Random Movies: Best to Worst

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade understands some things about YouTube and about the middle school politics of popularity. Basically, it’s about an eighth grader who’s unpopular and insecure, but makes a bunch of videos telling people how to be confident. From hearing it described, I thought it was going to be traumatizing to watch, but it’s actually very uplifting.

The main character has maybe the most dignity I’ve ever seen afforded to an unpopular kid on film, but there’s also this deep, wise, bittersweet understanding in the narrative that sometimes the way people treat you has nothing to do with your character, and that you probably can’t change their minds, and that you don’t actually need to in order to have worth.

It’s like a hug for anyone who’s ever felt rejected and overlooked, without a lecture about how you should fix it by getting more friends.

L’Attesa

The premise of this movie is that a young woman goes to Italy to visit her boyfriend at his family home, but he’s not there when she arrives, and she ends up hanging out with his mom while they wait for him to come back. The weird part is that, for most of the movie, it’s unclear whether he’s actually coming back, or if he died, or if something else happened that his mom isn’t telling her about.

It’s really hard to explain why I liked it so much without giving away the ending, but it’s a very complicated, unusual, low-key story about human emotions and relationships, and it seems like people either love it or hate it, but I loved it. The opening credit sequence is also one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The Hate U Give

This is, of course, the famous movie, based on the famous YA book, about a black teenage girl whose life gets turned upside down when her friend is killed by the police. I cried in all the places I was supposed to cry, but I have some issues with the ending.

The biggest thing is that, just after the movie’s climax, where racial tension builds toward a protest march that ends in violent confrontation with the police, we’re dumped into a coda where we’re told that everything’s okay, even though none of the issues the characters were protesting have been addressed. The only issue that does get addressed is the issue of the black drug dealer who was menacing the protagonist’s family – and that’s the one issue that doesn’t challenge the status quo.

Spiderman: Homecoming

I literally didn’t watch the end of this because my internet cut out during a storm and then I didn’t care enough to turn it back on. I acknowledge that it’s probably a good example of a superhero movie, even though I don’t like superhero movies all that much.

Tully

What I liked about this movie is that it’s unusually frank in depicting how having kids can just pulverize women, and how the cumulative stress of doing it over and over again could make things worse instead of better. I knew there was a twist going in, which meant I guessed the twist early but, I think, even knowing what the twist is, the main thesis still holds up.

A Star is Born (2018)

I like Lady Gaga and I like the one part of that song where she screams, but I really didn’t like the Bradley Cooper character. Her made his girlfriend’s entire career all about him, and then Bradley Cooper made the movie all about him, too.

Incredibles 2

I mostly don’t remember this, except that Edna Mode was really funny, and the resignation with which Mr. Incredible tried to bribe his demon baby to come back from an alternate dimension was funny.

Lizzie

This is a retelling of the Lizzie Borden story where Lizzie and her maid conspire together to kill her dad and stepmom with an axe. Things take a surprisingly graphic turn during the axe attack, and I wish I had closed my eyes. That said, this movie understands some things about being trapped with abusive men and, while it’s heavy-handed at times, there are scenes where it really captures a helpless sense of horror that could drive someone to murder.

Anna and the Apocalypse

Okay, so this is a musical about a group of British high school kids getting attacked by zombies at Christmas. I wish the music were better, and I wish the story could settle on a consistent tone, but I love that it exists.

10 Things I Hate About You

Midway through this, when Julia Stiles danced on a table for no reason, I remembered that she was in a dance movie around the same time. She’s a good dancer. This movie hasn’t aged well, though, and the poem at the end is fucking terrible.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

This is based on a true story about a woman who forged historical documents to make money. Melissa McCarthy is very good in it. Her gay best friend is mildly upsetting in it. I’m the wrong audience for true crime movies, or biographical movies, and, at a certain point, I need to take responsibility for that and stop watching them.

The issue that I have with this movie, specifically, is that it’s trying really hard to be sympathetic to someone who’s essentially a con artist and a fraud and not much else, at least that we’re shown. She gives a speech at one point about how she started forging stuff because she was afraid to be vulnerable in her writing and… bullshit. That’s bullshit. That speech is also a con. And the movie doesn’t seem to know that, and seems really happy for her that her biography, in which she told the story of the crimes she committed, was popular.

Velvet Buzzsaw

This was trending on Letterboxd when it came out, and for some reason I took that as a sign to watch it. Maybe I was trying to fit in. Maybe I wanted to be popular. I don’t know. But I can’t even faithfully tell you what happened in this movie except that I guess there was a haunted painting. It’s in a special category of film that’s actually so boring it gives me a headache.

Image: Eighth Grade; A24 | February 23, 2019