A lot of good films, or at least interesting ones, pop up at the end of the year. In this selection of Movies I’ve Recently Seen, there’s only one vintage movie, along with five new pictures. Unfortunately, I’ve seen only one in a theater; there are fewer and fewer cinemas where I live.
A Wildcat (2022) theaters; streaming
This documentary may be the best new film I saw last year. Harry Turner, a young, British war veteran suffering from PTSD, goes to Peru, hoping to find redemption in a rehabilitation center for animals. Harry’s boss, Samantha Zwicker, gives him the job to take an orphaned ocelot and raise him so he can live in the jungle without human help. This picture is more than cuddly kittens. The people in the film have their own and often extreme emotional problems. The narration never says so, but by their body language, it becomes obvious that Harry and Samantha became lovers. I’m very sorry that I saw this doc at home. This one belongs on the big screen.
A KIMI (2022)
Steven Soderbergh brings us a thriller for the COVID age. Zoë Kravitz plays a tech worker who’s too frightened to leave her apartment. But when she discovers a recording of what seems to be a murder that the company doesn’t want people to see, she finds herself in an extremely dangerous situation. She doesn’t know who will help her and who is trying to kill her. What’s KIMI? It’s a device similar to Siri, that’s part of the story.
B+ Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)
Knives Out was a big and enjoyable hit in 2019. So, writer/director Rian Johnson made a sequel, and it’s almost as good as the original – and, of course, done on a much bigger budget. The only character from the first movie is Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc – still with that awful accent. And again, just as in the original, most of the characters are rich, with one nice, young woman who really needs economic help. Edward Norton plays the owner of a huge, high-tech house on an island that’s hard to get off. The cast includes Kate Hudson and Hugh Grant. And, of course, there’s a murder.
B Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)
Ernst Lubitsch proved that he could make a sexy romantic comedy at the height of the extremely prudish Production Code. Gary Cooper plays the owner of a major bank who falls for Claudette Colbert (an easy thing for a man to do). But at their wedding, it comes out that he has been married and divorced over and over again. Edward Everett Horton plays the father of the bride, which is surprising because he usually played characters who have no concept of human reproduction. Silly, funny, and very much with the Lubitsch touch.
B Babylon (2022)
This epic about the end of silent movies and the birth of talkies is often sprawling, overdone, joyful, and very big. At times it’s extremely excessive. Other times it’s right on the nose. Brad Pitt plays a movie star who loses his audience with the coming of sound. Don’t take it as history – it’s more like exaggeration. The best scene, and the most accurate, has Margot Robbie as a hot-headed actress struggling through her first scene in a talkie. It’s funnier and more accurate than the similar scene in Singin’ in the Rain. Another story based on reality: A Black musician must wear blackface because he’s lighter than the other members of his band.
I saw Babylon on the big screen at the Albany Twin. I wish I could say the same for all of the films in this post.
C+ This Place Rules (2022)
This documentary about far-right Trump lovers and the ex-president’s big lie could raise your blood pressure. Basically, writer/director Andrew Callaghan interviewed people who drank Trump’s Kool-Aid. Many of them want a violent revolution. Over and over men, women, and even their young children talk about the coming civil war against the “evil libs.” It’s frightening, uncomfortable, and repetitive.