-A QUICK DIEGO NOTE-
Art is strange. It makes people feel emotions that and there’s no real way to prepare for immediate gut reactions. So we talk about it as a community because we want to understand. Art is subjective. Art is not universal. Art is worth talking about. That’s what I’m doing here.
Film criticism is weird. There’s a misconception about criticism revolving around pretentious “holier-than-thou” attitudes in a fight to prove who is right and who is wrong. That is, of course, bullshit. What it really boils down to is the discussion. A love of movies. Whether it’s on twitter, a personal blog post or for website I’m contributing to, I love to participate in these discussions any way I can. I’m just looking to open up a dialogue.
I have several avenues of exploring film criticism with other groups of people (all of whom I am proud to create alongside with) but this patreon, and my wordpress are for me, myself, and I.
As for what’s been in theaters, here are some of my favorites of the year so far (in no particular order because lists are subjective. I’m allowed to take my time making up my mind, damn it).
Okay so I know I just wrote “in no particular order” but Personal Shopper is my favorite movie of the year. A Hitchcock style meditation on grief . Like if The Sixth Sense and Blackhat had a baby. At some point I’ll actually flesh out my ideas about Kristen Stewart being one of the definitive actresses of our generation. I wrote about it here.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2
“I’m gonna make some weird shit.” The trick to great ongoing superhero movies isn’t crossovers. It’s just about making quality movies. Make the best choices to explore whatever best fits the characters. Volume 2 tosses aside preconceived notions of MCU structure and allows the characters to guide the narrative with their own emotions. It only bears similarities to The Empire Strikes Back because it’s one of the few sequels that understands *why* that movie works on the first place. I also cried like crazy. I wrote about it over at AE.
JOHN WICK 2
The equivalent of Michael Mann adapting Roman mythology. An explosively dynamic action film that doesn’t so much evolve its action as much as it burrows further into what makes John Wick tick. Just when he thinks he’s out, he’s sucked back in. Bad news for him, great news for movie lovers.
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is mind-shattering. Socially-relevant by focusing on horrifying truths in our contemporary political climate, Get Out is one of the best debuts in movie history and one of the best of the year.
It’s not a gratuitous hard R rating that gives Logan its staying power. While excessive violence and textured grit drown the world of Logan, James Mangold and Hugh Jackman’s superhero finale is one for the ages. A melancholy, futuristic/neo-western that doesn’t ask you to worry about a greater world, but rather the world right in front of you before it’s gone forever.
“Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.” Ridley Scott’s current oeuvre has no interest in plodding characters and stories in a traditional blockbuster sense, instead opting to explore atmospheres and new worlds to ask about humanity’s purpose. Alien: Covenant isn’t about logically explaining the birth of the Xenomorph as much as it is about taking humanity to the depth’s of hell, showing us it’s one of our own designs. I wrote about it at AE and podcasted about it over at The Waffle Press.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS
Gore Verbinski is a straight up madman. He convinced a movie studio to fund what was probably production artwork from his abandoned BioShock film. Furthermore, it turns out that artwork has been re-purposed to craft a story about the impact of capitalism and its connections to aristocratic nobility; all the while framing crisp, haunting visuals that would make Kubrick squeal. And eels. So many eels.
A jukebox musical directed by Edgar Wright. It uses music so casually, so effectively, so insanely precise in its intentions that it makes La La Land‘s Oscar nominations/wins look trite. It’s a remix of classic crime tropes, Wright’s new age storytelling, all set to an iPod playlist. We don’t deserve this man but we certainly need him.
Bong Joon-Ho’s whimsical adventure of a young girl, her super pig, and the grinding gears of the framework that tears them apart. Capitalism is bad but super pigs are very good and cuddly. There’s some imagery here that must have given PETA a boner. Not exactly subtle but who gives a shit when Netflix just let Bong just go for it. Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton lose their minds while Okja and Mija warm our hearts. Also, put Paul Dano and Steven Yeun in a buddy cop movie immediately.
I loved, like LOVED, M. Night Shyamalan’s 2015 film The Visit. While he’s had some movies that totally missed the mark for me, it reminded me of why I fell in love with his work in the first place. Split caters to a side bordering on straight up exploitation thrills before chewing through a narrative about people who have been damaged by the world. Kevin, a character who could easily have been used for cheap and problematic terror tactics, is one of Shyamalan’s strongest characters. It’s approach to D.I.D. is definitely more rooted in science fiction for Split‘s thematic purposes, but I found the film to treat it with respect and tragedy. There’s no reason why I should have been shocked as much as I was by Shyamalan’s pure, unadulterated empathy towards his characters. It’s been in his work all along.
There are more movies I loved this year and you can be damn sure I’m going to write about them as soon as possible.