Film Reviews

Checking out the Film: Two Dramas, One Comedy

When it comes to movie going, it’s impossible to ignore the degree to which I am a cheapskate (bottled water and M&Ms tucked into a jacket pocket for LIFE) and am easily annoyed by people. It doesn’t help that, inevitably, there’s at least one fuckhead in the theater who thinks they can subtly check their messages on a bright screen in an almost COMPLETELY dark room. And I love a children’s movie, but apparently it’s “rude” and “harsh” to shush children who won’t stay quiet or keep their feet to themselves.

As a result, much of my movie viewing tends to be at home on DVD rented from the public library (though I do love a matinee on a day off). I may be behind on the latest releases, but I do get to see them without too much of a wait, and with no cost (and don’t give me that shit about paying for your public library with taxes as about .000000000000005% of your taxes actually fund the library).

Here are a few library loans I’ve watched recently.

Movie poster for the film The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Title

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Summary

A man struggles to preserve the Victorian-style home his grandfather built in a now gentrified part of San Francisco.

Review

Lifelong San Fran resident Jimmie has never given up on caring for the exterior of the Victorian-style home built by his grandfather–despite the fact that his family no longer owns the house. The owners of the property are a retired white couple, more or less the only people who can afford to live in the neighborhood now.

After the death of a relative, the couple abruptly leaves the house, and Jimmie moves into the home with bestie Mont. The two plan to officially reclaim the home through legal means, even as Jimmie learns family secrets that make him question so much he’s taken for granted.

This is an incredibly heartwrenching film, but it doesn’t feel like a downer (not all of the time, anyway). Gentrification, racism, and identity are major themes here, and Jimmie can never seem to catch a break in either the black or white communities. Meanwhile, the warm friendship between Jimmie and Mont really grounds the film in family and community support.

Who Should Watch

Everyone. Especially rich people.

Movie poster for the film Booksmart

Title

Booksmart

Summary

High school overachiever Molly and her bestie Amy realize while they’ve been out feeling superior about themselves and their future success, their classmates have all been living in the moment…while still earning spots at Ivy Leagues. To prove how much fun they can be, Molly and Amy decide to attend the last big party of the year–and of course things do not go as expected.

Review

I’m absolutely in love with Beanie Feldstein, and her character here is kind of insufferable but so real. As overachieving nerds, what do we have in high school if not the opportunity to feel smug about how great our lives will be in the future? Especially given that the present was pretty fucking depressing.

This is such a fun comedy, but it certainly sent me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It’s a sweet reflection that absolutely does not make you want to re-live high school, but makes you remember those close friendships that have lasted (or haven’t), and the joy and horror of being around your bestie constantly. The film avoids the mean girl trope, instead portraying its characters, all of whom are so young and have sooooooooooooo much to learn, with tenderness and compassion.

Who Should Watch

Everyone. Especially people who don’t “get” feminism.

Movie poster for the film The Public

Title

The Public

Summary

A librarian stands with a group of homeless patrons who refuse to leave the public library (in Cincinnati, Ohio!) on a bitterly cold night.

Review

I wanted to like this one so much more; not only does it celebrate librarianship as it exists today–dealing with drug overdoses, homelessness, and naked people in the building–but it was also filmed in the downtown branch of the Cincy public library. As a librarian who hails from southwestern Ohio, this should be the stuff of which my dreams are made.

However, I found myself getting annoyed with the dogmatic message, lengthy run time, and lack of women in a film ABOUT a profession predominately made up of women. I feel this would have been more compelling as a documentary (as in the Dayton-set American Factory), but admittedly even I haven’t watched the 3 1/2 hour documentary about the NYPL (yet–but ok, probably ever).

Who Should Watch

People who don’t understand why libraries exist. (It’s cool, librarians–you don’t have to take one for the team and sacrifice two hours of your life here.)

What are you watching? And if it’s your phone screen in a darkened theater during a non-emergency situation, please get OUT.

Header photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

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