The entire list of what I saw in 2017 [224 films]

… with their respective title and year of original release. As always, feel free to disagree!

The BEST (3.5 or 4.0 stars)

Baby Driver 2017
Calvary 2014
Darling 2015
Don’t Think Twice 2016
Downfall 2004
Everybody Wants Some!! 2016
Finding Dory 2016
Get Out 2017
Goodnight, Mommy 2014
Grave of the Fireflies 1988
Hacksaw Ridge 2016
Hail, Caesar! 2016
Hunt for the Wilderpeople 2016
It 2017
Kong: Skull Island 2017
La La Land 2016
LEGO Batman Movie, The (3D) 2017
LEGO Brickumentary, A 2014
Long Strange Trip 2017
Maps to the Stars 2014
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015
Moana 2016
Murder by Natural Causes 1979
Rabbit Hole 2010
Shine a Light 2008
Trumbo 2015
When Marnie Was There 2014
Wonder Woman 2017
World War III 1982

GOOD (3.0 stars)

Accountant, The 2016
Age of Adeline, The 2015
Alien: Covenant 2017
Alphaville 1965
Anomalisa 2015
Bad Words 2013
Beautiful Creatures 2013
Better Watch Out 2016
Birth 2004
Black Mass 2015
Boy, The 2016
Bridge of Spies 2015
Capturing the Friedmans 2003
Carol 2015
Cars 3 2017
Cashback 2006
Counterfeit Traitor, The 1962
Devil Is a Woman, The 1935
Dirty Shame, A 2004
Dogtooth 2009
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls 2003
Endless, The 2017
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 1965
Gift, The 2015
Going in Style 2017
Guard, The 2011
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 2017
Havenhurst 2016
Hedwig and the Angry Inch 2001
Holy Mountain, The 1973
House of the Devil, The 2009
Impulse 1990
In My Skin 2002
Intruders 2015
Joyless Street, The 1925
Justice League 2017
Kill List 2011
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2005
LEGO Ninjago Movie, The 2017
Life 2017
Little Hours, The 2017
Lobster, The 2015
Logan 2017
Loved Ones, The 2009
Man from U.N.C.L.E., The 2015
May 2002
Merry War, A 1997
Mr. Holmes 2015
Mr. Roosevelt 2017
Nice Guys, The 2016
Obvious Child 2014
Only Lovers Left Alive 2013
Orphanage, The 2007
Passengers 2016
Pleasure Garden, The 1925
Predestination 2014
Prisoners 2013
Proxy 2013
Purge, The: Election Year 2016
Seven Psychopaths 2012
Shallows, The 2016
Shivers 1975
Sicario 2015
Slow West 2015
Spider-Man: Homecoming 2017
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi 2017
Swiss Army Man 2016
Teenage Ghost Punk 2014
Thor: Ragnarok 2017
To Rome with Love 2012
Trouble Is My Business 2018
Twixt 2011
Unman, Wittering, and Zigo 1971
War for the Planet of the Apes 2017
Way Way Back, The 2013
What We Do in the Shadows 2014
Wild Rovers 1971
Zero Theorem, The 2013

DECENT (2.5 stars)

31 2016
Bedroom Window, The 1987
Bigger Splash, A 2015
Black Sheep 2006
Book of Henry, The 2017
Chappie 2015
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes 1972
Cooties 2014
Dark Tower, The 2017
Ender’s Game 2013
Fine Madness, A 1966
Free Fire 2016
Frozen 2010
Funny Games 2007
Girl on the Train, The 2016
Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me 1992
Horsehead 2014
Irrational Man 2015
It Comes at Night 2017
Joy 2015
Krampus 2015
Lights Out 2016
Live by Night 2016
Mouse on the Moon, The 1963
Multiple Maniacs 1970
Okja 2017
Pixels 2015
Poltergeist 2015
Replace 2017
Rings 2017
RIPD 2013
Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The 2013
Star Trek Beyond 2016
Strangers, The 2008
Strauss’ Great Waltz 1934
Terminator: Genisys 2015
Timecrimes 2007
Transcendence 2014
Triangle 2009
Trouble with the Curve 2012
Void, The 2017

NOT SO GOOD (2.0 stars)

