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My Most Memorable Movie Moments of 2017

In no particular order, here are some of my most memorable moments related to film in 2017.

1) Getting a ticket for mother!

When I went to my local theater to see mother!, the cashier informed that there was a scene towards the second half of the film that had caused people to walk out and demand their money back. He made it clear that no such refund would be provided if I were to do the same since over half of the film would have been completed by then. In my long experience going to the movies, I had never had this happen to me before, and I went into the screening with a heightened sense of anticipation. My girlfriend (now fiancee) had somewhat spoiled me of the content of the film from articles that she had read, which took away a lot of the WTF element for me. When I did get to that particular scene, which is supposed to be horrific, I honestly had to laugh. The symbolism of that moment was so jarringly obvious that it took me out of the movie. I was laughing because its heightened nature made it so ridiculous in my eyes. .

2) Enduring Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

Disney has received so much backlash for making paying audiences for Coco endure this 20 minute commercial that they had to pull it from theaters. For someone who was never onboard the Frozen train (basically anyone who knows that Moana is way better), this did verge on torture. In dating, desperation, the willingness to ingratiate yourself dignity and integrity be damned, is a huge turn-off, and this short was definitely one disastrous blind date that I did not want to be on.

3) Start of the Frame by Frame

One of the signature events at Roger Ebert’s film festivals was, what I call, the frame by frame. Basically, audiences would watch a film together. Then they would watch it again, but during this second runthrough, anyone could yell out “stop!” to pause the film and offer comments and insights on the scene that had inspired them. It had always been something that I wanted to try, so when my friend Josh suggested that we do it, I jumped at the chance.

The first film we did the frame by frame for was Samuel Fuller’s The Steel Helmet. Coincidentally, I had watched a lot of Samuel Fuller films recently, so I had a grasp on his style. I also watched A Fuller Life, directed by his daughter Samantha Fuller, which Josh said he turned off because the introduction was so terrible. I managed to get through the admittedly hokey intro and found that the documentary was basically a well-produced audiobook, as actors, collaborators and admirers read from his memoirs. I also watched the film two times before meeting up with Josh. The first time was to simply absorb the movie, and the second time was to examine it more critically.

I wish I had the time to watch all films this way. Even though we’ve only done this for a couple of films, this exercise has made me think more critically about how I view films and pay attention to cinematic language. Watching a film as a collaborative experience was also really illuminating too, as I could offer what I had gleaned from my research and my own Korean culture (the movie takes place during the Korean war) and Josh could offer his extensive knowledge of film history and film language (he is a director). We both came to the conclusion that Fuller may not be the most polished or subtle filmmaker, but he was definitely a bold one. His tendency towards bold didacticism could work brilliantly as it does in The Naked Kiss (one insane movie, even by today’s standards) or not so brilliantly as in The Steel Helmet, though we both enjoyed picking the latter apart. It kind of helped that neither of us thought this was a great movie (a good one maybe) because we were comfortable simply talking over it rather than pausing frame by frame. When we did this for The Cranes Are Flying, which we both loved, there were many more silent moments as we watched Kalatozov’s incredible filmmaking in awe. Next up is Oki’s Movie by Hong Sang Soo, which ought to be interesting since he is such a restrained filmmaker, and it seems like not much happens in his films. We will have to see though.

 

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