Big screen: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings

Things I liked about this movie in order of liking them the most:

  1. Katy.
  2. The soundtrack. (Mostly the rap.)
  3. Xialing.
  4. The floating lanterns scene.
  5. Auntie Nan, Mom, and eventually Shawn’s fighting style.
  6. The “animals” we’ll call them.
  7. The videotape dude on the bus.
  8. The grandma at the beginning.
  9. The almost complete lack of food scenes (they eat twice in the entire movie?).
  10. The archery instructor.

As you can see, this movie was very badly titled since that character is not even in the top 10 reasons to see it. It’s most definitely just as much Katy and Xialing’s movie / story / journey as it is his. So while Marvel is getting maybe a little less racist (I mean, a little, there’s miles yet to go), they’re really not getting any less sexist. (This really goes for all movies, right?)

ETA: I must also point you to this New York Times review and say while it was an enjoyable way to spend two hours with a headache on a Sunday afternoon, this movie did not greatly improve my general thoughts about Marvel movies, superhero movies, cultural appropriation in Hollywood movies, or anything else. Heh.

Favorite Movies of the Decade

Sadly, oh so sadly,my moviegoing has seriously declined in the past couple years. So exhausted from working at school all week AND then working Saturdays. Lost a couple of my main movie-going pals and yes, yes, I know, I DO and WILL go to the movies alone. But when you’re already doing EVERYTHING ELSE ALONE, sometimes also going to a movie alone is just too. much. OK?

2009:
2009 was the summer of Hurt Locker (here and here), a masterpiece, District 9 and Inglorious Bastards. I also really liked Whip It! and The Young Victoria, both have which I have rewatched a million times at this point. I also loved Up in the Air, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Crazy Heart.

2010:
Winter’s Bone = fabulous and heartbreaking. The Town = oh wow, I have watched this movie SO many times. Love it. Rare Exports = best xmas movie ever.

2011:
The Guard (!!), Tree of Life (surprisingly b/c usually I hate that kind of crap) and Red State. (Here is where I ranked all the stuff I saw that year.)

2012:
Dang, a lot of good movies that year! Scanning that list now, I’d say the ones I remember as the best were Silver Linings Playbook (and I detest Bradley Cooper!), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (masterfully cinematic), Anna Karenina (the staging was SO cool), and A Separation.

2013:
All the good movies this year were INtense: Zero Dark Thirty, Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, but probably my very favorite was the Joss Whedon black & white Much Ado About Nothing. Utterly charming. Oh and of course I can’t forget to mention Fast & Furious 6. Duh.

2014:
Hands down, the best two movies of 2014 were Only Lovers Left Alive and Words & Pictures. There are images from those two still utterly imprinted on my mind. Stunning. (But here’s a long list of what I liked that year.) I’m still a sucker for Begin Again as well.

2015:
I saw The Danish Girl on the last night of the year and looooved it. I love both those actors so much. Spotlight was also fantastic movie making. Iris!! Clouds of Sil Maria was surprisingly lovely. And OF COURSE FURIOUS 7. RIP Paul Walker.

2016:
This is when my record keeping started to get really shady. The Arrival. Stunning.

2017:
OMG Atomic Blonde. FANTASTIC. The clothes, the sets, the FIGHTS. It was sooo good. Also Get Out. Wow.

2018:
BlacKKKlansman should have won the Oscar. Don’t even try to argue, no other movie from 2018, let alone many others years, can hold a candle to that masterpiece. I also loved Puzzle.

2019:
My favorite movie of 2019 was, hands down, Booksmart. Funniest, smartest movie possibly ever. I’ve got nothing but love for you, Booksmart. Also If Beale Street Could Talk was heartbreakingly fabulous.

Hoping to get my butt back into movie theaters in 2020 in a big way.

Big Screen: Mary Poppins Returns

If you like musicals, you will probably enjoy this. The songs were pretty, the sets / costumes / designery was lovely. Lin Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt did a fine job, the kids were good actors, it was easy to watch. It was all just fine.

STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT A SEMI-SPOILER AS I COMPLAIN.

SERIOUSLY. STOP.

OK, you were warned.

