- Somewhere in the Night, 1946 - ★★★. “I was once a great thief and a magnificent scoundrel.”
Good lines in this one, but just okay line readings.
- Black Widow, 1954 - ★★★. Am I to assume that Van Heflin, of all people, doesn’t own a hat rack
- The Music Lovers, 1971 - ★★★★. Everyone in this film gave it their all, which is a metric ton more than any sane person ever would.
- Better Off Dead…, 1985 - ★★★. You can buy every piece of tat from Christmas Vacation but there’s no Jenny Meyer cookbook?
- The Apartment, 1960 - ★★★★★. Next Christmas we’re all gonna party like this
- The Matrix Resurrections, 2021 - ★★★ (contains spoilers). Lana Watchowski: there, I made this one super clear. Nobody could possibly watch this movie and misread the lessons. Me: therapists and gardeners are the baddies now.
- The Boston Strangler, 1968 - ★★★★. They make movies like this all the time now. Some of them are great, but most seem to just exist for the true-crime obsessive. This movie is doing a bit more work than a typical whodunnit: experimenting with split screen narrative tricks, and horny world building as the cops chew through suspects.
- Stormy Weather, 1943 - ★★★. Starting the year with a light musical.
- Don’t Look Up, 2021 - ★★. What if Armageddon was written by the VEEP crew
- Prisoners, 2013 - ★★★★. Watched on Sunday January 2, 2022.
- Terror in a Texas Town, 1958 - ★★★★. A movie absolutely begging for an Oscar-bait remake starring Brad Pitt as the bad guy who’s always eating stuff.
- People Will Talk, 1951 - ★★★. One thing they got very right is when a bunch of professors hang out they become nine very quickly.
- Falling Down, 1993 - ★★★★ (contains spoilers). “I’m the bad guy? When did that happen?” Like, immediately, friend. Right off the bat.
- Some Came Running, 1958 - ★★★★★. I want to hang out in every room and spend a great deal of time with every character.
- The Stranger by the Shore, 2020 - ★★★★. A 60 minute movie? I thought that was illegal.
- Kaleidoscope, 1966 - ★★★. I bet Brad Pitt loves this movie.
- The Mob, 1951 - ★★★. Mink-dyed hamster coat.
My favourite movies released in 2021
Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time - ★★★★★. Congratulations.
Dune - ★★★★. A real showcase of heavies.
Bo Burnham: Inside - ★★★★. Death Stranding.
No Sudden Move - ★★★. I don’t get it. Steven has money. He could buy a real camera. He doesn’t have to live like this.
Ten older movies I watched and loved in 2021
Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins, 1975 - ★★★★★. You sir are by far the worst soldier, car owner, driver, drinker, kidnap victim, gambler, brake thief, jilted lover, hat wearer, and fake father I’ve ever heard of.
Alan Arkin, drunk in a park: but you have heard of me.
Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train, 2020 - ★★★★. If you asked me right after I watched it, I would have given it ten stars.
Another Round, 2020 - ★★★★½. Four stars? Five? Anyways, it’s tough to be precise when you’re always a little bit smashed.
Taboo, 1999 - ★★★★★. Happy Valentine’s Day 2021
Violet Evergarden: The Movie, 2020 - ★★★★. I think I prefer the show’s ending, but this heartwarming one isn’t so bad either. Bring tissues.
Black Lizard, 1968 - ★★★★. When this pandemic is over I’m never going to shut up about this movie at parties.
The Stepfather, 1987 - ★★★. I’m so far removed from I can no longer tell what was just normal 80s suburb aesthetic and what was intentionally creepy patriarchal cosplay.
Man Wanted, 1932 - ★★★★. Everybody is funny and they get in and out in 60 minutes. No notes.
The Fortune Cookie, 1966 - ★★★. Always check the TCM listings, kids. You never know.
“What are you looking at?” “France.”
“You can’t see France from here.”
“Well, there’s no harm in trying.”
- Little Murders, 1971 - ★★★★.
There’s a through-line between this and the Naked Gun and someone else should make that video.
- Free Guy, 2021 - ★★★.
Vertical integration is a hell of a drug kids
- The Fury, 1978 - ★★★.
Pretty good X Men movie actually.
- Broadcast News, 1987 - ★★★.
“Why do you do this to me, is it because I won an award?”
- No Time to Die, 2021 - ★★★★.
Watched on Tuesday October 19, 2021.
- What Have You Done to Solange?, 1972 - ★★★★.
This movie greatly benefits from making most characters pretty unlikeable. I spent most of the movie having no idea who did all the murdering, which is impressive for a movie from 50 years ago.
- Dune, 2021 - ★★★★.
A real showcase of heavies
- The Shape of Things to Come, 1979 - ★.
Pretty sure this is called “Jack Palance gets boinked on the head with a beam and then blows up” but okay
- Two Smart People, 1946 - ★★★.
Want a better world? Just make more movies about charming con artists.
- Enemy, 2013 - ★★★★.
