Eighth Grade is simultaneously potent and pedestrian. At times both the story and the script seemed forced, as if I could feel the writers working away. It’s not boring, though, and bonus! — an A24 film that both excludes the square frame and includes credits! 7/10
Comparison Notes: Lady Bird, Men, Women & Children, The Ruins (jk), Superbad, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Like most award-contending films of 2017, Call Me by Your Name is highly overrated — but there is a certain kind of wistful charm, and I liked the music including ’80s classics and original pieces by Sufjan Stevens. 6/10
Comparison Notes: Blue is the Warmest Color, La Cérémonie, A Bigger Splash, Gregory’s Girl
The piercing eyes – and performance – of Saoirse Ronan keep Lady Bird afloat. The re-tread story, however, hardly sparkles. I was never bored, but neither was I exhilarated. At a short running time of 94 minutes, the film felt much longer. 6/10
Comparison Notes (recommended): Rushmore, Juno, Ida, The Little Hours
There’s a form of contrivance in film which may be termed amalgamation. The idea that a perfectly good movie can be made by an assembly process, putting a bunch of different elements together in a box. It’s not a good thing. Much better is to let your film develop organically.
Nonetheless, I liked the performances and bit of fun in 20th Century Women, so a marginal thumbs-up; 6/10, and one step behind The Accountant on the 2016 List.
Comparison Notes (recommended): The Diary of a Teenage Girl
I had no desire to see Moonlight, but it has proven to have legs and is likely to garner Oscar nominations including the big one. Plus, I was in the mood for something that might make me think a little. And so my review:
Act “i”: Great; Act ii: Great; Act iii: Complete and utter collapse. Also not happy about omission of an opening title. 8/10 if you lop off Act iii, but since the producers did not, thumbs-down; 5/10.
Everybody Wants Some!! is not without its occasional charms and the ability to fall into a pleasurable rhythm, but it will just as soon stall out. Not surprisingly, it shares the same lackadaisical non-storytelling style of director Richard Linklater’s 1993 effort Dazed and Confused. I felt a little better about this one than Dazed and Confused, but Linklater could take a lesson from American Graffiti on how to make a compelling version of the ambling youth film.
So my next statement you’d expect is that Linklater is a hack — but that’s not the case. I liked, from what I saw, the charming Before Sunrise (1995), and Bernie was excellent. So he’s just inconsistent. Everybody wants some… good movies to watch. A better story would help, but when Linklater goes out of his way to avoid any drama, the results are less than optimal. 4/10
There is a tremendous amount I liked about The Diary of a Teenage Girl, but it left me wanting more. It was like a train ride — or more appropriately a passage on BART — with 14 stops. But it takes 16 stops to get me home.
Early in the film, her mother tells Minnie that she has a power she doesn’t realize. My biggest problem was that this promise is left unfulfilled. Still, Diary is very fresh, and very good — I just wasn’t over the moon with the product as a whole. A solid recommendation; 7/10.
Comparison Notes: Welcome to the Dollhouse, Nymphomaniac, Ghost World
UPDATE on MI V: I think I was a little too harsh. Upon reflection, there were enough good things thrown in to yield a 4/10. Still thumbs-down, but I didn’t hate it or anything.