Last Ten Films: From Blockbusters to Outliers

Tom At The Farm

Tom At The Farm

 

My last ten films seen in chronological order, between December 23, 2015 and January 8, 2016.

The Hateful Eight (Tarantino, 2015) 8/10
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Abrams, 2015) 7/10
People Places Things (Strouse, 2015) 6/10
The Stanford Prison Experiment (Alvarez, 2015) 6/10
Tom at the Farm (Dolan, 2013) 8/10
Queen of Earth (Perry, 2015) 7/10
Joy (Russell, 2015) 5/10
Results (Bujalski, 2015) 9/10
The Fallen Idol (Reed, 1948) 7/10
La Sapienza (Green, 2014) 6/10

The two “blockbusters” leading off this sequence both surprised me. The first, inspired by 1970s New Hollywood, is the Tarantino film I’ve enjoyed most all the way through since, oh, Jackie Brown, partially because I adore the 70mm “roadshow” presentation but mostly because for all its ugliness/misoygny/voluminous bloodshed, the construction’s tighter than Inglorious Basterds and it adheres to a stronger, more plausible moral code than Django Unchained. The second, heavily inspired by, um, Star Wars: A New Hope works because it places character and plot way ahead of special effects and mythology. Sure, the Hans/Leia/Chewy stuff is a little cornball, but it sure as hell resonates as well as any fan (either fervent, or in my case, near-nonexistent) could want.

With the exception of Joy (third time decidely not the charm for Russell/Lawrence, though the latter gives better than she gets) and The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed and Graham Greene’s persecuor to The Third Man, and every bit the warm-up to that), the rest are Chlotrudis-eligible films (nominations are due this Friday) I’ve been busy catching up on at home. No real stinkers so far, but nothing revelatory either (apart from Results, which will likely secure a place in the year-end best of list I’ll be posting soon). Nearly all of them contain at least one recommendable facet: Elisabeth Moss’ fearless performance in Queen of Earth, La Sapienza’s striking cinematography and editing (the (purposely?) stitled acting in it threw me off a bit), a great sense of place and utilization of claustrophobia in the occasionally-fascinating-but-often-excruciating The Stanford Prison Experiment and Jemaine Clement’s winning underdog persona keeping People Places Things afloat.

Slighly better than most of them? The film Xavier Dolan made between Laurence Anyways and Mommy, a belated release here (and a minimal one at that, as it played for one week last summer in Salem, though luckily one can stream it on Amazon). Not as good as either of its bookends (or I Killed My Mother), this contained, Hitchcockian thriller (complete with anachronistic orchestral score) is intriguing as a peculiar, potential outlier in Dolan’s catalog—as is his character’s (purposely?) awful, shaggy, bleached hair.

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