Logan Lucky (2017)

We ended June watching Ocean's 8 and Ocean's Eleven and the first hour of this movie. Finished in July. Hello, July!

One interesting thing is that it has a final-act introduction of an investigator ala Ocean's 8. I don't know if it is inherently better or worse, but it's not as strong as the rest of the movie---opposite problem of Ocean's 8. I do like the misdirection and the clever bit of twisting around at the end. The accents made it hard to understand everything that was said. Lady Steed liked the movie a lot more than I did (I'm still undecided) and is wanting to watch it again to try and decipher some pieces now that we know how it ends.

Some things definitely weren't answered. For instance, did the white gang leader get a payout? If not, why not? What about Joe Bang's brothers? I'm guessing now, but I'm not clear. Maybe only if Joe gives them some?

Maybe there's a bunch of explanatory stuff on Quora or Reddit I can seek out....

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Holds up. Caught a minor continuity error and it's much more bittersweet having seen Infinity War, but it's still charming and fun and smart. Comparing Cate Blanchett here to Ocean's 8 just emphasizes how wasted she was there.

Although Black Panther is a strong contender, for my money, this is the best score Marvel's done to date.

The Disaster Artist (2017)

So no, I have not seen The Room. But I enjoyed this movie immensely just on the knowledge I have. I like how it balanced being able to laugh at people while still making us empathize with them.

It's really terrific. We laughed a lot. And we felt some pain. I'm happy to report the most painful moment in the film (for me) was not factual, but it's a good example of why sticking straight with facts isn't always the most truthful option.

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

I missed big chunks of this because I was doing some parenting (appropriate). Although immensely enjoyable, this is by no means a favorite Batman film of mine. However, the Nolan and Burton films do not have any lines half so hilarious as the best lines of this film. Really. Some of the best one-liners in recent history.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

I like so much about this movie, but it's not better than the first movie and doesn't do all that much that's new. Although Michelle Pfeiffer looks great and I would buy her toy as seen in the credits.

It was awesome, though, the audience's reaction to THAT post-credits sequence. That was great.

Finding Dory (2016)

I missed half or more, but my impressions are the same. Good with great moments, inferior to Nemo.

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

What a great movie! And I love this new trend of Oakland starring in movies. I guess I need to go see Blindspotting next.

The film is as smart and strange and clever as its trailer promised. Actually, more so. The problem with the film is that it's got so many clever pieces it sometimes forgets about the shape of the film as a whole. Or, in other words, it's twenty-some minutes too long and has a hard time finding its ending. It took me ten minutes after leaving the theater to realize it was the correct ending, but that may be because the ending took too long coming.

Also, there's a practical effect (the mere existence of which I appreciate) which reminds me of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. And makes me realize why digital has become so pervasive. But I'm still glad it's practical. I think it's more effective than digital would be.

One way to think of this movie---much of it, not all---is Idiocracy but in the present day.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

I was moved throughout. I don't really remember MisteRogers' Neighborhood that well, but because I get weepy every time he shows up on my social-media feeds, I'm sure he made a big impact on me. And I know enough about him to know that he was a swell guy. But WYBMN gives the most sweeping look at him I've ever encountered. And it's wonderful.

We took my parents and sister with us and they also left full of admiration for the man. Whoever it was that suggested this film be shown in LDS wards to teach ministering was right.

But also, we should all watch it, as humans, to become better with children, and to calm our own urges to interrupt.

The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

Fred MacMurray is so good at stuff like this, it's impossible to understand how Double Indemnity even exists.

This film is aging just fine. My kids enjoyed it immensely. Its over-the-top slapstick that never gets old, if done well, and some of the jokes seem at least as sharp now as they ever could have in 1961: "I'm an American! See it? My credit cards!" (The absent-minded professor, however, it seems to me, should never be trusted with credit cards. Egad.)

