There’s absolutely no reason for you to know this, but today is Cate’s birthday. And in celebration, we’re bringing you (yet another) special issue, because Zosha is a good friend who indulges Cate in her flights of fancy.
Instead of our usual reviews, Cate will be programming her very own at-home film festivals. There are no rules, but feel free to take her choices as light suggestions for a slow weekend when you’re paralyzed by all the streaming choices at your fingertips. These selections are relatively arbitrary, (though some will be familiar) but they reflect her tastes and preferences. Plus, they’re a fun way to think about how movies can be in conversation with each other. So enjoy! And if you end up watching one of her picks, drop a comment and let her know. She accepts presents and compliments. Happy movie yelling!
The Very Specific Film Festival
In another life, I’d be working my way up from film criticism to film programming. For a few years, that had been my eventual goal. I love movies and I love film festivals. And what better way to combine the two interests than to be on the cusp of the very newest films? Of course, COVID made me realize that film festivals are just as subject to the vagaries of a global pandemic as anything else, so I’ll probably never fulfill that dream. But I can use this newsletter to live out that little fantasy.
When this newsletter began, I noted that my favourite genres were time travel, sentient robots, dystopian futures and romantic comedies. So, true to form, I’ve selected four films in each of those genres — plus one nonsense category, because let’s be real romcom recommendations are boring — for your viewing pleasure. Some of them I’ve written about before. Some of them are just long time favourites. All of them are movies I love with my whole ass, that I hope you’ll love too.
MOVIES ABOUT INFINITE TIME LOOPS
I loooove time travel movies with everything I have, and Predestination remains my favourite time travel film I’ve ever seen. The film itself is something of a paradox, but like Amy Adams’ Arrival, it teaches you how to read it as you go. It is such a fun film, and I viscerally remember the first time I watched it. If time loops are your thing, this will not disappoint.
Looper, like Edge of Tomorrow below, is made infinitely better by the presence of Emily Blunt. If you can get past the bad prosthetics, it is a great movie about fate, compassion and empathy. I’ve seen it countless times and it never gets old. And I never tire of the central paradox.
Tenet (as seen in issue #36)
As an avowed Inception apologist, Tenet is right up my alley. Timey-wimey nonsense is 100% my shit and basically, a full 60% of my personality. And Nolan DELIVERS. Can I explain this movie to you? No. Did I love it? Unabashedly. For starters, they let Elizabeth Debicki be tall!
Edge of Tomorrow (as seen in issue #5)
My original review pretty much says it all, but I will add that this movie did for me what no other could: it brought me around on Tom Cruise. And it inspired one of my latest tattoos :)
MOVIES ABOUT SENTIENT ROBOTS
Ex Machina (as seen in issue #19)
Most of my big issues with this film are noted in my review, but when it comes down to it, I will always, always love a woman exacting revenge.
One of the last few of Will Smith’s run of good blockbusters, this movie is weirdly special to me. It’s part of what sparked my love for robot stories and seeded my interest in what it means to be alive. Plus, even if you don’t like it, you get to look at Will Smith be hot and charming.
Terminator: Dark Fate
Did you know that Mackenzie Davis is 5′ 10″? You’re welcome.
This one is a bit of a cheat, because it’s actually a television show. But I picked it anyway because it has some of the best examinations of the morality of created sentience I’ve ever seen. My whole fascination with sci-fi and artificial intelligence comes down to the navigation of broad ideas about what constitutes personhood. And Humans is excellent at keeping those ideas at the forefront of its narrative.
MOVIES ABOUT REPRODUCTIVE DYSTOPIAS
The best thing about dystopian stories is the effort they go to to ignore currently available solutions. Like, literally any form of birth control. Despite the gaping plot holes, this movie is incredibly fun to watch and totally worth the runtime.
Mad Max: Fury Road
This movie had a profound effect on me when I first saw it and it remains one of my favourite films of all time. Its mix of feminist themes that both examine the intersecting levels of oppression and seek to remedy them is so entrancing. I could watch this movie on a loop forever.
Technically speaking this is more of a superhero film than a dystopia, but I guess that depends on who you ask. But the film’s exploration of who owes and who is owed rung very true for me. It’s a gorgeous and compelling film that’s well worth your time. You absolutely won’t regret it.
Children of Men
I don’t need to tell you that Children of Men is a good movie. But I will say that it was vastly before its time. Every time I watch it I gain something new. And it’s pretty entertaining to boot!
MOVIES WITH BIG QUEER ENERGY
Batman and Robin (as seen in issue #9)
I’ve written in detail about why this movie is queer as fuck, but I never get tired of thinking about it. Give Uma Thurman her flowers!
I Care A Lot (as seen in issue #37)
The lead character of this film is of course, canonically queer. But Rosamund Pike adds a sense of relish that positively SCREAMS “be gay. do crimes.” Not these crimes though. These crimes are reprehensible.
Gone Girl (as seen in issue #21)
I will admit here to my bias in favour of queer coding villains. Amy Dunne is not gay, obviously. But the depth of her deviousness? The casual and studied cruelty? Straight people are just not that smart. I don’t make the rules, I’m sorry.
Intolerable Cruelty (as seen in issue #12)
I’ve written before about how much I adore a good bitch onscreen, but Catherine Zeta-Jones achieves a studied smolder that should frankly be illegal when you’re that hot. Imagine not wanting to hear her purr at addled men?
Assorted Internet Detritus
The perfect celebrity apology, fresh gossip about Liz Taylor, the making of Madonna, on video nasties, the inception of Zola and the woman behind her, sexual assault stories without sexual assault, bo burnham’s broken internet brain, snitches get stitches and Lori Harvey’s silent mystique.
Next week, we’re back to regularly scheduled programming. If you’re just finding this newsletter, do us a favour and subscribe. It feeds our fragile egos. And if you’re already a loyal reader, help us out and tell a friend. Ciao!