I don’t get out much anymore now that I have a kid, but we did manage to get out during daycare hours this summer to see Last Black Man in San Francisco. And then more recently, my parents were able to babysit while we saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Knives Out, Little Women, and Parasite. One thing I’ve come to realize is that seeing a movie on the big screen is totally different than seeing it at home, especially if you’re easily distracted, as I am.
I liked Last Black Man in San Francisco and Knives Out the best, though I liked Once Upon a Time in Hollywood just as much once it was over (I was dreading the ending too much to enjoy it while I watched, but the twist at the end made me like it better). I liked Little Women too. I didn’t know what to make of Parasite.
What did you think of the movies I mentioned? And what other movies were good this year? One other thing I’m curious to hear what people think about: there have been all these articles about how everything is a superhero movie these days but I find it very easy to go see non-superhero movies and I don’t live in a major city. Is not being able to see non-superhero movies really a thing?
Also too, let’s raise some more money for Democrats in the Senate. The following is split between the eventual nominees in Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, and Arizona.
I loved, loved, loved Parasite. It’s the best movie I’ve seen all year (mind you, I still have to see Jo Jo Rabbit).
There are non-superhero movies; I think the challenge is that there aren’t as many Knives Out – type movies made for major theatrical release as there were 30 years ago. You know, movies aimed at adults with a decent sized budget. Netflix is stepping up to do those kinds of films, but you’re right; it’s not the same watching a film at home.
Although I watched Parasite at home and it’s still the best film I saw this year, so what do I know?
Glad you’re putting Last Black Man in San Fran on people’s radar, Doug. It’s a terrific film with great performances, and beautifully shot.
I’m usually behind on new releases too, since my movie going is with the kid (Jumanji and Dora, yes, Abominable no). Agree there’s nothing like watching in a theater.
We also saw Uncut Gems over the holidays, which if you’re interested in having a mild stroke for 2 hours, it’s your huckleberry. It’s a great film about shitty people.
@BGinCHI: I also spend most theater time watching kids movies with the kid. I liked Dora and Jumanji decently, too. Dora, in particular, was a pleasant surprise (in that I really did not expect much and it was pretty good!). Did not see Abominable.
Knives Out was just plain fun. My impression was that all the actors just wanted to make something quick and fun in between more weighty movies. Daniel Craig’s accent kept me stifling a giggle.
I felt the same way you did about Once Upon… Margot Robbie made me love Sharon Tate and I did not want to see the ‘real life’ ending to her.
The last movie I saw was a superhero movie: The Rise of Skywalker, around Christmas. I thought it was a hot mess of “fan service,” if that’s the right term. I was only mildly interested to go see it, but some friends wanted to and I was tired of dodging spoilers.
I have brunch and a movie scheduled with a friend this Sunday, title as yet unselected. Maybe the Japanese movie Weathering with You, if it’s playing.
Living in NoVA, I don’t have a problem having access to all the movies. The problem is that I don’t bestir myself to go see them.
I liked Knives Out, especially for how you can’t tell if Daniel Craig’s character is a great detective or a terrible one, and of course for his ridiculous accent. I sure wish we’d gotten more Jamie Lee Curtis, though.
I freaking loved Little Women, but I also have the book memorized, so the non-chronological nature of the movie didn’t bug me at all. I also loved Last Black Man in SF and am glad someone else saw it. :D There was something so profoundly poignant about it.
I too was mixed on Parasite. It was certainly well-made, but I struggle with the significance of it. But I loved all the other movies as well.
I very rarely go to the movies because everything is either an animated film (don’t like) or a superhero movie (completely despise). But for the last couple of years, my sister and I have recently been going to a small, non-profit theater in Sewickley, the Tull Family Theater: https://www.thetullfamilytheater.org/. They show such a variety of films and in a great atmosphere. Small enough to be intimate, but with all the technical bells and whistles. I love it there. Saw Bohemian Rhapsody there in 2018 in first visit there with my younger sister and we’ve been hooked ever since. Saw the CNN Linda Ronstadt doc before it aired on tv there and just saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood there over the holidays. Planning to see Little Women, Just Mercy and Bombshell there in the near future. So great to go there and not some giant cineplex filled with adolescent males and small children running around, seemingly unaccompanied.
I didn’t hate Rise of Skywalker while I was there in the theater. However, the more I thought about it, the more I hate it.Since I am there, here’s my ranking of Star Wars films:
I’d like to see Knives Out & think my cinema-adverse wife was interested in that one also. I’d also like to see 1917.
