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From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
Subject: My Top Ten Films of 2017
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Subject: My Top Ten Films of 2017
From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
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My Top Ten Films of 2017
               (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Once again it is time to pick out what I consider the best of the 
best films I saw this year and I have to bemoan the fact that I am 
just not in a position to see all the films that deserve 
recommendations.  I should not call these the top ten films of 
2017, but the top ten I have managed to see.  It also is not a good 
idea putting a bunch of these films together and rank ordering 
them.  Last year there were four or five good documentaries wholly 
or in part about police brutality, race relations, and riots.  This 
year there is at least that many.  It was a topic that was very 
much in the news in 2017.  If they were seen separately and months 
apart they would probably get high ratings.  But it is hard to see 
three in a week and not down-rate them for being so similar and not 
have that affect my opinion.

Films are rated on a -4 to +4 scale.

MOLLY'S GAME
This film is based on a true story.  Molly Bloom wanted to be an 
Olympic skier and came very close to making it.  Then in an instant 
she had an accident, was washed out, and had to give up her Olympic 
dreams.  By chance she ended up inheriting the job of organizing the 
most exclusive weekly poker game in the world.  This task brought 
her some small fame and some major fortune in (honest) tips.  
MOLLY'S GAME is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin who wrote THE 
SOCIAL NETWORK, STEVE JOBS, MONEYBALL, and A FEW GOOD MEN.  He also 
did much of the writing for "The West Wing".  I will be honest that 
sports films are not my thing, and poker films are not my thing 
either.  I started this film thinking it was not for me.  It took 
five minutes before I became fascinated by this film and by Molly.  
Jessica Chastain is captivating as Molly Bloom and Idris Elba is 
her lawyer.  When the two talk they are really convincing as being 
very, very smart.  Much of the film revolves around the fact that 
Molly has very high scruples.  The FBI did not believe that, but I 
do.  This film was a lot of enjoyment and it may well be the most 
fun I will have at the movies this year.  This is a major role for 
Chastain and I suspect that from now on she will be thought of as a 
glamorous actress.  Rating: +3

THE POST
Set in 1971, the owner of the Washington Post is faced with a 
Constitutional issue of whether to publish the contents of the 
Pentagon papers or to allow the government to gag her newspaper.  
Meanwhile as the first woman ever to own a newspaper she gets 
little respect from her own staff.  Steven Spielberg directs a good 
cast led by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.  Hanks's character, 
Streep's editor-in-chief, is pushing for the newspaper to exercise 
the First Amendment right of the newspaper.  But that way leads to 
a lot of trouble.  Rating: +3 

JANE
This biography of Jane Goodall shows us how by studying chimpanzees 
she has changed our definition of what is and is not human.  We 
see her in-depth (and continuing) study of chimpanzee behavior.  The 
film is a feast for the eye with its beautiful animal photography.  
Just how these images became part of the film is actually part of 
the story.  This is certainly one of the year's best documentaries.  
Rating: +3

FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER
This is an epic yet personal story, a memoir of one very young 
girl.  Loung Ung, survived in Cambodia when the violently militant 
Khmer Rouge controlled much of the populace.  The narrative is just 
as vicious and painful as the title suggests it to be.  Angelina 
Jolie directs from a script by she co-authored with the real Loung 
Ung.  Rating: +3

DUNKIRK
With an unusual stylistic approach, Christopher Nolan writes and 
directs his re-creation of one of the most heroic retreats in 
history.  400,000 British soldiers had been fighting in Europe and 
now were surrounded by Germans, stranded on the beaches of near the 
French town of Dunkirk where they were vulnerable to attack from 
the land, sea, and air.  At the same time as he is telling the 
story, Nolan does some strange experiments with cinematic time that 
the inattentive viewer (like me perhaps) might easily miss.  Rating: 
+3

HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY
This is the story of the lives of a Hollywood couple, Lillian and 
Harold Michelson, who were the barely-sung heroes of the Hollywood 
film industry for six decades.  Harold had an instinct for how films 
should look and created pitch-perfect storyboards, often 
transforming the director's whole vision of the film being shot.  
Lillian had a huge and astutely collected research library to find 
authentic visions from around the world, from all of history, and 
into the future.  The story of their private lives is a love story 
of a perfect marriage.  Their visual style and knowledge shaped the 
look and feel of surprisingly many classic films.  This film was 
written, produced, and directed by Daniel Raim.  Rating: low +3

BREATHE
This is based on a true story.  Stricken with polio and a prognosis 
of only three months to live, Robin Cavendish must first overcome 
his death wish.  He then attacks his problem that he must live in 
hospital with an immovable respirator.  With the help of friends he 
engineers a way to live at home and then to actually move around.  
His engineering solutions improved the lives of thousands of polio 
victims.  Andy Serkis's directorial debut is a moving paean to the 
human spirit and the possibilities of engineering.  Rating: high +2

BLADE RUNNER 2049
After thirty-five years the classic science fiction film BLADE 
RUNNER gets a sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on a 
screenplay by Hampton Fancher among others.  The story concerns a 
search for the author of the false memories implanted in replicants.  
The film is a long 163 minutes starting at a contemplative (not to 
say "snail's") pace, yet is a little overstuffed with action later 
in the second half.  It is richer in ideas than is the original 
film, though it lacks the iconic visuals that that first film did 
so well.  Rating: high +2

THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM
A police detective stalks a serial killer in Victorian London and 
tries to connect it to a recent killing.  The film feels as if it 
was dipped in "Victorian atmosphere concentrate." The movie takes 
itself very serious indeed, but the viewer can look between the 
lines to see it as something of a romp.  Peter Ackroyd's 1994 novel 
DAN LENO AND THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM is the basis of this dourly fun 
mystery with a popular London music hall as a background.  Juan 
Carlos Medina directs a screen adaptation by Jane Goldman.  The film 
features the never-fail actor Bill Nighy and Olivia Cooke.  The 
mystery is perhaps not enough mysterious, but the acting and the 
look and feel are worth the trip.  Incidentally, one disappointment 
is that the plot has virtually nothing to do with golems.  Rating: 
high +2

TICKLING GIANTS
Dr. Bassem Youssef was a heart surgeon in Cairo who was fascinated 
by "The Daily Show" and its host Jon Stewart.  He quit medicine and 
started his own satirical daily show, patterning himself after 
Stewart, but in a country where extremists can be deadly.  This 
documentary, heavily laced with humor and satire, tells the story 
of Youssef and his send-up show(s) under three dangerous and 
autocratic presidents of Egypt.  Rating: high +2


					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2018 Mark R. Leeper