By: Henry J. Fromage –
Week eight of my 2017 365 Days of Movies Challenge was focused on getting all of those Oscar-nominated stragglers in there that I could. Alas, My Life as a Zucchini is scarcer than Steve Bannon’s soul.
57. Oscar Animated Shorts
I’ll put the link here, because it goes most in depth, but overall this was a pretty good crop of candidates. Pixar probably has this in the bag, and probably should- Piper is gorgeous and cute as all get out, but I was really impressed by the super-adult Pearl Cider and Cigarettes as well.
58. Oscar Live-Action Shorts
Ditto, the link to full thoughts is below, but this was honestly a pretty weak crop. Ennemis Interieurs is the most accomplished probably from both a technical and storytelling level, but even that one didn’t grab me all that much. Should win, though.
59. Oscar Documentary Shorts
This, however, was a pretty strong field of candidates, none of which would be undeserving in my mind of a win. I think The White Helmets is the class of the bunch, but with three of the five shorts related to Syria and/or the refugee crisis, it’s hard to predict how it will shake out.
60. Land of Mine
This Foreign Language Film nominee about Nazi POWs forced to dig up landmines on Danish beaches their side planted there does a great job of presenting a well-balanced, War is Hell perspective on these teenagers under the eye of an abrasive but not heartless Danish sergeant. The tension inherent in this supremely dangerous task is incredible, and the film handsomely hits its dramatic marks, but lacks the arc or perhaps pacing to make it truly great.
61. Things (1989)
Needing a breather from the heavy dramatics of our earlier watching, Oberst and I turned to this unclassifiable So Bad It’s Good bizarrity. It’s really pretty tough to tease out a plot from what happens, but in short it’s a bunch of Canadian shit-kickers battling some supernatural force, I think. The acting in particular is a sublime strain of awful.
62. Troll 2
A much more famous entry in the So Bad It’s Good genre, this Italian/American coproduction features zero trolls, lots of green goop, a mythology that makes not a lick of sense, and surprisingly production values for a film this terrible. Everything they told you it was, and maybe more.
63. A Monster with a Thousand Heads
This short Mexican thriller, in which a woman hunts down the insurance agents responsible for denying her dying husband’s essential treatment, is inventively framed and propulsively paced, although sometimes at the expense of character development. Well worth the less than an hour and a half it runs, with a little cutting social commentary to boot.
This Oscar-nominated Romeo & Juliet in the South Pacific story is fascinating from an ethnographic perspective, well acted by a cast of non-professionals, and full of beautiful vistas and frames, but not terribly gripping story-telling, perhaps because it’s such a foundational type of myth for so many cultures.
65. Jim: The James Foley Story
It seems like we’ve had several of these documentaries, and considering it’s another profile of a war reporter who gets in way over his head, and in this case was beheaded, one is clearly too many. This documentary focuses on James Foley the man above the profiling of a profession and the documenting of a desperate story. And James Foley the man seems like he would have been one hell of an interesting person to have met.