The Eagle Has Landed: A February Recap, Pt. 2

My favourite season? Probably…

I watched 16 features in February (plus 15 shorts) which is the most I’ve ever seen in a month. This was almost entirely Oscars-related, and this year was a personal record for me – I saw 28/37 nominated features and 15/15 shorts.

I am.. a little burnt out, but I still wanted to recap and rapid-fire-review the month.

These are only in the order that I watched them, not ranked.

BlacKkKlansman

I like to describe this as “such a MOVIE”. Like.. it has a little bit of everything, and all of those things are on point. It’s fantastic, and it’s my second favourite Best Picture nominee after The Favourite. Also, shout out to my local library for showing it for freeee. Having fun isn’t hard, y’all.

The Incredibles 2

Honestly, I didn’t have very many expectations for this, even though I really like the first one. I just thought it would be a handy one to knock off my list because it’s on Netflix. AND I LIKED IT A LOT. It also made me realize that The Incredibles exist in like, the 60s.. which I never knew before.

Vice

I did not love Vice. I really liked The Big Short, so I was expecting some similar ‘quirks’ but it almost felt like a parody of itself. The performances were good. Amy Adams is the best but what else is new. I dig the message it’s giving us in terms of relevance today, but I think it could have been better. Once I started thinking about Batman, I couldn’t stop (it’s the same voice, tell me I’m wrong).

Roma

A beautiful film, there’s no question. I’m so glad I waited for it to come back to the big screen. Yalitza is captivating and I am eager to see what else she will do. So much happens, which is all very moving, but I left feeling like there was no culmination. One article that I read suggested that there is a voice missing, and I agree.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Again, I thought.. meh, this is handy to watch because it’s on Netflix. I’m a Star Wars fan, but never got around to seeing it when it came out. Alden Ehrenreich really impressed me. Donald Glover always impresses me. I would say nothing extraordinary, but I enjoyed it. Rogue One was better.

Abducted in Plain Sight

My first non-nominee of the month, but I had no choice because this shit is fucking crazy. If you like true crime and also being utterly befuddled, 10/10 this is the ride for you.

Miss Representation

You know when you’re having one of those days and you just have to come home and watch a documentary about gender and systemic sexism? Big mood. Keeping in mind that it’s from 2011, it’s quite good.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Richard E. Grant said it best when he said that Melissa McCarthy treads the tightrope of heartbreak and hilarity, which is also true of the film as a whole. It was so feisty and smart as well. I really, really recommend watching it if you haven’t yet.

Mirai

Mirai was a delightful little surprise to me. I don’t have a lot of experience with Japanese animation but I was really taken with it. Very mesmerizing storytelling.

Minding the Gap

I can’t tell you how much I love this. For some reason I had a completely different idea in my head of what it was actually about, and then when I started it and they were skateboarding I was just completely swept away. You can find it on POV Docs on PBS here. It isn’t really about skateboarding so don’t let that turn you off! I’ve been watching a lot of interviews with the filmmaker Bing Liu, and the work he did and his vision is just incredible.

At Eternity’s Gate

I’m kicking myself for not seeing this in theatres. Beautiful cinematography. I liked Willem Dafoe, but his voice will forever remind me of Spider-Man, EVEN when he’s saying lovely things like this:

First Man

Space stuff gives me anxiety but it was well worth it for this. Better than La La Land in my opinion. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy were amazing. THE SCORE!! Houston, we have a theremin. This is another one that I wish I had seen on the big screen.

Fun fact: I never knew that “the eagle has landed” was from the moon landing.

The Wife

From the very first scene, I knew I would love Glenn Close’s performance. Her facial expressions alone were so evocative. Something about stories being set in Stockholm is so appealing; it’s like it heightens every emotion and the vibe is so cold, in a great way. I bet the novel is amazing.

Cold War

The chemistry between Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig was everything. I didn’t find it very ‘romantic’ per se, but it was definitely a passionate story and I liked the dark humour as well. Beautifully shot, and I didn’t expect the ending at all.

First Reformed

I might have been slightly underwhelmed, but I did like it. I found some of the dialogue and delivery a bit unnatural, particularly between Toller and Mary. I’m not sure if that could have been intentional or not? I do love the amount of symbolism, and that the story lends itself so well to analysis. My personal interpretation of the ending is that he really did drop it, but she wasn’t actually there. I’d be curious to rewatch it.

Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson you SCOUNDREL. The world building – literally and figuratively – in this movie is bananas. I thought to myself multiple times: oh wait, is this animated, or stop motion? No yeah it’s anima- wait.. it’s stop motion?! The score, the humour, the heart, the wit. The puppies! When Atari calls Chief a good boy!!


Coming out the other side of the Oscars feels like waking up from a nap and not knowing who you are or what year it is.

Am I glad that this year in particular is over? You bet. Am I ready to do it all again starting right now? YOU BET.

