September roundup

My personal laptop is in the shop for the next 3-5 weeks. Among the things I forgot I would lose access to was my spreadsheet of watched movies. If I really wanted to, I could dig it outta the backup I took of my drive, but let’s be real. I’m too lazy. So instead of going in some semblance of order, here’s a few of what I remember I did see since we last spoke. And by remember, I mean scrolling thru my A-List history and Google calendar for anything before this past week.

School of Rock – Watched this at Alamo this week, and the smile on my face was the biggest I’ve had in a very long time. I only wish it was a rowdy screening so I could have sung along. Hadn’t seen the movie in a while, but the stage show was still very fresh in my brain, and it tracked so much better than I remembered. Also, was struck by Dewey’s sincerity in dealing with the kids. Sure, his underlying actions were selfish, but these kids felt comfortable enough with him to bring their problems, and when they did, he listened wholeheartedly and gave sound guidance. Mad respect.

The Room – FINALLY! Screenings of The Room returned with a vengeance this past weekend, selling out multiple shows with Tommy in attendance. I’d been dying to return. Admittedly, the crowd was a little rusty with their callbacks. It took a while for them to get going, and some of them needed my buddy and I to start them up. Still, the most fun theater experience ever.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – First repeat movie of the year (I think), although a big reason was because I got a huge migraine halfway thru the first watch that made it hard to focus (mentally and visually). But I loved it so much. Simultaneously felt very connected to the MCU and very much like its own fresh new thing. And some of the best fight sequences in the whole franchise (hooray for beautifully choregraphed martial arts). That bus battle is going down in history.

Malignant – I wasn’t sold that I wanted to see this, but many horror fans that I trust were talking it up. The trailer made it look like lazy jump scare stuff, which it most certainly was not. Mostly I went because I trust James Wan, and he did not betray me. I dug the vibe, but mostly, yes I loved the final act. No spoilers, but I will say that even though I figured it out a little too soon due to a certain clue that I’ve seen used before, it was so bonkers I didn’t care. Sure the “why” may be a little dumb, but you can’t beat the execution. Pun kinda intended.

The Card Counter – I don’t understand what Paul Schrader was trying to say with this film, or why I should care. And for most of it, I didn’t. There was a point maybe 2/3 in where I did start to get into it and feel invested in the story, and then it was gone. Beautifully shot and put together, but lacking on the story front for me.

Copshop – I had a free evening, and this looked up my alley. Gave me a “Nobody” vibe, and we know how much I loved that one. Copshop was a “me” movie, but not on the level I’d hoped. While I’m normally a stickler for plot, this is the type of movie where you want to minimize the story and increase the insanity. I felt like the set up went on too long, and once we got to the full on shoot ’em up, I wanted more. I wanted bigger.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye – I am very interested in stories like this, about corruption within religious organizations. Let’s just say I have personal reasons that I could make a whole series of posts about. So I was very much glued to this story, and Jessica Chastain’s epic performance, even if some elements of it were a little triggering for me.

Dear Evan Hansen – Speaking of triggering, oh boy was this hard for me to watch. Look, I know there’s all sorts of opinions and controversies around the film between the casting and its handling of the subject matter. For me, this just hit very close to home. The way that Ben Platt exhibited his social anxiety made a knot form in my chest that did not let up, esp when you add in the sucidal ideation as a result of various high school pressures. Oh and add in the overachieving side character who used her perceived perfection to cover up her struggles, yeah very real. I still don’t know if I can say I liked it. I can just say that I felt it, and for better or worse, isn’t that ultimately the goal?

CODA

We have another movie in the running for favorite of the year, and it’s a polar opposite of its competition (Nobody). This warrants a full post.

While obsessively checking Alamo’s schedule, I noticed there were repeated listing for a film called CODA. That’s the first thing that got my attention. After a week or so, my Twitter started lighting up with people talking about how much they adored this movie. That really made me take notice, so I did some quick IMDB research.

CODA stands for “Child of Deaf Adults” but also has a double meaning referring to music. The story follows a girl who is the only hearing member of her otherwise deaf family. She’s torn between staying home to help the family’s struggling business or leaving for college to study singing. Now I’m really interested. Final selling point is one of the family members is played by Daniel Durant, who I saw as Moritz in Deaf West Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening on Broadway. That is one of the best things I’ve ever seen on stage, and as my favorite character in that show, Durant was phenomenal. Sold!

