We are now 12 days into the new year, and I have seen a movie every single day. Except the 4th. And today. But either way, I’ve seen 11 movies so far this year, and I have at least a little bit to say about all of them, so here they are:
Jan 1: A Quiet Place (YouTube)
I went in thinking I wasn’t going to like A Quiet Place. I was late to the party, and I don’t usually like traditional, gimmicky horror. I was pleasantly surprised to see that A Quiet Place features a strong gimmick that doesn’t outstay its welcome, and clever characters to complement it. For the first hour, that is. After a fantastic sequence ending with Emily Blunt screaming in a bathtub, the movie goes off the rails and starts breaking the rules established earlier. It’s a real shame, because the logic and rules were sound until it all goes to shit. It didn’t ruin the movie, but it soured an otherwise surprisingly great experience.
Jan 2: Aliens (Random streaming site)
As a fan of Alien, and at the risk of angering a large group of people, I can’t say I enjoyed Aliens all that much. The new characters are silly and one dimensional for the most part, and the switch from horror to action leaves the tension of the Xenomorph in the dust. I wish it took itself more seriously as well.
Jan 2 (about an hour later): Spaceballs (DVD?)
Spaceballs is a classic! Not as funny as I remember it being as a kid, and Joan Rivers’ character doesn’t say a single funny thing the entire movie, but I find it tough to say anything mean to Spaceballs. It’s Spaceballs!
Jan 3: First Reformed (YouTube)
Throughout all of 2018, I had yet to find a movie that I felt was worthy of bringing home my top spot of the year. At some point I thought it was A Star Is Born. Could you imagine if the best movie of 2018 was A Star Is Born? Not a bad movie by any means, but certainly not up there with the previous couple years’ top spots, Blade Runner 2049 and Manchester by the Sea. but 3 days into 2019, I finally found it. First Reformed is a master of metaphor, using a genuine message of climate change as a way to present Reverend Toller’s (Ethan Hawke) despair, and Amanda Seyfried’s Mary as a way to represent his hope. The reverend clings to his hope for as long as he can, but when even his pillar becomes tainted with despair, he turns to a dark place, nearly finishing what Mary’s late husband had started before succumbing to his own personal hell. The film concludes with a bittersweet embrace, a culmination of all of Toller’s hope and despair, an acceptance that life is a constant balance between the two. It’s pretentious as fuck, but I love it. “Maybe one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in my life.” – my father
Jan 4: I did not see a movie. What a sad day.
Jan 5: Mr. Roosevelt (Netflix)
I have a crush on Noel Wells. I really like Master of None. I really like Infinity Baby despite being the only person on Earth to have ever seen it. She is in both those things. She wrote, directed, and stars in Mr. Roosevelt. Do not see this movie unless you’re also in love with Noel Wells. It sucks.
Jan 6: Punch-Drunk Love (Netflix)
This movie upsets me because of how great Adam Sandler is in it. What if he actually put this much effort into his other works instead of just puking up a script and laundering money for his friends? It just goes to show that all you have to do is give Paul Thomas Anderson a camera and a keyboard and he’ll make something great. The plot is a little weak at times though, I’ll admit. My favourite scenes are the ones with Adam Sandler’s character simply going about his day. If the entire movie had just been that, I’d have been delighted, but I’m reasonably happy with the actual movie.
Jan 7: Sleeping With Other People (Netflix)
It’s a romance with two people who have no personality whatsoever. Who the fuck writes this crap, and who reads it and says “we need Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis on this project ASAP”. And then what kind of hacks give it decent reviews?
Jan 8: Donnie Darko (Amazon Prime Video)
Donnie Darko was much better before I knew what the heck happened. When the movie ended I was confused, but took a minute to process it and came up with an interpretation that worked for me, involving Frank sending Donnie back in time to see that the world is better with Frank alive and Donnie dead, and forcing him to make the decision to get crushed. But I got too curious. I Googled what actually happened, expecting to get a bunch of wacky interpretations from Reddit or something. What I got was an objective answer to every single event, which involves a convoluted time loop and a wormhole attracted to metal or some bollocks. This info is not provided at any point in the movie, but is apparently in the bonus features of the DVD. Silly me, I guess I should have watched the bonus features! Either way, the explanation really takes the soul out of the movie, and I wish I could go back to not knowing anything.
Jan 9: Raw (Crave)
This is the second movie I’ve watched within a month that involves a heavy emphasis on strong female characters, good performances, and cannibalism. This Belgian movie tells the heartwarming story of a young vegetarian woman going off to university for the first time. She has a lot of firsts: First time getting drenched in horse blood, first time eating meat, first time consuming human flesh, first time having sex, first time going crazy and raping her gay roommate (those two were one and the same, actually), and plenty of other things that every girl in college goes through at some point! In all seriousness, it’s a gruesome but enjoyable movie with a hauntingly good ending, and I see it as a great metaphor for toxic hazing culture and how wanting to fit in can reveal a dark side of you.
Jan 10: Happy Death Day (Crave)
This seemingly generic horror/comedy is not only competent, it’s actually good. The main character is exceedingly likeable, and that’s all because of Jessica Rothe’s performance. The story hits every beat I expected it to, but it did it all so well that I can’t help but like and respect it. There’s even a scene at the end that pokes fun at itself, acknowledging the now overdone trope of Groundhog Day clones. It has no right being as good as it is.
Jan 11: Cold War (Theatre)
A black and white foreign film that tells an ordinary story in an extraordinary setting. I actually just described two 2018 movies, Cold War and Roma, and both are great. Cold War is beautifully shot, well acted, and unlike Roma, weaves the setting more directly into the main plot. It’s a love story told over the course of many years, following our two lovers as they attempt to stay together in spite of Europe’s political turmoil during the Cold War, with mixed results. it also features some fantastic music, but unfortunately it ends up taking up a lot of the movie. Not that that’s a bad thing, but the movie is only an hour and a half and feels rather short; I would have loved to see a bit more from the characters. When my one major complaint is that I wanted to see more, you know you made a good movie. Good job, Paweł Pawlikowski. You have a great name.
The past week and a half of movie watching has been surprisingly great, with only a few duds. This is a new thing I’ll be trying out: each week I’ll be giving a bit of a blurb on every movie I’ve seen. It could be 20, it could be 2, either way, I’ll be delivering my opinions on an actual schedule for once. Here’s to a great year of movies in 2019! And shout out to the Golden Globes for proving once and for all that the Hollywood Foreign Press is a bunch of braindead blind dudes!