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/

A Quiet Place Part II

Summer Fridays (2 hour early release) are back at work, and this year they’re every week. It’s absolutely prime movie watching time. Catch something in the 3:00 hour and be home with enough time for whatever else. In this case it was grocery shopping at a go at the power yoga sequence I was teaching in the morning at a ridiculously early hour, so an even more ridiculously early bed time that night.

Went back to the Dine In for this one, and now I knew the routine. Went straight to the bar line, although I then got diverted to the little satellite table. Figures. Although I was questioning if this was the right film for in seat dining, given the bigger need than usual for total silence. I did need to chew on my onion rings a little more slowly, but otherwise did okay. The social distanced seating helped with the volume and self consciousness as well.

Part II picks up exactly where Part I left off. Well actually, it takes a quick look back to Day One, and then continues where it left off. I had some reservations about there being a sequel because the last 30 seconds or so of the first are perfection. Thankfully this story is a logical progression. The first plot points of the first had some ramifications. Now the family’s gotta deal with those. And so the story goes on.

I’m having a little trouble getting excited about this one, which isn’t to say it’s not good. It’s excellent. The problem is that the first set such a high bar and was such a game changer. When the sequel doesn’t reach the impossibly high bar of the first, and doesn’t add anything new, it feels a bit like a let down in the moment. The first time around, we didn’t know what it was like to be scared to make any noise in a theater, worried about breathing too loud in a stranger’s ear. This time, you’re ready for it. You anticipate it. I also had a lot more faith in our family, so the suspense was slightly dulled. Still tense, but not in desperate need of a Xanax at the exit.

All that said, I am super impressed with John Krasinski as a director. First off, he’s super efficient. No wasted shots. Tight run time. Only includes what is absolutely necessary and leaves you wanting more. And so patient too. Those quiet sequences have to play out so slowly and he builds that suspense by stretching those moments out effectively. He also nails what I think is the most important aspect of directing an effective horror movie, and that’s putting meaning behind it. We’re not simply going for the jump scares. The horror/suspense elements are layered on something more powerful, and he has not been shy about saying these films are really love letters to his family. One of the final sequences (no spoilers) was so beautifully done. With parallel shots that showed how much those characters [redacted]. I sat there in awe.

Solid outing, even if I feel a bit underwhelmed. I hate to knock off points for being not quite as epically awesome as something epically awesome, so I won’t (hashtag subjective bs). I also prolly didn’t pick the right theater for it. It’s still a great experience to return to theaters for

A Quiet Place Part II – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Continuing my homecoming tour to my usual theaters, with my first trip back to the Dine In. Despite their usually horrible menu, I felt obligated to order dinner, given their smaller capacity and struggles of the past year. Their Covid precautions were a bit interesting.

Scanned in my ticket to a dude sitting at a table. Not too different from usual. Did have an awkward exchange when I couldn’t hear him complimenting my shirt (it had an iguana that said It Gets Better, referencing a recent SNL sketch and supporting LGBTQ+ causes). Between our masks, his quiet voice, and the plexiglass, he had to repeat himself multiple times. I just wanted to be sure he wasn’t trying to give me important directions.

The directions he should have given me were for where/how to order food. The previous go to your seat and wait for a waiter protocol was different. I saw a little table set up in the middle of the hall way with some registers and a menu, but no one was manning it. Read thru the abbreviated menu and waited for a few minutes, before overhearing a staff member directing some other guests to the bar to order. So I did that.

The rest of the dining experience was mostly business as usual, except all the single use packaging does hurt my heart a little bit. That’s been one of the more annoying aspects of the pandemic. No more attempts to go green. I hate having to use disposable grocery bags, but not as much as I hate having to back my own stuff if I do bring in my reusables. I digress. The movie.

Filmmaker Taylor Sheridan is amazing when it comes to telling a certain kind of story about a certain kind of character, and Those Who Wish Me Dead was no exception (even if not the best title). This film’s down on their luck salt of the earth hero of sorts was a park service firefighter played by Angelina Jolie. A recent miscalculation and tragedy during a previous fire left her broken and disconnected from her work. She meets a young boy who’s running from some bad guys and tries to help him, which might bring her some redemption as well.

