2023 film diary

(which includes some things that aren't films, shhh)


The Menu poster

The Menu (2022)

Director: Mark Mylod
Writers: Seth Reiss, Will Tracy
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy

is it wrong that this film made me hungry?

cerebral and layered, there's lots to appreciate about this one. but let's be honest, I would watch Anya Taylor-Joy in just about anything.

The Banshees of Inisherin poster

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Director: Martin McDonagh
Writers: Martin McDonagh
Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson

"tragicomedy" is not a genre I have much experience with, but there isn't a better word to describe this one. truly funny, truly tragic, beautifully acted.

I've lately been enjoying reading negative reviews of books and films I like, mostly because I find them reassuring. someone will list a bunch of stuff I loved about the work...and then say that's why they hated it. as a writer, that's comforting. so, if you are inclined to dislike films that are slow, have little in the way of plot, and no sense of closure at the end, you will probably dislike this one! but if you, like me, see that list and think, "oooh, intruiging," then you might just be in for a real "feel-bad treat."

Glass Onion poster

Glass Onion (2022)

Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton

I did see and enjoy Knives Out, but I had a far better time with this Benoit Blanc mystery. cards on the table—I don't really like mysteries. at least, I don't seek them out. but this was fun. it was goofy, it was ridiculous. in short, it was a joy. I loved the ensemble cast (Kate Hudson!!) and the style and tone of the movie hit a real sweet spot for me. plus those Zoom call cameos?? my theatre-kid heart nearly burst.

the IMDB reviews, at a glance, seem to indicate that the folks who disliked this film are the exactly the people I dread running into at a party.


I'm Thinking of Ending Things poster

I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Director: Charlie Kaufman
Writers: Charlie Kaufman (screenplay), Iain Reid (novel)
Stars: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley

I read this book last year, in just 2 days. if anyone could adapt it, then Kaufman would be the person, and I think this adaptation is...mostly successful. it's in the last act where the book really shines and the film doesn't quite come together. without spoiling anything, I think that the film makes a lot more sense if you are familiar with the musical Oklahoma, which seems like an odd prerequisite??

Scenes from a Marriage HBO limited series poster

Scenes from a Marriage (2021)

Creator: Hagai Levi
Based on a series by: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain

a miniseries! featuring two besties. strong performances and complex characters. (likeable, no; watchable, yes.) yet something about it doesn't quite land for me.


The Last of US poster

The Last of Us, season one (2023)

Creators: Neil Druckmann, Craig Mazin
Stars: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsay

OBSESSED with this. watched it twice. (admittedly, this was because I watched it once completely out of order, then again in the correct order. don't ask.)

Daisy Jones & the Six poster

Daisy Jones & The Six (2023)

Creator: Scott Neustadter
Writers: Michael H. Weber, based on book by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Stars: Riley Keough, Sam Claflin, Camila Morrone

charming! and omg Camila. lots of surprises here for fans of the book. your mileage may vary re: Book vs Show—I'm team Book, though not by much—but it's ultimately a satisfying adaptation.


Dead Poets Society poster

Dead Poets Society (1989)

movie night with E

Director: Peter Weir
Writers: Tom Schulman
Stars: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke

E hadn't seen this before! a classic. and I've read more Whitman since the last time I saw it. also: this would make an interesting double feature with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Two portraits of charismatic teachers—one at a girls' school and one at a boys' school—who have a profound impact on their students.

Much Ado About Nothing 1993 poster

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Director: Kenneth Branaugh
Writers: Kenneth Branaugh, William Shakespeare (play)
Stars: Kenneth Branaugh, Emma Thompson

a rewatch to cheer myself up. Much Ado is my favourite Shakespeare play. this adaptation is perfectly charming and utterly star-studded. Denzel Washington may be my favourite Don Pedro 😂 I've not yet seen all the Branaugh Shakespeares, but I plan to.


Untamed Heart (1993)

Director: Tony Bill
Writers: Tom Sierchio
Stars: Christian Slater, Marisa Tomei

this was a spec script by Tom Sierchio (originally called The Baboon Heart — you can see why they changed the title), who is now working on Tulsa King. I cannot believe they made Christian Slater deliver that whole monologue about his explorer parents and the mighty baboon king.

anyways, this is one of my favourite movies of all time, I just adore it, and none of its flaws can detrach from lovely I think it is.