I didn’t end up going to Alamo tho. Timing and budget worked out better for my first return trip to The Landmark, which was a nice theater to revisit. Had to haul it to get there from my screening of The Night House across town at the dine in (including a snack stop at CVS) but I made it in good time. Sat in the wrong auditorium for a while tho, bc Fandango didn’t update the listing. Ticket taker told me the right place to go, but I stubbornly didn’t listen to him until it was clear that I wasn’t where I was supposta be.

I absolutely adored every second of the movie. It was so heartwarming and feel good, I was close to happy tears throughout most of the last act. But it also had me thinking, because I could see both sides of our leading lady’s struggle, and I felt for her so much. Granted, I was also looking at this thru the lens of a mostly well adjusted adult, so therapy taught me exactly how she needed to respond to her situation to best serve herself, but I still enjoyed watching it play out. Emilia Jones absolutely owned this movie, and I was thoroughly impressed with her performance.

Oh bonus shout out for scene stealer Eugenio Derbez as her music teacher. Perfectly sized role for him, allowing him to be silly and just over the top enough without being grating. I absolutely love him when he finds that balance.

As if this movie wasn’t already enough to make my heart ridiculously happy, it also gave me a chance to brush up some of my ASL skillz. It was actually that production of Spring Awakening that finally got me to take a course a few years back. Unfortunately, they only offered level 1, so I’ve only got some very basic knowledge and vocab. I’ve spent most of the past week refreshing myself on some basic signs for a few simple sentences. Knowing my track record, I prolly won’t get much past that this time, but maybe one day I’ll pick it back up for reals.

Anyways, this movie is streaming on Apple I think, so it’s absolutely worth checking out. Or if you’re lucky enough to find a screening nearby (open captions!!), highly highly recommend it.

CODA – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Summer Recap

I liked the quick hit recap approach from last month, so I was waiting to build up a few more movies to warrant a post. Then they built up quickly, so I’ll hafta split it into multiples. The good news is that movies are still holding their release dates (except you Venom, gonna make me sit thru the exact same trailer for a whole other month) and the theaters are staying open here. My A-List has been getting a ton of use, and Alamo is hitting my bank account hard. All is right with the world. In that regard at least.

Stillwater – Realized that the timing of my return trip from Texas and the multiple releases that weekend were gonna be tricky to fit in. So instead of my usual afternoon at the movies, I hurried Mom thru dinner and dropped her off at home so I could run to a Thur night movie–that I hadn’t realized was two and a half hours long. This was a very solid and interesting drama, that I knew I’d immediately forget about days later (which I pretty much did). I also felt kinda guilty later about giving it my money since it’s pretty blatantly exploiting a real life story even if it claims to be fully original. So maybe best forgotten about after all.

The Green Knight – This one is gonna be a bit of a hot take because I know hardcore cinephiles have been drooling over this for months before its release. It wasn’t for me. Yes, it was absolutely gorgeous to look at, and the craft of it was stunning. I value story about most else, and that was way too slow for me (which makes sense when I realize it was the same director as A Ghost Story). My brain was in a very detailed and elaborate (cue Mariah) sweet sweet fantasy baby throughout the whole 2 hours, and yet I didn’t miss a single plot point. That’s a problem for me. Highlight of the day was that while I was waiting for my hot dog at concessions, I took one turn at the crane game. It was one of those sideways cranes that I don’t like, but I somehow managed to hook three Spider-men on that one turn. So I kept one and gave the other two to the little cousins.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – Saw this at Alamo a few days after I got back (and Eastern Promises a couple days before). The main reason I wanted to watch this there was because when Bond first moved its release date last year and we all thought they were being silly and paranoid, Alamo replaced it on its lineup with Austin Powers. Then Alamo (and everyone else closed). I forgot how absolutely hilarious this movie is (I typically prefer the second film), and how much I love being in an audience for a good comedy. The buzz of laughter was non-stop and it felt so good to soak it all in. Also forgot what a goddess Mindy Sterling is, and we need more of her. I would absolutely do a repeat viewing in a heartbeat.