I’ve been very light on words for talking about this one. Very much Sheridan energy. Thoughtful premise, solid characters, lots of suspense. More vibes from Wind River than his others, but less mystery and more tension. Solid cast: Jolie, Jon Bernthal, Nicholas Hoult, Aiden Gillen. Don’t let my brevity make you think it was unremarkable. It was simple but effective. And my chicken sandwich actually wasn’t too bad, by AMC food standards.

Those Who Wish Me Dead – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Raya and the Last Dragon

A-List membership is back in full force, maxing out my held reservations already (tho not yet my weekly movie limit). On this day, it was time to return to the Marina classic. I’d made a decision that I was only going to focus on movies releasing after my triumphant return to the theaters, and I wouldn’t put any real effort into the earlier ones. The BluRay for Raya was even being released this week, and I was gonna allow myself to spend a bit extra on one of my upcoming weekly Best Buy purchases to get it. But hooray for A-List, since this was still playing at the kid friendly theater and I had the time. I even had a freebie popcorn and soda on my account that were expiring soon, so I preordered those to have them waiting for me. My popcorn leftovers fill both my Ralph and Vanellope buckets on my counter.

Continuing Disney’s recent trend of bad ass princesses (which I wholly support), Raya lives in a fantasy land where dragons once roamed the earth inspired by South East Asia. Demon creatures that were the complete antithesis of those life giving dragons invaded, turning everyone they touched to stone. The final surviving dragon used a magical gem to save the realm before she disappeared. Now the gem has been broken, divided up among the now divided kingdom, and it is up to Raya to find the dragon and her gem pieces to reunite the land and ward off the demons. Sounds a little complicated, but it’s really straightfoward.

Really, this movie had me at Awkwafina, the voice of Sisu the dragon. Always adore everything she’s in, and she was perfectly suited for this sweet and trusting creature. I would have gladly watched a 4 hour Sisu cut of just her goofing around. Kelly Marie Tran voiced Raya beautifully, like the princess she deserves to be.

As I mentioned, I love the new route Disney is taking with their princess movies (IMDB tells me this is the first time their princess never wears a skirt). She only happens to be royal, but she’s really a warrior with all the traits that entails. It’s a fun and imaginative adventure that draws gorgeous ideas and imagery from a massively underrepresented culture, because yes, so many bonus points for representation and inclusion. So many steps in the right direction for the mouse, and I can’t wait to see what else they bring.

Raya and the Last Dragon – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Army of the Dead

We have reached a new milestone in my comfort level with the world: Popcorn! I’m not typically much of a popcorn eater (thank God, given how many movies I see), so 90% of the time I get some it’s because it was free. 99% of the time, I don’t even finish it (unless it’s those super tiny kids pack bags). Between masks and germs, I hadn’t expected to want popcorn any time soon. But then my lunch at home beforehand wasn’t particularly satisfying, and I knew I was in for a 2.5 hour movie, so I figured I should spare the five bucks to have a snack. Besides, I was gonna be in the giant XD auditorium with minimal people. Happy to report that I did feel safe and comfortable snacking. Less happy about how dang salty that stuff is and that I didn’t bring enough water to counter.

But yeah, Army of the Dead. Netflix made a deal to release it to select theaters early. Of course AMC didn’t wanna play nice with a streamer, so I went back to Playa Vista. Something that I missed was watching the crowd as they come in for a typical “guy movie”, and recognizing that I’m part of the very low percentage of girls there. I think we were outnumbered 5:1, and I was the only one there alone. This tracks. And amuses me to no end.

If I’ve said it before, I’ve said it a million times. Zack Snyder does well with style, but substance no so much. For a zombie movie, that’s totally fine. Even for a half zombie half heist movie, this is something I’d trust him with. If his Dawn of the Dead remake is any indication, this would be perfectly in his wheelhouse.

