Two Days, One Night (2014; Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne). My friend Dan referred to the movie as a “Sunday school lesson” and, you know, I can see his point. But I found it absolutely riveting, one of the best portraits of depression, that’s for sure, that I’ve ever seen. I wrote about Marion Cotillard’s Oscar-nominated performance here. I was wiped OUT at the end of Two Days, One Night. I needed a nap.
Calvary (2014; John Michael McDonagh). Brendan Gleeson won Best Actor in the British Independent Film Awards. I thought he should have been nominated for an Oscar. The rest of the cast is excellent, too.
Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 13, “Houses of the Holy” (2007; Kim Manners). Re-watched in preparation for the re-cap, which is still pending. You know. February. I was kinda busy.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 1, “Lazarus Rising” (2008; Kim Manners). Watched in tandem with “Houses of the Holy,” due to the angel connection.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 2, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester” (2008; Phil Sgriccia). Again, connecting it to “Houses of the Holy.”
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 4, “Metamorphosis” (2008; Kim Manners). Along with the angel thing, started with “Houses of the Holy,” I was also interested in Season 4 because they started with the famed Red camera in Season 4 (and only used it until Season 6). There’s a reason why there was such a sharp drop-off of image quality in Season 7 when they went digital. But boy, Season 4 is absolutely cinematic: that camera is incredible.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 5, “Monster Movie” (2008; Robert Singer). One of my favorite episodes in the whole series.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 6, “Yellow Fever” (2008; Phil Sgriccia). Ditto.
John Wick (2014; Chad Stahelski, David Leitch). So excellent. Discussed it here.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 8, “Wishful Thinking” (2008; Robert Singer). The moaning teddy bear blowing his “brains” out is one of the stupidest funniest things I have ever seen in my life.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 12, “About a Boy” (2015; Serge Ladouceur). So good. Watched it twice.
What’s Your Number? (2011; Mark Mylod). I’d watch Anna Faris in anything. I think she’s quite brilliant. And Chris Evans is totally appealing. It’s kind of funny to see a man have to play a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which is what his character is. His character makes no sense. He is merely a female fantasy. They’re good together though: I wish it had been more about the two of them together, becoming friends, avoiding the reality of their growing attraction. The movie felt too much obligation to its Plot. The one scene where the two get drunk, play basketball, and jump in Boston Harbor, etc., was wonderful, my favorite section in the movie. Anna Faris is so talented. I love her.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 9, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (2008; Charles Beeson). Somehow, because of “Houses of the Holy” and the impending re-cap, I found myself unofficially giving Season 4 a re-watch.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 10, “Heaven and Hell” (2008; J. Miller Tobin). Killer episode.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 18, “The Monster at the End of This Book” (2009; Mike Rohl). Boy, Season 4 was good.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 19, “Jumping the Shark” (2009; Phil Sgriccia). The behavior in this episode, from all three brothers, is so rich that I almost pass out from too much sugar.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 13, “Halt and Catch Fire” (2015; John F. Showalter). Watched out in Los Angeles. I already can’t remember any of it.
Out in Los Angeles, I watched the first two episodes of Jinx. My brother was like, “You, of all people, have GOT to watch this!” It was a nice night in Santa Monica, after the filming of the movie. My nephew Cashel sat at the table behind us, Melody and Emmett were asleep upstairs, and Bren and I watched the two episodes. It is fascinating and I can understand why everyone has been telling me to check it out.
The Imitation Game (2014; Morten Tyldum). I finally saw this one and am absolutely floored that this was nominated for Best Picture. (Side note on the Oscars: I do not treat them like a sporting event, because I understand that no one CAN actually win. It’s ART.) But The Imitation Game is extremely conventional, and actually pretty shoddy in its construction. The flash-forwards were handled in a very banal way, and there were scenes when I was confused as to where I was in time. I’m baffled, in general, by the film’s accolades, unless it’s just for the soppy sentimentalized reason that Turing was gay and persecuted for it. Fine, he was gay and persecuted: make a better movie out of his story. One of the billboards for the movie said something like: “HONOR THE MAN. HONOR THE FILM.” So if I don’t like Imitation Game, it means somehow I’m dishonoring Turing’s memory, or anti-gay or something? Please. I have read a couple of fantastic books on those code-breakers who worked on cracking the Enigma. Fascinating bunch. You’d never know it from The Imitation Game. The Imitation Game does not help us understand what the hell Turing invented, and HOW it worked. It does not care to show us his brilliance and analytical skills. It is more interested in his schoolboy crush on another boy, and his Aspie-ish behavioral patterns. Ugh. So condescending. I thought Benedict Cumberbatch was fine, although he over-acted a bit, and I actually enjoyed Keira Knightley, despite the fact that I am not a fan (especially in period stuff – I thought her best performance was in Bend It Like Beckham). Mark Strong can do no wrong. HUGE crush on that guy.
Still Alice (2014; Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland). Pretty straightforward film, and also pretty conventional (faces blur out when the disease starts to take hold of her, yawn), but Julianne Moore is excellent. It’s all rather terrifying. And Kristen Stewart broke my heart a little bit. Her recitation of the monologue in Angels in America, and the WAY she did it? I felt like I was holding my breath the whole entire time. Go, Kristen Stewart. Have you read the great interview in Interview magazine? Patti Smith interviews Kristen Stewart. And my friend Dan told me: did you know that only ONE woman in their 50s has been awarded the Best Actress statue? That would be Shirley Booth for Come Back Little Sheba. The 50s is the blackout period for actresses, when nobody wants to see them, when parts dry up and disappear, so Julianne Moore’s win is significant in that way, small inroads being made all the time. And yes, she is excellent and heartbreaking. Thought Alec Baldwin was very good too.
