January of 2021 was tumultuous to say the least. Even with riots at the Capitol, an inauguration, a battle between Redditors and Wall Street and more, I still found a way to watch some good TV and movies. Most of what I watched wasn’t brand new, as I turned to my growing Blu Ray collection for some rewatches as well as continuing some series I started last year.
As I sadly haven’t been able to go to a movie theater since September, I found myself watching a lot of spectacle action movies, like “Top Gun” and “Fast Five,” while at the same time looking for some good animation and comedies. Here are a few of the great things I watched in January.
“Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion” (Netflix)
One of the greatest animated movies of all time, “Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion” is a tough watch with it’s heavy-handed subject matter and cutthroat culmination of Hideaki Anno’s anime series. I watched this with a friend of mine who had just finished the series, and it was great to see his thoughts on how the movie approaches the end of the series.
This film is so ambitious due to the way it handles the end of the series. It’s an alternate ending, where lead Shinji Ikari has to ultimately decide between evolving into the Human Instrumentality Project or denying it, and choosing humanity and individuality. The movie’s stunning visuals engross the viewer in Anno’s world, bringing them deep inside the head of Shinji. Yeah, still holds up.
“Youth of the Beast” (Criterion Channel)
A quiet Saturday morning in mid-January made me want to find a nice matinee. What I chose wasn’t the typical matinee in Japanese director Seijun Suzuki’s 1963 Yakuza film. This was the first film I had seen with star Jō Shishido and his surgically-enlarged cheekbones. The actor was a force in the film where he gets in bed with two rival gangs, with the ultimate goal of revenge for the killing of his ex-coworker cop friend. Shisido fits Suzuki’s style very well, and this film flew by for me.
“Lupin III: The First” (Rented)
“Lupin III: The First” is one of the best animated films of the past few years. It’s a breakout for the longstanding Lupin series of animated TV and movies, as it’s the first 3DCG installment of Monkey Punch’s famous character.
The film is as cool as Lupin has ever been. Lupin III wishes to uncover the secrets of the Bresson Diary, which has to do with the mystery of his grandfather. I wish I was able to see this in a theater, as the audio and visuals were mesmerizing. Lupin’s latest adventure is a can’t-miss for fans of animation and the series.
“Top Gun” (Blu Ray)
It’s “Top Gun,” one of the greatest movies of Tom Cruise’s career, and it is still amazing. His infamous performance as Maverick helps make this film, which is way more cheesy than I remembered. Something about this movie just makes me smile the entire time. Whether it’s Cruise’s acting, the resolve of Val Kilmer as Iceman, or just the film as a whole.
It still takes my breath away when the MiG-28s cut through the air, inverted or not. I’m now just super upset when I think of the completed “Top Gun: Maverick” sequel sitting on some desk in a Hollywood office, but I know deep down I can’t watch it anywhere but a theater.
“Caddyshack” (Blu Ray)
For a film that turned 40 last year, the humor holds up. The first R-rated movie I ever watched, the excellent ensemble cast still brings me huge laughs all this time later. As someone who was a caddie for a few summers in high school, I have a huge place in my heart for “Caddyshack.” Whether it’s Chevy Chase’s wild performance, Bill Murray’s command in his war with a gopher, or Rodney Dangerfield’s loud and quippy nature, each scene of this movie complements the last. I still hold it as some of the best comedy ever put to screen.
“The Truman Show” (Blu Ray)
“The Truman Show” is a movie that helped kickstart my love for film during my sophomore year of high school. Jim Carrey’s performance as Truman is so raw and nuanced and will forever sit as proof that he is much more than the Riddler or Ace Ventura. The Truman Show will age better and better as we dive deeper into technological advances in entertainment.
As I rewatch “The Truman Show,” each time I notice more about the world around Truman and the deeper complexities of his fake relationships with his wife and best friend. Yet this time I took more away from Cristof (Ed Harris) and his wish for Truman to live a life without the pains of reality. When I look at Cristof in this sense, I get a deeper appreciation for his character as a whole.