

Tom Ford, Ben Mankiewicz and a Fashion-Film Vortex at The New York Times