Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Sweet Hereafter

The Sweet Hereafter is an award-winning 1997 film that tells the story of a school bus accident in a small town that kills 14 children. A class-action lawsuit ensues, proving divisive in the community and becoming tied with personal and family issues. It stars Ian Holm as a lawyer involved in the case. This is a quiet, personal film, dealing with individual lives and how they are affected. I watched it on Freevee.


Spirituality and Practice says, "This film courageously and convincingly circles around the difficult themes of death, public and private loss, and the very human need to take some meaning away from inexplicable tragedy." Variety describes it as "a rich, complex meditation on the impact of a terrible tragedy on a small town". The Roger Ebert web site has a full 4-star review which concludes by saying, "This is one of the best films of the year, an unflinching lament for the human condition." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 98%.

Join me in a hot beverage

over at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Trilogy of Terror

Trilogy of Terror is a 1975 American made-for-television anthology horror film. It features three segments (being a trilogy of terror, after all...), based on unrelated short stories by Richard Matheson and each starring Karen Black. I don't tend to like anthology films, but not liking a thing is no excuse for refusing to watch something this highly recommended. I'm glad I tried it.

via YouTube:

Moria says it is "considered a classic of horror television." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "this movie stands head and shoulders above the norm for broadcast horror." Horror News has a positive review and an extensive plot summary with screenshots. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 92%.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Saturday, February 25, 2023

I Lost My Body

I Lost My Body is a 2019 award-winning animated film. It's not a children's film. I don't know what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised. I watched it on Netflix.


IndieWire calls it "profoundly moving". Rogert Ebert's web site says, "“I Lost My Body,” a surprise winner of the Critics’ Week Grand Prize this year at Cannes (the first animated movie to do so), is a visually sumptuous slice of macabre storytelling..." Rotten Tomatoes has a 97% critics consensus score.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Weekend (1967)

Weekend is a 1967 French postmodern black comedy film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. As I write this, it's available here on Internet Archive. I watched it on HBO Max.


Roger Ebert has a full 4-star review and says,
"Weekend" is about violence, hatred, the end of ideology and the approaching cataclysm that will destroy civilization. It is also about the problem of how to make a movie about this. Movies about The Bomb are almost never effective; the subject is too large. So Godard abandons any attempt to show us "real" war or destruction. Instead, he shows us attitudes: the casual indifference to suffering that saturates our society.
Criterion opens with this: "This scathing late-sixties satire from Jean-Luc Godard is one of cinema’s great anarchic works." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 93%.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

American Splendor

American Splendor is a 2003 American biographical comedy-drama film about Harvey Pekar, the author of the American Splendor comic book series. The film, which is a hybrid production featuring live actors, documentary, and animation, is in part an adaptation of the comics, which dramatize Pekar's life. Paul Giamatti stars. This is not my usual fare, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched it on HBO Max.


The Guardian reviewer explains why it's her favorite film. Roger Ebert gives it a full 4 stars and a glowing review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 94%.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


I'm repeatedly told by people who know music much better than I do that opera is all about the music and can be fully appreciated as music without knowing the language. That may be for some, but for me opera is no different from musical stage plays. Opera is story-dependent as it's performed, and I can no more fully appreciate an opera in a foreign language I don't know than I can fully appreciate a foreign film without subtitles. Go ahead, judge me, but opera was originally performed for audiences who knew the language. My prejudices stated out in the open, I've been looking for videos of Italian operas that offer subtitles and have found this one at YouTube.

Tosca is an opera in three acts by Puccini to an Italian libretto adapted into Italian from a French play, and was first performed in Rome in 1900 to an audience who spoke and understood Italian. (Am I beating a dead horse here?) In this one it's performed by the Finnish National Opera, and I'd bet precious few of the audience members understand Italian, though they may all know the plot well enough to follow what's going on.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Monday, February 20, 2023

Jennifer's Body

Jennifer's Body is a 2009 comedy horror film, considered a cult classic by some. It's better-appreciated now than when it was first released. I watched it on Amazon Prime.





Sunday, February 19, 2023

That Memphis Train

That Memphis Train:

by Grandpa Jones, who died on this date in 1998

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Murdoch Mysteries 42

a screenshot from The Hangman, Season 3 Episode 11:

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Europeans (1979)

The Europeans is a 1979 British Merchant Ivory film based on Henry James's novel with the same name. It stars Lee Remick. It's lovely, what of it I saw, but I didn't stay with it to the end. I'm not sure why... I watched it on Tubi. It's also free on YouTube.


Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 80%.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Negative Emotions by Lydia Davis

image from Wikipedia

Negative Emotions is a 2012 short story by Lydia Davis. If you prefer your stories short, then you're going to love this. You can read it online here. It begins,
A well-meaning teacher, inspired by a text he had been reading, once sent all the other teachers in his school a message about negative emotions. The message consisted entirely of advice quoted from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk:

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Limelight (1952)

Limelight is a 1952 comedy drama film starring Charlie Chaplin, Claire Bloom (who observes her 92nd birthday today), Nigel Bruce, Norman Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. What a beautiful story, a touching movie about what love means. I watched it on HBO Max.


Criterion calls it "masterful drama" and "among the writer-director’s most touching films". Roger Ebert calls it "probably his [Chaplin's] most personal, revealing film". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 97%.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Still life with glass with red wine and a peeled orange

Still life with glass with red wine and a peeled orange:

by Vilhelm Hammershøi, who died on February 13, 1916. There is an in-depth article on his art and influence at this link. There is a 4-minute appreciation here:

Please post something drink-related and join us at Elizabeth's T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, February 13, 2023

February by John Clare

February is a poem by John Clare. You can read it online here. It begins,
The snow has left the cottage top;
The thatch moss grows in brighter green;
And eaves in quick succession drop,
Where grinning icicles have been,
Pit-patting with a pleasant noise
In tubs set by the cottage-door;
While ducks and geese, with happy joys,
Plunge in the yard-pond brimming o'er.

The sun peeps through the window-pane;
Which children mark with laughing eye,
And in the wet street steal again
To tell each other spring is nigh:
Then, as young hope the past recalls,
In playing groups they often draw,
To build beside the sunny walls
Their spring-time huts of sticks or straw.

This is a short biography of Clare:

Sunday, February 12, 2023

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows is a 2014 mockumentary comedy horror film. This is the first installment in the franchise, which continues with a television series. This movie is great fun (96% Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus rating), but I find the TV series even funnier. The Younger Son has the movie on DVD. The series is available on Hulu.

movie trailer:

trailer for season 1 of the TV series:

Saturday, February 11, 2023


Stargate is a 1994 award-winning science fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Kurt Russell and James Spader. Mindless fun, which is often all I need in a film, and it did give rise to several TV series that stretched out for years and years and... I re-watch this every once in a while, and this time I saw it on HBO Max.




Friday, February 10, 2023

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is a 1966 supernatural horror film directed by Terence Fisher and is the third entry in Hammer's Dracula series as well as the second to feature Christopher Lee as Count Dracula. It also stars Barbara Shelley. I don't see this movie streamable anywhere right now. I can't remember how I watched it. This is the kind of thing I'd encourage people to keep an eye out for at their local DVD store, but we don't have local DVD stores any more. I still mourn the loss of those opportunities.


Diabolique Magazine closes with this:
Dracula: Prince of Darkness occupies a special place in Hammer’s history as the sequel that resurrected the Dracula franchise proper, after languishing for eight years. Stylistically it represents the kind of stately and patient storytelling that was Hammer’s hallmark, and which is almost nonexistent in today’s horror cinema. ...if you want to settle in for the evening with a good Gothic horror yarn, Dracula: Prince of Darkness suits well.
DVD Talk calls it "an effective haunted house thriller" TCM has an overview. Moria and 1000 Misspent Hours each has a positive review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 81%.

Thursday, February 09, 2023

The Pale Blue Eye

The Pale Blue Eye is a 2022 mystery thriller. The cast includes Christian Bale, Harry Melling (as Edgar Allan Poe), Gillian Anderson, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Harry Lawtey, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, and Robert Duvall. This is another film that didn't open to universal acclaim but which I liked. Melling, in particular, is an actor I'm appreciating more and more. I watched it on Netflix.


Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Bullet Train (2022)

Bullet Train is a 2022 action comedy film starring Brad Pitt as Ladybug, a former hitman who must battle fellow killers while riding a bullet train. The film features an ensemble supporting cast including Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A. Martínez Ocasio, and Sandra Bullock. Channing Tatum and Ryan Reynolds appear in uncredited cameo roles. This is absolutely hilarious, and I laughed out loud throughout. Definitely re-watchable. I watched it on Netflix.


Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The Menu

The Menu is a 2022 black comedy film. Ralph Fiennes stars as the celebrity chef holding a special event for a small carefully selected clientele. I'm thinking I wasn't the target audience for this movie, as fine dining isn't something I'm familiar with. I've been to expensive, fancy local restaurants maybe once a decade during my adult life, and none of them provide the kind of pretentious experience skewered in this film. I don't generally hold that one must have a personal experience that connects with a film to appreciate or enjoy it, but in this case I think it would've helped. I did find the ending satisfying. I watched it on HBO Max.


The Guardian says, "A bunch of ultra-wealthy foodies get more than they bargained for in this riotous black comedy starring Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy." Roger Ebert's site has a positive review. Rotten Tomatoes has an 88% critics consensus rating.

