[What Did Jaci Think: Winter]

Okay, we’re reviving this concept, and we’re doing it by seasons and going back to December because… I was not feeling it for January. Whatever it’s fine.

First, if we’re truly going back to December, we have to acknowledge the highlight of snowglobeszn2022: Hanukkah on Rye, a delightful Hallmark ~holiday~ movie which is The Shop Around the Corner but make it Jewish delis, with the utterly charming Yael Grobglas (& also perhaps the first time I have not been annoyed by Jeremy Jordan?) plus a cameo from Lisa Loeb. Make a note for next year, or honestly watch it now; I don’t know your life.

On the other end of the entertainment spectrum, I loved the Metropolitan Opera production of The Hours. I streamed truly a lot of opera during the height of lockdown, but this is the first time I treated myself to the Met’s theatrical broadcast. I haven’t seen the film since it was first released, and it’s been longer still since I read the book, but opera is particularly well-suited to telling this story of three women across time. Time can be extra-slippy in opera, because everything can truly be happening at once.

The best time in the theater was Desperately Seeking Susan, a rewatch on 35mm, thank you Grand Illusion. Listen. If it’s been a minute since you’ve seen it, you owe yourself. It’s worth the whatever three bucks it costs to rent. Great ladies, great looks, great time.

The most devastating time in the theater would be All the Beauty and the Bloodshed and Women Talking, which, honestly, what a double feature about survival (and survivors, and survivor’s guilt), about documenting lives on the margins, about the radical act of imagining a future.

The combination of Women Talking & the Autostraddle Encyclopedia of Lesbian Cinema brought me to I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, a Canadian independent film that would have been my whole personality if I’d seen it in college.

The best time at home was for sure Catherine, Called Birdy. Literally all I remembered of the book is that I enjoyed it and that it marked time by saints days (and Birdy’s vivid imagining of their lives), and the film was so fun, maintaining a playful, rebellious tone while also not shying away from the details and threats of the period. A balancing act for sure (and if *spoiler* doesn’t want to marry Sophie Okonedo, I volunteer as tribute!)

I went on a little Terence Davies run specifically because Distant Voices, Still Lives was about to leave Criterion Channel, and it was worth it, for that in particular. It’s the middle film of his autobiographical trilogy (the three shorts that preceded it are a journey), and it has an incredible use of popular music as inner voice, of the power of the group sing in the pub or in the sitting room. Definitely my favorite discovery of this batch.

…so that was the new, or the mostly new, or the new old, but also I’m trying to give myself permission to enjoy more rewatches this year. I don’t always have to be discovering something! The winter run of past favorites included Jane Eyre, Paterson, Take This Waltz, Out of Sight, and Better Days.

I do give myself permission to rewatch BL more often – basically they’re my version of reading a bit of a romance novel before bed – & if I watch too many bad/boring/mediocre ones in a row I need to go back to the certified hits. Nothing I watched in these three months was worth recommending, but for my service I did earn another visit with Semantic Error & Old Fashion Cupcake.

& that’s that!

[2022 Film Wrap-up]

Total in theatre: 116 (full list here)
Revival: 15

The strategy again is looking at anything I watched for the first time in 2022 that had a release date of 2020-2022. I do what I want!

Favorites: After Yang, The Eternal Daughter, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Decision to Leave, Drive My Car, Great Freedom, Parallel Mothers, Petite Maman.

Also: Aftersun, Ali & Ava, The Banshees of Inisherin, Girl Picture, Hatching, Know Your Place, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Memoria, A New Old Play, Together Together, Turning Red, The Woman King.

More after the jump!

Continue reading “[2022 Film Wrap-up]”

[What Did Jaci Think: January]

So, as mentioned earlier, the shape of things over here will be a little different because the shape of the world is different. More first watches for me, fewer actually new films. For obvious reasons, my viewing habits have changed over the last two years, but I’ve been trying to do two things to keep from sinking into exclusively comfort viewing.

First, I monitor the page for films leaving Criterion Channel at the end of the month, & make a watchlist from that, prioritizing women directors, queer films, and world cinema. Second, I look out for remote film festivals (tips welcome!), as well as random free screenings popping up at Eventive.

…so that’s why one of the best new films I saw in January was a Taiwanese film from 1970. So let’s start with that! The End of the Track, a free offering from the Harvard Film Archive, is a raw and beautiful film about grief, class, and my favorite thing, subtextual queerness.

