What unlikely movie touched your heart

Review of the year - The best films of 2017

The cinema highlights of 2017 were few and far between. The musicals and melodramas, the beautiful endurance tests and even the beautiful blockbusters of the past months deserve all the more love. Mr. Vincent Vega presents his personal top 10.

10th place: mother!

Director Darren Aronofsky is one "pretentious rivet", Dietmar Dath grumbled in the FAZ - and the US audience gave the opinion barometer CinemaScore the rare lowest mark 6. A film that provokes such reactions cannot be uninteresting. In fact, mother !, whose exclamation point is already a chutzpah and, in a sense, a program, has wonderfully divided many viewers who have been conditioned to indolence and indolence by contemporary Hollywood cinema. This is not a film from which people are mildly satisfied, entertained nicely or walk out with shrugging shoulders like those franchise disposable products that hog our screens across the board. Instead, it's full. Completely on top of it all. Quite deranged and somehow also heavily hammered. Cinema that a multiplex audience, weaned from outrageous virtuosity and grueling auteur hubris, first shakes, then devours and finally spits out piece by piece. In other words, cinema that was absolutely needed in 2017. The film also shows how Aronofsky could have staged his incomparably more successful Noah, and above all better: As a delusional story about the destruction of intimacy.

9th place: Repair the living

What a beautiful title: Repairing the Living. In the body of one person the heart stops beating, in the body of the other it continues beating - the living are being repaired, the living are being repaired. What a beautiful picture: the masses of the sea formed into devouring clouds, waves that can be prepared and conquered, water from which gushes a life that will soon no longer be. In the hospital, parents learn of their son's brain death, and the question about the donation of his organs is in the room. What a nice third act: organ transplantation as an effort, as a logistical and human immeasurable challenge. The observation of a meticulously timed interlocking, the observation of a miracle in medicine. The heart is removed, the body is washed, and the plane is started. The doctor lovingly whispers in the ear of the deceased, his heart may live and give life. At the end we see a look that was worth all the effort, that is moving and touches us deep inside. Because what a beautiful film: precisely staged by Katell Quillévéré like a surgical procedure. Not overloaded with symbols, not intrusive and not a bit affected. Cinema full of compassion. And a lot of heart.

8th place: The Big Sick

Boy meets girl, a brief relationship, a quick breakup, the girl falls ill and is put into a coma: where other love stories are nearing their end, this film is only just beginning - everything that remains to be said, the boy can no longer say. The press went into raptures about The Big Sick, and it was a surprise success at the box office. Some accused him that the tragic turning point suspended the stubborn linguistic comedy that was vital for the protagonist (an emigrated Pakistani who tries to be a stand-up comedian). However, this does not slow down the humor, at most it shifts it slightly (in the direction of cultural and family emancipation: Kumail Nanjiani and co-author Emily V. Gordon roll up the story of their love in an autobiographical and self-therapeutic manner). And in general, the melodramatic plot point presents the film with the exciting challenge of how a romantic comedy can be told when it loses its counterpart, which is decisive for the genre's shrewd approaches and mutual reactions. With great characters, who all have something to eat and yet are not sold by the script to frivolous gags, The Big Sick opens up a niche in the otherwise unbearable Feel-Good cinema from Sundance - without false feelings.

7th place: Ghost in the Shell

It actually still exists, the intelligent Hollywood blockbuster for an adult audience, which is not about talking animals, ironic superheroes or tuned cars. The fact that Ghost in the Shell thinks ahead of its clever template, the manga of the same name or its anime film adaptation, almost as cleverly, unfortunately went down mercilessly. In the run-up to the event, outraged voices were raised about the cast of the supposedly Japanese main character with Scarlett Johansson. "Whitewashing" was the catchphrase that crushed every contradiction. If the critics had waited and looked at the finished film, they might have noticed that it deals with exactly what it has been accused of with analytical sharpness: appropriation practices by a corporation that not only uses the identity-creating wealth of knowledge and experience of this figure, but its external appearance is erased and replaced by a supposedly more flawless one. The question of cultural identity, which is currently being doggedly worked on left and right, is also posed by Ghost in the Shell. But he does not stick to those surfaces and ascriptions with which his opponents have done a disservice to the important criticism of racist occupation practices.

6th place: the other side of hope

This life-celebrating film begins at the port of Helsinki. In the depths of the darkness a face can be seen, it is smeared with coal and belongs to Khaled from Aleppo. The young man tries to get a residence permit and ends up in the restaurant of another man, who in turn has made movements to break out and break out. Completely different prerequisites shape the new beginnings of the two, but the point is not to compare them or to put them on an equal footing, to knot the one fatefully with the other or to misuse the improbable and therefore true events for useful causalities. The other side of hope is a film by Aki Kaurismäki, set in a very own world with very own rules, according to which very own characters do or rather don't do what they would do in other and less intelligent films. All contradictions that those two men bring with them or produce can of course stand side by side here. They do not have to be harmonized or dissolved, just rubbed together a little bleeding. Every escape is different, every stranded person tells his or her own story. Kaurismäki loves people like no other filmmaker.

