104 New To Me Movies: While You Were Sleeping (1995)


Title: While You Were Sleeping
Release Year: 1995
Directed By: Jon Turtletaub
Written By: Daniel G. Sullivan and Fredric Lebow
Recommended By: After Star 80 I needed something very fluffy, so I scanned through Disney+ and remembered I’ve been meaning to watch this forever. Another, I’m expecting, “HOW THE HELL DID YOU NEVER SEE THIS?” reactions from my friends.
Star Rating: 3.5


I am a big fan of the mid 90s completely deranged Rom-Com. I have spent hours of my life talking about how My Best Friend’s Wedding is a masterpiece and earlier this year fully embraced the whacky of Muriel’s Wedding, and let’s talk While You Were Sleeping.

Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a sad and lonely subway worker who always believed in true love and has a massive crush on lawyer Peter (Peter Gallagher! Sandy Cohen his own self!), literally doesn’t know she exists. But one day, everything changes when Lucy saves Peter after he’s pushed onto the tracks. A misunderstanding at the hospital leads to Peter’s family thinking Lucy is his fiancee while he’s in a coma. They embrace her and she’s thrilled.

That is except Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman), who’s sure something is up with Lucy. Determined to figure out what, they spend a bunch of time together and realize they’re perfect.

I laughed so hard at so much of this movie, and Sandra Bullock is so so so charming. This movie is way less batty and way more aware of it’s sadness than I thought, and it’s got a really stunning Peter Boyle performance. What more could you want?

104 New To Me Movies: Star 80 (1983)


Title: Star 80
Release Year: 1983
Directed by: Bob Fosse
Written by: Bob Fosse
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Ratin: 3.5…this was hard to rate.


Star 80 is a brutally unentertaining movie. I had trouble rating it because, Jesus, it’s well made and blunt and interesting, and well written, but JESUS, it’s sad. And scary and just brutal.

Telling the story of a murdered Playmate, (Marielle Hemingway, truly great) and how she rose to almost fame, and her skeezy husband (Eric Roberts, also really good, as just…the worst guy ever) growing more controlling and violent before he rapes and murders her when she tries to leave him. Framed as an investigation with flashbacks (structurally it’s very similar to Lenny, but that’s a better movie) we learn all about the not so happy couple.

Look, it’s a well made movie but it’s so deeply deeply nihilistic and unfeeling and I didn’t like it. It’s a shame Bob died before he could make another movie, because he was damn good at it.


So we finish Fosse. Blank Check is covering Stanley Kubrick next and I’ve seen more of those movies, though for from a majority, so I’ll be making more of my own choices but still using BC as a guide. I’m also almost finally caught up.

104 New To Me Movies: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?(1966)


Title: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Release Year: 1966
Directed by: Mike Nichols
Written By: Ernest Lehman, from the play by Edward Albee
Recommended By: The AFI Top 100 List, and it’s the return of The Mike Nichols Film Festival!
Star Rating: 4.5


I love when dark comedies based on plays look like horror movies. It is, in my opinion the best way to translate that feeling of awkwardness you get first hand experiences those scenes in a theater, performed by actors. Mike Nichols absolutely captures that in his version of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? The observation of the most awkward round of after dinner drinks in the history of the world.

The married couple at the center, George and Martha psychologically torture themselves and their young guests with a “bit” about a son they don’t have who by the end of the night, has been sheltered, abused and then dies in a car crash. The movie’s ominous angles and black and white, not to mention fully unhinged performances by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton is so funny, and so scary and so wonderfully crafted.

I’m inching up on actually being caught up around here, so I’m doing some things that might seem a little unhinged, which is why I watched this movie, which is completely unhinged.

104 New To Me Movies: Big Night(1996)


Title: Big Night
Release Year: 1996
Directed By: Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci
Written By: Joseph Topiano and Stanley Tucci
Recommended by: Nick D’Ambrosio. Nick is my friend Katie’s ex boyfriend. We still talk on Social Media sometimes
Star Rating: 5 Stars


I know people talk about the 1930s and the 1970s as the greatest times for movies. But watching Big Night, I find myself wondering why the hell we don’t talk about the 90s more. I love 90s movie, the indie cinema boom of the first half of the decade produced so many wonderful slice of life comedies.

