film reviews

flounderboxd. "this generation's roger ebert"

I don't usually edit these or think about the statements after I write them. Consider them more reactions at a moment in time than reflections of myself and relationship with a film



watched the first 25 minutes of this with emilye before falling asleep. watched the rest of it again. ended up having to pay 6 dollars to rent it twice. enjoyed it a lot

drinking buddies

edit: wrote this while drinking (apropos). may be a little excessive

zoe recommended i watch this. i told her i would yesterday but did today instead. it came out 10 years ago. i have watched all of easy and hannah takes the stairs and nothing else by joe swanberg. this is definitely my favorite thing i have seen by him. easy was extremely hit and miss. when something misses so hard sometimes where you question whether the hits were actually hits. my favorite part of easy was recognizing the chicago locations and seeing filming notices everywhere. as if I was in LA. people in chicago love talking about things that are filmed in chicago. I have never heard anyone say that about something currently being filmed in san francisco, except for the most recent matrix movie. i noticed that an early scene was in the empty bottle, then they referred to the empty bottle by name.

this was a truly excellent movie. script: excellent. editing: excellent. costuming was also excellent (I owned several items of clothing worn in this film. people in chicago really do often wear hats) there was one scene where something vague and ambiguous happens and there is a silent cut to anna kendrick's face alone and i was like how long are they going to hold this cut and they held it a really really long time. excellent. there was another part where jake johnson's character says something a little odd and olivia wilde's character does an extremely small eyebrow squint. played this scene several times because of how subtle it was. excellent.

sometimes I experience some art where I feel like I "get" every single thing the creator is putting down, like I fully comprehend and appreciate their project, and it makes me want to make things, like if it is possible for someone to make something that I understand so deeply, it makes me inspired to do that kind of art, because I can see how there is a way of communicating something that someone else could get in that same way. I think when you make things, you have to suffer and have faith that someone will get it.

it is clear that joe swanberg is hugely inspired by andrew bujalski and 'funny haha' in particular, but a little bit cleaner and neater. I do like andrew bujalski more, but he's definitely more out there. (spoilers after this point) if this was an andrew bujalski film, I would feel like the subtext would never be stated, the things "boiling underneath" would come out only in much subtler or smaller ways. I was a bit surprised that the unsaid things ended up being said, that tension did come to a boil. this gave it a bit more of a narrative than e.g. an andrew bujalski film. which I think I liked, it had a stronger emotional weight. I was shocked by the violence, which again felt very 'funny haha' -- take a very calm, low stakes movie and then shock the audience with a bit of violence.

I think there are two kinds of artists, one who can make something truly groundbreaking and new, and another who can take that sort of thing and like explore the potential created by it. I'm reminded of how lena dunham said she would watch 'funny haha' scene by scene and think about how she could recreate it.

this film has a 49% audience score on rotten tomatoes and lost $700,000, which seems completely insane to me.

also appropriate for chicago: they drink a lot, honestly, an unhealthy amount.

reading on wikipedia that the cast actually drank. lars von trier would be proud.

richard brody is often way off base but this was a wonderful review


glass onion

Fun mystery movie. Watched with my parents. Oh it’s fight club I recognized the billionaire guy from

mutual appreciation

watched this with xoxo. felt inspired to return to 'mumblecore' after watching the squid and the whale. it was very good, but I dont think it's as good as 'funny haha' (andrew bujalski's first film). When I watched computer chess in college, it made me want to be a filmmaker, but on rewatch it was kind of dry. I explained to xoxo that, when I was in college, I thought that what made art good was its ability to accurately depict life, and the more accurate it was, the better it was. In this film, you have scenes of intimacy that are portrayed in ways that I have never seen in film. There are so many little, subtle moments that really blow me away. I pointed out to xoxo a moment where this character was sitting talking to a girl and arched forward very strongly ('bad' posture) and I said, have you ever seen anyone sit like that in a film before. The scene with the music show was incredible, it captured live music in a way I've never scene on screen. This is the theme of the movie, he takes the 'cutting room floor' of life and just makes a whole film out of it, where little interactions and awkward, strange, real, incomprehensible.

"I dont know why I'm letting you put eyeshadow on me"

"Because I'm making you beautiful"

"Am I? Making you beautiful" (cross talk) "I am"

"Am I be-beautiful" (cross talk) "I am, are you?"

"They say david bowie, I say" (cross talk) "potato?"

