The first six months of 2016 have come and gone, and with them have been a. Lots of superheroes. Lots of sequels. Lots of animated or CGI talking animals. Even a sequel about CGI talking-animal superheroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Somehow, none of those types of movies will be found here. Instead, here are the five films I enjoyed the most from the first half of 2016, in alphabetical order:
Knight of Cups (dir. Terrence Malick). A cinematic representation of the book of Ecclesiastes, Malick’s latest is an immersive spiritual journey through urban hedonism. The film’s very aesthetic embodies what it’s trying to convey, mainly the empty rhythms of a life of pleasure, and the freedom that can only come through relationship, self-sacrifice, and service of others. Living for oneself is ultimately a dead end road; the true abundant life is a gift, and altogether unexpected. (My review)
Last Days in the Desert (dir. Rodrigo Garcia). Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Jesus is my new favorite on-screen Christ in this art-house interpretation of the temptation in the wilderness. The film is beautiful to look at and interesting to ponder, and there are a plethora of images I keep recalling to mind in this very human, very complex portrait of Jesus. (My review)
Love & Friendship (dir. Whit Stillman). This may be the funniest film I’ve seen this year. Its humor is literary and ironic, a mix of the cerebral with the madcap. It also may be my favorite Stillman film; it’s almost like he was born to create a Jane Austen adaption, with his penchant to address upper-class ennui and romantic musings. (My review)
Sing Street (dir. John Carney). Whenever life gets frustrating or depressing, I now listen to the Sing Street soundtrack (also, Hamilton) to get a boost of optimism. An utterly charming coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Ireland, it’s a film which takes the pain and angst of teenagers seriously, while also being one of the more joyful films I’ve encountered in awhile. Drive it like you stole it. (My review)
The Witch (dir. Robert Eggers). In terms of craft and direction, Eggers’ first film is a masterpiece, with brilliant art direction and incredible attention to detail. It’s also highly disturbing and scary as hell. If you want to see how fundamentalist religion and isolation can spiral into madness and violence, look no further. (My review)
What have been your favorites from early 2016? Share them in the comments.