Best of January 2017

January has been the slowest month for movies for me in over two years, and if I had not gone to Sundance and taken a week off of school and work, I would not have seen more than five films! That’s a pretty sad thought for me because stories drive me and my imagination, and without having movies in my life would just be extremely mundane, tedious and miserable! 🙂 However, because I did go to Sundance, January has been the BEST month for movies for me for years (quality over quantity, folks). You can read my Sundance Trip overview here or read my articles in the IDS Weekend about it here! Without further adieu, let’s break down my six favorite films of January 2017… (damn it’s already February)

6) A Ghost Story marks writer/director David Lowery’s return to Sundance after helming Disney’s Pete’s Dragon this past year. This film is about a couple that lives happily together until the husband dies in a car accident. At that point, the story turns into a science fiction movie, as the ghost of the husband becomes the main character of the film. What this film brings to the paranormal genre is the question: in a relationship in which one partner dies, which person becomes the more lonely victim: the widow or the ghost? Undoubtedly, this cinema vérité quasi-experimental film shot in a gorgeous 4:3 ratio will turn off a large portion of the audience who will not have the patience for the extremely meditative nature, but those who stick with this film until the end will be highly rewarded at the piecing together in the third act. A full review will be posted on my blog soon.

5) A Monster Calls in and of itself (whatever that means) is a beautiful story about love, grief, loneliness, hardship and loss with core lessons about the power of stories, as well as how actions speak louder than words. Usually, there is a clearly better medium of a story, either the book or the film, but these two go hand in hand so nicely, that I think it’s best to experience them both! There was a lot that the novel did better, and a lot that the novel couldn’t do that the film did expertly, so they really do work off of each other in a great relationship. If I had to pick an order for you to experience them, I would probably say read the book and then watch the movie, but there are a lot of reasons why the opposite would work better as well. My main reason is that the final scene in the movie is not in the book, and acts as an amazingly endearing epilogue to the entire tale, which would be best experiencing at the very end of both media. I think this story should be experienced by all, and you can pick and choose either the book or the film, and you’ll be happy with either. Read my full review here!

4) SilenceI’d have to say this is one of the most faithful book-to-movie adaptations that I’ve ever seen, and it probably ranks up there next to The Lord of the Rings for that reason. The movie was a slightly better experience for me than the book was, simply because it was easier to follow for me, but that may just be because I have read the book; explaining some plot points to my friend after seeing it was necessitated as he did not understand some things that the movie tried to do, as they weren’t as obvious as they were in the book. I would definitely recommend reading the book before watching the movie, but definitely, experience them both. The two are very much alike, but I think the book is a great introduction to the film, and they go great together for sure. Read my full review here!

3) Band Aid is about a couple who fight all the time over ridiculous things and decide that in order for them to get along well together, they should turn their fights into songs which would force them to work together, even if they’re insulting each other while doing it. I love and respect the hell out of this film, and especially Zoe Lister-Jones for her story and work; she hired an all-female production crew in order to balance out the under-representation of women behind the scenes in Hollywood, and they all did an amazing job making this movie. Aside from my number 2 pick of this month, this was the most touching film of my trip in the most unexpected of ways. It was just so raw, intimate and honest, and the performances are really what sold it all for me. I went from now knowing who Lister-Jones was, to making a check-list of her filmography so that I can see everything she has been in and appreciate the rest of her work. Not every film I saw was worth the $50 ticket, but this one was worth so much more. These last two films alone would have made my week unforgettable. A full review will be posted on my blog soon.

2) Chasing CoralThis is a film that I expected very little of since I am not one to jump on watching documentaries… until now. No film this year has blown me away like Chasing Coral. At the end of the film, everybody was in tears and leaped to their feet with thunderous applause; I don’t think more than a couple people at most left before the Q & A, which at least a dozen crew members participated in. This is a film about climate change, and how the coral reefs around the would have been killed by global warming due to the emission of fossil fuels. It was a heartbreaking film, but the crowd reaction and the crew being so amazing it what really hit the audience hardest. In the Q & A, a little girl no older than 12 asked what her generation could do to help save or prevent the destruction of the oceanic life, which got an incredibly supportive reaction from the audience. The film will be on Netflix soon, but make sure you do more than just click play in order to stop further damage from happening to our world. A full review will be posted on my blog soon.

1) La La LandYes, this film has been my Best of the Week three separate times, was my Best of the Month in December and my Best of the Year for 2016, so why wouldn’t it be my Best of the Month again in January?! I’ve seen this film three times and it still blows me away in every way; I’ve never seen a movie so beautiful in story and production. It’s the most heart-warming, -pounding, -breaking, -melting, -shattering, unforgettably mesmerizing defibrillator of aesthetic enthusiasm that I’ve ever seen on film! And no, that’s not an over-hyped over-statement, I’m serious about this film…If you haven’t been blown away by a movie in a little while, then this is the movie that you need to see. Check out any of my aforementioned posts regarding this film for more gushing content, or read my full initial review!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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