Toronto didn’t ask for that filter
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, 2021 - ★★★.
Watched on Monday November 15, 2021.
- Violet Evergarden: The Movie, 2020 - ★★★★.
I think I prefer the show’s ending, but this heartwarming one isn’t so bad either. Bring tissues.
- Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, 2021 - ★★★★★.
- After Hours, 1985 - ★★★.
It’s mohawk night.
- One Way Passage, 1932 - ★★★.
Anytime Kay and Bill look at one other
- The Stepfather, 1987 - ★★★.
I’m so far removed from I can no longer tell what was just normal 80s suburb aesthetic and what was intentionally creepy patriarchal cosplay.
- Stowaway, 2021 - ★★★.
Good episode of Star Trek. I always liked the ones with tough problems they couldn’t shoot their way through.
- Jacob’s Ladder, 1990 - ★★★.
That moment when Elizabeth Peña is trying to explain everything that’s been happening by just ¯_(ツ)_/ and saying “hey, that’s New York, what do you want?”
- Never Too Late, 1965 - ★★★.
Is there a more Herman Comics actor than Paul Ford?
- Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train, 2020 - ★★★★.
If you asked me right after I watched it, I would have given it ten stars.
- No Sudden Move, 2021 - ★★★.
I don’t get it. Steven has money. He could buy a real camera. He doesn’t have to live like this.
- Manhunter, 1986 - ★★½.
The script was so good they barely touched it in the remake. They should have also stolen the pacing and set designs. But Red Dragon still beats this for scenery chewing performances.
- Hold Back the Dawn, 1941 - ★★★★.
A bit soapy, but mostly a fun exploration on the effectiveness of charm.
- Blow Out, 1981 - ★★.
John Travolta is bad at acting.
- The Honeymoon Killers, 1970 - ★★★★.
Lo-Fi murder spree to study/relax to.
- Paprika, 2006 - ★★★.
Sleepy rewatch on a Saturday.
- Come Live with Me, 1941 - ★★★★.
I’m so happy there’s a never ending supply of these winsome romcoms from the 40s. Can’t imagine why people would want a steady stream of charming escapism.
- Moulin Rouge, 1952 - ★★★.
What is the world coming to when a girl won’t even accept a horse?
- Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu, 2016 - ★★.
Hmm. Maybe starting at the beginning isn’t the easiest way to go with this one.
- Man Wanted, 1932 - ★★★★.
Everybody is funny and they get in and out in 60 minutes. No notes.
- Breaking News in Yuba County, 2021 - ★★★.
Mid-tier movies are precious and we need to protect them.
- The Last Seduction, 1994 - ★★★.
my only problem with the movie is the guy isn’t Kevin Bacon and it just so obviously should have been
- The Fortune Cookie, 1966 - ★★★.
Always check the TCM listings, kids. You never know.
- Bo Burnham: Inside, 2021 - ★★★★.
- They Met in Bombay, 1941 - ★★.
I forgot I’d seen this before. You’d think it would have left an impression with the premise and cast, but it doesn’t.
It’s maybe best to end it right after the car chase.
- Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins, 1975 - ★★★★★.
You sir are by far the worst soldier, car owner, driver, drinker, kidnap victim, gambler, brake thief, jilted lover, hat wearer, and fake father I’ve ever heard of.
Alan Arkin, drunk in a park: but you have heard of me.
- Bells Are Ringing, 1960 - ★★★★.
Judy Holliday was president of the United States for the entire 50s and you can’t convince me otherwise.
- Morning Glory, 1933 - ★★.
It’s like Fame if it didn’t cost.
- The Birdcage, 1996 - ★★★.
Daniel Futterman has big Tom Cruise murder energy.
- Cruising, 1980 - ★★★.
Watched in the “Queersighted: Breaking Taboos” feature on Criterion.
- Bob le Flambeur, 1956 - ★★★.
What if Ocean’s 11 but New Wave. It ends up being a bit lesser than that.
- Macao, 1952 - ★★★★.
What if Casablanca with shuffled roles, lazier writing poorer pacing still makes for a good flick.
- The Blue Gardenia, 1953 - ★★★★.
I dunno, those cops seemed pretty far away from catching her.
- Phffft!, 1954 - ★★★.
Better the second time. Still the worst and least search-friendly title ever.
- Who Are You, Charlie Brown?, 2021 - ★★.
Cute but placid.
- Mortal Kombat, 2021 - ★. I think it’s time to just give up the copyright and let anyone make Mortal Kombat movies. These should be the most fun, dumb, easy-to-enjoy action flicks on the planet. The first one got that. Why is this so hard? Why are we getting worse at making fun things?
- Remember the Night, 1940 - ★★★. “People aren’t responsible for what they say in Niagara Falls!”
- Can You Ever Forgive Me?, 2018 - ★★★★. I’m probably learning the wrong lessons here but I just may never get myself cleaned up to play the game.
