Best Films of 2017: A Voluptuous Edition

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I’ve read a few comments from people bitching about how shit 2017 has been for the movies and I could not disagree more – this is the year I got not one but three Wonder Woman movies (with varying degrees of success) after all. I’ve been having a blast!

2017 has been the first year I’ve paid for a cinema card and it’s opened me up to a lot of movies I might not have caught otherwise. I also got myself a Duke of York’s membership in the Black Friday sales so now have all my bases covered when it comes to the cinema.

Without too much more waffle, here is a guide to my favourite films of 2017.

My Top 11

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Wonder Woman

There are so many things I should say about this movie that just can’t do it justice. Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman is everything, from the costuming to the story to the shaping of the character herself. It’s taken us a long long time to get here, to get Diana of Themyscira on the big screen and the reality of it was so much better than I could of dreamed.

To see her pushed back to square one in Justice League just a few months later doesn’t bear thinking about but the future of Wonder Woman is bright, I have hope in my heart about that.

My film of the year and my review here.

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The Disaster Artist

While nobody will ever accuse me of being that into James Franco, in this he cannot be faulted. His portrayal of the mysterious Tommy Wiseau is nothing short of miraculous and his dedication to the part never falters.

TDA is hilarious and joyful and weird and respectful while endearing the viewer to the wonderful Wiseau world view. It doesn’t pull punches when it comes to how awful he could be during the filming of The Room but it also doesn’t make him out to be a total arse either. And the friendship element, between Tommy and Greg Sestero, is genuinely heartwarming in places.

A very fun viewing experience.

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The Handmaiden

My favourite director meets my favourite author. There was no way this wasn’t going to make the list.

The Handmaiden is gorgeous, sexy, horrifying and brilliant while the story twists and turns to the bitter end. In Chan-wook Park‘s hands the tale is coated with an extra veneer of mystery and even knowing how it would end from reading Fingersmith, I was pleasantly sated.

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A Ghost Story

I often wonder how this film caught me so unawares. For a start it stars someone I really dislike and although he’s not visible for very much of the film, by rights that should have put me off. It hasn’t though and this film did something not many films are able to do – it got right under my skin.

The story is relatively simple: a young couple lives together until one of them dies. Trapped as a ghost in their home, the man is caught in limbo after his widow moves on. Will he ever be able to leave this realm?

Did I cry? Not until the end credits and then I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. My friend Becky had the same reaction which made me feel better, like I was justified in being so invested. For now I’m avoiding a re-watch so the initial impact can’t wear off.

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Moonlight

Another film I felt, which sounds all kinds of icky but is true. This is a masterpiece in longing and I loved it.

All the actors that play Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) at three stages of his life are flawless but I think it might be the final scenes between Black and Kevin that seal the deal for me on this one. They’re everything.

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Get Out

Next to Wonder Woman, I think this might be my favourite film of 2017. The experience we had while watching it was amazing, for once the audience participation wasn’t a problem – as people cheered and booed and clapped all the way through it.

Daniel Kaluuya will always be Tealeaf to me but it’s really good to see him in big screen productions. He doesn’t disappoint as Chris, the African-American boyfriend of Allison Williams‘ Rose Armitage, who takes him home to meet the folks one weekend only for things to take an extremely sinister turn.

What was great about this is that it kept its sense of humour throughout, approaches white privilege, cultural appropriation and racism from a fresh angle – and wasn’t the film I’d come to expect from the trailer. Which can only ever be a good thing.

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Call Me By Your Name

What a lush and wonderful slice of perfection this is! Armie Hammer was so good I felt guilty for ever having underestimated his talents.

Set during the heady Summer of 1983, 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falls in love with his father’s American research assistant Oliver against the backdrop the sumptuous Italian countryside. Simple though this sounds this film, like Moonlight in some ways, is the perfect study in all-consuming, forbidden desire.

And the scene between Elio and his father towards the end is so touching, it’s one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This isn’t exactly what you’d call a comfortable watch but there is something appealing about the mind of Yorgos Lanthimos‘. I loved Dogtooth and The Lobster, so went in with high hopes for TKOASD. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s fucking weird alright, has a twisted black sense of humour and leaves a lot of questions unanswered, all of which I approve of. All performances are great here, particularly sinister af Barry Koeghan as the vengeful Martin.

As for the plot, it’s extremely satisfying to witness the collapse of Doctor Steven Murphy’s (Colin Farrell) perfect life because he’s a careless arse – but you can’t help feeling for his privileged wife and kids. It probably isn’t for everyone but I liked it a lot.

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Lady Bird

Man, I loved this. It nails the complex relationship some women experience with their mothers perfectly, and even for someone who hasn’t experienced it to the same level, it’s so relateable.

