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!
Recently I gave two movies the benefit of the doubt simply because they were written by women. That is, they looked kind of silly, and were directed by men, but the screenwriters were female so I thought I’d give them a chance . . .
The first was A Simple Favor, which came out last year and I think was a bit of a sleeper hit because it stayed in NYC theaters for quite a while–though maybe I’m just out of it and didn’t realize what a big movie it was. Anyway, I watched it at home last month with my husband. I had to suggest it for a few nights before he agreed to watch, not because of any snobbery on his part, but because it’s really hard to tell what this movie is. From the trailer, it seemed like a light thriller that maybe took itself too seriously. But it is not that, at all. Continue reading “2 Light & (Mostly) Delightful Movies Written by Women”
From its joyous opening dance sequence to its melancholy ending, Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) is unlike any movie you have seen about illegal drug trafficking. It’s a gangster movie that downplays violence, looks closely at attempts at peacemaking, and is centered on the fate of a mother and a daughter. Set in Colombia between the late 1960s and early 1980s, the film is told from the perspective of a Wayúu family who live in the arid, northern region of the country and become significant exporters of marijuana to the U.S. Their success in the drug trade brings wealth, but it also pulls them into a world of violence and greed that engulfs and divides their family and their community.
Read the rest of this review over at The Common
I just updated my list of 2019 movies that are directed by women, and it gave me a chance to think about what movies to watch over the next few weeks–and also to get excited about what’s ahead for the year. So, here’s a preliminary last. Two of these, High Life and My Zoe are repeats from last year, because they didn’t end up being slated for release until this year–but I am still just as eager to see them. . .
SWORD OF TRUST Writer & Director: Lynn Shelton
This is an ensemble comedy, starring Marc Maron, Michaela Watkins, and Jon Bass among others. I like Shelton’s low-key movies, especially when she does comedy. I’m also a fan of Maron and his WTF podcast. So, I’m here for this one. In theaters March 8.
HIGH LIFE Writer & Director: Claire Denis
This sci-fi movie is French director Claire Denis’s English-language feature film debut. It revolves around a group of prisoners who have been sent into deep space as a way to shorten their sentences. Apparently, Denis has been trying to make this movie since 2002 and wrote the screenplay with Philip Seymour Hoffman in mind. After Hoffman’s death in 2014, Robert Pattison signed on for the lead. I’m intrigued by the premise and the trailer is so creepy I couldn’t finish watching. In theaters April 12.
Continue reading “9 Women-Directed Films I Can’t Wait to See in 2019”
I recently read critic A.S. Hamrah’s latest dispatch on n+1. I’ve always liked that he writes about the experience of going to the movies as well as the movies themselves. Last month, he wrote about the trend of reserved seating, which he finds undemocratic:
Reserved seats are antithetical to moviegoing, which traditionally and democratically has been first come, first served. You could move to a different seat if a weirdo (or anybody) was sitting too close. This new nonegalitarian system is fancy and inappropriate. It takes too long and it huddles people together.
I had a weirdly personal and defensive reaction to this statement, because I am a parent of two young children, and reserved seating has made it a lot easier for me to see movies. I rely on it to get seats (two seats together) to popular movies or special screenings. It would be my pleasure to arrive early for one of these movies and wait in line with a book or a podcast, but I can’t, because I have to give my kids dinner and get them ready for bed before I can go out. Without reserved seating, my husband and I have to plan for an extra 45 minutes of waiting, which is basically an hour of babysitting time, or $15-20. (Also, a lot of weeknight sitters have day jobs or nannying gigs and they can’t get to our place until 6:30 at the earliest.) So, a theater that allows us to reserve two seats together is a major convenience. We go to more movies than we used to because of reserved seating.
Continue reading “In Defense of Reserved Seating”
We’re well into 2019 and I’ve barely watched any movies because my kids have been so sick. January was a festival of viruses, a nasty cold that just never left and then, last week, when the last of the phlegm departed, my baby brought home a novel stomach flu that incubated for about 36 hours before hitting me, my husband, and my first-grader in six-hour intervals.
I feel like this is the third or fourth time I have written about illnesses, so at this point it is a leitmotif of this blog and probably warrants its own tag.
When Under The Tuscan Sun came out in 2003, I was 25, and I remember kind of wanting to see it, but feeling that it was for older women. That feeling didn’t always stop me from seeing movies I wanted to see–for instance, I sat in a theater of seventy-somethings watching the 2004 Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely–but in this case, I think a part of me thought I should save this movie for a time in my life when I needed it.
Well, my two readers, that time has come. I’m 40, and I spent the past six weeks cooped up in a virus-ridden apartment with two small children and an unfinished novel manuscript. (The second unfinished novel to take up residence in my laptop in the past few years.) One night, I was perusing HBO’s offerings and I saw beautiful Diane Lane and a bouquet of yellow sunflowers. I thought, that is exactly what I need: Diane, flower gardens, Tuscany, and a serious real estate makeover. Continue reading “The Two Movies That Got Me Through January”