- Dear Heart, 1964 - ★★. It’s one of those movies where you really wish the characters would just say what they wanted instead of having to watch them be awkward for 90 minutes. It takes Angela Landsbury showing up, so sure and so committed to what she wants, to knock the whole thing loose.
- The Comeback Trail, 2020 - ★★★. I’m here for this bugs bunny bullshit.
- A Kiss Before Dying, 1956 - ★★★. Pretty good, but can we get a B picture that takes place at the Pago Pago. I just miss tiki bars is all.
- Dance, Girl, Dance, 1940 - ★★★★. I love the paparazzi in this, just undercutting any and all dramatic tension, making these arguing doinkies pose mid-fight all movie long.
- The Sword of Doom, 1966 - ★★★★. Relentless violence and madness. It doesn’t all add up. So many character arcs seem abandoned. At one point, someone shows off a gun, only for it never to be seen again. Major characters disappear. But it’s all for the mood.
- The Hot Rock, 1972 - ★★★. Someone make this a tv show where they lose the diamond at the end of every episode and run it for eight seasons on ABC.
- Easy Living, 1937 - ★★★. 300mph classic classist screwball.
- The Wild Bunch, 1969 - ★★★. Maximum carnage.
- We Broke Up, 2021 - ★★★. It’s under 90 minutes. What are you all complaining about?
- The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, 1943 - ★★★★.
I truly adore movies from the 40s that went out of their way to flaunt the Hayes code.
- Darling, 1965 - ★★★★.
Watched on Wednesday March 31, 2021.
- Algiers, 1938 - ★★★★.
“What are you looking at?” “France.” “You can’t see France from here.” “Well, there’s no harm in trying.”
- Go Naked in the World, 1961 - ★★.
Heavily flawed (the ending especially) but it took huge swings.
- Equinox Flower, 1958 - ★★★.
- Carefree, 1938 - ★★★.
“Oh, Tony’s all right, except for that he’s a dirty double-crossing scientist.”
- Smooth Talk, 1985 - ★★.
Maybe if they’d used the rollers the house would have been painted by now.
- Any Number Can Play, 1949 - ★★★★.
A sleeper of a classic. Why hasn’t someone remade this one?
- Bad Education, 2019 - ★★★★.
I don’t that kid is gonna get into OMNI.
- It’s Always Fair Weather, 1955 - ★★★.
Technically brilliant and creative numbers. I wanted more Cyd.
- One False Move, 1992 - ★★★. 90s noir is an underrated period.
- A New Leaf, 1971 - ★★★★. It’s just not a good romcom without a murder plot.
- Eye of the Devil, 1967 - ★★. If David Niven dies for our sins in the forest but nobody’s around to hear it, did it even happen?
- Killer’s Kiss, 1955 - ★★★. If only there was a spear fighting league in the fifties, this guy would have had a better chance.
- Unfaithfully Yours, 1948 - ★★★★. If you don’t like this movie, you’re probably a square from Delaware.
- Doctor Strange, 2016 - ★★. Chunibyo are so embarrassing.
- Ishtar, 1987 - ★★★★★. “And now ladies and gentlemen, this next song is for a very special lady of the left.”
- An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, 2018 - ★ No.
- Matchstick Men, 2003 - ★★★. This one feels a hundred years old in a good way.
- Lupin III: The First, 2019 - ★★★★. Good now do this with Professor Layton
- Taboo, 1999 - ★★★★★. Happy Valentine’s Day 2021
- La Ronde, 1950 - ★★. I liked the narrator tricker figure but not much else.
- The Seduction of Mimi, 1972 - ★★. It’s like a really rough draft of Sorry to Bother You.
- Morocco, 1930 - ★★★. I loved that the C-plot of the film is that Gary Cooper owes everyone in his unit $60 because he just can’t stop hitting up prostitutes.
- St. Louis Blues, 1958 - ★★★.
- A Life of Her Own, 1950 - ★★★. Oh hey did you know that nothing matters, nobody will really love you, you’re aging wrong, and New York has never once made a single person happy?
- The Living End, 1992 - ★★★. Sharp inhale of crushed-up sophoromic film zine: Luke is a metaphor
- Guest of Honour, 2019 - ★★★. Casting the best living Lawful Evil actor as a health inspector is a damned inspired choice. Making that character the protagonist is a more curious one. I think it mostly worked.
- Monsieur Verdoux, 1947 - ★★★★.
- Another Round, 2020 - ★★★★½. Four stars? Five? Anyways, it’s tough to be precise when you’re always a little bit smashed.
- Widows, 2018 - ★★★★. On my watchlist way longer than it should have been.
- The Cobweb, 1955 - ★★★. Good yarn.
- Stray Dog, 1949 - ★★★. Good noir. This movie occasionally just stops to take in the sights, be it a seedy neighbourhood or a baseball game. Lots of slow interrogations with anxious cops losing their minds because the city just keeps getting worse around them. Mifune slowly begins to think every crime that’s been committed happens because a thief took his gun.
- The Ghost of Peter Sellers, 2018 - ★★. So the Criterion Channel has some boring stuff too huh
- The Ladykillers, 1955 - ★★★★★. It’s a good thing they never tried to remake this.
