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rukaio101 last won the day on February 7 2019

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About rukaio101

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    Wherever a man cannot live in simple dignity, wherever a people cry out for justice

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  1. And now we finally get to my No 1 movies of 2019... That's right, I said movies plural because, as I mentioned at the very beginning of this list, I actually have a tie for my No 1 movie this year. Much like with my bottom two movies, my top spot is taken two movies that I absolutely just could not separate no matter. So I've decided to reward them both equally this year. Let's start off with the most obvious one, shall we?
  2. 3. Knives Out You know, there are two types of movies that I really love above all others, so much so that I’ve given them names. The first is the Passionate type, a movie with a strong style or idea that it throws itself into 100%, without a second of doubt or hesitation or ‘maybe this is too silly’, instead choosing to let their style/story/source material speak for itself and trusting that the audience will ‘get it’. Examples of this include my Top 2 movies this year, along with the likes of Night is Short, Walk on Girl and Pacific Rim. The second type is what I liked to call the Clockwork Box, a movie so intricately designed, with almost every word, idea and minor detail having a payoff that all slowly clicks together at the climax into something greater than its whole. A great example of this is last year’s Into the Spiderverse and my third favourite movie this year, Knives Out which is probably one of the best murder mystery movies in years. Seriously, I cannot overstate how much I love this movie, not just for its exceptional cast or strong sympathetic protagonist, but for the way that almost every single clue, no matter how minor, seems to have a point, building towards the final solution. It may be described in the movie as a donut with a hole in the center, but for me it’s more like an intricate jigsaw, where we’re given hundreds of seemingly random pieces and it’s only when we see them all snapped into place do we see the sheer impressive scope of what is presented to us. Practically everything is foreshadowed and set-up and there's not a single clue or solution that comes completely out of nowhere, even if so many of those clues are so seamlessly woven into the background as to become invisible. There’s also a delicious irony, after all the complaints that people made about Rian Johnson ‘subverting expectations’ in TLJ (while usually completely missing exactly why those subversions were made and how they served the greater story) that the entire second act is built on one enormous subversion of expectations that helps propel this movie into something even more magnificent. For a brief while, it flips the usual murder mystery format straight on its head, in a way that turns the charming heroic detective with the silly accent into something more akin to the main antagonist, constantly at risk of revealing the deception helping our very sympathetic main protagonist. Speaking of Daniel Craig’s silly accent, god the Ensemble in this movie was something fantastic. Not a single casting feels out of place and almost everyone manages to put in a distinct and memorable performance. It’s almost a shame that the vast majority of them have far too small a role to justify a Best Supporting nomination, otherwise I feel like this movie would practically be able to sweep the awards ceremony. As it is, it’s just as shame that Ana de Armas was snubbed for Best Actress because she absolutely knocks this role out of the park as Marta, who is legitimately one of my favourite main protagonists of the year. Honestly, I could talk about this movie and all of its tiny details and how well they work for hours, but I won’t. I’ll just say that there is a distinct irony that the year the last Star Wars movie comes out, released to distinctly lukewarm reception, Rian Johnston knocks it out of the park with a film that easily ranks as one of the year’s best written and directed.
