2022

also logged on this page: filmed stage productions, TV miniseries

january

Hillbilly Elegyposter

Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

movie night with mom

Director: Ron Howard
Writer: J.D. Vance (based on the book by), Vanessa Taylor
Stars: Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso

better folks than me have leveled their critiques at this film (and the memoir and its author). in spite of all that, I still find myself moved.

I Care a Lot poster

I Care a Lot (2020)

Director: J Blakeson
Writer: J Blakeson
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage

villains, villians everywhere, but do we care a lot? our leading lady, Marla, has a grift that is devastatingly real: a con artist working as a court-appointed guardian, seizing the assets of vulnerable elderly people. naturally, to qualify as a comedy, this film has to get the mafia involved and take things to extreme lengths.

does it work? mostly. the characters are all interesting enough to get me emotionally involved—I was particularly delighted by Chris Messina's appearance as a mafia lawyer—but the film doesn't quite strike the black comedy balance in a way that justifies its 2-hour run time. at least for me. but not being great doesn't stop it from being good, and it's well worth a watch.

Juliet, Naked poster

Juliet, Naked (2018)

Director: Jesse Peretz
Writers: Tamara Jenkins, Jim Taylor, Evgenia Peretz (screenplay), Nick Hornby (based on the novel by)
Stars: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O'Dowd

when you take a Nick Horby novel and turn it into a film that has my faves Ethan Hawke and Chris O'Dowd, you've basically guaranteed that I'll like it. indeed, this story feels incredibly personal to me. between my experiences in fandom, my recent years learning to navigate online relationships, and the complicated love story at its centre, this film nestled in right next to my heart.

I am a huge admirer of Ethan Hawke as an actor. I could watch him all day. he and Rose Byrne have a fantastic, natural chemistry here. my dear Chris O'Dowd is not used to his full comic potential, but he's got a scene at the dinner table confronting his idol that is just excellent.

I was raised on romance movies. I love a contrived plot, a happy ending where "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" plays. but as I get older (and I know, I'm not old yet, but still), I find myself enjoying more grounded stories about more adult love, the kind that is messy and awkward and complicated and comes with an awful lot of baggage. like the song goes, "I'm looking for baggage that goes with mine."

february

 poster

Nuts (1987)

Director: Martin Ritt
Writers: Darryl Ponicsan, Alvin Sargent (screenplay), Tom Topor (based on the play by)
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss

this film was mentioned briefly in this Be Kind Rewind video about the 1988 Oscars. as courtroom dramas go, it's not the most convincing, nor does it offer much in the way of surprise. and you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed it. excellent performances from Streisand and Dreyfuss, a pairing I never knew I needed.

The Misfits poster

The Misfits (1961)

Director: John Huston
Writer: Arthur Miller
Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable

again, this choice inspired by a Be Kind Rewind video. both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe are immensely watchable. but the screenplay also caught me off guard at several points. the last bit of the film with the horses...some of those lines are gonna stay with me.

almost all stories are about change, but I do find myself particularly interested in stories about people caught up in transitions. the world is changing around these cowboys and they haven't figured out how to change with it. ("trouble is, charlie, that's what everyone does...blames the way it is on the way it was. on the way it never ever was...)

“Killers! Murderers! You're liars! All of you, liars! You're only happy when you can see something die! Why don't you kill yourself to be happy?”
“Damn 'em all. They changed it, changed it all around. Smeared it all over with blood. I'm finished with it. It's like roping a dream now. I just gotta find another way to be alive, that's all. If there is one anymore.”
The Masque of the Red Death poster

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Director: Roger Corman
Writers: Charles Beaumont, R. Wright Campbell (screenplay), Edgar Allan Poe (from stories by)
Stars: Vincent Price, Jane Asher

early in the pandemic, I read The Masque of the Red Death. the film does well to capture the vivid and haunting imagery of that story. this is, at the moment, the first and only Roger Corman film I've ever seen, and it was a compelling watch. a dance macabre to remember.