December seems like a long time ago but I’m only now recapping my movie watching for that month—and for all of last year. Time flies.
Amid a bunch of travel, I watched twenty-four films and got out to the theaters five times. One of those excursions was to see “The Rise of Skywalker”—some coworkers had a free ticket, so I figured what the heck? After the previous two installments in this franchise, I’d already mostly given up on “Star Wars” ever offering anything of redeeming cinematic value, but this undercut even my already low expectations—a true stinker.
Out of some kind of misplaced loyalty to the notion of “Star Wars” that I still recall fondly from my youth, I went back to see if I could possibly rediscover something likable about the “The Last Jedi,” but no dice—I couldn’t even get past the first thirty minutes. Mostly I was awed by the fact that such a misshapen mess could have come from the same writer and director, Rian Johnson, who just gave us “Knives Out,” which is practically the exact inverse: a taut, hilarious, economical little mystery-comedy. Johnson’s films rarely demand much in the way of thinking on the part of viewers but this contemporary whodunit works harder and more conscientiously than most films in recent memory to take its audience on a true joyride. It was one of the best things I saw all year.
Speaking of bests of the year, I was feeling kind of bad about having gotten all the way to the end of January without having recapped my favorites of 2019. But then I looked back at last year’s list and saw that I didn’t get to my overview of 2018 until February 2019 anyway. So expect that soonish.
Here are all twenty-four films I watched in December.
“Okja” (2017) ★★½ Very respectable until the English-speaking actors start acting.
“The Wolf’s Call” (2019) ★★★½ A French “Hunt for Red October” and a solid dad movie.
“Rounders” (1998) ★★★★ Rewatched. I didn’t realize how good this script was.
“Thirst” (2009) ★★ There hasn’t been a truly decent vampire movie in decades.