Man, I HATED the Tarantino movie. Margot Robbie is a talented actor, and all she got to do was smile. When he’s on — Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Inglourious Basterds — he’s pretty fantastic. When he’s off, it borders on unwatchable for me. The fact that he could write such a good script for Pam Grier makes it even more shameful that he gives women virtually nothing to do in the new one.
Knives Out was good fun, in a refreshing throwbacky way, like Murder By Death. Ad Astra did not work for me at all; as soon as we got to the Killer Space Baboons, it was all over.
In related news, Killer Space Baboons is the name of my new Emo/Shoegaze/Bluegrass project. Question: should this genre be known as Shoegrass or Bluegaze?
I might put Rise of Skywalker at 4 1/2. But the rest of your list is exactly how I’d list them.
OT, but fascinating:
I really despise the guy, but I wouldn’t wish a fascist South American prison on him.
I’m still ambivalent about Jojo Rabbit. I saw it in the theater when it first came out. I was familiar with Taika Waititi’s previous work, and the trailer made it seem of a piece with that—funny and “quirky.”
It is much darker than that. I still can’t decide whether my ambivalence is because I went in with a mistaken impression or because the movie doesn’t quite work, even on its own terms.
I saw “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Knives Out”. I was 21 in 1969, and I recognized the shows, the stars, even directors and producers from old Hollywood. The verisimilitude was amazing — Quenton somehow got them to shut down an entire block of Hollywood, and redecorate it as it was in 1969. Restuarant signs, movie titles, storefronts, everything. So, it was off to a good start with me.
It was a long movie, Quentin took his time with many small scenes that seemed to be just anecdotal, but eventually intertwine and pay off. Brad Pitt took about ten minutes to feed his dog — it turned out to be Chekov’s rifle on the wall. It was my favorite movie last year.
“Knives Out” is one of those great mystery movies that, when you look back and see all of the details and their implications, you realize that the crime was there to be figured out the whole time, if only you were as smart as a fictional detective. No cheating. For mysteries, that is my top criteria. Also, like Brad feeding his dog, a heroine who vomits when she lies pays off big time. Great fun, great cast. I had only seenAna de Armas, the involuntary truth-teller, in one other movie — 2049 — and that did not call for the fine work she did here. Another good movie.
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
Eh, I think the whole “superhero movies are taking over cinema!” is a tad overblown. Franchise movies have ruled Hollywood for the last 30 years. Star Wars, BTTF, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, the list goes on.
On top of this, the superhero genre is just a modern iteration of what gangster movies and westerns were to an earlier age
That being said, it is true that a lot of weighty, stand alone movies have been made less and less as time has went on. Scorsese had to go to Netflix to get the Irishman made because he couldn’t get any studios to back him. That wouldn’t have happened even 20 years ago
@Nicole: I liked Dora a LOT more than I thought I would.
Back to Parasite. Have you seen his other films? I HIGHLY recommend them:
–Memories of Murder: an absolutely brilliant mystery with an odd cast of characters and diversions from the main plot. This film is sui generis; a genre film that twists the genre out of recognition.
–Mother: similar to MoM, this takes what you’d expect and offers considerable twists. The performances are fabulous.
–The Host: A deconstruction of the monster/horror genre, with some of the best laughs and thrills in a film like this I’ve ever seen.
–Okja & Snowpiercer well worth a watch too.
The Irishman was solid. Joe Pesci is amazing. Marriage Story was decent. It was well-executed, but the writing/dialogue bugged me. It all felt very “acted” for lack of a better word. Parasite I’ve heard nothing but good things about. I have no desire to see the other nominated films, not even the Tarantino one (he’s been off for me the past few go-arounds).
My teenager loved “Knives Out” and LOVED “LIttle Women.” Pretty erudite for a high-schooler (says dad).
100% accurate that at-home/on-big-screen is different, more different still when there’s a crowd.
“Big Lebowski” screenings have become a cult event and I laugh 10x more for the effort. Have gone twice, would do it again. As fun as throwing toast at the screen.
I saw Knives Out last week and didnt like it at all. I just couldn’t get past the morphine….has Rian Johnson ever actually had an injection of it before?
I saw the Rondstadt doc in the theatre too. She is an amazing person, and as nice as it was to hear her music intertwined with her life story, the highlight for me was the little beach walk interview where she observed (paraphrasing) it was hard to be a woman in rock and roll, but in some ways worse for the guys forced into a macho frame that kept them from moving on and making them and their music weak.
That sure didn’t happen to her.
