The Films of 2018

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Films of 2018

#101 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:41 am

Regarding Crazy Rich Asians I am still getting over the fact that this was the first role for one of the main actors in this film, Henry Golding, who had previously been one of the longstanding presenters of the BBC's Travel Show!

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andyli
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:46 pm

Re: The Films of 2018

#102 Post by andyli » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:56 am

colinr0380 wrote:Regarding Crazy Rich Asians I am still getting over the fact that this was the first role for one of the main actors in this film, Henry Golding, who had previously been one of the longstanding presenters of the BBC's Travel Show!
He also appeared in last year's A Simple Favor. Was it released afterwards?

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Films of 2018

#103 Post by knives » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:52 pm

nitin wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:55 am
I saw Disobedience tonight and I largely concur with DarkImbecile’s take on it. The acting by the three main actors is terrific, the direction and writing is mainly strong and everytime the movie sort of goes off the rails towards the back end, it quickly manages to get back on interesting and sometimes even surprising footing.
Seeing this, this is catchup season for me, and I'll third the opinion. It's nice to see one of these Anglo-Haredi dramas come across as written by someone who knows that world. The script does very little simplifying and goes out of its way to have characters, especially the husband, who are complicated through adaptation as well as rebellion. This isn't some cheap, American, A Price Above Rubies, simplistic morality tale, but a much more intimate story of balancing priorities so that you can become your happiest self. The husband's penultimate act is one of the most delightfully shocking moments from last year.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2018

#104 Post by knives » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:34 pm

The Hate U Give (because announcing the full acronym would not be appropriate for kids)
All the kids where I work are hyped on the book and the movie is all they've been talking about this year so I felt a little obligated to see it and in the context of it being a children's movie it's great. Unlike a lot of other films with children protagonists which are completely uninterested in being interesting to children this one is. A lot of the criticism I see around misunderstands this. The critiques remind me of the famous BBC comment about Alan Clarke putting in too much incident as if drama wasn't the central aspect of drama. This film isn't supposed to be cool to a middle aged white guy, but to the diversity of teens. So with the question of corny or not out of the way I guess the question becomes is this good?

I suppose my students have good tastes because this is pretty complex. It's not really about the shooting which is a pretty blatant not good thing. Instead it's about how youth in all its varieties has to deal with this. My understanding is that the book is even more expansive on this with additional subplots and characters. It would be interesting to give more voice to the teen characters then we have (and Starr takes up the majority of that space), but given this is already over two hours and tackles issues of the shooting, racial interaction, the status of police, discovering the history of the nation (Emmett Till gets a cameo), and social pressures for survival. Possibly the most interesting in what it brings up and probably the thing that is most relevant to children is how all of these things have been changed by technology. Cell phones as the only mode of armor for black people obviously comes up, but social media is much more interesting because it is the mode the characters speak in. Tumblr provides some of the most compelling stuff since the two Starrs as she expresses herself have to be one. The film seems to say that while technology has been great in many ways it has also provided new difficulties.

The film is a kids film and is only so deep. It isn't the massive treatise that Spike Lee would put out and aesthetically it is only okay. Still, even with these limitations (which are mostly overridden by the acting) this is a vital and enjoyable film with more depth and intelligence than a lot of adult entertainment.

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brundlefly
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:55 pm

Re: The Films of 2018

#105 Post by brundlefly » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:21 pm

Museo (Alonso Ruizpalacios)

Buried in YouTube Premium’s Originals among concert films, projects featuring folks I take to be internet personalities, and a very earnest-looking Susan Sarandon flick, is this second feature from the director of Güeros.

Ruizpalacios attacks the 1985 Christmas Eve theft at Mexico’s National History of Anthropology with an undeniable skill-set and a lot on his mind, takes a history of plunder and thinks it into knots. It’s a heist film (though the heist is too easy, comes too late, and ends too soon), but procedural concerns are a clothesline on which to contemplate historical and cultural ownership. Where and to whom do cultural artifacts belong? Who gets to tell their stories? And the film extends this to itself, not just through a “print the legend” approach to its narrative – “This story is a replica of the original” – but by embracing an excuse to nod this way and that. Perez Prado’s “Patricia” is reappropriated from La Dolce Vita to soundtrack a porn film, reconnected later in a sequence that’s all-caps Fellini. Things are taken, things are returned.

