dill & fennel

watched

2020

Movies

Evangelion 1.11 & 2.22

A friend watched Evangelion for the first time recently, and I was reminded I never got around to watching these remakes/retellings. Really, really weird, but in a new ways. I kind of like that they cut out many of the extraneous slice-of-life stuff.

Ava

I love an assassin film, but this one managed to make everything feel a bit smaller and more banal. Pretty forgettable with the stakes of a lifetime drama but the fight scenes of an action film.

Wall E

Super cute and dystopic. I love this movie so much.

Mr. Jones

This was nothing like that Counting Crows song, but it was excellent. I didn’t know this story before watching the film, but fuck. I wish Vanessa Kirby had more to do, but I suppose that’s the issue with historical fiction.

The Long Dumb Road

A great buddy road movie. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is one of my all-time favorite movies and this channels the delightful failures and wonderful moments of the genre perfectly. I should’ve watched this a while ago.

Blade Runner: 2046

This held up though I wanted more McKenzie Davis scenes. Also! I forgot Ana de Armas was in this. Neat.

Mission Impossible 6

Outstanding! After a little bit of a slump in 5, six was back to the wild heights of 4. The HALO jump was nuts, especially after looking into how they filmed it. I can’t stand Alec Baldwin, but everyone else in this is dope. A+ helicopter scenes as well. There’s car, and motorcycle chases, and even some outstanding Tom Cruise runs.

The Da Vinci Code

A real stinker, but silly enough to watch over a phone call with a pal. Ian McKellan was the best part of this film, with a close second being Bettany’s ability to look tortured and have sexual tension with literally everyone in every scene.

Mission Impossible 5

A fifth movie and a fifth director. Renne is back, which I’d forgotten, and also this movie brings some truly wild times. This is the first time the IMF goes up against the Syndicate, and has a kinda fun Opera battle. There’s no huge building this time, but there was a big swimming scene.

Mission Impossible 4

Benji, you fucking did it—you’re out in the field. I’m pretty glad Simon Pegg became a series regular, and especially glad that barely anyone else from earlier in the series didn’t. I do wish Keri Russell would come back though, bc she’s cool. Also this one has Stellar Skateboard.

Mission Impossible 3

Aw, yea… JJ Abrams is here with Felicity and that guy that’s in everything he makes! This was a really fun time at the movies. So many printable face masks! Phillip Seymour Hoffman! Tom Cruise running! A terrible love story! Also, who can forget the ridiculous Nokia phones they used in this.

Mission Impossible 2

Definitely not as good as the first. John Woo is great, but some of his signature shots and slo-no effects just come off kinda silly in this.

Mission Impossible

What a blast from the past. The special effects were largely practical, which means they aged well, but the computer interfaces are delightfully 90s. I can’t believe how much this series has upped itself every incarnation, but this first one is still just a nice small-scale spy film.

The Trip

I’ve enjoyed Coogan since the Day Today sketches he did with Chris Morris, so it’s fascinating to see him age and keep doing odd versions of himself on film. Rob Brydon is excellent in this, and I’m reminded I should rewatch the entirety of Gavin & Stacey. If you want to see two middle-aged men making very stupid (but funny) jokes and impressions while sampling haute cuisine in the north of England, this is your chance.

Class Action Park

I don’t know how I survived the 80s and 90s. I did a lot of really, really stupid and dangerous shit, even if I never got to go to Action Park. We had Schiltterbahn where I grew up, which was way less wild, but still pretty dangerous at times. This film does a good job of showing the teen thrills of incredibly shady theme parks.

Boys State

I can’t stand the little conservative assholes. Steven Garcia was chill though. Also, it’s surreal to see how far right everyone went out of an assumption that other kids would be conservative, despite that being somewhat untrue. I went to UT as well, and it was pretty nostalgic to see Clark Field and other spots I spent a lot of time on film.

Jack Reacher

Not the best of the Tom Cruise action franchises, but fun enough. Light on action till the end.

Genocidal Organ

I watched this a while ago before I read the book. It’s kind of a fascinating, if quite gory, look into what we do for “security” and how our definitions of other are constructed.

Nightcrawler

Despite a lack of blue skin or a tail, Gyllenhaal embodied a character just as bizarre and rigidly pursuant of his beliefs. Deeply strange film.