A Criterion highlight was The Official Story, a film from Argentina about the personal costs for a family that took in one of the stolen children of the Dirty War – one aware of it, one in denial.

Between Shadow and Soul, a silent, black-and-white reworking of The Third Wife, was completely engaging and effective in a different way from the lush green original.

I’m Your Man, the “Cousin Matthew as a robot boyfriend” movie mysteriously described by many letterboxd posts as a romantic comedy, despite the fact that … it’s not romantic. I liked it, and it made me think of Ex Machina (which I love) but I just don’t believe you can have a romance where one partner has no desires of their own. I felt like I had watched a completely different movie than everyone else. (The joke about why he speaks German with an English accent is very good.)

& finally, the wildest double feature of The Lost Daughter and Together Together, if you too ever want to experience two polar opposite (but both terrific) takes on motherhood and parenting.

I don’t usually make film resolutions, but this year, since I’m not doing anything else anyway, I thought I’d try to watch a long film every long weekend. And by long I mean over three hours. For New Year’s I finally watched the four hour cut of A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, which actually turned out to be a series (imagine trying to sell that!) Still loved it, so precise and strange. Then over MLK weekend I splurged on Happy Hour, spending five hours living in a novel about these four friends. I could have stayed there longer.

In theater highlights include – The Tragedy of Macbeth (I honestly wished I was watching it on an even larger screen than the midsized multiplex house, all those gorgeous Expressionist lines and shadows, an impossible sound stage castle), Licorice Pizza (though I’m still furious about the racist “jokes” here because they were harmful, bad storytelling that overshadowed everything that was beautiful about that movie), Parallel Mothers, and Flee.

& finally, ~BL Corner~. At the end, so normal people can skip it! January saw the end of “Bad Buddy“, a series which I famously anticipated madly and then adored all the way through. It’s absolutely a classic Thai BL with all the soapiness and low production value and unsubtle product placement which that implies, but it also gives us an unusually healthy relationship, great chemistry, a GL side couple (!), and just in general P’Aof making interesting choices inside the genre.

On the other end of things, an anti-rec for “My Beautiful Man“, a super toxic BL from Japan. It’s one thing to have dark themes and complex characters, it’s another when it’s romanticized abuse and straight-up bad storytelling.

& that’s that for January!

[2021 Film Wrap-up]

Total: 50 (full list here)
Revival: 6

That’s the lowest number since I started tracking in 2006! It’s also fewer films than 2020, despite the fact that I only went to films for about 2 months in 2020 compared to 6 in 2021. The difference is: no film festivals. I miss festivals SO MUCH y’all. I want to stand in a line and complain about passholders while also being a passholder. The dream!

Anyway, so the the strategy this year is looking at anything I watched for the first time in 2021 that was released in 2019-2021. And here we go!

Favorite films: Titane, Thin Skin, The Power of the Dog, Passing

Also: Spencer, Wisdom Tooth, Romeo & Juliet at the National, Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time, The Souvenir Part II

More after the jump!

Continue reading “[2021 Film Wrap-up]”

[2020 Film Wrap-Up]

Total: 61 (full list here)
Revival: 23
Avg cost: $2.40, which is not bad considering I think I paid for a month of A List that I didn’t use.

Wrap-ups for previous years live under the year-end tag & I just spent my first year on letterboxd where I’m wickedjaws. My 2020 stats are here.

No one needs me to tell you it was a weird year. The last film I saw in the theater was The Invisible Man on March 13th. I was the only person in the second-largest house at Pacific Place, which was possibly the best, creepiest way to watch it. But since then, it’s been hard to get excited about new movies, even when there are exciting new movies to be had. I just don’t enjoy paying $10-20 to watch a movie alone on my television.

So instead, I watched a lot of free theater, mostly opera, which is listed here. And I also got deeper into trashy television, by which I mean BL & mostly Thai, which I wrote dumb zines about here and here.

I did watch some good films in those two and a half months (here’s my best of the decade because why not), and I did stream a little new work, mostly through festivals, so let’s give this a go anyway. For tradition’s sake & in no particular order:

Best films: First Cow, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Emma, Birds of Prey, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Best films directed by men: The Personal History of David Copperfield, Beanpole, And Then We Danced, Sylvie’s Love, Your Name Engraved Herein

More categories after the jump.

Continue reading “[2020 Film Wrap-Up]”