The Suicide Squad – This was frustrating. While we know where I typically side on the Marvel vs DC debate, I was genuinely rooting for this film. James Gunn gave me hope. And I love some of what he did, but it was a bit of a mess. A lot of things felt like he was doing them just because he could, and the humor and violence felt forced as a result. But my biggest problem was the character development, or lack thereof–always a risk with a big ensemble film, esp when most characters are net new. Too much time was spent on peeps who didn’t hang around long, and not enough was spent on the ones that stay (could we have more Polka Dot Man backstory and a better explanation of his abilities, please). It was hard to feel a connection to them or even differentiate some of the similarly powered dudes (looking at you Elba and Cena). The one character that was done right was Ratcatcher 2 so of course she ended up being my favorite. That’s what happens when you properly invest the time and effort. I wish I could cherry pick which squad members we did focus on, and then have them introduced right.

Jungle Cruise – There was exactly one thing I wanted out of this movie and I got it: The Rock giving a very classic Jungle Cruise experience, full of puns I love from the ride and a few new ones. I got exactly that about twenty minutes into the film. I was happy, and didn’t need anything else besides that. Which is good because it was otherwise a fairly generic adventure. Fun and enjoyable, but it felt like an amalgam of every other family adventure film that came before–most of whom are also owned by the Mouse.

Donnie Darko – I just wanted to brag that I got to see this at Alamo.

Black Widow

Once 2020 rolled into 2021 and movie theaters still hadn’t opened yet in LA, but vaccines were starting to roll out, I’d made a decision. I was going to hold out until I was vaxxed up before going back. However, there’d be one exception. Black Widow. I’ve seen all 23 other MCU films in theaters, all the way back to the OG Iron Man, and I was not about to break my streak. I’d even planned on taking a vacation day in the middle of the week so I could see it on 11 AM on a Wednesday morning or something. Thankfully, I got my surprise J&J vaxx that woulda taken care of me in time for Widow’s May date. And then more thankfully she got pushed to July, giving us even more time.

Because this was a special movie, I opted to go see it at Alamo. Although really, it’s because at the time tix went on sale, I wasn’t currently holding any upcoming Alamo tix and I hate that. But still, MCU movie, I was gonna go all out. Whatever it takes, yeah? Isn’t that what the Avengers say. I jumped so quickly on those tickets, I didn’t realize until afterwards that I’d picked the open caption screening. I felt bad that I may have taken a seat from someone who needed it (esp since it turned out to be the only OC showtime) but skipping right to it, I absolutely loved it. I typically watch movies at home with the subtitles so that I can be sure to catch all the dialog, so of course I’d be into it on the big screen. Esp with the thick Russian accents most characters had, it was brilliant. WE. NEED. TO. NORMALIZE. THESE. SCREENINGS.

Right, so the movie. It honestly felt like a filler movie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a reason not every movie can be Endgame. I’ve always said that even the worst MCU movies are not bad movies, esp when compared to some of their less stellar competitors in the genre. So this was certainly on the lighter, less weighty side, which is fine. If there is anything wrong with that, it’s that it didn’t really further the story of the MCU. The film took place in between Civil War and Infinity War, so we ultimately know how the broad strokes will play out. Still, a fun place to visit. Besides, we got all the D+ series that have been setting so much groundwork for Phase 4, that this was a nice little break.

What it did do best, and may be that one crucial piece of setup is introducing Florence Pugh as Yelena. I won’t go into what she’s primed for, but she was my absolute favorite part of the film. Florence stole every scene she was in, as she often (always) tends to do. Once we were getting towards the end of the film, I realized I no longer cared what Nat was doing and I only wanted to watch Yelena. Given where things leave off for both of them, that’s probably a good thing for the future of the franchise.

David Harbor was another standout, so hopefully we’ll find a way to bring him back as well.

Black Widow – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Quick Recap

Welp. It’s been a month and a half since my last post, and I just haven’t had the motivation to get another one done. So many times, it’s been right there on my to do list, but then I just didn’t wanna. I’m not quite ready to let this whole thing go yet, but I haven’t missed the weekly hours I’d put into it. I guess from here on, I’ll just post when the spirit moves me, instead of strictly sticking to writing up every new release I see in theaters.