  3. 4. Ride Your Wave Boy, what is it with anime films unexpectedly being about loss and grief and/or water this year? Seriously though, Masaaki Yuasa is absolutely one of those animated directors who I really feels needs to gets more recognition in wider animated discourse. While I’m sure you’re most likely to recognise his name from Lu Over the Wall, Devilman Crybaby or the recent big hit anime series Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken, he also did my favourite film of 2017 Night is Short, Walk on Girl and a lot more beyond that. Almost every project he’s attached to, he brings his own unique distinctly wild freeform style that’s always amazing to watch, even if the film itself isn’t always the greatest (like Lu). So needless to say, I’d been highly anticipating this latest film from him, for the animation and direction if nothing else. And yet even I was surprised by just how strong the story and emotion in this movie was. It’s goofy, heartwarming and tearjerking all in one and a surprisingly effective exploration of loss and grief, even in a fairly odd package. The story itself is about 19yo college student and avid surfer, Hinako, who moves to a new town for her studies and enters into a relationship with Minato, a young fireman. The two quickly become very close with one another, making it all the more tragic when Minato is drowned attempting to rescue someone at the beach. Hinako is naturally devastated and struggles to regain her confidence. However she discovers that mysteriously, she is capable of seeing and hearing Minato in water, whenever she sings a certain song that the two of them loved. So basically like Ghost, except a lot wetter. Honestly though, the real strength of this movie is the characters and their relationship. Contrary to most romantic pairings in fiction, this movie honestly puts a lot of work and time into creating and developing Hinako and Minato’s relationship and making it feel both real and genuine. And I don't mean 'movie genuine', I mean 'genuine genuine'. We see how they meet and begin to date, we see them talking and sharing their interests and getting the other interested in them, we see grow closer and develop their own little couple in-jokes (including the aforementioned magic song) and really take the time to make their strong bond clear to the audience. It feels like most of the first third/half is spent just showing us how natural that relationship feels and how strong their bond grows over time. Which, of course, makes it all the more effective when Minato eventually ends up dying and Hinako is left absolutely heartbroken. It really says something when I can watch a tragic event happen on-screen and don't even need the movie to say anything to think 'Oh shit, this character is going to be devastated by that.' And honestly, even when weirder stuff starts happening, the movie never loses that mature exploration of loss and grief. While Hinako is overjoyed to have Minato back when his ghost starts appearing, the movie sensibly ends up framing it as relatively unhealthy behaviour on her part, as she develops almost an obsession with keeping him around, much to the worry of their mutual friends and family, who can’t see Minato, are dealing with grief of their own and are naturally worried about what appears very strongly like a psychotic break on Hinako’s part. And indeed, part of the movie is about both sides realising that they need to let go and that Hinako needs to learn to move on in a healthy manner. Which she does, in a way that I did see coming, but that I saw coming in a good way? As in, me thinking 'It would be perfect if the movie decided to go this route' and then it did! Yet even then, the movie shies away from purely sentimental happy endings. Hinako manages to mature, move on with her life and grow as a person, but she doesn’t magically ‘get over’ the grief of losing someone so close to her. It still lingers and hurts as an ending scene makes very clear (which also, fyi, is probably one of my favourite emotional scenes of the year.) Honestly, this movie blew me away with how much I loved it. I was expecting another bold brilliant animated showcase from Masaaki Yuasa, filled with his usual hyper-energetic visuals, but what I got was a genuinely mature and relatable story with some of my favourite characters and relationships and, yes, also some brilliant hyper-energetic visuals to boot. I’m aware it’s a long shot, especially since I have literally the worst luck when it comes to stanning foreign movies for the best Animated Oscar, but here’s hoping this gets some recognition when it goes into wider release in 2020.
  4. 5. The Nightingale You know, for all that people are complaing about Greta Gerwig and Lulu Wang missing out on Best Director this year, I’ve got a different question for them. Where the hell was Jennifer Kent? Because this latest movie from the Babadook director was a fucking gut-punch and a half and deserves a hell of a lot more attention that it got. The movie itself is set in Australia and follows Claire, an Irish penal colonist, played by an exceptional Aisling Franciosi, on the hunt for revenge after she is raped and her husband and child murdered by shitbag British officer Hawkins. Accompanied by cynical aborigine tracker Billy, she hunts him across the plains in the hopes of taking her vengeance. However, while this sounds like a typical rape-revenge sort of movie, it’s really much more than that. It’s an angry movie, one that really makes you feel the rage and hurt simmering beneath its main characters- not just Claire, but Billy too- and the injustices committed against them, many of which will never be answered for. And yet it also doesn't fall into the trap of just being all 'violent revenge is good actually', showing the flaws of such a mindset and what it drags a person down to. There's a great scene about halfway through when Claire manages to catch up with one of her attackers, that switches mood on a dime, managing to puncture what should've been a cheerworthy moment of violence with just one whispered word, turning a frenzy of violence into something cold and shameful in almost an instant. That's fucking strong storytelling. I also appreciate the movie not hesitating to show us the deep-seated flaws of our heroine, in spite of how sympathetic we feel towards her. She's deeply racist and shitty toward Billy when they first met, albeit less because she's a terrible person and more because that's just how the native aborigines were treated back then. And equally, Billy doesn't feel the need to educate her or help her overcome her prejudices as the good friendly minority in these movies usually would. He also thinks she's kind of a shitty person as well to begin with and has no inclination to try and 'fix' her. And while the two do eventually become friends, it's through shared experiences and empathy rather than typical 'fixing racism' bullshit and also doesn't do much to change history and the ultimate fate of the aborigine population in Australia. Honestly, this a very painful movie to watch and not just because Claire gets raped multiple times in the first act. It's filled with pain and hate and injustice and terrible people doing terrible things, yet it ends on a note that gives both of our characters a way to claw back some justice for what they lost, even if it's not necessarily how they expected or necessarily ends in the best way for them. And that's a very emotionally mature and powerful way to end a movie like this. But seriously though, Jennifer Kent needs more recognition.
