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Thread: Best movies of 2017

  1. #31
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    FOXTROT (Samuel Maoz 2017) This is one on best lists I've not seen and really want to; US theatrical release still coming though technically it got released in NYC Dec. 8.

    Opens March 2, 2019 at Angelika Film Center, NYC.

    The trailer focused only on a solider at a remote Israeli roadside post qualifies as the wittiest dance ever performed with a rifle on film. Boy can this kid move! This could qualify as my favorite trailer of the year as well.

    Maoz's 2009 Lebanon (Filmleaf NYFF coverage) was a claustrophobic tour de force staged entirely inside an Israeli tank in enemy territory.


    ABOUT
    Grand Jury Prize winner at the Venice Film Festival and Best Film winner from the Awards of the Israeli Film Academy, Samuel Maoz's FOXTROT follows a grieving father as he experiences the absurd circumstances around death of his son, in this visionary critical reflection on military culture.
    DIRECTED BY
    Samuel Maoz
    WRITTEN BY
    Samuel Maoz
    CAST
    Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonaton Shiray
    LANGUAGE
    Hebrew with English subtitles
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-11-2018 at 08:12 PM.

  2. #32
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    I've been meaning to say something about your post dealing with "one of your best experiences this year but it's not a movie". The question "What is a movie?" continues to get more and more complicated. It is entirely possible that one would find that a video game was among the top 10 narrative experiences of the year. As far as TV series, film critics have been listing them for about four decades. The first one that I listed was "Berlin Alexanderplatz" at the beginning of the 80s and I would have to list the 2017 "Twin Peaks" among my "best experiences", except that I wouldn't know where in the list to put it, not yet.

    I'm not a film critic so I don't have any deadlines to meet. I'm not in a hurry to appreciate a film right when it comes out (or before) but I do want to contribute to this beloved site. I am assuming that it is a form of contribution to list the films that I found most memorable or that constitute achievements in cinema even though I have yet to see a lot of them. Some films I liked a lot that would probably not stay in my Top 10 after I watch more of the movies Chris listed, and other movies in lists Chris posted would be: Graduation, Get Out, After the Storm, and Lost in Paris (I would love to keep this one in the Top 10 because it is under-appreciated; the most under-appreciated movie of the year I would say).

    3 movies seem perfect to me: Faces Places, Lady Bird and Dunkirk. The most politically urgent movie I saw was The Florida Project, and I wish I had more time to elaborate on this statement. I'll just say: The movie is set in an small area in the outskirts of Orlando that strikes me as symptomatic of what "America" has become after decades of crass consumerism and cultural "dumbing down". "The Florida Project" is a companion to writer/director Sean Baker's "LA project":Tangerine, in which East Hollywood serves a similar analogical purpose. These movies are ugly for a reason, ugly with righteous purpose. I would be tempted to list The Florida Project ahead of the perfect movies because I think it is more important.

  3. #33
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    I wasn't questioning what is a movie. I said one of the best experiences and it wasn't a movie. Experiences of art, entertainment. Great experiences in reading count too as best experiences of the year - Knausgaard's Struggle books the past two years (waiting for the English translation of the 6th and last book), but we know books aren't movies. There is a gray area, maybe, between series and sequences of films, take "Dekalog," presented originally on television. Surely "Twin Peaks" is TV, though, despite David Lynch being the creator. Someone told me late at night she hasn't the time or energy for a feature film and doesn't want to watch one in segments, so then a short episode of a TV series is just right.

    A list is always relevant no matter when you make it, it's just that people may have lost interest or don't remember some of the movies any more. I have gotten stuck on some of the 2017 NYFF Main Slate films. They are accessible online now but I can't face them or in the case of Mudbound got stuck in the middle, so my "completist" approach is frustrated when I haven't had access to the press screenings. If I had, I could have sat through anything. But at home, special motivation is required. However Oscar I hope you can catch up on my lists and wish you happy viewing.

    It is better to watch a movie with an audience, ideally perhaps even an audience committed to it in some way.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-13-2018 at 01:03 PM.

  4. #34
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    Tab's Layperson Best Movies

    My Top 2017 Movies (Tab L. Uno)


    1. The Battle of the Sexes (2017). Sports. The true-life story of the epic event between tennis great Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). This brilliant movie incorporated the perfect balance of the sensitive treatment of the Ms. King and Mr. Riggs in their raw and deeply personal lives as well as the momentous social justice event that their tennis match portrayed. An Oscar-worthy effort. [Reviewed 10/1/2017]. 10/10.

    2. The Beguiled (2017). Period Drama. Sophia Coppola’s period thriller drama about a Union soldier’s encounter with a Confederate home full of women. Colin Ferrell, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst perform in this richly moody and atmospheric movie that has finely nuanced psychological and sensual resonance. [Reviewed 7/4/2017]. 9/10.

    3. Ladybird (2017). Golden Globe winner Saoirse Ronan for her performance in Ladybird, Ronan is able to capture the emotive and playful, wrenching, and gripping nature of a screenplay that offers a truly stunning coming of age drama. Lady winner of Golden Globe best director, without overly dramatizing the typical adolescent angst, this movie incorporates the multi-dimensional experience of mother-daughter relationships, friendship, the evolving sharp wit and adolescent dream of independence and ferocious highs and lows of the developing mind. With great pacing, dialogue, and relational performances, Ladybird exudes a truly captivating fusion of events during an eventful year in the life of a female teenager, from religious questioning and scandalous behavior to a reckoning of real life and consequences this movie is parents, about community, and about an American dream. [Reviewed 1/7/2018]. 9/10.

