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The 25 Best Fall 2017 Films We’ve Already Seen

Written by on August 23, 2017 

God’s Own Country (Francis Lee; Oct. 25)

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British filmmakers have a recent habit of bringing about canonical additions to UK queer cinema with their debuts. Andrew Haigh’s heartbreaking romance Weekend and Hong Khaou’s moving Lilting are now joined by Francis Lee’s gay romance God’s Own Country, a bold and brilliant drama rightfully garnering Brokeback Mountain comparisons out of its Sundance Film Festival berth. Anchored by a quartet of heartfelt performances and tapping into zeitgeisty conflicts between working-class England and growing EU immigration, it’s hard to imagine a more bracingly open-hearted film coming out of Brexit Britain today. – Ed F. (full review)

The Square (Ruben Östlund; Oct. 27)

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When it comes to satire there are few easier targets than the world of contemporary art. “My 5-year-old could do that,” so goes the saying. This is not to indicate that the art world is no longer fair game, but the self-seriousness of that scene and the conceptual nature of what it tends to put out have been battered with the same stick for so long by now that it’s become almost impervious to such jabs. Almost. One of the rare exceptions might be Ruben Östlund’s The Square, an acerbic, sphincter-tightening dark comedy that works as a sort of drawn-out spiritual castration for its über chic Stockholm art curator protagonist. – Rory O. (full review)

On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo; Nov. 17)

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To quote Whitman’s great poem from which this fine film takes its name: “As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.” On the Beach at Night Alone, a bittersweet tone poem from South Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo, thinks many a thought about the universe and the future, mostly expressed through nature and the characters’ anxieties about growing old. It’s the 18th feature from the prolific master filmmaker, and one that ponders in the macro while still following the archetypal blueprinted micro we’ve come to expect. – Rory O. (full review)

Mudbound (Dee Rees; Nov. 17)

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Expanding her narrative scope but still retaining a level of aesthetic intimacy, Dee Rees’ Pariah follow-up Mudbound has the old-fashioned storytelling feel of a grand American novel. Based on Hillary Jordan’s 2008 book, the story takes place during World War II, and while it shows glimpses of the horrors of war, its larger aim is concerned with the racial divide of two families in the American south. Shifting point-of-views result in the drama taking a bit to find its footing, but after the groundwork is set, Rees is able to burrow deeper into the injustices — both piercingly subtle and horrifyingly grotesque — to create a powerful exploration of cyclical racism, with a touch of hope. – Jordan R. (full review)

Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino; Nov. 24)

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“I have loved you for the last time,” Sufjan Stevens sings in his original song “Visions of Gideon” in Call Me By Your Name. It’s a moment of both bittersweet happiness and a farewell to a passion that won’t be replicated again for Elio (Timothée Chalamet) as, deep down, he knows his relationship with Olivier (Armie Hammer) is over after his six-week stay in their Italian villa. Luca Guadagnino’s disarmingly nice and intoxicatingly sexy film is an extraordinary queer romance, one that evocatively explores the body and mind’s surrender to lust and love. – Jordan R. (full review)

The Other Side of Hope (Aki Kaurismäki; Dec. 1)

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What Kiarostami is to the front seats of a car and Bresson is to the prison, so Aki Kaurismäki is to the perennial mid-80s Helsinki; that dark pastel-colored nowhere where everyone smokes and drinks and wears cheap suits. One of the many interesting things about The Other Side of Hope — a poignantly contemporaneous deadpan comedy which is surely amongst the greatest of his 20-or-so features — is that the auteur plants a Syrian refugee named Khaled (Sherwan Haji) into the center of that backwards world, as if he were a walking anachronism. – Rory O. (full review)

Happy End (Michael Haneke; Dec. 22)

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Happy End is a perplexing title for a movie by Michael Haneke, a filmmaker not exactly known for his irony whose endings have ranged from the death of all the central characters via murder and/or suicide (this has happened on four occasions) to the inception of Nazism. Lest anyone should suspect the redoubtable Austrian of growing soft, before the opening credits of Happy End have even finished rolling, a twelve-year-old has already killed her hamster and poisoned her mom, all of which she records and sarcastically comments on with a Snapchat-like app. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)

Félicité (Alain Gomis; TBD)

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A wild and adventurous fourth feature from French-African director Alain Gomis, Félicité find ourselves in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the world’s most dangerous places and a hard place in the best of times to make a living. Gomis, alongside cinematographer Céline Bozon, photograph the city as a wild, confused metropolis, unspooling over new-money concrete blocks, dirt tracks and a make-shift hazardous slums. It’s where Félicité, played with style and jazz by Congolese theatre actor Vero Tshanda Beya, works hand-to-mouth as a singer in raucous night clubs. The opening scene shows Félicité in full voice in a dive bar, where men drunkenly brawl and wads of notes are sent her way in reckless abandon, shot with an explosive energy. – Ed F. (full review)

In the Fade (Fatih Akin; TBD)

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Fatih Akin sends a cumbersome bull into the socio-political china shop of present-day Germany, and all its racial and social divides, with In the Fade, a compelling (if somewhat ugly and hammy) contemporary revenge thriller wherein fear begets fear, hates begets hate, and thrills — however imprudent they might be — are easy to come by.Rory O. (full review)

Princess Cyd (Stephen Cone; TBD)

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Is there a director more generous to his characters than Stephen Cone? Watching his films, one gets a sense that he doesn’t use the medium simply to tell stories but to exercise his curiosity and discover the things that make us human. In the hands of another filmmaker, Princess Cyd‘s two leads would’ve been pitted against each other and engaged in battle until a facile discovery in the denouement made them realize how much they had in common and led to a warm reconciliation. But not in Cone’s film, perhaps for the very notion that no one else is interested in telling the stories of characters such as these — perhaps because no one else can. – Jose S. (full review)

In terms of films that nearly made the cut or are notable releases we didn’t like a great deal, there’s The Limehouse Golem (9/8), The Unknown Girl (9/8), School Life (9/8), Woodpeckers (Carpinteros) (9/15), The Osiris Child (10/6) Dina (10/5), The Killing of the Sacred Deer (10/27), The New Radical (12/1). The respective distributors for You Were Never Really Here, The Rider, and A Fantastic Woman haven’t confirmed if they will get a release this year, but if so, put them on your radar.

Continue reading: Our 30 Most-Anticipated Fall 2017 Films

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