2017 IN REVIEW

Having now seen 100 movies from 2017, I thought I’d put up my star reviews from the past year. This is not a countdown just a collection of star ratings from best to worst.

The Death of Stalin (2017) Armando Iannucci ★★★★★ 

Happy End (2017) Michael Haneke ★★★★★

Phantom Thread (2017) Paul Thomas Anderson ★★★★★

Spookers (2017) Florian Habicht ★★★★★

Baby Driver (2017) Edgar Wright ★★★★½

The Beguiled (2017) Sofia Coppola ★★★★½

Blade of the Immortal (2017) Takashi Miike ★★★★½

Dunkirk (2017) Christopher Nolan ★★★★½

Last Flag Flying (2017) Richard Linklater ★★★★½

Loveless (2017) Andrey Zvyagintsev ★★★★½

The Other Side of Hope (2017) Aki Kaurismäki ★★★★½

Pecking Order (2017) Slavko Martinov ★★★★½

The Shape of Water (2017) Guillermo Del Toro ★★★★½

Sweet Country (2017) Warwick Thornton ★★★★½

T2 Trainspotting (2017) Danny Boyle ★★★★½

Atomic Blonde (2017) David Leitch ★★★★

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) David Soren ★★★★

Faces Places (2017) JR and Agnès Varda ★★★★

Get Out (2017) Jordan Peele ★★★★

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) James Gunn ★★★★

It Comes at Night (2017) Trey Edward Schults ★★★★

Jasper Jones (2017) Rachel Perkins ★★★★

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) Chad Stahelski ★★★★

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Jordan Vogt-Roberts ★★★★

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) Chris McKay ★★★★

Logan Lucky (2017) Steven Soderbergh ★★★★

Loving Vincent (2017) Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman ★★★★

McLaren (2017) Roger Donaldson ★★★★

mother! (2017) Darren Aronofsky ★★★★

The Mountain Between Us (2017) Hany Abu-Assad ★★★★

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Kenneth Branagh ★★★★

Okja (2017) Bong Joon-ho ★★★★

Patti Cake$ (2017) Geremy Jasper ★★★★

Pork Pie (2017) Matt Murphy ★★★★

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Taika Waititi ★★★★

The Trip to Spain (2017) Michael Winterbottom ★★★★

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) Matt Reeves ★★★★

Waru (2017) Chelsea Cohen, Ainsley Gardiner, Casey Kaa, Renae Maihi, Awanui Simich-Pene, Briar Grace Smith, Paula Whetu Jones and Katie Wolfe ★★★★

Wonder Woman (2017) Patty Jenkins ★★★★

Alien: Covenant (2017) Ridley Scott ★★★½

The Big Sick (2017) Michael Showalter ★★★½

Despicable Me 3 (2017) Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon ★★★½

Happy Death Day (2017) Christopher B. Landon ★★★½

It (2017) Andy Muschietti ★★★½

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) Yorgos Lanthimos ★★★½

Ladies (2017) Anne-Gaëlle Daval ★★★½

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017) Hiromasa Yonebayashi ★★★½

Mascots (2017) Christopher Guest ★★★½

My Cousin Rachel (2017) Roger Michell ★★★½

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World (2017) Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana ★★★½

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Jon Watts ★★★½

American Made (2017) Doug Liman ★★★

Bad Moms 2 (2017) Jon Lucas and Scott Moore ★★★

Bright Sunshine In (2017) Claire Denis ★★★

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017) David Bowers ★★★

47 Meters Down (2017) Johannes Roberts ★★★

Gary of the Pacific (2017) Thedownlowconcept ★★★

Jigsaw (2017) The Spierig Brothers ★★★

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) Guy Ritchie ★★★

The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017) Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan ★★★

Pop Aye (2017) Kirsten Tan ★★★

Power Rangers (2017) Dean Israelite ★★★

Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017) Kelly Asbury ★★★

Snatched (2017) Jonathan Levine ★★★

Viceroy’s House (2017) Gurinder Chadha ★★★

Annabelle: Creation (2017) David F. Sandberg ★★½

Churchill (2017) Jonathan Teplitzky ★★½

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) Lasse Hallström ★★½

The Foreigner (2017) Martin Campbell ★★½

Going in Style (2017) Zach Braff  ★★½

The Hippopotamus (2017) John Jencks ★★½

The House (2017) Andrew Jay Cohen ★★½

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017) Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk ★★½

