As a High School Junior myself, at this moment in time, there we're several moments in My Friend Dahmer in which they nearly nailed the psychological depth of a anxiety filled teenager. At my school, there is a high ratio of depressed and mentally ill people around. Of course not in the same way as Jeffrey Dahmer, but real enough that I can definitely say that Ross Lynch's performance is one of the most unsettling and well preformed acting roles I have seen all year. However, what My Friend Dahmer does do wrong, is how teens usually speak. There's a certain pattern and coordination that teens speak at. It flows like a dance, in which different lingo's and terminology sink together into a conjoined mess. My Friend Dahmer misses the mark in that regard, with its more stylized pieces of dialogue. Even though, as stated at the start of the film, that the film takes place in the 1970's, the offtrack way each character's line is written makes the experience of witnessing the horrifying experiences less terrifying. This is honestly a shame. There could have been much more too this film if they tweaked that regard. Which is pretty much what My Friend Dahmer is. It's a film with great interesting ideas, with great directing and acting, but misses the mark in a few places when it comes to the common writing and staging of a film. With it's slow pace and sometimes unrealistic dialogue, it's safe to say that those kind of attributes don't belong in a film about the high school experiences of a guy who would later rape, kill, dismember, and eat sixteen different young men. My Friend Dahmer is a film with great ideas, but it's execution is lacking. I appreciate it for what it is, but overall, it's just a decent psychological horror character study.
Takashi Miike's Blade of the Immortal is Japan's answer too Mad Max Fury Road, only if it was lighter on substance and narrative story telling techniques, and if it was placed during the Edo era. While it isn't as profound or has much too say about revenge, violence, and fear (like what Fury Road did), it's still a fun, gory samurai film with a crap load of entertaining action scenes. Guts, Gore, Limbs, Choreographed like a Dance! What else do you want from a fun midnight movie!? However, unlike most self aware action cult films from recent times, such as Turbo Kid and Wolfcop, Blade of the Immortal is a pretty serious film. And while there is moments of camp and tongue in cheek here and there, it still keeps it's morals and messages at a high regard. The problem is, the messages isn't deep enough to keep a 2 Hour and 20 Minute feature film afloat. Overall, Blade of the Immortal is technically well done with some jaw dropping action scenes and excellent sound design, it's just that it lacks from an overall good narrative and message within it's guts and gore. It sure is fun and memorable, it's just that it's a journey maybe worth taking when it comes on demand or on DVD.
2017 has been a year of surprises and disappointments. Several films and projects have either divided us (Mother!, Song to Song) or unified us (Lady Bird, Three Billboards). However, one thing for sure, is that 2017 was a great year for superhero origin stories. Wonder Women was a fun, while at times light on substance. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was a fun riot for both adults and kids alike. And now Thelma, Joachim Trier's newest Norwegian film. Now you maybe wondering... Thelma, a simple and quaint supernatural story of a girl with weird epileptic seizures? That doesn't sound like a super hero film at all! However, as it may come to a shock, Thelma is indeed an origin story, and a great one at that!
Thelma's opening scene is a great indicator of several scenes that will occur later on in the film, which both foreshadow and contemplate on several Super Hero Film tropes. It's slow moving pace makes each subtle moment feel immense. Each act, taken place by young Thelma on the beach rises tensions between the father and Thelma. This is also a great foreshadowing moment on who is the true antagonist of this superhero film. Thelma's ability is revealed as well, but so ambiguous to the point you may not know what they are. The opening scene in Thelma is both one of the greatest opening scenes ever, but also the greatest super hero film introductions to ever be concieved.
Too add on, Thelma also has a romantic interest, a Mary Jane sort of trope, only if she was a lesbian. Each scene in which Thelma reacts to Anja make each moment feel like it has some sort of erotic sexual tension. This both gives a motivation to the protagonist of the film, Thelma, and the B-Plot love interest (which sparks the main conflict, as in most super hero films.)
Thelma is an interesting case study on Genre swapping. It's pretty much a darker Scandinavian origin story of one of the vast collection of X-Men characters. If you're into slow burn and alternative origin stories such as Split, Blade Runner 2049, and 10 Cloverfield Lane, then definitely give Thelma a shot.
