While 2024 is by no means off to an auspicious start in terms of the world at large, I gotta say movie offerings have improved immensely. I’ve seen so many gems this past month, my faith that film as an artform may just endure yet. Here’s what all I’ve seen…


PERFECT DAYS (in theaters): I must now go revisit WINGS OF DESIRE and PARIS, TEXAS, but I do believe this now qualifies as my favorite Wim Wenders’ film. Wow!  Who knew the life of a Japanese public toilet cleaner could be so beautiful and intoxicating. At 2+ hours with a minimalist approach to plot, this movie defies all conventions and yet is one of the most pleasing, moving, riveting films of humanity I’ve seen in ages, if not ever. And the soundtrack is pitch perfect. A good reminder of what’s so special about being human in this world. A must see in the theater. A smaller screen at home will not do it justice.

LOVE LIES BLEEDING (in theaters): I’m thrilled to report that director Rose Glass’ follow up to the impressive SAINT MAUD, is a knockout. This is the most original, compelling, gritty, horrifyingly delightful neo-noir I’ve yet to behold. Imagine if the earlier Coen Brothers’ films were tossed in a blender with the early Wachowski siblings’ films (think BOUND) David Lynch’s earlier fare (think WILD AT HEART/BLUE VELVET) and a touch of THELMA & LOUISE and you’d have only a small hint of what you’re in store for. Kristen Stewart is a marvel as always and Kat O-Brian and Ed Harris knocked it out of the park, too. Do not miss this one!

FRESH (2022, streaming Hulu): I don’t know how I missed this one, but true to its title, it is remarkably fresh. A smart, poignant, darkly comedic, feminist nightmare with biting satire and the best approach to “final girldom” I’ve yet to experience. From beginning to end, this one’s a masterpiece of suspense, brilliantly executed gore and a highly satisfying ending – a rarity in contemporary horror films it would seem. Naturally, it’ s written and directed by women. Kudos to Lauryn Kahn and Mimi Cave.

THE TASTE OF THINGS (in theaters): At 2 ½ hours, this film is a rare exception that does not outstay its welcome, though I would recommend eating beforehand as it would be excruciating to watch on an empty stomach. The food cinematography alone is Oscar-worthy. But the real beauty of this story is about a romantic relationship between a man and his female chef. It is no Cinderella tale, however, but rather an earnest account of a woman’s understanding of the shortcomings of her lover’s devotion and passion and how she chooses to shape their union – or a least that was my takeaway.

DRIVING MADELEINE (in theaters): If you haven’t the time or money for a trip to Paris, this may be your next best bet. It’s depicted beautifully on a car journey in which a cab driver engages with an elderly woman who must leave her lovely house and move into a nursing home. The relationship that grows between them, along with the outcome is predictable but in a satisfying way, and there are some bravely surprising twists revealed as the characters exchange stories about their respective pasts. An uplifting film about the importance of human connection – something we can all use about now.

Honorable Mention:

TEACHER’S LOUNGE (in theaters):  The German entry for the Academy Awards, this is a grippingly tense thriller that takes a bleak look at our broken society, through the lens of civil rights as they relate to race, personal privacy , economic status and so much more, becoming both its strength an its weakness. While I found the ride enthralling, it felt short of a true journey for me as by story’s end, I questioned what the movie was truly about. With so many themes explored, each felt lacking in depth, so that the sum of the fascinating parts ultimately felt lacking. Nevertheless, it’s well worth watching with strong performances and plenty of engaging fodder for discussion.


DRIVE AWAY DOLLS (in theaters): Alas, this feels like somebody tried to make a Coen Brothers’ film and came up very short. Lots of on the nose gags and gratuitous brutality, without heart of FARGO or RAISING ARIZONA. It’s not painful. There are a few assorted chuckles throughout and Margaret Qualley’s pleasing performance as the very likable protagonist might be worth the price of admission alone. but it does make one wonder if Ethan Coen’s run out of things to say. It feels very recycled, and not in an eco-friendly way.

LISA FRANKENSTEIN (in theaters): There’s a screenwriting book called SAVE THE CAT, which presents a story formula that’s become the gold standard by which Hollywood gatekeepers determine whether a script gets a recommend or pass. It’s problematic because it dictates one must have their theme stated on page 5, the inciting incident on page 12 and so on and can lead certain writers to hit those marks yet fail to earn them by having them emerge from a logical progression of cause and effect that stem from the characters’ motivations. I mention this because, yet again, I’ve come away from a film written by Diablo Cody wondering if she relies heavily on this book. This film had less narrative cohesion than THE ROOM, which has become a midnight cult hit due in large part to the plot’s total absence of rhyme and reason. It was also incredibly mean-spirited, without a single likeable character, just a lot of senseless deaths and apathy. Nevertheless, I’ll be keen to see what the director, Zelda Williams does next. The production design and aesthetic nods to classic horror films offered stunning eye candy that ultimately made the disappointing story worth sticking around for.)

Until next time…




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