And that’s what Big Night is. The story of two Italian immigrant brothers, trying to get a restaurant going on The Jersey Shore in the 50s, and the big break that could make them, that never comes. Stanley Tucci plays Secundo, the younger brother, who manages the place, and Tony Shaloub is Primo, the elder tempramental chef who is frustrated that their customer base doesn’t like his exacting, traditional food.

There are excellent turns from Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini, Allison Janney and Ian Holm, a silent and very performance by Marc Anthony and so much beautiful food photography. This is just a movie that is not to be missed, thoughtful and lovely and sad and funny. Everything that was good about that decade of movie making.

104 New To Me Movies: The Red Shoes


Title: The Red Shoes
Release Year: 1948
Directed By: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Written By: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Recommended by: Mark Nayden. Mark is my father’s youngest brother and my godfather, when I graduated college and got a job in Brooklyn but couldn’t yet afford to MOVE to Brooklyn, I moved in with him and husband Richard. The three of us had always been close but those nine months absolutely changed my life and I’m eternally grateful to them. Mark and Richard also continually challenge me to seek out art that I’d never even consider.
Star Rating: 5 Stars


What better way to blend my current run of “show business expose” and “old fashioned high producton melodramas” that Powell and Pressburger’s cautionary tale about the human price of becoming a great artist, and if it’s worth. (Usually isn’t!) Telling the story of the rise and fall of a young ballerina, Victoria Page, over the course of a season, where she is plucked from a class to dance a new ballet based on the Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale about cursed dancing shoes.

She and the composer fall in love which angers the manager who wants her mind in dance over everything else. In the end the schism destroys her mentally which leads to her physical destruction as well.

This simple explanation does not do the film itself justice, which is a techinical marvel, completely engrossing and masterfully acted. I’m so glad I decided to watch it.

What I Was Drinking

Hey! This is back! Just because it was a Saturday night, and I decided to snuggle up in silk pajamas and drink Prosecco while watching my fancy classic technicolor ballet movie. It was very vibey and I was very proud of myself.

104 New To Me Movies: The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946)


Title: The Best Years Of Our Lives
Release Year: 1946
Directed By: William Wyler
Written By: Robert E. Sherwood, from the novella Glory For Me by MacKinley Kantor
Recommended by: The AFI 100 List, Crystan Brodsky. (I’m hanging out with Crystan tonight! This is one of her favorite movies ever!)
Star Rating: 4


I guess it’s just a week for me and melodrama. I’ve been putting this one off for a while due to it’s length, but I was trying really hard this weekend to stay in, due to some planned but as always costing more than planned repairs to my car, so a three hour long epic about World War II soldiers reintegrating into their civilian lives was likely to keep me both A) interested and B) kill the partying urge.

What a wonderful, human and ultimately small movie! Despite the three hour length, which is earned. The Best Years Of Our Lives tells the story of three men who cross paths on their way home to a mid sized Midwestern City. Herman, a sailor who lost both hands and is apprehensive about about how this will effect his upcoming marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Wilma. Fred, who married quickly before shipping out and is returning to a wife who he barely knows, and an uncertain economic future. Al, an older officer and family man, who is returning to his cushy banker’s job with an alcohol dependency that worried his wife and children, including his daughter Peggy, who upon that first wild night, finds herself attracted to Fred.

As a year unfolds, Fred has trouble holding down a job, Herman and Wilma work through his insecurities with his new disability and Al commits to helping other newly returned vets get on their feet financially. Fred’s marriage also founders as he and Peggy continue to fall in love.

The Best Years Of Our Lives is a deeply felt, wonderfully made movie, and if you can find the time for it, I would deeply recommend it. It’s the kind of movie that makes me sad for people who refuse to watch anything that didn’t come out before New Hollywood, because the thorough emotional investigation of this movie is better than almost anything else I’ve ever seen.

104 New To Me Movies: Anna Karenina (2012)


Title: Anna Karenina
Release Year: 2012
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Tom Stoppard (WHAT???)
Recommended by: I guess my Pinterest feed? And Scanning HBO Max.
Star Rating: 4.5


This is not a movie for the faint of heart.

If you’re the kind of person who has even an ounce of irony blackening their soul against romantics epics, I advise you to stay far far away. If you, like me, are the kind of person who finds Kiera Knightley, as Anna Karenina whispering “Murderer” as she orgasms in a haze of white sheets, the best idea in the history of cinema, you’re going to like this movie, I did.