- Cat Ballou, 1965 - ★★. if all mediocre films were like this, I think people would enjoy them more.
- Arsenic and Old Lace, 1944 - ★★★★. Second time around, I’m still not sure it holds together. But it’s kind of worth it just for Cary Grant to look at me sometimes?
- Black Lizard, 1968 - ★★★★. When this pandemic is over I’m never going to shut up about this movie at parties.
- Seven Thieves, 1960 - ★★★. Another great reason to watch heist flicks is the competency porn.
- Witness to Murder, 1954 - ★★★. Noir Alley is a gift.
If we’re going to give all this data to companies, the least they can do is give us a nice web page with statistics that seem kind of neat for five minutes.
If I’d have guessed, I would have said I’d watched 500 movies this year.
This one shows that some of Letterboxd’s metadata may not be perfect. These count up based on tags, and “On The Rocks” probably shouldn’t be counted as Russian. “To Live and Die in LA” probably shouldn’t count as Spanish just because William Peterson inappropriately uses “amigo.”
Unfortunately Letterboxd doesn’t know if I’m rewatching a movie but just hasn’t reviewed it on the site before. So…there? I sure did like a lot of the movies I watched this year.
What do you mean, they’re still making new movies? I haven’t heard of this.
Letterboxd definitely thinks I should have watched more 2020 films. But what can you do?
- On the Rocks, 2020 - ★★½. If Dean was cheating he’d have been rocking an LG.
- Bill & Ted Face the Music, 2020 - ★★★. Three star movies are the best movies.
- Hard Eight, 1996 - ★★★★. Dammit, now I miss Vegas again.
- Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind, 2020 - ★★. God help me I love crackpots.
- Underwater, 2020 - ★★½. If you can’t be good, at least be zippy.
- The Meddler, 2015 - ★★★. Me doing my best Zach Braff impression at Susan Sarandon right before she kicked Michael McKean in the crotch and ran: “Kick him in the crotch and run! The crotch!”
- Father Goose, 1964 - ★★★. What a cute gem this was.
- The Color of Money, 1986 - ★★. “I can always go back to whiskey. It’s been very good to me.”
- Buddy Buddy, 1981 - ★★★½. The comedy here is so dark and I really value it.
- The Young Girls of Rochefort, 1967 - ★★★★★. The prettiest movie in the whole wide world.
- The Apartment, 1960 - ★★★★★. Watched on Friday December 25, 2020.
I tweeted about a bunch of these movies in a #noirvember thread.
- Un Flic, 1972 - ★★. I fell asleep, which I think was the point.
- Brute Force, 1947 - ★★. Bleak way to begin Noirvember, but I guess that probably appropriate. Solid ACAB entry. Bleak as hell.
- Secret Beyond the Door, 1947 - ★★. Michael Redgrave is miscast and that means this tense suspense film just isn’t all that suspenseful. The flat performance means it really can’t compete with Rebecca, a very similar and superior film.
- The Woman in the Window, 1944 - ★★★. Good movie. Now go back and fix that ending.
- They Live by Night, 1948 - ★★. Hey, you know, I was rooting for them.
- Where the Sidewalk Ends, 1950 - ★★ (contains spoilers). Seems like the major mistake he made was admitting to crimes.
- Detour, 1945 - ★½. Ann Savage is all killer, but the rest is filler.
- Shadow of a Doubt, 1943 - ★★★★.
- Odd Man Out, 1947 - ★★★★ (contains spoilers). Odd Man Out is about James Mason getting shot in the first ten minutes after a botched robbery. The whole town wrestles with Dickensian morality on whether to help him or turn him into the cops.
It’s real good.
- Shutter Island, 2010 - ★★★★★. Did you know you could just watch this movie again
- The Long Goodbye, 1973 - ★★★★. Here. Hold my tie.
- Pickup on South Street, 1953 - ★★★★½. Take a shot everyone someone goes through her purse.
- Old Boyfriends, 1979 - ★★. I hate the 70s.
- Cast a Deadly Spell, 1991 - ★★. Oh that’s good trash.
Holy crap did I watch a lot of movies this month. This was mostly brought on by Criterion’s horror lineup, but, still. Wow.
- In This Corner of the World, 2016 - ★★★★. My wife watched this alone and then snuck it into every conversation about movies I need to see for the next six months. By the end I was exactly as destroyed as this movie wanted me to be.
- Peppermint Frappe, 1967 - ★. Don’t do what Donny Don’t does.
- Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979 - ★★★★ (contains spoilers). The most haunting scene is where an entire group of people are dancing in a public square because they’ve all caught the plague and are about to die so they might as well have a party. And they don’t know that the plague is actually just a rich asshole.
Later, Van Helsing murders the rich asshole. Someone tries to arrest him for it, but the police have been defunded (they are all dead from the plague).
No, no reason why that’s apt now.
