Week 28

The queen

The Queen- I’m not sure how to categorize this outside of the generic “drama” genre. It’s a biopic of sorts but only over a short period of time and not what I would consider a glowing representation.  Queen Elizabeth II does dominate the screen time but equally important are Tony Blair and his staff, not to mention large amounts of footage from the news and the rest of the Royal Family. Taking place the week after Princess Diana’s death, the movie deals with people’s ever growing resentment of the monarchy and how the Royal Family deal with the aftermath.

C8 A7


Billy Lynn

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk- If you were to believe this movie’s representation of soldier life in the mid-2000s, then you might think every person either wanted to fuck or fight veterans coming home from Iraq. At a football game where they are part of the halftime show, they are routinely disrespected, ignored, seduced, and at one point, brawled with. Everything in this movie is a caricature without room for nuance or shades of gray (the Chris Tucker subplot is particularly vile) and the reason may be technical. Watching this on Blu-Ray on my little 14” flat screen, I couldn’t possibly experience the 120FPS 4K Stereo 3D that the director had set out to do but that only proves my point. Like how Avatar is essentially 3D Dances with Wolves, the technology will not make your movie good if it’s bad, it will only distract us momentarily.

One Good Thing: I’m sure 120FPS looked amazing but I didn’t see it so I got nothing here. Nothing.

Watch Instead: Hurt Locker, Life of Pi

C2 A6


The seven year itch

The Seven Year Itch- I didn’t know anything about Marilyn Monroe other than she died young and probably had an affair with JFK. While those things are true (allegedly), she also had great comic timing and radiates warmth. I don’t even know how to frame this movie other than Monroe is an angelic metaphor that causes a man to realize that he actually loves his wife. This has the iconic subway grate scene but rather than some long lascivious scene that most of us envision it is but a brief moment that strengthens a longer scene. It reminded me of Monroe herself. She is someone who I had an image of in my head based on hearsay and myth but in actuality she is much more and I can’t wait to see in her in more films.

C8 A8



Reds- At the risk of being disrespectful to her wonderful performance, Diane Keaton is the rare human being who gets increasingly more attractive as she gets older. I’m not saying Meryl Streep or a Julia Roberts are not attractive, but did you see them at 20? Keaton is opposite. Anyway, this movie is a sprawling biopic about labor organizer and journalist John Reed’s travels around the world in the 1910s and 20s. It has a strong focus on communism with a large portion taking place with Lenin and Trotsky during the Bolshevik revolution. It also employs interviews with the real people who were around Reed and his wife Louise Bryant (played by Keaton) at the time. Great cast, plentiful locations and interesting backdrop all succeed on the back of Warren Beatty who starred, directed and wrote the film. Side note: If you still don’t believe me, watch Annie Hall and then Something’s Gotta Give. It’s like she’s Benjamin Buttoning.

C8 A6


Death Wish

Death Wish- New York? Check. 1970s? Check. Street violence and vigilantism? Check. Jeff Goldblum as gang member?!?! Check. Short of a sci-fi twist, this movie has about all I could want with a little social commentary thrown in. I always thought this was based on the Bernard Goetz subway shooting but maybe it was the other way around. Anyway, a man’s family is brutally attacked and he decides to take the law into his own hands, becoming both a hero and a villain in the eyes of New York and the world.

C8 A8



Paris is Burning

Paris is Burning- A rare look into a fleeting moment in time, Paris follows the world of black, gay and transgender men coming together in the 1980s.  To the uninitiated, “the balls” might best be described as drag shows, but they are much more involved. This documentary follows key figures in the scene and the trials of being gay and black living in New York during the AIDS crisis. It’s a great historical snapshot which has since been inducted into the National Registry for its cultural significance.

C8 A6


Everything and nothing

Everything and Nothing- There’s gonna be some movies on this list where I don’t have much to say if they serve some simple purpose, i.e. learning about stuff. This movie is about space and science and nothingness. If you dig that, you will dig this.

C6 A6


Unearthed and untold

Unearthed and Untold: Pet Semetary- It’s unfortunate that probably the only documentary made about Pet Semetary apparently did not have the rights to show any footage from the actual movie. They could interview all the actors, but if I recall correctly there are no scenes from the movie only video and pictures of actors on set. It must have been aggravating for the director to have to work with those parameters but they do the movie justice. I’d forgotten how strong some of the visuals were in the film and it was nice to revisit them albeit through the lens of a low budget doc.

C6 A5


Frankie and johnny

Frankie and Johnny- Pacino is here in the movie directly preceding Scent of a Woman so his “woo-ah” transformation is in its larvae stage. It comes and goes in small fits but does not overpower. Pfeiffer is dark and pretty and the film is a love letter in a way to the people of New York. Prudish chain smoking waitress Nedda is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in some time. I even went back to a specific scene involving rotating pies because it was so funny. This story is sweet and honest and surprising. I enjoyed it very much.

C7 A6

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