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
Shutter Island. Better than I thought it would be. Scorsese takes some simple genre stuff to some good creepy heights.
Three Days of the Condor. Dang, this movie is so fun. There aren’t many spy films with such appeal to your daydream fantasy fulfillment side, that seem almost within reach. The protagonist here? Just a dork with a day job that mainly involves reading about espionage – news, novels, magazines – and reporting on new ideas. BUT then he becomes the object of various gun-related machinations, and now he’s got to think his way out. There’s some strange sexual politics and some really good writing and some refreshing characterization. Redford and Dunaway are great. It took me a second to figure out why Max von Sydow looked familiar. Worth checking out.
Det Sjunde Inseglet (The Seventh Seal). First time I’d seen anything from Ingmar Bergman. Strange reaction to this one: when I was watching it, I wasn’t swept away. It was good, shot beautifully, funnier than I expected, etc. etc. But afterward, I kept thinking about it, turning it over, remembering scenes. Those ideas of morality, religion, existence, fear, and vulnerability in a meaningless universe have some staying power. You can definitely see why Woody Allen loves his work. Allen recommends starting with this one, Wild Strawberries, The Magician, Cries and Whispers, and Persona.