May 2024 Viewing Diary

Forward Fast (2024; d. Lorraine Sovern)
I met Lorraine at the Florida Film Festival. Someone I was talking to at a party told me about her work and about this short film. He then pulled her over to our group so we could meet. We exchanged information and she sent me a link to her film. She puts together footage of her childhood, the games and role-playing, and – in a current-moment voiceover – reflects on some of the disturbing things she can now see about growing up as a girl in the early 2000s. The sexualization of young girls was off the charts. Forward Fast is heartbreaking and honest.

The Tourist, Season 2
Allison and I finished this one up when she was visiting. I really enjoyed this series.

Under the Bridge (2024; created by Quinn Shephard)
Another one watched with Allison. It’s excellent.

The Aristocrats (2005; d. Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette)
I remember seeing this one at the Angelika I think? I know I saw it in the theatre. It’s so inside-baseball and in that strange sub-genre we (“we”) can’t seem to get/have enough of: comedians talking about comedy. We don’t have 150 documentaries where actors sit around talking about acting. Why are comedians so obsessed with themselves? I tend to enjoy this sub-genre because it’s one of the only places where you see artists talking about their process. I had been trying to describe this doc to Allison. “It’s about this famous joke … ” “What’s the joke?” “I can’t describe it.” “Oh come on. What is it?” “The only thing you have is the premise and the punchline. The rest is up for grabs.” So it’s been almost 20 years since I saw this but a lot of it came back to me. Especially Bob Saget and Gilbert Gottfried. (When Gottfried died, I reminisced on actually getting to see him at the Friars Club when he roasted Ricky Schroeder. I didn’t really “get” Gottfried until I saw him live. I’m so glad I saw him live at a ROAST. At the FRIARS CLUB. What he did up there had to be seen to be believed.) Which brings me to another weird thing about watching this documentary so many years after it came out. A lot of the participants are no longer with us. Robin Williams. It’s maybe 20 minutes too long but still, well worth a watch.

Friends the Reunion (2021; d. Ben Winston)
I didn’t watch this when it was on. I was definitely a Friends fan although … I fell off with a lot of TV watching once I moved to New York and went to grad school. I just didn’t have time and I was sleeping on couches for a year, and busy from morning til night. Friends “dropped” when I was in Chicago and it was instantly “appointment television”. I remember it as an instant phenomenon. The chemistry of these six people is the stuff dreams are made of. Except for the unbelievably grating presence of James Corden – God, he’s awful – it was fascinating and also … disturbing. Matthew Perry. He was clearly not doing well. He barely said a word. It made us both so sad.

Friends pilot (September 22, 1994; d. James Burrows)
So then Allison and I decided to watch the pilot. Wild to see. I don’t think I’ve watched since it aired and I look at the air date … and memories flood back. I was in Ithaca with the out of town production of Killer Joe and wrapped up in my new romance with Michael, and also heartbroken because of him. So long ago. Lifetimes ago. But sometimes it still feels so close. Eerie.

Pretty Poison (1968; d. Noel Black)
The film is thick with the stink of pollution, ravaged natural world, chopped down trees boiled down into little bottles of gleaming red liquid, hypnotic but somehow malevolent the feeling of ROT, the emptiness of modern life – its apathy and ugliness. Anthony Perkins is intense as the troubled young man fearful of being put back into an institution, struggling to concentrate at his factory job. Dazed by the gleaming red liquid. Equally dazed by the teenage Tuesday Weld, a stunning majorette whom he watches from afar, until they meet randomly at a little hamburger stand next to the polluted river. The chemistry is instant. The chemistry seems real but everything is “off”. Who’s “off”? Him? Her? Or is it just the world? A riveting work. I love it.

Tom Brady Roast (2024)
I got pretty obsessed. I spent the week after the roast watching “reactions” to it on YouTube. It was WILD. Also, it was LIVE. X-rated, in some cases. Nikki Glaser wiped the floor with everybody else on that stage.

Manuscripts Don’t Burn (2013; d. Mohammad Rasoulof)
I watched this after the news broke of Rasoulof’s jail sentence, but before the news broke of his escape from Iran. He attended the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of his new film. I saw this one back when it was released. I couldn’t believe it even existed, especially in the climate in Iran for the last 20 years.

Fall Guy (2024; d. David Leitch)
One of my favorite films this year so far. What a blast. I went to go see it with my niece Lucy and we had so much fun.

Bodkin (2024; d. Nash Edgerton, Bronwen Hughes, Johnny Allan, Paddy Breathnach)
A new murder-mystery series on Netflix. The Irish setting makes me homesick for it. I haven’t been there in so long. Too long. I enjoyed this.

The Teachers Lounge (2023; d. Ilker Çatak)
It took me a while to get to this. It’s fantastic and upsetting. I first saw Leonie Benesch in Babylon Berlin where she was a member of the big ensemble. Here, she’s center. The whole thing is centered on her minute-to-minute sometimes second-to-second experience of the central events: She’s a teacher at an elementary school and there’s been a series of thefts. Three kids are “interviewed” and forced – coerced – to “rat” on the culprit. Soon after, Benesch accuses someone of theft. The events escalate until the entire school is in an uproar. The whole thing is very effective – great script. There’s a Stalag 17-quality to the atmosphere, one of suspicion and pessimism. Nothing will be the same after this. What has been done can’t be undone. Highly recommend.

The Death of Stalin (2018; d. Armando Iannucci)
God, this movie. I’ve already seen it about 3 times. I can’t believe how well it works. It’s so funny, the performances are so funny, and yet … this is how it went down. Almost exactly. Incredible script.

