February 2019 in Films
Posted by Marya E. Gates
I really didn’t watch very many films in February. Mostly being soooo tired because of the bad weather, traveling a lot, and the fact that most movie theaters in February were still full of 2018 holdovers that I’d either already seen or didn’t want to see. That said, I did have some favorites that I watched and as always you can see those after the cut.
- Figlia mia (Daughter of Mine)
- Velvet Buzzsaw
- High Flying Bird
- Between the Lines
- Juliet, Naked
- The Breaker Upperers
That is right ladies and gentlemen, I only watched seven new-to-me films in February! I did do a lot of re-watching watching of old faves. I also saw a show on Broadway. Yes, New York Broadway.
I traveled up to NYC to see Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano in a production of Sam Shepard’s True West and let me tell you it was 100% worth it. They were phenomenal and it was so wonderful to see a production of this play that got its humor, and to see it with an audience that was also on the right wavelength. Both Hawke and Dano were perfect in the roles and I hope they get some Tony love this summer.
When I got back from NYC, I immediately binged Russian Doll on Netflix. I simple adored this film. It felt like one fantastic four hour film (I watched it in one sitting), yet I also hope for more. It was created by star Natasha Lyonne along with Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler, and every single episode was directed by either Headland, Lyonne, or Jamie Babbit. It’s really quite wonderful. There is a lot of great writing dissecting everything about the show, so I will just say for me what worked the most was the way it explored how childhood trauma can often define who we think we are as adults and just how hard it is to let that go.
As far as movies go, I saw three that really stuck out:
High Flying Bird, 2019 (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
When Soderbergh tweeted about having a rough cut of the film 2 hours after it finished shooting last March I was so hyped. He re-teamed with André Holland (literally the best thing about The Knick, which was all good things) and partnered with Moonlight scribe Tarell Alvin McCraney to tell a story that is ostensibly about the commodification of talent, specifically basketball, but can also be seen as a commentary of on the state of the film industry as it now stands. Fascinating stuff. Give Holland all the acting accolades people.
Between the Lines, 1977 (dir. Joan Micklin Silver)
Cohen Media Group recently restored this lost classic from Silver – made just after her debut Hester Street, but before her work with studios in the 1980s – which served as a launching pad for so many talent actors including John Heard, Jeff Goldblum, Stephen Collins, Joe Morton, Bruno Kirby, Lindsay Crouse, Marilu Henner, and Jill Eikenberry, as well as featuring Gwen Welles in a stunning performance. While many of the reviews of this new restoration focus on how the film fits into today’s media landscape – it’s about an alt-weekly newspaper that is struggling to transition out of the radical 60s and is about to be bought by a faceless corporation – for me the standout elements of the film were its women. Screenwriter Fred Barron would later go on to create one of my fave shows as a kid – Caroline in the City. Among the film’s many plot lines, we see one of the characters struggle to leave an emotionally abusive partner, another continually undermined professionally by the men around her, and the third unable to see her own value as a co-worker and friend. Joan Micklin Silver is one of my all-time favorite directors and I am so glad this restoration exists. I can’t wait til it’s out on home video so I can revisit it again.
Juliet, Naked, 2018 (dir. Jesse Peretz)
I am so bummed I didn’t see this in theaters last year. I found this film so charming and mature, but I was put off from seeing it by its completely misleading poster. The poster makes it seem like Chris O’Dowd’s character is the main character and that this is a love triangle. While it tangentially is kind of a love triangle, the main thrust of the film is Rose Bryne’s character Annie’s self-realization that she is worth more than she’s settled for. She does this mostly through the friendship of Hawke’s character. Though there is some promise of romance between the two, it’s is mostly about the two of them finding solace in each other’s perspective and earned wisdom. Meanwhile, O’Dowd’s character mostly services as a pointed critique of how easy it is for media-obsessed fandom dudes to veer into toxic territory. It’s almost as if his character is the main character from High Fidelity if he never grew up emotionally (both films are based on books written by Nick Hornby.
And thus ends February. Hopefully I get back on the horse and watch more movies in March. We shall see, we shall see.
About Marya E. GatesCinephile to the max.
Posted on March 1, 2019, in 2019 in Films and tagged Amy Poehler, Between The Lines, Ethan Hawke, High Flying Bird, Jamie Babbit, Jesse Peretz, Joan Micklin Silver, Juliet Naked, Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne, Paul Dano, Russian Doll, Sam Shepard, Steven Soderbergh, True West. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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