September 2020 Film Round-Up

So life finally got fully in the way of my movie viewing habits.

Between starting a new job and becoming obsessed with a certain Emmy-sweeping television show (Schitt’s Creek if you couldn’t guess), through September I tried my best to watch one movie a day on weekdays after work and multiple on weekends if I could.

I got through a fair few, including ones that had been sitting in my watchlist for years now.

So here’s what I watched in September.

First Time Watches – September 2020

1. Capote (2005) dir. Bennett Miller

The pull of a masterful PSH performance is too much to ignore so I finally set myself up and watched this one. Hoffman is reliably fantastic and the story is mostly interesting. The way Miller structures this really, really works and cements his talent for exploring characters in multiple genres with aplomb.

2. Belle de Jour (1967) dir. Luis Buñuel

Probably my favourite Buñuel feature so far, Belle de Jour takes such an interesting way of telling quite a simple story that it becomes enchanting to watch. Catherine Deneuve is excellent and, while I still feel distanced from the work, the depth is impressive considering how I felt about previous works from Buñuel.

3. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) dir. Charlie Kaufman

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how I feel about this movie. Absolutely adore it. My favourite of the year so far, and it’ll take something great to dethrone it. The cast are incredible, the writing is insane, and it has one of the most riveting final moments of the year. Click the link to read my longer review if you haven’t already!

4. Munich (2005) dir. Steven Spielberg

Spielberg takes an interest topic and directs it well, but the runtime is so extravagant that it loses focus after a while. The acting is good, but overall it’s just not really something that captured me.

5. Mulan (2020). dir Niki Caro

I don’t even want to talk about it. The original is my favourite Disney movie and this was pretty close to sacrilege. Had some good ideas, but completely butchered them. The cinematography and production design were nice though.

6. A Place in the Sun (1951) dir. George Stevens

An interesting conceit that was executed wonderfully, A Place in the Sun showcases some fine performances delivering some deft writing and has such good pacing that it gradually grows more and more interesting as it goes along. I dare you to not fall in love with Montgomery Clift though.

7. Hustle & Flow (2005) dir. Craig Brewer

Terrence Howard is great in this and there’s some really great moments, but it didn’t really work for me. Taraji P. Henson predictably steals some really key scenes, she’s so good in this movie.

8. Where Is My Friend’s House? (1987) dir. Abbas Kiarostami

Another Kiarostami concept that impresses. The first of the Koker trilogy is such a simple movie but says so much as it unravels. Its brilliance comes in the minimalism of both the script and the premise. Through that comes a touching story of determination and friendship through the lens of innocence.

9. Life, And Nothing More… (1992) dir. Abbas Kiarostami

The second in the Koker trilogy is even better than the first. Building from his own experience of making the first movie, Life, And Nothing More… sees the main character (based on Kiarostami himself) searching for the actors who starred in the first film after a devastating earthquake changes everything. Again, pretty simple, but so emotionally touching and an interesting look at the intersection between reality and film.

10. Through The Olive Trees (1994) dir. Abbas Kiarostami

My favourite of the Koker trilogy by far, yet again building on the blocks laid down in the first two films, Kiarostami explores love and the meaning of honest emotions in the final film of the trilogy. It’s bold, honest, and so touching. What a way to end a trifecta of great films. Kiarostami is one of the best.

11. Walk The Line (2005) dir. James Mangold

I started watching this about a year ago and never finished it, so I sat myself down and forced myself to finally do so. Phoenix and Witherspoon are terrific together, and Witherspoon’s nuances really push the film to greater heights. Surprisingly for Mangold, it was missing something, an energy or a spark that could carry the film through its weaker moments. The musical numbers are fun, but like a lot of films it’s still too long!

12. The Devil All The Time (2020) dir. Antonio Campos

I had high hopes for this after the performance Campos wrangled out of Rebecca Hall in Christine, and seeing the cast assembled for this…but alas not all expectations lead to greatness. Skarsgard and Pattinson steal the show, and Keough had some nice moments, but I couldn’t get into this one. It felt manufactured and purposefully bleak for no reason. The script needed to explore more things that could have been interesting, perhaps at the expense of a few unnecessary characters.

13. Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) dir. Stephen Frears

I’m really just not a fan of these hoity-toity Judi Dench vehicles about a sophisticated English woman who challenges the norms. Dench is fine, but I’ve never really been impressed by a performance of hers. This is no different than what you would expect from Frears really. If it’s your thing, perfect, if not then you’ll struggle to enjoy it.

14. Transamerica (2005) dir. Duncan Tucker

I couldn’t go into this movie without analysing a cisgender person was the choice for this role, but I also appreciated that it was talking about things that not many were addressing in 2005. Felicity Huffman is good, but I did think she was a bit miscast in the role. It’s very striking about what it wants to say, but never really makes many points to ponder and reflect on afterwards. I didn’t hate watching it, but I also won’t look back at the film fondly.

15. Unpregnant (2020) dir. Rachel Lee Goldenberg

I would die for Haley Lu Richardson. She brings such spirit and warmth to this character and her performance, while Barbie Ferreira plays her polar opposite very well. With such an unabashed Gen-Z energy, Unpregnant turns a road trip movie into something with surprising amounts of heart, but doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the genre.

16. Doodlebug (1997) dir. Christopher Nolan

Really just watched this to complete Nolan’s full filmography. Also…what is this?

17. A Woman Under the Influence (1974) dir. John Cassavetes

I’m beginning to think that Gena Rowlands is superhuman. Her performance in this movie is groundbreaking and so intimately raw that it genuinely hurts to watch her. Peter Falk is a more-than-worthy co-star but you can tell that this is her movie through and through. Cassavetes’ direction matches her immensely well, but Rowlands’ performance is what you’ll likely take away from this.

18. Pride & Prejudice (2005) dir. Joe Wright

Can you believe that I had never seen this? I know, me neither! I really loved it, from the brilliant ensemble, the glorious score, and the beautiful costuming, Pride & Prejudice is a superlative entry into the period genre with a memorable performance from Keira Knightley and Dario Marianelli’s beautiful scoring work.

19. The Long Day Closes (1992) dir. Terrence Davies

My first Davies film and oh my god. This could not have been more suited for my specific tastes. Hitting like the most ambiguous bullet train, The Long Day Closes works in emotions rather than moments and succeeds at just about every turn. It’s raw, powerful, and the ‘Tammy’ sequence is just breathtaking. Will need to be filling in the gaps of Davies’ filmography for sure. This will be revisited many a time down the line.

Favourite First Time Watch: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Films I Rewatched This Month

  • Swallow (2020) dir. Carlo Mirabella-Davis
  • Hereditary (2018) dir. Ari Aster
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) dir. Charlie Kaufman
  • Erin Brockovich (2000) dir. Steven Soderbergh
  • Nightcrawler (2014) dir. Dan Gilroy
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) dir. Joel & Ethan Coen
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012) dir. David O. Russell
  • The Shape of Water (2017) dir. Guillermo del Toro
  • Atonement (2007) dir. Joe Wright
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) dir. Charlie Kaufman (yes again)
  • Now You See Me (2013) dir. Louis Leterrier
  • Now You See Me 2 (2016) dir. John M. Chu
  • Rope (1948) dir. Alfred Hitchcock
  • The Social Network (2010) dir. David Fincher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) dir. Wes Anderson

34 films, still averaging more than one a day which is good, should have watched more but Schitt’s Creek owned my ass for the past 10 or so days. I’ve finished it now so I should be more consistent in my movie watching.

Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe!

Until next time!!

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