I make this list every year, for fun and as a reference. It only reflects things seen for the first time; “POLTERGEIST was on again” doesn’t make the list. There are plenty of 2019 releases I haven’t gotten to yet. Of the films I did see, here are some noteables:
THE LIGHTHOUSE brought the crazy. Dafoe, Pattinson and director David Eggers deliver absolutely everything one could ask for in a two-guys-go-nuts-in-a-lighthouse movie. Shot on vintage cameras in black-and-white in 1.55 AR Claustro-vision.
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD was my favorite Tarantino in a long time. 2018’s THE FAVOURITE was another, uh… favorite. Ditto for THE FAREWELL. Awkwafina, so good. Lulu Wang, so good. Most of PARASITE is watching grifters build a Jenga tower of lies and wondering when and how it’s gonna fall, and that = a good time at the movies! Meanwhile, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER was an imperfect end to an imperfect saga. I cried anyway.
What’s on TV? Well, I finally saw KLUTE. TCM, thank you. Jane Fonda, holy shit. They don’t make movies like this anymore; do they? Watching films from the 70s you realize how sanitized and smug most mainstream movies are now. We’re backsliding.
Also caught FIRST REFORMED on video. Paul Schrader’s still got the goods, and brings ’em. AT ETERNITY’S GATE features Willem Dafoe again, this time as Van Gogh. Heartbreaking and beautiful. In its own way, so was RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET… and it feels like this one kinda got overlooked. It’s endlessly clever, has great visuals, and an emotionally affecting core all about friendships and how they can change.
Marvel recently announced they will do a superhero movie centered on a gay character. But, they already have CAPTAIN MARVEL! I mean, come on…
If you like docs, TICKLED dives into the weird world of “competitive endurance tickling.” You’ll want to shower after. Also finally caught up with Berlinger and Sinofsky‘s 1992 doc BROTHER’S KEEPER – riveting. Highly recommended.
On the series side of things, I liked HBO’s “Dead to Me.” Great performances, and the first episode delivered not one but two A+ OMG moments. Held up throughout the season, too. Season 3 of “The Crown” introduced an entirely new cast without a hiccup. If I ever write anything as perfect and delightful as the last two scenes of episode 5 (“Coup”) I can hang up my mouse and die happy.
Adult Swim’s “Primal” was an amazing, totally dialogue-free animated series about a caveman and his dinosaur. The season (series?) finale may be the goriest thing I’ve ever seen on TV. “Undone” (Amazon) was another fine adult animated show. Come for the mind-bending premise and trippy visuals, stay for the writing and performances.
MOVIES ON THE BIG SCREEN
Mary Poppins Returns
Welcome to Marwen
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
The Kid Who Would Be King – Every boy in this movie has chapped lips. England’s cold.
Ralph Breaks The Internet
High Life – Infuriating “art movie.” Somebody explain to me why this wasn’t terrible.
Toy Story 4
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
Terminator: Dark Fate
Knives Out – My mom would have loved this movie. I loved it too.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
MOVIES ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Avengers: Infinity War
Ant-Man and The Wasp
The First Monday In May
At Eternity’s Gate
The Peanuts Movie
Victoria & Abdul
Lean On Pete
Where The Boys Are (1960)
Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
The Invitation (2015)
Clouds Of Sils Marias
The General (1926)
Brother’s Keeper (1992)
The Men Who Stare At Goats
Wendy And Lucy
Late Night – Needed a rewrite
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
I Lost My Body
Marriage Story – Alan Alda, MVP
Rocketman – Bohemian Rhapsody ain’t brilliant, but still better than this mopey pity party
Empire of Dreams
What We Do In The Shadows
Game of Thrones
Dead To Me
The Great British Baking Show
The Good Place
Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal
Bless This Mess
A Year In Space
Mike Birbiglia: The New One – Delivered to me my single biggest belly laugh of 2019
Rick and Morty
Dear President Obama,
The CIA has determined that Russia has interfered in our election, most likely in order to tilt the results in favor of Donald Trump. Trump’s own words and actions suggest that he is allied or beholden in some way to Vladimir Putin. If this is true, a Trump administration would pose an unprecedented threat to US security and to political stability around the world.
