Thread: Filmlist 2018
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Old 27th Dec 2017, 22:39   #1
Noumenon
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Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
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Default Filmlist 2018

My last one was left half done, I expect the same fate awaits this!

01 White Dog (Fehér isten), 2014
A strange Hungarian movie, which starts off quite realist but escalates in unusual ways. It follows a young teen girl, Lilli, whose relationship with her pet dog Hagen is undermined by her unfriendly, estranged parents (problematic adults proving nigh universal here). Girl and dog are separated and the story continues, but the film spends at least an equal amount of time on the dog's story - and it's quite a performance, easily able to hold the viewer's attention. The animal action never feels staged, exactly, but not exactly naturalistic either, especially when things go way off the deep end. The film has a home-made quality at times, or better to say that some of the shooting/editing used to get around elements of violence feels a bit old-fashioned; but the final scene is pretty powerful stuff, and the final shot... strange.

02 Paddington
I'd only heard good things, and the appearance of a sequel with an equal reputation pushed me into risking a warmed heart. A joy from start to finish (and I loved that author Michael Bond got a fleeting cameo and a tip of the hat from his creation).

03 Brawl at Cell Block 99
After I watched Bone Tomahawk, probably about a year ago, I found myself wondering if writer-director S. Craig Zahler felt some kind of personal grudge against that part of the human anatomy I've best heard referred to as "the chin-rest". Having now seen Brawl on Cell Block 99 as well, I've come to the conclusion that I was wrong: it's heads he's got the problem with... In every way a crunching bit of crime-and-then-prison drama, though "drama" doesn't really cut it. It all gets a bit medieval (as do the prison sets, with a definite slide from the modern to the old school to the grimly Gothic visually underlining an impassive Vince Vaughn's progressive imperilment). Grit your teeth and enjoy.

04 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
It was pretty good. I admire the scope, and yet I feel like these films try to juggle too many things and suffer from bloat in a way that the original trilogy didn't; and that sense of over-reach is, sadly, balanced by under-reach in terms of dialogue - in this vast universe, it seems there are only so many familiar-flavoured soundbites through which galaxy-spanning drama can be played out. I don't think they are doing for the culture what the originals did; maybe that's not possible any more, but I suspect there's a next-level pop-scifi narrative overdue (but it won't be a remake/reboot, and it won't be a Marvel).

05 The Levelling
Sombre UK drama, but well-written, directed and played throughout.

06 Ma vie de Courgette (My Life as a Courgette)
A beautiful little animated film, following a small French boy who is sent to a foster home after his mother's death. Difficult subject matter is handled frankly and simply, and the result is a sweet, funny tear-jerker, really wonderfully done.

07 The Florida Project
Set in the shadow of Disney World, The Florida Project is America-gritty with a healthy dose of humour. It follows, mainly, the daily lives of a handful of kids from various families semi-permanently living in a row of run-down motels just the other side of the wall from every child's dream holiday. This side of that wall includes sub-minimum-wage employment or worse, and in the case of the children no education except for what they make for themselves or gleam from the often questionable behaviour of the adults around. It melds an almost documentary air with some great juvenile performances, and the adults (led by Willem Defoe) get it all right too.

08 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Continuing a pretty stellar start to my viewing year, this is probably an Oscar-level effort on at least four counts: Francis McDormand for Best Actress, Sam Rockwell for Best (probably Supporting, although I'd say) Actor, and writer-director Martin McDonagh for either of those. Skates knowingly close to cliche but steers clear each time, and made me laugh aloud on several occasions. Not bad for what's at times a harrowing drama. Edit: I posted this just before the Golden Globes gave this three out of the four, so I was feeling pretty smug right then...

09 The Shape of Water
I'll need to think about whether three stars is too stingy, or whether (to take a fairy-tale tone) it's just right. Much like Pan's Labyrinth in that it transplants archetypal fantasy into an oppressive historical setting, here we have something akin to Beauty and the Beast played out against Cold War '50s America. It's not as good as that predecessor, but I found it enjoyable throughout - Michael Shannon is always a treat, and Sally Hawkins led the line well (she was good in Paddington too!).

10 Cop Land
Watched due to recently seeing someone on Youtube talk about the project's interesting history as a darling-script that was passed around Hollywood for years before finally being made, and (given limited success on release) its somewhat retrospective acceptance as a bit of a classic. And I thought it was not bad.

11 Coco
Really, very nice. A little predictable in the core twist but, as is often the case with me and animated family heart-warmers, there was not a dry eye in my face well before the end.

12 Jack Reacher
Tracked down and put away solely because the first JR novel was such a good read in 2017. And this is, meh, it's fine. Something to play in the background while you do other things. But not bad.

13 Zombieland
Repeat viewing, mainly because I've recently signed up to Amazon Prime in Spain (it's so cheap, about a quarter of the price for the UK!) and I'm trying it out (also why I tried Jack Reacher, come to think of it, and watched in a similar manner).

14 Eastern Promise
Another spur-of-the-moment retread courtesy of online streaming. Viggo Mortensen is really good, but my reaction now is exactly as it was ten years ago - that the film is tonally weird, with Naomi Watts' soapish home life so flat it could be a photo, while all the other gangsters play it so over-blown you could be watching a scenery eating contest. Parts of the script are just clumsy, much of the on-screen style feels drab, yet whenever Mortensen in on screen he's fascinating. Apart from in that nothing final shot, which doesn't do what it ought to for me.

15 The Deer Hunter
It must be twenty years since my first and only previous viewing, and my recollections of The Deer Hunter were about 80% accurate. I think I imagined a tidier version of Cimino's film, one that was maybe half an hour shorter and ended on the striking symbolism of Mike's sparing the buck, rather than that moment preceding his return to Saigon to rescue Nick. Still an engrossing film; the ensemble cast embodying small-town life are excellent, and in the first Vietnam face-off the expression of traumatic emotional damage by John Savage, Robert De Niro and (especially) Christopher Walken is pretty devastating.

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Last edited by Noumenon; 21st Jan 2018 at 0:14.
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