Pop count: Books 5 and Movies 10
I had a funny double header right before the Oscars last month. I am just catching up here.
La La Land (Chazelle/16): I loved Whiplash so I was looking forward to La La Land. Then I kept putting off seeing it and then heard extreme reactions from family and friends from love to hate. I liked it a lot. The two leads are immensely appealing. The story spoke to me. It made an impression especially the last sequence. That really sold it to me.
I Am Not Your Negro (Peck/16): This one I kept making plans to see and even got sold out of a showing when I got to the door. I was determined to see it in the theater. Solidly constructed with meaningful and timely source material. James Baldwin probably would not want to be relevant in 2017 but he is. His words are full of personal weight but speak to the people.
Pop Count: Books 2 and Movies 6
John Wick: Chapter 2 (Stahelski/17): Is it worth leaving your house to see this? Heck, yeah! I will re-post my impression of John Wick after this because it applies to Chapter 2. Is it possible that Keanu is in even better shape and does cooler stunts in better clothes? Another resounding yes. I think the level of violence is the same. Escapist action movie at its best. And more dog as loyal companion appreciation. This time there is no doubt there will be another chapter. Also, even though this is only a week after the first movie leaves off, Keanu’s hair and sideburns are more badass too.
John Wick (Leitch & Stahelski/14): Who better to direct Keanu Reeves in an action movie than his longtime stunt double (Stahelski)? Keanu looks great. He wears 50 like a pro. One must completely suspend disbelief but then it’s pretty entertaining. Looks like a video game but hangs together long enough to tell very simple story with big action set pieces. I actually tried to keep a body count because I read there were 84. I only got to 77. The other 7 must’ve gone by fast. I know that only 4 of them were NOT made by Keanu’s character.
Pop count: Books 1 and Movies 5
The Salesman (Farhadi/2016): Fireworks Wednesday (Farhadi/2006) which had a theater run last year impressed me. Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi has proven his talent to distill meaningful, cultural yet universal issues of lives of women, relationship expectations between partners, family members and friends through his body of work to date. I expected nothing less than similarly spot on story-telling in The Salesman and was more than satisfied. Challenging issues about societal, political and interpersonal rules coming into play when reality strikes and puts ordinary individuals in unexpected and really undesirable circumstances are explored without telling the viewer whose side to take. Familiar players from his other movies give compelling performances.
Pop count back to zero for 2017.
Pop count: Books 1 and Movies 1
Gleason (Tweel/16): Well-worth seeing. Fascinating, touching, impressively personal and revealing documentary about living through and with the gifts, obstacles and challenges of a family’s remarkable existence as a unit and as individuals.
Director #ClayTweel introducing #Gleason @filmlinc last night (1/3/17) #stevegleason #als #teamgleason #filmliveshere
I’m trying to round out my movies seen for 2016. This is mainly to help me keep track of what I’ve seen. I just remembered the NY Korean Film Festival as I was typing. I will list those here too. Oh and Doctor Strange and Loving. Let me add those. Then I will be done for the year.
Pop count is still 64 books and 77 movies.
Let’s start with Loving.
Loving (Nichols/16): Incredible that it’s true story conveyed with quiet grace.
Writer/director Jeff Nichols and star Ruth Negga at Loving Q&A @filmlinc #filmliveshere #jeffnichols #ruthnegga #joeledgerton #loving @lovingthefilm
Next, I’ll list the New York Korean Film Festival movies I saw.
Seeing #traintobusan @movingimagenyc #newyorkkoreanfilmfestival #nykff
Train to Busan (Yeon/16): The best of the three I saw. Effective telling of a zombie attack on a train…going to Busan. Definitely a crowd-pleaser.
Phantom Detective (Jo/16): Highly stylized in pleasant way with interesting enough plot.
Age of Shadows (Kim/16): It was fun to see a currently popular Korean movie. I can’t remember the details but overall it was pretty decent. I thought it would be more Hollywood espionage but it was more Korean historical drama.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Zwick/16): As an avid fan of these books, I had to see this movie. I already made semi-peace with the fact that Tom Cruise is not the embodiment of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. But I like him in his movies and he’s dedicated to entertaining the fans. I can’t compare with the books but I’ll the ones that feature his military police background tend to be strong. So it was good source material and I was entertained enough.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Yates/16): After I devoured Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition Script over the summer, I re-read all 7 books, watched all of the movies and re-read the play. So of course I was revved up to see Fantastic Beasts. It was fun but I really enjoyed reading the screenplay afterwards. JK Rowling is such a good writer. I understood more of the plot. Perhaps the stage directions were too subtle (for me). I have also been re-reading her Cormoran Strike books. So, so good
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Edwards/16): I was soooooo excited and pumped for Episode VII last year. The Force Awakens hit the right marks and holds up over multiple viewings. I was interested in Rogue One but less invested. However, for the most part I was into it. K-2SO is clearly the breakout star. No one does droids like the Star Wars universe. I’m glad Felicity Jones’ character had impressive skills, Donnie Yen gets a couple of good fight scenes. I didn’t quite get the dark tone of Diego Luna’s character. I get what they were going for but it didn’t quite gel for me. Now that Princess Leia, in real life, and Han Solo, in the story, are dead, I guess it’s all on Master Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2 and Chewie to carry the torch.
Doctor Strange (Derrickson/16): I liked Doctor Strange but I wasn’t completely enamored by it as I was anticipating. So I need to see it again. My inner hype was too high. I love Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, Khan, Alan Turing and Smaug so I want to love him as Doctor Strange. Give me time.