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A pop-culture blogger at heromngmnt.com
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I went to see Arctic for only one reason: Mads Mikkelsen. I could be called a fangirl, to be honest, I don't mind. He has an incredible skill and even better personality (or at least "public personality"). He is humble and gives his whole heart to each project he participates in. No matter if it's a small film by an unknown director or a huge blockbuster from Marvel or Star Wars franchise. And when you hear him talking about it, the perception changes completely.
I used to love Mads for his Hannibal, but my true appreciation came after The Hunt and knowing how much he differs from both of the characters. And what was very important to me, he decided not to go into method acting. He wanted to stay himself for his family. So no matter how he loves his job, he didn't want to make the choice between that and the life of a husband and a father. After the introduction, I feel obliged to say why I made this fangirl's ode. Arctic is a one-actor film. Apart from a very small role of an unknown Thai actress, Mads Mikkelsen was the only face we follow for over one and a half hour. I couldn't have thought of any better choice for that challenge. Mads' face can show volumes of feelings which I don't believe mine can. He can tell everything without words and this was the magic of Arctic.
The story focuses on a pilot whose plane crashed somewhere close to the North Pole. Through his routine, he wants to establish a connection with civilization. He clears his SOS sign, he catches fish and tries to charge a radio with the strength of his muscles. He spends every hour doing exactly what he planned to increase the chances of being rescued. But then his survival routine changes because of yet another plane crash. A Thai woman survived it but she got an ugly wound and is now sick. She can't leave the bed, she's barely conscious so he decides to save her by any means necessary.
The film itself couldn't differ much from any other survival one. Human survival in difficult habitat isn't a very broad subject and I strongly believe that cinema explored all of these emotions at least a thousand times. The art lies in expression and creating the atmosphere of empathy. Thoughts of what I would do in such a situation bugged me for the entire film and long afterwards. The reflection of humanity and our ethics was told by almost silent film and it stuck me with questions I believed I'd known answers to.
Meanwhile, it made me appreciate the beauty of the icy landscapes. The cinematography work was very thorough, especially since they were shooting while the snow was melting. All these icebergs were magnificent and mesmerizing. They composed perfectly with the music by Joseph Trapanesse (known from The Greatest Showman, Oblivion or Straight Outta Compton).
To be honest there's nothing more I could say that won't feel at least blunt. It is hard to describe feelings, especially the ones which are shown, not told. This film has the magic of the story about how to be true to oneself and how to love one another, no matter how hard the situation becomes.
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Too little too late
After 14 years, Disney decided to make the sequel to their Oscar-winning superhero animation (it was that or Shrek 2 so there was barely a choice). I have to say that Incredibles never stole my heart, even when I was a kid. It was a fun film, I even had a VHS (I am old, I know). Nonetheless, I barely remember it and it didn't give me the excitement plenty of people are expressing now. It wasn't my superhero debut nor I fell with any character or the story. Sure, there is Frozone but who does not love Frozone.
And with this more or less bitter taste, let's return to the sequel. I watched it because I had no strength to see anything more complex that day. Just for fun. So don't tell me I had any expectations at all. Leaving the cinema, I was content, not excited nor pissed, I was "okay". It basically does not say anything good about the film. Recent fashion of reboots and sequels of everything that 90's kids loved slowly drives me crazy. And here we are again. It might be the problem I had with that. Disney probably wanted to make money from reselling the goods to the new generation. I wouldn't be surprised.
About the film itself, it catches when the previous one left off and to be honest I'm not sure if it was a good idea. Because as a viewer I could feel the difference. Not sure if it was because I am more mature or because I saw it ages ago or there was indeed some difference in character writing. No damn idea. But I felt like all of them are older although they allegedly haven't aged a day. The main focus however continued. The lawsuit against superheroes is still on and the whole family got blamed for all the disastrous crap that happened because of Underminer. And the story goes, of course, someone wants supers to return. Who would have thought, eh?
The idea of the plot wasn't so bad, but the whole plot twist was so obvious. It was Pixar, after all, and their films aren't usually crappy. And Incredibles 2 wasn't crappy, too. It was just a content type which may be exciting that 14 years ago but is not anymore. I loved that they kept the original design ideas. I loved that Edna hasn't changed (but had barely one scene, sadly). There was no magic I usually feel while watching such films. It was lost somewhere in that 14 years and Brad Bird couldn't have found it.