  5. 6. Okko's Inn Remember when Miyazaki ‘retired’ back in 2013 and Studio Ghibli shut its doors and everyone was left asking ‘Who’s going the be the next Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli?’ Certainly lots of names got thrown about, like Mamoru Hosoda, Makoto Shinkai and Masaaki Yuasa, mainly because they’d just made popular/well liked anime films and nobody really wanted to point out that they clearly had their own styles that did not remotely resemble Ghibli’s. Studio Kara even had a shot at the title with Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which suffered somewhat from the fact that it wasn’t really all that good. But I’m glad to say that I’ve found the most fitting successor to Studio Ghibli in this film and I absolutely was not expecting it. The story itself is about the titular Okko, a young girl who goes to work at the titular inn (run by her grandmother) after the tragic death of her parents in a car crash. While there, she learns she can see ghosts (or at least a few of them), who help her in her day-to-day life at the inn. While there, she slowly learns how to look after customers, starts making new friends (human and ghost) and ultimately has to end up coming to terms with the deaths of her parents. You know, lighthearted stuff, for kids! Now to be clear, this movie isn’t as openly supernatural as the likes of Spirited Away, the inn is literally just a normal traditional Japanese inn and there are only a very small handful of ghosts that Okko interacts with. However, it more than makes up for its lack of fantasy elements in just how heartwarming and emotional it can be. Okko makes for a compelling and sweet protagonist, who feels like she could easily slot into Miyazaki's portfolio of female protagonists, and it has a great cast of characters, especially Suiryo, a fortune teller who ends up becoming an almost older sister-figure for Okko. There isn't a massive single over-arching plot (minus Okko coming to terms with her parent's death) or main antagonist, instead being more of a series of smaller plots and events, giving the story a really life-like feel to it that really fit the tone it was going for. And speaking of tone, while a lot of this movie is fairly light fluffy, boy can it hit the heavy tones if it wants to. In most kids movies, if a child's parents are killed off at the beginning of the story, it usually tends to end up being somewhat overlooked once all the magical/weird stuff starts happening. Not in this movie though. In this movie it hangs above Okko's head constantly and makes it clear that, for all that she seems to be doing okay, she really hasn't gotten over it yet and is living in a state of semi-denial about the whole thing. She has a panic attack in Suiryo's car when she's suddenly reminded of the accident that took their lives and, ultimately, that state of denial gets confronted and shattered in the worst possible way in the climax of the film, even if it ultimately ends up allowing her to move past it. It’s certainly not a melodrama, but the death of Okko’s parents hangs over the story a lot and it’s ultimately coming to terms with that that ends up being the crux of her development. Seriously, I was not expecting all that much from this movie aside from a bit of light entertainment. But what I got was a legitimately strong film that managed to simultaneously be light, fluffy and entertaining, while also having a strong backbone and a willingness to unhesitatingly confront some heavy emotional issues. And frankly, I enjoyed it from start to finish.
