August 2016 Viewing Diary

My viewing this month was mostly work-related, so the viewing diary is uncharacteristically short. A lot of these I watched multiple times, for research, etc. And I’ve been ill, too, this summer. I just had no concentration outside of the stuff I had to watch for work and all of these gigantic pieces I’ve been writing, a couple more coming up in September. All fun stuff! So here’s what I saw this month.

The Big Short (2015; d. Adam McKay)
I was so busy that I just wanted to watch something I had already seen so I didn’t have to do any work. Or even pay attention.

Rust and Bone (2012; d. Jacques Audiard)
OB-VI-OUS-LY. It was super fun to work on that though. One paragraph a day. For two months. Been wanting to write something along those lines about that movie forever.

The Seven Five (2014; d. Tiller Russell)
Saw this one with Allison at her apartment. We save things up to show each other. This was her #1. This documentary – about the dirtiest of all dirty New York cops – is unbelievable because everybody was interviewed, including the dirty cop. Amazing footage. Crazy story. I actually remember all of that going down.

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 8 “Hibbing 911” (2014; d. Tim Andrew)
See my note to The Big Short. My brain just could not handle too much this past month. I love this episode. Offscreen voice: “SAVE YOU A SEAT, JODES.” Can’t take it.

Sudden Fear (1952; d. David Miller)
Had so much fun writing this piece about Joan Crawford’s amazing performance in Sudden Fear for Rogerebert.com.

Don’t Think Twice (2016; d. Mike Birbiglia)
I reviewed for Ebert. Loved it. I actually saw it twice this month. If Allison wanted to show me The Seven Five, then I wanted to show her Don’t Think Twice. We went to Boston to see Mike Birbiglia’s standup show. I love him.

Bullhead (2011; d. Michael R. Roskam)
I was reviewing the work of Matthias Schoenaerts this month because I was reviewing his latest, Disorder, and I just wanted to get a sense of his career. I’ve seen him in a bunch but I sort of turned my laser focus on him to try to figure him out. Which then led to the Rust and Bone extravaganza (my first introduction to him back when it first came out). I wrote about Bullhead here. Such an upsetting movie. It haunted me for days.

Pope of Greenwich Village (1984; d. Stuart Rosenberg)
It was so fun to re-visit this. I was participating in Nathaniel Rogers’ annual Oscar Smackdown Series. Category: Best Supporting Actress, 1984. It was a blast. I have extremely intense feelings about Mickey Rourke, and this piece I wrote in 2008 for Slant – Gone Away, Come Back: Mickey Rourke – is really the first film piece I wrote that got really wide attention. It was everywhere. IMDB linked to it on their main page. I’m very proud of that piece.

Hope Springs (2012; d. David Frankel)
See my comments about Big Short and “Hibbing 911.”

Sausage Party (2016; d. Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan)
Went with Michele. It was so funny, so stupid, so offensive (and so offensive towards every different group of people on the planet – ethnicities, races, sexualities, religions – that I actually got offended that the Irish were left out of it … until … the potato with the brogue showed up. Finally, my people got to be lampooned as well), and super super dumb. Like, everyone was so stoned when came up with the idea.

The Drop (2014; d. Michael R. Roskam)
More of the Matthias Schoenaerts research. I saw that movie in the theatre and loved it. Jim Gandolfini’s last film.

Disorder (2016; d. Alice Winocour)
Up there with one of my favorite movies this year. Matthias Schoenaerts again. God, he’s good. I reviewed for Ebert.com.

A Passage to India (1984; d. David Lean)
Another re-watch for the Oscar smackdown! I had forgotten how bizarre much of it was, and it makes me want to read the book again. Peggy Ashcroft won the Oscar.

In Order of Disappearance (2016; d. Hans Petter Moland)
Didn’t really care for it. I reviewed for Ebert.

Spa Night (2016; d. Andrew Ahn)
I have seen a lot of REALLY strong features this year by first-time directors and this is one of them. Reviewed for Ebert.

The Natural (1984; d. Barry Levinson)
A re-watch for the Smackdown series. What a crock. Redford is literally 30 years older than the character he is playing. He also is never believable in his pitcher’s windup. People have such fond feelings for this movie. I never did. I love baseball movies. Not this one.

Places in the Heart (1984; d. Robert Benton)
Watched for the Smackdown. I am not sure about the infidelity sub-plot. Feels like way too much, too much shoehorned in. Danny Glover is lovely. The final scene …. hm. Not sure about it.

