Journal: 2019 in Film Jan 6, 2020 15:13:10 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 6, 2020 15:13:10 GMT -5
My Favorite Films of 2019:
The core family in Bong Joon-ho's Parasite.
The core family in Bong Joon-ho's Parasite.
1. Parasite: Parasite has received the kind of release and widespread global acclaim, especially in America, that films could only hope to have, and for damn good reason. In making a film that's almost effectively unclassifiable in terms of genre, not beholden to the parameters of such, co-writer/director Bong Joon-ho (working with Han Jin-won) has never felt more liberated as a filmmaker than he has with his seventh film. A cunning, cerebral little tragicomedy, if anything, it's a slowburn dash of brilliance that subverts the convention of the haves and have-nots unlike anything I've yet to see.
My full review of Parasite: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6337/parasite-2019
2. Booksmart: It's been a blue moon since I've seen a mainstream comedy as wickedly funny, poignant, and pleasant as Booksmart. From its up-and-coming leads to its laudable even-handedness at making sure there is a sound emotional core in its central relationship, on top of in the picture itself, it's a treat to see this kind of film get made and get made well. Make time for one of the first truly spectacular films of the year. The fact that it's a comedy with universal acclaim should tell you all you need to know.
My full review of Booksmart: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6273/booksmart
3. Midsommar: After seeing Hereditary, and now Midsommar, what I admire about Ari Aster is not only his ambition, but his ability to take a slender story and layer it with complex emotions, decadence, and disturbing elements. He does all this while subverting more recent, commonplace cliches of the horror genre. What Midsommar amounts to is a ravishing, demented folktale about gaslighting and cleansing one's self of fear and mistreatment, woven together under the broader genre of cult-centered horror while positing itself as the ultimate post-breakup movie.
My full review of Midsommar: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6293/midsommar
4. Uncut Gems: The Safdie brothers find themselves once again engrossed by the type of grimy character-pieces that defined much of the 1970s (early Pacino films like Cruising and Serpico come to mind). What's remarkable is that although their films are essentially ugly symphonies of contemptible laymen, sloshed with disorienting visuals, they still find ways to be topical and say something about our society. With all the black humor Uncut Gems provides, it shows a culture too consumed by the next potential big score. It's one hyper-focused on commodities, such as rocks with opals and diamond/gold-studded Furby chains, strung together by laughably convoluted, winding trails of transactions that leave some (namely Howard) broken, defeated, and ultimately hunted. This has been a year of a plethora of solid-to-mostly-good movies. It's terrific to end the year with one that's truly great.
My full review of Uncut Gems: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6364/uncut-gems
5. The Beach Bum: Boasting a "liquid narrative" (Korine's words), The Beach Bum is a hypnotic fever-dream with a thin narrative that packs a great deal of nuance and subtext. Korine follows this delightful bunch of loons, milking all the debauchery he can conceptualize for laughs, winces, and sighs of exhaustion. Your mileage will definitely vary. He keeps consistent with the neon-soaked cinematography from his previous film, reenlisting the help of Belgian cinematographer Benoît Debie to make a colorful explosion out of this tropical paradise. It's as gorgeous as it is disgusting; with an abundance of radiant color-vomit soaking the screen, it shows you just how vapid the pursuit of happiness and uncompromising freedom can be. But it damn sure is pretty.
My full review of The Beach Bum: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6248/beach-bum
6. The Irishman: The external gravity of The Irishman is immense. More than likely serving as the final collaboration between Robert De Niro/Joe Pesci/Martin Scorsese, it is a melting pot of all the themes Scorsese has addressed over the decades. It's an elegy, in a way; a poignant encapsulation of a legacy of sin and deals with a violent man coming to grips with being a violent man as he's reminded of his own mortality. Simultaneously, he tries to reckon with his own insignificance as time marches on — about the only guarantee in life.
My blog on The Irishman: stevepulaski.blogspot.com/2019/12/cleaning-up-paint-my-thoughts-on.html
7. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood: With a real lack of crackling dialog and witty narrative diversions, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood is not the Quentin Tarantino you're used to seeing. His love-letter to a bygone era of Hollywood has large doses of sadness and despondence throughout, and it shows a more mature side of the veteran filmmaker/lover. The man who was once a quote-machine, unafraid to employ a nonlinear narrative and make a few pit-stops along the way to a rip-roarin' conclusion, downshifts to capture the essence of a time when Bonaza and The F.B.I. graced our television sets, Steve McQueen and Dennis Hopper were unlikely Hollywood poster-boys, and peace and free love was threatening the rigid family dynamic that defined the image of the 1950s.
My full review of Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6303/time-hollywood
8. Queen & Slim: Destined to be referred to as the "black Bonnie and Clyde movie," Queen & Slim is worthy of more than such a lazy description. It's sad in a way that makes you shake your head upon realizing that a scenario where an innocent pair of African-Americans getting pulled over by the cops is plagued by fear and tension. Moreover, it's a brilliant saga of two strangers on the lam as they evade the police and inadvertently gain a following from commoners who recognize how racism plays into their circumstance. The idea of "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't work for African-Americans in their situation.
My full review of Queen & Slim: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6355/queen-slim
9. Hustlers: Hustlers is stiletto-sharp and unapologetically brash while still being as fierce and as inviting as the sum of its cast. The magnetism of its ensemble and fluidness of the story make such issues as there being too many characters and sometimes too many plotlines almost effectively evaporate, given the core focus of the con is so intriguing. One footnote: Lorene Scafaria is the long-time boyfriend of comedian Bo Burnham, who made his directorial debut last year with the critically acclaimed Eighth Grade. There's a wealth of talent in that household, and I feel the best is still yet to come from both.
My full review of Hustlers: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6326/hustlers-2019
10. The Public: At 57-years-young, and with a limited number of directorial efforts under his belt (given he's been directing since 1986), Emilio Estevez isn't getting any younger. Clearly, he pays attention to social issues and has opinions on them. If The Way wasn't an indication that he's a good storyteller, The Public shows the time is now for a Renaissance period from one of the foundational Brat Pack actors to make more movies on compelling topics. The time has never been better to take a stance and have opinion in America, and Estevez, without a shadow of a doubt, does. Hopefully Estevez doesn't make us wait another eight years for his next feature.
My full review of The Public: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6304/public-2019
Honorable mentions: Marriage Story, Joker, Paddleton