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The Best Films of 2016















(1973, Alejandro Jodorowsky)

Grade: A
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Laurence Anyways (2012, Xavier Dolan)

Laurence Alia: Should I talk about the letters I never sent? To the A.Z. Woman?
La journaliste: By calling her that, don't you feel like you are objectifying her?
Laurence Alia: No. I Call her A.Z., because it all begins and ends with her.
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Crome Yellow and I have teamed up to bring you The Director Series! Every month, I'm going to select a foreign filmmaker that is coming out with a film in that month, watch all their filmography, and rate them from the worst to the best! With The Grandmaster already out, it was no question that Wong Kar-wai shouldn't be the first director I pursue. Don't let my stink face (up there) fool you, I am quite the big Wong fan. So here we go! And thank you Crome Yellow for this nice post! *BLUSH

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James Franco has been trying his hand behind the camera and finally, his latest film Child of God is going to premiere at the Venice Film Festival. This is only a teaser but you can get a sense that either Franco is trying really hard or this could potentially be a little gem in the pile of big dogs (Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem, Tsai Ming-liang's Stray Dogs) especially in competition.

Scott Haze leads the film about Lester Ballard, a dissociated and violent man who's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Deprived of parents or a home, he emotionally and physically descends into the life of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into the world of crime and degradation. 

Child of God is an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's book of the same name which McCarthy is adapting to screen which is a nice take from Hollywood's usual route of acquiring a writer who probably butchers the original material.  From the premise alone, I am quite interested, I just hope Franco doesn't mess it up. There is no release date besides the release at Venice. We'll see who picks it up!
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(1977, Dario Argento)
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You're Next showed at the Los Angeles Film Festival. I think you guys know by now, my horror taste is not really up to par and while you can't really trust my taste, I can say that when I want to shit my pants, it is worthy of some recommendation. Whereas in You're Next, that was not the case but it was a fun and somewhat surprisingly film. Other than that, it didn't reinvent the horror genre but gave it a slight new twist. 
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(2004, Tsai Ming-liang)

Grade: A-
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I Stand Alone (1998, Gaspar Noe)

Narrator: Death isn't much of anything in the end. We make such a big deal out of it. But up close, it's like nothing. A body without life, nothing more. People are like animals. You love them, you bury them and it's over. Still, it's my first time seeing it. Hers too. But she seems all upset. Yet there's nothing to get all mushy over. All right, yeah. I'll walk her home. She looks fragile. Besides... she's pretty.
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No doubt is Edgar Wright's final installment of the Cornetto Trilogy, The World's End is one of the best films of this summer, if not, THE best! I had just finished watching Hot Fuzz merely seconds before I started doing The World's End review and can say that these two films are at a close tie. They encompass out of this world energy in their shots and character that make this story about a reunion of friends bigger and better. And with its little added spice of robot action, it makes this The World's End one of the best films to see this year!
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When is Snowpiercer coming out already?! I have been asking myself this question since I first heard about the film late last year and have been patiently waiting. But I'm not so sure how much I want to watch it anymore considering The Weinstein Company who acquired the film for U.S. distribution chopped 20 minutes off of the film which even made Chris Evans, one of the actors of the Snowpiercer exclaim that he wasn't pleased with the decision and that it's just one of those situations that's "tricky." There's nothing tricky about it! Weinstein doesn't think the American audience is capable of understanding the film in its original form. Regardless, check out this making of Snowpiercer that will not only amp up your anticipation for the film but will truly show the wholly creative control from every department of the film that'll only make you love the film even more.
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Wong Kar-wai. Marital Arts. Tony Leung. Ziyi Zhang. Need I really say more? These four things will single handedly convince me to watch anything relating to them. The Grandmaster is one of the most luscious looking martial arts film that not only showcases breathtaking as well as heart-pounding marital art scenes, but there is a classic Wong Kar-wai story of forbidden love embedded in it. I definitely need to go see this film again this weekend. Go see it, you will not be disappointed! 
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(2012, Ulrich Seidl)

Grade: A
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I rarely ever double-book myself but accidentally bought tickets for Sundance's new LA film festival called Next Weekend during the same week as Outsidelands! So, my friend Michelle went for me to see 12 O'Clock Boys, This is Martin Bonner, and our favorite, Cutie and the Boxer. Watch our review of the films and us just generally being wacky together (as always!). 
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OH MY GOD, it's out! Kim Ki-Duk, one of the most provocative South Korean filmmakers of this generation has another film out called Moebius. Apparently, it was so atrociously controversial that they banned it in Korea. After they made some cuts, it is finally being premiere at Toronto and Venice. And now the trailer is out. There is an unnaturally eerie vibe to it already. I am actually petrified of Lee Eun-woo with her smeared black make-up just wandering around the streets and stalking who appears to be her husband. This is some creepy shit. 

