May 2018's Feature Filmery


Boy and the World (2013)

I think this movie was even better the second time. I was a tad worried that, knowing the ending, would make the film a bit sloggy, but not so! The beauty and charm hold off, and knowing that it's a film about time, gave me much more to think about as the movie proceeded. Whether, ultimately, it is a recursion or a memory doesn't lessen its inherent value.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

I think more than twenty years have passed since I last saw The Little Mermaid. Doesn't mean I don't still know all the words to the songs, of course. Except that first one. No memory of that song.

The film holds up better than I expected. It's also curiously liminal---it's easy to see how the DNA of the early Disney films is passing through Ariel on its way to the more recent movies.

Also, I remember reading a newspaper column by Herb somebody back in the day, about how the movie was designed for kids who all saw themselves in Ariel, whereas he saw himself in Triton. I've long awaited the time this was my experience.

And now it is.

The most surprising aspect to this watching was that both Ariel and Triton are, though deeply flawed, easy to understand. And Triton in particular is a good father. Yes, he loses his temper etc etc but he's conflicted about his failures and agonizes over how to parent better. That's the best I can do too.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996)

I've taught freshmen my whole career and so I've seen this movie at least once every year since 2007-8 (and only missed one year since 2005-6). Next year I'm not teaching freshmen ... and I'm going to miss it. I really love this film. I've seen it at least twenty times. So I suspect I'm pretty qualified when I say: it holds up to repeat viewings.

My Dinner with Andre (1981)

I only became of this movie through Community---that episode is years old now is years old now, and we're only now just watching it. (This Key & Peele sketch is also years old.)

Anyway, it is as advertized---except for Wallace Shawn coming to and leaving from the restaurant over credits, this is one long restaurant conversation. The most interesting thing visually was what was happening just behind them---which was waiters walking past or the presence/absence of Andre's reflection depending on the angle. Even the food was sadly neglected.

But that's not the point. The point is the conversastion. Which is compelling, but it spends the first hour being compelling not because it is conversation but because Andre is spinning some weeeird stories. That gives the basis for later conversation, but it's a pretty long set-up. Also, we never learn just why they met in the first place. Regardless, some moving and challenging things come out of the conversation at the end, and I can see how watching this movie two or three times could really affect your thinking on many topics---probably, though not necessarily, for the better.

I'm glad this movie exists. Rare is the person I will push it upon.

(Incidentally, the bluray's apparently been cleaned up but Criterion's dvd is super grainy with sudden mid-take lighting changes.)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Knowing what I was in for this time, I was much better able to enjoy the film. Parts that had seemed interminable the first go-round did not feel that was at all the second time. And honestly, the whole thing was just more compelling. I don't love it, but I would watch it again, certainly.

Get Out (2017)

Like all good movies, rewatching is a new experience. This view, the experience was one of uncovering layers and complexities that hadn't been visible the first time around. Which, in a way, moved me from Chris's perspective to the Armitages'. Not that I suddenly became a coconspirator, but that I was able to see through them from the beginning.

Now that it's been pointed out to me that Catherine Keener is also in Being John Malkovich, I really have to rewatch that movie. I'm told the similarities between it and Get Out are more than even I remember.

Romeo Is Bleeding (2015)

This is the first time I've seen it since its premiere, and it holds up. It may not be as IMMEDIATE as it is not hours old and I'm not sitting with family of the deceased, but it's still terrific. First time I've been able to show it to students. I hope it hit them more than they, most of them, were willing to admit....

Interstellar (2014)

I don't know if it was the crap speakers I was using, but the dialogue is way too difficult to understand in this film. And it matters. More than it did in its grandpa, 2001. That said, great movie. I think I like it better as a response to grandpa (THEY are US) than in isolation. Wish I'd seen it on IMAX....

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

First time with this movie! Certainly some parts have not aged well and people who hate earnest stuff will never stop hating this movie, but overall, I liked it. It's a bit weird how much Jo looks like photos of my mom in high school, but that only distracts me occasionally. There's a great scene which I'm going to start showing as part of my Fences---I guess you could call it the son's response to the father's rant.

But people aren't wrong when they say the real stars of the show are Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. I didn't realize it until the very end, but as Tracy gives his final monologue in a completely naturalistic way, the reason it's a powerful moment in film is because of Katherine Hepburn's acting in the middle distance. She's the emotional core of the scene that forms the film's emotional core. It's remarkable.

