Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Social Distancing Journal: Week 3 (March 30-April 5, 2020)

Social Distancing Baking - Photo by Mark Pfeiffer
Three weeks into social distancing, I can’t say I like it, but I feel as though I’ve come to terms with it if this is the foreseeable short term future. This arrangement will be the case through April, but let’s not fixate on an end date, please. Taking the situation day by day rather than anticipating when things can return to some degree of normalcy is how I deal with it, even though I suspect this is going to last longer than I want.

On my days off I’ve been doing some baking, which can be a good distraction and (hopefully) produces something worth eating. In an unexpected turn, on lockdown I’ve been making better choices in what I eat, but perhaps the baking offsets any positive strides. This week in the  kitchen I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with pecans and cinnamon rolls. Yeast is among the things local supermarkets haven’t had available, but I found some this week and was eager to make the rolls. They turned out well, but wow, the amount of butter in the recipe was significant.

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In keeping with listening to more upbeat music, I revisited Fountains Of Wayne’s catalog. I don’t recall if I started doing this before or after seeing the news that Adam Schlesinger was ill and died from coronavirus, but at some point in listening to the funny, poignant, and ridiculously catchy songs he contributed as one of the band’s main songwriters, doing so was tinged with sadness at the loss of at a clever and tuneful artist. 



Fountains of Wayne is best known for “Stacy’s Mom,” a synth-rock earworm reminiscent of The Cars and which gave the group their biggest mainstream hit, likely thanks to a risqué music video that’s an homage to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Fans of the band and Schlesinger’s work for film, television, and theater have been quick to stress that his legacy is greater than a novelty hit that mass culture may remember him for, an irony when considering he wrote the song for a fictional one-hit wonder in the Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do! I don’t think there’s a weak spot in Fountains of Wayne’s five albums, plus their two-disc rarities collection, so rather than point you to anything from there, I’ll highlight Schlesinger’s perfect pastiche of ‘80s pop with “PoP Goes My Heart,” a delightful Wham! imitation from the underrated romantic comedy Music and Lyrics.

The sheer volume of new music and a busy schedule mean it’s impossible for me to pretend to keep up, so as online music coverage has tilted toward poptimism in recent years, it follows that I’ve gravitated toward what is receiving positive attention. For the uninitiated, the rockism vs. poptimism debate can be reduced to perceptions of authenticity vs. artifice, with the former being considered more worthy of respect. (The Wikipedia page on rockism and poptimism gives a good overview if you want to know more.) For me, greater critical appreciation for such music, which I liked when I heard it but may have dismissed as disposable, too slick, manufactured, or artistically unserious, was a key to opening my ears to performers whose work was catchy but didn’t fit a prescribed notion of “good music,” whatever that is. As with any critical theory, poptimism can overreach and overcorrect in pushing against the rockist mindset. I find it useful in dismantling the idea of guilty pleasures, which I’ve expounded on before. You like what you like. What’s the harm in admitting it?



Anyway, that’s all prelude to saying Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia earned the most spins from me this week. I have a weakness for strong melodies--I know, what a rare opinion--and disco, and both are prominent elements on this album. Social distancing or not, you will not see me dancing at clubs--or at clubs, for that matter--but I enjoy the hooks, uptempo beats, and sonic landscapes on this album quite a bit. The single “Physical” is more evidence that the Drive soundtrack and ‘80s pop continue to wield major influences on those chasing a chart-topping spot. The bouncy “Levitating” is my current favorite on the album. “Love Again” sounds like a surefire contemporary hits radio smash, at least if it gets an edit snipping the profanity that, at least in my college radio days, the FCC would have frowned upon. I don’t know if listening to it while working helps with my speed, an important part of the job, but it keeps the minutes flying by.

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Work days ran long this week, so my viewing lagged a fair bit. I polished off Criterion’s Jackie Chan set and watched Police Story 2 (Ging chaat goo si juk jaap). The sequel is not as good as the first, in part because it gets distracted with additional characters and the plot. There’s enough of the parts one wants from Chan’s films for it to still be worthwhile, but seen in close proximity to its predecessor, I found it a little disappointing.

Having finished the Korean TV series The Sound of Your Heart, I moved on to The Sound of Your Heart Reboot. True to the title, it offers more shenanigans with webtoon artist Cho Seok and his family but with the roles all recast. Based on a couple episodes, I prefer the cast in the initial series. We’ll see what I think as I make my way through it.

This journal isn’t intended to be comprehensive, but I’m keeping up with new episodes of Black-ish, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Superstore. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had some strong episodes of late, and I hope this strong ensemble comedy continues to flourish now and find fans when it got a boosted profile switching to NBC last season.

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Previous Social Distancing Journal Entries:

Social Distancing Journal: Week 2 (March 23-29, 2020)

Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Dayton Flyers - January 14, 2020 - Photo by Mark Pfeiffer
I’m a big sports fan, so it was a crushing blow for me when the NCAA Tournament for men’s basketball was canceled this year. The University of Dayton was enjoying the best season I’ve ever witnessed the Flyers have, and the previously unthinkable was possible as they had a legitimate chance to be a #1 seed and win the whole thing. Then just like that, it all evaporated. More than the postponement of the start of Major League Baseball--go figure, there’s reason to believe the Cincinnati Reds could contend for the title if this season happens--or another Columbus Blue Jackets playoff push, March Madness going bust this of all years was a major letdown.

