June 2024 Viewing Diary

Sunset Boulevard (1950; d. Billy Wilder)
I had so much fun discussing Sunset Boulevard with the audience after the screening at Jacob Burns Film Center. I’ll be doing another one in August, after Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. The audience was terrific and engaged, and I met a lot of nice people. My dear old friend – and roommate for 9 years – Jen came, and so did my sister. Out for drinks afterwards in the dive bar down the block. It’s become a tradition.

Anyone But You (2023; d. Will Gluck)
Get ready for the Glen Powell Film/Television festival, which I put myself through (NOT a chore), because I knew I wanted to write this piece. This rom-com warms my heart, and it’s the best “entry” in this long-neglected genre I’ve seen in a long LONG time. Loosely “based” on Much Ado About Nothing it’s got it all: two gorgeous leads with legitimate authentic chemistry, a cast of wacky eccentrics – everyone gets to be weird and interesting, it’s a real ENSEMBLE, a stunning location – no green screens, they’re all actually THERE, pure silliness, a complete commitment to the Shakespearean nature of it all: all the eavesdropping, the people hovering on the sidelines, and then the final scene – where the whole cast enters the stage to wrap things up with a giant sing-along. So Shakespeare. I love how FREE it is, and how unembarrassed it is about its own genre. So many rom coms seem embarrassed at what they’re doing, and so try to be “modern” by making the woman a shrill “empowered” woman who doesn’t NEED a man (then … why are we here?) … and they ignore their predecessors, something like His Girl Friday. Hildy does not “need” a man, and she’s the most “empowered” person onscreen … so you have an example of how to do it. And yet … rom coms don’t. Here, they do. They don’t worry about using all the tropes. They use them without shame. The meet-cute within literally 10 seconds of the film opening. And it truly is a meet CUTE. The hostility over NOTHING. The “acting” of being in a couple. Both Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney just go for it. I love the diversity of the cast, and I love that the big event everyone gathers for is a lesbian wedding, and there’s not even the smallest hint of disapproval in anyone onscreen, or even if it’s not disapproval, there’s no moment like, “Oh! Wow! Two women marrying! Cool!” A lot of movies still give space for that kind of attitude. Not here. This might not be the world YOU live in but it’s the world I live in, the people in my world don’t provide space at all for that kind of attitude, so it’s nice to see in film. Mitchell (who is staying with me for the month) and I watched together and we both thought it was so fun. ALSO. It’s rated R. Refreshing! This is adult shit. There’s nudity. There’s sex. There’s casual references to drug use. People smoke weed. Again, this might not be the world YOU live in but it’s the one I live in. Not everything is supposed to family-friendly. It’s nice to see an R-rated rom com. They’re adults. They have sex. People have bodies and desire. etc. Loved it.

Set It Up (2018; d. Claire Scanlon)
I missed this one on its first release. It is adorable. Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell, adorable together. This, in my opinion, shows Glen Powell off to perfection and it’s the first time he had to grow and change as a character onscreen. Anyone But You highlights his insane body. He’s shirtless half the time. This one, he plays a more normal guy, in suits, T-shirts … maybe he really got that crazy body for Top Gun. I don’t know his workout routine. It also was filmed mostly on location in New York City and it’s sad that this feels new and fresh. But it FEELS like New York. And like with Anyone But You, Powell and Deutch have real chemistry. Not as sexually hot as what he and Sweeney have, but it’s chemistry of play and thought and interaction. They’re great together.

Hit Man (2024; d. Richard Linklater)
Seen this a couple of times now. It’s a lot of fun.

The Vibrator (2012; d. Daniel Zagayer)
A short film Powell did. Just 12 years ago. He plays a boyfriend threatened by his girlfriend’s vibrator. Because this is … wait, when does this take place? In 2012 this is still a thing? It wasn’t a thing back in the 90s, at least not in my experience, which, granted, may not be representative. But whatever. Guys being threatened by women’s vibrators don’t have a place in my world, lol. It’s filmed like a horror movie, with the vibrator as the monster. Powell looks like a generic frat boy. He hadn’t come into himself yet, but he’s about to.

Scream Queens, Season 1, episode 1 (2015; d. Ryan Murphy)
I didn’t watch this when it was on, so it was fun to dig in a little bit to the campiness of this series, its meta quality, and how much fun everyone seems to be having. It’s great-looking, too. Glen Powell plays a douchey frat boy (what a shock), but you can feel him using his comedy smarts, really for the first time. He knows what he’s doing.

Fast Food Nation (2006; d. Richard Linklater)
I had never seen this before. I have been thinking a lot about films that highlight SYSTEMS of oppression / exploitation: not by focusing on an individual, but on the system itself. It’s rare. This is a great example. So is the TV series Dopesick. I don’t think I’ll watch Fast Food Nation again though. It’s brutal.

Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult (2024; d. Derek Doneen)
I thought going in: “How bad can this be?” It’s BAD.

Just the Two of Us (2024; d. Valérie Donzelli)
It’s excellent and Virginie Efira is the real deal. I reviewed for Ebert.

NCIS, Season 10, episodes 6 and 7, “Shell Shock”, parts 1 and 2 (2012; d. Leslie Libman, Thomas J. Wright)
Hey, Thomas Wright from Supernatural!

CSI Miami, Season 7, episode 12, “Head Case” (2009; d. Sam Hill)
Powell has one scene and he’s very emotional.

Without a Trace, Season 7, episode 4, “True/False” (2008; d. Martha Mitchell)
I think Glen Powell is in the opening scene and is killed instantly. I don’t think he even has a line.

The Lying Game, Season 1, episode 17 “No Country for Young Love” (2012; d. Michael Grossman)
Glen Powell, again, in one scene as a fraternity brother. Hang in there. Your ship will come in 12 years from now.

Top Gun Maverick (2022; d. Joseph Kosinski)
I saw this in the theatre, the way it should be seen. It did not disappoint. Watched again for the Glen Powell factor. We (as in the New York Film Critics Circle) gave the film (and its cinematographer Claudio Miranda) Best Cinematography.

Bad Behaviour (2024; d. Alice Englert)
Not good in a lot of ways, but see it for Jennifer Connelly. One of her best performances. I reviewed for Ebert.

Devotion (2022; d. J.D. Dillard)
Glen Powell picking up speed now, producing this film (and developing it: it was his project, at least in terms of him reading the book and helping to secure the rights). I’m not sure why this movie isn’t more talked about, or didn’t get any chatter at the time. It got good reviews. Things get lost in the shuffle now, just 10 years ago Devotion would have run in theatres for a month. I found it very moving. This was the third time Powell played an aviator (Hidden Figures and Top Gun).

Holler (2020; d. Nicole Riegel)
This was on my Top 10 of 2020, and was the first movie I saw in a theatre after the months of lockdown. I went to the IFC Center in New York, fully masked, and bought a ticket for whatever show was playing. It was Holler. What a pleasure. Nicole Riegel is from Appalachia, she joined the Army to get the hell out of there, and here she is, some years later, making films – about her childhood and young adulthood and what it all was like. Her second film is coming soon and I can’t wait.

The Post (2017; d. Steven Spielberg)
Comfort food in troubled times.

The Feeling That the Time For Doing Something Has Passed (2024; d. Joanna Arnow)
I had heard a lot about this so finally sat down to watch. The deadpan tone is, at times, tiresome, but the portrayal of a formalized BDSM relationship is realistic, ahem, and counteracts the 50 Shades version – which is filled with red flags and no-nos – of the same thing. It’s a very organized subculture with a lot of rules. I dug this. Arnow is brave. She wrote/directed/starred.

Daddio (2024; d. Christy Hall)
As someone with a lifetime of experience having in-depth conversations with cab drivers, this struck a nerve. It’s the best Sean Penn has been in years, mostly because he gets to be warm – poignant even – and funny. But also tough. Perfect casting. I was super impressed. I reviewed for Ebert.

Righteous Gemstones Season 1, episodes 1, 2 (2019; d. Danny McBride)
I was in New York for a lot of June, and Allison and I watched a couple episodes. I love Danny McBride, as I mentioned in my Glen Powell piece.

The Bear, Season 3
I have a LOT of thoughts about this. I inhaled it in a day. I love what they’re doing. It’s very bold. People who think this show is about a restaurant kind of don’t get it. It’s about unmanaged grief and lifelong anxiety. It’s about the characters. I might write something more about this, but I am fully “in” to what they’re doing here. Episode 1 was CRAZY bold. A whole tone-poem, with minimal dialogue. I’ve seen people get frustrated with it. People are so plot-driven. This show is not at all about its “plot”. The plot is just an EXCUSE to dig into grief and emotions and who these people are. Carmy’s entire subtext for the entire season is “I want to call Claire but I’m afraid to.” Like, that’s what’s going on. People get frustrated, they want him to focus on the restaurant. Have you never been madly in love and fucked it up? THAT’S what we’re supposed to be caring about and I am so glad the show is digging in its heels in that regard. It’s kind of like the audience members who got bored with the therapy sessions in The Sopranos, wanting more of the gangster stuff, somehow missing the point that the therapy sessions were the whole point. Listen, you watch stuff how you want to watch it, I’ll watch shit the way I want to watch it.