Both Saoirse Ronan (the titular “Lady Bird”) and Laurie Metcalf are so believable as mother and daughter. There’s a scene in the dressing room while Lady Bird tries on prom dresses that is so perfect it brings up a lot of emotion (or did for me). Ah mums, gotta love them, right?

Note to Greta Gerwig: you’re a bloody clever woman – and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I won’t defend my decision to include this movie on my top list because I shouldn’t have to. Lots of people hated on it and that’s totally fine too but it did what I wanted and needed it to, and some of the big reveals, they make sense (on reflection).

It’s by no means perfect but a Star Wars film is always going to be head and shoulders more exciting than most films because it’s a Star Wars film – and I’m all in.

The things I loved (*with minimal spoilers*): all Carrie Fisher scenes, the introduction of Rose Tico, #spacedernCaptain Phasma, the crystal foxes, Lietenant Connix, the entire salt planet sequence, the fish nuns, Dameron Poe‘s face, PORGS! THAT scene in the red room with the ninja sabres… I could go on.

I’ll definitely be seeing this again as soon as I can because there is an awful lot going on and I’m very much looking forward to it. See you soon Rey & co.

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

A last minute entry into the Top 11, I can’t be sure if my total enjoyment of this film was down to its subject matter (let’s face it probably) or whether it’s just because it was totally dope. I’m going to say 50/50 and call it a day.

I thought this was just lovely, giving us insight into the man behind the Wonder Woman character and the very real women who inspired him. It’s one of my very favourite stories anyway and to see it brought to the big screen was so much fun.

I loved Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth Marston and very much enjoyed the ménage à trois relationship between the three leads. So worth a watch if you can get to see it, sadly I think this has had a very limited release in the UK.

Other films of note

I also totally loved:
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Blade Runner 2049

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Spider-Man: Homecoming / Paddington 2 / Thor: Ragnarok

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The Big Sick / Tom of FinlandRaw

Most mind boggling and frustrating film of 2017

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mother!

At the very least you can’t accuse Aronofsky of producing boring work. While mother! is many things, it’s not dull. There’s a lot about it to process and I still can’t really work out if I hated it with a passion, didn’t get it – or if it’s actually brilliant.

So rather than getting my worst film vote, it gets most memorable but not necessarily in a good way.

Worst film of 2017 (AKA The Swiss Army Man Award)

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Colossal

I reacted so bizarrely to this film and have never really been able to compute why. I guess you can’t win them all but I am baffled about it.

Really it should have been everything I wanted but the controlling aspect of the central relationship/friendship caught me off guard and I couldn’t enjoy it. I guess the after-effects of a shitty relationship can seep into anything without warning, even all these years later. So it’s a nope from me, sorry Anne. You had a GREAT fringe though.

What did you love/hate/enjoy this year?

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The Lobster (Film) Review

 

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I wasn’t planning on reviewing this film but then Lightle said she’d like to see me do it and I thought I might as well. (If she asked me to jump off a cliff, would I…? Perhaps.)

Forgive me for this probably rather fragmented post as I try to remember the subtle nuances of the storyline, performances and the head scratching final scene. I usually try to review right after I’ve seen a film while it’s fresh in my mind but it’s now been several weeks.

*If you haven’t seen this film and don’t want spoilers, I would skip this tbh. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.*

Also, there were bits I don’t think I understood so if you have any comments such as “Are you straight tripping’, Gurl? It obviously meant this…” then I am open to your thoughts and interpretations. We’re all about sharing and caring round these parts.

Still would

The Lobster (2015)

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Stars: 
Colin FarrellRachel WeiszOlivia ColmanAshley JensenJohn C. ReillyBen WhishawLéa Seydoux

IMDB Synopsis: In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

My Review:

The City has pretty tough rules about being single. If you are, even if you’re divorced or widowed, you’re required to go and stay at The Hotel, where you have 45 days to find a partner or you’ll be turned into an animal. (Harsh).

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Talk to each other dammit!

It’s not all bad though, I mean you get to choose your animal. I’d be a big cat or a wolf but when choosing it is advised that you’re careful not to aim for something that makes easy prey. Colin Farrell’s David wisely chooses the lobster, hence the title of this film.

David has just arrived at The Hotel after his wife leaves him. He is accompanied by his brother Bob, who is now a dog. Bob and David don’t talk much which actually bothered me a lot. (Timothy, if you were turn into an animal and I was your sole carer, I would talk to you all the time).

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“Nice tie.”

The Hotel has a string of rules including no masturbation (sexual stimulation without climax is mandatory and performed by a disinterested maid (Ariane Labed)).

All visitors must wear the uniforms provided (all men in identical suits/women in identical floral dresses) and they must also hunt ‘The Loners’ (who are escapees from The Hotel) if they want to extend their stays. For each captured escapee, a visitor earns an extra day.

David adapts quickly and makes two new friends, Man with Lisp (Reilly) and Limping Man (Whishaw). Man with Lisp gets caught wanking in his room and is publically punished by having his hand burnt in a toaster. (We’ve all been there, amirite?!)

