Dandy Cat

Letterboxd Diaries—December 2021

  • Noelle: Delightful, cheesy, and full of more Christmas-related puns than you can shake a candy cane at. The story was well-meaning and heartfelt. I enjoyed the characters and I appreciate that everyone got everything they wanted and deserved. It’s exactly what a low-stakes Christmas movie should be. It wouldn’t have hurt anything if the script was written better, but you shouldn’t expect greatness from a movie like this. (★★★)
  • Jungle Cruise: While energetic and entertaining, it was also too long and overly complex. This is the sort of adventure movie you watch for the actors, all of whom are enjoying their journey through a dangerous jungle. They’re all very engaging. Unfortunately, the story can’t keep up. It’s needlessly dense. It made me long for the sort of older adventure movie that had to rely on a strong script to tell its story, instead of lots of too dark or too frantic visual effects. (★★★)
  • Wish I Was Here: I’m not entirely sure that Zach Braff’s skill as a writer has kept up with his preoccupations and ponderings about life. You get flashes of greatness and honesty whenever Mandy Patinkin is on screen, but those moments are too few and far between. He’s a good director with a keen eye for eccentric visuals. He proved that with Garden State. However, that one succeeded because the lost twenty-something story fit well with where he was in life, and he put that on the page. Everything felt appropriate. Playing a lost thirty-something written in the tone of voice of that quirky twenty-something makes this story feel incongruous and lacking. (★★½)
  • To Die For: In a better world, there would be more than just a single Nicole Kidman-Gus Van Sant collaboration. Sadly, we don’t live in that world, but the one collaboration we have is phenomenal and clearly influential. It’s hard to imagine any modern husband murdering film existing without this one having been made. And you’re telling me that Nicole Kidman didn’t get at least an Oscar nomination for this multi-faceted and manipulative performance? Talk about criminal. (★★★★)
  • Justice League: War: An enjoyable bit of action-packed, non-story DC animation. There is very little substance to all the stylish explosions, though. It’s a darn shame, though, because the genesis of the Justice League should be a story that’s captivating and outright awesome. Instead, what we have is just a showcase for these superheroes and their powers. It’s decent at what it does, but that’s barely enough to make a movie. (★★★)
  • No Time to Die: A fitting and satisfying conclusion to Daniel Craig’s tenure as the inimitable James Bond. In many ways, this strays a good distance away from the “classic” Bond tropes of yore, but this series has always been about serializing a unique story, fit for Craig’s talents. I don’t think this one suffers because he’s womanizing less or cutting back on any of the other iffy traits that have previously defined this person. This film does suffer because of its lengthy running time and unfortunate underutilization of Rami Malek. However, it’s a thrilling film with great direction. I’m looking forward to seeing where this character goes next (because there will always be more Bond), and I hope director Cary Joji Fukunaga gets to do whatever he wants now. (★★★★)
  • Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar: You know what? This just keeps getting better and weirder and more lovely each time I see it. What a great bit of silliness. It hardly ever lets up and it’s hilarious all the way through. I love that this film exists. (★★★★½) ↺
  • Adult Life Skills: Jodie Whitaker is, unsurprisingly, fantastic. She’s always unassailable. Otherwise, her character got so much strife over her grieving process, to the point where the people in her life seemed malicious and heartless. The representation of the other characters left a bad taste in my mouth, and I think they’re what hurt the film. Had there been a little more compassion in this film, it would have ranked higher with me. (★★★½)
  • The French Dispatch: I went into this one expecting more of a comedy akin to The Grand Budapest Hotel, so I was surprised to find a much drier and occasionally more morose film here. This threw me off, so I’m looking forward to seeing it again when I can be in the right mindset. That said, it’s still quintessentially a Wes Anderson film. It looks, sounds, and feels like a pure representation of his personal interests and style. We’re all lucky to be given original movies like his. (★★★★)
  • Law Abiding Citizen: This film has about as much depth to it as a kiddie pool. What starts as righteous vindication turns into a senseless parade of obscene violence. At that point, the central character’s motivation loses all purpose and reason. His grief and anger over losing his family dissolves into blind, murderous anarchy. It’s blunt, it’s hollow, and there’s very little resolution. It’s a decent action movie, but it never rises above “okay, but barely.” (★★½)
  • Rubber: I think it helps a lot to watch this one while understanding that it’s clear a piece of surrealist fiction. It helped make the whole thing more palatable to me. Of course, I’d completely understand if anybody told me it was also a piece of garbage. There’s a good amount of evidence to support that claim. On the plus side, the production quality was decent for a film of this size. Hard to get over how incoherent it is, though. I mean, nothing was resolved and the ending only raised more unanswered questions. (★★)