What I enjoyed the most was the whole daddy story. It was a classic thing, no surprises or anything, but it stole me. And the racoon, too. Jack-Jack was supposed to be the new hit and I believe my problems with him was simply because of the hype. But come on, a baby with like 10 powers. No wonder they wanted to extend that idea. Furthermore, I really appreciate all of the "new" superpowers. It was smart and to be honest I didn't expect they would go that far with these. Oh, and there's also Screenslaver. This name is neat. I don't mean the guy, I mean the name itself. ScreensLaver. Amazing.
Darkest Hour (2017)
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
Repeating myself all over again - this film was done only to give Gary Oldman an Oscar. About damn time, by the way. But... Apart from him (and his film-wife) being incredible onscreen, I got really bored. It was nothing shocking or maybe I'm just not very much into war history films. Costumes and, more importantly, make-up are done perfectly. Gary is almost unrecognisable and all the 40s suits and dresses catch an eye. The same goes to cinematography, but it is such a common subject recently, I can't tell if it was something out of the scale. Myself, I enjoyed The Crown more in this area.
The film tells a story of very first days of Winston's rule and that Dunkirk thing. So basically Nolan's film from the point of the minister. I don't have to tell you what happens, the history books will tell you that more accurately than I ever could.
And to be honest - it was a boring story. Apart from the couple I described before, everyone are somewhat plain. Especially Lily James, who gives me more and more reasons to doubt her acting skills.
Lady Bird (2017)
This is a story of a girl
This is a story almost every girl can relate to. A story about growing up, love, mum-dramas and friendships. And putting it all together, it made a film of finding yourself and lessons life teaches.
With this delicate touch of humour and very likeable characters it is a dreamy piece of cinema, performed by very young director who proudly represents women in this year's directing category. Crossed fingers for Greta although my heart belongs to del Toro (The Shape of Water in next part). She is also responsible for the screenplay, which is based on her own adolescence, according to what I've read somewhere.
Anyway, Lady Bird is a smartass, who is brave enough to dream outside her small world of Sacramento. She fights for her future even when the whole world doesn't believe she could win. This is a film of finding values in life and searching for a place. Furthermore, it is not so heavy like other Best Pictures. It is fun to watch, to breath a little and maybe just remind yourself about your own high school. The humour here is situational and very subtle.
What brings a lot to this film are also actors. Saoirse Ronan is expectional, which is a great compliment from me (The Host was lame). However this category is very strong this year, she did deserved her nomination. The background is very strong, too, though. Laurie Metcalf is a mom having all these mother values and flaws. She is a strong woman who fights her best for her children. It is a year for mums, right?
Some good small characters played by Timothee Chalamet (nominated for Call Me By Your Name) or Lucas Hedges (also in Three Billboards) are also noticeable. Everyone has a personality, everyone has a meaning. It is not just empty background to fill up the film. Sacramento is living on its own.
My sort of favourite is Beanie Feldstein (picture below). She didn't have such glamorous acting past but I enjoyed Julie very much. I wish her luck and more good roles in the future.
The new superhero
The new era of comicbook films has begun. After huge success of Deadpool, Fox agreed to make Logan R category. And thank Thor for that. Logan is such a fresh touch for actually any blockbuster. Even though the story is still somewhat predictable, there are a lot of small details which changes the film completely. I loved old and sick Charles Xavier the most. No one actually had done something similar before. James Mangold outdone himself, especially after such failure as Wolverine (terrible plot + plot holes + no logic + no comic correctness). Even though Logan kind of gave him a louder mic to share his (not so cool) opinions, the film itself got very high in my top films of all time, not only in superhero category. So I am really proud of this nomination. Maybe the Academy will finally take other kinds of films under consideration.
Logan is telling a story about a family. That it doesn't have to be conventional, that caring of people important to you can be done in so many different way. Meanwihile it is a story of getting old and sick, about sacrifice and moving on. It is closer to the hearts of comicbook geeks but I can assume even without this knowledge,you'll find some values.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
Not really the worst
The Disaster Artist is somewhat a masterpiece. It tells a story of Greg Sestero, his relationship with Tommy Wisseau and how the hell The Room actually happened. Everyone knows about it by now. Apart from that it is a story of friendship, a story of dreams and fighting the good fight to reach everything what is impossible. Also, this is a story of Tommy Wiseau and his very... spectacular behaviour. Well, nothing exactly happens the way we want it, so it is more or less bittersweet.
