Best Of 2016 at the Movies

casey Our little movie blog is a year old!
We originally created it as a way to talk about Roger Ebert’s Great Movies as we worked our way through the list, but it quickly expanded into our writing about almost EVERY movie we watched. It’s a hell of a lot more work, but at least we’ve got plenty of material for a Best of 2016 post.

brooke It’s hard to believe we survived an entire year of watching movies… oh wait, we do that all the time anyway! Oscar nominations are out, people are pissed about all the snubs, and now it’s time to do some snubbing of our own.
Seriously though, 2016 was a great year for movies and there’s a lot to look back on. Have you got a top five list to share with the good readers of Brooke and Casey at the Movies? Read More

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Late Spring (1949)

casey Late Spring is the second Yasujirō Ozu film we’ve watched for our Great Movies project, following his 1959 work Floating Weeds. It took me  minute to get in sync with its rhythm, but once I did I thought it was pretty damned great.

brooke Despite a few spots that dragged, I found it incredibly enjoyable

casey And compared to Floating Weeds (or maybe because if it!), I felt more connected with the characters and themes despite parts of it remaining a bit opaque.

Read More

The General (1926)

casey Mad Max: Fury Road proved to contemporary audiences that you can make an amazing movie out of nothing more than some bare exposition, interesting characters, and an extended chase sequence. But, as we just learned, that the formula was actually perfected nearly a century ago in one of the last films of the silent era, The General.

brooke One thing those two films have in common is how much I love them. Read More

Cabiria (1914)

brooke This movie. It was long, it was crazy, and it was epic but not really in the slang way.

casey I thought I had a decent grasp on Roman history, but Cabiria has a bewildering amount of of ancient names and cities that years of casual podcast listening did not prepare me for. Still, at its heart this Italian silent movie tells a simple story: a young Roman girl separated from her parents, raised as a slave to a Carthaginian noblewoman, and eventually rescued by a heroic Roman soldier Fulvius Axilla and his loyal, uh, “servant,” Maciste. Read More

Babel (2006)

brooke I think this movie was 80% boring and 20% really good

casey It feels like it wants to be About Something, and director Alejandro Iñárritu is not known for subtlety, so a lot of the time it reads like a billboard shouting “BEHOLD, THE HUMAN CONDITION.” Sometimes it works; other times not so much.

brooke Yeah… Iñárritu expects the audience to “get it”, and it’s obvious that he thinks there’s going to be some amazing Q&A after every screening, but the movie is all over the place. The narrative is non-linear and the characters’ goals are not very clear. Read More

Hoop Dreams (1994)

casey Hoop Dreams isn’t just about basketball, it’s about America. And race, class, family, and many other things.

brooke Including basketball.

casey Lots of basketball. The 1994 documentary follows two young, black Chicago boys, William and Arthur, who are recruited from playground ball to play for St. Joseph’ High School, a suburban powerhouse and predominantly white school. The boys’ basketball fortunes quickly diverge: William becomes a varsity star tutored by wealthy boosters, while Arthur languishes on the freshman team and struggles academically until family finances force him to transfer back to a public school. The movie follows the pair through high school as they deal with a variety of issues, including injuries, poverty, drug-addicted family members, pregnant girlfriends, and basketball, giving us a glimpse into their lives with minimal narration or commentary. Read More

El Norte (1983)

brooke I’m trying to think of the last movie that punched me this hard in the gut. Or in the heart.

casey We usually write these recaps immediately after watching the movie, and it’s hard to put my feelings into words right now. What do you say about something like El Norte? For starters, it’s good.

brooke It’s really good. Brief summary:

Enrique and Rosa  Xuncax (David Villalpando and Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez) are a brother and sister of Mayan descent living Guatamala during its long civil war. The workers in their village, led by their father Arturo, are organizing against rich landowners who, as Arturo tells Enrique, only see the poor as arms to do their work. Soon the military ambushes a gathering of workers, beheads Arturo, and begins clearing all indigenous people from the village, a nod to the actual genocide committed against the Maya during the war. Ricky and Rosa’s family is rounded up, and the siblings left with a choice: stay and wait to be slaughtered or go north. Read More

Heart of Glass (1976)

brooke wat
That was nothing like the song.

casey oh my god
it was like if you asked someone who’s never watched a foreign language film to describe a stereotypical foreign language film.
So slow.
And angsty.
And boring.

brooke And it none of the characters made any sense.
The most normal one is a shepherd prophet whose entire role is describing future wars and warning this servant girl that her master might take advantage of her. Read More

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

casey Of all the classic movies we’ve discussed to date, Dr Strangelove is the first that we’d already seen. It’s one of my very favorites.

brooke True story. I believe you first showed it to me three or four years ago.

casey AAAAaaaaaaand?

brooke I really liked it then, and it was fun to watch it again.

casey I think it’s one of the funniest movies ever, almost effortlessly so…although Stanley Kubrick is not the kind of director who does “effortless.” But his cold war satire is entertaining on the surface while offering a sharp rebuke of the lunacy of Cold War ideology. Read More