May 2018 Viewing Diary

First Reformed (2018; d. Paul Schrader)
The best film of the year thus far. This is not an exaggeration: I had trouble breathing during the final sequence (as in: I felt like I stopped breathing) – and once the film ended, it had me in its grip for a good 48 hours. I kept having to “shake it off.” It is still with me. It’s been a long long time since I’ve seen a film that shook me the way First Reformed did.

Sorry to Bother You (2018; d. Boots Riley)
This movie is a trip. I loved it.

Auto Focus (2002; d. Paul Schrader)
First Reformed got me thinking about Paul Schrader again. I saw this movie in the theatre when it came out. It’s just brutal. One of Greg Kinnear’s best. And Willem Defoe too. Sex, man. It can fuck people UP.

Take Shelter (2011; d. Jeff Nichols)
I liked this movie so much when it first came out I wrote a whole big thing about it. This was pre-diagnosis. Watching it post-diagnosis, it’s like a whole different movie. It’s an accurate depiction of the onslaught of mental illness. I could barely get through it, to be honest. It was so upsetting.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2, episode 3 “Baggage” (2018; d. Kari Skogland)
Nope. That’s it. I’m done. Life’s too short for this pandering torture porn. Although FINALLY we get to see Offred’s angry feminist mother, completely absent from Season 1. Cherry Jones is perfect casting. But leaving her out of the story until now … when she is so much a part of Atwood’s point – about the “angry” first feminists, the radical feminists … and the break with those who came after … I guess it doesn’t fit in with their desire to create a “Girl Power” narrative. Girl Power. Out of THE HANDMAID’S TALE?? Nope. Next.

The Post (2017; d. Steven Spielberg)
I really enjoy it, and have seen it a couple of times. Also, Streep’s caftans alone make the movie worth seeing.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 21 “Beat the Devil” (2018; d. Philip Sgriccia)
With a title like that, you think they’d have more John Huston/Truman Capote/Humphrey Bogart hijinx. Why use a title if you’re not going to comment on it? Although, okay, maybe there are some hijinx.

Night and Fog (1956; d. Alain Resnais)
The short film that brought the images of the Holocaust to the world. It’s tough to get through but you do feel the moral obligation to LOOK. SEE.

The Eichmann Show (2015; d. Paul Andrew Williams)
Staying with the Nazi fuck-head theme: this was a TV movie starring Martin Freeman and Alfred Molina about the TV producer hired to film the Eichmann trial in Israel. It’s okay. Freeman is very very good.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World (2017; d. Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana)
Such an excellent documentary about the vast Native American contribution to American music and pop culture: rock ‘n roll, folk, jazz, etc. Terrific. Starts with Link Wray, of course, but it moves forwards and backwards. My parents had all of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s stuff!

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction: David Letterman and Tina Fey, Season 1, episode 5 “It’s just Landmine Hopscotch” (2018; d. Michael Bonfiglio)
Interesting. Maybe more surface-y than some of the other ones. I knew Tina Fey “back in the day”, in Chicago, when all of my friends and my main flame were stars in the improv scene, at Second City and Improv Olympic. Adam McKay, Neil Flynn, Amy Poehler, Tina, Tina’s wildly talented husband Jeff Richmond – who wrote a musical version of Hamlet – which my flame was in – he played Claudius – and who played Gertrude? Someone who would eventually become one of my best friends, although that was years in the future – Alexandra Billings. Connections abound. Alex and my flame doing a conniving scheming box step, wearing Burger King crowns?? It made me so happy.) So many of these people are stars now. It’s been kind of amazing to watch. I’m not surprised at all though. They were all incredible then, when they were working in upstairs black box theatres for no money.

Beast (2018; d. Michael Pearce)
This was really good. I reviewed for Ebert.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 22 “Exodus” (2018; d. Thomas J. Wright)
I’m sorry. I just can’t really “get it up” for all of this AU stuff.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 23 “Let the Good Times Roll” (2018; d. Robert Singer)
Recently, I watched “Fan Fiction” and the contrast between the show now and the show then … it was painful. There are still good moments sometimes. There are even some beautiful shots. But the FEEL is gone. They don’t know what the show is about anymore (I mean, how on earth can you MISS what it’s ABOUT? Two guys in a car fighting monsters. Like, how do you lose track of THAT?) I hate being negative. Sorry.