The story is something else. Having such peculiar people to portray, it takes everything under consideration. And it asks very important questions. I do cross all my fingers for a statue at least in this category. It is funny, with very accurate characters, even though I've seen them only in The Room. I haven't laughed so much at a movie in ages. It is huge for me. There aren't many comedies that I actually enjoy. Oh, and there are a lot of people you will recognise. I am still amazed how the hell they reached some to record a piece.
The Room, probably the worst film ever, got more and more fans recently. And Franco brothers had a lot to do with it. I somehow survived watching it, and as a memory it feels way better than while seeing it. It was PAIN. I seriously don't understand how it was possible to make it whole. It was supposed to crash - but it didn't. And now it's damn history.
Loving Vincent (2017)
For the whole time of production I was very sceptical. Afterall, Polish films aren't actually very good mostly. But ever since I watched it, Loving Vincent stole my heart. This is both entering new era and going back to the roots. It is a film fully painted. Over 60 thousand canvas were created by 115 painters. And it was made mainly in Wroclaw, Poland. I couldn't be more proud.
The idea is simple - to bring Vincent van Gogh's imagination to life. It was splendid idea, he is after all one of the most recognizable painters ever. The story itself is more of a speculation than a statement. Whatever secrets Vincent took to his grave are still his and there's no conspiracy theories about that.
I really enjoyed the editing of both film and sound. Afterall, there were no actors and every single movement of lips had to be drawn first. The resemblance is uncanny though. You can easily recognize Douglas Booth or Jerome Flynn. Furthermore, there're a lot of "Easter eggs" for an art freak like me. There're tons and tons of Vincent's paintings included in the film and it is a great way to get to know the people who was drawn by him.
For me it is the damn winner. For sake of these 115 artists, give Vincent an Oscar!
To be honest, I'd expected something more. This is the film which is very pretty visually, very emotional but... empty. For a child it might be something special (or scary according to some kid after screening), seeing the colours of Mexican afterlife and that brave little protagonist. 90% of Disney animations are like that. And what bothered me the most was the wrong picture of death. "I can't wait when you die" is not funny, even if said by a dead man. Also you can die after death. First you die, then - if noone remembers you - you die again and noone knows where you go. For me it was the easy screenwriting. Even after death you're scared of death.
I shed a tear though. The story was touching however simple it was. And grandma Coco was the cutest. Unfortunatelly apart from her nothing really stuck in my mind and I am not a fan of it. It is the worst Disney at Oscars in years.
Baby Driver (2017)
The best heist movie of the year for sure. Edgar Wright made a film where every single sound has its point. Music? Perfectly fit. Some may say it's so obvious of a plot, but going past that, technical aspects are simply beautiful. Especially when you have insight how it was made.
I demand that they grab at least one Oscar. This film is worth watching at least for the editing if not the plot. The director known for his visionary behaviour, made it a small enterntainment masterpiece. I am really sad he had too many differences to do Ant-man with Marvel Studios, but I can't disagree that a lot of his ideas were in the film anyway. Here he shows everything he's got and created a film perfected in every way.
Ansel is slowly becoming a star. I wish him very much luck, he's growing to be more than just a romantic interest. Well, acting in Baby Driver itself was great, actually. Jamie Foxx outdid himself as some kind of a villain, and there is the infamous Kevin Spacey who is great as always, at least on the screen.
Marvel didn't get much recognition this year. Having three films with so great reviews, they ended up with only one Oscar nomination with barely a chance of winning it. However I am still proud of James Gunn and his team. Because noone expected it. Thor: Ragnarok was shining the most, being super different and unexpected. With Spider-man on the other hand - because everyone loves Spidey, Guardians were somewhat forgotten.
The film was somewhat a fanfiction of the previous one. It was completely a child of James Gunn and I don't believe Marvel Studios had much to say about it. Guardians Vol 2 has no impact on the wider MCU story and director had almost complete creativity management on his side.