I saw Just Mercy this weekend and it was incredibly emotional. Very powerful performances from Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Watching Jordan’s character stay strong as he was being harassed by cops was intense. You can’t walk away from it when you are in a theater, just like the hero.
Ultimately “Jojo Rabbit” was dark indeed and of course the trailer makes it seem like a romp (for marketing reasons I can appreciate). The story ambles but the kid actors make it well worthwhile–fabulous talent on display.
Took the kid and it led to a good discussion of the Germany she spent time in last summer, versus the on-screen rubble heap post-liberation. [spoiler alert!] So much there is new and shiny because it has to be.
Oops, I did see a movie out and about after Skywalker—Witness for the Prosecution, at the Cosmos Club downtown, of all places, courtesy of my D.C. insider friend. Not Billy Wilder’s best: a straightforward adaptation of a trifling Agatha Christie play with Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich chewing the scenery all over the place. Still, it’s never bad to see an old movie on the big screen, because you see so much more detail and the depth of the black-and-white cinematography.
If you are still pining for more of her as in A Fish Called Wanda, you are not alone.
From the Trump Administration Of Course He Is file.
Hasten to remind that the Interior Secretary is the head lobbyist for Westlands Water District in California.
Laughton is great in it. Dietrich ain’t bad. Tyrone unfortunately is bad. Great bit by Una O’Connor.
Hot mess is definitely right. If it was fan service, it seemed to be primarily serving the fans who had complained loudest about The Last Jedi. My biggest complaint, though, was that the whole thing was done at breakneck speed primarily in the hope that it would make fans in the theater ignore all obvious flaws in the story.
All he had to do was stick close to his source material, Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch. He did do a good job with that.
Knives Out was great. Yes, Daniel Craig’s accent was fun (not the first time he’s broken that one out – Logan Lucky) but Ana De Armas was amazing and made the film, IMO.
I enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but can’t say the same for this latest version of Little Women. The timeline was such a chopped up hot mess. It pains me to say it but Laura Dern was woefully miscast as Marmee. And I don’t even want to talk about puppy faced Timothee Chalamet as Laurie. The 1994 version with Winona Ryder is much better.
Ford vs Ferrari was great and deserves to be seen on a big screen (if it’s not too late). I’ve heard recommendations from non-gearheads too.
@natem: Marriage Story left me meh. I cannot believe/understand all the gushing. Unbelievable was the best thing I saw last year, but that was a limited series on Netflix.
Agree about de Armas.
@BGinCHI: I loved The Host, I have to get caught up on the other ones.
I loved Knives Out, but totally agree about the morphine. If you’ve ever had an injection or even watched someone who has, that was pretty unbelievable.
@frosty: I enjoyed Ford v Ferrari, too. We had it on a screener, and my 9-year-old son really wanted to see it. So we let him watch it, but he decided to skip the final bit (you know the scene). He still talked about it for days after though. I think it will be his Bambi’s mother moment.
@natem: I found Marriage Story way too “talky”. I had trouble getting past that.
Last movie I saw was Ford versus Ferrari in Silverthorne, CO, when my son wanted to see the latest Skywalker. I have a list I would like to see. I just have to get off my duff and do it. As for F v. F — enjoyable, although it did drag a bit for me at times. I had never heard of Carroll Shelby and didn’t know the back story at all. My husband — even my sister — knew much more than I ever did about Shelby
@Nicole: I see others have beat me to it! It exceeded my expectations and I would probably have liked it even more if I were a “car” person.
I saw the Linda Ronstadt movie in a very tiny art house theater with a great sound system. Loved it, love her.
David ??Merry Christmas?? Koch
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a disappoint. Way better than Hateful Eight, but far below Jackie Brown, Inglorious Bastards, and Django Unchained.
Ford vs Ferrari was okay. But it wasn’t Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans”
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka):
I think a huge thing that has changed is the studios attitude toward franchise movies. Back in the old days, the studios concentrated primarily on making movies that could stand by themselves. If a movie were really successful, they might consider extending it into a franchise by adding sequels, prequels, or whatever until they stopped making money. The only exception was if they bought the rights to a successful series of novels, in which case the possibility of a sequel was baked in from the source material.
Now, though, even original movies are written with the intention that they be turned into franchises. Part of the problem, of course, is that the intent to turn the movie into a franchise can work at cross purposes to the goal of making a good movie. There’s a temptation to throw in a bunch of extraneous material to set up future episodes- and these days tie-ins to other sub-franchises in the “cinematic universe”- that comes at the expense of the main story.
The acting was good, especially the kids. I think my problem is more with the script.
@eclare: Second the love for “Unbelievable.”
