In October I went out to see the new James Bond film “No Time to Die,” Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” and Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel “Dune”; all first run movies, all in theaters. That’s a new post-COVID, one-month record for me for going out to see movies. Having gotten my booster shot not long ago, I think I’ve mostly just come to terms with the risks of being in public spaces now.
I actually saw “No Time to Die” twice. This movie is totally passable, but no one really needs to see it more than once unless, like me, you saw it without your spouse the first time and she insisted you go back with her again a second time. I might have actually preferred to see “The French Dispatch” twice because, like most of Anderson’s movies, I get the sense that I won’t know how I really feel about it until I get some additional viewings under my belt. It’s genial enough, but as per usual with Anderson’s singular directorial approach, it’s so stuffed with ornamentation and narrative framing devices that it’s hard to suss out whether there’s an actual, coherent core at its center (e.g., “Fantastic Mr. Fox”), or whether it’s conceptually vacant (e.g., “The Darjeeling Limited”).
Speaking of repeat viewings, before the month was out I found myself having watched Villeneuve’s “Dune” multiple times. I watched it first with a friend via streaming, and even though we watched it in my basement, projected fairly large on my wall, I immediately regretted not seeing it in theaters. The scope of this film is so massive and so sweeping, both in its monumental alien landscapes and its dynastic political narrative, that it really demanded to be seen on the big screen. As soon as I could, I ran out to see it on IMAX, which truly did it justice; this Reddit thread shows the stark contrast between the standard 2.35:1 and the larger IMAX 1.90:1 aspect ratios. And then, thanks to HBO MAX’s generous policy of allowing thirty days of streaming access to all of its 2021 first run movies, I found myself rewatching “Dune” twice again at home, which gave me the opportunity to appreciate its many nuances and finer details. There’s not another movie I’ve seen in recent memory that rewards so well both the large-scale impact of a movie theater screen and the intimacy of repeated home viewings. Unfortunately, it’s already gone from HBO MAX, but moviegoers will have another chance to catch IMAX screenings starting 3 Dec. If you haven’t seen it already, you should go.
Here are all the movies I saw last month…
“His Girl Friday” (1940) ★★★★★ Rewatched. A marvel of comedic perfection that never wears thin.