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: “After Yang” (2022)

“His existence mattered.”

A near-future meditation on AI and memory, as visually stunning as it is achingly subtle. Kogonada also made the movie Columbus (2017), which I cannot recommended enough, especially now as a companion piece to this picture.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “There is a dance sequence in this that, along with the famous Oscar Isaac one in Ex Machina, makes a great case for inserting a seemingly out of place dance sequence into any sci-fi feature about AI gaining consciousness.”

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 Worst Person in the World”

“All I do is watch my favorite movies over and over again.”

A melancholic, romantic character study told in a prologue, 12 chapters, and an epilogue. A true reflection of modern love and how the search for it is intertwined with the search for the modern meaning of our lives. There are moments in this that are truly arresting, pulling the movie up and far away from what you think it will be while elevating the genre with it.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The central relationship in this is between a millennial and a gen-xer, and the film captures the divide between these generations better than any other piece of media that I’ve seen or read. Although only ten years or so apart, the punk, analog past of one partner conflicts with the other’s more ‘detached’ future resulting in a soft yet meaningful commentary on generational identities.”

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: “Drive My Car” (2021)

“Those who survive never stop thinking about the dead.”

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

A gentle, human drive down a highway through loss on the way to understanding and healing. It enhances the Murakami story, while thankfully steering away from some of the writer’s worst tendencies. While Pig, my favorite movie of 2021 that was actually released in 2021, didn’t get any meaningless Oscar love, Drive My Car explores some similar themes on a search for humanity in the face of loss, so I am stoked that a film like this is getting acknowledged.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “It’s three hours, too, which means it’s a good movie. Long movies = good movies. That’s just movie math, right? (Really, though, it’s so well-paced that it barely feels like it’s 2 hours.)”

Advance Film Review: “Cyrano” (2022)

“Sometimes illusion is kind.”

A luscious staging of the off-broadway version of Cyrano de Bergerac with all that Joe Wright style and composition that we all know and maybe love. The music is gentle like the movie, so there aren’t any genuine showstoppers, but it all serves the classic story and captivating cinematography well.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I’m surprised an app called Cyrano, which connects people with lovelorn ghost letter writers doesn’t exist. Please don’t steal this idea from me.”

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.”

Film Review: “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021)

“I promise I will never become a supervillain and try to kill you.”

Spider-Man: No Way Home is the realization of a fever dream/premonition I had the night before seeing the first Spider-Man movie in theaters all those years ago.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I want to sit down and explain this movie to 11 year old me, watch the brains drip out of their nose and ears, then cease to exist.”