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    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    End of Year MOVIE JOURNAL 2020

    End of year movie journal 2020


    INTRODUCTION. This drastic year of closed movie theaters has wound up being an unusually good time for indie, low budget films to get seen - and for major US art film centers like Film Forum, Metrograph, and Film at Lincoln Center to act as national distributers. Rushing to cram in some last 2020 movies before the end of 2020, whatever looks good and can be found online. It's the pandemic. But it's also the holidays, so, just some notes. Can't yet watch: MINARI (Lee Isaac Chung 2020) (MS 88%), the movie about the Korean family in the eighties who start a farm in Arkansas; KAJILLIONAIRE (Miranda July 2020)(MS 78%), with Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins as family of swindlers. Both are on a lot of ten best lists. But they are not available online yet. For ON THE ROCKS, I went to the bother of joining Apple TV. It was worth it. This journal excludes my reviews of recent festival items like New Directors New Films, which will be found on Filmleaf HERE, and viewings of old films or repeated looks at recent watches such as Wong Kar-wai.

    THE NEST (Sean Durkin 2020). First in nine years for Durkin of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE and another creepy, powerful, memorably uncomfortable movie, this time about a delusional man (Jude Law) whose destructive, crazy fantasies of wealth and success take him and foamily back to England from New York. With Carrie Coon. Powerful, brilliant acting. If you don't like any of the people and feel trapped, that's just fine. Feels like one of the year's best American features. Metascore 79%.

    SOUND OF METAL (r: Darius Marder 2020). Metascore 81%. Riz Ahmed as a death metal drummer who suddenly loses his hearing. He is totally relatable, a fine and appealing actor, and the details about deaf drug recovery program is wholly authentic, but it gets a bit obvious and preachy. It turns out going deaf is easier to simulate on film, with sound design, than going blind would be. You can make the screen go silent for a while, but you can't make it go dark, not for long. This is a movie that really grabs you, but then loses momentum.

    COLLECTIVE/COLLECTIV (Alexander Nanau 2019). Like Spotlighit only real and Romanian. Follows journalist chasing a healthcare scandal that reaches into deep corruption and the government itself. Hospitals and drugs are cash cows, is the trouble. And when you've got a virtually failed state... But the documentary filmmakers and the journalists are on the top of their game. Relevant to current global and US political trends. The editing creates a pulsating, suspenseful narrative that after a while, you can even call enjoyable, at least certainly compulsively watchable. In Romanian with English subtitles. Metascore 95%.

    DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD (Kirsten Johnson 2020). Metascore 89%. The dad of the maker of the 2016 Cameraperson, which I did not like, has made another film every loves and I don't. Her dad,in his mid-eighties, is found to have dementia, so she takes him from Seattle to live with her in NYC. Along the way, to help them both confront his impending death, she repeatedly stages his violent, accidental death. Why is this considered a good idea? Well, everybody is into dementia nowadays. What saves it is that Dick Johnson has an impressively equitable, open personality and accepts the proceedings with great good nature. The fake funeral is pretty impressive. He was a psychiatrist. Why don't we learn more about his work life; about his ideas?

    SAVE YOURSELVES! (Alex Huston Fischer, Eleanor Wilson 2020). Having Ben Sinclair ("The Man") as a peripheral character, this is first cousin to a long "High Maintenance" episode. A Millennial couple from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, go upstate for a week to keep their phones and laptops turned off and get back in touch with themselves. Unfortunately they check out just at the time when there is an alien invasion of the planet. A very engaging and charming picture. The directors are a couple, and they get how that works. Metascore 66%.

    MANK (David Fincher 2020). Fincher has lovingly adapted his late father Jack's elaborate screenplay about alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) the time when he dictated the script of what would become Citizen Kane - with a lot of flashbacks of Hollywood in the thirties and Hearst's San Simeon castle.Shot in black and white digitally, evoking Gregg Toland's famous, stylish cinematography. The cars and the period California landscapes seem the best parts of this beautiful, busy film. On Netflix. Metascore 79%.

    ON THE ROCKS (Sofia Coppola 2020). A mother and writer (Rashida Jones) starts suspecting her hotshot startup husband (Marlon Wayans) is seeing someone else. Her worldly wise dad (Bill Murray), a long successful art dealer, takes up the case. Yes, lightweight, but well worth joining Apple TV to watch to see Coppola and Bill Murray in action. Also fun to go around in their effortlessly posh New York with them. Maybe one of the deepest pictures of a shallow person you'll see. Like more grown up, female-POV Woody. Metascore 73%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-26-2020 at 01:40 AM.


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