2017: Movies & Music Year-end List

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Movies

I missed some pretty big movies this year. Just like the previous year. And the year before that. And the year before the year before that. And the year before the year before… Oh, this could go on forever. By “pretty big”, I mean movies like Blade Runner 2049 and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Or the last Star Wars movie. I also haven’t seen Okja and Get Out yet, smaller movies that definitely deserve no less. But I’ve seen a few films, both big and small.

Among the best reviewed films, I thought Baby Driver and Logan were overrated. So was Wonder Woman. I liked Baby Driver but there’s something lacking. I’m not really sure Logan was better than X-2 or Days of Future Past and I liked Deadpool better for sure. Wonder Woman, I liked for having the right balance between humor and pathos, which most Marvel movies lack, but the third act was just disappointing. Speaking of disappointments, Kong: Skull Island was simply the most disappointing movie I’ve seen this year, mainly for wasting the scenic locations in Vietnam for a generic thrill-less CGI mayhem. Comic book/superhero movies reached a new high in 2017. Of the three movies from Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming was OK and that’s the problem, it’s a merely OK movie. I’ve seen three movies featuring Vin Diesel this year and I thought two of them (xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Fate of the Furious) were a total waste of time.

Listed below, in no particular order, are the ones that made into my “best of” list.

Happy Death Day (Horror, Comedy, 2017)
The Big Sick (Romance, Comedy, 2017)
Tale of Tales (Fantasy, 2015)
Take Me (Comedy, 2017)
Kita Kita (Romance, Comedy, 2017)
Headshot (Martial Arts, Action, 2016)
Westworld (Science Fiction, 1973)
The Mermaid (Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, 2016)
Free Fire (Action, Comedy, 2016)
Logan (Superhero, 2017)
Baby Driver (Action, Crime, 2017)

And my favorites are below with added explanation, extra toppings, or one line review:

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Wonder Woman Mainly for that jaw-dropping sequence in No Man’s Land. That and Clio’s twelve volumes of ancient texts on girl-on-girl erotica.

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Thor: Ragnarok This is easily Marvel’s funniest with Hulk vs. Thor at the center and that fight sequence that burns Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for fuel.

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Bliss Jerrold Tarog’s pycho-sexual thriller featuring Iza Calzado is the most elaborate tease of the year.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 James Gunn’s we’re a happy family of A-holes strikes back in Marvel’s most spacey and outlandish adventure yet.

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Blade of the Immortal Forget about Logan, this is the (fast-healing) superhero film of the year. Takashi Miike’s 100th film about the titular hundred killer is a killer.

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Birdshot Easily the most beautiful film I’ve seen this year. Part-Brothers Grimm, part-Miyazaki, Birdshot is a coming of age tale awash in blood, violence and corruption, a haunting political parable told through visual poetry.

 

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Music

Now, 2017 is quite a huge year in music. So huge I’ve only managed to discover five new songs to add to my playlist.

Ely Buendia and Co. goes the soul/Rn’B/funky route with Apartel. “Guijo St. (Makes You Wonder)” is something Michael Jackson would have written after listening to “With A Smile” on repeat. “Better Off” has this Al Green vibe to it but starts off like that song by this Native American band to which Star-Lord danced to in the opening sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy.

I liked Sharlene San Pedro‘s “Stars & Caramel Bars” the first time I saw it on MYX. Sharlene San Pedro covers one from Mayonnaise and one from a band I never heard of. The former child star from “Going Bulilit” isn’t writing her own material (yet) but at least she knows what she likes and I like what she likes.

I’m not really into funk or soul. Yet somehow I find myself liking IV of Spades’ “Hey Barbara”. And Barbara is cute.

The unreleased studio version of “Lift” (a.k.a. the greatest unreleased Radiohead song), finally surfaced with OKNOTOK. And it did not disappoint, unlike the new version of “True Love Waits”.

Here are my top ten songs for 2017:

ApartelBetter Off / Guijo St.
RadioheadLift / Man of War
IV of SpadesHey Barbara
UDDUnti-Unti
Sharlene San PedroStars & Caramel Bars / Paraan
Temple of the DogHunger Strike
SoundgardenThe Day I Tried To Live

 

Is ‘Logan’ The Best X-Men Movie?

