Best F(r)iends (2017)

Best F(r)iends on paper, does not sound like a good movie or idea. Because it really isn’t. In Tommy Wiseau (who plays Harvey in the film) and Greg Sestero’s (who plays Jon in the film) new film together, a mortician and a homeless man become business partners and their friendship is put to the test. Best F(r)iends is is objectively terrible in every technical standpoint but yet, I didn’t feel myself hating it just because of how much I enjoyed Tommy Wiseau’s on-screen prescence. Even comperable to Wiseau’s performance as the loveable Johnny in The Room (2003).

I think that the actual direction in this movie reeks of the quality of a film student. The amateur lighting, the reliance on stock footage, and the cinematography in some scenes looked like it was shot on the iPhone 7 Plus Steven Soderbergh used to film Unsane (2018). In one shot, the boom microphone was in the frame. Frequent frame rate drops appear throughout the movie which is a first in any live-action film I think I have ever watched. Overall though, it makes for an enjoyable experience just because of the performances from Tommy was so and Greg Sestero as well as the supporting cast and a very outlandish plot that involves the sale of gold through fake teeth, Wiseau licking his new car, and a family of clowns; and this is only the first part. Perhaps director Justin MacGregor is taking inspiration from Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac? (the last movie that I can recall that was released in two parts in quite the same fashion as Best F(r)iends is). By the end of the movie, I was asking for much more of the on-screen pairing of Wiseau and Sestero and I cannot wait until the June 1st release of the second volume.

When I watched the film with a large audience of people at my theater, mostly everyone erupted with laughter and made for a fun viewing environment. Everyone was in on the joke and it was probably the best experience I’ve had watching a movie at the theater since going to see Get Out (2017) on opening weekend. It is the adequate way of watching Best F(r)iends. Just remember when going into this film that doesn’t expect it to be to be like a David Lynch film. However, if you expected it to be like a David Lynch film then you wouldn’t be going to see it. I doubt anybody is actually seeing this movie interested in the plot but, more interested in Tommy Wiseau himself. Becasue, if this film had anyone else starring in it besides Sestero and Wiseau it would be unwatchable garbage.

Note: There was also some pretty lengthy behind-the-scenes footage with a focus on Red Bull for some reason? Then there was a music video starring Wiseau too.

The Beguiled (2017)

★★★★

Author’s Note: Don’t watch the trailer to The Beguiled. It pretty much spoils the whole movie. Instead, going in blindly is what I would recommend.

Fans of Sofia Coppola’s films know what they are going to get every time she makes a film. Her films for the most part, are very good at creating a certain type of atmosphere. Coppala’s sixth feature film, follows suit. With The Beguiled, Coppola uses her nineteenth-century southern-gothic visuals to craft a remake that is very different from the 1971 original while still telling the same general story.

Coppola’s version of The Beguiled gives the story a more feminist point of view, rather than the Clint Eastwood version which felt much more masculine. Eastwood could and would not portray Corporal McBurney the way that Colin Farrell portrayed him.

Other than the excellent set design, the casting is near-perfect. Nicole Kidman as Martha Fransworth did a good job as a teacher and really had that southern accent down. Kirsten Dunst as Edwina Dabney did well at playing a vulnerable character. And of course, Elle Fanning’s performance as Alicia continues to show that she is a brilliant actress that is miles better than her sister ever was. Colin Farrell as Corporal McBurney did good at playing a vulnerable and wounded Union Soldier. A surprise to the cast list was Angourie Rice who had her break-out performance in last year’s The Nice Guys and was arguably the best part of that film. It was good to see her in The Beguiled and hopefully she will continue to get work as she is very talented.

In The Beguiled, Coppola does so much by doing so little. Day by day, we see relationships grow and happiness is shared among enemies, until it all falls apart at the very end. Which makes the buildup all the more magnificent.

Personal Shopper (2016)

★★★★

Never have I seen a ghost story told like Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper. The eerie way the cinematography is done, the unconventional storytelling, and the tone overall is a critical gift to us all.

While Maureen, (Kristen Stewart) only speaks English, the film is authentically French. Nearly the whole movie was filmed there. The small little pieces of French culture help remind you where you are while not being too overt about it. An example, would be the the French Public Transit notification noise played on the over-com at train stations. This is a subtle detail that anyone who has visited Paris would appreciate.

The whole movie seems almost like, it isn’t even a ghost story at all. Which is one of the film’s greatest strengths. It blends genre conventions together to create a unique experience. The inclusion of the phone as the way that Maureen communicates with the dead elevates this film in many ways from other ghost stories. It makes communication much more direct and less ambiguous. This makes it so Personal Shopper explore other aspects of talking to the dead while also exploring Maureen’s inner psyche and characterization.

After proving herself with an extensive portfolio of work post-Twilight, it is safe to say that Kristen Stewart is a great actress. She owns every scene in this movie and I can’t think of a better character to play the lead. Everyone else does alright but they are never the focus, this is Kristen Stewart’s movie, no one else’s.

Personal Shopper leaves you with that feeling of ambiguity that makes you happy, that makes you want to watch it again, and that makes you want to write about what you just saw. And that is the best kind of movie.