But he’s also interested in generational disconnect. The main characters are pushing at or losing their own histories: Alpha thief Juan (Gael Garcia Bernal) rails against the upper middle-class striving of his doctor father (Pablo Larrain regular Alfredo Castro, who doesn’t have to do more than show up to be sternly effective) and rattles on about socialism and warrior codes while perpetually dallying with some sort of post-grad veterinary degree; his father’s father has recently died and, at the start of the film, Juan’s bristling at having to wear grandfather’s ill-fitting Santa suit. Sidekick/narrator Benjamin is devoted to his father, but that man’s dying of cancer. Living in their suburb is “driving in circles;” they urinate on the area’s most prominent landmark.

Juan is aggressively unlikeable, perhaps a calculation to prevent anyone from thinking him righteous or his actions redeemably Robin Hoodish. He has an abstract, intellectual connection to cultural history; the post-crime downward spiral character arc here seems meant to imbue him with deeper (even spiritual) respect, though that never registered emotionally for me. (The movie chickens out as a character study by claiming character and motivation unknowable.) It’s hard to care what happens to him, and it’s not fun spending time with him.

More provocative are the interactions with the stolen objects themselves. They’re lugged around in a duffle bag, wrapped in t-shirts advertising toys. Simon Russell Beale licks one, in awe. Sometimes they’re dismissed by other characters as “handicrafts,” common product to be peddled. At one point, they become playthings for children; considering a history of financiers, explorers, and thieves, I wondered if that wasn’t the most honest, meaningful engagement possible. It’s noted (true or not) that museum attendance skyrocketed after the heist because people wanted to see the empty cases.

As you’d expect for a self-conscious film (“And now, a fight,” they say in voice-over at the start of a fight scene) it’s showy. Unexpected angles, a lot of slow push-ins. A pretty great handmade iris out. The heist has a slideshow of mock-freeze frames that unfortunately reminded me of the ‘Police Squad!’ closing credits more than anything else. Ruizpalacios makes good use of some interesting architecture and gets a lot of mileage cutting very wide to very close. And from going very loud to very soft. There’s a very forthright sound design. The soundtrack has a children’s choir singing Castaneda quotes and. when it wants to go huge in the manner of a historical epic, noodles with Silvestre Revueltas’ music for The Night of the Mayas.

Museo has a lot under consideration and resists conclusion. It drags on. It contorts to echo itself; wherever you go, you’re driving in circles. In Satélite, Juan stares at a painting of a cliff diver in Acapulco; in Acapulco, he stares at an abstract painting and sees Satélite. Ruizpalacios’ films have a passive-aggressive Gen-X dissatisfaction to which I respond. Güeros’ circumnavigation struck me as Stranger Than Paradise with occasional kinetic outbursts. Here his overthinking, underachieving thief stumbles along on spasms of inspiration and half-assed follow-through; it’s difficult to argue that the post-heist feeling of aimlessness that sets in isn’t appropriate.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2018

#106 Post by knives » Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:31 pm

It's a bit sad that The Front Runner didn't catch on with audiences more because it is easily the most nuanced take on reality show and politics becoming one over the last 40 years. With the primaries occurring right now the film's basic question of do you need to be a triangle to teach math seems all the more relevant especially as it seems like if you have confidence it will all work out for you. Hart's unraveling is this shocking thing, but I think the film's most intellectually compelling character is the WP reporter. Very predominantly he's black. The film doesn't actively acknowledge this, but that's a subtext to a a lot of his interactions with regards to the power he can wield to mold the story according to his morals. What's interesting given how in most films he would become the moral center the film has an important scene near the end to show that even his supposed good journalism is blind to the full complexity of the issues. His morality is necessarily limited in scope as well.

