Ten more movies, ten steps closer to finishing my challenge *sobs*. If you’d like to follow my journey, you can find all my ratings on Letterboxd.
DAY 314 – THE DEAD ZONE (1983)
Adapted from Stephen King’s novel, The Dead Zone stars Christopher Walken as Johnny, a man who slips into a five-year coma after being involved in a car accident. When he wakes up, he realizes he has psychic abilities that allow him to see someone’s past, present, or future simply by touching them. Of course, this makes the news and he’s soon roped into unfathomable situations. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. David Cronenberg allowed Walken to shine, and kept the plot moving at a fast pace. I do wish some parts had been fleshed out more, but that’s why the novel exists.
DAY 315 – RAW (2017)
I really wanted to love this film. I had heard nothing but rave reviews about Raw, but I ended up being severely disappointed. It actually took me two attempts to watch this movie (the first time I had just eaten a big meal before watching, which I highly advise AGAINST doing), and both viewings left me feeling empty and yearning for more. The story follows a young woman named Justine (Garance Marillier), who after starting vet school and being forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney, starts to dabble in cannibalism. I understood how this was a coming of age film, but the cannibal aspect weakened this for me. I felt the cannibalistic scenes were gratuitous (most people disagree) and designed to not just unsettle the viewer, but to actively repulse them. After seeing other films of this nature handle the topic better, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth.
I did think the last forty minutes were better than the previous hour, and these minutes salvaged Raw for me. The acting is good, the cinematography was stunning, and the soundtrack is superb. I just wish the story had been more fleshed out (pun intended), and that the cannibalism had been more subtly portrayed.
DAY 316 – GERALD’S GAME (2017)
Check out my video review of Gerald’s Game for my full thoughts!
DAY 317 – GREENBERG (2010)
I absolutely adored this cinematic offering from Noah Baumbach. We follow Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), as he travels to Los Angeles to watch over his brother’s house and tries to find himself in the process. While in LA, he becomes enamored with Florence (Greta Gerwig), the nanny of his brother’s kids. This is one of Ben Stiller’s best performances to date, and the supporting turns from Gerwig, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, and Juno Temple add interesting layers to Greenberg’s journey. The cinematography is beautiful, and I connected with the story. I just wish the film had been a tad longer.
DAY 318 – HALF NELSON (2006)
The film that garnered Ryan Gosling his first Oscar nomination, Half Nelson chronicles the life of Dan Dunne (Gosling), a teacher who is battling a drug addiction. He soon strikes up a friendship with his student Drey (Shareeka Epps), who is dealing with her own demons. I loved Gosling in this role, and felt that he showed his range. Anthony Mackie is great as the drug dealer Frank, and I also thought Epps was fantastic as a troubled teen. The plot kinda fell flat at points, though, and I found myself growing bored during certain scenes. I feel like the movie would have benefited from a slightly brisker pace.
DAY 319 – MILK (2009)
A beautiful, moving biopic of Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official, with powerful performances from Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, and Josh Brolin. Milk is a heartbreaking film that still manages to leave you feeling inspired and angry in all the right ways (and still feels sadly relevant today). Gus Van Sant’s direction was fantastic, and I was sobbing by the time the credits rolled. Sure, some of the supporting actors fell a little flat, but otherwise this is a wonderful movie that only the hardest of hearts could finish without having their heart-broken.
DAY 320 – PET SEMATARY (1989)
I actually really enjoyed this movie, even though some aspects are definitely dated. Another Stephen King adaptation, Pet Sematary sees the Creed family moving into a new home that has a pet cemetery in the back yard… along with an ancient Native American burial ground in behind it. No biggie! Of course, shit hits the fan. I found this film incredibly unnerving, and my poor heart broke on several occasions. If you can look past the cheesy effects, this is definitely a perfect movie to watch on Halloween.
DAY 321 – A GHOST STORY (2017)
WOW. This film blew all of my expectations way out of the water. Directed by David Lowery and starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, A Ghost Story centers on C and M (Affleck and Mara), a married couple who are relatively happy. Then one day, tragedy strikes and C dies (not a spoiler). After dying, his specter hangs around, and he must watch his wife gradually come to terms with his death, while he’s stuck in the house and can’t interact with her. This is definitely not a film for everyone, with its deep story that leaves a lot of things up for interpretation and the minimal, yet powerful, performances (and an unbroken take of Rooney Mara eating an entire pie). I personally loved this film, and shed a fair amount of tears during my time spent with A Ghost Story. The meditation on grief and the thoughts that this film inspires about life after death have stuck with me, even days after watching this.
DAY 322 – BLADE RUNNER (1982)
This was my fifth (yes, fifth time) watching this movie, and I loved it even more on this viewing. Every time I watch Blade Runner, I pick up on small details that I missed before, and I’m still trying to decipher if Deckard is a Replicant. I actually am bumping up my original rating after this watch.
*Note about this movie: I HATED this film my first three viewings, but I kept returning to Blade Runner for some reason. On the fourth viewing, everything clicked, and I saw this movie for the sci-fi masterpiece it really is. My suggestions for watching Blade Runner? Watch the Final Cut of this film, watch with an open mind, read Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and never take your eyes off the screen.
DAY 323 – BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)
This is one of the best films of the year, and it’s being criminally overlooked at the box office. Denis Villeneuve’s brilliant sequel to one of the most important cinematic works of science fiction is a wonderful continuation of the original film, with knockout performances from Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, and Sylvia Hoeks. The soundtrack is excellent, the cinematography is so gorgeous I want to have its baby, the effects are impeccable and the story is so compelling that the almost three hour run time passed by in the blink of an eye. GO SEE THIS MOVIE NOW.