Movie Month in Review: FEBRUARY.

March 2, 2017

Hey! So another month just swiftly passed by and so here we are again. February has given me quite a number of good films and I can’t wait to have another batch to take in!

Here are the movies I saw this February:

  1. Manon of the Spring (1986)

Such a beautifully-crafted and poignant tragedy. Had I read this as a written story, (it’s adapted from the 1966 two-volume novel The Water of the Hills by writer Marcel Pagnol), I would still have tears in my eyes.

 

2.  Jean de Florette (1986)

One of the saddest and most visually-appealing films I have ever seen yet. I saw Manon of the Spring first and so it is weird to see Ugolin interacting with the little Manon (but that’s just the prude in me.) Nevertheless, it is still heart-wrenching to see the characters again with the knowledge of what’s about to happen in the end.

One might argue with this but the relationship dynamics between Papet and Ugolin somewhat reminds me of Of Mice and Men‘s Lenny and George: both men have only each other to rely on; one of them overpowers/controls the other; sympathetic characters who are miles away from being morally-flawless; and *****spoiler alert***** with one dying at the end. There might be more parallelisms between the 2 pairs so if you have anything to add, feel free to use the comment bar.

Again, it is unbelievably visually appealing — the gorgeous rural Provence becoming an integral part of the story rather than just merely a background. I love love love the heavy use of brown and earth tones as color scheme for the outfits of the actors. What say you, Kanye West?

This is getting quite long so last thing to note are the superb performances of Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu (both heartbreaking) and Yves Montand as an ice-cold mofo.

And would I forget its incredible music? Never.

 

3.  Le dernier chaperon rouge (1996)

At 27, I’m still a shameless fairy tale lover so it’s natural for me to watch this french short film (it only runs for 26 mins). It’s easy to find online and is available on youtube. It’s a retelling of Red Riding Hood in the fashion of the Saw movies so goodluck cause it’s real dark, twisted, freakish and super unDisney-like.

 

4.  The Girl on the Train (2016)

I find this film rigorously unenjoyable. All principal characters were unlikable and so there was no one to root for. 20 minutes into the movie and I’m already feeling feverish from the urge of hurling my laptop away from me. The main character’s a hot mess in preposterous levels it’s almost laughable (homegirl’s a raging alcoholic who has no life outside of religiously stalking her ex-husband and his new family for 2 years). I want to shake her out of her wits so badly so she can get her shit together. Give her a ticket to some nice SE Asian country and have her get some stone-carving classes asap. Just so she can stop being a hot mess. Even the pseudo-feminist ending was lame and inexcusable. Unfortunately, my love for all the actors here (Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson most especially) can’t make me get on this train again.

 

5.  Eyes Without a Face (1962)

This 60’s horror film is haunting and disturbing yet dreamy and captivating all at the same time. Saw this in crisp B&W and so all the best imagery this horror masterpiece has to offer are amplified clearly and will undoubtedly seep into my mind for a long time — if not forever.

Edith Scob as the masked daughter was fantastic, conveying her heartache, distraught and hopelessness through just her eyes and voice. The musical score was particularly chilling as much as THAT face-transfer operation scene (GOOD LUCK SEEING THAT). This is an old movie worth visiting, whether you’re a horror flick junkie or not.

P.s. If you loved this movie, I recommend you also watch The Skin I Live In (2011), The Innocents (1961), Repulsion (1965) and El Orfanato (2007).

 

6.  A cause, à cause d’une femme (1963)

Not really my cup of tea story-wise. We have here our Casanova who is able to manipulate women to his own advantage and he does it unapologetically. His conquests, young and beautiful as they are, get apeshit crazy with our guy, forego self-love and all that jazz and still clamor for his love and attention and so become his loyal puppets. All but one who takes the road of vengeance and accuses him of murder. But hey, it’s supposed to be a light-hearted murder-mystery/comedy by French director Michel Deville, and it’s the 60s, soooo whatever. The movie features a bevy of beautiful cinematic faces (see the above images for a few examples) and remarkably effective portrayals of varied characterizations from the female casts, so that’s a plus for me.

 

7.  John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

I am one who doesn’t like violent action films and actively steers away from them. But ever since my dad made me watch the first John Wick film, I have become a superstan of it. Yass, not just a stan but a superstan. I’ve seen it 4 times from start to end and I thank the Lord for Keanu Reeves everytime. John Wick 2 could have been just a Hallmark tv movie about him and his new dog and I will still watch it in the cinema. So yeah, I’m a shameless superfan. With that being said, the sequel is nothing short of extraordinary and never disappoints even its craziest fans.

The brutal carnage, one that’s a vital ingredient of the recipe that’s the John Wick films, is done so tastefully and fluidly. Like a road accident, I couldn’t help but look at it.  Every combat scene is mind-blowingly poetic and as impressive as a slick ballet performance. As psychotic as it may sound, and I know the other moviegoers felt the same way too, I’d always surprise myself whenever I get excited and electrified during  visual spectacles of the Mozambique Drill (2 gunshots to the chest, 1 in the head killing technique) impeccably delivered by Keanu Reeves in neon-lighted roman catacombs. And let us not forget that damn pencil scene.  And every scene with Common. And that every-assassin-in-the-city-versus-Wick part. Actually it’s everything you need to watch.

