Monday, July 3, 2017

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2017: We're Halfway There

So now the year is officially half-over, and I have seen but 37 films so far. The movies I'm saddest to have missed before the end of June? Battle of Memories (dir. Leste Chen), Raw (dir. Julia Ducournau), and Prevenge (dir. Alice Lowe), and I'm hoping to catch up with Okja (dir. Bong Joon Ho) and The Bad Batch (dir. Ana Lily Amirpour) in early July.

That are the 38 movies I saw, broken up into several categories.

Barely Remember
But what I do remember is...
  • Burning Sands (dir. Gerard McMurray) - The chick who plays the Whataburger employee the pledges run a train on is the standout.
  • Fifty Shades Darker (dir. James Foley) - That Zayn/Swifty song is oddly placed
If You Can't Say Anything Nice...
Zip ze lips, as my French teacher would say.
  • All Eyez on Me (dir. Benny Boom)
  • The Devotion of Suspect X (dir. Alec Su)
  • It Comes at Night (dir. Trey Edward Shults)
  • New Trial (dir. Kim Tae-yun)
  • XXX: Return of Xander Cage (dir. D.J. Caruso)

The rest of the 31, after the jump...
Ok, Say Something Nice
Generally not very good, except....
  • Alien: Covenant (dir. Ridley Scott) - The production design is great!
  • Beauty and the Beast (dir. Bill Condon) - I like the Beast's new song!
  • The Circle (dir. James Ponsoldt) - Glenne Headley and Bill Paxton are great together!
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (dir. James Gunn) - The VFX, I guess? The makeup?
  • The Last Word (dir. Mark Pellington) - Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried really click!
Guilty Pleasure
Made exclusively for me, apparently!

  • A Cure for Wellness (dir. Gore Verbinski) - The closest we've come to a classic Vincent Price flick since the 70s, with Jason Isaacs as the Dr. Phibes for a new generation. Bonkers, at times downright stupid, storyline; beautifully photographed and designed. I won't tell you it's good; I will tell you to see it.
  • Power Rangers (dir. Dean Israelite) - Advertised as the darker, more edgy version, but it quickly gives in to its source cheesiness - and thank goodness! Just a blast! I certainly hope to see more Ludi Lin and Becky G.
I came. I saw. I went home.
  • The King (dir. Han Jae-rim) - Scorsese Lite.
  • Lowriders (dir. Ricardo de Montreuil) - A look into a culture that is underrepresented in cinema, and a subculture that is fascinating, but wrapped in a by-the-numbers story.
  • Wonder Woman (dir. Patty Jenkins) - Another superhero movie, not too distinguishable from most of the others, though Gal Gadot is a capital-s Star.
Like It
Your results may vary.
  • All Nighter (dir. Gavin Wiesen) - Upends our expectations of how an action-comedy should go, great banter between J.K. Simmons and Emile Hirsch.
  • Colossal (dir. Nacho Vigalondo) - Anne Hathaway plays a great drunk, Jason Sudeikis is surprising, the script goes in unexpected places.
  • The Fate of the Furious (dir. F. Gary Gray) - The anti-XXX: effortless charm, audacious (but well-edited!) action sequences, proof of the starpower possessed by The Rock, Jason Statham, and Charlize Theron.
  • God of War (dir. Gordon Chan) - You think it's a glossy war movie, but no! Well, yes, but it's mainly a martial arts flick, with Sammo Hung and Yasuaki Kurata in grand supporting roles.
  • Kong: Skull Island (dir. Jordan Vogt-Roberts) - I need to write cinematographer Larry Fong a valentine, because hubba-hubba, this movie looks great.
  • I don't feel at home in this world anymore. (dir. Macon Blair) - Melanie Lynskey is at the center of this oddball movie, a blue collar, northwest-set, pulp-infused comedy that's just...weird. In a good way.
  • Strike a Pose (dir. Ester Gould / Reijer Zwaan) - Doc about the backup dancers on the Madonna Truth Or Dare tour that is by turns sad and triumphant. I wish it was longer!
Love It
If I saw it on sale, I might buy it!
  • Baby Driver (dir. Edgar Wright) - Great soundtrack, great editing, musical performances from Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx.
  • The Beguiled (dir. Sofia Coppola) - Sedate first half,  kookadoo second half, exquisite whole.
  • Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele) - Gripping suspense, and of course relevant commentary on race and class. 
  • The Great Wall (dir. Zhang Yimou) - Fun monster movie, full of tingling adventure, stunning costumes, and an ass-kicking Jing Tian.
  • King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword (dir. Guy Ritchie) - It's like the less money a Guy Ritchie film makes, the better it is. See also: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie (dir. Chris McKay) - Like its predecessor, both an a-plus deconstruction of genre and character, and a warm affirmation of the value of family, however you make yours.
  • The Lovers (dir. Azazel Jacobs) - When adults act like children, hilarity and heartbreak ensue.
  • The Mayor (dir. Park In-je) - City politics unique to Seoul, revealing that no matter where you are, politicians are much the same anywhere: calculating dirtbags.
  • Warriors of the Dawn (dir. Chung Yoon-chul) - It's about survival, honor, duty, the relationship between a king and his people - and heavens to Betsy, don't you just love Lee Jung-jae?
Gotta Have It
Drop what you're doing, these are the berries.

After the Storm (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda) - A quiet, moving character study of a washed-up writer/irresponsible father, struggling to connect, and those little moments that make up a life.

The Boss Baby (dir. Tom McGrath) - Just a wonderful tribute to imagination, creative and funny, and also unafraid of real feeling; it's not important how many times I cried, just know that I did, more than once.

Logan (dir. James Mangold) - Jackman's Shane, a surprising culmination of 17 years of mythology and character-building.

The Lost City of Z (dir. James Gray) - Next time someone says "they don't make 'em like they used to," ask if they've seen this, an epic in the tradition of Lord Jim and Lawrence of Arabia - and like those films, despite that epic scale, it is in fact quite intimate in its examination of a man's obsession. Of the few movies I've seen this year, this is my favorite.

Split (dir. M. Night Shyamalan) - Legit grisly.

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