« All Features

The Best Films of 2018 (So Far)

Written by on June 20, 2018 

The Endless (Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson)

To resolve is to settle, finding the determination to do something rather than simply wait for something to happen to you. A resolution isn’t therefore a firm ending. On the contrary, it serves to provide beginnings. That decision has the potential to set you onto a path towards freedom either from the danger of outside forces or the complacency rendering you immobile within. So to look upon the conclusion of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s debut feature (as a tandem) isn’t to relinquish hope. The being — their riff on H.P. Lovecraft’s “Unknown” — that watches the events in Resolution does want stories, that is true. It craves them enough to ensure its characters arrive in time for their test. To assume it seeks tragedy, however, is to ignore complexity. – Jared M. (full review)

First Reformed (Paul Schrader)

first-reformed-1

Made with a kind of formal rigor that one would’ve assumed was long past Schrader after the “post-cinema” experimentations of The Canyons and Dog Eat DogFirst Reformed is first and foremost most admirable for its sustained mood. Shot in The Academy aspect ratio and maintaining a stillness and greyness that manages to seem utterly alien to the slow cinema standards of contemporary art films, one gets the sense of the director really having a genuine stake in the making of this picture. It seems the religious content is not so much an affect as a genuine late-in-life plea. – Ethan V. (full review)

Golden Exits (Alex Ross Perry)

golden-exits-2

There are no screaming matches or overt arguments, nor is there any sort of frenetic camera work, yet Golden Exits is unmistakably the work of Alex Ross Perry. The insecurities that bubbled up and exploded through his characters in Listen Up Philip and the even-more-heightened Queen of Earth stay grounded with his relatively small-scale latest film, these anxieties rather becoming the subtext for nearly every conversation. It’s a work of small decisions and jabs, glances and non-action. Should I stay at this bar where temptation exists? Should I continue staring at a woman that will only bring upon personal suffering? – Jordan R. (full review)

The Great Buddha+ (Huang Hsin-yao)

the-great-buddha-1

Huang Hsin-Yao is a new voice in independent Taiwanese cinema, and his first narrative feature–an adaptation of his short film The Great Buddha–carries itself with all of the vitriol that one would expect from somebody angry at the state of the Taiwanese film industry and government. This is apparent from the outset of The Great Buddha+, when Huang speaks to the audience as the credits roll, speaking harshly about the producers and delivering a personal statement. This anger remains throughout–a character named after the producer that Huang is particularly dissatisfied with is even killed off in a darkly humorous manner. – Jason O. (full review)

The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Galen Johnson, Evan Johnson)

the-green-fog-1

Few directors seem to reinvent cinema with each new picture, but Guy Maddin and his passion for boundless experimentation does it time and time again. His latest formally thrilling film is a “parallel-universe version” of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, utilizing footage from San Francisco-set features, ranging from Hollywood classics to avant-garde films to prime-time television. Commissioned by San Francisco Film Society, it enjoyed a theatrical run at the start of the year, and will hopefully be more widely available soon. – Jordan R.

Ismael’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin)

ismaels-ghosts

Pasolini included an “essential bibliography” in the opening credits of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, proffering five philosophical titles by the likes of Roland Barthes and Maurice Blanchot to help viewers navigate his rich and daunting Sadean masterpiece. The closing credits of Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts also feature a reading list that could be called essential. Of the four authors listed therein, one in particular might hold the key to interpreting Desplechin’s exhilarating, overflowing mindfuck of a movie: Jacques Lacan. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)

The King (Eugene Jarecki)

promised-land-1

A title like Promised Land can be appreciated for its duality: primarily meaning a land of promise but also, in another sense, a land that was promised. We’re talking about the United States of course, or rather filmmaker Eugene Jarecki is in his latest documentary. It’s an abstract road movie, fueled on disillusionment and rock and roll, and one that attempts the quite ambitious task of sketching out a narrative line to link the rise and decline of the nation with the rise and decline of Elvis Presley. If Jarecki struggles a little with this alchemy at times it is because Promised Land is essentially three movies in one: a detailed account of the King’s career; a loose account of the last 80 years of American politics; and a musical performance film. It can be a little jarring to shift between those gears but the director has form with this kind of sprawling state of the nation documentary (as seen with The House I Live in) and manages to keep things running along smoothly. – Rory O. (full review)

Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh)

lean-on-pete

Few directors are in tune with the rhythms of authentic human behavior than Andrew Haigh. Following Weekend and 45 Years, he expands his scope with Lean on Pete. His immense eye for camera placement/movement and blocking makes it a thrill to watch, and it’s also a deeply empathetic tale of a boy finding friendship while at a dead end in life. Haigh may not be from America, but there’s few more accurate depictions of this country in cinema this year. – Jordan R.

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)

Leave No Trace - Still 2

Early scenes of Leave No Trace feel like The Road. Not the movie adaptation, but Cormac McCarthy’s book, which evokes familial intimacy to an almost harrowing degree. Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire. In setting, this is that story’s pre-apocalyptic mirror, with a father and daughter living in the woods instead of a father and son wandering a wasteland. Here there is good earth instead of ash and striking greenery instead of gunmetal, and the lead characters have willingly separated themselves from civilization instead of being violently torn from it. But the central parent-child bond is of the same species, and the movie’s quiet study of it delivers similar heartbreak. – John F. (full review)

Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)

let-the-sunshine-in

Claire Denis may not be the first Francophone auteur expected to turn in a romantic comedy, and her latest will disappoint those expecting Nancy Meyers a Paris. However, Let the Sunshine In (Un Beau Soleil Interieur) is a sophisticated, idiosyncratic, thoroughly modern interpretation of a French romantic farce, perceptive if not laugh-out-loud funny, featuring a top-form Juliette Binoche as a middle-aged divorcée wading through a series of exasperatingly self-centered men in search not just for love, but a partner with whom she can be herself. – Ed F. (full review)

Continue >>

« 1 2 3»


See More: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


blog comments powered by Disqus


News More

Trailers More



Features More
Twitter icon_twitter Follow