Best Movies of 2017:
It Comes at Night
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Little Hours
Best TV of 2017:
Twin Peaks the Return
Better Call Saul
At Home With Amy Sedaris
As a horror fan, I have to admit that, despite myself, I’m a bit jaded. I don’t want to be, but it just sort of happens. You can only see so many zombies get disemboweled before the fear you once had, watching something like Night of the Living Dead for the first time just isn’t what it used to be.
So, along came Lake Mungo, a movie that put a genuine fear into me I haven’t had in literal years. I felt like a kid again. I was giddy from the fear that it gave me. It affected me on such a deep level. It turns out that for me to get scared these days, what I need is a soft, quiet film that explores death and how people cope with loss.
I feel like movies in the 90s didn’t make as much of a spectacle of being diverse. In today’s movie-going world, it’s a huge problem. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the 90s (and before) weren’t a magical time, and the problems we have society existed then, too, and were far, far worse (even “liberal” presidents enacting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or contributing to our overcrowded prison system), but it seems like audiences of the time didn’t have to beg and plead with studios and filmmakers to make movies that weren’t all white.
If a movie like Set it Off came out today, it’d be huge news. But back then, it was just another crime movie. Four black women (one of whom is a lesbian) rob banks as a means of empowerment. I mean, maybe Jerry Falwell shit a chicken at the time of its release, but other than that it got generally positive reviews from critics and made a damn healthy return at the box office. There’s not even a “controversy” sub-section on the movie’s Wikipedia page!
American Vandal was, to me, the most unexpected emotional punch of the year.
Yes, I’m referring to the Netflix series parody of America’s obsession with crime, in the same vain as Making a Murderer, The Keepers or even Scandal… blown up to a four-hour-long dick joke.
That’s right, the Netflix-dick-joke series has more sincerity than most serious, prestige dramas. It delves into obsession, classism, depression, gender politics, race… and it does so effortlessly, while never forgetting why it’s there in the first place: To be funny.
The latest adaptation of Stephen King’s It comes as something of a disappointment to me, if only because the original source material is something very dear to me. It is, however, still a perfectly fine movie. It is one with some enjoyable suspense, good acting and decent characterization. Technically, it is a good movie, and for the amount of success that It is receiving, you could do a lot worse.
I wanted to first start with what I liked about the movie.
Tis the season for bummer movies about nuclear war. A normal reaction to modern politics—including tensions heating up between the United States, Russia, North Korea and the Middle East, with wars raging with no end in sight—is usually to watch something lighthearted as a distraction. Sometimes, though, I feel like watching a movie that mirrors society’s current woes, escalated to the most extreme outcome, has a sort of cathartic quality to it.
Testament is a film about a normal family in the 1980s in a small beach community up the California coast. Carol Wetherly (Jane Alexander) must take care of her children after nuclear war breaks out. No one knows who is responsible, no one knows who launched the nukes first or even what countries were involved. Does it matter, really? Her husband is presumably killed in a blast that took out San Francisco and it’s up to her to take care of her children, plus a neighborhood child whose parents are missing.
The following essay contains spoilers for the finale of Twin Peaks: The Return
The titular “return” of Twin Peaks: The Return, I always thought, was Dale Cooper’s return, not only to reality, but to the town of Twin Peaks, in order to battle the evil force of BOB, the occupying entity who inhabited his original body and wreaked havoc on the world for 25 years.
It turns out, the return was Laura Palmer.
Atomic Blonde plays like a spoof of spy movies, but not in a traditional way like an Austin Powers movie would be, laden with jokes and gags and genuine laughs—but instead, more like a satirical take on the oftentimes ludicrous plot at the center of most spy movies.
I might not be the ideal audience in mind for this movie, I guess is what I’m getting at. To me, the plot existed specifically to be a confusing mess that never really engaged me.
Dunkirk was a brilliant way for Christopher Nolan to trick a pretty broad audience into seeing a largely dialogueless, nonlinear experimental film shot on 70mm film. Much of the story is told through action, with only snippets of conversation here and there to fill in essential details. The film is also divided into three sections—one on the land, one on the sea and one in the air, each taking place over a different amount of time (a week, a day, an hour).
There’s a specific sub-genre of horror movies, the “siege” type scenario, the kind of movie where people are essentially locked into one area, one house or one cabin (or in the case of Dawn of the Dead, a mall), and they are unable to leave because the world around them is crumbling and rife with threat. In the case of It Comes at Night, there is a deadly, highly-communicable disease. Contact with the disease is, as of now, pretty much 100% lethal. In the vein of George A. Romero or John Carpenter, the disease isn’t the monster—the disease just does what a disease does—the real monster is humanity.
Something John Carpenter has said again and again is that it’s so easy to say that monsters are out there, that they live in the shadows, that they dwell in the darkness. But what’s really scary is the truth, that the monsters are already among us and we are them.