Dandy Cat

Dandy Cat

Letterboxd Diaries—September 2021

  • The Fast and the Furious: If what you crave is a bunch of dumb man-children getting into fights over dick-measuring contests gone awry, then boy, is this the movie for you! It would have been a rough watch when it was released in 2001. Watching it now, it’s still not great, but in the way that, ironically, a horrific car crash on the freeway where several cars are overturned and there are some suspicious sheets draped over areas of the ground is not great. You don’t really want to watch it, but you find yourself oddly compelled to keep your eyes on it as you creep past and a worrisome, desperate part of you wants to see more of it. Luckily, humanity has seen fit to give us all at least eight more of these things (and a spin-off!). Truly, we live in the most halcyon days of all recorded history. (★★)
  • Gerald’s Game: A remarkably effective telling of Stephen King’s book of the same name. Cuffing your main character to a bed, where she remains trapped for most of the film, would have been an insurmountable challenge for most filmmakers. Director Mike Flanagan figured out how to make this constraint into a compelling aspect of the film. Personifying the inner terror and madness of Jessie in the forms of her dead husband and herself makes for a ghostly back and forth that drives the story. It may not be the best King adaptation, but it’s miles away from being the worst. (★★★½)
  • The Place Beyond the Pines: A sprawling, deep, twist your emotions until they’re about ready to snap sort of film. It’s separated into three distinct portions, telling complete tales of fathers and their sons. This is beginning-to-end wonderful and sticks with me for days every time I watch it. Ryan Gosling gives a restrained and unpredictable performance. Bradley Cooper gives a familiar turn, but one that still works. The rest of the phenomenal cast turn in some career-high performances. This is lush filmmaking on many levels, and with few failed notes. (★★★★★)
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love.: Look, this may not be the best film ever made (and what would that really be anyway?), but it’s one of the most pleasant and joyous films ever made. This is a watch multiple times a year because it’s just so much damn fun kind of a film. What’s surprising about the story is how much more complex and heartfelt it is when stacked up next to something of this romantic dramedy genre. It’s not just a story about some guy getting his groove back. It’s about an entire group of people learning how essential love is in this world. Also, I would give both of my kidneys to have Ryan Gosling dress me up like a stylish god. (★★★★½)
  • The American President: In typical Aaron Sorkin fashion, there’s a whole lot of talk-talk-talking about desperately important stuff, interspersed with some witty jabs and friendly jibes amongst the characters. It’s such a good thing that Rob Reiner directed this film, otherwise, it could have been dreadfully inflated by its own importance. There are also some lovely performances by Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, et al. These days, it can feel a little tough to watch a film that’s focused entirely around a presidency, but luckily President Shepherd (and the crew making the film) appears to have everyone’s best interests at heart. Come for the excellent writing, stay for the nice love story. (★★★★)
  • Reminiscence: Too long, overly convoluted, and it trips up over its own story before finally drawing back the curtain on the central mystery. But hey, at least there’s some top-tier Hugh Jackman growling going on here. Also, it looks damn gorgeous. If only the quality of the writing had been as high as the quality of its visual effects and cinematography. There might have been something special here in that case. (★★½)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious: In the annals of obviously (except to the characters themselves) homoerotic cinema, this one stands tall. Well, except for the other, so far, seven films in the series. Let’s just call this what it is: an octilogy of movies about men who wish they could kiss each other, but because of the desperately masculine world they live in, just can’t. This isn’t so much an action movie as it is a great tragedy of forbidden love. I enjoyed all the Miami colors, but there were too few Miami beaches. (★½)
  • Midnight Run: Oof, that’s a rough Danny Elfman score. I think he took the idea of “buddy comedy” a little too far in his writing. Everything else, though, just sings. It all works so well. I want this one to be far more well-known than it currently is. Let’s raise Charles Grodin and Yaphet Kotto from the dead and get the band back together for another film! (★★★★½)
  • Grosse Pointe Blank: Why isn’t this movie more well-known and loved? I enjoyed the hell out of this one and I’m really looking forward to when I’ll get to watch it again. John Cusack and Minnie Driver shine with an energy that’s hard to find in a movie from any year. Who would have ever guessed that a story about an assassin with a great deal of aimless ennui would be so much dang fun? (★★★★)
  • Sharknado: I’ll never get this hour and twenty minutes of my life back. What a piece of crap this thing was. Please send anybody else to save the world if there’s actually some sort of future insane weather emergency. (½)
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: Despite the protagonist being an absolute cocky moron, this one was way more enjoyable than the previous installment. I appreciate that the director knew both how to make a good-looking film and how to direct their actors to deliver genuine emotion. Both of those qualities were sorely lacking up until this one. I am disappointed that it took well over half of the film to get to any sort of real plot. Hey, at least Han was cool, right? (★★½)
