Feature Filmbruary 2024


After the (covid-fueled) bounty of January, I suppose we can't be surprised that even a long February fails to meet that high-water mark. The good news is we run the gamut here from the classic to the overrated, from the good to the bad. We got it all. And if not for Leap Day, we woulda averaged one movie per two days.

Honestly, that does seem like it should be enough.


our dvd
Groundhog Day (1993)

It's been a while since we last watched Groundhog Day and I'm delighted to say we all enjoyed it. Although the 7yrold maybe missed some of the finer points.

It's earned its status as classic.

Incidentally, rewatching again so shortly after watching Palm Springs, it really feels like Palm Springs is trying to answer all the questions people who've seen Groundhog Day a million time have unavoidably have come to. That's not to suggest the movie is full of holes or something, but that's what'll happen no matter what movie you watch a million times.

Hello, Dolly! (1969)

This took four or five sittings over three or four months, but we finally made it through! The 7yrold found aspects of it very stressful and we had to stop, and we tended to pick it up again just before bedtimes. So it took a while. But she said it deserves "five, no ten" stars, largely for the singing.

It's interesting how both Barbra Streisand and Michael Crawford wiggles their jaws back and forth when they sing. And I get why Streisand became her generations great comedienne and why no one thought Crawford was a good choice for the Phantom.

Anyway, I don't buy the change in Horace Vandergelder, and I'm mystified by how looooong it is. This made good theatrical sense? Honestly, I needed the breaks as well. It kinda goes on and on and on.

I was surprised how many of the songs I knew (most of them); I was not surprised that the film is charming and lovely.

Now, time to show her WALL-E!

library dvd
In the Mood for Love (2000)

Probably should've watched the special features and read the essays before watching this one. It's a lovely film (Maggie Cheung's dresses alone!) but 90% of the subtext is lost on me, the American viewer. I can't tell there are multiple dialects of Chinese being spoken or that the dishes the cook is making are marking the changing of the seasons or what the years mean to those storied in Hong Kong history. So I get the basic story of two lonely, betrayed people finding a connection, but now I understand the whole thing's heavily allegorical and, yeah, missed all that.

What was most striking is how the camera and edits do all the can to keep up as far away from the characters as possible. We can do nothing for them. Not even understand them

Since it's generally agreed to be one of the greatest films, we'll have to give it another shot sometime.

our dvd
Napoleon Dynamite (2014)

One of my absolute favorite films, all time.

Few things bring me this much joy, reliably, time after time after time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

I think this is the first TMNT feature I've seen since the original. It's hard to believe I never saw the second, but I don't remember doing so if I did. Certainly I saw the first more than once, but still: we're talking over thirty years ago. Do no ask me to make comparisons.

What I will say is that I really liked this movie. It's playing with appearance like the Spider-verse movies and the Peanuts movie and I hope mainstream films keep playing in this way. The movie is a solid and intelligent entertainment. Nothing more, but why would it need to me?

Also, I just want to say that the thing I was most skeptical of was a teenaged April but I loved this version of April. And it's fun in the credits to discover that it's Ayo Edebiri whom I'd never heard of before a couple weeks ago when she absolutely KILLED on SNL.

Glad it made money. I was so (plesantly) surprised by what they did with Bebop and Rocksteady I'm ready to see what they do with Shredder.

Rialto Cinemas Cerrito
Poor Things (2023)

One of the first things I remember reading about Poor Things was that it's another version of Barbie, I assumed somewhat in plot and yesalot in theme. And I suppose that's a reasonable take. But Barbie is better at what Barbie does and what Poor Things is up to is just as complex but much less obvious. I mean—you can reduce either of those movies to a feminist catchphrase that can then me mocked on X (the appropriate use of X is when it is bad; Twitter is still the prefered usage for good and neutral usages).

I was glad that Lady Steed and I had a lot to talk about afterwards. Unfortunately we had to return home instead of to a nonkid location for continued dialogue, but it's certainly provocative in a dozen different ways. Plus, it's such a cool-looking movie. We just barely got to see it on the big screen and I'm glad we did. (Sorry, American Fiction. Sorry, Lisa Frankenstein.)

And while the male characters speak frequently of Bella Baxter's beauty, the film itself leans into how strange her face can be. But everything is strange here. Appropriate use of fisheyes and irises, for instance. The entire film leaves us offkilter. The chimeras turned out great, by the way.

