Dandy Cat

Letterboxd Diaries—November 2021

  • Violet Evergarden: The Movie: Two hours and twenty minutes is a long running time for any movie. This one was no exception. On the plus side, nothing about this story felt rushed. We’re allowed to luxuriate in the beautiful artwork and dramatic storytelling. This story was a long time coming, and I’m glad to see its titular character finally receive the closure and happiness she’s been craving for so long. (★★★★)
  • Army of Thieves: Star and director Matthias Schweighöfer seems assured beyond his years. I really can’t wait to see more of his work because he’s a great filmmaker. The plot of the film becomes repetitive early on. There are only so many ways you can show somebody cracking a safe before it becomes tired. A shorter running time would have helped keep its momentum up. However, it is a beautiful film. It’s a pleasure to look at. (★★★½)
  • Home Alone: Charming, certainly. There’s a lot to like about this film. However, I think it stumbles into its “classic” status mainly by virtue of stubborn nostalgia. In lesser hands, it would be a sadistic, interminable bore. The confidence and adept hand of director Chris Columbus keeps this holiday film afloat. I don’t disparage anyone’s love of this film, but it doesn’t capture my attention. (★★★½)
  • Happiest Season: I could really use a whole bunch of movies like this. It’s really well done, is full of amazing actors, and presents a complex issue. I want 31 days of movies like this every December. I’m glad this didn’t shy away from tougher moments. I hope Clea Duvall will write and direct many more movies because they are very talented. (★★★★)
  • This Beautiful Fantastic: I missed a lot of what could have been depth under the surface of this film. If it were a little bit longer, some of these characters’ pasts could have been fleshed out more. However, its breezy and eccentric spirit kept it from being disappointing. It had a charming story that can easily bring a smile to your face. Every one of the actors seemed like they were having so much fun during the production. (★★★½)
  • Buried: Jeez. What a decently made, well-acted, bummer of a film. It was pretty effective. Ryan Reynolds gave this performance 1000% of himself at all times. That ending wasn’t totally unexpected, but it still leaves you with despair. Complete and utter despair. This is not a happy or triumphant movie in any regard whatsoever. There’s no real catharsis. No lessons learned. No good reason for the character to be subjected to this ordeal. Just abject cruelty performed on an innocent person. “Cruel” is a good word to use here—this was a cruel film. (★★★)
  • Red Notice: I’d feel better about giving this one another half-star if it was significantly shorter. Unfortunately, it was long to the point of being boring and insufferable. There was very little compelling action. Only the tiniest bit of character development. Trying to find any humor in it was like trying to find Cleopatra’s third egg. Considering its three leads, this one should have been so much better. (★½)
  • Margin Call: This is another one of those films that’s steeped in financial terminology and history, which means great portions of it largely go whizzing by over my head. In this case, there’s still enough mood-setting, amazing performances, and confident direction to keep those without extensive knowledge about the 2008 financial crisis riveted. It’s wonderful to watch a film that takes place over the span of a single day not get bogged down by its adherence to its clever storytelling gimmick. As always, extra points are awarded solely for the inclusion of Stanley Tucci. (★★★★)
  • Thirst: What a strange freaking movie. It felt so frantic and all over the place. It hardly lets you get a feel for what was happening before whisking you off to another location or another personal crisis. But it was good. The journey it takes you on is exhaustive. It had weight and spectacle and was shocking in many places. Few characters were who they appeared to be. It keeps you guessing, which should always be welcome. I think I would have liked this more if it was a bit shorter. (★★★½)
  • Psych 3: This Is Gus: Is this a biased review because Psych is probably my favorite show ever? Why, yes. Absolutely and without question. James Rodriguez, Dulé Hill, and the rest of the always stellar cast give performances reminiscent of the best parts of the television show. The film feels energetic, there’s a great mystery at the center, and as always, there’s an undeniable love imbued in every single frame. I had a blast watching this one. I hope they’ll make many more films because they bring joy into this world. (★★★★½)
  • The Edge of Seventeen: It wasn’t until the last half hour of this one that I thought it was going to be a well-made and perfectly enjoyable story about a unique teenager and the authentic issues she’s dealing with. Also, any moment Woody Harrelson was in it was the best moment. That third act proved that there was more intelligence and care put into this one than it seems. There’s some real devastating emotion and catharsis on display here that’s just impossible to look away from. I’m glad my teenage years weren’t so tumultuous, because I think it’s a very real depiction of high school life. Hailee Steinfeld was magnificent. (★★★★½)
  • Yes Man: I don’t think I can ever go so far as to say that this is a great film. Maybe it’s not even that good all the way through. But it sure as hell is fun and lighthearted, and damn it, isn’t that just all a person can need sometimes? Breezy, funny, earnest at times, motivating. There’s a lot of good that can be found. I enjoyed Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel together. They’re always good in anything they do. This is a perfect movie for when you’re feeling down or you’ve got a lazy afternoon on your hands. (★★★½)
