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Best Movies Of 2017 … So Far — Three D’s Picks
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Wind River Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner Movies of 2017

We are more than half way through the year and we haven’t been exposed to many great films. Naturally, at this point of the year, there may have been a handful of pictures that would have had a profound influence on its viewers initially. One or two have had such an impact (A Ghost Story and Wind River), while others could replicate that same feeling with multiple viewings (the majority of the films on this list). But the majority of the year’s pickings are lacking distinction. We’ll be looking forward to the next few months. Until then, here are my picks for the best movies of 2017 so far.

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Blu-ray Review: The Red Shoes (The Criterion Collection)
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The Red Shoes, The Criterion Collection Blu-ray

The Red Shoes
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Starring Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Leonide Massine, Robert Helpmann
Theatrical Release Date: September 6, 1948

How would you define ballet, Miss Neston?
Well, one might call it the poetry of motion perhaps, or…
One might. But for me it is a great deal more. For me it is a religion. And one doesn’t really care to see one’s religion practiced in an atmosphere…such as this.

In what seems to be a film paying the highest tribute possible to the world of ballet, we are taken aback when the film ends when we realize what it really has been about the entire time. The Red Shoes is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about a girl who finds a pair of red slippers, puts them on, and cannot stop dancing. The film’s narrative approaches that subject and then ventures away from it.

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Three-D’s Top 30 Movies Of 2016
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Top 30 Movies Of 2016

Regret and “what if” scenarios consumed many of the narratives on this list of my Top 30 Movies of 2016. Grief isn’t so much a novelty in cinema. It has been confronted thousands of times before, but the way it was handled this year was remarkably beautiful. The year’s best films didn’t hide the fact that their specific characters were going to face mighty obstacles that threatened to suffocate them. It seemed very intimate and personal watching how these films perceived their characters confronting grief and confusion. It’s as if the directors of these films know us so well. They capture what it is to be human.

The two brothers in Hell or Hight Water are beaten down by our financial institutions…what if they robbed them back? Regret and confusion follow a young boy around until he is a grown man in Moonlight, and still no signs of either ever leaving. What if Captain Sullenberger obeyed protocol and turned the airplane around instead of landing it safely on the Hudson River? We probably wouldn’t have the movie Sully. And what if O.J Simpson willingly admitted to murdering his wife we wouldn’t have the sprawling eight-hour documentary O.J.: Made in America. And an overwhelming amount of regret is the central theme in Right Now, Wrong Then.

Here are my Top 30 Movies of 2016

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Best Movies Of 2016 … So Far – Three D’s Picks
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Three-D   |  
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Movies of 2016 Richard Linklater Everybody Wants Some!!

Granted I still need to see De Palma and Hell or High Water, but the lack of American films on my list of best movies of 2016 so far is glaring. Consumed with the remakes, reboots, and sequels, American cinema this year has been boring for me. I’m praying the next few months provide films with some oomph. So far in 2016 the only English-speaking film that is of any genius is Krisha (and to think it’s made by a first-time director). International cinema this year produced masterpieces. They are films that contemplate time, existence, dreams, and love. The majority of the best movies so far can be found via numerous streaming services. That should be cause of a celebration. Below are my picks for the best films so far this year listed alphabetically, along with a few runner-ups.

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Blu-ray Review: Aferim!
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Aferim! movie still

Aferim!
DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by Radu Jude
Starring: Teodor Corban, Mihai Comanoiu, Toma Cuzin, Alexandru Dabija, and Luminita Gheorghiu
Studio: Big World Pictures
Theatrical Release Date: January 22, 2016
Blu-Ray/Streaming Release Date: June 28, 2016

The futility of attempting to do good in a world governed by inconceivable hate has been a popular topic in cinema. We have witnessed it all. Good prevails. Bad prevails. Yet the films that ponder on the futility rather than the grotesque or sublime have been all too infrequent. Apparently Romanian director Radu Jude is aware of this, and how thankful we should be because Aferim! is an assured meditation on life and the human spirit.

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Movie Review: Midnight Special
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Midnight Special trailer header

Midnight Special
** out of ****
Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher, Kirsten Dunst, and Sam Shepherd
Release Date- March 18, 2016

Midway through Midnight Special there’s a line that’s uttered from a father to his son that sticks with us, despite how generic it initially seems, and encapsulates its director’s entire film oeuvre. “I like worrying about you,” Roy (Michael Shannon) says to his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), after a near death experience. Such a simple line depicts the compulsion men invariably encounter in each of the four films made by Arkansas director Jeff Nichols. His men are troubled, burdened, and eventually consumed by an unhealthy urge to either protect their family, friends, or legacy.

