Thursday, February 1, 2018
Hardly a watershed year but the films included are stunning in personal grasp on human emotion. Here goes:
1. GET OUT: you know a film is special when it carries Oscar buzz a year ahead of the actual nominations. But many are still trying to come to terns with what exactly makes this horrific satire so special--and well, part of the reason is that it didn't start out to be special but just gathered moss as it went along. The originality of the plot twinned with the paranoia that blacks rightfully feel in America is genius as is the need to literally inhabit the very skin being persecuted 21st century style. All i know is that Jordan Peele made a hell of a debut film!
2. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY: lazy critics will quickly call this the British version of Brokeback Mountain but what God's Own Country dishes out better is its in-the-soil approach to the murky life of Yorkshire residents and their quiet, closed-off way of life. Once Gheorghe arrives though and we see the cultural differences clash--his almost sensual approach to farm-handing and love vis-a-vis Johnny's thuggish brutality---the film strikes a defiant tone of accepting reality and letting ages-old prejudices go.
3. HEAL THE LIVING: through a medical transplant, three stories and several lives get interwoven in this French-Belgian drama. Based on the novel Réparer les vivants (Mend the Living) by Maylis de Kerangal, the film treats tragedy as quick turn of event from which you stare unblinkingly and move on.
4. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME: even if the coming-of-age film consisted only of Michael Stuhlbarg's heart-breaking speech towards the end and Timothée Chalamet crying silently into the flames, Call Me By Your Name would still be a triumph. Director Luca Guadagnino has managed a stunning trick: shows us the reception of the evolving relationship between the two males through everyone else's eyes, oblivious to them but as the viewer you can watch, judge, note, or do whatever it is one does observing others in love.
5. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI: the premise sounds so simple yet the beautiful thing about the film is how it shows a town's bias while reconciling that a very bad thing was done. Frances McDormand, surely Oscar-bound, plays a tough mother who wants justice for her daughter and nothing will get in her way. McDormand is so blistering that we get no softening at all. It's left up to everyone else to come full circle, even the dastardly Dixon (brilliantly played by Sam Rockwell).
6. BLADE RUNNER 2049: meticulously crafted by Denis Villeneuve, Deckard returns to complete a touching arc of life, family and the end of things.
7. THE BIG SICK: passed over mostly this current awards season but not forgotten by critics and movie-goers, The Big Sick is inspiring because instead of blowing up the cultural differences between Kumail and Emily, it allows them to stumble towards a loving truce that's hard-fought, you know, like in real life.
8. DUNKIRK: at times disjointed but always immense in scope, Nolan's look at the personal peril of war connects.
9. THE POST: Streep and Hanks at last...in a Spielberg film--quite a mouthful just to behold and to watch the two acting titans hurl off each other, especially given the subject of press freedom and a woman trying to assert herself in a man's world, proves extremely satisfying.
10. LADY BIRD: I keep hearing how great Greta Gerwig's directing is and, at last, I can partake in that notion. Buoyed by a strong Saoirse Ronan turn, the film takes its precious time to work out the female angst of growing up.