TOP 10 Movies of 2017: See the list

2017 has been an excellent year for films.  There was little problem selecting the Best 10.  What was noticeable is the fact that these 10 film are so different from each other.

Here they are in order:

1. THE SQUARE (Sweden Ruben Östlund)

Running at 2 hours and 20 minutes, director Östlund had to fight to keep the film’s length,  And it is worth it.  A brilliant satire on modern business and life, the film is not an easy watch though hilariously funny at times.  Museum director has good intentions of keeping art alive and relevant but things keep going wrong for him after he loses his cell phone, no matter how hard he trues to correct the situation.  Power in sex, a current topic with the Weinstein outrage is covered in the film before the events even occurred.  A minor masterpiece! Voted Best Foreign Film for the Toronto Film Critics Association.

2. DUNKIRK (UK Christopher Nolan)

DUNKIRK returns filmmaking to its most cinematic – pure cinema with pure emotions.  Depicting the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk during WWII, writer/director Christopher Nolan has finally proven his mettle as one of the world’s greets directors.  The film brings tears from start to finish to see what freedom and life were worth fighting for.  Completely compelling!

3. VISAGES, VILLAGES (France Agnes Varda et J.R)

Why do you do this, someone asks Varda in her utterly charming documentary about people and places.  Her answer?  To show the power of the imagination.  What appears to be a simply made film does wonders in terms of emotion and charm.  Varda and J.R. travel around France (avoding the big cities) to put murals of the locals up in the most unlikely of places.

4. THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE (Finland Aki Kaurismaki)

Kaurismaki adds in deadpan suspense to his usual famous deadpan humour in his tale of two men trying to make themselves a better life.  One is a Syrian refugee and the other a man who leaves his wife to open a restaurant.  The two meet and things turn out, actually for the better.  Kaursimaki keeps it both smart and funny in his message on the world refugee crisis.

5. LOVELESS (Russia/France/Germany/Belgium Andrey Zvyagintsev) 

Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s (THE RETURN, LEVIATHAN) latest film of a boy gone missing, is a tragedy that emerges from the result of lovelessness.  A divorcing couple’s son goes missing after all their shit.  LOVELESS is an analysis of the couple’s shit intercut with the detailed process with the police and volunteer group involved with the exhaustive search process.  LOVELESS is a powerful film that instead of showing the power of love, shows the opposite, how life cannot survive with love.  A terrific movie that won the Jury Prize at Cannes!

6. GET OUT (USA Jordan Peele)

Besides making a massive 5544% rate of return (Gross of $254 Million of a production cost of $5.4 million), this film is both scary and funny and first time effort from director writer/director Jordan Peele.  Also a clever message on racial prejudice, GET OUT has also been voted the #1 film for the critics poll at Sight and Sound Magazine. 

7. THE SHAPE OF WATER (USA Guillermo del Toro)

Del Toro has made a love story between the creature from the black lagoon and a mute cleaning lady played wonderfully by Sally Hawkins.  Don’t dismiss the story as fantasy nonsense as del Toro has created a scary, violent and effective adult fairy tale with his excellent imprint on it.  Brilliant on all levels.

8. DOWNSIZING (USA Alexander Payne)

The Norwegians have learnt to shrink people to a thousandth of their size to solve the over-population problem.  But mankind has still not been able to solve the pains from old age sicknesses, complains Matt Damon’s character’s mother in the film  Alexander Payne at his most playful yet serious look at the problems of mankind.  Payne goes into intricate detail of the shrinking process to make his film more credible.  Many twists in the occasionally brilliant script co-written by him and Jim Taylor.  Surprisingly, newcomer Hong Chau steals the show as the cleaning lady who teaches Damon and the rest of the world a thing  about two about life.

9. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (USA Martin Lee McDonagh)

A brilliant script with twists and terms, excellent performances and rude comedy make this film the delight at the Toronto International Film Festival winning it the People’s Choice Award.  Frustrated mother McDormand that nothing has been done by the sheriff’s office to investigate the murder and rep of her daughter, she rents three billboards condemning the sheriff’s office.  This leads to dire consequences changing he life, the sheriff’s and others while ironically does nothing to further the solving of the case.

10. PHANTOM THREAD (USA Paul Thomas Anderson)

50’s London and the subject is master dressmaker Woodcock, brilliantly played by Daniel Day-Lewis.  Anderson’s arguably best film unfolds meticulously in every scene, planned and executed, reflecting the careful care the subject Woodcock puts into the design of his dresses.  He meets his match in the form of strong-willed young woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover.

(RUNNER UP) THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (UK/Ireland Yorgos Lanthimos)

A supernatural psychological thriller that is the most difficult to watch (not for everyone) despite its bouts of black humour.   The film follows Dr. Steven Murphy (Farrell), a cardiac surgeon who is first seen at a diner meeting with a 16-year-old named Martin (Barry Keoghan).  Steven introduces Martin to his wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children.  Strange things begin to happen with the children developing paralysis right out of the blue.  The film has a lot of anger and the anger is slowly but surely unleashed by every one in the party concerned. 

