2017 FILMS

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1. Hell or High Water (II) (2016)

R | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
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88 Metascore

A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas.

Director: David Mackenzie | Stars: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham

Votes: 139,165 | Gross: $26.86M

KNOWING IN ADVANCE THE STORYLINE FOR THIS FILM, I WAS PREJUDICED TO DISLIKE IT BUT AFTER WATCHING IT WAS BLOWN AWAY BY ITS FILM MAKING EXCELLENCE. OVERALL 9/10, NARRATIVE 8, DIRECTION 9, PERFS 9, CINEMATOGRAPHY 9.FILM WILL KEEP YOU ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT THROUGHOUT AND THE BROTHERLY LOVE WAS A HIGHLITE FOR ME. “Hell or High Water” is a thrillingly good movie — a crackerjack drama of crime, fear, and brotherly love set in a sun-roasted, deceptively sleepy West Texas that feels completely exotic for being so authentic. The film opens, as so many underworld sagas have, with a bank robbery: At a Texas Midlands branch in the middle of a flyspeck town, two guys in ski masks wave their guns around and grab the cash from behind the teller windows. One of them, it’s clear, is a wild boy who’s enjoying the robbery a little too much. As they race off in their getaway car, a sporty scuzz-mobile that seems to be advertising the fact that they’re crooks, we think we’re watching a pop genre movie about violent losers who are too reckless for their own good. But “Hell or High Water” settles into something quite different. Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are brothers, and in their minds they have damn good reason to be doing what they’re doing. They’re low-rent bandits, but they’re also richly drawn human characters, and every twist and turn of their dive beyond the law is rooted in the real world. “Hell or High Water” merges the excitement of a crime-spree noir with a haunting undertow of family history and destiny. Directed by David Mackenzie, from a script by Taylor Sheridan (who wrote “Sicario”), it’s a gripping independent production that, with its fusion of offbeat star power and audacious storytelling, has the potential to be a mainstream hit, and possibly an awards contender.

2. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

R | 137 min | Drama

7.9
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96 Metascore

A depressed uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy's father dies.

Director: Kenneth Lonergan | Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges

Votes: 168,890 | Gross: $47.70M

THIS MAY WIN THE TOP OSCAR THIS YEAR UNLESS THE INFERIOR LA LA LAND WINS. SHOULD WIN TO ME MOONLIGHT OR MANCHESTER, WILL PROBABLY WIN LA LA. KENNETH LONERGAN HAS AGAIN SHOWN US HIS MASTERY OF FILM CREATION AS DEMONSTRATED BY YOU CAN COUNT ON ME AND MARGARET. HIS SCREENWRITING SKILLS INCLUDE GANGS OF NEW YORK. THE NARRATIVE IN MANCHESTER IS BRILLIANT AS ARE THE PERFS, ESPECIALLY CASEY AFFLECT....MY PREDICTION FOR OSCAR. METACRITIC 96 HIGH The persistence of grief and the hope of redemption are themes as timeless as dramaturgy itself, but rarely do they summon forth the kind of extraordinary swirl of love, anger, tenderness and brittle humor that is Manchester by the Sea. Lonergan is the master of taking a scene that starts off as something familiar, then sending it spinning off in another direction, and then pulling back at just the right moment, as the viewer's imagination hurtles ahead to fill in the gaps.

3. Elle (I) (2016)

R | 130 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.2
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89 Metascore

A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling

Votes: 43,978

UPON EXITING THIS FILM, I FELT THAT THIS IS THE PERF OF THE YEAR AND STILL DO. TO ME ISABELLE IS ONE OF THE VERY ACTRESSES NOW WORKING. LET US HOPE THAT HER OSCAR WILL BE DELIVERED. THE INTENSITY OF HER ROLE WAS AMAZING. REVENGE MOVIES ALWAYS GRAB MY ATTENTION.THIS IS ANOTHER BRILLIANT FILM FROM THE DUTCH FILMAKER PAUL VERHOEVEN WHOSE FILMOGRAPHY IS BRILLIANT AND SHOULD BE EXPLORED. MY FAVORITES ARE SOLDIER OF ORANGE AND BLACK BOOK It takes all of zero seconds for the first rape to occur in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle. The film opens on a black screen and to the sounds of breaking glass and stifled struggle. When it then cuts to a cute kitty spectating the off-screen assault, we know we’re in Verhoeven territory. The ensuing countershot reveals Michèle (Isabelle Huppert), her blouse ripped open, pinned to the floor by a black-clad man with his face hidden inside a ski mask. Funny Games-like, this is our warning: run for the door now or keep watching and be implicated. Unlike Haneke, however, Verhoeven renders what follows irresistibly enjoyable, and the resulting implication is all the more severe. Elle would be unimaginable without Huppert, who delivers a performance of such virtuosity that she turns what is essentially a raving sociopath into one of the most alluring protagonists in recent memory. Beautiful, refined, fiercely intelligent, and twisted to the core, her character is a synecdochic encapsulation of the film itself. Following her attack, Michèle sweeps up the shards of glass from the floor, takes a bath, and, the next day, goes back to work as if nothing had happened. At dinner with her friends a few days later, she casually mentions the rape and is surprised at their concern: it’s not a big deal, she insists, so let’s move on.

4. Moonlight (I) (2016)

R | 111 min | Drama

7.5
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99 Metascore

A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

Director: Barry Jenkins | Stars: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson, Alex R. Hibbert

Votes: 170,794 | Gross: $27.85M

THIS IS A MAGNIFICENT FILM, TRULY A MASTERLY ACHIEVEMENT AND SHOULD NOT BE MISSED BY ANYONE WHO CONSIDERS THEMSELVES AS PATRONS OF THE ART OF CINEMA. TO ME ONE OF THE VERY BEST OF 2016. THE PERFS, STORY, CINEMATOGRAPHY, SETS WERE ALL 5 STAR. THE ENJOYMENT IS A BIT LESS AT 4 BECAUSE IT IS A TOUGH FILM TO WATCH AND REQUIRES A LOT OF CONCENTRATION. METASCORE WAS 99 FROM 48 CRITICS. VERY IMPRESSIVE. A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Moonlight transforms rage and frustration into unadulterated intimacy. In this mesmerizing portrait of a suffocating world, the only potential catharsis lies in acknowledging it as Chiron so deeply wishes he could. Despite the somber tone, Moonlight is a beacon of hope for the prospects of speaking up. Moonlight is a film that is both lyrical and deeply grounded in its character work, a balancing act that's breathtaking to behold. It is one of those rare pieces of filmmaking that stays completely focused on its characters while also feeling like it's dealing with universal themes about identity, sexuality, family, and, most of all, masculinity.

5. Nocturnal Animals (2016)

R | 116 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

7.5
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67 Metascore

A wealthy art gallery owner receives a draft of her ex-husband's new novel, and once she starts reading it she just cannot put it down.

Director: Tom Ford | Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Votes: 161,688 | Gross: $10.64M

CREATIVE ORIGINAL CINEMA ALMOST ALWAYS CAPTURES ME AND HOW CAN 1 MAN HAVE SO MUCH TALENT. HIS FILM CAREER MATCHES HIS CLOTHING. THIS IS NOT AN EASY FILM TO SIT THROUGH AS WAS HIS SILENT MAN WHICH YOU ALL SHOULD SEE. HE IS A TRUE TALENT. THIS ONE WILL KEEP YOU ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT AND IF YOU LIKE UNPREDICTABLE FILMS, THIS ONE WILL CERTAINLY BE FOR YOU. THE MALE LEADS JAKE GYLENHAAL, AND MICHAEL SHANNON PERFS ARE PHENOMENAL. A SHANNON FILM WILL USUALLY GET ME TO THE FILM.....BE PREPARED.....IT IS STRANGE. Confidently dovetailing three strands that depict present and past reality, as well as a dark fictional detour that functions as a blunt real-life rebuke, the film once again demonstrates that Ford is both an intoxicating sensualist and an accomplished storyteller, with as fine an eye for character detail as he has for color and composition. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this superb second feature from the fashion designer turned film director – a pitch-black thriller to make you queasy with tension and regret

6. Loving (2016)

PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

7.0
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79 Metascore

The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose arrest for interracial marriage in 1960s Virginia began a legal battle that would end with the Supreme Court's historic 1967 decision.

