August films so few


our dvd
Beaver Trilogy (2000)

I've been wanting to see the Beaver Trilogy since I first heads about it on This American Life about twenty years ago. At that point there was no way to see it. And so I wanted to remember it well enough to recognize it when the opportunity arose, yet to forget as much as possible so I can have the experience of not knowing what would be next.

I bought the film on dvd directly from Trent Harris years ago but even today I remembered what would happen. Trivia-minded brains are like that, I guess. Lucky Lady Steed came into it today with absolutely no memory of the TAL story. I'm jealous.

Anyway, I finally watched it because it was talked about by Phil Lord in a book I've been reading. I saved Lord's interview for last, after having watched the movie.

My experience? In short, while I couldn't enter it utterly ignorant, I still found it surprising and fascinating. I'm deliberately telling you almost nothing in hopes you'll click on the poster and buy your own copy (I just did so and bought two of his other movies I have not seen). It's weird and unlike anything else, but it's time well spent and will give you a lot to write about—if you're less worried about spoilers than I'm being.

(PS: Followed this up by buying two more dvds from Trent Harris. I know own, on DVD, Ruben & Ed, Beaver Trilogy, Delightful Water Universe, and Luna Mesa, and the script of Ruben & Ed.)

Beaver Trilogy Part IV (2015)

After watching Beaver Trilogy, I wanted to reintroduce Lady Steed to the This American Life episode she'd forgotten about. And in the process of duckduckgoing it, I found this movie as well. So we have a Beaver Trilogy Trilogy today, I guess you could say.

The filmmaker's a former kid who (like, the film reveals, and which we had long suspected, includes Jared Hess), unlike me, was lucky enough to see Ruben & Ed as a kid. And he starts by trying to track down Groovin' Gary and Trent Harris and see what the film meant to both but, like any good documentary, it goes plenty of other places on the way.

If you like weird stuff or filmmaking or anything tangential to either, I recommend following up your Beaver Trilogy party with a viewing of Part IV. I really liked it. It was fun and funny and even moved me in its final moments.

library dvd
Once (2007)

This man makes such wonderful and naturalistic musicals—this one almost feels like cinema veritee; a couple moments almost felt like documentary. And it makes sense: the intentionally went for a microbudget and it's a smart choice. It's so close and intimate, almost stolen. It wasn't surprising to learn from the making-of that they were shooting more from outline than script.

I like Once better than Sing Street largely because the leads are older, adults, and the ending is so much more grown-up—which feels more honest to me, now, at this time of life. I wonder what I would have thought in 2007?

Anyway, these are real musicians playing music they wrote for this movie and the whole thing sings. It just sings.

grandma's dvd
Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time (2007)

So apparently, among direct-to-video-Disney-sequel connoisseures, this number has a solid reputation. I'm not sure I've seen any direct-to-video Disney sequels, so I can only compare it against my expectations.

Was it good?

Not really. But it was much more interesting than it was obligated to be, and you could tell that people were working on this film were being ambitious within their constraints. So good for them!

But if you ask me to watch it, I'll wonder what else you might be interested in instead.

Jules et Jim (1962)

Starring Owen Wilson as Jules and Adrian Brody as Jim, and narration by Alec Baldwin, this early Wes Anderson film already contains many of the elements we know from his later work, for instance in its use of an active camera and the manner of its dialogue.

From what I knew of the movie beforehand, I assumed the first act was the entire movie. I had no idea we would head for the trenches (or of anything else that followed). The passage of time was a bit tought to follow and the child seemed to disappear after age ten, but I am absolutely looking forward to watching it again. I enjoyed it much more than The 400 Blows and it makes me more excited to get back on the Truffaut train. Shoot the Piano Player next, anyone?

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

I picked up an old paperback of the novel and gave it to Son #1 for Christmas. He just finished it and loved it and wanted to watch the movie together before heading off to college and I was happy to acquiesce.

Rodert De Niro plays the doomed ballplayer (the same year he appeared in Mean Streets, so he was off to the races) and Michael Moriarty plays his friend. It's warming to watch the team slowly rally around this dummy as he plays the best ball of his ending life.

It's a lovely and moving film. I didn't know much about the story, but it made me laugh and left me thoughtful. It's a winner.

How to score 10 runs in the first inning and lose (2022)

This is our third Dorktown film long enough to qualify as a feature (though much shorter than that first behemoth) and it's just as well crafted and fun to watch with as many intellectual, heartfelt, and humorous beats. It's amazing what can be done with just the human voice, statistics, glowing lines, and old film footage.

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)

So I'm not sure it was as brilliant or clever or hilarious as the buzz suggested but it was fun and dense with jokes and probably rewards a lot of freezeframing. But Andy Samberg and John Mulaney really are . . . not the greatest actors. And while that's fine, there are a couple moments it becomes an issue.

But I will say that the part I felt most keenly was the final line.

Because we DO want Darkwing. That's what we want.

Encanto (2021)

I really love this movie. Probably the best 2021 film I've seen. Very glad to finally rewatch it (first time).

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)

Largesse and I saw this trailer about a month ago and were delighted with how terrible the movie appeared. It took us a while to get around to watching it and, bad news, it's actually . . . good. It's good.

I shouldn't complain, I suppose. And it's not like it's a masterpiece, but it is a good movie.

The effects are by Ray Harryhousen and some of them are absurd and some are incredible. The fact that any fall in the latter category is astonishing—it's 1956!

No doubt this film was an inspiration for things like Independence Day as well as deliberate retrocamp like Mars Attacks.

library dvd
The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun (2021)

Honestly, I don't think this is Wes Anderson out to prove what he can do. I think we're seeing Wes Anderson trying to find out what he can do.

And the answer?

Just about anything.

I'm excited to watch this again then again on a much better screen.

For now, I'll just let French Dispatch inspire me to see just what I might be able to do as well.

Don't worry. It'll look like I did it on purpose.

Aside: It's astonishing how much trust and goodwill Wes Anderson has put together. So many astonishing people (speaking not only of the cast) willing to do small things. If you can be yourself and do it with grace, it looks like a good gig.

Previous films watched


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