Film Review: “Petite Maman” (2022)

“You always ask questions at bedtime.”

Coraline (2009)

A grounded, gorgeous contemporary fantasy about the connections between parent and child, of inner child and outer adult, of mother and daughter. I won’t pretend to be the best person to speak with any authority on the themes of motherhood at play here, but what I will say is that Céline Sciamma once again elevates a simple premise with substantial emotion and tight storytelling.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “If I met my mother’s younger self, I would probably have just talked to her about my Pokemon cards.”

Film Review: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (2022)

“Pizza papa always gets paid!”

Army of Darkness (1992)

A campy, Sam Raimified entry into the MCU and a few of its multiverses, with groovy Evil Dead energy, Dutch angles, and POV shots to spare. The more horror in the MCU the better, and Dr. Strange MoM completes a critical arc with a darker, sometimes surprising turn into the genre.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Bruce Campbell and Benedict Cumberbatch have the same initials, so I naturally assumed Campbell would be playing another version of Strange.”

Film Review: “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (2022)

“I can’t die like this. It’s so derivative.”

A thorough examination of pop culture icon Sonic the Hedgehog as a Christ figure, featuring Idris Elba as Knuckles!

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I brought my old Sonic the Hedgehog 2 game cartridge to the showing and it enjoyed itself thoroughly.”

Film Review: “X” (2022)

“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!”

Film Review: “The Automat” (2022)

“These people thought this would last forever.”

A shaggy, Mel Brooks style documentary featuring Mel Brooks and a ton of other people that gave me a powerful feeling of nostalgia for food service automats that were completely gone from the world not even two years after I was born.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “It is, perhaps, fitting that interviewees Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Collin Powell, and Carl Reiner died before this was released, as it really illustrates the sad, dwindling memory of the Horn & Hardart Automats that the documentary is trying to convey. Lost with these figures is their unique experience of a distinct place in a distinct time.”

Film Review: “Turning Red” (2022)

Psycho (1960)

The toxic, generational trauma cycle is once again broken by an overburdened child in this wonderful, high-energy, anime referencing coming of age Pixar movie. It will make a fine double feature with Encanto, for when you really want to dig into some older folks beginning to understand they’re not the main character and should just chillax.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon, and general anime references and aesthetic are out of control in the best way possible. It is a peak 2002 anime kid childhood right there on screen.”

Film Review: “Marry Me” (2022)

“We met at a concert.”

Cars 4 (2028)

The grand resurrection of the studio rom-com for theaters that’s also streaming on Peacock. A charming Notting Hill redux with leads just as magnetic (surprisingly so) that feels like a John Carney movie. A winning, self aware love story for that hot 50 year old in all of us.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Jimmy Fallon shines as Jimmy Fallon, a fucking scoundrel and secondary villain accurately portraying the culpability of media in the diminishing of humanity as the cost of celebrity.”

Film Review: “Death on the Nile” (2022)

“Ah, love. It is unsafe.”

A lavish, downright horny, and faithful whodunnit that also becomes a sort of thesis statement for the character of Poirot. Whether or not you need to dig into a legendary detective character like him is up for debate, but I think Branagh succeeds in his attempt to do so.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I must also bemoan the obvious use of CGI for wide shots of the setting while praising the interior sets where we spend most of our time in the film. Everything is impeccably just so in each little room we inhabit with these characters, as if the interior sets were designed by the detective himself.”

Film Review: “Scream 5” (2022)

“Well now you’re just quoting the original!”

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.”

Film Review: “Licorice Pizza” (2021)

“Of course I go to the movies.”

Licorice Pizza feels like a collection of scenes from different movies featuring the same shaggy characters that form an impeccable snapshot of a certain period in time at a certain place. It’s at its best when it moves away from the sketchy/lightly cringe teen fantasy movie scenes and focuses on the “loser” characters’ escapades and attempts to make something of themselves, even if they don’t know what that something is because they’re too young, too lazy, too apathetic, or any combination of the three.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “It is worth seeing for Bradley Cooper’s cameo scenes alone. His are pulled from a comedy of errors featuring these characters and he captures the coked up energy and manic drive of what I conjure in my mind palace when I think 70s producer.”