Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 14 “Born Under a Bad Sign” (2007; J. Miller Tobin). A re-watch for my re-cap.
Tales of Hoffmann (1952; Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger). Saw a screening of the lushly-colored new restoration print at the Film Forum, and then interviewed the legendary Thelma Schoonmaker, who supervised the restoration.
Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 17, “Goodbye Stranger” (2013; Thomas J. Wright). I re-watched this one to watch Dean’s body language during the fight scene with Castiel. This was in connection to the fight scene in “Born Under a Bad Sign” which I was in the process of writing about and I wanted to make sure my memory of it was accurate. Listen, I don’t mess around.
Call the Midwife, Season 1. My friend Kate had sent it to me a couple of years ago, which is her way of saying, “YOU MUST WATCH THIS.” She did that to me with Slings and Arrows too, and I will forever be in her debt. I am in love with Call the Midwife and have now started watching the rest on Netflix. One of the main things I love about it: It’s a mostly female cast. All of the women live and work together. And while the series itself has TONS of drama, the drama is not amongst the women. They collaborate, they support, they care about each other, they work together, they are not “out to get” each other. It’s a hospital show, basically, but it just goes to show you that you can actually have a show featuring relationships between women that does not include cattiness/competition for men/passive-aggressive bullshit – whatever. I’ve only watched two seasons, so maybe there’s more to come, but as of now, it’s just so refreshing to see women … get along! And you DON’T sacrifice ANYthing when you have women get along. It’s wonderful.
The Bigamist (1953; Ida Lupino). I had never seen this one before. I love Ida Lupino as an actress but I am even more interested in her groundbreaking career as a director. This film is on Youtube in its entirety and it’s really interesting. It’s extremely sympathetic towards “the bigamist” which is like, What? Come on, guy, pick a woman, and stay with it. Joan Fontaine is pretty under-used, but Ida is great, and I really want to hang out in that weird Chinese restaurant.
Whiplash (2014; Damien Chazelle). Had been having a lot of conversations about Whiplash so decided to watch again. It’s a masterpiece of editing, and I just now learned that the editor is a friend of my sister. And J.K. Simmons is a friend of my cousin Mike’s. So it’s all very exciting when people one-degree away from you win Oscars. I liked the film a lot. I especially liked the look of it, it’s dark greens and blacks.
Call the Midwife, Season 2. I continue to enjoy the series very much.
Muhammad and Larry (2009; Albert Maysles). I re-watched this the day after I heard of the passing of Albert Maysles. It was one of my favorites of the entire 30 for 30 series (which is fantastic already). I highly recommend checking it out.
The Last King of Scotland (2006; Kevin Macdonald). A well-deserved Oscar for Forrest Whittaker. I’m borderline obsessed with Idi Amin, and it was interesting to see how much of the footage here was a direct copy of Barbet Schroeder’s unforgettable and chilling documentary. Those ridiculous medals on the chest.
Sorry Wrong Number (1948; Anatole Litvak). Barbara Stanwyck is the most energetic bed-ridden victim I’ve ever seen! The film is moody as hell, though. I’ve always enjoyed it.
JFK (1991; Oliver Stone). You know, I realize it’s not a history lesson, so there’s no need to remind me of that. What I treasure about this film is its editing. The collage aspect of its footage. There are a couple of things that grate (Costner looking right at the camera – every time I watch it, I think, “Oh, Oliver, no!”). I love the acting performances too. It makes me miss John Candy!
48 hours – the Ryan Ferguson case. Allison saved that one up for me so we could watch it together.
Home Sweet Hell (2015; Anthony Burns). Terrible. I reviewed for Roger Ebert.
Treading Water (2015; Analeine Cal y Mayor). Strange little movie, but I enjoyed a lot of it, especially its strangeness.
Going Clear (2015; Alex Gibney). I saw that at an HBO screening. I’d already read the book. It premiered on HBO on Sunday night. To those of us who have been watching that organization for years and years on end, the events of the last, say, 5 years, have been nothing short of mind-blowing. We can’t believe what has happened.
Ali (2001; Michael Mann). A rather lugubrious tone for such an inspirational figure. Will Smith’s “Ali” is great – his vocal quality has changed, his body language – he has clearly done his homework – but there’s something missing here. Maybe WHY everyone loved Ali so much.
Design for Living (1933; Ernst Lubitsch). Love this movie! Someone had mentioned it on Twitter and it had been a long time since I’d seen it. Gary Cooper, Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins … living in Paris in an ongoing menage a trois situation … bohemian and free. Can it last?? So good.
The Best of Everything (1959; Jean Negulesco). In a recent Vanity Fair piece, Matthew Weiner (creator of Mad Men) talked about the list of movies he made his cast watch, in preparation for the series. The Apartment was high on the list, of course, but so was The Best of Everything. I love this movie. I love the New York exteriors, I love the friendships between the women, I love Joan Crawford – humanizing her “villain” role in ways both touching and unexpected. The film is a dream to look at.
Mildred Pierce (1945; Michael Curtiz). I read James Cain’s book for the first time this month, and then began a mild obsession with the movie. I’ve seen it before, of course, but I watched it three times in three days this past month. Good times.
5 to 7 (2015; Victor Levin). A sweet and very different romantic comedy, written and directed by Victor Levin, whom I interviewed for Rogerebert.com.
The Central Park Five (2012; Ken Burns). Blood-boiling watching this damn thing.
