Re-Watch: The School of Rock (2003)

The School of Rock
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Mike White
Cast: Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman, Adam Pascal, Lucas Papaelias, Chris Stack, Lucas Babin, Jordan-Claire Green, Veronica Afflerbach, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., Robert Tsai, Angelo Massagli, Kevin Alexander Clark, Maryam Hassan, Caitlin Hale
Seen on: 30.6.2021

Content Note: misogyny

Plot:
Dewey (Jack Black) is a passionate musician, playing guitar in a band that has grown tired of his antics, feeling that he is holding them back with his talk about real rock instead of going in a more crowd-pleasing direction. That’s why they kick him out just before a big music contest. Hurt, Dewey withdraws to Ned’s (Mike White), where he lives for the moment, much to the chagrin of Ned’s girlfriend Patty (Sarah Silverman) who would like to see Ned, a substitute teacher, in a more settled position without any old friends who are freeloading. In short, Dewey needs a job, so when Ned gets a call to substitute at a prestigious school, Dewey pretends to be him. And when he realizes that the kids he should be teaching are actually good musicians, he hatched a plan to fulfill his dream after all.

I saw The School of Rock for the first time not long after it came out and I remembered it quite fondly. So when I was in the mood for a nice comedy, I decided to give it another try. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hold up as well as I’d hoped, even if it is still pretty entertaining.

The film poster showing Dewey (Jack Black) in his teacher outfit with a guitar, in a full-on rocker pose. Behind him, we can see 8 children dressed as rockstars themselves.
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Re-Watch: My Girl (1991)

My Girl
Director: Howard Zieff
Writer: Laurice Elehwany
Cast: Anna Chlumsky, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin, Richard Masur, Griffin Dunne, Ann Nelson
Seen on: 1.6.2021

Plot:
Vada (Anna Chlumsky) is a bit of a strange child. Her father Harry (Dan Aykroyd) runs a funeral parlor from their home, her grandmother (Ann Nelson) has dementia, and her mother tried when Vada was born. This has given Vada an obsession with death, constantly thinking that she will be dying soon. She spends her summer cycling around town with her best friend Thomas J (Macaulay Culkin), trying to impress her teacher Mr Bixler (Griffin Dunne) with whom she is in love, and also watching her father fall in love with the new make-up artist he hired, Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis). After this summer, life will never be the same again for her.

My Girl is a sweet – maybe at times too sweet – film that carries quite an emotional punch. But despite the difficult things, it’s a warm film that seems to insist that despite everything, life is good and full of beauty.

The film poster showing Vada (Anna Chlumsky) and Thomas J (Macaulay Culkin) laughing.
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Re-Watch: Love and Other Disasters (2006)

Love and Other Disasters
Director: Alek Keshishian
Writer: Alek Keshishian
Cast: Brittany Murphy, Matthew Rhys, Catherine Tate, Santiago Cabrera, Elliot Cowan, Stephanie Beacham, Jamie Sives, Will Keen, Michael Lerner, Dawn French, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom
Seen on: 20.5.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Jacks (Brittany Murphy) works at Vogue, lives with her best friend Peter (Matthew Rhys) and is kinda dating James (Elliot Cowan) who she broke up with – but the break-up didn’t stick. Jacks is always rooting for her friends to find love, though, above all Peter – who just ran into the guy of his dreams but didn’t manage to talk to him. So maybe the photographer’s new assistant Paolo (Santiago Cabrera) may be a good match for Peter. Jacks certainly thinks he’s great.

It’s been a long time that I saw Love and Other Disasters, but I had a very fond memory of it – and fortunately, my memory isn’t wrong: this is a sweet and funny film that has a smart message.

