Weekly Update: Heading into yet another Oscars week, watched some more 2016 releases and some new films, but also caught up on a couple films by director Paul Verhoeven.
Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-
61. If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise (2010)
This documentary was Spike Lee’s follow-up to When the Levees Broke, revisiting the people of New Orleans who participated in that film 5 years after the storm. Even more ambitious than his first documentary, this film deals with the long-term effects of the tragedy, including an extended look at the causes and the blame game. Hugely important historical document.
62. Overnight (2003)
Troy Duffy was the definition of overnight success; with a major movie deal, a promise to promote his band and allow his band to write all the music for his movie, and even promises to buy the bar that he worked at as a sweetener. This documentary made by his then-friends is about how all that ended through a combination of bad luck and horrible ego. A fascinating examination of self-obsession.
63. Split (2017)
James McAvoy plays a man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three girls and holds them hostage. What are his intentions? Well, considering this is an M. Night Shyamalan joint; you can bet that its not going to a simple thriller. Better than most recent Shyamalan films, but for my money, the guy has still got a lot to prove to show he actually knows what he’s doing.
64. I am Not your Negro (2016)
65. Get Out (2017)
A black man in an interracial relationship with a white girl makes a visit to her parents for the first time, and he soon finds out her parents are far more than he bargained with. Jordan Peele’s directoral debut uses modern-era race issues to create a clever horror. The film satirizes affluent liberal “post-racial” pretenses while spinning a genuinely clever and disturbing story that stands on its own with or without that context.
66. Collide (2017)
67. Tricked (2012)
Director Paul Verhoeven crowd-sourced the script for a short 50 minute film, allowing outside writers to build off of the basic template created by a screenwriter. Tricked begins with a short documentary about the project, explaining the way it was created, followed by the 50 minute film, which turns out to be a very effective comedy with some appropriately unsettling Verhoeven twists.
68. Basic Instinct (1992)
Continuing my double-feature of Paul Verhoeven, Basic Instinct is one of Verhoeven’s most well known films. Michael Douglas plays a police detective who investigates a murder and falls into a lusty affair with the chief suspect (Sharon Stone). Notorious for its raw sexuality and exploitative themes, the movie is difficult to pin down. Verhoeven films often lean heavily into exploitation territory, but those themes here threaten to veer completely out of control.
69. Unbreakable (2000)
Director M. Night Shyamalan’s film has gotten a bit of press recently because of its connection to his new film Split, so I decided to give this a watch. Bruce Willis plays David Dunn, a man who survives a major train wreck and realizes that he has never been injured in his life. Led along to his path of self-realization by comic book art collector Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), he slowly becomes aware that he’s a real-life superhero. As usual for Shyamalan films, Unbreakable has some scenes that feel awkwardly written and forceful. But this is one of his stronger films with some genuinely fascinating themes.
70. I am not your Negro (2016)
The words of writer and activist James Baldwin is given a brand new context through this film by Raoul Peck. Baldwin articulated the civil rights struggle of the 1950s 60s and 70s brilliantly, but his writing was not just relevant to that time period. Peck inter-cuts footage of modern day incidents like the riots in Ferguson, with narrated dialogues by Baldwin that bring his words into the present. This taut and fascinating documentary is essential viewing.