Well, I am quite late with this one. I blame this on that mediocre Meryl Streep film, Music of the Heart. Besides the chore that was sitting through that film, September was quite a good month for me, in terms of films seen as well as my personal and work life. This month I moved to London and started a new job. I am so glad I got all the way here, never crossed my mind that I would be in this position. That’s making me very happy.
First Time Viewings:
Safe (Todd Haynes, 1995)
A creepy and gorgeous film. A horror in disguise. Such a strange idea to make a film out of. A really complex movie that I’m not sure I understood completely but something that I enjoyed tremendously. Moore was fantastic. I really enjoyed the production design as well. Unique film. A
Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
What an accomplished action film. And what an idea. Even though he made and still makes very good movies, I feel like Spielberg isn’t really my thing, but this film is really terrific. In my opinion, not his best film from those of his I’ve seen, but definitely among his best. And Tom Cruise was great, I’m really starting to appreciate him now. And what a world they created. What a story. And Samantha Morton, she’s great and I am glad she got to do such a big film. Fun and smart. A
A Cry in the Dark (Fred Schepisi, 1988)
Part of the Meryl Marathon. I didn’t not expect this film to be so engaging.
Bridges of Madison County (Clint Eastwood, 1995)
Part of the Meryl Marathon. Let’s just say this one wasn’t as superficial as I thought it would be.
Postcards from the Edge Mike Nichols, 1990)
Part of the Meryl Marathon. Not the hurt and vitriol show I expected. Enjoyable little film.
One True Thing (Carl Franklin, 1998)
Part of the Meryl Marathon. Well, this was sad.
Out of Africa (Sydney Pollack, 1985)
Part of the Meryl Marathon. That main score is majestic.
The Visit (M. Night Shyamalan, 2015)
I didn’t really plan on seeing this one but it got decent reviews for a horror film so I decided to give it a try. I don’t regret doing that. It was a fun film. I liked the way it was shot. I thought it was used in a smart way. The kids’ story was developed well enough for a horror film. I thought they were well cast and worked good together. The same thing can be said about the actors playing the grandparents as well as for Kathryn Hahn who played their mother. I especially liked the scene where she slowly runs after them when their train departs. What happens in this film only happens in films but I wasn’t bothered by it in any way. It didn’t blow me away but I had fun with it. B
Man Up (Ben Palmer, 2015)
After I saw the trailer for this one I thought it looked surprisingly decent for a romantic comedy. It’s nice seeing Lake Bell playing the lead for once instead of the best friend. I enjoyed her banter with Simon Pegg, thought they worked very well together. It had some funny jokes. But in the end they still went with the grand gesture ending. Overall it was a decent film except for the last minute which was just messed up. B
Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (Francis Lawrence, 2014)
I didn’t catch with this one when it was released in theaters. Since it was split in two I didn’t want to have to wait a whole year to see the second part. Plus, I suspected there won’t be much happening in this one. And I was right. While I enjoyed Lawrence and the rest of the cast, it was quite a static film. I remember when I saw Catching Fire I was trembling, dying to know how it’s gonna end which never happened to me before. But at least it didn’t drag as shamelessly as The Hobbit franchise. B-
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, 2015)
In the last 5 years, the winner of the Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival proved to be not only a good film, but a great one. Well, this year I don’t think we’re as lucky as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl took home the big prize.
The film is about two high school film-lovers who befriend a girl diagnosed with leukemia. The film has good intentions but I wasn’t charmed by it. At the beginning I was but by the end it wore off. I thought it was too cute for its own good and whenever a film keeps saying how good certain films are, I find that annoying. I thought it very much belonged in the festival. That should say enough. The Diary of a Teenage Girl was a million ways better than this film. C+
Queen of Earth (Alex Ross Perry, 2015)
I enjoyed Listen Up Phillip quite a lot and was excited to see this film following the praise it got at its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. And also because of the two lead actresses, Elisabeth Moss, who played one of my favorite characters in Mad Men, and Katherine Waterston, who was in one of my favorite films of last year, Inherent Vice.
I remembered that Ross Perry shot Listen Up Phillip in Super 16 mm, something I thought worked with that film, but I really hoped this one wasn’t shot like that. I didn’t enjoy the way it was shot even though it did give it an eerie feeling at times. Oh, well…
The film has been compared by many people, or most likely everyone, to Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, and understandably given its story. The film focuses Moss’ Catherine, a young woman who’s just been through a tough break-up and lost her artist father for whom she was an assistant. We follow her as she slowly crumbles psychologically at the cabin of her friend, Ginny, who isn’t making things easy for her. Moss is terrific here, the material is quite good. That can be seen from the very first scene in which she has a bad reaction to the parting with her boyfriend. Waterston gives a good performance as well as she has some things to work with too. Despite the terrific work from these two actresses I couldn’t really understand why their characters were even friends. They were so bitter to each other. It made for an unpleasant viewing. I saw the film two months ago as I write this post and don’t remember as much about the film. But if there is one reason to see it, it’s Moss’ performance. C+
Ironweed (Hector Babenco, 1987)
Part of the Meryl Marathon. What a messy and depressing story.
Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis, 1992)
Part of the Meryl Marathon. I wish it would have been done better. Good special effects though.
Music of the Heart (Wes Craven, 1999)
Part of the Meryl Streep Marathon. (sigh) The things I watch for this woman.
Second Or Multiple Viewings:
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
As great as films can be. I would love to see this film on the big screen. A+
Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)
I’m glad to see that this film holds up. What an amazing story. A
You’re The Worst: Season 1 (2014)
I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about this TV show about two emotionally scarred people who start a relationship. We also follow their kooky friends who have their own similar problems. The characters aren’t really likable. At first I was even thinking of giving up given the level of debauchery they delve into. Then I understood that the excess was intentional as in the last 3 episodes, the show turns sour, in a good way. I mean, it gets so sad and dark, while still making us laugh. I applaud it for the successful turn, as slight as it was. As a final note, I found strange that the character of Lindsay, who is not supposed to be the most sophisticated of women, sings a cover of Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work, the high point of her emotional breakdown. I saw a few episodes from season 2 but I am waiting for it to end. I’ve heard and seen good things. B+
Books of the Month:
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
Vertigo a.k.a. The Living and the Dead by Pierre Boileau & Thomas Narcejac
Have you seen any of the films/ TV shows from my list?
What have you watched this September?