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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

Brendan Walter

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

Even the resilience of retroism was, this year, tinged with the irony of watching those not knowing the past being doomed to repeat it. But in a grasping-at-straws moment, grim reality checks, bubblicious-pop contraptions, stripped-down folk-soul, and, yes, Old Music 2.0 seemed to coexist on a playlist sending signals of life from the Upside Down, or at least one designed to help us feel some type of way. So even though, as our list of the year's top singles reveals, we more often than not had to travel all the way to Japan and England to satisfy our memories of hip-thrusting better days that we may never see return, the pleasure of the perfect three- or four-minute escape will never be quashed. Though we're at the point where even Katy Perry knows we're all metaphorically in chains.

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2017

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2017

Cohen Media Group

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2017

From Chuck Bowen's introduction to Slant Magazine's Top 25 Films of 2017: “Cinema is an art of collaborative effort that speaks implicitly and often explicitly of the values of community, which often seemed in short supply this year. We live in an age in which articles are written daily on the need for “checking out” of online culture, so that we may disconnect from the bombardment of grotesqueries that keep us in an emotional tailspin. Both coincidentally and by pop-cultural osmosis, many of the year's best films ask how deeply we may be permitted to check out and how far we should risk and extend ourselves for the prospect of personal and social rehabilitation.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors' individual ballots.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap Season 9, Episode 10, “Fatwa!”

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Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 10, “Fatwa!”

John P. Johnson/HBO

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 10, “Fatwa!”

In the past, some season finales of Curb Your Enthusiasm have been kind to Larry David: They've seen him triumphantly salvaging a potentially disastrous restaurant opening (“The Grand Opening”) and saving a doomed musical (“Opening Night”). But even when Larry is in the right, when he deservedly wins a petty squabble or outwits an obnoxious celebrity, there's a particular satisfaction in watching him reap the consequences of his own foot-in-mouthedness. And last night's season-nine finale episode, “Fatwa!,” doesn't cast Larry in a heroic light. Throughout, it indulges whole-heartedly in fiasco, and much to the detriment of Larry and everyone in his inner circle.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap Season 9, Episode 9, “The Shucker”

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Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 9, “The Shucker”

John P. Johnson/HBO

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 9, “The Shucker”

“There's no discretion anymore,” Larry David laments in the penultimate episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm's ninth season, and there's an inkling of truth to his complaint. Were Larry's company more discreet, Cheryl might not have divulged personal information about Larry to her new beau, Ted Danson. In the event that there is still discretion in a world full of big mouths, it usually comes at a price: $2,500 to be exact, from an extorting shellfish shucker (Steven Weber), in exchange for not telling Lin-Manuel Miranda that Larry fell asleep during a performance of Hamilton.

Watch: Exclusive Clip Featuring Michelle MacLaren on Directing The Deuce

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Watch: Exclusive Clip Featuring Michelle MacLaren on Directing The Deuce

HBO

Watch: Exclusive Clip Featuring Michelle MacLaren on Directing The Deuce

In his recap of the season finale of The Deuce‘s first season, Slant‘s Michael Haigis wrote about how unwitting transformation was on display throughout the episode, and how “a character montage at the episode’s conclusion reveals a series of fates mostly crafted by outside influence.” In the exclusive clip below, director Michelle MacLaren elaborates on her decision to rhyme a character’s slow walk down a corridor with a scene from the show’s first episode. It’s a correlation that artfully speaks to the show’s obsession with the nature of gender politics in the early 1970s in New York City’s Times Square, during which time the porn industry was beginning its climb to legitimacy, as well as cultural permanence and billion-dollar profitability.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap Season 9, Episode 8, “Never Wait for Seconds!”

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Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “Never Wait for Seconds!”

John P. Johnson/HBO

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “Never Wait for Seconds!”