What an amazing show. We’re most of the way through season 2 of Handmaid’s Tale, which is similarly harrowing.
Elizabeth Moss should get all the acting prizes for her performance.
Saw Knives Out on Christmas and thought it was OK but not as good as it sounded. I watched Marriage Story (pretty good) and Dolemite Is My Name (loved it) this past weekend on Netflix.
Yeah, it was speedy. I had a lot of “Wait a minute, didn’t—” moments.
@Planetjanet: I saw Just Mercy yesterday and I am still feeling it. Powerful performances, especially Jamie Foxx and Robert Morgan. Michael B. Jordan showed us Bryan Stevenson’s fundamental decency.
The story is a small piece of the bigger story.
Last year I visited the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice (a/k/a the lynching memorial) in Montgomery, AL, established by Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative. If you ever have the opportunity, go see them. The museum really makes it plain what this country does to people when it incarcerates them. The memorial has a pillar for every county in the US with the names of that county’s lynching victims and their dates of death engraved on them. (dozens people in two days in Orange County, Fla. – the “Ocoee Massacre”; other examples where it appeared entire families were wiped out) It also shows some of the reasons people were lynched (“looked at a white woman” “asked for a raise” “didn’t say ‘sir'” “tried to organize a union”).
Even if you have read about this stuff, or seen movies like Just Mercy, it’s breathtaking.
@frosty: I love Linda Ronstadt. Her voice was truly amazing and she was (and is) such a beautiful woman. I’m so sad that she can’t sing anymore because of her Parkinsons. Loved the documentary about her life and career.
Dorothy A. Winsor
The only one of those I’ve seen is Little Women, which I liked. I appreciated the way it undercut the usual female love story.
Any of you olds see Booksmart?
I thought it was terrific: irreverent and funny as hell.
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
I think a lot of that only started in the 80s though. Before that, sequels and prequels were unheard of, weren’t they? Aside from James Bond that is. Adaptations and remakes had been a thing for decades prior.
That’s definitely a thing I’ve seen lately
@BGinCHI: I wanted to, but if it did play here, it didn’t for long. Great news, one theater in the multi-plex closest to me is going to partner with local organizations to bring in more independent films. I definitely need to support that.
Wife and I made it to a movie theater last year for the first time since “Birdman” in 2014. We both enjoyed “Ford vs. Ferrari” which surprised me since she has no interest in car racing. (Upon leaving the theater I did slam the clutch and spin the tires like a 16 y.o. in our 14 y.o. 95 Hp five speed baby SUV. With “all” that Hp helped that the ground was wet with rain. Wife; not impressed.) We both loved “JoJo Rabbit”, not knowing much going in other than good reviews and showing at a convenient time for us. Told my wife it is a story about the madcap adventures of the Hitler Youth’s, so not expecting much. I since read a scathing and near endless 10 page criticism of the film on a blog; but the complaints did not register with me being a 16 year old boy that likes to pretend his dad’s rust bucket is a Ferrari.
I think the complaint is not so much that there are no good movies for adults, as that there are none released between February and September (the very rare The Farewell or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the exceptions). I have a friend I go to the movies with, and, after we finished off Uncut Gems last week, I said, “See you in September” — we know it’s very unlikely anything worthy will come along before then, now that Oscar season’s done.
This WAS a better-than-average Oscar vintage. I think The Irishman is a masterpiece (I even paid to see it in a theatre, which I think enhanced its epic quality). I’m on the way-upside of Little Women: thought the time rearrangement made something new and vital of it. Quite liked Parasite, Marriage Story and Once Upon a Time…, though I do have some issues with all. Thought 1917 had a great deal of wow factor, though the story is beyond thin, and, in a less charitable mood, it’s easy to dismiss as a video game. Those visuals are amazing, however.
Knives Out was a lot of fun, in a minor key.
1917 is wonderful. Gives you the horrors of war in a lyrical way, without the ultra-violence. Sam Mendes’ approach to cinematography and visual artistry is all in the turn of phrase and a subtle camera shot of a human face. The beauty is best captured in the very first scene – and the very last. Deserving of all the awards it can garner.
Old Dan and Little Ann
I ignored everything regarding Joker until I saw it last week. All I could think after was, “Holy Shit! That was a great movie.” I then went and read all the reviews and most of them tilted towards it sucked. I think some people just like being contrarian. Next movie theater trip will be to see Star Wars.
A Buddy’s recently-passed MIL was from Germany and a young girl in Berlin in the ’30s and ’40s. That sets the stage.
