Updated: Feb 14
Beanie Mania, dir. Yemisi Brookes (2021) ★★★☆☆
I continued the trend from last week, diving into more HBO documentaries. While I wasn't part of the original Beanie Baby craze that last from the mid-90s into the early 2000s, I did have a small collection growing up. Specifically I collect the anteaters. I don't know what drew me to those specifically but I had a small hoard of them that I grabbed at estate and garage sales.
The craze started in my home city of Chicago and hearing about specific suburbs and areas of the city in media always makes me smile. I enjoyed this documentary even though it felt repetitive at times and focus on people who took part in collecting; I would have liked to hear more outsider opinions on the craze aside from news footage.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of The Desert, dir. Stephen Elliott (1994) ★★★☆☆
I think I went into this film with too high of expectations. When a story revolves around queer characters and was released pre-2010 I worry about the representation in it. It could have gotten a higher rating and would be more rewatchable if not for the major racist stereotype that takes up way too much of the film.
I love Terence Stamp, but the lack of real representation was alarming when films like Boys in The Band (which had an entire queer cast) came out two decades earlier. Costumes, story, and acting were all spot on though. The music and use of the desert landscape enhanced the overall experience. I really could see this getting a remake in the near future with a more inclusive cast.
Last Round, dir. Thomas Vinterberg (1993) ★★★☆☆
I'm not sure if I should classify this one as a short or not but it clocks in around a half hour: longer than most shorts I have watched, but less than the average film. During college we did a week on Dogme 95. This subgenre of films had strict rules about the use of violence, special effects, and even music. All scenes had to be shot on location, and it had to be in color. While this film predates the creation of these rules, Thomas Vinterberg was a core founder
of the style and this film influences his later movies.
Overall, I prefer his Dogme 95 era films like The Celebration (1998) but this is a good flick to watch as an introduction to his work. Since it's shorter I would recommend it to people interested in getting a look at 90s arthouse cinema.
Jo, dir. Katherine Hughes (2022) ★★★★☆
Recommendation from Hannah Combs
My dear friend Hannah discovered a neat little site called Shortverse; it gives filmmakers an outlet from their short films and is a great source for emerging artists. She has been binging all the western shorts and gave me a list of her favorites which I will be reviewing over the next few weeks on busy days.
My biggest complaint about Jo is how short it was. I loved the cinematography and acting in it, but I wanted more. I seemed like it was just missing the ending, leaving it open hopefully for a sequel or complete film. I would love to see this female centered revenge story stretched out to be a feature film.
Encanto, dir. Byron Howard & Jared Bush (2022) ★★★★☆
Sometimes you just want to sit back and watch something comforting. Disney films have always had a special place in my heart but I tend to stick with the classics. Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood are my all time favorites but this one still managed to strike a chord with me. And, yes, I cried multiple times.
A Night At The Show, dir. Charlie Chaplin (1915) ★☆☆☆☆
I studied plenty of silent films back in college; from German Expressionism to slapstick classics, I love a good silent movie. I have seen a handful of Charlie Chaplin films, even attending a festival of his movies, but this one was one I never got around to. It's not good.
I'm glad this wasn't my introduction to his films; the humor was flat and even offensive at times. Half the movie relied on jokes about fat people or the elderly and it overall sat wrong with me.
Begone Dull Care, dir. Evelyn Lambart & Norman McLaren (1949) ★★☆☆☆
Before I started working at The Lincoln Theatre in May of 2022, I worked at a little record store in Normal, Illinois. North Street Records was a place I visit a lot my freshman year and by the time I was down with my first semester they asked if I would be interested in working on the weekends for trade. This meant I got $10 worth of records every hour I worked. I would walk back to my apartment with a small stack of stuff they either saved specifically for me or hidden gems from the dollar bin.
In my time working there, I fell in love with jazz. I have always been interested in older music, matching my taste in movies as well. An experimental jazz animated short seemed right up my alley but it faltered. It seemed more like a museum piece than a normal film.