So why was I so moved now? Because I’m halfway thru a week in Texas, it’s 5 AM here, and I’ve been awake for an hour (after taking forever to fall asleep in the first place) and sleep is not coming. I blame the black tea latte I snuck in with me to see Snake Eyes. Was falling asleep all day despite getting 8 hours the night before and had a headache, so I thought a decent jolt of caffeine (which I typically avoid) was a good idea. I mean, it was a good idea at the time. Got me thru the day. Now I gotta get thru the night (and will likely be a zombie tomorrow).

I picked Black Widow as the movie I wanna fully write up (MCU obsession and all) but I should at least do a quick run thru of everything I’ve seen since last we met.

LOTR: ROTK – Did complete the full trilogy at Alamo over three weeks. That brings my total watch count up to 7/10/14. And my total spend for that last tour between tickets, food, and parking was well over 200. Making up for lost time at the movies I guess

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – Felt the exactly same way about this as the first. All the pieces are there for it to be hilarious, but it just falls flat. I did appreciate that Salma Hayek got a bigger role. Not because I cared about her character, but because I love Salma in general

The Sparks Brothers – I’m picky about what documentaries I’ll give my time to in theaters, but I was sold at Edgar Wright. Felt about it the same way I typically do for his movies. Thinking about it in tiny bits, it’s brilliant. Watching the whole thing, mostly kinda meh. I did end up downloading a greatest hits album of theirs. Oh and favorite running bit was the way he’d label his various guests (splitting Duran Duran, Weird Al as “professional accordionist”)

F9 – Saw this with my coworkers at a new Regal location that opened, and saw that they had a 4DX theater, so I went back again the following week. Not the best for a rewatch, but great for the auditorium effects. Definitely on the lower end of the F&F ranking. Felt very thrown together and incoherent, but still a lot of fun if you don’t try to use your brain much.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway – Yo, it was the only thing playing nearby that I hadn’t seen yet and I had to get outta the house. I ended up sleeping thru half of it, so I’ll call that much a win.

The Forever Purge – Interesting concept, and prolly the most logical progression for the franchise, but it felt a bit lazy overall. Or specifically the violence felt lazy. Just a bunch of shooting and mayhem without any thoughtful choreography or much intent behind anything. Point and shoot, then run away and do it again.

Zola – I’m not sure that I cared much for this as entertainment, but I appreciated it as art, particularly in the storytelling. So interesting to me how it was put together, I just wish I had been more invested in the actual story itself

Black Widow – See next post

Space Jam: A New Legacy – Simultaneously the best movie ever and worst movie ever. But really more the latter. Had a lot of fun watching for their WB property cameos, but it felt too much like they knew it was a kids movie and therefore didn’t try too hard to make it palatable to us older kids. And Lebron was much better in Trainwreck.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions – It did its job as far as the suspense. Oh man did it not let up. However, as an escape room concept, it was a little disappointing. The first movie was paced well enough with puzzles that I could try and solve as I watched. Here was less puzzles and more don’t-touch-things-they’ll-kill-you and find-the-thing=that’s-hidden.

Old – I’m still a sucker for a good Shyamalan movie. This was a decent one. I felt the main premise went on for too long (felt like it shoulda been a short). Was able to avoid spoilers for a couple days until I saw it, and the implications of the reveal still have me thinking.

Pig – I went in fairly cold, and did not understand what the movie I was watching really was. I had some idea in my head, but it wasn’t until doing my research after that I got that I had missed the point completely. It will warrant a rewatch.

Snake Eyes – Very light but totally watchable action fun. And I still pick Henry Golding for the next 007.

In the Heights

Been putting this one off because there’s so much I wanna talk about that I don’t even know how to organize my thoughts. I’m sure whatever ends up on this page when I hit publish will only be a fraction of it, so I’ll cut straight to the chase and say In the Heights is EXACTLY everything that I want in a movie musical.