His kids all attended a Spanish-English intensive grade school to become bilingual (please, don’t alert Miller) and they had a stream of parents and relatives come through to tell their family story. Of course, the kids got weary of “Our people are from Jalisco!” stories and so were quite interested in what the old lady with weird accent had to say when she came to fourth(?) grade.
“Now what I have to tell you is very, very interesting so I want you to pay close attention. I’m here to tell you what it is like to grow up in Nazi Germany and be a member of the Hitler Youth!”
@Old Dan and Little Ann: Then 10-year old in me enjoyed Star Wars. Which is how I judge those movies, because at the end of the day, they’re all kind of dumb.
About the only movies I’ll see in theatres these days are superhero or action movies. At the ripe young age of 63, I am deaf as the proverbial post, and movies where dialogue is important usually results in me not understanding large chunks of non pew-pew movies.
Dialogue isn’t that important in superhero/action movies, since most of the dialogue is exposition and not actual *dialogue*. I saw Yesterday, Knives Out and Once Upon A Time in theatres this past year. I find I enjoy “grown-up” movies more at home on my laptop with closed captioning on.
I don’t consider myself a movie snob, but even my inner 10-year-old was put off by some things in Skywalker. There’s amiably dumb, and then there’s egregiously dumb.
I liked “Knives Out.” Not a deep movie, but fun and twisty in a way that didn’t require anyone to put on a spandex costume.
“Rise of Skywalker” was meh. The one major talent that JJ Abrams has is casting, so Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver *almost* pulled it off, but the stacked ridiculousness just weighed it down.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka): Prior to Jaws and Star Wars, most sequels and series (outside of Bond) had been B or C-movies, in terms of budgets – Abbot and Costello, Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Kong, etc. (One exception to this pattern was Planet of the Apes and its sequels – these seemed to have A -level budgets.) Or family or comedy or mystery series which might have A or close to A-level budgets which featured the same actors basically perform the same roles in different locations/scenarios – The Thin Man movies, The Road to Wherever with Hope and Crosby, Disney’s Herbie movies, etc. A serious “A” movie sequel like The Godfather, Part II, was an outlier but both movies came from the same novel, so it wasn’t like the studio was making up something out of whole cloth.
Jaws and Star Wars changed everything because the amounts of money they made were beyond what anyone had seen for what were, essentially, well-made B-movies. So of course there would be big-budget sequels. From 1975 on, there has been a steady creep so that big budget movies, most of which are at least co-produced or co-financed by studios because of the amounts of money involved, now are almost entirely devoted to “franchises” – Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc., because they are believed to be financially the most secure investment. The downside to this is that studios, for the most part, have no interest in financing mid-range ($20-100MM) budget movies that have more serious themes and/or better writing, because the box office for these is so much more iffy. No studios were willing to finance The Irishman, which is why Scorsese turned to Netflix, even though he would much rather have the audience see the movie it theaters.
Just wanted to agree with all the up votes for Last Black Man in San Francisco. Beautifully shot, great music, and an emotionally resonant story. What more could you want?
@Steeplejack (phone): I thought the main plot of Last Jedi was awful, as if they cribbed from a rejected Star Trek episode. Beyond dumb.
Heh, yes, there is beyond dumb. I try not to go there, but I don’t always succeed.
Dorothy A. Winsor
I like Ford vs Ferrari. I wouldn’t call myself a racing fan, but Mr DAW used to drive in SCCA races and I’ve been to a NASCAR race and a Formula 1 race when Mr DAW worked for Roger Penske. So I even liked the sound of laps being run while the movie’s title was coming up.
I think a lot of people are going to go back to The Last Jedi in about 10 years and realize it’s not nearly as bad as they let themselves be told. ?♀️
The Force is for everyone.
Not sure why there’s so little love for Joker in this thread — I don’t even like superhero/villain films and I thought it was amazing. Watched it twice on a pay-per-view rental last week. Joaquin Phoenix clearly earned the Oscar, and I think Joker should do well in other categories. The cinematography is excellent, for example. Trust me, I really hate all the “serious” Batman movies, and I love me this movie.
I wasn’t referencing Last Jedi specifically (I can barely remember it), just the idea that there is a desolate region beyond stupid.
Yes, yes, there is, and it involves Emperor Palpatine creating advanced spaceships out of primordial mud using the Force or whatever.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka):
I don’t think they were as big a thing- at least if you ignore serials- but they definitely existed. Think of the Planet of the Apes franchise, for instance.
Well, even if I could get past my absolute disdain and hate for comic book/superhero movies, the gratuitous violence would put me off it in a big way. Same reason I won’t watch The Irishman and could never stomach even three episodes of Game of Thrones. I despise gratuitous violence. Won’t force myself to watch anything with it anymore.
