Dandy Cat

Letterboxd Diaries—February 2023

Total movies watched: 29.

Favorite movie of the month: TÁR.

Worst movies of the month: Men and Cell. Those were memorably, frustratingly bad.

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Letterboxd Diaries—January 2023

Total movies watched: 24.

Favorite movie of the month: Bringing Up Baby.

Worst movie of the month: Red Dawn.

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My Favorite Films That I Watched for the First Time in 2022 (and the Ones I Disliked)

In 2022, I watched 333 movies, the great majority of which I hadn’t seen before. Last year may have been the most films I’d seen in a single year up to that point, but this year blew it away. 333 compared to 236? Almost a hundred more movies is no contest. That being said, I did see some amazing things for the first time last year, so check out that post.

This large number of films can only mean three things: I’ve seen a lot of great movies, I’ve seen a lot of terrible movies, and I had more free time on my hands than I thought I would. The ones listed below have monopolized my thoughts. They refuse to go quietly and deserve a special mention here.

Thanks once again to Letterboxd, the best movie tracking/reviewing/social service out there. Make sure to follow me there.

My favorite films

My disliked films

Letterboxd Diaries—December 2022

Total movies watched: 31.

Favorite movie of the month: Burning. But also, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and Confess, Fletch were absolute delights.

Worst movie of the month: Lucy and Amsterdam. The first was just tripe and the second was a waste of an amazing cast.

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Letterboxd Diaries—November 2022

Total movies watched: 31.

Favorite movie of the month: After Yang.

Worst movie of the month: High-Rise.

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Letterboxd Diaries—October 2022

Total movies watched: 31.

Favorite movie of the month: Booksmart. Business Proposal was also amazing, but it’s not a movie. Honorable mention, though.

Worst movie of the month: Jurassic World Dominion.

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Letterboxd Diaries—September 2022

Total movies watched: 31.

Favorite movie of the month: Down with Love.

Worst movie of the month: Brightburn, although Pitch Perfect 3 was a close second. The unrealized promise of the former was what clinched this dreaded spot for the film.

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Letterboxd Diaries—August 2022

Total movies watched: 26.

Favorite movie of the month: Station Eleven. It’s not a movie, but so what? It was the best thing I watched all month.

Worst movie of the month: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

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Letterboxd Diaries—July 2022

Total movies watched: 26.

Favorite movie of the month: Klaus.

Worst movie of the month: Miami Vice.

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One Billion: Letterboxd Hits Major Movie Milestone

One of the two social networks I actually care about1 just hit a major milestone. A billion films were watched and logged in a little over a decade. That’s an average of 100,000,000 films a year. 273,973 films a day. 11,416 films every hour.

Impressive as hell. Here’s to a billion more!

  1. The other obviously being Micro.blog↩︎

Letterboxd Diaries—June 2022

Total movies watched: 26.

Favorite movie of the month: Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Worst movie of the month: Llamageddon.

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Letterboxd Diaries—May 2022

Total movies watched: 27.

Favorite movie of the month: Supermarket Woman.

Worst movie of the month: Morbius.

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Letterboxd Diaries—April 2022

Total movies watched: 24.

Favorite movie of the month: The Batman.

Worst movie of the month: Naked Singularity.

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I’ve collected my movie theater ticket stubs since 2001. A whole 21 years! I haven’t counted them all yet, but it’s easily several hundred tickets.

I used to pile them into a small black box, but they started overflowing. I’ve given myself a nice project: Organize and affix them to pages in a binder for a nicer presentation. It’s been delightful to travel back in time and relive all those memories of theater visits gone by.

I’ve also used this as an opportunity to log all those movies into my Letterboxd account. I think that thing is now as comprehensive as I can make it.

What started as a passive habit is turning into something way more interactive and personal. I like this little hobby.

UPDATE: I counted them all. There are 551 tickets.

I love Letterboxd, but the quality of the discourse and criticism can be, let’s just say, lacking.

It’s almost strange how much better it gets the more you start blocking people. (Although, I guess the same can be said of all online social services.)

Letterboxd Diaries—February 2022

I’ve noticed that the review format I’ve been using for the last year, e.g., Letterboxd Diaries—January 2022, has started to feel restrictive. Confining myself to a handful of sentences to encapsulate my thoughts about entire films doesn’t feel like the best way to talk about them.

From now on, the links included with the movie titles in these Letterboxd Diaries will send you to my review on Letterboxd. This way, I can write as much or as little about these films as I want. I can stop worrying about these posts ballooning into the size of a small novel. Also, there can be multiple paragraphs. Exciting!

Total movies watched: 24.

Favorite movie of the month: Funny Face. I really loved Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, but it’s a tv show and not really in the spirit of this part.

