It's hard to believe it, but we are already in the mid-point of 2017. Time is flying by. So I decided to make a list of the best movies I have watched this year. I think the best movies of 2017 are yet to be premiered. But we had some great releases in the first half of the year.
I'm not your negro
This is a documentary about James Baldwin and race in America. I’m not familiar with Baldwin’s work but his words are very powerful, and it was the right choice to frame the film around his writing. Raoul Peck created a great documentary with images linking the past and present to form a simple but powerful thesis around the idea of “the story of black america is the story of america”. I Am Not Your Negro is a heavy film but it made Baldwin’s work seem like a living, breathing document that both had it’s own points but could also support the narrative Peck was looking to tell.
Personal Shopper is such an unconventional film and probably one of the most interesting I’ve seen this year. It truly evades definition. Part-thriller, part-horror and very tense. The movie was deliberately not supposed to have a clear direction and leaves the audience with an unsolved problem that they must interpret on their own way. Kristen Stewart nailed her performance. She is without a doubt the most captivating young American actress right now. The sequence at the police station after she discovers her employer dead body is great acting! I love how she stumbles over words and starts stuttering. She really looked like someone in shock. I also loved the whole texting parts. I know that a lot of people hate it but, I thought it was masterfully done. Long, yes, but I love when film directors use new forms of communication to enhance the meaning of the plot of their movies.
Let me start off by saying that make a sequel of such an important and iconic film is a very risky thing. But T2 delivered. The sequel is all about getting old. About regrets. About nostalgia and how it can be a trap that stops people from moving forward. The flashbacks to the original are done beautifully and all characters are in a place that you would expect them to be. Great acting all round, Robert Carlyle is terrifying and Ewan McGregor slowly revealing his "inner" Renton was a delight. The cinematography is amazing, too. Danny Boyle is such a great director and he got so much better since the first film. The Choose Life scene was fucking awesome. And the soundtrack was really good but not as good the first movie, tough. I do have a few nitpicks about the plot. Which is not as tight as the first film. Like, Begbie breaking out of hospital and Renton saving Spud from suicide at just the right time all seemed quite lazy and convenient. Not to mention Begbie and Renton meeting in the toilet of a club. Overall, T2 is a completely different film to Trainspotting, while simultaneously borrowing from it and paying homage and being nostalgic for the original.
David Lynch: The Art Of Life
The Art Of Life looks at Lynch’s art, music, and early films. It shines a light into the dark corners of his unique world and gives the audiences a better understanding of the man and the artist. The documentary is incredibly moving and insightful. It’s like Lynch sat down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette and told you the story of his life. All of the old super eight film and photos really brings the whole thing to life. I was also surprised at how revealing it was. I went in expecting it would just focus on his art life, but the childhood and early life sections were really profound. Lynch is probably one of the greatest living filmmakers, a genius in regards to film, sound and editing. He is such a talented person. It was great to get such an in-depth look into his art side. I do wish there was a follow up that looks more into his film career past the shorts and Eraserhead. I’d love to know more about his filmmaking process. One day, hopefully.
I’m glad to see that M. Night Shyamalan is back to making good movies (last year’s The Visit was pretty good too). McAvoy was fantastic and really made you believe each personality was really a different person. Anya Taylor-Joy has become even more a powerhouse actress since The Witch. Split was next level stuff in comparison to Shyamalan previous films. The cinematography just floored me with how those shots were framed and filmed in such tight spaces. The atmosphere was intense and every time it cut to that dreaded hallway underground, it was so hopeless and claustrophobic. The twist at the end - genuinely surprising (and it gave us a M. Night Shyamalan cinematic universe), which is something that's hard to pull off these days.
The movie is about a strict vegetarian girl who goes off to the veterinary school, goes through hazing (they force her to eat raw meat) and finds out she has a taste for human flesh. The trailers of this movie do not give you an idea of the real tone of it or how weird it really gets. And trust me, It gets really weird. I heard all the stories about people vomiting and fainting in theaters while watching this film. So I thought it was just going to be absurdly violent and gory. But nah, it actually really tried to send a message and tell a good story. Raw do not shy away from trying to make you nauseous. Like I said, there isn’t a heavy amount of gore. But some scenes are discomforting. But honestly, I feel like I was made more uncomfortable by the scenes that portrayed the college hazing in France. I would not put up with that bullshit.
This is the Wolverine we should have been seeing all along. I mean, this movie really showed the real Wolverine. The one from the comics and explored him on a personal level. The relationships between Charles Xavier and Laura. Violence levels are high in this one, you'll see a lot of head stabbing. The action also felt contextual, and never gratuitous. The movie makes the most out of the R rating without being defined by it. This is important because the R rating is not just an excuse for violence, it is needed to tell the story they wanted to tell. I can't believe how incredible Dafne Keen was as X-23, I hope she gets the chance to play the character again. They took a big risk having a young kid playing such a pivotal role but it totally paid off. Thank you, Hugh Jackman for bringing one of the most beloved comic book character to life in such a nuanced and human way. Not all the movies may have always scored a home run, but you sure did. I highly recommend Logan, you really should go see it.
I really loved this movie. I wasn't so sure when I first heard that Jordan Peele was writing and directing a horror movie, but he really did a great job. This is definitely genre bender. Combining unsettling horror moments with some comedic moments. And I really liked how it kept me guessing about wtf was going to happen next. The acting and direction were top notch. Peele definitely has a future behind the camera. Also, the movie has a great social commentary. It spoke very well to race issues in modern society and avoided the stereotypical, one dimensional racism that is all too prevalent in movies that try to address race. Spoiler Alert! Do not reading this next part if you haven’t watch the movie. I thought that was a really smart twist in the end. Right when he calls 911, for a second, I thought the ending was going to be him getting arrested for killing all these white people. Great set up. Great movie!