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Short Through The Heart: A February Recap, Pt. 1

This post’s title is brought to you in part by Goofy.

Oscar crunch time is no joke, so for the sake of your sanity and mine, I decided it was probably for the best that I split my February recap into at least two parts.

First up is the shorties, and I’m so glad I got to see them all this year. For the past few years, my local ‘indie’ cinema has gotten all of the Animated and Live Action nominees. And while I’m sure this has always been the case, this year I also found all the Documentary Short Subjects to watch.

Something I love about short films is that they pack such a punch. I often find that even when I’m not jiving with it, either stylistically or tonally or whatever, I still feel an impact. And that was very much the case this year. I had my favourites but wow, what a crazy lineup in these categories.

These are in order from my most to least favourite within each category.

Short Film – Animated

One Small Step

I loved One Small Step so much. It reminded me a lot of 2012’s Paperman, even though they’re quite different. So dreamy. When she lands at the end and it flashes back to her little moon boots on her bed. STOP.

Weekends

The animation blew me away, especially the dream sequences (male figure on fire, riding the horse through town, floating down the stairs). I’ve also had Money For Nothing stuck in my head for 11 days straight, which I think must count for something.

Late Afternoon

Very powerful tug of war between hope and heartache. The way they used the animation to show Emily’s memories and her working through the past and present was remarkable.

Bao

Bao is cute as hell, even if it’s slightly alarming when the mom literally eats her baby bun. I know – it’s symbolic. Obviously this was delightful, what else do we expect from a Disney animated short.

Animal Behaviour

I hate to put a Canadian nominee at the bottom of the group, but that’s just the way it is. It was really, really funny. My theatre was lol-ing their heads off. It just didn’t really do much for me beyond that, unfortunately.

Short Film – Live Action

Madre (Mother)

Very refined and effective build of suspense. The end credits were incredibly cool (music and effects).

Marguerite

A very rich, heartbreaking story, told so modestly and sweetly. My favourite of the Canadian nominees.

Skin

Very heavy. I thought all the performances were great. I do think it’s fair to question the perspective – in that it seems to be focused on evoking sympathy for the white supremacists.

Fauve

I didn’t dislike Fauve, but it didn’t really come to fruition for me. I thought the two boys gave moving performances, but it didn’t resonate as a whole.

Detainment

I read a little about this before I saw it, so I knew the story, but man. I will say that the kids gave amazing performances. I’m generally a big fan of true crime adaptations, but this felt different to me. Maybe the approach was too direct? I’m not even sure. Let me know what you thought.

Documentary – Short Subject

Period. End of Sentence.

I had not heard of The Pad Project before. What an amazing nonprofit and an insightful documentary. Sadly I think this will be overlooked by male Academy voters.

End Game

Very sad, but oddly uplifting and comforting. Definitely gave me some anxiety (who doesn’t love hospitals and grappling with mortality!) but I thought it was portrayed delicately and showed a helpful and necessary point of view.

Lifeboat

A painfully close look at the world’s refugee crisis. I considered putting this lower in the list, because I found it very hard to watch and it gave me even more anxiety than End Game did.. but I don’t think it’s fair to use those parameters when it comes to documentaries. Another heavy hitter.

Black Sheep

I enjoyed the dramatization alongside the Cornelius’s narration of events. I do wish it would have followed his life further. How did his story progress? What is his life like now? I wanted more.

A Night at The Garden

Fascinating footage of a historical event.. but I feel a bit odd about something comprised entirely of archival footage being nominated for an Academy Award. That being said, there’s no denying its relevance today.


These were a lot. Can I interest you in a puppy video? This is one of my favourites:

Stay tuned for the rest of my February recap.

The Ballad of Supporting the Favourite Outlaw Shoplifters of the Solo-Verse: A January Recap

I did my best with that title, so yes I will accept your praise.

I’ve decided to dive back into blogging – somewhat. I feel like when it comes to movies, I’m always kind of writing essays about them in my head days after watching them, but then when I sit down to write something, I struggle. I know that it comes with practice and personalizing your own methods of writing and editing and fine tuning until your thoughts can occupy fully formed sentences.. but I’m starting here, to ease myself back in.

The other reason for this new game plan is: I want to keep better track of what and how many movies I’m watching.

(I also joined Letterboxd, hiii).

So here’s the gist: each month I’m going to keep a list of the movies I’m seeing, whether they are new or just new to me – if I’m seeing it for the first time, it’s going on the list. Then, when the month is over, I’ll do a post of mini-reviews, opinions, or rankings of the group. With me so far? Great.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

What a way to start my new year. I loved everything about Spider-Verse. Everything. It was visually stunning and likely one of the most uniquely animated movies I’ve ever seen. The characters have so much heart. The premise is interesting and fun. The casting is great. The music is great. I’m telling everyone I know to see this movie in theatres while they still can. If god grants us one good thing from this awards season, let it be Spider-Verse winning Best Animated Feature.

