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what i watched last week

Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012). It feels impossible to talk about Frances Ha without mentioning other works. At the very least, with the understanding that some critics have explicitly avoided this comparison, Frances Ha has a lot in common with Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture and Girls. Truthfully, the similarities are mostly cosmetic. Greta Gerwig stars and co-wrote the screenplay. The cast includes the offspring of famous people (the daughters of Sting and Meryl Streep), family members (the parents of Frances are played by Gerwig’s real-life parents), and yes, Adam Driver shows up. And Frances Ha is about a 20-something woman trying to make her way in New York City after college. But that’s just the wrapping paper. The character of Frances is not much like Hannah in Girls. Some of this comes from the way Gerwig and Dunham play their characters … Dunham is far from self-loathing, but she is willing to make Hannah look bad, while when Frances looks bad, Gerwig somehow manages to make her likeable. Also, the financial difficulties that confront Frances are real in ways Dunham avoids. Baumbach is known for his work with Wes Anderson, yet I prefer him when he’s away from that particular muse. And while Anderson is well-known for his use of music, Baumbach really pulls of a couple of beauties here, with “Every 1’s a Winner” and especially “Modern Love”. The ending of Frances Ha is not happy in an overblown, unrealistic way, but it gives us a Frances who is finding a place that crosses her dreams with the real world. #245 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 250 films of the 21st century. 7/10. The obvious companion is Girls, or, for a different Gerwig, Damsels in Distress.

Godzilla vs. Mothra (Takao Okawara, 1992). The American title has an interesting background. It was called Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, because the 1964 film Mothra vs. Godzilla, sometimes known as Godzilla vs. The Thing in the USA, led to possible confusion with folks in video stores. You know what you are getting with a title like this. It won a few awards in Japan, and the ever-popular Peanuts return to sing the classic Mothra song. A third monster, Battra, something like Mothra’s evil twin, also turns up. And there’s the great piece of commentary when two monsters are fighting and someone blurts out, “Oh no, they’re getting pissed off!” Might as well give it the same rating I gave Mothra vs. Godzilla: 5/10.

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