Oh sure, like any adaptation of a Russian novel, it skips around, cheats at the edges and feels all over the place. (I haven’t read Karenina, I plan to now.) But it’s carried by the energy of Wright’s direction, the earnestness of Stoppard’s script and the breathlessly wonderful performance by Knightley in the title role. Half the movie is just her in fabulous (though hilariously modern) gowns, walking with purpose and declaring that she will her follow her heart even to disaster!

It’s great fun and I can’t believe it took me ten years to watch this, my new favorite movie.

104 New To Me Movies: Network(1976)


Title: Network
Release Year: 1976
Directed By: Sidney Lumet
Written By: Paddy Chayevsky
Recommended by: AFI 100, and also I’m going to be on the SNL Nerds Podcast discussing Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, which references this movie a lot, so it seemed an opportune moment
Star Rating: 5


I don’t know what I was expecting with Network, I guess a dry satire that was more clever than funny? I only knew the “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” scene, and had heard it referenced. I did not expect this movie to be completely and wonderfully batshit.

When a news director shoves his long time anchor into retirement, which causes a psychotic break, leads to a story about how society is collapsing and our last hope is in interpersonal relationships, which will of course be poisoned by the powers that be, and also even the Communist Party is fighting for their syndication rights. It’s all a scam, nothing matters.

This movie is dark. And funny. And thought provoking. And well performed. It’s a masterpiece. I feel like I’m throwing that word around a lot these days. But Paddy Chayevsky’s script is righteously angry, Lumet’s direction is trippy and entrancing, every performance is perfectly calibrated.

This movie is incredible!

104 New To Me Movies: My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999)


Title: My Neighbors The Yamadas
Release Year: 1999
Directed by: Isao Takahata
Written by: Isao Takahata
Recommended By: Tom Hughes. Tom is my cousin! We have very aligned tastes. He was right to recommend this one for me


I love slice of life comedy. I think that it’s one of the ultimate expressions of the human condition. People are so different but we’ve all done things like try to manipulate our mother in law into making our favorite meal and had it backfire. Or fully misinterpreted “don’t talk to strangers” as a little kid while lost in a mall. Or fantasized about our lives being just a little bit different, if our father was very handsome, and our mother was very rich and we were born in a different decade.

So with this philosophy in hand I loved Takahata’s story of an everyday Japanese family and their “adventures” which are more like mishaps. Takahata made a wonderful sitcom, each vignette illuminating the Yamada family and their quirks, making them delightfully human, unfathomably human and utterly charming.

Climaxing in a floaty rendition of “Que Sera Sera” the sketchy, cartoonish designs bring a wonderful world to life. I very much appreciated checking this movie out.

104 New To Me Movies: All That Jazz (1979)


Title: All That Jazz
Release Year: 1979
Directed By: Bob Fosse
Written By: Robert Alan Aurthur and Bob Fosse
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David, and just like, my life, in general. I don’t know how I made it 34 years without watching this movie in full.
Star Rating: 5 Stars (this movie is a masterpiece)


All That Jazz is a wonderful movie, full of raw emotional performances, fantastic dancing and above all the self creation of a myth so coated in self loathing and despair it’s amazing that Bob Fosse was able to get out of bed every day.

Joe Gideon (a PHENOMENAL Roy Scheider) is a director and choreographer who suffers a heart attack while working on a new film, The Stand Up (Lenny) and a new Broadway musical NY/LA with his ex wife Audrey (Leland Palmer, standing in for Gwen Verdon) (NY/LA is a combination of Fosse’s experiences with Chicago and Pippin). His personal life is hanging by a thread as he cheats on his longtime girlfriend Katie (Anne Reinking, basically playing herself) and alienates himself from his young daughter Michelle, (Erzsebet Folie) and has long conversation in his head with The Angel of Death, played by Jessica Lange.

While on the table for open heart surgery, Joe fantasizes an elaborate burlesque where the three women in his life warn him that he needs to get it together if he makes it through this, and that they want him to. Instead, Joe finds himself on a variety show hosted by O’Connor Flood (Ben Vereen) where he sings “Bye Bye Life” and goes to the angel’s embrace.

There’s a lot more to this movie, but it’s impossible to talk about in print. You have to watch it, to see how a person can look so clearly in the mirror and see their life and legacy, and hate what they see so much. Joe Gideon is a real piece of shit. In every interview about the movie Reinking says she was shocked and insists that Fosse was a much better person than Joe. But he made the movie Anne, he saw himself this way, it’s a fascinating portrait.