I start this with a notice of intention: I'm not going to write my Best Films of the Year list this month. I'm taking a friend's idea and am gonna delay it until early 2018. Right now, as is, the list is missing way too many top titles be make it worth writing. It feels incomplete. And that's mostly because I live in a place that doesn't often see the limited release titles. And I don't have the money to travel 2 hours each week to see the hot new movie. So! The list is delayed!
But until then, I'm still happy to post about a few new favorites I found in the last month of 2017.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
This Netflix documentary tells the story of the making of Man on the Moon, the 1999 Milos Forman directed biopic about Andy Kaufman starring Jim Carrey in the lead role. Carrey, an underrated dramatic actor, gave what was probably the performance of his career as Kaufman. What we didn't know, or at least had not seen video proof of, was how deep Carrey dived into the role of Kaufman. A method actor is a funny, fascinating thing to watch. Basically they become the character off-screen as well as on. They live their character. But what if the character you're living as is a flawed, infuriating, strange oddball like Andy Kaufman? The footage shown in Jim & Andy was apparently once upon a time meant to appear on the Man on the Moon DVD but Universal got cold feet because they worried the footage made Carrey look like an asshole (it did). But more than that, I thought this a fascinating look at an artist's willingness to lose himself in his art. Carrey is interviewed in modern footage. He seems both sad and wise here, like he's reached enlightenment or... maybe he's just playing another part in another movie. One of the most interesting and bizarre documentaries about the making of a movie I have ever seen.
I have mixed feelings about the making of a film based on recent traumatic events. I get it's what we do, as a society, as a people. We're storytellers. But I haven't yet sorted out how I feel about the 'too soon?' question. Like, I thought United 93 came way too soon. I also thought United 93 was an incredibly well made film. I am conflicted. And it's with these conflicting feelings that I come to Stronger, a film about a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing. Here's what I liked about Stronger and what I feel sets it apart from other similar ripped from the headlines tragedies: it works for your emotional investment in its character's story. It doesn't assume -- however correctly -- that you're sympathetic going in. It tells its story in a timeless manner, making Stronger as impactful today as it may be 10 or 20 years from now. That's important. What's more, it's just a great character piece, regardless of its status as a True Story. Jake Gyllenhaal, who's fast becoming one of the best actors working today, gives an honest, tough performance as the good guy who lost his legs and as a result lost his way. It's an amazing performance. Tatiana Maslany and Miranda Richardson are good, too.
I held off on watching Black Christmas for a long time because I didn't know if I wanted to mix slasher movies with my egg nog. Ya know? Christmas cheer + blood curdling screams = what are we going for here? But I guess it seemed like the perfect sort of Christmas classic to discover in this year of madness, 2017... And I loved it. This is a scary, inventive, visually interesting horror thriller. Somehow both classier and more messed up than I could've imagined. The crazy phone calls, the ambiguous mystery of the killer, the ending, the John Saxon. It's a masterwork. Oh, and it's directed by Bob Clark, same man who gave us A Christmas Story. So, stick that in your stocking.
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
The arrival of Jeremy Saulnier and Macon Blair on the world film stage has been one of my favorite things to watch these past few years. Blue Ruin and Green Room are just that good. Now, actor and writer Macon Blair is directing his first feature, I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore. It feels like it belongs in the same rusty, bloody, angry universe as Blue Ruin and Green Room. But it has something those movies didn't: lots of laughs. A dark comedy, with extra emphasis on dark, the movie tells the story of a woman's quest for vengeance after her home is burglarized and her computer stolen. Add in Elijah Wood as her nunchaku-wielding neighbor and you've got a cult classic in the making. I really liked it.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I also watched a little movie called The Last Jedi. Ever heard of it? Yeah, it's growing a small but dedicated audience. I wrote a review for the film at City on Fire if you're interested.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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