The Departure is not only one of the best documentaries of the year, it's also one of the most prolific pieces of emotional drama that has came out in 2017. The Departure is like a Hirokazu Kore-eda film. It's emotional and disturbing depth is hidden in sight to deliver a powerful look at one's life. It's an incredible and simple ride that will take you on a journey like no other. Suicide is usually a difficult subject to present on film, especially when it’s exploitative and used as shock value in modern media, such as garbage pieces of “art” like 13 Reasons Why. In The Departure, suicide is presented with grief and time, to convey a metaphoric and symbolic setting. There is only two complaints I have with the film. The first is that I felt like it was a bit too long. Around 10 minutes could have been cut out, and the message would have been still there. The second, is that at times, the film maybe should have been presented as a short film. The concept and execution of the film would have worked better as a short film in both tone and quality. The Departure is not only an emotional experience, it's a profound film. It may have its problems, but it's one of the best documentaries of the year.
78/52 is not only one of the best documentaries of the year, it's also one of the most informative pieces of art that has come out of 2017. 78/52 is a prime example on how to do an analysis. Films like Hitchcock/Trauffaut and Room 237 have tried something similar in execution, but failed in both its artistic merit and informative content. For me, the two requirements too make a great documentary is if the content is both accessible and well informed, and if the film has a style and/or a visual flare. Dawson City: Frozen Timr was a decent documentary with stellar information. It's just that the visual style was all too similar to an IMAX doc. 78/52 on the other hand uses its contemporary black and white filter and string orchestration to create a hitchockian astmophere. This tense and realistic feeling that is played through out the film makes it feel both innovative in content, and visually vibrant in execution. Even though the film did have some iffy interviews from a selected amount of people, in which it could be easily called Bullshit, that doesn't stop it from being great. It may have been a tad bit too long, but overall, it's an emotional ride that shouldn't be missed!
Harry Dean Stanton's poetic send off "Lucky" is one of the most tranquil and meditative films of the year. Similar to Jim Jarmusch's Paterson in concept, yet more A Man Called Ove in execution, Lucky is a delightful little film with a whole lot to offer. Each frame of the film is perfectly crafted to give a touch of surrealist imagery and humor, and as well to set up and foreshadow several elements which will occur later on in the film. Same goes towards the production design, in which each element makes the film feel more tranquil and relaxed with every detail. Not to mention that the performances were fantastic. Harry Dean Stanton deserves a Posthumously Academy Award for this film. Each line and action from Harry, felt detailed and perfected to a tee. As Well, David Lynch had a hilarious short role in the film, in which he portrays an introverted turtle/tortoise fanatic. To quote Lynch's character in the film: There are some things in this universe, ladies and gentlemen, that are bigger than all of us, And a tortoise is one of them!” However, the film is flawed in some specific regards. First of all, there were several scenes which lacked a purpose and or meaning. These scenes which I'm referring too, usually happen in the Diner location in the film. Second, the pacing was a bit too degrading for the subject matter. Each scene in the film overstayed it's welcome, due to this problem. And Third, the sound mixing was a let down. I personally wished there was as much attention to detail in the auditory atmosphere, as there was in the visuals. In Conclusion, Lucky is a terrific send off to a great actor. It's charming, sweet, and overall a good time. After watching the film, it made me appreciate the elders around my community a bit more, and gave me a larger sense of unity. There's a lot of great messages and themes throughout this film which I commend to every viewer. Just be warned that the pacing, is a bit too slow for the average viewer.
The Villaness is one hell of a ride. It pretty much has everything you want from a summer blockbuster:
-A Bad Ass Protaganist
-Nicholas Winding Refn Lighting
-A Decent Yet Memorable Plot
and a bit of Comedy.
However, it's far from great, and does have some flaws. First and for most, the ending pretty much ruined the film. The amazing build up was stellar in the first two acts, but when it got to the final act, it just felt lazy and just plain stupid. If you have seen the Villaness, you probably already know about the narrative continuity mistakes. Not only that, it ends on the cliche last shot evil grin thing (In which A Cure for Wellness did earlier this year.) As for technicalities, the cinematography, in almost all of the action scenes, felt extremely shaky. Basically it was on Paul Greengrass mode times 10 with a bit of First Person-Hardcore Henry like cinemetography. This got so annoying to the point I couldn't even understand what was going on screen. To finish off the negative, the musical score was nothing new. Just a plain, boring, action score.
The Villaness was a lot of fun, despite it's flaws. I would recommend seeing it in a cinema, just as long as you don't take the ending so seriously. Bring your friends, maybe some alcohol, and you'll have a pretty damn great time.