The film poster showing Jacks (Brittany Murphy) sitting huddled together with crossed legs.
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Re-Watch: But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

But I’m a Cheerleader
Director: Jamie Babbit
Writer: Brian Peterson
Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Melanie Lynskey, Katrina Phillips, Katharine Towne, Joel Michaely, Douglas Spain, Dante Basco, Kip Pardue, Cathy Moriarty, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, RuPaul, Eddie Cibrian, Michelle Williams, Wesley Mann, Richard Moll, Julie Delpy
Seen on: 16.5.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, conversion therapy

Plot:
Megan (Natasha Lyonne) comes from a good Christian household, is a cheerleader, has a boyfriend. That’s why she is completely blindsided when her parents (Bud Cort, Mink Stole) suddenly cart her off to True Direction, a “rehabilitation facility” for turning homosexuals into heterosexuals. There Megan undergoes rigorous training together with other kids in the same position. But what happens when you put five lesbians into a room? Well, sparks fly – and so Megan finds herself drawn to Graham (Clea DuVall).

When I watched But I’m a Cheerleader for the first time, I hadn’t realized yet that I was into women myself, and let me tell you, the film hits differently when you know you’re queer. I definitely liked it more now than I did back then (though I did like it then, too). In fact, I adored it.

The film poster showing Megan (Natasha Lyonne) in a pink ball gown, holding a cheerleading pompom.
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Re-Watch: Never Been Kissed (1999)

Never Been Kissed
Director: Raja Gosnell
Writer: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Cast: Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Garry Marshall, Sean Whalen, Cress Williams, Octavia Spencer, Leelee Sobieski, Jeremy Jordan, Jessica Alba, Marley Shelton, Jordan Ladd, Katie Lansdale, Branden Williams, James Franco
Seen on: 1.4.2021

Plot:
Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a copyeditor at the Sun-Times, but she would like to be a reporter. Her chance comes quite surprisingly when her unpredictable boss (Garry Marshall) tells her to go undercover at a high school to figure out what kids these days are up to. Josie is so excited about the opportunity, she doesn’t remember that she was bullied in high school. But once she is back, all her old memories flood back again. Maybe this time, though, Josie has a chance to do better.

It has been many years that I watched Never Been Kissed, but I remembered it very fondly. I’m happy to report that it is still an utterly charming film with a cute love story.

The film poster showing Josie (Drew Barrymore) sitting on the floor, one of her knees pulled to her chest.
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Re-Watch: Burgtheater [Burg Theatre] (1936)

Burgtheater
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Werner Krauss, Hortense Raky, Olga Tschechowa, Hans Moser, Carl Esmond, Karl Günther
Seen on: 11.2.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: attempted suicide

Plot:
Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss) is the star of the Viennese Burg Theater. The eccentric and basically socio-phobic star. He has the prompter Sedlmayer (Hans Moser) take care of most of his social interactions. Even when he meets the young Leni (Hortense Raky) who finds really charming, he relies on Sedlmayer to establish contact. With these social skills, it’s no wonder that he doesn’t notice that Leni is head over heels for the aspiring actor Josef (Willy Eichberger). When Leni finds an invitation for the Baroness Seebach’s (Olga Tschechowa) weekly party for the rich and famous at Mitterer’s place, she steals it without thinking and gives it to Josef, setting quite a few things in motion.

I had forgotten that I’d seen Burgtheater before. Seeing it again, I started to remember, but only vaguely. This time, I didn’t love it as much as the first time – and it generally struck me very differently. It does have a pretty great and very memorable character in Mitterer, though.

The film poster showing the audience at the Viennese Burgtheater and headshots of the three protagonists of the film - Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss), Josef Rainer (Carl Esmond) and Leni Schindler (Hortense Raky).
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Re-Watch: Casper (1995)

Casper
Director: Brad Silberling
Writer: Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver
Based on: Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo‘s character Casper the Friendly Ghost
Cast: Malachi Pearson, Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Joe Nipote, Joe Alaskey, Brad Garrett, Amy Brenneman, Devon Sawa, Dan Aykroyd, Rodney Dangerfield, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson
Seen on: 5.1.2021

Plot:
Casper (Malachi Pearson) is a ghost who lives with his three uncles Stretch (Joe Nipote), Stinkie (Joe Alaskey) and Fatso (Brad Garrett) in a mansion. Contrary to his uncles, Casper is not interested in haunting humans, though. He would rather make friends. When the mansion gets inherited by Carrigan (Cathy Moriarty) who is sure that there is a treasure in the house, the uncles dial up their haunting, leaving Carrigan desperate to get into the house by any means necessary. When Casper learns of Dr. Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) who travel the country trying to help ghosts, he sees a chance to fulfill his wish and Carrigan sees a chance to fulfill hers. But things turn out differently from what they all anticipated.

