I started this list and wrote the draft in early September, feared that Jose Mari Chan’s cool as breeze and soothing voice would soon invade the airwaves and mind-erase the best movies I’ve seen this year. The original list was longer and includes flicks I don’t think so highly about (i.e., Black Panther) but I like to keep it short this time and include only my favorite films. Yes, some of them are old but I’ve only managed to see them this year. And so, movies as old as Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Ploy (2007, Thailand) and some, not as old, like Jun Lana’s terrific Bwakaw (2012, Philippines) and Green Room (2015, USA), are also included here.
Now onto the list.
Heavy Trip. A Finnish metal band from a small village road-trips to Norway to play in a music festival they weren’t invited in. All for the love of heavy metal. And what type of heavy music they play? Symphonic Post-Apocalyptic Reindeer-Grinding Christ-Abusing Extreme War Pagan Fennoscandian Metal. \m/,
Mission: Impossible Fallout. Actually, Ethan Hunt doesn’t take on Impossible Missions; it’s the Impossible Missions that take on Ethan Hunt each time. And they always fail. That bathroom brawl is easily one of the best fight sequence I’ve seen. The Hollywood action movie of the year.
First Reformed. I should probably start checking Paul Schrader’s other films, the ones he made with Scorsese and also those he did not. Those straight-to-DVD-ish flicks he did with Nic Cage may be a good place to start. Or not. But Cage’s a favorite of mine. And so is Ethan Hawke, who, together with Amanda Seyfreid, gives us the most WTF ending of the year.
Deadpool 2. Let’s wait until this becomes Blade Runner. My preference falls between the theatrical cut (i.e., somebody knows Karate), some specific lines from the trailer (i.e., your bullets they’re really fast) and the action sequence in the Super Duper Fuckin’ Cut. But I’m still going to see The Deadpool Before Christmas because everybody needs some dose of PG-13 violence and naughtiness every once in awhile.
Green Room. A bunch of kids in a punk band who call themselves the Ain’t Right clashes with a group of Nazi punks and white supremacists in this mosh pit of a movie.
Mother! I like the obvious symbolism: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, God, Mother Earth. Though I’m not sure which is most delightfully weird: the sight of Jennifer Lawrence about to give birth amidst all the chaos, people eating the corpse of an infant, or Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris going at it in the middle of the day.
Upgrade. I haven’t seen Venom and reportedly, there are scenes where Tom Hardy talks to himself (i.e., the symbiote Venom). Upgrade‘s the better alternative. For one, its lead actor looks a lot like Hardy; and two, he also talks to himself a lot—actually, to the A.I. inside his head. And unlike Venom, which was cut to whinny PG-13, Upgrade is truly R-rated for ultra-violence.
Ploy. In a hotel in Bangkok, Ploy meets a couple visiting from the US. Their marriage seems to have reached already its expiration date and Ploy’s presence in their hotel room only exacerbates things. Add to that, stories of jealousy, murder, abduction and two hotel employees—a hotel maid and the bartender—passionately making love in a room the maid’s supposed to make. Not much slow-burn as slowly paced, maybe even boring for some, but you’ll get to see the hotel maid sit on the bartender’s handsome face and sing a Thai love song afterwards.
Citizen Jake. Citizen Jake/Atom Araullo talks to the camera. Like Deadpool. “We’re not in a fucking movie. This is not The Godfather,” says Don Jacobo, Jake’s father, senator and a Marcos crony. Funny, Mike de Leon’s meta-commentary on truth-telling crosses and blurs the lines between mockumentary, telenovelas, political thriller and gangster flicks, all in a movie within a movie.
Revenge. It’s trashy and arty both. There’s one scene of rape, one of blowjob, two of auto-surgery, a whole lot of misogyny, a whole lot of revenge, and a dozen gallons of blood spilled on the floor.
Bwakaw. I kind of miss the provincial life portrayed in Jun Lana’s Bwakaw, where everything is old and slow: an old creaky wooden house with silong, an old post office (snail mail, anyone?) and of course, Rene (Eddie Garcia), who spends his days with his dog, Bwakaw, and waits for his last day on Earth to come. In the province, life is just really slow. And for Rene, an old grouchy gay man who came to terms with his own sexuality too late in life, time seemingly waits for him still—to learn, love, and live to the fullest. Oh, you’re probably thinking this is like those cheesy Hallmark Channel movies. Certainly, it is not. Bwakaw is a light dark comedy and Eddie Garcia is terrific. As always.
Others movies seen in 2018:
Worth checking out: Get Out, Annihilation, Tag, Joe, The Untamed, Under The Skin, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Bloody Crayons, Nocturnal Animals, eXistenZ, Hereditary.
Overrated, disappointing: Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, Black Panther, Wolfcop, Ang Manananggal sa Apartment 23B, Mandy, BuyBust