October 2016 was a month full of movies for me; I watched a total of 32 films, and 26 of those were for the first time. Here are my six favorite films of the month, in alphabetical order:
Coraline. I’ll say it: I’m not a Tim Burton fan because his grotesque and strange style is just a little much for me, and that’s exactly the kind of style that this film has. I was nervous going into this film because I didn’t like The Boxtrolls at all, but I LOVED Kubo and the Two Strings (all three of these films are from Laika); in general, I’m not a stop-motion fan, but Coraline may just have changed that. This film is just as weird as any Burton film, but I think there’s so much more here than any of his films. Coraline is unhappy with her life, and then instead of making a wish like a Disney movie would’ve done, she finds a key that opens a door into a different life, one in which her parents are more like the ones she wishes she had. However, she realizes that the other life isn’t all that it seems, and must fight to get her original family back. It’s entertaining, endearing, and surprisingly deep- Coraline shows us that you don’t have to be Pixar to be great.
Deepwater Horizon is the re-teaming of Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg (AKA the Berg Buds as of this very moment) after 2013’s phenomenal war film, Lone Survivor. This film is about the true story of the BP oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010- due to the ignorance, arrogance, and laziness of some executives of BP. Wahlberg plays a hero aboard the Deepwater Horizon who must save the lives of many of the crew members around him as the exploding oil and crumbling vessel. Shockingly emotional and exciting, this film is so much more than what I expected, and although both Wahlberg and Berg have had a decent amount of bad or mediocre films in their career, they’ve found a niche together that they could stay in for a long time, making great films and impressing the hell out of the audience. I can’t wait to see Patriot’s Day and see where they take us next.
Do the Right Thing, this is the third time I’ve watched this film this year, each time for a different class. Fortunately, each class had something different to say about the movie: the first viewing was for a Black Film class, the second for a Film Production class, and third for an English Literature class. Safe to say, I’m an expert on this movie now, which is good because there’s a lot in this film to unpack and study. [edit: If you’d like to, I have an analysis of this film that you can read which studies the use of detail and props in the film (written for the English class)] In this movie, Spike Lee gives us a story about race in a town that’s at a boiling point, and in which race is the most prominent element on all of the characters’ minds- even if they’re not “racist.” Very provocative of both thought and action, this film is more relevant than ever following the 2016 Presidential Election, and brings us into a time in which we are becoming just like the neighborhood Spike Lee shows as a warning if we do not change the prejudice lifestyles which we have lived thus far.
Everybody Wants Some!! is the newest film from writer/director Richard Linklater, and was the Best of the Week this past week, so you can read that short review right here. If you read that review, then you can skip to the next paragraph, because the rest of this paragraph will be an excerpt from my review… This story, being the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, which was about high school kids in the 70’s, is about college baseball team in the 80’s. Specifically, we follow freshman Jake (played by Blake Jenner) as he makes friends, flirts with girls, parties hard, and plays baseball on the last weekend before the semester starts up. Sure, it sounds like your average college movie, but it is not. This film is a breath- scratch that, a blast of fresh air, not only for college films, but for films in general. If this film did not have the great cast of characters that it did, then this film would be far less intriguing, but since there are about a dozen characters, and since they’re all unique and engaging, everything works very well. Read my full review here.
The Little Prince is yet another hidden gem on Netflix. Based off of the French children’s book by the same name, this story is about a young girl who is trapped by routine, schedule, expectations, and rules that her mother forces upon her in order for her to get into the good school and succeed at “life.” They move into a house next to an old aviator, who enters her life and turns her world upside down, showing her that life is far from being about itineraries and grades, but rather about love and being a great person to those around you, even if it’s sometimes the hard decision to make. The animation is just as beautiful as the story, and there’s a lot here to love for viewers of all ages. I love the message that it preaches, and it does so without ever being preachy; it’s artistic in every way, and this film was a lot of fun to watch. I highly recommend this, but I have not read the book, so I’d recommend reading that first to get where the inspiration came from.
Quiz Show is the final pick for the Best of the Month. This Robert Redford film depicts the true story of Charles Van Doren‘s run on a game show which gets investigated for being potentially fixed. John Turturro stars as Herbie Stempel, who is asked to get an answer wrong so that the more advertiser-friendly Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) can take his place. This film is part mystery, part drama, but an entirely intriguing look at a corrupt and dishonest organization that lied to the American public, and made television watchers learn and understand that you cannot and should not believe everything you see on TV, because there’s a (good) chance that it could be fabricated to get ratings, and not tell the truth. Also, the performances are stellar and definitely worth watching alone simply to see Turturro and Fiennes become completely different people in this film.
Anyways, these are the highlights of October 2016. I hope you enjoyed reading these short reviews, and don’t forget to let me know what were your favorite films of the month? Share if you liked this, and I’ll see you soon!