Welcome back to my Home Movies! Today, one of the absolute biggest smash hits of 2023 comes to shelves in Barbie. Also hitting this week is a small gem in Shortcomings, as well as several Criterion Collection releases. Read on for more…
Greta Gerwig more than blew me away with Barbie. Along with Noah Baumbach, Gerwig’s script is an instant classic, her direction soars, while the performances of Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie are immediately iconic. What more is there to say? It’s a surprising masterpiece, plain and simple. My absolute out and out rave here gets into why the film is my favorite of the year:
A Barbie movie probably shouldn’t even exist, let alone be this good. An audacious start to this review, I know, but this is an audacious film. Taking a doll and giving it life, while examining both the positives and negatives of its very existence, through the lens of a laugh out loud yet often touching comedy? This is damn near a miracle of a movie. Skewering the societal patriarchy while also having you howl at cinematic references, epic dance numbers, and genuine emotion? Greta Gerwig has outdone herself here. This is one of the year’s best works so far.
Considering that the log line for this flick is simply that “Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence,” there’s a ton going on here. Barbie is action, comedy, fantasy, and satire all rolled into one, with immersive production design, its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, but its heart always beating loudly and proudly. I know I’m not necessarily the audience for this film (aside from loving quality cinema), but knowing that there are young girls out there that will see this and absolutely go gaga over it, that heartens me to no end. Plus, as mentioned, it’s just spectacular entertainment.
Back at the Sundance Film Festival, I was very taken by Shortcomings. It’s very much my kind of jam, but I’ve been quite pleased to see how many other folks have enjoyed it as well. Hopefully you’ll be next. My rave review out of Sundance (here) includes the following bit:
What a nice little thrill it is to discover a small gem at a film festival. Whenever it happens, it feels like a secret, just in cinematic form. This year, I found one in Shortcomings, an equally funny and heartwarming character study/coming of age story. Not only is it a fresh take on the aimless guy who needs to grow up tale, it does so with lots on its mind about racial and sexual politics. A highlight of the Sundance Film Festival this year, it’s a real winner.
Shortcomings plays just like a movie version of the type of character based novels I consistently adore so much. So, narratively I’m very much the target audience. Plus, because it’s centered on a largely Asian cast, the ability to feel both very specific and also universal is yet another feather in this movie’s proverbial cap.
Bull: The Complete Series (TV)
The Crown: The Complete Fifth Season (TV)
The Haunted Mansion
John Wick Chapters 1-4
Psych: The Complete Collection (TV)
Rabbit Hole: The Complete First Season (TV)
Titans: The Complete Fourth Season (TV)
Titans: The Complete Series (TV)
The Walking Dead: The Complete Series (TV)
From The Criterion Collection: “Legendary director Jerzy Skolimowski created one of his freest and most visually inventive films yet with this story of a gray donkey named EO. After being removed from an itinerant circus, EO begins a trek across the countryside, experiencing cruelty and kindness from a cast of characters including an Italian countess (Isabelle Huppert) and a Polish soccer team. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best International Feature, and featuring stunning cinematography by Michał Dymek coupled with Paweł Mykietyn’s resonant score, EO presents the follies and triumphs of humankind from the perspective of its four-legged protagonist on a quest for freedom.”
From The Criterion Collection: “Part crime thriller, part romantic comedy, Louis Garrel’s The Innocent shows the dangerous and outlandish lengths two men go to for the women they love. Garrel stars as Abel, an aquarium educator whose mother, Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg), marries one of her drama pupils in the local penitentiary, Michel (Roschdy Zem). Once on parole, Michel attempts to start a legitimate life but soon reverts to his old ways, eventually roping Abel into one of his schemes. Complicating matters is Clémence (Noémie Merlant), Abel’s brazen coworker, who convinces him to take part in the heist. Directing from a screenplay he cowrote (with Tanguy Viel and Naïla Guiguet), Garrel explores the comedic results of playacting’s intrusion into reality, as well as reality’s comedic tendency to transform us into what we never thought we could be.”
From The Criterion Collection: “One of the world’s great cinema artists, Jafar Panahi has been carefully crafting self-reflexive works about artistic, personal, and political freedom for the past three decades, despite being banned from filmmaking by the Iranian government since 2010. In No Bears—completed shortly before his imprisonment in 2022—Panahi plays a fictionalized version of himself, a dissident filmmaker who relocates to a rural border town to direct a film remotely in nearby Turkey and finds himself embroiled in a local scandal. As he struggles to complete his feature, Panahi must confront the opposing pulls of tradition and progress, city and country, belief and evidence, as well as the universal desire to reject oppression.”