Right so there’s a zombie outbreak centered around Las Vegas. We have a Zombieland-esqe opening sequence that shows the last few humans leaving the city as it’s walled off, leaving the undead to shamble about inside. All is well and good until Dave Bautista gets hired to pull a heist from a casino within Zombie Vegas. Oh, and Zombie Vegas is gonna get nuked within hours of the job being done. Come to think of it, that’s actually a bit more plot than you typically get with this sub-genre.

It was certainly the fun type of movie you wanna see on the big screen. Lots of gore and action. Coulda used more humor, but like with my namesake film, music was used very creatively to liven things up. The Vegas setting provided a lot of fun, combined with the heist, gives Army just a bit of an edge to differentiate itself. I don’t know that it’ll go down in history as memorably as Dawn tho.

The characters were the wrong point for me. All of them were larger than life personalities, who played off each other well. Even the ones who you knew weren’t long for this undead world had strong moments to shine and earned their death battles. My favorite character kept changing every five minutes. The silly German safe cracker, the bad ass Latina, the mysterious coyote. But let’s be real, my favorite was always destined to be Tig Notaro’s snarky helicopter pilot.

A bit of backstory. Tig wasn’t originally meant to be in the film. Her role was originally held by a male comedian who got Me Too-ed and (rightly) turned on by the industry. So they pulled a Christopher Plummer and recast the role after filming had been completed. Rather than bring the full cast back in, they did very technical green screen reshoots to insert her in. The result was the most badass and beautiful butch lesbian we didn’t know we were deserving of. If you’re watching closely, you might notice a few slight indicators, but I’d wager that if you didn’t know what went down, you wouldn’t pick up on it. So kudos to Zack and crew. And to Tig, whom I’ve always adored.

As I stated, if you can see this in a theater, it’s worth it. But given the runtime, Netflix might not be such a bad idea either. Snyder needs to learn how to kill his darlings and cut down run times a bit, but the overall result was pretty solid.

Army of the Dead – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

AMC A-List is reactivated! And of course, I couldn’t use the first ticket for a discount matinee at a cheap theater, I used it for a Prime seat at Century City. Now usually Century City was for post work movies, since it’s near the office, but I thought it would make for a lovely Saturday outting.

Got there a little early, so I could get some shopping done, including a few purchases that were actually budgeted for the following week. It was a little weird that a lot of my walking shortcuts were closed off as dining areas, but otherwise it felt good to be out amongst the humans again. And of course, what trip to Century City would be complete without me wolfing down Tender Greens in the dining area after trailers had already started for my film, as well as sneaking in a cupcake from the Sprinkles ATM that I ate as soon as the lights went out.

Yup, that’s right. First adventures with food in a masked world. Found a little outta the way single seater in a satellite dining area for a quick paced lunch. I will say, the CDC’s new guidelines went a long way towards making me feel comfortable with things. Thankfully, Cali is still masking up for a while longer, but much of the weight (and fear) were lifted in knowing that my vaxx meant I was perfectly okay to be doing such things (and even slightly riskier ones, if I so chose).

The theater was at Covid capacity, or at least it looked like it was. Prime means those big giant seats, so it’s tough to get a good look at the crowd, but I think it was full with buffer seating. I will say, one additional perk to knowing I won’t have a stranger next to me is knowing I can put my bag down in the adjacent seat. Even as I was chomping on my cupcake with my mask pulled down, it felt fine. I’d rather let the movie scare me than the environment.

I know I’ve been over how much and why I love Saw. I did consider having a marathon before going in, but I think we’ve been over how that didn’t go well last time. It actually had me a little worried that the existential dread of the present moment that we’re only just emerging from would cloud the experience this time. Thankfully, between the hope of being in the theater and the minimal Saw-ness of this Saw, that was fine.

We all know the basic conceit of the franchise, yeah? Dude named Jigsaw (or his disciples) concocts really complicated games that test its players and punish them for their sins. Very survive, and the ones who do are not left unscathed. Most of the films have a B story that revolves around the police investigation trying to capture this gamemaster. Spiral inverts the structure somewhat. It’s more of a mystery/thriller, focusing on the procedural side of things, with the games sprinkled in throughout. Jigsaw’s spirit lives on where he does not.