The Americans, Seasons 1 – 6
It was streaming on Prime, so I thought, “Whatevs, let’s watch the pilot.” Forget it, I was hooked. It just worked out that I was able to binge the whole thing just in time to watch the finale of the whole series this past week. What an experience this whole thing was. Eventually I need to write about Allison Wright’s performance as poor Martha. It is epic. Truly. But they’re all excellent. I loved every episode. Very very strong sustained piece of work.

The Tale (2018; d. Jennifer Fox)
Really good, and really disturbing. I highly recommend it. I reviewed for Ebert.

Leave No Trace (2018; d. Debra Granik)
Will be reviewing for Ebert.

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (2018; d. Trey Borzillieri, Barbara Schroeder)
A 4-part thing on Netflix. I watched, but it just didn’t grab me.

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton (2017; d. Rory Kennedy)
Rory Kennedy usually takes on pretty weighty topics … but as this film goes on, you can see the appeal. Laird Hamilton is not an easy guy. He’s not a cool dude surfer. He is a single-minded obsessive. I’ve been mildly into him for years, mainly because I have ZERO desire to do what he does. NEVER. NOPE. NEVER. And so I’m fascinated by someone who wants to do what he does. I really enjoyed this documentary. It’s in-depth. A character study.

The Mountain Between Us (2017; d. Hany Abu-Assad)
Oh my goodness, it was so bad! I was embarrassed! And from Abu-Assad? Director of Paradise Now and Omar?? What on earth is going on?

Touching the Void (2003; d. Kevin Macdonald)
An incredible film based on an incredible book. I’ve seen this multiple times, read the book multiple times. See above comment in re: Laird Hamilton. I have NO desire to do what these guys do. Hence, the fascination.

The Heat (2013; d. Paul Feig)
I reviewed for Ebert. If Hollywood made any sense whatsoever, this would have become a franchise.

Bridesmaids (2011; d. Paul Feig)
It never gets old.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 5 “Fan Fiction” (2014; d. Philip Sgriccia)
I popped this in randomly one night. It made me cry. It’s perfect. The episode does what it needs to do while sacrificing nothing. It tells a good story. It loops in the fans. It’s raw and emotional but also hilarious. It’s filled with a sense of mourning, but mourning so sweet it’s become a pleasant ache. It was wild to watch it right after Season 13 ended (and Season 13 wasn’t as bad as Season 12): “Fan Fiction” was a stark reminder of how it’s not the same show anymore, and I have been seriously grading on a curve, due to my loyalty and willingness to see the positive. But seriously. It’s really over. Sorry. #toughtalk

Missing Mom (2016; d. Robert McCallum, Jordan Christopher Morris)
I tripped over this while searching for a documentary to watch. It’s pretty bare bones, in terms of film-making, but it’s a riveting story.

The Quest of Alain Ducasse (2017; d. Gilles de Maistre)
I saw this because I showed up at a screening room on Wednesday morning only to realize that I had gone to the wrong screening room. The movie I was supposed to see was downtown. So whatever, I went into whatever was being screened for the press. I’m not sure if there’s an embargo on this so I won’t say anything.

Adrift (2018; d. Baltasar Kormákur)
Reviewed for Ebert. This has been a month of watching people do things I have no desire to do: surfing 100-foot waves, climbing mountains, and sailing.

This entry was posted in Monthly Viewing Diary, Movies, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to May 2018 Viewing Diary

  1. Lyrie says:

    //The Heat (2013; d. Paul Feig)
    I reviewed for Ebert. If Hollywood made any sense whatsoever, this would have become a franchise.//
    I would have watched the fuck out of it.

    //Supernatural, Season 10, episode 5 “Fan Fiction” (2014; d. Philip Sgriccia)
    I popped this in randomly one night. It made me cry. It’s perfect.//
    When the songs come up randomly in my playlist, it makes me angry and sad, now. I know it seems ridiculous because “it’s just a show”, but I am heartbroken by what it’s become. And when she sings “he burnt my mother”, all I can think is “GOOD RIDDANCE ANYWAY, FUCKING MARY WINCHESTER.”
    What have they done?

