2017 Movies: The great, good, bad, and ugly

Before I break into the good, bad, and ugly of the 2017 year in film, let me put this out there: this was an incredible year for the movies. I am talking about a versatile array of cinematic pleasures that ranged from the boldly adventureous (The Shape of Water) to the pulse-pounding thrills of music and car chases (Baby Driver) to a journalistic trail blaze (The Post).

Filmmakers didn’t have to rely on old tricks or recycle favors from decades before, instead exploring new ground with wide-eyed results (look at The Big Sick combining laughs and tears without forcing it). 2016 put out some fine films, but I felt like it got started very late and couldn’t hang with this year’s slate. Like a flashy looking car with a great engine, but a driver who can’t hang on the backroads or badlands of make-believe.

Let’s no waste anymore of your time, and get to the best and worst films of 2017. First, I will put out my top film of 2017 and then list the rest, before delving into the bottom of the barrel. Pour the coffee and let’s go.

THE BEST FILM OF 2017: THE POST

Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Meryl Streep got together and made a film that couldn’t be more timely or affecting. At a time where the free press are having their dignity trashed by a scared President, this drama covering the Washington Post’s uncovering of documents which linked the government’s negligent actions during the Vietnam War hits you in the head and in the heart. Streep blows a torch for powerful women with her portrayal of Katherine Graham, a woman thrust into a leadership role that she was ill-prepared for. She ended up owning the night and Nixon.

Spielberg takes Liz Hannah and Josh Singer’s wiz script, and doesn’t waste a second of your time, painting the war room at the paper like the beaches at Normandy, where writers and editors had to decide if the last voice in the room would belong to the President or the people. Similar to Spotlight, Spielberg’s tale is diabolical in its accuracy. He filmed this in less than a year, showing what you can do when an important idea possesses you. Hanks gives a bravura performance that we have come to expect, but don’t sleep on Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) or Sarah Paulson, This film gets better every time.

*Opens in St. Louis on Jan. 12, 2018 Continue reading “2017 Movies: The great, good, bad, and ugly”

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‘Logan’ finally does Wolverine justice

A gritty and raw sendoff with a never better Jackman

Logan isn’t just the best Wolverine film; it’s the greatest X-Men cinematic adaptation yet. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have saved their best tale for last, and they got there by serving up the darkest and most soul searching journey for the title character yet with the Old Man Logan storyline.

The movie picks up in 2029 with the majority of the mutant race dead, buried, or being experimented on. Logan and Professor X aka Charles Xavier are hiding out in El Paso, Texas in a secluded factory plant. Each men are broken, physically and psychologically, and are essentially waiting to die or escape the world that has turned on them. The emergence of a mysterious young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) sends the three on a rigorous road trip north to find salvation whilst Logan tries to find a resemblance of peace. They are tracked by a band of mercenaries led by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), who work for a pharmaceutical company running tests on child mutants. A battle of wills ensues.

Logan is equal parts Road to Perdition, Mad Max, and Outlaw Josey Wales. Mangold, along with co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green, aim for the heart and soul yet craft a relentless film that finally honors the identity of the title character. Logan is the classic outsider, and thus doesn’t allow a shred of emotional connection, because it has burned him in the past. Everything he has stopped to love or admire was taken away or is being slowly pulled from his grasps. However, he has the DNA of a hero trapped inside of him, so he can’t turn his cheek for long when Laura is in serious peril and Charles urges him to help her.  Continue reading “‘Logan’ finally does Wolverine justice”