Top Films

Top Films

Top 10 Films of 2017


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Two thousand and seventeen was quite a lackluster year for movies for me at least. I missed most of the ones said to be great ones, and ended up watching quite a disappointing collection of movies, thus the list doesn’t really look amazing at the end of the year.

Ridley Scott made it to my list twice, as it seems to be the trend every year, but this year it seems the only action films populating the top choices. The reason isn’t really because there wasn’t any, I just didn’t see them. I’ve been traveling the big part of the year in festivals and since August, I’ve been in China quite busy working on Iron Sky: The Ark, so I just didn’t have an access to the theatres that much.

But enough talking, here’s my top-10 movies of 2017!

AlienCovenantAlien: Covenant 

To be honest, the story of the film is a bit of a blur to me, but I can’t help but love Ridley Scott’s pull when he’s doing a film. Alien: Covenant is doing the wrong thing in theory, explaining in detail the origins of the Monster – the more mysterious it remains, the more interesting it is – but he does it through pulling in mythologies and bringing it all together in a big, epic scale that just works for me.

★★★★

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The Fate of the Furious

The biggest, dumbest action film of the year is definitely The Fate of the Furious, which floats freely away from the origins of the series, going closer to the action franchises like Mission: Impossible, but does it bravely enough that you never have time to stop to think too much about what’s really going on. It’s The Rock derailing missiles with his bare hands, Vin Diesel yapping about family values and a lot of car crashes. It makes no sense, but it’s a fun ride. There’s value in that, too.

★★★★

d90a1a3fe173e96e786dffda9cc50301-dbfa97aDunkirk

While a spectacular visually, Dunkirk really lacks interesting characters that would pop out amidst all the war stuff going on around them. Somehow Christopher Nolan has always had this problem for me: although the writing is good, the characters remain always distant and cold in his films, and especially in a war movie, you need the humanity to balance the rest.

★★★

War-for-the-Planet-of-the-Apes-2017-movie-posterWar of the Planet of the Apes

A promising start of the movie in its’ post-apocalyptic coldness starts to fade out as the film progresses and shows that it lacks an interesting script. The world is nicely fleshed out, and probably for the first time ever I can say that the visual effects have reached a state where I’m really fooled by them, but in the end the film is just two major set pieces – the beginning and the end, but the journey in between isn’t really an interesting one.

★★★

PCC_BabyDriver_REG_Stroke_1024x1024Baby Driver

Baby Driver is a film that sucks you right in and keeps a tight grip, until halfway through, when the movie just runs out of ideas, or the production out of budget or something. Then we keep on repeating the same locations and characters, and stumble into the fact that the backstory of the main character is not as interesting as the beginning would have promised.

★★★

 

RP15402-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-Dead-Men-Tell-No-Tales-CollagePirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

…Or Salazar Revenge, or whatever it is they wanted to localize the movie with, it’s an atttempt to kickstart a fading franchise, and does it perfectly acceptably. Whatever the story is about I have no clue, I mean yeah there’s a bad guy and Guybrush Threepwood or whatever Bloom’s character is called, and Johnny Depp on autopilot, but it’s not really the point. You get the big ships crashing into big ships and sinking, you get some mystery stuff going on and big visual effect set pieces and then it’s the end.

★★★

blade-runner-2049-posterBlade Runner 2049

Somehow, the first thing that came to my mind watching Blade Runner 2049 was that I was watching a lengthy episode of Netflix TV series based on Blade Runner. So strongly stylized, but suffering from some kind of a TV-series -style scale issue: massive matte painting exteriors, but when you cut inside, you’re in a relatively small sets, so the world feels very artificial. Nothing, actually, feels very alive in the movie, it’s like reading a concept art book – beautiful pictures but the story is nowhere to be found.

★★★

timthumbLogan

Superhero movies rarely make my list, but Logan was a rare one which didn’t make me want to leave the theatre during the first ten minutes. Well, technically I was watching the film in an airplane, so that would’ve been a tragic mistake anyways. Logan’s promise was that it’s a superhero movie for the grownups. Well, I’m not sure if that’s the case, I mean it still has all the problems a regular superhero film has

★★★

p12009522_p_v8_agDespicable Me 3

Despicable series has never really moved me, but I must admit they get to be clever sometimes in writing. It’s always good to present a hero to the kids that isn’t the most standard white handsome young under 30’s idol and the little yellow shits (whatever they are called) can be occasionally entertaining. Extra points for some great tracks in the film.

