Favorite Films of 2016

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Apologies for the extended absence from blogging. Other film writing opportunities and urgent planning for life after graduation have regrettably kept me from posting as frequently as I would have liked. Still, I am happy to be able to continue the annual best-film-of-the-year list-making tradition.

A few notes before we begin: Continue reading

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Best Films of 2015

Between school, stuff in my personal life, and catching up with recent films, I’ve dropped the ball on completing my Blindspot 2015 and wanted to apologize. I will make every effort to watch the three movies from that list that I still haven’t seen—The Maltese Falcon, Rebel Without a Cause, It’s a Wonderful Life—this coming year. The good news is, my foray into the films of 2015 have revealed to me some true cinematic treasures.

Below is a list of my favorite 10; below that, a handful of runners-up that just missed inclusion in the 10 but are nonetheless worth watching; and at the bottom of the page, the films I wasn’t able to see before writing up this post. In an ideal world, I would have watched them all before setting out on my annual list-making endeavor, but I thought I’d try to create my Top 10 before New Years for once, and the release schedule for many American independent and foreign films don’t reach theaters near me until early January (if at all). Plus, I had all those life-related and school-related things that prevented me from seeing as many films as I’d have liked. Anyway, between now and the Oscars, this list may change as I watch some of those 2015 films I missed—the most updated list will appear near the top of the post, below this paragraph, but without the mini-reviews of each film that accompany the original 10.

Anyway, here’s the list. Hope you enjoy! Continue reading

Marjane Satrapi

Marjane SatrapiThe following is the script of my introduction to Poulet aux prunes (Chicken with Plums), a selection at the University of Rochester’s 2015-2016 Tournées Film Festival, which showcases French and Francophone films.

People have tried to silence Marjane Satrapi. From her moralistic teachers in Lycée Français, a French high school in her hometown of Tehran, Iran, to the Muslim fundamentalist regime that deposed the Shah monarchy in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, individuals and forces both at home and abroad have tried to contain and suppress Satrapi’s revolutionary voice. They have failed. Beginning with ink before expanding to the silver screen, Satrapi’s career, which was launched in 2003 with the publication of her autobiographical, multi-volume graphic novel Persepolis, has gained widespread acclaim, an Oscar nomination, and a reputation as a vehicle for ardent political commentary and exuberant self-expression. Continue reading

Best Films of 2014

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: What a year. For me, 2014 delivered more powerful cinematic experiences than any other year of the new decade, though “new” might not be an appropriate adjective anymore, as we’ve already passed the halfway point. Yes, time flies, but the films of 2014 make me hopeful about where it’s taking us.

Below are my favorite movies from this most bountiful year. These are the kinds of films that inspire me to write, that keep this blog alive. My only regret is not being able to see more of them – below my top ten, I’ve listed some titles I wasn’t able to watch before writing up this post, as well as a few movies that might have made it onto this list had I rewatched them (some films are just hard to fully digest the first time around, at least for me.)

And now, the movies: Continue reading

With Great Power Comes Great Legacy: Celebrating 10 Years of ‘Spider-Man 2’

Courtesy of oddfilms.com

Courtesy of oddfilms.com

A decade after its release, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 remains one of the best superhero movies ever made. Both light as a feather and packing the full weight of humanity, the film proved – even before Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy – that soul and spectacle could coexist in a world of capes and spandex. We thrill as much to Peter Parker’s personal trials – college life, paying rent, the sting of forbidden love – as we do to an acrobatic faceoff atop a speeding train. Continue reading

Best Movies of 2013

Courtesy of ibtimes.com

With the Oscars upon us, I’ve posted my top films of 2013. Keep in mind that the list isn’t set in stone – like most lists, mine is subject to change as I grow older, gain new life experiences, watch more movies etc. Ten years from now, perhaps I’ll develop an unreasonable love for The Great Gatsby, or maybe I’ll decide that Cate Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine is not so impressive after all. Unlikely, but maybe. The same goes for the selections on this list, indicating the fundamentally subjective nature of film viewing. And yet I’ll try very hard to convince you of my choices, because I truly believe these movies are worth seeing. Continue reading

In Memoriam: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Remembering the Master

Courtesy of nypost.com

Courtesy of nypost.com

From drag queen to high school teacher,  spy movie villain to Catholic priest, Phillip Seymour Hoffman has been it all.

On Sunday, Feb. 2, the world observed the passing of one of this generation’s greatest actors, a performer whose style is hard to peg down because it was constantly in flux, adapting to every role that came his way. These roles were a dark, diverse bunch, rife with hamartia and roiling insecurity. Throw all of Hoffman’s characters together in one room and you’d have a cross between a circus and a therapy session, a place where raging masculinity crashes against effeminate poise and libido collides with wounded pride. Indeed, Hoffman’s resume doubles as a rogue’s gallery of humanity’s bleakest, but the eagle-eyed tenacity with which he engaged each role lifted his characters up out of the sewers into the rafters. Continue reading