2016 log (10)

(30 Sep-26 Oct) Luke Cage (2016, Cheo Hodari Coker)
[ The first episode doesn’t start with a bang, but in this case, it’s a good thing. I just loved hanging out in Harlem with Luke Cage (Mike Colter), following him at work, first in a barbershop, then in a nightclub, watching him interact with various people, including some “hot and dark” ladies like Misty Knight (Simone Missick). Meanwhile, we meet Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali), Shades (Theo Rossi) and other mean motherfuckers, as the show establishes itself a modern-day, hip-hop-era Blaxploitation gangster epic. By the time Cage finally shows what an unbreakable badass he is at the end of this first episode, we’re totally ready to take it all in. Second episode is also a wonderful slowburn, with more hanging out at Pop’s Barbershop, more soul music at Harlem’s Paradise, but also more grittiness, tension and violence. Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, who wrote the first two episodes himself, really knows how to lay down the atmosphere, but he also knows how to make things sizzle. Episode after episode, I just loved this show more and more, with its great cast of characters, hardboiled dialogue, awesome musical numbers in the early episodes (Raphael Saadiq, Faith Evans, Charles Bradley) and then yeah, the occasional outburst of over-the-top comic book action! The consensus seems to be that it’s too slow, that there are too many episodes or whatnot, but I just enjoyed being with these soulful cats in Harlem, I didn’t care that the show took its time getting to wherever it was heading. Isn’t that the fun of a TV series, getting to spend more time with the characters? I haven’t even mentioned the crooked councilwoman played by Alfre Woodard; good old “night nurse” Claire Temple, played by the Sam Jackson of the Netflix MCU, Rosario Dawson; and the “hidden” villain of the series, Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey)… You know, plot isn’t everything, you don’t need a twist every ten minutes – but it isn’t like there aren’t some killer twists every other episode in “Luke Cage”! Like, this is one of the most ruthless shows I’ve ever seen, important characters keeps dying throughout the series, it’s hardly completely uneventful. Plus there’s this whole “Black Lives Matter” political undertone (overtone?), with our hero being wrongfully hunted down by cops. Say what you will about this series, but I find the image of Luke Cage in a hoodie riddled with bullets to be one of the most powerful pop-culture images of 2016. And clearly, the makers of the show knew what they hand in their hands, because [SPOILER] they actually go all in with that image in the penultimate episode, even having Method Man rap about it! ]

(1 Oct) Spaceman (2016, Brett Rapkin) 60
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(2 Oct) High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008, Kenny Ortega) 62
[ Maybe you hate musicals, maybe you hate high school movies… Then why would you be watching this? I happen to love musicals and I enjoy a bright and colorful high school movie, so I had a good time watching this utterly harmless, inconsequential, white-bread flick. It’s not high art or anything, but the songs are often fun and Kenny Ortega knows a thing or two about choreographing dance numbers. Good times! ]

(6 Oct) American Honey (2016, Andrea Arnold) 92
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(7 Oct) 13th (2016, Ava DuVernay)
[ The United States: 5% of the world’s population; 25% of its prisoners, 40.2% of whom are African-American. Why? This provocative, infuriatingly relevant Netflix documentary’s thesis is that following the abolition of slavery (the 13th amendment), white folks basically started excessively arresting, convicting and imprisoning black people, often for minor crimes (loitering, vagrancy) – slavery in disguise. Going quickly through the post-Civil War history of racism in America (“The Birth of a Nation,” the KKK, lynchings, Jim Crow segregation, etc.), the film then gets right down to this idea of “mass incarceration” via Nixon and then Reagan’s War on Drugs, which conveniently led to locking up tons of black people for simple possession, and to Bill Clinton’s controversial 1994 crime bill (which he himself now renounces). The second half of the film focuses on the prison industrial complex, while also touching on the Black Lives Matter movement and, in the most powerful sequence, directly linking Donald Trump and his supporters to the U.S.’s shameful history of racism, what he calls “the good old days.” ]

(8 Oct) Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau (2016, Mathieu Denis & Simon Lavoie) 88
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(9 Oct) Gremlins (1984, Joe Dante) 90
[ 7 things I love about “Gremlins”:
1) It’s a Christmas movie!
2) The rules – “First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it’ll kill him. Second, don’t give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight.”
3) The practical effects used to create the utterly cute Gizmo and the absolutely disgusting gremlins.
4) The surprisingly nasty splatstick!
5) Tons of awesome gags and stunts.
6) The super stylish cinematography, with all kinds of colorful lighting.
7) The supporting performances by 80s stars (Phoebe Cates, Corey Feldman, Judge Reinhold). ]

(10 Oct) Toni Erdmann (2016, Maren Ade) 77
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(11 Oct) Mes Nuits feront écho (2016, Sophie Goyette) 85
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(13 Oct) Maudite Poutine (2016, Karl Lemieux) 71
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(14 Oct) Prank (2016, Vincent Biron) 92
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(15 Oct) Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, Joe Dante) 64
[ This is your typical sequel that figures it can just give us more of the same, emphasis on the “more”. More gremlins, more gags and stunts, more splatstick… Alas, it isn’t nearly as refreshing, fun and perfectly executed as the first one. Sure, I like the nods to “Rambo”, the Hulk Hogan cameo and whatnot, Gizmo is as adorable as ever, and it’s all entertaining enough, but it’s no classic like the original. ]

(16 Oct) Mademoiselle AKA The Handmaiden (2016, Park Chan-wook) 76
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(22 Oct) Nosedive (“Black Mirror” S3:E1) (2016, Joe Wright)
[ This sci-fi masterpiece is the best barely-futuristic depiction I’ve seen of where our social media era is headed. Brilliantly written by Charlie Brooker, Michael Schur & Rashida Jones and directed by Joe Wright, it features an amazing performance by the great Bryce Dallas Howard as a woman obsessed with living a perfect life, or at least displaying the appearance of it in order to get lots of upvotes. But as the title suggests, things eventually get desperate and everything goes wrong, to hilarious/heartbreaking effect. An absolute must-watch. ]

(22 Oct) Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids (2016, Jonathan Demme)
[ I guess you have to be a fan of JT, but really, how can you not be? He’s clearly one of the world’s greatest entertainers and it’s a treat to get to see him perform in this concert movie, which is gloriously shot and edited. What else do you need to know? ]

(24 Oct) Doctor Strange (2016, Scott Derrickson) 76
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(28 Oct) San Junipero (“Black Mirror” S3:E4) (2016, Owen Harris)
[ If you’re one of those who were annoyed by the ‘80s nostalgia of “Stranger Things”, forget it! The music, the looks, the arcade games… Pure ‘80s nostalgia, man. Then again, nostalgia is kinda totally the point, and it goes beyond that, developing real, endearing characters (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis) and telling a compelling story with sci-fi elements that slowly reveal themselves. I ended up crying through the final credits, which I almost never do anymore. This “Black Mirror” anthology series is really something else, isn’t it? ]