★★★

 

lego_batman_whv_keyartThe Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Movie was a promising start for the new franchise, and Batman was definitely the funniest character in it, so when the trailers started to pop up, I was really looking forward for something really great. The film itself, though, is a one-trick pony which stops being inventive in the first act and then keeps kicking the dead horse through the last two acts. Still, something new and fun to go watch with your kids.

★★★

Top Films

Top 10 Films of 2016


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movies

The year 2016 was a terrible year, one that won’t be easily forgotten. We lost so many important figures – from Lemmy to David Bowie, Prince to Leonard Cohen, Alan Rickman to Carrie Fisher and so many others. Not only that, but the people, events and movements that gained power and notoriety made it even worse: Trump, Brexit and multiple terrorist attacks across the globe. Personally, it was a devastation as well – my brother Ville sadly passed away suddenly in December.

All this put together, it’s not a surprise the year wasn’t great in film, either. I actually had trouble picking 10 films I thoroughly enjoyed, but here it is nevertheless. Note, I haven’t seen films like La La Land and Manchester By The Sea yet, so it might turn out a bit different in the end.

1: I, DANIEL BLAKE

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The story of two society’s outcasts teaming up together to fight the world has never been this bleak, sad or frustrating. Rarely do I stop to really think the challenges the modern world poses on those not signed up for the digital revolution, but Ken Loach rubs it in our faces so hard it’s hard to miss. Terrific performances from Dave Johns and Hayley Squires, both relatively unknown faces, brought the gritty world of UK bureaucratic wasteland alive.

2: CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

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Another us-versus-the-world film, but with much brighter and positive, Captain Fantastic brought Arago… I mean, Viggo Mortensen to herd a hippie family who just lost their mother. Basically, it’s a road trip movie to the funeral, to be arranged by a stiff upper-class family of the deceased. Lively, sparkling and fun, yet guaranteed to squeeze bucketful of tears, Captain Fantastic left me happily smiling.

3: TONI ERDMANN

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The world has truly gone mad: Trump is the president of USA, UK is no more in EU and the Germans make the best comedy of the year. Disconnect with his daughter leads Winfried to a desperate offensive into her personal life and to the invention of a fake persona with fake teeth, Toni Erdmann. The extremely long film, Toni Erdmann takes advantage of the time available and spends it with the main characters and the crazy events that take place in the world, and carefully convinces us that it’s OK to like, even to laugh at a German comedy.

4: SNOWDEN

A supplementary film to the 2014 Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour is a dramatised account on events that took place, peppered with fictitious characters and scenes, but Oliver Stone‘s tough directing and  Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s eerily Snowden-like performance make up for them. A solid techno thriller about one of the most important people alive today.

5: HACKSAW RIDGE

Looking for an absolution of the Hollywood, Mel Gibson makes an American war hero movie, but finds a twist never seen before: about a man who never shoots a bullet. Based on true story of Desmond Doss who wanted badly to become a medic but refused to carry a weapon is a cruel, rough WWII portrayal the next film, but with a bit bigger heart and message to carry around.

6: THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MÄKI

Olli Mäki is a legend I never heard of before the movie got made, but fell in love with quickly as portrayal of his personality, brought alive by Jarkko Lahti, made its’ way in the big screen. The under-stated boxing film is an exact antonym of American boxing films like Rocky, but the twist is brilliant: a boxer who falls in love. Shot in black and white, the film has been appraised for its’ humane qualities.

7: 13TH

Selma director Ava DuVernay continues her work on the black history, this time digging into the big, gaping hole in the US legal system that is the prison system, a legalised form of slavery. While made in a very American style with all the bells and whistles clanking and tooting to keep the the attention of the kids, the film reminds us that while US is so concentrated on fighting the racism by condemning the “N”-word, it’s actually not doing anything to the very problem itself.

8: GHOSTBUSTERS

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While Ghostbusters is definitely not worthy of its’ predecessor in 1984, it’s a really fun and quite original, but definitely not without flaws. It remains to be seen whether the film makes enough dough to deliver a sequel, it’s not really looking like that, but there is much gas in the ladies still left. What resonates the most in the film is that it’s being made with loads of love and fun, real trust in the end result. It’d be shame if they weren’t given another chance just because Internet trolls did what they do best, bash women, and marketing team failed to swing the hatred to their advantage.

9: STAR TREK BEYOND

Star Trek (2009) was a great start new start for the beloved Star Trek franchise, but stumbled with the second part Into Darkness. Picking up the pieces left by Abrams as he jumped the ship to the Star Wars world, director Justin Lin managed to pull off a completely decent Star Trek movie, not a masterpiece but not among the worst ones out there. The “every second Star Trek movie works” -rule still applies.

