While April didn’t quite deliver a film capable of topping my annual list (for those interested ‘Logan’ is not only the film I still consider to be my favourite of 2017 so far but also the one that I genuinely believe is the best as well it still delivered a strong plenitude of films worth checking out. Admittedly the blockbusters were disappointing but even they had plenty of redeeming qualities. ‘The Fate of the Furious’ (still a dumb title) may have felt overly contrived in an effort to remain the un-ironic joke that it is but I can’t deny it was entertaining and ‘Ghost in the Shell’ for all its faults was fascinating on a visual level.
There was only really one film that lacked any merit, but more on that later. The movies that did shine above the rest were triumph of boldness and clarity. They all had a distinct style that was unique to the stories they were telling. Whether it be a gunfight, a societal taboo or an unsolved murder, each movie had their own method of telling a captivating tale. So without further stalling for time, onto the best of the month.
3: Casting JonBenet
This independent documentary made a big splash at Sundance and thanks to the magic of Netflix has been able to make an even bigger splash within the general public. Taking a unique approach to a widely discussed tragedy, Kitty Green’s film is not even about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, it about our own obsession with it. The way we, and the actors within the movie, speculate and ponder over the details, theories and opinions that circle around the infamous case reveals that our own life experiences enforce the way we react to such an event. From the way the actors themselves each take a different approach to the roles that reflect their earlier opinions, to how their own experience with similar incidents leads them to subscribe to different theories. Despite some pacing issues the film has an eerily haunting tone that creates an utterly unique experience.
2: Free Fire
‘Free Fire’ may not have the existential ponderings of Ben Wheatley’s other work like ‘A Field in England’ or ‘High Rise’ but what it lacks in that department it more than makes up for in sheer entertainment. Wheatley’s latest film represents an explosion of high octane, high concept filmmaking that is fuelled by a palpable energy the likes of which I have not seen this year. Its ensemble cast do a magnificent job of portraying an array of memorable characters. The self-contained action is utterly enthralling, mixed with an almost slapstick style of comedy and fast talking dialogue that each go hand in hand. The unspoken details of the movie such as its editing, cinematography and direction all work wonders to draw the viewer deeper into the script, and it works brilliantly.
Don’t be put off by the infamous stories of people fainting at its premier, because while ‘Raw’ is certainly not for the faint hearted it is far from the gratuitous gore fest those stories would have you believe. There is such artistic clarity to the movie both in its conceit, story and style. It’s meditate approach to such a brutal subject may be unconventional but it is part of what makes the movie so utterly unique. The film possesses this psychological intensity that unnerves the viewer more than any amount of blood and guts. Through this look at identity and our desire to belong, Julia Ducournau has crafted a story with so many unexpected twists and turns that you will struggle to look away out of intrigue alone.
And the worst….
Too slick and polished on a visual level to be enjoyed as mindless schlock but too mind numbingly idiotic in its plot to ever be taken remotely seriously, as well as being bland in every other imaginable aspect, ‘Unforgettable’ may not be the worst movie of the year so far (they should be thanking ‘The Bye Bye Man’ for saving them) but it is most definitely in contention for the runner up spot. Complete with character motivations that are completely backwards, a non-linear story that fails to connect its own dots and a painfully contrived plot that make ‘Unforgettable’ a marvel of incompetence.