While it felt a bit more Saw adjacent than proper Saw, I think it was a really interesting way to bring things back. Shake things up, and give just enough reason to justify it. Given that they’ve run out of ways to bring Jigsaw back himself, this was a necessary step. The connection to the originals was rather tenuous, mostly an excuse to include the bloody sports. As a result, it didn’t give me the usual icky feeling and disgust at humanity I typically get from these, but I felt the same anticipation every time a contraption was revealed.

What I loved most was every bit of Chris Rock’s involvement. Starting from him pitching the initial story and being credited as a writer. That’s just bad ass. I’ve always really liked seeing comedians take on more serious roles and this one looked good on him. He’s always been a bit over the top for my tastes, but he reigned it in beautifully to provided just enough comic relief and more than enough personality to carry the story. I really hope this is a path he sticks with.

His partner, Max Minghella has officially graduated from being “oh that guy!” in my mind to knowing who he is. Loved him, wanna see more, going back to revisit his previous work that I’ve seen him in.

This was a very solid thriller, if not fully a Saw movie. I do take issue with some of the games, because I’m not entirely convinced at how “win-able” they were. Jigsaw’s rules were very strict, and I’m nothing if not a stickler for rules. Still, there is a new puppeteer at play, so I’ll forgive them not entirely following the letter of the law. There might have been a little bit of the spark that was lacking, but for the most part I was not disappointed.

I left the theater feeling really energized in a way I haven’t in a long time. I didn’t wanna go home yet. I ended up getting stuck in traffic, taking nearly 40 minutes to drive down Santa Monica Blvd, so at least I got some more sunshine. I looked up other movies to use my A-List on later that night, but the pickings are a bit slim at the moment. I’ll certainly be stepping up my movie game in the coming weeks, so maybe I should pace myself at least initially.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Wrath of Man

Second trip back to the movies! Maybe not quite as glorious and momentous as the first, but still happy to be back in my happy place. I still hadn’t activated my A-List (I have since tho, for next weekend’s tix), so I opted for the other nearby Cinemark, mostly to be able to swing by Dave and Busters after, which I have also missed.

First “huh, the world has changed” moment was parking. I usually just shoot straight for the back of the lot and park in the basement. Once I got to that area, I realized I hadn’t seen any parked cars for a bit. I initially proceeded to park there anyway outta habit, but then figured it might be a safety issue parking in such isolation. Besides, if I parked closer, it’d be less of a pain to drop off my water bottle between the movie and games. I’d never even paid attention to the other areas of the parking structure, so I’d never realized how much of it was fair game. I think I’d assumed the time limited spots went on much longer than they did. Weird.

Theater was slightly more full than the one the week before. Someone was even sitting in my seat, but the rest of the row was empty enough that I easily found an open and distanced spot. You know me, avoiding confrontation and social interaction whenever I can! This time there were two people pulling out phones during the film, including the older lady further along my row who also was talking and eating popcorn loudly. Ugh. I didn’t dare look around to see who was masked or not. Starting to feel like my double mask is overkill. I mean, I know it is, but it’s a security blanket right now. Maybe I’ll lose it for next week, but I’m still not ready for movie snacks (even though I’ve got a freebie popcorn that expires soon).

As far as the movie, it was fine. I love Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham, especially when working together. And while this felt in the general direction of what they do well, it wasn’t quite what either excel at. Ritchie is good at gritty crime dramas, but he’s best at gangster, which this was not. Statham kinda brought some of his old Transporter attitude, but most of his action was weapons driven, not as physical as I like to see from him.

The trailer did give away a major plot point that while it was a good hook to sell the film, I feel like it would have been a better experience as a reveal in the film. My biggest problem though was the excessive and slightly confusing backstory. Basically, the film was structured thusly: Setup, Backstory A, Backstory B, Explosive Conlusion. Backstory A was what lost my interest. The hierarchy and relationship of the players wasn’t very clear to me, and wasn’t as strong as the rest.

