John Wick never had to go as hard as it does, but it continues to anyway with a deep respect for its bonkers world building, its characters, its dogs, its action and its indulgent, decadent runtime with the arcade-inspired Chapter 4.
There are some skeleton tattoos, but nothing too spooky. Countless folks begin their journeys towards skeletonhood
My VHS cover pull-quote: “When he’s done murdering everyone, John Wick should open a dog rescue.”
“No one has lived in the past and no one will live in the future.”
An oh-so French, oh-so 1960s work of dystopic Westworldish science fiction that is strikingly minimalist and abstract in the depiction of its world, using modernist architecture to effectively insinuate the future instead of build it outright.
My VHS Cover Pull-quote: Even old dystopian French movies make me feel better, more cultured than everyone else.”
“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.”
Surgery is the new sex in Cronenberg’s fleshy, analog future. Viggo Mortensen dresses as a ninja and Gollums his way through a noir setting while getting his organs removed for art. The true answer to our species’ waste problems are laid bare and autopsied.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Cronenberg should have popped up during one of the jaw dropping surgery scenes and quoted John Wick, saying ‘People keep asking me if I’m back. Oh yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.'”
A wet, stylish film noir that gives the Batman character a long overdue big screen, slow burn detective story. Flashlights are held. Mood is thick. It begins on Halloween, it never stops raining and, yes, they slapped some voiceovers on the thing.
I wouldn’t call it any darker or grittier than Nolan or Snyder’s takes, just more… Chinatown. If anything, that gives it a quirkier tone than our previous modern takes because it’s really hamming it up with the genre at points. It’s also concerned with the sheer privilege of Batman and Bruce Wayne in a refreshing way, juxtaposing him against those who didn’t have the luxuries of money (even being Batman is a luxury) in the aftermath of loss.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Not to make anyone jealous, but I have more followers on Twitter than The Paul Dano Riddler.”
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.”
A dark parable that casts viewers as adjudicator and soothsayer, signalling the ending and waiting for the main character to catch up to his destiny. The supernatural elements Del Toro is most famous for are relegated here to set dressing and production value, building the world and genre encroaching upon the troubled soul we follow, from carnival trappings to brutalist art deco noir and back again.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Why is the call of the carnival still so strong even though they’re barely a thing anymore? Every time I’m overwhelmed, I hear Willem Dafoe’s voice ushering me towards a field somewhere. That’s normal, right?”