Yet here we are, and I’m not missing sports. I reckon that will change as the weather improves and it seems like games should be there to watch or have on in the background at night. This feeling may stem from being pretty busy as it is and follow in the steps of having reduced some sports consumption because of school and work obligations the last two years. (It also probably didn’t help that the Reds were lousy and the Bengals were being their bungle-iest in recent years.) I haven’t lost interest, but for the time being, I’m not feeling the hole that is there.

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With a week of social distancing under my belt, I decided it was important to establish a daily routine and, on off days in particular, maintain some kind of purpose. It’s not necessarily about being productive, although that does factor in with catching up on editing the podcast episodes that have been in the can for a month or more. The impulse is to foster some kind of normalcy during this abnormal time. If I don’t do what I think I might do to fill the day, that’s OK. Taking a nap instead or playing a game on my phone are perfectly valid activities.

Prior to social distancing I’d been listening to podcasts more than music, but that came to a screeching halt when a commute was no longer in the picture. About the last thing I need at the moment is paying too much attention to politics and the news. Limiting myself to how much I check the news or whatever people are fuming about on Twitter definitely falls into the self-care category, although I’ll admit to breaking this self-imposed rule at times, especially at the end of the day. Not a great idea!

If I’m going to listen to music, what do I choose? For instance, I like Radiohead a lot, but I don’t think that it is well-suited when the images conjured in much of their work feel all too omnipresent and gloomy. Upbeat greatest hits collections from artists with 1980s heydays seemed like a better option, so I turned to groups like Hall & Oates, Duran Duran, and The Outfield. Tread carefully, though, because something like Duran Duran’s early ‘90s comeback hit “Ordinary World” can hit like a hammer if hearing some of the lyrics through the filter of what’s going on. 



I also did some extensive listening to R.E.M. from an Apple Music channel Siri created in place of ignoring my request to play a particular album. For the better part of an evening doing some baking and another day while working, I listened to tracks from all over their catalog, including some good band and band-adjacent rarities the algorithm programmed. I was reminded how strong and consistent their body of work is. But beware, “Everybody Hurts” cues up and can reduce you to a puddle just like that.

March 27, 2020 - Photo by Mark Pfeiffer
I hadn’t left my place for four days, and a friend suggested it would do me some good to go for a walk. After a long day of working from home, I ventured into the neighborhood for a stroll in the dark accompanied by Beach House’s Bloom. Getting some air and physical activity was advisable. As twilight passed into nightfall, the soundtrack the music provided made the park and schools I circled seem somewhat magical and eerie. By this point almost everyone who had been out walking in the neighborhood had returned home. The gauzy dream pop in my ears accentuated the beauty and suburban desolation.

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As for viewing, I’m still feeling like comedies are what I want to stick with. A friend recommended some Korean shows on Netflix, so I started watching The Sound of Your Heart (Maeumui sori), a 2016 sitcom about a webtoon artist and his family. (This is not to be confused with the 2018 series The Sound of Your Heart Reboot, which uses the same characters but features a different cast.) I’ve seen my fair share of films from South Korea, but as with a lot of global entertainment, the bulk of those have been genre movies or dramas that are probably easier to export to the U.S. and translate across cultures than comedies. While there are clearly some references in this lost on me, The Sound of Your Heart plays effectively as broad comedy about the Cho family’s hijinks and their subsequent embarrassment. I was particularly amused with the recurring gag of Cho Seok hiding from loved ones to spring a surprise on them and having the situation backfire on him. Kim Byeong-ok stands out as a prototypical sitcom dad always creating messes for himself to extricate himself from.

I did branch out slightly, although Jackie Chan’s Police Story (Ging chaat goo si) certainly has enough comedy for it to qualify as the light entertainment I’m seeking. I know Chan’s work mostly from the American edits of his films that played in U.S. multiplexes and the movies he’s made in Hollywood. Police Story provides a fantastic showcase for him to do what he does best. In his softer moments in this film, he comes across as so pure in his dedication as a boyfriend who makes mistakes but has the best intentions to set things right in the end and as an upstanding police officer who wants to see justice done. Comparisons to silent film stars are practically required when talking about Chan, and you can see why, whether it’s him blissfully unaware of his car rolling behind him while strolling with his girlfriend, played by Maggie Cheung, or the choreography as he tries to juggle multiple calls with phones spread around the office.


Not to sound like a crank, but viewers who’ve grown up on a diet of action movies edited to smithereens and enhanced with digital effects might have their minds blown by the practical effects in Police Story’s best scenes. Cars tearing down a hill through a shanty town, Chan taking a shortcut on foot down a steep incline to cut off a bus, and the mall fight scene, with a stunt shown three times from different angles as a glorious appreciation of the daring, look incredibly dangerous through judicious and exquisitely timed edits and because they had actual risks. (Part of Chan’s status as a legend comes from end credits bloopers in his films that show the brunt he and others actually take in trying to capture something amazing.)

It’s been a long time since I’ve dug into special features much, but the Criterion Collection set of the first two Police Story films includes worthwhile extras that enhanced my appreciation for Chan’s craft as a performer and a filmmaker. Right now, a little awe of what people are capable of doing is welcome.