Observed by their adolescent son (Seo Young-ju), a couple's fight over the husband's  (Jo Jae-hyeon) infidelity turns to a grotesque calamity. After failing to sever her husband's penis, the infuriated wife (Lee Eun-woo) chooses instead to dismember her son in order to hurt his father. Family violence sparks a chain of events that culminates in a dramatic epilogue of destruction. 

Just by the description, you can see why its so controversial (ahem, "severing penis?!") Kim Ki-duk is one of those rare filmmakers that uses filmmaking in ways I've never seen anyone use before, usually to provoke many late night life-reflecting contemplations.I cannot wait for this film. There is no release date besides the screenings at Toronto and Venice but hopefully it'll come to the U.S.!
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The 51st New York Film Festival is taken place September 27 - October 13 at the Lincoln Center. This is the line-up of their Main Slate which features some (mostly) the high-anticipated Fall films. I wish I had enough money to go but maybe next year! Till then, I'm just going to bold and highlight purple what I'm most excited about. What are you excited for?!

About Time
Director: Richard Curtis
Country: UK
Richard Curtis adds a touch of time-travel to this hilarious romantic comedy, a perfect vehicle for the comic talents of Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams, Lindsay Duncan, and emerging star Domhnall Gleeson. A Universal Pictures release.
Abuse of Weakness (Abus de Faiblesse)
Director: Catherine Breillat
Country: France
Catherine Breillat’s haunting film about her 2004 stroke and subsequent self-destructive relationship with star swindler Christophe Rocancourt, starring Isabelle Huppert.
Alan Partridge
Director: Declan Lowney
Country: UK
In the long-awaited big-screen debut of Steve Coogan’s singular comic creation, the vain and obliviously tactless Alan Partridge must serve as an intermediary when North Norfolk Digital is seized at gunpoint by a down-sized DJ.
All Is Lost
Director: J.C. Chandor
Country: USA
Robert Redford as you’ve never seen him before, gives a near-wordless all-action performance as a lone sailor trying to keep his yacht afloat after a collision with a discarded shipping container in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A Roadside Attractions release.
American Promise
Directors: Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson
Country: USA
Two Brooklyn filmmakers follow their son Idris and his friend Suen from their enrollment in the Dalton School as children through their high school graduations in this devastating, years-in-the-making documentary that takes a hard look at race and class in America.
At Berkeley
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Country: USA
Another masterfully constructed documentary from Frederick Wiseman, examining the University of California, Berkeley from multiple angles - the administrators, the students, the surrounding community - to arrive at a portrait that is as rich in detail as it is epic in scope.
Bastards (Les Salauds)
Director: Claire Denis
Country: France
Claire Denis’s jagged, daringly fragmented and deeply unsettling film inspired by recent French sex ring scandals is the rarest of cinematic narratives—a contemporary film noir, perfect in substance as well as style.
Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adèle)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Country: France
The sensation of this year’s Cannes Film Festival is an intimate - and sexually explicit - epic of emotional transformation, featuring two astonishing performances from Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. An Sundance Selects release.
Please be advised that this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.
Burning Bush (Hořicí Keř)
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Country: Czech Republic
A passionately brilliant Czech mini-series from Agnieska Holland about the events that followed student Jan Palach’s public self-immolation in protest against the Soviet invasion after Prague Spring.
Captain Phillips
Director: Paul Greengrass
Country: USA
Paul Greengrass has crafted an edge-of-your-seat thriller based on the true story of the seizure of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship in 2009 by four Somali pirates, with remarkable performances from Tom Hanks and four first-time actors, Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahet M. Ali. A Sony Pictures release.
Child of God
Director: James Franco
Country: USA, 2013
James Franco’s uncompromising excursion into American Gothic, adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 novel, about an unstable sociopath in early 60s rural Tennessee who descends into an animal-like state - not for the faint-hearted.
Gloria
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Countries: Chile/Spain
A wise, funny, liberating movie from Chile, about a middle-aged woman who finds romance but whose new partner finds it painfully difficult to abandon his old habits.
Her
Director: Spike Jonze
Country: USA
In Spike Jonze’s magical, melancholy comedy of the near future, lonely Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his new all-purpose operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson), leading to romantic and existential complications. A Warner Bros. Pictures release.
The Immigrant
Director: James Gray
Country: USA
In James Gray’s richly detailed period tragedy, set in a dusty, sepia-toned 1920s Manhattan, a young Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) is caught in a dangerous battle of wills with a shady burlesque manager (Joaquin Phoenix). A Radius release.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Country: USA
Joel and Ethan Coen’s picaresque, panoramic and wryly funny story of a singer/songwriter is set in the New York folk scene of the early 60s and features a terrific array of larger-than-life characters and a glorious score of folk standards. A CBS Films release.
The Invisible Woman
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Country: UK
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s revelatory 1992 biography, which brought the upright Victorian author’s secret 13-year affair with a young actress to light. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.