Director: Jeff Nichols | Stars: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Will Dalton, Dean Mumford

Votes: 22,460 | Gross: $7.70M

THIS FILM MADE ME FEEL ASHAMED OF OUT COUNTRY AND HOW OUR GOVERNMENT ALLOWED THESE TERRIBLE LAWS TO BE PASSED AND ENFORCED. WHY DID i NOT SCREAM LOUDER. WELL MADE AND ACTED. THIS IS A MUST FOR ALL CITIZENS OF THIS GREAT COUNTRY. Powerful, understated performances from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga carry director Jeff Nichols' oh-so-sensitive portrait of a mixed-race marriage forbidden in 1958 Virginia. “The Crime of Being Married.” So read the headline that accompanied photos of Richard Loving, a Southern “white trash” construction worker, and his African-American wife Mildred in the pages of Life magazine. One day — maybe today — audiences will sit down to watch Jeff Nichols’ nobly hatred-proof period romance, “Loving,” which goes nearly the entire first reel before explaining that mixed-race marriages were illegal in the then-segregated Virginia of 1958, and they’ll be surprised to learn what the crime in question was, having already observed and accepted the on-screen couple without the blinders of racial prejudice.

7. Jackie (V) (2016)

R | 100 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.7
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81 Metascore

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy.

Director: Pablo Larraín | Stars: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup

Votes: 53,806 | Gross: $13.96M

UPON LEARNING THE STORY LINE OF THIS FILM, I DID NOT WANT TO SEE IT, LET ALONE FIND IT SO EXTRAORDINARY. FROM BEGINNING TO END THIS FILM CAPTURED ME EVEN THOUGH 2-3 DAYS IN LENGTH. THE GENIUS IN CREATING THIS GEM IS PABLO LARRAIN FROM CHILE WHO ALSO GAVE US NERUDA THIS YEAR. ONE OF MY FAVORITE FILMS AT PSIFF. CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT TASKS OF A TALENTED DIRECTOR IS BRING OUT OSCAR WORTHY PERFORMANCES. WE ALL KNOW THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THAT TRAGIC DAY, YET HIS RECREATION WAS MASTERFUL. MY 10 IS PARTIALLY BASED ON THE VISUAL HISTORY, AND MANY TIMES TEARS WERE RUNNING DOWN MY FACE. Eschewing standard biopic form at every turn, this brilliantly constructed, diamond-hard character study observes the exhausted, conflicted Jackie as she attempts to disentangle her own perspective, her own legacy, and, perhaps hardest of all, her own grief from a tragedy shared by millions. Extraordinary in its piercing intimacy and lacerating in its sorrow, Jackie is a remarkably raw portrait of an iconic American first lady, reeling in the wake of tragedy while at the same time summoning the defiant fortitude needed to make her husband's death meaningful, and to ensure her own survival as something more than a fashionably dressed footnote. Jackie pummels you with grandeur, with its epic visions of the funeral and that terrible moment in the convertible (all of it rendered in pitch-perfect detail and a subtle 16-millimeter shudder). Yet the film's lasting impact is dazzlingly intellectual: Just as JFK himself turned politics into image-making, his wife continued his work when no one else could.

8. Lion (2016)

PG-13 | 118 min | Biography, Drama

8.1
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69 Metascore

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

Director: Garth Davis | Stars: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar

Votes: 142,438 | Gross: $51.69M

THE CINEMATOGRAPHY ALONE IS WORTH YOUR SEEING THIS TOUCHING SENSITIVE FILM. LOVE OF FAMILY STANDS TALL AND IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE TO BRING A BOX OF KLEENEX. NAR 5, DIR 5, PERF 5, CINETOG 5 PLUS, ENJOYMENT 5. It was the kind of astonishing story only true-life can deliver: Saroo Brierly, lost at the age of 5, found on the streets of Kolkata, adopted by an Australian family. Decades later, with only the vaguest memories of his village, he used Google Earth to find his way home. This is the kind of overwhelming story that cinema often doesn’t distil very well, but in the hands of Garth Davis (Top of the Lake) Lion becomes a dignified, authentic yet highly-moving crowd-pleaser. With knockout performances from Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and the young Sunny Pawar, Lion should straddle both commercial and awards play, welcome news for backer The Weinstein Company which is a past master in both arts.

9. Miss Sloane (2016)

R | 132 min | Drama, Thriller

7.4
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64 Metascore

In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price.

Director: John Madden | Stars: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg

Votes: 31,969 | Gross: $3.44M

THIS FILM TO ME BRINGS TO MIND THE BIG SHORT THAT SHOWED THE SCUMBAGS PAULSEN, BERNANKE, AND GHEITNER CAUSED THE 2008 CRASH FROM BUSH'S DEREGULALATION ROBBING PEOPLE OF THEIR LIFE SAVINGS, HOMES, JOBS AND RUINED MANY LIVES. YET THE INSTIGATORS CAME OUT WITH BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. THE TAXPAYER BAILED OUT THE CHEATERS AND WERE NEVER PROSECUTED. HERE MISS SLOAN POINTS OUT THE CORRUPTION AND UNFAIRNESS OF POLITICAL ACTION LOBBIESTS. WELL DONE AND RIGHT ON MARK. SEE THIS IF YOU DO NOT MIND GETTING ANGRY. JESSICA CHASTAIN, AS ALWAYS WAS OSCAR WORTHY. ANOTHER LOOK AT THE BIG SHORT WOULD BE A GOOD PRIMER. For all their prominence on the American political scene, big-shot lobbyists have assumed a pretty low profile in American films, which helps make the takes-no-prisoners Miss Sloane a welcome arrival. Comparisons to Network would not be inapt for this cutting and corrosive drama packed with high-stakes Washington, D.C., hustlers as cutthroat as anyone on Game of Thrones or House of Cards, all determined not only to beat but to annihilate their adversaries. If low-profile distributor EuropaCorp USA can muscle its way into the spotlight against bigger Hollywood guns — not an idle question — this tart, topical drama could attract a solid following among audiences looking for something bracing and distinctive. The last notable film that comes to mind that centered on a modern political lobbyist was Jason Reitman's amusing Thank You for Smoking (2005

10. 20th Century Women (2016)

R | 119 min | Comedy, Drama

7.4
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83 Metascore

The story of a teenage boy, his mother, and two other women who help raise him among the love and freedom of Southern California of 1979.

Director: Mike Mills | Stars: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup

Votes: 22,726 | Gross: $5.66M

GOOD PERFS OTHERWISE A DULL FILM, DIRECTOR KNOWN FOR STAGEPLAYS, AND HE SHOULD STICK TO IT AS THIS EFFORT WAS STAGEY, EPISODIC WITH NO CINEMATIC EXCELLENCE. OBVIOUSLY, I DID NOT ENJOY IT AND NOT RECOMMENDING IT. Fleeting — and extended — glimpses of period paraphernalia aren't enough for Mills, though. He interrupts the film to include collages of Iggy Pop and other punk avatars, scrapbooking that extends to many of the canonical tomes of second-wave feminism

11. A Bigger Splash (2015)

R | 125 min | Drama, Thriller

6.4
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74 Metascore

The vacation of a famous rock star and her boyfriend in Italy is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter.

Director: Luca Guadagnino | Stars: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson

Votes: 17,568 | Gross: $1.98M

THIS FILM IS AN ITALIAN AND FRENCH PRODUCTION IN ITALIAN AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE. THE PRESENCE OF TILDA SWINTON AND RALPH FIENES ALONE IS WORTH YOUR TIME, 2 OF THE VERY BEST AND YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED BY THEIR PERFS IN THIS ROMANTIC DRAMA. ALSO OPEN YOUR ARMS FROM A YOUNG TALENTED ITALIAN FILMAKER, LUCA GUADAGNINO WHO BROUGHT US I AM LOVE IN 2009, ALSO STARRING TILDA SWINTON WHO HAS AN AFFAIR WITH HER SON'S BEST FRIEND. As with I Am Love, Guadagnino has put together something utterly distinctive here, a cocktail of intense emotions, transcendent surroundings and unexpected detours. A real pleasure.

12. La La Land (I) (2016)

PG-13 | 128 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

8.1
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93 Metascore

While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.

Director: Damien Chazelle | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons

Votes: 328,106 | Gross: $151.10M

METACRITIC 93. HIGH, WHY.....CRAFTMANSHIP AT TIMES VERY GOOD, BUT NARRATIVE FULL OF FLAWS, SILLY, COMMERCIALLY CHEESY TO SELL TICKETS. WHY ALL THE FUSS? OUR CRITICS LIKE OUR POLITICIANS ARE DUMMING DOWN AND DISAPPOINTING. I GET THE IMPRESSION THAT THEY ARE NOT OBJECTIVE IN THEIR ASSESSMENT AND ARE INFLUENCED BY THEIR COLLEAGUES. ALL THE FUSS ABOUT THIS MEDIOCRE FILM IS BEYOND ME. i WANT A REINCARNATION OF ROGER EBERT. THE OPENING AUTO DANCE SCENE WAS TERRIBLE. BRING BACK, GENE, GINGER, FRED CYD, ETC. The camera is better choreographed than the humans. It pivots and swoops and shimmies between side mirrors, while the hoofers just tend to fling their arms the way comics do when imitating bad Broadway.

13. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

PG-13 | 93 min | Documentary

7.7
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95 Metascore

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

Director: Raoul Peck | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando

Votes: 9,271 | Gross: $7.12M

NEVER HAS A FILM HAD SUCH AN IMPACT ON ME. THE GUILT FELT BY ME WAS INTENSE AND MADE ME WONDER WHY I DID NOT DO MORE. I STOOD IDLY BY SOCIETY WAS SO UNKIND AND INTOLERANT OF THOSE WHO WERE IN SO MUCH PAIN. THIS IS A MUST SEE FOR ALL OF US AND SHOULD BE PAIRED WITH 13TH. Raoul Peck's transcendent documentary takes a kaleidoscopic journey through the life and mind of James Baldwin, whose voice speaks even more powerfully today than it did 50 years ago.

Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” is the rare movie that might be called a spiritual documentary. It’s a meditation on the prophetic brilliance and the very being of James Baldwin, the African-American writer who was more than a “great thinker” on race — he was the prose-poet of our injustice and inhumanity (and our humanity, too). He saw more than anyone, and he wrote it all down, in essays and novels and plays and poems that were so far ahead of where his society was at that it may only be now, 40 or 50 years later, when he can truly be heard. The times have caught up with his scalding eloquence.

14. The Comedian (2016)

R | 120 min | Comedy

5.7
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40 Metascore

A look at the life of an aging insult comic named Jack Burke.

Director: Taylor Hackford | Stars: Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Edie Falco

Votes: 4,226 | Gross: $1.66M

A TERRIBLE FILM IN EVERY SENSE. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME!

15. Under sandet (2015)

R | 100 min | Drama, History, War

7.8
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75 Metascore

In post-World War II Denmark, a group of young German POWs are forced to clear a beach of thousands of land mines under the watch of a Danish Sergeant who slowly learns to appreciate their plight.

Director: Martin Zandvliet | Stars: Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard

Votes: 19,152 | Gross: $0.44M

THIS WAS A WONDERFUL FILM, ONE OF THE VERY BEEST AT PSIFF 2017. EVERY ASPECT OF THIS PRODUCTION WAS OF THE VERY HIGHEST CALIBER. NOT TO BE MISSED. FROM DENMARK BASED ON A TRUE STORY WHERE GERMAN POW'S HAD TO DEFUSE LANDMINES FROM THE DENMARK BEACHES. BE FORWARNED THAT THIS FILM IS VERY INTENSE, AND SOME WALKED OUT AT PSIFF BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT HANDLE THE UNEXPECTED. “Land of Mine.” Martin Zandvliet’s third directorial feature is a tightly focused narrative that can hardly help but build considerable tension and poignancy, given that it centers on Axis boy soldiers forced to remove still-live land mines that their side left behind at war’s end. Chosen as the kickoff feature for the Toronto Film Festival’s new juried Platform section — which Piers Handling’s stage intro defined as dedicated to “bold, innovative, challenging films from mid-career and emerging filmmakers” — it should parlay good reviews into decentsales among discerning offshore distribs and outlets. When five years of German occupation come to an end in May 1945, Danish Army Sgt. Rassmussen (Roland Moller, “A Hijacking”) vents his pent-up rage on two unfortunates among the hoards of Nazi soldiers retreating homeward on foot. At least they’re headed away from him; not so lucky are the dozen assigned to his command for the next three months or so. Their job could hardly be more onerous, or perilous: neutralizing and removing some 45,000 landmines the Nazis planted on a local beach, among more than 1.5 million scattered along Denmark’s western coast in anticipation of Allied invasion. So dangerous is this task that one of the POWs doesn’t even survive their brief training before they begin in earnest. Other mishaps will inevitably further winnow the ranks, though the Germans cling to the promise that if they survive, they’ll be sent home. Rasmussen makes no secret of his loathing toward the enemy combatants and his indifference to their fate — including their immediate starvation, as occupiers at the bottom of the priority list for scarce supplies. No friendlier is the woman (Laura Bro) whose beachside farmstead they’re camped in, though her little girl (Zoe Zandvliet) is too young to understand why these strangers should be shunned

16. Kedi (2016)

Unrated | 79 min | Documentary

7.7
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78 Metascore

A profile of an ancient city and its unique people, seen through the eyes of the most mysterious and beloved animal humans have ever known, the Cat.

Director: Ceyda Torun | Stars: Bengu, Deniz, Duman, Gamsiz

Votes: 5,671 | Gross: $2.83M

EXTRA POINTS FOR THIS WONDERFUL MORROCAN DOCUMENTARY FILM ABOUT CATS IN ISTANBUL, NOT FOR THE CATS, BUT FOR THE WONDERFUL INSIGHT INTO ISTANBUL ITSELF. THE PEOPLE, ARCHITECTURE, STREETS, PEOPLE, MARKETS, YOUTH, SIGHTS AND SOUNDS. THE TRAVELOGUE ITSELF BROUGHT ME GREAT JOY, TO SAY NOTHING ABOUT THE CATS WHICH USED TO BE AN INCOMPLETE PORTION OF MY BRAIN. HAVING LIVED WITH CHYNA FOR 18 YEARS, I NOW FOUND THEM ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING, MUCH MORE INTERESTING THAN DOGS. THE FILMAKER HERE HAS ADDED TO MY FASCINATION. BETTER HURRY TO SEE THIS ONE AS IT WILL NOT LAST LONG. CURRENTLY AT THE LONG BEACH ART THEATRE ON 4TH. A magical and remarkable documentary about the free-roaming feline population of Istanbul. Early in “Kedi,” Ceyda Torun’s splendidly graceful and quietly magical documentary about the multifaceted feline population of Istanbul, a human inhabitant of the city notes: “Dogs think people are God, but cats don’t. Cats know that people act as middlemen to God’s will. They’re not ungrateful. They just know better.” All of which might explain why so many of the movie’s four-legged subjects come across not as feral orphans who rely on the kindness of strangers, but rather as slumming royals who occasionally deign to interact with two-legged acolytes.

17. T2 Trainspotting (2017)

R | 117 min | Drama

7.3
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67 Metascore

After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle

Votes: 70,539 | Gross: $2.40M

FUN FROM BEGINNING TO END, NOT TO BE MISSED

18. Norman (2016)

R | 118 min | Drama, Thriller

6.3
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75 Metascore

Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman's life dramatically changes for better and worse.

Director: Joseph Cedar | Stars: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi

Votes: 3,286 | Gross: $3.81M

A VERY CLEVER AND UNUSUAL FILM ABOUT A NORMAN PLAYED BY RICHARD GERE WHO HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER

Everybody knows a Norman, and Normans almost by definition claim to know everyone. They are what Malcolm Gladwell calls “connectors”: naturally wired to serve as hubs in a vast social network, taking personal pleasure in collecting acquaintances and introducing them to one another in order to get things done. In “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” writer-director Joseph Cedar has created such a vivid example of the archetype that its protagonist’s name can serve as shorthand for such personalities going forward — the way Marty means mama’s boy or Pollyanna suggests an incurable optimist — that is, if a movie so intricately situated within the world of New York Jewry can manage to reach an audience beyond the insular community it depicts. For this it will rely on Richard Gere, whose acting work keeps getting better late in his career, even if his drawing power is on the decline.

19. Churchill (2017)

PG | 105 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.6
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44 Metascore

96 hours before the World War II invasion of Normandy, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill struggles with his severe reservations with Operation Overlord and his increasingly marginalized role in the war effort.

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky | Stars: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Julian Wadham

Votes: 7,277 | Gross: $1.24M

IT IT WERE TRUE, THEN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING, BUT ITS FALSEHOODS MAKES IT A BAD FILM

20. The Lovers (I) (2017)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

6.1
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76 Metascore

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married, dispassionate couple who are both in the midst of serious affairs. But on the brink of calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.

Director: Azazel Jacobs | Stars: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Aidan Gillen, Melora Walters

Votes: 1,666 | Gross: $2.19M

DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME

21. Wonder Woman (2017)

PG-13 | 141 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
76 Metascore

When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Director: Patty Jenkins | Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis

Votes: 339,425 | Gross: $412.56M

A HORRIBLE SOPHMORIC MOVIE THAT SHOULD NOT BE SEEN BY ANY OF MY READERS.

22. Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

R | 82 min | Comedy, Drama

6.2
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68 Metascore

A holistic medicine practitioner attends a wealthy client's dinner party after her car breaks down.

Director: Miguel Arteta | Stars: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass

Votes: 4,582 | Gross: $7.12M

BADLY MADE FILM BUT THE DEPICTION OF A RUTHLESS DONALD TRUMP CHARACTER IS ITS ONLY REDEEMING FEATURE.

23. My Cousin Rachel (2017)

PG-13 | 106 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

6.0
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63 Metascore

A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin's mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.

Director: Roger Michell | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen

Votes: 9,108 | Gross: $2.68M

FASCINATING CLASSIC STORY TOLD WELL WITH PERIOD ENVIRONMENT.SETS, PERFS, TOG, ALL OF THE HIGHEST LEVEL It's easy to pre-condemn period pieces – like, say, this take on famed author Daphne du Maurier's 1951 throwback potboiler – as yet another droning Masterpiece Theatre snorefest. Except when they work, of course – and My Cousin Rachel works just fine, thank you. Credit Rachel Weisz, who's just the dynamite actress needed to play a character who could be a misunderstood innocent or a fortune-hunting seductress who could be a cold-blooded killer. How delicious to watch the star keep us guessing. Alt-Summer Movie Preview 2016: The Wild, WTF and Oh-So-True From docs on sex scandals and rock stars to a stop-motion samurai epic, your cure for the summer blockbuster blues Adapted by director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) from the novelist's Victorian-era bodice-ripper, My Cousin Rachel – set along the wave-crashing coast of Cornwall, England – brims over with mystery, suspense and ravishing romance. Yes, there are dull parts, but never when Weisz is onscreen. She plays Rachel, the femme fatale who dramatically changes the life of Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin), the 25-year-old ward of her late husband. The first screen version of the book was released in 1952 with Olivia de Havilland as Rachel and Richard Burton, then 27, in his Hollywood debut as Philip. Burton scored a major success and an Oscar nomination; the film itself didn't make much of dent.

24. Voyage à travers le cinéma français (2016)

201 min | Documentary

7.5
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87 Metascore

Bertrand Tavernier's personal journey through French cinema, from films he enjoyed as a boy to his own early career, told through portraits of key creative figures.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier | Stars: Bertrand Tavernier, Thierry Frémaux, André Marcon, Jacques Becker

Votes: 222 | Gross: $0.04M

AN ABSOLUTE MUST FOR ANY CINEMAPHILE IN ITS DIDACTIC EXPLORATION OF FRENCH CINEMA. IT WAS OVERWHELMING IN ITS CAREFUL AND THOROUGH KNOWLEDGE TRULY MAKING IT A 10 PLUS FOR STUDENTS OF CINEMA. SHOWN AT 1 L.A. THEATRE FOR 1 WEEK MAKES IT HARD TO SEE. s its title indicates, “My Journey Through French Cinema” is personal with a capital “P,” a passionate, opinionated, drop-dead fascinating documentary essay about that country’s film history put together by a clear-eyed enthusiast who was born to tell the tale.

Few people know as much about French film as 76-year-old Bertrand Tavernier, now a celebrated director but previously a critic, publicist, founder of a cinema club as well as a lifelong devotee of the art.

Focused, articulate, fairly bristling with information and insights, Tavernier not only has everyone's work at his fingertips but his fervor is also infectious, making you want to re-see those films you know and investigate those that are unfamiliar. Acknowledged classics like Jean Renoir's "Rules of the Game" and Jean-Pierre Melville's "Army of Shadows" come under Tavernier's gaze, but he is just as enthusiastic about obscure works like Gilles Grangier's "Gas-Oil" and Jean Delannoy's "Macao, l'enfer du jeu."

25. The Big Sick (2017)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.7
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86 Metascore

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations, and his true feelings.

Director: Michael Showalter | Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano

Votes: 51,285 | Gross: $42.87M

NOT ONLY A WELL MADE FILM. BUT ALSO ENJOYABLE SO RUSH OUT TO SEE THIS WONDERFUL MOVIE. WORD OF MOUTH WILL KEEP IT IN THEATRES FOR MONTHS Few relationships follow a linear path, but even so, The Big Sick chronicles a particularly unusual one. Based on the real-life courtship between screenwriters Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, it’s a love story with the minor detail of an ugly breakup and the major detail of a severe illness that left Gordon in a medically induced coma. But since real life is so often about more than just a couple debating whether they want to get together or not, it’s also a story of fledgling stand-up comedians, family ties, and the struggle to assert yourself against tradition when it just feels wrong. It’s also a relentlessly funny film, and one of the rare two-hour comedies that sustains its momentum from start to finish.

26. Dunkirk (2017)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Drama, History

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
94 Metascore

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy

Votes: 259,492 | Gross: $188.05M

THIS IS A POWERFUL EMOTIONAL FILM THAT SHALL BE REMEMBERED AS ONE OF THE GREATEST FILM CLASSICS EVER NEVER BEFORE HAS THE TRAGEDY, ANGUISH AND SUFFERING OF WAR BEEN SO WELL CAPTURED. MY RATING WAS A 10, METASCORE 94, ROTTEN TOMATO 94-96, VERY HIGH, AND IS A CLASSIC THAT WILL REACH THE LEVEL OF ALL TIME GREATS AND DISCUSSED FOR DECADES. WE ALREADY KNOW THE GENIUS OF CHRISTOPHER NOLAN AND MOVES HIM EVEN HIGHER IN THE OF ALL TIME FILM GREATS. MY FAVORITES OF HIS FILMOGRAPHY ARE MEMENTO AND INCEPTION. SHOULD YOU RUSH OUT TO SEE THIS FILM? ABSOLUTELY NOT! IT IS A VERY DISTURBING FILM THAT WILL WEAR YOU OUT. I WAS MESMERIZED, BUT WELCOMED THE LAST SCENE. I AM PREDICTING BEST PICTURE NOMINATION.....PERHAPS ALSO A WINNER. A master filmmaker with all the state-of-the-art resources due a man who produces sci-fi and comic book blockbusters turns his attention to history with breathless, stunning results in “Dunkirk.” Christopher Nolan transforms the legend of Britain’s “miracle” retreat from the Fall of France into a harrowing, immersive blast of Greatest British Generation fear and dread, a thrilling, pulse-pounding experience that is the best film of the summer and an early Best Picture favorite.

27. City of Ghosts (2017)

R | 92 min | Documentary, War

7.6
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86 Metascore

A documentary that follows the efforts of "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently," a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. ... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Heineman | Stars: Hamoud, Hussam, Mohamad, Hassan

Votes: 1,138 | Gross: $0.13M

CONFUSING AND DISJOINTED, BUT TREMENDOUS INSIGHT INTO A BAFFLING MYSTERIA ABOUT SYRIA. UNBELIEVABLE FOOTAGE ENHANCED MY KNOWLEDGE, BUT STILL UNSURE OF WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT. Matthew Heineman’s return to Sundance after his Oscar-nominated Cartel Land is a triumphant one. Where his previous film was a journalistic masterclass in taking access to the extreme, City of Ghosts instead turns the camera on heroic journalists themselves. In doing so, Heineman may have made the definitive contemporary documentary about the tragedy of Syria, as well as an epoch-defining piece on modern media tactics. The film tells the story of Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a group of citizen journalists who take great risks in documenting and releasing video, photo and written testimony of Islamic State atrocities in their home city. RBSS have been lauded by journalism organisations over the world, and the film opens on the bow-tied activists receiving a standing ovation in New York. However, Heineman resists romanticising RBSS – it’s clear from the first shot in the back of the head we witness, in surreptitious grainy video, that their cause is one of great personal sacrifice. While RBSS might be well known now, the impact on them as individuals isn’t. This is as much a documentary about activists struggling to hold themselves together as it is about Isis terror.

28. Churchill (2017)

PG | 105 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.6
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44 Metascore

96 hours before the World War II invasion of Normandy, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill struggles with his severe reservations with Operation Overlord and his increasingly marginalized role in the war effort.

