Movie Round-Up


I’m way behind on movie reviews. Here’s everything I viewed since October (I think?).

Word Wars
A documentary about four of the top competitive Scrabble players. I didn’t find it as engaging as the similar documentary Wordplay, about crossword puzzle players, nor was it as insightful as Stephan Fatsis’ book Word Freak. The movie seems to emphasize the “freak” but not capture the human.
Water Lillies
French film about the angst of being a teenage girl. The rare film in which follows girls’ lives without having to contrast them to boys.
State of the Union
Classic Frank Capra film starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. An honest man seeks the Republican nomination for President and becomes corrupted in the process. This movie seems very timely albeit there’s some bad old-fashioned sexist and racist stereotypes mixed in.
Strange Brew
Needed to know if this Bob & Doug McKenzie movie is as funny as I remember it. Parts of it still hold up pretty well. And if you disagree, you’re a hoser.
Ghostbusters
Another classic comedy that stands the test of time. Best of all, I watched if for free on Hulu!
Mean Girls
A biting satire about high school cliques.  Well-written and very funny.
The Straight Story
David Lynch makes a G-rated film and it still remains fully Lynchian and fully wholesome at the same time. Based on a true story of an Iowa man riding a lawnmower to visit his estranged brother, this is an episodic film with some great performances and beautiful cinematography (filmed on the same route followed by Alvin Straight.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Documentary about the famed architect in which I learned that FLW was 1) an arrogant ass, 2) an extremely talented arrogant ass, and 3) an arrogant ass who did his best work after the age of 60.
Offside
A satirical film from Iran about teenage girls disguising themselves as boys to attend a FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Tehran. The majority of the film takes place in a holding area where soldiers keep the girls tantalizingly in earshot of the match. They alternate between discussing the absurdities of the laws and patriotically trying to follow the game as best they can. Surprisingly funny and eye-opening. Who knew that people in Iran could get away with giving so much lip to soldiers?
The Reading Room
James Earl Jones plays a wealthy widower who puts his book collection in a public reading room in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood in fulfillment of his wife’s dying wish. He encounters problems with crime, vandalism, indifference, and suspicious residents of the neighborhoods, but is also able to win over several children and a teacher as they help one another learn. Somewhat episodic it feels a bit like a pilot to a tv series that never happened. Very hokey but irresistibly heartwarming.
Gracie
Story set in 1978 about a girl who wants to try out for the varsity soccer team after her brother, the star soccer player, dies in a car wrecks. The movie follows a predictable formula but good acting that highlights the tensions and family dynamics make it better than it should be. The soccer scenes are well-filmed too.

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