  6. 7. Nezha You know, when people talk about ‘China’ in regards to modern film, it’s usually just to criticize Hollywood’s transparent and clumsy attempts to pander to them. Which, to some extent, is fair since Hollywood is nothing if not blatant in their attempts to suck up that sweet sweet Chinese cash. But what I’m far more interested in are the films coming out of China at the moment. Now it’s certainly not new or rare for a country to grow its own burgeoning film industry, South Korea has already carved out a strong niche for itself, but usually said industries are heavily handicapped by virtue of lacking the money or experienced talent to really compete with Hollywood. But China on the other hand? China has the money, is starting to get the talent and has the base to create mega blockbuster hits and, honestly, it’s genuinely interesting to see how that’s going to develop in the future. Case in point? Nezha, a movie which is basically a fusion of Eastern Anime sensibilities and Western Animation kids films and is kinda fascinating for it? Oh, and a film I enjoyed the hell out of. The story is based on traditional Chinese folklore, following the titular Nezha, a child accidentally born from a ‘demon pill’. Raised alone by his parents (who are legitimately fantastic and some of the best animated parents period) and isolated by the superstitious and prejudiced townsfolk, Nezha grows up to be a brash, dickish, but also clearly lonely kid, who definitely wants to make friends and be liked (in spite of his seemingly apathetic attitude), but is constantly sabotaged by his own attitude and the townsfolk's prejudice. However, things change when he starts learning magic from a portly tutor, makes a new friend in the conflicted dragon prince Ao Bing and learns that he is destined to die in 3 years from a heavenly magical lightning bolt. Honestly, the best thing about this movie is probably the characters (or at least the mains). Nezha is a fantastically well-rounded and three-dimensional character, dickish but in a way that makes you understand why, and goes through emotional ups and downs that you really just want to give him a hug by the time it’s all over. Similarly, his opposite number Ao Bing is great too, torn by a genuinely powerful moral dilemma as to whether he should save or condemn one of his only friends for the sake of his people. Also, I mentioned this before, but Nezha’s parents are literally just the best. Supportive, empathetic and absolutely full of love for their son, regardless of how much he may mess up or misbehave. Seriously, if I were to make a list of best animated parents in animated fiction (or fiction period), they would be right up there with Mufasa. Heck, one particular moment with the father was probably the closest I came to crying at a movie this year. Also the animation is fantastic. Which, to be fair, I’ve said about most animated films this year, but it runs definitely true for this one. It’s 3D animated, like White Snake, and clearly has a lot of money and talent behind it. The fighting feels smooth and exciting, the character animation makes it clear what a character is thinking/feeling at any given moment and there are just some damn cool visuals in here. The climactic fight scene in particular took my breath away at points. It clearly takes a lot from the best of anime-style fights and it's definitely for the better because of it. However, the movie does have a fair few rough edges. It takes a long time for Ao Bing to be introduced and there are a lot of comic relief characters in this movie that will easily remind you of the traditional American comic reliefs that you often see in kids films. Some of whom are great, others of whom are kind of annoying, but it’s clear that the movie drew a lot of inspiration from Western Animation for them. The pacing also probably isn’t the best and there are lot of scattered plot threads around the place. And it does end a bit abruptly (although thankfully not as abruptly as Ruben Brandt Collector or I Lost my Body). However, I generally tend to be more appreciative of movies that reach for the sky with the limits, even they end up being a bit messy in the process, rather than movies that might be technically more perfect but fail to really excite me. And in that regard, Nezha is definitely one that excited me. Here’s me feeling very interested in what China has to offer in the future.
  7. 8. Steven Universe: The Movie Okay, I'm aware this one will turn a few eyebrows and I will confess that it is entirely an unapologetically-biased ‘me’ pick (says the guy whose Top 10 is filled with 60% animated movies), but I absolutely don't regret it. I love Steven Universe the TV show. It may have had a rocky beginning, but it’s managed to evolve into such a great series with fun complex characters, dealing with complicated emotions and conflicted feelings and taking entirely different approaches to common kids show tropes in a way that just makes me marvel. Not bad for a show about lesbian space rocks. However, just because I liked the show, didn’t necessarily mean I was going to like the movie. Especially since 99% of movies made as companions for TV shows tend to be… okay at best. Flashy and fanservicy for sure, but usually devoid of any real substance. Like One Piece Stampede or last year’s My Hero Academia movie. Alright for a laugh and a bit of fun, but unlikely to really have much impact on me, irregardless of if I liked the source material. Basically, a fun time but not really Top 10 material. This movie, on the other hand? I adored it, every bit as much as I did the tv show. It captured every last bit of why I adore the TV show and then added more than enough to make it feel like an evolution on top of that. And why? Because the movie actually does exactly what its own major theme and message ends up being. It changes. It evolves and helps both the show and the characters grow further, exploring new depths of them that we might not have noticed. It takes established and well-loved characters and shows us how far they’ve come across the show’s run, while also making clear that they still have much further to go. And even beyond that, it has so many great new original elements as well. Spinel is an outstanding villain, sympathetic, emotional and utterly messed up, with a great rubberhose-esque animation style that bring back memories of the old Mickey Mouse cartoon, as well as also having easily the most banging villain song of 2019. The new elements that have also grown from the conclusion of the show are also neat and ripe for exploration in future episodes. And Steven finally has a neck! Good for him! So few kids protagonists are allowed to grow up, let alone get dragged into the deep-seated emotional problems that come from growing up and things changing not necessarily for the better. So yeah, while this may be a somewhat weird pick for my Top 10, it's not one I really regret. Steven Universe the Movie is the sort of standard by which all other movies based on still-running tv shows should be based on. It evolves the characters, evolves the world and bothers to have themes and ideas that it explores with a legitimately deft hand. Kudos.