Least favorite movie of the month: Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

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Letterboxd Diaries—January 2022

  • Paddington: What a fun and soothing balm this film was! I’ve got very little experience with the story of Paddington, the bear from Darkest Peru, but as far as I can tell, this one is something that everyone can love. There were some tense and heavy moments, so it’s not sunshine and rainbows all the way through. However, I loved the trouble that Paddington would get himself into. His goofiness, charm, and innocent way of looking at the world captured my heart as easily as it captured those of the Brown family. (★★★★½)
  • Withnail & I: Let this film be a lesson to us all: never be an English actor in the ‘60s. It’s only going to end poorly. You’ll end up pissed out of your mind, wracked with paranoia, and stumble into an accidental vacation out in the countryside. It’s appropriate that Ralph Steadman is responsible for this film’s artwork these days because this one was about as psychotic as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s about as brilliant, too. The energy is propulsive and insane. You’re sure to want a shower after watching this one. (★★★★)
  • Presumed Innocent: There were a whole lot of shocking revelations at the end of this film. It’s a shame the beginning felt bogged down with sleepy talking in drab law offices. That sure does make it a bit of a challenge to follow all of the plot intricacies. When the film finally got to the courtroom proceedings, things kicked into gear. That was all done well—it was authentic, suspenseful, and included about as many breaks to confer in the backstage hallways as a real court case involves. I don’t think this one is going to stick with me like the best of the genre, but it was fun while it lasted. And holy cow, Raul Julia was great! (★★★½)
  • Vice: I’m struggling to find a reason to create a biopic about a man that, by the film’s admission, has let very little of his personal life be known. So then, what is the point of a film like this? To humanize a bastard? To show the asshole parts that make up an asshole sum? To show the true power of the puppeteer? To condemn others for not stopping a bloodthirsty monster who is supported by the machine he’s helping run? I’m not sure this film knows what it’s trying to do. It’s too eager to get to its next clever editing trick to figure out what the message is. Perhaps what it can do is educate—show what happens when terrible people run rampant. Prove that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s also a showcase for Christian Bale’s considerable talents. Oh, and Alfred Molina. Aside from those things it was about as effective as the War on Terror. (★★½)
  • In the Line of Fire: This is kind of wild to watch these days. On the one hand, the great cat and mouse game between Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich never gets tiresome. It’s a thrill all the way through. On the other hand, it’s unpleasant to watch a dinosaur man try to seduce a woman who is easily at least a couple of decades his junior. Ugh, and in such an outdated, “you should be thankful I’m even noticing you” sort of way. Stay for the action, is all I can say. It’s a good thing this film excels at its action pieces. (★★★½)
  • Self/less: How could a movie made by the director of The Fall and with such an interesting high-concept story be this boring and ineffective? The whole thing loses its thread faster than you can blink. It keeps forgetting its own premise, allowing Ryan Reynolds to be himself when he should be Ben Kingsley. I felt a real lack of stakes with this one and that made it all too easy to ignore. I wish this was more of a dazzling Tarsem film and far less of an entirely bland and forgettable action film. (★★)
  • 50/50: Once it finds its footing, this film shines. There’s a slightly rocky opening that doesn’t include a whole lot about dealing with the cancer that’s central to the story. It’s necessary, though, and makes everything that follows affecting and occasionally devastating. This is one of those smaller budget films that allows its impressive cast to really show off their chops, and they do that here. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen each bring welcome depth to their characters. This may not be the happiest film, but it is very life-affirming. Also, fuck cancer. (★★★★) ↺
  • Louise: As a man, I can confidently say two things: we suck and the world would be far better off if we stopped forcing our mad, ego-driven, stolen power on everyone else. Those truths are depicted poignantly in this short film. It goes by in a flash, but the dawning realization of how these too young girls are treated by everyone in this microcosm of dance will stick around for a long time. Its animation is also exquisite. It has beautiful energy and moves between light and darkness with confidence and grace, firmly placing the viewer in its world. It’s tough to watch, but worth it. (★★★★)
  • Jaws: The first blockbuster, and arguably still the best blockbuster. This is as thrilling, emotional, and action-packed as great films get. It really set a high-water mark (no pun intended) that few films after this one have ever achieved. The first half does a superb job of setting the high stakes. The second half is a chase-buddy scene that keeps the tension high. It’s just excellent. (★★★★★) ↺
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc: What a moving tragedy. To see such belief picked apart and torn down by men who are afraid of losing their positions of power was agonizing. And really, what else was it but that? These clergy—by far more evil than the person whom they condemned—cannot bear to have their authority usurped or allegiances broken. No, it must only be them who can communicate with their deity. Anyone who claims to have that same power, and especially a woman, must be mad and silenced. So they burn a teenager at the stake, and all because of a broken sense of righteousness. It’s all depicted in a towering film. Maria Falconetti is beyond compare. Carl Th. Dreyer crafted an experience that still feels so modern and experimental. This one is glorious. (★★★★★)
  • Niagara: There isn’t any other song. You’ve got that right, Marilyn. Now I would never condone cheating on your spouse, but oh boy, George Loomis wasn’t doing a whole lot to foster a happy home life. Should that end in infidelity and murder? Nope. Everyone sucks here (except for Polly Cutler). Special additional shout out to Ray Cutler who kept ogling the pretty blonde while around and negging his wife. This was my first Marilyn Monroe film and it was okay. Ultimately, it was forgettable, but I had a decent time while watching it. (★★★½)
  • Pickup on South Street: You’d think this film was all about pickpockets, microfilm, and nighttime embraces, but the most interesting person in this whole thing is the tired stoolie/tie salesperson, Moe. You could make an entire movie about her and it would be one of the most moving and universal stories ever put to film. We’re all Moe, just trying to make ends meet any way we can. The whole pickpocket… let’s just call it a b-story at this point, is thrilling and mysterious. People get punched, the bad guys are caught, and everything is wrapped up in a neat bow, at least for the people you might end up cheering for. It’s gritty noir done in little whispers and crashing outbursts. (★★★★½)
