Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Year in (Some) Movies

Precocious Daughter and I saw a lot of movies this year. Not as many as we would have liked (and we're not done yet), but a lot.

PDaughter also saw a lot of movies with her dad. That's part and parcel of this whole divorce thing. She sees some movies with me, she sees some movies with him - and we saw one film as a family (more on that in a minute). It generally works out well because she tends to see the superhero/action movies she loves with him, which is fine with me. And then we go see movies that are often less mainstream, which is fine with him.

Coco kind of got lost in between,
although I still hope to see it.
Anyway, here are some random thoughts on a few of the movies we saw in 2017. If you've seen them, please chime in with your opinions. If you haven't...maybe you'll seek them out.

These are in no particular order of quality, chronology, etc.

Get Out - This had the biggest buzz of any movie in the early part of the year, and we saw it on that basis (and the fact we love Jordan Peele), rather than any expectation of what we were going to see. This movie is amazing. The writing, the direction, the performances, and the message all are top-notch. What I loved about it is that at its heart it's structured like an old Movie of the Week: Introduce the characters, introduce the situation, ramp up the tension, reveal how everything happened, rescue the imperiled hero, fin. But it's done with so much sophistication and cleverness. Also, it stars Daniel Kaluuya, who was in one of my favorite episodes of "Black Mirror."

No, not this one.
(Also, "Black Mirror" returns December 29 - squee!)

Okja - Not a theatrical release, this was a Netflix original from Korean director Bong Joon-ho. The story is difficult to describe. Suffice to say the two protagonists are a South Korean girl and a animated giant piglike creature, and the two antagonists are Tilda Swinton. The movie pits a Monsanto-like corporation against a group of not-overly-competent eco-terrorists. It's beautiful, funny, and sad. Totally worth a watch.

 A Fistful of Dollars - Obviously not a new movie. But PDaughter and I hadn't seen it in a while, so we queued it up a few months ago. So much fun to watch, and so radically filmed. Amazing score from Ennio Morcone (duh). I'd love to see a modern feminist take on the spaghetti western (No, Kill Bill doesn't quite achieve the sensibility.) If you want to see peak Clint Eastwood, when he was young and hot and didn't talk to empty chairs, it's a great Saturday-afternoon flick.

Baby Driver - We almost didn't see this because the trailer made it look like one long car chase plus Kevin Spacey acting menacing. But we trusted that an Edgar Wright movie would be much more, and we were glad we took the chance. It's not that this is a great movie, but it's a really fresh take on the heist movie. Possibly the best integration of music and plot I've ever seen - especially in the opening scene, which I could watch on a loop all day. I'm sorry that Kevin Spacey has turned out to be a reprehensible person, because he's so much fun to watch onscreen. :(

Lady Bird - Honestly, I don't quite understand the critical acclaim of this movie. PDaughter enjoyed it much more than I did, probably because she shares so much with the titular character. It's getting all kinds of award nominations. If you were ever a mom, a daughter, a loner, or a loser, you'll identify with the story. Worth a look, but not my favorite of the year.

The Disaster Artist - All I can say is, two Francos on the screen at the same time approaches sensory overload, especially when one is channeling Tommy Wiseau. By the time the post-credit scene came on, we were the only ones left in the theatre, which means everyone else missed perhaps the very best part of the movie. My advice: If you see it (and oh yes, please see it), stay until the very end.

I mean, why is that not a law?
The Killing of a Sacred Deer - My biggest WTF of the year. This is the only movie we saw this year where I knew literally nothing about the plot, or the director, or anything. And in that spirit, I'm not going to say much about it, except that it only made sense (kind of) after PDaughter and I spent about an hour dissecting it afterwards. But I do highly recommend it if you're looking for something... different.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi - This is the only movie that we saw as a family, simply because both my ex and I are huge Star Wars fans, and there's no way PDaughter can choose one of us to see it with. So when a new Star Wars movie comes out, we all go together (and we have a lovely time, tbh). I may get pushback on this, but this was hands down my favorite movie of 2017. I find it humorous that critics by and large love it, while many fans hat it so much that they want it removed from Star Wars canon. As PDaughter very astutely said, "That's because the fandom doesn't want to see a good movie - they only want to see a good Star Wars." Well, beans. I love Rian Johnson's take on the saga and thought he handled the many set pieces beautifully. Flawed in places, definitely. But definitely one of the best displays of filmmaking in all eight movies.

Coming up later day, PDaughter and I are seeing Call Me By Your Name. I'm hoping to squeeze in The Post and Phantom Thread by the end of the year, as well.

Let me know your favorites of the year.

1 comment:

  1. I believe I've only watched one movie this year and that was a Chinese movie set in the last days of WWII. I've reviewed it.

    I simply don't like movies much anymore.


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