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Feb 20

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2019: #20 – #11

Do You See + FT5 comments • 288 views

Here we go into the top twenty. At this point, those of you who have a big picture view of this kind of thing can probably do the maths and work out that there are more than ten obvious films left – so some things didn’t make the cut.

From this batch we start to get films which had over four nominations, often the big blockbusters and crowd pleasers start to appear. But also still a smattering of smart arthouse choices – you have sports bars, resurrection and electrical monsters solving crimes in here…

20: The Day Shall Come
Chris Morris’s belated follow up to Four Lions feels exactly that – too late. Its theme from satirical take on the FBI inventing targets to justify funding is repeated in a more serious turn in The Report, but here Morris can’t get the tone right. Anna Kendrick tries her hardest to balance the gung ho chase for promotion and results, but it rubs difficulty against the subject of their investigation – Marchánt Davis’s Moses. He is our innocent, but also the film wants to have fun with his place as cult leader whilst also offering up mental health issues and a willingness to trade with nukes. An odd misstep which culminates in having a title which is absolutely impossible to remember.

19: Atlantics
Mati Diop’s supernatural romance manages to balance its gritty real-life setting (the risks taken by sea traveling economic migrants) with an altogether more dreamy story. Like all good ghost stories, it doesn’t start like that at all, and as our heroine slowly realises she has been left behind, and then the reality of her arranged marriage the supernatural slowly seeps in. Perhaps the final connective tissue is a little too convenient, but Diop creates empathy along with an unsettling with a genuinely creepy tone where the social commentary is naturally embedded in its story.

18: Happy As Lazzaro
I saw this at the London Film Festival in 2018 – and it has stuck with me since as bravura film-making. Alice Rohrwacher continues her interest in religious themes, but here with a bold run of magical realism which also contains at its heart a fascinating parallel with reality. Indentured servants on an Italian island are discovered, and we discover what we thought might be a 19th Century tale is something else. A few shocking reversals down the line, we end up in modern Italy, our miraculous naif Lazzaro questioning modern life. Rich with allegory, beauty and despite a shaky end, a great piece of art.

17: The Souvenir
Joanna Hogg’s film is acutely observed and in many ways quite difficult to watch, a upper middle class British woman slowly working through a controlling and belittling relationship to hopefully find her voice at the end of it. The partner is awful, you soon discover a long term drug user and yet the film lets you in to her world and because it is so suffocating, the eventual release becomes more powerful. I particularly liked the way it drew the world of the early eighties, a West London flat occasionally invaded by news items with sectarian violence, the randomness of which is a parallel to the relationship.

16: Border
Border is a film of two halves – one which is strongly allegorical – details the life of the physically unusual TIna, a Swedish border guard who seems to have a supernatural ability to sniff out the truth in people. She meets someone who resembles her and discovers her heritage. This part is equally creepy and empowering, Tina discovering what she really is. And then the film takes a turn, delves ito its own mythology and for me lost some of its power – though it was an undeniably compelling watch. At the heart of it is a great performance by Eva Melander – yearning to fit in, but also discover what she is.

15: Eighth Grade
It took forever for Eighth Grade to come out in the UK, but was worth the wait, even if the strongest reaction a lot of people had to it was anxiety. A intensely observed story of Kayla, hugely introverted but also wannabe Youtube vlogger, offering advice about confidence that she doesn’t have. It captures perfectly a type of pre-teen angst where all you can do is feel empathy for her and tell her that it will probably be alright (there is a sequence with her father where she talks about destroying her dreams which is devastating). Performances are great, and it also has one of the years best discordant soundtracks. It is a tough but rewarding watch.

14: Detective Pikachu
So yes there are a lot of Pokemon fans on FreakyTrigger, which might be why this is here, but of all the high concept swings on big budget films last year, this is the one that surprising worked the best. I was hugely dubious, particularly when Ryan Reynolds was bought in as the voice of Pikachu which suggested this would end up as Deadpool for kids. But Reynolds works really well, the teen protagonists are solid and it is interesting that when you just get to wallow in a lightly dressed London as Jump City, swarming with background pokemon, it looks so right. Setting a noir in that world, rather than following a standard Pokemon trainer storyline, brought back some of the whimsy inherent in the property, and was fun.

13: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
I don’t have to be consistent in what I like about action movies – but the John Wick films certainly push me to the edge of some of my comfort zones. On the one hand I like the action to be ridiculous and over the top – well Wick will do that with horses and dogs and ridiculous 360 glass room fights. I also like clear choreography – which again you can generally rely on Reeves to deliver. And I don’t really care that much about plot, which is fine because Wick 3 has now got so little actual plot, but so much complex mythos that I find it deadening. Reeves’s stoic superman offers me all I really want in a dumb action film, and like a kid in a candy store, I think I want more.