I believe I speak for friends, family and fellow Americans when I say many of us are truly frightened by these developments. I’ve been a slate Democrat voter my entire life. Watching this crisis unfold, I feel frustration and dismay at the inaction of my party in the face of this threat.
Now there is little time left to act, and none at all for timidity. The electors cast their votes in five days. A temporary stay of this vote would allow time for a complete investigation of Donald Trump’s numerous conflicts of interest. Democrats in Washington need to step up. Please lead them. Don’t fade away during these final days of your presidency. To hell with the peaceful transition of power. DEFEND US.
A concerned American
I know you think I’m a monster. I know things could never work between us. But we’ll always have Tokyo. Except the parts I burned and stepped on.
Subject: Hi, I’m a film maker and it would be great if I could interview you for my course?
Hi, I’m an aspiring film maker doing a course in Exeter college in England and I am making a short movie, for the course and we had to pick someone to research and I picked you because you make movies in the same style that I want to and it would be great if I could ask you a couple of questions?
guess that’s it? anyway, thanks for the help?
. . .
I’m very pleased my film inspired you to write to me.
1: What inspired you to make movies?
I’ve always had a vivid imagination and was drawing out adventure stories (with flying robots) pretty much as soon as I could hold a crayon. I made my first film in grade school for an extra-credit project. The teacher & class reacted so positively I was pretty much hooked. Also, it turned out film-making was a way to be the center of attention while simultaneously hiding in the back of a dark room, so it suited my personality to a tee.
2: Why do you make your style of film?
I’ve never been asked that question. “I gotta be me,” I suppose. Style or aesthetic, to me, comes out of what seems the right thing to do to execute the scene or idea I’m working with. It’s my personal solution & choices as to what stories to tell, and how to tell them. That equals my style, right? Then there’s the questions of influences. As I mentioned, I’m a visual artist first – I work as graphic designer and illustrator, too – and everything I see is an influence. Films of course, and TV, but also illustration and fine art, literature… everything, really. Life. It’s a lot of work making a film. My last one took me two years. So I have to love the idea – a lot – to commit to making it. It has to have a strong underlying idea, a good script, and also has to excite me on a visual level – it has to play like a film in my mind, so vividly that it demands to be made.
3: Do you have a mentor that got you into film?
No, though at times I’ve wished I had a mentor, for artistic and career reasons. But I just got a camera and started doing it. That’s the best way to learn.
Good luck with your film,
PS: offering one piece of writing advice for you, Joel, unsolicited: it’s OK to use question marks at the end of actual questions. For statements, regular old periods are a great choice as well. 😉
November 8, 2015 — In its first week online as a free streaming video, the short film ‘NEW,’ by Santa Rosa filmmaker John Harden, has been watched by over one-thousand people.
“We’re having a great first week online,” Harden recently posted.
That’s an understatement. In a social media landscape where videos are often posted to a dozen or so views in their first month, the high-trending 1000+ viewership of ‘NEW’ is nothing to sneeze at, and lends fuel to Harden’s dream of turning the short film into a feature-length version. The script, already written, just needs the support of investors excited by the award-winning filmmaker’s vision.
‘NEW,’ filmed in Sonoma two years ago, and garnering intensely positive responses at a number of world-wide film festivals, tells the story of an elderly couple who die in the early 21st century, and after two centuries of cryogenic refrigeration, are revived in new twenty-something versions of their…
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It’s been pretty busy here at NEW HQ as we prepare to make our film. Plans are in place to begin shooting in just over one month, and before then there’s plenty to do!
Our #1 priorities have been finding the perfect cast and finding the perfect filming locations. We’ve been having some success with the former (though I can’t announce any names quite yet) but we’re reaching out to you all for suggestions on the latter.
We’re looking for an ultra-modern designer home – to represent the futuristic environment our main characters find themselves living in. It needs to be in the San Francisco Bay Area (preferably in the north bay) and the owners would have to agree to a small film crew working in their home for about three days. We can pay the owners a stipend for the inconvenience and offer them screen credit and other perks as well.
The pictures here are of a home in Sonoma that would have been perfect but is unfortunately unavailable. But this is the kind of look we’re looking for: austere, ultra modern, but preferably situated in nature (trees). A very modern apartment might solve many of our problems too.
If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them! Please contact us.
More updates coming soon!
for Sheila, Don, Skot, and the whole NEW team