In my quest to blas through as many films from 2016 before submitting my film of the year list to my fellow Geeketeers at Fake Geeks, I’ve watched a whole heap of films in recent weeks. They make up all but one of these entries.
YOF2017 #4 | Remainder
You can read my full review of Remainder over at Fake Geeks. In short, while Omer Fast shows promise in his full length debut, it is ultimately more of an interesting head-scratcher than a mind-bending classic.
YOF2017 #5 | Rams
You can read my full review of Rams over at Fake Geeks. In short, it is an expertly crafted, affecting drama that’s spiced up with sprinklings of dark humour.
YOF2017 #6 | Your Name
Your Name was at the UK cinemas for about 5 minutes, but a few of us were very loucky to have gotten down to see it. It’s the last film from Makoto Shinkai (5 Centmieters per Second, The Garden of Words) who is one of a few directors that has been given the ‘next Miyazaki’ label.
Briefly, Your Name is about a boy and a girl who – every so often, and seemingly at random – exchange bodies when they sleep, and they spend a day as the other person. Going into the whys and wherefors will spoil this one, but I can honestly say that this an excellently made film. It’s very much a mulit-layered piece, without being impentrable to the casual viewer. I have a feeeling it’ll place well in our film of the year list.
YOF2017 #7 | Hunt for the Wildepeople
Another strong contender for film of the year is this adventure comedy-drama from Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok).
Julian Dennison is excellent as Ricky Baker, a troublesome youth who floats from family to family in the child welfare system. His latest stop is with “Uncle” Hec (Sam Neill) and “Aunt” Bella (Rima Te Wiata). For reasons that I won’t get into for fear of spoiling certain plot points, Hec and Ricky end up the object of a manhunt in the New Zealand bush.
Hunt for the Wildepeople is a brilliant film. While it’s mostly humourous, there are moments of genuine tenderness and drama. Neill is great, and Dennison steals the show.
YOF2017 #8 | Lights Out
While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, there are some nice spots in this adaptation of a 2013 short. The cast is pretty good too, and the characters feel a little more three dimensional than the usuals that get wheeled out for horror franchises.
A sequel has already been confirmed, here’s hoping it improves on what they have already built and don’t send it the way of Saw etc.
YOF2017 #9 | Fire at Sea
This is a narrrator-free documentary look at the European island of Lampedusa. Being so close to Africa, the island is often a first port of call for migrants from the continents to the south and east.
What could have been excellent, is merely decent. Too much time is spent with the families of the island doing trivial tasks. The times spent focussing on the plight of the migrants is moving, and one of the doctors giving a talking heads piece about why he helps them is somewhat prodfound.
YOF2017 #10 | La La Land
Damien Chezelle’s first film since the amazing Whiplash (the Fake Geeks film of the year) is a musical set in Hollywood, about chasing your dreams.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are very good in the lead roles, and the songs are mostly good. The story meanders a smidge, but the ending is pretty darn good. It’s gonna be quite high on my list of films in 2017.
YOF2017 #11 | Under the Shadow
This is an acclaimed internationally produced horror set in Tehran, during the Iran-Iraq war of the 80s. As Tehran is bombarded with missile attacks, Shideh (Nerges Rashidi) tries to comfort her daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi). As the film progresses, things take a turn toward the unexplainable – is a djinn stalking Dorsa?
While I don’t think it’s amazing (it received five star reviews from a number of notable publications), it’s still really good stuff and has a shot at my top 15 for the year.
YOF2017 #12 | Money Monster
A decent hostage thriller starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell. It wholly unoriginal, but done quite well throughout. There’s alsodecent support from prominent TV actors such as Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito, Denis Boutsikaris and Chris Bauer.
YOF2017 #13 | The Neon Demon
A bit of a mixed bag from Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest release. It looks amazing (as you’d probably expect), and the soundtrack is spot on. Elle Fanning is pretty good on the most part, though significantly better in the first half than the second (her character undergoes a transformation, and she’s much better at portraying the former than the latter). The film is a smidge slow, and the last third seems to be shocking for shocking sake. Still, I didn’t ‘not enjoy’ it. It’s just… decent/fine.
YOF2017 #14 | The Take (Bastille Day)
Like Money Money, this is decent (if by the numbers). Elba plays a CIA agent, Richard Madden is a pickpocket and Charlotte Le Bon an naive political idealist. The three of them end up tangled up in bomb plot. Fun enough entertainment.
YOF2017 #15 | The BFG
I must confess that I’ve never read the book, nor have I watched the famous 80s cartoon. However, I really enjoyed Steven Spielberg’s adaptation. It’s definitely at the better end of and increasingly bloated kids CGI film selection.