I never saw the stage version. I honestly didn’t have a whole lotta interest in it. Plot tends to be one of the biggest factors that draws me to a show, and on paper, this wasn’t doing it for me. The most exposure I’d had was performing No Me Diga with my college theater friends for one of our internal cabaret nights. I’d been recruited because we had a very small Latino contingent in the group, and one of them organized it. I don’t remember much other than my buddy Carlos singing the lead part with ginormous fake boobs. To me, at the time, the song felt very generic musical theater, so I never felt compelled to listen to the rest of the show. Man was I wrong. Also, not at all the best song to rep the show.

But at the same time, I enjoyed getting to discover this for the first time on the big screen. The magic of the musical numbers was palpable. The choreography, the beats, the lyrics (which were a little hard to hear at some points), everything was on point. My little bit of research after the fact tells me that there were a lot of changes in the adaptation that served the story well. I did have a few minor points of confusion with the structure and motivation, but since it was resolved and a spoiler, I’ll leave it at that.

One thing watching this made me feel was pride in my Hispanic heritage, even if that heritage often confuses me. Genetically speaking, I’m half Hispanic and half white, but I grew up on the border in a very Hispanic town, so that’s how I identify. Even though growing up there, I stood out for being not fully Hispanic. It wasn’t really until I left that I felt connected to that side, when I realized how much of what I grew up with was special to the region and the culture.

There’s a song in the movie where each group proudly raise a flag to represent their country or region of origin. In my family, we never really made a big deal about being Hispanic. It was more of a we’re-in-America-so-we’re-Americans kind of thing. Mom even gets upset if you classify her as the wrong flavor of Hispanic. I once got corrected for referring to myself as Latina, something about being able to trace our family to Spain, but to me it’s less about the label and the bloodlines and more about where and how I was raised. So while I felt like I wanted to jump up and wave my own flag, I also felt like I didn’t know what that flag was supposta be.

I did, however, fully grasp the love of NYC. My bestie has lived in Harlem, just south of the Heights for a while now. I know how much he loves his bodega, which ends up being the tiny center of his little universe. I absolutely loved how that was captured in the film, with the story revolving around the owners of one of those essential-is-an-understatement stores. I saw him post on FB after the movie, and he was brimming with love for his city, especially now that it’s starting to reopen and return to some semblance of its former glory.

The other thing I picked up on, the little Hamilton Easter eggs. Although my favorite part of that was that there was someone house right who also picked up on them. I’d hear loud solitary laughter at key moments from that side of the auditorium that was otherwise quiet. That was cute.

This is one of those movies that I wouldn’t be surprised if I used my A-List for a rewatch. It was that joyful and grand. Also, Anthony Ramos is destined to be a star. He’s been on the up and coming for a while, but hopefully this solidifies it.

Yup, so many more fragmented thoughts in my head that I can’t remember or articulate. Ah well, that’s where they’ll hafta stay.

In the Heights – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

I don’t care for the Conjuring movies. I’ve only seen the recent spin offs in theaters, and that’s cause of A-List. I eventually caught the originals on BluRay, which confirmed my suspicions. They’re lazy horror. Things jumping out going “boo” with minimal story. Not my thing. So while I’ve been hearing a lot of Conjuring junkies say they disliked …Devil… because it was so different, that’s actually why I kinda liked it.

After the series took some turns investigating various artifacts that have appeared in these films (looking at you, Annabelle, and your 27 movies) we’re back with Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga both of whom I adore. Instead of investigating a haunted house, we start with an exorcism gone wrong. The demon successfully leaves the little boy he’s possessed, but jumps to a young man who is present. That man goes on to kill someone while under the influence of said demon. He’s put on trial and pleas “Not guilty by reason of possession”. It’s up to the Warrens to find a way to prove he was in fact possessed.

I liked it because there was more story, more mystery, not just freaky things happening around them while they sit and stare in a house. It was an investigation. However, it wasn’t a courtroom drama/horror like the trailer suggested, which would have been cool. Scenes in front of a judge or lawyers were minimal. So it still felt like the Ed and Lorraine show, but out in the wild instead of confined to a single location. For me, that’s a step up.

A bigger step up was the increased focus on Ed and Lorraine’s relationship. Give me that movie! We see where they met and how strong their relationship has been throughout the years. Again, adore these lead actors, so I would have watched the whole film with minimal horror and maximum backstory.