    4. Residue (2017). Horror. This creepy, occult, film noir mystery thriller involves a down trodden detective who is tempted to read a rotten, spoiling book that propels him into a hallucinogenic mind twisting world of evil and possible redemption. An engaging and quite engorging with brilliant delivery of a decent storyline involving both the detective and his teenage daughter. [Reviewed 10/20/2017]. 10/10.

    5. Before I Fall (2017). Occult Young Adult. A serious dramatic version of Groundhog Day about teenagers for everybody with important message about living each day to the fullest. [Reviewed 3/5/2017]. 9/10.

    6. The Shape of Water (2017). Having to overcome the more dated sleazy image of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Shape of Water makes its own more artful humanistic debut. Using a glamourized period artistic style of the 1940s and 1950s director Guillermo del Toro of Chronos (1993) and Hellboy (2004), has built upon the retro silent movie cinema of The Artist (2011) with the delightful period elements of the romantic comedy Down with Love (2003). This is a whimsical but also penetratingly stark reflection of the social divides that resonated and still persist in America today such as depicted in Hidden Figures (2016) and The Help (2011) which both also starred Octavia Spencer that is in this movie. Towards the end of the movie, like the delightful romantic comedy, Shape of Water also includes an elegant surrealistic period sequence. The only glaring discord arises with a most difficult to portray verbal thoughts of the mute star of the movie when director del Toro resorts to having Richard Jenkin’s character having to literally repeat Sally Hawkins’s character’s important speech scene. At times much darker than typical expected, this sci fi/monster movie offers up a revealing and perhaps profound statement about prejudice and humanity as also depicted in two other small, independent movie pieces Wavelength (1983), an engaging early sci fi movie about children’s attempt to save captured space aliens and Artic Heart (2016) which just happens to be a contemporary synthesized creature version of Shape of Water. Shape of Water is a meaningful, romanticized fantastic fairytale of the darker aspects of American society. [Reviewed 1/1/2018]. 9/10.

    7. Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Science Fiction. A luscious, extended sequel to the 1982 original that maintains the mystery but at the same time loses some of its distinctive greatness incorporating the theme of holography and artificial intelligence, and human factor all presented on a visually stimulating, and perhaps too large of a gigantic canvass. [Reviewed 10/8/2017]. 9/10.

    8. The Space Between Us (2017). Sci Fi. This sci-fi love story with good pacing, editing, and musical accompanying keeps its focus on relationships with a good performance by Gary Oldman. A boy is born on Mars and somewhat attempts to adapt to the strange world of earth and this foreign concept of superficial façades and human love he has never known. [Reviewed 2/7/2017]. 9/10.

    9. Ghost in the Shell (2017). Sci Fi. live version of the animated 1995 Japanese Oshii movie offers up a much more coherent and visually stunning experience of the robotic human hybrid genre. Shirow Masasume the writer for the original anime gets to improve on his original script as well as incorporate various scenes from his first work where various set designs and scenes bear a striking resemblance with an enhanced, vibrant, and dazzling updated version. Scarlett Johansson stars in this stunning sci fi movie with a character that humanizes the animated version and somewhat softens her character somewhat from Lucy (2014). What sets this movie apart from most of the other cyberpunk movies is its infusion of emotional and moral questions regarding human life and its intersection with the man-made, electronic existence that are only suggested in Phillip K. Dick’s script for breakthrough of Total Recall (1990) and attempted later in Isaac Asimov’s inspired I, Robot (2004) and Robocop (1987) that was influenced by Blade Runner. The few weaknesses if that’s what they are is the Major (Johansson) striking resemblance to her character in Lucy and the ease in which she appears to be overcome in two scenes that don’t mesh with her character as a perfect military weapon. Overall, this movie succeeds in its depiction of a possible future with its amazing vibrant and exciting visuals, and futurescape as well as offering a coherent and morally and humanly sensitive reflection what makes us important. [Reviewed 4/5/2017]. 9/10.

    10. Colossal (2017). Fantasy. Ann Hathaway stars in this dark fantasy with whom she has an apparent psychic connection with a monster terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. A dangerously challenging, original drama involving the trauma of the past, alcohol abuse, and relational challenges all that manages to propel the audience into a weirdly emotional wrenching, realistic drama. [Reviewed 4/16/2017]. 8/10.

    11. The Great Wall (2017). Period War Drama. An epic collaboration between China and America with the American Matt Damon learning some valuable Chinese lessons in his principle position of helping the Chinese defend the Great Wall against a horde of terrible, and grotesque creatures. The sweeping landscape and Chinese vistas, the beauty of the thousands of Chinese colorful warriors makes for a sustained immersion into a fierce battle of both one’s individual existential identity and the mindfulness of courage. [Reviewed 2/28/2017]. 9/10.

    Honorable Mention


    2307: Winter’s Dream (2017). A sci fi movie about a permanent winter on earth with humanoid slaves and humans living underground and the hunt for a rebellious humanoid that supposedly threatens their existence. This is a decent counter-point to the same-day release of Blade Runner 2049. [Reviewed 10/15/2017]. 8/10.