Jealousy (La Jalousie)
Director: Philippe Garrel
Country: France
Another intimate, handcrafted work of poetic autobiographical cinema from French director Philippe Garrel, in which his son Louis and Anna Mouglalis star as actors and lovers trying to reconcile their professional and personal lives.
Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Country: France
In Arnaud Desplechin’s intelligent and moving depiction of a successful “Talking Cure,” the encounters between patient (Benicio del Toro) and therapist (Mathieu Amalric) are electric with discovery.
The Last of The Unjust (Le Dernier des injustes)
Director: Claude Lanzmann
Countries: France/Austria
This moral and cinematic tour de force from the creator of SHOAH will cause you to reconsider your understanding of Adolph Eichmann and of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt and the film’s central figure.
Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi ni Naru)
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Country: Japan
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s sensitive drama takes a close look at two families’ radically different approaches to the horribly painful realization that the sons they have raised as their own were switched at birth. A Sundance Selects release.
The Missing Picture (L'image manquante)
Director: Rithy Panh
Country: Cambodia
Filmmaker Rithy Panh’s brave new film revisits his memories of four years spent under the Khmer Rouge and the destruction of his family and his culture; without a single memento left behind, he creates his “missing images” with narration and painstakingly executed dioramas. A Strand release.
My Name is Hmmm... (Je m'appelle Hmmm…)
Director: agnès b
Country: France
In this deeply personal, incandescent first feature from designer agnès B, a young girl holding her family together and bearing the weight of sexual abuse runs away from home and enjoys a carefree idyll with a kindly Scottish trucker.
Nebraska
Director: Alexander Payne
Country: USA
This masterful film from Alexander Payne, about a quiet old man (Bruce Dern) whose mild-mannered son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim a non-existent prize, shades from the comic to multiple hues of melancholy and regret. A Paramount Pictures release.
Nobody's Daughter Haewon (Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon)
Director: Hong Sang-soo
Country: South Korea
A young student at loose ends after her mother moves to America tries to define herself one encounter and experience at a time, in reality and in dreams, in another deceptively simple chamber-piece from South Korean master Hong Sang-soo.
North, The End of History (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
Director: Lav Diaz
Country: Philippines
Filipino director Lav Diaz’s twelfth feature - at four-plus hours, one of his shortest - is a careful rethinking of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with a tortured anti-hero who is a haunting embodiment of the dead ends of ideology.
Omar
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Country: Palestinian Territories
A tense, gripping, ticking clock thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories, from Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now).
Only Lovers Left Alive
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Country: USA
Jim Jarmusch’s wry, tender and moving take on the vampire genre features Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as a centuries-old couple who watch time go by from separate continents as they reflect on the ever-changing world around them.A Sony Pictures Classics release.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Director: Ben Stiller
Country: USA
Ben Stiller stars in and directs this sweet, globe-trotting (but New York-based) comic fable about an up-to-the-minute everyman, co-starring Kristen Wiig as the woman of his dreams, Sean Penn as a legendary photographer and Shirley MacLaine as Walter’s mother. A Twentieth Century Fox release.
The Square
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Country: USA/Egypt
Jehane Noujaim’s tense, vivid verité portrait of events as they unfolded in Tahrir Square through Arab Spring and beyond, in a newly revised, up-to-the-minute version.
Stranger by the Lake (L'Inconnu du lac)
Director: Alain Guiraudie
Country: France
Alain Guiraudie’s lethally precise, sexually explicit film, which unfolds entirely in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground, is both a no-holds-barred depiction of a hedonistic subculture and a perverse and unnerving tale of amour fou. A Strand release.
Please be advised that this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.
Stray Dogs (Jiao You)
Director: Tsai Ming-liang
Country: Taiwan
Tsai Ming-liang’s fable of a homeless family living the cruelest of existences on the ragged edges of the modern world is bracingly pure in its anger and its compassion, and as visually powerful as it is emotionally overwhelming.
A Touch of Sin (Tian Zhu Ding)
Director: Jia Zhangke
Country: China
Jia Zhangke’s bloody, bitter new film builds a portrait of modern-day China in the midst of rapid and convulsive change through four overlapping stories of marginalized and oppressed citizens pushed to murderous rage. A Kino Lorber release.
Le Week-End
Director: Roger Michell
Country: UK
A magically buoyant, bittersweet comedy drama about a middle-aged and middle class English couple who go to Paris for a weekend holiday, starring two of Britain’s national treasures, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan. A Music Box Films release.
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Countries: Romania/France
A rigorously structured and fascinatingly oblique new film from Corneliu Porumboiu that examines the life of a film director during the moments on a shoot when the camera isn’t rolling.
The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Country: Japan
The great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is based on the life of Jiro Hirokoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter. An elliptical historical narrative, THE WIND RISES is also a visionary cinematic poem about the fragility of humanity.
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