Okay, I admit I haven’t seen THE IRISHMAN yet. It’s nearly four hours long and I’m trying to allot time to see it one stretch, I hate watching movies in increments, so you’ll have to excuse me on this one. Besides, I had two books in development and another book, THE PERFECT DAUGHTER, coming out in April. My son was home from college for the last month, my daughter got a new job, and my wife was home recovering from shoulder surgery. Needless to say, it’s been a busy time. But I did manage to catch a few films
This list is not exclusively about movies made in 2019, but movies I watched and had reactions to. Not all of them are glowing. Here’s a few I saw and have opinions on.
PARASITE. This South Korean movie might have been the most exciting, interesting and thought-provoking movie I’ve seen in a long time. It also might be the best I’d seen in 2019 (that and A MARRIAGE STORY). My son texted me one day and told me to go see it. He also told me to go into the movie blind and not read what it was about. I was skeptical. I thought it was a horror movie. Was I surprised.
The plot is about a impoverished family of four who, through duplicity and deceit, ends up working for a very wealthy family. What happens after this is stunning and shocking, and to say more would be to ruin it for you. In this movie, we have class warfare, environmental concerns, housing issues and family drama. And yet at its heart, it is deeply moving crime story. The cinematography is stunning, and all the actors in it are amazing. The ending broke my heart. Go see this movie. Far better than anything Hollywood is putting out.
UNCUT GEMS. I couldn’t agree less with the critics on this one. I did not like this movie, and yet everyone I know loved it. Maybe it’s me. Adam Sandler plays a Jewish gem worker in New a York City. He’s a compulsive gambler and heavily in debt, and relying on a series of precious gems to bail him out. He lends the gems to Boston Celtic, Kevin Garnett, and Garnett goes off on a tear, refusing to bring the gems bak to Sandler because of his brilliant play. The rest is rather cliched. I found this movie to be boring, repetitive and stereotyped Jewish people. Want a movie about debauchery and gambling, go back to 1974 and watch THE GAMBLER with James Caan.
EL CAMINO. This was the follow-up to BREAKING BAD, the groundbreaking television show. In this entertaining movie, we follow Jesse after Walt’s death. The movie successfully travels back and forth in time, and we even get a nice restaurant scene with Jesse and Walt. While not anywhere near as compelling as the show, EL CAMINO is gripping and gives us closure with Jesse’s character.
GOOD TIME. Directed by the Safdie brothers, the same brothers who directed UNCUT GEMS, this crime movie grabbed me much more than UG. Starring Robert Pattinson, the plot involves a brother trying to score enough bail money to get his developmentally brother out of jail. Great shots of New York City and great acting elevate this small film. Fast moving and claustrophobic, the director uses a lot of close-up shots to good use. We feel for the disabled brother, played by Bennie Safdie, one of the directors. A major screw-up by the main character pivots this picture in an entirely new and startling direction. Well worth watching.
BLUE VELVET. Yes, I know this movie was made in 1987. And yes, I have seen it many times. However, this crime movie still jars me like it did when I first watched it. I was so shocked the first time I watched it that I needed time to process it. David Lynch brilliantly juxtaposes the innocence of small town life with evil and unspeakable violence. Dennis Hopper is a tour de force of evil in this movie. I miss him quite a bit as an actor. In BLUE VELVET, Hopper combines small-time criminal with an out-of-control id, to create one of the most hellish, unforgettable characters in cinema. This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart, so be forewarned, but it’s a classic.
YOU. I know this is a TV show rather than a movie, but it was definitely one of my favorite crime dramas this year. Based on the fantastic book by Caroline Kepnes, YOU is one badass stalking show. Joe is both likable and repulsive. He’s literate, kind and nice to those less fortunate than him. And yet he’ll do anything for love. I promise, you’ve never met a serial killer quite like Joe.
These are a few movies that stuck with me in 2019. What were your favorites.