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 considerate, political potboiler honoring the brilliant shadow that stands over it. A refreshing pivoted superhero origin story. The Furious 7 of the MCU.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “The opening sequence is some of the most emotional and sneakily meta filmmaking that I’ve seen in a long while. I can’t imagine we’ll ever achieve the heights of emotion present in the first ten minutes in the MCU ever again. It is powerful, for it is born from the connections we make between fiction and reality.”
“We don’t write anything. All we do is translate.”
A confident, profound and dark modern comedy with slick, sometimes uncomfortable ideas and an absolutely stellar performance from Ashton Kutcher.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Novak doesn’t try to both sides too many glaring issues along political lines, instead focusing on stuff like how good chili in a bag of Fritos is, which is objectively true.”
A visually arresting story about the stories we tell. A film that aptly feels like a short piece of fiction perpetually on submission at my favorite lit mags. George Miller’s romantic love letter to Idris Elba.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “My three wishes that go horribly wrong would be 1.) Immortality, 2.) Mortality when I have to watch all my loved ones die, and 3.) Free popcorn for life.”
“No wife. No kids. No one to mourn you when you burn in.”
A film about my dad made for my dad and yours. For the Robert Perilli Sr. in all of us. Tom Cruise’s recognition of the passage of time. A perfect legacyquel that retains the spirit and sexy Tony Scott style shots of people giving thumbs ups and signals while planes go whirrr of the original and adds a counterpoint to the macho, dated bravado of the 1980s.
And planes go zoom!
My VHS cover pull-quote: “What would your call sign be? Rooster? Hangman? Maverick? Mine would be Rubberneck cause I’d always be looking around screaming ‘I don’t know how to fly a plane!’ I just want to design a neat helmet.”
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!”
“All I do is watch my favorite movies over and over again.”
A melancholic, romantic character study told in a prologue, 12 chapters, and an epilogue. A true reflection of modern love and how the search for it is intertwined with the search for the modern meaning of our lives. There are moments in this that are truly arresting, pulling the movie up and far away from what you think it will be while elevating the genre with it.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “The central relationship in this is between a millennial and a gen-xer, and the film captures the divide between these generations better than any other piece of media that I’ve seen or read. Although only ten years or so apart, the punk, analog past of one partner conflicts with the other’s more ‘detached’ future resulting in a soft yet meaningful commentary on generational identities.”
“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.)”
A luscious staging of the off-broadway version of Cyrano de Bergerac with all that Joe Wright style and composition that we all know and maybe love. The music is gentle like the movie, so there aren’t any genuine showstoppers, but it all serves the classic story and captivating cinematography well.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I’m surprised an app called Cyrano, which connects people with lovelorn ghost letter writers doesn’t exist. Please don’t steal this idea from me.”
A dreamy, ghostly and claustrophobic horror story that explores abusive and overbearing (and royal) control the same way Larrain’s previous film Jackie explored grief. Also like Jackie, it features a singular performance from a central actor in Kristen Stewart who commands every single scene.
Above all, though, Spencer is a sympathetic portrait of Princess Diana that, while I’m sure takes liberties with some things and completely changes others, captures the feeling of an individual trapped in circumstances she couldn’t predict.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I guess we should be careful about conspiracies, but the royal family had her killed. At least in the Spencer cinematic universe.”