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Previous Social Distancing Journal Entries:

Social Distancing Journal: Week 1 (March 16-22, 2020)

Because I had been out of town and then immersed in work, I hadn’t been able to go to the grocery store to stock up for a week or two. I’d gleaned from social media that stores had been cleaned out. Sure enough, certain aisles looked like something out of a dystopian thriller. Good luck getting toilet paper, paper towels, flour, rice, and more. To me this ransacking of consumable and utilitarian staples seemed like an overreaction on the part of a public weaned on years of pop culture steeped in apocalyptic stories. You’ve seen The Hunger Games and scores of zombie movies; now you can play-act your own prepper and doomsday fantasies from the comfort of home! Still, I felt like I was able to get most of what I needed. Why worry too much because this will be over in two weeks, right?

So social distancing begins, and social media is there to help keep us connected. Bzzt! Look, I was already not feeling great about social distancing, and seeing how Twitter had devolved into a sewer pit wasn’t helping. (Insert joke about how it was already one before all this transpired.) Ironically, Facebook seemed like a less stressful place to check, perhaps because people were less concerned in commenting about the Presidential race and more interested in putting on brave faces for the start of staying at home.

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With a little more time on my hands, now would mark the occasion to dig into some of the Criterion Collection Blu-rays I’ve amassed but haven’t watched. Problem is, I’m just not feeling it. Based on my mood, I quickly decided that I was going to direct my viewing toward comedies, with exceptions carved out for Survivor and Shark Tank. (Blame the MBA for turning me into a regular viewer of the latter. I thought it might be useful for when I took an entrepreneurship class.)

I landed on two shows available on Netflix. I rewatched Great News, a 30 Rock-ish sitcom that ran for two short seasons on NBC in 2017 and 2018. The series focuses on Briga Heelan as a cable news segment producer and Andrea Martin as her irrepressible mother, who goes back to school and starts interning on the program. It’s a shame this silly workplace comedy didn’t get any traction among the peacock network’s Thursday night comedies to earn a longer run, but the twenty-three episodes that exist are highly satisfying.

I also relaxed with Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom, a new Netflix series that continues the funny and inventive escapades of the barnyard animal and pals. The 2015 Shaun the Sheep Movie from Aardman Animation is a comedic treasure. While this new series and the 2019 film A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, finally available here exclusively on Netflix, don’t reach the same heights, the gentle humor and setpiece creativity in both provide a soft escape from the daily news.

On the film front, I rewatched Wet Hot American Summer, which I reviewed six years ago. That review is just mildly positive, an assessment I’d push upward based on how I feel about the film now and the goodwill it earned from the series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. I even foresaw this happening when I concluded the piece stating that the film already seemed better in my memory than the grade I was giving it. Is the lesson that things do get better over time?

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Previous Social Distancing Journal Entries:
Pre-Social Distancing

Social Distancing Journal: 2020 Pre-Social Distancing

Hand sanitizer at the True/False Film Festival - Photo by Mark Pfeiffer
How are you doing? I know that’s a nicety which often passes for conversational filler--people tend not really to be inquiring about one’s state when raising the question--but as we work from home and physically separate ourselves to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, it’s something I find myself wanting to ask and needing to ask those I’m in regular contact with. Focusing on the well-being of someone else is comforting in a way I’m not sure I can put into words. Plus, when others share how they’re doing and what they’re doing to ease their minds, maybe they can also give me some ideas for dealing with a situation none of us have been prepared for. Then again, putting it in those terms makes being interested in others sound awfully self-serving, like a value proposition for social interaction, when at heart my simple query is rooted in an earnest wish to feel connected.

A writer writes for readers, but a writer also writes for himself. So what I’m going to try to post weekly, once these entries catch up with the calendar, is a social distancing journal focused on what I’m watching, listening to, reading, and doing while cooped up at home. I think it will be helpful for me to sit down and commit to scratching it down, and I hope it might provide some help for you, whether it’s a recommendation for a film or a means of escaping the news or your own thoughts for a bit.

Note: this first entry prior to social distancing may be more throat-clearing than those looking more for media recommendations, so feel free to jump ahead to the first week of holing up at home.

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Before jumping to what’s going on now, I want to update you on what’s been happening with me. It’s been some time since I posted here with any regularity, which wasn’t a deliberate choice so much as it was the result of circumstances. With losing my longtime job, thus also bringing to an end the movie review TV show Now Playing that drove much of what I published here, along with taking classes toward an MBA, navigating the confusing and frustrating social benefits network, looking for employment, and co-producing and co-hosting a film podcast, the time and energy to write anything that wasn’t homework or related to professional pursuits didn’t exist.

Much has happened since late October 2017, which is when I learned the six-month countdown until being unemployed was starting. I doubled up the number of classes I was taking per term and graduated in April 2019. (How has it almost been a year already?) The job search felt like a perpetual exercise in futility, save for occasional freelance work, but I was contacted about a contract position in October 2019, a job that, especially now, looks like a lucky break for this particular moment in time. The podcast has yielded 109 episodes to date, with more planned as we figure out how to continue it in the time of a pandemic. Ultimately, I made it through what felt like a fairly extended rough patch.

So, of course, just as I’m beginning to feel like things have stabilized, the coronavirus pandemic unsettles everything. 