Oh, jeez, I think I missed that one, or possibly just suppressed the memory.
Cheryl from Maryland
I suggest Kansas be added to the Act Blue List. With an open seat and the probable GOP nominee the horrible looser Kris Kobach, there is an excellent chance the Democrat will win the Senate Race as one beat Kobach in the gubernatorial race. Then we have a separate but exciting forlorn hope list, with Jamie Harrison in South Carolina, Amy McGrath in Kentucky, and M.J. Hegar in Texas.
@geg6: Fair enough, although you refer to “gratuitous” violence twice, which does beg the question of what constitutes gratuitousness. The violence in Joker is integral to the story arc, so it’s anything but “gratuitous,” but sure, if you just try to avoid seeing any depictions of violence as a general rule then this would not be the movie for you.
Kiddo hated Joker; I’d need to quiz her on why to not put words in her mouth. Only remember that she rejected the storyline. I’m in the unlikely-to-ever-watch category, so unless I get stuck on a flight with it playing….
He’ll always have “Cash.”
Sequels were more of a thing for B movies that were part of a series — think Andy Hardy, Ma and Pa Kettle, etc. Not quite “serials” since they were all 60-70 minute films, but definitely part of a series.
“Knives Out” eventually won me over and made me smile. Thoroughly enjoyable. Too much in the beginning was an obvious homage to the genre, which unfortunately often emphasizes the artifice. I had previously watched a couple of clips of the tv series Columbo on YouTube, and was struck by how the detective saw murder as an obscenity against the victim and society. Too often, mysteries simply become a puzzle chase as the detective and the villain spar tease one another.
MILD SPOILER: at times it seems there was barely a crime in the movie. And the assorted characters are more privileged assholes than people with much depth or motive. But the acting is great, despite some scenery chewing, and I found a couple of characters immensely appealing.
I definitely want to see Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc again.
“Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” is still one of my favorite films of the year. My family moved to Southern California during that time, and I know those streets and I know those radio stations, down to their jingles. I loved how Tarantino told you who the characters were by where they lived and the cars they drove. And you got a sense of Hollywood celebrity hierarchy.
The scene set at the Spahn Ranch was a masterpiece within itself. It was a horror movie in the daylight. The main house reminded me of the house in “Psycho” next to the Bates Motel. And for those who knew anything about the historical Manson family, the tension built into the scene was tremendous.
The film and tv shows built within the film are all well done. The acting is first rate.
However, the way Tarantino treated the Bruce Lee character’s cameo was bullshit. I understand what he was trying to do, but he didn’t succeed. And it does help to underscore a weird racist tinge that I don’t think that Tarantino intended but which leaves an unnecessary sour taste to an otherwise deft piece of work. I was relieved that the movie did not exploit Sharon Tate or the awful reality of what happened to those targeted by Manson.
I put off seeing “Parasite,” but keep hearing good things about it from people who have seen it.
@BGinCHI: Loved The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Parasite, Just Mercy, Harriet, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (documentary), The Farewell and Booksmart. I didn’t expect to like Awkwafina in The Farewell as much as I did.
I liked Brittany Runs a Marathon (wasn’t expecting much, so it was fine) but my husband definitely didn’t.
Haven’t seen Knives Out but maybe I will. I want to see Clemency with Alfre Woodard before it leaves theaters.
I had exactly the same reaction as the OP to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. The whole time I was dreading that it going to show me the Sharon Tate murder, which I did not want to see. I want to see it again without that suspense. The scene with the little girl was magic. She should have gotten an Oscar nomination.
Also, the theatre had the sound turned up so loud the music hurt my ears. I considered getting up and complaining about that, but decided it probably wouldn’t do any good.
For starters, they wouldn’t have heard you.
Extra surprising, in light of Tarantino’s penchant for violence and blood.
I saw the first Star Wars movie on opening night at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. So, I have been with the franchise from the beginning as kinda liked “Rise of Skywalker,” but was disappointed that it was such a weak conclusion to films that I had loved (especially The Empire Strikes Back, the best of them all for me).
I didn’t much care for The Last Jedi. I thought much of it cinematic noodling, and a dead end that left the series no where to go. And yet I would have rather seen Rian Johnson be given the final film to work his way out of the corner he had painted himself into than have to suffer through JJ Abram’s weird fan service course correction.
