Well, we are midway through May. And that’s marked two months of relative shut down and working from home.
Just recently, all of the counties around and including mine were downgraded (upgraded?) to yellow. Considering what the daily death toll to COVID-19 related illness is, I fail to see how that can be, but what do I know? Maybe the governor personally went out and Lysol Wipe’d every surface in the state. Good for him!
In addition to the fact that there is little available to go out and do, the weather this spring has been abhorrent. It’s rarely gotten out of the very low 50’s so far this year, and when it has, it’s rained. I can’t ever get out and go walking or jogging. Combine this with having just moved and my treadmill still being disassembled in the garage? I am living the life of a bear prepping for hibernation.
But hey… I don’t need good weather or open stores to sit on my ass, eat fun-sized candy bars from Dollar General in the evenings, and watch movies. Previously, I covered the movies I powered through for the first month of sheltering in place. And you can bet your butt I’ve been keeping track of everything since then, too.
With the first month, I was mostly catching up on flicks from the 2010’s that I missed out on and wanted to hit. This past month has been an odd assortment of classics I’d never seen before, F-tier cinema from online watch parties, and a weird Quentin Tarantino stretch where I kept watching his movies by accident (among others).
Let’s see where April and May have taken me…
PULP FICTION – April 24th – 3.5 stars – I legitimately had not seen Pulp Fiction since it was IN THEATERS. Which I means I was either 13 or 14 when I last saw it. This is part of a weird wormhole I fell into where I kept accidentally watching Tarantino movies when I didn’t actually intend to. It is… good, but not great. The problem is that this movie has a HUGE discrepancy between its highs (fantastic and engrossing) and its lows (unnecessary and boring). Literally everything that happens from the time Christopher Walken appears until the moment where Marcellus Wallace walks in front of Bruce Willis at the crosswalk is legitimately tedious and had me considering turning the movie off. And Tarantino’s scene as Jimmy has aged as poorly as literally anything ever. Most of the rest was a hit. I enjoyed much more than I didn’t.
BE KIND REWIND – May 1st – 3 stars – In 2008, I saw 26 different movies in theaters, and this was one. Hadn’t seen it since, though. It is both sweet and funny, but not really too much of either. It’s got a lot of heart, though, and I’d always recommend it to someone that hasn’t seen it before.
YOU’RE NEXT – May 4th – 3 stars – You’re Next felt a lot smarter and more well done when it came out, but nine years later, it already feels like other flicks have one-upped it. See: Ready Or Not, which is a substantial upgrade. It’s still a good movie, but it’s more of just a really well-done home invasion flick than a smart new look at the genre.
TIMECOP – May 4th – 1.5 stars – The last time I saw Timecop was in a hotel in Toronto while my parents were off seeing Phantom of the Opera. I’m not sure why they even took me on that trip, but at least we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Anyway, WOW does this movie look cheap, even though it had a not-unsubstantial $27m budget. Even the movie pokes fun at how cheap the Timecop precinct is when the chief is bragging about how they spared all expense. So many of the fights take place in amazing settings like… an apartment! A dark and steamy factory! A yard! Was the money all spent on Van Damme’s hair and cocaine?
LOST IN TRANSLATION – May 11th – 5 stars – I rewatched this for a then-upcoming recording of Pint O’ Comics‘ Pint Movie Invitational series. I had been pushing for John to invite me on for a while, and I kind of always knew I was going to pick Lost in Translation. To me, this movie is perfect. I love it as much now as I did when I first saw it.
THE NEW EXPERIENCES
THE HUNT – April 18th – 3.5 stars – Thousands of movies available for free, and my wife makes us pay $20 to rent one. It was probably trying to be a little smarter than it actually was–which is usually a huge turn-off for me in fiction–but it got quite a few laughs from me and had some amazing fight scenes, especially the climactic one. It did a solid job as a low-rent South Park, taking the piss out of both the far left and far right. But, like I said: not quite as smart as it wanted to be.
RESERVOIR DOGS – April 23rd – 2.5 stars – Upon seeing this was only about 100 minutes long, I gave this a watch, having SWORN I had seen it before. I may have, but if I did, I paid no attention and retained nothing, so this was basically a first viewing for me. I found the acclaimed Tarantino dialogue in the diner to start to be pointless and cliched, but by the 20 minute mark, things started clicking. Mark Madsden didn’t quite work for me, but everyone else was great in their roles.
LADY TERMINATOR – April 25th – 0.5 stars – I watched this as part of an online watch party on Facebook with Connecticut Cult Classics. It’s real bad, but fun in its absurdity. It’s a cheap foreign rehashing of Terminator starring a female lead and some weird mystic artifacts. Don’t go out of your way.
