September 2019 Viewing Log

  1. The Dark Crystal (82, B+): Jaw dropping worldbuilding and visual effects. Not all story aspects are equally interesting but damn does it work. 9/1/19
  2. Eyes Wide Shut (99, A): Dizzying, hypnotic energy, seductive and repellent all at once. So rich in mood and atmosphere even as it observes its protagonist with bored pity. 9/1/19
  3. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (19, B+): Doesn’t click right away but story and style quickly attain risky, immediate resonances. 9/2/19
  4. I Remember Mama (48, C-): Treacly nostalgia mixed with awkwardly calibrated comedy. Weirdly blocked. Keeps hindering its own star turns. 9/3/19
  5. The Image Book (18, B+/A-): Chaotic, scarred images and sounds, vibrantly and angrily in service of Godard’s discourses. 9/5/19
  6. Peterloo (18, A-): Leigh’s Nashville, where speeches are music numbers and pointless deaths are not reserved for the famous. This isn’t France, it’s England. 9/5/19
    1. Leigh spreads his canvas wider than I’ve ever seen without losing any depth or insight. Politically resolute. Stunningly mounted.
  7. The Upside of Anger (05, B): How have I never seen this on TV? Refreshing in so many aspects, sitcommy in others. Allen nails it. 9/6/19
  8. Persona (67, A+): Fuck if I know what that was! Relentlessly keeps fracturing itself without falling apart. Earns it provocations. I’m going to keep thinking about this forever. 9/6/19
  9. It Chapter Two (19, C-): Fun, but dumber, more literal, more repetitive, and more repetitive than part one. Hader, Ransone shine. I miss Chung. 9/6/19
    1. It’s incredible how they wrote *another* script that totally sidelines Mike while the white people get nine scenes editorializing the same goddamn point, *and* while throwing some Native American vision quest shaman shit into his character for good measure.
    2. That the film is way more focused on homophobia and homophobic violence more than any other form of bigotry is certainly . . . . something, but the way It handles race is even worse
  10. Sorry, Wrong Number (48, C): More compelling as it goes, but awkward structure (so many flashbacks!) keeps blunting its story and Stanwyck. 9/7/19
  11. Joan of Arc (48, C+): Moral and religious sincerity at the film’s center holds amidst dated, bloated passages. Bergman steadily improves. 9/8/19
  12. The Snake Pit (48, B-): Could have more tension, but maintains B-movie and prestige qualities without stumbling much. De Havilland! 9/8/19
  13. Johnny Belinda (48, C): Script coasts on baldly conservative notions of women, disability, small towns. Direction strands cast, crucial scenes. 9/9/19
    1. Still wild to me that Agnes Moorehead wasn’t in I Remember Mama or Snake Pit when she could’ve conceivably played literally any of the roles. Or Sorry, Wrong Number, which she actually originated!
  14. Ray & Liz (19, B+): Hogg’s offbeat formal experiments and Arnold’s keen eye for lower-class wrecks unite in this portrait of childhood squalor. 9/12/19
  15. The Red Shoes (48, A): Lifelong dedication less demented but just as perversely controlling as in Black Narcissus. Stunning, endlessly rewarding camera and score. 9/12/19
    1. It just bums me out that stuff nowadays can never look like that. The colors are just divine. Moira Shearer’s a knockout, and Anton Walbrook would walk away with the movie if it wasn’t so brilliantly constructed
  16. The Farewell (19, B-): Tough, deeply affecting scenario keeps getting saved by its best scenes and actors, mired by blunt flourishes. 9/13/19
    1. I was surprised by how much it got me at the beginning, and how often I was taken out of it as the wedding went on. Script could see a bit more of its characters. But Awkwafina carries it well, and Shuzhen’s remarkable. Hope A24 pushes her.
  17. Hustlers (19, B+/A-): All the crowdpleasing fun and quiet desperation of Magic Mike, insightful and irreverent all at once. 9/13/19
    1. The fact that this premise is basically “fuck over every character in Wolf of Wall Street” is so inspiring to me. Program this, Widows, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Bling Ring together now please.
    2. Jennifer Lopez is so fucking great!!!!!! Holy fuck!!!!!
    3. And Lorene Scafaria!!! Is so fucking smart. Adapted Screenplay’s barely a category at this point, and there’s no reason a smart publicist shouldn’t be able to throw her and Lopez at the front of their respective categories.
  18. Letter From An Unknown Woman (48, A): Gorgeously, romantically sad. So swooning and astutely sentimental that Lisa’s choices never invite pity. Fontaine’s a wonder, in perfect sync with Ophüls. 9/14/19
  19. Josie and the Pussycats (01, C+/B-): Uneven blend of satire and sincerity. Very 00’s style. Best bits are really inspired. 9/16/19
  20. Blonde Venus (32, B+): Absolutely no way to guess where it’s going, ever, but the emotional currents really matter. Formal oddness matches its story. 9/16/19
  21. Downton Abbey (19, C+?): Feels very much like three episodes stitched together. Still, solid craft, good instincts on humor and story 9/18/19
    1. I’ve only seen the pilot several years ago, and cannot imagine how good of a time everyone else in my theater was clearly having. They liked more stuff than I did, but we all agreed on Staunton’s arc and the gay stuff.
    2. But Smith was so very much the part that got the most applause. A few people behind me talked about her getting nominated. Also, I guess I admire it for trying to be political *and* comfort food, but it’s not great at the former at all.
    3. And! This was my very first press screening!! Thanks for bringing me along, Rosie!!
  22. Ad Astra (19, B+): Story as compartmentalized as its lead, in creative and stymying ways. Thematic quandaries, audiovisual brilliance great thru-lines. 9/19/19
  23. The Piano (93, A+): Somehow its choices feel instinctual, even as its characters surprise themselves and its form is utterly ingenious. 9/20/19
  24. The Scarlet Empress (34, A): Conjures a grotesque, conniving, artificial atmosphere without just being those things. Unusual perspectives on sex and power. 9/20/19
  25. Fight Club (99, C+?): Lots of risks to admire as executed – in its sound design, its visuals, in Pitt and HBC. As a whole, pretty unpleasant, for reasons that are and aren’t its fault. 9/21/19
  26. In the Cut (03, B+): Smudgy on finer story points, but nervy ideas and mise-en-scene richly communicates this woman’s subjectivity. 9/21/19
    1. Nicole Kidman’s producing credit made me wonder how close she ever was to getting this part, but Ryan makes a strong impression. The whole thing reminded me of a moodier, more stylized Elle.
  27. The Fly (86, A): Cronenberg’s most tonally ambitious movie, a tragicomic opera unsettling as hell and bursting with feeling. Goldblum! 9/21/19
  28. Diane (19, B+/A-): Amazing how one can be so focused on death, spirituality, and community, without being heavy or morbid. Tremendous. 9/23/19
  29. Joy (19, A-): Manages to say so much about this group of women while suggesting so much we don’t know about them, their predecessors, and what comes next. 9/23/19
  30. The Road House (48, B): Direction could push more interesting tones but still yields a compelling take on this pulpy script. Cast, characters keep surprising. 9/26/19
  31. Crawl (19, B+): The narrative bad luck of Gravity in a flooding Florida house. Images, sound firing on all cylinders. Absolutely terrifying. 9/27/19
  32. State of the Union (48, B): Less savvy than other Capras but still plenty insightful on idealism and corruption. Tracy-Hepburn duet flourish. 9/27/19

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