Supernatural, Season 10: Episode 15, “The Things They Carried.” Phone call for Tim O’Brien. An improvised homoerotic (but not enough) sweat lodge. Squirming disgusting worms. PTSD. Doesn’t quite hold together.
Humoresque (1946; Jean Negulesco). One of my favorite Crawford performances. Watch it back to back with Mildred Pierce and then tell me she “only played herself.” I dare you. And John Garfield is a hunk. Ruth Nelson, his Group Theatre colleague, is heartbreaking and great as his mother. Very good film.
Les Bonnes Femmes (1960; Claude Chabrol). So depressing. That ending. Ugh. I adore Chabrol.
Dial M for Murder (1954; Alfred Hitchcock). I love how much talking is in the film. “Here is what I will do. Here is how it will go. You will walk here. You will do this. You will stand here.” And then, of course, one tiny thing goes wrong … and the perfect murder runs off the rails. I find it very entertaining and Ray Milland is totally creepy in his matter-of-fact-ness.
Holiday (1938; George Cukor). I’ve had a bit of a rough month. Holiday is like comfort food. I fall into its mood of magic and possibility, humor and escape. I love every second of it.
Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 15 “Tall Tales” (2007; Bradford May). Re-watched a couple of times in preparation for next re-cap. Very behind though. I have two film festivals this month, Tribeca and Ebertfest. So … it will have to wait. “Tall Tales” is one of my favorite episodes ever.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007; Andrew Dominik). I don’t think it entirely holds together, but I treasure it for Roger Deakins’ cinematography, and Casey Affleck’s performance. I’ll write about it one of these days.
The Ocean of Helena Lee (2015; Jim Akin). The latest film by Jim Akin and Maria McKee (their first being After the Triumph of Your Birth, which I reviewed here.) I will write about The Ocean of Helena Lee as soon as I can because I love to highlight good personal work that resists classification and carries with it emotional weight.
30 for 30: The Price of Gold (2014; Nanette Burstein). It was painful to re-live this whole Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding drama! I was living in Chicago at the time and we were OBSESSED with the winter Olympics that year. Tonya Harding remains staunch that she knew nothing about the planning of the attack. Kerrigan was not interviewed for the doc. I remember Pat saying to me once (because he was obsessed too), “I don’t think Kerrigan is as nice as everyone says she is.” Like, that was the level of gossip we all had descended to.
30 for 30: June 17, 1994 (2010; Brett Morgen) I’ve seen most of the 30 for 30 series. This one is the best. It is unlike anything else. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Although talk about bringing up memories. Jeez Louise. And it was in the same year as the winter Olympics. A great year for sportsmanship and heroes!
The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2013; Chris James Thompson). Focusing on three people whose lives intersected with Jeffrey DaHmer (the detective who got the confession, his neighbor, and the medical examiner), this documentary takes a sideways look at a horrible event we all know well. It’s very good.
Dreamcatcher (2015; Kim Longinotto). Documentary about Brenda Myers-Powell and her organization Dreamcatcher Foundation, which helps gets prostitutes off the streets. I reviewed for Rogerebert.com.
Goodnight Mommy (2014; Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala). An Austrian art-house horror film featuring two identical twin boys and their mother, whose head is wrapped in bandages. Tremendously creepy, really really uneasy film about identity and masks. I interviewed the two directors last week and it will eventually go up on Rogerebert.com when the film gets a release. It’s great.
Mildred Pierce (2011; Todd Haynes). The Mildred Pierce obsession continues. The mini-series is great, and is much more faithful to Cain’s book (like, word for word faithful, even to the insane last exchange between Mildred and her first ex-husband). Winslet is great. I loved the film.
The Girl Is In Trouble (2015; Julius Onah). A first feature from Onah, who is now helming God Particle for Paramount and J.J. Abrams. He’s rising quickly as someone to be watched. I reviewed the film for The Dissolve and that should go up sometime this week.
Supernatural, Season 10: Episode 16. “Paint It Black.” WTF. No, seriously, I’m asking: WTF.
Many many episodes of Intervention. Like I said I’ve had a rough month. Intervention gives me perspective that things aren’t all that bad. At least I’m not shooting heroin in an abandoned house with an infected nose ring and my eyes rolling back in my head. Kidding aside, I think the show is kind of brilliant.
Song of Lahore (2015; Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken). A documentary about a group of jazz musicians from Pakistan. It will be playing at the Tribeca Film Festival (press screenings going on this week and next).
In My Father’s House (2015; Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg). Another documentary seen in Tribeca press screenings, about the Oscar-nominated rap artist Rhymefest and his quest to re-build a relationship with his homeless alcoholic father.
Palio (2015; Cosima Spender). Another Tribeca documentary about the Palio, the oldest horse race in the world. Also maybe the fastest and most violent horse race in the world? Most of these films are under a press embargo until they premiere at Tribeca, so that’s all I’ll say for now.
Gored (2015; Ido Mizrahy). Another Tribeca documentary about Antonio Barrera, a matador who has the honor of being the most gored matador in history.
Call the Midwife, Season 3, Episode 1. Continuing on …
Cartel Land (2015; Matthew Heineman). Documentary about the drug cartels in Mexico. Tribeca Film Festival. Under embargo.
Democrats (2015; Camilla Nielsson). Documentary about the 2013 contentious cross-party creation of the constitution in Zimbabwe. Tribeca. Under embargo.