What a strange month. I can't believe the first things on this list happened the same month as when I am typing these words. And the last movie I saw was the 14th. Which means not a single movie for half this month.
I must needs repent.
[insert sad face here]
Anyway, some good times were had; they were just long, long ago.
(I suspect this is an error. I'm pretty sure I watched at least Slapstick and Genius after You Can't Take It With You, but would my record lie??)
Century 16 Hilltop
This movie could have been a lot better. But part of it is just bad timing. If they'd made the movie when I'd first suggested it, the parts that seemed like knockoffs of the MCU's versions of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Thor, would have seemed much less so. Also, they could've just tried harder not to feel ripoffy. The technobabble was stupid even for a superhero movie. And while not as egregious as The Flash, what was with the cgi? Why not just make the water in a cup have real waves? Why not let your actor actually jump off something? Why not let a real candle set real carpet on fire? Why all the crappy cgi?
(Note: I don't blame the cg artists. Although I do think they should be cutting deals with the writers and actors and getting on the picket lines with them.)
That said, the movie was pretty fun and Jaime's family was far and away the best part of the movie. Special shoutout to Damián Alcázar who was mainly given the opportunity to smile and say generic pro-family optimistic things yet gave the role real life and power.
When the movie was over, my kids agreed that the movie they want next is about Nana's backstory. It's a pretty good suggestion.
It holds up.
And not just for us then-teenagers, but for now-teenagers as well.
The both liked it. A lot. And they especially liked the cerebral element, that it was a mystery. More of those please, the now-teenagers said.
I've been wanting to watch this for quite a while and I loved it as much as I expected.
Earlier this week I got to work with Elizabeth Garcia, poem editor at Dialogue, and even though our back and forth didn't last that long, oh what a joy to work with an editor! That's what I need as a writer to continue to grow but American editing feels like it's at a nadir. Certainly it's not accessible to more people. Although I can speak of a few exceptions, most of my editing experience is as the editor, not the writer. I try to provide value but karma's hard to come by.
Anyway. Almost thou persuadest me to read 5000 pages about Lyndon Johnson.
scratched library dvd
This is a silent film set in the 1920s about Snow White. It was made in Spain a decade ago. And it is excellent. There were, I'll grant you, a couple moments that didn't reach their full potential and a couple tricks that were overused, but as a whole it was an excellent revisiting of silent film and solid entertainment on its own.
Man, Snow White has it rough.
I appreciate how the film IS a fairy tale and IS the modern world with modern rules and how it uses that tension to both engage us and keep us far enough away we cannot know what happens next. Just really well done.
And the actors were great too. They stepped into silence without becoming awful hams which must be a temptation. I suspect everyone who worked on this movie was fully immersed in the greats of the era.
my parents' dvd
Don't know if I've ever seen this through before. I saw the ending as a kid at my aunt's house, so maybe? It's famous enough there are definitely scenes I knew well (though I never realized that Kermit was parodying this bicycle scene) but I really had no idea what the plot was about.
The first cut they tested on audience was deemed too funny. Apparently the audience could not stop laughing. It has funny bits but it's hard to imagine just what that earlier but was like. I sure wish it still existed.
The shape of the film is weird. It really makes 1969 feel like a long, long time ago. (According to the making-of, Butch's sister was still alive when they made the film. The wild west still isn't ancient history now, fifty years later.)
Anyway, I liked the film well enough. I wasn't blown away. I get why people like it but I'm not sure it's retain top-100-style classic status into another generation.* But that's a question for another fifty years.
* In other words I seem to agree with contemporaneous reviews.
my parents' dvd
This was an interesting artifact. None of the talking heas are talking heads; they're all disembodies voices. And I'm not sure where this played. It was completed before the film was released but gives away way too much stuff to have come out then. George Roy Hill donated it to Yale and Yale owns the copyright. But it won a Primetime Emmy. But Hill drops at least four f-bombs, so how? Where did it play?
But there's more strange than that. Hill talks about how they made the mule fall using techniques illegal in the U.S. because it could break the animal's neck. He mentions that they didn't protect one Mexican extra well enough and he broke his pelvis. Stuff like that.
Great look at moviemaking of the era, though. I felt educated after watching!
I didn't care for the book and Siskel and Ebert warned me about the movie, but it's still astonishing just how terrible it would be. It's one of the movies where you could take any five seconds out of context and know they were from a terrible movie. I think there was one good line and one good visual image, and that's really only in comparison to the rest of this awful, awful movie.
It's so bad, guys.
Do not watch this.
As if it's failure to capture even 10% of the book (or that bit accurately) was insufficient, it then goes on to rip off recent movies (most noticibly Close Encounters) as if that would help.
And if the book's racial humor failed, the movie's attempts are straight-up racist. I'm so so sorry, Pat Morita. I don't know how it can seem possible to you know, but in three years you'll get an Oscar nomination. I promise.
And when you're abusing the book this badly, why throw in little bits that'll only make sense to people who know the book? Why?
The only way I made it through was to watch it sped up. Even then, unfunny timefilling scenes seemed to last forever. How you take people like Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman and make them this unfunny takes a special lack of filmmaking ability.
Anyway. It's bad. I'll stop now.
This is a terrific film. The story of the Lost Generation editor and one of his writers and a few of the people who surround them. Basically a two-hander starring Colin Firth and Jude Law, but they are surrounded by a sterling supporting cast. Everyone hits perfect.
Everyone, that is, except the children. This is not a knock on the actors. This is an issue of direction. Years pass yet the children do not age. They are given a couple notes to hit. One is given a third note out of nowhere that isn't justified by anything come before, and it does not work. I do not blame the kid. I suspect the filmmaker's team simply has never met any children? Like, ever? That seems the most likely case.
But anyone outside of the spotlight (by which I mean the six actors who made the bottom of the poster, the leads, their ladies, the other writers) is at risk of unreality. A writer's mother gets a real moment. Zelda does. But not the black characters. There's a maid who gets a credit at films' end but more than once the camera moved to hide her behind a pillar. What?
But the focus of the movie is brilliantly executed and that makes it, as a whole, a very good film. Focus on what they want you to watch and ignore the edges and you'll have an excellent time.
At the risk of continuing to turn you off a movie I liked, this film's also a great example of movies about Americans without many Americans. The actors are uniformly excellent but there's an irony in hearing a British voice call this film about quintessential Americana when they cast as their four leads and two major supports British, British, Australian, American, English/Australian, English. Lol.
Rialto Cinemas Cerrito
I loved this movie so much. It has aspects that are silly and melodramatic but they are seasoning, not overwhelming. The emotional core and the complicated threads of plot come together to build a mini-epic of love of family and love of mate and love of community. A moment at the end made me melt into tears just as a bright joy illuminated my heart.
It's a Frank Capra film and its based on a popular stage play. Neither of those will surprise as you watch. Like his most famous film, it stars (among others) James Stewart and Lionel Barrymore. Jimmy's younger and less world-worn here. A first-act Jimmy, shall we say. But if you (like me) really only know Lionel as Mr Potter then this film is a revelation. Ends up one of the great actors of his age could play more than curmudgeons. He's brilliant here as the eccentric grandfather motivated by his love for others and noted for his astonishing capacity to disbelieve in capitalism.
Jean Arthur reminds me of Gracie Allen. Sort of a less gonzo Gracie. I suspect this is not a common opinion.
Anyway, for a movie that fits in so many little genre tropes, it finds excellence by treating them all true and really really meaning everything it does. It's an honest movie. Absurd and hilarious and deeply sincere. I loved it.
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