Film Review: “SKINAMARINK” (2023)

“Why is mommy crying?”

The Matrix (1999)

A distant, unknowable lo-fi horror about the corners, angles, and childhood shadows of our homes. An effectively terrifying detour somewhere on the path from The Blair Witch Project to Paranormal Activity. An aesthetic in which something lurks in the fuzz.

There are no skeletons.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Someone brought a child to the showing I was in, so I wasn’t sure when the child making noise and screaming was real or onscreen. It honestly added to the experience.”

Film Review: “Bones and All” (2022)

“Eat the whole thing. Bones and All.”

Bones (2005-2017)

Hey that’s the name of the movie! A well journeyed road trip romance between two young people who just happen to need to eat human flesh. That added horror wrinkle enhances the proceedings considerably, as does the fascinating work done by all involved. Could it be a metaphor for drug use? Sure, but that cheapens the thing a bit. It cheapens Michael Stuhlbarg’s quick, uncomfortable turn as an overalls wearing cannibal creep! Instead, I’ll say it’s about desire in all ita forms.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The central couple aren’t quite Hannibal and Will Graham, but the chemistry is almost there.”

There are enough bones and mention of bones in the movie to say that yes, there are skeletons in Bones and All.

Film Review: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (2022)

“This is your last chance to back out.”

Succession (2021)

There are no skeletons in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

A bigger, slightly broader yet still clever variation of the original, itself a variation of the Agatha Christie form, which is itself a variation of a variation on a variation, etc. etc. layers and onions. Daniel Craig is once again a fountain of put-on southern hokum.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The setting and some of the shots of it are so James Bond it just had to be on purpose. Also, Angela Lansbury (spoiler) plays Among Us. It may have been the last thing she did before passing.”

Film Review: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2023)

“Your brother is dead, but he isn’t gone.”

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.”

Are there skeletons? No 😦

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: “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.