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As for rating a film I mainly do it in order to catalogue my feelings and thoughts about each movie I watch. I usually rate or criticise a movie for what it is, what it is trying to be and what it was supposed to be, with some personal bias of course. I like to discuss movies more than slapping a number on them, but it is the easiest way of convaying our opinions and thoughts about anything, rating them.
And finally, I don't really believe in comparing films, it's inevitable I know, but I do not like doing it. It's one of the many reasons why the Oscars are not credible, each movie is a distinct work of art and/or entertainment which ought to be "judged" seperately and independently (except when films are part of a series, that's a different story). There's room for comparing and contrasting films during a discussion, but when real journalists criticize a film in this manner it bugs me.
Now I'm in a bit too deep, so I'll finish this pointless bio. These are my brief opinions on cinema and film criticism. I've made some lists about my favourite films and Tv shows, because I do believe that you can get to know someone and their values a lot better by knowing what they like. So that's it, check them out if you'd like.
Kisses to you's all,
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Nevertheless, these were my favourite movies this year, with some honorable recommendations and a few guilty pleasures at the bottom of the list.
Other films that deserve a little shout-out:
The Levelling, Lucky, Last Flag Flying, Detroit, Marjorie Prime, Wind River, The Beguiled, Loving Vincent, A Ghost Story, It
There are a few films that are not on it, but still deserve a little shout-out...
...like: 20th Century Women, Wiener dog, Julieta, Zootopia, Keanu, Imperium, The Jungle Book, Don't Breath, The Greasy Strangler, Doctor Strange, The Accountant, The Brothers Grimsby, Evolution, Angel of Reckoning (Len Kabasinski's most competent film yet).
The Work (2017)
A therapeutic experience for the mind and the soul.
The Work shows a group therapy program set in Folsom Prison, where a set of convicts, with brutal histories and broken lives, sit down with a few volunteers from the outside world and share their pain with each other in the most civilized manner possible.
The film does not sugarcoat anything, showing everything as it is, with honesty, but never exploiting or lessening the integrity of its subjects. The life stories and decisions the prisoners made in the past are gruesome and dark, but the program and documentary makes an effort to refrain from judging them by their actions alone, demonstrating that they are not that different from anybody else, they are human beings. There's the same amount of respect and emphasis on the volunteer's demons and struggles, which further reinforces the previous statement. The Work makes the wise choice of singling out a few characters, people and concentrate mainly on them and their baggage. Though I would have loved to hear everybody's story, this decision makes for a tighter and much more focused "narrative" and a more accessible documentary.
Throughout the film we meet some extraordinary men, get to explore their psyche and empathize with their life story. The Work is an intense, brutally raw and tearjerking look at manhood, humanity and the depressing reality of a life lived behind bars. It shines a light to this incredible therapy program and makes the viewer reflect on their own lives. One of the best and most affecting documentaries I've ever seen.
I Love You, Daddy (2017)
If you can seperate the art from the artist, it's a unique and worthwhile film.
Louis trying to revive the spirit of "Golden Age" cinema with his filmmaking style gives the film a welcome uniqueness, but its appropriateness is kind of questionable. As it usually is with his work (Horace & Pete, Louie), the film gives him a platform to spew out his thoughts and views on the world and society in an entertaining manner. That being said the film lacks a clear message or point. At least it introduces some intriguing well rounded and balanced arguements, discussions on "current" societal issues (weirdly reflecting the reprehensible actions Louis made in his past). Overall, seperating the art from the person behind it, I Love You, Daddy is an original and wothwhile watch just based on its great screenplay and fantastic acting alone. I would recommend seeing it if you get the chance.
Might be the best and most melancholic film of the year.
Loveless is a depressingly profound experience.
It paints the world as it is, not shying away from showing the bitter emptiness, disconnect and sorrow (which we usually choose to ignore) that surrounds our society. The desperate search for happiness, the unbelievable selfishness, lack of compassion and love, as the title suggests, that seperates generations of people in our modern times of self-absorbed("anti")social media. The film manages to achive these incredible feats (without being preachy) in its fantastically written and acted multi-layered and complex characters, whom as the story goes on beautifully unravel from just simple despicable people to characters that you understand and by the end sort of empathize with and pity (though not all of them: the character of the father is kind of an exception, he's a bit underdeveloped). Though our main characters represent what is wrong with our society, Loveless manages to keep a hopeful balance showing the good side as well with its selfless side-characters, the search party.
Andrey Zvyagintsev's direction is immaculate, from the beautiful cinematography, with its lingering shots of the dreary Russian winterlands and cityscapes filling you with a sense of melancholy and loneliness, to the authentic writing and the tragic story itself.
Loveless is a tough watch that challenges the warped values of the 21st century, holding a mirror towards our modern society, still unable to escape the same endless cycle it's always been trapped in. A dour but realistic meditation on humanity's need for love.