    The Babysitter (2017, Netflix). This is a er…R-rated Pulp Fiction (1994) for adolescents. This very dark comedy has graphic violence and verbiage. It begins relatively benignly almost like the original Spider Man (2002) with Tobey Maguire. Then suddenly as expected or more so, it turns graphically raw and more so. The balance between parody, comedy, and horror is delicately distorted and perhaps not perfectly so. This is no Adventures in Babysitting (1987), but something more along the lines of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) meets The Shining (1980) but of course not a crisply and cinematographically beautiful. Instead the McG uses some interesting and unusual photographic techniques that enhance the gyrating and nerve-wracking excitement. There are a number of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003, TV) comments by some of the evil characters in an attempt to lighten the gruesome horror, but still the movie remains pretty harsh in its destructive display as well as our boyish protagonist who apparently develops a pretty wicked sense of cynicism along the way. At some point, the movie sort of descends into a horror movie with cute side remarks, but the scenes become more repetitive in a scripted, forced manipulating sort of way. Sometimes it’s a wonder when under stress scriptwriters and real people think go upstairs or into another room. They never seem to think about getting away, like really far away. Nevertheless the wry humor keeps coming to soften the idiotic decision-making at times. Overall, The Babysitter does what it set out to do, entertain with a dizzying array of corny, witty, and sometimes over the top gruesome. [Reviewed 11/14/2017]. 7/10.

    Bright (Netflix, 2017). Wil Smith stars in this alternative universe of humans and magical creatures living set in Los Angeles. This is a rather harsh look at human prejudices and violence against others with particular relevance to today’s political and social upheaval. A sometimes difficult to watch movie for its dark look at ourselves but incorporates some fascinating wry banter and offers some hope for redemption in the movie and ourselves. [Reviewed 12/22/2017]. 8/10.

    The Foreigner (2017). Jackie Chan’s debut as a serious, former intelligence operative out for revenge against Pierce Brosnan’s character who Chan believes knows who killed his daughter. This is both a raw action thriller of Chan’s presence on the screen and a character-driven one of Brosnan’s character who seems to be got in the crosshairs. This is a morally distasteful, but well directed and scripted movie. [Reviewed 10/15/2017]. 8/10,

    Gifted (2017). Family Drama. A very decent movie about the difficulties of raising a gifted child. Avoiding stereotyping, this relatively balanced family drama presents the fine balance between intellectualism and normalcy and the human emotional issues they underlie the moral difficulty with intelligent children. [Reviewed 4/15/2017]. 8/10.

    The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017). Action Thriller. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson star in this dramatic comedy action thriller with Reynold’s character is compelled to be a bodyguard to Jackson’s character who is a key witness to a murderous politician. This is a graphically violent action thriller with a comic repartee between Reynolds and Jackson that mostly keeps it together. A great summer film. [Reviewed 8/20/2017]. 8/10.

    Home Again (2017). A romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon who is confronted with an older ex and a younger man. A great female movie that offers up smoothly balanced humor along with a long in coming feel-good movie script that entertains while depicting the contemporary choices, challenges of older women in facing up to family responsibilities and the individual needs as a female often overlooked by the more immature, self-focused males of most generations. [Reviewed 9/10/2017]. 8/10.

    John Wick: Chapter Two (2017). Action Thriller. Keanu Reeves reprises his role as a nasty but superb assassin in this John Wick on steroids. There’s more bloody killings with the action ramped up, but goes over the top in the death count. This is Aliens (1986) compared to Alien (1979). [Reviewed 2/12/2017]. 8/10.

    Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017). Simply put, the sequel is better than the 1995 original. What really makes a huge difference is that the sequel has a consistent emotional tone unlike the more erratic original which waivered between comedy and horror and serious drama. The humor is also more rich in terms of gender bending and the solid comedy derived from the script instead of the singular efforts of Robin Williams in the original. Karen Gillian also deserves some credit for her performance and her ability to capture both her Jumanji character as well as the meek, nerdy high school girl. The only seemingly faint weaknesses come in the form of the overly dramatized motorcycle scene and the rhino scenes which could both been more carefully scripted in a more realistic formula (too many motorcycles and the practical speed of rhinos versus helicopters) and the to be expected but quite poignant moments as well as attempts at coming of age attitudinal changes that in a few places almost came across more superficially brief than genuine. Nevertheless, this sequel succeeds well in this depiction of a video game and tantalizing use of special character powers and game lives. The pacing, the fun irony, the action, the human messages, and the performances all come together in this entertaining and captivating movie. [Reviewed 1/7/2018]. 9/10.

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017). Sequel to the action adventure spy thriller. A hyperkinetic, dizzying comical spy movie with a gruesome, sadistic undertone but with several emotional reflective, redemptive scenes. [Reviewed 9/23/2017]. 8/10.

    Leap! (2017). Animation Young Children. A captivating, enjoyable young children’s animated feature film about a girl who wants to dance and a boy who wants to become an inventor end up in Paris seeking their dreams. The balance of realistic animation hits the dream world imagination of children and yet offers up a visceral and gorgeous panorama of exciting, sensory sights of foreign lands and impossible incredibly rich physical moves. In the tradition of great children’s storytelling. [Reviewed 8/26/2017]. 8/10. 1.