All Eyez on Me (2017) Benny Boom ★★

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Bill Condon ★★

Brigsby Bear (2017) Dave McCary ★★

Cars 3 (2017) Brian Fee ★★

Fist Fight (2017) Richie Keen ★★

Gauguin – voyage de Tahiti (2017) Edouard Deluc ★★

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Rupert Sanders ★★

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Matthew Vaughn ★★

Seven Rivers Walking – Haere Marire (2017) Gaylene Barnes and Kathleen Gallagher ★★

Tulip Fever (2017) Justin Chadwick ★★

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Luc Besson ★★

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017) D.J. Caruso ★★

The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017) Niki Caro ★★

The Black Prince (2017) Kavi Raz ★½

The Dark Tower (2017) Nikolaj Arcel ★½

Hampstead (2017) Joel Hopkins ★½

Logan (2017) James Mangold ★½

The Mummy (2017) Alex Kurtzman ★½

The Sense of an Ending (2017) Ritesh Batra ★½

The Shack (2017) Stuart Hazeldine ★½

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) Michael Bay ★½

Baywatch (2017) Seth Gordon ★

Fifty Shades Darker (2017) James Foley ★

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg ★

Victoria and Abdul (2017) Stephen Frears ★

The Emoji Movie (2017) Tony Leondis [NO STARS]

The Greatest Showman (2017) Michael Gracey [NO STARS] 

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WORMWOOD

2017; directed by Errol Morris; written by Kieran Fitzgerald and Steven Hathaway & Molly Rokosz; 260 mins, 6 episodes

From the start, you know this is gonna be edging towards an accusation of murder but the beauty of Errol Morris being given a more epic scope to weave together this tale is that he can lead you down several stray threads before coming to the final solution. Ultimately, it seems to be in the service of crafting a credible case before going big. At the heart of his investigation is another autopsy on the nature of truth but Morris uses it as a bed from which to grow out his subject’s conspiracy theory so that it can become conspiracy fact. Continue reading

SCHOOL OF ROCK

2003; directed by Richard Linklater; written by Mike White; 108 mins

Here’s a rarity. An early 2000s Hollywood kids’ movie about well-to-do moppets learning to rock out that isn’t complete shite! Brought to you by a director who was (and remains) at the very apex of American indy filmmaking, coming off the back of his two most experimental films: Tape, a three-hander, shot on DV and set entirely in one room and Waking Life, a fully rotoscoped, free-form ramble through the lives and thoughts of slackers and intellectuals. Don’t forget, however, this was the man who made Dazed and Confused! If anyone was gonna make a movie about the virtues of rock – it was him! Continue reading

DJANGO UNCHAINED

2012; written and directed by Quentin Tarantino; 165 mins

There is a moment, two thirds of the way through The Hateful Eight, when Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Major Marquis Warren, says; “Let’s slow this down. Let’s slow this waaaay down!” and in my head, I was thinking; “Please Christ – let’s not!” I’m on and off with Tarantino. When you see, read or hear any interviews with the man himself, you realise his films are him. I imagine being around him would be both great and exasperating. He seems to be a genuinely smart, giving person whose greatest love affair is with himself. Continue reading

INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION

1970; directed by Elio Petri; written by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro; 115 mins

A study in Fascism from a Communist director and a then-Communist star, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto) is a dark, perverse forgotten gem. A satirical look at one man’s sadomasochistic desire to be humiliated, be it in the bedroom or in the full glare of his empire. Continue reading

RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11

1954; directed by Don Siegel; written by Richard Collins; 80 mins

Issue-tainment don’t come much pulpier than this! The passion project of producer Walter Wanger, who’d served time for armed assault and saw, first-hand, the hideous conditions that prison inmates had to endure, the film was made in a disused Folsom Prison block with real inmates and directed by industry fixture, Don Siegel. This is one of those movies, I was hooked in by the title (I think about the same time I first watched Assault on Precinct 13) and have spent the last however long trying to get my hands on a copy! Continue reading

SPOTLIGHT

2015; directed by Tom McCarthy; written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer; 129 mins

[MILD SPOILERS. Sorry.]

The Oscars are a big bunch of bullshit as I think I have said on many occasions on this blog but of the two Best Picture nominees from that year that I have seen, I am so glad this won over The Revenant! A measured, intelligent, low-key drama with actual depth as opposed to the appearance of such. This is that rarest of films that had me forgetting about its construction and losing myself in the story. Whilst it may move toward cliched emotional surges, they are, at worst, earned – at best, totally artistically justified within the good ‘ol three-act structure that American cinema can do so magnificently well. Continue reading