“Magic records and a baboon heart...You've almost got me believing in it.”



Love & Death (2023)

Creator: David E. Kelley
Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Jesse Plemons

in which marketing successful targets me 😅 saw an ad for this and went, "Lizzie Olsen? AND Jesse Plemons? immediately yes."

Camelot HBO poster

Camelot (1982)

Director: Marty Callner
Writers: Alan Jay Lerner
Stars: Richard Harris, Meg Bussert, Richard Muenz

I am obsessed, I am obsessed, I am OBSESSED!

Thanks to HBO Theatre, we have a recording of this 80s revival of the classic Lerner & Loewe musical. Camelot was always one of those musicals I figured I had to watch at some point, because it's got that classic status, but which I avoided for a long time because I'd heard the film was bad. (It is. I haven't seen the whole thing, but I've seen enough to identify specific issues I have with the direction.) So when I stumbled across this recording, I put it on in the background while working on something else.

But after 15 minutes or so, I'd completely abandoned that other task in favour of watching this. Richard Harris is perfection as King Arthur. Far more than Richard Burton, I believe this Arthur grew up as a boy called Wart and that he is now rather uneasy in his crown, burdened by the knowledge that the "right" future is waiting for him, but Merlin is no longer around to tell him what it is. Meg Bussert brings a naivety and gleeful frivolity to Guenevere that helps me understand both why she falls in love with Arthur's idealism and Lancelot's knightly presence, and then beautifully shows how Jenny matures over time. Our Lancelot, Richard Muenz, balances the comedically boastful parts of Lancelot's personality with an earnestness that makes it obvious why Arthur likes him. In short, they are a perfect triangle.

Lerner's book is witty, both comedic and gloriously dramatic, with elegantly drawn parallels tying together the beginning and end of the play. I also love the direction of this production: the "fairy tale theatre" vibes of the set and costumes, plus some excellent blocking for the TV recording. The songs are charming enough, with "I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight?" "Camelot," and "Guenevere" standing out as favourites.

I think the common wisdom regarding Camelot—that Richard Burton and Julie Andrews are unsurpassable as Arthur and Guenevere and that the music is stronger than the book—is completely wrong. For my taste, at least, this is the definitive Camelot. By no means perfect, but far, far better than anything I've seen come before or since.

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed poster

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

movie night with E

Director: Raja Gosnell
Writers: James Gunn, characters by William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Stars: Freddie Prinze Jr, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini

I don't care what the reviews say. this is an entertaining romp, and I actually like it better than the first one. so there.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show poster

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

movie night with E

Director: Jim Sharman
Writers: Richard O'Brien, Jim Sharman
Stars: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick

"I definitely thought there was going to be more context for 'Time Warp' but no, they just launch right into it." —E.

Swing Kids poster

Swing Kids (1993)

Director: Thomas Carter
Writers: Jonathan Marc Feldman
Stars: Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale

Swing Kids feels like exactly what it is—the story of pre-WWII Germany, as told through the eyes of teen boys, run through the Disney production machine—but it is also legitimate tear-jerker and a good look at how propaganda functions. our young leads are excellent, as is Kenneth Branaugh, who went uncredited (for reasons unclear).


Macbeth PBS poster

Macbeth (2010)

Director: Rupert Goold
Writers: play by William Shakespeare
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Kate Fleetwood

truly terrifying in certain places.

Twelfth Night poster

Twelfth Night (1996)

Director: Trevor Nunn
Writers: Trevor Nunn, play by William Shakespeare
Stars: Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham Carter

awwww I liked this so much. I had never seen Twelfth Night before (unless She's the Man counts), so I came to the story fresh. Imogen Stubbs is brilliant here. Not a lot of plot, but enough to go on when you've got good performances.

