Call Me by Your Name (2017)

This is the best film I have seen all year. It is beautiful, inspiring and moving. I’m not sure it comes down to anyone thing in the film as to why it is so great. It is one of those great things when the film just works. Call Me by Your Name does just that, it works.

One of the main reasons I feel this movie works is it’s strong sense of place. As an audience member you are transported to the hot Italian summer. We feel as Elio does, bothered by the heat & bothered by Oliver. Timothee Chalamet is superb as Elio. We see the film through Elio’s eyes and Chalamet is definitely deserving of his Oscar nomination. I don’t think he will end up winning Best Actor, but he should be up there. Armie Hammer was also fantastic as Oliver. What was striking about the film is that the relationship between Oliver who is quite a bit older than Elio, is not predatory at all. I think this is due to Both Hammer and Chalamet’s authentic & honest performances.

The themes in Call Me by Your Name resonate as we experience again with Elio what it is like to fall in love for the first time. We also experience what it is like to have to fall out of love. It is poignant and nostalgic. The film is also helped greatly by the music. The music is emotive and sets the scene & the audience feelings beautifully.

I can just imagine how amazing it would have been to see this film at the Sundance Film Festival, when it premiered, and discovering this movie for the first time, not knowing anything about it. It is an immersive experience and resonated with me a way a film hasn’t in a while. It’s a timeless story that transcends gender or orientation.

I really hope this wins Best Picture at the Oscars, but sadly, I don’t think it will. The topical issue this year is not being homosexual or combating homophobia, it’s strong woman taking control. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) might take the cake, but it’s got nothing on Call Me by Your Name. 

 

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Good Will Hunting (1997)

What a masterpiece in writing. I wouldn’t say it would go down as one of my favourite films or one of the best I’ve seen, but certainly the writing was top notch.

The story follows Will Hunting (Matt Damon) through his troubled life. The opening of the film didn’t really grab me, but I suppose it was necessary to show the rough parts of Will’s worlds. Matt Damon gives a stellar performance and it’s easy to see why he is still a household name today.

Robin Williams plays an absolutely beautiful role. I hadn’t yet seen a film where he portrays a more serious character, I remember watching him in Mrs. Doubtfire. His role is superb and his character is so likeable. It’s touched with sadness though, when you think about how William’s life ended in his battle with depression. In this film, he essentially assists Will in overcoming his battles with his tough past.

The characters in the film are interesting and drive the story of the film. Why is it that I think the writing is the strongest asset in this film. It’s the story’s progression and the arc between Robin Williams character’s meeting of his wife that was retold to Will Hunting, to how Will learns to understand this. The film has a beautiful message, all you need is love.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

From the opening shot of this movie, you know you are in for a great movie. Roger Deakins, the master cinematographer, is behind the technically brilliant and artistic visuals that we see in Blade Runner 2049. The opening shot of the movie not only pays homage to the original Blade Runner but sets us up visually for what is in store; can you believe what you see in your mind’s eye?

I really loved the story of the film and the characters were brilliant. I hadn’t seen any of director Denis Villeneuve’s work prior to this film, but am definitely excited to see what he does next. I cannot speak highly enough of Ryan Gosling in this film. He is a fantastic actor & his performance is under-stated & undoubtedly authentic. I was expecting Harrison Ford to carry the film, but it really was the other way around. He’s already been nominated for two Best Actor Oscars, hopefully he can make this one his third nomination.

I have heard talk that Harrison Ford could look at getting a nomination for his role in the film. Although I would love to see Ford nominated, I’m not sure this is the film that he would receive his second nomination in this role. Mainly perhaps due to screen time, he’s not actually in this film all that much, but when he is – he gives a performance that reminds us why he has been the top of his craft for all these years.

Blade Runner 2049 has disappointed at the box office for it’s opening week. Not much different to the original film after all. It’s refreshing to see a film that is marketed towards the mainstream that isn’t just a blockbuster. What I mean by this is that the storyline & characters of Blade Runner 2049 is almost like an indie film. It’s still got the special effects and the big budget, but at the heart of the picture is the desires of our characters. What drives them drives the film. The special effects are secondary. I would love to see Hollywood produce more thoughtful ‘blockbusters’ like this one. It’s a welcome change, but after all, Hollywood is all about the money. Blade Runner 2049 hasn’t performed to expectation right now, but I think it’s got the hall markings of a cult classic all over it.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

No filmmaker’s mind works like Baz Luhrmann’s. The guy is a genius of his craft & then some. Moulin Rouge! is a great way to end his “Red Curtain Trilogy” also made up of Strictly Ballroom (1992) & Romeo + Juliet (1997).

Moulin Rouge is out-there & bizarre. It’s a grand musical like no other. It’s post-modernism at it’s best. I absolutely love the love song melody when Christian (Ewan McGregor) and Satine (Nicole Kidman) meet for the first time. It is uplifting & it’s fun. It’s songs we know & love all mashed up together. Ewan McGregor’s voice is beautiful & he’s oh-so-dreamy as he sings to Nicole. I would’ve fallen in love with him too.

Just when you think you’ve seen the best post-modernist song (Elephant Love Melody) Baz knocks our socks off with a rendition of Roxanne. We start with the tango. “Desire. Passion. Suspicion. Jealously. Anger. Betrayal” says the Argentinian in the movie as he explains the meaning of the tango. We cut from a violent tango in the Moulin Rogue to Satine about to sleep with The Duke (Richard Roxburgh). The editing here is brilliant. We only hold each shot for less than a second. It’s chaotic and brutal, just as our characters are feeling. We see & hear Christian sing as his girlfriend gets abused by The Duke. It’s adrenaline pumping & awesome filmmaking.

The circular storyline of Moulin Rouge! is interesting. We know basically everything at the start of the film. I think Baz may have done this as otherwise the end would be pretty flat. But as we know it is coming, it’s not so bad. We go from the triumphant rendition of Come What May & Christian winning his girl to her death.

Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman have great on-screen chemistry & I love watching them both in this film. They are both fantastic actors. I watched their Variety “Actors on Actors” interview recently. It was really interesting & you can tell they both respect one another’s work as actors.

What do we learn from the Moulin Rouge? Well, the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love & be loved in return. After all it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

And it also reiterates what I already knew. Baz Luhrmann is a legend.