  • The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected): I can’t call this Baumbach’s strongest work. He’s done amazing things before and after this one. However, of the films of his that I’ve seen, this one is probably filled with the most heart and familial love. His writing is always top-notch, but he should really be credited far more than he already is for the flawless direction of his actors. He always finds a way to tap into the best talents of his formidable cast. (★★★★)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Ah, this was such a refreshing change from the usual Marvel fare (and I’m a huge fan of that stuff). I absolutely loved the history, culture, and mythology that fills this entire story. The performances are at their typical best, as are the visuals. It’s beyond clear that everyone had a great time making this one. I was more films felt like they had that kind of care and energy in them. (★★★★)
  • The Fate of the Furious: Breaking up the family made for an emotionally weak installment to this series. It certainly amped up the drama and intrigue, but it didn’t do anything to help create a strong connection with any of these people. It’s a dang shame, too, because they should feel very familiar by this point. Just goes to show you that a strong and emotional story will always be better than impressive spectacle. This is a middle of the road entry. (★★★)
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage: What’s most frustrating about this film is it should be so much better than it is, considering how much formidable talent is behind it. It only gets halfway toward being great, and then stops. Making an R rated film may have been a good first step. Utilizing Woody Harrelson, who was still delightful, better would have been another good idea. There’s nothing particularly bad with this film, but it’s also unremarkable. It’s unlikely to stick with you any longer than it takes the credits to roll. (★★★)
  • The Fundamentals of Caring: I’m racking my brain to try and figure out if I’ve ever seen a bad Paul Rudd movie, and I’m coming up with nothing. Nope, he’s been great in everything. This movie proves to be no exception. The entire cast takes a story about friendship, exploration, and overcoming your fears and imbues it with warmth and humor. It’s eminently watchable, and at 97 minutes, it just breezes by. The film’s short running time may make some of the earlier moments feel rushed and lacking, but it makes up for it with some strong character development later on. (★★★½)
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Steve Martin and John Candy are always immediately and effortlessly magnetic, but I found the film’s story to be a slow burn. Del and Neal’s warring relationship makes for a pair of characters that aren’t especially relatable (or likable) at the beginning of the film. As time passes and you learn more about them, though, they start to feel like old friends, both in the film and for the viewer. By the end of this insane and exhausting road trip, I wanted it to keep going. Begone, end credits! (★★★★)
  • Ride the Eagle: I don’t mind a long, epic movie, but sometimes you want to watch something that knows the value of brevity. This is one of those movies. Jake Johnson, as always, is excellent at playing the character he’s cultivated since, at least, his time on the show, New Girl. It works, and it’s a delight to see in this story. You’d never think that a family relationship that develops entirely through a VHS tape would be so affecting, but here we are. This one is pleasant and it has a cute as heck dog. (★★★★)
  • A Mighty Wind: I haven’t come across a Christopher Guest film that isn’t a delight. They’re all varying degrees of fun, hilarious, and excellent. This one doesn’t hit the high bar set by its predecessor, Best in Show, but it is full of the style and deadpan humor that makes his films so unique and memorable. I enjoy folk music, so this one was right up my alley. However, I would have appreciated more humor and less music. The ratio seemed off this time. (★★★½)
  • Love and Monsters: A very strong entry into the post-apocalypse genre. Instead of zombies or aliens, we’re treated to enormous, macabre versions of creatures we’re already familiar with. It’s an interesting concept that’s bolstered by a capable lead performance and some excellent relationships that form during its story (who can resist the charm of the dog, Boy?). The ending was unexpected considering the title; “happily ever after” doesn’t seem to apply here. It’s unique, thrilling, and fresh. (★★★½)
  • Minari: A heartfelt, loving, and tough family drama with an underlying core of desperation running underneath its surface. It’s no wonder why this film was so revered and received so many accolades. Yuh-jung Youn was particularly deserving of the Oscar she won for her performance as Soonja, the family’s grandmother. “The American Dream” always seems so cruelly out of reach to this family, and it’s heartbreaking to see them struggle and nearly unravel. You hope nothing but the best for these characters. This is a film that will surely stick to you, as it has to me. (★★★★½)

Total movies watched: 22.

Favorite movie of the month: Psych 3: This Is Gus. I’m a little biased here—Psych is one of my favorite things ever.

Least favorite movie of the month: Red Notice.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