ENTRIES IN PART 1:


 


AFI (Australian Film Institute) Research Collection

A specialist collection of film and television reading materials located at RMIT University

The following list is the favourite films this year seen by members of the team at the AFI Research Collection, in alphabetical order

Favourite recent releases
L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen Love, 2016)
Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan, 2017
I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck, 2016
Les innocents (The Innocents, Anne Fontaine, 2016)
Lion, Garth Davis, 2016
Nelyubov (Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017)
The Square, Ruben Ostlund, 2017
Visages, villages (Faces Places, JR, Agnes Varda, 2017)

Favourite films from Melbourne Cinematheque screenings in 2017
The Night of the Hunter, Charles Laughton, 1955
No Country for Old Men, Ethan & Joel Coen, 2007
Safety Last!, Fred Newmeyer & Sam Taylor, 1923
Una giornata particolare   (A Special Day, Ettore Scola, 1977)

 

ANTTI ALANEN

FILM PROGRAMMER, CRITIC, HISTORIAN, HELSINKI, FINLAND

In order of viewing:

Favourite Finnish Films
Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
Suomi radalla (Just Can’t Stop,
Jay Kowski, Tiina Hiekkaranta, 2017)
Sore Eyes for Infinity 
(Elli Vuorinen, 2017)
Radio Dolores (Katariina Lillqvist, 2017)
Neljä elementtiä (Life in Four Elements
, Natalie Halla, 2017)
Viraali (Virality,
Thomas Laine, 2017)
Lauri Mäntyvaaran tuuheet ripset (The Thick Lashes of Lauri Mäntyvaara, 
Hannaleena Hauru, 2017)
Miami
(Zaida Bergroth, 2017)
Ikitie (The Eternal Road, 
AJ Annila, 2017)
Tuntematon sotilas (Unknown Soldier, 
Aku Louhimies, 2017)
Armomurhaaja (Euthanizer, 
Teemu Nikki, 2017)
Yösyöttö (Man and a Baby
, Marja Pyykkö, 2017)

I’m still looking forward to seeing Machines (Rahul Jain, 2016 – Finland is one of the production countries) and Toveri, missä olet nyt? (Comrade, Where Are You Now, Kirsi Liimatainen, 2016 – Finland / Germany), both probably among the top releases of the year.

Favourite Restorations
Poil de Carotte (Julien Duvivier, France 1926), Lobster restoration with a Gabriel Thibaudeau score.
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, France 1985), Why Not
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, USA 1991), Cohen Film Collection.
Un carnet de bal (Julien Duvivier, France 1937), Gaumont. The complete version.
Soleil Ô (Med Hondo, Mauritania 1970), The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.
The Road Back (James Whale, USA 1937), the complete version is Whale’s masterpiece.
Kafka geht ins Kino / Kafka va au cinéma / Kafka Goes to the Movies (Hanns Zischler & Stefan Drössler), brilliantly inspired, also available on DVD.
Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, Great Britain 1966), at last a brilliant copy is available again.
Varastettu kuolema (Stolen Death, Nyrki Tapiovaara, Finland 1938), the Finnish pre-war avantgarde milestone finally in its integral form.
Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d’un clown (Jean-Pierre Melville, France 1947), a Melville 100 jubileum restoration.
Finlandia (Erkki Karu, Finland 1922), KAVI and RSO, a Finland 100 jubileum restoration.
Tableaux vivants, curated by Valentine Robert for Le Giornate del Cinema Muto. A pioneering coup in film presentation.
Der Golem (Henrik Galeen, Germany 1915), Filmmuseum München. A revelation

