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Subject: Re: My Top Ten Films of 2017
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On 1/2/2018 2:05 PM, Bill Anderson wrote:
> On 1/2/2018 11:08 AM, Mark Leeper wrote:
>>                       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.
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
> This year I am looking for A GHOST STORY to appear on the year-end best 
> 10 lists.  I think those not including it are flawed.

Came out in July.  Unpropitious...


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