In the end, I'm not sure how well the film communicates but it's satisfying as a story. It'll be interesting to see if we're still talking about it in twenty years.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

So it was entertaining as promised although (as I expected) I didn't really get many of the in-jokes. Which is fine.

It's hard to imagine watching it again but I enjoyed the ride.

The Rainmaker (1997)

Believe it or not, this is my first time watching a Grisham adaptation. This was has a great cast and is directed by Coppola but I mostly just sorta started it because I had to start something. And this is what I started.

The cast is terrific. Even small roles are filled well. Danny Glover eats up the judge role, and the well-filled roles get smaller than that.

I haven't read the book but I hope the secondary/romantic plot about the battered wife was filled out better there. In the film, a couple corners needed cutting.

But the courtroom scenes thrilled as needed and Jon Voigt makes for an excellent adversary. It's probably a little wrong but I watched it in three sitting so so what?

Internet Archive
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

I'd heard of this, the only Roger Ebert-penned film, of course. I even skimmed the first twenty minutes once, a few years ago. But I always assumed the general opinion was that it was terrible. But then, reading Opposable Thumbs, I learned that its terribleness was not a universal opinion. In fact, one critic called it the best movie of the Sixties. And it is very, very Sixties. It reminds me of Hello Down There, a 1969 musical comedy that I saw exactly once c. 1991 and loved and can still sing a pair of songs from though they too I have never heard again. (It's a movie I don't want to rewatch because it seems certain a rewatch can only lower its value to me.) Only this movie is dirty.

I mean—of course it is. It's Russ Meyer. But it showed a lot more restraint, sexually, than I'd anticipated. And it's just . . . silly, really. There's usually one naked woman dancing per party, for instance. Just because.

Anyway, I would agree with the terrible camp. Almost every bit of the movie would work wonderfully out of context, but in context? Nope. The movie's dumb. The characters change but why or how is unclear. Maybe it made sense at the end of the Sixties but it just feels like nonsense now. Campy nonsense. Period nonsense. But nonsense.

Stardust (2007)

Lotta choices here that stick the film very firmly in 2007. It should've had a much lighter touch on the score but it when all Pirates of the Caribbean. It could've relaxed on the cg but it really wanted to show us what can be done with all this new technology. That's now almost twenty years old.

I can see why my wife went and saw it with her friends then didn't want to go back to watch it with me. It's pretty fun but it's not a movie you really need to watch twice. And certainly not in the same month.

I know I've been skeptical of Gaiman's adult prose novels, but the movie did make me want to give this one a shot. We'll see.

Barefoot in the Park (1967)

It started great, but our young couple got less interesting as the film proceeded. Or maybe they were always that uninteresting but they were attractive and horny enough we didn't notice until there was a much more interesting older couple around to eclipse them.

Hard to say.

Horny and attractive young people do tend to be distracting.

The Last Repair Shop (2023)

This is nominated for Best Documentary Short, but it's long enough to count as a feature here in Thville.

Anyway, it's less about the repair shop for musical instruments run for students by LAUSD and more about the people who do the repairs and it turns them into a metaphor for the students and the instruments into a metaphor for the repairers etc etc etc.

The structure's pretty simple and pretty obvious, but you know what?

This movie works. It's so good. I can't talk about it yet without my voice cracking.

Flamin' Hot (2023)

I know that some of the details are . . . sus. But the movie's loose with fact and fantasy and in the end it doesn't bother me. It's part of the story. A bit meta maybe, but still.

The story is fun and moving at points. It's also a bit paint-by-numbers at times and some of the elements are a tad confused.

But in the end? A ride worth taking.

Link+ dvd

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Finally seen this early Peter Jackson film! It's the first of his movies I ever heard of and now I've seen it.

It does a great job capturing both what is wonderful and what is dangerous about adolescence. The passions and lacks of perspective that take you so high and so low.

I didn't know how fanciful part of the moviemaking would be. Overall, I liked the movie. Lady Steed did as well, but found the score frequently distracting.

My only real note was that the opening scene was such that I didn't realize that which mother would be murdered was kept from us through the first three quarters of the film. I misread it and I wish that had been handled slightly differently.

Oh! Also, one of the miniaturists was named The Thorinmeister. Sure hope he got to work on Lord of the Rings.


Previous films watched


jan feb









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