Movies of the Week #51 #52 (2020)

The End of the Tour (2015): This movie set me on a four-year adventure of reading Infinite Jest, which I finally finished last week. So, naturally, I immediately re-watched James Ponsoldt’s adaptation of David Lipskey’s book on meeting and interviewing David Foster Wallace. It was a good watch the first time around and remained as such at the second, more informed viewing. Jason Segel (Wallace) and Jesse Eisenberg (Lipskey) make for a captivating couple looking for a sense of success and balancing that to achieve fulfillment. It’s a wordy movie, but a good kind of wordy, grasping for bigger things and occasionally reaching them. Also, unlike the novel, The End of the Tour is easy to make sense of, which is not to say that Infinite Jest isn’t rewarding in a different kind of way. A we’ve-struggled-and-lived-to-tell-the-tale kind. 8/10

Shithouse (2020): A movie made for my sensibilities, that might even have inspired me had I seen it fifteen years ago. Starring, written and directed by Cooper Raiff, it tells the story of awkward 19-year-old Alex, who’s having a hard time adapting at University – making new friends, connecting with people, loosening his family’s emotional bond. He meets Maggie, who is pretty much the opposite, yet in an alcohol-fueled night they actually make a connection – which seemingly vanishes once sobriety kicks in. Alex’s frustration felt very relatable, as I assume Maggie’s life-coping-mechanisms would be to other people. In spite of the odd brash storytelling moment, particularly in its ending, Shithouse has a lot of heart about the anxieties people – kids, actually – face when thrown out into the world. Endearing stuff. 8/10

Soul (2020): Pixar’s latest is another strong entry in its pantheon of animation excellency. Sure, nothing will ever replace Finding Nemo in my heart, but that’s a given. This movie should speak a lot to the forlorn teens and 20somethings looking for that very special purpose that’s being peddled as the key to enjoying life, only to create a breeding ground for frustration and spiritual desolation. Beautifully animated, richly layered, amusing and insightful in equal measure, Soul is a strong antidote, full of life and hope, a good placeholder to get you through until you’re up in line for a vaccine. 8/10

Sylvie (2020): A perfectly romantic story about music, matches and compromises set in the 1960s, Sylvie’s Love is warm, fuzzy…and frustrating. Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha are excellent leads, with good chemistry, making it easy to invest in their story and their struggle. Sharp and direct when it needs to be, soft and tender at its best, what brings Sylvie down is the forced narrative particularly in the second part of the movie, where hail Mary’s start happening to move the plot along for a quick and convenient ending. Still, a mostly beautiful experience. 7/10

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991): Long awaiting its turn on the watchlist, this adaptation of Fannie Flag’s novel is both ahead of its time and exactly a product of its time. It tells the story of Idgie and Ruth, two women trying to find themselves and establish their independence in the 30s, a story that inspires present-day Evelyn to take charge of her own life. While this eminently fem-power message is delivered with conviction, the racial tensions are treated with kid gloves, making for a debatable takeway. Thankfully, in spite of some cheesy dramatics, these tomatoes are fried enough to be eaten (hah!). 7/10