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Matt
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Re: The Films of 2018

#107 Post by Matt » Sat May 25, 2019 7:09 pm

After missing its brief theatrical appearance in my area, I finally caught up with Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel (now available in the US on VOD). I absolutely loved it, but partly because it punches a lot of very personal emotional buttons for me (so I can understand why some people would not connect with it). It’s by a mile Honoré’s best film, his most authentic, finally fulfilling his promise. For those who miss Patrice Chereau’s acutely observed, seriocomic queer romances or long for the days when Arnaud Desplechin made beautiful, idiosyncratic, elliptical romantic/family dramas that didn’t involve ghosts or spies, this is your movie.

I never particularly cared for his earlier work, even when on paper it seemed to be right up my alley. But I also have always found Louis Garrel to be a rather slimy, unpleasant figure, so that might help explain my distaste for the otherwise universally beloved Les chansons d’amour and their collaborations that followed. Garrel’s apparent replacement as Honoré’s muse by the delicious Vincent Lacoste is extremely welcome.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Films of 2018

#108 Post by domino harvey » Sat May 25, 2019 8:15 pm

I liked Plaire, aimer et courir vite too, though not as much as you. Vincente Lacoste is pretty much the French actor to watch these days and I thought his young character was delightfully complex and far more interesting than anyone else on-screen. I do suspect it would have been more successful without the more typical/expected tragic elements of its back half, though

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brundlefly
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Re: The Films of 2018

#109 Post by brundlefly » Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:58 am

DarkImbecile wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 6:12 pm
Michael Pearce's Beast was a pleasant surprise, an unexpectedly sexy, transgressive adult answer to the YA romantic fantasies so prevalent in recent years; more than once, this film struck me as an interesting thematic partner to Cory Finley's Thoroughbreds from earlier this year, though where that film's style is cool, controlled, and tightly constructed, Beast is hot-blooded, jittery, and shaggier. The less said about the plot, the better - I really appreciated not having seen the trailer or heard much about this from US critics after its Sundance appearance - but could basically summed up as
SpoilerShow
girl meets boy while audience tries to figure out which one is crazier.
Jessica Buckley, an Irish actress who has mostly done TV work up to now, makes a strong impression with an unpredictable lead performance - alternately strong-willed and brittle, sensual and alienating, and her co-lead Johnny Flynn plays well to the harder edge of the 'alluring bad boy' spectrum. The often-hand-held camera pushes uncomfortably close to both lovers and corpses, scenes of overflowing exuberance and intense anxiety, but quite handsomely frames Jersey's forests, cliffs, and beaches while the score (by Jim Williams, who has worked regularly with Ben Wheatley and composed for Julia Ducournau's superb Raw) thrums menacingly underneath. All the supporting performances are dialed to a slightly higher pitch, which suits Pearce's desire to keep the audience unsettled and unclear exactly where its sympathies should lie until the final moments.
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Speaking of those final moments, for a second I thought the film was going to end on a particularly dark note, with a fade to black on a walk by the ocean; while that surely would have been the more provocative ending, the next few minutes give the audience plenty to chew over in their own right - slightly undermined in my case by the theater lights coming up right as the climactic action occurs. Nothing like the convenience and reliability of automation in the movie theater industry.
Gosh I liked this. As you said, I think it helps knowing nothing going in; all I think I’d heard beforehand was that it was an “adult fairy tale,” a tag that nearly always sets me up for disappointment. And luckily one of film’s strengths is that it doesn’t feel the need to hew to the rules of any of the styles it entertains, just throws what it needs from each into its pot.
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What it does worst and wisely mostly ignores is the police procedural. And no one needs another serial killer film. I was made angry the EPK on the DVD described this as a psychological thriller, though it may well be. For me it was a romance above all, and it kept me off-balance the right way, by making the characters and their relationships complex.
And I did not know Jessie Buckley as I’ve missed the moment she’s having right now. She’s captivating here; every time the film stumbles or starts to tread water she amazes it back to life. Has a killer half-smile that allows her character to have a moment both ways. There’s a scene where screams, the scream exhausts itself, and after a beat of inaction she re-screams. Eyes open, the whole time, darting about to gauge reaction. Could have been risible. But because it’s such an unexpected defense mechanism where it’s employed, and because the desperation is so pure, it’s terrifying. I wondered if it was written or rehearsed that way, but would like to believe it wound up in there because everyone was too stunned to cut.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#110 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:20 pm

Went to the Fantasia Film Festival, saw some films, here they are:

