30
Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #20 – #11

Do You See3 comments • 173 views

CiIKHzWVEAE2lJKHi, I’m Lori Quaid, just an ordinary boring housewife living my suburban life, doing housework and maintaining my 80’s hair. 2080’s hair of course, its 2084, the future where I live with my even more boring husband Doug. He’s so boring he doesn’t want to go on holiday but rather wants to have the memory of a holiday implanted in his head. Hooo – boy, is he going to be surprised when that all happens and I end up kicking him in the head a lot. You see I’m not really his wife. I’m basically a plot device. And as such, once I have sorted out stupid old secret agent Doug, and sent him to Mars, I’ll probably go back to that implant centre and get the best films from 2017 implanted in my head to watch. They are proper oldies to me!

Thanks Lori, I was always on your side. And yes I think you will enjoy this batch, with a few strong females who are more than just plot devices.

20: Your Name

A bit of a cheat here as it was actually released in the UK for a day only in 2016. But the dubbed version was released in 2017 so I allowed it. And it still stands as a terrific little fantasy, a body swop, catastrophe take on The Lake House, hitting a perfect tone for the humour in the first half that grounds the high melodrama in the second half. I am sure the dub is inoffensive, but this is a great bit of anime.

19: John Wick 2

Fighty fighty, kicky punchy. Keanu Reeves gets back into the suit, the film has a bit more money so can globe trot a bit more, but on the whole it is much more of the same just a bit more violent, a bit less focused and a lot more pointless. Still Keanu is always worth watching doing this kind of thing and the practical stunts do deliver a lot of OOOF for your buck.

18: Lady Macbeth

A bit like Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, Lady Macbeth takes the British period drama and shifts the perspective to a more modern, feminist position. It also rolls strongly with its lead identification character, who is hard enough to initially be admirable, and her actions are always understandable if increasingly horrific. Florence Pugh commands the screen and the film is composed and controlled enough to fool you into thinking it cost a lot more money. A regency version of don’t hate the player, hate the game.

17: Cameraperson

One of the great things about the more experimental trend in journalism, Cameraperson is a slightly more dour out-takes clip show. But what these out-takes tell us about the process of documentary, and about the person who is filming them is huge. Kirsten Johnson has worked with some of the biggest names in documentary, and we see takes from work with Poitras and Moore, but also we see how operating a camera is authorial, and how it is an empathy machine – both from the big projects and the more personal items she has shot. Plotless, without a clear timeline, with no linking narration or context, it tells a strong story about how cameras create stories on both ends of the apparatus.

16:The Beguiled

Sophia Coppola’s remake of the Beguilled has its critics (it doesn’t engage in the racial politics of the Civil War), but its female gaze makes it a fascinating pairing with the original with Clint Eastwood (watch the trailer to the original to see how many similar shots with a different gaze there are). The women are the stars here, and once Colin Farrell’s injured soldier starts to flirt you can see how the tensions between the women will stretch their relationships but eventually it becomes a very one sided battle of the sexes where the power imbalance leads to triumphant tragedy. A steamy little potboiler.

15: Logan

Perhaps it pushes its Shane / revisionist Western tropes too far but it takes almost twenty years of an often trashy and incoherent film franchise and creates a moving and satisfying conclusion for a wholly ridiculous character. It does that by granting Wolverine a surrogate child, an infirm father figure and a hopeless picaresque impotent quest, there are more Western cliches in here than you can throw a stick at. But the returning actors are so comfortable and pleased with how they are developed, Mangold leans into the myth making and there is a great physical performance from Dafne Keen. Franchises punt out so many films these days some will be good, and some will even end up being quite artful.

