February 2019 Viewing Diary

St. Agatha (2019; d. Darren Lynn Bousman)
I reviewed this nunsploitation horror film which I resisted at first for some reason, but then I got into the spirit of it. It’s fun. It’s what it needs to be. It also looks gorgeous. I reviewed for Ebert.

Cold War (2018; d. Paweł Pawlikowski)
The Oscar-nominated Cold War is Paweł Pawlikowski’s follow-up to Ida (which I wrote about here). Cold War feels like a continuation of Ida, and together they make this chilly tapestry – if a tapestry can have a temperature – of Cold War Poland. Music is present in Ida but it takes center stage in Cold War. I wrote about it here. Ted and I went to go see it during the run at Film Forum.

Supernatural, Season 14, episode 13 “Lebanon” (2019; d. Robert Singer)
Let’s hear it for Jared Padalecki’s amazing emotional work in the 300th episode. I haven’t re-watched since it aired, but I remember his work, in particular, vividly. It was heartbreaking.

Mad Men, Season 4, 5, 6, 7 (2010-2014)
Fell into a re-watch. This has been a weird couple of months. Surreal, almost. There’s been a lot of comfort food round these here parts, drawn to the familiar. Like this.

Ruben Brandt, Collector (2019; d. Milorad Krstić)
I absolutely loved this animated film. I reviewed for Ebert. I just got a note from the PR company asking if they could blurb my review in upcoming marketing. This is the quote they want to use: “‘Ruben Brandt, Collector’ is like ‘To Catch a Thief’ as filtered through the multi-eyeballed gaze of Joan Miró, or ‘The Pink Panther’ as imagined by Pablo Picasso.” It’s not exactly “Fun for the whole family”, is it?

A Face in the Crowd (1957; d. Elia Kazan)
I reviewed the upcoming Criterion release of this classic film for the current issue of Film Comment. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Certainly not since the 2016 Presidential election. I watched it with a sickened queasy feeling. It’s all there.

Russian Doll (2019; d. Leslye Headland, Jamie Babbit, Natasha Lyonne)
I need to write about this extraordinary series eventually. I took it very personally. It was eerie, actually. My life in New York has felt like that. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Badlands (1973; d. Terrence Malick)
One of my most engrossing projects during this weird last two months was a long piece on Badlands – a film I love, have loved, go to again and again, and YET I have never written about it. Until now, that is. The piece isn’t live yet, whenever it’s live I’ll put up a link.

Man of Aran (1934; d. Robert Flaherty)
I reviewed Robert Flaherty’s 1934 “documentary” Man of Aran for Film Comment. He made his name, really, with his 1922 film Nanook of the North. Supposedly the “father of documentary film” – even though so much of what we see onscreen is fabricated. But the nature photography (for lack of a better word) is awe-inspiring (especially when you consider how huge the cameras were then). This footage is incredible.

A Boatload of Wild Irishmen (2010; d. Mac Dara Ó’Curraidhín)
I watched this documentary in preparation for Man of Aran – I mention it in the review. It’s about Flaherty’s career, and it was helpful.

Climax (2019; d. Gaspar Noé)
God, I loved this film. The dance sequence at the beginning is so exhilarating I wanted to cheer. I reviewed for Ebert.

I Am Cuba (1995; d. Mikhail Kalatozov)
Charlie and I went to go see this at the Film Forum. It felt like I was watching low-rent poorly-written Clifford Odets, or agitprop “literature” from 1936. The propaganda is STIFLING. It’s such BULL. SHIT. and you wonder: who on earth would be fooled by this? You literally can’t breathe the propaganda is so … bossy. Afterwards, Charlie said to me, “I kept wanting to go back to the hotel with the hookers” and I burst out laughing. Me too! Those opening scenes were supposed to show the decadence of Western corruption but … sitting in a nightclub listening to live music and having a cocktail … To quote my dad, “I see no problem.” I mean, I GET it, I get the critique, don’t explain it to me, but the rest of it was so dreary and didactic and noble peasants and dead doves, etc. Meanwhile: the people in Cuba – the REAL people – suffered, beneath this STIFLING propaganda. It’s infuriating. (The backstory of this film is interesting. Look it up!)

Hidden Figures (2016; d. Theodore Melfi)
Member what I said about comfort food? This is comfort food. It makes me laugh, cry, swells my heart, and etc. It works every time. Here’s what I wrote about it.

Love (2015; d. Gaspar Noé)
I’m an Enter the Void girl. (The opening credits sequence is one of my favorite opening credits ever). I missed Love when it came out, even though I was excited to see it the second I heard about it: Gaspar Noé was directing a sex movie … in 3D. WHAT? So I watched Love, getting ready for Climax, and I found it less than exciting. Even the sex got boring. Of course there are moments, visually, where it grabbed me, but other than that … Still: I’d rather watch Gaspar Noé’s less-than-thrilling 3D sex movie than some other conventional movie playing it safe with no distinction whatsoever.

The Master (2012; d. Paul Thomas Anderson)
It says a lot about me that this movie counts as “comfort food.” But it’s true.

The Post (2017; d. Steven Spielberg)
“Comfort Food” again. It works every time.

The Nice Guys (2016; d. Shane Black)
Comfort Food. The most comforting. I love this movie so much, and love Shane Black’s movies. “The porno …. young lady …” Why didn’t people go see this? I so want a sequel. I want to watch more movies where these two guys fight crimes.

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8 Responses to February 2019 Viewing Diary

  1. Natalie says:

    I’m not even sure I could write coherently about Russian Doll, because when I think about it, my mind is all over the place. Bathrooms, mirrors, watermelons, video games, the way I want to wrap Alan in a blanket and feed him soup. Plus mental health and trauma. I am in complete awe of Natasha Lyonne.

    • sheila says:

      Natalie – I’m in awe of her too. I need to watch the series again – I inhaled it whole – once I started I couldn’t stop – It seems like the kind of thing that might be even better on a second viewing since I know the set-up going in.

      My mind is all over the place too. It’s so deep!

  2. Sarah says:

    I cannot WAIT for you to see “Leaving Neverland” on HBO!

    I, too, am an Enter The Void girl, and I enjoyed Love as well. Looking forward to Climax!

    • sheila says:

      Sarah – you’re an Enter the Void girl? This is thrilling to hear. There aren’t many of us!

      Climax is fantastic – let me know what you think when you see it!

      • Sarah says:

        Ohhhhhh, I am SUCH an Enter The Void girl! I’d never seen anything quite like it, and I found it EXHILIRATING, scary, audacious—everything I could ever ask for. I’d already seen Irreversible, so I was kind of like, okay, Gaspar—let’s DO THIS! That giddy feeling one gets when one knows for a fact there’s going to be an experience here, not just a film. I’ve read several reviews of Climax, and the anticipation is huge…

  3. mutecypher says:

    Just finished Russian Doll. I loved how we got to know the secondary characters, even though the Nadia and Alan were repeating the same 12-24 hours. The writing was insanely good.

    Natasha and Charlie were great. Everyone was.

    I hope you get a chance to do a deep dive on this

  4. Lyrie says:

    Gotta get up, gotta get out, gotta get home until the mooooorning comes.
    I can’t wait for you to write more about it. I binge-watched it, I couldn’t stop!

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