I’m a movie guy. For me, cinema is the ultimate archive of humanity’s last gasp…an archive and a mirror, reflecting back to us our best and worst qualities, impulses, desires and proclivities. On a personal level, the films I’ve seen throughout my life are like mileposts, each movie has a connected memory attached to it; the small story of how I came to watch it, what ways it affected me and where I was at that point in time (physically and mentally). For the next 365 days, I am committing myself to see – at least – one film a day, which I will not only review but also diarize my associated thoughts. Why do I choose the movies that I do? How did I feel when I made the selection? Was some sort of anxiety gnawing at my chest? Did I just ingest a poisonous tuna melt from the unreliable diner down my block?

Here are the rules – there are no rules, journalistic or otherwise. The genre/era of film is of no consequence…only the reason why I picked it. It can be something I see in the theatre, but more likely it’ll be a streaming deal. I don’t have cable…so probably a flick off YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes.

It’s a grand experiment, to be sure. At the end, I hope to gain some insight into how our daily lives influence the reasons we watch the movies we do, and in turn, how the movies we watch influence our daily lives. I think I’ll call it…shit what do I call it? Daily Movie? Nah…too mundane. My Movie Year? Nope…too…somethingLiving With Movies? Sounds like I’ve got a disease.  Hmmm…how about, 365: A Cinematic Sojourn? Now, that has a bit of class – and alliteration. I think I’ll go with that…for the time being anyway.

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28 June 2017
9:45pm

I’m fighting a malaise. I can’t tell whether it’s physical or existential. It’s a sickly ache emanating in the middle of my back that’s radiating through to my chest. It’s a Sartre-ian nausea. I’m desperate for a distraction. Flipping around on Netflix, a movie called I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore catches my eye. The title definitely hits home. It stars Elijah Wood, who always manages to make whatever he’s in at least semi-watchable. I should eat, but can’t muster the energy to place an order. I’ll skip the sustenance. Ok…here we go – I’ll see you on the other side.

Review: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

This was a terrific picture on all fronts: acting, editing, direction, writing…the whole megillah.

It’s the story of a working woman in her mid to late thirties named Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) who’s had it up to here with here with the fuckfaces she encounters on a daily basis. Whether it’s the annoying patients she cares for (she’s a nurse) or the abject thoughtlessness of random strangers, she is a woman on the edge of a breakdown. That breakdown finally arrives when she returns home from work one day to find her house burglarized – her grandmother’s silverware, her laptop and a various anti-depressants. The cop on the scene is typically unhelpful, intimating that she was at fault for not having a proper home security system. Will they make an effort to find her stuff? Of course not. This sends her into a tailspin of despair which quickly turns to anger.

The next morning, she wakes to find that her neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) has let his dog defecate in her yard again – a routine occurrence – and chases after him. Flustered, she gives him the what for. He sheepishly apologizes and walks away – it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

When Ruth gets a ping on her cellphone alerting her to the location of her laptop, Tony is the only one available to help her get it back. From then on l’aventure commence! Events tumble forth, zig and zag in beautifully unexpected ways. I suppose one could say the movie is another take on the Michael Douglas vehicle Falling Down, but it’s far more effective and affecting. Just when you think you’re headed in one direction, the film hangs a sharp left – both in plot and tone. Lynksy and Wood are both superb. Their chemistry is endearing and believable. Lynsky brilliantly emotes her character’s frenzied frustration and Wood exudes an enthusiasm that just sweeps you up. In short…you root for these two characters to the end. I should also note that the cinematography was excellent – replete with a lot of low-mid angle shots that perfectly captured the slightly run-down, yet verdant streets of their claustrophobic neighborhood.

The end, by the way, sticks the landing. Too often, movies fall apart in the third act….especially plot-driven movies. This one was a perfectly complete gem.

Does Ruth find her stuff…exact her revenge…find redemption? I won’t ruin it for you – but sufficed to say, it all hangs together in a thrilling ride to the finish.

Final Verdict: It’s a must see. It recalls the best of the early ‘90s indie movement — Hal Hartley, Tarantino, etc… — but feels fresh. It’s an unexpected treasure, one that I definitely predict seeing on a lot of ‘best of 2017’ lists.

How I feel: Exalted and refreshed. This is a film I will not forget. In fact, it will be one I refer to and recommend for years to come. I really needed a distraction tonight and I got one in spades. One in a million – bravo!

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Lives in Manhattan around the corner from a diner which serves poisonous tuna melts and adequate java. My dissections, commentaries, and occasional rantings have been published by a wide range of online sites, pulpy outposts, and fugitive rags.

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