10: BODOM

Happy to be able to bring in a two mentions of a Finnish movie this year, Bodom managed to surpass all the expectations by being just a very well made teen slasher film with a script that actually worked. Fresh faces on the screen (Nelly Hirst-Gee is going to be a star!) and fresh energy behind the camera, Bodom was a good, original and damn beautiful horrorish, mildly slashery piece of entertainment.

 

 

 

Top Films

Best Films Of 2015


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…And what a year in film it has been! Global box office records have been shattered twice (Jurassic World, followed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens), triumphant return of the beloved franchises – this time done right (mainly, Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens) – and also, not so right (SpectreTerminator: Genisys) – also Tarantino returns with yet another western. Not that much anything new on the big screens, but much of the old stuff re-heated, sometimes with great success, sometimes, not so great.

Here are the best films of 2015. Disclaimer, I haven’t seen some of the important ones (The Revenant, The Hateful Eight) yet, because they hadn’t come out in Finland yet.

1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (George Miller)

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CHARLIZE THERON Character(s): Imperator Furiosa Film ‘MAD MAX: FURY ROAD’ (2015) Directed By GEORGE MILLER 13 May 2015 SAM51136 Allstar/WARNER BROS.

Staggering out of the theatre after the intense experience that was the new Mad Max, the film that had been in the making for over 20 years, having so many times almost getting made but then getting cancelled the last minute, I felt strangely numb and even a bit sad. Numb, because all my sensory inputs had been blasted with so much pure awesome for the last two hours, and sad because I knew I’ll never do a film better than Mad Max: Fury Road in my life. I came out having watched – no, witnessed – something that 20-30 years later would be an action classic, an experience I can brag to my son and his friends later on, just like our parents were able to brag about having watched Indiana Jones or Star Wars in theatres, or having seen Beatles live.

Mad Max: Fury Road was so extremely good because of these three factors:

  1. Sheer energy was tangible in the way I haven’t seen in action films in years. Computer generated visual effects, stunt choreography, action vehicles and all the special effects – cars wrecks, explosions and weapons – worked seamlessly together, fooling even the more experienced viewer that they were actually watching a film that was analog in the same way films were in the 80’s (which, of course wasn’t true, but just to be able to grasp the same effect, look and feel is a directorial triumph of its’ own).
  2. Simple plot is the very key to a successful action film. Mad Max‘s plot was: go there, kick ass and come back. Instead of focusing on pushing the viewer through the marshes of self-indulgent scribes trying to find their way around their life-long writer’s block, it focused on the drama and the characters which made the simple plot interesting and epic.
  3. Characters were treated in an interesting manner for an action film. Main guy Mad Max (Tom Hardy) was actually an observer, and it was Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who slammed the pedal to the metal and led the way. This slight shift in power made it feel fresh and modern.

2. LOVE (GASPAR NOÉ)

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Love isn’t the film which features all this real, direct penis-in-vagina -sex. It isn’t the movie which brought threesome in the big theatre screen near you. It’s the film which investigated the most interesting – and most familiar, and most believable – relationship issues and dialogues of the year. It was the best film about love this year.

Love introduced us a man who mixes love with dependancy in the wrong way, a man who believes his actions are above other people actions, a childish kid who experiences feelings related to love, but has no idea or concept of what love is supposed to be. There’s the woman who knows very well what love is, but burns her love with such a heated flame it leaves only ashes behind. They end up searching ways to explore their sexuality, bump into jealousness, ex-es and sheer stupidity around intoxicants and ruining what could’ve turned into something good.

Gaspar Noé manages to find real intimacy between the characters, and the cheesy relationship dialogue which sounds way too stupid to be written in a film is actually exactly the same pillow talk we all are so familiar with in real life.

3. SICARIO (DENIS VILLENEUVE)

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Honestly, I don’t understand why Sicario isn’t spoken more about. It’s a serious, shocking bad-ass thriller about the futile, already-lost war on drugs, topical and modern in storytelling. The grit and scale and the element of constant, harrowing danger all around makes it definitely one of the strongest experiences in cinema this year, one where you feel you as an audience member are being spoken to directly, looking right into your eyes, about something that’s going on right now. Jóhann Jóhansson‘s music paints even darker clouds in the distance.

