Many of the comedies I’ve seen this year have seemed slightly off, with contemporary settings that weren’t quite plausible or even fantastical in the right way– I’m thinking of Long Shot, Late Night, and Book Smart. I attributed that misalignment to the intense speed of the news cycle and the internet, and figured it was unavoidable, but Lynn Shelton’s new ensemble comedy, about a disturbing internet conspiracy theory, is so fresh and in tune with the current moment that it feels like it was made yesterday.
Continue reading “Review: Sword of Trust”
I’ve been working on a novel so I haven’t had as much time for reviewing, but I have been watching. Here’s a quick round up of what I’ve seen over the past few months . . .
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
Director: Rachel Lears
I decided to watch this on Monday night in solidarity for AOC, who had deal with Trump tweeting racist comments at her all weekend. When it was over I felt like Trump’s tweets can’t even touch her, she’s too powerful, too gifted. She just doesn’t take the bait. I believe her response to Trump was something like, “he’s attacking me personally because he can’t defend his policies.” It’s incredible to see such clarity in someone so young. In this documentary, you meet AOC when she is just beginning her campaign, and even then, she has the ability to communicate in an authentic way very quickly and off the cuff.
I feel bad because I’m not mentioning the other women in this film, who also ran for Congress: Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin, and Amy Vilela. They were all in equally difficult races, and unfortunately, they did not win, but seemed poised to unseat someone if they try again. I highly recommend this one for when you’re feeling discouraged by the Trump administration or if you just need to have a good cry.
Continue reading “Movie Diary: May – July”
The Souvenir, British director Joanna Hogg’s fourth feature film, is the first part of a two-part memory piece that focuses on a love affair that took place in Hogg’s early twenties, when she was in film school in London. Though not quite a memoir, the film is unabashedly autobiographical, and similar to Alfonso Cuaron’s recent Roma in how it seeks to reconstruct a particular period in the director’s life. To play a version of herself, a young woman called Julie, Hogg has cast Honor Swinton Byrne, a newcomer who at this point in her life is best known as Tilda Swinton’s daughter—though her performance in The Souvenir and next year’s sequel will likely change that. Swinton herself plays Julie’s mother, Rosalind, tamping down her usual charisma to embody a meek matron who rarely exerts her influence or reveals her knowledge of the world. It’s startling to see Swinton this way, especially with Byrne nearby, exuding youth and curiosity. With her height and her red hair, Byrne looks enough like Swinton to bring to mind her mother’s glamour, but also has a calm dreaminess that it is all her own.
Read the rest over at The Common . . .
I saw Long Shot last weekend, when it opened, and really enjoyed it, but I’ve been struggling since then to write a review. On the one hand, it was the easygoing, funny, romantic comedy I’ve been waiting for. Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron are both charming and fun to watch. I laughed a lot and never felt bored. On the other hand, there was something amiss about the world they occupied, an alternate version of D.C. that was sometimes depicted realistically, sometimes satirically, and sometimes seemed to be a part of a TV-D.C. whose qualities I hadn’t yet learned. I wasn’t there for the sharp political satire, so I mostly didn’t mind, but some of the nonsensical aspects of the setting did make the characters less believable–and that made their romance a little less believable too.
Continue reading “Long Shot”
This movie was a like canned rosé wine: light, great for a picnic, and not very complex. You could do something else while you watch this movie — like get play cards and gossip with friends — and not miss much of anything. I really enjoyed it even as I can’t vouch for its quality.
Continue reading “Wine Country”
I’m writing this from a hotel room in Orlando, whilst drinking pink wine. I spent most of today either at a pool or eating at a themed restaurant. The hotel we’re staying in has scented air, the kind I’ve only smelled once before, in a Las Vegas casino. It hits you immediately, a noticeable but non-offensive perfume that makes you feel calm, secure, cared for. Or at least that’s how it makes me feel — even as I am mildly creeped out by the idea of scented air. My husband says my feelings of calm and relaxation aren’t accidental. The scents are manufactured to do this.
I’ve been looking for the perfect book to read on this vacation and I think I finally found it, today: Made For Love by Alissa Nutting. It’s about the creepiness of technology, among many other things. It’s set, delightfully, in the very near future, with the first chapter titled: August 2019. I’m only about three chapters in but all I want to do is read it. The only reason I’m writing this blog post is so that I won’t forget what I watched.
I haven’t been watching a lot of movies lately because I’ve been reading a lot and working on a novel. I also haven’t been as stringent about watching female directors. Netflix offered up two old movies that I’d never seen but always meant to: Chinatown and The Conversation. Both are directed by men. Then I watched a very mediocre Netflix rom-com called The Perfect Date. The two stars in that were very charming, but it wasn’t very well written. I think if they’d had a woman working on the script, it would have been better.
My one big discovery this spring is Claire Denis. I’ve been meaning to check her out for years and wish I hadn’t waited so long. She is mesmerizing. More on her next week after I see her latest movie.
So what did I see on vacation? It started on the plane . . . Continue reading “Movies I Watched in Florida: Part 1”
Be Natural has gotten a theatrical release. This is a wonderful documentary about the first female director — and one of the very first directors of narrative film, someone who helped to invent the form. I saw it as part of the New York Film Festival last year and reviewed it here. Go see it in the theaters this weekend if you can!