Hup two three film


It's weird. I feel like I never watch movies. That I averaged one every three days feels impossible. Impossible! And yet somehow I did.

Maybe I don't understand how time works?


Rustin (2023)

I hadn't heard of Bayard Rustin in such a way that his name would stick with me until reading this article from a recent New Yorker. I was amazed and delighted and I wanted to share the word. So I built a Rustin unit for my sophomores. Unfortunately, it didn't go so well. I made some strategic errors. I should have, for instance, started with the movie rather than culminating with it. Live and learn.

The movie's great. I'm not sure it'll be a classic or anything and it has a couple minor missteps, but the steps it takes well—it's like watching the Nicholas brothers dance.

I also appreciate that it's not shaped like a typical civil-rights biopic. Although I do wish it had been less bouncy with the timeline. Today's students are not all media-literate to follow that sort of filmplay. Although we can probably blame their distraction, as well.

Adam Gopnick, in the essay linked to above, says, "Lives worth remembering tend to have one central episode." And that Rustin's is bringing into existence the March on Washington. And maybe he's right. And maybe it's best if a biopic focus on that one central episode. But, on the other hand, lives are large. And ending is that day (save a couple sentences thrown on the screen) almost felt like a disservice to me.

Anyway, Colman Domingo deserves his Oscar nod. With very little screentime, Jeffrey Wright makes an astonishing and ambivalent villain. (What a year he's had!) And while Chris Rock was distracting at first, he came to own his role. Shoutouts to the less famous people who rocked their roles as well. Sorry for not looking up your names.

library dvd
@ in the Mood for Love (2001)

This is a making-of documentary, but it's done with so much artistry it's almost like an alternate version of the original film. In fact, learning how they just shot and shot and shot for over a year without a truly coherent plan is a) inspiring (make a movie the way I write a book!) and covet-inducing (so many other possibilities for these characters I'd love to see!). In short, it's kinda reminded of Everything Everywhere All at Once in that it was sorta like watching a dozen different films made from the same footage all at once. Each of those movies might exist on another timeline. Who knows.

The Barber of Little Rock (2023)

This'll probably be the last of the Oscar noms I see before the awards (incidentally, don't miss Raymond Chandler's brutal essay thereon). It's a documentary short (but long enough to qualify as a feature here). It's an inspiring look at what's possible when someone just cares enough to act. I feel a bit ashamed at my minimal ambitions to make the world better, really. Here's this guy figuring out how to bring money into the long-ppushed-down Black neighborhoods of Little Rock, helping people start businesses and get their lives running. It's a beautiful and abashing look at something people like me can too easily ignore. Even when I'm thinking about it all the time.

library dvd
Bachelor Mother (1939)

So I haven't checked her discography but I think this is my first Ginger Roger film. And I have never seen David Niven so young. That was reason enough, but I picked it up because a friend recommended it.

It's the story of a young women who is misunderstood to be the mother of an orphaned baby and then bullied into becoming its mother. It has a lot of RKO crosspromotion with Donald Duck (who gets an excellent credit at the end) and a satisfying happy ending with plenty of laughs along the way. But it's also a frustrating look at how a women are pushed around and not listened to.

It's a silly little studio picture but it largely holds up as entertaining in 2024. Once you get over how young David Niven is. (Who knew he was ever younger than this!)

And the baby is excellent.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

When this movie came out I couldn't get excited about seeing it. For a couple reasons. One, if I didn't like it, apparently I would be a bad person. And second, I didn't think I'd like it. A movie about the Aboriginal experience with Kenneth Branaugh as the main character? That didn't seem right.

I'm glad to say he's not the main character but I still didn't really like it. I appreciate the importance of the story and I liked its fidelity, but it's surprising to me that this was directed by such an experienced hand. I had a hard time following the geography and the passing of time. And those two things are largely what the film is about.

The kids the film revolves around did good work. The tracker was perhaps the most interesting character—even though the writing was minimal, his acting was subtle and sublime.

Next Goal Wins (2023)

While there are a couple of wonderful moments, how did this happen? Taika's much too innovative a filmmaker to make this casually assembled series of filmmaking cliches. I don't just mean sport-movies cliches, but also character cliches and shot cliches and editing cliches. It's so weird! He's better than this!

Now, look: the good moments are good enough that the movie's not a waste of time. And if you love movies that supply beats when you expect them and your responses can pavlov themselves, good for you. But Taika's better than this.

Robin Hood (1973)

I've read many times (perhaps most strongly here) that this movie marked the end of good Disney. Both inside and outside Disney, lots of people dismissed the story, the anthropomorphic characters, and pretty much everything else as evidence that the brand was dead.

Anyone who was a small child in 1973 (or younger) however tends to count this as one of their favorites.

I don't know when I last saw it [apparently not since 2013 when I started doing this] but it was interesting to watch this alongside Errol Flynn. I watched the first half of Flynn first and I was struck by how much Disney had lifted. And then, during the first half of Disney, how dumb it was. But then I saw the second half of Disney first and I was completely invested, as always. I'm now supercurious how the last half of Flynn will feel.

Incidentally, the most praised song of Robin Hood, "Love," while a solid song, can't be better than third-best in the film. I guess the tendency of picking the love ballad as your winner goes way back.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Absolutely thrilling and in the most fun way. In many ways, this movie is like a cartoon. Only bad guys die, everything is clothed in bright colors to announce their identity. And it's worth mentioning that although I like this romance, the actual cartoon's romance is the more believable.

Does it hold up to its reputation as one of the greatest films ever made in terms of fun to watch? That's hard to answer. I think it would for children. For teens who only know how to read films made in the last few years, maybe less so. But the swordplay was incredible. I don't think I've seen anything half so good in a film made in my lifetime.

The charm of Errol Flynn is intense as well. I'm not sure who the modern equivalent is. Cary Elwes obviously is channeling him in The Princess Bride; Paul Rudd and Robert Downey Jr. have vaguely moved in that direction. But he's sui generis, for sure.

library dvd
Inside Man (2006)

This is like the first seen of Dark Knight or the explosively violent scene in Heat or the climax of Ocean's Eleven stretched out for an entire movie. The heist is almost the entire runtime.

But it's not quite what it seems. And just what it actually is is never clear. It takes time for it to come together. As any good heist should. But the stakes are never quite what we think, simultaneously both much worse and far less worse, depending on the angle at which you examine it. Smart movie.

This is only my fifth Spike Lee movie and my first straight thriller. His chops apply to this corner of filmmakig. Sure, a lot of that is the script and the editing, but man. Excellent work, Mr Lee.

Incidentally, this is one of the films I've finally gotten around to watching thanks to their appearance on Framed. I'm not keeping up, but I'm knocking a few out. (Although I haven't seen most of them, I'm at 550/550.)

library dvd

Dune: Part One (2021)

I mean. It was good. But it's my third favorite Villeneuve film of the three I've seen. Coulda been twenty to thirty minutes shorter in the first three quarters. I wasn't a huge fan of the sound mixing. Visually it was great, though not quite as great as it thinks it is. The acting made good use of familiar faces and voices. Largely. Zendaya only got a couple lines and I wasn't quite sold on her delivery.

But still. It came together at the end and I had a good time. So, you know, it was good.

Previous films watched


jan feb mar









No comments:

Post a Comment