My major beef with both films is that the main characters were engaging and charismatic in the “The Force Awakens,” but were severely under-developed and never given much to do in either of the subsequent films. And even though there are some fun and exciting action scenes in “The Rise of Skywalker” it isn’t very imaginative visually, and the return of the Emperor is just stupid.
But damn, a lot of the plotting was clumsy. Characters you never saw before and would never see again popped up to provide the main characters with something they needed, like rewards in a video game. And Abrams was overindulgent in including actors he had worked with before, giving them little bits and cameos that were more distracting than fun.
I enjoyed bits and pieces. I hope the inevitable reboot does better.
ETA: I see from video clips that people are having big fun with the Rise of the Resistance rides at the Disney theme parks. Oddly enough, I have seen more reaction videos with adult fans of Star Wars than with little kids.
@cckids: Maybe the sequel will explain it, but it’s going to require a TON of co-conspirators for it to go in the direction I expected.
I thought that The Last Jedi was a hopeless muddle. And yet I understand why a lot of people enjoyed the film.
I think that the idea that the Force is for everyone is kinda stupid, but largely irrelevant. And yet I also understand that the film series has been around for so long that audiences, especially American audiences, insist on remaking the Star Wars myth into a pro-democracy story. So, Leia cannot be a Princess, she must be a General (even though monarchs have led armies before. And The Force must be available to everyone, especially all the nerds and nerdettes who spent their whole lives wanting to be a Jedi.
Pop culture inevitably reflects contemporary concerns. It is understandable that new generations of viewers want to see their current conceptions reflected in their favorite franchise.
But I certainly reject all the noxious sexism and racism that the supposedly protective “fans” stirred up. These dopes never stop. I am looking forward to the upcoming “Star Trek:Picard” series, but see that social media idiots are whining about the sacred nature of Rodenberry’s vision of a future utopia. I just want good stories, and think that Picard is an ideal anchor for a new show.
I wanted to see “Ford v. Ferrari” when it was here in my theater, but didn’t get around to it. Likewise, “Dark Waters”, which appears to be on *no one*’s radar screen. Enjoyed “Harriet” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. “Little Women” will be next. “Knives Out” probably won’t be for a while, and I’m waiting on the verdict for the new “Dr. Dolittle”, tho’ I am not sanguine from what I’ve heard so far.
Just re-watched “Bonnie and Clyde”, tho’, and hot holy DAMN is that a good movie.
I also found de Armas to be tremendously engaging. And she and Daniel Craig will return in the next Bond movie.
@geg6: Here’s the theater I work for:
I just sent a link to your local theater to my boss to show her what a nicely-designed website looks like! I’ve been battling to get ours redesigned for a while now! : )
Knives Out: fantastic fun movie. Not a profound piece of cinema, but it had so many great (usually horrible) characters played by a cast of giants, and a satisfying ending.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: I enjoyed this a lot, but, damn, is it a very Tarantino boy movie, with all his limitations. You will not like it if you can’t stand that sort of thing. DiCaprio and Pitt have amazing chemistry together; I kinda shipped them.
And, yeah, that scene with Bruce Lee took me out of the movie too. I mean, come on.
I saw a bunch of stuff on airplanes over the past week. The Tarantino, but also:
The Kitchen: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth Moss starring in a grim, blood-soaked, amoral 1970s gangster drama apparently based on a comic. I kind of liked it. Critics apparently didn’t. You could well argue there isn’t much point to it. Moss gives a particularly amazing performance, as does Domhnall Gleeson as the thug who romantically teaches her to be a stone-cold killer.
Late Night: Feather-light comedy about a novice writer played by Mindy Kaling who stumbles into a staff writing position for a nationally beloved but fading late-night talk-show host played by Emma Thompson. Inoffensive but the ending struck me as the workplace equivalent of those romcoms where you keep screaming for one member of the happy couple to run away. John Lithgow plays a man who seems to be in a different movie from all of the other characters.
Ad Astra: This struck me as sort of a Space: 1999 for our time, in that it has the look of diamond-hard, realistic science fiction, but the script is completely goofy and makes absolutely no sense. Brad Pitt plays an astronaut on a Quest for the Missing Father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, who has gone off the deep end on a spaceship out at the edge of the Solar System that is menacing Earth for some bullshit reason. Pitt goes chasing after him in an adventure full of ridiculous diversions and catastrophes. At one point he has to deal with (I shit you not) a deranged space baboon. His emotional state is conveyed entirely in incessant portentous voiceovers. At least the movie looks really really good. It’s trying to make points about isolation, the need for human contact and the psychic toll of the void but it never really lands.
Also I binge-watched Chernobyl. Good, absorbing series.
