Winter Break Movie Roundup

So I watched a lot of movies over break, and on Wednesday, I return to the Warner Bros. project I started last summer. But before then, I thought I’d give some quick reviews of movies I saw over break.

A Star is Born: I did not think Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga could do better than Judy Garland. And yet…I daresay this version is my favorite of them all.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse:  DELIGHTFUL. I grinned the entire length of the film. Hands down, my favorite Spider-Man movie ever.

Mary Poppins Returns: Good enough, given the pressure on Rob Marshall, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and of course Emily Blunt. I liked it for what it was, and I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t foresee an addition to my personal film library with this one.

Second Act: I really liked this one, and mad props to the marketing team here because there’s a MAJOR twist that was absent from all trailers (though I guessed it about 10 minutes before the reveal). Nice feel-good film.

Hearts Beat Loud: This one was on Hulu, one that I wanted to see over the summer but ran out of time. Nice coming-of-age story that is not only about a child coming of age, but also her father. Great music.

Juliet, Naked: I loved this book, and it had been long enough since I’d read it that I couldn’t remember any disappointing “Hey, that’s not how it happened” moments. I got to enjoy the film and story for the medium it was, and I liked it.

Minding the Gap: This is a documentary that I’d wanted to see at Film Streams but never got to. It’s on Hulu, and I thought it was going to be about skateboarding. And maybe that was the filmmaker’s initial intention, but it ended up being a harrowing commentary on poverty, abuse, and toxic masculinity, and when the credits rolled, my first thought was that every teacher needs to see this film.

Dumplin’: On Netflix. See it. Now. It is charming, has a great message, and might make you cry at least twice.

Harry Potter, 1-5: While I was calendaring January for all my classes I teach, I needed a marathon of some sorts, so I went with HP. Which was great until I got to Order of the Phoenix and Dolores Umbridge showed up. Her character and Hogwarts rules were just not fictional enough for me given the current political and educational climate. Plus I’m hyper-sensitive to the whole idea of evil grabbing any toehold in the world right now, so I quit those movies.

Hunger Games, 90 minutes of Catching Fire: TNT had a marathon one of the days of break, and I’d not seen these since I saw them in theaters, so I gave it a shot. How in the world these movies got PG-13 ratings is evidence of what we value as a society. You might notice there’s some R-rated films on my list here, and each one of them it’s because they crossed the f-word threshold of two. Not nudity, not gratuitous sex, a four-letter word, and definitely not two-plus hours of adults manipulating children to kill other children. I gave up halfway through Catching Fire because I could not take the violence anymore. Which makes the next marathon a bit ironic, I’m aware.

Mission: Impossible, 1-6: Okay, so what makes this violence different? First, it’s blowing stuff up and Tom Cruise finding new ways to break his bones. There’s not a high body count. Second, it’s not children killing other children. I know, I’m being choosy with what I tolerate when it comes to violence in my movies, but the MI movies are just over-the-top enough that it doesn’t seem real. Anyway. Tom Cruise is a national treasure, ages so very well, and what I loved most, watching these back to back, was to see the subtle non-verbals he used with each subsequent movie to communicate he knew he was probably a bit too old to be doing what he’s doing. But he’s Tom Cruise, so he’s gonna do it anyway. Très fun.

What about you? See any good movies over the break?

One Comment

  1. Watched a couple of Fast and furious movies. The first one and Tokyo Drift. It’s been awhile, but definitely doesn’t make me think too hard. What I needed. A couple of “How did they think that plot device would work” and, “what are those characters thinking” occurred for sure.

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