    The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017). Christopher Plummer stars in a feel good movie about Charles Dicken and his creative efforts in publishing A Christmas Carol. A creative, imaginative, and delightful movie with stylized characters from Dicken’s mind as well as a reflective and emotional look at Dickens, his family in a richly presented period drama with whimsy. [Reviewed 12/5/2017]. 8/10.

    Megan Leavey (2017). Military. This true-life movie about a coming of age young woman who ends up in the Marines along with a German Shepard is a credible, solid, and emotionally meaningful movie with a strong military bent and single riveting action scene that appears to faithfully depict Megan’s selective life experiences. An uplifting movie. [Reviewed 6/17/2017]. 8/10.

    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). Action Adventure. A decent sequel with a good storyline, great special effects all presented in an entertaining way. Yet the rhythm of the movie and the inconsistency of the presentation of the jokes and humor seem to be a bit off. Yet this is one of the few sequels of recent years that seems to be able to retain some sense of quality. [Reviewed 5/28/2017]. 8/10.

    Rough Night (2017). Comedy. Scarlett Johannsen gets to celebrate with four of her friends in this raunchy dark comedy. While this movie appears to follow similarly situated gutter movies, there are a number of times that the director, scriptwriter, and actor take a fresh approach in various scenes, offer up a more substantive, emotional touch in places that make this movie rise above in its movie genre. [Reviewed 6/16/2017]. 8/10.

    Taking Earth (2017). Sci Fi. This is a low-budget movie about an alien invasion seeking one boy on the planet earth. Distinctively different in tone and emphasis, the human story is made more prominent than the accompanying action while the wonderful photography and well-matched sound track imbue the movie with a rich fullness. [Reviewed 8/15/2017]. 8/10.

    Unlocked (2017). Action Thriller. A biological weapon is about to be unleased and only a female agent has the skills set to locate it in this double twisting thriller. A well-executed movie with good editing, sound and music track that smartly coincides with the movie’s tenor of each scene. [Reviewed 9/2/2017]. 8/10.

    Your Name (2017). Fantasy. This Japanese animae offers up a nice twist to the body switching romance drama that has two weaknesses of dropping the audience a third of the way through the storyline and being a little dull on the animation side for this type of contemporary animae. However, this movie takes the switching body genre a lot further and delightfully so. We've had 13 Going On 30 (2004) or even Back to the Future (1985) movies, television episodes Charmed (Season 2, Episode 5, 2005). What sets this switchy movie apart is its continued focus on switching and the rather random uncertainty and outcome that sets up several rather emotional scenes from the heart with plenty of tears. Additionally the close calls in this movie echo the romance comedy classics Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and Serendipity (2001) along with a touch of the lightly haunting SPOILER - The Lake House (2001). [Reviewed 4/8/2017]. 8/10.



    Good But Failed to Make the Grade

    American Assassin (2017). A top assassin Michael Keaton trains a young man seeking revenge and they both have to face the lethal ghost. A decent movie but with a rather irritating main character and missing the emotional intensity and connection that it could have achieved. Includes one amazing explosive climatic scene/sequence worth experiencing. [Reviewed 9/15/2017]. 7/10.

    Atomic Blonde (2017). Charlize Theron stars in this action spy thriller. Even with some of the best physical action scenes in decades, Charlize can’t overcome an overly cumbersome, but predictable plot outline and some decent but typical fight scenes in the beginning. [Reviewed 7/30/2017]. 7/10.

    Beauty and the Beast (2017). Fantasy. The wonderful 1991 animated version doesn’t quite translate to live action with the dubbed singing, the less than pretentious Gaston as a live actor, and the special animated fantasia becoming more CGI special effects that doesn’t quite have the same charm. [Reviewed 3/26/2017]. 7/10.

    Bring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack (2017). Sports. This juvenile cheerleading movie has a decent if predictable storyline with its distinction being how the leading character sustains her hold habits in a rather human way much perhaps to the dismay of a number of audience members. But her performance is much more memorable for being so. [Reviewed 8/2/2017]. 7/10.

    A Christmas Prince (2017, Netflix). This typical, but entertaining holiday movie involves a female journalist who goes undercover to get a scoop on the expected new King of a fictional country, Aldovia. While not brilliant, it meets the Christmas holiday movie standard of having a good, fun time and therefore a watchable yearly event. [Reviewed 11/18/2017]. 7/10.

    The Discovery (2017). Occult. Robert Redford headlines this Netflix film about the discovery of an afterlife and its resulting consequences and the search for what it’s like. This new quantum twist regarding death is a slow-paced movie that doesn’t quite have the gravitas of the substance nor the engrossing detail that enraptures its audience. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and satisfying by the end. [Reviewed 3/31/2017]. 7/10.

    Kong: Skull Island (2017). Action Adventure. John C. Reilly almost single handedly saves this show from its admirable re-imagined Kong movie but it’s consistent use of cute scenes that somehow the director or scriptwriter required to kill off humans becomes pretty manipulative and unpersuasive. Visually stunning, fantastic photo images, this huge monster/army movie falls under the weight of added too much unnecessary and pretentious death scenes. [3/21/2017]. 7/10.

