To part ways with this questionable year, we continue our end-of-year highlight run-throughs with our pick of the films that made 2017 a little more tolerable. This cinematic year was all about representation and innovation and our personal favourites surely reflect that.
‘I don’t really know what I like’ becomes the line that guides Frankie (Harris Dickinson) to explore his latent desires in a summer of love. Or is it a summer of surfacing consciousness and of cementing identity through self-discovery? This lost youth is what drives Eliza Hittman’s poignant character study in Beach Rats (2017), a film of love and sexuality in limbo, a successful confrontation of the fragility and palpable tensions of heteronormative notions of masculinity.
Read our interview with the director, Eliza Hittman, who graced the pages of issue 4.
120 BPM ( Beats per minute)
Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes, 120 BPM is a tragic and heartfelt celebration of the ACT UP group in 80s France that fought to raise awareness about AIDS. It is a dissection of social history and a front row seat to a poignant and important sense of activism, haunted and accelerated by the possibility of death looming overhead. The film delicately intertwines that with the importance of the events, keeping the sense of fatality in a perfect tango with the spirit of these youths, whose circumstances only determine their hearts to beat faster and louder throughout.
Song to Song
A further advancement in the recent experimental catalogue of the legendary Terrence Malick, Song to Song generated mixed feelings at the time of its July release. We, however, felt that the music festival-fuelled sense of vertigo and confusion was nothing if not augmented by the daring dance of the camera in its electric music video-like montages. The highs and the lows, the dizzy and chaotic landscape of youth in a manipulative industry and an authorial style which masterfully stood the test of time has you, if anything, on the same rollercoaster as falling in love. And did we mention Patti Smith, Iggy Pop and Lykke Li are in there?
The Florida Project
Superficially framed in a pastel world of Disneyland and childhood friendship, disenchantment swiftly takes over in Tangerine alum’s Sean Baker part-social commentary, part-family drama project. The cracks in the euphoria set up in the beginning gradually materialise, little Moonee’s childishly constructed world in the courtyard of the Magic Castle motel, in a bitter parody of Disney’s very own Magic Kingdom casting its light from only a few miles away. It creates a complicated yet moving mother-daughter story, a lilac-hued tale of circumstance and the extent of the limits that brings about.
God’s Own Country
God’s Own Country, which is set in rural West Yorkshire, may sound like the title a rose-tinted, poeticised insight into pastoral Britain – but it’s anything but. Cast in the muted shadows of the Yorkshire Dales, this is a bleak, harsh, and brutal depiction of working class life. But, as director Francis Lee points out, the film attempts to actively steer away from stereotyping rural communities as conservative, grim, and, most importantly, homophobic. – Liam Taft
Julia Ducournau’s daring coming-of-age film disguised as a body horror deals with all the growing pains that teenage girls experience – the rite of passage of self-discovery and sexual desire being delivered through the filter of cannibalism. Ducournau digs deep to find a monstrosity that, she claims, lies somewhere inside all of us, from that playful curiosity first encountered when, for example, you bite a friend’s finger as a child and are instinctually pushed to . Raw is therefore meant to disturb and provoke, in a refreshing crossover between genres which put Ducournau on our to-watch list for years to come.
Call Me by Your Name
Last, but definitely not least, in an unordered list lies our indisputable favourite, the delicately unforgettable Call Me by Your Name. A story of love and loss on the backdrop of a Sufjan Steven-soundtracked Italian summer, CMBYN explores sexuality and young love – a relationship constrained to exist around the ticking of the clock that announces the end of the summer, but a love that will leave its imprint on all other summers to come. The film switches on all those emotions most of us have buried, from a first kiss to a first love to a first heartbreak, the one that gets away though we’re always hoping they’ll come back. As the film, and Elio’s father both remind us ‘to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!’