Film Review: “Vengeance” (2022)

“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.”

Skeleton count: 0

Film Review: “3000 Years of Longing” (2022)

“I’m a literary scholar. We don’t know much.”

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.”

Skeleton count: 1 juicy skeleton

Film Review: “Bodies Bodies Bodies” (2022)

“He’s a Libra moon, which says a lot!”

A fun, hyper modern Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery party in which the clever whodunit aspect is ancillary to the toxic relationships of the 20-something characters and the chiseled 40-something physique of Lee Pace.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Pete Davidson represents my millennial generation here, finally bridging the gap between the Amandla Stenberg and Lee Pace generations.”

Skeleton count: 0

Film Review: “Bullet Train” (2022)

“You put peace out in the world, you get peace back.”

A high-speed, creative force of anime energy with chill shades of Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. A bottle actioner of memorable characters, Chekov’s Guns and a welcome reverence for Thomas the Tank Engine.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The Lost City / Bullet Train Cinematic Universe begins here.”

Skeleton count: 0

Film Review: “NOPE” (2022)

“We don’t deserve the impossible.”

An effective, inventive, sci-fi horror with satirical Hollywood elements that, above all, made me think about the natural universe and the grand morality of humanity’s relationship with its denizens, from the horse actors to primates to people, aliens and beyond.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The characters probably make some of the most intelligent and genuine in-the-moment decisions in film history.”

Film Review: “ELVIS” (2022)

“I’m no trickster.”

Rock-A-Doodle (1991)

Tom Hanks is a slimy, Thanos-level threat to the godlike Elvis in a superheroic, energetic, and overly glossy take on the musical biopic genre. Baz Luhrmann Baz Luhrmanns this thing to the moon.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Somehow, Nightmare Alley is the critical companion piece to Elvis, lending dark background to the carnie villain’s play on our dear King.”

Film Review: “Thor: Love & Thunder” (2022)

“Another classic Thor adventure! Hurrah!”

Thor: Love & Thunder is lovable and… thunderable? It rides those good time Ragnarok vibes and adds some emotional tonal shifts to tell a story about reconnection and the care we demand of and give to others. Above all else, Natalie Portman (and Jane Foster) gets the superhero story she deserves as The Mighty Thor and the villain is a sympathetic, creepifying Christian Bale. I just wanted more of him.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I liked it when the giant goats screamed.”

Skeleton count: 0 human skeletons, but one big alien skeleton that probably counts as like 7 human skeletons

Film Review: “The Black Phone” (2022)

“It doesn’t work. Not since I was a kid. Hang it up.”

The Greatest Showman (2017)

The darkest rumors of our childhoods made manifest. A simple, engaging horror story crafted into a tight, capable film with, unsurprisingly, vibes of Sinister throughout. Set in a utopian 1970s in which the authorities actually believe children when they tell them about their prophetic dreams.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I would still accept Ethan Hawke’s offer to show me a magic trick. No questions asked.”

Skeleton count: 0, but there are multiple ghost children which count as allusions to skeletons.

Film Review: “Jurassic World: Dominion” (2022)

“Jurassic World? Not a fan…”

A Force Awakens style adventure to cap off a series rather than begin it. A blatant and unashamed appeal to our nostalgia, our thoughts and concerns made meta through Ian Malcolm’s golden voice. Dinosaurs dinosaur.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “All we needed was Dennis Nedry’s howling ghost exacting revenge on Dodgson to make this thing perfect. Was Wayne Knight busy?”

Film Review: “Top Gun Maverick” (2022)

“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.”