  8. 9. Ready or Not You know, it probably says something that two of my favourite live-action movies this year involve a self-entitled family of rich selfish idiots getting what’s coming to them.* Can’t possibly imagine what though. Seriously though, this movie was great fun. A simple concept (rich people hunting a new bride through their mansion) executed brilliantly with great characters, great action and great humour, all leading to a hilariously bloody and satisfying conclusion. The movie made me laugh, it made me cringe violently (especially during a certain moment involving a nail) and the ultimate conclusion was one of the more satsifying endings in film this year. The main actress, Samara Weaving, does an excellent job portraying the fear, tension and hurt perfectly, moving from pleased if slightly uncomfortable bride, to confused and terrified huntee, to action heroine, to just fully and utterly done with this shit. The side cast is great too, ranging from bumbling to disaffected to sympathetic to conflicted and then back to bumbling again. All in all, it’s a fun tightly paced horror flick that never feels boring, never drags on too long, has just enough smittering of social commentary to feel meaningful and is all in all a fun satisfying ride. Also, eat the rich, I guess? *(Oh come on, like you don't think Knives Out is going to be on here.)
  9. Sorry for the past few days wait, guys, but I accidentally lost a decent chunk of my write-ups when my computer crashed, so I had to redo them from scratch. Which isn't fun. But anyway, I've finally made it to the Top 10. And it only took *checks calendar*... the best part of a month. Oops. Probably shouldn't waste any more time then. 10. Ruben Brandt Collector Technically, this is more a 2018 film than a 2019 film, since it was in contention for the 2018 Animated Oscar, but I didn’t get a chance to see it until November this year, so I’m counting it. Partly because that’s what I’ve always done in the past with similar films like My Life as a Courgette and partly because this movie was amazing, has one of my favourite art styles of any animated movie this year and I absolutely want to talk about it. The film itself is basically a surrealist heist movie. The main character, the titular Ruben Brandt, is a psychiatrist haunted by terrible nightmares about famous paintings causing him harm. His patients, a group of criminals and cons, decide to help him out by stealing the aforementioned paintings, while a police officer tries to hunt them down. In the process, absolutely no-one ever seems to mention that they live in a surreal hellscape populated by vaguely-human-looking surrealist art monstrosities who populate the background. Because that’s a thing in this movie. Seriously, almost every single background character looks like something from a strange surrealist Picasso-esque painting and it’s an absolute joy to watch. The movie actually begins with a tense exciting chase sequence through the streets passing by dozens and dozens of these unique character designs and I could’ve watched it all day. But even beyond that, there’s plenty to love about this movie. The characters are likeable, particularly Ruben’s group of criminals, the nightmare sequences are surreal, strange and indeed frightening at times, and the story goes through a lot of interesting twists and turns. The only reason this movie isn’t in the Top 5 is because I don't think it quite sticks the landing and doesn’t really have a proper ending, so to say, instead stopping rather suddenly on an implied twist that I thought was very clever when it first happened but, when I took a minute to think about it, I realised made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Still, even with that abrupt ending, Ruben Brandt Collector is definitely a movie I’d recommend. Even people with no interest or knowledge about art (like myself) can follow along easily enough and admire the sheer effort and complexity that must’ve gone into so many unique strange designs, all while also enjoy a cool heist plot with a group of charming characters and a puzzling mystery to be solved.
