Sils Maria


A busy summer got going in-earnest this past week, and will continue through the days ahead. What that means is that weeks like this that ordinarily become double-digit affairs instead become high singles. That should be changing though, what with TV season completely over now that I’ve finished with Orange is The New Black.

Speaking of which, I appreciate people’s efforts to try to keep things spoiler-free regarding that show, but next time try harder. It’s not much to ask that a major plot point that arrives late in the season be kept under wraps for longer than ten days.


#52FilmsByWomen continued this week with LAGGIES directed by Lynn Shelton. In a nice bit of symmetry, Shelton was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week.


I should start by confessing that LAGGIES wasn’t my first choice as a “Champion of Shelton”. I wager if you asked most people, they would circle her 2009 breakout indie HUMPDAY. However, that wasn’t available to me through the services I use for my at-home watching. I only bring this up to underline something a friend brought up when it comes to projects such as this – availability presents a challenge. I haven’t the foggiest clue why catalogue films are seen as precious currency. It really presents a gap in terms of eschewing all physical media.


Shelton is part of a certain class of American filmmakers; a class consumed by framing the end result using only broad strokes, and finding the high drama in small stories. Prior to LAGGIES, the only Shelton film I’d seen was YOUR SISTER’S SISTER – which I highly recommend. Like that film, LAGGIES is the story of a person who feels a little bit…stuck.

The difficulty in telling such stories is that it can sometimes give the audience an experience low on empathy. We shift in our seat, see characters that should have their shit together, and mutter “get over yourself” under our breath. Where LAGGIES is concerned, for instance, one wonders why it could be that someone with as little going on as Megan could be content to wallow. Further, how she could even consider throwing it all away. For my money though, Shelton – drawing from Andrea Seigel’s script – underlines the way a person can just feel stuck.

It takes a deft approach to see any person over 25 relating to high schoolers and not seeming like a complete freak. And yet, when we watch Chloe Moretz and Kiera Knightley together, they nail it. These women share a chemistry that is more like sisters than it is friends. It’s difficult to articulate, but it comes through in their quieter moments.


These sorts of personal connections seem to be what Shelton is best at, and what she is able to highlight more and more with bigger and bigger budgets with each subsequent film. Don’t get me wrong; the emotion of a great story can come through in a movie shot on an iPhone…but seeing the resources increase as a career go along is a good thing.

Shelton has spent the last two years doing a lot of television (New Girl, The Mindy Project, Master of None, Casual, and Fresh Off the Boat). One can only hope that her success in the genre will make her next several projects easier to track down than the one that gave her a big break.


Here’s the week at hand…
WEST SIDE STORY – When you’ve seen a film as often as I’ve seen this, you start watching for other things. During this screening, I got caught up with the film’s use of symmetry. Look for it next time you’re watching.
NEON DEMON – So much to say about this film. Lots of posts lay ahead.
THE BFG – Plenty to say about this too. Spielberg is on a beautiful run if you ask me.


Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
L’AVVENTURA – This month’s blindspot that gave me a lot to consider.
LAGGIES – The world needs more Shelton.
THE TUNNEL OF LOVE – Such an odd little screwball comedy.


Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
CRIMSON TIDE – You have your guilty pleasures, I have mine.
DOPE – Where’d I leave that Digital Underground CD?
WALL STREET – For a while, this film was feeling dated. Now it just seem like the fashion is what’s changed. The greed is quite current.


Boxscore for The Year
119 First-Timers, 78 Re-Watched
37 Screenings
197 Movies in Total

How’s about you – seen anything good?