2016 log (6)

(8 Jun) Finding Dory (2016, Andrew Stanton) 85
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(9 Jun) Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg) 94
[ Watching this again, more than forty years after it exploded as the first modern Hollywood blockbuster, one can appreciate more than ever the way Spielberg keeps the shark unseen for most of the film and how much time and care he puts in developing Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw’s characters and the way they play off each other. This may not have quite the visceral impact it must have had back then, but it’s still totally badass, with endless quotable dialogue, iconic shots, memorable scenes… The first half is a quasi horror movie, with a shark slasher stalking the waters around Amity Island. Then the second half is this awesome adventure film, with the central going out at sea on the Orca to kill that damn Bruce. “Jaws” is pretty much a perfect picture, with confident, gripping storytelling, masterful mise en scène, great performances and that classic John Williams score. One of Spielberg’s all-time best. ]

(10 Jun) Machete Kills (2013, Robert Rodriguez) 65
[ Awful writing (intentionally so, but still), cheap production values and cartoonish violence make this sequel feel like an Asylum production. Except that there are often flashes of awesome visuals and badass action that remind us that Robert Rodriguez once gave us good/great movies like “El Mariachi”, “Desperado”, “From Dusk Till Dawn” and whatnot. And how about that all-star cast! There’s of course Danny Trejo as Machete and Michelle Rodriguez as Luz, plus the hilarious Mel Gibson in the James Bond supervillain role, Carlos Estevez (ha!) as the President, Amber Heard as Miss San Antonio, Demián Bichir as the head of a cartel, Sofía Vergara as a brothel owner, and perhaps most entertainingly, (SPOILER) Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas as El Chameleón. It’s all a lot of over-the-top nonsense, but it reaches heights of silliness that ultimately won me over. I mean, come on: Mel Gibson in a cape ranting and shooting a ray gun? ]

(11 Jun) Lemonade (2016, Kahlil Joseph, Melina Matsoukas, Todd Tourso, Dikayl Rimmasch, Jonas Akerlund, Mark Romanek & Beyoncé)
[ “What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy?”
It’s been called a “visual album”, which means it’s a series of music videos, but really, this is a film, pretty much a feature at 60+ minute. Maybe you need to be a fan of Beyoncé’s music first and foremost, but I don’t know… I think it’s amazing cinema in any case. Sexy, strong, savage cinema. The songs are all instantly catchy and badass and moving, as are the spoken word segments, but visually, DAMN! It’s endlessly striking and inventive… It’s the best musical film I’ve seen since Arcade Fire’s oddly underrated “The Reflektor Tapes” (not-so-incidentally, Kahlil Joseph directed some of “Lemonade”). Watching it for the first time in the middle of the night, I kept thinking, “Who wrote this?”, “Who directed this?”, “Who shot this?”, “Who edited this?” And Beyoncé is such an amazing performer/actress/screen presence… She’s in every other shot and she’s never less than mesmerizing. Expect a year’s worth of memes and GIFs and hot takes and thinkpieces. But really, watch the whole thing for yourself. Totally worth it. ]

(12 Jun) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Steven Spielberg) 93
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(13 Jun) Saving Private Ryan (1998, Steven Spielberg) 95
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(14 Jun) Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014, David Gregory)
[ I’m loving this subgenre of documentaries about apocalyptic film productions like “Jodorowsky’s Dune”, “The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?” or this here doc about “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, which was initially a project of Richard Stanley, before he got fired early into the shoot. It’s fascinating and hilarious to hear about what assholes Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer and John Frankenheimer were. “The Island of Dr. Moreau” is already one of the weirdest, craziest movies I ever saw – the story of its making is even weirder and crazier! ]

(16 Jun) Roald Dahl’s The BFG (2016, Steven Spielberg) 80
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(16 Jun) The Neon Demon (2016, Nicolas Winding Refn) 92
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(16 Jun) Roadies S1E1 – “Life is a Carnival” (2016, Cameron Crowe)
[ I love every Cameron Crowe movie. Yes, *every* one of them. Yet I’m aware that most people believe he peaked with “Almost Famous”, which is indeed his best film, but… Anyway, obviously, the move to cable television to do a series based in the world of rock tours is very clever. While not quite on the level of “Almost Famous”, in part because it’s not set in the 70s, “Roadies” still instantly hooked me in with its insightful attention to detail, great Crowe dialogue, awesome music and likable cast of characters played by the likes of Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Imogen Poots, Ron White and Luis Guzman. Plus it’s all about music and people who love it and live it, versus those who wish to ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it, and it’s such a fascinating world to me, I can’t get enough. ]

(15-18 Jun) O.J.: Made in America (2016, Ezra Edelman)
[ Last Christmas, I bingewatched “Making a Murderer” and now I just caught the last three episodes of this documentary series and it’s equally fascinating. Of course, in this case, I remembered a lot of details about the “trial of the century” that happened some 20 years ago, but it’s great to get to hear new testimonies from a lot of the players, in addition to seeing a lot of archival footage, some of which was never shown before I believe. And then almost the whole fifth episode moves past the trial and depicts how O.J. continued to fuck up, up until the brilliantly crafted Las Vegas robbery/kidnapping sequence, which would be his undoing. This is truly an American tragedy. ]

(18 Jun) Safety Not Guaranteed (2012, Colin Trevorrow) 77
[ “Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.” So reads a classified ad by a grocery store clerk (Mark Duplass) who’s paranoid and delusional… Or is he? Magazine intern Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza) intends to find out. I watched this on Steven Spielberg’s recommendation (he also spoiled the ending for me, but hey) and I wasn’t disappointed. Now I get why Colin Trevorrow blew up after this and got the “Jurassic World” and eventually “Episode IX” gigs. This is a really fun, clever, oddly touching flick – with a bunch of “Star Wars” references! I love that it’s this quirky indie sci-fi film where it’s all about the characters more than any big set pieces… Though I must admit that there’s a sense that it’s maybe missing a third act, which a bigger budget might have allowed. Still, Duplass and Plaza are super compelling. Way worth watching on Netflix. ]

(19 Jun) it’s such a beautiful day (2012, Don Hertzfeldt) [ review ] 100

(23 Jun) Tickled (2016, David Farrier & Dylan Reeve)
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(23 Jun) The Killer (1989, John Woo) [ review ] 95

(25 Jun) Hard Boiled (1992, John Woo) [ review ] 93

(25 Jun) La tête de Normande St-Onge (1975, Gilles Carle) 87
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(26 Jun) 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016, Dan Trachtenberg) 79
[ It got me right from the dialogue-free, all ominous score intro, which is very Hitchcockian. Then it got me even more when a young woman (the wonderful Mary Elizabeth Winstead) ends up holed up in a bunker with a crazy survivalist – he’s gotta be crazy, right? There can’t have been a world-ending attack above ground, right? The survivalist is played by John Goodman, in a powerhouse performance that makes “10 Cloverfield Lane” a must-see by itself. But you also got to give props to the clever screenplay by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken & Damien Chazelle and to the taut direction by Dan Trachtenberg. Most of the film is a character-driven (John Gallagher Jr. costars) huis clos, sometimes fun (jukebox music, board games, etc.), sometimes pretty damn scary. And then we get to the last 15 minutes, which are – SPOILERS AHEAD – part “Signs”, part “War of the Worlds”, completely amazing. ]

(27 Jun) Léolo (1992, Jean-Claude Lauzon) [ review ] 95

(28 Jun) Swiss Army Man (2016, Daniels) 94
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(30 Jun) Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (2016, Thorsten Schütte)
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]