[Waitress]

I’d heard a lot of buzz about Waitress — probably an inevitable effect of reading Whedonesque — but I had really gone to see it mostly for Nathan Fillion, and for that it was definitely worth it.

The casting all-round was great. I had a good time at it, there were lots of things I really liked, and I haven’t seen a movie in some time that felt or looked the way this one does in a while, but I still have issues with the ending and some of the characterization. It’s clear, though, that Shelly was a great talent, and it’s a tragedy that we won’t see more work from her.

[Hot Fuzz]

We caught Hot Fuzz on opening night here, with a more-or-less sold-out crowd, and the verdict? AWESOME. I think it’s better than Shaun of the Dead. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love, but it’s definitely uneven & it’s clear that Wright came from TV. The team’s learned a lot since then, though, and Hot Fuzz manages to be both a great send-up & a great film in its own right. And now I’d really like to see it again.

[Year of the Dog]

Last week (on impulse) I went to a free screening of Year of the Dog. I was a little wary, but it was written & directed by Mike White, and the cast included John C Reilly and Peter Sarsgaard, both of whom I have quite a fondness for.

And… I’m still not sure what I think about the movie. I’m torn between not wanting to recommend it and wanting everyone to see it so there can be a discussion.

I’m sure there are people who won’t like it because of marketing issues, but I didn’t see any trailers, so that doesn’t apply. There are others who expect certain things of Molly Shannon, but I love it when actors are given the opportunity to reinvent themselves, so that isn’t it either. I’ve seen two other movies written by Mike White (Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl) so I was expecting my embarrassment squick to take a hard hit, and I was prepared for things to be awkward and vaguely depressing. Finally, there have been concerns raised about how vegans are portrayed, and that might be valid, but I kind of think it could go either way.

None of these things are what bothers me. The thing that bothers me is that I don’t buy White’s conclusion.

I feel like we’re supposed to believe that Peggy’s going to be okay now? That she’s found her calling and will be happy in her new life as an animal activist? Before she leaves for the protest, we get shots of the cubicles of her co-workers, all living in tiny white boxes containing their interests, and that is actually kind of cool. I’m always saying we all have our interests & our obsessions, and just some of them are more socially acceptable than others (the most basic example being sports fans vs fanfic writers).

But. I just don’t believe it. She’s not shown making any sorts of friendships with the activists. Her passion for animals is meant to be not only the hobby that drives her, but also a substitute a romantic relationship, and also friends -and- family? It’s meant to be enough?

I just. don’t. believe it. I mean, I ADORE that there wasn’t an easy solution, that neither men she got involved with were the magical answer and relationship she was looking for, but I still don’t buy that she’s going to be okay.

I was struck by Reihan Salam’s post on the film in Andrew Sullivan’s blog this week. I hadn’t made it to any reviews yet, but I’m in agreement that Manohla Dargis’s summing up of Peggy as finding “her peace of mind, sense of self, grace”, that she contains “touch of the saint” and is “ridiculously, beautifully human”, well, it’s mind-blowing. I wonder if we saw the same movie. I’m much closer to Reihan: “Peggy is less ridiculously, beautifully human at the end of this movie than ridiculously, tragically alone and ridiculously, tragically crazy.”

[Grindhouse]

Before I went to see it, I read a lot of debate over which of the Grindhouse features was the best. Watching it I thought I had a clear winner, but the more I think back on it, the more I think they were both just awesome in their own ways. “Planet Terror” was the more obviously entertaining of the two, and I always love a good zombie movie, but “Death Proof” was a well-crafted feature that was basically just a car chase, and -that- is just amazing.

The film’s not doing well, and apparently for the overseas market they’re splitting the two, expanding them, and releasing them separately, which saddens me. I loved both movies, but I also dug on the entire package: the fake trailers, the local ads, the experience of the missing reels, and the whole intertextuality of the two films with each other & with the ads.

I’ve also heard that they’ll be split in DVD release, which is annoying.

[Zodiac]

We saw Zodiac on opening night, in a packed house. I was excited because I had enjoyed Fincher’s previous work (Se7en, Fight Club, Panic Room) and I had great fondness for pretty much the entire cast. (I read a comment recently about Mark Ruffalo, full of “who is this guy and where has he been?” and I was like, “Hello! You Can Count on Me! Where have -you- been?”) ((Also, he was on an episode of “due South.” Hee.))

BUT ANYWAY. I thought the movie was fantastic. Of course, I was going in expecting a movie about obsession and not a movie about a murderer, and I suspect that might have made a difference. It just totally and completely sucked me into that world for nearly three hours, and when the movie ended I was really dazed to return to the real world. Which isn’t something that happens a lot to me, at least not to that degree.

(Also, in a film with an all-around great cast, I was delighted by two unexpected cameos — Clea DuVall & Ione Skye.)