The Florida Project. Kids are deeply weird. I like how this movie holds to their perspective with a lower, child-height camera angles. And the colors! It’s largely episodic, but eventually adds up. The choices in the very very last scene didn’t work for me, but I forgive it easily. I liked Sean Baker’s earlier Tangerine, too.
The Revenant. Second viewing (the first). I appreciate it so much more this time around. Jumping out this time were the recurring trees that save his life or support him throughout. (“The wind cannot defeat a tree with strong roots. If you look at its branches, you swear it will fall. But if you watch the trunk, you see its stability.”) Like when he uses a branch as a cane. Or when injured, he’s hauled on a pallet of branches. When leaving his son for the last time, he turns away and props himself on a tree trunk. When escaping downriver, he floats on a log. He’s sheltered by an impromptu branch hut during a storm, a tree breaks his fall from a cliff, a tree branch makes a decoy when trying to lure Fitzgerald out of hiding. I also liked the nature interludes – elk crossing a river, buffalo stampede, avalanche – that make this epic tale seem so small, and nature indifferent.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I liked it, overall, and it had just enough small things to drive me a little nuts. Snoke is a misfire (just call Ed Harris! You have the budget!), and so were the various little animals. That one ship’s jump to light speed was sublime. And very good space debris throughout. I like our time with Rey and Kylo, and Poe’s debacles. Finn was wasted, unfortunately. Benicio Del Toro is the best, but I wish they could have found him some other way. The space chase could and should have been gut-wrenching, but something about the cuts and pacing made it just sort of… there. I wonder how I’ll feel whenever I rewatch it again. Of the latest batch, this ranks behind Rogue One. Filed under: Star Wars.
The Silence of the Lambs. Re-watch (previously). Masterpiece. I noticed the close-ups much more this time around. The face are very, uh, in your face. Jack Crawford might be the most unsettling character in the whole movie.
American Honey. Second viewing (the first). I still don’t know what to make of it, thematically, but I was entranced again.
The Master. Second viewing. I liked it a bit more than the first time I saw it. The argument at the party is such a great scene. I miss Philip Seymour Hoffman. :(
The Girl With All the Gifts. Has anyone written about how in movies, if a child is portrayed to be courteous and well-behaved with adults, we think they’re creepy? There’s just something off about a kid who cares a little too much about adults. I like the fine line this one walks, betraying our sense of what a happy ending should be. I think my favorite parts of zombie movies are when they have to sneak by them. This one has a couple good scenes like that, and they made me remember and appreciate similar ones in Shaun of the Dead, Train to Busan, and World War Z.
The Gift. Second viewing (the first). Very nicely done. Love the characterization through costume. Edgerton’s character consistently has something in the wardrobe that’s on the border of “uncool” and “unsettling”. Love how it shows people wrestling with intuition vs. manners, protection vs. politeness.
Annihilation. I dig it. Interesting to see scifi that leans so much on biology. One of those slower exploratory scifi movies that later gets crossed with some truly horrific gore (Stalker meets The Thing?). Great score, especially the climactic scenes. The music was so… three-dimensional. It felt novel somehow to have a discernible rhythm in there, not a long fermata.
Blade Runner 2049. Pretty. Good. Can’t say I like it as much as the original. I think they could have bumped the pace a bit without losing much. But there are far worse ways to bathe in goofy visuals.
Wind River. Man, this was great. I’ve been catching up on 2017 movies, and when I see ones like this and The Lost City of Z and Good Time, I start to wonder why we weren’t talking about them all year long. Wind River sits with its pain, a steady undercurrent of mourning, and explores how we accept loss, or find ourselves in some other endless form of pursuit, resignation, denial. Native American mistreatment is also a big theme, shown with visuals – contrast modest homes vs. trailer parks – or just ignorance, like when our well-meaning FBI agent bumbles through an interview with a victim’s family. At times the script feels more written than spoken, but that’s not so bad when the words are great. Director Taylor Sheridan also wrote the excellent Sicario and Hell or High Water.
Columbus. I dig it. There is definitely some Lost in Translation similarity. Two strangers finding another someone who’s a little lost, seeing each other down the road a ways. They each give each other the nudge they didn’t want to want, but know they need. I like how these characters sometimes get a little peevish with other. The script is rough sometimes, but every picture is lovely to look at.
Life Off Grid. This was a decent little documentary, profiling a few Canadians from each province who decided to disconnect, to one degree or another. It made me realize my instant association with “off the grid” is survivalist paranoiacs. Not fair, but there you go. Nice to have a broader perspective here. For many of them, going off the grid wasn’t the goal in the first place. It was a side effect of some other life choice. One guy, for example, just wanted to live with less money. Another couple, well, they liked the location, and electricity simply isn’t available out there. Each find their own way. Another common theme was the sense of responsibility and efficacy. Most of them talked about or hinted at ripple effects of their choices, the tensions between what they want, the effort it would take to attain it, and all the baggage that could come along. Also cool to see how each household approached common problems in different ways – water supply, grocery shopping, TV, poop, dishes. On the whole, the eastern Canadians seemed more… balanced? Mainstream?
Dunkirk. It is tremendous. Couldn’t look away for even a sliver of a moment. Out of all of Christopher Nolan movies I’ve seen, I’d rank this at the top. One thing that did him a favor is that the dialogue is so minimal. A trim, direct story so he can focus on the construction. I love the layered stories – the boat scenes being my favorites – that are racing to meet at the end, which we know with hindsight is only a beginning.
I haven’t updated my Christopher Nolan power rankings in a while, so…
- The Prestige
- The Dark Knight
- The Dark Knight Rises
- Batman Begins
That feels right for now.
Good Time. Hoo boy I loved it. An urban chase film where our protagonist keeps digging himself in bigger holes. The music is key – similar to how Thief and The Guest get so much grimy energy from their own moody, heavily electronic scores. Interesting choices to light scenes using only televisions, and in the roles that phones play in plot and theme.