The years starts, slowly


The Last Starfighter (1984)

This wasn't one of the films I was planning to prioritize showing my kids. I first saw it in high school, having never even heard of it until almost a decade after its release. I did like it (except for one really stupid thing at the climax) but it wasn't foundational or anything. But as part of our Toys discussion, I mentioned this movie and the boys thought it sounded awesome. So we watched it. And they did like it.

What most surprised me was the CG. This is a very CG-heavy film, and if you'd asked me how good CG looked in 1984, I would not have guessed this good. The boys were impressed too, though it's still 1984 CG and definitely did throw them out of the movie with some frequency. Still. Pretty cool. (Props to the Cray X-MG!)

The film's a fun mix of 80s teen flick and Star Wars and the balance is mostly hit. It lifts pretty direcly from Star Wars and Empire way too much imo and I suspect that caution is part of what kept it from being a smash at the time. I'm not surprised it's become a cult fave (and the kids like the idea of a new film coming out in the next few years) but it's hard to imagine it being remembered in another 50 years.

neighbor's dvd
Little Women (2019)

So this is fun:

After an egregiously long delay, I have finally seen this movie. And before we get to the fun part, I should note that I am mortified to still have never read the novel and the only movie version I've seen before is the 90s one which I saw once, in the 90s. And liked it very much, thank you. The point is, I don't know the story super well. Certainly not as well as I would like. Certainly not well enough to know how the meta elements of the film play in the novel.

Anyway, I loved this movie. I thought it was pretty much perfect. I thought the meandering through time was well executed and turned into a powerful addition to the tale. I thought the cast was great, the music was strong, the costuming and cinematography were stellar. I wasn't 100% sold on Chalamet, though he certainly had his moments. Saoirse Ronan was terrific in the lead. My eyes were tearfilled through most of the running time and for dozens of different reasons.

Lady Steed hated it. She thought the time shuffling was a terrible choice. She wasn't sure if ol' Saoirse just did a terrible job or if we can blame that on the writing. She did cry but is angry about the cheap manipulation that led her there.

Was thinking all through the film how I immediately wanted to watch it again and perhaps again.

Looks like that might not be a popular move around here.

started from our dvd
and moved to Kanopy
which was about the same
so I guess just splurge
on the Criterion bluray
Harold and Maude (1971)

I have the movie playing, sound only, as I type this. Or, rather, I've listened to a half hour so far while reading about Ruth Gordon on Wikipedia and typing very little.

I recently learned that the reason the soundtrack was never released (well, briefly, at a special event, decades later, so: never) is because Hal Ashby used the demos and Cat Stevens was not pleased. I don't know what they would have sounded like in a later iteration, but it's hard to imagine they could be much better. What I don't understand is, when this works so well, why don't we see more of it? (Do you have favorites in the scored-by-popular-musician genre?)

I noticed this time how many symmetrical compositions there are. They aren't as showy as Stanley Kubrick or Wes Anderson but they are an important part of the film's style.

It's a great movie.

Even without the pictures.

Encanto (2021)

I loved this movie.

Okay if we talk about all the Disney movies since Tangled (2010) as the Tangled Era? Great. So the Disney Rennaissance is generally considered to end with Tarzan (1999), but the two before it—Hercules (1997) and Mulan (1998)—were also stinkers, and there had been evidence of decline since at least Pocahontas (1995). So it was time for another rebirth and Tangled was it.

It was just a bright and wonderful movie! It walked into the room with such (deserved) confidence! A new era had arrived and although the last dozen years has included some deeply mediocre movies (I'm looking at you Big Hero 6 [2014]), they've also included some real gems. After rewatches, Moana (2016) has become my favorite, but Tangled has remained the best first-watch until tonight. And that's with the stumbles Encanto had on its way to the finish line. Stumbles, incidentally, that I don't think will be present with a second viewing. Good movies get better, after all, when you see how it all fits together.

Special props to Mirabel's animator. Although I think I see a couple nods to Joy, her physical creation is so unique and alive and wonderful. She is among the most alive animated characters I've ever seen. I'm guessing she's supposed to be 12ish, but I think 14 makes sense. Her strength and terror are just right for the age and her courage carries the film.

I didn't realize it at first, but an early scene is where I started discovering this film is something special. When the strong sister is doing way too much—everything, really, for everybody—I was mad at the absurdity of her doing so. But then she shows her vulnerabilites and you know what? That's where we start seeing the story for what it is.

And I know some people are So Over Lin-Manuel's music, but I thought it was great.

Anyway, I really liked it. It's my new favorite 2021 film and one I'm not sheepish to put on top. Well done, Mousehouse.

library dvd
After Hours (1985)

We recently finished up Ted Lasso; one of the final episodes seemed familiar to me. Lynchian? No. After Hours. And as soon as the episode ended I was going to look it up, see if anything had been written on the connection, but then I saw the title of the episode—"Beard After Hours"—and saw that I was right. So I picked it up again from the library.

I didn't laugh as much as the first time, honestly probably because "Beard After Hours" was a bit tighter (being half the runlength) and because I was trying to compare them the entire time. Lynsey and I agree that some of the cut scenes would have been better left in, which I rarely feel. She also felt that the film is inadvertently sexist with all the crazy women and thus an artifact of its era.

Anyway, I still liked it. And it's still the earliest Scorses movie I've seen.

Link+ dvd
21 Up (1977)

So I am completely wrapt up in these movies. Seven more years have passed, the kids are now 21, much of what is happening is just as we expected from age seven; some of it is what we started seeing at fourteen. Some of it is surprising. Among their stories are ones that make me feel certain I will be terribly sad in future episodes. Others I assume will become all the more irritating.

Cannot wait to find out.

Previous films watched


jan feb mar apr may
jun july aug sep oct nov dec












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