Unlike the best films of Nichols (this ranks last on his list), Midnight Special does not fully go with the reverberations that such a faithful adherence to a compulsion would lead to. Rather, we are dragged along an erratic journey that fuses a variety of genres (inevitable comparisons to E.T. Will ensue), eventually losing sight of Mr. Nichols’ sweet spot: examining man’s unerring religious devotion to protection and human emotion.

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Blu-ray Review: I Knew Her Well, The Criterion Collection
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I Knew Her Well review

I Knew Her Well
Directed by Antonio Pierangeli
Starring Stefani Sandrelli, Enrico Maria Salerno, Ugo Tognazzi, Mario Adorf, and Jean-Claude Brialy
Criterion Collection Release Date: February 23, 2016

From the film’s erotic opening that begins with a panning camera religiously observing from toe-to-head the delicate, beautiful, porcelain skin of Adriana as she obliviously basks in the morning or afternoon sun (time hardly matters to her) and who has an unswerving intent to meet up after with one of several men she easily attracts, one would scarcely be able to decipher a dull moment in the life of Adriana. Music, cocktails, parties and affairs are just as common as breathing and sleeping.

If only the camera could burrow a few inches deeper and penetrate her soul we would be spectators to a profound emptiness. But like the men in her life the camera observes her from a distance, simply admiring her beauty and only on rare occasions wanting to know her well.

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Three-D’s Top 30 Movies Of 2015
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Favorite Movies of 2015 - The End of the Tour

More than any other year this decade, 2015 had a sufficient amount of prestigious films that had distinct narratives about women being considerably perplexed and troubled with their particular situations. Perusing the films on my list, I started to realize that a vast number of them contained women longing to attain an ideal, a passion, or a faint semblance of hope that the future can and will be brighter. From all over the globe these individuals sought love and respect only to encounter threatening obstacles, some that could be overcome and others that could barely be comprehended, let alone endured.

The atmosphere that Harley found herself in in Heaven Knows What was beyond volatile and dangerous, but it didn’t prohibit her from dreaming of a better existence for herself and her lover. A lethal assassin is summoned back to her homeland to carry out a murder but is unable to do so due to her growing consciousness in The Assassin. Two women who fall spellbindingly in love in Carol each possess desires to create a lasting bond with each other despite society’s unbending morality. Looking to move up in the ranks of the FBI and make a name for herself, Kate unquestionably steps too far out of her comfort zone where she quickly meets the most ruthless of men in Sicario. And the women of Mad Max: Fury Road are acquainted with an impossible to comprehend evil but are willing to go through an unrelenting gauntlet to attain their ideal.

Here are my Top 30 Movies Of 2015

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Movie Review: Time Out Of Mind
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Time Out Of Mind (2015) review

Time Out of Mind
** out of *****
Directed by Oren Moverman
Starring Richard Gere, Jena Malone, Ben Vereen, Kyra Sedgwick, Danielle Brooks and Steve Buscemi
Theatrical Release Date: September 9, 2015

In a film that should have multiple scenes of intense emotional dilemma and existential inquiry, director Oren Moverman’s massively confused film Time Out of Mind sadly serves up only two such scenes. Wrought with the struggle of establishing a gritty art-house picture doubling as social commentary film, Moverman loses a lot of the intimacy he so desperately yearns to capture as he did respectfully in his last effort, Rampart.

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Movie Review: Breathe (2015)
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Breathe Movie

Breathe
**** out of *****
Directed by Melanie Laurent
Starring: Josephine Japy, Lou de Laage, Isabelle Carre, Radivoje Bukvic, and Claire Keim
Theatrical Release Date: September 11, 2015
French Subtitles

A few minutes into director Melanie Laurent’s second feature film (we know her best from her role as the blonde bombshell in Inglourious Basterds), Breathe, a French classroom setting is revealed to us and a discussion is ongoing about the potential ramifications of passion. One high school students’ observation can be seen as a portent: “Passion is harmful when it becomes obsessive.” This is foreshadowing at its most glaring, but even when we think we know the suspected trajectory of Ms. Laurent’s new film she quickly lays rest to our expectations and sets in motion a new path we hardly anticipate.

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