Frankenstein (1931; d. James Whale)
Boris Karloff adds so much pathos. The performance is rightly famous. The blankness of his face means we can project everything onto it. Loneliness. Sadness. Isolation. The monster was clearly FORCED to be a monster. If he had just been embraced by humanity … not tormented. He didn’t MEAN to drown that little girl. He thought she would float. He had only been alive for, like, 8 hours at that point.

Ezra (2024; d. Tony Goldwyn)
I reviewed for Ebert. Worth a watch.

La Chimera (2024; d. Alice Rohrwacher)
Her Happy as Lazarro announced her as a major new filmmaker. Happy as Lazarro was on my Top 10 of that year. Since then, she’s directed for television, and a couple of shorts. Now comes La Chimera, which – along with The Fall Guy – is one of my favorites this year. I love that my list so far includes a big Hollywood film and an Italian film about the black market in Etruscan antiquities. But it’s “about” so much more. A haunting experience with a final shot so powerful I was knocked flat. A mysterious film about the ghosts haunting the ugly rapacious modern world.

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

7 Responses to May 2024 Viewing Diary

  1. mutecypher says:

    Tom’s roast… OMFG. I agree about Nikki. I saw Tom expressing regret… what did he think a roast was like? Whatever he felt, he should have kept his big boy pants on and laughed about it afterwards. Getting roasted then being vulnerable. Oy.

    I loved Fall Guy also. It was just perfect. Funny and romantic, excellent chemistry. Ryan and Emily were great. As was Stephanie Hsu. I don’t understand why it didn’t do better. Similar comment about Furiosa. Didn’t love it as much, but did really enjoy it. Chris Hemsworth’s final speech was incredible.

    • sheila says:

      I mean, you can agree to a roast and not realize it was going to be THAT vicious! that shit was ruthless! I thought Kevin Hart did an amazing job – that’s a 3 hour hosting gig – LIVE – I thought he was amazing. I can’t stand Andrew Schultz but I thought he did a good job. And what the hell were Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer doing? I realize it was about 10 hours into the thing so I might have been a little tired but I still couldn’t make heads or tails of even the idea of the thing. And I am ….. concerned about Ben Affleck’s well-being.

      Still – an amazing night, and it was a huge success apparently – numbers wise – even though netflix never tells – so I hope they’ll do more. After watching the Tom Brady one though – what athlete in their right mind would even agree to participate??

    • sheila says:

      Apparently, the Fall Guy has been gaining a bit of steam. Opening weekend numbers really don’t mean much anymore – I am glad I saw it on a big screen but I bet it’s going to do really REALLY well on streaming. I can’t stand this new model of movie-going – ugh – but …

      I just loved the whole concept – and the end credits where it was confirmed Ryan Gosling really did all that. The fight in the garbage truck or whatever it was – with the back turned on its side being dragged through the street – was INSANE.

      And yes, the fizzy romantic vibes were genuine and very entertaining!

      Haven’t seen Furiosa. I feel like Furiosa’s “back story” was all in Charlize Theron’s face – not sure I need more.

  2. mutecypher says:

    How can I watch Forward Fast?

    • sheila says:

      It’s about 3 minutes long so I’m not sure. I know it’s playing at festivals right now. You can follow her on Instagram if you want to keep up with her. she’s a really interesting person!

  3. I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the FRIENDS reunion show. Maybe I will, but…it’s become fashionable to hate that show, and yes, quite a lot of its humor hasn’t “aged well”; it’s probably the last big property that could get away with homophobic joking on the regular…but that show knew its characters SO well, and it got a chance to let US know its characters SO well, that in the later seasons they could have punchlines to jokes that were just looks exchanged between some of them. I remember the ill-advised spinoff about Joey, which I watched, and I remember exactly ONE joke from that show that felt like an actual FRIENDS moment. Joey is, unimaginably, cast as Richard III in a Shakespeare production, and he is utterly freaked out by this and is terrified that he’ll screw up the entire thing. Meanwhile, he’s also been cast as the emcee at a Wild West Cowboy Revue kind of thing, which is WAY more up his speed. Well, in the last scene we see Joey take the stage, dressed as King Richard, and he does the opening “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech pretty damned well! He did it! He can do Shakespeare!…and the curtain rises to reveal dancing cowboys. He did it at the wrong production. That’s the kind of thing FRIENDS did so well. Sure, the show was “Gen X lightning in a bottle”, but it also ran for ten seasons.

    One other thing: as a Buffalo Bills fan, it is WAY too soon for me to have a good time watching anything featuring Tom Brady!

    • sheila says:

      I didn’t watch it through the very end so I don’t have the kind of bond with it that some others do, but those first 2 or 3 seasons I watched religiously. The chemistry of 6 people is just … I mean, how can you even plan for that? Clearly they DID plan for it but it was such a gamble!

      That Richard III schtick sounds hysterical! I kind of love him. He just seems like a genuinely grateful person. I like them all. It just makes me so sad – MP is just so clearly out to lunch. He never speaks. He looks 15 years older than everyone else. It’s painful.

      It’s funny about the Gen X thing … they feel more millennial in sensibility to me – or maybe it’s just that they’re timeless. They aren’t easily located in one era – and therefore they won’t really date, except for the homophobic stuff – and also the fact that they’re all white. Besides those stylistic things – They weren’t anchored in time. The MOOD isn’t Gen X. It’s kind of interesting. You think of 30something or something – and it’s so rooted in the 80s and so OBVIOUSLY about Boomers basically selling out (lol) – I mean, they were hippies and now they’re in advertising!!

      I don’t think that show “dates” all that much either!

      // it is WAY too soon for me to have a good time watching anything featuring Tom Brady! //

      I totally understand.

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.