Movies Watched, May 2018

Still from “Tully”

Jason Reitman is one of those journeyman movie directors who can pass as an auteur. Usually, as in the case of “Thank You for Smoking,” “Up in the Air” and “Young Adult,” it’s pretty easy to see past his ambitions to the clumsy conceptions that are the real heart of his moviemaking. But in the case of “Tully,” his charmingly narrow look at the trials of motherhood and post-partum depression, he manages to transcend his level best. A little. It’s not a great film but it mostly works—at least in a New-Yorker-short-story-of-the-week kind of way.

The main reason it’s any good is Charlize Theron’s performance, a fully committed deep dive into the chasm between youthful ambition and middle-aged helplessness. I’m usually not a big believer in the maxim that gaining weight equals great acting, but the startling body transformation Theron underwent for this role deserves merit for being more than just a superficial if physically demanding affectation. Rather, it demonstrates Theron’s formidable willingness to find highly specific, uncritical empathy with the characters she plays. It’s getting harder and ignore the fact that she’s one of the best actors working today.

Here is a list of all sixteen films I watched in May.

  • Tully” A pretty big improvement over this creative team’s previous outings, even if you can see the central plot twist coming a mike away.
  • Molly’s Game” On re-watch, still flawed, but still very good.
  • The Incredibles” By a mile, the best super-hero film of this century. So far!
  • Maggie’s Plan” More or less a Woody Allen film not made by Woody Allen.
  • Sex and the Single Girl” Insipid historical artifact.
  • Steve Jobs” Most of us knew too much about the subject matter to recognize that this is a great movie.
  • Den of Thieves” The film equivalent of a trashy but really fun paperback thriller.
  • Thor: Ragnarok” Definitely fun, not so definitely good.
  • Journey to Italy” Doesn’t live up to expectations.
  • Castle in the Sky” Sometimes I feel utterly alone in my inability to get past Ghibli’s paper-thin characters.
  • Dragon Inn” Tarantino owes so much to this.
  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” Nice enough.
  • A Touch of Zen” Over-the-top wuxia majesty. Recommended!
  • Revenge” Sketchy feminism wrapped in a gripping thriller.
  • Deadpool 2” Breaking news: scientists have isolated the “meh” gene.

If you’re interested, here’s what I watched in April, March, February and January. You can also see my complete list of everything I watched in 2017 and follow along with my film diary over at