CALGARY-An LSD trip, a motorcycle chase, a serial killer, oh my! BeatRoute’s film team takes you through their favourite films of 2018, including Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Tom Cruise’s sixth turn as agent Ethan Hunt, and Lars von Trier’s most graphic film to date.
Morgan Cairns, Film Editor
Climax dir. Gaspar Noé
After Climax screened at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival, several patrons remarked as they were leaving the theatre that they felt “dizzy” or “nauseous” or “totally fucking disturbed.” Would you expect anything less from Gaspar Noé?
A party gone wrong, Climax tells the “true story” of a dance troupe who, at a post-rehearsal party, discovers that one of them laced has laced the sangria with LSD, and chaos soon descends on the group. As the film morphs from a celebratory dance-party into violent, hedonistic anarchy, Noé sheds all cinematic convention, instead letting the camera completely absorb the energy of the depravity unfolding. Frantic tracking shots, harsh angles and intense, anxiety-inducing long-takes pull you into the dancer’s psychotic trip, with even one of the final scenes being shot with the camera upside down, on the floor.
Dizzying and terrifying while simultaneously stunning, watching Climax on the big-screen is the next best thing to taking LSD yourself. Which is, frankly, all I ever really want from a film.
Mid90s dir. Jonah Hill
After my first viewing, I left Mid90s fuming. Mainly because, until now, Jonah Hill has left us completely deprived us of his stellar filmmaking chops. Why he chose to make a sequel to the 21 Jump Street revival instead of imparting us with an original film of his own is beyond me, but I digress.
Mid90s is the most recent coming of age-tale in what appears to be a resurgence (renaissance?) of the genre (Eighth Grade, Lady Bird, Call Me by Your Name, etc.); however, Hill’s contribution stands out amongst the crowd. A much more subdued film than its counterparts, Mid90s is full of subtle nuances that, in cinema’s 100+ year history, I have never seen on screen until now. Mid90s isn’t flashy. There are no life lessons to be learned, no sweeping realizations, no first-loves who share a tender kiss under the disco ball at prom. Just a completely honest and authentic portrayal of adolescence, made only even more poignant with exceptional direction from Hill, a stellar soundtrack courtesy of Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor (yes, that Trent Reznor) and phenomenal breakout performances from the film’s fresh-faced cast.
If Beale Street Could Talk dir. Barry Jenkins
Let me start off by saying, I haven’t actually seen this film yet (it’s release date is set for mid-December); however, preemptively saying it’s going to be my favourite film of 2018 is probably the safest bet I’ve made all year. I’ve already seen the trailer in theatres multiple times, and every time those mere two and a half minutes alone have me silently weeping in my seat, usually to the embarrassment of my date. And while the story is bound to be gut-wrenching, it’s the pure beauty and brilliance of the shots alone that bring me to tears. Dramatic? Probably. Justified? Absolutely.
With the same director (Barry Jenkins), cinematographer (James Laxton), and composer (Nicholas Britell) as 2016 Academy Award Best Picture winner, Moonlight, Jenkins adaptation of the James Baldwin novel of the same name is a shoe-in for (at least) another Best Picture nom, and the honorable distinction of film most like to leave me completely devastated (in the best possible way.)
Philip Clarke, Contributor
Suspiria dir. Luca Guadagnino
The trick to a successful remake of a classic film is to pay respect to the original source material, while still justifying its own existence. Luca Guadagnino has done exactly that with his remake of Suspiria. Tilda Swinton utterly commands the screen with every single scene that she’s in. Dakota Johnson continues to prove that she’s not just “The 50 Shades Girl”. Suspiria is utterly dream-like and haunting from start to finish. It gets uncomfortably under your skin, and burrows its way down deep into your very bone marrow. The explosive climax to top it all off is pitch-perfect
Mission Impossible: Fallout dir. Christopher McQuarrie
Mission Impossible: Fallout is the sixth film in the series, and neither Ethan Hunt nor Tom Cruise show any signs of slowing down. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie is the first director to return for a second film in the series, with good reason. Fallout is a cut above many modern action movie blockbusters, because of just how amazing every single set-piece this film has. If Cruise racing on a motorcycle through the busy cobblestone streets of Paris doesn’t tickle your particular fancy, then him doing corkscrew flips in a real helicopter overtop impossibly high mountain ranges should certainly do the trick.
Widows dir. Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen has proven over the years to be a singularly strong voice from Hunger, Shame and 12 Years a Slave. Each of his films are hard-hitting and stick with you long after they’re over. His latest film Widows is absolutely no exception. Viola Davis headlines an all-star cast of talented actors including Liam Neeson, Colin Farell, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon, Jon Bernthal, Jackie Weaver and Cynthia Erivo. Like her past collaboration with David Fincher on Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s co-writing here with McQueen is a match made in cinematic heaven. Widows is tightly edited, stressful and incredibly intense.
Colin Gallant, BeatRoute BurnOut
Hereditary dir. Ari Aster
Hereditary reactions are split in two. You found it to be heart-stopping or barely a horror movie at all. It is at once unnerving and carnivalesque, playing on the viewer’s frustration to evoke reactions that are inappropriate and surprising. Its indecisive pacing languors in the corner of your eye like an imagined home-invader, lurches into melodrama, and then snaps you by the limbs like a camouflaged bear trap.
Hereditary didn’t really scare me as much as it broke me; I cracked up at things that are awful, that cling to the part of my brain I don’t like to engage with. I left the theatre in a manic delirium and spent the remainder of the week unable to rid my mind of the film.
The House That Jack Built dir. Lars von Trier
Fuck off, Cannes critics.
You boo every second screening but cry tears of admiration for any film you make it through. You damn well knew this would be Lars von Trier’s most revolting, self-referential, inappropriately slapstick movie. But there you were, calling for his head and stickying your pants for it in equal measure.
Audience, you already know (deep down at least) whether you love this film or hate it. Its attempts to reinterpret sadism as enlightenment are both eye roll-inducing and electric. The House That Jack Built hates critics and audiences and probably puppies, too. But it’s the fully realized von Trier, the one he’s never quite been able to make before.
Sorry to Bother You dir. Boots Riley
The funniest movie of the year is easily Sorry to Bother You. The frivolous anti-depth and unlikeable ambitions of leads Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson are the ruse for Sorry’s commentary on a doomed people’s revolution and the misprioritization of romantic love within a shit-stained, radioactive world.
Swollen with understated comedy and spoofish aesthetics, the film’s Svengali telling betrays the audience as they desperately latch on to the plight of the flawed hero and his seemingly inevitable redemption.
Its anti-climax (and perfectly restrained revenge epilogue) makes this more than a lefty mash-up of Office Space and Brazil — Sorry to Bother You asks politely for us to rearrange our priorities while forcing us to get real about how fucked we are until we do so.Climax, Hereditary, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mid90s, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Sorry to Bother You, Suspiria, The House That Jack Built, Widows