- Hereditary, 2018 - ★★★. Is the lesson of this movie don’t have kids, or don’t have dead grandmas?
- The Vampire Lovers, 1970 - ★★½. 5318008
- Sapphire, 1959 - ★★★★. I’m knocking it one star because they never actually show Michael Craig in lingerie.
- Daughters of Darkness, 1971 - ★★★★. The least believable part was when a woman did not want to hear all the gory details about a series of mysterious deaths.
- The Witch Who Came from the Sea, 1976 - ½. Hey Criterion, no bud.
- Carnival of Souls, 1962 - ★★. Cool ideas but it drags.
- To Live and Die in L.A., 1985 - ★★★. I didn’t know I needed a different narrative font every ten minutes, a cameo by Lesbian Daphne Moon, David Hasslehoff’s wardrobe knockoffs, Shipwreck Joey’s topless cabaret, improper use of “amigo”, Robert Downey Jr’s dad, an endless supply of cocaine-thin blonde exposition tools, interpretive dancers, the guy from Quantum Leap, two solid minutes of male nudity, an endless and bleak industrial landscape, copious Riker leans, Appleton Wisconsin’s finest Willem Dafoe, metaphorical and literal one-legged bungee jumping, and a soundtrack by Wang Chun that’ll melt your brain. But I did.
- Peeping Tom, 1960 - ★★★★. I love pretty movies about the movies.
- Shivers, 1975 - ★★★. Like a slightly hornier, slightly gorier, slightly Canadian version of the Tingler.
- The Quiet Family, 1998 - ★★★½. When you want to just be a nice family with a B&B but you’re so unbelievably good at so many kinds of murder.
- The Nightcomers, 1971 - ★★½. “Ecstatic love affairs are boring”
- The Velvet Vampire, 1971 - ★. Meh!
- The Good German, 2006 - ★★★ (contains spoilers). I liked the part where Tobey Maguire wasn’t in the movie anymore.
- Theatre of Blood, 1973 - ★★★★ (contains spoilers). I think I was happiest when Vincent Price fought in a fencing duel while on a trampoline, but it’s honestly hard to pick a favourite part.
- Suburbia, 1983 - ★. Gave up after 15 minutes. Why any of this?
- Save the Green Planet!, 2003 - ★★★½. Scully, you’re not gonna believe this.gif
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire, 2019 - ★★★½. Can’t tell if intense yearning or tight corset.
- Light Sleeper, 1992 - ★★. Not at all what I expected, but I didn’t hate what I got. A drug dealer who feels the capacity to break good, but there’s just so much pulling him down. Sarandon is fun as always. Defoe is miscast as “relatable human.”
- Class Action Park, 2020 - ★★★★. You’d be surprised what you can live through.
- Fist of Fury, 1972 - ★★★★. Rifftraxx re-watch on Amazon Prime Video.
- Modern Romance, 1981 - ★★★. DTMFA.
- Phantom Lady, 1944 - ★★★★. It seems so routine, but it really isn’t. I love the second and third act of this one, Where Ella Raines is promoted from secretary and one note character to main protagonist, determined to prove her boss’ innocence.I might be a sucker for matte painting backgrounds in noir flicks.
- Variety, 1983 - ★★★★. I’m Blair St Clair and I’m a bad girl now.
- Sullivan’s Travels, 1941 - ★★★★. About exactly what I want from everyone here. My favourite Veronica Lake movie by thirty kilometres.
- Homicide, 1991 - ★★. “Yeah I’m mad. I’m not inviting you to my birthday party!” What a line read, Macy.
- The Old Man & the Gun, 2018 - ★★½. 90 minutes and charming.
- Life, 2017 - ★½. Okay, I got my wife, who is afraid of watching Alien, to watch this. One step closer.
- Purple Noon, 1960 - ★★★★½. It’s pretty unfair to show this to any human living a regular life.
- Palm Springs, 2020 - ★★★. January February March March March March March March
- Once a Thief, 1965 - ★★★. This was like, a really good Jean Claude Van Damme movie.
- Raising Cain, 1992 - ★★½. Lolita Davidovich is just Bruce McCullough in drag and now you can’t unsee it too.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane, 2016 - ★★.
- Between the Lines, 1977 - ★. Not worth it to see a very young Goldblum get into a fight wearing a half-undone dark green Alien jumpsuit in a night club, though I know it sounds like it would be on paper.
- The Foreigner, 2017 - ★★½. I’ll take Pierce Brosnan as bloviating backdoor politician vs Jackie Chan as an unstoppable Chigurh. I’ll take it all day.
- Weathering with You, 2019 - ★★★★. I’m not crying. It’s just raining. On my face.
- Color Out of Space, 2019 - ★½. Garbage, but watchable.
- Fun with Dick and Jane, 1977 - ½. This is the future conservatives want.
- Seconds, 1966 - ★★★½. Elevated twilight zone. Stomp those grapes.
- Body Heat, 1981 - ★★★★. If this was made today it would have no sex scenes and yet somehow be half an hour longer.
