Mar 4, 2017

The Month in Movies: February 2017

Films Seen: 62
First Viewings: 44 

Best Film[s]
Summer With Monika / Moonlight

I saw a LOT of good films this month (honourable mentions go to Fidelio, Alice's Journey, We Are The Flesh, City of Hope and Miss Stevens), but these two stood out by some distance. Summer With Monika wasn't my first Bergman, nor the first I've loved (that was The Seventh Seal), but it was the first that has me desperate to see more, the first to make me sit up and say "THAT'S what everyone was on about". It had a head start, playing in to coming of age cinema, which has always been one of my main interests, but it was the brilliant, down to earth performances and the feel with which Bergman dramatises the slow realisation of his central teen couple that their rebellion simply isn't practical long term in the real world that stuck with me. There are many brilliant things here but two shots: Monika standing on the prow of a boat as it moves ever further into the distance and a long close up of Monika's face in the film's last ten minutes, are images that have been burned into my mind ever since this was screened for me.

Moonlight hasn't yet stood the test of time, but I can feel that it's going to be a film that we'll be talking about for many years to come and that its director, Barry Jenkins, has the potential to go on to become a major figure. While the dialogue is beautifully written and evocatively performed, Moonlight struck me as a film that was most powerful in its frequent and prolonged silences. Just as in my other favourite film of the month, there are close ups here that are burned into my brain, particularly the shot of Mahershala Ali at the end of the film's first part, as he silently sits at the dining table, processing the conversation he has just had with Little. Jenkins' perfect choice of shot and instinct for pacing, as well as subtle physical acting choices by the film's cast, are things that recur throughout the film, allowing its delicacy to be hard hitting. 

Worst Film[s]
Closed Circuit / 21 And Over / Fresh Horses
I can't see a unifying thread in this category this month. Closed Circuit promises interesting things, with Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall in a thriller/courtroom drama about the aftermath of a terrorist attack on Borough market. Unfortunately it manages to be  bland but also totally ludicrous, ping ponging between snooze inducing and laugh out loud bad.

21 and Over is basically The Hangover with college kids, and its exactly as obnoxious as that sounds. Miles Teller is especially unbearable as a character (and giving a performance) that manages to come off as notably awful in a genre that also includes the likes of Revenge of the Nerds. It's a painful watch; jaw-droppingly unfunny, horribly written and often out and out objectionable.

Fresh Horses was clearly a post Breakfast Club attempt by Molly Ringwald to break out of her high school princess persona. She's hilariously miscast as rebellious young girl from the wrong side of the tracks, secretly married to a dangerous guy (a young Viggo Mortensen) when yuppie in training Andrew McCarthy falls head over heels for her. An adaptation of a play, the actors struggle so much it's like sitting through the first read through.

Note: I stole these categories from my friend AJ, who used to ask us to fill them out at the Joblo forum each month. Only first time viewings are eligible.

Best Actor: Alex Hibbert / Ashton Sanders / Trevante Rhodes: Moonlight / Joe Morton: City of Hope
Best Actress: Ariane Labed: Fidelio, Alice's Journey / Harriet Andersson: Summer With Monika / Jean Gillie: Decoy
Best Supporting Performance: Sylvester Stallone: Creed / Mahershala Ali: Moonlight
Best Director: Ingmar Bergman: Summer With Monika / Barry Jenkins: Moonlight 
One to Watch: Lucie Borleteau [Writer/Director]: Fidelio, Alice's Journey 
Best Visuals: Summer With Monika / Moonlight  / We Are the Flesh
Biggest Surprise: Summer With Monika
Biggest Disappointment: Violette / The World of Kanako
I'm Pretty Sure No One Else Has Seen This: Coin Heist (they don't need to though)
Movie I Finally Got to See: Summer With Monika / They Live
Coolest Title: We Are the Flesh
Crush of the MonthHarriet Andersson: Summer With Monika

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