Just small but unimportant displeasure: the lack of the amazing Marilyn Manson music, the absence of Adrianne Palicki and Willem Dafoe (but ofcourse!) cause I thoroughly enjoyed their characters. Good thing, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Charon the hotel concierge and Jimmy the officer are back!!!!

 

8.   The Shallows (2016)

With its drop-dead gorgeous cinematography, dramatic overhead shots, solid plot, strong and convincing performance from its equally gorgeous lead, an adorable co-star in the form of a seagull, and a mean and menacing gray-skinned mofo that’s your villain, this movie is certainly not your average shark-attack thriller.

 

9.  Arrival (2016)

Left the cinema all confused and unhappy and in total disbelief the movie ended the way it did.

First part of the movie was very cool and exciting. You have your weird genius protagonist convincingly portrayed by the amazing Amy Adams. She’s a linguistics professor who decides to continue her daily routine amidst what was happening in her world. She appears to have no friends — she wound up alone in her campus the next day of the “arrival”, with a puzzled look that no one else is around. Clearly, none of her colleagues or students texted her anything that’s in the same vein of GIRL, ALIENS ARE HERE. DO NOT GO TO SCHOOL. But that was just a fun and flippant observation from me and my sister so whatever.

When we saw the spacecraft, I remember myself being awed. The design was extremely impressive.  It looks to me like this giant metal leech suspended in mid-air — very menacing and has this particular quiet sinister about it. That dramatic aerial shot of the wide American rural fields towards the spacecraft, made even more dramatic by those freaky rolling clouds and chilling af musical accompaniment, was flawless. It is, I think, the best introductory look of a spaceship in an alien-invasion movie so far.  The aliens look cool as well; I never thought tame giant squids could be potent replacement for the usual aggressive lizard-like aliens in movies.

So everything was going great and exciting, our lead is able to befriend the aliens and has made them respond to her in their own language through this ink-like substance. So yey that’s so cool they’re so cute was mostly my reaction. HOWEVER as the story progressed and the characters are still trying to figure out the aliens’ language a month after the initial back-and-forth communication, I felt that the movie was losing its charm swiftly thanks to Amy’s character having to deal with her dead daughter’s memories. At first we’d think they’re only flashbacks and you somehow empathize with the mother’s grief. But in the end it was revealed that they were actually memories from the future. FROM THE FUTURE. Like girl, why aren’t you freaking out big time from these recurring freaky ‘memories’? Aren’t you supposed to call your mom or any friend and tell her that something this level of freak is happening to you? Sheesh. And to think she would pass out almost every time she has these visions. Girl was def not freaked out at all.

So that part of the story was really emotionally vexing for me and it was already taking away so much emphasis from the other themes that the movie has introduced and needs to address more such as learning the Heptapod’s language, the different ways nations are dealing with the arrival, how everyone could arrive to the ever-elusive kumbaya moment or even why Jeremy Renner’s character all other characters there were rendered almost useless.

And that conversation with the Chinese General part….. lol. My sister and I were mentally screaming Google translate! We were definitely one of those who left the cinema pondering about it, clueless as a stone it felt hilarious.

The reviews I saw for this film were almost polar opposites. You either deem it as extraordinary and mind-blowing or boring and unsatisfying. Well, if you have read this uncharacteristically long review of mine in its entirety, you know where I stand.

 

10.  Paris, Texas (1984)

As of this writing, I couldn’t think of any other movie that has given me so many heart-wrenching moments as much as Paris, Texas did to me. The whole film is set with a lingering quiet melancholy from start to end. Expect sweeping American desertscapes, tranquil train tracks, empty parking spaces, seedy motels, hushed suburbs, soft-neon lights, moody guitar sounds and simple but emotionally-charged dialogues take important roles in the totality of the story.

 

11.  Mustang (2015)

This exceptionally wonderful movie may be flippantly deemed the Turkish version of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (a film I totally love) since it shares a lot of similarities with the latter — from the superficial (5 sisters with good hair who are soon to become prisoners in their own home following one mischievous event) to themes of sisterhood, girlhood, burgeoning sexual identity, conservatism, societal pressures/patriarchal mores on women and freedom and independence.

There are also scenes reminiscent of the 1999 film: we could see the 5 leads in their uniforms in school prior to their seclusion, the scene where the girls are huddled together in their room, the ‘wind in the hair’ moment while in a moving vehicle and that one heart-breaking scene where the older guardians try to shield the younger ones from seeing their dead sibling.

But with all of these present, Mustang is still able to stand on its own firmly. One should not disregard the differences it has from the other. Take for example the point of view employed here. It is from the perspective of Lale, the youngest of the siblings that we get to see the story unfold and so the story has more ‘authenticity’ to it. There’s also the element of ‘female perspective’ used in the story in contrast of the teenage boys’ perspective in Coppola’s film. Another great thing about it, one I found so gripping and poignant, is the variation of bold defiance to regain freedom done by some siblings, whether in death or in life.

The story is told with a pace that holds you firmly, so in-your-face there’s never a dull moment. The last moments of it were so powerful and so thrilling and torturous for me I was screaming SOMEBODY HELP THESE GIRLS in my mind the whole time. The feels were so intense it felt like being punched in the stomach afterwards (I haven’t experienced being punched in the stomach, praise the Lord, but it definitely feels like how I imagine it to be).

 

There you go, all seen in just a month. Thanks for reading this extremely long post. Catch you again soon and may the month of March be good to us all. ✨✨✨ ?

 

If you’re curious, here’s my Movie Month in Review for January.

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