Farewell to Hollywood (2015; Henry Corra, Regina Nicholson). A documentary I had to review for The Dissolve. I had to take a walk afterwards, saying to myself, “What the FUCK did I just watch.” I felt dirty. My review here.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 8, “Hibbing 911” (2014; Tim Andrew). “Jodeo!” “Jodeo?” So entertaining.
Floating Weeds (1959; Yasujiro Ozu). It was a snowy day. I was home from Los Angeles. I canceled a couple of things because it looked too nasty out there to drive. I curled up in my armchair and popped in Ozu’s Floating Weeds. It’s such an amazing film. Funny and calm and poignant and then enormously emotional. It’s also a wonderful story about acting and theatre-folk, one of the best. That final family scene is such a killer. How did Ozu do it? His films are not flashy, his camera does not move, and yet within the formal structure of his stories … huge emotion is possible. It’s also so funny. I always look forward to the dame sharpening the razor with the leather strop, staring at her customer with dead eyes. She’s terrifying and hilarious.
Do You Believe in Miracles? The Story of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team (2001; Bernard Goldberg). I own this one. I watched it on February 22, of course, but I watch it all the time. Goosebumps.
It Follows (2014; David Robert Mitchell). This one hasn’t come out yet but the buzz has already been deafening from Sundance and other festivals. Sometimes buzz is annoying. I try to tune it out. I have been assigned to review this one for Ebert. It opens in a couple of weeks. I won’t give anything away, all I can say is: the buzz, this time, was well-deserved.
Letter to an Unknown Woman (1948; Max Ophüls). What to even say about this movie. One of the most disturbing portraits of unrequited love ever put onscreen. Joan Fontaine. Amazing. Louis Jourdan – who just died – is heartbreaking, fantastic. The whole movie puts you through the wringer. And absolutely stunning to look at too.
The Widowmaker (2015; Patrick Forbes). I reviewed this documentary about heart disease for Rogerebert.com. It’s very effective and I learned a lot.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012; Kathryn Bigelow). Excellent film. I own it. Mark Strong again. “This is real … tradecraft.” I am mainly confused as to why I wasn’t recruited into the CIA out of high school.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 14, “The Executioner’s Song” (2015; Phil Sgriccia). Superb.
Lucy (2014; Luc Besson). Had missed this one on its initial release. Boy, Scarlett Johansson appearing in Under the Skin and Lucy in the same year? She’s doing everything right. Lucy is a thriller with a sci-fi twist, and has Besson’s stamp of expertise: he knows how to make a thriller. He knows how to film car chases (bless his soul: I love a good car chase). I also love any movie that involves French policemen, one of my little quirks. And Johansson is excellent. I loved her performance.
My Winnipeg (2007; Guy Maddin). Out now on Criterion, My Winnipeg is both a documentary and a memoir. It’s fictionalized, it’s a fairy tale, it’s a mythology, a mythologizing of the city where Maddin grew up, still lives there, cannot escape. I saw it in the movie theatre upon its first release and was captivated by it. Watching it it’s like you are lulled into a dream-state. There really is no other movie like it. And Guy Maddin cast the great Ann Savage, who hadn’t made a movie in … 50 years or something like that … to play his mother. Very glad Criterion brought this one out – it was very hard to find otherwise.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2014; Ned Benson). There are actually three films that go under the same title: “Them,” “Her,” and “Him”, each one telling the story from a different point of view, Rashomon style. I watched “Them,” and I really feel I need to see the others before I can make an assessment. The acting is very good. The story is extremely simple: a couple breaks up after a terrible event in their marriage. He starts to basically stalk her, unable to get over the ending of the relationship. She moves back home with her parents and tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I didn’t care for the scenes with Viola Davis, but again, maybe there’s more to it in the other two films. Definitely well worth a watch.
Touching the Void (2003; Kevin Macdonald). Based on Joe Simpson’s book of the same name, Touching the Void is a haunting and unforgettable piece of film-making. The re-creations are superb. The story harrowing. I’ve seen it before, but had just been discussing it with my cousin Mike, so I popped it in again.
The Great Man’s Lady (1942; William A. Wellman). Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Brian Donlevy. I actually had never seen this one. It’s in my Barbara Stanwyck box-set and I have an eternal crush on Joel McCrea, and love Wellman’s films. It’s a heartbreaking film about a woman who basically sacrifices herself and her happiness so that her man can be successful and reach his dreams. This is touted as a valid course for a woman to take. That outrageous-ness aside, I found the whole thing to be a bit shattering. The film is full of misunderstandings. You wish these people would just TALK to each other. Brian Donlevy is wonderful as the gambler who befriends Hannah (Stanwyck), and loves her, and stands by her, even though she is married to another man. Another fantastic element of The Great Man’s Lady is the production design. My God! The film takes place in: Philadelphia, the Wild pioneering West, a fictional place called Hoyt City, San Francisco, Sacramento and Virginia City. Each location with its own feel, its own architecture. The level of detail in production design is awe-inspiring: you really feel like you are getting a tour of the development of America in the latter half of the 19th century. Stanwyck is great, of course. I love when she skins the rabbit with one quick slice of the knife.