/as schmaltzy or cheesy as this review sounds I assure you the film is the furthest thing from being those things./
Liked it, didn't love it.
I admire Rian Johnson for basically saying "F#ck You!" to the Star Wars fandom and its expectations while introducing some fresh new concepts that test the characters' ethics and morals, but the final product is an unfocused film and story (that doesn't really go anywhere) with too many sideplots, characters (spewing out cheesy dialogue *cough* Rose *cough*) and a horrendous last act. Loved the ideas and intentions behind the film more than its execution, but overall the good far outwheigh the bad for me (a light 7/10).
Valerian and the 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (Interstella 5555)
If somebody were to edit it down to 90 minutes, completely mute its audio and replace it with the music of Daft Punk it would be as fantastic as Interstella 5555 was back in the day.
Visually its a masterpiece. The level of creativity in creature design, world-building and CGI is unbelievable, one of the best looking and most imaginative films of 2017.
Unfortunately my praises for Valerian stop there. At the core of the film, its story is highly conventional and forgettable. It's characters are flat as a pancake, at times they are straight-up unlikable. The acting is serviceable, Cara Delevingne does all she can with what she was given, she's an OK lead, on the other hand Dane DeHaan's performance and character choices are best summed up as questionable and kind of annoying. The most entertaining performance was by Clive Owen, even with the little screen-time he had. The romance between the leads is extremely forced with zero chemistry between the actors.
But now the most atrocious part of the film: the awful writing. It is utter trash, I absolutely despise it. The dialogue feels unnatural and choppy with some really cheesy one-liners. The humor is never funny, its clunky and hammy, resembling the cringy childish humor of the Star Wars prequels. This has a huge effect on the acting, since with such sh!tty writing the line delivery by the actors is just as terrible as you'd expect.
So overall it's a pretty mediocre film, the visuals are to die for, the acting and the plot is OK, but bringing the whole thing down is the lousy writing. I honestly would recommend watching it at least once, but be sure to mute it and put on Daft Punk's Discovery or Homework in the background.
Tonight She Comes (2016)
An odd mixture of pure frustration and schlocky entertainment
Tonight She Comes is a terrible, but kinda enjoyable mess.
It's extremely stupid: The writing is atrocious, the plot is non- existent, character motivation and logic is thrown right out the window and the tone is just all over the place. At times the movie is quite self aware but other times it's just awkward.
Occasionally there's a beautiful glimmer of wonderful schlock with some decently revolting, but mainly disgusting gore that's actually quite fun. The acting goes from serviceable to pretty goddamn awful, though Larissa White, who plays Ashley, deserves a shout-out for being one of the better parts of the film, on multiple fronts.
The film definitely has the potential to be a so-bad-it's-good guilty pleasure, if you can tolerate its nonsensical story, awkward humour, embarrassing writing and the cringey characters.
WNUF Halloween Special (2013)
Extremely authentic and amusing:
The level of believability is off the charts, which unfortunately sometimes becomes a bit of a detriment. The WNUF Halloween Special is full of amusingly corny characters (Frank Stewart and the Bergers are fantastic) and wonderfully cookie commercials. Though not every section is as fun as the last it still keeps a highly enjoyable and adorably nostalgic vibe throughout its whole running time with a few spooks along the way. The only negative I could think of is that I did not love the ending and that there are just too many of said commercials, (no matter how fun they are) but I guess it's realistic in this way too, other than that I wholeheartedly enjoyed and loved the WNUF Halloween Special.
The Snowman (2017)
Wow, this was quite the stinker!
I just don't know where to begin...
...well lets start with the story, a films core. The Snowman's plot and its execution was all over the place. It's not just that it was nonsensical and just laughably stupid by the end, but the movie was filled with scenes and complete subplots that were completely inconsequential and unnecessary. Some characters and their whole storyline could easily have been cut out and it wouldn't have had any effect on the plot. Excuse me, did I write characters? There were none in this film, only famous and recognizable faces who were hired because of their name. Talking about this stellar cast full of fantastic actors, they just as easily could have been replaced by complete unknowns and it wouldn't have changed a thing. I feel bad for them, since Fassbender is in my opinion one of the best working actors today, along with Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons and Toby Jones who unfortunately just did not have anything to work with from the get go.
Okay, lets talk about the execution of this mess. It starts out slow after a very odd opening and stays that way for more than half of the movie. Nothing important happens. Then we are introduced to some new "characters" and subplots, which also didn't add anything to the film. Then there's some effort to build Fassbender's "character", which had no payoff and was completely unconvincing anyway. Then by the time you get to the half-way point you're bored out of your mind and already know who done did the things that had been done, so there's no reveal or twist by the end. And that ending. It is just completely ridiculous and has a few unintentionally laugh out loud moments. So, there's that.
I have to say that I haven't read the source material, so I don't know if it's as bad as the film (probably not), but the film is just bad. Really bad. It's extremely stale and bafflingly stupid, which caught me off guard, since there was a time where Scorsese was set to direct. I wonder if he could have made it work.
