Weekly Round-Up: July 10-16, 2016

Last week, I saw:

  • Her (2013) – The instant the film ended, my friend asked, “And why isn’t this Criterion?” Her is nothing short of brilliant, exploring universal themes of relationships and connection set in the not-too-distant future. In a similar level to Inside OutHer is a profound and emotional statement on the human experience. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Le Amiche (1955) – I love movies about rich people, but I’m still brewing about how I feel on Le Amiche (I’m always iffy with Antonioni). Five girlfriends, including one newcomer, in postwar Turin share gossip and boyfriends. Each is well defined, and her intentions made clear to the audience. The story felt a little slow and directionless, but was also true to life…. yeah, still out on this one. TBD.
  • Ghostbusters (2016) – I almost liked this one. I really wanted to like it. Kristen Wiig is the standout comedy actress of our time, and the rest of the gang all has done solid work in the past. As the movie went on, certain elements just started chipping away at my overall enjoyment – lines would misfire, we’d revert back to lazy “jump” scares, and worst of all, cameos/throwback moments thrown in for… what exactly?  To elevate the quality of the film? (This Dorkly post on the continuity of ghosts didn’t help either.) NOT RECOMMENDED.
  • Armageddon (1998) – This big-budget disaster movie is a bona fide disaster, with director Michael Bay either unaware or unwilling to bring it down. From the opening titles literally exploding to Liv Tyler & Ben Affleck embracing in a NASA rocketship, everything in Armageddon is laughable. I’m amazed this hasn’t become a camp classic a la Mommie Dearest or Valley of the Dolls, but we need to make that happen. NOT RECOMMENDED.

What did you see last week? Am I wrong about the new Ghostbusters?

Weekly Round-Up: June 19-25, 2016

Last week I only saw three movies, as much more time was spent with family and friends (not a bad thing!) —

  • The Last Days of Disco (1998) – Whit Stillman is back with his fast-talking young urban professionals, who dress and look like the 90s but apparently are in the late 70s / early 80s. I had a hard time keeping all the names and characters straight, which might not have been of high import as the dialogue could have come from any of their mouths – each character was interchangeable. High marks for Kate Beckinsale playing a cold, oblivious roommate to Chloe Sevigny. NOT RECOMMENDED.
  • Hail, Caesar! (2016) – This didn’t hit as well as it did when I saw this in theaters a few months ago, but this Old Hollywood comedy is still charming and inspired. The whole (a kidnapping plot by Communists) is eh, while the sum of its parts (Channing Tatum tap-dancing, and anything with Alden Ehrenreich) is pretty great. RECOMMENDED.
  • The In-Laws (1979) – Insufferable action-comedy about a mild-mannered dentist whose daughter’s future father-in-law is a CIA agent who gets them caught up in wacky adventures! The acting was fine, but nothing about this was funny or entertaining. Wish I had my two hours back! NOT RECOMMENDED.

What did you see last week?

Fall Movies to be Thankful For

I have a very hard time watching, in good conscience, any non-horror movies during the month of October. And of course the Christmas season de facto starting on Black Friday (me? I start a little earlier), leaving only 3-4 weeks per year of true “fall,” unencumbered by other holidays.

To celebrate, here’s a list of fall movies to be thankful for, this and every year:

  1. Dressed to Kill (1980). While this film doesn’t scream “FALL,” it certainly takes place during this time of year – as explicitly as seeing a personal calendar for November 1980. We also get snippets of this through the costume design, including memorable moments with a glove (pro tip: how to pick someone up at the art museum). And don’t forget to buy turkey!
  2. Harold and Maude (1971). Unlike Dressed to Kill, this movie does scream “FALL,” from its gorgeous oranges and tans to its acoustic guitar-driven soundtrack by Cat Stevens to more scarves than you can possibly imagine. I jokingly wrote last year that this is “the ultimate Pumpkin Spice Latte movie,” and that sentiment still rings true.
  3. Rushmore (1998). Wes Anderson’s second movie covers mostly the (literal and seasonal) fall of its protagonist, Max Fischer, as he adjusts to a new school and new adult figures in his life. It all culminates to  a warm January as the pieces of his life come together.
  4. Silver Linings Playbook (2012). In this excellent film largely rooted in family, it is interesting how holidays take a back seat and are more incidental to the timeline. A “date” between Pat and Tiffany takes place on Halloween, a fateful night in which Tiffany agrees to help Pat contact his estranged wife, only to later leverage this into a bargain where he must join her in a couples dance competition. The following weeks, between Halloween and Christmas, solidify their unique relationship.

What are your must-see fall movies? Reply in the Comments below!

 

Weekly Round-Up: November 15-21, 2015

This past week was exceptionally Criterion-heavy – between prepping for the Criterion Blogathon and my bi-annual “Criterion binge” (that is, a binge of Criterion movies to know whether or not they must be purchased during the Barnes & Noble half-off sale). As such, this was an especially rich week for film viewing:

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) – Arguably one of the first real horror films (as far as I’ve read — I can claim no real authority on this era of film), Cabinet brings genuinely spooky visuals and inspired set design to a wholly memorable cinematic experience. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Forget Me Not (1936) – Wonderfully sweet love story – I wrote a longer post you can read here. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Weekend (2011) – One of the great dramas of the 21st century, and one of my favorite movies, period. Check out my writings on this extraordinary film here. REQUIRED.
  • Day For Night (1973) – Terrifically rich film about film, and possibly my favorite Truffaut thus far. REQUIRED.
  • A Special Day (1977) – This poignant and heartbreaking film brings together a defeated housewife and party subversive on the day Hitler visits Mussolini, circa 1938. Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren at the top of their game. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Rushmore (1998) – Sweet comedy-drama about a talented, ambitious, yet unfocused adolescent struggling to navigate the world around him. RECOMMENDED.

What did you see last week?