JACKIE BROWN – April 27th – 1 star – After finding Reservoir Dogs to be fine and Pulp Fiction to be quite enjoyable, I sat down for Jackie Brown and hahaha NOPE. This was terrible. I turned it off after 110 minutes because it was so boring and I kept waiting for something to happen It really seemed as though Tarantino fell all over himself being self-indulgent on this one. This movie had no business being even two hours long, let alone over two-and-a-half. There were countless scenes that could have been cut entirely. It couldn’t keep my attention, and I could tell I was not going to care or be able to figure out all the double and triple crosses it was clearly building towards. If you dig it, good on you, but this was very much not for me.
FINAL GIRLS – April 27th – 4 stars – A slasher parody horror-comedy that had genuine bits of almost Pixar-level heart and emotion? I’ll be damned. Sending up the horror genre isn’t anything new, but I’m a sucker for any such movie that is even partially good. For the first two acts, this was a good enough 3-star flick, but the third act was borderline perfection. Call it a 4.25 overall because neither 4.0 nor 4.5 feel exactly right.
GROUNDHOG DAY – April 28th – 5 stars – I know, I know. How has someone not seen Groundhog Day before?! But I somehow just never stumbled my way into it. My loss, because this movie was genius on every level. The first 5 star flick of Coronathron. If I wanted to nitpick, I’d say the ending wasn’t as good as everything before it, but who cares? This was everything it’s cracked up to be and more. Glad I got to experience it for the first time.
ZOMBIELAND 2: DOUBLE TAP – April 29th – 2.5 stars – The decade-later follow up to Zombieland is true sequelitis in that it just retells the same story as its predecessor and doesn’t really do anything to justify its existence. It’s a weaker Zombieland. It’s short enough and has moments that will get a chuckle, but all in all, it never feels like it needed to be made.
PREDATOR – May 5th – 3.5 stars – The OG 1987 Predator, like Reservoir Dogs, a movie I swear I’d seen before, but if I did, I was way too young to remember any of besides the memes that have infiltrated my consciousness. Would be 4 stars if not for the extremely disconcerting Predator laugh at the end, which felt really hokey to me. It’s a weird thing to drop a rating for! You can basically say I consider this a 4.0 if you’d like. It is a great, stand-out action flick that mostly holds up.
FROM DUSK TIL DAWN – May 6th – 3.5 stars – This was SO HARD to grade. I could have called this anything from a 3.0 to a 4.5 and been happy with it. It’s a movie that revels in its own absurdity and how it spends AN HOUR tricking you into thinking it’s not the movie it is. I had so much fun with it, even if parts of it are legitimately not well made (but… perhaps on purpose?).
[BRAM STOKER’S] DRACULA (1992) – May 8th – 2 stars – I’ve never described a movie as “horny” before, but this movie was very horny. Also, it spontaneously turns into a Western at the end? It’s a strange piece of cinema.
TRICK OR TREAT – May 9th – 1 star – This was an 80’s Satanic Panic movie that was only tangentially related to the holiday of Halloween. It’s about a kid who plays some heavy metal albums backwards and summons the vengeful spirit of a recently-deceased rock star who… has electric powers? And on one occasion can turn into orgasmic green death mist? It’s properly bad, but at least it felt like it was trying.
IN BRUGES – May 10th – 3 stars – In Bruges became the first movie that I watched in this stretch that made me think I need to watch it again someday and my review could change dramatically. It’s an odd combination of so many genres, and I was really not expecting it to be what it was. The performances were very good, though, and the third act really saved it for me. I might like it a lot more on a rewatch, like I said.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) – May 14th – 1.5 stars – I didn’t think this movie would realistically be as bad as I’d heard. After all, the first Transformers was perfectly fine. But then it was all fart jokes and a big dumb Shredder and nothing of note besides Will Arnett trying his best. It could be a good enough kids’ movie, I guess, but I didn’t love it.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS – May 15th – 4 stars – I figured before the month was up, I would go back to the Tarantino well one last time with this World War II flick. It ended up being a good choice, because Basterds felt like the best of his projects to me. Less self-indulgent and time-wasting, and it had moments of solid tension. Most everything that happened was purposeful. The end felt a bit busy to me, but overall, this was a very well dome piece.
Who knows? It’s been two months. Will I really have a third work-from-home month where I am staying up later and can watch more movies? Will more businesses open so that I can go out on the weekends and do things (he says, as if his wife’s anxiety won’t keep them indoors for several weeks longer than necessary)?
I seemed to note last time that I was going to watch the Mission: Impossible movies next, but that clearly didn’t happen. Whatever I intend to watch, I most assuredly will not.
But we shall see what’s ahead! Will we meet again mid-June? Perhaps!
In the meantime, how have you been adjusting? How is sheltering in place where you are? Have you been amusing yourself? Did your area open back up to any degree? What’s your experience been like?
Let me know in the comments, and let me know which of this month’s selections are your most and least favorite!
This article is my meandering on about the time I’ve wasted, but it’s all to get to this point: I’m concerned about you, all of you. So share with me your thoughts on the pandemic. How is your mental and physical health in these times? Hopefully some conversation will be good for all of us.
Until next time… continue taking care!