[What Did Jaci Think? Early February]

I originally had an extended-for-this-venue take on Hostiles which I’ve now pulled into its own entry over here. I now return you to the post already in progress:

Some stories I will definitely see more than once. Till the End of the World is essentially The Mountain Between Us, but Chinese, set in Antarctica, and obviously not entirely the Western romance novel Mountain is. It’s ridiculous and completely my jam. It has the chartered plane, the leg injury, the snow (obviously), the conveniently-located cabin, but with a CGI penguin instead of a dog and scientist & a venture capitalist instead of a journalist & a doctor. There’s a strip-down-to-share-body-heat scene! There’s Mark Chao talking to seals and using a bra as sunglasses! There is room for both of these movies in my world is what I am saying.

Gosh, I should also say I do still see some movies genuinely worth seeing. I’m missing most of Cinerama’s Best Picture series because I’d caught everything already (before nominations, even, which is a first for me) and $17 a film adds up fast, but I did make the effort for Phantom Thread (even though it wasn’t showing on 70mm).

It’s even better the second time, both for silly personal reasons (I sometimes have a hard time with, let us say, bodily functions on film, so it was very helpful to know exactly what was coming) and also because it’s a masterpiece, by which I mean you can watch it focused on a different element every time and have a satisfying experience.

This time I focused on Lesley Manville’s Cyril, who is a genius and also hilarious.

At home I fell for the Netflix scam of The Cloverfield Paradox, a midwinter dump masquerading as a cinematic gamechanger. I never saw the first Cloverfield but I loved 10 Cloverfield Lane (excellent superhero origin story), and The Cloverfield Paradox, while having some stuff going for it (great cast, some nice body horror especially with O’Dowd) was ultimately a mess. But on the bright side it reminded me I wanted to go back and listen to Wolf 359* from the beginning, so I started that and I suggest you consider that move as well.

Much better on Netflix was the double feature of Princess Cyd & Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party. They’re both queer teen films by writer/director Stephen Cone that show us the complexity of youth and adulthood, and characters on both sides trying to work it all out (the youth are, unsurprisingly, much better at it).

FilmStruck suffered so far this month between the Olympics and the DVD release of Yuri!!! On Ice, but I did manage another fun lady spy movie: The Spy in Black, the first film Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger worked on together, back before they became the Archers and bestowed upon the world a number of masterpieces (the Archers film of my heart being, of course, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp). This is a lean thriller, a WWI spy movie set in Scotland. Very entertaining, and a great double feature with last month’s Dark Journey.

Whew. Next installment should be a doozy as it’ll include Black Panther and Noir City for sure.

*The caveat on Wolf 359 is it starts out with the conceit of being the audio logs of the slacker communications officer, but as it goes on both he and the show become weirder and more interesting, we begin to see characters outside of his POV including so many terrific women, and then suddenly it’s season 4 and you’re crying over space gays on your lunch break. Or maybe that’s just me, hashtag minlace forever.