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Western Michigan Broncos vs. Miami Redhawks - February 4, 2020
Photo by Mark Pfeiffer
The first time the coronavirus changed my plans was January 28. I hadn’t been to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio to see a college basketball game in a long time and felt like I might as well go since I have Tuesdays off. Around noon I bought a ticket online for that night’s game versus Central Michigan and then called the box office for information about parking. The person on the other end of the line told me the game had been postponed because two students had returned from China and might have been exposed to the coronavirus. This action seemed excessively cautious to me then, but what did I know?

Sloan at the A&R Music Bar - March 4, 2020 - Photo by Mark Pfeiffer
Jump ahead to the first week of March. Time was already ceasing to have any meaning with the work schedule I’d been keeping, but just a month ago now feels like an eternity and practically looks like another era. On March 4 I went to see the Canadian power pop band Sloan at the A&R Music Bar, and the next morning I headed west to Columbia, Missouri for the True/False Film Festival. At the time I didn’t have any significant reservations about doing either of these things even though the Arnold FItness EXPO here in Columbus, whose dates were concurrent with True/False, was severely curtailing public attendance at events. Now the Sloan concert and True/False appear to be the last time I’ll attend live music or see a movie in a public space for months.

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets co-directors Bill and; Turner Ross 
at the True/False Film Festival - March 5, 2020 - Photo by Mark Pfeiffer
Although the film festival still had crowds at screenings, the early signs of what was to come were present. Festival organizers stressed that those who felt sick should stay home, and hand sanitizer was widely available at venues. More empty seats than usual were noticeable in the auditoriums and makeshift screening rooms, but in my observation attendance numbers were just experiencing a marginal difference.

Work has greatly reduced the amount of time I spend on social media, and while at True/False I mostly checked it to scan for opinions about what might be worth seeing at the festival. I had a mild sense that things might be starting to get more serious, like South by Southwest canceling, but the crisis still felt like something happening at a distance. After stopping in St. Louis for a quick overnight visit with family, being on the road driving home, and then returning to work, I was so unplugged from the news that what would follow in the next few days made it seem like everything was collapsing. College and professional sports stopped, schools were shifting to online learning, and grocery stores were being cleaned out of their stocks of some products. That Friday I learned work was transitioning to be done from home, and we could begin doing so the next day if we liked. 

Still not absorbing the gravity of what was happening or not wanting to accept it, I headed to the office on Saturday and Sunday, which are regular work days for me. As most of my co-workers elected to work from home over the weekend, the office presented a quiet, relaxed place to be. Nevertheless, in my gut I knew that I probably ought to stay home once my work week resumed on Wednesday, so I packed up everything I needed and left the office on Sunday night feeling like I was in mourning. Chalk it up to fear of the unknown, I guess, but I wasn’t ready for that reaction.

Friday, February 01, 2019

January 2019 Film Log

-Bird Box (Susanne Bier, 2018): C- -- HD stream

-Escape Room (Adam Robitel, 2019): C-

-Glass (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019): B-

-If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018): B -- 1st and 2nd viewings

-Infinite Football (Fotbal Infinit) (Corneliu Porumboiu, 2018): B -- HD stream

-Juggernaut (Richard Lester, 1974): B -- Blu-ray

-The Kid Who Would Be King (Joe Cornish, 2019): B-

-Kill Mobile (Shoujikuang xiang) (Miao Yu, 2018): C-

-Lost in America (Albert Brooks, 1985): B+ -- Blu-ray

-Replicas (Jeffrey Nachmanoff, 2018): D+

-Serenity (Steven Knight, 2019): D

-Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, 2018): B+ -- 2nd viewing

-Stan & Ollie (Jon S. Baird, 2018): B-

-The Upside (Neil Burger, 2017): C-

-Zvizdal: [Chernobyl - SO FAR SO CLOSE] (BERLIN, 2016): B -- with live performance

Viewing Locations and Formats
-Theatrical viewings: 12  (DCP: 12) (includes one live performance)
-Home viewings: 4 (HD streams: 2, Blu-ray: 2)
-Live performances: 1

January Totals
-# of screenings: 16
-Unique # of films seen: 15
-Unique # of feature films new to me: 14

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

2018 Film Log

2018 U.S. Releases

-2.0 (S. Shankar, 2018): B -- 3D

-7 Days in Entebbe (José Padilha, 2018): C+

-12 Strong (Nicolai Fuglsig, 2018): C-

-The 15:17 to Paris (Clint Eastwood, 2018): C

-24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017): B -- HD stream

-2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animation: (Various artists, 2018): B-
     Includes:
     -Dear Basketball (Glen Keane, 2017)
     -Negative Space (Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter, 2017)
     -LOU (Dave Mullins, 2017)
     -Revolting Rhymes Part One (Jan Lachauer, Jakob Schuh, and Bin-Han To,
      2016)
     -Garden Party (Florian Babikian, Vincent Bayoux, Victor Caire, Théophile
      Dufresne, Gabriel Grapperon, and Lucas Navarro, 2017)
     -Lost Property Office (Daniel Agdag, 2017)
     -Weeds (Kevin Hudson, 2017)
     -Achoo (Lucas Boutrot, Élise Carret, Maoris Creantor, Pierre Hubert, Camille
      Lacroix, and Charlotte Perroux, 2018)

-Adrift (Baltasar Kormákur, 2018): B

-American Animals (Bart Layton, 2018): B

-Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018): -- first and second viewings

