It’s Julia Week: The Second Part! What a lazy sequel title, right? The Lego Movie was such good fun and I hear the new one is pretty much just an inferior version of it, but the worst part is the title. We’ve been graced with so many great sequel titles over the years: Classics like Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Die Harder, and obviously my personal favourite, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (which I spell Squeakuel because having two “K” sounds is stupid and you know it). Then The Lego Movie 2 comes out and tries to be cool and hip and tongue in cheek with its title, but no, it’s just boring. The Second Part? Really? That’s like Shrek the Third but somehow even uglier. Anyway, this has literally nothing to do with the four movies I’ve seen this half-week. I have at least a little bit to say about each of them, so here they are:
Feb 19: I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon Prime Video)
This is the second movie of four that I’ve watched for a class as opposed to being chosen by my rigorous and mysterious methods. Once again, this won’t influence my review in any way.
I don’t like to call movies “important”. I like to think that movies serve first to entertain, and any kind of important message can be integral but is secondary to my enjoyment. I Am Not Your Negro is the exception here. That isn’t at all to say that I didn’t enjoy it, just that the film’s importance and relevance took precedence over my need to constantly have a distraction from the real world. This documentary has Samuel L Jackson narrating as the late James Baldwin, writer and civil rights activist, as he explores the lives and his own relation to three murdered fellow black activists: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a fascinating portrait of modern America that everyone in the US should have to watch at some point to understand the history of their country. As Baldwin says, “The history of the Negro in America is the history of America”. The movie is an unsentimental, matter of fact look at the problems in the US that have still not been properly addressed in 2019. I Am Not Your Negro came out in 2016, and gets more important with every day that it’s forgotten. Do America a favour and watch it.
Feb 21: But I’m a Cheerleader! (Random streaming site)
“I’m sure you are about to read a terrible review of this movie, but it is truly a beautiful cult classic, no matter whatever rant Joey is about to go on. It is aware of its clichés, the saturation is hilariously stunning, and I’m in hopeless love with Natasha Lyonne.”
I’ve never seen an entire John Waters movie, but I’m familiar enough with his work to know his style. This isn’t a John Waters movie, but I immediately saw his influence and began to base my expectations on that. The fact that Mink Stole is in it only drove home the Waters aesthetic. Unfortunately, this led to me being rather disappointed by how tame the movie tends to be.
Natasha Lyonne plays a cheerleader who’s sent off to gay conversion camp after her family decides her habits are worryingly homosexual. While there, she not only finds that she is, in fact, gay, but also finds love in the most unlikely of places. And that’s pretty much it. I like Natasha Lyonne enough, as well as the rest of the cast, except Mink Stole feels underutilized. It’s too tame, like I said, but that has a lot to do with the fact that this movie came out 20 years ago and I have to give it credit for actually being kinda taboo for 1999.
See, Julia? I don’t shit all over this one, I was just a bit disappointed! I liked every single one of the other movies you recommended, that should be enough!
Feb 21: The Squid and the Whale (Cineplex Store Rental)
“The Squid and the Whale is a great way to relive your parents’ divorce. Some person theories: Jesse Eisenberg is in love with his father, all Baldwin brothers are secretly the same person, also, you should not put your bodily fluids on your locker, no matter how bad your family situation is.”
In my Frances Ha review, I gave Greta Gerwig credit for great character work and didn’t even mention Noah Baumbach, who co-wrote it with her. I’d like to retroactively give Baumbach high praise, because I can clearly see that he contributed a bunch to what makes Frances Ha so compelling.
Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale is a movie that is exclusively about characters. There is not a single line in this movie that doesn’t shape a character in some way, making it extremely tight, nuanced and clocks in at only about 80 minutes. Jeff Daniels is amazing as the author-turned-failed-author/asshole father, and Laura Linney is always fantastic; this is no exception. Jesse Eisenberg may be playing Jesse Eisenberg for the hundredth time (although he was pretty new in 2005), but Noah Baumbach manages to make him fascinating. Contrary to what Julia said, I spent most of this movie thinking William Baldwin was Ken Marino from Wet Hot American Summer, which confused the shit outta me. Other than that confusion (which is entirely on me) this movie is pretty fantastic. Good pick for best movie of all time, Julia!
Feb 22: The Slums of Beverly Hills (random streaming site)
“Do you understand why I was sexually awakened by Natasha Lyonne?”
Natasha Lyonne is pretty hot in this movie, I gotta admit. I don’t have much else to say about this one. It’s good, I like the characters and the aesthetic and everything, but nothing stood out as being particularly amazing or awful. Strange. Could be that I’ve seen 8 movies this week and film has lost all meaning and I should take a break. It could also not mean that, so I’m gonna keep watching a shitton of movies.
Alas, Julia Week has come to an end. Thank you very much, Julia, for the recommendations and your reviews, they were fantastic and I really feel like you opened me up to a whole other subset of film I had never really explored before. Shoutout to The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part for being bland and causing me to rant about it briefly even though I haven’t seen it! And here’s a preemptive shoutout to the Oscars once again for making all the wrong decisions. I’ll be reviewing the Oscars next week, so get ready for a ton of expletives and incessant rambling!