Oh the other thing that bears mentioning is Scott Eastwood. He’s certainly been making a name for himself in the action space, this time trying to branch into the baddie role. Emphasis on trying. He’s got the attitude, but his expressions were a bit much, like he was REALLY working at being evil. It got a little annoying. Still, it’s a direction I’d be interested in seeing him follow a bit more in the future.

All in all, it made for a fun outing, but nothing that’s gonna be particularly memorable. Did well at Dave and Busters after. Added another 2,000 points to my card, and didn’t find anything worth spending them on. Well, there’s stuff I could have bought, but nothing I had to have. Although maybe I should go back for that Captain Marvel hat… Nah, I’ve got way too much MCU merch already

Wrath of Man – \m/ \m/ \m/

Nobody

After 413 days, I triumphantly returned to the movies!! Caught an early bird matinee of Nobody at the nearby Cinemark, and it felt so so good to be home. As expected and hoped, I walked outta there with the gears turning with all the things I wanted to write about after. But also, as expected, I’ve procrastinated and still feel a bit of the chore feeling now that I’m finally sitting in front of the screen. We’ll still continue to assess my feelings towards blogging, but first, Nobody!

Well let’s back it up a bit and set the scene. I’d been eyeing Spiral in a couple weeks as my first big must movie, but I wanted to ease into a new release. I’d been hearing more and more good things about Nobody (and not much other than it’s really good), so I figured something that was out for a few weeks was a good return back to the world.

Pulled up to the theater and walked in taking a million pictures to document my excitement. Minimal human contact throughout the event, just as I like it (even pre-Covid). I made sure to arrive early enough for trailers, to get the full experience. Before, I’d try to time my arrival to be as close to the actual film time as possible. Going 2-3x a week, I’d have seen every trailer a million times, but on this lovely Saturday I was blissfully outta the loop. Had only seen a couple of them, and gleefully added the others to my mental calendar for the next couple weeks.

No one else showed up until the credits were underway. There was a trio of older gentlemen who sat further back. They made me happy, cause I was just picturing a Grandpa’s day out of these guys catching an early action movie together. The dude who sat at the other end of my row made me less happy. I kept catching the light off his phone, and the first time I looked over, his mask was below his nose. I looked over later, and it was off completely. Ugh, people.

I, on the other hand, was double masked (tho fully vaxxed) throughout. I brought a water bottle, but didn’t touch it. At one point early on, I did feel my asthma acting up a bit from the hardcore face-wear, so I had to hit my inhaler (which hadn’t been used in a while and needed some extra sprays). I’m in the process of getting the script on my glasses redone, so thankfully I didn’t hafta worry about juggling those with the mask.

And the movie? Oh my God, I could not have picked a better one to return for. I knew absolutely nothing going in, other than Bob Odenkirk and some likely ass kicking, so I’ll keep the details out. The mystery of the story unfolding was a big part of the fun. Suffice it to say, that this is absolutely the type of movie I love. I was sitting there thinking that if I were to ever make a film, I’d want it to be just like this one. Another thought soon followed, which was that all those elements that I loved were the same ones my Daddy loved. So a movie that’s perfectly me is really perfectly him, and it was his love of this genre that was seemingly passed on genetically.

So what exactly were those elements? First off, the action sequences were EXACTLY how I like them. Gritty and dirty, all practical effects, no overly polished CGI. Our leading man, Bob Odenkirk, was very unlikely and unassuming, and most importantly, he took quite a few hits himself. Reminiscent of Statham in the Transporter days (minus the martial arts) before he had to count how many times he was punched in the face, lest he looked weak. Seriously, I was sitting there watching this thinking, oh my God am I actually feeling attraction for Saul Goodman? What world are we living in? But dang, Bob was killer in this role.

The other thing I loved was just the right level of dark humor woven throughout. Much of it ventured towards the absurd, but just enough to make you chuckle thru a WTF. I also muttered a lot of enthusiastic “Yes!!!”-es through my mask when the funny met the punchy. This film also gives us what may be my new favorite line of dialog ever. I won’t spoil it, but will just say it’s up there with “Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion”.

