My reasoning for it lies here.
I’ve just got several more jots to jot down before I do it. Here are some.
Other People // I love Chris Kelly for being an SNL writer, even more for bringing SNL and other funny people into the melancholy, autobiographical story of his mother’s death and the most for forcing said showbiz people to talk about the delusions of showbiz onscreen. Jesse Plemons (as David) and Bradley Whitford (as David’s father, Norman) were the sympathetic forces we already knew they were, while Molly Shannon (as David’s mother, Joanne) and Zach Woods (as David’s boyfriend, Paul) demonstrated a sorrowful sweetness that hadn’t emerged in previous roles.
Dodgeball // I knew more about this movie than I thought I did — “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood” — yet I’m so glad I watched it, because it was a revelation of Jason Bateman’s comedic versatility. So often he’s relegated to the straight-man role, and he kills it of course, but his color commentator Pepper Brooks made me cry with laughter.
Walk Hard // “Underrated” is probably an annoyingly common term used to describe John C. Reilly, but damn, it’s true. He’s such a quiet genius, no matter the role, and Dewey Cox is no exception. The movie is all about absurd parodies of other movies, yet he jumps seamlessly between each one, his presence consistently magnetic and curious. And I’ll take a Jack White cameo any day.
The West Wing, Season 4 // So many episodes stand out as brilliant in this arc — the whole team uniting seriously to prep POTUS (Martin Sheen) in “Debate Camp,” then playfully to tease Toby (Richard Schiff) in “Game On;” the high-stress, operatic tension of “Commencement” and “Twenty Five,” wherein Zoey (Elisabeth Moss) is abducted after her college commencement and Toby’s ex-wife has twins. Yet there is a soapy, melodramatic nature to this season, too, that I could have done without. The whole staff felt the strain of Toby’s broken relationship, for example, and the wishy-washiness between Josh (Whitford) and Amy (expert eye-roller Mary-Louise Parker) got to be annoying after awhile. But I welcomed the refreshing, Woody Harrelson-esque arrival of Will (Joshua Malina) as Rob Lowe started to phase himself out and I learned that Josh is a Mets fan. And I love all the characters dearly, even when they act silly, so I’ll keep watching. I’m anxious to see what it’s like post-Aaron Sorkin.
Terminator 2 // Linda Hamilton (as Sarah Connor) is kind of a metaphor for this movie — she is ageless, and so is it. James Cameron paid (and continues to pay) such meticulous attention to detail, from the subtle squeaks of the Terminator’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leather to the slick morphing movements of T-1000 (Robert Patrick), everything holds up. And the fact that a child — not a grownup — is the movie’s hook gives it an innocence and purity that should not be overlooked.
Manchester by the Sea // Watching this movie on a plane, and having read a few reviews, I expected to be drowning in my own tears for two hours. But it wasn’t quite that bleak. (Though it was pretty bleak.) The lilting music saved it, in fact, injecting ever-so-slight humor into some scenes. Michelle Williams (as Randi) was perfect, as usual, and Casey Affleck (as Lee) admittedly was too, though I suspect he’s peaked. Peaked with bleak.
Beyond Belief // There’s Going Clear and then there’s this. The inside scoop. The autobiographical horror story. I applaud Jenna Miscavige Hill — the niece of the group’s chairman, David Miscavige — for risking her life to escape, and then to tell her tale. It’s amazing that anyone can escape Scientology, especially if they’re born into it. From a young age, they’re taught that normalcy means no human variation, no nuance, no deeper meaning. They’re encouraged to be uniform, to be comfortable with vagueness, to speak with a vocabulary all their own (“TRs” are training routines, “OTs” are operating thetans), to recognize E-meters as true science and levels as sacred, exclusive accomplishments. It seems harmless until it isn’t. It’s real-life psychological horror.
Footloose // It’s scary when a 30-plus-year-old movie can have relevance today, and this one tells a very current story about different generations coming to understand each other. John Lithgow (as the Rev. Moore) is a close-minded, devout man and the father of a thoughtful, rebellious teenager. He’s unable to see the benefits of any behaviors he’s not used to, and despite being relatively gentle, he wields enormous power over a meek town. Kevin Bacon (as Ren) is charismatic sans the douche factor that a typical leading man embodies (something he’s quite used to doing, as he discussed on WTF) and I wish his love story had been with Sarah Jessica Parker (as Rusty the charmer) instead of with Lori Singer (as Ariel the hottie). Of course, Ariel is Rev. Moore’s daughter, so it was a necessary plot, but I felt he and Singer had no chemistry. The again, maybe their chemistry wasn’t entirely necessary. They just needed each other, as fellow semi-motivated people, to work up the courage to leave their town.
Intermission, I guess.