Larry David isn't what you would call a bad tipper. He may squabble with individuals in the service industry, even insult or baffle them in the process, but he's usually quick to rustle up some cash for their troubles. Maybe he genuinely appreciates their assistance. Or, as it becomes increasingly clear in “Never Wait for Seconds!,” perhaps he'd rather wash his hands of the situation, extricating himself from any more involvement with a stranger. Given the abundance of service employees who Larry has run into throughout season nine of Curb Your Enthusiasm, not to mention the instances of him expressing his distaste for being indebted to anyone, it's not surprising that the series should devote an entire episode to the politics of favors.

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

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Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

Many of Pixar's best films capture something truly elemental about the experience of being a child. Toy Story evoked the enduring emotional bond we have with our childhood toys. Monsters, Inc. played on our primal fear of the unknown. Inside Out gave voice to our bewildering tangle of emotions. And now Coco explores a similarly resonant theme: the tension between our family traditions and our burgeoning sense of personal identity. But the film embraces cultural specificity in a way that no other Pixar production has before, combining the studio's customary emotional directness with a deep dive into a great nation's art, music, history, and customs. On the occasion of the film's release, join us in revisiting the Pixar canon, ranked from worst to best. Keith Watson
 

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

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Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Forager Films

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Watching Australian director Jennifer Peedom's Mountain one morning at the sixth annual Los Cabos International Film Festival, I was struck by the fullness of the auditorium and by the prominence of children in the audience. Peedom's film is an essayistic documentary about humankind's relationship with mountains all over the world, with tender, ruefully poetic narration (spoken by Willem Dafoe) that emphasizes how our appreciation of nature can morph into an urge to conquer it, rendering the wild another of the controlled habitats from which we seek refuge. Mountain isn't what Americans would designate a “children's film,” as we have a habit of parking young ones in front of whatever A.D.D.-afflicted cartoon happens to be topping the box office at any given moment. It was gratifying to see such a varied audience turn out for Mountain, imparting hope as to the communal possibilities of cinema in the 21st century. Of course, many of the children were whispering and running around the theater, seemingly bored with the film in front of them, but at least they evinced some effort and curiosity.

AFI Fest 2017 Let the Corpses Tan, On Body and Soul, & Hannah

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AFI Fest 2017: Let the Corpses Tan, On Body and Soul, & Hannah

Kino Lorber

AFI Fest 2017: Let the Corpses Tan, On Body and Soul, & Hannah

For Let the Corpses Tan, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani trade the giallo stylings of Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears for a wild heaping of spaghetti-western psychedelia. The married French filmmakers may be fixating on a new genre, but their deliriously abstract and meta approach to their craft remains intact. In fact, the shift in genre focus only gives them new objects and landscapes with which to play their formalist games.

Beginning with the sound of gunshots as paint splatters on a canvas, Cattet and Forzani announce their intent to elevate style above all else. What follows is a deliriously gleeful, rapid-fire montage of sound and image: extreme close-ups of burning cigars that threaten to set fire to the very image of the film, landscapes refracted through sunglasses or the flames of a lighter, the crackling of meat roasting over a fire, and enough creaking leather to make Kenneth Anger blush. Let the Corpses Tan is driven by sensory overload—its formal elements pieced together in rhythmic crescendos designed to titillate not with sex or violence, but through sheer cinematic inventiveness.

AFI Fest 2017 Sollers Point and Life and Nothing More

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AFI Fest 2017: Sollers Point and Life and Nothing More

The Hamilton Film Group

AFI Fest 2017: Sollers Point and Life and Nothing More

Director Matthew Porterfield's Sollers Point follows Keith (McCaul Lombardi), a low-level drug dealer serving the last week of his nine-month home detention after a short prison stint. He's stuck sharing a rundown one-story ranch house with his pestering father, Carol (Jim Belushi), in a predominantly white, lower-class corner of Baltimore. Graffiti and artwork cover Keith's bedroom walls—relics from a past when his artistic prowess hinted at a career and distracted him from the rough, drug-dealing crowds he eventually fell in with. Though Keith is ostensibly free once he gets his ankle bracelet taken off, the economically depressed neighborhood that he wanders through for the remainder of the film offers much of the same hopelessness and lack of opportunity that stymied him in prison.