It’s been five years since Ben Folds’ last album release, and that one (2015’s So There) was a collaboration with a chamber orchestra, with half of its running time dedicated to an instrumental suite.
That makes it a full decade since his last full-length release, 2010’s Lonely Avenue, and on that album he handed the lyrical reins to novelist Nic Hornby. Which makes it 12 years since Folds released an album of his own material. That was 2008’s Way to Normal, a decent collection but one that too often found Folds relying on sophomoric humor.
My last post in this week’s year-end movie recap of the year that won’t end focuses on the films I need to see before I can settle on my top ten list.
Following are some movies technically considered 2020 releases even if I might not get a stab at them until March. Others are available to stream now but I just haven’t gotten around to them.
Topping the list is Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, which has generated tremendous acclaim, controversy and must-see buzz. I hope I’ll love this movie, but regardless, I need to have an opinion about it.
Of the 49 2020 movies I’ve seen so far, too many have been disappointments of one degree of another. This year it feels like I’m more out of step with the critical consensus than usual.
The best example is The Assistant, Kitty Green’s first fictional feature, which follows a day in the life of a low-level assistant of a Harvey Weinstein-like movie producer. This movie has shown up near the top of countless year-end lists, but I was not on board. While I acknowledge the atmosphere of mundane dread Green depicts, I was bored rather than captivated. I should have listened to my parents, who gave it a thumbs-down earlier in the year.
Writer/director Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology is another 2020 release that doesn’t fit neatly into a box.
First, is Small Axe film or television?
The series was released on BBC One in the United Kingdom and on Amazon Prime in the United States. Four of its five segments clock in at around an hour, with one (opener Mangrove) lasting two hours. Amazon decided to submit the series to the Emmys rather than the Oscars. I guess that makes it TV?
2020 was a film year of asterisks, where the question “what constitutes a 2020 movie?” collided with the more existential question, “what constitutes a movie, period?”
Two of my favorite “movie” experiences last year were filmed versions of Broadway productions, released on streaming platforms.
Should Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton count as a movie? Would it count if it had been released in theaters, as was the plan pre-pandemic? What about David Byrne’s American Utopia, filmed by no less a screen titan than Spike Lee, but inherently a faithful depiction of his stage show?