The other side of hope

5th place: Elle

Paul Verhoeven wanted his best film since RoboCop to be shot and played in the USA, but after an unsuccessful search for an attractive leading actress (and because the subject was apparently too sensitive), he moved the production to France. He found Isabelle Huppert, currently the best actress in the world (at least that's what John Waters says). Remarkably fearless, Huppert approaches even the most complex roles with intelligent understatement - and roles can hardly be more complicated than a character who feels the pleasure of rape. That is actually what Elle is about, a woman bored with middle-class, men and work who refuses the trauma of abuse, as Huppert emphasizes. Consequently, we accompany her uncertain character through a film that neither psychologically nor pathologizes her, which cannot simply be a victim or revenge narrative. Of course, Huppert once again proves to be a revelation when she embraces the ambiguities of the role instead of playing it in an uninteresting way in a comprehensible way. It is a stroke of luck that Verhoeven did not shoot this disturbing film in Hollywood. There seems to have been no space there for a reasonably uncomfortable cinema for a long time.

4th place: The crazy hero tour of Billy Lynn

Ang Lee's story about the seemingly never-ending half-time march of decorated war veterans during an absurdly inflated football game flopped in the USA - and the criticism was also skeptical of the otherwise celebrated director. There was a banal and probably not so banal reason for this. First, the film was shown to journalists in its HFR version with 120 frames per second (for comparison: the Hobbit adventures ran at just 48fps), which apparently made it difficult for many to get involved with what they saw at all. Second, unlike Mel Gibson's Oscar-nominated Hacksaw Ridge, Lee has no interest in making myths. In the American tradition of the homecoming drama, he lets war heroes act as PR puppets ("I'm celebrated here for the worst day of my life."), whose personal concerns and stories are distorted in the media. Thanks to Lee's unmistakable staging skills and what is probably the most beautiful axis jump of the cinema year, Billy Lynn's crazy hero tour (stupid German title) is an immersive experience even without HFR. This is what American Sniper could have looked like if it had been shot by someone who hasn't aged.

Billy Lynn's crazy hero tour

3rd place: La La Land

In spite of, or perhaps because of, its unexpected success, the almost Oscar winner La La Land was covered with more weird slaps than any other film in 2017. The musical does not understand modern jazz (Vulture), operate "whitesplaining" (MTV) and "mansplaining" (Los Angeles Review of Books), even be a "Propaganda Film" of "white hollywood" (at least thought it recognized the LA Weekly with reference to Leni Riefenstahl (!)). So it's pretty crazy what a little story of two artists in love is apparently capable of triggering, and what craziness of postmodern ideology criticism it brings to light. On the whole, La La Land may be a bit pleasing and round, maybe too exhibited small-scale art, but it is definitely not evil. The virtuoso dance and song numbers conjure up a genre classicism that is closer to Jacques Demy than the Golden Age of Hollywood - and does not go up in great pomp, but seeks the intimacy of his characters. Damien Chazelle approaches the form of the musical almost ashamedly, his direction seems rather reluctant to explore and not want to delve into. In the end, he makes the genre's necessarily deprived of reality triumph all the more gloriously. Has there ever been such a great what-if montage in the cinema? To hell with the critics!

2nd place: Certain Women

Kelly Reichardt tells three stories in her seventh and saddest film, three stories of women in different relationships of dependency. The first two are as good and precise as Reichardt's stories are always at least good and precise, but they do not prepare for the emotional impact of the third story. Kristen Stewart plays a lawyer who drives two days a week from Livingston, Montana to Belfry, a four-hour drive away, to teach law at an evening school. A local farmer stumbles into the class by chance, and she will return night after night and seek proximity to the unknown woman. Lily Gladstone is the great discovery of the film, maybe even of the film year 2017. With eyes wide open with expectation, her character in Certain Women recognizes desire and takes a long journey to Livingston to track down the suddenly changed teacher. Before the final meeting in the parking lot of a law firm, she pauses and takes a deep breath. Opening up to someone like this takes more than just courage. There is nothing wrong with Kristen Stewart's strange look, which only speaks of a different feeling and yet has destructive power. Okay, says the other person, everything else is embarrassed. A film couldn't be more touching.

1st place: Personal Shopper

Kristen Stewart again, but here the screen belongs to her all alone (if she were even more productive than it already is, annual lists could easily be filled with only Stewart films). Olivier Assayas has made her personal shopper tailor-made, the role of a personal buyer continues the figure of the assistant who is always on call, who in his last directorial work - The Clouds of Sils Maria - also put others before her own needs (and Stewart the "French Oscar "César brought in). No filmmaker knows how to deal with the curiosity of this actress, which is often misunderstood as uncertainty, in a more interesting way, namely to understand it as an art of representation beyond the showable. Kristen Stewart expands her always special mode of movement into a performance that not only has to play perception, but to make it tangible: between unprocessed loss and supernatural danger, through old and new means of communication in rooms full of puzzling pasts. There are many ways to see Personal Shopper, to read it as a ghost film or art historical meditation, as a radically subjective story of a woman without characteristics or even psychosis - and it is probably all that and much more: cinema of an almost inexhaustible wealth.

Archive:
Annual review - the best films 2016/2015/2014/2013