FRANCISCO ALGARĺN NAVARRO

EDITOR AT LUMIÉRE MAGAZINE, PROGRAMMER AT XCÉNTRIC

Not differentiating between films seen for the first or the second time:
“…” Reels 1-5
(1988), A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea (1991), Crack Glass Eulogy (1992), Creation (1979), Faust 1-4 (1987-88), Passage Through a Ritual (1990), Sexual Meditations (1971-73), Star Garden (1974), The Governor (1977), The Horseman, The Woman, and the Moth (1968), Trip to Door-Jane and the Kids go to Town (1971), Stan Brakhage
17 Reasons Why (1987), Triste (1978-1996), Nathaniel Dorsky
1857 (Fool’s Gold) (1981), Illuminated Texts (1982), Permutations and Combinations (1976), She Is Away (1976), The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1979), R. Bruce Elder
A Distant Echo (George Clark, 2016)
A Film by Charles Baudelaire (1970), Au-delà de cette limite (1971), Berlin oder ein Traum mit Sahne (1974), La Bataille de Waterloo (1975), La Clef de l’horloge (1957), La Lune (1970), La Pipe Satire (1969), Monsieur Teste (1974), Projet pour un Poisson (1971), Un jardin d’hiver  (1974), Un seconde d’éternité (1970), Marcel Broodthaers
A Ilha dos Amores (1982), Mudar de Vida (1966), Paulo Rocha
A Menina Maria (1972), As Três Graças (1972), Casa sobre Casa (1972), “Coisas” (1972-73), D. Jaime ou a Noite Portuguesa (1974) Manuela (1972), Murnau (1972), O Construtor de Anjos (1978), Padres (1975), Sem Título I (1972), Sem Título II (1973), Luís Noronha da Costa
Ai-Yé (1950), Jazz of Lights (1954), Ian Hugo
Ana (1982), Jaime (António Reis, 1974), Rosa de Areia (1989), Trás-os-Montes (1976), António Reis, Margarida Cordeiro
Anselmo and the Women (1986), Cosas de mi vida (1976), Señora con flores (1995/2011), Chick Strand
Domestic Blue (2005), Door # 2-37 (1997), Fancy (2006), Meat Dry 02 (1999), Nice Biscuit # 1 (2005), Red Rooster (1987), Sodom (1989), Luther Price
As Above, so Below (1973), Larry Clark
Ausländer: Teil 1 (1976), Die Donau rauf (1969), Dürfen sie wiederkommen? (1971), FosSur-Mer (1972), Wie macht man Glas (Handwerklich) (1970), Zsóka & Peter Nestler
Bad Mama, Who Cares (Brigid McCaffrey, 2016)
Bagatelle II (2016), New Shores (2013), Marginalia (2016), Jerome Hiler
Barn Rushes (1971), Blues (1969), The Red Thread (Larry Gottheim, 1987)
Bells Are Ringing (Vincente Minnelli, 1960)
Black Is (1965), Black Trip 1 (1965), Black Out (1965), Black Plus X (1966), Black Trip 2 (1967), Aldo Tambellini
Bless Their Little Hearts (Billy Woodberry, 1984)
Capitale-paysage (1982), Michel Nedjar
Chinese Checkers (Stephen Dwoskin 1963)
Configuration in Black and White (2017), Resonances (1985-2016), Helga Fanderl
Chronique atopique (1981), Jaune et bleu II : Les Illes (1984), Juste avant midi (1986),
L’Alphabet des animaux (1984), Pascal Auger
Divine Horsemen (Maya Deren, 1951)
Documentary Footage (1968), Production Footage (1971), The Director and his Actor Look at Footage Showing Preparations for an Unmade Film (1968), Morgan Fisher
Earth message (1970), Studies in Images (de) Generation (1975), Corinne Cantrill, Arthur Cantrill
Electro-Pythagorus: A Portrait of Martin Bartlett (Luke Fowler, 2016)
Envios (2005-2017), Puchuncavi (2014-2017), Jeannette Muñoz
Essai de reconstitution des 46 jours qui précèdèrent la mort de Françoise Guiniou (1971), L’Appartement de la rue de Vaugirard (1973), Christian Boltanski
Flash Passion (Maria Klonaris, 1970), Smoking (Katerina Thomadaki, 1975/2016), Unheimlich I: Dialogue Secret (1977-79), Unheimlich III: Les Mères (1981), Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki
For Ever Mozart (Jean-Luc Godard, 1996)
Four Women (Julie Dash, 1976)
Francisca (Manoel de Oliveira, 1981)
Fugue: A Light’s Travelogue (Els van Riel, 2017)
Furuyashiki Village (1982), Sanrizuka – Heta Village (1973), Sanrizuka – Peasants of the Second Fortress (1971), The Magino Village Story (1986), Ogawa Productions
Gas Station (Robert Morris, 1969)
Gaudí asesinado por un tranvía (1968), India-Nepal (1971), Komik (1969), La mirada errante (1970), Nubes (1969), Passacaglia y Fuga (1975), Jorge Honik
Glass Face (1975), Hand Held Day (1974), Pasadena Freeway Stills (1974), Gary Beydler
Hic et Rosa. Partition botanique (Anne-Marie Faux, 2007)
I’ve Always Loved You (Frank Borzage, 1946)
Itinéraire de Jean Bricard (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 2008), Le Genou d’Artémide (Jean-Marie Straub, 2008)
Je ne suis pas morte (Jean-Charles Fitoussi, 2008)
Jerovi (1965), Lupe (1966), José Rodríguez Soltero
Kohayagawa-ke no aki (Yasujiro Ozu, 1961)
Killer of Sheep (1978), Several Friends (1969), The Horse (1973), Charles Burnett
L’Amour fou (1968), Va savoir + (2001), Jacques Rivette
L’Eau de la Seine (1983), Lacrima Christi (1978-79), Le Déjeuner (1988), Le Voyage au Méxique (1990), Paris juillet 89 (1989), Parvis Beaubourg (1981-82), Proménade (1988), Sacré-Coeur (1981-83), Sol y sombra (1988), Tables d’hiver (1979), Tranches (1987), Une partie de campagne (1990), Teo Hernández
L’Homme nu (1969), La Source de la Loire (1970), La Vache qui rumine (1970), Portrait (1973), Georges Rey
La Pêche Miraculeuse (1995), Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1986), Cécile Fontaine
Le Carrosse d’or (Jean Renoir, 1952)
Le Ciel est à vous (Jean Grémillon, 1944)
Le Navire Night (Marguerite Duras, 1979)
Lougarou de Nouillorque (1978), Passage du thermomètre (1982), Pluie de roses (1984), Rumeurs Saint-Mur (1986),  Jakobois
Madame Hyde (Serge Bozon, 2017)
Maria (2011), Sakura, Sakura (2015), Susan + Lisbeth (2012), To Be Here (2013), Four Diamonds (2016), Ute Aurand
Melting (1965), Olivia’s Place (1966/74), Thom Andersen
Morir… dormir… tal vez soñar (Manuel Mur Oti, 1976)
Mosaïc (2001), Noor (2003), PFFFHP TT! (2012), Deborah S. Phillips
No Night, No Day (1997), Silent Partner (1977), Peter Gidal
No President (Jack Smith, 1967-1970)
Notebook (Marie Menken, 1940)
Old Hat (2016), Zach Iannazzi
On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sangsoo, 2017)
Penthesilea (Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen, 1974)
Porch Glider (1970), Three (1974) Two Figures (1980), James Herbert
Quatre nuits d’un rêveur (Robert Bresson, 1971)
Potamkin (Stephen Broomer, 2016)
Recreation (Robert Breer, 1966)
Right On! (Herbert Danska, 1970)
Ruskin (1975/1997), The Painting (1972/99), Robert Beavers
Shape of a Surface (Nazli Dinçel, 2017)
Seven Days (Chris Welsby, 1974)
Sous le soleil (Rose Lowder, 2011)
Star Spangled To Death (Ken Jacobs, 1956-2014)
Ten Mornings Ten Evenings and One Horizon (Tomonari Nishikawa, 2016)
The Children’s Trilogy (Joseph Cornell, 1940-69)
The Crack-Up (Jonathan Schwartz, 2017)
The Illiac Passion (Gregory J. Markopoulos, 1967)
The Killer is Loose (Budd Boetticher, 1956)
The Patsy (Jerry Lewis, 1964)
Three Portrait Sketches (Margaret Tait, 1951)
Ticino (Friedl vom Gröller, 2017)
Trópico desvaído (Valentina Alvarado, 2016)
Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, 2017)
What I Remember (Antoinnette Zwirchmayr, 2017)
White Heart (Daniel Barnett, 1975)

Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2017)

JUAN CARLOS AMPIE

FILM CRITIC BASED IN MANAGUA, NICARAGUA. HIS REVIEWS ARE PUBLISHED IN LA PRENSA, CONFIDENCIAL, AND HIS PERSONAL BLOG

1. Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016)
Martin Scorsese’s passion project is the religious film even an atheist can love. Its acknowledgement of evangelization as a colonialist weapon did not diminish its belief in the power of faith.

  1. Double Feature: America the poor and the beautiful

Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)

Hollywood points its camera to the poor so rarely, that whenever it happens, it feels like a miracle. Soderbergh’s heist comedy soars on the minutely observed performances of its excellent cast. Nobody else can get so much out of underused actors. My favourite moment is the brief scene between Channing Tatum and Katie Holmes. A whole love story gone wrong flashes through her eyes when she opens the door to her ex-husband. A life told in two or three shots, and a glance.

