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The 7 Most Overlooked Movies of 2017

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Movie Buff

Joined: 31 Aug 2007
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Location: Movie Multiplex

PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:17 pm    Post subject: The 7 Most Overlooked Movies of 2017 Reply with quote

The 7 Most Overlooked Movies of 2017: Ghosts, Architecture, and Ass-Kicking Galore
Now that the year is (thankfully) almost to a close, it’s time to look back on the films that didn’t get nearly enough love.
Marlow Stern

Last year, 718 feature films were released in U.S. theaters—or about 14 a week. And, as much as we all enjoy a two-hour respite from the attention-grabbing antics of our commander-in-chief, a man the USA Today editorial board recently branded “unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library,” even the most vigilant of moviegoer couldn’t possibly catch ‘em all.

Among the many gems that fell through the cracks last year was A Bigger Splash, a sexy, sun-soaked tale of jealousy and deceit by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, helmer of the buzzy Call Me by Your Name; newcomer Anna Rose Holmer’s visually entrancing coming-of-age saga The Fits; and Green Room, a punks vs. Nazis grindhouse thriller by Jeremy Saulnier.

And, buried between towering blockbusters like Star Wars: The Last Jedi and our annual Marvel-superhero rations were some truly outstanding—and criminally overlooked—films this year, too.


People forget that, before those terribly popular emo-vampire films, Kristen Stewart was a character actress par excellence; a performer whose aching vulnerability, paired with a mélange of striking close-ups, stirs the soul. Her creative partnership with French auteur Olivier Assayas, which began with the 2014 film Clouds of Sils Maria, continues with Stewart portraying a damaged young woman who, when she’s not acquiring high-end dresses and jewelry for her celebrity-boss, is attempting to contact her recently deceased brother in the spirit world. And Stewart, all raw nerves and twitchiness, proves the perfect vessel for Assayas’ paranoid journey.


I suspect that, if this film had landed its intended star Brad Pitt, you’d be seeing it on a lot more top ten lists. It tells the story of Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who becomes fixated on finding an ancient lost city deep in the Amazon. Though Charlie Hunnam is a bit of a blank as Fawcett, Robert Pattinson, behind a bushy beard, completely disappears into the role of his right-hand man, and Sienna Miller turns in one of the best performances of the year as Fawcett’s tormented, endlessly devoted wife. Also, nobody not named Michael Haneke composes a final shot better than James Gray (Two Lovers, The Immigrant), and he doesn’t disappoint here. It will leave you breathless.
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OKJA (June 28)

There’s a lot going on. A young Korean farm girl who travels to Seoul in search of her beloved genetically-engineered super pig. A goofy corporate CEO, played by Tilda Swinton, who hopes to profit from the cutting-edge creature. Paul Dano as the leader of a militant band of animal-rights activists hell-bent on exposing the food corporation. Jake Gyllenhaal’s batshit-crazy TV zoologist, who is in way over his head. And at the helm of it all is Bong Joon-ho, the acclaimed South Korean filmmaker behind Snowpiercer, who’s crafted a playfully mischievous fantasy-epic bursting with imagination.


Let’s first address the elephant in the room: Casey Affleck stars in this film. Some will find that a problem. He plays a man who, after perishing in a car accident, awakens in the morgue as a ghost with a sheet over his head and proceeds to haunt first his grieving wife (Rooney Mara), and then the succeeding residents of his Texas home. What sounds silly on paper—an Oscar winner under a sheet, framed by a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in search of closure before passing on—proves to be a bold, poetic meditation on love, loss, and mankind’s pursuit of serenity. And Rooney Mara is dynamite. You’ll never look at a chocolate cream pie the same way again.

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If there were any justice in Hollywood, this stunningly rendered film would be up for a slew of Academy Awards. Marking the feature directorial debut of video essayist Kogonada, it stands as a monument to the architectural beauty of the Midwest, as two lost souls—a morose forty-something (John Cho) whose architect-father is in a coma, and a whip-smart 19-year-old (Haley Lu Richardson) putting her life on hold to care for her recovering-addict mother—navigate the Saarinen-designed structures of Columbus, Indiana, as well as their pasts. It never hits a false note thanks largely to Richardson, whose performance is nothing short of profound. A star is born.


The plot to this South Korean action flick is more convoluted than the first Mission: Impossible film. There are double- and- triple crosses, sleeper agents, and a female assassin-protagonist who gets plastic surgery to completely alter her appearance. But holy shit, the action sequences in this movie put even The Raid to shame. There’s a highway chase on motorbikes, with our aforementioned hero dodging a flurry of samurai swords while weaving between lanes, that is so jaw-dropping you’ll want to race home to Google how they did it. Filmmaker Jung Byung-gil has immediately catapulted himself to the top of the action-movie food chain, and star Kim Ok-bin is, without question, the most badass action-hero on film this year.


Nearly twenty years after his finest film performance in Clay Pigeons, Vince Vaughn has returned with his second-best: as a tattooed ex-boxer who, after falling in deep with mob, must fight his way through the prison system in order to kill a man housed in a hellish maximum-security facility, thereby freeing his kidnapped pregnant wife (Jennifer Carpenter) on the outside. The film is skull-crushingly violent, and yet, Vaughn proves to be both physically imposing and incredibly charming, breaking bones and mangling faces with a wink and a smile. And the man at the helm, filmmaker S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk), is like a cross between Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez: he knows how to keep you firmly on the edge of your seat.
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Joined: 31 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:00 pm    Post subject: Lost City of Z, Masterpiece You Probably Missed Reply with quote

The 2017 Movie Masterpiece That You Probably Missed
From acclaimed filmmaker James Gray (‘The Immigrant,’ ‘Two Lovers’) comes ‘The Lost City of Z,’ an exploration epic that will leave you breathless.
BY Karen Han

As Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) departs for the jungle for what will be the last time, he and his son Jack (Tom Holland) lean out the window of their train car, waving at the people who wait just to catch a glimpse of the explorers. As they pass the gathered crowds, so too do they pass the sleeping form of Percy’s wife, Nina (Sienna Miller), and his other two children. It is as if he is dreaming them, as if time has begun to collapse as Fawcett’s adventure comes to an end—or a beginning.

To watch James Gray’s The Lost City of Z is to be caught in that dream with him. Movies are often cited as a form of escapism, but there are very few movies that are quite as transporting as this one, and it deserves to be in contention as one of the best—if not the best—movies of the year. (It’s streaming on Amazon Prime, and I would recommend seeing it on the largest screen possible.)

Admittedly, it’s not a particularly easy sell at almost two and a half hours long. It’s not really a brisk movie, either, though as a proponent, I can’t say that I ever felt weary of the movie’s runtime. It’s also focused on such a specific story and era that anyone not in the mood for a “period drama” might overlook it. But all it takes is the film’s opening—the crackling of torches, the hum of Christopher Spelman’s score—and the spell is cast.

It’s Ravel’s second suite of his score for the ballet Daphnis et Chloé that plays over Fawcett’s final journey into the Amazon. It’s a composition that is just as lush and verdant as the film and the jungle into which Fawcett is about to descend, and its place in the impressionist movement is also fitting for the way in which Gray makes movies. At the risk of sounding pedantic, Gray is a filmmaker whose visions are of the sort that Hollywood doesn’t indulge anymore.

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