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky | Stars: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Julian Wadham

Votes: 7,277 | Gross: $1.24M

IT IT WERE TRUE, THEN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING, BUT ITS FALSEHOODS MAKES IT A BAD FILM

29. Dunkirk (2017)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Drama, History

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
94 Metascore

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy

Votes: 259,492 | Gross: $188.05M

THIS IS A POWERFUL EMOTIONAL FILM THAT SHALL BE REMEMBERED AS ONE OF THE GREATEST FILM CLASSICS EVER NEVER BEFORE HAS THE TRAGEDY, ANGUISH AND SUFFERING OF WAR BEEN SO WELL CAPTURED. MY RATING WAS A 10, METASCORE 94, ROTTEN TOMATO 94-96, VERY HIGH, AND IS A CLASSIC THAT WILL REACH THE LEVEL OF ALL TIME GREATS AND DISCUSSED FOR DECADES. WE ALREADY KNOW THE GENIUS OF CHRISTOPHER NOLAN AND MOVES HIM EVEN HIGHER IN THE OF ALL TIME FILM GREATS. MY FAVORITES OF HIS FILMOGRAPHY ARE MEMENTO AND INCEPTION. SHOULD YOU RUSH OUT TO SEE THIS FILM? ABSOLUTELY NOT! IT IS A VERY DISTURBING FILM THAT WILL WEAR YOU OUT. I WAS MESMERIZED, BUT WELCOMED THE LAST SCENE. I AM PREDICTING BEST PICTURE NOMINATION.....PERHAPS ALSO A WINNER. A master filmmaker with all the state-of-the-art resources due a man who produces sci-fi and comic book blockbusters turns his attention to history with breathless, stunning results in “Dunkirk.” Christopher Nolan transforms the legend of Britain’s “miracle” retreat from the Fall of France into a harrowing, immersive blast of Greatest British Generation fear and dread, a thrilling, pulse-pounding experience that is the best film of the summer and an early Best Picture favorite.

30. Detroit (2017)

R | 143 min | Crime, Drama, History

7.5
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78 Metascore

Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow | Stars: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore

Votes: 14,572 | Gross: $16.79M

KATHRYN BIGELOW IS ONE OF THE VERY BEST WORKING TODAY. HER HURT LOCKER SHALL REMAIN A CLASSIC FOREVER. HER CLAIM TO FAME IS THE SCREEN INTENSITY THAT PERVADES ALMOST EVERY SCENE AS IS SO EVIDENT IN DETROIT. THE EXCELLENCE IN HER TECHNIQUE IS EVIDENT THROUGHOUT THIS AMAZING FILM, THUS MY 10/10 RATING. SHE DIRECTS HER NOT WELL KNOWN CAST PERFECTLY, AND SOME STARS WILL COME OUT OF THESE PERFS.

NOT ONLY IS THIS WELL MADE BUT HAS A VERY STRONG CONTEMPORARY MESSAGE INVOLVING POLICE BRUTALITY, BIGOTRY, POVERTY AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL INJUSTICE. THIS IS A MUST SEE FOR ALL MY CINEPHILES. IF MY RECOMMENDATION IS NOT ENOUGH, THEN CONSIDER METACRITIC AT 79 AND ROTTEN TOMATO AT 88, BOTH VERY HIGH.

Director Kathryn Bigelow, in her first film since 'Zero Dark Thirty,' dramatizes an incident of police terrorism at the heart of the 1967 Detroit riot, creating a drama as powerful as it is timely. At their best, liberal film dramas that tackle the monumental issue of race in America have offered humanity and insight. It’s safe to say, though, that when Hollywood gives us a portrait of racial tragedy and injustice, it’s probably a tale of hope and uplift as well, a parable of moral darkness leading nobly into the light. But when you watch “Detroit,” Kathryn Bigelow’s sweeping, scalding drama about the Detroit riots that took place 50 years ago, in July 1967, you’re entering a zone where the usual feel-good pieties don’t apply. For this is no comforting drama of social protest. It’s closer to a hair-trigger historical nightmare, one you can’t tear yourself away from. Bigelow, working from a script by her regular collaborator Mark Boal (it’s their first film since “Zero Dark Thirty”), has created a turbulent, live-wire panorama of race in America that feels like it’s all unfolding in the moment, and that’s its power. We’re not watching tidy, well-meaning lessons — we’re watching people driven, by an impossible situation, to act out who they really are.

31. California Typewriter (2016)

TV-PG | 103 min | Documentary

7.4
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80 Metascore

California Typewriter is a story about people whose lives are connected by typewriters. The film is a meditation on creativity and technology featuring Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard, David McCullough and others.

Director: Doug Nichol | Stars: Silvi Alcivar, Ken Alexander, Tom Hanks, Martin Howard

Votes: 153 | Gross: $0.21M

THIS DOCUMENTARY ABOUT TYPEWRITERS WAS METICULOUSLY EXQUISITELY EXECUTED. IT HELD MY ATTENTION FROM BEGINNING TO END. EVERY ASPECT OF THIS PRODUCTION WAS FIRST CLASS INCLUDING MUSIC, EDITING AND CINEMATOGRAPHY WAS FIRST CLASS. WILL MY READERS FIND ME INSANE FOR THIS RECOMMENDATION, YES THEY PROBABLY WILL. AT MY SCREENING THERE WERE A TOTAL OF 5 OBSERVERS INCLUDING NORM AND GAIL SLOMANN WHO SEEMED TO SHARE MY ENTHUSIASM FOR THIS DOCU. IT HAS MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS OF APPRECIATION INCLUDING MANY POIGNANT PHILOSOPHICAL POSITIONS. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS FILM. BETTER GET TO THIS LIMITED RELEASE WHICH WILL NOT LAST LONG. Nichol talks to self-avowed typewriter obsessives like Tom Hanks, who owns 250 vintage typewriters and writes on at least one of a them a day. “I hate getting e-mail thank yous,” says Hanks, because those e-mails take people “seven seconds” to write. “Now if they take 70 seconds to type me out something on a piece of paper and send it to me — well, I’ll keep that forever.” The actor’s wryly antiquated fixation on typewriters is infectious, even as you watch him tap-tap-tapping away and realize that Hanks — unlike, say, you or me — probably has someone on hand to deliver his hand-made thank-you notes. There will always be people who cling to outdated technologies, but the theme of “California Typewriter” isn’t archaic. The movie is a quaintly ingenious meditation on what the digital era is doing to us — how it has taken us a step away from reality, even as it’s made everything easier. The typewriter, in this movie, is at once a simple writing tool and a totem of the 20th-century mind.

32. American Made (2017)

R | 115 min | Action, Biography, Comedy

7.2
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65 Metascore

The story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair.

Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons

Votes: 48,797 | Gross: $51.33M

A COMEDY ABOUT A HORRIBLE STORY FRAMED IN THE REAGAN YEARS. THE AROGANCE OF REAGAN AND HIS GANG, ESPECIALLY OLLIE NORTH IS AN EMBARRASSING PERIOD OF OUR HISTORY. THE ACCURACY OF THE NARRATIVE IS QUESTIONABLE. UET I FOUND THE FILM ENTERTAINING AND DISTURBING IN A WEIRD WAY. HISTORIANS AND POLITICIANS AMONG MY READERS PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO MY CONFUSED THOUGHTS ABOUT THE IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR. Iran–Contra scandal, was a political scandal in the United States that occurred during the second term of the Reagan Administration. Senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, which was the subject of an arms embargo.[3] They hoped, thereby, to fund the Contras in Nicaragua while at the same time negotiating the release of several U.S. hostages. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress. The scandal began as an operation to free seven American hostages being held in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a paramilitary group with Iranian ties connected to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. It was planned that Israel would ship weapons to Iran, and then the United States would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of the hostages. modifications to the plan were devised by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council in late 1985, in which a portion of the proceeds from the weapon sales was diverted to fund anti-Sandinista, or Contras, in Nicaragua. There’s a lot going on in “American Made,” a hectic, hyperactive true-life tall tale that jumbles Colombian drug-smuggling, CIA arms-trading, Midwestern fortune-making and a whole lot of very fancy flying. Yet the most salient image in the whole coked-up kaleidoscope is a simple one: Tom Cruise’s sunglasses. There may be significant stretches in Doug Liman’s film where the star, as TWA pilot turned all-sides-of-the-law hustler Barry Seal, isn’t wearing wire-rimmed aviator shades, yet somehow it feels as if they’re always there. An accessory that Cruise made wholly his own in “Top Gun,” they connote as much rakish bravado and slightly impenetrable machismo now as they did then — 1986, coincidentally the year that the action in “American Made,” which spans eight fast years of Carter-to-Reagan-era governmental skulduggery, comes to a startling head.

33. Wind River (2017)

R | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

7.8
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73 Metascore

A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.

