(25 Nov-4 Dec) Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016, Amy Sherman-Palladino & Daniel Palladino)
[ “Gilmore Girls” is one of my favorite series of all time in part because unlike some, I adore Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel), a mother and daughter who are also best friends, sharing a passion for talking fast and eating way too much junk food. But the true genius of the Palladinos is in how they have surrounded their lead girls with what may be the greatest ensemble in TV history. There’s Lorelai’s mother of course, Emily (Kelly Bishop), Rory’s on-and-off friend Paris (Liza Weil), plus everyone in Stars Hollow from Luke (Scott Patterson) to Sookie (Melissa McCarthy), Lane (Keiko Agena), Michel (Yanic Truesdale), Kirk (Sean Gunn), Miss Patty (Liz Torres), Mrs. Kim (Emily Kuroda), Jackson (Jackson Douglas), Babette (Sally Struthers), Taylor (Michael Winters) and so many others. Not to mention Rory’s series of boyfriends, which no one can agree who was better for her: Dean (Jared Padalecki), Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) and Logan (Matt Czuchry). Lots of people felt that Season 7 was a letdown but, beside the fact that the Palladinos weren’t involved in it, it’s actually not that bad and the final episode makes me cry super hard every time. Still, I was looking forward to this Netflix revival and I wasn’t disappointed. Divided into four 90-minute episodes that each depict a season, “A Year in the Life” deals with the off-screen death of patriarch Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann), but mostly goes for the comfort food approach, the first episode (“Winter”) in particular contenting itself with giving us more of what we love, with only minimal drama. Lorelai’s still with Luke! Rory’s enjoying the life of a freelance journalist! But in “Spring” and then “Summer”, cracks start showing. (I need to get into some SPOILERS here). Maybe Lorelai isn’t all that happy being stuck in the same place she was 10 years ago, even though she loves Luke, maybe she needs to go “Wild” (!). And as it turns out, being a freelance journalist in 2016 is not a walk in the park at all for Rory (is it for anyone?), plus her affair with soon-to-be-married Logan was doomed to leave her frustrated… The last of the four new episodes, “Winter”, is super weird, like one seeming dream sequence after another, but we still enjoy just spending time with all these wonderful characters. And those last four words? Well played, Amy. Well played. ]

(2 Dec) Le goût d’un pays (2016, Francis Legault)
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(8-26 Dec) Westworld – Season One (2016, Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy)
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(9 Dec) Frozen (2013, Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)88
[ I’m not the biggest fan of fairy tales, but there are some nice twists in this one, plus it features gorgeous animation and some wonderful songs, including the Oscar-winning “Let It Go”, which made me cry. There’s just something so moving about this story of sisterhood, true love and unleashing your hidden powers/feelings… ]

(12 Dec) Rogue One (2016, Gareth Edwards)73
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(13 Dec) La La Land (2016, Damien Chazelle)95
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(16 Dec) Pays (2016, Chloé Robichaud)72
[ Somehow, I’ve yet to see “Sarah préfère la course” and I failed to see this here “Pays” until now, but in the future, I will definitely be paying attention to Chloé Robichaud. What a well directed film! Scene after scene, shot after shot even, it’s amazing how often she, cinematographer Jessica Lee Gagné and editor Michel Arcand find interesting ways to frame things, to move the camera, to cut between things… Gotta dig the upbeat jazz score as wall, plus that ensemble cast? Macha Grenon, Emily VanCamp (acting mostly in French) and newcomer Nathalie Doummar are particularly great as the three leads, three women who deal with politics as well as casual sexism throughout the film. One thing though: I enjoyed Robichaud’s writing throughout, but that non-ending following the climax? A bit of a letdown. ]

(18 Dec) An Affair to Remember (1957, Leo McCarey)90
[ I’d never seen this classic, though “Sleepless in Seattle” kinda spoiled some of it for me. Still, it’s well worth it to actually watch this gorgeous Cinemascope production, starring all-time greats Cary Grand and Deborah Kerr. Much of it is set on a luxurious ship, like “Titanic”, and comes off like a romantic comedy… But then the second half in New York is more melodramatic and really makes you wonder if things will turn out okay for our lovers. Plus there are a few musical numbers! ]

(23 Dec) Sing Street (2016, John Carney)71
[ Here’s an okay coming of age movie, enhanced by an awesome 80s soundtrack and elevated even more by the irresistible original songs of the titular Dublin high school band. ]

(24 Dec) Die Hard (1988, John McTiernan) [ review ] 94100

(25 Dec) Captain America: Civil War (2014, Anthony & Joe Russo)93
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]


(26 Dec) Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010, Edgar Wright) [ review ] 94

(27 Dec) Trance (2016, John Carney)63
[ The thing about a great filmmaker is that they can basically direct the getout of even a silly B-movie screenplay and make it involving and fun. Here, we GET a bunch of rather preposterous twists and turns involving art thieves and hypnosis and whatnot, but Danny Boyle finds all kinds of ridiculous/awesome ways to convey that visually, enough to make this a fun watch even though it’s mostly nonsense. It helps that it stars James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel, plus that it features a bit of gore and full frontal nudity! ]

(28 Dec) White Girl (2016, Elizabeth Wood)77
[ I watched this on Netflix because of a review that compared it to “Spring Breakers” and, while it’s not on that level (what is?), It’s still a lot of trashy fun. Morgan Saylor stars as the titular white girl, the stupidest character of the year, who does tons of drugs, whores around and just keeps looking for trouble. Which she finds. A lot. This would be straight-up exploitation if it wasn’t directed by a woman, and super well directed at that. Sensual and trippy and disturbing AF, it really pulls you in along with the protagonist as she keeps getting fucked up and fucking up. ]

(29 Dec) Dirty Grandpa (2016, Dan Mazer)62
[ Sometimes, you just feel like watching a dumbass comedy. I do, anyway, so I just picked this here “Dirty Grandpa” on Netflix, fully expecting it to be, as many have said, the worst movie of the year. But you know what? I laughed. Sure, it’s stupid and vulgar and whatnot. But that’s the whole point! Offensive? I don’t know, when you’re making fun of everything and everyone, it feels inclusive to me… It’s not as great as most of Seth Rogen or Trey Parker’s movies or anything, but as far as go-for-broke politically incorrect sex farces go, you could do a lot worse. For my money, Robert De Niro is as hilarious here as the Dirty Grandpa as, say, Billy Bob Thornton was in “Bad Santa” (the first one – I have yet to see the sequel), Zac Efron is fine as straight man, and Aubrey Plaza basically steals the whole show. ]