Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Movies of 2016

I’ll be honest - it’s been a difficult film-going year for me. For years, I’ve enjoyed the experience of sitting in the dark, surrounded by strangers, immersing myself in an art work. But this year, there were a lot of weekends when I’d look at the listings in the local theaters and I wasn’t inspired to go out to the theater. There were plenty of great movies being made, but I often had to wait until they came out on DVD or Netflix to see them. So here are the ones I did manage to see this year - and a few I didn’t:
1. Manchester-by-the-Sea - Kenneth Lonergan’s new film featuring a never-better Casey Affleck is a stunner, the kind of film that should have gotten wider release. Lonergan has only made three movies in his twenty year career. Can someone green light his next one right away?
2. Loving - Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga are sublime as the interracial couple whose arrest in Virginia in 1958 led to the seminal Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case. Young Arkansas director Jeff Nichols is definitely one to watch in the future.
3. All Things Must Pass - As someone who spent more time than I’d like to admit at the Tower Records store at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street in the Back Bay area of Boston, Colin Hanks’ documentary about the rise and catastrophic fall of the Tower empire was a poignant watch. I still remember fondly the long afternoons that I spent digging through the stacks and listening to new music on the listening posts. Music has never been the same since.
4. Miles Ahead - Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis’ late 1960s/early 1970s fusion period was a mess, as was Davis’ life at the time. Don Cheadle’s film captures that time in a movie that’s as chaotic as Bitches Brew. It rages and it rambles on over the course of two hours.
5. Sing Street - Irish director John Carney seems to want to make the same film over and over again. But that’s okay with me - each one is as charming and engaging as the last. In his latest film, Carney takes a sweet, nostalgic look at 80s Dublin, through the eyes of a young student who starts a band in order to attract the interest of a school who lives across the street from his school. Every frame has the redolence of a prime 80s MTV video.
6. Birth of a Nation - This searing look at the 1831 Nat Turner Rebellion somehow got lost in a controversy about director and lead Nate Parker’s 1999 sexual assault case at Penn State. Because of this, Parker will likely miss out on an Oscar nod, which is a shame. The achievement of the film speaks for itself.
7. Where to Invade Next - Michael Moore is in fine form in his new doc, where he shows the American roots of ideas that we now mostly associate with European countries. The funniest aspect of his presentation is the incredulous looks on the faces of his interviewees when he describes the austere provisions of life in the United States - e.g., school lunches, lack of parental leave. It’s a deeply satisfying look at the need for real social change right on time to counter the Trump agenda of austerity.
8. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Tina Fey has already shown that she’s got tremendous range; however, in this adaptation of reporter Kim Davies memoir The Taliban Shuffle, Fey is absolutely brilliant, alternately funny, aggressive and melancholic about the terrible scenes that she witnesses during the Afghan War. I’ve just about sworn off seeing war movies at this point, and the only ones that I’ll see are ones that show the true horrors of war at first hand.
9. Hello, My Name is Doris - The contrasts between generations are highlighted in this delicately-drawn drama starring Sally Field as a low-level clerk in an advertising agency who takes a shine toward a much younger executive. Through a series of mishaps and contrivances, she is drawn into the world of 20-something hipster NYC culture. Of course we know how it’s likely to end, but it’s satisfying to see it all play in its time.
10. Netflix - The reality is that, while Hollywood has been churning out an endless succession of comic book sequels and science fiction twaddle, the best film work is increasingly on view on the small screen on Netflix. Some of the favorite Netflix moments this year included “Stranger Things,” “The Big Get Down,” and the criminal justice system documentary “13.” Hopefully Hollywood will get a clue.
Notable Others:
*Bad Moms
*Born to be Blue
*Girl on a Train
*Jason Bourne
*Love and Friendship
*Me Before You
*Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
*Money Monster
The Ones I Didn’t Get to See:
*Captain Fantastic
*Fences
*Gimme Danger
*I, Daniel Blake
*La La Land
*Moonlight
*Nocturnal Animals
*Silence
Disappointments:
I Saw the Light - 2016 has seen a spate of musical biopics, starting with this paint-by-
numbers treatment of Hank Williams. The problem with this one, like too many
others, is that it focuses on Williams’ alcoholism and deadbeat dad problems. You
would never understand from this film why Williams is beloved, as he just seems
to come up with a song spontaneously for one scene. And then it’s gone. I hope that
the upcoming biopics about Miles Davis and Chet Baker focus on the artistry.

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