Director: Taylor Sheridan | Stars: Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Teo Briones

Votes: 71,413 | Gross: $33.80M

TAYLOR SHERIDAN A SCREENWRITER FOR HELL AND HIGH WATER, AND SICARIO EXCELLENT SCREENPLAYS MAKES HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT WITH WIND RIVER AND THUS ANNOUNCES ANOTHER VERY TALENTED FILMMAKER. THE PRODUCTION VALUES IN EVERY CATEGORY WERE EXCEPTIONAL AND METICULOUSLY CREATED. I WAS CONTINUALLY AMAZED AT HIS FILMIC CREATIVITY. NARRATIVE 5, SHOOT 5, MUSIC 5, PERFS 4 AND MESSAGE 5 PLUS. NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN ARE TREATED UNFAIRLY. THIS FILM TO ME WAS AN UNEXPECTED FABULOUS DISCOVERY A NEW TALENT. Not every great screenwriter has what it takes to step behind the camera and direct a movie (most of them, in fact, probably don’t have it). Yet every once in a while, a gifted screenwriter comes along who seems destined to take that leap. There was a lot of anticipation at Sundance before the premiere showing of “Wind River,” the first movie directed by Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the brilliant screenplays for “Hell or High Water” (2016) and “Sicario” (2015). I suspect that’s because Sheridan thinks like a director even in his scripts, which don’t just have crackling dialogue — they have pace, structure, dimension. (That, of course, is what all screenplays are supposed to have, but how many of them do?) Sheridan also possesses a fully scaled vision of our society, and of what’s gone wrong in it. He’s drawn to men of violence on both sides of the law, and to the intricacies of crime, but what he’s really drawn to is depicting those things as an expression of our inner hunger. He’s a bristling entertainer with the soul of a noir poet. “Wind River,” a murder mystery set on a Native American reservation that’s nestled in the wintry desolation of Wyoming, continues those obsessions. If you think that in the last few decades, the humanity has been leaking out of Hollywood filmmaking — some would say that it’s been hemorrhaging; others would say “Who cares?” — then it’s possible that no genre incarnates that decline quite like the thriller. Just say the word — thriller — and you think: Action! Guns, fights, heists, car chases. But in “Sicario” and, especially, “Hell or High Water,” Sheridan caught something debased and valiant, desperate and mournfully compelling in the sight of recognizable people caught up in the larger-than-life world of crime. In “Wind River,” he pushes that further, so that the scraggly human side of the drama is now far more potent and tangible than the underworld drive.

34. Stronger (I) (2017)

R | 119 min | Biography, Drama

7.2
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76 Metascore

Stronger is the inspiring real life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope after surviving the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Director: David Gordon Green | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Richard Lane Jr.

Votes: 5,974 | Gross: $4.21M

IF A FILM CAN BRING ME TO SOBBING SEVERAL TIMES, IT DESERVES MY HIGH RATING AND RECOMMENDATION. THE FILM CONSTRUCTION WAS DONE WELL, BUT IT WILL NOT KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF, BETTER THAN AVERAGE WORKS, BUT THE DEEP EMOTIONAL CONTENT OF EMOTIONAL RECOVERY IS THE HEART OF THIS FILM. THEY DID LEAVE OUT THE NASTY DETAILS OF THE BOSTON MARATHON EXPLOSION AND THE PERPETRATORS. THE PERF BY JAKE GYLLENHAAL IS DESERVANT OF OSCAR CONSIDERATION AND THE SCRIPT CO WRITTEN BY THE ACTUAL VICTIM JEFF BAUMAN. THE DIRECTOR DAVID GORDON GREEN ARRIVED ON THE SCENE WITH HIS DEBUT GEORGE WASHINGTON WHICH WAS AMAZING. HIS SUBSEQUENT WORK IS NOT KNOWN TO ME. Writer (based on the book "Stronger" Green’s “Stronger,” in which Jeff Bauman, who lost both of his legs just above the knee in the Boston Marathon bombing, is trying to stand on new prosthetics for the first time. His face is pained and he mutters something about pins and needles, but everyone around him is just cheering, his mother shouting “You look awesome!” He doesn’t feel awesome. “Stronger” transcends your standard inspirational drama mostly through two fantastic performances, but also in the way it understands that trauma isn’t inspirational to the people who suffer it. During much of “Stronger,” Jeff will be told he’s a hero and reminded to stay “Boston Strong,” but will question again and again just what that means. And then Green’s film subverts its own message about the commodification of tragedy to become something even more remarkable—a statement on the value of images of survival. Some of it is too broad, and I wish the film dug a little deeper at times, but this is one of those rare inspirational films that earns its inspiration.

35. Spielberg (2017 TV Movie)

TV-MA | 147 min | Documentary, Biography

7.7
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A documentary on the life and career of one of the most influential film directors of all time, Steven Spielberg.

Director: Susan Lacy | Stars: Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Richard Dreyfuss, Bill Butler

Votes: 2,347

THIS IS A MUST SEE FOR ANYONE CONSIDERING THAT THEY ARE SERIOUS CINEPHILES. STUDENTS OF FILM WILL RELISH THE HISTORY OF SPIELBERG TAKING US BEHIND THE SCENES OF ALMOST ALL OF HIS FILMS AND WHAT HE WAS THINKING IN THEIR CREATION. WATCHING THE FILM CLIPS ALONE WILL MAKE IT ALL WORTHWHILE ITS DURATION NOT KNOWN TO ME AS IT FLEW BY AND I TRULY HATED TO SEE IT END. CONGRATULATIONS STEVEN, YOUR FILMOGRAPHY LEGACY WILL LAST FOR GENERATIONS.....TRULY YOU HAVE ADDED TO MY JOY OF BEING A FILM ADDICT AND HOPE THAT THERE IS MORE TO COME. PLEASE, MY READERS GET BACK TO ME AFTER YOU SEE IT EASILY AVAILABLE ON HBO. Is there a filmmaker whose work speaks for itself more completely than Steven Spielberg’s? Arguably the most popular director of the last half-century, his output doesn’t exactly scream out for reappraisal (because, well, we’ve all appraised it pretty highly already). So if the purpose of “Spielberg,” premiering Saturday on HBO, isn’t to shine new light on an under-lit career, what is it? For well over two hours (it’s almost as long as “Blade Runner 2049”), Susan Lacy and her team tackle one of the most beloved and successful careers in the history of film, hitting most of the expected way stations along the trail. It’s undeniable that Steven Spielberg changed film history, and I’m actually of the minority belief that some of his 21st century output stands among the best of his career ("A.I. Artificial Intelligence," "Minority Report," "Munich," "Lincoln," "Bridge of Spies"). I’m of the age that it would be difficult not to be a huge fan of his seminal work, and consider “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” desert-island films. However, “Spielberg” crosses the line into hagiography regularly and with reckless abandon. Given how much I adore his films and respect him as an artist, if this felt like fan service to me, those of you with less tolerance for his work should probably skip it. For the majority of its running time, “Spielberg” moves chronologically. In fact, it’s at its most interesting when it chooses not to apply that rigid structure, occasionally spinning off into tangents such as how Spielberg works with fear, his focus on father-son relationships, and his interesting recent role as one of cinema’s most interesting historians. Spielberg’s films are so well-known that stories about their power or value feel repetitive. “Jaws” is terrifying, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is ambitious, “Schindler’s List” is personal and powerful—we know all that. But when Lacy starts to tie thematic ribbons around multiple films in Spielberg’s career, her work has more power, especially when the filmmaker himself is open and willing to speak out how his relationship with his father influenced that thematic undercurrent in his work.

36. Loving Vincent (2017)

PG-13 | 94 min | Animation, Biography, Crime

7.9
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62 Metascore

In a story depicted in oil painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist's final letter and ends up investigating his final days there.

Directors: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman | Stars: Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk, Helen McCrory

Votes: 7,658 | Gross: $5.78M

UNUSUAL COPRODUCTION OF POLAND AND USA TOLD IN VAN GOGH PAINTINGS. IF YOU LIKE MY SHARON LOVE HIM LIKE SHE DOES, THAN THIS IS YOU FILM. FOR ME IT WAS MOSTLY BORING.

37. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

R | 108 min | Biography, Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
68 Metascore

The story of psychologist William Moulton Marston, and his polyamorous relationship with his wife and his mistress who would inspire his creation of the superheroine, Wonder Woman.

