Chock full of actors I enjoy (many from Downton Abbey), based on a book I quite liked, and featuring an interesting subject, this was a great example of a Sunday Afternoon Movie.* Lily James draws you in, and look! there’s Michiel Huisman, enjoyable in so many projects.** The stakes are somewhat high, but presented in a pleasant manner, and all things come out fine in the end.
Cost: Netflix Monthly Subscription ($7.99) Where watched: at home, after an exhausting day
It was hard to watch this film because it was “so deeply rooted in the feminine adolescent experience”* and I remain grateful that I got through that period of my life in an analog era. Elsie Fisher is stunning as Kayla, a young woman who presents as self-assured, popular, and well-adjusted while filming for her YouTube channel and completely fades into the woodwork at school. Nothing is wrong with Kayla or her life, but adolescence is so harrowing,** it’s hard to re-experience via cinema, even as the main character continually tries for a positive spin.
Cost: $5.55 (but actually free due to gift cards) Where watched: Regal City Center Stadium 12
*Kate Erbland, Indiewire **I found the popular/unpopular kid interactions in this movie to be very true to my experience as a teenager and much more accurate than the overt bullying that is usually portrayed. More social hierarchy is established by freezing people out than by words said.
What starts as a wacky, smart commentary on alternative-present social, economic and racial issues takes a very weird turn partway through. The weirdness works having been properly set up in the first half. Lakeith Stanfield makes the most of his sorrowful eyes and Tessa Thompson* knocks it out of the park as a sign waver/performance artist in this movie that is a worth-seeing zeitgeist.
Cost: $6.00 Where watched: Laurelhurst Theater
*She’s having a great (and well-deserved) couple of years.
For everyone who has ever dreamed they have a twin out there somewhere, this is the story of triplets who first found each other when they were 19. And then it becomes a story that takes a turn in a different darker direction. I loved twists and turns of this documentary* I was less of a fan of the amount of repetition that director Tim Wardle employed to drive home his point, and I also could have used more of a grounding in time after the triplets meet.
Cost: $6.00 Where watched: Living Room Theater. (This was my second attempt. Two weeks ago it sold out. In fact, my showing also sold out, but I bought my ticket early to avoid box office disappointment.)
*And, let’s face it, those guys are totally my type, so they were easy on the eyes.
I find that Gus Van Sant’s more recent movies tend to be unwieldy; this is no different. It’s a steady march through the accident that left John Callahan a paraplegic and his sobriety journey. The performances are great,* but the narrative meanders in a way that inspired me to watch some of this with my eyes closed.
Cost: $6.00 Where watched: Hollywood Theater with S. North
Knowing next to nothing about Mr. Burnham, I prepped for my viewing of his directorial debut Eighth Grade by watching these two comedy specials.* I found What. to be VERY high energy–it’s amazing that someone so tall can move so much and so quickly–and I loved his use of music, especially his closing piece. In Make Happy, he’s not as frenetic and also has mastered switching microphones without embarrassment; his song “Straight White Male” was a highlight for me.
Cost: Netflix subscription ($7.99) Where watched: at home, and Matt joined me for the second comedy special, which he enjoyed.
*After watching these two comedy specials, I have no idea what to expect from Eighth Grade.
A recommendation from my coworker who said, “it’s very funny, and then it’s hard, but it’s very, very good.” That pretty much sums it up, and for the best experience I suggest you go into it without out pre-reading. I will also add: to people who majored in Art History, this is the comedy special you’ve been waiting for.
Cost: Netflix monthly subscription ($7.99) Where watched: at home with Matt who also enjoyed it.
I enjoyed Russel Brand’s performance in Paradise* and decided to close out my evening of movies with a re-watch of this film. I love this film for depicting a guy who suffers a breakup and is, well, sad.** It’s also quite funny in the early 2010s way that involves a lot of raunchy humor.
Cost: Netflix monthly fee $7.99 Where watched: at home
*What has become of Mr. Brand?*** He was everywhere for a while. Perhaps his classic debauched rock star-equse persona is not needed in movies right now? He also wrote a moving piece after Amy Winehouse’s death that is worth reading. An excerpt:
Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy’s incredible talent. Or Kurt’s or Jimi’s or Janis’s. Some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill.
**This seems rather obvious, but seeing a man react with sadness to the loss of a relationship isn’t a mainstay of cinema–even when used as a comedy device. Mostly they aren’t being broken up with, or they react in anger, or with violence.