Mulan (1998)

I haven't seen this movie since it was young, and it didn't make a good impression on me at the time. I still don't care for the music (not even the suddenly-80s synth warrior-suiting-up moment or 98°'s final hurrah), and the list of problems the film has is ... long. Here are a few of the big, recurring ones:
humor, not funny
humor, inappropriate
incoherent sense of scale
more generally, the balance of cartoon logic with attempted realism
That said, the movie's major emotional marks hit for me. Especially the father/daughter moments at the beginning and end. So I guess it's not so bad.

One curious thing about the film now (I'm not sure what I thought about this back in the 20th century) is the mix of hand-drawn and computer. I mean---I know the movie had no cels and so, in a way, it was all CGI, but bits and pieces are clearly computer modeled and executed. I'm not judging the balance from a 2018 perspective, but, historically speaking, it is certainly interesting.

WALL·E (2008)

Sweet and lovely and simple. I know it cost almost $200 million to make and a gazillion man- and 'puter-hours, but it works because it is sweet and lovely and simple.

And, like Interstellar, it's a beautiful response to 2001 arguing that we can be something wonderful now.

On the other hand, optimistic closing-credits sequence notwithstanding, will those Axiom people really save the Earth? That might be so optimistic it breaks even this glorified reality. But: we are left with hope. And that's all that's ever lit the way.

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Lady Steed and I saw this film shortly after we were married, lying in bed in our crummy first apartment, watching it on the little tv/vcr combo she'd brought into our marriage.

The most terrifying moment of the movie for me---the most lasting horror---were the breasts at the end. More than anything else, that made me question my own goodness, made me tremble in the thought that I too might be a Stepford husband, willing to trade in all that is good and wonderful for something shallow and agreeable.

The notion's haunted me ever since. This is the first time I've seen the movie sense, and although I am older and more comfortable in my own soul, it's still effective. We should all be asked such uncomfortable questions. We, none of us, should be satisfied with our own goodness.

(Also, I love those opening credits. So much.)

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Read the book, watch the movie. The latter part wouldn't have happened if, in reading about the film, it wasn't made to sound like a forgotten masterpiece. And it does hold up well. A very stylish movie, for one thing. And its influences make sense. Such deep focus! (The director edited Citizen Kane.) Cool design and effects! (The effects chief worked on 2001.) But it also has its own distinct personality, deriving from the excellent actors playing the four scientists (notably Kate Reid) and the use of split screens. It's a cool movie.

Lady Steed, having not read the book, was unprepared for the baby and thus distressed by its every appearance---and by its absence.

(One funny thing: the movie's rated G but it says right in the advertising maybe it shouldn't be. And the fact that this movie was rated G just goes to show how weird and changeable the ratings system is.)

For those who don't know, a satellite comes down infected with a deadly disease from elsewhere. Although science fiction, it's intended to be fully plausible---most of the tech was either new or nearby. And the movie does hold up. It's easy to see how it affected the films that followed, even if it is not as well remembered today as others. Worth finding.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

This is charming, but it's not hard to tell that it was a cheap flick to build funds for the floundering Disney company. Does't mean I don't like it! Especially the Sleepy Hollow half. Although: I'll take weasels any day. For sure.

The Beguiled (2017)

I think my first awareness of this movie was driving past a theater with that, erm, beguiling poster. I ended up driving past it several times, finally figured out the title, then started reading about it. Wasn't able to see it until now, however. Worth the wait.

Ghostless Southern Gothic done right. I just watched the trailer for the 1971 adaptation to try and get a sense of how it would work from the male's perspective and ... pretty sure this is a better movie.

Cinematography and staging a wonderfully heightened; the acting is reasonably naturalistic; the world is enfolding.

I have not seen enough of Sofia Coppola's movies. (One I loved, one I found overrated, this is the third.)

Spirited Away (2001)

This is still a beautiful film. And so compelling I can't distract myself for long from the primary action in order to enjoy all the details Miyazaki buried throughout. It's a very generous film. It always has more to give.

The Iron Giant (1999)

Never can tell how a film will hit you on any given day. If I remember correctly, last time I was concerned because I wasn't as affected as usual. This time---even with the dvd glitching and causing me stress for the rest of the audience---I was almost overwhelmed for pretty much the entire final act.

What a movie!

How long till Incredibles 2 comes out---?

Previous films watched

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