    • sheila says:

      Sandra and Melissa are sooooo funny together. And the movie was a box office hit. I mean, I get that maybe the two of them didn’t WANT to do a franchise – but it seems so ridiculous to treat their chemistry and the fact that people flocked to see the movie as some weird once-in-a-lifetime anomaly – as opposed to something that might have some legs. Women being headliners – in a movie where there is barely a romantic interest – is still seen as this weird thing. This retro attitude needs to be killed with fire in the public square.

      • Lyrie says:

        They are both super funny individually, together they’re so great! I would follow Melissa McCarthy anywhere. She’s so sincere, she also can make me cry in a millisecond. I’ve loved her since the pilot of Gilmore Girls.

        And I love what you point out in your review: in several comedies she has made, McCarthy’s character is something we’ve rarely seen in the way she’s comfortable with her body and her sexuality, while also being totally ridiculous – she’s so good at physical comedy.

    • sheila says:

      The Mary thing. They ruined 11 years of buildup. Of mythology. They shattered the fabric of the show by doing what they did with Mary. They forgot the damn PILOT. They forgot what it was about. It’s really hard to get anything ELSE right when they got that so wrong.

  2. Rije says:

    Oooh you watched The Americans!!! I LOVE that show!! The wigs!! And yes, poor Martha. I still sometimes think about her, even though it’s been a while since I last watched (it takes lots of time for the seasons to come online here on Netflix). It’s an incredible performance yes!! I need to watch the whole show again now so we can talk about Martha. And the wigs. And that poor woman in the episode… I can’t remember which one or which season. But anyway, Elizabeth has to kill her and it had something to do with the mailrobot (I mean, come on… hahaha… sorry). I’m on a holiday so I can’t look it up right now. Oh and the episode where they stuffed that body in a suitcase. So gruesome.

    Re: SPN: yeah I feel you. I adore JA and JP, but I stopped watching after season 11. I want to keep my thoughts positive about my favorite show… (at least seasons 1-11) and not have those early seasons tarnished by the recent bad ones.

    • sheila says:

      Rije – yes, the WIGS on The Americans. The Wigs should win an Emmy all on their own. Just amazing. Keri Russell blew me away – never been a big fan. That has now changed. I think her performance is off the charts. But everyone was good. Noah Emmerich!!! I’ve been seeing him in stuff for years. He’s been fine. But it took THIS – to show what he could really do. That scene in the parking garage in the finale – heartbreaking! “You were my best friend.” It was just so tragic – and he made that so real.

      I still think about Martha too. I was hoping she would show up in one of those final montages. Maybe her playing with her adopted daughter in some scuzzy Moscow playground … at least that’s how I pictured her. I also wondered if … what if she and Philip ran into each other in Moscow?? What would THAT be like??

      // But anyway, Elizabeth has to kill her and it had something to do with the mailrobot (I mean, come on… hahaha… sorry). //

      hahahaha Yes – that’s Lois Smith! The great Lois Smith! She made her debut in 1955 in East of Eden. I adore her. That scene in The Americans was so upsetting, so cold.

      It was SUCH a good show and I am so glad I watched it. I could not stop. There really wasn’t a bad episode in the whole thing – it was an incredibly strong series.

      • Rije says:

        I haven’t seen the final season yet (I don’t mind spoilers, so don’t worry), but I can’t wait!!

        And yes! Lois Smith (brain’s on a vacation too haha)!! I really need to see that episode again! It was so cold, upsetting, but I also found it heartbreaking.
        The Jennings really did a lot of shady shit (I mean, yeah duh, but sometimes really! crossing lines). Like with Philip and that teenager with the drugs…
        And yeah Noah Emmerich! And that lady he had a fling with in the early seasons (the KGB spy). I forgot her name… She was killed when she returned to Russia.

        Amazing show. Oh and Margo Martindale!! And those children… oy.
        I want to talk more when I get home in a few days.

        • sheila says:

          The Lois Smith scene was totally heartbreaking – how she was like “I never thought the end would be like this” – as she took all the pills. !!!

