Via Bia's 2017 in Movies
2017 WAS A BEAUTIFUL YEAR FOR MOVIES... MANY OF WHICH I DID NOT SEE.
By Via Bia
THE SHAPE OF WATER. THE FLORIDA PROJECT. FACES PLACES. GET OUT. I saw none of them - I mean really, what is WRONG with me? The answer would take more words than one Stowe newsletter could contain, so lemme move onto the topic at hand.
MY MOST FAVORITE FILMS OF 2017:
EN EL SÉPTIMO DÍA (ON THE SEVENTH DAY) by Jim McKay. Everyone should watch this film's spare yet emotional story because it just may save America. I shit you not, it's that good, and that needed of a film. A deeply humane movie about a group of Mexican manual laborers living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, made on a tiny budget with mostly Mexican non-actors who have the very day jobs that their characters do. Director, Jim McCay, a former restaurant worker and supporter of working class people and those who invisibly keep things running, and the film's star, Fernando Cardona's reassuring presence and mad soccer skillz, imbue this story with great beauty. The film so effortlessly creates a sense of danger (our protagonist is an undocumented bike courier in NYC so you worry about crazy drivers and ICE raids the entire time, whether you need to or not) that there’s no need for a true antagonist. It's mostly about a man, his friends, his very pregnant wife that he wants to be with... and the freedom he feels on the fútbol cancha.
BEATRIZ AT DINNER. Director, Miguel Arteta. Writer, Mike White. Please. Don’t read any reviews. Just see the movie, and then contact me so we can discuss it cuz I don't wanna hear any more misguided critics talk smack about the "false ending" CUZ IT IS NOT A FALSE ENDING BUT IS BRILLIANT/OPEN TO MULTIPLE INTERPRETATIONS (but not the "false ending" interpretation because it is bad).
COLUMBUS by Kogonada. Shot after shot, this movie’s a beautifully composed meditation about the surprisingly modernist architectural haven of Columbus, Indiana (strangely, the town from which Mike Pence hails). John Cho connects with both Parker Posey (hallelujah) and Haley Lu Richardson, while struggling to connect with his somewhat estranged and critically ill father. Most surprisingly, this movie has laughs.
OTHER VERY GOOD MOVIES:
QUEST, a documentary by Jonathan Olshefski ten years in the making about a North Philadelphia family who support their neighborhood's community of hip hop artists in their basement studio, while also holding tightly to each other and contending with an America that doesn't always care how good you are or how hard you work. It is filled with love and truth.
AUTOMATIC AT SEA by Matthew Lessner. I haven't been so awed by the forethought that went into almost every one of the film’s visual composition since KILLER OF SHEEP by Charles Burnett, which I saw maybe four years ago. It’s that pretty. It’s also a mind-bender and outside-the-box lil story and golly I like those things.
PRINCESS CYD by Stephen Cone. Incredibly low budget. Incredibly real emotions. Incredibly beautiful relationship portrayals. This is an indie-lover's dream.
SUEÑO EN OTRO IDIOMA (I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE) by Ernesto and Carlos Contreras. A sweet folk-tale of a movie about love, grudges, and... linguistics! Folks, THEY MADE UP A NEW (supposedly dying) LANGUAGE FOR THIS FILM.
ASSHOLES by Peter Veck. Only see this movie if you are okay with gross cold sores, super foul situations, and a demon birthed in a kiddie pool of shit.
SURPRISING INCLUSION OF TENTPOLE FILMS:
WONDER WOMAN Directed by Patty Jenkins. Written by a grip-o-dudes. I have little to add to the discourse on "crying cuz I got to see ladies fight" but it was surprisingly moving to feel women's strength and unity represented so beautifully on screen.
COCO, Written/Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina (plus a couple other writers). I didn’t know I would feel actual PRIDE when I saw the film’s wondrously illuminated Land of the Dead, but I did. Pixar truly respected how authentically Mexican this story needed be and even though I'm Puerto Rican, the pride transferred. Bravo.
THOR: RAGNAROCK. Directed by Taika Waititi. Written by six dudes, none of which were Waititi, but IMDb has a quote that says like 80% of the film's dialog was improvised, so take that people-who-didn't-give-Waititi-a-writing-credit. Additionally, props to Taika for adding mad jokes and mad melanin into Norse Mythology and the Marvel Universe!
Via Bia is a 2015 Stowe Story Labs Alum and the Writer/Director of THESE COLORS DON'T RUN, which screened in Fall 2017 at the Austin Film Festival, the New York Latino Film Festival (sponsored by HBO), DC Shorts and more. THESE COLORS DON'T RUN was shot on Super 16 Kodak film (thank you, Anne Hubbell for making our cinematic dreams come true!) and has a 100% female, multi-generational Latinx cast. Via lives in the Washington DC region and dreams of getting back to Stowe soon.