- I See You, 2019 - ★½. bad, but neat.
- Parasite, 2019 - ★★★★★. Damn, it really is better the second time.
- The Daytrippers, 1996 - ★★★½. Absolutely my kind of mess.
- Police Story, 1985 - ★★★★. falling down is art.
- Shockproof, 1949 - ★½ (contains spoilers). Grif just straight up abandons his kid brother and blind mom there huh
- Bonjour Tristesse, 1958 - ★★½. “To live, you must be drunk on something.” A pretty decent season 6 episode of Gilmore Girls.
- Lost Highway, 1997 - ★★★.This whole vibe is just way too familiar to me. I think I watched too many sexy 90s noirs growing up. Where were my parents?
- My Dad Is a Heel Wrestler, 2018 - ★★½. The Wrestler but instead of being tragically sad it’s just wholesome and cute.
- Cure, 1997 - ★★★. Actual nightmare fuel.
- Pleasures of the Flesh, 1965 - ★★★★. I loved this film. It’s like a comically tragic short novel. Just delicious.
- If You Could Only Cook, 1935 - ★★★. Nicest gangsters ever.
- Doctor Sleep, 2019 - ½. The Episode IX of Shining movies I guess.
Barring a few cultural touchstones…that tie it to its setting, Billy Wilder’s 60-year-old classic remains the kind of story that still feels incredibly modern. In our post #MeToo era of heightened awareness regarding workplace harassment, toxic masculinity and relationship power dynamics, The Apartment makes for a fascinating watch.
It basically hasn’t aged a day. One of my top 10 and a movie everyone should watch. One of the few perfect movies.
- Love Exposure, 2008 - ★★★½. So many crimes. So many kinds of crimes.
- The Out-of-Towners, 1970 - ★★★★. Oh my god, now I have an ulcer too.
- The Player, 1992 - ★★½. Cameo.com fucking wishes
- Cowboy, 1958 - ★½. I refuse to believe Jack Lemmon has ever spent time in broad daylight.
- Bay of Angels, 1963 - ★★★½. I think it’s weird to have a movie like this end happily?
- The Deadly Affair, 1966 - ★★★½. I’m not sure what surprised and delighted me the most: James Mason’s amazing domestic troubles or Harry Andrews’ incessant narcolepsy.
- Tampopo, 1985 - ★★★★½. This movie is equal parts innocent, charming, disgusting, confusing, and endearing. It made me go “aww” and “oh, oh my god why oh interesting” every five minutes.
- Miami Connection, 1987 - ½. FRIEND!?!?!?
- Cover Girl, 1944 - ★★. Good dancing, bad singing, good lines (“Sure, I’ll marry you. Who is this?”), meh plot.
- Cinematic Titanic: Danger on Tiki Island, 2010 - ★★. My new business card is definitely going to say “Carla, to my friends and enemies.”
- The Anderson Tapes, 1971 - ★★★½ Now that’s how you fuck up a heist, kids.
- Hardcore, 1979 - ★★★ Really wanted George to invite Season back home to help rehab his daughter, but that would be a whole different movie. Ah well. If you liked Taken but wanted the dad to have a much lousier set of skills.
- Bitter Moon, 1992 - ★★★★. Being an adult means being the kind of hypocrite you can live with — an old piece of advice that definitely ran through my head as I watched a Polanski film in 2020 while self-isolating.
- The Big Heat, 1953 - ★★★★. The crib on the porch is for the outside baby we don’t talk about.
- Shadow, 2018 - ★★★★. It’d be cool to just hang out in those robes doing calligraphy though.
- Pain and Glory, 2019 - ★★★★. Intimate and touching. Very well done.
- Experiment in Terror, 1962 - ★★★★. So good. One of those great ones that’s just to the left of ten other movies you love, but takes this long to bubble up to the surface.
- Beauty and the Beast, 1946 - ★★½. Disney’s 90s version is probably the best, but this came out fifty years before and still puts up a fight.
- Dead Reckoning, 1947 - ★★½.
- The Skeleton Twins, 2014 - ★★★.
- You’ll Never Get Rich, 1941 - ★★. Ugh, the army.
- Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll, 2019 - ★★. Some episodes of Violet Evergarden are so crushing you feel your heart wrench itself apart. Other episodes are just sort of sweet and slow, but it’s okay because this is a pretty and winning world for a hang. This movie is more of the second. I was hoping for more of the first.
- High and Low, 1963 - ★★★★★.
When Patricia Neal just grabs a cigarette out of John Garfields’ pocket without asking.
Phillis Thaxter slapping John Garfield for saying Patricia Neal might have nice legs.
Patricial Neal just easing into the bench seat at the yacht club, both arms up on the backrest. So fucking cool.
John Garfields’ line delivery of “For all I know she’s covered in moles.”
Juano Hernández’s son at the end, left alone, the crowd dispersing without him. The movie doesn’t forget that he has a son, even though it’s a very small part.
Michael Curtiz’ directing style, who is so good I often forget he exists and the movie simply wills itself into being.