    Megellan (2017). When a signal is picked up from outer space, a one-man mission is set up to investigate. This well directed and acted low-budget movie is almost a great movie but missing any sense of a satisfying ending. [Reviewed 11/4/2017]. 7/10.

    Logan (2017). Superhero. Hugh Jackman’s character isn’t very appealing in this video game like ugly violent movie that doesn’t really embrace much in the way of meaningful relationships nor emotional connections. [Reviewed 3/7/2017]. 7/10.

    Security (2017). Antonio Banderas plays an armed forces Captain who ends up as a mall security guard and having to protect a young girl who is a key witness in a corruptions case from Ben Kingsley and his band of military operatives. This is an average, sometimes over the top action thriller with moments of tender heart. [Reviewed 10/22/2017]. 7/10.

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). The title sort of says it all in a fashion. There didn’t seem to be much new about this episode, except that the audience is introduced briefly to some cute cuddly alien creatures, though even in trailer scene in the upcoming Annihilation (2018) has some even more startling creatures. The theme of self-sacrifice is seen over and over again and the same scenario is repeated like three times throughout the movie. The inclusion of the light charm and witty dialogue from the original Star Wars franchise (1977) is sort of like attempting to bring together the raw grit of Daniel Craig’s James Bond’s character from Casino Royale (2006) and Roger Moore’s light-hearted James Bond from Live and Let Die (1973). There are also logical lapses in the storyline in order to maintain the pace and action, such a necessary delay in reacting to a lethal obliteration of the rebel cause or the cavalier ability of a single rebel fighter to take down a monstrous weapon. The movie sort of has cross between Karate Kid (1984), Gettysburg (1993), and the more formidable fantasy epic Excalibur (1981). The storyline is deliberately somewhat convoluted but for the most part predictable and Princess Leia (?)…well that’s whole other quandary. [Reviewed 12/28/2017]. 7/10.

    Wonder Woman (2017). Superhero. A nice feminine superhero blockbuster try; but something emotively and distinctively intimate remains missing in this female directed, but male written superhero version. [Reviewed 6/3/2017]. 7/10.

    Wonderstruck (2017). A dual storyline about two deaf children living 50 years apart and a special connection that develops between them. A nicely performed movie that suffers from some weaknesses in the script. [Reviewed 11/18/2017]. 7/10.

    Woodshock (2017). Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa in this independent art film about the grieving process of a young woman who lives in a timber harvesting town. Theresa’s role in the assisted suicide of her ailing mother at the beginning of the movie lingers in the background. The movie incorporates the use of heightened audio sounds and photographic shots of nature along with a sound track to enhance the cinematic experience and pacing. Yet unlike the trailers, the movie seems to revolve around the meaningless lives of people living in a timber town and the aftermath of a possible important life altering mistake. As a consequence, the movie seems to plod through its visual and audio digital footprints in a languid, almost boring pace like those characters on the screen, only heightened by the editing and addition of environmental sounds and music and artful depictions of nature -- Even the swishing, sparkling crisp tinkle of musical tones and glittering splashes of light from a carwash. There is also a lingering unspoken relational tension between Theresa, her husband, and the medicinal dispensary owner as a underlying theme to the movie. At the same time, there is a sense of decay, an almost empty refrigerator with uneaten cake and spoiling eggs. The totality of this movie is a slow slog through a meditative photographic lens that seems to lead towards an ambivalent and meandering course to an inconclusive ending unlike an analogous but more striking and straightforward storyline like one of the best of its drama genre Another Earth (2011). [Reviewed 1/2/2018]. 7/10.


    Disappointments


    Armed Response (2017). This science fiction military thriller stars Dave Annable, Anne Heche, and Wesley Snipes who enter into a top secret high-tech operations center where part of their team has mysteriously gone silent. Even with a great concept, the script lets the movie way down with its use of a major flashback as a reveal and a mounting number of unreasonable flawed script decisions that seem to pile up. [Reviewed 8/28/2017]. 5/10.

    El Camino Christmas (2017, Netflix). This supposed comedy about a young man seeking his father ends up in a rather disreputable town and finds himself in a bunch of trouble. Much more dramatic than comedic or romantic for a Christmas movie, this movie offers up some unlikeable characters, little romance, and whole bunch of cursed mishaps. [Reviewed 12/9/2017]. 6/10.

    Dunkirk (2017). A supposedly epic war movie that only comes across as disappointing, disjointed, chaotic, and sometimes overly unrealistic in the plot sequences. The emotional connection to the characters is lacking at times and the audience isn’t given sufficient time with each scene to really absorb a vicarious attachment to the movie. [Reviewed 7/21/2017]. 6/10.

    Queen of Spain (2017). Penelope Cruz is sparkling and dynamic in this otherwise plodding, serio-comedic movie about a movie production in Franco Spain just after the end of World War II and that can’t offer up the same charisma as it leading character. [10/25/2017]. 5/10.

    Spiderman: Homecoming (2017). A lot of appealing cute jokes can’t make up for the ragged storyline that remains rather juvenile, brainless, and rather bleak and unredeeming. Oddly unsatisfying compared to the original Toby Maguire’s 2002 origination movie that focused on the real turmoils of teenage angst. [Reviewed 7/7/2017]. 6/10.

