Black Coal, Thin Ice: During the summer, I’m all about fluff and blockbusters but when winter hits, I want the heavy hitters. Bleak, punishing landscapes. Humans at their worst. This Chinese noir was JUST THE THING to kick off my new year. It’s set in a depressing, industrial city filled with body parts, neon lights and alcoholism. There’s one amazing, super intense shootout but I was mostly in it for the downbeat thrills. ;)
El Topo: I’m watching all of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s movies this year, sober as a priest, and they are melting my mind with otherworldly images and stories. The first part of El Topo is a faaaairly straightforward western. A black-clad gunslinger on a violent, surreal quest. I won’t even try to make sense of the second part. Long live the mountain people!
Sicario: The mere memory of this Cartel-land nightmare makes me tense. A near-perfect action/thriller with a killer cast. Can’t wait for the sequel.
Ferat Vampire: In January, the stars aligned and I was able to squeeze in a quick, 58 hour trip to New York. My only goal on that trip was seeing as many friends as possible (mission accomplished!) but I’m glad I also got to check out Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater. They’re basically my *dream* cinema. David, Jeremy and I met up to catch Ferat Vampire (Upir Z Feratu) about a European sports car that feeds off of female racers. The feeding scene looked like something straight outta Videodrome. So. much. fun.
Fantastic Four: I “had” to see it and it really isn’t the worst thing I’ve watched… but it is appallingly bad. The cast has zero chemistry, the plot is a hot mess. The Thing’s “It’s clobberin’ time!” apparently originates with Ben Grimm being beaten up by his older brother as a kid?? Kill all the Fantastic joy, why dontcha.
The Revenant: The Flagpole movie reviewer described the cinematography as “nature worship” and I loooove that description. Every shot is a testament to the rugged beauty and might of the wilderness. We are just puny, breakable specks in the snow. Afterwards, Dean and I contemplated how lucky we were to live in the present day with hot cocoa and electric blankets.
Ikiru: My admiration for Kurosawa increases as I grow older and this is the first non-samurai, non-Toshiro Mifune movie I’ve seen of his. Deeply moving but unusually delightful too. I guess translations are never quite right but I’ve memorized this moment where Takashi Shimura’s character says, “There’s darkness everywhere. I struggle for something to hold onto.” Spoiler: he finds something.
The Holy Mountain: I started to watch this about 10 years ago and wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Now I’ve seen it and I still don’t know what to make of it. The level of imagination is off the chain and viewing it truly is an experience… Is it a shallow takeaway to say I want to kitsch paint our house like the rainbow room?
Hail, Caesar!: It’s all style and charm but that’s ok with me. The big names look like they’re having a ball and the sets are gooorgeous. I especially liked the actor who played Hobie with his gummy smile and spaghetti lasso.
Anomalisa: Charlie Kaufman is a genius and anything he makes is worth checking out. And really, Anomalisa is worth seeing… but the more I think about it, the less I like it. The main character is selfish, unwell and upsetting. I hope I’ve got the opposite of whatever he’s got!
Deadpool: I’m the wrong audience for Deadpool and I hated it.
He Never Died: Henry Rollins is an immortal cannibal and while that arguably works better as an idea than a full length movie, I still enjoyed it. Whether Rollins is deadpanning his lines or going to town on some thugs, he is a delight.
Oscar Nominated Shorts– Live Action: What a tough, soul-crushing bunch of films! All excellent but OOF. “Stutterer” is one of the lighter selections and also my favorite with “Shok” as a close second. First time the one I liked best won!
Clouds of Sils Maria: Juliette Binoche plays Maria, an actress whose relationship with her young assistant is paralleled in her work. The layering in the story is effortless and the Swiss scenery is breathtaking.
Far From the Madding Crowd: I’m sorry to say, I haven’t read the book but I wonder if Bathsheba was originally written to be as badass as I took her to be in this adaptation. I wanted to tell these suitors to calm the f down so she could continue being a boss and owning farm life.
The Witch: My expectations were high and I was not disappointed. This is one of the most beautiful horror movies I’ve seen alongside Antichrist. And while there weren’t any moments where I felt the need to cover my eyes or gasp out loud, I was LIVING for the chaos choir soundtrack, terror twins, apples, and farm nightmares. More of this devilry, please!