Cinema 2017 Half-Time Report: Moments 1/2

And the whistle blows for half-time on the 2017 year of cinema. This halfway series will highlight 2017 so far in Moments, Performances, and the Movies themselves – as recommended by myself and some friends of the film buff corner. A welcome, too, to Teresa, fresh from Cannes to make her first contribution here. So, here are 7 memorable sequences to kick us off:

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Prepping The Meal from The Bad Batch

In a film as a whole that trips over, and sometimes fall into, its own holes, the opening sequence of The Bad Batch, free of dialogue but full to the brim with atmosphere, is showy film-making from Ana Lily Amirpour. Lyle Vincent’s cinematography captures the vast landscape, photographically and in mindset, of the dystopian setting in fine, composed style. The heat and the wind you can almost feel. And the harrowing events that proceed are alarmingly fitting in a world of savage normalcy. A broken, swinging light see-saws the captive Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) between shadows and shimmers with a simple range of dazzling depth and angsty anticipation. A true shame the rest of the picture could not quite hold up to this promise. —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Young Love from Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World)

In one of many isolated moments, Louis (Gaspard Ulliel), reunited briefly with the family he has not seen in years, reminisces of an old lover. Given the slight change in pace for Dolan with this more composed, grounded film, the flashback moment races through the narrative as an energetic, yet tender, poignant wedge. Shot with hazy, semi-hidden sunlight peeping through into the intimacy of the youngsters, we witness their romantic engagements as though experiencing it ourselves, strands of hair brushed back, flesh exposed, passionate kissing. With Dolan’s reputation for effective story-telling music choices somewhat subdued this time out, the short sequence’s use of Exotica’s addictive “Une Miss s’immisce” is a home-run. —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

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Monkeying Around from The Square

The Square was the big winner at Cannes this year but we all should consider it as the big winner of films as art in this first half of 2017. Each scene is charged with a socio-cultural and political critic that floats balanced with the reflection about the human condition and the role of art. The beauty of it culminates with the creation of that meritorious environment of performance art brought to life by Terry Notary and his interpretation of a wild ape. What begins with something funny and joyful, quickly turns into something disconcerting and uncomfortable, causing anxiety. The man becomes the “beast”, the dining room becomes a jungle and the guests become preys. The irony in this (not forgetting that Notary is the movement choreographer in the Planet of the Apes films) plus the sarcastic tone of the film, channels the wanted message by exploring the limit of the pair action-reaction and questioning what distinguishes the human being from the animal. —– Teresa Amorim @Tresocas

Logan, Meet Laura from Logan

The moment that head rolls across the gravel, we, the audience, realize a buzzing introduction to the young girl, Laura, who can clearly fight her own battles. And Logan looking on recognizes that fighting style and vigor with an unnerving glare. The violence is excessive, sure, but neither slapstick nor gratuitous, instead it’s frenetic, pulsating brilliance in it’s quick-fire motion – credit to director James Mangold who appears to have really gone for broke here. The survival instinct landscape that Logan has long since been battling with is evident in the fierce fight scene – down to Wolverine-a-like Laura’s shrieks as she slays and swipes, illustrating a struggle and a pain through the child’s eyes that is keeping with a world of conflict. —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

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Do The Right Thing from Hounds of Love

Ben Young’s unnerving, brilliant debut Hounds of Love, not only takes us to the 1980s Australian suburbs, but also intimately, disturbingly portrays a couple, Evelyn and John White (Emma Booth, Stephen Curry) responsible for missing girls in the area. Vicki’s (Ashleigh Cummings) abduction is harrowing throughout, but the moment she has to endure her mother crying her name while still captive is heart-stopping. Evelyn, holding Vicki at knife-point with a hand over her mouth, is breaking at the seams – knowing the true morality of this awful situation, and she knows too well what its like to not have your kid around. Cummings’ plea through her eyes is mesmerizing, and Booth is simply devastating from every pore in portraying woman who has to dig so deep with her next life-altering decision. —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Space Breakout from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

There are some scenes that, for some reason, just go well together, even though you can’t really pinpoint why, through either the lyrics or the music, it works so well. Sometimes the only valid explanation you can give for why it works can be summed up into one simple sentence: “It’s cool”. Seeing Yondu, Baby Groot and Rocket bust their way off a Ravenger ship; the former’s flying arrow killing every last person that betrayed him; all set to “Come a Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans is just simply that: It’s cool. The choice of music for the scene in particular just feels right, and it shows off just how gifted writer/director James Gunn is with choosing music as a backdrop to a scene. —– Jonathan Holmes @MisterBrown_23

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Rita Comforts Claire from Tower

The horrific shootings at the University of Texas, Austin, on 1st August 1966 are innovatively memorialized in Tower, a documentary that acts beyond a mere reconstruction with actual footage and moving story-telling via animation traced over live action film known as rotoscoping – see Waking Life or Waltz With Bashir. In such an essential account as this you could pick one of many, many moments. The film’s poster depicts one such heart-warming moment, when one of the first to be in the line of fire, a pregnant student named Claire, believes her time is up as she lays helpless baking in the Texan heat. As many were terrified to help Claire, one savior runs into the open target zone, with shots still being fired, and lays close by Claire. Rita risks her own life to simply talk to the injured young woman, keeping her hope alive. Not only does the gun crime issue ring true today, Tower also has ample displays of astonishing humanity, making this all the more relevant.  —– Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

7 more to come – not to mention a whole host of movies and performances to catch up on. In the meantime, hit the comments section.

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