Film Review: “The Little Things” (2021)

“More sucking than biting.”

A moody detective story that feels way too much like a bargain bin Se7en until it suddenly doesn’t and deliberately pulls away from those comparisons with some telegraphed (but welcome) plot turns.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Jared Leto is definitely playing a wonky vampire in this otherwise grounded detective flick and I don’t care what you say because that just makes the movie better in my head. It also low-key takes place around Halloween, which I feel lends credence to this being a vampire movie.”

Film Review: “Midnight Sky” (2020)

“Just us.”

A simple sci-fi story that feels a bit like it’s been done before while still being well made and effectively moving. The bleak outlook with only the slightest glimmer of hope puts it at odds with Interstellar, one of my favorite recent sci-fi pieces, but that actually works in its favor. We’ve had plenty of hopeful space stories; I’m down for one where we totally fucked up and there’s only a very slight chance that humanity can survive beyond the end of the movie. Considering it’s 2020, that feels more realistic. Maybe 2021 will be hopeful.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “George Clooney now employs a younger actor to play his character in his like 30s, but I think he overdubs the actor’s voice with his own creamy Nespresso tones. It creates a bit of a creamy Nespresso disconnect, though, because Clooney’s voice is pretty iconic and sounds wrong flowing from the non-Nespresso spokesperson mouth of Ethan Peck.”

Film Review: “Freaky” (2020)

“Having balls sucks.”

Makes the most of its genre-bendy premise and its R rating, featuring some lovely gory kills akin to the 80s slasher kills of yore where the whole point of watching was seeing creative deaths and dismemberments. Could have used even more kills during the middle, but the time spent on comedic body swap hijinks, bad Aaron Rogers Halloween masks, and developing the heart of the movie is well spent.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Body swapping with a serial killer to learn an empowering lesson about yourself should be part of every highschool’s curriculum.”

Film Review: “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” (2020)

“Quick librarian note, Ray: if someone comes in and asks to check out all the spooky books in the library, don’t come sneak up on them.”

A snappy gem of a horror comedy reckoning with the wolves among us, be they of the gruesome and classic “were-” variety or something much more ubiquitous and toxically close to home.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I usually try to pull a quote from the movie that reflects, you know, the theme and mood of the piece, but lines about librarians make me feel seen. Anyway, this contains one of Robert Forster’s final performances and he is such a warm dry, and valuable presence.

Film Review: “Bill & Ted Face the Music” (2020)

“You want some Bill & Ted, punk?”

This is like The Return of the King of Bill & Ted movies. As much a celebration of the first two as it is an examination of the way our past selves inform our future selves and our past failures (and successes) color our opinions of our younger counterparts or something. Heartwarming, well-written, and totally non-bogus. It’s a Bill & Ted movie (without the three or so dated instances of homophobic language from the first two (“yikes!” I said during a rewatch of them last week))!

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The actor who plays Ted’s dad, Hal Landon Jr., played Scrooge onstage for 40 years in California, is still alive, and is quite spry for a 79 year old. Excellent!”

Film Review: “The Rental” (2020)

“I’m not saying we’re not going to get away with it, I’m saying I don’t want to get away with it.”

A matter-of-fact unraveling of multiple relationships that takes the long, chill road towards becoming the entry in a hallowed horror genre it ultimately wants to be.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The main characters are like the high school kids who somehow all successfully escaped one horror movie, grew into their late 20s and 30s, then found themselves caught unawares in another horror movie.”

Film Review “She Dies Tomorrow” (2020)

“It was a nice time. That period of time we spent together.”

A midnight meditation on death that will take me some time to parse. As of right now, mere hours from having watched this in a dark, dirt lot drive-in in New Jersey with Dolittle playing on the second screen just out of sight, part of me feels like I dreamed it.

And that’s perfect.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I know I’m probably not going to die tomorrow, but, like, well, I feel like I might now.”

Film Review: “Rififi” (1955)

Rafifi (1955)

“We don’t bet promises here.”

A critical and influential entry in the heist film genre that I only saw 65 years too late (as my father always said, not being born yet is no excuse). Were it not for the sour taste of aggressive misogyny in one or two scenes, I’d say this is a timeless classic heist expertly crafted in that heavy French style. But I can’t say it’s timeless because the 50s were kinda garbage. Way to go, 50s. You blew it.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The heist scene is truly something to behold and had me reevaluating all the other heist movies I’ve seen in my life. If you haven’t seen it, go look it up on YouTube and watch it alone. I unexpectedly blurted out ‘Fuck you, George Clooney!’ right after it finished. It was like a sudden reflex. I’m wondering if you will do the same.”

Film Review: “The Trip to Greece” (2020)

“Do you want to continue?”

A fitting ending to a series of consistent comedy returns that finally nails the tonal dance routine they’ve been doing since The Trip.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “My partner says our relationship is exactly like Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s in these movies, but I say that’s absurd. We don’t have nearly the amount of sexual chemistry that they do.”

Film Review: “Scoob” (2020)

“It gets weirder.”

Less of a Scooby-Doo feature than it is an unabashedly out there and weird all-star Avengers-style Hanna-Barbera extravaganza that’s just centered around Scoob and Shag. It mostly works, though, despite too many pop culture references and modern music cues. Yes, there’s a Hex Girls easter egg. And don’t worry, Hanna-Barbera superfans, Magilla Gorrila makes a small appearance.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is still the best Scooby-Doo movie because that’s when shit got real for the gang and for me. Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc. is the best Scooby-Doo TV show because that’s just some damn fine cartoon storytelling. Scoob! is probably the best Wacky Races episode of all time.”