Support the Girls

I fell in love with the trailer for this movie as soon as I watched it, and in certain ways it delivered. It was a little slower than I would have liked, but Regina Hall single-handedly wins you over with her performance. I also love Haley Lu Richardson, who I believe is building quite the reputation as a scene-stealer. It might not have been a total home run for me, but I loved how real it was (especially for those of us who have worked a retail or hospitality job). The final scene speaks – or in this case, screams – louder than words.

The Favourite

The Favourite was exceptional. The performances are everything: the individual strength and combined chemistry of Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone was off the charts. I’ve always liked Emma Stone but haven’t been overly crazy about any of her films that I’ve seen, but this easily became my favourite (ha) role of hers. Initially, I wasn’t crazy about two things: the fish eye camera shots, and the ending. I’ve since come around on both. Also, bunnies!!

none of them die, I promise

Shoplifters

Shoplifters crept up on me. It belongs in that lovely category of films that burrow into your heart and brain so gently and so subtly that you don’t realize they are there until you get home and want to cry. IN THE BEST WAY. It was also the kind of movie where the performances are so stark that you forget you’re watching actors.

If Beale St. Could Talk

It would be fair to say that Beale St. is a work of art. I saw it described as “cinematic poetry”, and deservedly so. It’s captivating. I can’t get Colman Domingo’s laugh out of my head. Or Stephan James and KiKi Layne’s eyes. Or the scene where Tish tells Fonny’s family. I know there are a lot of contenders for reasons why the Academy Awards are such a hot mess this year – but truly it’s surprising that Beale St. and Barry Jenkins didn’t receive nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. This is the kind of movie that plants seeds.

Green Book

Speaking of reasons why the Academy Awards are a hot mess. Kiddingggg – but not really. I’ll start with the positive: Mahershala Ali is an actual angel and his performance was divine. I thought Viggo’s performance was also great. It was funny. However.. I personally can’t ignore or un-know the controversy and criticisms that have come out about Green Book since its release. It comes down to perspective, in terms of whose perspective is used to tell certain stories. We all know what this movie is trying to achieve, but doing it the wrong way ends up painfully diluting the whole message.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Also known as: Six Small Westerns for The Price of One.

My ranking:

  1. The Gal Who Got Rattled
  2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  3. All Gold Canyon
  4. Near Algodones
  5. Meal Ticket
  6. The Mortal Remains

Overall, I would say I really enjoyed it. I could have watched a full length movie of The Gal Who Got Rattled. I loved Zoe Kazan. The dog was so cute. I was into the marriage-for-convenience trope. The music in Ballad of Buster and All Gold Canyon was 💯. Scenery in the Top 4 was just nuts (over the summer I went to Colorado/Utah/Arizona/New Mexico on a little road trip, so I was drooling over those shots of places I had recently been – see below). And the “first time?” line in Near Algodones killed me.

Meal Ticket and The Mortal Remains I found a little dull. I liked what Meal Ticket was trying to do but I felt like.. it went on a little long, or something? I’m not sure. And then honestly The Mortal Remains I wasn’t into at all. I’ll admit by the end I wasn’t giving it my full, undivided attention.. but I didn’t get much out of that one.

I noticed some themes throughout (greed and death) but I hoped there would be something else woven through each story (like I thought maybe Buster would be in all of them in some way). I also think it would have benefitted the movie as a whole if it bookended with another ‘ballad’ of Buster Scruggs.

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Monument Valley (taken by me)

Outlaw King

Okay, so I watched this on a bit of a whim, and by whim I mean I saw a video of Chris Pine on YouTube and remembered how much I like him. It was.. fine. It had some really beautiful cinematography and some interesting shots. I like a castles/swords situation as much as the next guy, but something didn’t really click. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Florence Pugh were amazing. Chris Pine was good too, I just felt myself judging his accent harshly the entire time. I will say, I’ve never been more aware of horses dying in a movie.

Sweet Virginia

Ever find yourself overcome with love for a specific actor, so you frantically try to consume as much of their filmography as possible? This is what happened after I watched The Punisher S2 – I rewatched* Daredevil S2 and The Punisher S1, and then looked for more of Jon Bernthal’s movies to watch. To my delight, quite a few are on Netflix and Sweet Virginia had already been on my list. It was dark, but really pulled it off. I also think that with repeated viewings you could do a deep dive and so many different things out of it. Christopher Abbott and Jon Bernthal were well matched, and it was so pretty (filmed in Canada, holla).

*selectively skimmed

Free Solo

If you are afraid of heights, you should maybe sit this one out. I knew what I was about to see, but I hadn’t actually watched a trailer. It was easily one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, but it was also packed with a lot of emotion, digging in to the psychology of fear, risk, and love. Very worthy of its Oscar nom.


Is this too long? Have I made a horrible mistake? Let’s find out together!