Bring me the head of 2016

rogueoneoldstyleposterIn a lot of ways, 2016 was the year to get suspicious about a lot of things, most of all about the future, and maybe some of us even got superstitious a little bit. As far as my movies are concerned, I think I detect a pattern: the two movies I liked best in 2015, Whiplash and Birdman, ran here in January, and 2016 began with Carol and The Big Short, another couple of great movies. Superstition? Coincidence? Perhaps. I can’t quite shake the feeling that this year, you had to dig slightly deeper to find a really good movie. I wrote about The Assassin and American Honey, which are far from light entertainment, but are immensely rewarding and beautiful to look at. I also highly recommend Sing Street for its youthful irreverence and its music; Arrival, for its use of the sci-fi genre to learn a lot more about us humans than about the extraterrestrials (if you haven’t read thirithch’s excellent review, you should do so). And Rogue One, which tried hard not to be a blockbuster and was all the more successful because of it. Continue reading

Beauty, Confusion, Assassination

assassinThe Assassin is one of the most beautiful movies ever made. It is also one with the most difficult storytelling. That sounds like the obscurity of the story somehow sabotages the beauty of the movie. It doesn’t. Since you have to really pay attention in order to guess what exactly is happening, you get the occasional breather when the movie shows you a pond at sunrise, with two birds chasing each other across the water. It’s not that the story is complex, it’s just that the way of telling it is unconventional. Characters are introduced by simply being put on screen. Flashbacks don’t come when you expect them. The female protagonist has no more than three or four lines of dialogue. There are two long monologues by two different characters providing a lot of back story; they pause between sentences, and you are never sure if their words are all they are actually saying, or if they are telling all, or telling the truth.

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