March 2023 Viewing Diary

March was a bitch. Working on a big single project which sucked up all of my attention. Marathon not a sprint. I can’t do things half-way. This project was never ever out of my mind. I’m close to the finish line now, and of course … I got sick. Just like mid-term season in college all over again. I wore myself out. Just the way it goes. Hence, the truncated viewing list for this month.

Supernatural, Season 6, episode 9, “Clap Your Hands if You Believe” (2010; d. John F. Showalter)
I’m embarrassed I had never heard of the Plaidcast before. A podcast devoted to a rewatch of Supernatural (started in 2015 by Bethany Marroquin and Michelle Drake, two English teachers – and still going strong)! I am DIGGING it. I was alerted to it by a recent comment on my site on one of my Supernatural posts, saying I had been mentioned on the podcast and that’s why this person sought out my posts. I had no idea. So just out of curiosity I started listening. I was almost embarrassed at how many times I was mentioned, on how often the blog was referenced, even to them reading out sections of my analysis. FLATTERED. But beyond that aspect, I love the dynamic of these two women: their intelligence, and their approach, coming from a literature background. Dig it.) So this inspired me to re-watch one of my favorite episodes. With perhaps my favorite moment in the whole entire series.

Supernatural, Season 6, episode 12 “Like a Virgin” (2011; d. Philip Sgriccia)
I re-watched this one for this sequence alone:

Honor Among Lovers (1931; d. Dorothy Arzner)
I hadn’t seen this one! It showed up in the Pre-Code collection on Criterion Channel. I’ve always loved her films: Christopher Strong, The More the Merrier, The Bride Wore Red and Dance Girl Dance (released by Criterion with essay by yours truly). Honor Among Lovers is a charming film, featuring an inappropriate relationship between a boss and his right-hand woman (lol) – I mean, she really should be an executive. Fredric March carries a torch for Claudette Colbert, and they’re both just so appealing you fall in love with them. Arzner’s films are very character-focused and, of course, performance-focused. This is pretty early, cameras are still huge, but still: Arzner was innovative, her camera moves.

Unwelcome (2022; d. Jon Wright)
Strong start. Some silliness later. I reviewed for Ebert.

Fuck Me, Richard (2023; d. Lucy McKendrick, Charlie Polinger)
I wrote about this beautiful and VERY strong short film for my Substack.

MH370: The Plane That Disappeared (2023; d. Louise Malkinson)
This story has the potential to take over your whole life.

Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game (2023; d. Austin Bragg, Meredith Bragg)
I liked this. It’s a little movie about a little story, and – when done well – I appreciate these more and more. We’re in a stage of gigantism in our current entertainment landscape. Gigantism or message-driven. It’s such a bore. So I really dug this. And it cares about character development. I reviewed it for Ebert.

Ted Lasso, episode 1-3 (2023; d. M.J. Delaney, Destiny Ekaragha)
Watched with Allison. She was the one who introduced me to the series in the first place. Season 2, for reasons I can’t even remember right now, fed some need in me, some hunger? I don’t know. I watched it over and over again. I remember sitting in my bedroom watching it on my laptop which brings back the first couple of months in my new place. It took me MONTHS to get my house in order. I was completely stymied by the task. I hit a wall. I am not sure what was going on, but my “living room” was completely filled with boxes for EVER, because there were like 5 things I had to get done in order to put away the books, set stuff up. So I basically lived out of the OTHER room until I finally got my shit together and got my place set up. (Oh, and I’m about to move AGAIN. Maybe there’s a reason I resisted moving in.) Anyway, my life was chaos. I moved TWICE that year. I guess I just had had it. So I sat and watched Ted Lasso, season 2, maybe three times through? Over and over? There’s a larger story about Ted Lasso – why it hit, and why WHEN it was released (2020) was so key – and it’s been covered. But season 2 did that for me. I needed that comfort. I was so looking forward to season 3! And I was completely underwhelmed by the first two episodes. Not enough Ted! So much on Kiely’s new company, and her employees – I don’t care! Where are all the PLAYERS? Why isn’t Nate in every single episode? I mean … why do we only see him in one scene in the first episode? Don’t you realize how much we want to see how NATE is doing? Why are we focusing on all these side stories? Get me into the locker room. It felt very un-focused, and none of the storylines were grabbing me. Finally, in episode 3, some conflicts were introduced – conflicts having to do with Ted, and with Jamie Tartt (my favorite), and with a couple of the PLAYERS – and it feels like we’re getting somewhere finally. They seem pretty determined to give Kiely’s office a central storyline and it’s frustrating. More on TED, too. How’s TED doing? So. Episode 3. I felt a little bit more confident in what they were doing.

Slings and Arrows, Season 1, episodes 1-3 (2003; d. Peter Wellington)
God, I love this show. It’s been years since I’ve seen it. I remember almost every line. I adore it. “I’m Darren Nichols. DEAL with THAT.”

