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: “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: “Bodies Bodies Bodies” (2022)

“He’s a Libra moon, which says a lot!”

A fun, hyper modern Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery party in which the clever whodunit aspect is ancillary to the toxic relationships of the 20-something characters and the chiseled 40-something physique of Lee Pace.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Pete Davidson represents my millennial generation here, finally bridging the gap between the Amandla Stenberg and Lee Pace generations.”

Skeleton count: 0

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: “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: “Ambulance” (2022)

“People still rob banks?”

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

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?”

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!”