Movies Watched, January 2020

Movies Watched, January 2020

Yes it’s the last day of February, but I’m posting this roundup of what I watched in January anyway. Early in the month I got out to theaters to see “1917” and “Little Women,” both on the same day, and both worthwhile investments of time.

I went into “1917” with a healthy amount of skepticism about the movie’s conceit of a single, uninterrupted shot, based partly on its inherently gimmicky nature and also the fact that Sam Mendes’s movies have always struck me as shallow. But I was pleasantly surprised by how “1917” delivered a genuinely affecting emotional wallop that mostly redeems its “video game” premise.

On the other hand, I had the inverse experience with “Little Women.” I went into it with high hopes based on director Greta Gerwig’s previous outing, “Lady Bird,” which I found to be nearly flawless. But I found this adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s immortal novel to be surprisingly misshapen, and marred by ill-advised casting. For a creative talent who seems so independent by nature, Gerwig’s take on “Little Women” just felt disappointingly Hollywood-esque.

In total, I watched sixteen movies in January, including several by Ingmar Bergman. I’m trying to make my way through “Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema,” a massive boxed set comprising thirty-nine films across thirty Blu-Ray discs. I have to admit knowing very little about this legendary director before starting this exercise; I’d only ever previously seen “The Seventh Seal” and “Scenes from a Marriage.” It’s going to take me all year to finish it, but I’m enjoying every minute.

Here’s the full list.

  1. Beirut” (2018) ★★
    The bones of a complex script smothered in Hollywood clichés.
  2. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” (2018) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Best DC movie since Nolan.
  3. Blaze” (2018) ★★★½
    Fully committed and exquisitely made, but it’s a lot.
  4. Before Midnight” (2013) ★★★★★
    Rewatched. So many truths.
  5. 1917” (2019) ★★★★
    At first I thought it was a bit of a gimmick, but it swept me up.
  6. Little Women” (2019) ★★★½
    Its credentials are better than its execution, in part due to some pretty egregious miscasting.
  7. Smiles of a Summer Night” (1955) ★★★
    Social deviants hiding in polite society.
  8. Wild Strawberries” (1957) ★★★★
    Everything you could want in a Bergman film.
  9. Toy Story 3” (2010) ★★★★
    Incisive farewell to childhood.
  10. The Assassin Next Door” (2009) ★★
    Schlock city, but I’ll watch Olga Kurylenko in anything.
  11. Before Sunset” (2004) ★★★★★
    Rewatched. Exquisite articulation of growing into yourself.
  12. Crisis” (1946) ★★
    Maudlin excuse to objectify youth.
  13. The Natural” (1984) ★★
    Reagan-era hokum on the baseball diamond.
  14. Yesterday” (2019) ★★★½
    Empty-headed but irresistible.
  15. Paris, Je T’Aime” (2006) ★★½
    As expected for an anthology film, a mixed bag.
  16. A Ship to India” (1947) ★★★½
    Brutal youth.

This is the latest roundup of my monthly movie consumption. You can also see what I watched in December, in November, in October, in September, in August, in July, in June, in May, in April, in March, in February, in January and a full list of everything I watched in 2018, in 2017 and in 2016. And, if you’re really interested, you can follow along with my movie diary at