(barely audible from a distance) "I thought you were an irate driver"

I have a lot of favorite moments from this. It's hard to pick. When he looks at the books in the girls' apartment. When he is looking at the empty wine bottle in a lull in conversation. The scene where he makes out with the radio girl and it's an unglamorous shot of them on the bed. but really I can just say, watch this incredible film

the squid and the whale

I enjoyed this movie. I liked that it is in Park slope, where I'm staying now. I recognized the chinese restaraunt in the film, on 7th, I think. It was extremely weird in some places. I imagined how growing up in new york must be very different than growing up like I did, in the suburbs of portland, and the suburbs of st louis. I thought about my childhood, which I don't think about very much. I don't think my childhood was this interesting. I was a pretty reserved child. I didn't really date in high school, and while I had friends, I kept a distance from a lot of them. I spent a lot of time online. I was an only child. I think it would be hard to put my childhood into film in the same way. I have never seen anything really that captured my childhood that way. The closest is this article:

I'm going to think about this a lot. Rare vulnerability hours on alex's film reviews.

I think I wish Noah Baumbach was as stylistically bold. I think he is very good at what he does, but not as original or interesting as someone like andrew bukalski. I liked frances ha a lot, which I think is maybe a little bolder. But this was still very good. I'll probably watch more noah baumbach films. The main reason I saw this is bc xavi recommended I watch funny pages, which was directed by the kid in this movie.

bodies bodies bodies

I love rachel sennott. This was very funny and well written and well shot. To some degree I wonder what the "point" was, like it didn't resonate more deeply than the surface-level plot? Watched this in a theater with xoxo and someone stormed out at the end and said "I gotta get out of here" while walking past us (I think she really disliked it). Watched it in brooklyn in a small theater. I still think it was very well done and, to reiterate: extremely funny. But I wouldn't say (initial reaction) that it was exceptional. I much much more liked Shiva Baby (other film rachel sennott is in). Rachel sennott was definitely the best but pete davidson was pretty good too. I "lol"d in the theater a lot. This is the first movie I've seen in a theater since The French Dispatch I think. At some points I thought Alice (Rachel Sennott's character) was named Alex (which I thought was cool). I think the funniest part was maybe when greg (mild spoilers) pretends to die and everyone thinks he is dead for a second but he's not.

I sorta 30% guessed the ending and felt like i was accurately pulled around the rest of the film

The negative new yorker review is actually psychopathic I think:

in traditional murder mysteries, you don’t much care who croaks, but this was the first occasion on which I found myself actively willing the extinction of every single character, if possible in conspicuous agony. Not one deserves to survive.

i liked this much more positive review:

portrait of a lady on fire


thor: ragnorock

watched this with zoe. the only marvel movies I have seen are the avengers, black panther, deadpool and deadpool 2. The last two are like parodies of the genre, and so I don't have much experience with marvel films. it's wild to me that there are like 50 of these movies and they all make like a billion dollars. This one has jeff goldblum in it playing jeff goldblum. It was also directed by Taiki Waititi, who also cameos in it and is sort of a serious director. You also get Stan Lee.

Somewhat distracted by how truly absurd the concept / tone of Marvel movies in general are. Like they have incredibly high stakes but low emotional weight. I like movies with incredibly low stakes but high emotional weight. There is a ton of backstory that I feel like I have to learn. There isn't really any ambiguity here in terms of good vs evil. There isn't really space in the format of them to breathe and explore very much or challenge audiences. None of these are novel insights but I haven't seen many of these movies. I think I feel more critical because this is the first movie I watched after the best movie I've seen in two years (below). Had fun though, especially bc I was texting Zoe throughout (I feel like the movie is designed for this because you don't really have to pay close attention)

everything everywhere all at once

Somewhat late on this one. Watched with my aunt’s family. Absolutely astounding. Probably the best film I have seen since kajillionaire (first entry in this page). Original and perfectly executed. Deeply moving. I have nothing but positive things to say about this, just unbelievably well done movie from start to finish. Really, really, really good

Found out that the same people directed swiss army man, a movie that feels similar but I really did not like — definitely original but not nearly as well executed. Like they took a big risk with swiss army man, and I think mostly failed, but I’m glad they did, because they took even bigger risks with this and knocked it out of the park.

