Cinema 2017 Half-Time Report: Movies 4/4

And we’ve made it to the end. Or should I say halfway mark. Some awesome movies, moments, and performances have sailed on by in the first 6 months. Here’s to the next half year and what movie magic it might bring. For now, enjoy these:

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Wonder Woman

What is there to say that hasn’t been said already about the epic success of Wonder Woman? A superb achievement from Patty Jenkins and co. on not only buffering the flames of the comic book genre, but actually constructing a truly illuminating, enthralling motion picture experience. Gal Gadot is now a certified super-star, and rightly so – her appeal not harmed by her candid Instagram snaps. On a personal note, the whole phenomenon has drifted me back to what is felt like being a kid, seeing great people save the world in front of you, then keeping an eye out for the merchandise. —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

A Quiet Passion

Terence Davies takes his lyricism to its loftiest yet in A Quiet Passion, an examination of the spirit of Emily Dickinson in her life, her death, and that which has far outlasted each of those: her poetry. Soft yet searing, florid and abstract yet succinct and powerfully emotive, it was not merely her passion but the actual outpouring of it and her life, intertwined, draining her of both. Davies is never less than good, but he has scarcely been greater; this is heart-in-the-mouth cinema, a celebration of art and beauty and, this being Davies, words. Cynthia Nixon too is at the very top of her game here, collaborating with her writer-director to craft the ideal tribute to one of the world’s finest talents – one which honours her by matching her achievements. Utterly wondrous. —– Paddy Mulholland @screenonscreen

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Suntan

Argyris Papadimitropoulos is an okay director, nothing spectacular, we knew that already. Makis Papadimitriou already proved himself in the recent Chevalier so I wasn’t too worried about him. Elli Tringou, a newcomer, an a priori 50-50 of potential. The subject matter well-overused; a man confronted by his own fleeting youth and crushing loneliness falls ridiculously for the young, fresh-faced siren willing to enchant him with her blooming vibrancy and rampant uninhibition. So far, so average. And then I watched it. Well. Fuck me sideways. Because what this actually is is a gloriously shot, tightly paced, hedonistic take on a climactic midlife realization that caught me off guard on every possible level of expectation I prematurely held before experiencing it. Suppressed, depressed, obsessed and, finally, possessed by his own demons, Kostis evokes our sympathy and demands our loathing while having us squirming with second-hand embarrassment on the edge of our seats. Anna’s care-free nuisance quickly abides as she progressively morphs into a mirror of perilous exposure held against the viewers ourselves, now, then, definitely in dormant theory, for some in operating practice. Two worlds collide, two bodies connect, two psyches shatter into razor-sharp shards of discordant bareness. —– The Greek

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Under sandet (Land of Mine)

A war film so grounded, so humane, so personal, Land of Mine works with a simple scenario, a bunch of German prisoners of war forced to retrieve a couple of a million land mines from the Danish coast after the war is over. Of course, there is nothing simple about the potential horrors such an undertaking offers. Life can be taken away in a single footstep.  Tense, heart-breaking, with the ability to genuinely startle at times, Land of Mine is an emotional, exhausting investment, compassionately acted by the mainly young cast, and deftly directed by Martin Zandvliet. —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Poesía sin fin (Endless Poetry)

Chilean surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky returns with the second film in his planned four-part autobiographical series. It pulses with the colors of the rainbow and refuses to succumb to narrative intransigence. Instead, Endless Poetry builds a youthful, flexible structure, jarringly entering and exiting each dreamlike scene of the director’s mind’s eye. The film rides on the back of a two-headed unicorn–one fantastical equine conscious fixed on stark human features and formative moments, the other absurdly recalling symbols, metaphor, bold details, and inane vagueries. Between literal and figurative representations of Jodorowsky’s past as a young adult, Endless Poetry saunters through love and art and the ragtag society that comes with the two. The film’s clever and surreal lifelike portraiture of memory makes it fantastical yet so mortally temporal. It should inspire anyone to recount memories as they are, not as they were. —– Ian Nichols @iantilnic

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The Lost City of Z

In the middle of today’s action films, it’s impossible not to talk about The Lost City of Z. The starting point is well known. A man who wants to explore and find new lands, going against all odds, dealing with political conflicts and unexpected fears. But James Gray manages to create an epic in which action isn’t everything. The context of the story, the historical background and the possible subplots introducing belief in equal rights and respect for civilisation gain more territory; plus the amazing photography worked by Darius Khondji gives the Amazon its own golden place. All things that establish a truer connection with Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) and what he’s trying to stand for personally and morally. Plus the film is rich in interpretations, not only Hunnam but also Sienna Miller portraying a woman and wife way ahead of her time and Robert Pattinson once again proving his plasticity as an actor. —– BabblingWallflower @Tresocas

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John Wick: Chapter 2

In the past 15+ years, I’ve seen a handful of action films I consider great: Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol.1, Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers, Gareth Evan’s The Raid, and Refn’s Drive, to name a few. Chad Staheliski’s sequel to 2014’s film about a retired hitman going on a rampage against thugs who killed his dog, joins the list as one of the very finest in the genre. This sequel has Mr. Wick (Keanu Reeves) forced back into the criminal underground by a crime lord who has come to collect on a debt, only to screw him over once the job is done. The sequences, from shootouts in Rome’s catacombs, to a spectacular fight sequence in New York’s house of mirrors which pays homage to Orson Well’s The Lady from Shanghai, “Chapter 2” delves deeper into the criminal underworld and a code of honor among scumbags; as well as double-down on blistering, hardcore, in-your-face action set pieces that would make John Woo, Michael Mann, John McTierran proud. —– Jonathan Holmes @MisterBrown_23

All This Panic

Stories on film about teenage girls is a fairly common thread, and a soaring trend, so when something seriously special leaps from the pool, I have no choice but to lead with my heart and shout about it. Director Jenny Gage and cinematographer Tom Betterton collaborate to craft a mini-marvel of a documentary about teenage girls heading towards adulthood in Brooklyn. I say mini, as at less than 90 minutes this felt way too short. That’s a personal gripe that doesn’t alter my love for the project, only demonstrates my longing to hang out in the adolescent zone longer. It’s a candid portrayal as well as a nostalgic reminder. Even New York felt homely, and I am yet to visit. The Boyhood comparisons are valid, the transitions from scene to scene as well as the physical changes of the girls are immaculately captured. Wonderful. —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

So that’s it. Come and share your best ofs from the opening of 2017.

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