American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)

A lovely coming-of-age story, executed in the wasteland of the American dream. Andrea Arnold finds beauty among the squalor, building an intimate epic of self-discovery. Newcomer Sasha Lane is amazing as a girl running away from a broken home and into the arms of a gang of teenage grifters. She basks in the glow of the communal love, and the attention of its male lead, a never better Shia Labeouf. It’s only a matter of time for the con to reveal itself, and her to smarten up.

  1. Double Feature: Artists can be such a pain

mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

The best comedy of the year. A genial shape-shifting, multi-purpose allegory. The biblical and ecological motifs are obvious. What I found most interesting was its portrait of the wages a woman must pay for the creative life her man chooses to live. Jennifer Lawrence makes the myth breathe and bleed. Michelle Pfeiffer is hilarious as a pissed-off Eve figure. And thank God Kristen Wigg was not around in the time of the tyrannical Latin American juntas.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach, 2017)

Noah Baumbach warmest, funniest comedy to date. Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller explore new depths as brothers building their lives as a quiet refutal to the emasculating father they love. The maddening instability only close family can bring to your life is invoked by cutting episodes in media res.

  1. Double Feature: The building of the self

Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)

Chilean Pablo Larraín performs a neat hat trick, tumbling down cultural and gender barriers. Who would have thought a Chilean man would be able to create such an empathic, éloquent portrait of the ultimate female American icon? Natalie Portman is riveting, turning Jackie Kennedy into a woman violently robbed of her identity, who must rebuild herself under the scrutiny of the whole world.

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)

The down-low is history. Barry Jenkins lovely observed movie portrays how a man makes peace with his sexuality, while negotiating the parameter of blackness and masculinity that society imposes on him. The “Won-Kar-Way on Miami” aesthetics are intoxicating.

  1. Shan he gu ren (Mountains May Depart, Zhangke Jia, 2015)

This is the way the world changes, with money and technology setting the pace, steamrolling over men and women, too taken by their own private dramas to notice.  Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang and Jing Dong Liang play a love triangle for the ages. Zhangke Jia umps over time to recreate for us the passage of life itself. As poignant as cinema can get.

  1. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, 2017)

Netflix Latinamerica used to release the episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return on Mondays at 2:00 am. Just about six hours after their American premiere, but enough to spread a barrage of spoilers on social media. I used to avoid twitter until I was able to view the week’s episode. Except for one occasion, when a national holiday left Monday free of office hours. I wanted to see the episode as soon as possible, and managed to stay awake until 2:00 am. Luck would have it that would be the day when episode 8 was unleashed. Sleep deprivation made the experience more visceral and hallucinogenic. After seven episodes of closing musical numbers, the Nine Inch Nails performance made me think for a while that Lynch had made use of the freedom brought by the unholy union of cable TV and streaming to produce the shortest episode ever. And then, it didn’t stop. The atomic bomb exploded, obliterating everything we know about narrative audiovisual media.

  1. The Vietnam War (Ken Burns & Lynn Novic, 2017)

Bingeing Ken Burns and Lynn Novic monumental series over the course of three days locked me into a time machine. Besides exploring the undertows of the title conflict, I also found clues to decode the fraught relationship between the United States and the countries in the developing world that ended up in the cross fire between the Soviet Union and America.

  1. Frantz (François Ozon, 2016)

Frantz should patent its narrative style, a shape-shifting genre-bending dynamic that can morph a melodrama into a thriller into social critique and back again. Paula Beer, as the fiancé of a deceased Austrian soldier, cannot phantom the trip of self-discovery she’ll take when a mysterious Frenchman visits the tomb of her beloved.

  1. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)

My colleagues in the developed world don’t know how good they have it. A dearth of art-houses and cinematheques plagues the developing world, but luck had it that I managed to catch the restoration of Tarkovsky’s masterpiece in a proper cinema. Mind blowing after all these years.

MICHAEL J. ANDERSON

DIRECTOR OF CURATORIAL AFFAIRS, OKLAHOMA CITY MUSEUM OF ART
  1. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
  2. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
  3. Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
  4. Downsizing (Alexander Payne, 2017)
  5. Visages, villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda & JR, 2017)
  6. Inimi cicatrizate (Scarred Hearts, Radu Jude, 2016)
  7. You yi nian (Another Year, Zhu Shengze, 2016)
  8. Ma Loute (Slack Bay, Bruno Dumont, 2016) / Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont, 2017)
  9. L’amant d’un jour (Lover for a Day, Philippe Garrel, 2017) + new retrospective favourites: L’enfant secret (The Secret Child, Philippe Garrel, 1979) / J’entends plus la guitar (I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar, Philippe Garrel, 1991) / Le vent de la nuit (Night Wind, Philippe Garrel, 1999)
  10. Kong shan yi ke (Ghost in the Mountains, Yang Heng, 2017)
  11. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
  12. Austerlitz (Sergei Loznitsa, 2016)
  13. Ex Libris – The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2017)
  14. The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017)
  15. Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)
  16. El mar la mar (J.P. Sniadecki & Joshua Bonnetta, 2017)
  17. Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
  18. Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)
  19. Autumn, Autumn (Jang Woo-jin, 2016)
  20. Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
Zama

Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)

ROWENA SANTOS AQUINO

LOS ANGELES-BASED FILM LECTURER AND CRITIC

Favourite films seen in 2017

Ba yue (The Summer is Gone, 2016, Zhang Dalei)*
Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
Chuncheon, Chuncheon (Autumn, Autumn, Jang Woo-jin, 2016)
Dao khanong (By the Time It Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
El futuro perfecto (The Future Perfect, Nele Wohlatz, 2016)*
Get Out, Jordan Peele, 2017*
Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
Keul-le-eo-ui ka-me-la (Claire’s Camera, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, Mouly Surya, 2017)
Qing ting zhi yan (Dragonfly Eyes, Xu Bing, 2017)*
Seto Surya (White Sun, Deepak Rauniyar, 2016)
Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
Yat nim mou ming (Mad World, Wong Chun, 2016)*

*Directorial debut

SEAN AXMAKER

WRITES THE WEEKLY NEWSPAPER COLUMN STREAM ON DEMAND AND THE COMPANION WEBSITE STREAM ON DEMAND AT HOME.

