Movie Wrap-Up: January 2020

Blog Updates

Previously known as Let the Credits Roll, this is a semi-monthly feature in which I discuss the movies I’ve seen recently. Because I watched six (well, six and three quarters… I’ll explain later) movies in January, I figured now’s as a time as any to take a look back at them. Most of these movies were new to me, but a couple were rewatches.

I also started a Letterboxd account, if you’re interested in keeping up with my movie viewing habits in real time. In the meantime, let’s recap the movies I watched in January.


101 Dalmatians (1961) [Rewatch]

Dalmatian Pongo is tired of his bachelor-dog life. He spies lovely Perdita and maneuvers his master, Roger, into meeting Perdita’s owner, Anita. The owners fall in love and marry, keeping Pongo and Perdita together too. After Perdita gives birth to a litter of 15 puppies, Anita’s old school friend Cruella De Vil wants to buy them all. Roger declines her offer, so Cruella hires the criminal Badun brothers to steal them— so she can have a fur coat.

It had been literal years since I’d last seen this movie, so it was the first thing I watched on Disney+. It certainly feels like a Disney movie from the ‘60s. There’s not so much a plot as there is events that happen consecutively. It’s also very of its time, in terms of gender roles.

However, the animation is cool and there are some fun world-building elements. I probably won’t watch it again. That said, I did try to watch the live action remake from the late ‘90s and hated it. Roger’s entire character is just him screaming “PONGOOOOO!!!” Also, they tried to make it more realistic by not making the dogs talk, but everything about the story and characters is still so cartoonish that it backfires. I paused the movie with 20 minutes left to go get a snack, and then came back and turned it off because I didn’t care anymore.


A Goofy Movie (Rewatch)

Though Goofy always means well, his amiable cluelessness and klutzy pratfalls regularly embarrass his awkward adolescent son, Max. When Max’s lighthearted prank on his high-school principal finally gets his longtime crush, Roxanne, to notice him, he asks her on a date. Max’s trouble at school convinces Goofy that he and the boy need to bond over a cross-country fishing trip like the one he took with his dad when he was Max’s age, which throws a kink in his son’s plans to impress Roxanne.

Fun fact: this was the first movie I ever saw in theaters. I had to have been two or three. It’s a movie I’ve seen many times over the years and I enjoy it every time. I just really love watching Goofy and Max rebuild their relationship. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, give it another watch. It’s really fun.


Little Women (2019)

In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore, a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg, is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together.

When I was a kid, all the girls in my class were obsessed with the Portraits of Little Women series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The stories were based on Louisa May Alcott’s original novel, which I also read an abridged version of. So I was very excited to see this movie. And it did not disappoint.

Greta Gerwig did a fantastic job directing. I was blown away by Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh’s performances as Jo and Amy March, respectively. Little Women (2019) feels like a warm hug, while also reaffirming sisterhood and womanhood. This movie made me so happy, even when it made me sad. Also, Jo is a lesbian.


Knives Out

When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey dies just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc arrives at his estate to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Thrombey’s untimely demise.

Yes, this movie is as good as they say. I’m not usually into mysteries, but I am into dysfunctional families. I really liked the stylized vibe of this movie. It’s vibrant and the characters are filled with so much personality. I hope the rumors are true that it’s getting a sequel, though I want a new cast of characters.


Portrait of a Lady on Fire

France, 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse’s portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love.

The day I found out this movie is about two women in love, I went home and watched it. It’s two hours of two French ladies falling in love and having sex. Yes, you have to read subtitles to follow it (unless you speak French), but it’s so worth it.

Also, Héloïse eventually hires Marianne as her family painter and they carry on a secret affair. Then Héloïse’s husband dies, and she and Marianne can be together for real. And Sophie is also there because she is their friend. The entire country of France told me themselves.


Midsommar

A couple travel to Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its fabled midsummer festival, but what begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Perhaps I’m too stupid to fully appreciate the horror movies film enthusiasts seem to love because they always have me asking WTF. I enjoyed this movie and appreciated Dani’s arc, but the ending was so weird. I still don’t totally know how I feel about this movie, but for the record Dani did nothing wrong.


Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think? What movies have you seen lately? Do you have any recommendations? Tell me all that and more in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Movie Wrap-Up: January 2020

  1. Knives Out was just brilliant, I found myself really pleasantly surprised by how clever but also how entertaining it was. I think it was an excellent movie example of how to do foreshadowing properly.

    Midsommar was definitely bizarre and I wasn’t too sure what to make of it really yet it was still really compelling. I think most of that was down to Florence Pugh who is just so awesome to be honest.

    Like

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