Thanks in part to a ridiculous amount of recent business travel I managed to watch seventeen movies in September, though I only got out to the theaters to see one of them, the sublime “Logan Lucky.” Actually, to be more accurate, I watched it in one of the 330 drive-in theaters that still exist in America. That number is down from 4,000 or so when the phenomenon of watching a movie outdoors from the comfort of your own car was at its peak. And visiting the Hyde Park Drive-in Theater in upstate New York almost felt like a time warp back to that era. The concessions stand, a wide, low-profile concrete structure towards the back of the lot, clearly looked like a remnant of post-War architecture’s least exuberant building trends. But everything looked over a half-century old, too: weathered and repainted over dozens of times, as if maintained by ghosts on a budget.
It wasn’t exactly what you’d call a cinephile’s experience, either—the sound was tinny over the FM frequency that you tune your car radio to, and the picture wasn’t particularly crisply projected onto the patchy, billboard-sized screen. But I’ve never been to a drive-in theater before, and I could see the appeal, even in this age when 4K screens and Dolby Atmos audio can be had at home. One, you’re watching a huge movie screen out under the stars; we went on a particularly perfect late summer evening, when the air had a cool snap to it without being cold. And two, you’re not at home, you’re out in the world, with other people. That’s a good thing.
As for “Logan Lucky,” it was kind of implausible and silly but it was good solid fun. Maybe more importantly it brings the talents of Steven Soderbergh back to the big screen; even his most trifling cinematic dalliances are fascinating works. I liked it a lot and can’t wait to watch it again.
Here’s September’s full list of the movies I watched.
- “Logan Lucky”
- “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Demonstrates that the logical outcome of fan service is a descent into bureaucracy.
- “Colossal” A blithely ridiculous premise that almost works.
- “Silence” Grueling but, as with everything Scorsese does, still worthwhile.
- “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” Still amazing. Not as rich as volume 2, but stunning in its own vibrancy.
- “Hot Fuzz” Okay I get it now. I didn’t before, but I see the appeal.
- “She’s Gotta Have It” A document of pure directorial ambition.
- “Tango & Cash” They really made this movie.
- “Raging Bull” Unbelievably beautiful.
- “Smithereens” A fantasy of rotten New York.
- “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” A masterpiece.
- “Free Fire” Not a masterpiece.
- “Moana” Hey, this movie is really, really good, people.
- “A Face in the Crowd” An amazing, sadly prescient story of a megalomaniacal TV personality who comes to abuse his outsized influence on the American public.
- “Star Wars” Fun.
- “American Graffiti” Actually, this would’ve been the perfect movie to see at a drive-in.
- “Chi-Raq” There’s not a frame that here that’s anything less than riveting—it’s hearbreaking, shocking, hilarious, and ridiculous all at once.
If you’re interested, here is what I watched in in August, in July, in June, in May, in April, in March, in February and in January, as well as my full list of everything I watched in 2016. You can also follow along with my film diary over at letterboxd.com.+