First Watch: November 2023

David Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Paul Schrader, Ridley Scott, Albert Brooks, and Taylor Swift.

First Watch: November 2023

Some thoughts on movies I watched for the first time last month, more or less in descending order of enjoyment or appreciation...

Anatomy of a Fall

Suicide, murder, or accident? Ultimately, maybe the point is that really no relationship is as it seems and it's hard to defend some private moments when/if they become sensationally public. I'd definitely like to rewatch this one.

The Killer

David Fincher has a sense of humor about his public persona and this film seems to be a parable for what he thinks would happen if he ever screwed up making a movie made with his uncanny mix of artistry and technical craftsmanship that some consider cold, calculated, or perfectionistic.

Full review and podcast discussion coming soon!


Usually, biopics that span as many years as this one fall flat by lacking focus and playing more like a highlights reel of someone's life than a meaningful story with a true beginning, middle, and end. But Sofia Coppola's mastery of vibes-forward filmmaking provides a strong spine for the film that enhances its themes and ultimate message. Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi are really great as Priscilla and Elvis Presley, which also helps, of course. Elordi especially does a good job, delivering a performance that manages to make the King seem truly captivating even despite an apparent underlying scumminess.


I watched Abbas Kiarostami's classic for an upcoming podcast. Stay tuned!

Master Gardener

Paul Schrader adds another worthwhile volume to his long filmography of male characters who have either been or currently are toxic in some way, but are trying to work out their issues via journaling and commitment to a craft or lifestyle.


There are some truly impressive moments in this, but unlike Priscilla (see above), it does tend to play like the aforementioned highlights reel version of a life, lacking in a clear thematic arc. That said, if Ridley Scott does end up putting out the 4 hour director's cut he mentioned recently, I'd gladly watch it to see if that version is more narratively satisfying.

Albert Brooks: Defending My Life

If you're a fan of Brooks and his work, I definitely think this is worth a watch (it's on HBO/Max). My main takeaway, though, was that I now really want to rewatch Modern Romance, Lost in America, and Defending Your Life – and also catch up on a couple of his movies I haven't seen yet.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I avoided this like the plague when it came out and in the years since. But for some reason, I felt compelled to press play and it's surprisingly not bad. I mean, it's not great either, but it's kinda fun for what it is and, as many people have said, Affleck is compelling as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

One thing, though, is that as much as I like Amy Adams, I really think her Lois Lane is woefully underwritten and the relationship she has with Clark/Superman is pretty half-baked.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour

A good document of amazing stagecraft and production design, but her music still just kind of bores me overall.

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