Category Archives: Films & Television

Jackie (2016)

Whatever this film’s other merits, or lack thereof, you have to admit that its poster is distinctive and iconic. Reviews for this are a bit all over the place but in the end as its Rotten Tomatoes rating manages to hover around the 90% mark, I thought I’d give it a shot. Its director Pablo Larrain is a virtual unknown but it does have some serious names behind and particularly seems like it could be the ideal vehicle for Natalie Portman to transition to more mature roles.

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The Second Mother (2015)

As usual this was a pick gleaned from various critics’ lists of the world’s most notable films. I’m pleased that after only a few years of watching and writing about cinema seriously I’ve watched enough Brazilian films to actually have a general opinion of them. The Second Mother in particular conforms to the pattern I’ve noted previously about Brazilian films that while grounded in society relies too heavily on the feel-good factor to be a truly serious film.

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Miss Hokusai (2015)

This is a Japanese animated feature that, unusually, has at least some historical basis. Like many such projects, it’s an adaptation of a manga. The central character is Katsushika Ōi, nicknamed Sarusuberi, which is the Japanese title for the film. Her father is called Tetsuzo in the film but he is better known as the famed Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Even if you think you don’t recognize this name, I guarantee that you only have to google some images of his paintings to realize how famous they are.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Obviously I’ve heard of the novel by Milan Kundera but not being the type to read serious literature, I’ve never read it. Nevertheless this is a very highly regarded adaptation and I’ve loved both of the films directed by Philip Kaufman that I’ve watched so far so I added it to our watch list. It’s worth noting that while Kundera himself served as a consultant for this project, he did not consider it to be a faithful adaptation of his novel so it’s probably best to see it as its own thing.

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Wonder Woman (2017)

The so-called DC Extended Universe films have been so badly reviewed that I haven’t any of them since the mediocre Man of Steel. What I’ve seen from the promotional campaign for upcoming Justice League film doesn’t fill me with much confidence either. I wasn’t going to watch this one as well but the excellent word-of-mouth and reviews changed my mind. I have to say that there’s also some meaning in supporting the first solo female superhero movie in a good long while.

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The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

After watching a Taiwanese coming-of-age film, it feels oddly appropriate to next watch an American one, though this one is about a 17-year old high school girl set in modern times. As usual this one got my attention by making onto various critics’ lists of their best films of the year but within about a half hour of it, I was puzzled by its inclusion as it seemed like a fairly generic movie about teenagers. Thankfully, my initial impressions were incorrect as this film is indeed smarter than it first appears to be.

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A Summer at Grandpa’s (1984)

It looks like we’re in for a busy week for I’m sticking to more easily digestible fare. This is another film by Hou Hsiao-hsien whose more recent works tend towards the obscure. My wife has watched this one before however and she reports that it’s an example of the director’s earlier works which uses simpler storytelling. Indeed this turned out to be straightforward to understand yet is laden with emotion and nuance.

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