If I had to make a complaint, it’s that we spent a tad too long with the baddies. They were far less interesting and much more typical. As long as our boy Bob was on screen, I was enthralled. When he was gone, slightly less interest. Still, I’m awarding full marks because I so completely loved everything else. Such a great welcome back to the cinema. Please don’t ever let me take such a long hiatus again.

Nobody – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Oscars 2021, sort of

I hit my immunity date today. 2 weeks after receiving a surprise J&J vaccine when I had to stop by the doc’s for a quick follow up appt. So I’ll be ready for the first round of “must movies” on my list. Black Widow is the only movie I woulda gone to if I wasn’t vaxxed, but thankfully with that pushed, I’ll be good well before then. First one I hafta go to is Spiral, but I might get one or two in before that. Still debating if I wanna keep this blog going tho. I keep having technical issues that don’t feel like they’re worth the hassle. At this point, it’s a sunk cost fallacy problem. I’ve put so much work into it, have soooo many posts (over 1800), and hell it even helped me get my current job, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and it became such a chore. Just today I spent way too long trying to get an SSL certificate since my security software doesn’t like my page. We’ll see how things go this summer tho.

But first, Oscar movies. After over a decade of hitting at least every best picture, most if not all of the above the line nominees, and the majority of the ones that didn’t include the words “documentary”, “short”, or “foreign”, I barely got any in this year. Obvi I wasn’t going to see things in theaters. I’ve still been on a roll with buying movies and revisiting things on my wall, that I didn’t wanna put much money or effort into tracking these down. So my recap will be short this year.

Best Picture

Minari – Absolutely gorgeous and worth all the hype that built it up. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, and felt so different. Sadly, it felt different because this is a type of representation we haven’t seen much of lately, but hopefully it’s another step forward to a more inclusive cinema scene.
Mank – I got bored watching this and just never got around to finishing it. It’s like it was trying too hard to live up to the legacy of Citizen Kane, but comes off too pretentious. I say all this as a huge David Fincher fan.
Sound of Metal – Loved this movie. Another unique perspective and story that hasn’t been explored much on film. The feel of the film is a little rough and unpolished, so not what I’d normally peg as a best pic. Bonus points for any movie that gets me to momentarily brush off my minimal ASL skillz.
Promising Young Woman – Easily my favorite, and the one I want to win all the awards, tho I don’t see it as the type of film the Academy would get behind as their best pic. However, it is a frontrunner for screenplay, which I am completely behind. If I had seen this in a theater in 2020, it certainly would have made my top ten and possibly even been my #1. It’s very much my thing: dark and funny and smart and stylish.
The Father – Didn’t care enough to chase this one down. I’ll get to it one day.
Judas and the Black Messiah – I really wanna see this one. Right now my only options are to pay $20 to rent it in time to watch it once for the Oscars or pay $20 to own the BluRay a week late. I already put in my pre-order.
Nomadland -Timely story, beautifully crafted on all fronts, but for what’s being touted as the current front runner, I wasn’t very impressed. There was a wow factor missing for me.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Enjoyed it, as I always do Aaron Sorkin, but he sets a very high bar. It feels like a very safe nominee, since Sorkin already has a base level wow factor, I didn’t feel like it added anything above and beyond what we’re used to from him. The performances were quite entertaining for sure tho.

Best Actor

I’m a little torn on this one. First off, very upset that Delroy Lindo didn’t get in for Da Five Bloods (which should have been nominated across the board for things, including picture). I want Chadwick Boseman to have his posthumous Oscar, and I suspect he will. Actually, I wanted him in for supporting for Bloods to take that win and give this to Lindo or Ahmed (more on him in a second). I wasn’t as wowed by Ma Rainey’s and its performances as others were, but I was in a weird headspace when I was watching it: alone on Christmas, wearing new glasses with an incorrect script that were giving me headaches. Speaking completely objectively, I loved Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal. That was the full package for me with the emotional performance and the added difficulty of learning ASL. Also love Steven Yeun in Minari, but his nomination is his victory.