Alien Raiders 2008
Audition 1999
Bad Moms 2016
Begotten 1990
Beguiled, The 2017
Belko Experiment, The 2016
Black Mountain Side 2014
Blair Witch 2016
Cloud Atlas 2012
Counselor, The 2013
Deep Blue Sea, The 2011
Divide, The 2011
Eden Lake 2008
Escape from the Planet of the Apes 1971
Even Dwarfs Started Small 1970
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe 1940
Good Mourning, Lucille 2014
Green Inferno, The 2013
Grudge Match 2013
Hardcore Henry 2015
Irreversible 2002
Jupiter Ascending 2015
Kick-Ass 2 2013
Life After Beth 2014
Lone Ranger, The 2013
Majority of One, A 1961
Martyrs 2008
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 2017
Place beyond the Pines, The 2012
Poughkeepsie Tapes, The 2007
Quintet 1979
Rogue 2007
Shut-In 2016
Silence 2016 2017
Sound of Horror 1966
Sound of My Voice, The 2011
Split 2016
Voices, The 2014
War Machine 2017
Would You Rather 2012

BUNCHA CRAP (1.5 stars)

Bad Batch, The 2016
BnB HELL 2017
Body 2015
Brown Bunny, The 2003
Butterfly Kisses 2017
Bye Bye Man, The 2017
Cave Dwellers 1984
Coherence 2013
Creative Control 2015
Escort Girl 1941
Forest, The 2016
In Circles 2016
Lake Mungo 2008
Manchester by the Sea 2016
Manster, The 1959
Mistress America 2015
Never Let Go 2015
No Escape 2015
Nocturama 2016
Revolver 2005
Shadow Effect, The 2017
She Shoulda Said ‘No’! 1949
Splinter 2008
Vampyres 2015

GARBAGE! (1.0 stars)

Angels’ Brigade 1979
Cure for Wellness, A 2016
Gambling with Souls 1936
Landmine Goes Click 2015
Mad Youth 1940
mother! 2017
Pod People 1983
Room, The 2003
Stanley 1972
Tetsuo, the Iron Man 1989
Woodshock 2017

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Trouble Is My Business – it gives noir a good name

Trouble Is My Business, the feature directorial debut of Tom Konkle, is not so much a neo-noir thriller as an homage to noirs of years past. It’s a stylish love poem, really, lifting many of the timeless elements that made noirs so powerful in the 1930s through the 1950s, including the hard-boiled detective, the femme fatale, and the MacGuffin (in this case, a diamond).

Konkle (who cowrote the script with his costar, Brittney Powell) stars as Roland Drake, a shamed shamus who now runs a one-man detective agency after his partner Lew (David Beeler) moved on to bigger and better things. Drake gets a phone call from a mysterious woman who – of course – desperately needs his help in locating her missing father, a man who had somehow procured a famous, expensive diamond from overseas. The diamond, incidentally, is also missing. But before Drake can get to some serious detecting, his mystery woman is dead. In his bed. A bad start to a bad day!

And soon he has company – the dead woman’s sister, Jennifer Montemar (Powell). Jennifer assumes Drake had a hand in her sister’s death, but she too wants to find her father. And the diamond, of course. But Drake finds himself up against almost everyone, including his ex partner, a sadistic detective (played by perennial heavy Vernon Wells), a corrupt police force, a haughtily rich family, and some Russian mobsters.

Now, it may seem like there are a lot of people in this murky stew. But I found the direction – particularly the pacing – to be a huge asset, offsetting the many variables to some extent. It’s also helpful that the story isn’t told in a completely linear way; in fact, it spices things up a bit. If the plot simply a series of contrived events, the nonlinearity might prove to be confusing. But the script is tight, to the point where short snippets of dialog or a darting glimpse of a scene can prove to take on added meaning as the movie progresses – or, indeed, no meaning at all.

Konkle is very well cast as the weary, yet noble, gumshoe who may be in over his head. Of all of the characters in the movie, Drake is certainly the most developed, the most relatable, and the best portrayed. I’m not sure how many actual noirs Konkle the director saw before making this film, but Konkle the actor seemed to channel Sam Spade and Mike Hammer effortlessly. I found it pretty easy to believe that Drake could be dumb enough to fall for a dame but smart enough to stay one step ahead of, well, everyone else. The rest of the cast ranged from sufficient to very solid to slightly hammy. That’s not a slight against the cast, either. This is not a movie in which every performance needs to be Oscar worthy. The biggest roles – Drake and Jennifer – were spectularly aced, and that’s important.

Sometimes the movie’s tone shifted abruptly – from a serious detective tale to a slapstick comedy. The occasional joke makes sense, but here the one liners sometimes took me out of the scene (and, in fact, made me remember that this is a modern film, even though it is set in the late 1940s). Comic timing is never easy when you’re working on a dramatic film, I assume. It’s just that sometimes an actor’s line delivery would feel almost like they had just stepped out of character for a moment. That’s the tone shift I noticed.

But for the most part, this was a wonderful film, and it should be seen by fans of the genre. It might have come off even better had it been filmed in black and white (which I believe is a much more expensive process nowadays), but some of the scenes are lit to give one the impression of monochrome, with stark contrasts and sharp angles.

