Movies Watched, October 2022

Still from “Decision to Leave,” directed by Park Chan-wook

There was probably no other film in 2022 that I was looking forward to as much as Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave.” I’m a huge fan of the director’s previous work; his 2006 revenge thriller “Oldboy” is one of the great, truly twisted cinematic mind-benders and a modern classic, of course. But I also thought his 2016 period romance “The Handmaiden,” in addition to also being very twisted in its own way, was a true five-star masterpiece.

“Decision” started rolling out in theaters back in the spring—but only in markets outside of the U.S. I happened to be in France when it debuted there in early July, but my French is not nearly good enough to follow a two-hour-plus Korean language film with French subtitles. So when the movie finally made it to the States in October, I bought tickets as soon as I could.

And it was…good. Really good, actually. Unfortunately, it’s just not as revelatory, as wildly unexpected as either “Oldboy” or “The Handmaiden.” Park has talked about making a concerted effort with “Decision” to rein in his usual predilection for blood and violence, and one can really feel an atypical sense of restraint throughout this lengthy, densely detailed homage to Hitchcock. In many ways it works; his two central characters are drawn to one another while also being incapable of fully opening up to one another, and Park’s almost fastidious sense of restraint makes their would-be romance feel appropriately muted, even suffocating. But there’s also a nagging feeling of incompleteness in Park’s self-discipline, and the narrative feels like it never quite ignites. Still, I did go back and watch the movie again a few weeks later and felt rewarded by the new details that came into sharper focus. I can imagine it growing on me with each additional viewing.

All in, I watched seventeen movies in October. Here they are.

  1. Elvis” (2022) ★★★
    A terrific music video, but not much of a movie.
  2. Deep Cover” (1992) ★★★
    An intense, ambitious policier with a commanding performance from Lawrence Fishburne, but the script is undercooked.
  3. Car Wash” (1976) ★★★
    Breezy, loose-fitting hangout flick that pulls off a surprisingly meaningful ending.
  4. Reno 911! The Hunt for QAnon” (2021) ★★
    Fun characters as always, but adds up to little more.
  5. Spaceman” (2022) ★★
    One of Adam Sandler’s periodic attempts at redeeming his career.
  6. Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Saw it projected for the first time since its original run and it looked almost entirely new.
  7. The Gentlemen” (2019) ★★½
    Ridiculous, macho-laden gangland romp, though intermittently diverting.
  8. The Velvet Vampire” (1971) ★½
    A sexed up vampire tale that’s not nearly as creepy or sexy as it ought to be.
  9. Cha Cha Real Smooth” (2022) ★½
    Insufferable indie derivative.
  10. August 32nd on Earth” (1998) ★★★½
    I was surprised to find that this early Denis Villeneuve is a romantic comedy.
  11. Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Still fun, but hardly a masterpiece.
  12. Maelström” (2000) ★★½
    Another early Villeneuve executed with great style but too little narrative substance.
  13. Safety Last!” (1923) ★★★★
    Most of the run-up to the iconic clock scene is only amusing, but the clock scene makes it all worth it.
  14. The Gunfighter” (1950) ★★★½
    A sober, classically Hollywood western that’s conspicuously bloodless and morally upright as can be.
  15. The Invisible Man” (1933) ★★★½
    Not particularly creepy but appropriately manic.
  16. Decision to Leave” (2022) ★★★½
    Park Chan-Wook on his best behavior.
  17. The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) ★

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