          Philip and Elizabeth were so lethal. And yes: Kimmy!! The teenager. God, it was so skeezy and awful. It shows how ruthless those two were – AND when you consider that the Cold War is about to end in like 5 years – and all of this will be for nothing.

          Margo Martindale! With this and Justified – she’s just phenomenal – two totally different characters.

          I won’t mention anything from the last season! But I do think it ended perfectly – very powerful.

    • sheila says:

      and wow – in re SPN – I almost wish I had gone your route and stopped watching. I wish I hadn’t watched Season 12. It was an incredibly demoralizing experience.

      Going back and watching earlier episodes … alongside the current ones … shows in such stark relief how much the show has lost. I was in denial, I think.

      • Rije says:

        I have been following the threads here on your blog and what I read was really disheartening!! It was such a great show, very important to me on a personal level also, with great stories… Such a shame and a waste of talent (JA & JP) and story potential (Mary!!!). I wish the damage could be undone, but alas…

        • sheila says:

          Yes, I agree with you. They just haven’t course-corrected – and what’s even more upsetting is that they don’t seem to realize how OFF the whole thing is. Like … were they PROUD of Season 12? Which had 3 (maybe) “bm” scenes? They forgot how to write the brothers. It was really upsetting.

          • Aslansown says:

            I read a review this past week where someone said that the 13th season was the best Supernatural had ever been, and I was baffled. I don’t agree with that at all! I don’t know what that person is seeing and how they can even watch the early shows and not see how the present is so far from what once was.

  3. Melanie says:

    The Americans, right!!! Having lived and grown to adulthood in that era and watching the Soviet pov was like looking at it from the back side of the mirror, if that makes any freaky sense. Paige would have been roughly my age so the conversations with her really called me back to my own formative years. Martha broke my heart, but I also really loved Oleg and his ‘ending’ seemed especially unfair. I’m not sure I could watch it again.

    • sheila says:

      // Having lived and grown to adulthood in that era and watching the Soviet pov was like looking at it from the back side of the mirror //

      Yes! I feel the same way! I was slightly disappointed they didn’t “cover” Chernobyl – they skipped that year. But all of these issues – like “Star Wars” – and the airing of “The Day After” – !! – this was my childhood!

      And Oleg!!! I am SO in love with Oleg. Poor guy – where could it go from there for him? He was heroic.

  4. Melanie says:

    I am especially fond of Fan Fiction! I was in drama at my all girls’ school as were my 3 daughters. The reverse Shakespeare gender-bending, where young girls play all the roles, adds a unique vibe that is very nostalgic for me. Agreed that this episode is a perfect blend of everything that is great about Supernatural, even including the cheesy, monologuing demigod/monster. That is the kind of cheese I can laugh at and have come to expect from the show.

    As for more recent seasons I seem to have compartmentalized it like different shows. For me the switch probably flipped with Chuck/god and his estranged sister. The less said about FMW the better. I have resolved to just enjoy watching with detachment. I am happy to have had so many years of this amazing show and occaisionally a new one comes along that surprises me. My life is too short to be angry or sad about a tv show. I don’t mean to dismiss the feelings of others. I understand how you get there. And I am also not so delicate as to be offended by people expressing their disappointment. I greatly respect the discussions I encounter here. I always feel enlightened after reading Sheila & Co.

    • mutecypher says:

      // I was in drama at my all girls’ school as were my 3 daughters. The reverse Shakespeare gender-bending, where young girls play all the roles, adds a unique vibe that is very nostalgic for me.//

      Melanie, I teach at an all-girls’ school. It was fun this year to watch them put on Beauty and The Beast. The girl playing Gaston (“I’m especially good at ex-pec-tor-at-ing”) was a hoot. The reverse gender-bending is great to watch.

    • sheila says:

      // For me the switch probably flipped with Chuck/god and his estranged sister. //

      Yes. That’s where it happened for me too. And with that moment – Sam and Dean and their own psychodrama stopped being the engine of the thing. I’m still not sure how it happened – I’ve watched those final 3 episodes of Season 11 and it’s so clear that something is wrong – it happens overnight – like: everything’s fine, and then everything is NOT fine in the next breath. it seems so easily correctable, but of course it’s easy to say that, being outside it. You can almost feel the chaos behind the scenes on the screen! No one’s in charge.