Effects were indeed hard to forget. They were dealing with the Earth-like CGI and cosmic ones. Ego himself was a beauty, speaking of both the "man" and the "planet", of course. I can't imagine how long actors worked only with the green screen. Everything spacey had to be done by the computers, no wonder. There wasn't much Earthly sets, which is fun. A lot of films make the universe as something very human and Gunn kinda tries to avoid it as much as possible. And don't forget of Baby Groot. Pure damn CGI. (more at heromngmnt.com)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Sequel but whole
Let put things straight here: the sound here was epic. I am completely torn who I'd like to give an Oscar between Blade Runner and Baby Driver here. And with this weird Hans Zimmer's music, the film made a way of speaking through both sounds and visuals.
Blade Runner 2049 was somewhat omitted. It's way more appreciated than the first installment from 1982 but there's a chance that the nominations are the only thing they'll get. Sound throughout this cyberpunk future was just right and so was the whole cinematography. All the sets and visuals were so close to the original and so XXI century at the same time. Denis Villeneuve is a true visionary. Finally there's a director who introduces sci-fi to a different level and it is quite appreciated by the Academy. His Blade Runner-ish future is both post-apocalyptic and old school.
The plot itself is trying to be both surprising and safe at the same time. I know that Blade Runner has welcomed a lot of devoted fans who wouldn't like the continuation no matter what. But then, 2049 wasn't actually making anything less important. It was a great tribute and expansion of the world. There were a lot of small touches for the fans and it was completely breaking the XXI century schema. Seeing so many futuristic films with laser gun fights and huge explosions, it is static and calm. The screenplay was very well thought and these 3 hours in cinema was worth it. I hope that we'll get 4 hours director's cut. Both film and fans diserved it.
Get Out (2017)
Why so hyped?
I still don't understand this film as a nominee. Okay, the screenplay was a fresh and surprising idea. Jordan Peele outdid himself making it happen in today's situation. I do understand that it is more important deal in receiving the nomination as a man of colour than actually the brilliance. Because for me the film itself was pretty... medicore. Neither the plot nor characters gave me any special feelings.
The story was simple. He goes to meet her parents and suddenly they are worse than he expected. Oh, and there's a huge house far away from anything, an awkward party and pretty girl. Sounds familiar? Idea with hypnosis was somewhat cool, but not really new one. Basically the key of Get Out is the racism. The main idea of white people using black people in XXI century turned into horror. Sorry for not so politically correct words, but it's raw truth. Apart from that it is minor horror film and I don't understand that Best Picture nomination. I was very disappointed after seeing it and now I am even more because Blade Runner was way better and it should be nominated instead.
Oscar for Daniel Kaluuya? Nope again. Speaking of acting, the background was way better. I am not even saying about the supporting roles, but Betty Gabriel, LilRey Howery or Lakeith Stanfield (who had literally two minutes onscreen) gave the whole film its thrill. Daniel himself got his moments while the hypnosis, but mostly the same things can be seen in any lame horror films about teens in scary house. Friendly reminder of some horror-crap such as The Cabin in the Woods (which also was way different, but just didn't have this something).
The best of 2017?
Three Billboards got plenty nominations in the main categories, especially two in Supporting Actor which is not so common. I must say, both earned without a doubt, however Rockwell stole the show completely. No wonder he received Golden Globe and I am counting on the Oscar for him as well. His Dixon is a complex stereotype. On one hand he's a little mentally challenged and very angry policeman, on the other - a person with principles. The way he is portrayed blew my mind. Sam makes it special and he steals every single minute. Woody on the other hand has more impact on the storyline, especially in the beginning. But his acting was so similar to what I've seen in True Detective, so it wasn't as impressive as it might be.
Frances McDormand is the soul of the film. She gives it character and power. As a strong mother whose child died tragically, she is a woman so independent, she runs out of any scale. Title billboards are some sort of a symbol of not giving up and the whole story is basically about that. What I enjoyed the most is that the film is a chapter from the book of Ebbing, Missouri. But it's neither first nor the last one. More like a piece of a story that never ends. The story of the living. It began somewhere and it ends, too, but nothing really starts and finishes at the same time.
Quite frankly, it was perfected in the smallest details. Even Tyrion Lannister (aka Peter Dinklage) and his heartbreakingly short role was just pure gold. And the dark humour is the one I enjoy.
About music - it was more of a good background than playing first fiddle. It was barely noticeable, in my opinion, however did make a good tension.