Violent Cop

This is a rewatch, but I think it’s been at least 15 years since this first time I saw it. Beat Takeshi is a treasure. This movie is delightfully filmed. I kinda love the 80s Japanese film look, which is more reminiscent of TV than film. A classic

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn

I hope folks had fun making this movie… it felt like everyone was trying a little to hard. This felt like an extended Tim & Eric skit. Everything was just off.

Sputnik

I thought this would take place in space, but it’s mostly a fairly tight alien captive story. Enjoyable but not too wild or original.

The Rental

Ok, I’m glad I don’t have to stay in any Airbnbs soon after seeing this creepy movie. Whether it’s spycams, or the slow dawning realization that someone is watching, the way the vacation unfolds in this film is super scary.

Alien: Covenant

Ah, I love this ridiculous sequel to Prometheus. I think it captures the creeping horror of Alien and Aliens quite well, and is chock full of cool actors. I hope Scott keeps making solid Alien films for a while to come.

Contact

Still liked this movie, but the weird romance plot was uncomfortable AF. Also the way religion tied into it was hamfisted.

2:22

Watched this so I can enjoy this week’s How Did This Get Made. It wasn’t great, and tried a little too hard to be clever without actually being entertaining.

John Wick 1-3

Rewatched all the John Wick movies out of a desire for action and style, and they delivered. This series isn’t super substantive, but it’s an action movie smorgasbord.

Prometheus

A deeply satisfying addition to the Alien canon. I’ve watched this move a number of times, and it continues to thrill me.

Barista

I don’t watch a lot of documentaries, but this was pretty fun if a little telegraphed. The only downside to this film is now I want coffee, but it’s 1130pm.

Ride Your Wave

The creator of Devilman Crybaby and The Tatami Galaxy made a really delightful anime about adulthood and love. It was gorgeous and pretty touching, even if it made me really wish I could fly somewhere again. There’s also a weird parallel between this show and every season of Terrace House: namely there’s surfing, and firefighters.

Money Plane

A true piece of crap. Everyone in this film seemed like they mostly work on Cinemax soft core films.

Spectre

A delightful rewatch.

6 Underground

Continuing my tradition of watching mediocre Netflix thrillers, I think I’m almost done with the current set. Ryan Reynolds is doing his sarcastic guy thing, and there’s tons of fast cuts and action stuff. The first action scene felt exciting for a bit, but by the twelfth hat-on-a-hat and shitty rock song I was hoping for relief. Fortunately it got better later, but I wish this’d been modeled more on Fast & Furious and less on xXx. I wonder if Bezos watched this and thought “I’ve trained for this!”?

Extraction

Thor trades his hammer for guns in this exciting action film without much behind the action. Sometimes you need to watch stuff get blown-up without much plot.

Time to Hunt

Outstanding thriller that kept building and moving throughout. I saw this on a sci-fi list, but for the most part this felt like a slightly alternate reality, vs something in the future. Very fun.

Bad Boys for Life

This series is epically ridiculous, and fun throughout. Everyone seems to be having fun, and there’s a lot of wild action and even a surprise third act trip out of the country.

The Old Guard

Fun but ultimately thin action flick. Solid action near the end, but so much of it felt emotionless in a way that was just not super entertaining.

Greyhound

Tom Hanks has a fantastic presence, but they don’t really develop many other folks in this tense battle movie. Which, hey, that makes sense, since the whole movie they’re just depth charging the shit out of the sea.

Bridge of Spies

A solid Spielberg feel-good negotiation thriller. I only knew a little about the U2 bomber and our history of capturing spies until I watched this film and dove into Wikipedia. This movie made me miss Berlin, which I’ve only visited once for a few weeks, but was delightful. If you enjoy the work of Tom Hanks, he does his thing well in this movie.

Gemini Man

I can only imagine a certain “religion” has also cloned Will Smith at some point. This was way more fun than it had a right to be, and weirdly enough the young Will CGI was pretty solid. How long until we see movies with young Cruise, or Washington? Have a bottle of wine and turn your brain off for 2 hours.

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This was a lot of movie. When I was younger I think I had more patience for particularly slow films, but I ended-up being a little distracted during 式日. I’m glad I finally got to watch it though, as it was pretty interesting seeing Iwai on the other side of the camera. Also I really miss being in Japan now.

Waiting for Guffman

Ah, a classic. It’s wild seeing Fred Willard in this looking so young comparatively. I watched this obsessively in high school and it really, really holds up.