Top Ten Films

  1. Twin Peaks (David Lynch, 2017)
  2. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayass, 2016)
  3. A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)
  4. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  5. The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro, 2017)
  6. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)
  7. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
  8. 120 battements par minute (BPM, Robin Campillo, 2017)
  9. 9.Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
  10. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villenueve, 2017)

10 more films (alphabetical): Aus dem Nichts (In the Fade, Fatih Akin, 2017), Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017), Hostiles (Scott Cooper, 2017), Logan (James Mangold, 2017), The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2017), Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, 2017), The Meyerowitz Stories (Noah Baumbach, 2017), My Cousin Rachel (Roger Michell, 2017), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, 2017), Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

Unseen at this time: Call Me By Your Name, Phantom Thread, The Florida Project, Faces Places, God’s Own Country, and many others.

My reviewing duties have taken me from new theatrical films to streaming and home video. While there is some overlap, I’m spending more time in the past than in the present. That’s not a bad way to spend my time with cinema and TV, but it means I’m seeing fewer new films, attending fewer festival screenings, and going to the cinema less often. Also, no longer invited to press screenings so I don’t get a chance to see many of those year-end films that open in NY and LA for awards consideration.

MARTYN BAMBER

TRANSLATION AND RESOURCES MANAGER BASED IN LONDON, WRITER FOR SENSES OF CINEMA, CONTRIBUTOR TO BOOK ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? A TV MOVIE COMPENDIUM: 1964-1999.

10 favourite new release films from 2017 shown in UK cinemas, listed in alphabetical order:

Umi yori mo mada fukaku (After The Storm, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2016)
Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
The Great Wall (Zhang Yimou, 2016)
Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016) – Theatrical Version
Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
Song To Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)

MIKE BARTLETT

FREELANCE FILM WRITER BASED IN LONDON.

Ten Best New(-ish) Films Seen In 2017:

American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On The Beach At Night Alone, Sang-soo Hong, 2017)/Geu-hu (The Day After, Sang-soo Hong, 2017)
Gok-seong (The Wailing, Hong-jin Na, 2016)
Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
Jeune Femme (Montparnasse Bienvenue, Leonor Serraille, 2017)
Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016)
Valley Of Love (Guillaume Nicloux, 2015)
Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)

Honourable Mentions:

L’avenir (Things To Come, Mia Hansen-Love, 2016)
Bei xi mo shou (Behemoth, Liang Zhao, 2015)
Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016)
Ouija – Origin of Evil (Mike Flanagan, 2016)
Under The Shadow (Babak Anvari, 2016)

Fascinating Efforts Which I’m Still Not Sure About:

Good Time (Ben and Josh Safdie, 2017)
24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)

This Year’s Award For Outstanding Craftsmanship Let Down By Dreary Endings:

Bone Tomahawk (S. Craig Zahler, 2015)
Kuripi: Itsuwari no rinjin (Creepy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)

Most Overrated Films of the Year:

Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
Un beau soleil interieur (Let The Sunshine In, Claire Denis, 2017)
The Love Witch (Anna Biller, 2016)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)

A big shoutout to two fan films based on 2000AD comic strips – Judge Minty (Steven Sterlacchini, 2013) and Search/Destroy (Steven Sterlacchini, 2016) – which show more invention in 12 minutes than most blockbusters in two hours plus.

NICK BARTLETT

WRITER OF DEAD FINKS DON’T BLOG
  1. Le Samourai (Jean Pierre Melville, 1967)

Criminally unavailable on DVD in the UK, this pulpy, metaphysical thriller was screened this year as part of the BFI’s Melville season. One of the most purely cinematic films ever made, Le Samourai is a true genre masterpiece, and almost the perfect film, profoundly minimalist in dialogue and character yet hugely influential and effortlessly cool. It’s been a long while since any film has shot up into my top hundred films based on a single viewing, but I found Le Samourai so beautiful, so iconic, and so strangely moving, that it immediately jumped into my top ten films ever made.

  1. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)

As evidenced by its questionable classification as a comedy at the Golden Globes, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut defies easy labelling. A mix of horror, comedy and thriller, Get Out is less scary than downright uncomfortable. The sense of unease that permeates the film is tangible, and it’s this creeping psychological terror that makes it one of the most original and memorable films of the last few years. Tapping into a relevant, cerebral horror for the most part before switching to more traditional, visceral frights towards the end, Peele has proved to be an adept director of horror, whilst retaining his comedy credentials. The horror stays with you for days, though fortunately so do the comic moments.

  1. The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, 2017)

Simultaneously the funniest film of the year, and the most chilling, this is one of the year’s most unique offerings. It’s a bit of a departure for Iannucci, a thoughtful, informed take on historical events which still manages to be incredibly funny. It’s perfectly judged, never taking the horrors of Stalin’s regime lightly, but instead deriving humour from the petty bureaucracy of the supposed authorities. The ensemble cast is note perfect, and the script is utterly hilarious. A genuinely great film, that will surely be ranked alongside classics like Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) and The Ladykillers (1955) as one of the UK’s darkest comedies.

  1. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)

Dunkirk feels like an answer to Nolan’s critics and worshippers alike. It’s clearly a very personal film for the director: he had the idea for it 15 years ago, but wanted to make sure he had the action director chops before embarking on such an important venture. The result is not only one of the best films he’s made on a technical level – the acting, cinematography and soundtrack are all incredible – but it’s also his most accomplished in terms of scale and depth. It connects with the audience in a way that his previous films, impressive though they may be, never quite managed.

  1. Ah-Ga-Ssi (The Handmaiden,Park Chan Wook, 2016)

This period adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith feels like a departure from Wook’s previous work – part heist film, part erotic thriller – but aside from the setting there are numerous elements that are characteristic of the director’s previous work. Visually sumptuous throughout, with over the top characterization and a complicated, labyrinthine narrative, which is constantly unpredictable, despite the numerous visual clues that litter the frame. The result is potentially his most mature film yet.

  1. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)

While I have my issues with the sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic, the abiding impression I had after it ended was relief. Villeneuve clearly has a deep understanding of the source material, and this is a fitting tribute and continuation of the original. Gosling ironically gives one of his most humane performances as a replicant, and Harrison Ford’s role, while slight, still gives him something to get his teeth into. I’m a little trepidatious about the prospect of more films set in this universe, but the world building is great, and it works effectively as both a standalone film and a worthy sequel to the quintessential cult film.

  1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)

I can’t recall the last time I saw a film that simultaneously made me so happy and so sad. The vivid cinematography is beautiful, and lends the whole film an ethereal atmosphere which complements the relentlessly uplifting musical numbers. However the heart of the film is the relationship between the two leads, and once you strip away all the glitz and glamour, at their core the performances are as true to life as you can get.