Director: Angela Robinson | Stars: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote, Connie Britton

Votes: 1,965 | Gross: $1.58M

A FASCINATING DEPICTION OF A HARVARD PROFESSOR PSYCHOLOGIST WHO SPELLS RELIEF FOR THE AMERICAN WOMAN SHOWING HER STRENGTH AND ALLURE. THE PROFESSOR AND HIS WIFE FALL IN LOVE WITH A STUDENT AND ULTIMATELY LIVE TOGETHER FOR DECADES RAISING 3 CHILDREN. A TRUE STORY ADDRESSING MANY ISSUES. Coming out just in time to ride the wave of rekindled interest in the DC comics character, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women is the true, stranger-than-fiction story of how the world-famous superheroine came into being. She sprang from the mind of Dr. William Moulton Marston, a visionary professor of psychology, who wanted to teach little boys to respect powerful women. But writer-director Angela Robinson's biopic goes far beyond that to examine the unconventional relationship of Marston, his wife and his mistress, who lived together. Its non-stop feminist message can get a little heavy-handed at times, but the story pushes all the right buttons for women viewers and hopefully for a good number of little boys, too.

38. Marshall (2017)

PG-13 | 118 min | Biography, Drama

7.1
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66 Metascore

About a young Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases.

Director: Reginald Hudlin | Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Sterling K. Brown

Votes: 1,496 | Gross: $9.37M

A GOOD MORALITY TALE FOR OUR CHILDREN SHOWING THE HORRIFIC BIGOTRY THAT HAS PLAGUED OUR NATION WHICH AGAIN SHOWS WHY IT IS OKAY FOR THE NFL PLAYERS TO PROTEST THE UNREASONABLE UNFAIRNESS THAT HAS PLAGUED THE COLORED FOR SO LONG, TAKING A KNEE IS NOT ABOUT DISRESPECT FOR OUR MILITARY OR OUR FLAG, BUT SIMPLY AS A PROTEST. MARSHALL DOES REFLECT THE BIGOTRY. BIT ITS STORYLINE IS THIN AND STRETCHED. THE COSTUMES, SETS, AND PERFS ARE WELL DONE. One of the movie’s most intriguing qualities is the way that it shows how power and respect vary depending on what room you’re in, and who’s in it with you. Marshall moseys into Bridgeport as if he’s wearing an invisible cape, but in court, in the city jail, at home with his wife Buster (Keesha Sharp), and in Harlem nightspots with cultural giants, he is diminished, by his own choice or against his will; we perceive him differently, and he perceives himself differently. When Marshall is face-to-face with brawny white men who hate him on sight, the movie sharply reminds us that there are situations where college degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on. A less frightening but equally dispiriting scene finds Marshall speaking to a black lawyer in Bridgeport who passed the bar but was denied a license to practice law because of his race. Friedman, too, seems like a different person depending on what room he’s in. Marshall’s swagger and awesome legal track record intimidate him, but his own younger brother and law partner idolizes and defers to him, and it’s obvious that in Bridgeport’s Jewish community he’s a man of influence, respected in large part because he has the nerve to accept challenges that others run from. There’s a marvelous moment in a synagogue men’s room where a member of the congregation seems as if he’s about to insult Friedman for representing an accused “schwarze” rapist, then slips some cash into Friedman's jacket pocket. Both Boseman and Gad do a superb job of ratcheting their characters’ physical confidence up and down by degrees, depending on the circumstances. This gives the movie a richer sense of time and place than you might have expected. It also draws parallels between the experience of Jews and blacks in 1940s America that come to fruition in the movie's final summation.

39. Suburbicon (2017)

R | 105 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

5.3
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42 Metascore

A home invasion rattles a quiet family town.

Director: George Clooney | Stars: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Noah Jupe

Votes: 5,901 | Gross: $5.78M

THE FIRST SURPRISE IS HOW IN MY RIGHT MIND RATE THIS A 7/10 FILM. THERE ARE REASONS. FIRST ITS ATTACK ON BIGOTRY BY MY CONTEMPORARIES IS SOMETHING VERY DISTURBING TO ME. ALIVE IN THE 50'S AND WITNESSING OUT AND OUT BIGOTRY, FROM MANY IN MY COMMUNITY AND NOT EXCLUSIVE TO THE SOUTHERN TRANSPLANTS. THUS IT WINS EXTRA POINTS FROM ME FOR ADDRESSING THIS. ANOTHER SOURCE OF EXTRA CREDIT IS FOR THE VERY TALENTED CREATIVE TEAM BEHIND THIS EFFORT. THE COEN BROTHERS ARE A SOURCE OF THE BEST IN EXCELLENCE. GEORGE CLOONEY IS ALSO A GREAT SOURCE OF RESPECT FROM ME. THE NARRATIVE AND THE SHOOT IS SO VERY COENESQUE.....THINK BLOOD SIMPLE. IF PREDICTABILITY BOTHERS YOU, THEN THIS UNPREDICTABLE SCRIPT WILL BE A PLUS FOR YOU. The names Joel and Ethan Coen pop up on a lot of screenplays these days (“Bridge of Spies,” “Unbroken”), now that they’re getting credit for the kind of script-polishing they used to do anonymously. But “Suburbicon” marks the first time a script that could have been a full-blown Coen brothers film has been brought to the screen by someone else. The movie, directed by George Clooney, who along with his partner Grant Heslov re-wrote an old unproduced Coen brothers script (all four are now credited), stars Matt Damon as a dour, weaselly, amateur family-man criminal in the U.S. suburbs of 1959, and it’s clearly a close cousin to “Fargo.” Yet Clooney, in taking over what might once have been a signature Coen project, was right to make the material his own; he tailors it to his own less cheeky, more personal temperament. The film opens with a satirical kitsch documentary prologue that introduces Suburbicon, a community that has drawn people from different regions of the country (all of whom look like they stepped out of the same white-bread Norman Rockwell painting), celebrating it as a cookie-cutter American paradise. But then the movie settles down and becomes a straight-up, rather grubby film noir — and taken on those terms, as a period-piece “Fargo” with more sleaze and less irony, it’s a lightly sneaky and entertaining movie.

40. Only the Brave (2017)

PG-13 | 134 min | Biography, Drama

8.0
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72 Metascore

Based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who risk everything to protect a town from a historic wildfire.

Director: Joseph Kosinski | Stars: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly

Votes: 5,582 | Gross: $18.02M

WHY ONLY A 6/10 FOR ME. LEAN SCRIPT, TOO SOAPOPERISH, FAMILY AND ROMANTIC INTERESTS WEAK. A SO SO BUDDY FILM. STRONG POINTS WERE THE REMEMBERANCE OF THE GRANITE MOUNTAIN FIRE CREW TRAGEDY AND INSIGHT INTO THE WORK OF THE FOREST FIRE FIGHTERS, AS GRIM AND GRIMY AS IT IS. SOME OF THE FOREST FIRE CINEMATOGRAPHY WAS REALLY GOOD. MOST OF THE PERFS WERE GOOD AND ENJOYED BRIDGES SINGING AT THE PARTY. “Only the Brave” is the true story of one such handcrew, the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and their journey from a local Arizona firefighting team to the front lines of the Yarnell Hill Fire, one of the country’s deadliest wildfires. Picture “Backdraft” set against a backdrop of unspoiled American wilderness: It’s a gripping and powerfully emotional portrait of yee-haw heroism, pitting a squad of cocky, calendar-purty white dudes against an adversary with no creed or color, just an unquenchable appetite for destruction.

41. This Must Be the Place (2011)

R | 118 min | Comedy, Drama

6.7
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61 Metascore

Cheyenne, a retired rock star living off his royalties in Dublin, returns to New York City to find the man responsible for a humiliation suffered by his recently deceased father during W.W.II.

Director: Paolo Sorrentino | Stars: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Eve Hewson