Reading the negative new yorker review: “ Some of the best movies of recent years—“The Future,” “Us,” and “The French Dispatch””. Shockingly bad take. This is thr most braindead thing I’ve read in the New Yorker since the food review for a big mac inspired item where the reviewer never had a big mac and didn’t get one for the review. The future (bad movie) came out in 2015. So richard brody is saying that the French dispatch is one of the best movies in the last 7 years. Is this a joke?????

lilo and stitch

This was one of my favorite movies as a kid, but I didn’t remember much of it. Surprised by how good, heartfelt and original it was. A great movie. Watched it on a flight to hawaii. High schooler next to me on the plane described it as “really old”. Realized now that the movie is 2 years older than she is. Also, Disney needs to bring back hand drawn animation. It looks so much better than CGI, it’s so expressive and fun. This movie poster is fun because you can tell they want you to think of this as a Disney film even though it really doesn’t feel like it. And it’s not really that strong a part of the disney brand despite being a very popular and successful movie.

Kinda crazy that this was written and directed by two white guys. Could not get away with that today. I read that they picked hawaii because they looked at a map of the US and noticed hawaii was really far from everything else. It’s absolutely wild that someone could start from that point and make a culturally respectful depiction of the islands.

Also apparently there was supposed to be a scene where stitch hijacked a boeing 747 but 9/11 happened 2 weeks before production finished and they had to redo it

Learned lilo and stitch was nominated for best animated feature at the academy awards and didn’t win and couldn’t believe it but then found out it lost to spirited away, alright, fair

When i was in elementary/middle school i was obsessed with the lilo and stitch animated series. I had vhs tapes that i would rewatch many times. It’s wild how big of a franchise lilo and stitch became. I wonder if the show held up, probably not. It’s wild how much Disney squeezes money out of its IP. Everyone loves the weird alien dog. I know I did as a kid

The Wikipedia articles on lilo and stitch lore are insanely detailed


Enjoyed the last 2/3 of this film with my coworkers


Watched this with my parents and brother and his wife. Channing tatum plays a us army vet taking care of a fallen soldier’s dog. In one scene he strikes out with women at a portland bar. That was my favorite scene. For the first 1/3 of the movie i confused channing tatum with armie hammer and thought he was in sorry to bother you. Learned on wikipedia channing tatum also dorected it

turning red

Saw a bunch of ads for this in san francisco and watched a trailer and watched this. The last pixar movie I saw was Inside Out. This was the first CGI movie I've ever seen where the CGI looks good. The technical detail is astounding, and you could tell there were shots that existed just to show off how hard their physics and computer science PhDs have been working. I repeatedly paused it because I could not believe how detailed some of the scenes were. On top of that, they also seem to be able to keep it cartoon-y, and know where to leave out detail (eg in the characters).

This felt unlike any pixar movie I watched growing up, in that it is very embedded in the real world. Some details: very clearly set in toronto (CN tower often seen, real-looking canadian money). Time is also repeatedly referenced (2002). It's not clear where, e.g. Toy Story takes place, but this film clearly has a time and a place, which makes it feel more personal.

I don't think I can discuss this film without talking about its political/social context. It feels extremely "socially aware". The wide diversity of Toronto is shown (many races, people in religious outfits, etc). It deals explicitly with what would be characterized as "asian-american inter-generational trauma". The director and writer are both asian women. I think it's great that we are seeing this sort of diversity.

I think that all art has the ability to stand in for the universal via the particular, and for a long time, the primary experience was white, european, often male. This film was not just about a certain identitarian experience, but used that particular experience to stand for universal themes about adolescence and family. I thought it was extremely well done, and I wish there were films like this when I was a kid.

The funniest part is when the mom (sandra oh) asks, about a boy band, why it is called 4*town when there are 5 of them

This review maybe sounds insane.

The wikipedia article for this film is kinda bad. I should clean it up

boy's state

also watched this with my friend. really enjoyed it. reminded me of being in high school debate. these kids were much more camera friendly than I was in high school (bad acne, very awkward)

red rocket

watched this with my friend. I had also watched part of tangerine with her (same director). really enjoyed it. very good characters, good set design, good everything.