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Full Review: THE SQUARE (Sweden 2017) ***** Top 10

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The Square Poster

Trailer

The Square is a poignant satirical drama reflecting our times – about the sense of community, moral courage and the affluent person’s need for egocentricity in an increasingly uncertain world.

Director:

Ruben Östlund

Writer:

Ruben Östlund

 

What is THE SQUARE?  In director Östlund’s (FORCE MAJEURE) new film THE SQUARE, the square is a place of trust and caring where everyone shares equality and obligations.  It is also the name of the newest project of Museum Director Christian (Claes Bang) which he hopes will bring in money for the cutting edge art museum in Sweden he represents.  Christian hires two young TV publicists to spread the word on social media.

The film is made of a number of cinematic set-pieces.  If this method of filmmaking sounds familiar, it is used by Swedish director Roy Andersson (A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE, SONGS FROM THE SECOD FLOOR) who happens to be director Östlund’s mentor.  Though these set-pieces appear unconnected on the surface, they upon close examination all tie into the greater scheme of Östlund’s universe.

These set pieces include:

the film’s most brilliantly executed segment set during the museum charity dinner where a wild man (a very scary Terry Notary) is let loose among the guests.  If the guests show any sign of fear or make any sudden moves, the wild animal will turn on the hunter after sensing his/her fear.  This art act ends up going out of control.

the post sex scene in when Christian and Anne (Elizabeth Moss) argue on who will take hold of the filled condom for disposal

the poor kid that confronts Christian on his act of accusing him of being a thief

the museum display of separating visitors into two sections; one that trust and the other that mistrust people.  In the trust section, the guests are supposed to leave their cell phones and wallets behind.

a TV interview gone terribly and embarrassingly wrong

the confrontational scene between Christian and Anne when Anne accuses Christian of using his position of power to attract women, a segment that seems to serve as a prophecy to the current Weinstein sex scandal.

One observable thing is that what happens to Christian after his downfall from museum director.  He is still questioned to no end, and not allowed to at least go into disgrace in peace.  When he decides to seek forgiveness from the boy he wronged, it turns out that he is unable to do so as the boy and family has moved.

One of the film’s best jokes in the film is the scene of the exhibit with the mounds of gravel that goes terribly wrong when the cleaner on the vacuum machine accidentally sucks up the dirt. 

The film is also not without arresting images, courtesy of cinematographer Fredrik Wenzel.  The two most striking ones include the shot of Christian building with escalators and star is rising above him like a maze (see trailer in link below) and the other with Christian in a heap of garbage as he searches for the piece of paper containing an important telephone number.

As in most successful satires on film (Terry Giliam’s BRAZIL), the story follows the downfall of the protagonist.  In THE SQUARE, Christian almost gets his chance to prove himself worthy of being a good human being by apologizing to the boy he has wronged.  But Östlund removes this opportunity in a twist of fate when he discovers the boy has moved with nor forwarding address.

The film deservedly won this year’s Palme d’or Prize. The film is as wicked a wicked satire can be as well as sexy, brilliant, complex and bitingly hilarious.  It is a cruel, absurd and unforgiving world we live in and Östlund has captured it masterfully in his minor-masterpiece.  Clearly the best film I have seen this year – hands down.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u77vsmBya2w

 

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: THE SQUARE (Norway 2017) ***** Top 10

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

THE SQUARE.jpgThe Square is a poignant satirical drama reflecting our times – about the sense of community, moral courage and the affluent person’s need for egocentricity in an increasingly uncertain world.

Director:

Ruben Östlund

Stars:

Claes BangElisabeth MossDominic West

In director Östlund’s (FORCE MAJEURE) film, the square is a place of trust and caring where everyone shares equality and obligations. It is also the name of the newest project of curator Christian (Claes Bang) which he hopes will bring in money for the cutting edge art museum in Sweden he represents.

Christian hires two young TV publicists to spread the word on social media. The film is made of a number of cinematic set-pieces. Though these set-pieces appear unconnected on the surface, they upon close examination all tie into the great scheme of Östlund’s universe.

The film is also not without arresting images, courtesy of cinematographer Fredrik Wenzel. The two most striking ones include the shot of Christian building with escalators and star is rising above him like a maze (see trailer in link below) and the other with Christian in a heap of garbage as he searches for the piece of paper containing an important address.

The film deservedly won this year’s Palme d’or Prize. The film is as wicked a wicked satire can be as well as sexy, brilliant, complex and bitingly hilarious. It is a cruel, absurd and unforgiving world we live in and Östlund has captured it masterfully in his minor-masterpiece. Clearly the best film I have seen this year – hands down.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u77vsmBya2w