  • CODA: I was in happy tears by the end of this one. It’s a film that, to the best of my knowledge, tells a story that hasn’t been explored before. Or, if it has, then not nearly as well or as touching as this one. Being a child of deaf adults is understandably a challenge for all involved. When it comes to being hearing disabled, this is a fact that goes overlooked so often, especially in movies. CODA explores those issues in a respectful way. It also does that while showing just how wonderful, complicated, and weird love can be. This is a lovely film. I hope more stories like this one will be told. (★★★★)
  • Spaceballs: This is another one of those ‘80s films that I really should have seen when I was much younger. It’s beloved, and I can see why, but it’s not doing anything for me personally. As far as spoofs and Mel Brooks movies go, this one is pretty middle of the road. It’s imaginative and the character names are great. However, the pacing is rough, and well, I imagine it was funnier when it came out. The John Hurt cameo made it 100% worth it. (★★★)
  • Terms of Endearment: What a sneaky film this was! One moment you’re watching a young woman grow up and fall in love and the next you’re getting punched in the gut. Is there any warning for the twists and turns this one makes? Hardly, but if you’re open to everything, then I think this one is rewarding. The performances and writing make it all worthwhile. It’s not the most impressive-looking thing, but there’s no question about it deserving the several Oscars it won. This was a remarkable and touching ride. (★★★★)
  • Psycho Goreman: Clearly a cult classic in the making. All it needs is a few more years. It’s got such a genuine love for gruesome and practical monster effects of the sort that were all the rage in the ‘80s and ‘90s. That sort of thing isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I can appreciate how well it’s used here. The filmmakers reveled in making their fake blood budget go a long way. This also feels like it should have been more of a short film—it starts stretching thin after too long. Regardless, I’ve never seen a movie better suited for young horror lovers. It’s got a nice message, too: Use the power of love to destroy the galaxy! (★★★½)
  • It Happened One Night: As the proto-romcom, this is charming, fun, and absolutely hilarious. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert were only in two movies together and that’s a damn shame. Their chemistry is boisterous and spirited from the get-go. I wish they were in many more movies together! This one will have you chuckling along with their witty banter and hoping that those Walls of Jericho will finally come toppling down. This is as fun and memorable as movies get. (★★★★★)
  • 9 to 5: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton having enough of men’s workplace nonsense is the sort of pick-me-up that can turn a dull day into a great one. Comic geniuses plus a story about getting back at one of the worst bosses of all time? Sounds hilarious and engaging to me! Their camaraderie makes the story feel propulsive. If there was a sour note, then I couldn’t find it. More movies should be imbued with the silly energy that this one shines with. Time for me to watch everything else featuring these amazing women. (★★★★½)
  • The Third Man: Whenever I hear about this film it’s all Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, but I was captivated by Alina Valli. She’s beautiful, yes. She’s subtle and lets the universe inside her out in tiny drips and drops. She can tell an entire life story in a fleeting glance. Oh, then there’s the mystery of this story! Who killed Harry Lime? But is he even dead? That may not even be the most interesting story in this film, and that’s saying something. This is a gorgeous film with a unique score. It demands close and repeated viewing, which I’m all too happy to give. (★★★★½)
  • La Femme Nikita: If this isn’t the first woman-has-to-choose-between-learning-to-be-an-assassin-or-be-executed film, then it’s definitely the best of the bunch. Nikita never stops believing in the promise of a good and carefree life, even when it means sacrificing what makes her happy. That pull against her obligation to kill makes for several satisfying emotional conflicts. She may be talented, but the immoral demands of her job take too much of a toll. By the end, it’s hard not to feel sad for her. It all makes for a confident film that’s also full of action, but with a slightly underwhelming finish. Anne Parillaud is magnificent throughout. (★★★★) ↺
  • Forrest Gump: Many have criticized, and rightly so, the underlying, but probably unintentional, message of this film. Fall in line if you want to succeed. Step out of line and you’ll have a shit life before dying of AIDS. I don’t necessarily disagree with any of the objections, but this is also a story of a man who’s lived one hell of a life (even if he might not realize that). It’s a film crafted with exquisite care and love. It’s hard not to be sucked into the world that the film depicts. There are more than a few heart-wrenching and triumphant moments. All of which contribute to making this one the lasting story that it is. As always, it’s moving. (★★★★½) ↺
  • Dave: Perfectly pleasant, like a mug of hot cocoa at the end of a long, chilly day. Depicting the ultimate switcheroo, the U.S. finally gets itself a president worth celebrating. I guess it had to happen sometime. Kevin Kline pulls double duty as the President and a double hired to play him after falling victim to a major stroke. Luckily, Dave is a decent guy and the country ends up with a “leader” who’s actually worthy of the title. The film doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises, but it makes up for that with excellent performances and a good heart. (★★★½)
  • Moonstruck: I could die a happy person if I got to see La bohème with Nicolas Cage in my finest duds. That may not ever happen, but I did get to see Cher enjoy an opera-filled evening out with him and that’s enough. This film was top to bottom delightful. It especially shines whenever Cher’s character is surrounded by her family. They’ve all got stellar chemistry. Throw in several dashes of infidelity and pasta dinners and this becomes a film I wish I had seen far earlier than now. Did Cher ever earn her Oscar here! (★★★★½)
  • Some Like It Hot: Whoever taught Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon how to run in heels is the true hero of this film. They were an absolute delight the whole way through as a pair of stage musicians on the run from the mob. Oh, and Marilyn! This is the second film I’ve seen her in and what a performance she gave. Her singing numbers were memorable—full of life and passion. I don’t need to be the one to say that Billy Wilder was a genius, but his great talent is on full display here. This is a perfect “will make your day immediately better” film and one that I can’t wait to see again. (★★★★★)
  • Blush: Well-told, deeply personal, and beautifully animated. This is a love letter in short film form to the director’s late wife and it packs an emotional punch. For me, it was good while it lasted. I was impressed with the visual style and quality, as well. This is a good inclusion into the Apple TV+ catalog. (★★★½)

