I would be alone if not for you
Finding Vivian Maier (2013)
It’s a mesmerizing story - a great street photographer discovered posthumously by a guy who placed a bid on some film rolls at an auction. The documentary tries to figure out who Vivian Maier was and discovers a bit of a paradox - an aloof loner vs a bold, opinionated nanny. But while we’re trying to figure out the who, the film travels into stickier territory, namely how to place value on art, and the ethics of exposing the private. I enjoyed the film, Maier’s photographs are wonderful and really do speak about who she was and how she saw the world, but I also felt a little uneasy about the intrusion into a life that she tried so hard to conceal.
A powerful documentary that feels like a thriller. Lots of great archival footage, smartly animated court transcripts and interviews with past Sea World trainers. Worth watching.
Blue Jasmine (2013) dir. Woody Allen
A Woody Allen film that doesn’t feel like one. It feels fresh and contemporary and it addresses class and politics. There is such good acting here from all cast members and Cate Blanchett is especially both terrifying and heartbreaking in this film. It’s not a very likeable film and it’s almost cruel and more than a little depressing, and yet here I go liking it a lot.
Nightmare Alley (1947)
A fun little noir about carnies, cons, bums and spiritualists. The slapped on Hollywood ending is a bit of an eye-roller, but it’s a strange enjoyable ride.
Her (2013) dir. Spike Jonz
A sci-fi movie about love where men wear super high waisted pants and everyone lives in fantastic apartments. I didn’t buy the future-ness of this film, but its heart is in the right place.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) dir. Cohen Brothers
This film is a bit of a grower. I saw it a few weeks ago & it still finds a corner of my brain to crawl into and twitch. Thoughts of art and music and integrity and not finding success. It’s a pretty plotless, wandering melancholy film with a pretty amazing cat and incredible cinematography that feels warm and scratchy like a wool blanket.
Nebraska (2013) dir. Alexander Payne
There’s something here that lives and breathes despite the cold bleak black and whiteness of a Nebraska winter. A road movie that isn’t nostalgic or gives the warm fuzzies but does have heart and soul. Another cheer for Alexander Payne!
Cutie and the Boxer (2013)
I love documentaries about art. They always show a steadfastness and a single-minded devotion to craft that is as inspiring as it is scary. This film is about art and the struggle of being 2 artists (3 if you count their fucked up son) in a relationship. It’s a hard marriage fraught with tension but there’s also tenderness and loyalty. Engrossing.
Veronica Mars (2014)
I loved Veronica Mars when it was a tv series and rewatched last spring just to bring back those good ol’ feelings again. The movie version is fine, very surface, wrapping up a few loose ends. But all the stuff that made the tv show great–that it dealt with class and feminism were missing from the movie. What teen tv show deals with class issues nowadays….certainly not Pretty Little Liars (which, btw, I also really like). Also, the Old Logan disappeared and was replaced with a weird skinny-necked New Logan and it was really, really creepy.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (2013)
This documentary doesn’t cover everything you wanted to know about Big Star but were afraid to ask. Instead it skirts over history and stories and delivers bits and pieces of the band, Memphis, solo projects and their musical legacy. While there are some great photos and video of the band, there’s not a lot of it so the footage gets stretched to the limit. It’s a bit of a tear jerker for Chris Bell and now I want to go back and listen to my Big Star records that I discovered in the 90s (along with everyone else).