Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 Over

There were a lot of good films this year. Fucking tons. The rural multiplex got bolder and bolder with their options, the usual festival visits yielded plenty of gems and what I didn't catch on the big screen I was able to make up with some discerning choices on the little screen.

In fact the cinematic wealth is such that although I've gone for a top twenty this year, there's no space to celebrate festival finds like Bad Genius, Downsizing or The Endless. There's no space to shine light on curios like Prevenge or The Love Witch, a pair that would usually shoo into a list like this and there's no space for Your Name, easily the most out there movie I'll ever watch on an IMAX screen in Telford. Ever.

On the small screen there's five standouts worth mentioning, they all easily challenge the top 5 cinema choices and had the ones with cinema release been shown closer, they'd almost certainly be in there. As well as all this wonderful good stuff there was also plenty of offal shovelled through the multiplex though. A lot of it I avoided but some of it I willingly went to, so i've done the usual ten worst films too where I try and find something to say about each one other than 'it's fucking shit'.

20 Favourite New Films That I Saw On A Cinema Screen

20: Bladerunner 2049

Some found Villeneuve's brave attempt to reconnect with the themes of Dick's novella whilst maintaining Scott's garish stylistic tics too slow and unwieldy, but the whole thing succeeds through being slow and unwieldy so tough shit.

19: Lowlife

A trio of character driven tales swamped in sleaze, crime and violence. Features both a mexican wrestler and a man with a full face swastika tattoo. Strongly recommended. The film, not the tattoo.

18: Logan Lucky

Soderbergh skewers his own fraught heist movies with this flawless, laidback piece about a robbery where everything goes right in a most satisfying fashion.

17: The Villainess [Ak-Nyeo]

Some of the most phenomenal action sequences of the year, or indeed in cinema full stop. These are the kind of action sequences that you desperately want to tell people about but then find you just cannot possibly convey them with mere words.

16: Thor: Ragnarok

Though most of the formula still sits tight; teams of indestructible heroes, an unstoppable all conquering evil that has only just appeared, huge populations threatened and slaughtered etc., the humour brought by director Waititi considerably freshens this stale form making for a Marvel entry that's impressive for the third in a trilogy, even more so fourteen films into a long form saga.

15: Mayhem

The best of Frightfest, a cathartic blast of workplace destruction that succeeds on its whip smart humour.

14: Logan

Whilst Warners are hopelessly failing to use grimness to legitimise the DC universe, Fox unexpectedly spat out the best X-Men movie so far by setting an unrelentingly grim tone and then capitalising on it. Often in slow motion.

13: Moonlight

Powerful performances and a story that deftly sidesteps expectations, it deserved its Oscar.

12: Raw [Grave]

Cannibalism as a dark teenage secret proves to be a most satisfying fit, all topped off with a beautifully nasty sting in its final minutes.

11:  Quality Time

The downright quirkiest film I saw this year which then out of nowhere blindsides you with a bit of forced introspection. Fantastic.

10: It Comes At Night

A horror movie that boldly squats in the abstract of dread instead of embracing full on screaming, gore fuelled terror making it far more of an uncomfortable experience than most modern horror.

9: Manchester By The Sea

One of the bravest endings I've seen on a film in a long time and coming after what precedes it, a solid punch to the gut.

8: T2: Trainspotting

Could have drowned in constant callbacks and nods to the past but instead harnessed the power of memory to forge an entirely new beast as thrilling as the first. Also better than all of the Terminator sequels.

7: The Disaster Artist

I have not seen The Room but from what's on show here it's clearly very bad with the director a monomaniacal madman and therefore the most unlikely source to drag pathos, nuance and humanity from. Which makes this superb character study all the more brilliant.

6: Creep 2

Contains everything that made the first film great (Mark Duplass being weird) and then seamlessly builds a new tale onto this with a direct continuation of tone and excellence.

5: Dunkirk

Every frame could be displayed in a gallery demonstrating an undeniably powerful visual storyteller at work as he creates vivid World War 2 reconstructions whlst having a bit of a fiddle with time.

4: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

An amazing Star Wars movie and with that lightsaber fight and everything you'd have thought this would be higher but y'know, sad horses and Benicio del Toro and stuff.

3: Get Out

Elevated from being the entertaining but fairly generic horror movie at its heart by an acerbic laceration of modern day race relations.

2: Death Of Stalin

To be able to wring comedy from such bleak events reqires the work of a master satirist, and Armando Iannucci is clearly just that. For fans of hooting out chortles of laughter whilst your brain is yelling 'What the fuck are you laughing at?'

1: Killing A Sacred Deer

I've always been a sucker for stuff that's weird and creepy and you don't get much weirder or creepier than this one. At times deeply uncomfortable, at times startlingly shocking, always with a surreality that becomes deeply unsettling, this has lingered on my mind like no other movie this year. Probably because there really was nothing else like it this year.

5 Favourite Films That I Saw On A Little Screen

5: Blade Of The Immortal [Mugen no jûnin]

Another Miike samurai movie is always welcome, especially one as excessive as this. I'm still waiting for another Gozu style movie but these'll keep me going until he does.

4: The Incident

The first film from Similars director Isaac Ezban is a fantastic time loop movie that takes its concept to mind expanding extremes.

3: The Handmaiden [Ah-ga-ssi]

Chan Wook Park back at the height of his game again showing off his usual triumvirate of sumptuous photography, labyrinthine plotting and a freaky octopus.

