Tuesday, November 07, 2017

On & On: What's Left in the Movie Year

One interesting historical fact is that the last time I updated this blog, Louis XIV was still the King of France. In fact, the last time I reprised this once-perennial feature, his reign had not even begun!  Isn't that interesting?

Back then, when the world knew it was still run by monarchies, and when Jodie Foster had only started taking meetings about Flora Plum, I made an annual autumn ritual of compiling all the movies I hoped to see before the year's end and then publicly checking them off as they rolled around.  I usually invited a treasured songbird to hum along while I made my lists of eager dates, ambivalent prospects, and grotesque premonitions of suffering.  In 2014 I somehow forgot to recruit a singalong partner, which was probably the beginning of the trouble, after fabulous collaborations with Lauryn Hill in 2013, with Miss Jackson If You're Nasty in 2012, with feckless but forever-adored thrush Mariah Carey in 2011, and with Madonna, of whom my current students are still dimly aware, in 2010.  (The first two outings, in 2009 and 2007, were sadly sans chanteuse).

This year, noted ankh enthusiast and Golden Satellite nominee Erykah Badu is lending me her song titles so that I can distinguish the movies sure to make peace and blessings manifest from those that make you wanna call Tyrone on your way out of the theater, so he can come clear this shit away.  Even within the Badu-based echelons, the titles are loosely ranked.  I'm including titles that left the cinemas long ago, and some that were barely ever there, since those encounters loom just as prodigiously for me as the imminent holiday releases.

So, what am I overhyping or underselling?  What are you anticipating?  Here's what I've seen already.  (And please ignore the fossilized sidebar for now.  A sister isn't all the way there yet.)

Love of My Life
Feels like I've sampled true love... and I haven't even seen 'em yet!
Lady Bird - Every glowing response to every aspect makes my heart leap
  B+ Shrewd, warm, happy, sad: appealingly complex, yet clear as a bell.
Heal the Living - Quillévéré's one of the best barely-distributed directors
Nocturama - Bold story about spiky subjects; of course it vanished fast
The Untamed - I am who I am, and octopus-sex movies are part of that
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Because the Force was so strong in Looper
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool - Anything Bening, but especially this
The Death of Louis XIV - I'm pre-converted to Serra's bizarre aesthetic

The kind of thing for which you delay your Top 10 list
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki - Reviews mostly rapturous
Phantom Thread - PTA hasn't ended a movie well in a while, but still
Free in Deed - Melanie's delight with this one in Venice sticks with me
The Work - Why is Chicago, of all markets, taking forever to book this?
Cries from Syria - The rare Syria-focused documentary to break through
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson - France has earned our trust
For Ahkeem - Documentary about black teen girl looks very moving
Abundant Acreage Available - Amy! Junebug guy! Even with that title...
The Wound - All I needed were Guy Lodge's abundant recommendations
Hermia & Helena - I dig the rarity of Piñero's Thing, even when I'm split
Song to Song - This looked like more windmill-tilting but I hear otherwise?
Whose Streets? - Why do documentaries on this topic get so little notice?
A Woman's Life - Measure of a Man was great so I'm not sleeping on this

Hey, Sugah
I have reason to hope we'll get along well
Una - Yet another buzzy play becomes a movie with few fans. But: Rooney!
Your Name - Not an anime devotee, but this sounds potentially up my alley
Harmonium - Curious since it unnerved everybody at Cannes a year ago
Novitiate - Good Melissa Leo and Garish Melissa Leo are equally enticing
  B Often potent and sobering, but can all of a sudden turn shaky or tacky.
Molly's Game - Sorkin's not really a draw at this point but I hear Jess is fun
The Post - I'm not organically enthused but it's always better to have faith
Birthright: A War Story - Available to academics via Women Make Movies
I, Tonya - Could live to regret this ranking, but I'm up for Janney's antics
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) - How many of 'em is Emma in?
M.F.A. - Contemporary rape-revenge drama that feels timelier than ever
Brigsby Bear - This will either be irritatingly over-conceived or sorta special
The Villainess - Not really my genre or aesthetic and still I feel curious
Our Souls at Night - At least we know it'll improve on Barefoot in the Park
One of Us - I've trusted these gals since Jesus Camp, and here it is on Netflix
Wonder - I could be making a serious miscalculation but Perks was fantastic