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017). This supposedly sci fi epic seems overly playful, a non-serious coming of age sci fi movie of a selfish, adolescent male jerk and youthfully over-ranked major. Apparently the movie’s target audience is juveniles and adolescents based on the sci fi comic series. As such, the movie contains in your face cynical behavior and pranks, even a flying yellow school bus of sorts. The movie does hold out some impressive creative and distinctive features such as some serious set and character designs with some tribute to the breakout sci fi movie Avatar (2009). Some of the alien landscapes are a wonder to behold. But it’s hard to distinguished between what is real, what is virtual reality and what’s supposed to be real but appears virtual or a product of special effects which only serve to diminish the immersive reality of the movie by implication. Eventually the playful dialogue at some point comes as a relief from the darker edges of the movie. There meaningful elements of love and forgiveness in this movie. There’s a rather exotic and tender moment regarding illegals that for at least male members of the audience really hits home and for those that empathize with slave trafficking. There is eventually an underlying powerful, emotive theme that is well crystalized leading up to the climax of the movie. Yet there is also a somewhat predictable and the typical unbelievable climax scene of unbelievable bravery and shooting and the somewhat unlikely logistical and physical exit shot at the end of the movie. In short, while there is a credible amount of amazing visuals, the storyline has some big holes in that really detract from the movie. [Reviewed 1/4/2018]. 6/10.



    Terrible


    Before the Dark (2017). This low budget sci fi movie is about the possible teleportation of human beings, an essential way to save some of the human race from the end of planet earth. While the quality of the photography along with the soundtrack was decent enough, the rest of the movie has flat acting, little character development, a confusing and unconvincing story outline. [Reviewed 11/22/2017]. 3/10.

    One Under The Sun (2017). Sci Fi. This movie begins with a rather different, special, and potentially great sci fi outer space low-budget movie with good editing and natural performances, except for a wooden, weak secret antagonist organization confronting a survivor from a trip to Mars. But it ends up to be a wrecked landing by the end of the movie because the script can’t hold up its end of the bargain of a strong finish and collapses tiredly at the end in a spaced-out blur. [Reviewed 4/3/2017]. 4/10.

    The Villainess (2017). This at times South Korean hyperkinetic version of La Femme Nikita and Point of No Return is loaded down with distracting flashbacks and an overly cumbersome, confusing storyline. [Reviewed 11/24/2017]. 4/10.


    Haven’t Seen Yet


    All I See Is You (2017). A blind wife is given an experimental drug to help her see and her life dramatically changes.
    Darkest Hour (2017). British Prime Minister Winston Churchill faces a dark period in the history of the world. Gary Oldman stars with an Oscar worthy performance.
    Downsizing (2017). A comedy drama about being able to live small, literally small. Starring Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz.
    The Florida Project (2017). A revealing drama about some impoverished children living in a cheap apartment complex near Disney World, Florida.
    A Ghost Story (2017). Surrealistic occult. [Purchased].
    The Greatest Showman (2017). The biographical movie with Hugh Jackman as the founder of the Ringling and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, released during the same year of the actual Circus’s farewell performance.
    In Search of Fellini (2017). A coming of age movie. [Available for rent or purchase].
    The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017). Nicole Kidman and Colin Ferrell star in this mystery, horror, thriller about a doctor who must face and live with a horrific decision for his family.
    Loving Vincent (2017). An animated feature about the life and death of painter Vincent Van Gogh. [Available for purchase 1/16/2018].
    Marshall (2017). A biographical movie about Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall.
    mother! (2017). Darren Aranofski’s horror vehicle.
    Personal Shopper (2016). Kirsten Stewarts as a personal shopper ends having contending with a sinister spirit.
    Phantom Thread (2017). A picturesque period movie set in the 1950s about an elegant fashion designer who discovers inspiration in a young woman.
    The Post (2017). A dramatization of the famous Washington Post and the publication of the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War.
    Three Billboards of Ebbing Missouri (2017). A mother pays to put up three billboards calling for the sheriff to investigate the possible murder of her child.
    Victoria & Abdul (2017). The Queen befriends a servant in this period comedy.
    Wonder (2017). A movie about a boy with a face deformity starring Julia Roberts.

  5. #35
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    Tab, thanks for the post. There's a lot of sincere movie love in it,
    and love for the little movie that manages to capture your fancy. I think it's great that you found a little movie like "Residue" to recommend that few have seen because it has barely had a release. I am more interested in other movies on your list that raise higher expectations from me such as your top 2.
    Glad that you liked Lady Bird as much as I did.

    We disagree on Dunkirk being "overly unrealistic" but I may be swayed by your argument that "the audience isn't given sufficient time" (to become oriented to the settings and moved by the characters, I presume).

    Thanks again, it's a long post and there may be more to say about it in the future.