14: Manchester By The Sea

I saw Manchester By The Sea at the London Film Festival in 2016, and was impressed by the way it managed to create empathy with a man living with grief and guilt, and positing that growth still probably does not allow you to give all of that away. But I was also aware that Kenneth Lonergan, with all of his skill, ended up falling back on a number of less subtle tropes, the man who expresses with his fists what he cannot deal with verbally, the leaning on thoroughly manipulative (and cliched) music in scenes which did not require them. In one scene Michelle Williams does more, and conjures up a more interesting movie, and whilst It thing it is a hugely powerful piece of work, it didn’t really blow me away (and the Casey Affleck issues certainly haven’t help win it over for me).

13: Baby Driver

Speaking of actors with issues. Its OK, Kevin Spacey plays a despicable bad guy here. They all do. And perhaps that is my problem with Baby Driver, is its flip, impeccably sound synced car-dancical was – unlike any of Edgar Wright’s previous movies – in the service of terrible characters being cool. So yes, Baby had a pretty lousy upbringing, but he is still a car thief and dangerous driver, and perhaps looks saintly in comparison with the rest of the cast, but he isn’t. I am pleased therefore with his denouement, but there was half an hour of less fun cars grinding in car parks to get there. And also, the mid-nineties was not the golden age of soundtrack pop this film seems to think it was.

12: Blade Runner 2049

Did the world need a sequel to a flawed cult movie that even its own director is completely sure what the best version of it is. Did it want one that was almost an hour longer? Hmm, its box office receipts suggest not, but what Denis Villeneuve has done is to be faithful to the original without being slavish, to move on that vision and try to find something else in the mix of Philip K.Dick’s pulp and Scott’s monolithic art design (and even Harrison Ford’s original uncommitted acting). He succeeds on nearly all counts, with a beautiful, intriguing puzzle of a film, with some terrible politics and gnomic mysteries. It still feels like a lesser hit from the same drug, but that is a pretty potent drug.

11: Certain Women

Kelly Reichardt’s triptych of small town Americana yet again demonstrates how good she is at quickly creating low stakes but high intensity slices of life. Here she fits in three stories, all with development and drama and wonderfully played female leads, and all which feel contemplative and even slow in its swift running time. Of course the casting is impeccable, which makes the fact the film is more or less stolen by a newcomer Lily Gladstone even more impressive. The moments of emotion in the Gladstone/Stewart story contain some of the tenderest sequences of cinema last year.

Top ten is on its way…. Feel free to express your anxieties about the films that you now think might not make it below.

Comments

  1. 1
    Mark M on 30 Jan 2018 #

    Voted for:
    Lady Macbeth: Bracingly bleak, and an extraordinary central presence in Florence Pugh.

    Manchester By The Sea: I love this unreservedly. I know other people who had issues with the score in particular, but I didn’t notice it (maybe my ignorance of classical music helps), while I was paying attention to the sound design, which I thought was terrific. I generally have an issue with movies in which SOMETHING VERY BAD HAPPENS, but Lonergan seems to be able to make them in a way that I find totally satisfying.

    Certain Women: One of those films where you feel the director has made exactly the film that she set out to.

    Also saw:
    The Beguiled: Which I liked, but hasn’t lingered in my mind like some S Coppola films.

    Blade Runner 2049: So, so, so, so long. And barely anything happens. Slept for at least 10 minutes. Beautiful, yes, but I found it crushingly dull.

    Looking forward to seeing:
    JW2

    Logan

  2. 2
    Shucks Mahoney on 1 Feb 2018 #

    I haven’t seen Manchester By the Sea, but I’m convinced that John Wick 2 is a better movie about grief.

    BR:2049 was my #2 of the year, I adored it and still have sweaty dreams about Joe’s immaculate coat.

    Logan was great, even if some of the violence felt overdone (and I love violent movies, but damn). Thrilled to see it get that screenplay Oscar nom.

    Was driven to distraction by The Beguiled’s hyperactive editing – none of the shots ever settled, no tension was allowed to build, it was as if the movie couldn’t commit. But Dunst was spectacular.

  3. 3
    Pete Baran on 4 Feb 2018 #

    John Wick is a better film about grief. John Wick 2, less so.

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