  10. 11. Klaus Not going to lie, I honestly wasn’t expecting all that much from this film. I saw the trailer and thought it looked like the most typical ‘Rich pampered guy tries to regain his former luxuries but in the process learns the true meaning of goodness/friendship/hardwork’ sort of movie you could imagine, albeit with a Santa Claus twist. And, y’know, it’s not exactly not that. I’d be lying if I didn’t find most of the plot beats somewhat predictable. But what I absolutely wasn’t expecting was for this movie to be, well... so full of heart. Honestly, I’ve always been of the opinion that cliches aren’t always a bad thing and that 99 times out of 100, what it really comes down to is execution. And in that regard, Klaus is one hell of a fantastically well-executed movie. The characters are fun to follow, the setting is interesting, the animation is freaking great and the way that simple acts of kindness (even self-centered ones on Jasper’s part) begets more and more kindness in turn is a sweet and genuinely heartwarming message. Also that small colourful Sami child might just be the most adorable diabetes-inducing thing I’ve seen all year. If there’s anything I had to pick apart about it, it’s that the ‘Liar Revealed’ beat towards the end feels a bit too much on the wrong side of cliche, but otherwise the movie takes a simple story and breathes it with life, vigour and enough good spirit to make it feel alive and new again and to join Arthur Christmas on the list of underrated animated Christmas movies. Plus god damn is that animation pretty.
  11. 12. Weathering with You I feel like the vast majority of this film's advertising/hype/appeal since its announcement can basically be summed up as 'Hey everyone, did you like Your Name? Because this is by the guy who did Your Name!' Seriously though, while Makoto Shinkai has actually been around for a while and Your Name isn’t his first success, this movie and its relation to Your Name does kinda remind me of the relationship between Get Out and Us. Specifically, it’s a follow-up effort that doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but certainly tries its hardest and is a damn solid movie to boot, even if not being quite as strong as the breakout movie its following. Anyway, the movie takes place in a climate ravaged Tokyo, stuck under a constant never-ending deluge of rain (which yes, is very obviously a climate change metaphor. And also makes this the third anime film I saw this year involving massive amounts of water). In this deluge, a young runaway tries to make his home, eventually getting room and board working as a writer/reporter for a low-rate trash magazine that reports ‘supernatural rumours’ and the like. In the process, he meets Hina, a young orphaned girl living alone with her younger brother, with the ability to temporarily stop the rain by praying. Both hard on cash, they take the shockingly sensible/realistic route of using this power to make money. However, as real life slowly starts to catch up on them and they learn the terrible secrets behind Hina’s powers, a difficult choice must be made. Honestly, there’s a lot about this film that is very clearly attempting to recapture that Your Name zeitgeist. The relationship between the two leads, for example, along with the supernatural element and the decisively bittersweet tone of the ending. Hell, [spoiler alert] there are even a few very distracting cameos from Your Name characters making this the Your Name Cinematic Universe, I guess? (Yet another Cinematic Universe more successful than the Dark Universe). However, it also clearly has its own ideas and messages, particularly those involving climate change. The movie, for all its supernatural elements, honestly has a fairly subdued and realistic portrayal of climate change (for all that it’s not really subtle what it’s about) and I especially appreciate the ending for not providing an easy solution. While I’m sure said ending is likely to cause a lot of controversy among people (particularly since it fumbles the messaging a bit), I though it was great that the movie didn’t chicken out on the consequences it was implying, making a much stronger climate change narrative than most others, where the problem is easily and instantly solved by some outside force. Still, like I said, while it doesn’t quite have the same strength to it that Your Name did, it has plenty of strengths of its own. The main characters are likeable, their relationship is endearing and you want to root for them. There are some great side characters as well and some fun laughs and you really sympathise when things start to go to hell. There are a few muddled subplots (like one involving a gun) and it maybe does try to copy Your Name a little too much, but, like Us, it’s still a strong follow-up effort in its own right and definitely worth watching.
  12. 13. Bacarau Okay, this movie is going to be a massive pain to talk about, because a) it’s a movie a lot of you have probably never heard of and b) I can’t really explain the basic premise in any detail without massively spoiling one of the movie’s major twists. And, since I’m wanting to try and convince people to go watch it because it’s great, that’s naturally kind of an issue for me. So... er... You're just kinda going to have to take my word for it? Because trust me, this movie is really good. It has it all. Social commentary, tension, mystery, brutal gore, an incredibly violent climax, one of my favourite comedic lines of the year summing up much of said climax, it's great. I saw it as a time-filler at London Film Festival and it ended up being the best film I saw there. So go see it. Because seriously, it's really good.
