There were two movie scenes that really stood out to me as Perfect last year, and a whole bunch of others that stood out to me as Quite Good (the knife umbrella macaron attack in Shadow, anyone?).
The top two scenes were not in movies that made my top ten list (which was actually a top 8 but became a top 9), so I want to share them here to make sure they get the recognition they deserve.
- Willem Dafoe literally cursing Robert Pattinson for insinuating that he (Pattinson) was not fond of his (Dafoe’s) lobster.
- Noah Jupe’s phone conversation with his Mom, where he repeats her side of the conversation to his Dad, and they essentially carry on a screaming/crying match through him.
If you’re looking for something to “get down with the sickness”, as it were, here are some recommendations.
- Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allen Poe
- The Plague, Camus
- A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe
- Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I may have joined the club and made a coronavirus playlist, focused on my preferred musical era of 60’s/70’s.
I don’t have any disease-focused films, but if you’re self-isolating (which, if you can, you should be) here is a list of 100 RT-Fresh films you can stream for free online (with links).
Here’s some reading material
Are Our Prisons and Jails Ready for Covid-19? (ACLU)
(The answer is no)
Trump is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome (The Atlantic)
(Don’t worry, it’s okay to blame Trump for our nation’s response to the coronavirus because he fired the entire national pandemic response team in 2018)
Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus? Good for You. Now Stop Killing People.(Newsweek)
Free Movies Online: 100 Fresh Movies to Watch Online For Free (Rotten Tomatoes)
(For your isolated pleasure.)
I’m back in the United States which means I’ve checked out an inappropriate amount of books and movies from the library.
Here’s what they are:
- White Negroes: When Cornrows were in Vogue… and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation, Lauren Michele Jackson
- Women who Run with Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, Clarissa Pinkola Estes
- Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and Sublime from Tin House
- Forty Stories, Donald Barthelme
- In the Gloaming: Stories, Alice Elliott Dark
- The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, Toni Morrison
- A Village in a Valley, Beverley Nichols
- Pick of the Litter
- Becoming Astrid
- Cold War
- Good Manners
- Land of Mine
- Room 237
- Maria by Callas
- Night Comes On
- Shadow (the one from last year)
- You Were Never Really Here
- Miss Hokusai
- L’Amant Double
In the time since I’ve last posted, I’ve finished off exam week (three exams in one day, woo!), finished off graduate school in Paris, and moved out of France. I’m now in the middle of visiting family in Spain. That is, until Friday (it’s Wednesday evening now), when I will be taking the plane back home to the Greater Boston area. Where I will be for a week (a week coinciding with the spring break of one of my best friends!) before moving back to Manhattan to begin a second internship/trial period at IFF as a fine fragrance evaluator.
I’m very exhausted and I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting as all this gets gearing up (despite having so many ideas- recommended links! my dreams for the future! movies that have already come out that I want to see! things I’m looking forward to at home! things I’m going to miss in Paris!) but I would like to slide in a few amendments to previous posts.
The first amendment: An addition to my favorite films of 2019.
I cut off my list of favorite 2019 films at 8, but since then I was lucky enough to see the French submission to the Oscars for best foreign film, Les Miserables. There is a lovely group in Paris that shows French and other international films with English subtitles- they’re called Lost in Frenchlation. If you’re in the Paris area you should definitely check them out.
So Les Miserables. Not an adaptation of the classic novel, but a film that takes places in the same area of Paris, Les Bosquets, and looks at the tense relationship between the police and the largely North African and Muslim neighborhood they patrol over the span of a few days. It’s very powerful and I very much recommend it.
The second amendment: Three additions to my anticipated films of 2020:
Minari: A family drama seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old Korean-American boy whose father moves the family from California to rural Arkansas to learn to farm and make a better life.
Respect: A biopic profiling legendary singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin.
The teaser trailer was stunning and Jennifer Hudson deserves a break, post-Cats.
Passing: Two white-presenting black women are forced to confront their own choices, and each other, after they reunite to learn one is living as a white woman and the other as black.
I feel like I’ve seen and liked another Nella Larsen adaptation, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.
As with all of my posts, and perhaps all posts in general written by people afraid of being held to their word, we will begin with a short disclosure.
Movies that are given release dates tend to be bigger budget studio films, i.e. the films I’m generally less interested in. Many of the films that were on my 2019 most anticipated list I never even bothered watching (Looking at The Curse of La Llorona) and many of my big loves were films I had no knowledge of at this time last year.
But there’s something like 30+ films that have already caught my eye, so I figured out list them out and give quick descriptions, probably stolen from IMDb. And at the same time I’ll add them to my private ‘to watch’ list (it’s 40+ pages and you will never see it).
- The Invisible Man: When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
Oh look, an adaptation of the only HG Wells story I give a damn about. The director (Leigh Whannell) also did Upgrade, so that’s a big plus. As is Elisabeth Moss.
- A Quiet Place II: Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.
I liked the first one, it’s that simple.
