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    13 years


The Guilty

Man, I REALLY wanted to like this.
It's certainly engaging, especially for a film that never leaves the one location of an emergency call center, & Gyllenhaal gives his all. I just wish the plot wasn't so ham-fisted, melodramatic, & oddly unnatural. How would someone this volatile get to keep this job? Of course, maybe that's the point; the privilege of white men is dangerously potent. Still, that message works better if the storytelling convinces us of that point instead of assuming we'll just blindly agree with it.

Happy Death Day 2U

Good sequel
I just really enjoy these movies, and they were purely made to be thoughtlessly enjoyed. The plot is fun, the tone is light, the storytelling is bubbly, the humor is quick, and the horror is...acceptable. But everything that sings in this franchise is thanks to Rothe; she should be a superstar.

A Face in the Crowd

A timeless masterpiece.
The anti-Andy-Taylor. Where the TV-character shows the sweet, gentle, idealistic version of the south, A Face in Crowd gives the seedy truth of fly-over states without feeling like a coastal elite thumbing their nose at it. Griffith is a force, perfectly cast to show how the faces of those movements are as much victims as the public. Kazan presciently captures the dangerous combination of entertainment, politics, & commerce, bolstered by a capitalist society, & powered by national media.

Wish Dragon

my favorite 2021 Netflix kid's film
The comparisons to Aladdin are apt. A funny genie, a lower-class guy and upper-class girl connecting on similar emotional state, inability to wish for love, wishes to be a prince(ling), the villain has been looking for genie for a long time, themes of trust and lies. It gets away with it, though, by recognizing the connection and finding ways to subvert it. Long the Dragon's arc is strong, there are several very funny moments (traffic scene is excellent), and the animation is beautiful.


...And in what universe does anyone mistake this woman for a man?
Mulan isn't the worst Disney live-action remake (Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King), but it's easily the most boring. Even without the humor & songs, & with SO much more runtime, this manages to be far simpler thematically & emotionally. It's too "cool" to be a musical but cowardly uses the melodies from the songs. The fight scenes aren't terrible, but they make me wish this wasn't beholden to being a kid's film (an R-rated Mulan would RULE).

The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man's desire to be subversive is mildly apparent, but it's still retrograde and sexist, propping up these societal gender roles in ways that is difficult to defend outside of considering it tepid satire of European masculinity. Also, Wayne is far too strong a male presence to play this character without seeming abusive; someone like Ford-staple James Stewart would've killed it. Still, the direction is super romantic, and the story is fairly engaging, even if it is tonally scattered.

No Sudden Move

"The order of things..."
Soderbergh effortlessly controls this unwieldy narrative of dangerously ambitious criminal inferiors through use of fantastic dialogue, compelling visuals, beautiful design, & commanding performances. Cheadle rules, Duke towers, Fraser was SORELY missed, & Damon's one scene is a standout. His infuriating speech about "the order of things" raises the white supremacy subtext up to text at just the right moment, reminding us that big business is just government-sanctioned organized crime.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Perfectly fine
Action great (except cacophonous dragon fight), acting decent, visuals good, story predictable...the whole this is fine, but I have a more pressing matter to address here. I have yet to watch an MCU movie and felt like I got enough Wong. More Wong. Always more Wong.


"Rocks" displays a Sean-Baker-esque empathy for its characters that is powerful, enveloping, & devastating. The uneasily believable tale of a teenage girl having to care for her young brother when their mother suddenly disappears is carried with heart-wrenching honesty by the two young actors, as well as a particularly comforting turn by Kosar Ali as the best friend. With unending heart & dashes of authentic humor, it reminds us of the importance of "family" when blood lets you down.

Under Siege

Can we talk about how weird of an action hero Seagal was?
I think this is the first of his movies that I've seen, and he mostly mopes around like a gravelly, wet turd. Still, Under Siege is proof that a movie can be "lesser Die Hard" and still be pretty good. I love the prison-like setting of the ship, as well as the crazy-pants performances by Jones and Busey (even if their villainess motivations are almost non-existent).

Black Widow

Loved It
First, #teamJohansson all day; she gave Marvel years of solid work and deserved to be given a chance at some real Marvel box office money, especially given this film handles the inherent feminist themes with far more grace and potency than Marvel's ONLY(!) other female-led entry. Second, I really wish all MCU movies from now on would be like this - simple, personal, great action, outstanding performances, high-emotional stakes / low existential stakes, and believable that all other Avengers wouldn't show up.

Fear Street: 1666

Just glad it's over...
1666 is the best of the bunch, with the brutality finally fitting the tone. Still, I just can't get over how cheap and unimaginative the filmmaking is throughout, but especially when we get back to the 90s, and it's just bad-Stranger-Things again. This whole trilogy just felt like a chore assigned to me by Netflix. And because I'm a dutiful son, I did my chore. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

My Darling Clementine

The only real downside here: not enough Clementine in this Clementine movie.
Deliberate but not slow. Serious but not laughless. Beautiful but not pretentious. Suspenseful but not exhausting. John Ford's My Darling Clementine is a fully entertaining old Hollywood Tombstone western that argues against black-white-hat dualism, particularly in Mature's wonderful version of Doc Holiday. Henry Ford commands the screen in my favorite of his performances; his reclining on the porch is a pure vibe.