Eventually the film did kinda devolve, as most lazy horror films tend to do, where it’s all mayhem until some arbitrary action stops it. The logic behind things was very hazy because who needs explanations when you can have jump scares. Still because the story was stronger than usual, it held my attention for far longer than any other Conjuring or Conjuring adjacent film has before. For what it is, I call that a win

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – \m/ \m/ \m/

They Live

Couldn’t even stay away from Alamo for 24 hours. I was back the next day for They Live, which has been on my watch list for a very long time. I’m here to watch movies and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of bubble gum.

One of the best parts of Alamo is the preshow, a collection of random video clips to set the mood for the film to come. They’re not necessarily so good that you need to be there 30 minutes early, but it’s reason enough to add that extra buffer time to your arrival. They Live had a very fun one that had me guessing at the connections. A bunch of wrestling related stuff (animated cats wrestling, wrestlers singing “Land of 1000 Dances”, etc) because of lead actor “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. A trailer for Escape From New York because John Carpenter. A video of cats chilling in sunglasses bc the sunnies in the movie. Cute. Gave me enough time to order my fried pickles, which I finished before the trailers were even over, so I followed it up with a giant cookie milkshake that I immediately regretted.

Oh bonus points for the “Don’t Talk, Don’t Text” PSA. I love that they’ve got so many of these that they can also be tailored to the film. This one was curtesy of the man himself, John Carpenter. The finishing touch was the “OBEY” messages flashing on the screen, which I had done just enough homework on They Live to get the reference.

The film starts out kinda like Rambo. Big dude, down on his luck, wanders into town looking for work. We take a good chunk of time meeting this character and getting to know his situation. He’s drawn to a church across the street that’s holding some type of secret meetings. Eventually, he gets a hold of some sunglasses that he got from the church after it was raided by cops. Wearing the sunnies allows him to see the truth about the world: it’s crawling with aliens and they’ve planted subliminal messages to encourage obedience and submission all over the landscape.

So if the first act was intro, the second act was discovery, the third act was of course revolution. I was all about the second. I wanted to live more in that world and learn about who the aliens were and what their plans are and how society continued to go around. While I normally go there with action films, this was one where I felt my Daddy watching with me. He must have caught this on tv at some time because he really did love his weird little green men. We would have had so much fun with this.

No score because it’s an old film, but I’m thrilled to finally cross it off the list. ‘Twas a fun time.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Too lazy to link them, but haven’t I talked about these movies before? Why would I bother to blog it again? Because it was my triumphant return to Alamo Drafthouse. That’s why!

Early on into the apocalypse, I was on a company wide zoom. They’d initially done it as a webinar, and our CEO was feeling a little lonely talking to himself. So he asked for volunteers to add to the “panel” so he could ask us questions and check in and make sure at least a few of us were okay. I was game (I think I just wanted to show off my movie wall background). He asked me where was the first place I would go when it was all over. Alamo Drafthouse, I answered without hestiation. Now, finally, the day had arrived to return.

I’m actually glad that Alamo held off a bit on their opening weekend. As I’ve been saying, it took me a couple weeks and movie runs to get fully comfortable with the idea of being in a theater again, esp for temporarily unmasking for snacks. Between genuinely enjoying the food and wanting to support the theater, I knew I’d wanna eat full meals at Alamo, and it did take a few weeks to get up to that comfort level. By the time they announced their first schedule, I was ready. And thankfully I was on top of buying tickets within minutes of them going on sale because the first round sold out in a couple hours. The full weekend sold out not too much later.

If it hasn’t been established, the LOTR movies are ones I’d be up for watching pretty much any time, esp in a theater. And I’m always happy to increase my tally of those theater watches. So this choice was a no brainer. Added bonus, there was gonna be a prerecorded Q&A between Stephen Colbert and the four hobbits at the end of the movie. I’d seen other Alamo locations promo-ing these screenings earlier this year (triggering some serious FOMO), so without even seeing the rest of the schedule, I clicked on one of the buy links immediately as I perused the schedule.

