It took me three tries to see Darkest Hour because I was just not motivated, and honestly, I can’t think of a reason why any of you need to see it, unless you are also Oscar completists with MoviePass. I always felt like I was watching prosthetics act, with an occasional flash of Gary Oldman behind them.
It’s a film built around the goal of getting Oldman an Oscar, & that’s not enough for me.
The high point was any scene with Kristin Scott Thomas (obviously); the low point was the irritating, fabricated Underground sequence.
Upon reflection, I only care for Joe Wright when he works with women (this is maybe like how I only dig Edgar Wright when he works with Simon Pegg). But really. I love Atonement, Hanna, and Anna Karenina, and I have a begrudging appreciation of his Pride & Prejudice, high praise from anyone who saw the Ehle/Firth miniseries at a formative age.
Well, now I’ve got that sorted.
Next up, Proud Mary, which I really wanted to love but didn’t, damn it. It’s a film that can’t figure out what it wants to be – an assassin flick or a family drama – and I needed it to pick one. And let’s be honest: I wanted the assassin movie. It’s clearly a passion project for Taraji P. Henson, & I do still love her and the idea of this character, but they both deserved better than the poorly directed, lit, written, & scored movie that they got.
Regardless, I’m happy to have thrown my dollars at it, though, because you know what? White dudes get to make bad action movies all the time and then keep on making big movies. I’m 100% going to be part of the demand for black lady action movies.
I enjoyed myself much more at Mary and the Witch’s Flower. It’s not as rich as the best of Studi Ghibli, but as a fan of animated films about plucky young girls I’m relieved to see, with this debut from Studio Ponic, that not all is lost. Mary is awkward and relatable, and knows she would be better off without magic altogether. The film plows full-throttle through worldbuilding other films would wallow in, which I dug. There are always other stories going on around our own.
We had a girls night out for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle because The Rock, which is honestly sufficient reason in and of itself. It’s a great example of a movie that does exactly what it set out to do. It’s a ridiculous and warmhearted adventure, more kind and clever than it needed to be (and, I am convinced, includes a reference to Big at the end.)
This half of the month also included some repeat viewings: The Last Jedi and The Shape of Water, both for the third time, both of which I obviously love, and both of which get better every time, especially on that gorgeous Cinerama screen.
At home, in the new Vanessa Redgrave theme on FilmStruck I discovered the mysteriously-named Shades of Fear (or Great Moments in Aviation, neither of which title makes much sense), an eccentric-characters-on-a-boat movie that vibed a lot like The Impostors (or vice versa, since it predates the Tucci film), but here with a West Indian lady lead (hooray!). Totally goofy & charming.
Also goofy & charming, but also fast-talking screwball-stressful, Bringing Up Baby, which I had somehow never seen. I *know*. But maybe I was always too young for Cary Grant in a negligee.
I engaged with a little tv at the end of the month, by which I mean both seasons of One Day at a Time. I know there are too many reboots and returns, and I never even watched the original, but if you’re looking for something that’s comforting and laugh-out-loud funny, but also takes on current issues and diverse stories in a and sweet but not saccharine way, you might want to make some space for this show. My favorite moment in the new season was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment where Lydia automatically uses the correct pronoun for a non-binary character.
If Abuelita can get pronouns right, so can you.