Spotlight. I loved it. Great writing and acting. Teamwork, thinking, putting pieces together. There is some conflict here and there, and most of it doesn’t seem too drummed up for drama, but just real people navigating messy institutions and practical realities. Love the costume design, too. Doesn’t just capture the era but the personalities, too. One of my faves of last year.
Batman Returns. It had been a long time since I’d seen it. This Christmas tale also begins with a birth, but it’s so much more desperate and twisted than the traditional one. Too bad Catwoman is the only villain that stresses me out. Penguin is just kinda lame and pitiful. :( I like the staging and framing for many of the scenes. Like during Penguin PR speech, back at the mansion Alfred is decorating the Christmas tree while Bruce watches TV. (Speaking of, kinda funny how Batman learning about about rising threats through television seems so dated now.) And there’s some silly-exhilarating stuff, like when Kyle falls through layers of awnings. That scene at the masquerade (Superfreak!) is a masterpiece. Lovely to look at, and charmingly mental, but the story progression is too herky-jerky for my tastes, and not as fun as the 1989 for me.
Birdman. Not for me. But like I said, If you like reading writers writing about how hard writing is, and also acting, you might like it. I appreciate the one-camera, no cuts constraint, but it feels claustrophobic after a while. Sweet soundtrack. Keaton is still the man.
A spread from my forthcoming imaginary book, Hangin’ Out: Up-ending Masculinity in 1980s Cinema. Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980). Josh Brolin in The Goonies (1985). Michael Keaton in Batman (1989). Kyle Machlachlan in Twin Peaks (1990).