Members of our writing staff took some time to gather around the Cinedelphia table, pass the mashed potatoes, and tell everyone what we’re thankful for this year in the world of film!
This year I am thankful that we got a really, really good sequel to Blade Runner. The original is a top ten movie for me, but I have been burned too many times from high expectations- and thus was not expecting much from Blade Runner 2049. It far surpassed my expectations. I love how connected it is to the original but how vastly different it is too. It got a lot of love for its cinematography and sound design, but not enough I think for its thematic depth. I just love it.
I haven’t seen enough of this year’s releases to opine on the overall current state of the cinema, but what I’ve seen has left me less than impressed. Even the competently produced event pictures reek of old hat and Erector Set bloat. What happened to the self-deprecating wit in the latest Guardians of the Galaxy romp? Have we so embraced the concept of grading on a curve that a breezy, pedestrian slice of movie-mythic hokum like Baby Driver is extolled as “one of the year’s best movies?”
Those gripes aside, a few choice films have distinguished themselves from the pack. Two February releases proved the R-rated genre film to be alive, well, and profitable: John Wick Chapter 2, with its ornately choreographed gun ballets and augmentation of the eponymous ronin’s world, one-upped its predecessor, while Jordan Peele’s Get Out seduced just about everyone under the sun with its devilish, socially relevant blend of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives. On the arthouse circuit, I seem to be the only person I know who was enraptured by Terrence Malick’s gracefully (and insistently) poetic Song to Song. Janus Films’ reissue of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, sporting a gorgeous restoration that simply must be experienced in a cinema, represented the apex of 2017’s theatrical releases (Further thoughts can be found here). Olivier Assayas’ metaphorical ghost story Personal Shopper weaved a melancholic portrait of a young woman possibly haunted by her deceased brother, with whom she shared a congenital heart condition.
Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama, a chic thriller about a cadre of Parisian youths committing terrorist atrocities before holing up in a vacant mall, strikes me as the finest new release so far this year, taking cues from classics as varied as Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and Bresson’s The Devil, Probably. Don’t let the lack of mass theatrical exposure discourage you from Netflix-ing this deftly mounted perusal of aimless youth, modern discontent, and the moral vacuity of society at large.
- The Cloud-Capped Star (dir. Ritwik Ghatak, 1960)
- Cuadecuc, Vampir (dir. Pere Portabella, 1971)
- Dragon Inn (dir. King Hu, 1967)
- El Sur (dir. Victor Erice, 1983)
- Gli Occhi, La Bocca (dir. Marco Bellocchio, 1982)
- Il Demonio (dir. Brunello Rondi, 1963)
- Messiah of Evil (dir. Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, 1973)
- Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (dir. Sergei Parajanov, 1965)
This year I am thankful that the myriad avenues for exhibition have allowed for a massive influx of interesting and diverse voices in cinema. In addition, a thorough dismantling and restructuring of a seemingly “too big to fail” industry is occurring right in front of our very eyes, opening the floodgates to exciting new work, while still holding on to the mainstays that deserve our love. A new horizon of cinema is forming and we’re all lucky enough to witness and be a part of it.
Also, MoviePass. If not for MoviePass, I’d never have been able to see Geostorm for next to no money — the perfect price for Geostorm.
While we may have more ways to watch movies at home than ever before, there is still no better way to see a film than in the theater. And for me, 2017 has been full of some wonderful experiences. When seeing Justice League with Dan Scully, the theater was full of enthusiastic fans, which undoubtedly only reinforced how much the two of us were enjoying the film. Being surprisingly moved by films like Logan, Your Name and Lady Bird, and seeing classics like Alien, Lawrence of Arabia, and Amadeus on huge screens were also amazing things to experience in a theater. And Dunkirk might be the most amazing and pure cinematic experience I’ve ever had.
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights
as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.