The Best Films of 2017

An explanation about these two lists. You may notice that one overlaps the other. The world premieres list includes only movies that were first seen anywhere in the world in 2017, in festivals, commercial release or some other type of exhibition. The U.S./Los Angeles list is, as usual, a record of how the U.S. is a laggard in screening many significant world premieres. What this means is that, as usual, U.S. film festivals are much slower than festivals in other parts of the world to screen important, essential movies. So while these (overlapping ) lists may include a lot of …

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The Death of Cinefamily

News has finally arrived that the biggest Los Angeles repertory success story of the last ten years, Cinefamily, is permanently shutting its doors due to accusations of sexual impropriety and harassment among its employees. I write “success story” (even though the owners now say they have “crippling debt”) because Cinefamily, especially in its early years (say, 2007-2012), was regularly touted by local culture commentators as “some of the most vibrant and unusual repertory and independent-film programming in the country.” This included art house, music videos, cable video, repertory, and many other genres programmed on a nightly basis. And Cinefamily had …

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AFI Fest 2017: Loveless

Zvyagintsev’s films are often described as critiques of modern Russia, but I’m beginning to accept his constant denials of that interpretation, his assertions that he is apolitical and only interested in the human condition. Yes, his films are set in contemporary Russia and track the moral compromises and lack of justice in the lives of his characters, but surely Russia is not the only country in the world with such imbalances? It’s partly why Leviathan (2014) is my favorite of his films—simultaneously his most political (in its examination of small town corruption) and his most allegorical (alluding as he does …

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AFI Fest 2017: Happy End; Call Me By Your Name; Milla

Happy End

Would Michael Haneke throw a party were Europe to collapse in chaos? The event would likely prevent him from making any more movies—although the clever Austrian does have a way of attracting producers and even Hollywood admirers—but it would confirm all of his worst fears that he’s been packing into every movie he’s ever made, except for his American-set remake of Funny Games. Yet it isn’t difficult to detect in his new movie, Happy End (oh Herr Haneke and his sarcastic/ironic titles), that the whole notion of Continental Drift toward yet another Armageddon is beginning to bore …

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Los Angeles Needs Its Own Wavelengths

I had begun writing about my viewing experience of TIFF’s Wavelengths section for Film Journey with the customary introduction and mini-history of the section and its crucial importance to the world’s largest film festival, followed by reviews/analyses of each of the key films in the program.

Then I looked at what I had written, and thought, “Nah. Scrap that.” It needed something else. I needed to consider this differently. Because I was looking at things differently. Part of this stems from my own work as a writer. Until recently, I’ve devoted my writing to cinema, which I’ve done consistently (and …

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The Underworld Story (1950)

The latest issue of Cineaste features an extended excerpt on 1950’s powerful The Sound of Fury (I wrote about the recent restoration here), part of a forthcoming biography on director Cy Endfield, whom author Brian Neve claims is the “least well known of the American filmmakers who came to Europe in the early Fifties to circumvent the Hollywood blacklist.” It’s mostly a historical overview of the production, but hopefully it will help convince some enterprising DVD/Blu-ray distributor to take notice.

Tomorrow, Angelenos can see Endfield’s other film from 1950, The Underworld Story, as part of the annual Noir

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