Living in Telluride means you see most of your movies on your home screen, unless you have the chance to see something at the library or the Palm, or venture out of town. For me, the best cinematic experiences are those shared with others. There is nothing like a theater full of gasps, sighs or the sound of other people’s laughter to enhance your own enjoyment. This year, there has been a cautious comeback at theaters and in-person film festivals. The following are my favorite movies and why, and where you can find them.
Films that surprised me when I had low expectations: “Cruella” and “Dune”. Both films are about books that are popular with many. I thought the production design and costumes were phenomenal in “Cruella,” Emma’s (Stone and Thompson) top-notch acting, and the concept was a fun parody on the old version of Disney. Broadcast on Disney +.
I read all the “Dune” books and saw two movie versions. The current iteration exceeds both of them, as “Dune” is both beautiful and exhilarating in creating the different worlds of the novels. Sadly, the characters you love are often killed off before you get to spend any quality time with them, but the movie left us all begging for the rest of the story. Streaming (but what a pity to live like this) on Apple TV and still in a few cinemas.
Documentaries revealing different worlds or perspectives: “Julia” revealed a side of Julia Child that I did not know. She was both sultry and feminist (although she could have argued on that point). It was the scrumptious movie that anyone who only really liked the role of Julia in “Julie and Julia” deserves. Streaming for $ 20 or even in a few theaters.
Two smaller documentaries that I had the chance to see at the Philadelphia Film Festival are worth seeing. “Krimes” is a look at how art can be a redemptive force. A talented young man, Jesse Krimes, used the art to stay sane behind bars. Other inmates have found redemption through public art. All artists would say that art saved their soul. Stay tuned to the MTV documentary.
“The Automat: The Horn & Hardart Movie” blew me away. Who knew there were once more Automat restaurants in America than any fast food chain? The idea of a hot piece of pie behind a coin kiosk that you could enjoy with a nice cup of coffee in an art deco urn is quite amazing. But to think you might be enjoying it at a marble table that you might share with an artist, aristocrat, or homeless person? I had no idea that Philadelphia was the birthplace. The film stars Mel Brooks and it is the inspiring story of an America that I wish I had known. Follow them on social media (@AUTOMATmovie) to see the film festival screenings.
Animated Movies: “Flee” is worthy of an award as a groundbreaking queer immigrant story. It’s also an incredible movie. Screenings in limited theaters; Neon will likely air in 2022. I enjoyed “Raya and the Last Dragon” and wish it opened next year to gain a larger audience. He deserved to be seen by families on the big screen. Stream on Disney + or $ 4 on other platforms.
Big budget action movie: “Dune” could also fit into this category. I haven’t seen “Matrix Resurrection” yet. My favorite was “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” which was an unexpected treat with humor, great fights and a wonderful story. Stream on Disney + or $ 5 on most platforms.
Musical: “tick, tick … Boom” is inventive, breaking the rules and a great memorial to the talented Jonathon Larson. The star of the film, Andrew Garfield, deserves all the accolades. Stream on Netflix.
Best Drama: “Power of the Dog” is Jane Champion at the top of her game as a director, and the small central cast is exceptional. It’s a film that puts you under your skin and expects audiences to engage in the story to gain the full power of the unsettling tale of toxic masculinity. Finalist: “Drive my car”. In a year where I lamented the duration of more than two hours of great films (ugh!), Ryasuke Hamaguchi has produced a three-hour masterpiece. “Drive My Car” ruminates on grief, recovering from trauma, the transformative power of relationships and Chekov. Still showing in arthouse cinemas, likely to be shown in 2022.
There are a lot of other films that I enjoyed; it moved me, made me laugh or meditate and gave me joy. There are some that I still haven’t seen and that I hope to discover when released next week (“Tragedy of Macbeth”) or that I will have to watch on my TV. I am truly grateful for the amazing films of 2021. Follow me on social media (@drinkswithfilms) to learn more about my cinematic experiences. See you at the cinema!