“30 for 30” Chasing Tyson (2015; d. Steve Cantor)
I love the 30 for 30 series on ESPN but had never seen this one, the story of Evander Holyfield’s pursuit of Mike Tyson. I’ve got a Tyson thing. I loved James Toback’s movie. The only time I went to the David Letterman Show at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, Evander Holyfield was the guest. It was right after the curious incident of the ear-chomping. “Chasing Tyson” is really a portrait of Evander Holyfield, whose clear talent as a boxer, was always being measured against Tyson, so that the popular belief was that he wasn’t REALLY a champion, even when he won things fair and square. Tyson, as always, is a compelling figure for the camera.
The Sorrow and the Pity (1972; d. Marcel Ophüls)
I had never seen this 4-hour long documentary about the French resistance (or so-called resistance) during WWII. The interviews are so compelling you forget the length. When you listen to the people describe why they did what they did during the Vichy years, the complexity increases. Nothing is clear or black-and-white. People want to make themselves look good, too. So there is some unreliable narration going on. Incredibly riveting film.
While We’re Young (2014; d. Noah Baumbach)
I enjoyed it … somewhat, but something was off. Maybe it felt self-congratulatory. Or maybe it was defeatist, too. A middle-aged man settling into his own mediocrity. And maybe that’s the story. But something was “off.” Very good acting across the board.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 12, “About a Boy” (2015; d. Serge Ladouceur)
Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 11, “LARP and the Real Girl” (2013; d. Jeannot Szwarc)
Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 20, “Pac-Man Fever” (2013; d. Robert Singer)
A mini-masterpiece. I weep every time. And every time I watch, I feel I need to learn the lesson, which is woven into the story so elegantly (thank you, Robbie Thompson). What would happen if I just …. stopped playing the game? When she says, “See? You can’t stop either.” she could be talking to me.
The Conformist (1970; d. Bernardo Bertolucci)
I love this movie. I first saw it at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago and it really should be seen on the big screen, true of all of Bertolucci’s films.
The Face of Another (1967; d. Hiroshi Teshigahara)
My God, what a brilliant and disturbing film. Reminiscent of Joan Crawford in A Woman’s Face, where her appearance is transformed by plastic surgery … and also Dark Passage, with Humphrey Bogart in a similar position … but also monster-movies, where through the wonders of “science” monsters are created … The Face of Another features a frighteningly brilliant performance from Tatsuya Nakadai as the man with a disfigured fave who is given a lifelike mask by what amounts to a mad scientist (the mad scientist’s lab is genius in conception). The mask starts changing who the man is. He can’t control it. Nakadai’s performance is so revelatory because even though he, the actor, is not wearing a mask (we are meant to understand that his actual face IS the mask, that the character looked very different from this) – we BELIEVE that that is a mask. We BELIEVE that that face doesn’t quite “fit” him. This is all because of his acting. He’s the one who had to be in charge of that. No tricks. Unforgettable performance and film.
The Vow (2012; d. Michael Sucsy)
Everyone needs to have a little Channing Tatum in their lives on a semi-regular basis, and I am just counting the days until Hail, Caesar comes out.
A Very Murray Christmas (2015; d. Sofia Coppola)
The whole thing feels like a miracle to me. An homage to “Christmas specials” of days gone by, where a star – like Cher – or Dean Martin – sang songs, had guest stars, there were cheesy sets and little-Santa-elf Rockette dancers and it was all pleasing and silly and innocent. We don’t really go for “pleasing and silly and innocent” anymore. It’s our loss. Because it’s Bill Murray’s Christmas special, there’s that strain of sour melancholy in it … but I loved the conception (everyone trapped in a hotel during a blizzard), and when finally the actual Christmas special starts (near the end), and George Clooney and Miley Cyrus are swept onto the sound-stage in a little fake sleigh … I thought my heart would burst from the pleasure.
Like Someone in Love (2013; d. Abbas Kiarostami)
I had missed this one from Iranian art-house master Abbas Kiarostami. I had loved Certified Copy so much and had been looking forward to Like Someone in Love, especially when “word on the street” was that it was filmed in Tokyo with Japanese actors. The film features the classic staples of Kiarostami’s style (lots of people driving in cars, with reflections sweeping across the windows), and lots of “set-piece” scenes, where two people have a conversation before moving on. I was incredibly moved by the film, and I am so thankful to my friend Steve Boone for his Rogerebert.com review of it. Now THAT is film criticism. If I were in charge of the world, that piece would be anthologized.
Night and the City (1950; d. Jules Dassin)
It’s a nest of vipers. Everyone on the make. A classic femme fatale wouldn’t have a chance in this environment, because everyone is rotten to the core. Great atmosphere, great setting, great performances. Richard Widmark in high manic desperate mode.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 8, “Just My Imagination” (2015; d. Richard Speight Jr.)
Loved it. When air-guitar-guy hears the news of his dead girlfriend, and cries out, “SHE WAS MY GIRL” … it makes me love actors so much that I don’t know what to do with myself. He GOES for it. That was REAL. (And because it was so real, that’s why it’s funny.)
Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 1, “Ladies Night” (2015; d. S.J. Clarkson)
I decided, what the hell, let me check this out. I got sucked in instantly. I LOVE her. I love Carrie Moss. (I also love Carrie Moss’ girlfriend whom Supernatural fans will recognize as the “chastity counselor” Dean banged in Season 9.) I love its interest in how trauma operates, what it can look like (and it ain’t pretty.) I can see why it’s being criticized for its racial issues (especially in the character of the drug-addict-next-door), and maybe it can course-correct. But so far, I love it.
Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 2, “Crush Syndrome” (2015; d. S.J. Clarkson)
I also love how so much of it appears to be shot on location in New York. It gives it a gritty grubby vibe (it’s not Times Square New York, it’s East Village New York).
Criss Cross (1949; d. Robert Siodmak)
Burt Lancaster, Yvonne deCarlo and Dan Duryea. What more do you want out of life.
Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 3, “It’s Called Whiskey” (2015; d. David Petrarca)
Jessica and Luke hook up. They bang ferociously, and she knocks her head on the headboard. He stops, and says he’s sorry. She scoffs, “I won’t break” and he says, “Yes. You will.” And goes gentler after that, moving her down a little bit so her head won’t bump against the headboard anymore. I haven’t stopped thinking about that moment. Because I say to people all the time variations of, “I won’t break.” But then I do. Or, if I don’t, then it is still POSSIBLE that I will break. I am not an unbreakable person: no one is. So maybe I need to stop saying that. This is why I say the show is so so smart about trauma. It makes you say stupid un-true shit to protect yourself.
Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 4, “99 Friends” (2015; d. David Petrarca)
I also LOVE Rachael Taylor. Plus, the look/feel/mood of the show.
Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 5, “The Sandwich Saved Me” (2015; d. Stephen Surjik)
And help me, now I am deeply DEEPLY in love with Wil Traval.
The Big Short (2015; d. Adam McKay)
I went to a SAG Foundation screening. I hadn’t seen it on the big screen. There was a QA afterwards with two of the actors, Adepero Oduye and John Magaro. Because it was a SAG event, the focus was on the acting (the audition process, the filming process), and the two were both so charming and smart. One question was what job gave them their SAG card. Oduye told a funny story about playing every black-woman-stereotype on a Law & Order SVU – “You know, she was a crackhead, unwed mother, in prison … and I LOVED playing it and I will always LOVE that role because I got into SAG with it.” They were both wonderful.
Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976; d. Paul Mazursky)
I had forgotten how much I love this movie.
Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 6, “You’re a Winner!” (2015; d. Stephen Surjik)
I’m in it for the long haul now.
Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 19, “Folsom Prison Blues” (2007; d. Mike Rohl)
A re-watch for what became an epic re-cap with an even more epic comments section (237 comments and counting.)
Sense and Sensibility (1995; d. Ang Lee)
Popped it in the day I heard about Alan Rickman’s death. I had spent the day writing the tribute for Rogerebert.com, and couldn’t let it go.
Pitch Perfect (2012; d. Jason Moore)
I adore this movie.
Room (2015; d. Lenny Abrahamson)
Watched with Jen and her Mum. They had never seen it before. Jen’s mother is a social worker, so we had an amazing discussion afterwards.
Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 20, “What Is and What Should Never Be” (2007; d. Eric Kripke)
In preparation for the next re-cap, which I’m just not sure when it will happen. But one of my favorite episodes in the entire history of the series.
Rams (2015; d. Grímur Hákonarson)
Incredible film. Discussed it here.
Used Cars (1980; d. Robert Zemeckis).
A brutal ruthless comedy that has the courage of its sleazy convictions. I reviewed here.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 1, “Sympathy for the Devil” (2009; d. Robert Singer)
I’m not sure what prompted the grand binge-watch festival that was January. I’m sure it was some mixture of malaise, bad weather, and procrastination. I’m starting up at the NY Times again, part-time, but that won’t start till February. Maybe I’m just living it up while I can.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 2, “Good God Y’All” (2009; d. Philip Sgriccia)
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 3, “Free to Be You and Me” (2009; d. J. Miller Tobin)
Wow, a lot has changed.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 4, “The End” (2009; d. Steve Boyum)
One of my favorite episodes in the series.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 5, “Fallen Idols” (2009; d. James L. Conway)
“Four score and seven years ago ….. I wore a funny hat.” And all of those legends about Jimmy Dean’s car: all true. There is something weird about the history of that car.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 6, “I Believe the Children Are Our Future” (2009; d. Charles Beeson)
That little child kills me.
