A wild, fittingly over the top and touching entry into the same self-aware genre that Being John Malkovich and JCVD exist in, with the added benefit of Nicolas Cage’s branded energy and a beautiful chemistry between him and Pedro Pascal.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I pretty much said it in 2017 and I’ll say it now: Paddington 2is a perfect film. Croods 2 is also pretty good.”
A sweat-drenched old school action movie that doubles as a delicious self-parody by auteur Michael Bay. I really just want to talk about the sweat, though. Starting in the second third of the film, buckets of sweat pour out of the screen onto the audience. From Gyllenhaal, from Abdul-Mateen II, from the city of Los Angeles itself. There is no stopping it, there is no escaping it. If you see this movie, you will be sweated upon. I asked a theater employee and they told me it’s a fundamental part of the glistening experience. Five stars.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Who gave Michael Bay drones and why didn’t they give them to him sooner?”
There’s a bit of welcome schlocky Hammer Horror in this new entry into the Spider-Man adjacent genetic anti-hero Sony Playstation Universe (SAGASPU), but not nearly enough. It’s all so suitably hammy and self-serious, but more blood, more horror, and choosing Buffy the Vampire Slayer style prosthetics over CGI would have really sold it. Still, if you dig the weird, messy vibes of Venom and like Matt Smith stealing the spotlight from people, you will find something to enjoy.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I still stand by my Venom 2 review where I said there is plenty of room for these janky 90s/early 00s style comic book movies amidst the cinematic universes, destined to be played on FX until the end of time. For the bored children. For the drunk bar patrons. For the tired vacationers. For the people, damn it.”
Mostly avoids the anime show-to-movie trope of feeling like a few episodes of the series strung together and introduces a fascinating new character with a crushing story to that whole Jujutsu Kaisen anime thing that’s going on. More importantly, did you see how Gojo’s eyes shimmered?? Most of the extra budget went into enhancing Gojo’s incredible eyes. He was looking right at me, I swear.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “My favorite character is Panda because Panda.”
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.”
A wet, stylish film noir that gives the Batman character a long overdue big screen, slow burn detective story. Flashlights are held. Mood is thick. It begins on Halloween, it never stops raining and, yes, they slapped some voiceovers on the thing.
I wouldn’t call it any darker or grittier than Nolan or Snyder’s takes, just more… Chinatown. If anything, that gives it a quirkier tone than our previous modern takes because it’s really hamming it up with the genre at points. It’s also concerned with the sheer privilege of Batman and Bruce Wayne in a refreshing way, juxtaposing him against those who didn’t have the luxuries of money (even being Batman is a luxury) in the aftermath of loss.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Not to make anyone jealous, but I have more followers on Twitter than The Paul Dano Riddler.”
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.”
A hyper-modern masterpiece of animation and a soft retelling of Beauty and the Beast that achieves emotional highs by exploring an unexpected variation to the story and combining it with the idea of what connecting really means in a world like ours (or one that’s a half sci-fi step or two ahead of ours, to be exact). Also, because this is anime, a touch of highschool drama.
Both the CG and hand-drawn animation styles are equally impressive, especially on a large screen where you can bask in the warm glow of the real world’s earthy techniques and then can get breathlessly lost in the intimate yet magnificent scope of the digital world.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “When an actual metaverse like the one in this movie forms, I’m afraid that you’ll find me there most of the time, as an autogenerated avatar that looks like a cart of books and wires that you’d find in the back room of your local library.”
Like the brand to which these characters are inextricably tied, it’s all a bit much. It’s a buffoonish comedy of errors, a family drama, a sort of mystical journey, and even more movies rolled into one. The weirder it gets the better, but it never allows itself to veer too far into the bizarre so it’s often stuck in family drama mode. The performances are all top-notch and even charming, especially Lady Gaga’s as an individual with a dangerous combo of unfettered drive and pride.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Jared Leto and Al Pacino put in amazing, sympathetic performances as Waluigi and Wario.”
An energetic and beautifully animated 60th entry into the Disney animated canon that’s about family, acceptance, and toxicity. It shares a bunch of themes with Moana, as well as the unrestrained touch of Lin Manuel Miranda’s songwriting skills. The wide ensemble of genuinely developed characters (as developed as 90 minutes allows) helps set it apart from other animated fare. More importantly, though, the main character has glasses and that makes me feel seen as someone with glasses.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Releasing The Eternals: Part II so close to the first one was risky, but it definitely pays off.”