2: The Wailing

A most insidious manifestation of an ancient evil that toys with you as much as it does the poor hapless protagonists. Awesome.

1: Twin Peaks

Lynch stated that The Return should be viewed as an eighteen hour movie, in which case this definitive masterwork is easily the best movie I saw this year. If you're on the side that doesn't agree that it's a movie (which it isn't really, but it isn't really a TV show either) then the 3.5 hour edit of Fire Walk With Me can have its place instead. Whichever way you look at it Twin Peaks wins 2017.

10 Shittest Films That I Sat Through

10: Baby Driver

Ok, so in actuality there's plenty of worse films been shat out this year but this so woefully missed its mark it needs to be singled out. After a lot of stylish flourish the whole farrago descends into Tarantino on training wheels for a bit before spectacularly falling apart in a most unforgiving fashion whilst desperately pretending it hasn't by parading more style that grows hollow fast. A terrible let down.

9: A Cure for wellness

Insipidly dull. For two and a half fucking hours. Not best pleased with that result. Not even worth milking a shitty 'cure for insomnia' joke from that title.

8: Kong: Skull Island

Big budget atrocity that shows absolute disregard for basic ideas like scale, geography, plot, sense and fun but fully embraced being shit.

7: Psychopaths

The worst of Frightfest, an empty shell lacking in any ideas and draped in pretentious bloat. The thing then has the gall to try and excuse itself with a final mumbled monologue that only really succeeds in making you want to tell it to fuck right off.

6: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Another in a series of films where The Rock does a running face as he runs away from a lot of crap CGI. Or a thinking face as he's surrounded by a lot of bollocks CGI. Or sometimes an angry fighting face as he launches toward a lot of pissy hyperactive CGI. Or very occasionally an 'oh well' face as he's engulfed in a fuckload of shitty half arsed CGI.

5: The Dark tower

When faced with adapting a seven novel saga into a ninety minute movie it would appear that everybody involved decided to just toss off this bunch of limp bollocks instead whilst using some of the character names and a few references to give the impression that they did actually give a fuck about the books. Which they clearly didn't.

4: The Mummy [2017 Effort]

Gets the shared universe thing hopelessly wrong and tries to start the story roughly 3 films too late the consequence being that everybody looks like they're acting in a completely different movie to each other and they're all fucking shit.

3: Alien: Covenant

A witless attempt at prolonging some shit ideas from Prometheus, shit ideas that were themselves a witless attempt at prolonging Ridley Scott's output.

2: Split

Like all bad Shyamalan movies, both logic and sensible coherent characters are abandoned in order to allow for the reverse engineering of a twist. Only this time the twist is that the big bad guy goes a bit veiny and can climb about three feet up a wall. Throw in a poorly thought out child abuse sub plot that has no place in a film like this and you have by far the worst film I saw at the Cinema, and no even Bruce Willis can't fix this fucking disaster. No.

1: The Marsupials: The Howling III

In the pursuit of the true gems that are still plentifully unwatched amongst cinemas trashy underbelly you're inevitably going to sit through a few poor efforts. And then, putting them all in a vaguely favourable light, along comes this endless nonsensical soap opera about werewolves with pouches that completely and utterly dies on its arse about an hour in, but like any fresh corpse just keeps on dribbling out shit until you stop watching it. An absolute abomination.

Thanks for entertaining all the swears. And on we go.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Blade Of The Immortal [Mugen no jûnin]

Yet another Miike highlight, this time featuring non stop swathes of death and dismemberment as a master swordsman becomes immortal and forgets how to fight then stops being quite so immortal but becomes ace at fighting again.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Pigs [Daddy's Deadly Darling/ The 13th Pig]

Don't get me wrong, this is cheaply made with low production values, but there's a lot more going on here than you would have any right to expect when going in.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Silent Night, Bloody Night [Night of the Dark Full Moon/Deathouse]

If you were trim all the excess, unnecessary shots of people standing about doing very little you'd be left with a roughly six minute long movie that would still be fucking shit.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Tales From The Crypt

Another of Amicus' extremely British portmanteau selections this time adapted from the extremely American EC horror comics of the fifties. The most well known story features Joan Collins and a homicidal Santa, the best story features Peter Cushing being very sad and the worst of the five, a rare dip below the usual Amicus standard, is an overlong excuse to make somebody walk down an uncomfortable corridor.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi [IMAX 3D]

Ultimately brilliant despite distinctly being a film of two halves running in parallel, one of which is a stunning character driven continuation of the saga and the other a place to put everything else so it can be kept busy with fruitless, pointless tasks until required for the ending.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Disaster Artist

An excellent film that transcends mere lampoonery, moving instead toward admiration and pathos, all about the making of a film so shit it apparently transcends into genius.

Monday, 11 December 2017

All Through The House

Shit acting navigates a shitter script joining the dots between a series of deaths that are nothing more than a lot of jam being thrown at a lot of fairy lights whilst somebody stands close by and pretends to have acute abdominal cramping, with a fake knife sticking out of them, usually right after being scared by a cat.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Better Watch Out

Superb inversion of the usual babysitter in peril tale that strongly invokes Home Alone, but does so for a fantastic payoff. It's also one of those films that you should know as little about as possible when viewing, so if you are going to watch it then don't watch the trailer, don't look at that poster and don't read anything about it, in fact you should stop reading this now.
If you are not going to watch it, wrong - go back to the start and try again.