Patricia Neal’s delivery of “Speaking of coincidences, I live in Number Seven. My friends just kick the door open.”
Sherry Jackson and Donna Jo Boyce as Garfields’ daughters. They bring so much life and chaos to the domestic scenes. And that delivery of “it’ll grow out” about their mother’s dye job. Why you gotta hit her so hard?
Me yelling at John Garfield to just go pick lettuce in Salinas, already. Everyone would be much happier!
Movies I’d show in the office if such an occasion arose
Organized by decade
- Ball of Fire
- The Lady Eve
- The Philadelphia Story
- Funny Face
- Love in the Afternoon
- Can Can
- From Russia with Love
- How to Steal a Million
- Paris When It Sizzles
- What a Way to Go
I don’t own any office-appropriate films from the 70s, nor do I believe any exist.
- Die Hard
- The Princess Bride
- Brain Candy
- Cant Hardly Wait
- Death Becomes Her
- Gosford Park
- Office Space
- Death to Smoochy
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- The Royal Tenenbaums
- La La Land
- Moonrise Kingdom
- The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
- What We Do in the Shadows
Letterboxd rules, but sometimes it’s hard to see an exact chronological list of when you saw a movie. The “Activity” view shows all your ratings, but it also shows everything else you do on the site (add movies to lists, etc), so it can be daunting. I’ve never fully understood the “Diary” tab, since it seems only movies I review with words (and not just a star rating) show up, but sometimes just the star ratings do?
Anyways, this view seems to do it for me: When rated. You sort it by anything, but sorting my ratings by “when rated” seems to give me the best view of movies I’ve watched in reverse chronological order.
Kanopy seems pretty great so far. It’s working very well on our two Roku devices and my iPhone. Video streaming services that aren’t YouTube or Netflix often don’t work as well, but Kanopy seems as good as the big companies. I love the library. It has the table-stakes features of a first-class streaming service like a que, and it’ll keep your place if you pause and move to a different device.
Most importantly, it’s the classic movie service I’ve always wanted (and Filmstruck provides in the US). I don’t know how popular “classic” cinema is, but if you find the selection on Netflix lacking, Kanopy will satiate.
The fact that it’s “free” with a library card is really great, but I’d happily pay for this. There’s an arbitrary limit of 8 movies per months, but I’m not sure what happens if I reach it. Can I pay more to watch more? Or is 8 films all I can watch in a month? It’s a civilized amount and I likely won’t go past it most months, but I’m curious.
In general, though, great, great stuff so far. I’m very impressed.
Phantom Thread reminded me of my own stories. Somewhat unlikeable characters who fall in love and ruin one another in new ways, mostly with one-on-one conversations? That’s where I’m a Viking.
Phantom Thread is probably going to be a lot better on the second or third viewing. I wonder if my books are like that. You finish them the first time and you’re like “what?” And then maybe on the next go around you find the bits that work for you and it’s a little better. Or put more simply, the more I think about Phantom Thread, the more I like it. I hope people think about my work like that.
Comparing a production like Phantom Thread, with a cabal of seasoned professionals doing very good work, to my own self published and little-read work is super egotistical, sure, but it actually isn’t all that often I watch or read something that reminds me of my work. Phantom Thread is kind of like if my books were better.
I wonder if they love their movie. I mean, that might be something I should be asking of my own work? Do I love my finished work? I don’t know. I have my favourites. I poured so much into Skypunch and I know it’s a failed book but I still look at some scenes and think it’s my best thing. Kate in No Chinook is my favourite creation. I wanted more of her and that’s how Skypunch happened. Tess and Bret in Record Year, I’m still in love with them. But for the most part, I just see where things could be better. I’m hard on myself. Phantom Thread proposes that probably everybody is.
But at least I take my girl out on New Years.
Watching the Shining for the first time can be confusing. It doesn’t seem all that scary. It plods along, nothing much happens, and by the end you sort of feel like it’s you’ve been suckered. It’s all hype, you’ll think.
But then you’ll watch The Shining again. Perhaps it’ll be on late and it’s the best thing on the guide. Maybe a partner will insist you missed something. Listen to them. They know better. (This is good advice generally). Inevitably, the re-watching will make you pay a little bit more attention. You’ll start to look around the actors, and pay attention to the series of events. At some point, you’ll catch an inconsistency. You will feel clever. Later, you will feel like an idiot, because there’s loads of them.
If you’re completely nuts, you’ll dive into the content about it online. Here are the best pieces I’ve seen about the movie, to save you some time (but you’ll want more. There is no “enough” with this film):
Todd Alcott’s Seven Part Analysis of ‘The Shining’
The Shining and The Steadicam
11 Things You Might Not Have Noticed In The Shining
The Set of “The Shining” is Intentionally Impossible
The Shining doesn’t just reward multiple viewings, but different kinds of viewings. And that’s why I was so excited to see it in the theatre (TIFF’s Kubrick Exhibit), where I’d surely pick up on a few bits I hadn’t before. I did notice two things I hadn’t before. One inconsistency is that the first time we see the Overlook, there is no maze. This is definitely one of those head-smacking ones. I’m sure other people noticed it years ago. I’m sure there’s tons of posts about it. But hey, it was the first time for me.