Think Twice
I'll buy a ticket, but I'll be second-guessing myself the whole time
From the Land of the Moon - It's Marion, but has it rocked anyone's life?
Darkest Hour - Venice and Toronto were impressed; others seem not to be
Brad's Status - Many of you gave warm testimonies, but that trailer, guys!
The Disaster Artist - I mean, it looks more fun than his Steinbeck movie
Wonder Wheel - "No Blue Jasmine," I keep hearing, and that was overrated
Last Flag Flying - If not for Cecily, we'd be further down in the Danger list
Coco - Remember when you didn't have to worry if Pixar would deliver?
Pitch Perfect 3 - The trailer makes me giggle; the first film didn't, really
On the Beach at Night Alone - The Day After set me way back on Hong
Permanent - Mostly tempted to thank Patty Arquette for Twitter badassery

Time's a Wastin'
They'll be gone fast, or I've been dragging my feet a while already
The Human Surge - I don't even know what it's about, but it's got Fans
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women - Sure aroused a lot of you
The Rehearsal - Kerry Fox and Alison Maclean, I welcome your returns
Jane - Not my kind of project, but Brett Morgen's Chicago 10 was great
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea - And I liked high school!
It - I'm not too confident, but I put those 500 hours into reading it in 1990
My Life as a Zucchini - All the right people have recommended this one
Stronger - A Miranda Richardson movie trapped in a Jake Gyllenhaal flick
The Sense of an Ending - Made for people like me, and yet I've avoided it
John Wick: Chapter 2 - Atomic Blonde convinced me to pay attention
Lucky - Stanton wasn't a huge fixture for me, but I'll gladly pay respects
Crown Heights - Left theaters so quickly, with muted notices, but: LaKeith
Paulina - I wish I'd liked The Summit even more, but this sounded better
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold - Should I just read a book instead?
Logan - Look, I've heard you. I don't really believe you, but I've heard you
Planetarium - I have basically zero Portmania, and yet I'm still intrigued
3 Generations - Trans Cinema by Cis Folks: Asking-for-Side-Eye Division
The Assignment - Trans Cinema by Cis Folks: Likely-to-Infuriate Division
Thor: Ragnarok - All you had to do was say, "Cate's great," but you didn't
Thank You for Your Service - When I think about Rabbit Hole, I'm swayable

"My ass might be dumb, but I ain't no dumb ass." — Ordell Robbie
All the Money in the World - "...couldn't make me," etc. But a nom might!
Murder on the Orient Express - I know how it ends, and how it'll likely go
The Greatest Showman - Amazing that they've made this as circus shutters
Breathe - I asked Twitter about this one and was licensed to Just Say No
LBJ - Scant appeal at the best of times—which, for Reiner, feel long past
Hostiles - Scott Cooper convenes another cockfight among dour dudes
Roman J. Israel, Esq. - When they sneak it late into two different festivals...
Ferdinand - Unless reviews are Babe-like, I doubt I'm really the audience
Suburbicon - You guys, "They wrote it 30 years ago!" is not a good hook
Justice League - Our national witnessing of Affleck's free fall continues
Just Getting Started - Odd title for a movie they've already made 10 times
Beauty and the Beast - Making a point about my resistance to Downsizing
Downsizing - Good name for a documentary about Payne's gifts over time
Father Figures - Hi, Glenn! We're holding your Oscar bid but releasing this
Daddy's Home 2 - See, I'm not completely unreasonable about Downsizing
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - "Oooooaah...I'm gonna watch you bleed!"

Didn't Cha Know?
Dropped off my radar, or never made it on, until you guys intervened
Catfight - How did I leave this out? Heche alone suffices, but her plus Oh?
All This Panic - Never heard of it, but sounds perfectly synced to my tastes
Strong Island - Another right-up-my-alley documentary I'd never heard of
Lovesong - Does "their relationship deepens" translate to "lesbian romance"?
4 Days in France - Multiple endorsements below—and Nathalie Richard!
After the Storm - I got frustrated with Kore-eda, but you're giving me faith
Thirst Street - I'd never heard of Burdge until Lace Crater. Big fan now!
Most Beautiful Island - Sounds intense! Dovetails with some of my research
The Son of Joseph - Enticing cast, even if I've had mixed feelings on Green
Person to Person - Not my genre, really, but if John Guerin endorses it...
Ma - Sounds pretty austere and elliptical, but they can't all have octopus sex