The Sword in the Stone poster

The Sword in the Stone (1963)

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Writers: Bill Peet, based on the book by T.H. White
Stars: Rickie Sorensen/Richard Reitherman/Robert Reitherman, Karl Swenson

can we please bring back whimsy? can we please make films that inspire mirth in the audience?? such a delight. hadn't seen this one since childhood, but Merlin's packing sequence was seared onto my brain, apparently, because I remembered it clearly. this may not be the best that Disney has to offer, but it's hard not to love it.

obviously my interest in Camelot brought me to this. in learning more about T.H. White's books, I discovered that The Sword in the Stone went through significant rewrites when it later became part of The Once and Future King. Madam Mim in the Disney film hails from the original version of the story. will I get around to reading the book someday? mayyyyyybe

The Bear FX series poster

The Bear seasons one & two (2022-23)

Creator: Christopher Storer
Stars: Jeremy Allen White, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri

this show STRESSES me out, and that's a compliment.

Sharp Objects HBO series poster

Sharp Objects (2018)

Creator: Marti Noxon
Stars: Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Eliza Scanlen

whyyyyy did I decide to watch this and The Bear at the same time?? truly excellent. check the content warnings.


Barbie poster

Barbie (2023)

seen in theatres with AP

Director: Greta Gerwig
Writers: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
Stars: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrara

*waves* hi, Barbie! not since Speed Racer have I had so much fun. the way I see it, this is a fanciful, fantastical, big-hearted film, and its chosen sandbox is one corner of our current mainstream conversation about feminism. I think I took it just seriously enough and had a blast.


Wonder Woman 1984 poster

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Director: Patty Jenkins
Writers: Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham
Stars: Gal Godot, Chris Pine

rarely does a movie match my expectations exactly, but wow, I got exactly what I wanted out of this: more Diana/Steve sweetness and drama, fun 80s setting, ridiculous villains, and just enough plot to hold the thing together. thumbs up from me on account of this feeling more like entertaining fanfiction than a big, exhausting Hollywood superhero film.

The Song of Lunch poster

The Song of Lunch (2010)

Director: Niall MacCormick
Writers: Christopher Reid (poem)
Stars: Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson

here's a treat: a television adaptation of Christopher Reid's poem The Song of Lunch to celebration National Poetry Day. we all know that Alan and Emma make a stunning, heartbreaking pair. if you think you don't like poetry, maybe you'll make an exception for this :)

Wimbledon poster

Wimbledon (2004)

Director: Richard Loncraine
Writers: Adam Brooks, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Stars: Paul Bettany, Kirsten Dunst

uh, yeah, I watched Wimbledon again. pretty sure I watched it earlier this year, or maybe last year, and forgot to log it. I've seen this film a lot.

I don't know what to tell you! it's one of my favourites!! it's got a fabulous soundtrack, obvs I'll watch anything Kirsten is in, and I think Paul Bettany makes a wonderful leading man. if you liked him in WandaVision, maybe try this?? I feel like no one has seen this movie and there is something about early-2000s romcoms that makes them the perfect, easy comfort-watch.


Tár poster

Tár (2022)

Director: Todd Field
Writer: Todd Field
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant

slow-paced, indulgently-long character study? sign me up!


Our Flag Means Death Season 2 poster

Our Flag Means Death, season 2 (2023)

Creator: David Jenkins
Stars: Rhys Darby, Taika Waititi

when we say we want our fiction to feel like fanfiction, this is what we are talking about!!

Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge poster

Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge (2001)

halloween with E

Director: Mary Lambert
Writer: Jon Cooksey, Ali Matheson
Stars: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown

honestly a toss-up between whether the original Halloweentown or the sequel is better. and btw, Marnie and Kal are engaged now (to be married in 2024) 💖

Bedknobs and Broomsticks poster

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

halloween with E

Director: Mary Lambert
Writer: Bill Walsh, Don DaGradi, based on The Magic Bedknob & Bonfires and Broomstick by Mary Norton
Stars: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson

classic. in my childhood there was this, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang—the magical musical trilogy. it's probably the weakest of the three, but charming nevertheless. Angela Lansbury is marvelous, and the museum artifacts going to battle at the end of the film remains an impressive practical effects sequence.