  1. Free Fire (Ben Wheatley, 2017)

Free Fire is dark, gripping, and really fun, with a clever script and excellent performances from the ensemble cast. You can tell everyone has had an absolute blast making it, despite the huge amount of crawling around a dirty warehouse, and has the best use of John Denver I’ve seen in any film, ever. It’s more mainstream than Wheatley and Jump’s previous films, but remains an identifiable Wheatley/Jump production and is their most purely entertaining film yet.

  1. Okja (Bong Joon Ho, 2017)

One of the year’s most affecting films, Okja is a simultaneously bleak and uplifting look at the meat industry, with virtually invisible effects, and an incredibly moving performance from Ahn Seo-Hyun, who manages the difficult task of interacting with a completely CGI character and making it look effortless. It might be a bit overblown in places (the social satire doesn’t really land) but the heart of the film is a touching, personal story, and in this respect the film is a rousing success.

  1. The Age of Shadows (Kim Jee Woon, 2016)

Part John Woo, part Jean Pierre Melville, this atmospheric espionage thriller focuses on a period that is sadly underrepresented in cinema, the Japanese occupation of South Korea. It falls apart a bit in the final act, but overall it’s a solid, well executed and extremely suspenseful thriller. There are numerous thrilling set-pieces – the train sequence, in particular, is incredibly tense – all of which are expertly choreographed, and the whole film looks incredible. It just maybe should have ended an hour sooner.

Okja

Okja (Bong Joon Ho, 2017)

RHETT BARTLETT

FREELANCE OBITUARIST FOR THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, AND THE NEW DAILY. FILM REVIEWER FOR ABC RADIO MELBOURNE.
  1. Land of Mine (Martin Pieter Zandvliet, 2017)

The rest in alphabetical order:

A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)
A Life in Waves (Brett Whitcomb, 2017)
Bad Genius (Nattawut Poonpiriya, 2017)
Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison, 2017)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Get Out ( Jordan Peele , 2017)
Jungle (Greg McLean, 2017)
Lion (Garth Davis, 2017)
Obit (Vanessa Gould, 2017)
Spider-man: Homecoming (Jon Watts, 2017)
The Galahs (Cam Fink, Robert Heath, Tony Wilson, 2017)
Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

ARTA BARZANJI

CINEPHILE BASED IN CALIFORNIA
  1. mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
  2. Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
  3. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  4. The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
  5. Visages, villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda, JR, 2017)
  6. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  7. Grave (Raw, Julia Ducournau, 2016)
  8. Anchiporuno (Antiporno, Sion Sono, 2016)
  9. La mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
  10. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
  11. 20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
  12. The Meyerowitz Stories (Noah Baumbach, 2017)

 

RAPHAËL BASSAN

FRENCH FILM CRITIC. WRITES FOR BREF, LE MAGAZINE DU COURT MÉTRAGE,  EUROPE, REVUE LITTÉRAIRE, ENCYCLOPAEDIA UNIVERSALIS.

Bangkok Nites (Katsuya Tomita, Japan, 2016)
Happy Hour (Happî awâ, Ryosuke Hamaguchi, Japan, 2015)
Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow USA, 2017
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2016, USA)
Paul Sharits (François Miron, 2015, Canada)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016),
Problemski Hotel (Manu Riche Belgium, 2016)
A Man of Integrity (Lerd) (Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2017))
Belle dormant (Adolfo Arietta, France, 2016)
Les Bienheureux (Sofia Djama, France/Algeria, 2016)
A Gentle Creature (Krotkaya) (Sergei Loznitsa France, Ukraine, 2017
Loveless (Nelybov) (Andrei Zviaguintsev Russia, 2017).

In no particular order.

I have chosen twelve films; all were screened in 2017 in cinemas in France, with the exception of Happy Hour by Ryosuke Hamaguchi, which I saw at the Maison du Japon in Paris at the Kinotayo Festival in January. Japan has become a country with powerful and stylish films again, with the fourth film of Katsuya Tomita Bangkok Nites, a strange baroque and exotic creation. Tomita, like Susumu Hani, is a “travelling Japanese”. But the main discovery for me was the 5 h 17 long film by a 39-year-old director, Ryosuke Hamaguchi, Happy hours. When I saw this film, I automatically think of Out One by Jacques Rivette. But the use of time is different here. Hamaguchi has no intention to make avant-garde films; he only wants the public to become familiar with the four women of the film who are going through intellectual and marital problems. The filmmaker only breaks time when he feels that the spectator has become tired. A great art!

Two major American directors, Kathryn Bigelow and Frederick Wiseman, are alarmed by the omnipresent crimes against Afro-Americans in the United States. Kathryn Bigelow highlights this issue with Detroit by an historic comeback: the Detroit riots of 1967. Wiseman, in his film, chooses instead to illustrate this problem with numerous episodes which explore the past and present of this minority, even if the subject of Ex-Libris goes beyond that. While, with Moonlight, the young Black director Barry Jenkins describes, through the eyes of his community, the life of a young man during three stages of his life.

The Canadian filmmaker François Miron made an extensive and probing documentary about the cult American avant-garde filmmaker Paul Sharits (1943-1993) a leading practitioner of structural and flicker films. This film has been published in a DVD by Re: Voir.

I nostalgically selected the last film of the French-Spanish filmmaker Adolfo Arrieta, Belle dormant, who was in the seventies a member of French underground galaxy with Philippe Garrel and Jackie Raynal amongst many others.

Problemski Hotel by Manu Riche was, in my opinion, one of the best movies made about the problem of migrants in Europe; the main character has the opportunity to become anyone. With Les Bienheureux, Sofia Djama, depicts Algeria’s middle class in a conservative country…but we can still feel a sense of hope.

The last three films of my selection are very pessimistic: A Man of integrity by Mohammad Rasoulof, which reminds me of Leviathan (Andrei Zviaguintsev) and is a great charge against corruption in Iran to such a degree that the artist is now in jail. Zviaguintsev himself (Loveless) and his “Ukrainian brother” Sergei Loznitsa (the two men were born in 1964) with A Gentle Creature depict the heavy atavism bequeathed by the Soviet Union legacy and today’s liberal hell.

Good Time (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2017)

CONOR BATEMAN

MANAGING EDITOR OF 4:3, FREELANCE VIDEO ESSAYIST.

