Sat Jan 01 2022 21:31 December Film Roundup:
- Hudson Hawk (1991): A case study in exactly what you can and can't get away with simply by being a big movie star. You can get your movie made, and indulge all your midlife-crisis fantasies, and make it pretty much as quirky as you want, so long as the screenplay fits precisely into the standard Hollywood act structure. But the movie won't make money. We had a good time, but a lot of it was MST3K-style cheesy fun rather than "this movie is great" fun, so I understand why it has a bad reputation. Everyone's acting is over the top, but only Sandra Bernhard is hilariously so.
- Looper (2012): Rian Johnson made the bold decision not to license a random Phillip K. Dick novel for this, and I salute him for it. A good, entertaining story, although the secondary characters were more interesting than the primaries.
"Oh no, she's gonna get fridged."
"This is a time travel movie. She can get fridged multiple times!"
- Red Notice (2021): Meaningless fun, with a level of self-indulgent "let's set up fun things for the cast and crew to do" that reminds me of a number of the other films in this month's Roundup. I precisely predicted the timing of the final twist, but not the twist itself, and how much credit can I even take for the timing? This screenplay has the same structure as Hudson Hawk.
- Giants and Toys (1958): I missed my chance to see this in a theater (Film Forum?) before the pandemic, and watching it with Sumana is a reminder that our taste in arthouse films are a bit different. This had a decent satirical edge, but I was hoping for something more in the vein of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)
- Single All The Way (2021): I've now watched enough of these holiday roms-com that they're jumbling together in my mind especially because it feels like they were all filmed on the same sets. This one's pretty fun, it's not the one with the rock climbing, but what does it have? Skiing, I think? Big points on the screenplay innovation of running the "fake boyfriend" play without ever making a character lie to their family.
- A Bigger Splash (1973): I don't have many good things to say about this rather boring film so I'll just go over them: Not many artist biopics dare to show full-frontal nudity of the artist. The film now has a very interesting documentary aspect when it comes to 1970s gay culture. The bits where the subjects of David Hockney paintings recreate the poses in the paintings were always funny.
- Schmigadoon! (2021): This was basically a movie cut into twenty-minute chunks so I'm putting it here rather than giving it a Television Spotlight. This was a lot of fun with its loving mockery of classic musicals. It's no The Good Place but it scratches the same itch—basically Pleasantville for grown-ups. BTW if you like Cecily Strong as a doctor's SO in a musical parody of antique sitting ducks, don't miss this 2018 SNL skit and its sitting duck.
- Guys and Dolls (1955): The film that single-handedly enforced the gender binary throughout the Eisenhower years. Are you guy or doll? Pick a side! Fortunately, we live in more enlightened times.
Obviously Schmigadoon! made us want to watch a real classic musical, and this was at the top of our list: famous, sounded interesting to both of us, neither of us had seen it. We have tickets to a Broadway show that we've been looking forward to for a while, but I'm not feeling super optimistic right now. At least we can enjoy a miscast Marlon Brando and a seething Frank Sinatra in the comfort of our homes.
- Psych 3: This Is Gus (2021): As the title implies, the Psych films have become less mystery-focused and more of a soap opera where we periodically check in on the beloved characters. We'll keep watching but this can't be getting the franchise any new fans, can it? For this one, a number of people Zoom in their performances, including Kurt Fuller. Stay safe out there!
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