Last Month In Art – March 2023

This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m featuring some of the art that fuels my creativity. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.

Here it is once again! There were so many amazing movies! 

A Man Escaped 1956

Apparently I love really slow French movies! I feel like that’s not something I would have said a year ago, but this film makes that one of the truest things I’ve said about myself. It’s an in-depth view of a man escaping a Nazi prison in occupied France, and it is exceedingly slow. But somehow I didn’t find it boring! Proceed with caution though, I think my perspective has gotten warped.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

I honestly can’t believe how long it’s taken me to read this book. I also now understand why people want to lump me in with Faulkner. I like to think we’re engaging with language and land in similar ways, though I don’t think I’ll ever come close to his mastery of dialect. If you haven’t picked this up, go read it. 

The Five Devils 2022

This film is absolutely incredible. Lesbians, witches, racism, what more could you want? Seriously though, the way this film explored relationships blew me away. Highly recommend you try to find it once it hits streaming.

Ice Merchants 2022

This was my pick to win the Oscar for animated shorts this year, and I’m honestly devastated it didn’t win. This no-dialogue short is one of the most touching films I’ve ever seen. I was bawling. It’s amazing.

My Year of Dicks 2022

The title makes it sound silly, but it’s really such a wonderful story about adolescent love. This was my second favorite of this year’s animated shorts, and you should all go watch it (on Hulu, I think!). 

Rosetta 1999

Is it sad? Yes. But, the emotional resonance of this film is unparalleled. It sounds silly, but it’s a movie about being human and trying to live a ‘normal life’, which is something I think we can all relate to.

Saving Mr. Banks 2013

This was a rewatch for me, and I’m just as in love with it as I was before. I’m a huge fan of Mary Poppins, and I think this film is a really a love letter to that story. Nothing is better than ‘seeing’ them write that music.

TÁR 2022

Are y’all tired of me talking about this movie yet? I rewatched it, and I’m still in love with it! Blanchett, Cate, you’re a genius! 

To the Wonder 2012

This film is super weird. There isn’t really a plot, and it’s kind of hard to figure out what’s going on at any given moment. What astounds me about this film is that it made me think Oklahoma can be beautiful. Small town Oklahoma, the exact kind of Oklahoma I hate driving through. This movie made it all stunning.

Definitely an eclectic list this month, but one I’m exceedingly pleased with. 

Love and gratitude, friends.

My Favorite Movies of 2022

This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m featuring some of the art that fuels my creativity. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.

Following up from the ‘best books‘ post, here are my favorite ‘movies’ that were released in 2022. The quotes are because I’ve tossed a mini-series in here, but if it counts on Letterboxd, it counts for me!

TÁR dir. by Todd Field

Cate Blanchett gives a truly transcendent performance in this film as symphony conductor and composer Lydia Tár. This is a film that requires multiple viewing because of the incredible amount of detail in every scene. I’ve seen it twice now, and with each viewing, I discover something new in the story of a problematic woman slowly losing her status. The ending is equal parts hilarious and deeply sad. 

The Fabelmans dir. by Steven Spielberg

This movie managed to please me, Oscar, and both of my parents, which is a pretty impressive feat. Spielberg’s autofiction (autofilm?) is captivating. My only complaint at the end was that the film wasn’t longer. It’s about family, and growing  up, and how movies are really, really amazing. If you can, go see it in a movie theater. It’s really worth it to see it on a big screen.

RRR dir. by S. S. Rajamouli

 I’ll be honest, I’m not super sure that the politics of this film are something I’d normally buy in to. But, I have no context for this film and trying to look it up has been unhelpful, so we’ll just take the film at its face. With that out of the way–this is such a fun film! I don’t have a lot of experience with Bollywood films, but I’m always excited about a musical, and this thing has some excellent songs. It’s a story about two men trying to resist British colonization, and while it’s very long, there’s literally an intermission. So, if you’re in the mood for a film that’s equal parts fun and equal parts serious, this is the film for you!

Broker dir. by Hirokazu Kore-eda

I saw this in a test screening, so I technically didn’t see the final cut. That being said, this is a really gorgeous movie. It follows an odd collection of people trying to facilitate an illegal adoption and the law enforcement following them. It stars one of my absolute favorite Korean actresses, Bae Doona. The film takes a very non-moral stance, instead presenting all sides of an issue that elicits a lot of strong feelings and has no real right answer, I think. I’ll be honest, if you’re not in New York in LA, I’m not sure how you’d ever see this in a theater. But with any luck, it’ll show up on streaming somewhere, and when it does, I hope everyone watches it. 

Everything Everywhere All at Once dir. by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan

What a weird, incredibly feel good movie! Michelle Yeoh is always incredible, and Ke Huy Quan is a joy to watch. If you were to ask me exactly what the movie is about, I’d say it’s about a family trying to relate to each other, which is something I think we all have experience with. By the end, I was crying in the best possible way. Keep in mind, though, it’s weird. Like, super weird. But if you roll with it, you’ll have a blast watching this one.

