Movies Watched, June 2022

Still image from “Turn Every Page–The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb” directed by Lizzie Gottlieb

Now is not the time to explain why I avoid documentaries as a rule, but I did make one exception back in June when a good friend had an extra ticket to see “Turn Every Page–The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb” in its worldwide debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. The reason I went is that I’m a sucker for anything having to do with the author Robert Caro, whose seminal biography of Robert Moses and ongoing, multi-part biography of Lyndon Johnson have made for some of the most thrilling reading I’ve ever done. Caro’s work is widely recognized among the most acclaimed non-fiction books of our era, winning two Pulitzers and three National Book Critics Circle Awards, in addition to being essential to Zoom backgrounds.

“Turn Every Page” was directed by Lizzie Gottlieb, daughter of Caro’s longstanding editor, Robert Gottlieb, a titan in his own right who has edited an astounding number of high profile titles of both fiction and non-fiction. (He’s also a published author himself.) As far as I’m aware, this film is the first time either man has ever gone on the record about their working relationship. Though founded on a high level of mutual respect, it turns out that their collaboration is also incredibly fraught, frequently contentious, and borderline adversarial. In fact, when the younger Gottlieb proposed the idea for the documentary to Caro, the author initially refused outright, and then only acquiesced with the stipulation that he should never be filmed in the same room as his editor. Fast friends, they are not.

Nevertheless, this is the professional relationship that has produced some of the most important books ever written about the way American democracy truly works. Capturing that weird dynamic alone makes “Turn Every Page” a gem. I can’t say that the film really transcends all of my reservations about documentary as a form, but I enjoyed every moment of it all the same. In fact, I’m sure that even audiences who aren’t familiar with these books or these men will still enjoy the rare look at how authors and editors work together, a too little discussed aspect of how the books we all read come to be published.

As it happens, the timing of this ridiculously delayed write-up of this movie turns out to be fortuitous. After making the rounds at film festivals throughout the second half of the year, “Turn Every Page” is today starting a theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles, and hopefully expanding to more screens soon. If you’re lucky enough to live near a theater that’s showing it, this has my heartiest recommendation as a truly great way to avoid seeing “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

Here are the other fourteen movies I watched back in June.

  1. Edge of Tomorrow” (2014) ★★★★
    Rewatched. The character building throughout is masterful.
  2. The Bad Guys” (2022) ★★★
    Sharply styled, marginally above-average kids movie.
  3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. Action poetry.
  4. Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb” (2022) ★★★★
    I don’t like documentaries, but I ate up this one about the author of “The Power Broker” and his dysfunctional relationship with his editor.
  5. Jack Reacher” (2012) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Yes, still very good.
  6. The Personal History of David Copperfield” (2019) ★★
    A strikeout, but a commendably wild swing.
  7. The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) ★★★★
    Rewatched. They don’t make ’em—or cast ’em—like they used to.
  8. Hustle” (2022) ★★
    Spend a career making crap and you too can can get applauded for half-trying every once in a while.
  9. Five Graves to Cairo” (1943) ★★★
    A weird little World War II movie where none of the accents are right, but it’s still just smart and cynical enough to be worth it.
  10. The Package” (1989) ★★½
    Quite old fashioned, novelistic take on an action movie, but Gene Hackman is mesmerizing in every frame.
  11. Mr. Bean’s Holiday” (2007) ★★
    Not much of a movie, but they tried to make it into something interesting.
  12. Lightyear” (2022) ★★★
    Not the best, but certainly not the worst thing Disney has put out this year—so far.
  13. That Darn Cat!” (1965) ★★
    Basically nonsense, but delightfully naive in its idiocy.
  14. Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001) ★
    Why hand-drawn animation died.
  15. No Way Out” (1987) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Holds up as a crackerjack, Reagan-era neo-noir.

This is the latest roundup of my monthly movie consumption. You can also see what I previously watched in May, 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.