-Ant-Man and the Wasp (Peyton Reed, 2018): B

-Aquaman (James Wan, 2018): B

-Assassination Nation (Sam Levinson, 2018): D

-At Eternity's Gate (Julian Schnabel, 2018): B

-Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 2018): C -- Cinemark XD

-Bad Times at the El Royale (Drew Goddard, 2018): B-

-The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 2018): B -- HD stream

-Beast (Michael Pearce, 2017): B

-Beautiful Boy (Felix van Groeningen, 2018): B

-Beirut (Brad Anderson, 2018): B

-Bel Canto (Paul Weitz, 2018): C-

-Ben is Back (Peter Hedges, 2018): B+

-Bisbee '17 (Robert Greene, 2018): A

-Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018): B -- first and second viewings

-BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018): A- -- Dolby Cinema

-Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada, 2018): B

-Blockers (Kay Cannon, 2018): B-

-Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018): B- -- IMAX

-Book Club (Bill Holderman, 2018): C+

-The Bookshop (Isabel Coixet, 2017): C-

-Border (Gräns) (Ali Abbasi, 2018): B-

-Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton, 2018): B

-Breaking In (James McTeigue, 2018): D+

-Bumblebee (Travis Knight, 2018): B

-Burning (Beoning) (Lee Chang-dong, 2018): B+

-Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, 2018): B

-The China Hustle (Jed Rothstein, 2017): B-

-Christopher Robin (Marc Forster, 2018): C-

-The Cloverfield Paradox (Julius Onah, 2018): C-  -- HD stream

-Cold War (Zimna wojna) (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018): A-

-Colette (Wash Westmoreland, 2018): C+

-The Commuter (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2018): B

-A Cool Fish (Wu ming zhi bei) (Rao Xiaozhi, 2018): C-

-Crazy Rich Asians (Jon M. Chu, 2018): B

-Creed II (Steven Caple Jr., 2018): C

-Crime + Punishment (Stephen Maing, 2018): B

-Damsel (David Zellner and Nathan Zellner, 2018): B-

-Deadpool 2 (David Leitch, 2018): C

-Destroyer (Karyn Kusama, 2018): C-

-Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio, 2017): C-

-Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot (Gus Van Sant, 2018): B+

-Double Lover (L'amant double) (François Ozon, 2017): B-

-Early Man (Nick Park, 2018): B-

-Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham, 2018): B+

-The Endless (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, 2017): C+

-Fahrenheit 11/9 (Michael Moore, 2018): C

-Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (David Yates, 2018): C-

-The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018): A-

-Fifty Shades Freed (James Foley, 2018): D

-Filmworker (Tony Zierra, 2017): B

-First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018): A- --IMAX

-The First Purge (Gerard McMurray, 2018): C

-First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017): A -- second viewing

-Free Solo (Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 2018): B+

-The Front Runner (Jason Reitman, 2018): C

-Game Night (John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, 2018): B

-Gemini (Aaron Katz, 2017): B

-Ghost Stories (Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, 2017): B-

-The Girl in the Spider's Web (Fede Alvarez, 2018): C-

-Goldstone (Ivan Sen, 2016): C-

-Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (Ari Sandel, 2018): C

-Green Book (Peter Farrelly, 2018): C+

-The Grinch (Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier, 2018): B-

-The Guardians (Les gardiennes) (Xavier Beauvois, 2017): B

-Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross, 2018): B+

-Halloween (David Gordon Green, 2018): B

-Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro felice) (Alice Rohrwacher, 2018): -- HD stream

-The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr., 2018): B

-Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley, 2018): B-

-Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018): B

-Hold the Dark (Jeremy Saulnier, 2018): B- -- theatrical viewing at TIFF 2018 and HD stream

-Holmes & Watson (Etan Cohen, 2018): B-

-Hotel Artemis (Drew Pearce, 2018): C-

-Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Genndy Tartakovsky, 2018): C

-The House That Jack Built: Director's Cut (Lars von Trier, 2018): D

-The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Eli Roth, 2018): C -- IMAX

-How to Talk to Girls at Parties (John Cameron Mitchell, 2017): D+

-Hunter Killer (Donovan Marsh, 2018): B-

-I Feel Pretty (Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, 2018): C

-Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, 2018): B

-Insidious: The Last Key (Adam Robitel, 2018): C

-Instant Family (Sean Anders, 2018): A-

-The Island (Bo Huang, 2018): C

-Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018): B-

-John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (L'empire de la perfection) (Julien Faraut, 2018): B

-Johnny English Strikes Again (David Kerr, 2018): C

-Juliet, Naked (Jesse Peretz, 2018): B

-Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (J.A. Bayona, 2018): B-

-Kin (Jonathan Baker and Josh Baker, 2018): D

-The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener, 2018): B- -- HD stream

-Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, 2018): A

-Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil intérieur) (Claire Denis, 2017): B

-Life Itself (Dan Fogelman, 2018): C-

-Life of the Party (Ben Falcone, 2018): C-

-The Little Stranger (Lenny Abrahamson, 2018): B+

-Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti, 2018): B+

-Madeline's Madeline (Josephine Decker, 2018): C-

-Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Ol Parker, 2018): B-

-Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018): B

-Mary Poppins Returns (Rob Marshall, 2018): C+

-Mary Queen of Scots (Josie Rourke, 2018): C

-Mary and the Witch's Flower (Meari to majo no hana) (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2017): C+