Nightmare on Elm Street

Did you know Depp was in this? I certainly didn’t! This is the second movie I’ve watched because of the podcast The Scaredy Cats wherein one host of Reply All tries to help the other host inure himself to horror films. With all of the cultural cachet this movie had, it was interesting to see how quickly they showed Freddy himself. Freddy also seemed shorter than I imagined. I also always find it funny when all the “high school” actors are in their twenties. Why not just set it in college?

Upgrade

An interesting take on the post-human world. It’s a schlocky, funny, gory AF film, and not very into its own violence. Also it was rad to see Betty Gabriel from Get Out again.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Weird how much more low-key enjoyable this was than the last movie I watched. From the delightfully bad puns, to Jim Carrey having way too much fun, to Ben Schwartz just being himself, this was a nice Saturday afternoon romp. I went in expecting basically nothing, and was pleasantly surprised.

The Dead Don’t Die

This movie so badly wanted to be clever, it is the film equivalent to wearing a “funny shirt” from Hot Topic and explaining the joke to everyone before they can even laugh.

The Lodge

One of the better horror films I’ve seen in a while, with a very scary house, and an excellent secluded location.

Saturday Night

A fun documentary with rather overwrought camera-work that shows what preparing for and shooting SNL is like. It’s kinda wild to see the sheer number of writers and staff that make it come alive.

The Exorcist

Pretty creepy, with great special effects considering the time. I always root for the demons in any one of these, and definitely wondered while watching this how many more kids priests hurt than these imagined evil spirits. The devil, it turns out, was the church all along.

Vivarium

Started creepy, got way creepier. I appreciate the unwillingness to tell the viewer what the fuck is happening. This plays out like a great Ursula K Le Guin novel.

After the Storm

Koreeda is one of the best directors when it comes to presenting the sadly funny banality of life. I can’t fathom someone else who could present a deadbeat dad and dysfunctional family with such pathos. This isn’t quite as heartrending as Shoplifters, but it comes close.

Game Night

Just a good time. Everyone seemed like they were having a great time, and it hopped along at a good clip while keeping me laughing.

Hustlers

I love a good grift. I’m still low-key mad this wasn’t about a lesbian romance between J Lo and Constance Wu though.

The Commuter

A perfectly serviceable train thriller. Pretty fun.

Jumanji: Next Level

Have you ever wanted to see the Rock play Dan Devito? What about Jack Black playing a younger black guy? This movie was more bizarre than the last but hey, it was also fun.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

The extras’ costuming in this film is deeply strange, with a mix of “Indiana Jones pan-middle-east” and “Mad Max”. This whole film was a glorious mess, and I loved it.

The Guest

This was surprisingly funny and very bizarre. I really enjoy Dan Stevens, ever since his turn as Xavier’s son Legion.

Prisoners

In preparation for the eventual release of the new Dune film I wanted to familiarize myself with Villneuve’s ourve. This is a very good mystery film with a grittier Gyllenhal than his turn at Zodiac.

Rythym Section

A training montage revenge flick that slowly transforms into a pretty thrilling action movie.

Bloodshot

“I don’t mind the scars, I just don’t like the stories they tell.” With a time-to-tanktop of just under 5 minutes, you know from the jump this will be a new Diesel vehicle. This movie had it all: underwater tai-chi, weightlifting, Guy Pierce, and a drinking competition to hone in on Vin’s favorite shot. Of course, as a Chinese-financed movie, there’s no blood or sex or skeletons. Also why didn’t they put that one guy’s eyes in his head instead of on his chest?!

Radius

Interesting conceptually, but it didn’t really go anywhere besides the concept. It would’ve been better as an anime, lol.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Well, fuck. That was gorgeous and sad. This movie built until my heart ached, and wove a story of falling in love.

Crawl

It’s no Underwater, but I guess if you want to see a great reason not to visit Florida, this is a perfect anti-ad.

Underwater

This turned out was cooler that i was expecting. Can’t say much more without spoiling anything.

General Magic

After seeing the fictionalized versions of many of these folks in Steve Jobs, and hearing so many stories about others—some of whom I’ve met—this was a really interesting look at a company that catalyzed much of what we use every day to live online.

Steve Jobs

Oh, hey, it’s Shiv! It’s kind of fascinating that the entire story is told through the lead-up to the presentations that implanted Steve Jobs in so many of our brains. I really enjoyed seeing this, and also think it’s funny this came out only 2 years after the Kutcher film. Also, Fassbender has a way cooler vibe that the actual Jobs… I mean, he’s Magneto!

