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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.

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.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread Gets First Trailer and Poster

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Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread Gets First Trailer and Poster

Focus Features

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread Gets First Trailer and Poster

The trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth feature-length film dropped less than 30 minutes ago and cinephiles are already frothing at the mouth. Phantom Thread marks Anderson’s second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis, who announced earlier this year that he would retire from acting after the release of the film. The three-time Oscar winner has also stated that working on the film caused him to dream of a second career in fashion.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Anne Fontaine’s Reinventing Marvin

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Anne Fontaine’s Reinventing Marvin

BFI London Film Festival

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Anne Fontaine’s Reinventing Marvin

For anyone who’s read Edouard Louis’s 2014 novel The End of Eddy, a gut-wrenching account of growing up poor and gay in rural France, Reinventing Marvin will feel like a botched job. That’s mostly because the book is so delicately diaristic, having been written by Louis when he was just 19, and before he shot into literary superstardom. Writer-director Anne Fontaine bypasses any attempt at faithfulness to her source material, cutting it into a million pieces and re-assembling the work like a postmodern collage.

As much as Fontaine’s cinematic histrionics are beautiful to watch, like a Frankesteinian feast for the eyes, it’s as if the soul of Louis’s work has been diluted by the filmmaker’s need to reinvent not Marvin, but the literary lineage that makes the project so striking in the first place. Because of the film’s playing with temporality and style, the simplicity and linearity of Louis’s prose is lost. We’re certainly not allowed to spend enough time with the film’s Marvin, played by the eerily melancholic Jules Porier, and ache with him—the kind of identification that The End of Eddy made possible.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

Sony Pictures Classics

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

We tend to think of the family as a space for love and the child as representative of the new. Loveless exposes families to be, instead, havens of hatred and the child as nothing but a fresh container for an ancient history of gloom. Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin), soon to be divorced but still living under the same roof, repeat the same emotional indifference that was passed on to them by their parents. But their son, Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), stages an intervention in their genealogical tree of horrors by fleeing their home. No one seems to have ever wanted him—and it’s only when he goes missing that he seems to merit parental attention. Not that he ceases to be a nuisance ready to be shipped to a boarding school followed by a military career, which is what Zhenya desires, but because now the adults have to respond to societal demands of his whereabouts.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib

BFI London Film Festival

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib

For anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, society exchanges three fundamental things: words, women, and goods. Writer-director Annemarie Jacir explores those very objects of exchange in the most delicate of ways throughout Wajib. Although Amal (Maria Zreik) is getting married, neither her wedding nor the film itself is really about her. Both are about the men—her father, Shadi (Saleh Bakri), and her brother, Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri)—in charge of making the delivery of the goods: that is, the woman, her gown, and the invitations for the ceremony. Abu Shadi has returned home to Nazareth from Italy specially for the occasion, and the expatriate’s homecoming serves as an opportunity for all sorts of words to be exchanged between father and son—namely those that have been bottled up for so long, or at least since Shadi and Amal’s mother left them to pursue a love story in America.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete

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BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete

A24

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete

Though written and directed by Andrew Haigh, Lean on Pete belongs to young actor Charlie Plummer from start to finish. Plummer plays Charley, a poverty-stricken, motherless 15-year-old who moves to Portland, Oregon with his father, Ray (Travis Fimmel), and takes a summer job working with a horse trainer, Del (Steve Buscemi). The boy’s life is built around abandonment and tragedy but also a relentless hunger for affection—human or equine. He’s immediately taken with the most passive of Del’s horses, Lean on Pete, who’s described by his grizzled trainer as “a pussy.” From then on, a child-animal bond is formed where child-adult ones have been consistently broken, the horse’s increasing incompetence to race working as a kind of guarantee against abandoning the boy, because that which can’t run can’t run away.