Dandy Cat

Dandy Cat

Letterboxd Diaries—October 2021

  • The Desperate Hours: A slow, trembling burn ignites into a tense inferno. Bogart gives a menacing performance in his penultimate role. This is a tragic story with a doomed trio of antagonists. The suspenseful mood is heightened by the excellent nighttime stagings. It’s a thrill from start to end. (★★★★)
  • Double Indemnity: Baby, this feels like one of those watershed films that shook the industry and continues to make waves long after its release. There are many films that can count this one as an influence. Billy Wilder, Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, and Edward G. Robinson were all exemplary. You know what, baby? This was a wonderful movie, baby. It’s got tension to spare and a thrilling story, baby. Never count out Keyes and his stomach of knowledge, baby. (★★★★★)
  • Incendies: The twist in this one can stand up to any of the greatest in film history. What’s more, it’ll punch you in the gut hard enough to make you double over. Is it any surprise that Denis Villeneuve would go on to have the career that he’s had? This guy is clearly a master storyteller, and I think he’s still got a long career ahead of him. This one may not have the polish of his later films, but it does have more gut-wrenching emotion and one of the most unflinching eyes of any film. (★★★★½)
  • The Nice Guys: I can’t think of a single Shane Black film that isn’t fun as hell. Whatever “it” is, he’s got it. Story-wise, this one isn’t nearly as strong as, for instance, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or Lethal Weapon, but it makes up for that lack with a perfect buddy pairing. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling shine as a mismatched private detective team, with both of them bringing unique flavors of comedy to their roles. Angourie Rice holds her own against these two towering (both in talent and stature) actors. (★★★★)
  • Free Guy: Undoubtedly fun, but not nearly as funny as I was hoping for. It’s got everything going for it—Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, a high concept, unique story—but it still can’t manage to be anything extra special. The amount of video game-inspired Easter eggs brings a welcome bit of fun. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine, but it isn’t a film that’s likely to stick in my mind for very long. That’s its greatest tragedy: it’s forgettable. (★★★½)
  • Batman Returns: There’s an unfortunate lack of Batman in this Batman movie. And I saw this one at the wrong age. I bet I would have loved and appreciated the camp when I was younger. Instead, I saw it in my mid-30s and all I could notice was an over-reliance on its cartoonish villains. Where’s the development of Bruce Wayne? It’s supposedly his movie, so where’s his story? Why is this film about little but local city politics? Admittedly, it did look unique and remarkable. Tim Burton of this era definitely had a distinct aesthetic and it works in a Batman movie, for the most part. (★★½)
  • Tommy Boy: If somebody ever asked you to point out an example of a film that was designed to appeal specifically to boys in their teenage years and early 20s, then this is your perfect pick. It’s sophomoric, loud, and repetitive. What keeps this movie from sinking into terrible territory is its genuine heart. There’s an earnest story about family, friendship, and legacy here. There’s also no denying the obvious charm and appeal of Chris Farley. A movie like this one proves that he could have gone on to create many more indelible and cherished films. (★★★½)
  • Official Secrets: Give me all of the British people talking about spycraft, intrigue, and do-goodery that you’ve got. I could watch that stuff forever. Next to the brooding courtroom drama, it might be my favorite genre. I guess I’m just a big fan of watching people who are more adult than I’ll ever be try to solve impossible problems (and sometimes while wearing barrister’s wigs). Oh, and of Keira Knightley. She’s just great and I hope she’s living a good life. (★★★½)
  • Denial: Along with Official Secrets, I’ve been watching a lot of films that feature posters of women with severe looks on their faces being bordered by frowning men. I had no idea this genre existed. This one was well-done, with performances that felt impassioned and exuberant. It depicts an important moment in history, and one that more people should be aware of. Also, barrister’s wigs galore! (★★★½)
  • Squid Game: More of a tv mini-series, but it was on Letterboxd, so why not? I’m not in the least bit surprised that this one has captured the attention and adoration of so many people. It’s well done, affecting, and comes with a powerful, anti-capitalist message (which is more necessary than ever these days). We are all Seong Gi-hun, or should strive to be more like him. I was hoping this would be more of a mini-series, but I’ll gladly watch another season. (★★★★)
  • Die Hard: After each viewing of this film, I spend time trying to figure out if it would be anywhere near as great if the inimitable Alan Rickman was not in it, playing the German terrorist, Hans Gruber. It’s undeniable that Bruce Willis is great, and he’s ultimately the reason why, so far, four sequels have been made. However, would this one be the certifiable classic it’s become if not for Rickman? I’m not so sure. Suffice it to say, this is about as fun and thrilling as action movies can get. It’s pretty damn brilliant. (★★★★½)
  • Old: Like an extremely well-funded student film. It looks amazing, but the writing never fully delivers. It feels like it’s always aware of how clever it’s trying to be. While everyone tries their damnedest to act out their parts as well as they can, and largely succeed, the film also suffers from a hectic edit that ends up being tiring instead of tense. Shyamalan is capable of making a great film, but he seems insistent on beating us over the head with how ingenious he thinks he is. (★★)