Here's a screenshot from the trailer:

for the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Please post your own drink and join us.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Appointment with Death (1988)

Appointment with Death is a 1988 adaptation of the 1938 Agatha Christie novel. It stars Peter Ustinov (in his final portrayal of Hercule Poirot), Lauren Bacall, Carrie Fisher, John Gielgud, Piper Laurie, Hayley Mills, Jenny Seagrove, and David Soul. It was not well-reviewed and is not widely available, but I found it on Tubi. Ustinov is not my favorite Poirot, but even so this was a fun movie. Look at that cast!

via DailyMotion:

Sunday, February 05, 2023

The Banshees Of Inisherin

The Banshees Of Inisherin is a 2022 dark tragicomedy film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship. I was predisposed to like this film and looked forward to having it available. After it was over I sat staring at the TV screen wishing I had those two hours back. I'm one of the few, though, because it is widely praised, so you may think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Most people have nothing but good things to say. I watched it on HBO Max.


Rotten Tomatoes has a 97% critics consensus score.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Glass Onion

Glass Onion is a 2022 sequel (of sorts) to Knives Out, but stands alone without watching the original. Not quite as good as the original in my opinion, Glass Onion is still a hilarious film featuring Daniel Craig as the private investigator Benoit Blanc. I'll keep an eye out for more sequels, because I'm now a fan. I watched it on Netflix.


AV Club says, "it’s nothing less than perfect crowd-pleasing counter-programming for folks craving something that isn’t either superhero or horror-related." Roger Ebert's site has a positive review. Vulture likes it better than the original. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 93% and an even higher audience score.

Friday, February 03, 2023

The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers is a 2011 haunted house horror film about ghost hunters who work at a hotel that is in its last week of operation. You can watch it on Peacock, Tubi, or Amazon Prime.


NPR gives it a positive review and describes it as "lovingly executed experiment in genre minimalism". Roger Ebert closes by saying, "Ghost movies like this, depending on imagination and craft, are much more entertaining than movies that scare you by throwing a cat at the camera."

Thursday, February 02, 2023

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush is a 1925 silent comedy film starring Charlie Chaplin. I watched it on HBO Max, but it's also available on Amazon Prime, free on Tubi, free on Plex and via YouTube:

Criterion calls it "an indelible work of heartwarming hilarity" and says,
Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterwork—which charts a prospector’s search for fortune in the Klondike and his discovery of romance (with the beautiful Georgia Hale)—forever cemented the iconic status of Chaplin and his Little Tramp character.
Silent Film says,
The Gold Rush is his greatest and most ambitious silent film; it also was the longest and most expensive comedy film produced up to that time. The film contains many of Chaplin’s most celebrated comedy sequences, including the boiling and eating of his boot, the dance of the rolls, and the teetering cabin. However, the superb quality of The Gold Rush does not rest solely on its comedy sequences but on these scenes being so fully integrated into a character-driven narrative. Chaplin had no reservations about the finished product. Indeed, in the contemporary publicity for the film, he is quoted as saying, “This is the picture that I want to be remembered by.”
Film Site has a lengthy article. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 100%.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968

The Memphis Sanitation Strike began on February 12, 1968, as a response to the deaths on February 1st of 2 sanitation workers. From the King Institute:
On 1 February 1968, two Memphis garbage collectors, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. Eleven days later, frustrated by the city’s response to the latest event in a long pattern of neglect and abuse of its black employees, 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works went on strike. Sanitation workers, led by garbage-collector-turned-union-organizer T. O. Jones, and supported by the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Jerry Wurf, demanded recognition of their union, better safety standards, and a decent wage.

The union, which had been granted a charter by AFSCME in 1964, had attempted a strike in 1966, but failed in large part because workers were unable to arouse the support of Memphis’ religious community or middle class. Conditions for black sanitation workers worsened when Henry Loeb became mayor in January 1968. Loeb refused to take dilapidated trucks out of service or pay overtime when men were forced to work late-night shifts. Sanitation workers earned wages so low that many were on welfare and hundreds relied on food stamps to feed their families.

On 11 February, more than 700 men attended a union meeting and unanimously decided to strike. Within a week, the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People passed a resolution supporting the strike. The strike might have ended on 22 February, when the City Council, pressured by a sit-in of sanitation workers and their supporters, voted to recognize the union and recommended a wage increase. Mayor Loeb rejected the City Council vote, however, insisting that only he had the authority to recognize the union and refused to do so.

The following day, after police used mace and tear gas against nonviolent demonstrators marching to City Hall, Memphis’ black community was galvanized.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Mountaintop speech, the last speech he delivered was given here in Memphis during that strike, and he was assassinated here the next day. You can read the full text of that speech here and listen to him in this video:



It closes with this:

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!