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12 Responses to June 2024 Viewing Diary

  1. Scott Abraham says:

    I remember Jon Hamm talking about his early years in Hollywood and he couldn’t get work because he looked like a grown-ass man at 21. I figure it was the same for Glen Powell, not breaking until he aged into his mature demeanor.

    • sheila says:

      Interesting, Scott! I think there’s a lot TO that. and, tbh, there isn’t a lot of “room” for grown-ass men now. The roles skew younger, man-boys, etc. I mean, I guess this is often the case, the business is geared toward 20somethings – but if you think back to old-school Hollywood – Bogart, Cooper, Wayne – these guys were ADULTS.

      Powell needed to grow up and fill out. Someone over on my Substack said that he could play a great “rake”.

      I’ve had conversations with friends about how much I miss “rakish” men. Errol Flynn types. Totally out of style now. But we need rakes!

  2. Melissa Sutherland says:

    Sheila, your take on The Bear. Thank you God, someone got it!

    • sheila says:

      seeing a lot of my YouTube reactors – the regulars I visit – who love it too. Critics are being silly. Very disappointing. since the series is just being what it’s always been – it’s about the emotions and the characters. Being irritated that Carmy has a love interest in Season 2 – is completely missing the fact that it’s been SET UP for multiple episodes – that the thing that’s missing for him is NOT having a successful restaurant – the thing that’s missing for him is a personal life. He SAYS it. “I need to have more joy in my life but I don’t know how.” Like, it’s right there in the text. and then everyone got annoyed about how he was “distracted” from his super-important restaurant job. Like, season 1 was all about him whipping the restaurant into shape. If that was all he was doing in Season 2, it would have been repetitive. This is story-telling 101. The Bear was innovative from the jump. Season 3 is not a break in style. It’s a continuation and deepening.

  3. Ooooh, ANYONE BUT YOU! I knew nothing about it when Netflix recommended it, but I’m on board with rom-coms. We were about thirty minutes in when the “fake eavesdropping” scene happened and I thought, “Ben…Bea…Benedict? Beatrice? HEY!!!” Of course, now I want to watch Branagh and Thomas again….

    Oh, did you catch a glimpse in the movie of a book with the title “Men We’re Deceivers Ever” on it?

    • sheila says:

      Ben and Bea!!

      Yes – Men Were Deceivers Ever! and there were other Shakespeare needle-drops – graffiti on the building (his apartment), a painting on the wall that said “a skirmish of wit”, etc. there are more in there. I loved it!

  4. Nicola Enslin says:

    I’m going to have to watch Anyone But You again. I’m not a hater. I swear to god, I love silly shit. I love banter, and misunderstandings, and Much Ado About Nothing/enemies to lovers is my favourite romance trope. But I just didn’t “get” this one. I didn’t like it. And genuinely was like why is this SO successful? My friend really enjoyed it. And it’s not even that everyone has to like everything. I mean, it’s all subjective, right? But now that you wrote so warmly about it I’m feeling left out! 😂

    • sheila says:

      I was surprised at how much this hit me – because rom coms have been pretty bad for like 20 years, lol. I lack trust in them!! I think GP is funny – so I trusted that part of it, but he very easily could be mis-used, for all the reasons I wrote about in my Substack. He’s a weird one, even though he’s a hunk. So this showed him off and I just loved the very real chemistry – for me it was all about their chemistry!

    • sheila says:

      will be curious to hear your thoughts on Daddio – since I know you love Dakota. don’t know if it’s “out” where you are, I know there’s a lag some time, but i was VERY into it.

      • Nicola says:

        I’m so excited that you liked Daddio. I’m hoping we will get a release in South Africa. Fortunately, in some ways, streaming has been a blessing, because it does usually make its way onto some streaming service or the other.

        I love the two leads in Anyone But You so I thought I might enjoy it. Maybe my expectations messed with my enjoyment. I’ll give it another try.
        There has been an Amazon romcom in the last year that I loved to distraction. Red, White, & Royal Blue. I watched it on repeat almost last year. Became a comfort movie. Sometimes it’s kind of weird what “works” for you personally or doesn’t.

  5. nighthawk bastard says:

    so glad you’re enjoying the bear! not up to speed with the latest season but i LOVED the first two.

    • sheila says:

      It’s apparently a very divisive season – it’s definitely different, but I think they’ve already shown that they’re not interested in doing things the regular way. I saw a critic listing everything they would change to make it better and I was like “so …. you want it to be like every other show?” They really play around with the timeline – it’s not linear – and people are like “Make it linear.” So … conventional, like every other show. Okay.

      I definitely think Season 2 is the best – but I was fascinated by what they were doing with season 3. I’m frustrated by a lot of it – lots of loose ends – but for me, that’s good storytelling. I don’t know.

      I’d be interested to hear your thoughts once you see it. There seems to be no consensus on it – which I think is pretty cool!

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