  5. Melanie says:

    Speaking of binge watching… Peaky Blinders! We watched all 4 seasons in 2 weeks. I love me some period British drama, but this is a whole new level.

  6. Michelle says:

    Fan Fiction. That episode makes me cry as well when I watch it. I know I’ve bemoaned this many times, but Robbie Thompson leaving Supernatural was a true blow to that show. I agree with you that the show has truly lost it’s focus and heart and I’m not sure that it will ever get it back.

    My husband and I recently decided to do a rewatch of Supernatural Season 1. We’ve watched 2 episodes so far, Pilot, and Wendigo. As I was watching I was torn between being so thankful that we still have these episodes to come back to, and wanting to weep.

    I mean Wendigo was a MOW and compared to some of what we got later it wasn’t the most stellar hour on television, but the intensity between them, the looks, the space to let them act without saying anything. Early stages and it was already there. It was incredible.

    Baby! I feel like in the past couple of seasons, with a few rare exceptions, she has become nothing but a glorified prop. How could she not? They have the bunker now where Sam, Dean, and the rest of the Avengers team can sit around, drink beer, eat pizza, and make speeches about how they save the world, get things done, and are heroes. (Although, when it comes time to actually get things done, Sam and Dean sure do seem to spend a whole lot of time standing about looking worried, while other people get things done around them these days)

    Overall, Season 13 was better than 12 but that is not exactly an incredibly resounding endorsement! It actually started off fairly strong. Just for fun, I went back to the episode posts from the beginning of the season and read all our comments. We all actually got kind of excited again at the beginning of the season. I think it was JurrasicNatural where it all started back on the downhill slide again.

    I will keep watching Supernatural to the end, but I’m sadly reaching the point where I’m actually wishing it would. I suppose I’ll have all summer to build my hopeful optimism back up and go into 14 with a positive outlook. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t spend the whole summer doing an early season rewatch!!

    Have you seen “The Magicians” Sheila? (That’s the show Sera Gamble became EP of after she left Supernatural) I decided to break down and watch an episode a couple of months ago It took a couple of episodes for me to really get into it, but once I did, I ended up binge watching all three seasons in a very short amount of time. (I even bought the last season so I wouldn’t have to wait for it to come out on Nextflix) I found it to be incredible. Not so much the plot, but the characters. I found that same sense of wonder that I found when I first started watching Supernatural. They even have their own scene stealer in Hale Appleman. He is an incredible actor.

  7. Amy Brown says:

    Sheila, I am so here for an essay from you on the character of Martha, her relationship with Clark/Mikhail, and Alison Wright’s performance. So much to be said, and I can’t think of another film writer who will really do justice to the subject. There are moments in the episode before she leaves for Russia (namely the lovemaking scene) that I’ll never forget.

  8. april says:

    Whenever you’re up for it, Sheila, I’d like to “talk about the movie.” Yes, that one. Your place or mine.


    • sheila says:

      Which one?? First Reformed?

      • sheila says:

        I just ranted about it to my friend Ted the other night. I was like, “I realize I’m putting pressure on you and God help you now if you don’t like it, but you have to know that this is an INCREDIBLE movie to have been actually made in America – and that it was made by a 70-something year old man who has been flailing a bit in recent years – that THIS was what he was waiting to make his whole life? Seriously, no pressure, but you HAVE to see it.”

        There’s my pitch.

      • april says:

        Yes, First Reformed.

        I haven’t been so shaken by a film since Tree of Life, and for a lot of the same reasons. My partner wasn’t impressed — she adores Ethan Hawke, but wrote the Toller character off as nothing more than a selfish, burned-out alcoholic. I saw a 21st century Passion Play, and was blown away. Leaving the theater, I thought, “Oh, I hope Sheila’s reviewed this one… can’t wait to see what *she* has to say about it.”

        That ending, OMG. “Not my will, but Thy will be done…” Freedom through humility, surrender, humanity, transcendence.

        Tree of Life meets Dogfight. There’s *my* pitch.

        Is that anything like what you saw?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.