spider-man and the dark knight

Watched 2 superhero movies with my friends. I’ve only seen spider-man once, I’ve seen the dark knight many times. Both classic movies. Spider-man is corny and self serious in a way that super hero movies now are not. I noticed how much the structure of the dark knight mirrors that of spider-man. I don’t think either film passes the bechdel test


rambling here

Have been procrastinating watching this because I love the book, it has been notoriously hard to adopt, and I was very skeptical. I have a lot of thoughts. Overall, I think that it was extremely well done within the confines of the style ans format. The book itself is very "chatty", especially in the earlier parts, which doesn't lend itself well to film. I thought some of the character and tone was a bit off: jessica was a bit too weepy, instead of the incredibly poised, strong figure that she is in the novels. I was a bit annoyed at first that a lot of the early exposition got cut, but I think that in the end the structure worked out very well. Timothy Chalamet made a very good paul and I think the characters were good other than jessica. In the books, baron harkonnen doesn't believe paul&jessica are dead, and demands to see the bodies. I think that is better. The set and costume design is really good, but sometimes it felt a bit airy and stiff. Like there is no reason every room had to have a giant stone door. The tone was extremely serious, there are moments of levity and pause in the book that I think could have been welcome. Dune is also about intense political negotiation, and a lot of those moments were captured really well, but I think it would have been better with more political stuff and less action.

I will always compare movie adaptations of books to the books. Some people find this annoying. But I will always do this and also be a little elitist about it. Dune is, objectively, a better and more complete story in a 600 page book than it is in 2 2.5 hour movies. But within the confines of that format, this was a well done and faithful rendition: I could tell that the director respected the text, rather than abandoning it when it didn't suit him. Like aside from my complaints above, I could list aspect after aspect that was really well done. But on some level, it was just "well done", maybe "safe", like it lacked the weirdness of the novel and smoothed over a lot of its rough edges. I am not sure if a better Dune movie is possible. It would require taking some pretty serious risks, and adapting Dune is already itself a huge risk.

I liked this quote from a nyt review:

Throughout “Dune,” you can feel Villeneuve caught and sometimes struggling between his fidelity to the source material and the demands of big-ticket mainstream moviemaking and selling. It’s easy to imagine that he owns several copies of the novel, each copiously dog-eared and heavily outlined. (The movie is relatively free of holiday-ready merch opportunities, outside of a cute desert mouse with saucer-sized ears.) At the same time, Villeneuve is making a movie in a Marvel-dominated industry that foregrounds obviousness and blunt action sequences over ambiguity and introspection. There’s talk and stillness here, true, but also plenty of fights, explosions and hardware.

npr review:

the visuals are stunning but the storytelling feels rudimentary; you get the sense that he's managed his source material without fully mastering it. In some ways, Lynch's Dune actually got closer to the mind-bending strangeness of Herbert's novel; it had a touch of visionary madness that this movie could use a little more of.

maybe george miller should have done it. he already made a movie in the desert

Reflecting more on this. I think a big problem and a symptom of the problem with the film is a lack of color. The book is colorful.


Don't Look Up

Watched this movie with my parents, hadn't heard anything about it before. Extremely heavy-heanded satire. Captures the cultural moment for how we respond to catastrophe (global warming, COVID). Apocalyptic satire along the lines of Dr. Strangelove. Funny and well-done.

Thinking about it more i think i really liked it. Good nyt review:

“ In the end, McKay isn’t doing much more in this movie than yelling at us, but then, we do deserve it.”

seen people compare this to "idiocracy", which is insane, because not only is idiocracy a terrible and unfunny movie, it is also literally fascist in its political orientation.

Chunking Express

Really, really good. Beautiful and almost absurdly romantic.

The French Dispatch

What if Wes Anderson directed a film adaption of an issue of the New Yorker? ("This magazine")

The Social Network

I really enjoyed this the first time I watched it, and rewatched it this year and it was much worse than I remembered. I think it is honestly kind of bad, except for the Trent Reznor soundtrack. The characters are flat, and it doesn't really seem to capture the essence of Mark Zuckerberg or what Facebook is all about. The real Mark is far less smart and cool.

Princess Mononoke

Rewatched this film. As exceptional as I remembered it. Want to watch more Miyazaki. San's character design is striking.

The Net

Bizarre 90s hacker movie I watched on my parents' recommendation. I think Hackers, which came out that year, is better

Shiva Baby

This was my favorite film that came out this year. Intense and hilarious. Who knew that twitter comedian Rachel Sennott is also an exceptional actress. Found out that, despite playing a Jewish character on screen, she isn't Jewish.



This was my favorite film of 2020. Based on my Google search, it appears that it lost money.