In retrospect, prolly not the best plan to see a 3 hours movie in the late afternoon/early evening when I had been up at 5 AM to teach a power yoga class at 6. I tried to catch a couple cat naps during the day (Cruella had been earlier in the afternoon and I had to clean the carpets in the apt) because I did not want to fall asleep (almost drifted towards the end of Cruella). When it was time to start getting ready, I made myself some tea (appropriately from the LOTR teas I got from Reddit secret santa some time back) hoping the caffeine would take over if the excitement wasn’t enough to keep me alert.

I never know how long traffic (or parking) is gonna actually take, so I left ridiculously early, as is my MO. I tend to avoid the Bloc parking lot if I’m gonna be there for a longer movie since those rates can quickly skyrocket, even with validation. My previously preferred lot was closed, but I found a new one next to it with contactless payment. Quick homework right now tells me that the rate I paid would have been about equal to the Bloc, but its still good to have alternative options. Anyways, parked and made my way over, starting to take obsessive pictures going in. My favorite part is seeing what the Shining twins are wearing. Today it was Alamo shirts and face masks.

Found my seat, and there was a typed up welcome note with the menu. They now let you buy food when you order tix, which would have been printed on the note. But besides buffalo cauli, I didn’t know what I was gonna want two weeks in advance, so I didn’t take advantage of that yet. Put up my order for said cauli plus the salad with fried chicken (which was amazing) and got comfy in my seat, excited for the next three hours.

I prolly don’t need to recount watching the movie, but it was just as awesome the 7th time as the first 6. And the Q&A was adorably fun. First off, always love watching Colbert geek out over Tolkien. Secondly, I did realize that LOTR is the one movie (I typically think of the trilogy as one giant one) that I could hear about again and again. So many stories to tell that are still new to me after 20 years, and so much magic around this film that it will never ever get old.

Cruella

The other day, when I talked about Nobody, I said that it was a movie that was made for me, mostly referring to the genre mixing and style of the film. Cruella felt like it was made for me in terms of attitude.

Disney continues its trend of recycling properties with live action versions. While those have had mixed results, Cruella scores points off the bat for being a new story instead of a full on remake. Granted, 101 Dalmations was the first to pioneer that idea with Glenn Close over 20 years ago (which I need to rewatch soon). Here we’re rewinding the clock, trying to figure out what exactly set Cruella on her path of fashion, destruction, and dalmations.

The result was a lot of fun. It did feel like something might have been missing, but I was enjoying the ride enough to overlook it. Emma Stone’s bonkers energy was perfect (side bar, her posture when she was driving was amazing, exactly like the cartoon), and I loved how well she faced off against Emma Thompson. The other standout (and show stealer) for me was Paul Walter Hauser as one of the henchmen.

Speaking of the henchmen, I actually really did like their part of the story and their relationship with Cruella. No one ever really thinks about poor old Horace and Jasper, but it turns out, they’re our girl’s found family. It was kind of beautiful how they found each other as kids and came up together, even if we know where their story is gonna eventually end up. That was just one of the story elements that I felt was very well thought out, tying back to the original and giving a reason for various details we know and (maybe) love about Cruella.

But what I loved most, and why I say this movie was made for me, was the punk rock vibe throughout the whole thing. Cruella’s designs were very much the type of thing I’d wear, and her spirit of rebellion is the same code I live by. I felt seen.

The music however, needed a little work. Great idea to make the soundtrack a big part of the film, and while I like most of the songs, they were all pretty obvious choices. This has been a trend post Guardians of the Galaxy, and Suicide Squad fell into a similar pitfall where it chose big great songs, but they’re songs that get used all the time. Guardians tread off the beaten path, and Cruella could have ventured that way as well, esp since there’s a whole untapped catalog of classic punk rock that would have fit perfectly. The frustrating part is that this was directed by Craig Gillespie who also did I, Tonya, which did nail it with the soundtrack. Still, it’s a nitpick and not a showstopper.

I do still kinda feel like a little something was missing, but I can’t bring myself to knock off any points. I enjoyed it, and I loved basking in that punk rock glow. Just enough risks that paid off just enough. Sure, I’d love to see it go even further, but we gotta remember that it’s Disney. And for Disney, this was really cool

Cruella – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/