Despite a relatively strong start to the year, May of 2017 was a fairly lacklustre month. While there was still enough good movies to fill in the usual three spots, there was plenty of mediocre misfires that feels frighteningly reminiscent of the summer of last year. Hopefully things can improve in the coming months because I don’t think I can go through another summer that is so bad that ‘The Shallows’ is widely regarded as one of the better films of the season.
That being said while the blockbusters were somewhat disappointing the indie scene was as interesting as ever. For every movie I was anticipating that ultimately failed to live up to expectations I was also treated to a brilliant smaller movie that caught me by surprise. While I wouldn’t regard the best efforts of this month as perfect or ref8ned visions, they are brilliantly unique ones.
While Nacho Vigalondo’s movie might not be a perfectly constructed piece of cinema, its concept alone is bold and unique enough to be marvelled at. But by adding a terrific blend of humour and drama supporting what is ultimately a character study of a damaged person, played brilliantly by Anne Hathaway. Hathaway continues to establish herself as a brilliantly talented actor whom is capable of tackling roles far larger than her roots in ‘The Princess Diaries’ would suggest (which is only fair, I mean I doubt anyone looked at the child star of ‘Jeepers Creepers 2’ and went “There’s Martin Scorsese’s next acting protégé). It plays ingeniously with its own genre, both subverting it while also adhering to what makes it unique and though it can be disorienting it’s highly interesting to watch.
2: I Am Heath LedgerAny documentary to Heath Ledger could easily fall into the trap of analysing the movie star as opposed to the artist. But this excellent documentary showcases Ledger from the perspective of his friends and family, intercut with the actors own home videos that inject such an air of personal affection to the movie that it is difficult to not be instantly drawn in by it. The documentary sheds light on just how committed Ledger was to his craft, his ability to take risks within his career and further push his abilities as an actor. It may not address the elephant in the room but then again why should it? It sought to celebrate his life and work in the most intimate way it could.
1: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2I wanted to recommend something other than the massive blockbuster everyone has already seen, but I can’t be dishonest to myself and say anything other than James Gunn’s intergalactic sequel was the best movie I saw this month. The entertainment factor alone is phenomenal, blending such a brilliant amalgamation of action and comedy that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other (say what you will but no other movie here opened with a tiny sentient tree dancing to Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Mr Blue Sky) and as far as I’m concerened that’s their loss). But what is even better is how Gunn uses the framework of the sequel to further develop and analyse his characters, making them more empathetic and complex in the process. Given that the all-star cast have no trouble bringing said characters to life it’s not difficult to name this the best movie of the month.
And the worst…
Though I would not exactly say I was highly anticipating this techno thriller, but with a talented cast and director I was certainly intrigued. However, despite directing the excellent ‘The Spectacular Now’ James Ponsoldt seems to have lost his skill at intimate crafted movies. Not only is ‘The Circle’ mind numbingly repetitive in what it is trying to preach, but it’s a message we’ve all heard before and nothing here makes it even remotely refreshing. The movie just seems so utterly flat and uninspired, with hardly a single aspect from the characters to the plot or direction, nothing sticks out even slightly. One could almost say the film just goes….round in circles. I’ll show myself out.