Ode to Nothing (Dwein Ruedas Baltazar)

Easily and without question my favourite film of the festival. An aging, single woman who’s run into debt with a loan shark in trying to keep her ailing funeral home from going under receives the dead body of an unidentified old woman. She keeps it hoping it’ll be identified, only for a sudden upturn in luck to accompany the body. The movie has the same flat, unsaturated digital look as Mysteries of the Night, the other Filipino movie I saw at the festival, but here the look is appropriate, and supported by a stronger grasp of craft. The movie’s triumph is that brings you so far inside the emotional world of its characters that you come to accept as normal and understandable certain realities they set for themselves, even when those realities are gross or illogical. You find yourself implicitly accepting for example that the dead body is in fact holding up its side of the conversation, so engrossing is the emotional reality of these scenes. As affecting and moving a portrait of loneliness and poverty as I’ve seen, one whose ambiguities deepen on reflection. It does seem at the end that the woman is ruined in monkey-paw fashion, and yet there is a sense that the end may not be so desperate, that these crushing ordeals have brought ultimate loss, yes, but also freedom. A key is in the formal elements: the aspect ratio is boxy (maybe 1.33:1) and constricting, the setting confined to the mortuary, and the photography careful to avoid showing us anything outside of the building. The main character often stands just outside the main gates, but the camera either remains within the mortuary, framing her in long shot through the door against the blank wall of the opposite building, or frames her in closeup with the mortuary in the background. And tho’ the camera often looks in at people through various windows, it’s careful never to give an unimpeded shot looking out of one. There are always branches, trees, and buildings obscuring the shot to no more than a sliver of the road. The lead character often stares out of windows, but evidently she cannot see much from them. On a formal level, the wider world does not exist. The characters are cramped, caught, trapped, both narratively and at the level of form. I think these formal elements are the proper context in which to interpret the ambiguous ending, which is not as hopeless and disturbed (nor indeed as prosaic in its explanation) as it initially comes across. A beautiful and sad movie that I hope at least someone else here watches.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#111 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:21 pm

Door Lock (Lee Kwon)

It all begins with a man’s attempt to enter a woman’s apartment at night, and turns into a nightmare from there. Successfully exploits many basic fears and vulnerabilities women have to produce a sometimes unbearably tense thriller. So successful is it that the various genre contrivances and familiarities melt away, leaving you with many horrifying scenarios where the objects and systems we rely on to secure us prove inadequate. This is the film’s triumph: it makes us feel our basic safety and security is a comforting fiction to get us through the day, and that in reality we are horribly vulnerable. It’s a feeling that’s hard to shake after the film has finished.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#112 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:22 pm

Night God (Adilkhan Yerzhanov)

A slow, absurdist, surrealist movie that prefers atmosphere to character and symbolism to narrative. The setting is at once post apocalyptic, war torn, and informed by soviet era beaurocracy and aesthetics. It confronts and is a kind of protest against nothingness and incomprehensibility. It owes a debt to Tarkovsky and Tarr for its style. Not sure digital was the best medium to shoot this in. I suspect it would’ve looked more beautiful on film. As it stands, the photography is often painterly in capturing the frozen, decaying, mouldering environments and landscapes as its characters try to navigate the absurd and incomprehensible systems of a world whose the sun has disappeared forever.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#113 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:22 pm

Dachra (Abdelhamid Bouchnak)

Tunisia’s first horror film. Opens with the bracing image of a child having its throat slit in some kind of sacrifice, and moves on to show three journalism students trying to interview a woman confined to a madhouse and rumoured to be a witch who was found twenty years ago wandering the backroads with her throat cut. The whole film and everyone in it seems on edge. Much of the plot is familiar and taken from many other such films, but how is more important than what, here, and the film has such a grim and oppressive atmosphere that it pushes you back into your seat. You feel as tho’ in a cold and ugly nightmare. It left me disturbed and unhappy, like it kept flicking at a raw nerve somehow. The location shooting does a lot, because everything feels dark and unsafe and miles away from being under control. A movie in which everyone and everything is trapped. I doubt it’s coherent on a plot level. But even its derivative images are horrifying. I don’t know, the movie just felt savage.

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