The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear

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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven)
  2. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
  3. Max Steiner: Maestro of Movie Music (Diana Friedberg)
  4. The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner)
  5. Metropolitan (Whit Stillman)
  6. The Northman (Robert Eggers)
  7. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
  8. Glass Onion (Rian Johnson)
  9. Rhubarb (Arthur Lubin)
  10. Air Doll (Hirokazu Kore-eda)


1- I had always heard good things about RoboCop, but despite that, I avoided it because it looked too ‘pop’ for me. I caught up with it and I was pleasantly surprised how smart and funny it was. Not a big fan here of dystopia, but it works in this context because they are rooting it in a real place, Detroit, in the not-too-distant future – or perhaps even the present. It seems that sci-fi needs to be laden with big philosophical issues and this one seems to play with notion of identity as poor RoboCop begins to have flashbacks of his pre-Cyborg make-over life. There is also the usual trope of corporate America being the root of all evil, which is always welcome

2- Summer Hours is a quiet but moving observation of family members going through a trauma, revealing how loose the connection to each other were. This is not a dysfunctional family. It is just a family that has been drifting apart. Some have nostalgia for how things were. Some have no use for that, and have moved on and made a life elsewhere. I felt that what was being examined was the tyranny of the received notion of what family should mean to everyone. It very seldom means that to most people, yet we are still plagued by the idea. Juliet Binoche is amazing in every film I have seen her in

3- I guess I should have seen The Princess Bride when it first came out. I am sure that those who remember it fondly have not seen it recently. It is quite creaky. The production looks very shoddy. The humor (except for Billy Crystal and Carol Kane) almost always seems strained. Quite a disappointment. I was hoping to love it.

4- I saw Metropolitan back in my New York City life. Even though I grew up and lived the first thirty-five years of my life there, my experiences were so far removed from these privileged Upper East Side Deb-Ball going young people that it might have been about Mongolia. This time around the privilege and vapidness surprisingly annoyed me. It is a very listless film filled with what seems on the surface to be witty dialogue, but in actuality is not. I had the same feeling last year when I went back and reread the Salinger books about the Glass family. My thought was that Salinger is not doing anything to make me engaged with these people. I don’t need to love them, but I need not to be indifferent.

5- The Northman was a satisfyingly brutal depiction of imagined Viking life, using the framework of a retelling of the original Hamlet (here Amleth) story. Quite violent with a lot of over-the-top effects, violence and acting but I was engaged from the start. Like in the superior The Witch Eggers and his team create a thoroughly thought-out world. In many ways, he is like an unkooky Tim Burton, which is not a bad thing. And while we are on the subject to Tim Burton, I will go on record saying that I loved everything about his Addams Family reboot, Wednesday. Your mileage may vary

6- I had never heard of Phoenix until the Criterion Collection recommended it. A Holocaust-themed film from Germany seems a rarity to me, especially one that deals with the issues of complicity and betrayal. There is also a very powerful Vertigo trope that makes us wonder if the ‘hero’ of the film realizes what he is doing while trying to make over the ‘heroine’ into his lost wife, even though she is his lost wife. It is like watching Vertigo from Madeleine/Judy’s perspective. A quiet and very troubling film. The denouement is almost wordless but it knocks you out

7- Glass Onion is so not as much fun as Knives Out was, but it was worth it to spend more time with the debonair detective played by Daniel Craig as well as well as the other-worldly Janelle Monae

8- If you are looking for a movie about a cat that inherits a major league baseball team managed by Ray Milland, then Rhurbarb is for you!

9- I have seen two other films by Kore-eda so I was prepared to be emotionally affected. I was not prepared to the profound sadness of this film. I loved it.