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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:36 pm 
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I saw This is Congo this morning in NYC. It's absolutely wonderful. I can see an argument that it is reductionist for such a complex topic, but it manages to maintain a macro perspective. I flew into NYC this morning from South Africa after driving around Botswana and other countries for two weeks, so this is a really interesting topic to me.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:59 pm 
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Marshall is a fairly standard courtroom drama film but a necessary one in these times nonetheless. What I mean in that sense is that the story of Thurgood Marshall has been told in an age with a shocking resurgence of White Nationalism and Racism. It's not going to sweep the awards shows but having more films made by minority filmmakers is always a victory.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:57 am 
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Location: NYC
Glenn Kenny (one of a few notable film critics who has been a solid rock critic in the past) reviews the new Eric Clapton documentary, and not surprisingly it "falls short."


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:27 am 
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Big Ben wrote:
Marshall is a fairly standard courtroom drama film but a necessary one in these times nonetheless. What I mean in that sense is that the story of Thurgood Marshall has been told in an age with a shocking resurgence of White Nationalism and Racism. It's not going to sweep the awards shows but having more films made by minority filmmakers is always a victory.

I thought it was fairly decent, maybe surprisingly so. I thought it was a little surprising that the actual facts of the case are left to ambiguity to a large extent. Obviously the film cues you to believe one side over the other, but still, it would have been very easy to make it 100% clear to the audience what happened, and the filmmakers seem to make a conscious choice to not do that. It was nice for the film to trust its audience enough to handle the case that way.

And it's an interesting film in that it is released at a time when (I'm sure by coincidence) sexual assault is a hot-button cultural topic. How often has it been said lately that we have an obligation to "believe the accusers"? And yet, that's exactly what this film very pointedly asks us not to do. But it also has the decency to show that Marshall's instincts weren't always right and we get to see him misjudge situations and leap to conclusions that turn out to be dead wrong, as of course even the most brilliant people will do from time to time.

In terms of filmmaking craft, it's a pretty average film, nothing to rave about but it's put together competently. But as a political argument, it's more potent than I expected. I don't think it really dumbs down its subject matter as much as most social cause films do, and I think it's regrettable that it was all but buried theatrically. I wouldn't have seen it without my MoviePass, but having seen it, I feel like I'd have been missing out. It's pretty solid overall.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:33 am 
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Watched Brigsby Bear tonight and it was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. The concept is a little undercooked but still bordering on brilliant, but the fact that it's utilized in service of something so sincere and kind was really something unexpected. In the hands of an Adam McKay this would be a loud, rude, impossibly obnoxious film - but Kyle Mooney and Dave McCary have something more Be Kind Rewind in mind here and thank goodness for that. Is it maudlin? Absolutely. Are the motivations of the parents at the beginning of the film a little underdeveloped and messy? Yes, they are. But for a first film, this is a pretty amazing little gem that's a great showcase for Mooney, and an blindside of a convincing argument for the value of childhood nostalgia and fandom that melted the heart of this skeptic. See it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:14 pm 
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Location: Chicago, IL
The Mountain Between Us (Hany Abu-Assad)

This is a MoviePass movie if I've ever seen one, and for the most part it was as middle-of-the-road "fine" as one might expect. Some pretty mountain photography, solid but unremarkable performances, etc.

But one aspect did stand out to me: it has the most convincingly staged plane crash I think I've ever seen on film, helped along by the decision to film most of it from a very novel camera angle that simultaneously ups the visceral impact of it while providing an opportunity to hide the CGI. It's a scene that feels ripped from a Cuarón film, in a movie that otherwise showed virtually no creative energy.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:48 pm 
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Location: New England
Toivon tuolla puolen / The Other Side of Hope (Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 2017)

Kaurismaki is pretty close to the top of his game with this film, which blends real world horror and deadpan (often very funny) humor. I don't see any sign of the unimaginative treading ground already covered complained of by previous commenters (in part 7 of the Criterion speculation thread). Rather, I agree with MichaelB that this is top-tier work. Yes, AK has looked at refugee problems before -- but this is fiercer in its depiction of both macro and micro cruelty towards those who need help. It looks good -- and has great music. And Kati Outinen gets a nice little cameo appearance. The principal cast is just right for what they have to do.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
For those who have seen this, is the very last scene as (covertly) sad as I felt it must be


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:32 pm 
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John Shade wrote:
For those of you with younger kids, Boss Baby isn't a terrible waste of time. I prefer the kind of irreverence in a movie like this than what you get from Pixar/Disney. There are some good gags, interesting bits of animation when we see the imagination of the older brother, and Alec Baldwin as the baby was a running joke that made me laugh. His voice was a hidden asset of Royal Tenenbaums and is pretty amusing as the corporate minded, 30 Rock CEO turned infant baby. The central conceit that people prefer puppies to babies now is...an interesting choice.

