kicking and screaming

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The Basics:  A group of friends tentatively proceed in non-paths directly after college graduation.

The Bottom Line:  Not to be confused of the Will Ferrell vehicle of the same name, this is the 1995 debut from Noah Baumbach, and it’s a perfectly ’90s companion to Singles - meant in the most complimentary way possible.  Eminently quotable, relatable characters – careless, wobbly adulthood embodied.

Rating:  8 (of 10).

castle in the sky

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The Basics:  Two children seek to return to a mysterious floating castle without being apprehended by pirates.

The Bottom Line:  This was recommended to me as my first foray into Studio Ghibli and – I feel bad even saying this - I think I am a broken unicorn.  The magic didn’t sway me, folks.  I questioned what was wrong with me during long stretches.  This movie has universal acclaim!  I’m sure I’m just not finding a home in it, so I’ll refrain from a rating.  I may try again with, say, Spirited Away.


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The Basics:  A dull Midwestern teenager (Sissy Spacek) becomes enamored by an increasingly psychotic drifter (Martin Sheen).  The two speed through the plains with a bounty on their heads.

The Bottom Line:  I love True Romance, and there would be no True Romance without Badlands – even the music is deliberately similar.  Terrence Malick is so rightly beloved, and this movie is strikingly well written, timeless and charismatic.  There is an almost heightened feel when seeing violence through innocent eyes.  This is going to stay with me forever.

Rating:  9 (of 10).

american movie

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The Basics:  Documentary about a hard-pressed aspiring – and mostly misguided – filmmaker.

The Bottom Line:  This comes up on a lot of best documentary lists – I don’t feel like I’m going too far out on a limb in saying it’s not.  You won’t forget Wisconsinite Mark Borchardt, his colorful friends and preponderance of problems, but cinematic greatness is quite a stretch.  Spans of this flick were boring and mean-spirited; peripheral sadness is unfortunately the most interesting part of the story.  Well wishes, the end.

Rating:  6 (of 10).

the station agent

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The Basics:  A lonely man is bequeathed an abandoned train depot and learns to embrace friendship despite personal protest.

The Bottom Line:  This was such a hit when it came out, critics were falling all over themselves to sing the praises of Peter Dinklage, as well they should… the movie, while charming and solid, doesn’t particularly stand out from other treasured “indie-turned-mainstream” releases of the era.  Some loveable performances and sincere niceness.

Rating:  7 (of 10).

code black

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The Basics:  A documentary profiling young doctors in the U.S.’s busiest emergency department.

The Bottom Line:  I am wayyyy too biased to watch this movie.  For those unclear on my actual profession, I am a software analyst for a large healthcare system.  What that essentially means is, as charting moves from entirely paper to entirely electronic, I ease that transition and help fine tune doctors’ workflows.

Gosh, even that sounds like jargon.  Try again.  I help to make computers in hospital settings function efficiently.

I’ve spent time in EDs, surgery areas, patient floors, pediatrics, ICU, recovery… it’s vital and humbling and I’ve heard the arguments made by this documentary countless times by many good people.  Of course I cringe when docs complain about computers on camera, but that’s reflexive at this point.

If you aren’t immersed in this world, I suggest seeing Code Black.  If it’s your lifestyle, still seek it out - it might connect you back to purpose, or at least refuel your motivation.

Rating:  8 (of 10).

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