The Social Network

One of the wildest things about this movie is the that Facebook’s valuation at the time of the credits rolling was only $25 billion. A few years later, it’s nearly 500 billion. I left Facebook 3 years before this film came out, and briefly returned while in Portland. I get the sense the characters in the film might be less likable in real life.

Apollo 13

Such a fantastic film. It’s surprising how well this held up, with many practical effects and no terrible CGI. It’s been 25 years and this one still had me on the edge of my seat.

Overlord

This felt a bit like a video game. Lots of nazis getting blown up? Weird underground lab? Strange NPCs? Check.

Birds of Prey

It’s a low bar, but this is definitely the best DCU movie since all the serious Nolan Batman films. Not only was it silly fun, it managed to build interesting characters and solid battles that put the overwrought CGI-fest of Avengers to shame. I hope if they make more of these they keep the formula. I really want to see a love story between Poison Ivy and Harley.

1917

A very intense movie but it was also beautiful in its own way. I get why this won awards. Weird cameo by Doctor Strange though.

The Martian

Another rewatch. I had a FaceTime call where my friend Lena and I discussed Halt and Catch Fire, which reminded me how much I enjoyed this film, which I took to be about the competence of McKenzie Davis’ character. This was my first time watching this movie in 4K though, which made it look pretty amazing. Also, I always forget Donald Glover was in this.

Skyfall

Perhaps one of the only movies to use a Land Rover Defender in a car chase, this is pure fun. The filming and action scenes were a wild step-up from the previous two films, and the stakes felt high throughout.

Quantum of Solace

Far less memorable than Casino Royale. The first chase was fun, but a lot of the rest of the film kinda just meanders. I do appreciate the little nods towards older James Bond films though.

Casino Royale

Rewatching this in preparation for the eventual release of the final Daniel Craig bond film. It holds pretty well, save for the hilariously old-looking Sony phones and bootcut khakis. I’d forgotten Mads Mikkelsen was in this.

Contagion

I saw this in the theater when it first came out, but I haven’t seen it since then. This felt like a timely movie considering our current circumstances. I forgot Jude Law plays a weird crank reporter.

Jojo Rabbit

A deeply strange film about learning how to be a person and unlearn fanaticism. There were some pretty excellent cameos in this, and a very dark comedic beat.

Phantom Thread

Wow, this movie was hilarious from top to bottom. A friend (hi Drew) invited me to see it for the first time in 70mm, and all I want to do is channel Woodcock every day. “What am I supposed to do with that?". What a joy. I can’t wait to watch this again.

First Love

A strange mistaken gangster film. This was much more straightforward than many Takeshi Miike films, but still managed to add in some really bizarre bits, and even some surprises.

Elle

Yow. That was… a lot of movie. Isabelle Huppert was fantastic, but I don’t know if I could recommend it. Definitely one of the stranger Verhoeven movies I’ve seen.

Anna

Another lady assassin movie. It was a helluva ride and I enjoyed it. I don’t think it added anything huge to the genre, but I’m just glad to have more cool movies about tough women. That said, I wish Anna had been able to just be with her girlfriend instead of randomly fucking spymasters.

Genocidal Organ

I read the book this movie is based on last year, and it’s a truly brutal story of linguistics and massive unrest. This movie is grim in a way that feels a little too prescient. Definitely one of the better anime thrillers I’ve seen in a while though.

Psycho Pass Movie Trilogy

After season 3, Psycho Pass had a trilogy of films in Japan. They’re fun continuations of the characters from all three seasons, and a bit of a sequel to the first movie. The future this film presents is pretty grim, but the animation is fantastic.

Weathering With You

I found out I don’t need to worry about climate change because it’s just rain, ya know? This film was gorgeous and fun and o loved the cat in it with my entire heart.

Matrix: Reloaded

Really starting the year off right. We talked through most of the exposition, which was like 75% of the movie. I hadn’t seen this since it came out, and it really didn’t hold up.

The Lighthouse

The first thing I noticed in this film was the tight, constrained feel of a square frame with deep black and white images. I immediately had to look around for how this was made. The VVitch is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Eggers doesn’t disappoint in this haunting film either. The dread builds as the antipathy between the two men grows. A joy.

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