Today is the last day of my winter break, which means it is also the end of my Winter Series. 48 movies is pretty solid for about one month, though I did not get to watch the Matrix Trilogy like I said I would in a previous post. Oh well. So it goes. Anyway, let’s get down to this last big list.
#35. Mulholland Dr.
So in my last Winter Series post I hinted that I would be talking about this movie in that post and completely forgot to write about it, so we will talk about it here though I can tell you it isn’t an easy movie to talk about.
Lynch is one of the few directors whose films just can’t be easily digested. They require multiple viewings, explanations, and a lot of thinking. His fever-dream of a film about LA and Hollywood is some of the weirdest stuff ever shot on film. Released after his now quintessential series, Twin Peaks, Lynch was actually a renowned name despite the fact that his films sent people into hour long debates on the meanings of red lampshades and other minute details.
I won’t offer up my own interpretation because this is the first time I have seen it in recent memory, but it really is just a fascinating film as we follow Naomi Watts (in one of her very first roles) and a woman with amnesia look for clues regarding her identity. It might sound simple there, but it is anything but.
#37, 42, 43. The Trilogy of Life
Pier Pasolini’s early work, comprised of three films based on collections of short stories; The Decameron, Canterbury Tales, and Arabian Nights are farcical, satirical, sexual, and just plain bizarre. Focusing more on the sexuality in these classic texts, Pasolini never shies away from nudity or sugarcoating sex. The Decameron, the earliest of the three, is the most tame, with Canterbury Tales ending with one of the strangest conclusions to a film I have ever seen.
Arabian Nights is the most ambitious as he traveled the world, mostly the Middle East, to capture the stories in their native lands. They are gorgeous films to watch, and ultimately remain more upbeat and happy about life and sex. He also has a tendency to poke fun at the church and his viewings of their hypocrisy. This trilogy was set to have a sequel, the Trilogy of Death, which started out with Salo, one of the most controversial films of all time, but he was murdered shortly after finishing it. One can only imagine how much more perverse he could have gotten, but he still remains one of the most important directors in the history of the art.
#41. Life of Pi
It’s interesting to think that Life of Pi actually ended up winning Best Director at the Oscars, but that’s probably because Ben Affleck got snubbed for Argo (but that ended up winning Best Picture.) Life of Pi had a lot of buzz on it, especially for fans of the novel, but its popularity has seemed to die down since its release and heyday. Watching it on Blu Ray for the first time since it came out, the special effects are noticeably off. Characters seem blatantly imposed on backgrounds, and some scenes just can’t quite capture the same magic they had on the big screen. But it is nonetheless a powerful voyage through time, the sea, and an incredible life.
#44. Bone Tomahawk
I picked this up randomly at Best Buy based for one on the title, but I had also seen Hateful Eight the day before and was hankering for more Westerns, and wow–what a movie. Starkly violent, with some great performances from Kurt Russell and Patrick Wilson, Bone Tomahawk starts off scary and ends gruesomely with some of the most violent and bloody deaths I have seen in a long time. I would go into detail, but some of them just hurt thinking about them. Russell plays a sheriff in a small town being terrorized by cannibals, so he enlists help to go take them out. There are some solid little moments and dialogue that help elevate this from some crummy B-movie to something a little better. Fans of westerns, or gore, will feel right at home with this one.
#45. Breaking the Waves
This devastating and pessimistic film about sex, heartbreak, and naivety is one of Lars von Trier’s first. Shot in the north of Scotland, and following the life of Bess (a young Emily Watson), it follows her marriage to Jan (Stellan Skarsgard) as they rush into marriage and he winds up getting his neck broken while working on an oil rig. He urges her to find another man to be intimate with, but she initially refuses. Her immaturity is almost annoying as she finally relents and starts sleeping around the community, which alienates her from their tight-knit Christian values despite her believing she is doing God’s work in having sex with others. It is a hauntingly-shot film, with many of Trier’s signature styles, but its final moments are just depressing, and maybe a little hopeful depending on how you look at it. Nevertheless, it remains bleak just like his later films, too bleak for most to handle.
#47. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
As many of you may know, this is my favorite film of the year due to how fresh, fun, and heartbreaking it is. A sheer delight of filmmaking, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about life, growing up, and dealing with just how shitty it can get. Though it might seem a little cheap in evoking emotions, a repeat viewing can teach you that it is by no means unfair. Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, and RJ Cyler make for a great young trio, offering up different comedic stylings and mindsets in a traumatic time for these kids, even if it doesn’t seem so. Memorable characters, heartbreaking emotions, and a love for film help cement this as one of the great unseen movies of the year.
#48. The Gift
Watching this for the second time did not cause me as much anxiety as it did the first time around, but it is still a fantastic debut film from Joel Edgerton. While it wasn’t as intense (due to being aware of all of the jumps, twists, and turns) it is still easy to see just how skilled Edgerton is as a budding director as he constantly toys with expectations. Scenes that shouldn’t result in jumps still do, especially that dog scene. But it is the stunning climax that really sets the film apart as the gift is finally delivered and the results are devastating for everyone involved. Definitely one of the best psychological thrillers in years.
And there we have it for Winter Series 2015/2016. Lots of good movies both new and old, but now we must move onwards towards Award Season. As always, I will be covering the ongoings, so stay tuned and I will see you then! Also, I have been considering a “Bottom 10 Films of 2015” since you all love my negative reviews with such passion, so you might be seeing that sometime soon.