Discover more from 812: Film Reviews and Other Musings
April: Never Lose Your Passport, Trust
Monthly Roundup Post
Welcome to my newsletter! Every month you’ll receive this update featuring all of my writing, and my favorite film and television watches.
One bit of advice: Never lose your passport. I misplaced mine on a flight back from a film festival back in November, and didn’t notice my grave error for a couple of weeks. I filed a claim with the airline (which took a month to process) and they found nothing. And then I had to gather up my materials to get a new one. Did you know that if you lose your passport you can’t simply renew it? You’ve got to apply for a brand new one as though you’ve never had a passport (and the wait times to receive one are extremely long , right now. So apply sooner rather than later). Needless to say, it’s been a long ordeal that finally came to an end over a week ago when I received my brand new passport. And not a minute too soon because I had to book some flights for a couple of events I hope I can publicly announce soon.
In the meantime, between fitful panic attacks, I actually had a surprisingly productive month! I worked on major listicles, did a few think pieces, remembered a Hollywood legend, and did an interview with an acting great. So here’s everything I published in April:
This month, I also saw quite a few movies stemming from other work I took: I served on the Narrative Features jury for Florida Film Festival, guest lectured for a class at DePaul University, and helped program the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which is starting in a few days on May 5th (be on the lookout for my festival preview!!). In that time, I watched 52 films. A bit down from my usual mark, but between working my day job and crawling up in a corner, what can you do? As always, you can follow all of my film watching by subscribing to my Letterboxd. But here is a selection of my favorite watches:
13 Going on 30 - One of’s favorites sees Jenna Rink, a 13-year old who desperately wants to be accepted by the "cool" girls who bully her, wishes herself to be 30-years-old (played by Jennifer Garner) in a rom-com that has big Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and an adorable Mark Ruffalo to boot.
A Bronx Tale - Robert DeNiro’s directorial debut about a teen making the local Italian gangsters led by a refined Chazz Palminteri his idols, borrows much from Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. But this coming-of-age tale, from its sweetness to its picture of a colorful neighborhood, most reminded me of Spike Lee’s work.
An Unmarried Woman - The writer/director Paul Mazursky’s sex-positive, feminist film remains ahead of its time as Jill Clayburgh lights up the screen in the role of a wife who from tragedy, the disintegration of her marriage, finally begins to live for herself.
Air - Though I do have issues with this Air Jordan origin story, I can’t deny that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon remain an entertaining double-act.
Anguish - I watched Bigas Luna’s surreal psychological horror film for Aaron Hillis’ monthly movie night, and lord was I blown away. The recently departed Michael Lerner plays a serial killing optometrist with mommy issues in a movie within a movie that’s playing within a movie theater where a potential killer lurks. Gory and fun, Lerner, a tremendous actor, is simply electrifying (we lost a good one in him).
Beowulf - Misunderstood at the time of its release, Robert Zemeckis’ reimagining of the classic epic about an ultra masculine hero is a smart subversion of the genre and features pitch-perfect casting with Angelina Jolie as the irresistible temptress of hypocritical men.
Lady Snowblood: I recently rewatched Lady Snowblood at my day job, it just happened to be on in the background, and this story about a woman swordsman seeking revenge for the murder of her parents still slays in its use of color, composition, and buckets of blood.
Modern Times - Another random rewatch makes me the bearer of some breaking news: Charlie Chaplin is still hilarious.
Scarface - I had watched Howard Hawks’ gangster classic years ago, but recently rewatched it for a DePaul class. And I just love how gleefully violent it is and how intoxicatingly over-the-top Paul Muni is as Tony (somehow even Al Pacino couldn’t totally match his exuberance).
The Sixth Child - I was quite surprised by how invested I was in Léopold Legrand’s narrative about a frantic woman and her unmoored husband desperate to take advantage of the dire finances of a impoverished family who are expecting a baby they can’t financially support. At points, the psychology in this felt like what Pieces of A Woman wanted.