Casper is one of the films that was in constant circulation at home when I was a kid. But I probably haven’t seen it in over twenty years. Looking at it as an adult, it’s still a very sweet and funny kids’ film, although things, of course, strike me differently now.

The film poster showing Casper glimpsing over the letters of his name above the manor. His three ghost uncles' heads can be seen coming out of the manor. In front of it are Dr. Harvey (Bill Pullman) and Kat (Christina Ricci).
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Re-Watch: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse
Director: John McPhail
Writer: Alan McDonald, Ryan McHenry
Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins, Mark Benton, Paul Kaye, Sean Connor, John Winchester, Euan Bennet, Ella Jarvis
Seen on: 27.12.2020
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Usually nothing much happens in Little Haven. But this Christmas, zombies have found their way into town. As the town becomes quickly chaotic, Anna (Ella Hunt), her best friend John (Malcolm Cumming) and a few other high schoolers have to get across town to their high school where they hope to find safety.

After recently talking about Anna and the Apocalypse again and it just being Christmas, I thought it would be the perfect time to re-watch the film and I have to say that this was one of the best decisions. The film remains a delight.

The film poster shwoing Anna (Ella Hunt) in bloody clothes, raising a huge sharp plastic sugar cane.
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Re-Watch: The Holiday (2006)

The Holiday
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell, Kathryn Hahn, John Krasinski, Shannyn Sossamon, Bill Macy
Seen on: 10.10.2020

Plot:
English Iris (Kate Winslet) is apparently the last to know that her long-time crush and colleague Jasper (Rufus Sewell) is getting married to somebody else. Frustrated, she decides to leave on short notice for the Christmas holidays and puts her house online for a house swap. Almost immediately she gets a reply from USAmerican Amanda (Cameron Diaz), a movie trailer editor who just kicked out her unfaithful boyfriend Ethan (Edward Burns) and could use a break herself. They make the change and Amanda finds herself in Iris’ quaint little cottage in the middle of nowhere, when Iris’ brother Graham (Jude Law) knocks on her door, while Iris takes up residence in Amanda’s LA mansion and meets her neighbor Arthur (Eli Wallach), an ageing script writer, as well as composer Miles (Jack Black) who comes to pick up Ethan’s stuff. The change of scenery and the new acquaintances impact both women a lot.

I have seen The Holiday many years ago – too many to remember many details, so it struck me as a good opportunity to re-watch it. And it absolutely is a wonderful RomCom, albeit not reaching its full potential. Nevertheless it was exactly the kind of fluff content I was looking for.

The film poster showing Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Graham (Jude Law) above the film title and Iris (Kate Winslet) and Miles (Jack Black) below it.
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Re-Watch: Busanhaeng [Train to Busan] (2016)

Busanhaeng
Director: Sang-ho Yeon
Writer: Sang-ho Yeon, Joo-Suk Park
Cast: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Woo-sik Choi, Sohee, Eui-sung Kim
Seen on: 9.10.2020
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Seok-Woo (Yoo Gong) is busy with work and he doesn’t really have time for his daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim). After he gets her the wrong birthday present, she wants to go home to her mother who is divorced from Seok-Woo and lives in Busan. Seok-Woo is less than happy about that idea, but finally gives in and boards the train from Seoul to Busan with Soo-an the next day. But even as they make their way to the train station, something seems to be off. It’s only after the train has left, though, and the passengers find themselves trapped with zombies, that they realize how off things really are.

Train to Busan pretty much blew me away when I saw it the first time. So, I wanted to make sure to re-watch it before seeing the (quasi) sequel, on the one hand, to make sure I haven’t been making the film better in my head than it was and, on the other hand, to see an excellent movie again. Fortunately, Train to Busan absolutely holds up – it is still a fantastic film.

The film poster showing the main characters of the film running through debris in front of a train.
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