Should 2016 be forgot and never brought to mind…
There are, no doubt, a few people who love Donald Trump, hate music, don’t like zoo animals and despise beloved actors and actresses. For the rest of us, 2016 was terrible.
This calls for distractions. We asked Fiction Advocate contributors to tell us which books they read this year that helped them forget, even for fleeting moments, that David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gwen Ifill, Prince, and America — UPDATE: and George Michael and Carrie Fisher and her mom, Debbie Reynolds — died over the last 12 months.
In what may be the only happy coincidence of the year, the vast majority of the recommendations below come from a few people who have some of the most important things to say about 2016: Continue reading
What dark secrets does your future hold?
Ashley Wells, the movie critic behind The Boomstick Film Club, looks deep into her evil book in search of your new favorite movie.
Write the names of the last 3 movies you loved in the comments section, and Ash will consult her necronomicon and give you a personalized recommendation for what to watch next.
Klaatu barada nikto!
Watch it with us: Netflix
Dirty Pretty Things could hardly be farther from what I expected it to be. The movie poster, featuring Audrey Tautou gazing at the viewer over her own bare shoulder, underscored by the film’s title in cut-out ransom-note letters, looks as though it was made for a snarky, stylized thrill ride full of snappy dialogue and gleeful misbehavior, which the early aughts were chockablock with. Instead, the film is a tense, harrowing look at the lengths people have to go to in order to survive in a new country. Tautou, whose star was on the rise after Amelie, isn’t even the main character. She’s pivotal to the story, but our guide through this world is Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Nigerian immigrant with a dark past who makes a terrifying discovery one day at work.
Watch it with us: Hulu
Now that I’ve seen David Cronenberg’s major films and a good chunk of his minor ones, I feel mostly qualified to discuss his particular brand of weirdness and how much I enjoy it. All of David Cronenberg’s films include some element of body horror, and Scanners is no exception. But these days, the term “body horror” often gets conflated with torture porn, and while the two genres do overlap, Scanners is a good reminder that you can have one without the other. Continue reading
Watch it with us: Netflix streaming
I would bet any amount of money that Grand Piano (2013) ended up on my Netflix queue because it was written by Damien Chazelle, director of the Oscar-nominated Whiplash. I forgot this some time between adding it to my queue and watching it last week, so it ended up being a pleasant surprise, a fanciful premise executed in a self-aware style.
Elijah Wood plays Tom Selznick, a former concert pianist who retired five years ago, after the death of his mentor. His wife Emma (Kerry Bishé), a famous actress, persuades him to make a comeback. But during the performance, he receives a message from an unknown assassin: if he plays a single wrong note, he and his wife will be killed by a sniper (John Cusack) hiding in the wings. It’s a silly premise, so I was skeptical when I read the Netflix description. Before he goes onstage, Tom has a heart-to-heart with the conductor (Don McManus) in which he expresses his fears about “choking” when he plays a particularly difficult piece. The conductor assures Tom that he will play wrong notes, but it’ll be fine because the audience will never know.
Watch it with us: Netflix streaming
I’ll be honest, I’ve been putting off watching this film for a long time. All I knew was the plot summary—a brother and sister in present-day Iran are forced to share one pair of shoes when he accidentally loses hers—and based on that, I was afraid this movie would be preachy or depressing. Instead, it’s a charming family film that follows the everyday adventures that both siblings get into as a result of the shoe mishap. The sister, Zahra (Bahare Seddiqi), is self-conscious about wearing boys’ shoes until she finds that they give her an edge over the girls in dress shoes when her class at school has to practice long jumping. After school, she has to run to meet Ali (Amir Farrokh Hashemian) so he can put the shoes on and run to his own school. (He’s often late even when they both run the whole way.) Zahra eventually finds out who her shoes ended up with, and she has to decide what to do about it. Ali comes up with a plan to win a new pair of sneakers for Zahra by coming in third place in a boys’ long distance race.