  6. #36
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    I've written many posts over the years that deal in various ways with the element of subjectivity in the experience of cinema and in the evaluative decisions that provide listings or rankings of the best films. I am interested in spectatorship and audience reception and other aspects of film culture. I teach courses in film studies to film majors and non-majors, and I also manage an art cinema. I have a great many opportunities to observe audience response and to discuss films with all kinds of people. I finally watched one of the films released in 2017 that have received the best reviews: Call Me By Your Name. I think it's a good movie and it's important to make that clear before I proceed because the comments that follow may be misconstrued. It belongs to a category of movies that depend to considerable extent on the beauty and vibrancy of its setting and the attractiveness of its protagonist. The word "travelogue" is used pejoratively, or at least with a bit of sarcasm, to refer to certain movies. Paris Can Wait and Under the Tuscan Suncome to mind (because I like Diane Lane perhaps). Unlike Call Me By Your Name, these movies typically do not get listed in Top 10s. My opinion may be controversial but I think that the reason this movie is so enjoyable, an opinion based on many conversations with people who have seen it (at "my theater" and elsewhere) is that Timothy Chalamet and the countryside and small towns of Northern Italy are beautiful. I also think that that if the central (impossible) romance involved people of the opposite sex, the film would be too conventional and common to list it among the best. I think that there are people who value the film because we don't have enough same-sex romances in cinema and this is a good one and a beautiful, idyllic one. It doesn't break new ground...it lacks the sense of experimentation, the feeling that the filmmakers are open to any possibility, that you find in last year's Moonlight for example. I notice how that film chose not to exploit Miami for its picturesque, sunny, tropical environs in order to give a more realistic and complete impression of my city and I am grateful for that.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-21-2018 at 10:34 AM.

  7. #37
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    Oscar, I don't wave around my credentials, as you do, but I have some. I've always been interested in your knowledge, your passion, and your views. But being a film teacher and working in a cinema, yea, even talking to a lot of people about their reactions to a certain movie, doesn't privilege your evaluation of it, necessarily.

    On this issue of the film Call Me by Your Name's specificity or its only appealing because it's gay, that is kind of an offensive stand, frankly. First of all, it is truly a gay love story, and to envision it's being recast otherwise (with less audience success) is absurd. I have to quote myself - from my revidw of Call Me by Your Name:
    And this one has a special resonance. I can find no better way to end than the conclusion of Jordan Hoffman's own admirably specific Guardian review: "Call Me By Your Name is a masterful work because of the specificity of its details. This is not a love story that 'just happens to be gay'. The level of trust and strength these characters share brings a richness that is not necessarily known to a universal audience. But the craft on display from all involved is an example, yet again, of how movies can create empathy in an almost spiritual way. This is a major entry in the canon of queer cinema."
    Hoffman calls this film "a major addition to the queer canon." Maybe, if he chose to, André Aciman, the novelist whose book the film is fairly closely based on (I've read it), and who's clearly gifted in describing matters of the heart, and is married to a woman, might be able to describe a love story with, say, an older female scholar intern who seduces Elio, Olivia instead of Oliver. But he didn't choose to. And imagining that another, different movie wouldn't be as good does not strengthen your argument that this is a good and not great film. Time will tell. For me, it's up there among my favorite and best of 2017. And I've seen most of the ones on anybody's lists - though still not all.

    Timothy Chalamet is beautiful? Well, okay, maybe, but it's mainly that he delivers a great performance. Under the Tuscan Sun is a popular travelogue kind of flick, not really on the same level as Guadagnino's best effort so far. As for Paris Can Wait, I can't remember it - not a good sign. Guadaginio's film is beautiful, and its setting, the novel's, is lush, warm, pulsating with life, Italian. But it ain''t a travelogue.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-21-2018 at 01:32 PM.

  8. #38
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    Thanks for the persuasive reply. I agree that Call Me By Your Name cannot be reduced to the label "travelogue". I like this movie too. There is a lot of affection on display, and I'm not referring exclusively to scenes involving the two young men. I like many other things about it, such as the way it ends with a long shot of Chalamet with his back to the dining table as Mafalda, the maid, is setting it for dinner. He faces the fireplace which provides a constantly changing illumination of his tear-streaked, chiseled face. On the other hand, i didn't like the verbiage of the previous scene; it shows the professor delivering a long speech about taking advantage of our youth and treasuring relationships, no matter how fleeting, etc. There's no denying the film goes out of its way to be pretty and to take advantage of scenery, such as grassy hills and waterfalls. A lot of shots in this film look like postcards. I don't mind. I just take notice that Call Me By Your Name shares indulgences with movies that are dismissed by critics as superficial and commercial because of the very same strategies. The sequel will have the same writer and the same director.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-22-2018 at 11:01 AM.

  9. #39
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    Glad I persuaded you a bit. Yes, the final shot, a kind of tour-de-force, I like too. It stands in, somehow, if not adequately, for the many pages of the novel which follow up in sad summary about Elio in decades to come. I agree with you about the scene with Elio and his dad as being ponderously, lump-in-the-throat-ishly explicit about how lucky Elio and Oliver have been, etc. (I have to check to see if the book has this speech in such words or gives it such disproportionate emphasis. ) Funny how this is so often singled out as being wonderful. I have encountered people who, like us, don't much like it. I don't agree with you quite, in your tarnishing this film by association with more commercial or travelogue-y ones of Italy; I think it's of a piece with Guadagnino's lush, summery style seen in his previous two pictures, the first of which at least, I Am Love/Io sono l'amore, is impressive in many ways, if over the top - I didn't like A Bigger Splash much at all, thought it a misstep. I can still see how you'd find the depiction of the setting a bit generic.