Naz & Maalik (2015; d. Jay Dockendorf)
A movie about two gay Muslim Brooklyn kids. Reviewed for Rogerebert.com.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 7, “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester” (2009; d. Robert Singer)
“Listen, Sam, when you get to be our age …” Lol.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 8, “Changing Channels” (2009; d. Charles Beeson)
Classic, not only in Supernatural-world, but in all of television history.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 9, “The Real Ghostbusters” (2009; d. James L. Conway)
I know some fans appear to feel that “Becky” is “making fun” of them. Well, if the shoe fits … But, in general, the episode is a celebration of the fans who thrill to this story and these characters. And I miss Chuck.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 10, “Abandon All Hope” (2009; d. Philip Sgriccia)
Devastating. The way the “reapers” are shown standing silent through the street is just one example of how inventive the show used to be with portraying angels/demons. It’s so simply done, and so creepy. More of that, please, less Boy-Band-Rejects wearing suits and presenting Power Point lectures.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 11, “Sam Interrupted” (2009; d. James L. Conway)
No matter how hard I try, I find this episode personally upsetting. There are so many moments I love but I think the one that is most jarring is Sam fighting off the orderlies and then you see that no one is there. It’s terrifying.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 12, “Swap Meat” (2009; d. Robert Singer)
Poor Sam in that hoodie. And being allergic to gluten.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 13, “The Song Remains the Same” (2010; d. Steve Boyum)
I had forgotten how inventive Season 5 was. Maybe the most inventive in terms of its overall Arc. The vessels, Michael and Lucifer circling, saying Yes, what that will lead to, and etc. Very intricate, very well-conceived.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 14, “My Bloody Valentine” (2010; d. Mike Rohl)
I love when Dean looks at Cas, as Cupid is hugging Sam, and asks, “Are we fighting? Is this a fight?”
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 15, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” (2010; d. John F. Showalter)
Welcome, Kim Rhodes! I love it when Bobby is given real backstory-episodes. The more you learn about him, the more tragic it is, and the more heroic he seems.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 17, “99 Problems” (2010; d. Charles Beeson)
Very creepy episode about humanity’s Jacobin/Robespierre-ian tendencies.
The 5th Wave (2016; d. J. Blakeson)
A not good film based on a very good book. My review.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 18, “Point of No Return” (2010; d. Charles Beeson)
“Your brother Adam. He’s in the cage. In Hell. With Lucifer.” Thanks for the reminder, adorable stage manager.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 19, “Hammer of the Gods” (2010; d. Rick Bota)
Yes, the ancient deities are a campy bore. But there are a lot of funny individual moments in this episode. I enjoy it.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 20, “The Devil You Know” (2010; d. Robert Singer)
The “entrance” of Death is the best thing the show has ever done. Period.
Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 21, “Swan Song” (2010; d. Steve Boyum)
The framing of the whole thing with the history of the Impala is so emotional.
Supernatural, Season 6 (except for “Clap Your Hands” and “French Mistake,” which I watch all the time.) The Arc is just as good as I remembered, although wiping Lisa and Ben’s memories still seems like it puts them at such risk. Like: they’re still in danger but now … they won’t know why. And how will they conceive of the fact that they lost a year of their lives? It’s dreadfully sad, the way it’s played, and Dean is a WRECK. He’s a wreck whenever he has to deal with them, he feels so guilty and protective and trapped and lost … It’s a new side of Dean. The worry he feels there doesn’t look like the worry he feels for Sam. It’s a different context, and it sort of drives home the point that normal relationships, and normal intimacy, is impossible with the hunter life.
Supernatural, Season 7 (except for “The Mentalists” – which, again, is a favorite and I watch all the time). Season 7 was not my favorite on first viewing. I didn’t find the Leviathan scary (maybe because the whole season is about what the Leviathans are PLANNING to do to human beings. They never actually start the Final Solution. Maybe there would have been more stress if we had actually seen human beings driven into feeding pens en masse, etc.) But the season not only held up better, as a whole, than I remembered, I saw a lot of new things, fresh things. It also doesn’t look as “bad” as I remembered. The main problem, as I see it, is in JAs and JPs skin-tones. Suddenly they are pink and fleshy, or (worse) orange. When they should be pale, or brown, freckled and flush. They had forgotten how to light these guys, and so they put on the makeup so they could light them both the same way. That’s the main issue. Plus, Season 7 brings us both Charlie and Garth. And Kevin, too.
Supernatural, Season 8 (except for “Man’s Best Friends with Benefits,” because I just can’t.)
Season 8 is also quite wonderful and unique. Not that I didn’t remember that, but I hadn’t watched the whole thing in succession since my first time through. I have my favorite episodes, but it’s good to put it all together and see how it hangs together. In a way, it feels like Season 8 is just one long preamble for Season 9, which focused mainly on the brothers’ relationship. The “trials” and Dean’s protection of Sam, and etc. etc. was the spark that lit the match that then exploded in Season 9. Also, Season 8 gives JA a chance to say, with dead seriousness, “What’s up, Doc?” And I almost explode with gratification that that exists now.
Season 9 (First three episodes, so far.)
I love so much the malaise and dread and interior-twistiness of season 9. They’re in their 30s now, and Season 9 feels like a very “adult” season. If Sam, in the first season, still seemed like a kid trying to come out from under the shadow of his big brother … now he’s a grown man, and he’s HAD IT. Such a destabilizing season.
Tumbledown (2014; d. Sean Mewshaw)
It opens this Friday. I’ll be reviewing for Rogerebert.com.