Features:

Good Time (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2017)
Der traumhafte Weg (The Dreamed Path, Angela Schanelec, 2016)
Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)
Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left, Lav Diaz, 2016)
Slava (Glory, Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva, 2016)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
Dao Khanong (By The Time It Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison, 2016)
Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)

Shorts:

Phantasiesätze (Fantasy Sentences, Dane Komljen, 2017)
Onward Lossless Follows (Michael Robinson, 2017)
Min börda (The Burden, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, 2017)
Ride Like Lightning, Crash Like Thunder (Fern Silva, 2017)
What Happened to Her (Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, 2016)

 

GUSTAVO BECK

FILMMAKER, PRODUCER, PROGRAMMER, CRITIC

1. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
2. Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
3. Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
4. Araby (Arabia, Affonso Uchoa, João Dumans, 2017)
5. Good Time (Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, 2017)
6. L’amant d’un jour (Lover for a Day, Philippe Garrel, 2017)
7. Il Risoluto (The Resolute, Giovanni Donfrancesco, 2017)
8. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
9. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
10. Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)

 

SEAN BELL

POP CULTURE BLOGGER AT “SEX AND THE ETERNAL CITY”, BASED IN ITALY
  1. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
    Although, debuting at the Venice Film Festival in 2016, Italian audiences had to wait until January to see Villeneuve’s poignant call for international cooperation. I have seen Arrival three times now and was engaged, moved and enthralled every time.
  2. 20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
    Defining a personal and political watershed moment (1979) with wit and pathos, Mills comes to the bittersweet realisation that parents and children will forever remain a mystery to each other. Annette Bening and Greta Gerwig have never been better.
  3. Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, 2017)
    What starts out as a harrowing tale of humiliation and discrimination turns into a celebration of self respect.
  4. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
    Seeing Dunkirk on an IMAX screen this summer was the most immersive moment of pure cinema this year. Nolan’s tricksy time structure conveys how an hour can feel like a day or a day a week when experiencing the horror of war.
  5. La tortue rouge (The Red Turtle, Michael Dudok de Wit, 2016)
    Beautiful in its simplicity, La tortue rouge is a timeless parable of the co-dependency between human and natural worlds.
  6. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
    More than a satire on white liberal hypocrisy, Get Out goes straight to the heart of historic and enduring racism – the objectification and envy of black physicality. It is also a hugely satisfying thriller you want to rematch immediately to pick apart all the clues.
  7. Mudbound (Dee Rees, 2017)
    Rees’s distinctive voice raises this historical drama to must see status.
  8. Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2016)
    An unexpectedly moving portrait of Istanbul’s street cats and the lives they touch.
  9. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
    Certain Women leaves you wanting more – not because the film is unsatisfying but because you care for these characters and how they will get on beyond the parameters of the film. I still think of Jamie (Lily Gladstone) and wonder if she has found love, against the odds, in that beautiful, isolated Montana landscape.
  10. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
    No pun intended but Personal Shopperreally did haunt me for a long time after seeing it. The film works best as an old fashioned ghost story and although less successful as a modern thriller or satire on empty consumerism, it is held together by an enigmatic performance from Kristen Stewart. Awkward, nervy but very much her own woman, Stewart is a quintessentially 21st Century movie presence.
  11. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
    Three cheers for laeffe, Feltrinelli’s culture channel on subscription TV, which screened this rousing documentary when it failed to get a general release in Italy. James Baldwin’s ideas on culture, identity and ideology and conveyed with great clarity and weight and Peck’s intercutting with the current Black Lives Matter era underlines how painfully relevant these ideas are today.
  12. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
    Although I was pleased that it was pipped at the post at the Oscars by Moonlight, my favourite film of 2016, La La Landis still a wonderful film, charming, romantic, nostalgic but with an awareness of its own artifice. Although not as astringent as Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), the message is the same: life may be disappointing but there are always movies to distract you.

Scene of the Year:

Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
Chris and Georgina: “No, No, No, No, No, No”.
A perfect microcosm of the film itself – brilliantly acted, simultaneously funny and unsettling, its true heartbreak and horror resonating even more powerfully with hindsight.

First Runner-Up:

Nelyubov (Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017)
The absolute despair on Alyosha’s (Matvey Novikov) face while eavesdropping on his bickering estranged parents. The boy’s realisation that he wasn’t (and isn’t) wanted is the most heart rendering moment in cinema this year.

Second Runner-Up:

20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
In trying to understand the punk rock tribalism preoccupying the younger generation in the house, Dorothea (Annette Bening) and William (Billy Crudup) dance to Talking Heads and discover they are more “art fag” than Black Flag.

JARED BEUKES

MOVIE BLOGGER FROM PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA

Best movies released theatrically in South Africa in 2017:

  1. Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)
  2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  3. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  4. Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016)
  5. The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2017)
  6. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
  7. Good Time (Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, 2017)
  8. Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
  9. Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, 2016)
  10. mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
  11. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
  12. L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
  13. Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)

Best movies available in South Africa that were not distributed theatrically (in alphabetical order):

I Called Him Morgan (Kasper Collin, 2016)
Little Sister (Zach Clark, 2016)
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach, 2017)
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
Strong Island (Yance Ford, 2017)
Win It All (Joe Swanberg, 2017)

Song to Song

Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)

GIULIA BINDI

RESEARCH STUDENT OF FILM AND SCREEN MEDIA AT BIRKBECK, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, UK.

Favourite 30 films released in UK in 2017

My top ten, in order of preference

  1. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
  1. Moonlight (Berry Jenkins, 2016)
  1. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
  1. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  1. Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2016)
  1. Personal Shopper (Oliver Assayas, 2016)
  1. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach, 2017)
  1. Visages Villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda, JR, 2017)
  1. Mudbound(Dee Rees, 2017)
  1. Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)

The further 20 films in alphabetical order
The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter, 2017)
Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Fences (Denzel Washington, 2016)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Fortunata (Lucky, Sergio Castellitto, 2017)
Ah-gah-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
I am not your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
Juste la Fin du Monde (It’s Only the End of the World, Xavier Dolan, 2016)
Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2017)
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)
La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
Poesía Sin Fin (Endless Poetry, Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2016)
Seasons In Quincy: Four Portaits of John Berger (Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe, Bartek Dziadosz, Christopher Roth, 2016)
Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016)
La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1955)
Toivon Tuolla Puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)

LUKAS BRASISKAS

PHD CANDIDATE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF CINEMA STUDIES IN NYU. WRITER AND CRITIC AS SENSES OF CINEMA AND LITHUANIAN FILM JOURNAL KINAS.
  1. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2017).
  2. El Mar La Mar (Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki, US, 2017)
  3. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, US, 2017)
  4. By the Time It Gets Dark (Anocha Suwichakornpong, Thailand, 2017)
  5. Western (Valeska Grisebach, Germany, 2017)
  6. Nelyubov (Loveless, Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia, 2017)
  7. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismaki, Finland, 2017)
  8. The Day After (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 2017)
  9. Caniba (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel, US, 2017)
  10. Happy End (Michael Haneke, Austria, 2017)