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The Last of Wolverine

No, I don’t think Logan is the greatest comic-book movie since The Dark Knight (which isn’t even great to begin with). But it’s probably the best X-Men movie yet. I used to agree with the general consensus that X2 was the best of the lot, but Logan is also a remarkable movie and it gets Wolverine right. And that for me, says a lot.

While the first two X-Men movies by were generally well-loved by both critics and fans, I’ve always find them lacking. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto respectively, brought gravitas to these surprisingly earnest comic book movies (the much maligned third movie had actually more fun to offer, especially with Juggernaut, Mystique and Multiple Man). Hugh Jackman took the role of Wolverine, and made a career playing the fierce but sensitive mutant from Canada. Unfortunately, the other supposedly key characters (Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast) were sidelined, and nearly forgettable. While Rebecca Romijn, in her very physical and almost dialogue-free role as Mystique, steals the show from almost every one of them. Sure, Bryan Singer has style, but it’s a style that muted the colors and voices of these supposedly motley crew of outsiders.

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Yes, these movies touch on relevant issues (i.e., xenophobia, LGBT). But so did the comics and the ’90s cartoons, which, arguably did better doing so than the movies. In fact, that is only to be expected of these movies. What I did not expect was how Wolverine-centered they were. Were they called Wolverine and the X-Men, I won’t be complaining how the rest of team didn’t get to do much. Also, I thought these movies were just too serious for their own good. Logan was allowed to make jokes, but at the expense of the other characters, like Cyclops and Beast, who were both badly underwritten. And sometimes, the seriousness lapses into something silly, unintentionally (i.e., X-Men‘s amusing third act fight scenes, Prof. X saying goodbye to Cyclops in X2 (couldn’t Jean talk to Scott directly?)) Continue reading “Is ‘Logan’ The Best X-Men Movie?”

Logan (James Mangold, 2017)

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I don’t get this bias towards serious comic book movies. A movie has some convincingly Oscar-worthy drama, then all of a sudden it’s the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight. People heap praises on these two movies yet no one bothers to mention Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan’s subdued superhero drama and follow-up to his more popular debut The Sixth Sense. Why cream your pants over Logan and not Deadpool? When Deadpool had more success at being irreverently funny than Logan did with its sob story. Don’t get me wrong, Logan is a fine movie. It probably has the most memorable portrayal of both Logan and Charles Xavier in all of X-Men movies. Logan’s old, resigned, half the beast he used to be while Xavier’s annoying, old, and sick, which makes him more dangerous. And I liked the dynamics between these two characters (the plot concerning the young mutants, not so much); like in the scene where Xavier needs to take a leak. And with a little detour, it is able to give what should have been the true essence of every X-Men movie—humans and mutants—which made the movie for me. But the movie’s really about X-23, old man Logan, and their kind of forced father-daughter drama, and those other young mutants—it is more than OK, but nothing to get too crazy about.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood, 2009)

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When it comes to the worse Marvel-based movies, the B-grade X-Men Origins: Wolverine is easily among the front-runners. As a comic-book movie, Wolverine is one serious offender. It has no regards for a lot of things: the first X-Men movie (where Sabretooth appeared), the Weapon X series, the other X-Men characters (i.e., Gambit, Deadpool). But outside its irreverence, is a somewhat tightly constructed B-movie (particularly the first half) that knows its own thrills. If you think about it, the story was nothing more than a silly excuse to get Logan in Wolverine-mode. As a low budget action movie (they didn’t even bother to get back Brian Cox to play Stryker), it actually works—kind of. While there are still plenty to ask for in Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine (he’s too soft, too pretty), at least his own movie is so bad—ass; not only does it cut its ties with both comics and other X-Men movies with ease (talk about the script’s adamantium quality), it also almost killed and forever shut-up the one exciting character that Fox has: the snarky anti-hero known as Merc with a Mouth.