Here are the first 5 movies in my list.
1. “First Cow”
Kelly Reichardt’s latest film “First Cow” lingers on my mind more than expected. While seemingly plain and modest in terms of story and characters, this little period drama constantly engaged me via its palpable realism and elegant storytelling, and I came to care about its two different main characters a lot as often touched by their desperate struggle for hope and dream in their harsh world. Although I merely admired Reichardt’s previous films “Meek’s Cutoff” (2010) and “Certain Women” (2016), they have grown a lot on me after watching them, and “First Cow” has already begun to grow on me at this point. As many of other critics have said, she is indeed one of the best American filmmakers in our time, and now I belatedly concur with that opinion.
2. “House of Hummingbird”
“House of Hummingbird”, the first feature film by director/writer Kim Bo-ra, observes a young ordinary girl’s life in specific place and period, but it eventually comes to us a universal coming-of-age tale packed with small but powerful moments. At first, I wondered a bit about why many critics have been so enthusiastic about the movie, but then I found myself emotionally involved in its adolescent heroine’s small world more than expected during the next 90 minutes, and that was why I was surprised as observing how strongly I reacted to what is superbly presented during the rest of the movie. In my inconsequential opinion, it is surely one of the great South Korean films of this decade, and you must check it out as soon as possible.
3. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Here is a little but extraordinary film you must watch right now. Phlegmatically observing a desperate and frustrating journey of two adolescent girls seeking abortion, Eliza Hittman’s latest film “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” will hit you hard with several restrained but undeniably powerful moments to haunt you, and I admire how it non-judgmental storytelling approach subtly lets the audiences reflect on its sensitive and relevant subjects. With this movie and “Beach Rats”, Hittman demonstrates that she is indeed a very talented filmmaker, and I will be excited to see her next career moves in the future.
4. “Da 5 Bloods”
Spike Lee’s latest work “Da 5 Bloods” is quite a compelling mix of adventure drama, social commentary. and history lesson. While it is rather uneven and a bit too overlong in my inconsequential opinion, it is entertaining to watch how confidently and joyously Lee juggles disparate elements together for another ambitious project in his bold and distinctive filmmaking career, and you will come to enjoy its numerous good moments while marveling at how skillfully he handles its improbable narrative concoction. Yes, it is imperfect to say the least, but the overall result is fantastic enough to overlook these flaws in the film, and I admire how boldly Lee reaches for many different things ranging from the Boston Massacre to Black Lives Matter movement within the epic background of the Vietnam War.
Kantemir Balagov’s “Beanpole”, which was selected as Russia’s submission to Best International Film Oscar in last year, is a bleak and harrowing film about two women who are irrevocably damaged by their wartime experiences. While it is often quite difficult to watch their gloomy drama for many good reasons, the movie firmly grabs our attention with its achingly human moments nonetheless, and it powerfully shakes us in addition to providing a compelling female perspective to its familiar main subject. This is indeed a tough stuff, but it is still worthwhile to watch for its superlative mood, storytelling, and performance, and it is surely another memorable movie of this year