Votes: 28,400 | Gross: $0.14M

AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX THIS 2011 FILM DONE BY THE EXTREMELY TALENTED ITALIAN DIRECTOR PAOLO SORRENTO IN HIS FIRST ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM. TO ME BECAUSE OF HIS UNUSUAL AND CREATIVE STYLE, HE IS MY FAVORITE. HIS EARLIER FILMS GREAT BEAUTY AND YOUTH WERE 10'S FOR ME. HIS NARRATIVE, PERFS, CINEMATOGRAPHY, MAKEUP, MUSIC, ETC ARE VERY STYLISTIC AND APPRECIATED BY THOSE WHO ARE STUDENTS OF FILM. THE STARS ARE AMONG THE BEST WORKING TODAY, SEAN PENN, FRANCES MCDORMAND, HARRY DEAN STANTON(NOW DEAD), AND JUDD HIRSCH AND OTHER SURPRISES. MAGNIFICENT SCENIC CINEMATOGRAPHY ALONE WORTH YOUR TIME. CONVOLUTED REVENGE STORY ABOUT FATHER NOT SEEN FOR 30 YEARS AND HIS HOLOCAUST EXPERIENCE ABOUT THE PERSECUTERS. TOLD IN BROKEN ENGLISH, IRISH, HEBREW AND OTHER LANGUAGES. IN THE FILM THE QUESTION IS ASKED, WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE THE JEWS AND A LAME ANSWER IS SUBMITTED. IS IT REDEMPTION HE SEEKS OR REVENGE? Paolo Sorrentino's first English-lingo production is a road trip of stunning scope yet deep intimacy, featuring an aged rock star-turned-Nazi hunter played by Sean Penn at his transformative best. Paolo Sorrentino’s coolness credentials are well established, but he’s earned the right to be considered “cool” in an entirely different way with “This Must Be the Place,” a film that brims with warmth, humanity and respect in ways one doesn’t often find in the work of coolmeisters like David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino. Quirky, hilarious and moving, Sorrentino’s first English-lingo production is a road trip of stunning scope yet deep intimacy, featuring an aged rock star-turned-Nazi hunter played by Sean Penn at his transformative best. The pic may baffle but is certain to generate massive highbrow press and long-term cult status. Though not a dime of Stateside coin is involved, this is very much a patchwork quilt of Americana reflecting the helmer’s engagement, in ways both positive and negative, with the country and its mythology. It’s also that rare film directed by a non-American that gets not just the locales but also the cadence of the language absolutely right, with a script full of great lines and images of lingering beauty. Reducing the film to a plot description risks trivializing Sorrentino’s intentions, yet the seeming absurdity of the premise highlights the helmer’s ability (seen in his earlier pics) to reach deeply intelligent conclusions from what seem like bizarre setups.

42. Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017)

94 min | Documentary

7.4
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72 Metascore

Literary icon Joan Didion reflects on her remarkable career and personal struggles in this intimate documentary directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.

Director: Griffin Dunne | Stars: Hilton Als, Tom Brokaw, Dick Cheney, Jim Didion

Votes: 526

THIS IS A FASCINATING DOCUMENTARY DONE BY HER NEPHEW GRIFFING DONE THAT REFLECTS HER WRITING, FAMILY CONNECTIONS AND LIFE TO SAY NOTHING OF REFLECTIONS ON LOS ANGELES ELITE AND NYC. JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold Movie Review Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold Movie Poster JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD (2017) Director Griffin Dunne Documentary A fond and appreciative portrait of one of American journalism’s superstars, “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” may not contain any revelations that will surprise those who’ve followed Didion’s eloquent, often autobiographical writing over the years. But the fact that it was made by her nephew, actor/filmmaker Griffin Dunne, gives it a warmth and intimacy that might not have graced a more standard documentary. The interview with the writer that wends through the film is actually more of a conversation between aunt and nephew, with the two recalling family events and Didion frequently waving her arms windmill-like for emphasis. While she has always appeared slight, age (she’s 82) and the punishments of fate have added to her frailty, yet she seems engaged and happy to help her kinsman tell her story. California and tragedy both loom large in her writing, so it’s appropriate that she begins by recalling that her ancestors came West with the Donner Party, but stuck to the planned route rather than veer off on the supposed short-cut that doomed their fellow immigrants. Born in Sacramento, Didion was interested in stories and writing even as a child, and her encouraging mother later pointed her toward a contest that won her a job with Vogue in New York after her college graduation. Landing in New York at age 20 in the mid-'50s, she was appropriately enchanted. Yet the real romance she found there wasn’t with the city but with a temperamental Irish-Catholic writer named John Gregory Dunne. The two became not only spouses but sometimes-collaborators and each other’s best critic and editor. Their life partnership seems like a true marriage of souls. After Joan had been in New York eight years, the couple decided it was time to leave and moved to an idyllic beach house north of Los Angeles. Since it was the mid-'60s, they also landed in a place of roiling cultural ferment that Didion became famous for chronicling. She profiled the Doors, partied with Janis Joplin, had acting hopeful Harrison Ford as a carpenter, and hung out with the likes of Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

43. The Square (2017)

R | 142 min | Comedy, Drama

7.7
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72 Metascore

The Square is a poignant satirical drama reflecting our times - about the sense of community, moral courage and the affluent person's need for egocentricity in an increasingly uncertain world.

Director: Ruben Östlund | Stars: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary

Votes: 9,618 | Gross: $1.05M

PALME D'OR WINNER IS A MULTILEVEL FILM COVERING SO MANY CONTEMPORARY ISSUES, IT IS THE PERFECT FILM FOR CLUB DISCUSSION. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND SEEING THE FILM WITH A PAD AND PENCIL AND THEN READY YOURSELF FOR A WILD RIDE COVERING ART MUSEUMS, POLITICS, HYSTERIA, HUMOUR, CULTURE, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, FAMILIAL DYSFUNCTION, CULTURE....AND MANY MORE. THE STAR, CLAES BANG NOT KNOWN TO USA AUDIENCES I PREDICT WILL QUICKLY BECOME A HEART THROB AND SEEN IN MANY AMERICAN FILMS. RUBEN OSTLAND ACHIEVED INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS WITH FORCE MAJEURE ABOUT A FATHER WHO IN A STRESSFUL SITUATION ABANDONED HIS FAMILY TO SAVE HIS OWN ASS FROM AN AVALANCHE AT A SKI RESORT. THIS FILM ALSO EXPLORES FAMILY DYNAMICS. THE LEVEL OF SATIRE IS SO HIGH THAT IT RECEIVED MY 10/10 RATING. OUR WORLD IS SO OUT OF BALANCE IS EXPRESSED IN SO MANY WAYS.THE BOTTOM LINE: Modern society is mordantly weighed and found wanting. Claes Bang and Elisabeth Moss star in Ruben Ostlund's satire tackling Swedish art, commerce, politics and national identity. Swedish writer-director Ruben Ostlund takes modern society’s temperature and finds it dangerously overheated in the madly ambitious and frequently disquieting The Square. Following his unnerving 2014 international hit Force Majeure with a work that addresses some of the world’s pressing ills with very dark and queasy comedy, Ostlund juggles quite a few balls here, arguably a few too many to keep them all airborne for nearly two and a half hours; some significant cutting would unquestionably improve the film’s critical and commercial prospects. But it’s still a potent, disturbing work that explores the boundaries of political correctness, artistic liberty and free speech in provocative ways and should receive significant exposure internationally. White liberal guilt is probably a relatively new phenomenon in historically all-white Sweden, but the local version of that concept is what drives much of the drama here. Waves of immigrants over the last couple of decades have altered the face and dynamics of the citizenry, giving rise to inequities, mistrust and fears more familiar to other countries in the West.

44. The Florida Project (2017)

R | 111 min | Drama

8.1
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92 Metascore

Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.

Director: Sean Baker | Stars: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, Valeria Cotto

Votes: 5,909 | Gross: $5.02M

THE MOST AMAZING PART OF THIS FILM IS THE DIRECTION OF ALL THE CHILDREN, WHICH IS SAID TO BE THE HARDEST CHALLENGE FOR A DIRECTOR. REMEMBER THE BICYCLE THIEF IN WHICH VISCONTI PLANTED CIGARETTES ON HIS STAR THREATENING TO TELL HIS PARENTS WHICH BROUGHT HIM TO TEARS. EXACTLY WHAT VISCONTI WANTED AND WE ALL KNOW HOW SUCCESSFUL THE FILM BECAME. THE STORY IS MINIMALIST AND WILLEM DAFOE AS ALWAYS WAS INCREDIBLE.....PERHAPS OSCAR LEVEL. The infectious joy of a long childhood summer is brilliantly and boldly brought to life, unfolding, like Baker’s vital last film “Tangerine,” in a vivid present tense. (Is there any director now working less in thrall to the sentimental seduction of nostalgia?) But the deceptive intelligence of “The Florida Project” is how immersive this bouncy-castle reality is while sitting exactly on top of the drawn-out, unremarked tragedy that is life on the margins of respectable, solvent society. It hardly seems possible that Moonee’s young mom Halley (Bria Vinaite), a pugnacious, trash-talking, tattooed ex-stripper, could be downwardly mobile, but her increasingly desperate financial situation is the slow descending background drone to Moonee’s piping lead vocal.

Halley and Moonee, like many other people in similarly straitened circumstances, live a week-to-week existence in the motel, which is run by Bobby (Willem Dafoe, atypically, but satisfyingly cast as the kindest of careworn men). Moonee spends her days having spitting contests, playing hide and seek, grifting money for ice creams, and generally exploring the scrubby backlots of her realm. And all of this is portrayed without a hint of condescension, either to Moonee’s social status or to her age or stature. In fact, if Baker has a signature shot (here he’s shooting with Carlos Reygadas‘ regular DP Alexis Zabe on 35mm, as opposed to the iPhone cameras he used to such great effect on,