December 2018 Viewing Log

Happy New Year!

  1. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (14, B+): Could be told faster or colored bolder, but the gentle accumulation of emotion deepens so beautifully I feel precious of it. 12/2
  2. Burning (18, B): I dug the ellipses of the first half more than the second. Intrigues a lot, but still feels limited. Three great perfs. 12/2
  3. I Am Not Your Negro (16, B+): Baldwin’s words and presence are so potently and fully translated that a little shapelessness is forgiven. 12/4
  4. Searching (18, D-): Basically compelling but yiiiiiikes does this make a lot of hokey, sentimental, and truly ridiculous choices. 12/4
  5. The Wind Rises (13, B+): Miyazaki gorgeously attuned to Jiro’s insight and creativity without ignoring how perversely his dreams have curdled. 12/5
  6. Blindspotting (18, B/B-): Sharp, biting story about two men and their community. Great leads. Not every idea works but damn does it play. 12/12
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody (18, D-): So moralizing, cliched, and hollow towards Mercury and his idiosyncrasies it shouldn’t count as a biopic. 12/12
  8. Beautiful Boy (18, C/C+): Some affecting scenes, but best potentials in the script and actors are wasted. Direction not an asset. 12/13
  9. Boy Erased (18, B): Not exactly innovative, but the range of feeling and deep cast repeatedly moved me more than I expected. 12/13
  10. Cam (18, C-): Satoshi Kon could’ve nailed this. Individual elements, scenes fine but lord if its big ideas and weirdest bits add up to much. 12/14
  11. A Simple Favor (18, B): Tonally adroit storytelling, even when it wobbles. Savory to watch and easy to recommend. Lively owns it. 12/14
  12. Roma (18, A-): Gargantuan construction on all levels, slowly but surely infused with real feeling. Gorgeously realizes its era. 12/14
    1. Can I also say that Summer 1993 is an equally gorgeous memory play that works even better as a character study? I’ll be happy with every award ROMA wins this season but at the very least, those two are gonna be tied on my top 10
  13. The Favourite (18, B): Characters and their interpreters test themselves in exciting ways. Elements better than the whole. Colman! Powell! 12/19
  14. Private Life (18, B): Jenkins scripts an even sharper domestic dramedy than she did with The Savages. Hahn, Giamatti deliver. 12/19
  15. Happy as Lazzaro (18, A-): Layered, hypnotic mix of bucolic simplicity and exploitative ironies, dazzling realized by Rohrwacher. 12/21
  16. Bad Times at the El Royale (18, C+/B-): Great opening. Loses energy doubling back on itself but bounces back in the second half. 12/22
  17. Ava (18, A-): Foroughi and her artists bring this parable to vicious, idiosyncratic life by abandoning ambiguity for potent thematic impact. 12/22
  18. Disappearance (18, B+): Unraveling of central mysteries add new questions and amp narrative tension. Story, camera linger powerfully. 12/23
  19. Mary, Queen of Scots (18, D+): Abandons perspective on its events in favor of choking on all the dignity The Favourite gleefully ignored. 12/24
    1. All it has to say is “did you know it was hard being a lady back then? can’t even imagine what having a personality would be like but the gender politics? Ridonculus”
  20. It’s a Wonderful Life (46, A-/A): The Christmas movie we sorely need and truly deserve, sad and sincerely uplifting. Stewart’s heroic. 12/24
    1. Frederic March is great in The Best Years Of Our Lives but it’s just silly that Jimmy Stewart didn’t win the Oscar for It’s a Wonderful Life
  21. Holy Motors (12, A-): Rare to see something so imaginatively weird be just as affecting in the emotions and ideas it provokes. 12/26
  22. Araby (18, A): Measured storytelling finds room for one man’s entire life, simultaneously stifled and colored with such depth. 12/26
    1. Less grandiose a story of class and political standing than Roma (what isn’t?), but just as brilliant with sound and image in detailing the odyssey of a lower-class worker who deserves better than the lot they’re stuck with
    2. Also unlike Roma, finds moments of real joy, grief, escapism, and love in its central character’s life. The range of emotions is so wide and so convincing, yet it’s never self conscious even when its ideas are at their most explicit
  23. Life and Nothing More (18, A): Earns its title through modest yet staggeringly moving and insightful portraiture. Exemplary actors. 12/27
  24. Paddington 2 (18, B): I may prefer the first one a tad more, but this is still charming and hilarious work. Even prettier, too. 12/27
    1. My mom loved Paddington 2 a lot, and did not expect to be crying at the end.
    2. Everyone who dropped the ball on Hugh Grant’s Paddington 2 campaign is a fool and a clown
    3. Hugh Grant’s many elaborate makeup and costume changes lowkey qualify Paddington 2 as a Holy Motors remake
  25. Hereditary (18, B+): An excellent place to go when one feels despairing. Gray areas only strengthen brilliant techniques elsewhere. 12/28
    1. Even taking genre bias into consideration, I’m truly shocked Collette may not be nominated at the Oscars. Detailed, layered, versatile work, laying the groundwork for such powerful anguish
  26. Disobedience (18, B): I didn’t give this enough credit. Story, score, cast all smartly textured. Feels real in the best ways. 12/28
  27. Mary Poppins Returns (18, C+): Marshall’s never made a better looking movie. Not unaffecting. Still feels trapped in the original’s shadow. 12/29
    1. I cannot believe how much much this put my mom in a bad mood
  28. Vice (18, B): Uneven, especially on dismount. Ballsy story, style choices only get stronger the closer it gets to the political present. 12/30
  29. Bisbee ‘17 (18, A): Palpably haunted, speaking many truths and one, ultimate justice. Political resolution energizes its many ingenious techniques. 12/30
  30. Venom (18, D+): Lethal until Venom meets Eddie. Hardy commits to a weird dude. Easy to see why it has the fandom that it does. 12/30
    1. Riz Ahmed in Venom is like, the anti Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin. Absolutely devoid of charisma. Least he’s hot as fuck?
    2. Did Willem Dafoe deserve the Oscar for The Florida Project? Totally. But “Sorry I’m late. Work was murder.” is some legacy shit. That clip deserves to be played at every career retrospective he’ll ever have
  31. Apollo 13 (95, A-): Would that blockbuster cinema nowadays move so easily, and hit so many emotional beats across a well-acted cast. 12/31
    1. Entertains tremendously without ever losing grip on its rising, deadly stakes. Direction, camera, edits sharp and incisive
    2. Apollo 13 was incredible as fuck and I’m happy that this is the movie I’m ending 2018 with. Watching it with my parents was the best

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