In short, worth revisiting and passing down to the next generation.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

I've been wanting to see this movie since it was first announced stateside and I've probably checked it out of the library at least six times, but only now did we finally watch it. And: wow.

First, the art was as lovely as I expected, but there was an unexpected effect to the simply composed art. My eyes felt relaxed. Watching films can be so taxing, but this movie allowed my eyes to settle into the whitespace and simple lines and natural compositions. They could relax.

But the film itself is not simple. It kept complicating as it betrayed my expectations. It's not a quiet or easy film. In a way, it would have been easier had my kids not watched it, but now it has left them with some heady themes to grapple with. That must be good.

It's a beautiful film, even when it is displaying ugliness. And it is a warm film even when it is wading through disappointment or error or deceit. People make mistakes. We can still love them. Or, at least, not hate them.

Incidentally, if you're liking to give a film a rich Mormon reading, try this on for size. You'll have plenty to consider.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

I had a curious reaction to this, my third viewing. On the one hand, the film felt overlong. On the other hand, all those moments that made it overlong felt layered with symbols I had never seen before. Falling phalluses, Calcifer becoming Donne's flea. And because of its length, I had time to really think about all the Miyazaki elements that recur again and again and to consider what they are doing here, this time: amorphous black creatures, cascading feathers, magical old women, flying humans, pseudo-Victoriana, flying machines, smoke and steam, beautiful androgynous men.

Both those lists can go on and on, of course. Miyazaki is a true auteur in the sense that all his work is part of one great whole.

And that whole is so great it's rather difficult to hold onto it all at once.

Dunkirk (2017)

Such an amazing movie. Amazing. I've already praised Mark Rylance who deserves special recognition in a film where everyone is excellent. This time though, let's give a nod to Hans Zimmer whose score melds so perfectly with the sound design. Sometimes it's not clear if that's orchestra or footsteps, orchestra or warship. And that pulsing uncertainty helps us feel for the soldiers.

Also, if I haven't already mentioned it already, props to the editing. This film wouldn't work without exquisite editing and that's what we have. Swish it around with the sound and we're unsettled at all times but clarity is also available around the corner. For instance the cut near the ends that seems like a dream sequence but is not. That's the result of careful coordination between seeing and hearing, knowing the history of film and understanding the film you're building.

It's a remarkable work of art.

Also worth pointing out: Lady Steed, who was utterly uninterested in this film until we saw Darkest Hour, was moved. Stunned, really, for about an hour after it ended. We haven't seen Shape of Water yet, but she's appalled it beat out Dunkirk for Best Picture.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

Nonstop action, yes. Less tech but a tricky use of the classic face. The two female leads could have been more dissimilar for legibility. That would have been nice.

The politics of superagents is complicated and troubling, of course, and the MI film address that. The use of the CIA here was a hard thumb. But it was the throwaway lines about a fictional president that I found most unsettling this goround. Fictional presidents have always been an average president. But one outlier can change the nature of "average" quite a bit.

Tom Cruise is again well. At the beginning of the film, he looked my age. The film sure did a number on him though....

Porco Rosso (1992)

I wanted to revisit this on Kohl's recommendation. I had a fever as I watched it so who knows if I saw it accurately, but it doesn't make my top-five Miyazaki films.

It came out two years after TaleSpin and there are some remarkable similarities. I wonder if Miyazaki ever saw Disney Afternoon--?

Your Name. (2016)

What an amaaazing movie! I was expecting to be amazed and so, of course, at first, I was not. I liked the way it set up the situation. Then I was confused. This happened a lot. In part because this is many more kinds of movie than I expected. It kept changing on me, even restructuring the world as I understood it, which is a dangerous thing to do. Few better ways to turn your audience against you, of course, unless you are earning an extraordinary amount of respect.

One trick, I realize, is that changing the rules should explain something that previously had not made sense. You give people one card, you can take away five. It's magic and misdirection.

