Hello! So, I took quite a break from this newsletter as 2021 has proved to be quite a terrible movie year, and partly, just because. But I wanted to share some things I’ve been watching, as it looks like the pandemic isn’t abating and as we move into winter, we’re going to need some things to watch. Also, I just saw Belle at the NYFF and wow, I’ll be recommending that this winter when it releases in North America.
Moving forward I’ll be doing this newsletter on a non-regular basis, but hopefully you’ll find something to watch here. As usual, be safe!
Recent watches you might like
This is one of the more recent watches, that sees Mary Elisabeth Winstead as a hit-woman with 24 hours to live. The tale of revenge and double-and-triple crossings is a little stale, but I’m a huge fan of Mary Elisabeth and the Japanese setting is a nice touch. If you need a little action with a little heart, look no further. Trailer. 106 mins. Watch on Netflix.
This one is still in theaters, but Marvel’s latest sees an Asian protagonist and a mostly Asian cast and crew, a first for the MCU. What is ultimately a father-son & origin story, Simu Liu plays the titular role as he fights his father (Tony Leung!!) and learns who he truly is. Part Wuxia, part action flick, part MCU story, a stacked cast—Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Ronnie Cheng, and a very fun cameo—and gorgeous chroreography, Shang-Chi is one of the better MCU films to date, and a refreshing palette cleanser. Trailer. 133 mins. In theaters.
Studios don’t make broad, R-rated comedies anymore, even though they are perfect for streaming. Lost amongst the streaming sea is the fairly funny Vacation Friends, boasting the unlikely duo of John Cena and Lil Rel. But it mostly works! It didn’t quite go where I expected, yet didn’t deviate so far I felt like I was watching an experiment. This might be the best Cena performance of the year, even though it’s certainly the smallest. Trailer. 103 mins. Stream it on Hulu.
A couple documentaries if you’re into that
A once titanic figure in hollywood, Val Kilmer quickly slipped from public consciousness, but is back with a (self-produced) documentary that focuses on his life and career. Was this maligned figure truly misunderstood? Or is this one-sided storytelling? You decide as you sift Val’s thousands of hours of personal footage from his childhood through present day. The mega-star turned outcast turned cancer-survivor turns in one last great act. Trailer. 109 mins. Check it out on Amazon Prime.
Lily Topples the World is a slice of life into the titular Lily Hevesh, a YouTuber and domino toppler. What starts out as a quirky, look-at-this-fun-thing-she does quickly turns into a treatise on creativity and finding your own path through life. With 3.34 million subscribers, she’s the undisputed queen of domino toppling, but the documentary shows how vulnerable and young she really is. A heartwarming watch. Trailer. 90 mins. Stream on Discovery+.
Most “going for it” things I saw this summer
One of the longer delayed movies through the pandemic is David Lowery’s visual feast of a reimagined Arthurian legend, The Green Knight. Starring Dev Patel as Gawaine who quests after defeating the Green Knight in Arthur’s court, the film is more a cinematic treat than sword-and-sorcery slasher. With incredible characters played by Barry Keoghan, Alicia Vikander (in a dual role), Sean Harris, Joel Edgerton, and more, The Green Knight might not work for everyone, but this otherworldly film certainly is trying something, and that’s more than can be said for a lot of films. Trailer. 125 mins. Rent on YouTube or iTunes. ($19.99)
When utilized correctly, Nicolas Cage is untouchable. And that’s exactly what Pig does. Trailers might make it seem like Cage goes all John Wick when his beloved truffle pig is kidnapped, but what follows was quite unexpected. An examination of grief and loss (as well as a fictional underbelly of Portland’s seedy restauranteur fight club scene). A beautiful performance from Cage (and a surprisingly good one from Alex Wolff). Trailer. 92 mins. Rent on YouTube or Amazon. ($6.99)
The wildest ride I’ve had in a while. Based on a viral tweet thread, it’s the story of Zola, a dancer who gets caught up in a truly insane weekend on a road trip to Florida. A landmark performance from Riley Keough (and a shout out to my guy Cousin Greg), make Zola and unforgettable watch. Trailer. 87 mins. Rent on YouTube or Amazon ($4.99).
Off the bat, this movie won’t work for everyone. It’s not a musical, but an operatic movie. It starts two of our greatest actors (Adam Driver & Marion Cotillard—and why has Simon Helberg been hiding on Big Bang Theory this whole time!), mostly singing Sparks, with an incredibly weird twist in the middle. But in a time when most movies are just “ok” or play it safe, the latest from director Leos Carax swings big (and kinda misses). But the point is, he’s created something different and vibrant and alive. You might hate this movie, but you also might love it. YMMV. Trailer. 140 mins. Stream with Amazon Prime.
It hasn’t been the greatest summer of movies, and I didn’t particularly enjoy (for a variety of reasons, the following: Black Widow, The Vault, The Suicide Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Reminiscence, The Protege, SAS: Black Swans, Gunpowder Milkshake, Good on Paper, and so many more.
Hopefully I’ll be back soon after watching No Time To Die!