Elvis dir. by Baz Luhrman

What a movie! I think it’s perhaps a smidge too long, because there’s definitely a part where it starts to drag, but I just couldn’t resist giving it 5 stars. Austin Butler’s performance is over-the-top amazing. I’ve seen it twice, and on the second viewing, there was so many little details that I picked up on. It’s sad, of course, because Elvis had a sad life towards the end, but Luhrman really outdid himself with the stylization and with the music. The updates and he twists he puts on Elvis’s music are really something.

Women Talking dir. by Sarah Polley

I am absolutely fascinated by cults, and this took a really unique take on ‘cult exploration’ media. As far as ‘based on a true story’ goes, this one definitely leans towards the more fictional side. The horrific treatment of women is all true, but everything else has been created for the film. It feels a little like a play in that it focuses on the woman of the ‘colony’ discussing how they want to respond to the revelation that they weren’t being attacked in the middle of the night by demons but by the men they live with. It takes place mostly in the hay loft of a barn, but manages to be riveting until the end. Claire Foy and Rooney Mara give stellar performances, but the real stand-outs for me were Ben Whishaw and Michelle McLeod.

Three Thousand Years of Longing dir. by George Miller

Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. If that doesn’t sell you on a movie, I don’t know what will! The film follows a woman who accidentally stumbles on a djinn who proceeds to share his life story with her. It’s a movie about stories and telling stories, and I think that’s what makes it so beautiful. I only got to see it in theaters once because it wasn’t well received, and I’m ready for it to be streaming because it’s a film that demands multiple viewings. It’s complex and strange, but also really beautiful. I doubt it will ever be a film that gets a lot of attention, but it certainly deserves it.

Moon Knight dir. by Mohamed Diab

Now for a mini series, which I hope will have a season 2 announced and get itself off my movies list. This is easily my favorite thing that Marvel (and possible Disney in its entirety) have ever done. Oscar Isaac gives an amazing performance, and Ethan Hawke really shines as a lawful evil type villain. I think Marvel films are really suffering under the weight of what they used to be, and Moon Knight seems to exist outside of that. If superheroes are at all your thing, I highly recommend this.

Werewolf by Night dir. by Michael Giacchino

Another Marvel thing! This one is basically a short film, and I think it has such a fun vibe. The story is tight, and the aesthetics really pop. I’m also generally excited to see Gael García Bernal inn anything. Harriet Sansom Harris also pops as the matriarch of a monster hunting family. In a time when Marvel films are starting to struggle, Disney+ is consistently delivering some really excellent work (with the exception of She-Hulk, maybe). This work originally came out for Halloween, and I would agree that the best viewing involves a dark, stormy night.

Love and gratitude, friends.

Last Month in Art

This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m featuring some of the art that fuels my creativity. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.

Interestingly, I didn’t finish any books last month. Not sure what that’s about, aside from just so happening to be in a bit of a slump. I did, however, watch a lot of movies. Here are the ones I gave five stars–

Drive My Car 2021

This movie was absolutely beautiful. I think it’s way better than the short story it’s based on. Some people think it’s slow, but I wholeheartedly disagree. It was a beautiful, riveting movie that I highly recommend.

Writing With Fire 2021

This documentary about a women-run newspaper in India reminded me that documentaries can really be excellent sometimes. I’d watched quite a few bad ones before getting here, and this one restored my faith in the medium. It’s the right amount of uplifting while still exploring a very difficult, very complex culture.

The Hand of God 2021

This incredible little movie tells the story of growing up without being cliché. It’s a movie that manages to be about film without feeling self-indulgent. Plus, the aunt is hot. I left it feeling good about family and how much they can mean to us.

The Queen of Basketball 2021

This short documentary is literally the best documentary I’ve watched in years. It features a woman basketball player whose personality shines on camera. If you want to watch something but don’t have two hours, this is the thing to watch.

BoxBallet 2020

Another short one here. Some people really hate the animation, but I think it’s delightfully quirky. It’s a sweet little love story that I found incredibly touching.

Flee 2021

I’m now of the opinion that more documentaries need to be animated. Re-creations are overrated. The animation isn’t the most sophisticated, but the story makes up for it. 

Cyrano 2021

So I gave this movie five stars, but I’m not sure if my reaction to it was completely rational. I spent the first half being kind of angry, and the second half being in love, then I screamed at the ending, then I gave it five stars. So who knows what that means.

Living In Oblivion 1995

This is a movie about making a movie that also is somehow about a dream in a dream in a dream. Plus, a surprise appearance from Pete Dinklage. A lovely little comedy that is well worth a view.

The Power of the Dog 2021

I’m obsessed with this film. Jane Campion did a stunning job, Benedict Cumberbatch did a stunning job, Jesse Plemons did a stunning job, Kirsten Dunst did a stunning job, Codi Smit-McPhee did a stunning job. Everyone moment is riveting because every single moment has meaning.

What movies are you loving right now? Let me know! And if you want, give me a follow on Letterboxd.