Back in May, the only movie that mattered was Joseph Kosinski’s wildly retrograde, politically dim, conservative fantasia “Top Gun: Maverick,” in which defiantly ageless madman Tom Cruise revisits his absurd, jingoistic blockbuster from 1986. I hated the original, not just for its politics but also for the fact that it wasn’t much of a movie. Here’s what I wrote when I revisited it two years ago:
The hackneyed, tedious script is an impoverishment of ideas and of character development, enlivened only by Tom Cruise’s irrepressible mugging—not a performance, really, as much as a continual series of guest appearances in his own movie.
All the same, I enjoyed the heck out of the sequel. After seeing it on the largest IMAX screen in North America on its opening day, I dragged my kids with me to see it again the very next afternoon. The movie’s many, many absurdly macho conceits aside, it delivered everything that you want out of a summer blockbuster: a singularly theatrical experience that lets you turn your brain off without feeling like your intelligence is being insulted. I attribute this not to director Joseph Kosinski, whose otherwise consistently mediocre filmography practically proves that the real creative force behind this film is the uniquely productive collaboration between Cruise and writer/director/producer Christopher McQuarrie. Over the past decade-plus, the two have created a remarkable body of work within the contemporary Hollywood studio system, and I look forward to each new project with tremendous excitement. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
Here’s the full list of twenty movies I watched back in May.
“Happy Hour” (2015) ★★★ A very long, complex journey through the lives of four women friends. Starts very off strong but eventually can’t resolve itself.
“The Player” (1992) ★★★★ A zippy, entertaining compromise between a true Altman film and a great Hollywood script.
“Z” (1969) ★★★★½ A fantastic political thriller that feels borne from the heart of 1960s era social unrest, made with shocking confidence.
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) ★★½ Rewatched. They really were trying to do something different with James Bond in this movie; they just weren’t trying hard enough.
“The Color of Money” (1986) ★★★★ I’d always heard that this is lesser Scorsese but it still rocks.
“The Adam Project” (2022) ★ Ryan Reynolds has become the face of the overbudgeted, undercooked Netflix era of film.
“The Man Who Never Was” (1956) ★★½ Rewatched. A much better (if still kind of unremarkable) recounting of the events behind “Operation Mincemeat.” I saw this as a kid and I’ve been fascinated with this story ever since.
“Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) ★★★★ A cinematic triumph of conservative ideas that even a lefty can dig.
“Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) ★★★★ Rewatched. I went back to see it again the very next day.
“The Parallax View” (1974) ★★★★ Rewatched. Still fascinatingly paranoid, but the real star is Gordon Willis’s gorgeous cinematography.
This is the latest roundup of my monthly movie consumption. You can also see what I previously watched in April, in March, in February, in January, in 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016. Also, you can always keep up with what I’m watching by following me on Letterboxd—where I’m also writing tons of capsule reviews.