Keeping Up with the Classics #11

Updated: Jun 25, 2020


As COVID-19 keeps all of us indoors, I've taken advantage of the time by viewing as many

films as humanly possible.

Over the past week, I primarily re-watched films, so some of those will be included:

Ben is Back (Dir. Peter Hedges, 2018) - Honest and empathetic, Peter Hedges' BEN IS BACK is an under-seen gem about a mother (Julia Roberts) who must keep her family together when her drug-addicted teen son (Lucas Hedges) returns home early for Christmas. Julia Roberts has never been more raw and naturalistic, and Lucas Hedges matches her, while Peter Hedges' no-frills directorial style lets his actors and screenplay shine.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Dir. Ol Parker, 2018) - Ol Parker fixed almost all of the original's issues to craft a fantastically energetic and unexpectedly emotional sequel filled with ABBA hits and deep cuts. The biggest miracle, though, is that Lily James is so magnetic as the younger Donna (memorably played by Meryl Streep in the original) that I didn't miss Streep (she appears in a glorified cameo). Parker directs the musical sequences with verve, and the decision to primarily use the extraordinary original ABBA orchestrations was wise.

Pride (Dir. Matthew Warchus, 2014) - PRIDE is a joyous, unsentimental, and genuinely inspiring true story about LGBT activists who raise money for striking Welsh miners in the 1980s full of stellar performances by veterans (Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Andrew Scott, Dominic West) as well as talented newcomers (Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay, Jessica Gunning). This is one of the great overlooked films of the past decade.

Training Day (Dir. Antoine Fuqua, 2001) - The only first-watch of the week. Denzel Washington won his second Oscar for playing a crooked cop who teaches a rookie (Ethan Hawke, Oscar-nominated) the ropes during a day around Los Angeles. Washington and Hawke work very well together, and Antoine Fuqua's muscular direction gives the film a magnetic pull.