4. AMY (ASIF KAPADIA)

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Director Asif Kapadia made one of the strongest documentaries of the recent years, Senna (2010), few years back, and now returns with a brilliant and uncomfortably closeup documentary about the drug- and alcohol addicted singer Amy Winehouse, and one of the biggest losses of music industry since the death of Kurt Cobain. The film starts off with seemingly random collection of bad-quality home video clips from Amy’s years, and the more prominent and popular she becomes, the more the produced interviews and TV-footage starts to wipe out the person she was and presents herself as the person the media wanted to see. In the end, we’re witnessing mostly flashing lights of the paparazzi and Amy running into black cars, herself being completely consumed by the ever-hungry shit media and her gift becoming secondary to her troubles. More than the story of Amy Winehouse, it’s actually the story of how the Yellow Press and media in general, friends, parents, managers, lovers and bodyguards abuse the center of all attention, all tearing her apart in their own way. Left is nothing but a shell, talented shell, but the person is gone before she’s pronounced officially dead. There’s no need for talking heads of the people around her – we only hear their voices – because these are the people who, in the end, pushed her to the edge and beyond.

5. GOODNIGHT MOMMY (ICH SEH, ICH SEH – SEVERIN FIALA & VERONICA FRANZ)

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Although the film is far less popular than the rest on this list, it’s just as effective and gripping. A Swiss filmmaker’s harrowing story about two (or, spoilers ahead, is it only one?) kids who decide their mother is actually not their mother, and start torturing her in her own home in the most gruesome manners. It follows the home invasion / torture horror schematics and definitely isn’t the first time it’s done, but Goodnight Mommy does it the right way. More than anything, it’s in the end a story of loneliness, growth of identity, blame and guilt, all woven into a simple story shot in a simple location, in a chilling manner. The film deserves all the love it’s getting from genre festivals around the world, and there was even a slight chance of it ending up competing for Oscars (it didn’t, in the end), but it’s bound to be re-made in America, probably turning it into a crappy DVD-horror fiction, unless they hire the directors and let them have their way with it.

6. BRIDGE OF SPIES (STEVEN SPIELBERG)

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I love Steve Spielberg, and if you’re like me, Bridge Of Spies is a perfectly rationed Spielbergian drama. Good script, stellar cast and beautiful cinematography are all the elements that a good film needs for a very enjoyable 2 hours in cinema. It gets a bit too overtly American, but then again, that’s also Spielbergian trait, so the film is best when taken in with a grain of salt.

7. THE MARTIAN (RIDLEY SCOTT)

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Agricultural science fiction is unfortunately an ailing treat in cinema nowadays, but bravely as ever, Ridley Scott takes a potato and makes a full-fletched billion-dollar scifi classic out of farming on Mars. Matt Damon is best when he’s left alone doing his Matt Damon -thing, without any actors buzzing around and bothering. Clearly based on a good source material – book by Andy Weir – it’s a very good, although not a genre-changing as Ridley’s earlier works sometimes have been, comedic-element-loaded scifi story.

8. THE LOOK OF SILENCE (JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER)

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The feelbad movie of 2015 comes – again – from Joshua Oppenheimer, whose The Look of Silence is just pure brilliant documentary filmmaking. Although based on some of the same elements as 2012 film Act of Killing, it’s a completely different, and way more personal account on the atrocities of Indonesia, following one man’s journey into confronting the murderers of his brothers, who nowadays live large and as respected members of the community. The lack of remorse in the film is only strengthened when a daughter of one of the murderers tries, feebly, to ask forgiveness for her sick father. The darkness in The Look Of Silence is so intense you’ll carry it with you a long time.

9. EX MACHINA (ALEX GARLAND)

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Born from the brain of brilliant novelist and ambitious scriptwriter Alex Garland, this year’s smaller scifi classic Ex Machina works its’ magic on robots and emotions. Not the first time this topic is on, nor will it be the last time, but the subtle approach entertains the brain and gives a nice breather among the explosions and starships of typical scifi visions.

10. INSIDE OUT (PETER DOCTER, RONNIE DEL CARMEN)

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Pixar’s films have been going downhill since Cars 2, but Inside Out brings a nice change to the sequel-stuffed roster. As a concept, it’s original and that’s quite a lot to say nowadays. The film itself suffers a little bit when trying to be the brainy, kid-friendly, adult-loving all-around family film, when it apparently wanted to be a film for a little bit more mature audience to begin with. Nevertheless, it’s very clever and intelligent and most of the time quite funny, and just like all the best Pixar films, also touching, although the main characters are not that well developed that they’d become instant legends the same way Toy Story’s or WALL-E‘s characters did.