During the days at The Hotel, the Hotel Manager (Colman) and her staff hold workshops about how much better everything is as a couple (no chance of rape, less chance of choking to death on your supper).

School trips just weren’t the same anymore

Limping Man fakes nosebleeds (by smashing his face on hard surfaces) when he meets Nosebleed Girl (Jessica Barden) and they get together. There’s a big thing running throughout the story about like attracting like, and this comes back tenfold in the ending so take note!

New couples btw are sent off to spend a trial month together so Limping Man goes off with his new beau. The Hotel tell them they can arrange a child for the couple if there is any sign of strain between them during this trial period. Limping Man and his partner are given a daughter.

Meanwhile, Biscuit Woman (Jensen) flirts with David quite blatantly but he’s not game. She gives him some butter biscuits to give to Bob the Dog and then she tells David that rather than be changed into an animal if she fails to find a partner, she will kill herself by jumping off the hotel.

David gets tired and decides to choose a partner strategically, so set his sights on Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia). She is exactly as she is described and who can fucking blame her, I’d be numb to all this bullshit too.

While Heartless is sitting outside in the grounds, Biscuit Woman throws herself from one of the balconies but doesn’t die right away. She lies there screaming like a wounded animal and Heartless doesn’t react at all.

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Not exactly ‘bubbly’

David tries to talk to her but their conversation is drowned out by Biscuit’s wailing. Later in the Jacuzzi, Heartless and David are talking and she begins to choke on an olive. David fails to react and as she recovers herself, Heartless tells him that they are well suited. They begin their trial life together.

I won’t spoil this particularly dark and horrible segment of the film but let’s just say building a life on a lie never works out.

David escapes The Hotel and joins The Loners. They too live by stringent rules, one of which is that romance is forbidden and punishable by varying degrees of mutilation. Pity then that David falls in love with Short Sighted Woman (Wiesz) (he is also short sighted) and they begin a secret relationship. All their communication is done via a super secret sign language code.

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Real subtle, kids

Despite the secrecy, the lovers are able to pretend to be together during short covert missions into The City which they enjoy immensely. Unfortunately, they take it one step too far (awks) and attract the suspicion of the Loner Leader (Seydoux). (She’s well mean).

The Loners bust into The Hotel and fuck shit up psychologically for some of the couples, including Nosebleed Girl and Limping Man, by telling her he’s been faking his nosebleeds all this time. They also mess with the Hotel Manager and her husband.

I think they just want to bring the whole house of cards down by planting doubt in the couples’ minds and I’m here for it because they’re all unpleasantly smug.

The Loner Leader then finds a journal written by Short Sighted Woman outlining a plan to escape with David. Again, I don’t want to spoil the ending because it is very much open to interpretation but let’s just say the Loner Leader alters Short Sighted Woman’s life forever and in turn places David at the foot of the biggest dilemma of his life.

Field of dreams?

Questions:

What the fuck, man?

Will David make the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loves? What will become of the couple? Why is it so important that everybody pairs off with their exact personality twin? Has nobody heard of opposites attract?

Why is everything so bleak? What animal would you be?

And more importantly, why don’t people just move to a different city? (Lol)

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“I can’t bear for anyone to see me in this outfit…”

My Thoughts:

I actually like this film a whole lot more now I’ve thought about it again. It also makes way more sense the further away from it I am.

Whilst viewing it feels quite depressing and can be a little slow. Stylistically it sets a unique tone. The performances are wonderfully dead pan and I love the dynamic between the new friends.

The little scenes where the Hotel guests talk about themselves to the group is sweet and sad (we learn how Limping Man got his limp and it’s heart-wrenching). I also enjoy very much the mystery surrounding the room in which the ‘animal surgery’ takes place. It’s shrouded in intrigue and rumours abound about what exactly goes on in there but we never find out.

Incidentally, I don’t think I mentioned but most of the animals are sent off into the woods so during the scenes with The Loners, you’ll occasionally spy an exotic creature in the background. It’s subtle elements like this that give the film a dreamy fairy-tale quality and also make it very funny. Dark humour is the best and this makes very sharp observations about people and relationships.

The premise is totally bonkers but also cuts very close to the bone. Society on the whole does seem to reward couples while singletons are ripe for the picking, though the film’s take on the complexities of attraction and compatibility mean that even those who’ve paired off don’t get off scot-free.

It feels very much like two separate films which is great as through David we get a glimpse of both sides of the coin; single and paired up. Neither are plain-sailing and are peppered with hardship. (Tell me about it).

The final scene, which I will not share, will drive you mad but please you immensely if you prefer an ambiguous ending.

My Rating: 4/5. We need more films like this. For realz.

Have you seen this movie? Do you have anything to add? Have I missed anything? Let me know what you thought!