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!

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