Journal: 2018 in Film Jan 2, 2019 13:24:10 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 2, 2019 13:24:10 GMT -5
John Cho in Searching.
My Favorite Films of 2018:
1. BlacKkKlansman: Those saying that BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee's return to form obviously turned the other cheek when Red Hook Summer and Chi-Raq, two glorious, textured works from the accomplished man himself, came out. But those who say the film is his best in years — I'll give you that and then some. BlacKkKlansman is a bold, challenging work of revenge for a veteran director clearly sickened by gutless racism and the unconscionable state of American politics. It shows in nearly every minute of this engrossing picture.
My full review of BlacKkKlansman: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6152/blackkklansman
2. Private Life: Private Life is one of the year's finest comedy-drama thus far and one of the most outstanding films of the year by any measure. It's no wonder it comes from writer/director Tamara Jenkins, whose last film was the Philip Seymour Hoffman drama The Savages all the way back in 2007. In an effort to make another deeply moving yet often uproariously funny picture, Jenkins so intelligently infuses this story with prickly humor, raw drama, and themes that, without the respective weight and emotional depth, would've rendered this a frothy, feel-good picture. Instead, we get something much more earnest and a lot more entertaining.
My full review of Private Life: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6171/private-life
3. Bodied: Joseph Kahn's Bodied is a visceral knockout of a movie. It combines a delusional anti-hero with a countercultural underbelly that's explored in the fullest, rawest sense. An in-depth look at the battle-rap scene that's both praiseworthy yet introspective as it turns a critical eye to the impact of snappy wordplay and cutthroat insults, the film is both captivating for any hip-hop fan on the basis of its premise alone. Where it soars, however, is in its ability to be a complex, racially incendiary examination of privileged liberalism while holding nothing back in neither its exposition nor its copious amounts of memorable bars — from the mouth of some of the game's most loquacious spitters. One background character late in the film summarizes it best: "get woke, c***sucker."
My full review of Bodied: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6197/bodied
4. Searching: If Aneesh Chaganty's Searching was released ten to fifteen years ago, at the dawn of an internet that was becoming more prominent in the homes of everyday folks, it might've been seen as overblown. Why would anyone want to video-chat with strangers, let alone wire funds/bank online? Why would anyone think to meet someone with whom they've only communicated virtually? It might all seem too unrealistic, or too incredulous to comprehend. I was just talking with a coworker about how everything we were told not to do as children — don't talk to strangers, don't get in a random person's car, and don't meet up with people we speak to online — most of us do every day; especially if we use Facebook, Uber, or any of the umpteen dating sites out there.
My full review of Searching: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6156/searching-2018
5. American Animals: American Animals is a real delight; it provides a dash of zest during a sometimes frustrating summer movie-season. A lot of films think they're hitting the accelerator in the third act when really they're showing us what we've already seen with a few additional doses of mayhem and camaraderie. American Animals punches hard enough to make you believe you've just gotten whiplash.
My full review of American Animals: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6118/american-animals
6. Support the Girls: Andrew Bujalski has always been a gentle filmmaker, so to speak. His earliest efforts, Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation, belonged to the subgenre known as "mumblecore," which predicated itself on novice actors, no real budgets, hyper-realistic settings and situations, improvised dialog, and what could be called the antithesis of production values. His films, while stylistically admirable, have often had one or two major issues in my mind (his last film, Computer Chess, was one I so desperately wanted to love for its concept and aesthetic but had a difficult time finishing). Still, Bujalski feels like he's been building towards a film like Support the Girls for quite some time — a film that fits comfortably in his zeitgeist, expands upon his earliest tendencies as a filmmaker, but embraces greener, richer pastures in themes and tone.
My full review of Support the Girls: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6157/support-girls
7. Won't You Be My Neighbor?: The critically acclaimed documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? paints Fred Rogers in a manner not too dissimilar from a teacher and the way most of us used to view them. I don't know about you, but when I was around seven or eight years old, I was a bit shocked to learn teachers didn't live at school and in fact had private lives and their first names weren't "Mr." or "Mrs." It's the same sort of subtle surprise I had learning about Mr. Rogers' insecurities, anxieties, and personal struggles in being both good and morally good on public television and in the company of children and adults who looked to him for guidance in times of tragedy. If you have any interest in seeing Won't You Be My Neighbor?, you likely don't need my confirmation, as you've probably already heard what millions have been saying. And yet, it bears repeating: this is a wonderful, affectionate film as softspoken as the man it profiles over the course of 93 minutes.
My full review of Won't You Be My Neighbor?: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6117/neighbor
8. Unsane: Steven Soderbergh's Unsane is a troubling film for troubling times. In a moment of great domestic unrest for the United States, it adds more logs to a burning fire by further magnifying a smorgasbord of problems that have sprouted from ignoring other problems. In his second film after announcing his initial retirement from directing movies, Soderbergh delivers a bone-chilling exposé on the commodification of mental health. In doing so, he successfully directs one of the first great films in the #MeToo age that shows the vulnerability of women in an era where gaslighting, assault, and manipulation are disgracefully seen as problems emblematic of the victim's shortcomings. This was a perpetually uncomfortable sit for me. I can't imagine someone who has been through something similar enduring this.
My full review of Unsane: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6023/unsane
9. Thoroughbreds: A film so creative and strange it's surprising A24 didn't call dibs the instant it premiered at Sundance last year, Cory Finley's directorial debut Thoroughbreds is a slickly made production. Initially conceived by Finley as a stageplay until it found itself reconceptualized as a work fit for the big-screen, it's a film I personally would've loved to see play out on-stage. The claustrophobic elements in Finley's film, from the lavish mansion setting that serves as the primary location, complete with spotless furniture and expensive decor complimenting the vapidity of this particular culture, would've been captivating to see in-person. Yet by housing a nasty, morally bankrupt story of youth in a gigantic palace, Finley allows these contrasting elements to culminate into a well-made burst of originality.
My full review of Thoroughbreds: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6004/thoroughbreds
10. Widows: Stylish, tense, and melancholic, Steve McQueen's Widows initially had me worried it would succumb to the weaker tendencies of modern heists. Its trailer didn't sell me on much other than my confidence in McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Hunger) as a director along with the unbelievably stacked ensemble cast. I should've known better than to doubt one of the kings of modern drama. McQueen's newest puts story first, infusing troubling commentary with characters less confident about pulling off a robbery, and more desperate and fearful about what might happen if they don't. Through top-notch cinematography and an army of great actors showing why they're mostly A-listers, Widows manages to be a great film and also another sad look at how those who play by the rules often get screwed.
My full review of Widows: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6191/widows-2018
Honorable Mentions: The Mule, Pass Over, A Quiet Place