Sudden Fear (1952; d. David Miller)
Ted and I went to go see it during its run at the Film Forum. I had never seen it on the big screen (it’s overwhelming) or with anybody else, for that matter. I am hesitant sometimes to go see old movies at the Film Forum because, in general, the audiences who show up there are gigantic assholes, who treat old movies like they’re all “campy,” or glorified Mystery Science Theatre experiences. It disgusts me, the superiority: “Thank God we are so more enlightened now than those poor people 50 years ago. Look at all the sexist language! Teehee. Look at the overwrought acting. Isn’t it so campy …” The audience there has ruined movie experiences for me. But Sudden Fear played like a bat out of hell. It was an exhilarating experience. And Ted had never seen it, which was even more fun.

Swing Shift (1984; d. Jonathan Demme)
For the Smackdown. So entertaining.

The More the Merrier (1941; d. George Stevens)
My brother and my nephew stayed with me for a couple of days, and it was emotional and overwhelming, with some stress involved, etc. We came home after a long day out in the city and said, “Should we watch a movie?” They both wanted to. We stood staring at my shelves of movies for about 10 minutes, and there was too much to choose from. I asked my nephew, “What do you feel like?” He said, “Something light.” The More the Merrier came to mind. I love this movie so much and it makes me laugh out loud every time, and it’s silly and ridiculous and also very touching. So I suggested that one and we watched it and it was the perfect choice. At one point I looked over at my brother and nephew, and they were both rocking back and forth with laughter, and my 18-year-old nephew was wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. GO, GEORGE STEVENS.

War Dogs (2016; d. Todd Phillips)
My nephew and I saw this one together. We are movie-buff-buddies, so we had a good time dissecting what exactly was wrong with it at the diner later. We were in agreement on many of those flaws. Despite the flaws, we did enjoy it.

White Girl (2016; d. Elizabeth Wood)
I reviewed for Rogerebert.com. It opened yesterday.

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20 Responses to August 2016 Viewing Diary

  1. mutecypher says:

    The Natural.

    If only they’d waited a few years to make it with Keanu.

    Or made it a few years earlier with Jeff Bridges.

    • mutecypher says:

      Speaking of Mickey Rourke, the Cinerama in Seattle is having a 70mm film festival and they’re showing Year of the Dragon as the last movie. I am so looking forward to that. In addition to Mr. Rourke, I recall John Lone as just incandescent.

    • sheila says:

      I don’t think anyone could have saved it. Ugh, it’s awful. And this childhood sweetheart who (is 28 years old in real life, first of all) doesn’t tell him he impregnated her because … why exactly? so that he can chase his dream? and then she never ever has a bad feeling about it? Just sits around being supportive from afar?

      I actually was surprised at just how stupid it is. I mean, I saw it in the theatre but I was a kid, and it didn’t really impress me one way or the other.

      Bad News Bears … now THAT’S a baseball movie.

    • sheila says:

      I love Year of the Dragon! That’ll be so fun!

      Rourke is just so riveting. That “it” thing. And boy is it strong in Greenwich Village. I love the movie.

  2. carolyn clarke says:

    Just read the interview with Mike O’Malley on Vulture website. I didn’t realize until I double checked on IMDB that he was the gentleman who played one of my favorite villains on Justified, Nicky Augustine. That character, at least the way he played him was so real and so frightening and so (in a weird sort of way) honorable because he was so consistent in his evilness. Loved him.

    I’m afraid I’m not familiar with his comedic work and I’m still undecided about Survivor’s Remorse but I wholly agree with his comments that good writers can write for anybody. Humans aren’t really that complicated, but sometimes the processes are different depending on culture and time. It was a really good interview.

    • sheila says:

      Carolyn – yes, Nicky Augustine! Ha! He was so great in that. So sinister – it was fun, because normally he has played funny roles – or kind good guys like the father on Glee. Nicky Augustine was a total change for him – it was awesome.

      We’re all real proud of him. I agree: really good in-depth interview. He’s such a good human. Love him.

  3. Myrtle says:

    This has happened so many times, it amuses me- I’ll check out something random and the next morning you write a post about it. I randomlyended up watching the witness protection episode of Justified last night, mostly because I had an urge to watch Nicky Augustive be snarky about Boyd and Raylan
    “We dug coal together.”
    “They dug coal together.”
    God I love that show. Those writers have such a love of language.