    I thoroughly love this movie. But having reead, and both hated and loved, the novel, I am well aware that it simplifies. I liked that it left out all the young narrator's to-me tedious ruminations and does-he-or-doesn't-he frets about Oliver throughout the first half of the book. As I've repeatedly said, there is a follow-up on Elio that the movie leaves out. Naturally, it's all simplified. In the book, there is no travelogue or outdoorsy sequence when the guys go on a trip together. They just go to Rome. And the impression is it's all hot and heavy indoors. The film leaves the impression that the had less sex than they do in the book, despite their brief period together.

    What we need to do is accept the movie on its own terms, its own vividness, its rhythms of hot summer days, affections, hesitations, sparring, and consummation. The intensity of everything, heightened by the loud keyboard music, even the format of the opening and closing credits, just right, and quite distinctive. There is a strong impression, confirmed by cast and crew, of this filmmaking that hit a sweet spot. The two main actors, Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer, stand out, also vivid and intense and absolutely giving their all and having a great time doing so. Hammer has even said he felt devastated when they had to go their separate ways, and the chemistry and friendship between these two straight actors is visible whenever they appear together at festival Q&A's as they did at the NYFF when I saw it first last September.

    I don't think we know about a sequel, do we? And it's unlikely James Ivory will be back for it, isn't it? I don't think a sequel is a good idea, but the thought of it reflects both the audience appeal of the two actors and the movie and the fact that Guadagnino left a lot of follow-up out. He left a lot out, period. But that's what happens in film adaptations of novels. The important thing is that the movie tells the story clearly. Unlike say Raoul Ruiz's Proust film which nobody could possibly make real sense out of who has not read Proust, recently, taking notes.

    Under the Tuscan Sun is an American's clichéd, simple version of Italy. Guadagnino is Italian. But the setting is intentionally generic, "Northern Italy," because that is specified in the novel.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-22-2018 at 11:32 AM.

  10. #40
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    As far as my credentials, I would like to "wave them around" as Chris says. I Made a great deal of sacrifices to obtain a Master's degree and then a doctorate in Film Studies from the University of Miami (one of the top 50 universities in the U.S. and #1 in my state. My family also made a sacrifice because my income was well below the poverty level for 5 to 6 years. The stipend offered by the university during the doctorate was 15k per year only, and only for 3 years while I was also teaching at the school. I dedicated extra months to complete the dissertation when I wasn't able to earn much. I stopped going out, including eating out for years in order to subsist. I did not travel either because I could not afford it. I spent my time reading and writing books about all aspects of cinema, and working at the "arthouse" on campus (which I still do, for pennies, just to keep it open after the dean argued that it doesn't make a profit. I have an expert opinion and a great deal of knowledge about visual art, especially cinema, and I will wave my credentials around because it is my right and because I have earned it.
    Oscar Jubis, Ph.D.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-22-2018 at 09:54 PM.

  11. #41
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    Congratulations. That's not your credentials, though, it's your badge of honor. You have suffered for your art. It is worth enduring poverty to do the work one loves. But it was hard on your family. I hope they are happy as you are.

  12. #42
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    Chris, I search in vain. Please put a link to your review of "Call me by your name" so I can read it.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  13. #43
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    Sure, cinemabon. Just click on the title logo below. My review can be found in the Festival Coverage section for the 2017 New York Film Festival.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-23-2018 at 03:10 PM.

  14. #44
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    ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL (Steve James 2017)

    In view of its Oscar nomination, I've added it to my 2017 Best Documentaries list. Steve James, the eminent documentarian, adds authority to it, his own work here understated.
    ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL DIRECTED BY STEVE JAMES
    RECEIVES OSCAR® NOMINATION FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

    THIS IS THE FIRST OSCAR NOMINATION FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
    FOR DIRECTOR STEVE JAMES WHO IS ALSO A CONTENDER FOR THE
    DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD

    January 23, 2018 - Los Angeles The FRONTLINE (PBS) documentary ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL, directed by award-winning filmmaker Steve James (Life Itself, Hoop Dreams) and produced by Mark Mitten (Life Itself) and Julie Goldman (Life Animated, Buck), has been nominated for an Academy Award® in the Documentary Feature category.
    This nomination marks first Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature for Steve James; Mark Mitten’s first Academy Award® nomination; and Julie Goldman’s second Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature. For the acclaimed PBS documentary series FRONTLINE produced out of WGBH/Boston, this is a first Academy Award® nomination.

    ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL chronicles the Chinese-American Sung family’s fight to clear their names after their small bank in New York City’s Chinatown became the only U.S. bank indicted for mortgage fraud related to the 2008 financial crisis. The documentary follows how the bank’s indictment and subsequent trial forced the Sung family to defend themselves — and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community — over the course of a five-year legal battle.

    “I’m so pleased and grateful. This is such a wonderful recognition for all of the ABACUS team, but especially for the Sung family. It has been a joy being able to follow their story,” said director Jame
    -Publicity release from David Magdael & Associates (Jan. 23, 2018).
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-23-2018 at 09:28 PM.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Knipp View Post
    Sure, cinemabon. Just click on the title logo below. My review can be found in the Festival Coverage section for the 2017 New York Film Festival.

    Am I incorrect in saying this is only the second gay-themed romance film (Broke Back Mountain) to be nominated for best picture?
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

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