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.
Even though Trophy is jam packed with great insight and information, it lacks in having an identity. This Sundance winner has gotten the attention of several different critics, including myself, when the trailer dropped. It look dark, mysterious, yet intelligent in it's own regard. Information wise, the film delivered in all fronts. I learn't plenty about the legalities and sustainability of poaching. However, the film is both edited and directed without any flare. The film is quite stale when looking at it from a film making point of view, to the point that it got quite boring and redundant. It did have some nice shots and composition here and there, yet it still lacked in the directing department. Trophy could have been an extremely emotional ride. But, because of the lack of overall visual storytelling flare, it just became an informative, yet dreadful two hours.
Ingrid Goes West is by far the most complex yet hilarious film I've seen all year. Matt Spicer has created a perfect blend of satire and Hitchcockian thriller, to create an entertaining yet thought provoking film. Each performance is on point, including but not limited too Aubrey Plaza. This is easily Plaza's best role yet, in which she plays a disturbed stalker, who befriends an Instagram Influencer. Not to mention the supporting cast of Elizabeth Olsen, Billy Magnussen, and O'Shea Jackson Jr, in which they portray exaggerated, yet realistic portrayal of several different millennials. As well, the cinematography helped the performances by blending a neon-esque color pallet, to set up the tone. My only complaint with Ingrid Goes West is the redundancy of the score. At times, the musical score felt like it was on loop, and dragged the pacing of the film. Overall, Ingrid Goes West is a smartly written, well edited, star studded film with plenty of discussion worthy material after you view the film. Don't miss it!
Just before I start, every year, I go to the biggest animation festival in North America, which is known as the OIAF. I see over 100 animated short films, which either sensationalize my inner film pallet, or is revolting, in all the sense of the word. Most of the time (like 95% of the time), I see brand new and fresh animated short films. With that said, The 18th Animation Show of Shows does NOT present the very best of animation. The 18th Animation Show of Shows is nothing more then a decent selection of some of the most commercially successful animated films from the last two years. Most of the short films range from meh to alright (with some exceptions of course.) Because it is difficult to judge a compilation, I'll be ranking each short films from least to greatest with my own personal opinion attached to said ranking:
16. Shift: a terribly executed mess of a student film, overall thematic tone and characterization is all over the place 4.2/10
15. All Their Shades: Similar to Shift, the overall thematic message comes at the last couple seconds, making it feel more propaganda piece then thought provoking art 4.5/10
14. Corpus: Well animated, yet could of used more substance to tell a much more concise plot 5.2/10
13. Crin-Crin: A charming, yet terribly directed film, in which the film makers can't decide to go fully animated or a live action music video 5.5/10
12. Blue: Well animated, but it didn't really connect with me on a personal and emotional level 6/10
11. Waiting for the New Year: A tranquil yet forgettable piece of art 6/10
10. Afternoon Class: Well made and crafted, yet missed the mark in being anything more then good 6.3/10
9. Pearl: Works better as a virtual reality experience then a short film, yet still has some artistic merits in the final cut of the short film 6.4/10
8. Mirror: A beautiful piece of commissioned animation, which feels neither exploitative nor abhorrently commercial 6.7/10
7: Stems: A magnificent tribute to stop motion animation 6.8/10
6. Last Summer in the Garden: A short film structured like a poem, smooth and well crafted with each stanza 7.5/10
5. Manoman: The definition of a messed-up fever dream, filled with social political commentary on mental illness 7.5/10
4. About a Mother: A simple yet highly re-watchable tribute to old folk tales and art designs 7.8/10
3. Inner Workings: A charming short film with hilarious hi-jinks and a great core message 8.4/10
Piper: Similar to Inner Workings, Piper delivers in almost every regard 8.8/10
Exploozy: A great work of satire, with delightful jokes and animation 8.8/10
1. The Boyg: One of the most beautiful pieces of experimental art that has ever been crafted. The overall concept and origin behind this short film is astonishing and a sight to behold 9/10
In general, I recommend seeing short films 6-1. Everything else is either good or meh. If your going to see this, I do recommend seeing it on the big screen. Each animator, no matter the project, worked hard on their respective pieces. I'm just not too big of a fan with this short film collection