March was a wonderfully varied month and if the rest of the year is set to follow this standard then I would be very happy with 2017. Granted not every film was a success but even the lesser ones at least attempted to be different and progressive. But when it to the great ones they were on another level entirely. They displayed such a distinct and powerful sense of vision, taking genre tropes and subverting them brilliantly to a point where our own expectations were used as emotional weapons.
Whether it was exploring an aged superhero or tackling societal issues through a horror-comedy, this month displayed a promising array that filmmakers are not only still prepared to take risks but they are executing them brilliantly. The film industry should take note of the movies that have been released this month and realised what is missing from their modern blockbusters. So without further ado we turn to the best and worst of March 2017.
3: The Lost City of Z
James Gray’s adventure epic has been derided by some critics and by no means is it a perfect film. What it is however, is astonishingly haunting and hypnotic in its vision. It feels reminiscent of the stories of obsession and madness through exploration that were brought to us by Francis Ford Coppola and Werner Herzog. Its strength is through its mood and atmosphere, being more absorbing that emotional but no less commendable for that. There is a haunted, almost dreamlike quality to the film in its structure and it plays more into our deeper existential fears than allowing you to relate on an intimate level. Boasting a series of strong performances and some exquisite cinematography, ‘The Lost City of Z’ is an epic feat of filmmaking.
2: Get Out
As directorial debuts go, Jordan Peele’s first film is a terrific display of talent, social commentary and great horror filmmaking that is sure to go down as a classic of the genre. It is an engaging, complex and thought provoking examination of how overcompensating when handling race relations can still be a form of racism in that you are still seeing a person purely as a race, and not as an actual human being. But at no point does that message feel overtly aggressive or preachy. Even putting the social commentary aside it is a brilliantly made film, with Peele’s skills behind the camera shining through. It pays homage to numerous horror icons (Peele’s passion for the genre is obvious almost immediately) but also carves out its own distinctive visage to maintain a great sense of originality. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Peele’s career.
The best superhero film ever made? Obviously it is far too early to make a statement quite as bold as that but ‘Logan’ undoubtedly stands as one of the best movies in the history of the genre, and the first one to truly transcend it since Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’. Hugh Jackman’s swansong to the character is violent and brutal in a way that few modern films are, but at its centre lies an emotionally resonant and thematically powerful core. Jackman gives a brilliant performance as does Patrick Stewart, in what will be their final outing for the franchise they have been with for the best part of two decades. James Mangold’s direction gives every action and reaction a sense of weight on meaning, endowing it with such a meaningful quality. ‘Logan’ is more than just another comic book movie, it’s a parable about legends, legacy and the inevitability of time.
And the worst….
I do feel bad for placing ‘Power Rangers’ at this spot, because it is far from a horrifically terrible film. In fact I admired the attempts it made to stand out from the crowd and be a more progressive kind of blockbuster through its characters. But sadly that is where the praise ends as the movie is so disjointed and tonally inconsistent that it feels like three other movies that have been smashed together. Combined with a second act that feels about as generic and uninspired as one can be as well as some of the most insultingly blatant product placement I’ve ever seen in a motion picture it has to fall here.