Time Bandits poster

Time Bandits (1981)

movie night with E

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin
Stars: Craig Warnock, David Rappaport

I'd seen this one before; E hadn't. I liked it more upon second viewing. this time around, I had a new appreciation for David Warner's performance (god, I love that guy) and for the flow of the story overall. I also recognized more actors than I did when I was a teenager and knew no one! what a delight realize just how many names pop up: Sean Connery, Ian Holm, Shelley Duvall, obviously the Pythons Palin and Cleese.

some movies explain themselves to you; Gilliam's don't. I find this less disorienting the more of his work I view.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest poster

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

Director: Gore Verbinski
Writers: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

when you put on a Pirates movie thinking "ooh the one with Davie Jones is good, innit?" and forget that it does not resolve but instead sets up the third movie—

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End poster

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

Director: Gore Verbinski
Writers: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

—so you have to watch the third movie to get some heckin' resolution and enjoy Barbossa being back!!

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials poster

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials: "The Star Beast," "Wild Blue Yonder," "The Giggle" (2023)

Directors: Rachel Talalay, Tom Kingsley, Chanya Button
Head writer: Russell T Davies
Stars: David Tennant, Catherine Tate

fun, family sci-fi! horrific, extistentially terrifying sci-fi! now combine them and add a little bit of Spice!

The Abyss: Special Edition poster

The Abyss: Special Edition (1989)

Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron
Stars: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

masterful. gotta watch the special edition, or the film doesn't resolve properly!!


It's a Wonderful Life poster

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

movie night with E

Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, additional scenes by Jo Swerling, based on "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern
Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed

oh boy, did I ever sob. hadn't seen this in years, but it walloped me. the first half of this film is one of the all-time classic romances, and the latter half is a series of emotional gut-punches.

George Bailey. weren't we lucky to have you.

Pretty Woman poster

Pretty Woman (1990)

Director: Garry Marshall
Writers: J.F. Lawton
Stars: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts

sometimes, you get magic.

Pure poster

Pure (2019 TV series)

Directors: Aneil Karia, Alicia Macdonald
Writers: Kirstie Swain, book by Rose Cartwright
Stars: Charly Clive, Joe Cole

see folks, you can make a funny show about mental illness. a surprising little gem that I found while browsing Kanopy.

A Charlie Brown Christmas poster

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

family movie night

Director: Bill Melendez
Writers: Charles M. Schulz
Stars: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea

dad loves Charlie Brown.

Jack Frost poster

Jack Frost (1979)

family movie night

Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Writers: Romeo Muller
Stars: Buddy Hackett, Robert Morse, Paul Frees

a lesser-seen Rankin/Bass, at least in my house. much charm! some questionable moments...

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa poster

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008)

family movie night

Director: Kirk R. Thatcher
Writers: Hugh Fink, Scott Ganz, Andrew Samson, Paul Williams
Stars: Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz

it's the muppets. it's christmas. there are celebrity cameos. woohoo!

The Man Who Came to Dinner poster

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941)

Director: William Keighley
Writers: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, stage play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Stars: Bette Davis, Monty Woolley

The Church on Ruby Road poster

Doctor Who Christmas Special: "The Church on Ruby Road" (2023)

christmas night with E

Director: Mark Tonderai
Writer: Russell T Davies
Stars: Ncuti Gatwa, Millie Gibson

can't believe that E asked to watch this with me! an optimistic beginning to what I hope will be another great run in the show's history. Ncuti has undeniable charm. I saw echoes of many former incarnations in his Doctor. running along the rooftops chastising Ruby was a classic Doctor moment. I glimpsed perhaps a touch of dear Sixie as he learned the language of luck and of ropes? and happily, there are seeds of mystery scattered here, which I hope will grow into intrigue throughout the season...

Singin' in the Rain poster

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

movie night with G

Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Writers: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Stars: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds

he'd never seen this! had to show him a classic!!

Hello, Dolly! poster

Hello, Dolly! (1969)

movie night with G

Director: Gene Kelly
Writers: Ernest Lehman, musical book by Michael Stewart
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau

my hot take is that Barbra Streisand is only miscast insofar as she is several decades too young. she is otherwise perfect in the role of the lovingly meddlesome Dolly Levi. love it or hate it (and I love it!!) this is one of the last movie musicals of its kind—extravagant and fun, buoyed by charming songs and performances, and unafraid to play to the back of the house.