A few other films I liked and also want to mention despite that they did not make to my top 10:
A Skin So Soft (Denis Côté, 2017)
Untitled (Michael Glawogger, Monika Willi, Austria, 2017)
Good Luck (Ben Russell, France/Germany, 2017)
120 Beats Per Minute (Robin Campillo, France, 2017)
Faces Places (Agnes Varda, JR, France, 2017)
Le fort des fous (Narimane Mari, France, 2017)
Good Time (Safdie Brothers, US, 2017)
Electro-Pythagoras (A Portrait of Martin Bartlett) (Luke Fowler, UK, 2017)
Columbus (Kogonada, US, 2017)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, US, 2017)

LISA K. BROAD

FILM PROGRAMMER, OKLAHOMA CITY
  1. Western(Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
  2. Personal Shopper(Olivier Assayas, 2016) / Sarah Winchester, opéra fantôme (Sarah Winchester, Ghost Opera, Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  3. A Quiet Passion(Terence Davies, 2016)
  4. Hermia & Helena(Matías Piñeiro, 2016)
  5. Zama(Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
  6. Sieranevada(Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  7. Nelyubov(Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017)
  8. The Florida Project(Sean Baker, 2017)
  9. La mort de Louis XIV(The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
  10. The Beguiled(Sofia Coppola, 2017)
  11. Call Me By Your Name(Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
  12. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
  13. The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017)
  14. Visages, villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda & JR, 2017)
  15. Columbus (Kogonada, 2017) /  Wszystkie nieprzespane noce (All These Sleepless Nights, Michal Marczak, 2016)
  16. L’amant d’un jour (Lover for a Day, Philippe Garrel, 2017)
  17. Good Luck (Ben Russell, 2017)
  18. Ma Loute (Slack Bay, Bruno Dumont, 2016)
  19. Good Time (Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, 2017)
  20. Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
Western

Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)

SAMANTHA BROADHEAD

HEAD OF RESEARCH AT LEEDS ARTS UNIVERSITY, UK; INTERESTED IN THE FABRIC OF FILM

Most Beautiful Island (Ana Asensio, 2017)
This psychological thriller was subtle but very effective. The beginning sequences that capture life surviving in the streets New York have a cinéma-vérité style about them.  The latter scenes create a sense of threat and suspense which was powerful and carefully sustained throughout the film as the main character, Luciana, gets sucked into a mysterious but ominous game.  Beyond the film’s entertainment value, the political message about the struggles migrant of workers in New York is very poignant. The rich feel entitled to humiliate others less fortunate than themselves.

Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd 2016; USA release date 2017)
A disturbing but very powerful story about the intersections of race and gender, this film is visually stunning, but very nihilistic. Set in 19th-century North Eastern England, the story evokes the novels written by the Bronte sisters.  Katherine marries into a cold, joyless family where she is emotionally abused, but she gains the upper hand. However, she does this by ruthlessly exploiting her lover and her maid. Her amoral actions lead to Sebastian and Anna being wrongly accused and most likely executed for murder. The use of costume and dress indicate Katherine’s slow unravelling and dissipation; her meticulously styled hair becoming more and more untidy.  Any sympathy the viewer may have for her is lost because of her selfish behaviours; in contract Anna, her maid, shows her kindness and loyalty but is ‘punished’ for her virtuous action.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter [February] (Oz Perkins, 2015; 2017 released in America)
The director played with flash backs, doubles and blonds in a similar vein to Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001). Some scenes shot in a cellar were deeply creepy and the shadowy demon had something of the ‘Donnie Darko’ about it.  This film thoroughly disturbed me.

Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)
On a Native American Reservation, a seasoned game tracker, Cory Lambert, discovers the frozen body of the young Native American, Natalie.  The blond female FBI agent who is assigned to investigate could be compared to Clarice Starling a similar character from Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991). Wind River has been criticised because it represents Native Americans as passive victims of white patriarchal males.  There are some violent scenes shown as flash backs which are disturbing and shows the story to be truly tragic. The cinematography is breath-taking and fits the cold, bleak subject matter really well. The young Natalie was killed through the actions of selfish men but she had the heart and lungs of a mountain lion and this thought stayed with me long after the film’s ending.

mother!  (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
It was refreshing to see such an innovative and creative piece of cinema. Aronofsky’s dark vision that the selfishness of male artistic genius will lead to the destruction of the beloved family was told through a circular narrative structure. The scenes where the mother’s (Jennifer Lawrence) space was being invaded by rude and intrusive people who showed her no respect or care were really uncomfortable to watch.  Javier Bardem plays ‘him’ and his representation in the film reminds me of some of the stories told about Pablo Picasso.

What happened to Monday (Tommy Wirkola, 2017)
This film was not shown in cinemas but was available through Netflix.  The story is focussed on six identical septuplets who live in a world with depleting resources where people should only have one child. They fight against brutal government forces when their sister goes missing. Noomi  Rapace played the role of all six septuplets in this sci-fi thriller that also starred Glenn Close and Willem Dafoe. It is an original action/sci-fi film that keeps the viewer gripped.

Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
Get Out was an original narrative that played with audience preconceptions about inter-race relationships and the conventions of genre. This was a mainstream film where the plot was driven by a black protagonist who had a seemingly romantic relationship with a privileged white middle-class woman; however nothing is what it first appears to be.  References were made to Bryan Forbes’ Stepford Wives (1975). Interestingly, the protagonists in both films were photographers and therefore able to see what others could not.  One scene dominated by a talking head transmitted through an old-fashioned television set made me remember David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983) and gave me the same disorientated, creepy feeling.

Logan (James Mangold, 2017)
This comment on aging masculinity was enhanced by the textures of the film. Logan’s skin is as dry and rugged as the landscape; he has to drag his claws out of his sagging, aging flesh.  There were quite overt references to George Stevens’ Shane (1953) when clips were viewed on a hotel’s television but also the subsequent plot where Logan steps in to help a family who is being bullied by villains. Patrick Stewart provides the moral compass for the film and gives a brilliant performance as the elderly Professor X.