-The Meg (Jon Turteltaub, 2018): C+

-Mid90s (Jonah Hill, 2018): C-

-Minding the Gap (Bing Liu, 2018): B -- HD stream

-Mirai (Mirai no Mirai) (Mamoru Hosoda, 2018): B

-The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan, 2018): C

-Mission: Impossible--Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie, 2018): A -- Dolby Cinema; first and second viewings

-Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman, 2018): B+

-Monsters and Men (Reinaldo Marcus Green, 2018): B-

-Mortal Engines (Christian Rivers, 2018): C-

-The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018): B

-Never Goin' Back (Augustine Frizzell, 2018): D+

-Night School (Malcolm D. Lee, 2018): C

-Nobody's Fool (Tyler Perry, 2018): C+

-The Nun (Corin Hardy, 2018): C+ -- IMAX

-The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, 2018): C+

-The Oath (Ike Barinholtz, 2018): D+ 

-Ocean's 8 (Gary Ross, 2018): B-

-Of Fathers and Sons (Talal Derki, 2017): B

-Oh Lucy! (Atsuko Hirayanagi, 2017): C-

-The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery, 2018): A-

-On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder, 2018): B

-The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018): (no grade)

-Overlord (Julius Avery, 2018): C -- IMAX

-Pacific Rim: Uprising (Steven S. DeKnight, 2018): C-

-Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017): A

-Papillon (Michael Noer, 2017): B-

-The Party (Sally Potter, 2017): C-

-Peppermint (Pierre Morel, 2018): D-

-Peter Rabbit (Will Gluck, 2018): C

-Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (Wim Wenders, 2018): C+

-The Possession of Hannah Grace (Diederik Van Rooijen, 2018): D-

-The Predator (Shane Black, 2018): C+ -- Dolby Cinema

-Private Life (Tamara Jenkins, 2018): A- -- HD stream

-A Private War (Matthew Heineman, 2018): B

-Project Gutenberg (Mo seung) (Felix Chong, 2018): B-

-Prospect (Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl, 2018): C

-Proud Mary (Babak Najafi, 2018): D+

-Psychokinesis (Yeom-lyeok) (Yeon Sang-Ho, 2018): B- -- HD stream

-Puzzle (Marc Turteltaub, 2018): C

-A Quiet Place (John Krasinski, 2018): B+

-Ralph Breaks the Internet (Phil Johnston and Rich Moore, 2018): B+

-Rampage (Brad Peyton, 2018): C-

-RBG (Julie Cohen and Betsy West, 2018): B-

-Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018): C -- 70mm print

-Red Sparrow (Francis Lawrence, 2018): B

-The Rider (Chloé Zhao, 2017): B+

-Robin Hood (Otto Bathurst, 2018): D+

-Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018): A -- one screening with Dolby Atmos; first,second, and third screenings

-Searching (Aneesh Chaganty, 2018): B+

-Second Act (Peter Segal, 2018): C

-Set It Up (Claire Scanlon, 2018): A- -- HD stream

-Shirkers (Sandi Tan, 2018): B+

-Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018): -- theatrical viewing at TIFF 2018 and HD stream

-Sicario: Day of the Soldado (Stefano Sollima, 2018): C-

-A Simple Favor (Paul Feig, 2018): B

-The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard, 2018): B

-Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle, 2018): C

-Skyscraper (Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2018): B

-Smallfoot (Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig, 2018): B-

-Sollers Point (Matthew Porterfield, 2017): B

-Solo: A Star Wars Story (Ron Howard, 2018): B-

-Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018): B-

-Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, 2018): B+

-The Spy Who Dumped Me (Susanna Fogel, 2018): C-

-A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018): B+ -- Dolby Cinema

-Superfly (Director X, 2018): C

-Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski, 2018): B+

-Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018): C

-Tag (Jeff Tomsic, 2018): C

-Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail, 2018): B-

-Terminal (Vaughn Stein, 2018): D

-The Third Murder (Sandome no satsujin) (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2017): B+ -- 2nd viewing; grade revised from C

-Thoroughbreds (Cory Finley, 2017): B+

-A Thousand Thoughts (Sam Green, 2018): A-

-Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle, 2018): B

-To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Susan Johnson, 2018): B- -- HD stream

-Tomb Raider (Roar Uthaug, 2018): C

-Truth or Dare (Jeff Wadlow, 2018): C-

-Tully (Jason Reitman, 2018): B+

-Uncle Drew (Charles Stone III, 2018): C

-Unfriended: Dark Web (Stephen Susco, 2018): B-

-Unsane (Steven Soderbergh, 2018): B

-Upgrade (Leigh Whannell, 2018): B

-Venom (Reuben Fleischer, 2018): C -- IMAX

-Vice (Adam McKay, 2018): C-

-Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018): B+

-Welcome to Marwen (Robert Zemeckis, 2018): C

-Where is Kyra? (Andrew Dosunmu, 2017): C

-White Boy Rick (Yann Demange, 2018): C

-Whitney (Kevin Macdonald, 2018): B

-Widows (Steve McQueen, 2018): B-

-The Wife (Björn Runge, 2017): B-

-Wildlife (Paul Dano, 2018): A

-Won't You Be My Neighbor? (Morgan Neville, 2018): B+

-A Wrinkle in Time (Ava DuVernay, 2018): C-

-The Year of Spectacular Men (Lea Thompson, 2017): C-

-You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017): B

Older Films

-The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (Nathan Juran, 1958): B-

-13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016): B

-2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968): A+ -- 70mm "unrestored" print; 3rd viewing