Best Actress

The one thing I most wanna see happen this year (that isn’t otherwise guaranteed or impossible) is Carey Mulligan taking this. This category is wide open this year with each lady taking a different precursor, but Mulligan has been gunning for this honor since An Education. The Academy does love to crown younger actresses on their way up (Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon, etc), even if she’s been on her way for a while. As much as I love Frances McDormand, she already has two and for me Nomadland was nowhere on par with her previous wins. Granted, this was more subtle than showy, but she’s not doing it for me. Viola Davis was all show, but not a very substantive role for my tastes. I haven’t seen the other two.

Best Supporting Actress

I’ve only seen Amanda Seyfried and Youn Yuh-jung, and I absolutely fell in love with Yuh-jung. Would be happy with her winning to represent Minari. I do feel bad for Glenn Close who has been nominated so many times, but will likely still go home empty handed. From the negative buzz I’ve heard about Hillbilly Elegy, I’m surprised she even made it on here. Have heard good things about Maria Bakalova, and wouldn’t be upset with her getting it. She’s a little green tho, so it’s a long shot.

Best Supporting Actor

Word on the street is this is Daniel Kaluuya’s to lose, and even without seeing his performance yet, I’m on board. He’s another one that’s been predestined to win one day, and this may be that day. I appreciate Paul Raci’s nomination, but that’s as far as he’s going. I did like Sacha Baron Cohen and could see him taking it as a celebration of Trial and Borat, but I don’t think it’ll go that way.

That’s about as much as I have any real opinions on this year. Still debating if I’m gonna try and put effort into finding a way to watch or if I’ll just watch highlight clips the next day. But at least my return to theaters is nigh

2020 Recap, sort of

First, an explanation. I sorta abandoned the blog a couple months ago. I’m fine. I’m still here and watching movies. I was just finding it hard to write about them. I even stopped my daily Stardust posting and cut down to once a week or so, only if I felt I had something specific to say. Two main reasons I think I’ve been struggling to write. One, an overload of content I’m watching. Somewhere between 15-20 a week, gets hard to find unique things to say, esp as they all blur together. Second, if you’ve ever read thru my posts, you know I like to write about personal experience. But the majority of my experience this year was all the same, in lockdown inside, watching at home. No new adventures to speak of. It got old. I found anytime I wrote anything, blog post, social media status, friendly email, it always sounded bleak, even if I truly was feeling okay.

This blog has also been feeling like a chore of late, so I thought it was a good excuse to take a break. Once the theaters open back up, we’ll see how I feel about returning to my rule of writing up everything I see. There’s also the matter of my wonky eyesight that makes blogging difficult. We’ve figured out that more than just computer vision syndrome, I’m farsighted, but my eyes have worked overtime to adjust to hide it. The new strategy is full time progressive glasses, which sounds promising, but the adjustment period has been brutal. It’ll prolly still be a couple weeks until I see real results, and that’s if I don’t decide I need to go back in to get my script tweaked. Jury’s still out.

See what I mean about everything I write sounding bleak? Srsly, I’m okay, really.

Anyways, this is usually when I do this big crazy blog post writing up everything I saw in theaters in the previous year, doing every sort I can think of on my OCD Excel sheet to give stats no one cares about except me, and picking out my favorite and least favorite films. Obvi this year is different. I still have the crazy sheet, but it stops at row 31. March 14th, Burden at AMC Marina Classic. Yeah it’s a weird answer to “last movie I saw in a theater” because no one knows that one. Sometimes I lie and say Bloodshot at Alamo the night before. Fwiw, between March 5-14, there were only two days I didn’t see something in a theater, so at least I did try to go out with a bang without even knowing I was going out.

But on the upside, I did see A TON of movies at home, which is something I’m super grateful for. As stated in previous posts, I’ve been revisiting things collecting dust on my movie wall. And buying a bunch of new things too. And occassionally venturing into streaming, esp when I trialed HBO for a month this fall, and just bought another month for WW84. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep as meticulous track of these as I would theater movies. It was at least 4-5 weeks until I started taking pix of my watched piles, and I didn’t track anything digital at all. Oh and counting all those in the pile, plus the small pile since the last pic, I’ve got 616 movies. I’m sure I prolly cleared at least 750 all told.