One of the big surprises is that, for a movie about teenagers, this film has a much broader-than-usual sense of how long life really is. And it manages to nod to many tropes while becoming something truly new.

My Neighbro Totoro (1988)

I don't think I can argue there is a movie made that is objectively "better" than Totoro. Of course, I also think that there as a certain category, GREAT, in which better/worse judgments hold no meaning, so all I'm really saying is that Totoro is a GREAT movie. But it's true: Totoro is a GREAT movie.

I wasn't watching very closely the first half, coming in permanently at the rain scene, but what other movie could make me cry is pain and sorrow and joy in such rapid succession?

It's such an honest movie, and it won't let us forget what it is to be children. Which I, for one, seem to have made a life goal.

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

I had always assumed Young Frankenstein was based on the first two Universal films, but then I read a story that said the first three and especially #3. Having finally watched Son of Frankenstein, it is certainly true.

First, although this Igor looks nothing like that Igor, this is the first time that name makes a debut and this assistant (played by Bela Legosi) is the first to play a truly major role.

Second, the Inspector finally made a distinct appearance. And I was shocked how almost directly lifted he is. My kids laughed at some of the same moments that they've never seen in Young Frankenstein but which are funny here as well, in a less exaggerated appearance.

Third, the plot is pretty dang similar. And this is the first, best I know, to address the name confusion.

As a movie, it's not bad. The creature is less sympathetic, but he's not the antagonist either. He's almost an afterthought in his own movie. HIs death is the most gruesome and the most seeming-difficult to bounce back from, but hey! He's done it before! Now: on to Ghost of Frankenstein.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The new print was beautiful.

Although I was too sick to be sitting for a three-hour movie, I think I can still say it improves with each viewing.

And now I'm back to seeing it more times in theaters than without. I'm not sure I'll be motivated to watch it without again.

9 to 5 (1980)

I finally felt the need to see this because a sequel's been announced. We're talking a forty-year gap, which is crazy, but I thought I might as well finally watch it.

Of course, I know plenty about it, but it didn't play out just as I expected. But with charming leads, that hardly matters. I was along for the ride.

The biggest surprise is now ... moderate the Dabney Coleman character is. I'm not making excuses for him, but I assumed that for a man to count as a notable cad in 1980 he would have to be much worse than the fellow here. Honestly, he's just a couple steps beyond what I would expect normal 1980 office boss to be. So good on those women for being fully aware of how lousy he is.

The Saratov Approach (2013)

It took me a while to finally see this, but now I have. And I liked it. It relied on a couple techniques I don't like, but used them well. I don't know how "accurate to the real events" it might be, but I don't care that much. I really liked the solution to the problem, which was aesthetic and apparently, the movie wants me to believe, what really happened. So that's great.

I'm still not sure, however, what the title means. I think it was just to make us imagine it was based on a Robert Ludlum novel....

Everybody Street (2013)

The Big O will be watching this film sometime this year as part of his photography class. The syllabus made it sound outre enough that we decided to prescreen it. Lady Steed found it beyond the pale. I thought it was fine. I think this largely comes of how much more time I spend at a high school than she does.

The film brought in quite a few photographers, but ultimately it was a little tired because of its New York fetishism. According to Everything Street, the only place in the world street photography can really be done is in New York City. I'm so over that attitude. Get over yourself, New York. Geez.

NOTE: I'm not sure why I included Finding Dory but not Son of Flubber (1963) or Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1992) when I probably watched/heard as much of them. Such are life's little mysteries.

Previous films watched

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  1. I'm still appalled that Shape of Water beat out Phantom Thread, but maybe I need to watch Dunkirk again.

    Also, I convinced S-Boogie to watch Your Name with me, and we both totally fell in love with it.

    1. .

      That's great. She has taste. And the ability to understand complicated films.

  2. Did you know The Absent-Minded Professor was based on a short story by Mormon author Samuel W. Taylor?

    1. .

      I sure did. Haven't read the story but I have read his novel.