Talk Film Society Seal of Approval: Moonlight, Hacksaw Ridge, Ouija: Origin of Evil
In a rare upset, not one of last week's films (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Doctor Strange, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book) received enough votes to be considered for the Talk Film Society Seal of Approval. While it was a surprise to see so many blockbusters fail to meet the 70% requirement, it just goes to show how particular our voters are in favouring films which meet their standards of quality over total box office revenue, which is why this week's selection of contenders is all the more interesting.
Director Barry Jenkins' sophomore feature has quickly become an awards season dark horse, after nabbing several prizes and battling alongside La La Land and Manchester by the Sea as a favorite for Best Picture at the Oscars. Split across three sections and decades, it tells the story of Chiron, a young black man coming of age in Miami against an oppressive environment of crime and drugs, as he learns to define his identity, and overcome adversity. Deeply intimate and visually stunning, it's a rare feat of filmmaking that stands out from the rest of this year's offerings in more ways than one.
Mel Gibson's first film as a director in a decade follows Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an army medic in World War I, attempting to endure amidst brutal combat in the Battle of Okinawa. A conscientious objector to fighting, Doss's internal conflict becomes an external one, when he must do everything he can to save the lives of the men in his squadron. Having been praised for its authenticity on the battlefield (along with some truly shocking and grotesque depictions of gore), many have deemed it a surefire comeback for Gibson.
Ouija: Origin of Evil
This prequel to the 2014 Ouija film comes from Mike Flanagan, director recent horror films such as Oculus and Hush. Revolving around a mother and her two daughters who purchase an otherwise harmless Ouija board for their home seance business, evil forces soon take over and turn the family's lives upside down. Tenuously connected to the original, and going for more of a retro vibe by taking influence from horror films of the era, it's the rare example of a franchise continuation that strives to improve on what was accomplished by its predecessor by moving in a completely different direction, with its own set of scare tactics as well.