BUT, to me, this was basically a remake. Sure, sure, it’s Michael and Jane grown up, instead of as kids. It’s Jack the lamplighter instead of Bert the chimney sweep. Oh, OK. But ALL the big production numbers are basically following the same plot beats, and… they’re the same. One big production number that involves the park and carousel. One big production number that involves going to someone’s house that’s discombobulated. One big production number with the working men. One big scene at the bank… etc. It just really, really, REALLY follows basically the same plot line, the same beats, the same amount of space between things. Why not just call it a remake if that’s what it is?

So yes, I enjoyed it, to an extent. But it certainly wasn’t a better version of Mary Poppins, and it’s hard to say it was a different movie per se.

Summer at the Movies

Wonder Woman: I thought it was just as crappy as 90% of the other super hero movies out there. And the ending? Where she funnels her power from…LOVE? Yuck. The only part of that movie I really enjoyed was the Robin Wright fight scenes. Those were fierce.

Baby Driver: Quirky and weird and really sweet.

The Big Sick: Wow, this movie takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. It was just so full of real life. Fantastic.

A Ghost Story: Awful. Dumb. Painful to watch and sit through. A movie I would have happily left the room to go to the bathroom during. Yup, that bad. There were maybe 7 minutes of dialogue in the entire movie. It’s laughable to say that Casey Affleck starred in it — he’s got maybe 7 scenes? I read this interview where it said he didn’t want anyone else subbing for him under the sheet, that he felt it really needed to be him? HA. PRETENTIOUS. It could have been anyone under that sheet and it definitely felt like it was just anyone. The ONLY part I liked was at one point, he hands his wife headphones to listen to a song he’s composing. That song was pretty.

Atomic Blonde: 100% engaging, invigorating, amazing. My favorite flick of the year so far (although this may be my fewest movies seen year ever). The fight scenes were fantastic. The sets, the clothing, the soundtrack, the atmosphere. And Charlize, who was all anyone could ever want as THE NEXT JAMES BOND. The ONLY bit of the movie I didn’t love was the very last scene–I felt like it stripped away a little of her agency. I understand the reason for it–it provides justification for a whole bunch of things–but I still would rather have ended with her as an independent operator.

American Assassin: Technically I’m sure this is a decent action flick. But it seriously suffers in comparison to Atomic Blonde. The fight scenes weren’t as tight or serious, the noir wasn’t as deep or intriguing, it just…WASN’T what it could have been.

Big Screen: La La Land

This was OK – probably a 3 on a 5-star scale.

The downfalls for me were a) not enough music and b) doesn’t seem to quite live up to its premise.

Also depends on why you chose that movie that day (don’t all our reactions somewhat depend on our expectations): I wanted a feel-good, make me grin happily at the end, movie. And this isn’t a fairytale romance, or a sing-along. This, when it comes down to it, is a very realistic look at the ebbs and flows, ups and downs, of an adult relationship, where often what you might want isn’t going to work with everything else in your life that has its own timeframe.

That said, both stars were lovely in this. And the thing that happens in the girl’s head at the end of the movie…is really lovely also. 😉

Big Screen: The Arrival

Fabulous. So many neat (and unique) ideas about the power of language and our understanding of time. Just super cool.

Somewhat spoiler below….

Also they did a great job of coming up with a completely different idea of what an alien life form would look like, sound like, act like, etc. So many alien movies fall into tropes. Not here.

Big Screen: Spotlight

This movie was intense. Strong acting by all the players. Intensely upsetting. I mean how can Catholics* even stand to be Catholic after knowing this, let alone all the other yucky things the Church has done or does on a regular basis. And, seriously, are we sure this has stopped? 100% sure? I’M NOT. I couldn’t ever be. Could you?

The end credits with the lists of all the places where this specific type of corruption was discovered? The audience was audibly gasping.

It was great to see Michael Keaton in this, especially after Bird Man. I liked this a LOT more than I liked Bird Man (I would link my review…but I guess I never wrote about that here. Ah well.). Also Mark Ruffalo did a lot to inhabit this part–I felt like his hunched up physicality just MADE that character for me.

*or as my dad calls them “the pope’s dopes.”

Big Screen: Truth

Really well done. But also really, deeply depressing. The world will just go as far as it can to beat a woman down, won’t it?

There was one scene near the very beginning where I thought Blanchett seemed odd, maybe a little over-actor-y, but the story swept me up and that feeling went away. I find it shocking how much more severely Redford seems to have aged particularly in comparison to how Newman looked toward the end.

I love the dude that plays her husband. He needs to be in more stuff.