The only good that's worth mentioning is that the setting is very pretty to look at, shot at times beautifully, which at least adds a certain atmosphere to the film and lastly there was some fun gore and unintentionally funny scenes.
So don't go out of your way the see this one, it's a stinker.
Wind River (2017)
It's True Detective season 2 all over again...
Hearing the raving reviews about Wind River caught my attention but only after finding out that it was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, the writer of last years Hell or High Water, which I absolutely love, did I decide that I'd definitely check it out in the theatres. I have to admit I left kinda disappointed.
During Wind River all I could think about was the resemblance to True Detective, season 2 that is:
Both were written by someone who previously created something amazing and kind of special (True Detective season 1 and Hell or High Water), but ultimately failing to recreate that same magic, that lightning in a bottle with their following work - Pizzolato's TD season 2 and now Sheridan's Wind River.
Other than the circumstances of making them, they share the same problems in writing, directing and production and weirdly enough I found this to be true in their positive attributes as well.
Wind River has impressive cinematography and an incredible sense of chilling atmosphere, which actually made me feel cold and shaky at times, creating a gloomy and depressed mood, which was complimented by the incredible and fittingly melancholic soundtrack, again just like TD season 2. This being said I did think that the story was quite basic, bit too simple and slightly unengaging, lacking layered well-written or at least unique characters. That being said the actors did a solid job with what they had, in TD- S2 it was Collin Farrel, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAddams and here Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen (along with Graham Greene who was probably my favourite) who elevated their underdeveloped characters with their performances. Some of the dialogue while having some well-thought out interesting ideas and touching moments felt a bit forced, unrealistic. Finally, the director! True Detective had Cary Fukunaga and Hell or High Water had David Mackenzie, the directors and writers complimented each other perfectly, but TD without Fukunaga and Sheridan directing feels like its missing something.
All in all, both Wind River and season 2 of True Detective, while having some pacing issues, are well above the average crime thrillers we get nowadays (e.g.: Sleepless), that have personality and are worth seeing for sure (if only for their climax which is extremely satisfying and touching in both cases).
The Exorcist (1973)
My initial thoughts after watching The Exorcist (for the first time ever)
I think The Exorcist is the most realistic horror film I've ever seen. Though, this is both a compliment and a detriment to the movie. The blend of grounded drama and true horror is done superbly, the acting is just flawless all around, Ellen Burstyn gave one of the best performances I've ever seen on film, along with Jason Miller and last, but definitely not least, what Linda Blair did as just a child actor is simply unbelievable. The Exorcist is well-deservedly a horror classic, one of the best horror films ever made, it's a great film, but I had two huge problems with it. The editing and most importantly the way it was shot, the cinematography. There were many editing choices that I did not agree with, keeping some of the more mundane scenes running for too long and cutting some amazing and truly scary scenes painfully short. While this bothered me, I absolutely hated the fact that the cinematography is just so impossibly bland. There's no style or edge to it, despite the last 30 minutes of the film, which is cinematic perfection and a horror masterpiece there's absolutely no atmosphere to the film, which unfortunately made the extremely well developed dramatic scenes and the first hour of the film borderline boring. Still to end on a high note as time goes by I'm sure I'll appreciate the good sides of the film more, because the good is just excellent, but for now I'm a little frustrated by these two minor things, because they did take away a lot of enjoyment out of the film for me.
The Taking (2014)
Though it's not a good film at least it's pretty entertaining:
After hearing the premise I had high hopes for this one: an old lady, Deborah Logan, is in the early stages of Alzheimer's and a bunch of medical students stay at her house with her and her daughter to document the disease. After the next couple of nights Deborah starts to act incredibly strange, especially at night and as her condition gets drastically worse and worse the crew starts to believe that she might have become possessed by a sinister spirit.
That's a pretty great freaking concept.
BUT! the film was a let down. It felt like three completely different horror movies jammed into one, each with a very distinct plot, story and horror elements. The first act I enjoyed quite a bit. It's the closest thing to the main plot. It felt like an above average psychological horror film. It's kinda creepy, the acting is pretty good and the atmosphere is captivating. It's not as subtle as it should have been, but it's the best part of the movie.
Then came the second act, which introduces a serial child murderer whose spirit possessed Deborah's body and made her act all sinister and psycho for some reason to complete some ritual to become immortal or whatever. This took all the mystery away from the beginning and made the movie far less interesting and kinda bad. The ending is even worse, it's a freaking schlock-fest. In the last five minutes it became flat-out ridiculous: in a scene the old lady's jaw somehow disconnects and she tries to swallow a little girl literally like a goddamn snake...
Though THIS IS NOT A GOOD FILM at least IT'S PRETTY ENTERTAINING and has decent acting. I'd recommend checking it out, but don't expect too much and try not to take it very seriously, you'll at least have some fun that way.