The other thing I noticed was just how loud the movie is. Having only watched it at home, I never realized I was supposed to crank the volume and break my speakers, but that’s how it was in the theatre. The “waaaaah” factor reached 0.8 Nolan, and the enveloping noise succeeded in making a movie I’ve seen half a dozen times scary again. Well done.
You can also find this review over at Deadshirt.
“Nobody’s saying it’s a stroll down the tree line promenade with a fine lady and a white poodle but it’s got what you’d call venerability.”
I’ve read in various reviews for The Grand Budapest Hotel that it confirms everything about writer and director Wes Anderson, and by extension presents nothing to change the minds of people who don’t care for his style. Certainly, there are signature moments of twee precision, of people with more money than us having problems we will never have. I understand the lack of reputability in many of his films, the alien notion that these people aren’t found in any life we know, and that their decisions aren’t ones people here — on this earth — would make. Grand Budapest has these characters, but we find them all on the side of villainy. The hero only wants to help his boss break out of prison to (maybe) sell a stolen painting inherited to him because he slept with an 84-year old murdered woman, and along the way clear his name for her murder which he didn’t (probably) commit, but can’t tell the truth to because it would disrepute some other old woman in another old country.
Okay, the heroes aren’t your next door neighbors. The villains are even less so. The old lady’s son (Adrien Brody) is painted as a Moose-and-Squirrel-hunting cartoon, clad entirely in black with pointed accents and a tiny gun around his ankle. His muscle (Willem Dafoe) scowls with missing teeth, punches with brass-knuckle-style rings on both hands, and shoots with a gun holstered on his chest, next to a flask. The death toll in the film is on him, but he’s a great skiier and I’ve had his theme music on repeat all week.
All right, so maybe The Grand Budapest Hotel is just another Wes Anderson movie, and to make matters worse, part of the recent set where it seems less like a deep character sketch (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) and more like a frolicking adventure for the kid in all of us (everything he’s done since). This means that the plot is more important than spending time with the cast, and this unfortunately means much of the cast is a blur. The movie ostensibly features nearly two dozen incredible stars, but few reach more than a paragraph in the script. Everyone chews the scenery (and what scenery there is!) but nobody is going to come out of this thinking they saw enough Bill Murray, Owen Wilson (literally 20 seconds of screen time), Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, the aforementioned Brody and Dafoe, or the charming, beautiful, and crafty Agatha, played by Saoirse Ronan.
I even get the sense that we didn’t get enough time with Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori, the unlikely pair of buddies in this ostensible buddy caper. This isn’t due to lack of screen time, but instead that Anderson only scratched the surface of their profile. Revolori’s Zero has the back story of a refugee and survivor, but the guile of a man well beyond his years. Fiennes’ M. Gustav H combines dandy sensibilities with a sea of secret society esteem.
But here’s the thing with Anderson’s work since The Life Aquatic: if you let them in, his movies are an immeasurably good time. His work forces you to smile ear-to-ear like no other director, marveling at both the scale of his dioramas and ability to — stone-faced and without irony — tell you that none of it matters. There’s artifice upon artifice, stories about stories about stories, wrapped up neatly in a framing device that reminds us that even the most daring and brilliant adventures will one day be just a way to lazily burn an afternoon. And yet, I still found myself attracted to nearly everyone on screen, invested in their well-being, and hoping for not only the best but more.
Throughout The Grand Budapest Hotel, characters begin reciting poetry. These poems are romantic and profound (if a little pedantic), and invariably interrupted by plot. This happens roughly half a dozen times. The characters want to ruminate on a moment, and have the perfect stanza with which to do so, but there is no time. They are on the run, and their enemies are close. There is a sense that if they don’t hurry, there will never be time for poetry ever again. This is where the movie gets its actual weight: enemies are on the horizon. The edges of the film’s map are already lousy with Nazis (here retrofitted with no-name branding, complete with two Z’s instead of S’s), and they only encroach as the film progresses. But the Nazis aren’t what defeats our heroes eventually. It’s time.
The Grand Budapest Hotel shares quite a few ingredients from pre-war films with eastern-European flavor: The Shop Around The Corner and Grand Hotel, to name two. I look at films like these with borrowed melancholy, and see their essence as something lost to time and war. Technically, there’s nothing stopping films like Grand Budapest, Grand Hotel, and Shop Around The Corner from happening today. There are nice hotels, old ladies still get murdered, and young refugees find work and struggle with reality. But we miss both the feeling that death is actually around every corner, and the charm with which to repel it. Grand Budapest illuminates this, and makes us nostalgic for a time that is long since gone (if it, in fact, ever existed at all), like the particular world M Gustav H tried to keep alive, and the one Zero holds up in a ruin.