Tagged 2017

The Upside (Burger, 2017)

I have a dim recollection of The Intouchables, the original film on which The Upside is based. I remember liking it for being both heartwarming and funny, but after many years and several hundreds of films later, I would probably look at it more critically if I were to watch it again. Which I won’t, because The Upside is more…

The 2019 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: Live Action (Various, 2017-2018)

Detainment (Lambe, 2018) Good Lord, how am I supposed to review this thing? Tasteless as it is aesthetically, it also seems callous to force people to relive a national tragedy as the Jamie Bulger killing all over again. I get there are still unanswered questions and all, but is that really enough reason to reenact…

The 2019 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: Documentary (Various, 2017-2018)

Black Sheep (Perkins, 2018) I could definitely feel the Moonlight influences in this short documentary about a black boy’s desperate drive to survive after moving to a racist neighbourhood in Essex. The direct address to the camera, and the sustained close-up of his face is one noticeable feature, as is the shot of his younger self in…

The 2019 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: Animated (Various, 2017-2018)

Animal Behaviour (Snowden & Fine, 2018) This starts off cute enough, as much as the pairing of disorders with animals is painfully on-the-nose. The leech has separation anxiety! The praying mantis is bad at relationships! Et cetera. There’s not much of an attempt to be clever, which is what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, the…

Of Fathers and Sons (Derki, 2017)

Kudos to the Academy’s documentary branch for plucking this lesser-known choice out of its shortlist and giving it a top five berth over something more mainstream like Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I’m sure it pissed off a mighty contingent of moviegoers (and maybe even the Academy at large, who I’m sure would have coasted Neville’s film…

The Wild Boys (Mandico, 2017)

What if Guy Maddin remade The Island of Dr. Moreau and it made it super gay? It’d probably be something like Bertrand Mandico’s The Wild Boys, which is an all-out unusual experience. Part coming-of-age narrative, part gay fantasia, part ripping sea yarn, the film follows a group of five boys who get out of hand and commit a…

24 Frames (Kiarostami, 2017)

Abbas Kiarostami left the world with an unusual goodbye. Not a narrative film, or a film of particular grandeur. Not a film that took us through his beloved Iran, meeting new faces and treading new terrains. No. He left us a film that is experimental in nature, best described as watching pictures come alive in…

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Wilkerson, 2017)

Travis Wilkerson’s family history is not one he is proud of. You would forgive him if he never talked about it in public. I, too, would be apprehensive if I knew one of my closer descendants (in his case, his great-grandfather) had been racist scum responsible for killing a black man in cold blood. The…

Sollers Point (Porterfield, 2017)

Sollers Point is a slice of life—a life that has taken a wrong turn and is trying to get back on track. We’ve seen films of this kind before, most recently the Safdie brothers’ Good Time from last year; while Sollers Point lacks their aggressive stylization, it is no less effective in showing how certain socioeconomic forces and displacement from…

Western (Grisebach, 2017)

By virtue of its name, a film called Western should have a horse—and it does. It should also have a cowboy, and here’s where things get interesting. There is a cowboy-like figure by the name of Meinhard, but he is no lone ranger wandering barren landscapes and dusty saloons. He is a part of a German team…

Night is Short, Walk on Girl (Masaaki, 2017)

I commend the gutsy animation style on display in Night is Short, Walk on Girl. Expression is maximized from stem to stern, with emotions and physical movements taking on eye-popping (and hilarious) modes. Over-exaggerating affect and spatial boundaries works in this context, because this is a film about those awkward in-between years of adolescence and adulthood—between…

Song to Song (Malick, 2017)

Who knows if Terrence Malick will ever reach his early career heights again. The Tree of Life might be his final “great” work, though his recent efforts may be re-evaluated down the line. Song to Song, like its past few predecessors, was tepidly received and ignored by most audiences, left to be picked up by its few supporters…

The Disaster Artist (Franco, 2017)

I’m so glad I watched The Room before seeing this. The experience is ten times more riotous when you’re familiar with Tommy Wiseau’s peculiar tics and see them so brilliantly imitated by James Franco (in, without a doubt, his best performance since 127 Hours). The hulking gait! The heavy-lidded eyes! That pronounced European accent! That bizarre laugh! Oh what…

The Greatest Showman (Gracey, 2017)

I might have enjoyed a different version of The Greatest Showman. One where the filmmaking was more adept, the songs more substantial, and the characters given the complexity they deserve. This? This is pap. Well-intentioned pap, but pap nonetheless. It takes an origin story that, in other hands, would make an interesting film, and strips it…