War for the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2017)
The humans will not let the apes live in peace and Cesar’s family is ruthlessly killed.  ‘Traitor’ Apes work for the human military where they are humiliated and labelled ‘donkeys’. The audience’s sympathies are with the Apes, there is no moral ambiguity. Charlton Heston’s Moses is referenced many times as Cesar leads the Apes to the ‘Promised Land’. A scene where the humans are crushed by a massive avalanche is reminiscent of the Egyptians being drowned by the Red Sea. Woody Harrelson plays a great villain spiralling into irrationality; he is also victim of the simian plague as his hate has come from loss.

It (Andy Muschietti, 2017)
Stephen King’s novel captures the feelings and anxieties of childhood and also how adults remember their younger selves. The novel has a complex narrative structure which could prove challenging when adapting for film. Muschietti‘s strategy to only focus on the kids’ point of view was one way of creating narrative cohesion whist leading the audience to anticipate the sequel. Visually the film is wonderful and the shot of little Georgie with his arm torn off is quite shocking. Pennywise played actor Bill Skarsgard is an excellent re-imaging of the role previously undertaken by the enigmatic Tim Curry.

DANG BUI

SOMETIMES-ACTIVE CINEPHILE BASED IN TORONTO.
  1. Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
  2. Rubber Coated Steel (Lawrence Abu Hamdan, 2016)
  3. Delphi Falls (Mary Helena Clark, 2016)
  4. Caniba (Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2017)
  5. Cocote (Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, 2017)
  6. Electro-Pythagoras (a portrait of Martin Bartlett) [Luke Fowler, 2017]
  7. Le Fort des fous (Madmen’s Fort, Narimane Mari, 2017)
  8. Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
  9. Aliens (Luis López Carrasco, 2017)
  10. Good Luck (Ben Russell, 2017)
  11. Jours de France (4 Days in France, Jérôme Reybaud, 2016)
  12. Ex Libris: New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2017)
  13. A Fábrica de Nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
  14. Good Time (Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, 2017)
  15. From Source to Poem (Rosa Barba, 2017)
  16. Spell Reel (Filipa César, 2017)
  17. Fluid Frontiers (Ephraim Asili, 2017)
  18. below-above (André Lehmann, 2017)
  19. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
  20. Le fils de Joseph (The Son of Joseph, Eugène Green, 2016)
  21. PROTOTYPE (Blake Williams, 2017)
  22. Rose Gold (Sara Cwynar, 2017)
  23. Svi severni gradovi (All the Cities of the North, Dane Komljen, 2016)
  24. Chez nous (This Is Our Land, Lucas Belvaux, 2017)
  25. Dislocation Blues (Sky Hopinka, 2017)
  26. Arábia (Araby, João Dumans & Affonso Uchoa, 2017)
  27. Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc; Bruno Dumont, 2017)
  28. La tierra aún se mueve (Still the Earth Moves, Pablo Chavarría Gutiérrez, 2017)
  29. Qing ting zhi yan (Dragonfly Eyes, Bing Xu, 2017)
  30. The Watchmen (Fern Silva, 2017)
  31. Flores (Jorge Jácome, 2017)
  32. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
  33. Occidental (Neïl Beloufa, 2017)
  34. Changjiang(A Yangtze Landscape, Xu Xin, 2017)

Best repertory viewings:
The entire Straub-Huillet retrospective. But particularly:
Trop tôt, trop tard (Too Early, Too Late; Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1981)
Othon a.k.a. Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times or Perhaps One Day Rome Will Permit Herself to Choose in Her Turn (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1969)
Der Tod des Empedokles (The Death of Empedocles, Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1987)
Antigone (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1991)
Quei loro incontri (These Encounters of Theirs, Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 2005)
Schwarze Sünde (Black Sin, Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1989)
Bruce Elder’s mammoth Lamentations: A Monument for the Dead World (R. Bruce Elder, 1985)
Pixillation (Anne Charlotte Robertson, 1976)
Florence (Erkki Kurenniemi, 1970)
Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)
La Région Centrale (Michael Snow, 1971)
So Is This (Michael Snow, 1982)
Passion (Jean-Luc Godard, 1982)
Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher, 1959)
Silver Lode (Allan Dwan, 1954)
Bakit Dilaw Ang Gitna ang Kulay ng Bahaghari (Why Is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow?, Kidlat Tahimik, 1994)
Fuji (Robert Breer, 1974)
La impresión de una guerra (Impression of a War, 2015, Camilo Restrepo)
won eyed jail (Kelly Egan, 2005)
Horizons (Larry Gottheim, 1973)
Nainsukh
 (Amit Dutta, 2010)

I feel obligated to give special thanks to everyone. Obviously, cinema is not a solitary act, so I’m grateful to all the filmmakers, critics, producers, exhibitionists, et al. who make these films possible. But a special shout out to the programmers, who make it possible for me and about 10 other people to watch these films.

On the Beach at Night Alone

Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)

BUÑUEL IN MEXICO

A TWO-HEADED, FOUR-HANDED, SINGLE-MINDED BEAST OF AN ENTITY PROVIDED WITH SHEER CRITICAL WIT AND RELENTLESSNESS WITH WHICH IT HUNTS UPON ITS DOOMED PREY.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
Deadpan, mechanical delivery of lines. Disquieting atmosphere and omnipresent menace seeping through each frame. Eye for an (lobster) eye, tooth for a (dog)tooth.

Laissez bronzer les cadavres (Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, 2017)
A deconstruction of genre cinema to its bare bones. Powerful images scarring your subconsciousness. Festishistic cinema at its finest.

November (Rainer Sarnet, 2017)
A gothic fairy-tale set in a pagan world where stealing, selling your soul, making pacts with the devil (and often cheating him!) and turning into werewolves have become an order of the day. And night.

Out (György Kristóf, 2017)
What may initially seem like your usual Eastern European 3D film (drunkenness, darkness, and depression) quickly takes the path down refreshingly constructed and craftily shot absurd comedy of manners. Beware of stuffed rabbits though.

Wolf from Royal Vineyard Street (Jan Němec, 2016)
What the heck did actually happen in Cannes in 1968? You for sure won’t get smarter about it after watching Jan Němec’s last film. Anyways, grab the chance to see it (well, if you get it) and enjoy the ride.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah, 1974) – Arrow Video, Remastered Limited BluRay Edition
Warren Oates is Sam Peckinpah. Sam Peckinpah is at his nihilistic best. The crispy Arrow Video 4K remastered limited BluRay edition arrived (among plethora of other juicy treats) with an ultra-extended version of Paul Joyce’s documentary Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron, The Director’s Cut clocking at more than 10 hours! A holy grail for true Peckinpah disciples.

Honorable mention

On Body and Soul (Ildikó Enyedi, 2017)
For the “tactile element” prominently on display in the film’s last third…

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