Monday 31 July 2017

Best and Worst of July 2017

Well, we certainly aren’t in 2016 anymore. July only further signifies how the summer of 2017 is leaps and bounds ahead of those before it, with an array of interesting movies, a good portion of which were actually good. See, even the worst movies of this month were not bland in the same way that the worst of last year had been at this point, they have been uniquely awful in a way that almost feels refreshing. But getting back to those good movies, they have not only managed to be consistently good but also terrifically distinct in both their premise and their execution.

What is most remarkable is that I am giving all of this praise without even having seen one particular movie that it would be fair to say some people are mildly excited for (I’ll get around to seeing it soon, don’t worry). There were a number of excellent blockbusters that I honestly feel bad for not finding room for them in my top three of this month. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ was an enjoyable and refreshing take on the superhero genre, while ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ was a fantastic finale to one of the strongest trilogies in recent cinematic history. But alas, they did not crack the very best of the month.

3: The Big Sick

Having made a big splash at Sundance earlier in the year, this brilliantly subversive romantic comedy is based on the real life romance between writer/star Kumail Nanjiani and producer Emily V Gordon, which actually makes sense given that it’s a story so far out that it could only be based in reality. The movie never tries to create contrived drama in favour of focussing on the real human emotions that lie at the centre of the story, focussing on the quieter and more sobering aspects that ground it in reality. Each character feels empathetic and relatable but also manages to be immensely watchable as they navigate this difficult situation, something that the film’s terrific cast never fail to convey as the film moves on. It’s a movie that is as humorous as it is heart-wrenching, and is sure to please anyone who gives it a chance.

2: The Beguiled

Nearly two decades after her breakout feature ‘The Virgin Suicides’, Sofia Coppola brings us a movie that revisits the same themes of isolation and awakening that have been prevalent throughout her career but never more than in her first and latest features. With an ensemble that includes Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, the film displays a slow build of tension in which these volatile characters are thrown into a nerve wracking situation which Coppola approaches with restraint as well as a haunting beauty. It comes as little surprise that Coppola won the best director’s award at the Cannes Film Festival (becoming the second woman to ever do so) as her command over her craft is impeccable, fully capturing the unease that underpins the first half of the movie and the frantic dread of the second as events spiral out of control.

1: It Comes at Night

Not only the best movie of this month but also my new favourite of the year (sorry ‘Logan’), ‘It Comes at Night’ will undoubtedly leave some viewers cold, but for those ready to give into its provocative atmosphere it ends up being a highly rewarding experience. In a script almost entirely free of exposition, it focusses on the human drama of its story as well as bringing forth deep seated themes that play on our fears of the unknown. It paints a claustrophobic, isolated and paranoid portrait that due to a phenomenal sense of craftsmanship by director Trey Edward Shults, who deliberately upheaves the films pace and structure as it goes along to chilling results. It is patient and cathartic but never patronises its audience, allowing them to truly immerse themselves within the movie’s world and consider its themes on a more visceral level.

And the worst…

Of course it’s ‘Blind’, we all know it’s ‘Blind’. It’s a terrible, bland, melodrama that if anything makes me sad purely because I wonder how Alec Baldwin got here. So instead of going on about it, I thought I would take the time to address something else instead.

Movie that is so batshit crazy that I start to wonder what the fuck is going on once every few seconds, not just for this month or even year but in general…..

The Book of Henry

I feel like anyone who’s seen this movie is part of an exclusive club, a club of people who are forever changed because they have paid witness to Colin Treverrow’s mind boggling oddity that not only failed to understand the phrase “tonal consistency”, it single handily tracked down everything and everyone that could provide even the most vague definition of those two words and destroyed them immediately. With a script that juggles child geniuses, young friendships, abuse, assassination plots, brain tumours, grieving parents, authoritarian corruption and so much more, ‘The Book of Henry’ may be terrible, but it also has to be seen to be believed.

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