| Flicks

FLICKS: A look at movies from 2018

Posted on 03 January 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Given that I am writing this column in 2018, I still have a few hours left before creating my Top 10 List of films and honorable mentions for the year, which means it will be posted next Thursday, Jan. 10 instead.

Being a good information scientist, I have been researching other people’s mainstream Top 10 Lists and the results have been eclectic. One of the most bizarre picks is Deadpool 2, which happened to earn the 5th largest box office gross for the year. Aside from many comic book “in” jokes and a celebrity cameo from Brad Pitt, Deadpool 2, to me, is merely an extension of gags from the first movie.

A darling of the Venice Film Festival, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is the latest movie from the Coen Brothers, who delight in pessimistic themes of the old west (Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men, True Grit). This anthology film presents six stories. The first story stars Tim Blake Nelson and is a musical comedy that generates many belly laughs. The remaining five stories get progressively darker and crueler. “Meal Ticket” is the most disturbing tale. It features Liam Neeson as a snake oil salesman and his partner, an armless and legless orator of classic poetry (Harry Melling), the actor best known for playing Young Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter movies. After Meal Ticket, the good will of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is squandered.

Ghost Stories is an anthology film with a narrative thread that creates a full cinematic experience. Shot in Great Britain on a shoestring budget, writers and directors Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman (who is also the main protagonist) create a classic ghost story that relies on sight, sound and a narrative drive that is psychologically based.

Eighth Grade was a surprise find. It is a simple slice of life movie written and directed by Bo Burnham. In it, Elsie Fisher stars as Kayla, a teenager in her final week of middle school. While it is modern (Yes, cell phones play a big part in moving the narrative along), the awkwardness of being a teen is real and is presented as a right of passage. Eighth Grade is easily the best film I found on other mass media’s Top 10 Lists and Elsie Fisher is nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

It should be noted that the films I mention in this column are no longer on the big screen. Each one of these films can be found on Netflix or on DVD at your local library.

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