My Film Discoveries of 2017 at Rupert Pupkin Speaks

RPS copy

One of the best aspects of being a movie lover occurs when you learn about a great movie from someone you trust and respect. I’ve checked out many great movies from Rupert Pupkin Speaks and am honored to be invited to contribute my 2017 Film Discoveries to that blog. Many thanks to Brian at RPS for having me on the blog!

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

What’s 2018 look like for you?

Happy New Year to you all! I hope it’s off to a good, safe start. As we say goodbye to 2017, I’d like to list a few movies I’ve seen since I completed my Best of 2017 lists, a way of finalizing the year and preparing for 2018. Like everyone else, I’ve made a few new goals, some of which might manifest themselves on the blog. Hopefully this will translate to more (and better) writing about individual movies.

So allow me to dump on you everything I’ve seen since late November with my first-time-to-watch favorites in bold:

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The Shape of Water (2017) Guillermo del Toro


The Shape of Water (2017)
Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro
Produced by Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography by Dan Laustsen
Edited by Sidney Wolinsky
Production design by Paul D. Austerberry
Art Direction by Nigel Churcher
Set Decoration by Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau
Other credits
Fox Searchlight
Annapolis Bow Tie Harbor 9 (2:03)

Like Guillermo del Toro, I was too young to have seen the original release of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), but I imagine that something of the magic those audiences felt translated to the emotions I experienced watching The Shape of Water, a film obviously influenced by the Jack Arnold monster/horror classic. Arnold touches on the concept of “otherness” in the 1954 original, but del Toro – with the advantage of having more freedom to explore such themes in 2017 – takes the viewer on a journey not just through the “otherness” of a human/monster relationship, but other journeys that venture out to far-reaching areas of – and perhaps beyond – humanity.

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The Best of 2017: Film Noir

The Bestof 2017Film Noir-2

2017 marks the fourth year that I’ve seriously started delving into film noir. I still consider myself a beginner as far as the number of films I’ve seen and my knowledge of noir, but I’m probably at least near the halfway point of having seen the established body of American film noir titles. I saw close to 200 film noir and neo-noir movies in 2017, but here I’m only going to concentrate on those from the established film noir era (1940-1959), although you’ll find one or two films on either end of that period. In many cases I examined some films in greater detail in previous posts. In those cases, just click on the title. Enjoy!

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Lady Bird (2017) Greta Gerwig


Lady Bird (2017)
Written and directed by Greta Gerwig
Produced by Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Evelyn O’Neil
Cinematography by Sam Levy
Edited by Nick Houy
BowTie Harbor 9, Annapolis, MD (1:33)

On the surface, Lady Bird seems like a movie I shouldn’t relate to in any way. It’s about a high school senior (Remember, I’m in my 50s) at a Catholic school (I’m Protestant) in California (I’m from Mississippi) in 2002 (I graduated in the 80s). Plus, she’s a girl; I’m a guy. We have literally not one thing in common.

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The Best of 2017: International Films Part I

The Best of 2017International Films Part I

Although my family and friends cannot comprehend this, I frequently lament how few films I’ve actually seen in my lifetime. Expand that to world cinema and you’ll find enormous, cavernous spaces filled with all the international movies I haven’t seen. This year I tried to at least chip away at several of those non-English-speaking treasures. I’ll explore more of these films in Part II, but for now, here’s Part I:

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The Best of 2017: British Films

The Best of 2017British Films

Just a few days ago I realized I had probably seen enough British films in 2017 to create a separate category, but I had no idea just how many – over 20! Many of these (no surprise) are film noir or, as we like to say, “noir-stained.” I certainly want to explore more British films in 2018 so for those of you in or from the UK, I would love to hear your favorites or “must see” films I should explore next year. Until then, these are the British films I most enjoyed in 2017:

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The Best of 2017: The 2000s and Beyond

The Best of 2017 - The 2000s and Beyond

Something a little different today… I’ll discuss the movies I most enjoyed this year from the 2000s and beyond not including films from 2017, which will be a separate list closer to the end of the year. There’s some fluidity here, since many of the 2016 films had various release dates that were 2016 in some places and 2017 in others, but for the most part these are films that fall between 2000 and 2016, mostly in chronological order. Enjoy!

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Martin McDonagh


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh
Produced by Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh
Cinematography by Ben Davis
Music by Carter Burwell
Edited by Jon Gregory
Bow Tie Harbor 9, Annapolis, MD (1:55)

“Anger begets anger.”

Lately I’ve been thinking about the movies that get nominated for awards, probably because we’re in the thick of awards season right now. Although I no longer watch awards shows and don’t consider them a valid indicator of a movie’s value, I find myself thinking about them more than I probably should. I sometimes wonder how many films are nominated due to the fact that they’re well-crafted works of art and how many are nominated due to their being timely, regardless of their artistic merit. No doubt some films are both. Both Get Out and Mudbound, for instance, deal with racism (certainly a timely topic) in very different ways, and yet both of those films are quite good. Yet Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri not only deals with racism, it also addresses justice and miscarriages of justice, police brutality, vigilanteism, divorce, broken homes, small town life, small thinking, and more. Does the film contain too many themes for the finished product to be effective? I thought so during the film’s first hour. But during the second?

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