December 2019 Viewing Log

  1. The Wise Kids (12, B): So generous towards its characters and their complexities you forgive some lag in the filmmaking. 12/2/19
  2. Henry Gamble’s Birthday (15, B+): Expands its canvas of characters and questions, a little thornier but just as empathetic. 12/2/19
    1. I’d call Princess Cyd my favorite of Cone’s films, which has two genius performance and the best camerawork he’s ever had. But there’s no one else making movies about this corner of America so sensitively, and I’m grateful.
    2. Wise Kids especially hit very close to home. I bailed from regular church attendance around the time I went into high school, it feels like looking at a totally different version of how my life could’ve gone.
  3. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (18, C+): Lowkey approach worth commending, but muted visual tactics stifle finer story points. 12/3/19
    1. As with Boy Erased, I admire some aspects of its earnestness, actors, and visual simplicity, but their insights are too limited by their methods
    2. Thinking about how much better Miseducation of Cameron Post would’ve been if Zoey Deutsch was Cameron
  4. [SAFE] (95, A): I love you. *clears throat* I love you. I really love you. I love you. 12/3/19
  5. Hustlers (19, B+): N/A. 12/5/19
  6. John Wick 3 – Parabellum (19, B): Creatively choreographed, even with longer fights. Similar arc to 2 but impressively new rhythms. 12/6/19
    1. Ultraviolent franchises aren’t new, but watching this one emerge so organically into pop culture, boasting real formal chops and the unique ability of being more exciting to watch as it universe gets even crazier, is pretty damn nice. Unbelievably strong at worldbuilding.
  7. Marriage Story (19, C+): Script, acting, directing unevenly balance broad insights and specific details. Never fully bought it. 12/7/19
    1. My big takeaways are:
      1. Alan Alda!
      2. Julie Hagerty deserves a Beth Grant part
      3. We’re really gonna give Laura Dern an Oscar for this?
      4. I think I might’ve liked it more if the leads were cast slightly older
  8. Dark Waters (19, A-): Equally steeped in perseverance and melancholy, as victory and defeat bear the same stamps of paranoid despair. 12/9/19
  9. Knives Out (19, B): Fantabulously entertaining, but with a script this rich and a cast this delicious, how could it not be? 12/9/19
  10. Dottie Gets Spanked (93, A-): N/A. 12/15/19
  11. The Living End (91, A-): N/A. 12/15/19
  12. Looking for Langston (89, A): N/A. 12/15/19
  13. The Watermelon Woman (96, B+): N/A. 12/15/19
  14. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (19, B-): Ideas more imaginative and engaging than Tarantino’s other history rewrites, even when crude or tastelesss. 12/16/19
  15. Rocketman (19, C+?): Film and Egerton open with such spring in their step. Craft stays wonky. Ideas just get flatter. 12/16/19
    1. Glad it wasn’t scared of being queer! I get it’s a shame that next to BR’s total lack of craft or good acting Rocketman got so much less love. But also, without BR, this doesn’t really seem super impressive. I’ll take La Vie en Rose instead, please. Or Love & Mercy!
  16. The Report (19, D+): Fatally mistakes dullness for importance, at all cost to visual storytelling and narrative momentum. 12/18/19
    1. Pretty weird how footage of John McCain gets the big emotional speech at the end, right?
  17. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (19, C+/B-): A colorful, kiddie Conjuring, grotesque and frightening without gore or jump scares. 12/18/19
  18. Gravity (13, A-): Achievements so jaw-droppingly obvious yet impossible to overstate. Phenomenal craft. Exhilirating as fuck. Not even 90 minutes! 12/20/19
  19. Cats (19, Yikes): What is there to say? Shoddy as hell. Visually incomprehensible. Fails at every single goal it sets for itself. 12/22/19
    1. Farragos this bad normally induce some sympathy, or at least pity. Everyone here deserves what they get
    2. Three things I liked about it:
      1. The company. Went with my sister and my fiancé and we had a fucking blast
      2. TSwift and “Macavity” are by far the highlight
      3. I laughed a lot at this movie, even if it was never funny
  20. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (19, A): Fantastically nuanced with character and psychology. So specific about what it means to forgive. 12/23/19
    1. Saw it with my family two hours ago and everyone’s been talking about how much they loved it, how original it was compared to what they were expecting, how good Hanks was
    2. My sister just watched Can You Ever Forgive Me? and is now a die hard for Marielle Heller. My biggest takeaway this time was how genius Anne McCabe’s editing was (hi Anne!)
  21. Waves (19, B+/A-): Unexpectedly productive tension between what’s suspect, show-offy, dazzling, and melancholic about this material. 12/26/19
    1. Still deciding how to feel about Waves, but I know this: Taylor Russell carries the second hour so beautifully, but as with Lily Gladstone, I’m not sure why we’re classifying a performance that basically takes up the second half of her film as a supporting actress
  22. Ready or Not (19, B-): Less nervy than other “Eat the rich” movies from this year, but fun, scary, and sharp by any measure. 12/26/19
  23. Invisible Life (19, B+): Impressive commitment to form and structure. I couldn’t always connect but was still affected tremendously. 12/28/19
    1. I didn’t love it, but I suspect the experiments that kept me from totally cleaving to it will only be more impressive on rewatch. Duarte, Stockler, Santos, and Montenegro all show incredibly well.
  24. Knives Out (19, B): N/A. 12/29/19
  25. Give Me Liberty (19, B+): Packs a lot of chaos in one day, yet Mikhanovsky handles it with such control and sensitivity. Ideally cast and cut. 12/30/19
  26. Little Women (19, B+/A-): Wonderfully expansive with character, place, and theme, seeing so much as it progresses. Moving and ambitious in equal measure. 12/31/19

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