2017: Halftime Report

movie

Every year, the first half is more difficult to find great movies in (since studios put their best in theaters in the last months of the year). As always, I am not able to see all the films (or avoid all of them), but I managed to make a top five of the year that are so far worth remembering the most six months from now.

However, let us first look at the five movies that I are worth forgetting (at least till I make the worst of the year list in six months).

The Worst

 

5.  Split

I am sorry, but the script was not something I could believe, no matter how great James McCovoy.

 

4. Get Out

Ok, I will get a lot of feedback on this, but I still am trying to find out how this movie is so well rated on rottentomatoes. I admit the movie was funny, but scary? Hardly.

 

3.  Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Javier Bardem makes an good villian, but he entered this tired franchise far too late. It has officially sunk.

 

2. Transformers: The Last Knight

Yeah, no real surprise here. Does this franchise still have fans?

 

1. Life

 

Predictible. Unoriginal. Don’t get me started on the ending.

 

 

Ok, now the best of the year so far…

 

5. Okja

Streaming now on Netflix, this story of a little girl on a quest to save her giant pet pig is no kiddie flick. It is strange and weird, but also beautifully original.

 

4. The Lego Batman Movie

Lego strikes again with originality and humor. Stretching even further into the Lego universe, it is got plenty of entertainment for any age.

 

3. Wonder Woman

DC has not had as many solid hits as Marvel, but this was definetly a big one for the company. Gal Gadot gives a solid performance in a movie that will have both genders rooting.

 

2. Baby Driver

With the exception of Mad Max: Fury Road, no movie in the last few years has had as much road raging action and octane. Not to mention the acting and comedy.

 

1. Logan

Hugh Jackman gives a bittersweet performance in his swan song film of the character he brought to life over a decade ago. Add in a tight script with fine supporting acting, and you have a comic book movie for people who don’t like comic book movies.

 

Here is to the second half of the year…

Okja (2017)

Okja

Mija (newcomer Seo-Hyun Ahn) and her pet Okja…

Before I watched Okja, I noticed a number of negative reviews from users on Netflix. The main accusation: It is not for children. I could not agree more, but that does not mean the movie is bad. My conclusion is that those who did not like Okja just noticed the fact that it had a little girl and a (very big) pet pig, therefore thinking it would be a family friendly fare.

The movie begins in 2007, with the head of the Mirando Corporation Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) announcing the discovery of making super sized pigs in the effort to stop world hunger. She sends 26 of these pigs to different farm locations on the globe, stating that they will be ready for consumption in ten years.

Fast forward ten years, and we meet Mija (a young and talented actress named Seo-Hyun Ahn), who lives on a farm in the mountains of South Korea with her Grandfather and pet super pig, Okja. It is clear that Mija and Okja are best of friends (their scenes reminded me a little of My Neighbor Totoro).

One day, they are visited by the host of a TV show sponsored by Mirando, Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal). They announce that Okja has been selected as the winner of the competition, and will be shipped off to America. When Mija finds out that Okja will be slaughtered for meat, she rushes after him.

Along the way, we get some rather impressive action sequences (Mija is shown on top of a moving truck), witty dialogue (the truck driver hates his job), and rather stunning imagery. Mija also encounters animal rights activists called ALF (including great actors like Paul Dano and Steven Yeun), who want to put an end to the Mirando Corporation.

Legendary Acting teacher Sanford Meisner said, “Acting is fun. Don’t let that get around.” It can be clearly shown here in Okja. Tilda Swinton, an Oscar winner, is known for picking roles that are considered a little strange and unusual, and while her performance (as well as that of Paul Dano) seemed like it was written for them, I for one was very surprised at the performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. He has always been a great actor (underrated, in my opinion), but I never thought he could play the goof ball like he does here, and still make us forget it is him behind the mustache. It is rather brilliant work.

Parents, the TV-MA on Netflix is more than appropriate. Consider the film an R rating.  There is no sex in the film, but there is a lot of swearing. There is also a lot of disturbing imagery (especially at the end, knowing what happens to animals when they are killed for meat). Totally not a movie for kids. High School and above (maybe mature middle schoolers).

One thing about Okja you cannot deny is the originality. If a movie keeps you glued because you have no knowledge of what will happen next, it is because the movie has been completly void of any cliches one would think could happen. That alone is worthy of praise for any movie.

 

Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2