What are my top 10 movies for 2019? It’s hard to say, since I’ve seen only six of them.
I wanted to be impressed by “Sea of Shadows,” which exposed the plight of the endangered vaquita in the Sea of Cortez. Instead I was disappointed because it was the paternal twin of the 2016 film “The Ivory Game,” which explored the devastating plight of elephants being slaughtered for their ivory. Richard Ladkani was involved with directing in both films. Important subject matter, lame execution. I didn’t go to the movies for a long time after viewing this film, popcorn or not.
As the months went by I was invited to see the new Warren Miller film, so like the other 69 full-length Warren Miller Entertainment films schussing around. I went to see “Timeless” and became endeared to the scene of a cowboy meandering on a horse through a snowy aspen grove. The horseman was definitely a nice counterpoint to skiers barreling down backcountry cliffs outrunning avalanches. I snuck in Raisinets for this movie because it was at the Center for the Arts. My companion brought in Whoppers.
In a weak moment I was swayed to see that Quentin Tarantino/Charles Manson fairy-tale movie I could have lived without.
“Doreen, why did you even think about going to see a Quentin Tarantino movie when all you usually watch is Masterpiece Theater?” you might be asking.
I know, I know. I’d heard it was a good film, and the new seats at the Twin Cinema were calling out for me, so I went. Big mistake, except for the seats. It was a warm evening when I saw this movie, and I ordered a Coke with extra ice.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” featured Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, who were truly excellent, which always surprises me because I’m not crazy for either of them. I still go see their movies, regardless, and I’m always pleasantly surprised by their performances, even if they are getting up in years.
I will always be enamored with Luciano Pavarotti even after watching the documentary film, “Pavarotti,” which revealed that he could be a big jerk. But oh, that voice. That passion. That charisma. A great movie. A great medium-size bucket of popcorn — no extra butter for me, thank you.
The week I saw “Pavarotti” at Frank’s Fall Film Festival I also attended “Echoes in the Canyon,” a documentary about what life was like from 1964 to 1967 in Laurel Canyon, California, during the folk rock revolution. The film featured interviews with the now creaky heroes of that time: Stephen Stills, Roger McGuinn, Graham Nash, David Crosby and others. Michelle Phillips, who didn’t look like the Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, was also featured. Phillips said a lot, but nothing too meaningful, and kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I never got the feel for what living in Laurel Canyon was like. There were no interesting insights, no gripping details, and where the heck was Joni Mitchell? Mr. Jakob Dylan, son of Bob Dylan seemed to be the kingpin of this film. Why?
As a woman who knows the lyrics and can sing along to Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon,” still hitting the high notes, well I was not impressed. No snacks for me. Which was a good decision after seeing Michelle Phillips again after all these years.
I’ll tell you what movie I was impressed with: “Ford v Ferrari.” More to the point I was wildly impressed with Matt Damon’s character, automotive designer Carroll Shelby, who wore the coolest light amber-framed sunglasses with brown-green lenses I have seen in a long while.
In this old-fashioned sports drama suitable for everyone, Christian Bale played the fearless race car driver Ken Miles, who totally embraced the insanity factor needed to win and yet had a gentle hankering for Typhoo tea, the same tea I drink. I was pleased by the coincidence. A shared large tub of popcorn, along with a piece of Halloween candy I’d discovered in my coat pocket, really hit the spot.
Great actors, a plot that keeps moving, good tea and great sunglasses. What’s not to love? “Ford v Ferrari” is an excellent film.
The best film of 2019 stars Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is fantastic. The film made me sob, made all the women in the ladies room sob and made many men surreptitiously wipe their eyes as they pretended to analyze the Milk Duds at the concession counter while waiting for their wives. Those men weren’t fooling anyone, hiding their tears. And it’s OK because if Mr. Rogers tells you that “you are special” and he loves you “just the way you are,” then, darn it, that’s just the way it is throughout our many years.