Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Second viewing (the first). The opening bombing run is really good. I’d forgotten about it – holds up on rewatch. The casino interlude is so, so dumb. I appreciate the visual contrasts in the salt planet battle. Not just the colors, but the scale, like with Finn’s tiny figure juxtaposed with the gigantic tanks in empty space. We need more like that. So many close-ups. Love the tortured silence of Kylo Ren. So depressed, a mindset to just let it all go, burn it all down. Broader theme here of how brash, seat-of-the-pants heroism is often foolish. The writing still strikes me as bad in many spots. I didn’t notice the first time around how the kid Force-pulls himself a broom at the end.
Logan Lucky. Preeeetty good. Heist movies are inherently absurd. Just gotta lean into it and I love that this one does. Neat to see scenes with cameos of local regular Atlantans like me. Shaky accents here and there. Can’t shake the feeling that at times it’s mildly classist in a pointing-and-laughing kind of way more than a laughing-with-them way. (Some defensiveness bubbling up, I think – I feel like I notice and feel this more about movies set in the South than movies with similar casts in other regions.) No less fun for it. Filed under: Steven Soderbergh.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I liked it, overall, and it had just enough small things to drive me a little nuts. Snoke is a misfire (just call Ed Harris! You have the budget!), and so were the various little animals. That one ship’s jump to light speed was sublime. And very good space debris throughout. I like our time with Rey and Kylo, and Poe’s debacles. Finn was wasted, unfortunately. Benicio Del Toro is the best, but I wish they could have found him some other way. The space chase could and should have been gut-wrenching, but something about the cuts and pacing made it just sort of… there. I wonder how I’ll feel whenever I rewatch it again. Of the latest batch, this ranks behind Rogue One. Filed under: Star Wars.
Silence. I confess: I got bored. Maybe someday a different me will have a better go of it. Filed under: Martin Scorsese.
Inside Llewyn Davis. I liked it but I feel like I was missing a little something. It’s just not the Coen way to get super sappy. Can’t help but see this movie as the two of them trying to work out how they’d carry on without the other. I’d rank this one third out of their movies I’ve seen, behind No Country for Old Men and Fargo and way ahead of The Big Lebowski.
Midnight Special. This was one I liked so much in previews and during the majority of its runtime that there was probably no way for it to conclude in a way that I loved. Good ride. Jeff Nichols is on a roll.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I had fun, and quickly forgot it. It mostly felt good to be watching a Star Wars movie again. If you’re pretty sure you don’t care about Star Wars in general, this movie will not convince you otherwise. If you do, you will probably leave feeling satisfied, depending on how you like your ratio of pandering nostalgia vs. breaking new ground. The hat-tips and references to previous movies wore thin pretty quickly and for me slowed down what otherwise has some nice momentum. Definitely some groaners, though (for example, the snowy mountain Nazi castle…). I really like Ridley and Chiyoga as the new faces. Isaac is always reliable. I feel like in a few months or maybe not until VIII we’ll look back and admit “Hey, VII is pretty thin but it’s not a total trainwreck and that’s okay”. Ranking the best episode 7’s in 2015:
- Creed, by a landslide.
- Furious 7
- The Force Awakens
Frances Ha. I loved it. We’re all incomplete; this is about filling in the gaps. The way it treats deep friendship is so rare in movies. There’s a great California interlude with family that underscores the theme. Home can be so comfortable, but we leave it and we have to figure out how to find that support elsewhere. Other things I liked: Gerwig has a delightfully expressive face, and great timing. I thought the script was funny and loose – it didn’t feel have the volleyball bump-set-smash rhythm to the jokes, just kept rolling along through the bad ones and the good ones. And a good bit of the humor is cinematic, based on a cut/juxtaposition, or underscored with music and a lingering camera. The black-and-white photography and marvelous bursts of music throughout bring to mind Woody Allen + French New Wave. It doesn’t feel like an homage, but it’s similarly joyful. Good flick.