Notes from the Kraken: November 27th 2016

In All, Notes by Kyu

Welcome again to We Have Always Live the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this week’s posting schedule, but first here are some thoughts.

Is it starting?

Every year I dither and delay and blow off seeing movies in theaters, and every year I end up trying to cram in everything I’ve missed into the two months between Killtoberfest and New Year’s. I’m in the middle of that right now, and what I’m learning is that so far 2016 has been a pretty crap year for cinema (as well as for everything else). The big budget blockbusters were mostly disappointments (with the exception of Civil War), genre fare has been largely lackluster, and no indie or foreign film has yet to break out in a big way, while week after week brought us either total garbage or deeply flawed movies that emerged from torturous development processes alive but not intact. Even the auteurs we can customarily rely on took the year off or turned in lesser efforts.

That said, there are still five more weeks to go, and 2016 still has time to turn this around (well, for movies, at least; everything else is fucked). We’ve already seen a couple of movies come out recently that stand out, including Arrival and The Handmaiden, but a whole host lie in wait to redeem this whole stupid year. We have some art films: the much-buzzed-about Jackie, and Scorcese’s newest entry Silence. For the blockbuster contingent, our hopes rest on Rogue One. On the smaller scale, Ben Affleck returns to his directorial roots with another Dennis Lehane adaptation, Live By Night. Then there’s La La Land, the much-anticipated follow-up from the Whiplash writer/director, The Founder (an interesting story and great cast), and Gold (you can’t go wrong with Matthew McConaughey). Perhaps most exciting is Manchester by the Sea, which opened last week but goes wide in mid-December. That’s the new drama from Kenneth Lonergan, whose remarkable Margaret was the best-kept secret in critic’s circles since 2007, when the film’s four-year delay in release due to litigation and dispute over the running time meant that the film missed out on what would (and should) have been significant awards attention. If Manchester By the Sea continues to get the recognition Margaret missed, that will somewhat make up for that loss; and if it’s as good a film, Manchester could be the very peak of 2016 at the very end of a year we’ll hopefully all look back on with a little more fondness than we feel right now. And hopefully not because 2017 is worse.

Josh Kyu Saiewitz

From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this week.

  • A pit of mostly nothingness and despair.

Catch of the Week:

Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.

Kyu: One of the movies I did enjoy catching up with from this year is Woody Allen’s latest, Café Society. It’s slight but charming, a short story rather than a novel, whose gorgeous cinematography and excellent performances make it worth a watch. Jesse Eisenberg is the latest (and one of the best) in a long line of Allen surrogates; his clipped speech patterns and calculated mannerisms serve him well here, as does his chemistry (‘ported in from their romantic turn in American Ultra) with Kristen Stewart, who is an old hand at being ambivalent towards two men at the same time. Another great standout is Steve Carell, who plays an old-timey Hollywood agent and is perfect as, well, a boob. The script has more structure than is typical for Allen, and the way it neatly brings both protagonists from A to B encapsulates very well the film’s wistful examination of the downsides of so-called high society. On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver said of Café Society, “It’s fine. It’s one of the fine ones,” and although that’s a little harshly put, it’s hard to disagree. But it’s been a long time since Allen made a masterpiece, so “fine” is something of a relief. I wouldn’t say the film is unmissable or anything; but it’s a nice way to spend 90 minutes, and in 2016 that’s no small thing.

David: This week there can only be one recommendation–Final Fantasy XV. Not so much because of the quality of the game, though it looks to be pretty good, but what it represents. This game has been in development for ten years, and for a long time looked like it might become true vaporware, but it is finally here. So enjoy, because for a while it looked like you would never get a chance.

That’s it for this week. The Special Containment Procedures for the Kraken are this: run.