November 2019 Viewing Log

  1. Lights Out (16, D): Has its scares, engaging (so blunt!) depression allegory, but keeps souring its rules and its messaging is hideous. 11/2/19
    1. It doesn’t help that so many films of late have tread this ground with more nuance and filmmaking bonafides, but even on its own terms it’s sensationalist and crude.
  2. Nostalghia (83, A): Tough, insinuating questions about personal and theological fortitude, all the more provocative for how tender it is. 11/3/19
  3. Lenny (74, C+/B-): Fosse’s embellishments don’t always serve or illuminate Lenny’s, but it’s got energy and spunk. Perrine nails it. 11/4/19
  4. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (74, B+): Delightful character study with odd, risky edges. Fumbles a bit at the end? Brilliant cast. 11/5/19
  5. Burning Cane (19, B+/A-): Youmans shows remarkable force, specificity, and insight in his filmmaking and construction of character. 11/6/19
    1. Debut or not, this is the kind of skill that should guarantee him funding for his next project as soon as possible.
    2. And how great are Karen Kaia Livers and Wendell Pierce? Real fuckin great if you ask me
  6. Honeyland (19, A-): Observant, elegantly shot doc plays out like a fable as one woman tends to her hive in increasingly inhospitable conditions. 11/7/19
  7. At War (19, B+): Deeply tied to this one fight yet broadly resonant. Study of one man and the people he speaks for. Lindon! 11/7/19
  8. The Cave (19, A): An incredible testimony of heroism in horrific circumstances. Fantastically crafted. Fayyad pushes in unexpected ways. Holy fuck. 11/7/19
  9. The Irishman (19, A-): Grand in scope yet unflashy and circumspect in its bones. Story, actors build mightily as it goes. 11/8/19
  10. The Nightingale (18, B): Brave engagement with so many discourses of power and violence. Some payoffs, perfs better realized than others. 11/8/19
  11. Frozen (13, B/B+): Has that innate, magical gift of being unbelievably charming and fun, even with some obvious flaws. Smart, layered storytelling. 11/12/19
    1. I’m still not sure why it stops having songs for the last half hour, but man is that final act great. And what a great cast, too.
  12. The Palm Beach Story (42, B): Devilishly funny at a breakneck pace. Astor’s a scream. Wouldn’t have minded a shorter train ride. 11/13/19
  13. The Lighthouse (19, B-/B): So boldly insinuating in its construction and specificity. Loses layers as it gets crazier, but stays admirably weird. 11/16/19
    1. Robert Pattinson’s take on his character in The Lighthouse is “What if Daniel Plainview was even more unhinged?” and Willem Dafoe’s is “Yeah I’m crazy. Do something about it, you won’t.” and I think that’s really beautiful
  14. Cape Fear (91, A-/A): Not a single thing feels normal watching this movie, in ways that feel more pronounced every rewatch. Fearsomely executed. 11/17/19
  15. The Third Wife (18, B+): Incredible negotiation of mood, pace, and character. Sharp eye on family dynamics. Sensuously made. 11/18/19
  16. Midnight Traveler (19, B+/A-): Fazili’s camera shows the specifics his family’s ordeal and what’s tragically familiar about their odyssey. 11/19/19
  17. Uncut Gems (19, C+): Some elements of performance, lensing sparkle, but the whole feel less risky and original than expected 11/21/19
  18. The Edge of Democracy (19, A-): Astonishing, nuanced coverage of Brazil’s political history, on personal and national scales. 11/24/19
    1. Petra Costa’s POV is so valuable, considerate and intelligent in exploring the ramifications of events that invite and exploit easier narratives. She’s sharp on her family history in national politics, and on Brazil’s.
  19. American Factory (19, A-): Nimbly evokes multiple perspectives and conflicts without sanding them down or hiding its pro-union heart. 11/24/19
  20. Black Mother (19, A): I don’t know what to say about Black Mother except that I’ve been thinking about it nonstop since I finished it two hours ago. The kind of movie that seeps into your body and sticks with you. Lord, what an achievement. 11/24/19
  21. American Woman (19, B): Shaky starts. Quietly grows into a tough, plausible object. Great sense of familial bonds. 11/24/19
    1. I would’ve happily followed Miller and her kid into their own Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
  22. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (19, A): So measured and considerate. You see what’s familiar but also what’s insightful, specific, and strangely unique about its approach. 11/25/19
    1. Heller’s direction is absolutely brilliant, elevating an already smart script and cast into something truly special. And she further validates my theory that Hanks is only at his best with astute women directors.
  23. Jojo Rabbit (19, D+): Premise would read as risky with better execution. Instead it seems increasingly foolhardy and misguided. 11/25/19
    1. Johansson and Waititi the actor show well. So much else just feels avoidably unpleasant. Who is this for?

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