What I Watched, What You Watched #98

Happy Festivus, Sacred Wall! I’ve had a crazy last two weeks in terms of screenings, and I have big things planned for you all, in terms of reviews and articles. You’ve already seen reviews for The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve seen things I’ve loved, like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Burning, and Roma, things I’ve hated, like Mortal Engines, and things that confused the ever-living hell out of me, like Border and Vox Lux. And you can expect reviews for those in the next few weeks as we continue the march to the Oscars

Meanwhile, I also saw a few films in theaters that I won’t be reviewing. For example, there’s A Private War, a film that I respected for Rosamund Pike’s fantastic performance but found mediocre overall. There’s The Front Runner, a film I rather enjoyed, even if it was fairly simple and kind of muddled (I love a good political thriller with a good script and good acting). I saw Willem Dafoe’s Vincent van Gogh biopic At Eternity’s Gate, which I am sorry to say is borderline unwatchable. On top of nearly falling asleep three separate times, the ending features a shockingly offensive twist in which they imply van Gogh’s suicide was secretly a murder in which he is a Christ-like martyr. It makes no sense and is offensive to van Gogh’s legacy. And then there’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I can’t tell if I hate this film because of its awfulness, love it for its insane number of dead babies in a children’s film (I counted no less than 3), or was just confused by the fact that the villain’s motivations are preventing WWII because Muggles will create the Atomic Bomb, which is…actually a fair point. No matter what, it’s one of the worst of the year, yet not unentertainingly so. I also managed to get into the theater to see the re-release of Schindler’s List, which is a film I find myself marveling at every time I see it (which is very rare due to its intensity). It’s so perfectly structured, and thoughtfully executed, that I sit in awe at every screening. If you haven’t yet, you need to see Schindler’s List. And I also managed to watch two films at home! The first was this year’s indie darling The Rider, a film I found to be remarkably powerful and a modern take on what would have been a John Ford film. I went in expecting to dislike it and left entranced. And then there’s The Shop Around the Corner. I’ll admit I was more taken with the stage version of this show She Loves Me, and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan had more chemistry in the remake of this film You’ve Got Mail. However, Ernst Lutisch knows how to direct a film, and Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan are both excellent here, so I definitely recommend it as both a Christmas and Valentine’s Day staple.

If you thought my movie watching list was crazy, just wait until you see my television list. In two weeks, I’ve watched a little of everything. I finished off Watergate, and proceeded to name it my #1 documentary of the year – it’s a real work of art. I watched a few Christmas episodes to prepare for my recent list on the subject: specifically, I watched The Office and The O.C. (“A Benihana Christmas” and “The Best Chrismukkah Ever,” respectively). And for fun, I had my first ever viewing of The Pee Wee Herman Christmas Special, which is…astonishing. Simply incredible. Not only is the execution perfect, but that k.d. lang performance of “Jingle Bell Rock” is arguably the greatest rendition of the song (or any Christmas song) ever. Meanwhile, I continued my quest to prepare the upcoming Best of TV list by watching more Homecoming and Dirty John, both of which are starting to become quite good (Homecoming in particular takes an insane turn around the halfway mark). I also started Succession, which I am quickly becoming obsessed with (fast talking backstabbers is my bread and butter). I also watched the Christmas episodes of black-ish, which was laugh-out-loud funny (the “cinephile” joke is a work of art), as well as Modern Family, which I didn’t love but found a few of the sight gags to be solid. And then there’s the Christmas specials. Oh, boy, were there Christmas specials. There was a second viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas, because of course I did (it’s a masterpiece). Then there was Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, which is very cute, very weird, and strangely dark, but it’s a favorite nonetheless. And at least it’s not as dark as The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, an L. Frank Baum adaptation that is frightening to kids and parents alike, and really should not be shown under any circumstances. It’s hilariously heinous.

Well, I hope you all have a merry Christmas! Let me know in the comments what you think of these films, and I’ll be back here later this week with a series of reviews and articles! See you then!

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