December 2018 in Films
After last month’s intense Farewell FilmStruck binge, I got a little burned out and so I did not watch as many films this month as I usually do. I did, however, use the month to catch up on a bunch of 2018 releases, both in theaters and rentals. As always, after the cut you can see the films I watched this month plus a few highlighted favorites.
- The Magician (1926)
- The Mortal Storm
- The Divorce of Lady X
- I Was a Teenage Serial Killer
- Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore
- The Favourite
- Lazzaro felice (Happy As Lazzaro)
- The Party’s Just Beginning
- Silent Night, Deadly Night
- Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
- Vox Lux
- Zimna wojna (Cold War)
- Capharnaüm (Capernaum)
- Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters)
- Sound of Noise
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- Bird Box
- On The Basis of Sex
- Book Club
- Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town
- Won’t You Be My Neighbor
There are a few films I watched in December that are going to be on my Favorite Fifteen list later today, so instead of highlighting those I’m going to talk about a few under the radar films I watched this month.
The Mortal Storm, 1940 (dir. Frank Borzage)
What an impactful film! It follows the friendships of three young people dissolve as the Third Reich rises to power in Germany. While it’s definitely in line with a lot of the pro-war propaganda that came out of Hollywood urging our government to join the fight, thanks to director Frank Borzage’s deft touch it transcends the trappings of a lot of those films and manages to be a truly heartbreaking look at how misplaced hatred destroys everything around it.
The Divorce of Lady X, 1938 (dir. Tim Whelan)
This year I watched two Technicolor romantic comedies starring Merle Oberon and it has made me an Oberon fan for life. She has the perfect light touch for a banter-heavy screwball comedy and I wish she made more of them! This film notable pairs her with Laurence Olivier a year before Wuthering Heights, and their chemistry is already off the charts.
I Was a Teenage Serial Killer, 1993 (dir. Sarah Jacobson)
Shout out to the American Genre Film Archive for preserving these next two films and to Millie De Chirico for programming them on TCM Underground. This scathing micro-budget short distilled all the rage of the riot grrrl era into the most satisfying of man killing rampages. But it’s not just blood and gore, the protagonists shares what is driving her rage in some stunning monologues. I especially loved the very end of this short.
Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore, 1998 (dir. Sarah Jacobson)
This was so wonderfully sex positive and probably the best depiction of teen sex and teen sexual maturation and exploration I’ve ever seen – and if there is a better one out there I’m all ears. After a particularly bad first date the most decidedly did not end in sex, the titular Mary Jane asks her co-workers at the grimy movie theater where she works about their first times. In the process she learns about masturbation and how sex is about communication and asking for what you want rather than just going along with the ride. I particularly enjoyed the way her masturbation scene was shot, as well as a scene where she’s on a much better date and the two share a great sexual experience in a car. It’s a real bummer Jacobson died before she was able to make another feature film because she was such a unique talent!
Upgrade, 2018 (dir. Leigh Whannell)
I wanted to include this new release in this round-up because it’s not quite going to make my Favorite Fifteen list, but I did enjoy it a whole heck of a lot and I wish I had seen it in theaters. It’s a cyberpunk action film with just a touch of body-horror set in the not-to-distant future. I don’t want to spoil the plot because I feel it’s best to go in not knowing. What I will say is, it was great to see a non-binary character played by a non-binary actor who was quite integral to the plot and that Logan Marshall-Green as more than proven himself a capable leading man and I would like to see him star in at least one movie a year!
So that was December in film. Later today I’ll post my annual Favorite Fifteen list and look out tomorrow for a wrap up of the entire year.