12. Captain Marvel
The twenty first film in the MCU, so of course diminishing returns with certain aspects of the film. On the other hand, the first to have a sole female lead, and the decision was made to fold this story into the past – if only to give us plenty of Sam Jackson young (fun) Nick Fury action. So with all the familiar, what comes out well. Brie Larson sells the complex identity issues, and some canny casting and plotting obscures who the baddies are for a bit. End it with pyrotechnics, some timeline unjustified Nirvana and it all whet the appetite nicely for the twenty second film in the MCU.

11: Support The Girls
This was my favourite film of 2019 (2018 other territories) and sadly my 20 votes didn’t quite push it in to the top ten. I guess it was underseen (its now on Netflix), but Andrew Bujalski’s little workplace comedy is an absolute gem. I suppose its setting, a off-brand Hooters-style sports bar in a strip mall also may put people off. But it is that rare thing, a film about work, how we survive shitty jobs, how we can build a community in them and how we support each other. At the heart of it is a terrific central performance from Regina Hall who holds the women together, it feels real, it is funny and there is something for everyone to recognise.

Top Ten imminent with SHOCKS – SURPRISES and some NOT SHOCKS too….

Comments

  1. 1
    Mark M on 1 Feb 2020 #

    Voted for:
    Eighth Grade – I found it very stressful, but it is an acute film for our times. Before I saw it, I had not watched much on YouTube made by YouTubers, now I’ve seen more, and so reckon this is very precise, as I guess you’d expect with the writer-director’s background.

    Support The Girls – my favourite film of the year, too. My guess as to why it hasn’t found much of an audience is that it doesn’t fit neatly into a category: not an out-and-out comedy, while not containing more drama than you’d encounter at a very bad day at work. Hall is so good, though, and it’s a marvellous film, and I really hope it picks up traction on Netflix somehow.

    Saw but didn’t vote for:
    Atlantics – which is very good.

    The Souvenir – which is my ‘but why do people like it so much?’ film of the year. I admittedly had huge expectations: I loved Exhibition, Joanna Hogg’s previous film, I like carefully made* movies set in the relatively past and the buzz about this one massive for months. But I found it impossible to give a fuck about clueless posh girl stuck in a relationship with a bloke who is blatantly no good from very early on. As with Cold War last year, I think I’m particularly resistant to big doomed love stories where the woman doesn’t just dump the chump already. Also, the use of some of the songs – eg Shipbuilding, Ghost Town – was ridiculously obvious. I think it’s certainly worth seeing, but I was baffled by the intensity of the love for it.
    [*There’s a fair amount of anachronistic language, improvised I think, by the minor characters tough].

    Captain Marvel – Which is fine. I don’t think it’s a film the world desperately needed (other than letting a woman get the spotlight, obviously), Boden & Fleck have made far, far, far better films before, but it’s entertaining enough, Samuel L Jackson gets the only non-terrible CG de-ageing I’ve ever seen and even the presence of that terrible actor from Lee doesn’t ruin things.

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 1 Feb 2020 #

    Happy As Lazzaro is on Netflix too and I highly recommend it. The Souvenir worked for me, but I totally understand people who don’t like it (and whilst you’re not wrong with the soundtrack – it is partially at a piece with the character getting a little more sophisticated as a film-maker). Part II will be interesting, though I imagine you might not bother!

  3. 3
    Mark M on 1 Feb 2020 #

    No, I definitely plan to see part 2 of The Souvenir – I’m hoping it will help me make sense of the first one. Also, I think Hogg is a filmmaker worth supporting.

  4. 4
    dollymix on 2 Feb 2020 #

    I liked Support The Girls but I forgot about it when it came to this list (I think it came out quite a while ago in the US) so you can mentally put it in the top 10 if it makes you feel better.

    Other than that, I saw:

    Captain Marvel and John Wick 3, both of which were fine but on the weaker ends of their respective franchises.

    The Souvenir, which was beautiful to look at but about which I shared some of #1’s reservations. Also, it felt like it ended somewhat arbitrarily, which made sense when I found out there was going to be a part 2. I could imagine upwardly revising my opinion if the sequel is good.

    And about a quarter of Eighth Grade, which was too painfully awkward for me to finish.

    Looking forward to Lazzaro and Atlantics, when I eventually get around to them.

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 5 Feb 2020 #

    I saw very few films at the cinema last year so my choices were pretty mainstream. I did see a fuzzy copy of John Wick 3 online but forgot about it which probably reflects accurately on its quality IMO . I did see Captain Marvel and enjoyed it well enough to vote for it but it’s not one for the ages.

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