  • The Terminal: Like a bowl (or entire pint) of your favorite ice cream, this one goes down easy. The pairing of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg is something you can bet money on. There’s delightful energy to the film, and its central conflict is weighty without becoming too melancholic. At over two hours, it’s too long. That’s probably my biggest criticism. With a film like this, one that wants to be fun, energetic, and even a little romantic, overstaying your welcome is a perilous thing to do. Unfortunately, that happens here. Good thing it’s got national treasure Tom Hanks to buoy everything up. This is a pleasant film. (★★★½)
  • Sleepless in Seattle: The whole conceit of the film is absolutely, certifiably bonkers. One person pines away for someone who doesn’t have any idea she exists. She flies across the country, eventually leaving her too-good-for-her fiancé behind, to see (and presumably spend her life with) this person she’s only heard a few times on the radio. At one point she tracks down where the guy lives, hires a private investigator to surveil him, and stalks him around his home. Put all this nonsense aside, and you’ve got a perfectly fine romantic dramedy. The best thing this movie has going for it is the strong chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (when they’re finally onscreen together). (★★★½)
  • Luca: I sure could have used a lot more pasta dishes. But, Santo Mozzarella, there was still a good amount of food and friendship! This wasn’t as soul-crushing or life-affirming as some of Pixar’s best-known work, but not everything has to be. Instead, we’ve been given a nice slice of Italian-styled animated goodness. (★★★½)
  • Fast & Furious: As hollow as ever, but at least they’ve finally gotten a real handle on how to tell these stories in an exciting way. This one looks, sounds, and thrills better than any previous installment. I can only hope that they’ll continue to improve as the series continues. I don’t expect them to get any less vapid, though. (★★½)
  • The VelociPastor: I’ll never forgive my friend for making me watch this. But hey, at least it was better than Sharknado? This one had more style, even if every second was more insane than the last. Also, I hope one day the director can marry Tarantino since that’s clearly what he wants to do more than anything in this world. (★)
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard: 85% “motherfucker.” 13% action. 2% comedy. (★½)
  • You’ve Got Mail: Despite this one being laughably dated, it was such a delight. I enjoyed it more than Sleepless in Seattle. There was real conflict, a relationship that took its time to bloom, and a charming little bookshop around the corner. Oh, and also dial-up internet. And also an enormous corporate bookstore that has no idea it’ll one day crash spectacularly under the mighty weight of Amazon. Sooner or later, Bezos ruins everything. (★★★★)
  • Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard: 50% everyone’s yelling at each other all the time. 49% nausea-inducing shaky camera action shots. 1% comedy. (★)
  • Zombieland: Double Tap: The first Zombieland had clever characters, a unique story, and some decent character development. This one is lacking in much of that. It’s a good thing that the world of these movies is predicated on fun and the cast is wonderful, otherwise, they would be interminable. Sadly, there’s just not enough new stuff to make this rehashing of the first movie better than average. (★★★)
  • The Hustler: I shouldn’t have been surprised that this film isn’t more about pool playing, but I’m still surprised. You know what makes up for that lack? Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, and the brilliant Jackie Gleason. I mean, my goodness. The celluloid must have melted itself for how hot all the acting and pretty faces were in this thrilling, devastating film. Give this one a watch and then immediately follow it up with The Color of Money. (★★★★½)
  • The Grifters: I was hoping and expecting to like this one more than I did, but maybe I wasn’t in a Stephen Frears mindset when it started. Not being in that headspace, this one drags a bit and the intrigue feels half-baked. Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening, though. My gosh, they brought a freshness and energy that just wouldn’t have been present if they weren’t in this. If the film relied on John Cusack’s nearly catatonic performance, this would have been dull and dreadful. (★★★½)
  • Fast Five: Oh yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about. They’ve finally gotten to the point where things feel modern and interesting. Director Justin Lin has been this series’ saving grace. The action is thrilling and there’s a decent story with some real stakes. Dwayne Johnson’s new presence is a welcome addition. It’s all still nonsense, but at least now it’s well-made nonsense. (★★★½)
  • The Devil Wears Prada: I could watch Stanley Tucci movies every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly content. It certainly helped make this one more pleasing for me. I find the world of fashion that this movie presents to be daunting and unappealing. Perhaps that’s because my wardrobe entirely resembles that of Andy Sachs before she meets and works for Miranda Priestly. I mean, I can clean up like the best of them, but there’s not one thing wrong with a comfy, cable knit sweater. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But yeah, Tucci all day. (★★★½)

Total movies watched: 24.

Favorite movie of the month: Grosse Pointe Blank. It would have been Crazy, Stupid, Love. if I hadn’t already seen it.

Least favorite movie of the month: Sharknado. I had to watch it for More Movies Please! This was one of the worst things, and not just movies, that I’ve ever witnessed.

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