  13. 14. 1917 War be fucked, y'all. Anyway, at the time of writing of this, 1917 currently looks likely to be the frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars this year. (EDIT: Hah! Certainly called that one. Also, boy am I way behind on actually posting these.) And you know what? I'm completely good with that. After all, it's the highest ranking BP nominee on my list, since I never watched Marriage Story or the Irishman. And it's a damn good war film beyond that, telling what feels like a much smaller-scale story about a small (probably false) incident in WWI and in the process making it feel more epic and intense than a good majority of war movies actually trying to be epic. Now, a decent amount of conversation regarding this movie has revolved around the whole 'one-shot' thing and whether or not it's just another gimmick. And, to be fair, yeah it is basically a gimmick. But while, yes, is it a gimmick, I'd actually call it a fairly effective one that does have a legitimate purpose in the story, doing more to put us in the footsteps of the soldiers and follow their journey than any of the gimmicks in Dunkirk (which sorry guys, I still don't think is that good a movie). In particular, I really liked the way it followed them through the trench or along somewhere like No-Man's Land, where we known that danger could be around every corner and experience that tension and uncertainty along with them. Admittedly, it's not perfect and does have its flaws here and there, which help relegate it to being a gimmick rather than a vital part of the movie. The film isn't always able to continue the one-shot thing in an interesting way and sometimes it does get somewhat distracting seeing the camera circle around our mains in the same way for about the fiftieth time. But as far as gimmicks go, it's still a pretty solid one that really helps certain scenes, such as the crossing of No-Man's Land, any of the trench scenes or Schofield's big epic run at the end. The acting is also very good, especially from our two mains. I'm aware that 1917 is currently more fitting the 'tech nominee' than anything else this awards season, but I definitely feel the two main actors should've been recognised for their legitimately great performances. Schofield in particular gets a really great understated bit of shellshocked acting in the truck ride directly following a certain spoilerish event and it's legitimately a shame that he's been so badly overlooked. Most of the supporting cast is admittedly fairly distracting, being so heavily made up of big names, but they're not around for long, so it's not too big a problem. In the end though, this really was a damn good movie. Tense, exciting, dramatic, heartbreaking and solemn when it needs to be. I absolutely wouldn't be surprised to see it join the ranks of other classic war films. (Also, it was still way better than Dunkirk.)
  14. 15. Midsommar Guys, I'm starting to think Ari Aster might have a problem. ...Specifically, the problem that his movies are consistently churning out some of the best main actress performances of the year (if not decade) yet are constantly being overlooked by the main awards ceremonies for whatever reason. Because if there's one performance this year that was unfairly overlooked and wasn't Lupita Nyongo in Us, it was Florence Pugh in this movie. Oh, and also the problem that he's kinda fucked in the head. Joking aside, this was another fantastic movie from Aster that I'd honestly call every bit as strong as Hereditary, if not stronger. Aster's style of creating legitimately painful and hardhitting emotional trauma (such as the loss of a child in Hereditary or the murder-suicide-mixed-with-unhealthy-relationship in this movie) and mixing it with legitimately grotesque and violent physical trauma continues to gutpunch harder than any other horror movie this year can manage, mixing that queasy feeling of brutal violence and emotional anguish into something that feels like more than the sum of its parts. It's gross and gory, but gross and gory with a point. And also god damn was Florence Pugh good in this movie. Just like Toni Collette in Hereditary, she pulls off those feeling of uncertainty and heavy grief perfectly, making them feel heartbreakingly realistic. Emotionally distant (and fairly dickish) Christian and the rest of the cast are good too, even if most of them are playing either massive jerks or creepy cultists, but they do it in a way that fits what the movie is going for. The direction as well is great, with the visual language very capable of capturing Christian's isolation from Dani, the way Dani's drug trip goes wrong and many of the cult's creepier moments exceptionally well. Plus, who doesn't love all the Wicker Man-doms? It even has someone being dressed in a bear suit, just like Nicholas Cage! Fun times for all! Seriously, this was a fantastic sophomore effort from Aster and definitely cemented him as one to watch out for. And who knows? Maybe next time, the Academy will actually get off their asses and recognise one of his leading ladies for the exceptional job they pulled off in- Ah, who am I kidding, it's never going to happen. Maybe if he does a biopic, that might get a chance...
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