Zeigler is in this AND The Book of that's something.
Music isn't quite as terrible as its reputation would make it seem; the performances are particularly good, despite the garbage script. Mostly, it's just a really misguided drag; even the most cursory study of the autistic brain would prove the stupidity of all this. Also, for a movie with regular random dreamlike dance breaks, lazily and inaccurately utilized to exploit the autistic experience, it's shockingly conventional.

Road House

Man, I love this movie
First, let me acknowledge that Road House clearly doesn't seem to care much for women. Outside of that, there is SO much to love about this inspired bit of comfort-food ridiculousness. The coherent conciseness of the plot. The funny dialogue. The throat ripping. The legendary status of bar bouncers. The musky machismo dripping from every pore. Most importantly, though, it boasts perhaps the greatest final line in all of cinema: "a polar bear fell on me." Chef's kiss, fellas...chef's kiss.


Sadly fits perfectly with the trilogy
In the great "Heart Like a Hand Grenade," we see Green Day suffering from insecurity and doubt as they make the modern classic American Idiot. Ironically, in the mediocre "Cuatro!", we see Green Day with delusions of grandeur as they make their awkwardly indulgent garage-rock trilogy. I'll rarely complain much about getting a behind-the-scenes peek at one of my favorite bands, but this is even more scattershot & oddly dull than the trilogy whose formation it documents...& that's quite an achievement.

Heart Like a Hand Grenade

A Gift for Green Day Fans
It's fascinating to watch these guys make one of the most important rock albums of all time (maybe the LAST important rock album?) without them knowing the impact it would have. It's an entertaining behind-the-scenes rockumentary for Green Day fans, but it also serves as a reminder for all artists of the importance of just making stuff regardless of what you think it may be in the end.

Live Freaky Die Freaky

This thing is wild.
A pornographic puppet show that makes Team America look like the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Equal parts oddly comforting and supremely disturbing, it has a true punk energy: cheap, weird, offensive, and hates hippies and yuppies with equal vigor. But do I hate it, or do I love it? I think the answer is 'yes'.

The Suicide Squad

The boldest, most singular superhero film in years
It's amazing what an actual story & competent characters do for a movie's quality. In maybe the biggest quality-jump ever between a 1st & 2nd film, The Suicide Squad is a wild feast of a film. Gunn refuses not to have the most fun possible when making movies, & that fun 100% transfers to the audience, consistently surprising us at every turn. Full of ultra-violence, hilarious performances, unique needle drops, ultra-violence, & loads of juxtaposed silliness, TSS is a psychedelic superhero masterpiece.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Saved by the Final Act
Apocalypse is mostly just generic early-2000s cyberpunk throwaways, stilted dialogue, awkward line readings, and one of the most annoying "comedic" performances I've seen in a while by Epps. Thankfully, the last 30 minutes basically save the whole thing, when the big scifi emotions and ideas kick into a unique, exciting gear, with a solid big-monster-baddie and Jovovich continuing to impress as a convincing and engaging action star.

Jaws 2

Not As Bad As It Could Be
Horror sequels from this era are often dumb and/or cheap. Jaws 2, for all its flaws, isn't either of those things. The scares are fun, the universe of Amity is recaptured nicely, & the final quarter differs enough from the first's climax while still delivering solid thrills. Its downfall is that much of the early narrative & teen emotions are dull & many white youths are we supposed to remember & care about??? Still, there's enough good to make me wish THIS was the sequel Spielberg made.


a campy good time
Piranha is a decently funny, ridiculously plotted, fairly entertaining goof-off that is maybe the most unabashed of the Jaw-rip-offs that flooded theaters in the late 70s. Like Jaws, the suspense is scary; unlike Jaws, the actual horror scenes are not - an endless collage of people flailing around in bubbling red water before eventually disappearing or dying.

Green Day: Awesome As F**K

Lesser-era Green Day...But They Still Rule
Because of the older deep cuts (Burnout, Geek Stink Breath, She) and the guys' undeniable showmanship, this is every bit as good as Bullet in a Bible. Its only downside is that it's a tour for 21st Century Breakdown, a decidedly less successful album than American Idiot.

Letyat zhuravli

There is an innumerable amount of war films about the effect combat has on young men. The Cranes are Flying captures the unique heartbreak of being a young woman during wartime, anchored by a particularly magnetic performance from Tatyana Samoylova. With breathtakingly gorgeous black-&-white cinematography, it's a stark vision of the horrifying long-arm of war's impact on people far past the ones on the battlefield. It's also just an endlessly compelling & emotionally dense romantic tragedy.

Jungle Cruise

Just funny enough...just exciting enough
Look, if you're gonna let Emily Blunt, Jesse Plemons, Dwayne Johnson, and Paul Giamatti run around in fun costumes and act silly for a couple hours like they're in a Brendan-Fraser's-The-Mummy adventure-comedy, I'm predisposed to enjoy it. SPOILER SIDE NOTE: Excuse me, Mr. The Rock's character...I know you've been alive for 400 years, and you're ready to die, but if Emily Blunt asks you to go to London with her, then you go to London with Emily Blunt without hesitation...I'm sorry, but that's just the law.

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