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.

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.”

Film Review: “Men” (2022)

“I didn’t come here to be afraid.”

A haunting, modern parable that begins in wtf territory and only journeys deeper into it from there. The worst behaviors of people of my gender are all shown through the lens of horror and rendered with the same face, but that doesn’t dampen the impact of what’s being said.

I was chiefly reminded of Darren Aronofsky’s Mother while watching this, in part because of the mounting wtfery but also because it’s a male director and writer telling a story that almost demands the perspective of a woman to reach its full potential. There’s definitely a conversation to be had about that.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “It’s also a bit Twilight Zone-esque, with some bits of cosmic horror seeping in. I was reminded of the TZ episode The Invaders,” where Agnes Morehead is terrorized by little invaders that turn out to be men from Earth!”

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.”