This, uh, was somehow pretty good. A cute take on the usual older brother anxieties directed at younger siblings. Like a lot of childrens' entertainment, there are too many bathroom humor jokes, but there are plenty of pluses to counter this. I liked how the animation designs often had a CGI UPA look, and I laughed more than I expected. Plus more kids movies need a David Mamet joke


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:48 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Toivon tuolla puolen / The Other Side of Hope (Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 2017)

Kaurismaki is pretty close to the top of his game with this film, which blends real world horror and deadpan (often very funny) humor. I don't see any sign of the unimaginative treading ground already covered complained of by previous commenters (in part 7 of the Criterion speculation thread). Rather, I agree with MichaelB that this is top-tier work. Yes, AK has looked at refugee problems before -- but this is fiercer in its depiction of both macro and micro cruelty towards those who need help. It looks good -- and has great music. And Kati Outinen gets a nice little cameo appearance. The principal cast is just right for what they have to do.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
For those who have seen this, is the very last scene as (covertly) sad as I felt it must be
I'm with both of you. There was a humanity to this film that ran the full spectrum of emotions and I completely agree about the ending. A good balance of what can be/what really is with Kaurismaki's unwavering humorous outlook on the absurdities of it all.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:15 pm 
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The B Side is a perfect example of why Errol Morris is at his most effective with a toss off seeming subject. The short run time and the non-reaction to it only compounds a feeling that this is a b-side itself, but slowly the film weaves a number of strands, particularly on Ginsberg and Polaroid, which come to a very effective portrait which I suspect will after some time come to be be on Morris' upper half. Dorfman at first comes across as a footnote in history that is only the subject for Morris to have some excuse on baby boomer nostalgia, but then the film moves further and further away from fame and more and more into the idea of aging ending on a truly great image and idea.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:18 pm 
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I watched Terry George's The Promise as it was on Amazon Prime. I was a bit surprised to see a movie about the Armenian Genocide costing $90m but Kirk Kerkorian bankrolled the whole thing. It's a bomb, as you'd expect given its relatively niche aspect of history. The main thing that's emerged is its IMDB rating hoo-ha, where the Turkish diaspora were giving out zero scores, and the Armenian diaspora reciprocating with tens - all this before the films release. Oscar Isaac plays an Armenian medical student in Constantinople, Christian Bale's an American journalist - as WW1 rages, the Ottoman Empire deals with its Armenian 'problem'. It's all very one sided and the love triangle is a bit wishy-washy but aren't many historical dramas that way? It's fairly engaging nonetheless.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:30 pm 
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How does it compare to Fatih Akin's The Cut from a few years ago (or the Taviani's own take on this subject)?


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:54 am 
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knives wrote:
How does it compare to Fatih Akin's The Cut from a few years ago (or the Taviani's own take on this subject)?


Not seen either. It's a fairly formulaic Hollywood film so I wouldn't expect anything more than a Zhivago-esque set-up. I was thinking of Egoyan's Ararat too, but it's not comparable.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:03 pm 
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Has anyone seen Heinz Emigholz's Streetscapes [Dialogue]? This apparently screened at Lincoln Center back in April - I didn't even know about it and now I regret it because it seems to have made quite an impression on those who saw it. I can't imagine many seeing it - distribution seems to be confined to a handful of screenings outside of prestigious festivals, and it's likely to remain that way since it appears to be an experimental documentary - but Jim Hoberman, Dennis Lim and Jonathan Rosenbaum all placed it among their top FIVE films of the year.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:33 pm 
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thirtyframesasecond wrote:
knives wrote:
How does it compare to Fatih Akin's The Cut from a few years ago (or the Taviani's own take on this subject)?

Not seen either. It's a fairly formulaic Hollywood film so I wouldn't expect anything more than a Zhivago-esque set-up. I was thinking of Egoyan's Ararat too, but it's not comparable.

I’ve seen the making-of by Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost), which is doing the rounds parading as a documentary about the genocide, and it made its parent film look utterly trite, like an 80s mini-series or something.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:15 pm 
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I haven't seen any mention of Janicza Bravo's Lemon around here but it easily placed on my top ten for the year. The plot revolves around Brett Gelman's unstable and awkward director as he tries to stage Chekhov's "The Seagull" while dealing with a break-up and courting Nia Long. This makes it sound far more like a conventional romance than it is, but what follows is an odd collection of scenes where Gelman, Michael Cera, Gillian Jacobs, Judy Greer, and quite a few other notable comedians interact uncomfortably through purposely stilted dialogue. I found a sort of brilliance in the way these characters try to connect with each other, each seeming to have a clear thing to express but unable to communicate it well with another person. There's depth in the film's artifice, the people that populate it struggle to connect with others and while there's no real theme or purpose to the conversations they have they do their best to express themselves. I also enjoyed the small gag throughout the film of Jacobs rambling about some trifling matter and being cut off as the film transitions abruptly to the next scene.

The most notable thing to me was the division between the white and black characters. The film has a primarily white cast, but in a scene where Gelman goes to Long's family cookout the black characters show a comfort and ease of speech around each other that's largely absent from the white characters' dialogues. Bravo stated in an interview that she made this film after being fascinated with the type of films centering around middle-aged white men who suffer from a variety of anxiety and social issues but still come out ahead at the end. This film feels very much the antithesis of that, as nothing really resolves or changes for Gelman - no revelation about his behavior comes to light, and he's actually worse off by the end as his unhinged behavior isolates him further.


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 Post subject: Re: The Films of 2017
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:01 pm 
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Hey, Jordan Carlos has a cameo in Landline. That's cool and reason enough to watch. As for the film, I feel like it relies a little too much on Phillip Roth style gross out humour which never has and never will work out for me. That aside though this is really great improving on Obvious Child in a really satisfying way with a great sense of character and a classical sense of visual story telling that is unobtrusive. The way the characters just know each other is such an effective dramatic tool that focusing on the comedy makes sense. It has that Baumbach sense of the funnier a joke is the more a painful a pathos that creates across the whole.


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