Total movies watched: 25.

My favorite movie of the month: Paddington. I watched some stellar films this month, but that’s the one that made me the happiest.

My least favorite movie of the month: It’s a toss-up between the bitter boredom of Self/less and the frustration of Vice.

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Significant portions of my days consist entirely of adding films to my Letterboxd and Criterion Channel watch lists. I fully expect to reach a point where there’s more in those two things than I’ll ever be able to see in my lifetime.

I’m resolving to complete my own version of the Criterion Challenge 2022. I’ve been meaning to watch more Criterion films (and make my subscription to their expensive streaming service worth it).

It should be a fun and hopefully enlightening endeavor.

My Favorite and Least Favorite Films That I Watched for the First Time in 2021

In 2021, I watched 236 movies I hadn’t seen before. To my knowledge, it may be the most films I’ve ever watched in a single year. I owe it all to a continuing pandemic and finding the wonderful site, Letterboxd. This movie tracking/reviewing/social service has allowed me to become more engaged than ever with the films that I watch.1 Follow me on there if you’d like.

I’ve watched a lot this year, and there have been certain standouts at both ends of the quality spectrum. Some things have been exceptional, and others have made me wish I lacked eyes and ears. Good or bad, these are the films that stuck with me long after I finished them.2

My favorite films

My least favorite films

  1. A distinction I’ve never been able to give to something like IMDb↩︎

  2. They’re not films that were released only in 2021, but the films that I watched for the first time this last year. Also, they’re in alphabetical order; don’t read anything into the placement of these items. Another also: this list is my subjective opinion, of course. You should like what you like. ↩︎

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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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.

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According to my Letterboxd account, I’ve just watched my two-hundredth film of the year. The one that got me there was Park Chan-wook’s unique vampire film, Thirst.

I wonder how many I’ll have watched by the end of the year…

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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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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