  • The Limey: There’s such a laidback, afternoon sun kind of mood to this film. It feels relaxed and full of focused intent, and it permeates through every moment. What starts as a rather simple story of revenge over the loss of a child blooms into a whole web of duplicity, federal agents, and murder. Terrence Stamp is phenomenal. His brash character and quick words make it nearly impossible to take your eyes off this thing. This is one of those great ‘90s films that I’d love to live in way after the credits finish. (★★★★) ↺
  • The Holiday: What sort of person leaves their darling dog alone with a complete stranger and travels across the world to trade homes with them for two weeks? They could be a dog murderer looking for exotic dogs to murder! All that aside, this should be sooo much shorter, but it’s fun and charming. A nice holiday or any day movie. All I want now is to watch an entire film of Eli Wallach telling stories about old Hollywood (or even just his shopping list). Immediate top five movie right there. (★★★)
  • Jennifer’s Body: This movie should be a lesson to us all—if a c-tier indie band with hair curtains invites you to go anywhere with them, immediately run far away while screaming. Also, if someone suggests you watch this great film, you drop everything you’re doing and give it a watch. It’s better than it was ever given credit for. Give Diablo Cody, Karyn Kusama, and Megan Fox more work. They did stuff here that is being recognized waaay too late. It shows potential for filmmaking that can and surely will be truly sensational. (★★★★)
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: The only impressive thing about this film was Oliver Stone’s constant use of David Byrne and Brian Eno’s album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, at every turn. Actually, that’s exactly not true. Carrie Mulligan and Michael Douglas are great. Too good for this one, certainly. Charlie Sheen is immediately more magnetic than Shia LaBeouf, as evidenced by the former’s all too brief cameo. Seeing him again made me long for more of his character instead of someone who seems sleepy and in way over his head. This film is just disappointing. The first one was so watchable; this one is so dull. (★★½)
  • The Matrix Resurrections: This was pretty decent, but I can only imagine how much better it would be if weren’t all stuffed into a single film. It’s self-referential nearly to a fault, although that tool is used in a way that doesn’t usually seem out of place. However, it’s still playing a stuck-in-the-past balancing act and it wobbles far too much. There are a lot of great ideas in here, ideas that progress the story in meaningful ways, but its speedy pacing and lack of depth leave those concepts unexplored. It’s a fine film if not compared to the previous installments, but that’s difficult. Ultimately, I feel disappointed with it because the first film proved how revolutionary this story can be. (★★★½)
  • Don’t Look Up: This movie made me feel ill, but not because it was bad. I felt so unwell because most things here feel like they could actually happen. Seems to me that the pushback that this one is getting is the same sort of response that the scientists received in the film. Then again, satire, even when it’s as heavy-handed as this one, isn’t always greeted with a standing ovation. Sometimes, as is the case here, it’s received with a collective meh or outright rejection from people who should heed its warnings the most. And then they look around and wonder, “Why didn’t anyone try to warn us? You should have done something! Damn everybody but me!” The film definitely didn’t need to be 143 minutes long. That was over-indulgent and detracted from its point. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence were phenomenal, as always. (★★★½)
  • Harakiri: Has there ever been another story that unfolds with such meticulous grace, captures your heart with such a cruel tragedy at its center, or thrills with such hold-your-breath action? I can’t possibly think of another film quite as perfect as this one. Perhaps Rashomon with its twisting, moving story, but you could count this film’s peers on probably a single hand. I was enraptured the entire time this was playing. What a perfect introduction to Masaki Kobayashi. I couldn’t have wished for a better introduction to this person’s work. (★★★★★)
  • The Net: If this movie actually depicted the future of the internet, we’d either all be dead at the hands of murderous Terminators or living in utopian civilizations on Mars. Maybe we’d be on Mars because of evil, killer robots. Better to live on another planet than be exterminated on our home. Assuming the murder-bots don’t figure out space travel themselves, that is. I wouldn’t put it past them. After all, they achieved sentience and figured out how to survive all of our best weapons. Anyway, this movie was a whole floppy disk full of meh. (★★)

Total movies watched: 19.

Favorite movie of the month: Harakiri.

Least favorite movie of the month: The Net, but the Wall Street sequel was a real close second.

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