-The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993): A -- Blu-ray

-American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, 2003): B+ -- 35mm; 2nd viewing

-Belle (Amma Asante, 2013): B -- 2nd viewing

-La belle noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991): A- -- Blu-ray

-The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 1998): A -- 35mm; repeat viewing

-The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963): A -- 35mm; repeat viewing

-The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo) (Dario Argento, 1970): B- -- 4K restoration

-Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980): B -- HD stream

-Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017): A- -- DVD

-Les carabiniers (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963): B+ -- 35mm print

-Choose Me (Alan Rudolph, 1984): -- projected DVD

-Christmas in Connecticut (Peter Godfrey, 1945): B

-Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach) (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1968): B

-Cold Water (L'eau froide) (Olivier Assayas, 1994): B -- Blu-ray

-The Color of Pomegranates (Sayat Nova) (Sergei Parajanov, 1969): B -- Blu-ray

-Columbus (Kogonada, 2017): A -- 2nd viewing

-Le corbeau (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1943): A-

-Coeur fidèle (Jean Epstein, 1923): B -- w/ Alloy Orchestra accompaniment

-The Crime of Monsieur Lange (Le crime de Monsieur Lange) (Jean Renoir, 1936): B-

-Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991): B -- 2nd viewing

-Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995): A -- repeat viewing (first theatrical viewing)

-Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (Dario Argento, 1975): B- -- 4K restoration

-Dementia 13 (Director's Cut) (Francis Ford Coppola, 1963): B-

-Dial M for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954): B+ -- 3D; 3rd viewing

-Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003): B+ -- 2nd viewing

-A Fantastic Woman (Una Mujer Fantástica) (Sebastián Lelio, 2017): B

-A Fistful of Dollars (Per un pugno di dollari) (Sergio Leone, 1964): B+ -- 2nd viewing; 4K restoration

-The Fog (John Carpenter, 1980): B -- 4K; 2nd viewing

-For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più) (Sergio Leone, 1965): B -- 2nd viewing

-The Fugitive (Andrew Davis, 1993): B -- repeat viewing

-The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) (Sergio Leone, 1966): A -- 2nd viewing; 4K restoration

-Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978): B+ -- repeat viewing

-Handsworth Songs (John Akomfrah, 1987): (no grade)

-The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987): C+ -- HD recording

-Hostiles (Scott Cooper, 2017): C-

-The Hudsucker Proxy (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 1994): A -- Blu-ray; 2nd viewing

-Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, 2014): A -- 70mm; 3rd viewing (2nd in 70mm)

-The Insult (L'insulte) (Ziad Doueiri, 2017): B+

-King of Hearts (Le roi de coeur) (Philippe de Broca, 1966): B-


-Lady on a Train (Charles David, 1945): B+ -- HD recording

-The Last Days of Disco (Whit Stillman, 1998): A -- Blu-ray; repeat viewing

-The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper, 1971): C

-Lifeboat (Alfred Hitchcock, 1944): B -- Blu-ray

-Loveless (Nelyubov) (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017): B

-Married to the Mob (Jonathan Demme, 1988): C- -- Blu-ray

-Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964): B

-Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok) (Bong Joon-ho, 2003): B+ -- HD stream

-Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002): A -- Blu-ray; repeat viewing

-Monkey Business (Howard Hawks, 1952): A-

-Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968): B+

-North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959): A -- 4K restoration; repeat viewing

-One Sings, the Other Doesn't (L'une chante l'autre pas) (Agnès Varda, 1977): C+

-A Page of Madness (Kurutta ippêji) (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926): (no grade) -- with Alloy Orchestra accompaniment

-Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966): A-

-Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017): A -- first and second viewings

-Porco Rosso (Kurenai no buta) (Hayao Miyazaki, 1992): B-

-Rambling Rose (Martha Coolidge, 1991): B+ -- 35mm

-Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954): A -- 35mm; repeat viewing

-Remember My Name (Alan Rudolph, 1978): B+ -- 35mm

-The Revolt of Mamie Stover (Raoul Walsh, 1956): B

-Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World (Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, 2017): B-

-Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993): A  -- 2nd viewing

-Selena (Gregory Nava, 1997): C -- 35mm

-The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet) (Ingmar Bergman, 1957): B+ -- 35mm

-Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924): A  -- with live musical accompaniment by Sue Harshe

-The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940): A-

-Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017): A -- third viewing

-Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951): A -- 35mm; repeat viewing

-Summer with Monika (Sommaren med Monika) (Ingmar Bergman, 1953): B+ -- 35mm

-Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977): A -- Blu-ray

-They Live (John Carpenter, 1988): B+ -- 35mm; 2nd viewing

-Through a Glass Darkly (Såsom i en spegel) (Ingmar Bergman, 1961): B -- 35mm

-To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955): A -- 35mm; repeat viewing

-Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963): B+

-Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001): B- -- 35mm

-Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958): A+ -- 70mm; repeat viewing

-Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970): B

-Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) (Wim Wenders, 1987): B

-Winter Light (Nattvardsgästerna) (Ingmar Bergman, 1963): A

-Wormwood (Errol Morris, 2017): B+ -- HD stream

-Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968): B+ -- 2nd viewing

-Zombie (Zombi 2) (Lucio Fulci, 1979): B

Shorts

-#TheLateBatsby (Lauren Faust and Jennifer Kluska, 2018): B-
-Aspirational (Matthew Frost, 2014): B
-Baby Brother (Kamau Bilal, 2018): B-
-Balloonfest (Nathan Truesdell, 2017): B+
-Bao (Domee Shi, 2018): B-
-Graven Image (Sierra Pettengill, 2017): B+
-Lick the Star (Sofia Coppola, 1998): B
-Take What You Can Carry (Matthew Porterfield, 2015): -- projected HD video