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Justice League gets DC back on track, finally

It’s a low bar to clear, but Justice League is way better than Batman v. Superman. It’s funnier, it has more action, it has less brooding and darkness, and it’s just plain much, much more fun to watch. Justice League is the kind of movie that should put DC back on the same sort of cinematic path that Marvel has been treading over the past decade.

The movie picks up where the aforementioned Batman v. Superman left off. Superman is gone, having sacrificed himself to save the world. Meanwhile, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) begin to recruit an alliance of super-duper people (Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa)) to prepare for what appears to be another alien threat.

That alien threat is one Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), the nephew and second-in-command to the yet-unseen super big bad named Darkseid. Steppenwolf has arrived on Earth to collect three Mother boxes – objects that, when joined together, will grant immense power, etc., etc., etc. Steppenwolf is aided by thousands and thousands of Parademons, bug-like creatures who were once men.

Here’s a brief list of what I liked about the movie. 1) Bruce Wayne has a wry, understated sense of humor that – get this – is also self-deprecating. 2) Jason Momoa kills as a manly-man king of the seas. 3) Gal Gadot is just as terrific as she was in her own movie and in BvS. 4) The Flash is hilarious! 5) There were plenty of tight action sequences that, despite being shown in IMAX, were easy to track. I could see who was fighting whom and with what!

The overall tone of the movie is more in line with what Marvel’s doing – there’s physical fighting, there are biting remarks, there are doubts (our heroes are human-ish, after all), there are touching moments. Everyone delivers, which isn’t always the case in ensemble pictures, but Affleck in particular really stepped up his game as the Bat dude. A lot of people liked his performance in BvS, but I found him stiff and boring. That’s just not true in Justice League. Bats still has a huge ego, still likes to run things, likes to work alone even among his team. And he’s still kind of a jerk. But he’s not a boring jerk; Affleck, finally, gives him a personality! And lo! DC was saved!

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A Majority of One – ’61 movie is hopelessly dated, mildly racist

In A Majority of One, Alec Guinness plays a Japanese businessman. I don’t mean that he plays a British man masquerading as a Japanese man, I mean that he’s supposed to be the Japanese man in the first place. Alec Guinness – spoiler alert – was not Japanese and didn’t even look vaguely Asian, and yet there he was anyway. Guinness accomplished his portrayal by kind of squinting, something that I think most of us in 2017 would see as pretty racist. Were there no suitable Japanese actors in 1961? Or even actors with any Asian heritage? Using Caucasian actors to play Asian roles was certainly much more common at that time than it is now. The sentiment on the part of the movie studios was that American audiences wouldn’t go to see a movie headlined by an Asian star. Sadly, they were probably right.

The movie itself is a culture clash in which widowed Mr. Asano (Guinness) and widowed Mrs. Jacoby (Rosalind Russell) meet on a ship traveling from the U.S. to Tokyo. Mrs. Jacoby is Jewish and hasn’t even left New York, and yet there she is, on a transcontinental voyage with her daughter and her son in law, the latter of whom has received a diplomatic posting to Japan amid some tense trade negotiations. Mrs. Jacoby is not a fan of the Japanese, as her only son was killed in WW II, which would have been fresh in the minds of the audience, having occurred less than two decades earlier. Her wariness of Asians in general and Japanese in particular would have been relatable for 1961 audiences. Not so much for us today.

As Mrs. Jacoby and Mr. Asano become more acquainted, they develop a positive relationship – which, ironically enough, threatens to upend the son-in-law’s negotiations with the Japanese government regarding their trade policies. This leads to misunderstandings that, like any good sitcom, are resolved in all good time. But not without some feelings being hurt and some minds being changed.

Guinness does his best to do the job he’s given, but personally I couldn’t look past the fact that this was a Caucasian man playing an Asian man (and not as a disguise, as Sean Connery’s James Bond would do a few years later). Mr. Asano, as a result, feels like a caricature of what Hollywood must have felt Asians were like (or at least how Americans in general viewed Asians). To a lesser degree, Russell is also oddly cast – she, of Irish descent, playing an observing Jewish woman – but the stereotype isn’t as stark as with Guinness’s Asano. Russell, for her part, is entirely believable. (Look for Mae Questel as Jacoby’s bigoted friend and George Takei as Asano’s servant, too.)

Finally, the movie is just too darn long. It’s 2.5 hours! That’s great for an action movie, maybe even a mystery, but not a romance drama that takes place in generally close quarters. The plot is simple enough, and the scenes set in Japan are exquisitely shot, but it’s not enough to lift a movie that simply drags when it’s not being outright offensive by modern standards.

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The 50 Best Superhero Movies of All Time

Source: The 50 Best Superhero Movies of All Time

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