  4. Helena says:

    I love the image of your brother and nephew rocking with laughter to The More The Merrier!

    • sheila says:

      I know!! It made me so happy.

      and you know that crazy wailing exhilarated sound she makes in the very final moment – where she notices the wall has been taken down – and she’s going to get what she wants which is him? We all were DYING – and later that night, my brother and my nephew (father and son) were getting ready for bed in the other room, and I heard them both making that sound, and roaring with laughter.

      • Helena says:

        That’s hilarious. They really enjoyed it, then!

        • sheila says:

          It went over far better than I could have hoped.

          Nephew had asked for something to lighten the somewhat stressful mood (we were helping him move into college for his freshman year!) – and I was very happy that my instincts were right on!

  5. Todd Restler says:

    I love The Seven-Five. I mentioned it to you a while ago so I’m glad you finally saw it.

    What’s amazing to me is the sense I get that there is absolutely ZERO regret from Michael Dowd. He seems to be rather proud of the whole thing. And Adam Diaz sure is interesting. Maybe crime does pay after all. And it was FUNNY.

    “I thought it could still work. I mean not every flower delivery is a kidnapping-murder scheme, you know?” – Michael Dowd

    “Welcome to the fuck” – Kenny Eurell

    “Money….always feels good” – Dori Eurell

    I find the whole thing mesmerizing. I love corruption stories, this is one of my recent favorites.

    • sheila says:

      Todd – ha, see here’s the thing – you recommend so many good things and then I forget that you did the recommending. Totally my bad.

      The whole thing was fascinating – and yes, ZERO regret, or even awareness of how horrible he was. Very proud!

      and his poor partner – who knew it all was wrong – but got sucked into it. He was the perfect “mark” for a sociopath like Dowd. How about Dowd basically admitting that he had to get the “right” kind of partner – who would look the other way, or – even better – participate.

      // “I thought it could still work. I mean not every flower delivery is a kidnapping-murder scheme, you know?” //

      hahaha

      All of the interviews were fascinating – especially Dowd’s break-in crew. Now those are some old-school New Yorkers. Yes, criminals, but still.

  6. Todd Restler says:

    Ha, no worries, I don’t need you to credit me with the rec! Just glad you saw it.

    I can’t think of a documentary film about criminals with as many interviews with the actual participants. Yeah, his crew was something else.

    Of course Hollywood will make a fictional version of this, but really, why bother?

    Adam Diaz and Michael Dowd just came out with a line of cigars called The Seven Five by the way. I feel like a reality show featuring Dowd right now would be as interesting as anything else on TV.

    The other movie I recommended at the same time as The Seven Five was Maidentrip, a documentary about a completely different kind of person, the youngest female to solo sail around the world. It was awesome and life affirming and is a good tonic to wash off the stench of The Seven Five. I believe still currently streaming on Netflix.

    • sheila says:

      // Of course Hollywood will make a fictional version of this, but really, why bother? //

      I mean, the dirty cop thing is a Hollywood staple! Indeed: why bother.

      The next doc I am so excited about it’s almost ridiculous is the Amanda Knox one – premiering on Netflix on September 30 – what is most amazing about it is that the Italian prosecutor actually agreed to be interviewed. ?? There was a great Vanity Fair story about the making of the documentary, and that got me really really excited that this will have a little bit more depth and complexity than a Dateline episode.

  7. Paula says:

    Ahhhhh, The Natural. It’s so funny to read this after I just watched it a few days ago. I was one of those with fond memories of this movie from when it first came out. My husband and I forced our son to watch it with us. He was asking all the same questions (why isn’t Glenn Close angry? why does he like Kim Basinger, because no, you don’t like needy psychos – which I hope he remembers in a few years). So yeah, that firm doesn’t get better with age. Still trying to figure out why this appealed tone in the first place.

    • Paula says:

      *film not firm

    • sheila says:

      // why isn’t Glenn Close angry? //

      hahahaha THAT is the question.

      // why does he like Kim Basinger, because no, you don’t like needy psychos – which I hope he remembers in a few years //

      ha! Stay strong, kid!!

      I think it really tapped into Nostalgia – for a simpler time, childhood, baseball – all of those things. There are people who count it as one of their favorites – and who am I to say they’re wrong!

      But Robert Redford is 48 years old and he’s playing an 18, 19 year old in those first couple of scenes. Who thought this was a good idea!!!??

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