King of Kings (1961) – Twelve years of this, twelve gospel and passion movies, you’d think I’d learn anything about the story. Nope. Happy Easter, whatever that is. Happy tax day, pay unto Caesar and everything, see you next spring.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) – I was tired, and I had been drinking, so what better movie than a celebration of tired old drunks. If you’re at all familiar with the tv show, it plays like an extended episode, but with a bigger budget and more celebrity cameos. If you like Absolutely Fabulous the tv series, you’ll like the movie. It knows what it is, it succeeds at what it tries for, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
April and the Extraordinary World (Avril et le monde truqué, 2015) – Through a lack of planning and deliberate effort, I didn’t get as much foreign film into this year’s Lent as I would have liked, but what I did get was lovely. I’m not deeply familiar with steampunk as a genre, but it seems that Paris is an ideal setting for it, at least aesthetically. All the most iconic views we have of Paris are from the era being romanticized, and lend themselves so well to being a backdrop for fine restaurants in airships and fanciful elevated railways with elaborate wrought-iron supports.
And the story is excellent, taking the premise and extrapolating a logical conclusion from the–well I guess just the definition of alternate history. And unlike futuristic sci-fi, at least here we don’t get a story about the inherent dangers of technology (what if phones, but too much?), but instead a celebration of the potential of technology to make life better.
Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) – There are times you need to relax after a long week. Sometimes you need to sit down with a glass of wine and an hour and a half of creepy puppets in space. I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay a lot of attention here, so I won’t waste your time or mine. I have a couple more movies to watch before the end of this whole thing. This still counts.
Magic Mike (2012) – I’m not going to pretend Magic Mike is anything it’s not, it doesn’t really try to be more than it is, but we could talk about the automatic extra disdain it gets in the mainstream because it’s this kind of movie, but geared toward women (but also not so secretly to gay men). Let’s not get into that, though; plenty other, better critics have delved into that. Let us just say here that Magic Mike is very well cast.
The Last Unicorn (1982) – The Rankin-Bass films are kept alive only by the memories of the people who were children at the time of their original release, and they threaten to someday be lost under a century of Disney merchandising. I wouldn’t likely seek out these movies except for their status as the relics of an erstwhile underdog studio. Rankin-Bass will keep my Lents well stocked for years to come.
The Virgin Queen (1955) – Hoo-boy. Obviously, Bette Davis was better than this, but there’s no way around the fact that this movie exists, and she’s in it. The script could have been passable, except that it feels like someone wrote the script, then ran it through the Elizabethanizer, a machine that replaces “my” with “me” and throws in a few clunky robotic attempts at flowery poetic lines.
My husband brought me the DVD with a warning: “It does not speak to her majesty.” The Virgin Queen should have been, by all rights, a great film. Rarely has such a disappointment been committed to film.
The Ice Storm (1997) – Ang Lee doesn’t tend to mess around with unknown actors, does he? Even the children in The Ice Storm had already established themselves in the business. Now, twenty years later, all but perhaps one of them are still working and well-known. I like to see filmmakers take chances on the unknown, but this approach pays off for Ang Lee.
And although I love the entire cast, I feel like calling out Joan Allen in particular. She’s like the MSG of acting; most people might not really know about her, but she significantly enhances the flavor of anything she’s in.
Bell Book and Candle (1958) – As far as Kim Novak/Jimmy Stewart movies go, this beats the hell out of Vertigo, but maybe I was just in a bad mood for Vertigo. This makes it sound like a low bar to clear, but to avoid being misunderstood, I really loved Bell Book and Candle. The script is great, the actors are well cast–even the supporting cast is spectacular–it’s hard to find fault with anything here.
Okay, uh… how about… the door of the Zodiac nightclub only has ten signs of the actual zodiac around it. There, that’s a flaw.
The Wave (Bølgen, 2015) – I don’t watch enough Scandinavian cinema. I’ve certainly not seen enough Scandinavian disaster movies. Are there more? Recommendations, please. Although some of the characters may have made decisions I think I would not make in the same situation, I never felt like I had to suspend my disbelief to accept that they made those decisions. The reluctance of the other scientists to act on troubling sensor readings had shades of the Jaws mayor’s refusal to close the beach in the height of tourist season, but it at least felt like calculated risk rather than movie villain crap. Everyone in town seems to know exactly how long it will take for a wave to make it to them, though, and it was exactly ten minutes. I had a problem with that.