Next Lifetime
Evanescent enticements (where'd they go?) and infinite deferrals
The Woman Who Left - I wanna know what Lav is! Why won't you show me?
Mimosas - Oliver Laxe exists, right? Because I can never find his movies
Year by the Sea - Nathaniel's great Karen Allen interview got me all excited
Woodshock - I know folks weren't wowed, but that was one hypnotic trailer
Signature Move - Local artist with an intriguing, prizewinning queer film
Kidnap - I'm a fan of Halle in Distress. See: The Call. See also: her career
The Mountain Between Us - Neither star means to me what they once did
Queen of the Desert - Kidman + Herzog should rouse me more. Just hasn't.
The Devil's Candy - Joe Reid says Ethan Embry looks fi-yine, albeit bloodied
Life - Has all the makings of a listless night at the RedBox, with PopTarts
Menashe - This hung around an impressively long time. Did I miss a gem?
Kedi - Don't care. Don't @ me, cat people You already own the whole Web.
In Dubious Battle - Whatever happened to Zeroville? That I'd actually see!
A Cure for Wellness - Heard on good authority I'd loathe this, but I'm curious
Tulip Fever - All that trouble! All those years! And what do I do? Ignore it.
A United Kingdom - The word-of-mouth really deterred me; I'm not a Piker
The Glass Castle - To different degrees, all three stars are hit-and-miss for me
The Promise - Can't afford to see Oscar in Hamlet, so if this is my chance...
Mark Felt - Why not a real Neeson movie? He could explode the White House!


Blogger James T said...

Obviously anticipating the write-ups but I'm curious as to why you're dying to see Lady Bird, considering you kinda got off the Gerwin wagon. Granted, I'd love for both you and me to see it and love it.
Personally, I really want to see Wonder Wheel (because blind love for Kate > love for art), It and Brad's Status, because Mike White is a genius.

12:37 PM, November 06, 2017  
Anonymous Susanna said...

So happy you made this list. You won't regret Brad's Status, trust me!

Some more to consider:

4 Days in France
All This Panic
Most Beautiful Island
On the Beach at Night Alone
Rat Film
Strong Island
Thirst Street

6:35 PM, November 07, 2017  
Anonymous Liz said...

I loved Menashe, so I recommend checking that one out if you get a chance.

I am 100% confident that you would hate A Cure for Wellness. Good call.

6:39 PM, November 07, 2017  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@James: You win the prize for spotting this draft before I'd even announced it anywhere...and before I'd finished writing it!

@Susanna: Thanks so much for all these other great recommendations! I meant to include Catfight and Lovesong, especially, and I forgot about the love for Thirst Street at Tribeca. Some of the others are new to me.

@Liz: Great encouragement on Menashe. We've agreed on other horror movies, so that might be the nail in the coffin for Wellness.

6:53 PM, November 07, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seconding 4 Days in France. Would pair well with an Ornithologist rewatch...or maybe a second chance for Staying Vertical?

I seem to recall you posting that you didn't really like a past Eugene Green film, but I'd also recommend The Son of Joseph.

6:58 PM, November 07, 2017  
Blogger Nick Taylor said...

I want to cheer for Louis, and the aesthetics are completely flooring, but I had a hard time seeing much past them (with the caveat that I was probably too distracted trying to analyze how Serra even crafted those images). I'd happily endorse My Entire High School if I could find it anywhere, or Your Name if I felt any desire for a second tour. But both played great in the theater, and Whose Streets? (which gave me a lot of lovely Trouble the Water vibes) happily gets my bouquet for film of the year, along with After the Storm.

It has a stellar cast (I'd call Skarsgard the MVP) that fills out/enhances/overcomes a screenplay that's pretty well constructed on a scene level but could be more ambitious in a lot of ways. I'd kinda pair it with your Atomic Blonde capsule; way better than it looks, especially at adapting a genre that doesn't always work on screen, and wonderfully made, but I'd be surprised if your VOR was anything but 3.

8:33 PM, November 07, 2017  
Anonymous Eddie said...

Strong Island is so good. I hope Netflix puts some of its muscle into a Best Doc push so more people will take notice. Hope you get a chance to catch it before the year is out.

8:25 AM, November 08, 2017  

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