The Lost King (2022; d. Stephen Frears)
I could have done without the ghost of Richard III but it’s such an interesting story. And it’s still unfolding. NOW we need to know what happened to the two princes. Good GOD SOMEone has to know. I reviewed for Ebert.

Old Joy (2006; d. Kelly Reichardt)
I haven’t seen this since its first release. I love it.

Enys Men (2023; d. Mark Jenkin)
I can’t get this one out of my head. The film has as stubborn a hold on me as lichen. LICHEN, PEOPLE. WHAT IS IT. I reviewed for Ebert.

Alice Darling (2022; d. Mary Nighy)
I’ve been in New York for the last week or so and Allison and I watched this one. I thought it was extremely well observed: a story like this depends on the details and on the characters. Otherwise you just get your regular garden-variety “oooh scary controlling boyfriend” story. I really appreciated the care brought to this story. It’s abuse, but not physical. It’s coercive control, relationship as Cult, it’s truly chilling. And the FRIENDS. The film is really the story of this group of friends, and how two of them notice what’s happening, and exchange glances, and try to pull their friend out of the situation – a friend who doesn’t WANT to be pulled out. Every single moment is so specific. I have been pretty much every person on that screen (except the controlling boyfriend). I’ve been the friend exchanging worried glances and trying to draw a friend out. I’ve been the friend, in a complete state of crisis, and yet totally in denial and FURIOUS at the people who are worried about me. The film is quite quiet. The acting is excellent. Allison and I really liked this one and had lots of good talks as we watched.

Showing Up (2023; d. Kelly Reichardt)
My next review. Hence: my stroll down Reichardt lane in the past week. So I’ll say no more on that.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

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3 Responses to March 2023 Viewing Diary

  1. Mike Molloy says:

    First, Yay Viewing Diary! These are always fun.

    Second, re: Honor Among Lovers/“Fredric March..Claudette Colbert..both so appealing”. Recently watched Mitchell Leisen’s Midnight starring Claudette Colbert and had a thought…

    But first, someone else’s thought, this is about Adam Driver and I read it Somewhere On The Internet (so, paraphrased b/c the original is long gone): “Adam Driver is as if some Martian who had never seen an actual live human being had been given instructions on what a Handsome Man looks like, and built one from scratch.” And no offense to Adam Driver intended, he is after all a movie star, but he is not the stereotype of Movie Star Handsome, though if you described him he would sound like he was, has all the attributes.

    Anyway, so this is my comment: Claudette Colbert is as if some Martian who had never seen an actual live human being had been given instructions for what a somewhat goofy looking, plain woman looks like, and built one from scratch. And yet, in Colbert’s case, she came out indescribably adorable. You look at her and it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does..anyway, it does for me. Maybe more a comment about myself than anything else.

    (Midnight is excellent by the way, a real charmer, unfortunately I believe it’s gone from the Criterion Channel, I caught it off one of their “leaving at end of month” lists a couple months back.)

    Third, re: Slings & Arrows: If you live-blogged this rewatch, I would be here for it!

  2. Lyrie says:

    //Supernatural, Season 6, episode 9, “Clap Your Hands if You Believe”//

    “They were grabby incandescent douchebags, goodnight.”
    I laughed about this for DAYS after our Acklesfest.

    //I’m embarrassed I had never heard of the Plaidcast before.//

    Planning for my summer depression: start at the beginning? Or would you recommend a specific season first?

    //Supernatural, Season 6, episode 12 “Like a Virgin”//

    That episode also has what is probably my favourite moment from Jared Padalecki in the whole show – when he tricks Castiel into telling him he didn’t have a soul for a year, and he takes it in while also keeping the conversation going – he KILLS me.

    //MH370: The Plane That Disappeared (2023; d. Louise Malkinson)
    This story has the potential to take over your whole life.//

    Resisting the urge to Google.

    • sheila says:

      // I laughed about this for DAYS after our Acklesfest.//

      Our conversation coincided with my deep dive into the Plaidcast – so I HAD to re-watch. It’s just as funny as it always was. The microwave moment. Jared is SO good in this episode. Dean is so crazy and such a scene-stealer but honestly Jared as “straight man” to Deans wackadoo is SO well done.

      Plaidcast: I started at the beginning. I think it’s great, they are very honest about what works for them and doesn’t – they really focus on story and myth – they are both literature professors, so they pull in quotes from like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, etc., and yet at the same time they are hilarious. (Their “Bugs” episode made me laugh out loud.). So I personally liked starting from the beginning – they started recording in 2015 and they are just now getting to Season 9 – my favorite! so I do kind of want to skip ahead. I joined their FB group and everything. They LOVE the show but they are honest. I appreciate that.

      // when he tricks Castiel into telling him he didn’t have a soul for a year, and he takes it in while also keeping the conversation going – he KILLS me. //

      One of my favorite moments too. It’s Jared at his very very best. You can see it coming over him. God. so good.

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