Movie Diary 12/30/2018

Catching up at the end.

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham, 2018). Wonderful observations throughout, terrific lead performance, seemingly effortless swings through comedy and drama. Manages to be “of its era” without making a fuss about it. Refreshing tendency to leave some things unexplained.

The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery, 2018). Not being a fan of this director, I was pleasantly surprised by the easy feel and grainy texture of this one. The nagging doubt is an almost complete absence of consequences regarding the old man’s chosen profession (robbing banks with a gun); the film is too intent on creating a feel-good milieu for that. Redford coasts a little, but then he’s Redford; his scenes with Sissy Spacek are full of pleasing rhythms. High point, though, is when Redford’s cheeky thief crosses paths with Casey Affleck’s shuffling detective, a lovely passage that forgets the story for a moment and goes for sheer delight.

Mid-90s (Jonah Hill, 2018). Another good surprise, a clear-eyed view of skateboards and adolescence. The title is unfortunate, as it pretends to some generational statement rather than the granular street-level portrait we actually get.

Private Life (Tamara Jenkins, 2018). Some people still want to make Woody Allen movies, as proved by this story of a couple (Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti) desperate to conceive. The performance from the usually inspired Hahn could almost have come out of an Allen film, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Bird Box (Susanne Bier, 2018). People can’t look at the monsters, or they go crazy. One could make this premise work, but maybe only in a novel. I think Sandra Bullock is trying to do something with her performance, but it’s hard to tell in the overall hard-breathing.

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