Also, as a rule, I tried to avoid repeats. At the very least, I didn’t grab a DVD off the shelf twice. The few I did have were usually cause I rented something digitally, loved it, bought it, watched the physical copy. Or tried watching an older DVD that was degraded and skipped, so I bought and watched a replacement.

That said, I do have a bit of a twist I wanna do on my Top 10 of the year. But since there were slim pickings on new things, and I didn’t track old ones very well, they might not be very thought out. I’m sure there’s obvious things I’m missing, but I’m going with my instinctual response on these rather than obsessively combing thru my history. So the ten aren’t ranked, but they’re categorized. Not ranked within the categories either. And of course sneaking in some honorable mentions to cheat because I can’t ever stick to my numbers

Favorites of 2020 in a theater

  • The Invisible Man – Thriller is def my genre, and this one was straight up terrifying in a real world sort of way. No, not because of the invisibility, but because of the gaslighting and isolation and abuse. Powerful.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog – All signs pointed to this failing like all video game films tend to do, but it didn’t. It was so much fun, staying very true to the source, and full of hilarious moments and committed performances.
  • Onward – Kind of a toss up with my HM (which is more of a “me” movie) but you can’t beat the emotional impact of a Pixar movie. I cried through the whole thing, and did so on the rewatch too.
  • HM: Guns Akimbo

Favorite classic film theater experience

  • To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar – This really was three way tossup. Nosferatu was the best experience of the film itself. Wong Foo and Dracula both had to do with the magic of Alamo Drafthouse. Dracula was for my bday, and my last big social outing before the apocalypse, but most of the fun was over before we got to the auditorium. Wong Foo was more about the fun of the movie itself, cosplaying with my two nearest and dearest, and then followed up with the lip sync event downstairs. Prolly the single most fun event in a year with few.
  • HM: Nosferatu, Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Favorites of 2020 at home

  • Bill and Ted Face the Music – If you’d asked me before yesterday, I might’ve said this was my favorite 2020 movie. It brought me so much joy at a time when it was hard to come by. Unfortunately, the magic didn’t carry thru on my rewatch yesterday, but it might have just been overhype on my part. Still, very much the movie this year needed.
  • Tenet – If you pressed me, I might pick this as my fave movie. It doesn’t quite feel like a fave, but I’ve been obsessed and can’t get it outta my head. It really warrants its own post, but who knows if I’ll write it. I love the vibe and the story, and its one of those that feels just this side of understanding. I got the full story on the first watch, but have been driving myself nuts on the second watch and later trying to understand the details of how it all works. I love that kinda stuff.
  • The King of Staten Island – Interestingly, a Judd Apatow film starring Pete Davidson doesn’t make my list for the humor as much as for the feels. This movie was pure heart and it makes me happy to think about. And yes, it is still funny. And just the right level of inappropriate.
  • HM: Da 5 Bloods

Favorite new to me classics at home

  • Tammy and the T-Rex – Now this is really my favorite thing I saw this year. My new obsession, and I’m determined to show it at a movie night. It’s so terrible in the best possible way. Tommy Wiseau, eat your heart out.
  • Con Air – As I’m fairly sure I said before, I coulda sworn I’d seen this before, but there’s no way I forgot that much awesome. Similar to Tammy, it’s bad in all the right ways. But it’s also much more my genre, and the type of movie my Daddy raised me to love.
  • Before Sunrise – The whole trilogy really stuck with me, but the first movie is the best, I think. So effortless and beautiful. Never woulda thought I’d have loved a romance as much as this one, but stranger things happened in 2020

Soooo yeah, there you have it. Movies happened. I had more opinions than I wrote about. Gonna prolly stay on hiatus for a bit unless the spirit moves me (I really should write that Tenet post), esp with yoga teacher training taking up huge chunks of time. But I’m staying optimistic for 2021. Lots of killer content piling up, and I can’t wait to be back at my second home watching it all in a packed room full of strangers.