After Cars 3 and Onward, we nearly skipped another Pixar movie, but Luca was rescued by our needing to find something light to watch with family after Eurovision. Sea monsters can appear/act convincingly human when dry, and while their adults warn of brutal fishermen above the waves the kids dream of earthly wonders (book-learnin’, Vespas). The Call Me By Your Name joke similarities fell away pretty quickly, and it eventually becomes an uplifting story of universal acceptance without any of the hard parts in between, when local kids are exposed as sea monsters in the middle of a town with a generations-old fear of sea monsters, and everyone shrugs and celebrates a minute later. Sponsored by Vespa. Casarosa was last seen on the short before Brave with another story of sailors doing magical things.

Lee is taking it easy, getting treatments for a bad back, which includes having Anong give him a happy-ending massage in a hotel room. Anong seems touched by the gift of a music box, the two grab a meal together. Even less happens in 2+ hours than in Tsai’s Walker shorts.

I’d been counting shots but lost track when I had to pause for a meal – surely fewer than 100 total. Shot #9 was food prep, not a great camera setup but I learned a new method of shredding green papayas. Shot #20 the camera moves through an alley!

Cinema Scope’s pick for movie of the year. Blake Williams’s writeup ties it to Tsai’s earliest films with Lee, which I still haven’t watched, so I’m lacking some context, but I still don’t think I’m in the headspace where a movie this meditative is gonna be a high favorite.

Nic Cage’s pig gets violently kidnapped and he recruits his truffle buyer Amir (Alex Wolff, the Rodrick-looking guy in Hereditary) on a search-and-rescue quest through nearby Portland. I knew so little about this movie going in because I didn’t want to discover whatever people are saying you should watch the movie without knowing. I assume it’s not the subterranean restaurateur fight club, but the fact that Cage plays a retired superchef who uses his eatery connections and cooking skills to track down the culprit, a sort of Ratatouille take on the John Wick template. But hot damn, there’s also a subterranean restaurateur fight club.

Cage is a local legend, a food philosopher-king, who just wants to be left alone with his pig friend in a shack in the woods. Amir’s dad Adam Arkin turns out to be a rival mushroom buyer and the pig thief, and the internet believes this to be stunt casting since Arkin once played an “off the grid, genius gourmet chef” on Northern Exposure. Sarnoski’s first feature, has too much handheld camerawork but not terrible. And the story comes together a little too neatly, that Cage gets answers by recreating a life-pivotal meal he once made for his helper’s pignapping father. These are small complaints about a delightful movie. I would’ve loved to show it to Katy, if not for the subterranean restaurateur fight club.

Brutish Adam Driver and delicate Marion Cotillard get together and have a magical singing baby, to the consternation of accompanist Simon Helberg – and it’s all performed as an opera written by Sparks, who appear (along with the director and his daughter, the film’s dedicatee) with the cast in the great opening number. A good pick for my first movie back in theaters for over a year.

I read so many articles on this, and have gone back and forth about aspects of it, but it seems like a movie that’s gonna last. Bilge’s second Vulture article helped with the ending (which I didn’t love at the time), Sicinski’s analysis also useful (“even its flaws are kind of endearing”), and the GQ interview with Simon Helberg gives insight into Carax’s methods. And from the NY Times:

At first, Carax turned down the offer, not wanting the film’s fraught father-daughter relationship to confuse his own teenage daughter, Nastya, or invite speculation on the parallels between the film and his life, given his tendency to transform his male leads into proxies of himself. He reversed course, however, when she took a liking to songs Sparks had sent him, creating the opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings.

A few guys get a job to camp out menacingly in a family man’s house until he retrieves some documents from his workplace, but the documents aren’t so easily retrieved, and somebody dies, and who’s really working for who? It’s that sort of movie, and I could do a whole plot rundown but it’s twisty and fun so I’d rather just forget the particulars and watch it again in a few years. I’ll say that everyone’s sleeping around, all the women are dangerous, the documents are about the auto industry wanting to avoid pollution regulation, and Soderbergh shoots the action with a widescreen lens that perversely distorts everything on the sides.

Besides the superstars, we’ve got family man David Harbour (star of the Hellboy remake which I accidentally bought on blu-ray for a few bucks thinking it was the original, dammit)… his wife, hostage Amy Seimetz (director of last year’s finest film)… and Ray Liotta’s wife is Julia Fox (Uncut Gems).

Not how you want to meet Don Cheadle:

You do not impress Bill Duke:

You don’t want Brendan Fraser pointing his napkin at you:

I’m glad I gave Pereda another shot after Greatest Hits. This starts out rough, but leads to some likeably awkward scenes when Luisa’s new man Paco is failing to make an impression on her dad. Luisa’s brother Gabino is visiting at the same time (played by Gabino, who plays “Gabino” in all of Pereda’s films). Paco is an actor with a nonspeaking role on a season of Narcos, and the others want to see him perform, so he creates a larger speaking role for an impromptu acting showcase at a bar. The master-shot real-time thing, playing with performance and identity, all pretty appealing. But just like Greatest Hits replaced Gabino’s father halfway through (one of the fathers is playing his father again here), this movie shifts modes, becoming a story created by Luisa about strangers meeting at a hotel, all the actors from the first half as different people. It all feels minor but I was smiling the whole time.

Newly unemployed, middle-aged Nebraskans (!) take a rejuvenating vacation at the same time a would-be supervillain plans to destroy Vista Del Mar as revenge for a childhood humiliation. Barb and Star take turns seducing the villain’s henchman Jamie Dornan and end up saving the town. Probably more than half the jokes hit (Damon Wayans Jr.’s self-defeating spy was in the other half), so we had fun. I would tentatively agree to watch Barb and Star go on further adventures, or maybe just Bridesmaids, also created by Mumolo and Wiig.

At first glance this is more of a straight doc than I Wish I Knew. Interviewing a handful of writers, with pillow daily-life scenes in the cities the writers are from. Soft piano or string music, when there’s any. Between chapters someone will read aloud from the previous writer’s work, followed by a repeated line from the same passage in subtitles over black screen.