How My One-Bedroom Apartment Turned Into A 3-Month Movie Festival Venue

Some chose puzzles. Others made bread. For me, it was movies.

Do The Right Thing (1989) dir. by Spike Lee
Goodfellas (1990) dir. by Martin Scorsese
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) dir. by Andrew Dominik

Classics (Obviously) Worth The Hype:

All the President’s Men (1976)

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969)

A good ol’ buddy movie is always a fun time, and when those buddies are Paul Newman and Robert Redford reciting a script written by William Goldman, you get a classic. Having seen The Princess Bride several times, it was fun to see that same meta sense of humor in a Wild West setting.

Do The Right Thing (1989)

Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese making a movie about the mafia is as reliable as it gets. It is also humorous that Robert De Niro played the “Irishman” once again decades later.

Jackie Brown (1997)

Woman of the Year (1942)

I was definitely in the camp that believed romantic comedies started with Nora Ephron and When Harry Met Sally, but jumping backwards and watching the Trans-Atlantic-accented quippy charisma between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy shed light on how wrong I was.

Fun! Movies! Wow:

Inside Man (2006)

A Spike Lee movie that doesn’t necessarily feel like a Spike Lee “joint,” Inside Man is smart, tantalizing and features a couple engaging-as-ever performances from Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster.

Knives Out (2019)

A fun, stylish, puzzle box mystery movie where so much of the cast is doing the absolute most and yet it doesn’t feel out of place. Chris Evans is cynically charming as all hell, Ana de Armas provides the steady heart, and Daniel Craig is having a ball.

Logan Lucky (2017)

Magic Mike (2012)

Yes, the male-stripper movie with Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. Again, Stephen Soderbergh movies are almost always, at the very least, solid fun, and that’s exactly what Magic Mike is.

Support the Girls (2018)

A heartwarming, endearing and witty movie about a small-town restaurant that mostly takes place over the course of a long day, Regina Hall is the gravitational pull that holds the restaurant staff her character manages, and the movie as a whole, together.

Tombstone (1993)

Unstoppable (2010)

I don’t think I’m alone in confusing Unstoppable with The Taking of Pelham 1–2–3 strictly because they deal with trains and star Denzel Washington. That aside, this movie has Tony Scott’s hands all over it along with a great Been-Around-The-Block-energy performance from Washington. Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson go blow for blow with him in the movie.

Quiet And Moving:

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Imperial Dreams (2014)

A movie that sheds light on the difficulties that Black people face coming out of prison doesn’t pull punches on the odds stacked against the main character played by John Boyega, but the warmth and unsubstantiated optimism that Boyega omits carries the film.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

The Coen Brothers’ depiction of the 1960s folk scene in New York City seeps with taunting hope as Oscar Isaac’s main character couch-surfs in search of his big break. You see exactly the kind of star Llewyn is in arm’s reach of becoming, and that tension’s loosening and tightening is what is so gripping in the movie.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

This might be the prettiest movie of the last couple of years, and Adele Henel is powerful as all hell as Héloïse. While the slower pace to the movie and the necessity for subtitles (unless you know French) could threaten to lose you, the straight-up beauty and performances in body language from Henel and Noémie Merlant are enough to miss a few lines here and there.

Tigertail (2020)

A Little Off-Kilter But Give It A Chance:

Ex Machina (2014)

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

The first hour is just a fun, although slightly creepy and despicable, hang with Matt Damon, Gwenyth Paltrow, Jude Law and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in 1950s Italy. Damon flips the switch from charming to chilling on a dime, and Hoffman steals his scenes with such grotesqueness that only he could sell.

Snowpiercer (2013)

This Bong Joon-Ho-directed, Chris Evans-starring movie should’ve been a blockbuster when it came out, but it’s definitely a fun, weird action movie sprinkled with class-commentary and the unmistakable Director Bong vibe.

Not Particularly Easy, Definitely Worth It:

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

In the genre-bending way that Spike Lee can, this old-guy/buddy movie turns into an anxiety-ridden look at the way a war and the Black experience in America strips away at a person. Delroy Lindo is going 100 miles per hour in his performance, and you can feel the depths to which he goes in creating his character.

The Master (2012)

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is sickeningly appealing as he partners with a ticking time bomb of a Joaquin Phoenix performance to create the centripetal force of this Paul Thomas Anderson movie. There is a harsh intrigue that builds within both characters while Amy Adams balances it with a measured, sinister control.

Shot Caller (2017)

If You Like This Actor, You’ll LIke This Movie:

Fighting With My Family (2019)

Hot Summer Nights (2017)

A small movie set in early-90s Cape Cod features an unsure, twitchy performance from Timothee Chalamet that is much easier to watch once accepting the unreliable perspective from which the movie takes place. Also, a summer in Cape Cod just sounds like a nice time.

Locke (2013)

One of maybe three movies Tom Hardy isn’t wearing a mask or going off the rails, the entirety of this 85-minute journey takes place in his car while he makes phone call after life-changing phone call. Olivia Colman, Tom Holland and Andrew Scott show up vocally, adding some fun in a wounding movie that doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as its setup might indicate.

Malcolm X (1992)

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