Every cloud has a silver lining… The bright light of 2016 came from a projector in a dark room, shinning upon a silver screen. The 31st of December often marks a turning point, a “point 0”. Resolutions are made, chapter ends and hopes rebuilt at the dawn of the year. Sadly, what has characterised 2016 is the seemingly ever growing list of people far and near dying. I do not wish to linger on the past. Life may not always be a long and peaceful stream, but what we’ve been doesn’t count as much as to where we’re going. The past tends to haunt us and the future frighten us, that is why the present escapes us.
Movie theatres offered places in which we could escape the hustle bustle of daily life. Therefore, I shall reflect on movies that were highlights in 2016.
(No particular order)
Café Society, Woody Allen
A simple story seen through a subjective camera, reminiscent of Woody Allen’s earlier movies, such as Manhattan and the whimsical escapism of The Purple Rose of Cairo. In an enchanting time travel, we escape in this glitzy world of socialites and aspiring Hollywood movie stars. Set between sunny LA and grey New York, we are truly California Dreaming, and packing up our good vibrations. Numerous portraits of different characters flash before our eyes, shot after shot. The society mentioned in the title is this one composed by humans whose lives take place in this underground café, mirroring the dark matrice of cinemas. Nostalgic and melancholic, this film is truly enchanting. The film ends with a New Year’s party, filled with hope and anxiety.
The Shallows, Jaume Collet-Serra
Surprising, I know… It IS a B movie in a list of artsy-farsty shananigans… I entered the cinema not expecting much, and got out not thinking much about anything at all. Not only is it a story about holding onto life and fighting, it is a movie about a mother-daughter relationship.
Juste la fin du monde, Xavier Dolan
In Juste la fin du monde, silence screams louder than words, and seems to suffocate the characters. Based on Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play, Xavier Dolan adds breath to this stifled and claustrophobic environment. While Xavier Dolan attempts to render an intimate family portrait, Juste la fin du monde demonstrates the struggle to know one’s neighbour through a series of shots focussing on the character’s backs. A personal “coming of age” movie, the end of the world is one’s individual death. Xavier Dolan asserts his author-ity, questioning the closeness between the narrator/author (visually interpreted by the camera’s stalking nature) with the character. Xavier Dolan is ever present, yet presents this universally themed movie, cathartic in its emotional density.
Paterson, Jim Jarmusch
This film, centered around poetry and the arts, has the meter, rhythm and beat of a poem. The days of the week mark the change of verse, and the repetitions resemble anaphores and the abnormalities are the stylistic changes in a poem. Paterson (Adam Driver), the central character who lives in Paterson (NJ) and considers William Carlos Williams to be his hero, and treasures his collection of poems “Paterson”. Paterson, the character, is a mirage. His name, blazoned on the front of the bus, appears and disappears flickeringly. He moves unseen in his bus, listening to the sounds and movements around him. A cleverly filmed movie. Jarmusch plays with suspense as tension is built by holding things on the edge.
The 13th, Ava DuVernay
In these times, this documentary feels like something we need to make statement and help spread awareness on the matter. Ava DuVernay demonstrates the links between slavery and the US penal system. Expertly constructed and the Selma director delivered a clear message. She highlights the “mythology of black criminality”. Toni Morrison writes in Beloved, these sticking words: “White people believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. In a way . . . they were right. . . . But it wasn’t the jungle blacks brought with them to this place. . . . It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread . . . until it invaded the whites who had made it. . . . Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made. The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own.”
Honourable mentions: Everybody wants to get some, Rogue One…
Movies I want to watch, that haven’t come out in France:
2. LA LA Land
Send us your suggestions for the year to come.