There are various instances skeleton imagery and one character who becomes a skeleton in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Also, it’s a kinetic quest western that recaptures some of that Shrek 2 magic in the franchise and provides yet another gorgeous showcase for DreamWorks’ new, superior, and anime-inspired 2D/3D animation style.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “The connections to Shrek are more concrete than in the last one, to say the least, so perhaps Shrek 5 is looming on the horizon. Sorry, I mean 5hrek
There IS a classic, old Hollywood style skeleton in The Fabelmans.
Also, it’s an accomplished and autobiographical recounting of events in Steven Spielberg’s life through his assured Amblin lens. An unflinching yet oddly wholesome family drama about the recipe for an artist. A “one for them, one for me” parable with an unforgettable, brilliant finale cameo.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Seth Rogen: Homewrecker.”
A traditional, brutal tale of revenge crafted with care and threaded with beautiful Eggers weirdness throughout. Alexander Skarsgard is an Adonis of an authentic Viking man-wolf who screams and howls at the audience and we love him for it.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “A worthy werewolf movie… A howling good time!”
A wild, fittingly over the top and touching entry into the same self-aware genre that Being John Malkovich and JCVD exist in, with the added benefit of Nicolas Cage’s branded energy and a beautiful chemistry between him and Pedro Pascal.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I pretty much said it in 2017 and I’ll say it now: Paddington 2is a perfect film. Croods 2 is also pretty good.”
An endlessly creative multiversal experience as delivered by the Daniels of Swiss Army Man fame and a bunch of actors, led by legend Michelle Yeoh, going all in on everything they’re given. The continuous supply of glorious and philosophical all-caps WEIRD is evenly matched with the heart of the story, ultimately combining to address the melancholia and entropy of our current universe and beyond.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Ke Huy Quan is back with a beautiful and layered performance, y’all! The Quannassance is now!”
Mostly avoids the anime show-to-movie trope of feeling like a few episodes of the series strung together and introduces a fascinating new character with a crushing story to that whole Jujutsu Kaisen anime thing that’s going on. More importantly, did you see how Gojo’s eyes shimmered?? Most of the extra budget went into enhancing Gojo’s incredible eyes. He was looking right at me, I swear.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “My favorite character is Panda because Panda.”
“What about you, Maxine? What’s your American dream?”
As clever and funny a slasher as it is creepifying, with visual and rhythmic odes to old horror to spare. What it says, though, about the genre and the links between the love of sex and the love of seeing fake people die horribly, is the real feature here. As are the motivations of the central killer, who absolutely commands the screen and demands to be recognized as iconic.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “‘An instant horror classic’ is the kind of saying that has lost all meaning, but back in 1979 it was still a fresh thing to say, so I’m going to say it like I’m from back then: an instant horror classic, man! Fleetwood Mac! Star Trek! Jimmy Carter!”
“Those who survive never stop thinking about the dead.”
A gentle, human drive down a highway through loss on the way to understanding and healing. It enhances the Murakami story, while thankfully steering away from some of the writer’s worst tendencies. While Pig, my favorite movie of 2021 that was actually released in 2021, didn’t get any meaningless Oscar love, Drive My Car explores some similar themes on a search for humanity in the face of loss, so I am stoked that a film like this is getting acknowledged.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “It’s three hours, too, which means it’s a good movie. Long movies = good movies. That’s just movie math, right? (Really, though, it’s so well-paced that it barely feels like it’s 2 hours.)”
As meta and almost as intelligent as any of the other four entries in the franchise, with the twists of the plot knife and blood to match. The “requel” concept is clever and interesting enough to warrant its existence, as are the new cast of characters who rhyme in substantial, interesting and surprising ways with the old.
Also, the most important aspect of any Scream movie isn’t meta commentary or effective scares, it’s Ghostface getting the shit kicked out of them and thrown down stairs or hit with candle sticks a bunch, which they still nail here.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “There’s a lot of Scream 3 hate popping up again, and I just want to use this space to defend it as not only a curious full shift for the franchise into horror comedy but also an early (if soft) modern commentary on predatory Hollywood, which is rich considering the Weinstein connection to the franchise, but still interesting.”
This anti-John Wick in ratty clothing is my favorite movie of 2021. It’s a film noir that exudes empathy. A journey into the Portland restaurant underground to find some semblance of hope for humanity (and a pig) that actually finds some and shares it with the audience. I am a better person than I was before I saw Pig back in July. Somehow, Nic Cage and company improved me.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I think my second favorite movie of the year is Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which wrung similar emotions from me. I don’t know how else to connect Pig and Demon Slayer, but I’ll ponder it.”