Fucking hell, why did I watch so many movies in August?
Today’s Special (2009)
I like the idea, but the execution: eh. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but it just wasn’t super compelling or memorable. The aspect of the father running a restaurant not out of any particular love or skill for cooking, but because it seemed like the best/most stable opportunity to provide for his family when he came to the US is super interesting, and I guess more could have been done to explore that view of cuisine vs the chef protagonist’s? Or something, I don’t know. In the very specific genre of comedies about struggling Indian restaurants featuring Harish Patel and Madhur Jaffrey, Jadoo probably beats Today’s Special.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
80s music + neon + punk fashion + lesbians + James McAvoy–what more could I ask for from a movie?
Well, probably for it not to be a spy movie, because it’s hard to get invested in characters when you don’t know their motivations or what aspect of their personality is “real” vs pure manipulation. Not that it’s impossible to tell a spy/con artist story that also gets you invested in the spy/con artist (see: Sarah Manning in Orphan Black); Atomic Blonde in particular feels very devoid of any earnest moments, unless you count like that one moment between Lorraine (Charlize Theron) and Delphine (Sofia Boutella), but the “coldness” also feels like part of the style, so I don’t know–it’s more my problem than the movie’s problem.
Semi-interesting to compare the use of music in this to Baby Driver; not sure how much it was discussed in reviews, because I was really excited for both movies and thus very intentionally avoided any critical discussion of them so as not to color my opinion. The surprise reveal that the background music is actually diegetic is one of my favorite things in movies/TV, but even I’ll admit that it was used a few too many times in Atomic Blonde and sort of lost its charm. Still, what amazing diegetic music it was.
About a Boy (2002)
Sometimes one needs a Hugh Grant rom-com and that trumps one’s aversion to children, you know? I was surprised at how non-obnoxious the child character was; I guess Nicholas Hoult has just been consistently killing it from the very start. Anyway, this was basically what I wanted at the time, even if the voice-overs were a bit too on-the-nose (oh god, am I an island?).
It’s also semi to blame for my decision to cancel my Netflix subscription. I’ve been subscribing to Netflix for the past few months and growing more and more disenchanted with it; I feel like people used to talk about Netflix as if it carried every single major film you might ever want to stream, but wow, is that not the case. After watching About a Boy (via HBO, actually), I searched for “hugh grant” in Netflix and saw that they only had, like, two or three of his movies available for streaming, which is DISGRACEFUL. What is the point of paying $10 a month to this sort of non-specialized streaming service if you can’t get Hugh Grant rom-coms on demand?
The Full Monty (1997)
The Childhood of a Leader (2015)
Okay, so I do appreciate that Netflix has this sort of weird arthouse movie, even if I didn’t really get the movie itself. It was aesthetically pleasing, I guess, but what the fuck?
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)
Wind River (2017)
Weird to see this right after The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby since they both feature couples splitting up after the death of a child but only gradually reveal that? Anyway, this was pretty solid in a depressing way.
City of Tiny Lights (2017)
Yes, I liked this a lot. Generally not that into noir or neo-noir or whatever, but Riz Ahmed is super charismatic as always, and all of the interpersonal dynamics were really engaging, even if, as per usual, I didn’t care that much about the actual case.
Eagle vs. Shark (2007)
I guess Taika Waititi isn’t infallible after all, because I fucking hated this. I really wanted to like it, and I could try to point out whatever worthwhile or interesting or unique thing there might be about it, but fuck, man, nope. It’s the brand of cringe comedy centered around awkward and socially unaware characters that I absolutely can’t stand (see also: The Office).
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)–2nd time
Awww, this movie. My feelings on it have not changed: there is a brilliant movie in there, but Christ, that final battle between Arthur and Vortigern in the tower feels long. Also this time I noticed a giant snake appears at some point in the training montage in the Darklands, so it’s not totally coming out of nowhere later on, but I still love the sheer audacity of that giant snake scene.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Pork Pie (2017)
Apparently this is a remake of a New Zealand classic, but having zero familiarity with the original, I can’t comment on whether this lives up to it or whether the original was even any good, because man, I do not trust the cinematic output of the 1980s. It hits a lot of the same beats as other road movies, but the New Zealand aspect and prominent use of Mini Coopers makes it feel a little different? And Dean O’Gorman in a vintage military jacket is a Look. Ultimately, semi-interesting if not necessarily Good or Touching.
Bend It Like Beckham (2002) — ≥ 3rd time
God, this is such a legitimately great movie and it definitely holds up 15 years later. I spent basically the whole day after watching it wishing I could extend my stay in it somehow.
Man, I hope Jess and Joe find a way to make that long-distance relationship work. I was sort of surprised to find myself still rooting for that ship, since it seems like the Jess/Jules reading has become more popular among my generation and/or Tumblr and I generally would find the coach/player power dynamic sort of gross. But it probably helps that Jonathan Rhys Meyers was 1) super hot in 2002 and 2) actually younger than Parminder Nagra in real life? And the ages of the characters/structure of the club are somewhat clearer to me watching this now–I guess Jess and Jules are meant to be 18 and fresh out of school, since they end up going off to Santa Clara University on a sports scholarship at the end of the film. Which I don’t think was something I picked up on when I was younger and frankly wasn’t that clear to me until the very end of the movie this time, either, because I know basically nothing about the sports recruiting process. So if Joe’s injury prevented him from taking a similar path and that happened pretty recently, I’d guess he’s meant to be no more than five years older than the girls? Potentially still undergrad student aged, if he went straight from secondary school to working at the pub/coaching. So, whatever, I can rationalize this to myself.
Miss India America (2015)
I looked up Bend It Like Beckham on Netflix to see if any of the recommendations based on that could fill the void it left. This popped up and seemed promising—an over-achieving recent high school graduate decides to compete in the Miss India America beauty pageant to win back her boyfriend, because blah blah blah plot reasons. Seems like a solid set-up for comedy, and I was curious to see Tiya Sircar and Hannah Simone outside of The Good Place and New Girl, since I don’t think I’ve watched either in anything else. But–it was not great. It’s one of those movies on Netflix that probably couldn’t have been made under the pre-streaming film distribution system or whatever, so, like, good for them, but it just doesn’t feel fully fleshed or something. Like The Incredible Jessica James in that it feels more like a pilot or a platform for like “hey, look what I can do. Want to see more?” than a self-contained movie, maybe?
Good Time (2017)
The Lost City of Z (2017)
A rare case where, as much as I like Charlie Hunnam, I think I’d actually rather read the non-fiction book this was based on? It’s an interesting story, but I don’t think the movie does enough to justify its 2+ hour length.
Buster’s Mal Heart (2017)
What the fuck.