  • Still Walking: I wish I could live in this movie. It’s the perfect mix of pleasant, peaceful, ravishing, startling, melancholic, and hopeful. Hirokazu Kore-eda has a way of dramatizing the everyday routines of humans that is so approachable, and yet still retains a great amount of depth. A movie like this, with its placid tone and pacing, sets you at ease. Until, that is, a tense and revealing moment hits you like a brick across the face. I loved every moment of this one. It offers no easy answers, but rewards engaged watching like few others can. (★★★★★)
  • The Rainmaker: In the genre of “takin’ down the assholes in dramatic, triumphant courtroom dramas,” this one ranks as pretty good. It’s delivering on all of its promises. Great performances abound (despite an, as usual, criminal lack of Mickey Rourke). There are antagonists that engender vitriol and disgust. There’s a blossoming love story that earns its affections, both from the viewer and inside the movie. It’s pretty decent all around. I suspect that it’s the source material that holds this one back from being stellar. Coppola does what he can, but you can only push average so far. (★★★½)
  • Just Mercy: This is a fascinating and heartbreaking film that was based on a true story. It depicts the cruelty and unjust treatment of Walter McMillian, a man who was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. It continues to anger up my blood to see that the death penalty is still an acceptable form of punishment in some places and, according to the film, that 1 in 9 people on death row are innocent. This film does a great job of dramatizing the earnest work of the Equal Justice Initiative, the disgusting treatment of black people, and how necessary true change still is in the world. All of the performances were great. Michael B. Jordan was a driving force. Jamie Foxx was moving in every one of his scenes. For having received such prominent billing, I would have liked to have seen more of Brie Larson. (★★★★)
  • Fast & Furious 6: At the beginning of this film, Toretto promised O’Conner that their old life would be over now that a kid’s in the mix. Dude lied. This was still fast and furious. I was expecting slow and mostly content. A baby should not be anywhere near this many speeding cars and brooding speeches! I guess you can take the family out of the fast and furious, but you can never take the fast and furious out of the family. (★★★)
  • The Fog of War: It’s not often when you think, “Gosh, this complete and utter asshole sure has lived a remarkable, awe-inspiring life. I’d like to give him a handshake and a punch in the mouth.” Watching this, I had one of those moments. That’s all thanks to Errol Morris’s unwavering attention to detail and his total willingness to let his subject speak for himself. There appears to be very little leading going on, which allows McNamara to, seemingly unknowingly, explain just how much of a monster he really is. Unfortunately, he’s allowed to squirm and wriggle his way out of responsibility far too often. I would have liked to see more fire and pushback from Morris, but that probably would have made McNamara do in the interview what he should have done in Vietnam: pull out of it. (★★★★)
  • The Night House: This entire damn movie boils down to a woman being terrorized by a ghost stalker who can’t get over a girl he likes? That’s it? I surely must be missing the deeper message. Well, the award for most misleading trailer for a movie goes to this one. It’s a good thing Rebecca Hall is always so great because, otherwise, this wouldn’t be intriguing at all. It would have nothing to draw a person in, and that’s pretty inexcusable for something that purports to be mysterious and spooky. This sets an excellent mood, but then it leaves so much on the table, instead preferring a limp ending with no actual resolution. (★★½)
  • Dune (2021): Enormous in scope. Superb in execution. Thrilling in story and spectacle. I suspect that this film will be even more grand and affecting when paired with the better be forthcoming Part Two. Denis Villeneuve continues to prove that he’s one of the very best directors working today. There’s hardly anyone else who can match him in vision and storytelling ability. (★★★★½)
  • Hellboy (2019): Inferior in just about every single way to Guillermo del Toro’s superb pair of Hellboy films. Watch those instead. They are much better films. (★½)
  • Furious 7: I wouldn’t have minded if this movie was about a half-hour shorter than it was. The dang thing ended up being kind of tiring by the time the credits rolled. However, that was because it’s so full of action, explosions, glowering looks, surprising emotions, and oiled-up muscles that a person can’t help but be worn out by the end. This ain’t no pleasure cruise. They’re saving the world, damn it! The send-off to Paul Walker at the end caught me off guard and was more moving than I expected it to be. It was well done. (★★★½)
  • Kate: It’s got style for days. Unfortunately, the story and the action don’t quite live up to its appearance. There’s very little lore to inform its world. I would have loved to see more of what makes Kate into Kate. What was more of her childhood like? Why is Japan so central to the film? It’s a damn shame, because Mary Elizabeth Winstead is always great and always gives it her all. This one will surely draw a lot of John Wick comparisons, but it doesn’t match the world-building in John Wick. (★★★)
  • 28 Weeks Later: Goes by in a flash, but never gives you much of a chance to make any strong connections to any of the characters. For a movie that’s all about threats and terror inflicted on the characters, not feeling for them makes for a hollow experience. At that point, what makes this film worth watching is the exhilarating thrill of watching these people try to survive their predicament. (★★★)

Total movies watched: 23.

Favorite movie of the month: Still Walking.

Worst movie of the month: Hellboy. By a mile. Although, Batman Returns was a close second for me. Not because it was poorly made, but because it was so underwhelming while also being so well-regarded.

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