Shorts Compilation Programs

-Saving Orphan Films: The Amateurs and Others
     -Home movie of French Quarter, New Orleans, before Katrina (Helen
     Hill, ca. 2002)
     -Venus and Adonis (J. V. D. Bucher and Harry Dunham, 1935)
     -The Inner World of Aphasia (Edward R. Feil and Naomi Feil, 1968)
     -Përjetësi (Eternity) (Dhimitër Anagnosti, 1973)
     -Long Binh Post Exchange [South Vietnam] (Marcellus Hartman, ca. 1971)
     -EPH 4/27/16 (Ephraim Horowitz, 1979)

Not Yet Released in the U.S.

-3 Faces (Se rokh) (Jafar Panahi, 2018): A

-Adriana's Pact (El Pacto de Adriana) (Lissette Orozco, 2017): C

-América (Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside, 2018): A

-American Dharma (Errol Morris, 2018): B-

-Ash is Purest White (Jiang hu er nv) (Jia Zhangke, 2018): B+

-The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester, 2018): B-

-Blind Spot (Blindsone) (Tuva Novotny, 2018): A

-Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben) (Asghar Farhadi, 2018): B

-Flight of a Bullet (Polet Puli) (Beata Bubenec, 2017): (no grade)

-Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, 2018): B

-High Life (Claire Denis, 2018): B+

-Hotel by the River (Hong Sang-soo, 2018): B-

-"I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians" ("Îmi este indiferent daca în istorie vom intra ca barbari") (Radu Jude, 2018): A-

-In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018): B-

-The Innocent (Der Unschuldige) (Simon Jaquemet, 2018): C

-Killing (Zan) (Shin'ya Tsukamoto, 2018): D+

-Long Day's Journey Into Night (Di qiu zui hou de ye wan) (Bi Gan, 2018): C -- portions in 3D

-Lovers of the Night (Anna Frances Ewert, 2017): B-

-Maya (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2018): B-

-Meeting Gorbachev (Werner Herzog and André Singer, 2018): C

-Non-Fiction (Doubles vies) (Olivier Assayas, 2018): B+

-Our New President (Maxim Pozdorovkin, 2018): C+

-Secret Screening GaleB+

-Secret Screening MistralB+

-Secret Screening ZephyrB-

-Taming the Horse (Tao Gu, 2017): C

-Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018): A

-Vita & Virginia (Chanya Button, 2018): C-

-The Wild Pear Tree (Ahlat Agaci) (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018): B+

2018 Totals:

-Theatrical viewings: 303 (DCP: 283, 35mm: 15, 70mm: 4, projected DVD: 1) (includes three live accompaniments and one live performance)
-Home viewings: 28 (HD streams: 15, Blu-ray: 10, HD recordings: 2, DVD: 1)
-Live accompaniments: 3
-Live performances: 1

-# of screenings: 331
-Unique # of films seen: 322 features, 2 shorts compilation programs, and 8 shorts
-Unique # of feature films new to me: 290

2018 Format Breakdown

35mm
-American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, 2003)
-The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 1998)
-The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)
-Les carabiniers (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
-Rambling Rose (Martha Coolidge, 1991)
-Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
-Remember My Name (Alan Rudolph, 1978)
-Selena (Gregory Nava, 1997)
-The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet) (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
-Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951)
-Summer with Monika (Sommaren med Monika) (Ingmar Bergman, 1953)
-They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)
-Through a Glass Darkly (Såsom i en spegel) (Ingmar Bergman, 1961)
-To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955) 
-Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)

70mm
-2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) -- 70mm "unrestored" print
-Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, 2014) 
-Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)
-Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

Projected DVD
-Choose Me (Alan Rudolph, 1984)

HD Stream
-24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017) 
-The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 2018) 
-Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980) 
-The Cloverfield Paradox (Julius Onah, 2018) 
-Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro felice) (Alice Rohrwacher, 2018) 
-Hold the Dark (Jeremy Saulnier, 2018)
-The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener, 2018)
-Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok) (Bong Joon-ho, 2003) 
-Minding the Gap (Bing Liu, 2018) 
-Private Life (Tamara Jenkins, 2018)
-Psychokinesis (Yeom-lyeok) (Yeon Sang-Ho, 2018)
-Set It Up (Claire Scanlon, 2018) 
-Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018) 
-To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Susan Johnson, 2018) 
-Wormwood (Errol Morris, 2017) 

HD Recording
-The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987) 
-Lady on a Train (Charles David, 1945)

Blu-ray
-The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993)
-La belle noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991)
-Cold Water (L'eau froide) (Olivier Assayas, 1994)
-The Color of Pomegranates (Sayat Nova) (Sergei Parajanov, 1969)
-The Hudsucker Proxy (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 1994)
-The Last Days of Disco (Whit Stillman, 1998)
-Lifeboat (Alfred Hitchcock, 1944)
-Married to the Mob (Jonathan Demme, 1988)
-Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
-Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) 

DVD
-Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)