- No Time To Die: James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
If the ‘one good, one bad’ pattern continues, this will be a good Bond. Also always here for Ana de Armas, Lea Seydoux, and Rami Malek.
- Antlers: A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, become entwined with a young student harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences
Based on the trailer my guess is that his Dad is a wendigo.
- Antebellum: Successful author Veronica finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late.
She would appear to have been time swapped to a slave plantation, which is no place for anyone, let alone Janelle Monae.
- Soul: A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.
Looks much more interesting than Onward, in terms of Pixar offerings, tbh.
- Saint Maud: Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.
I love movies about dangerously obsessed people. Also: focus on women, directed by a woman!
- Candyman: A “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror film ‘Candyman’ that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.
I’ve never seen the original, but I’m excited for this- not least because there are a lot of great names attached to it including Nia DaCosta, Jordan Peele, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen.
- Tenet: An action epic revolving around international espionage, time travel, and evolution. Possibly about a man trying to prevent World War 3 through time travel and rebirth.
Nolan with an exciting story and packed cast. Come on.
- Last Night in Soho: A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences.
Edgar Wright is finally back post- Baby Driver, with Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Thoroughbreds, The Witch).
- The French Dispatch: A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch” magazine.
Isle of Dogs really pissed me off so I’d like a good Wes Anderson.
- Benedetta: A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.
Oh look, a psychologically twisted costume/period drama with lesbian overtones. I am predictable.
- The Lodge: A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.
Similarly, I am also a sucker for strange and frightening events.
- Promising Young Woman: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
Based on the trailer it looks like she tricks men into thinking they will get to have sex with her extremely inebriated self and then wreaks bloody vengeance. Cathartic. I hope Carey Mulligan doesn’t kill Bo Burnham.
- Nightmare Alley: A corrupt con-man teams up with a psychiatrist to trick people into giving them money.
I can’t remember if I’ve seen the original 1947 film noir, but regardless I am here for Guillermo del Toro and Cate Blanchett.
- Undine: Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.
I love the Undine myth and I would love to be able to turn into a seal. I get few opportunities to live vicariously as a seal. Plus the main actress and director have worked on other projects that I need to get to.
- Deep Water: A well-to-do husband who allows his wife to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of her lovers.
After Knives Out, I want to follow Ana de Armas’ work. Especially because this is based on a Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Price of Salt) story.
- The Last Duel: King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.
Adam Driver, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon in period French clothes having a duel? What?
- Palm Springs: When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
Someone already gave away the twist to this and I’m kind of pissed.
- Mulan: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father. A live-action feature film based on Disney’s ‘Mulan.’
I’m on the record as being vigorously anti-live-action-remake. But I’m vaguely interested in a Mulan that hews closer to the original legend and incorporates wuxia traditions. And Donnie Yen.
- Mank: Follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s tumultuous development of Orson Welles’ iconic masterpiece Citizen Kane(1941).
Probably Oscar bait, but could be quite good. I like film history.
- I’m Thinking of Ending Things: An unexpected detour causes a woman who is trying to figure out how to break up with her boyfriend to rethink her life.
It’s listed as a drama horror thriller and it’s starring Toni Collette and Jessie Buckley. Give it to me.
- Annette: A stand-up comedian and his opera singer wife, have a 2 year old daughter with a surprising gift.
A musical with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.
- Rebecca: A young newlywed finds herself in living in the shadow of her wealthy husband’s previous wife.
I’m interested to see how far this adaptation is from measuring up to Hitchcock’s.
- Next Goal Wins: Adaptation of the 2014 British soccer documentary which follows Dutch coach Thomas Rongen who attempts the nearly impossible task of turning the American Samoa soccer team from perennial losers into winners.
Taika Waititi, Elisabeth Moss, and Armie Hammer sounds good to me (especially because AH is in Rebecca and I feel bad).
- Ammonite: 1840s England, an infamous fossil hunter and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet, period drama with lesbian overtones.
- The Hunt: Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen – for a very specific purpose – The Hunt.
Famously controversial film originally slated for 2019. Google it.
- Da 5 Bloods: A group of veterans from the Vietnam War return to the jungle to find their lost innocence.
Chadwick Boseman and Spike Lee.
- Into the Deep: A Swedish journalist disappears near Copenhagen and is discovered to have been brutally murdered by Danish inventor Peter Madsen aboard his homemade submarine.
It’s not every day you get a Swedish submarine murder. Oh, and by the way, it’s a documentary.
Yes, I know the Oscars already happened but my Wifi was down so I wasn’t able to post my predictions. So I’m sharing them now, and you can have the benefit of passing judgment on past-pessimistic me.
I am referring of course to my belief that the Academy would go with the relatively safe pick of 1917 for both best picture and best director, while they instead went with Parasite, one of my two favorite twisted Korean dramas about conning the rich while struggling to avoid their creepy basements (check out Handmaiden). This makes Parasite the first foreign language film to win best picture.
I guess I should have had more faith in the Academy. Hard to believe this is the same voting body that gave the award to -Green Book- last year.