Major Major Major Major
Parasite blew me away. Best movie I’ve seen in a while.
I saw Just Mercy last night in DC. Weirdly ran into a former AG who was very into it. It’s amazing. Bryan Stevenson (Who I’ve been privileged to meet a few times) is a walking saint.
Fair warning this is long because I watch a lot of movies in the theater bc I belong to a couple chains’ frequent movie clubs where if you sign up you can see “standard” movies (not IMAX or 3D) for $5 or $6 on Tuesdays. That, along with weekend movies with friends, & I’ve seen almost every film mentioned above & more except The Joker, The Irishman, & Marriage Story. (Yes, the latter 2 & Dolemite is my Name are in my Netflix queue & I’m adding The Last Black Man in San Francisco now).
As for difficulty getting to not-comic-book-movies, I’m lucky enough to live near Boston, so you can find most movies unless they had such a limited or short theatrical release you just have to wait for Netflix or Amazon.
I’d say the very best of the movies I’ve seen in the theater from 2019 until now include Apollo 11, The Farewell, Maiden, Parasite, Little Women, & Queen & Slim.
I also think the following were good: Late Night, Booksmart, Terminator: Dark Fate, HTTYD: The Hidden World, Abominable, Blinded By The Light, Tolkien, The Kitchen, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Don’t Let Go, Wild Rose, Harriet (Cynthia Erivo is always ahmazing), Ford v. Ferrari, Knives Out, Uncut Gems, & Just Mercy.
I admit JoJo Rabbit managed to thread the needle (though I still have real ethical qualms about trying to make Hitler or Hitler Youth funny right now). Bombshell had great acting, but I felt really dirty after watching it (you can make a movie based on real events & real people & when memories are fresh too soon). I can see the mastery in the depiction of that time period in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, but it didn’t really resonate with me. And The Two Popes really needed theatrical release (to get a bigger screen for the settings & scenery, which would have better emphasized the two worlds of these two men).
I wasn’t expecting much from Rise of Skywalker, so I wasn’t that disappointed by the time I saw it. But I also can’t say it held my attention fully, since I managed to nod off a bit near the end when I reclined my seat just a little too much.
The last movie I saw in the theater was 1917. Beautifully shot, explicitly made to illustrate what it was like to be a soldier among the horrors & futility of WWI. And yet it left me infuriated because what’s so great about faceless Germans & all these mostly honorable Englishmen, with a nobody’s fault plot of a couple buddies having to see & do terrible things to try and deliver a message in a desperate race against time. Gallipoli & Paths of Glory & Tolkien & Warhorse all exist. (I freely admit that watching this particular movie hurt more bc I’d been thinking about Little Women & Jo’s line to Laurie about wishing she was a boy so she could fight with her father in the war, https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020/01/greta-gerwig-little-women-script> and Gerwig’s short article in Vanity Fair where she noted male violence isn’t all that matters</a>).
@Tenar Arha: Sorry for the formatting fail. I copy pasted from notepad. And here’s the link to the article https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020/01/greta-gerwig-little-women-script
The technical term for these is “plot coupons“. Having plot coupons isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a plot that centers around them is often a bad sign.
…I watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on an airplane with a wonky headphone jack that kept making the sound cut out, sometimes just in one stereo channel. The movie fooled me. At one point, Pitt’s character is talking to his dog, then suddenly breaks off in the middle of a sentence and starts waving his hands around in front of his face because the acid he took earlier is starting to kick in. I actually wound the movie back to the beginning of the scene and fiddled with the headphone jack because I thought the dialogue was cutting out.
And the superhero/franchise movies of the year:
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Not much left to say about this that hasn’t been covered, but, yeah, it seemed like a rushed and incoherent fever dream compared to its predecessors.
Captain Marvel: I thought this was OK. I liked Bob Chipman’s description of it as veering from Star Wars, to a buddy cop road movie, to Star Trek: the Next Generation. Carol Danvers’ character arc reminded me a bit of Robocop. My daughter thought it was one of her favorite superhero movies ever, which may be more important than anything I thought.
Shazam!: A surprisingly good offering from the DCEU, much better than Aquaman which I saw back to back with it. Cute and funny, with winning performances from the leads, but it is a bit incongruous that it was set up as a kids’ movie but the scenes with the villains are very grim and brutal.
Oh, and I guess Avengers: Endgame was 2019 too. Yeah, uh, it was better than Infinity War. Kind of a critic-proof movie because if you’ve gotten to that point you’re pretty much obliged to watch it. But it was better than Rise of Skywalker in that regard, though not a great story considered as a standalone picture.