Movies you've seen recently

But there there were two followups: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Didn’t you see them too?

Sorry, I’m going to take a pass. (and a blue pill)

King of Staten Island (2020) - semi-autobiographical flic starring Pete Davidson and directed by Judd Apatow.

I liked it very much. It is not your typical Apatow film. Yes, you’ll recognize the type of humor, but this one’s a little darker. The main characters and his friends are not some stripe of suburban caricature as with most of his movies, but slackers in Staten Island. I found it very relatable - every character in it is severely flawed. The story meanders a bit, and the movie overall could be a little shorter, but it’s very heartfelt at places, hilarious at others and downright disturbing as well. Pete Davidson delivers an occasional amazing performance, mixed in with your basic Pete Davidson mugging, but I could see him really growing as an actor. One of my favorite comedians, Bill Burr, also stars as the guy who dates Davidson’s mother and ends up becoming a bit of a mentor to him. The end seemed a little mailed in, but I think that’s because, like I said, it’s just too long and they painted themselves into a corner and let it just fade away.

At any rate - I recommend. It’s on HBO right now.

Minari - ★★½

Gist: Nice, but forgettable movie about a Korean family and their experiences in America.

I was disappointed that this movie was not better. I had heard rave reviews and I believe Bong Joon-ho had even suggested Steven Yuen might be the first Asian American to win the Oscar for acting. I…disagree entirely.

The movie has a few good points. It’s sweet, realistic, and I do like the characters.

However, it suffers from a fatal flaw. It’s kind of boring. I found it to be a bit of a slog to get through and once it was over, I immediately said, “Meh.”

A well made movie, but not a script that really does much for me.

I felt nostalgic last night for an older Apatow film so I watched Knocked Up. I was thinking of 40 Year Old Virgin when I dialed it up, so imagine my confusion for about the first 20 minutes before I caught up.

Rebecca (2020) (Netflix) With Llily James and Armie Hammer in the roles originally played by Joan Fontaine an Laurence Olivier. Pretty looking, good performances, and a nice period piece gothic romance was a welcome change of pace from our usual viewing. (After watching I went to wikipedia to look up differences with the original, which I haven’t seen in 50 years. Hitchcock had to make a minor tweak from the novel to comport with the Hayes Code; the remake restored the novel’s handling,)

The Personal History of David Copperfield (Amazon Prime) It’s been a very long time since I read the novel; watching this made me want to go back and read it again. It’s played as a narrative by the title character – an obvious stand-in for Dickens himself – reading his story to an audience, and I think the director played up the eccentricities of the characters, turning it into a broad farce. But I liked it a lot. Also famous for its color-blind casting (eg, Dev Patel in the title role)

If you like movies based on Dickens’ novels, try the 2002 version of Nicholas Nickleby, starring Charlie Hunnam. It’s only two hours long, so the novel is compressed, but I liked it quite a lot. I checked, and it’s not on Netflix or Amazon Prime (except as a paid rental).

耳をすませば (Whisper of the Heart) 1995. One of the few early Ghibli films not directed by the usual directors Miyazaki or Takahata, it is a sweet story about Junior High School students in Tokyo. It famously uses the song Take Me Home, Country Roads which is interesting to listen to in Japanese, where the meaning is not quite the same. The animation is amazing and the story grounded in every day experiences in a way that some of the other Ghibli films are not.

猫の恩返し( The Cat Returns) 2002. A spinoff of Whisper of the Heart using one character from the previous movie. Once again set in Tokyo, but this time with much more fantastic elements added. There is still a grounding in the everyday of the main character, but the main thrust of the story is into the fantastic.

Of the two, I think I prefer the former, but both of course have great animation and attention to small details of mundane elements in every day life.

//i\\


Supposedly one of the greatest of French films – especially of those made during the Occupation - I had never heard of it. It’s extremely well-made, beautifully lit, elegantly designed, fluidly directed, well-written and acted. I found the characters and story – thwarted ambitions and passions among a generally awful French family and their servants – less compelling, but at least they didn’t get in the way of grade-A filmmaking.

Over and above everything else was the totally awesome opening shot featuring a ginormous miniature of 1887 Paris complete with under-construction Eiffel Tower.