Film Review: “Wolfwalkers” (2020)

“There’s two of us now.”

As much an animated work of storybook art come to life as Song of the Sea and Secret of Kells, featuring another story that doesn’t speak down to it’s audience and deals with stuff like colonization, Claude Frollo levels of villainous doctrine, and man’s abuse of nature in addition to the friendly magical tale of wolves and self-actualization going on.

It’s just such a treat to get finely crafted 2D animation like this from Cartoon Saloon every few years.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “This could very well be categorized as a kind of werewolf film, which is wonderful. Like if David from American Werewolf in London had gone to Kilkenny in Ireland instead of those hellish moors in Britain, he could have become a part of a beautiful tale of friendship instead of getting shot with a silver bullet in an alley.”

Film Review: “Wonder Woman 1984” (2020)

“The answer is always more.”

A sequel that I enjoyed more than the first overall (the ending action actually feels like a part of the same movie), but I guess it lacks the ‘moments’ that made WW feel so fresh. Not that we should have expected those moments to be replicated or anything. The 80s aesthetic, slight commentary on the all-consuming need for ‘more’ that defined then (and now), and ferociously optimistic tone worked for me throughout. Even the goofier stuff they pull in from the Wonder Woman canon fits with the almost Rocketeer-like tone they’re going for.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Someday they will use a 90s setting like they use an 80s setting and that will be the day that I shrivel into an old man skeleton. I fear this day.”

Film Review: “Soul” (2020)

“I don’t think you’re supposed to go that way.”

Soul (2020)

Definitely up there with Pixar’s standalone best, giving out some serious Coco and Inside Out vibes just pulled to a stylish metaphysical extreme. The “It’s a Wonderful Life” style themes dealing with the joys of life are front and center, but so too is the drive of creatives to create and what ‘success’ means after chasing it for so long (which absolutely resonated with me as a writer person).

The soundtrack is also outstanding and, of course, it’s another good step forward for the company in terms of diverse characters and leads in their films (but not so much for major representation behind the camera).

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Joe reminds me of my childhood trumpet teacher, and I wonder if he also dealt with the self-doubts and setbacks that Joe did in his life that eventually led him to teaching music as a career (a career I would love to have). I probably should have practiced more to make his job easier. My bad, Roger.”

Film Review: “Freaky” (2020)

“Having balls sucks.”

Makes the most of its genre-bendy premise and its R rating, featuring some lovely gory kills akin to the 80s slasher kills of yore where the whole point of watching was seeing creative deaths and dismemberments. Could have used even more kills during the middle, but the time spent on comedic body swap hijinks, bad Aaron Rogers Halloween masks, and developing the heart of the movie is well spent.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Body swapping with a serial killer to learn an empowering lesson about yourself should be part of every highschool’s curriculum.”

Film Review: “Rififi” (1955)

Rafifi (1955)

“We don’t bet promises here.”

A critical and influential entry in the heist film genre that I only saw 65 years too late (as my father always said, not being born yet is no excuse). Were it not for the sour taste of aggressive misogyny in one or two scenes, I’d say this is a timeless classic heist expertly crafted in that heavy French style. But I can’t say it’s timeless because the 50s were kinda garbage. Way to go, 50s. You blew it.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The heist scene is truly something to behold and had me reevaluating all the other heist movies I’ve seen in my life. If you haven’t seen it, go look it up on YouTube and watch it alone. I unexpectedly blurted out ‘Fuck you, George Clooney!’ right after it finished. It was like a sudden reflex. I’m wondering if you will do the same.”

Film Review: “Scoob” (2020)

“It gets weirder.”

Less of a Scooby-Doo feature than it is an unabashedly out there and weird all-star Avengers-style Hanna-Barbera extravaganza that’s just centered around Scoob and Shag. It mostly works, though, despite too many pop culture references and modern music cues. Yes, there’s a Hex Girls easter egg. And don’t worry, Hanna-Barbera superfans, Magilla Gorrila makes a small appearance.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is still the best Scooby-Doo movie because that’s when shit got real for the gang and for me. Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc. is the best Scooby-Doo TV show because that’s just some damn fine cartoon storytelling. Scoob! is probably the best Wacky Races episode of all time.”

Film Review: “Extra Ordinary” (2019)

“Even the weakest ghost can possess cheese easily, due to the living bacteria in the cheese.”

A sweet, fresh gem of a supernatural Irish comedy that you should watch over and over again until you vomit ectoplasm.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “This is one of those movies where a VHS cover pull-quote fits right in with the aesthetic of the film, putting a lot of weight on these VHS cover pull-quotes — elevating them, even. Like Be Kind, Rewind or V/H/S. Well, I can’t handle that weight at all. I’m buckling under it! Just see the movie! It’s one of the most charming films I’ve seen in a long time, grabbing your attention with a fine mix of Ghostbusters style antics and small bursts of bloody fun, but keeping it with the well-drawn characters and lo-fi aesthetic. Oh, shit. I did it!”

Film Review: “Emma” (2020)

“[scoff]”

A most agreeable adaptation of one of Austen’s more complex protagonists. As lavish and capable of a production as is due, with prim and eccentric performances in equal measure. Quite!

My VHS cover pull-quote: “We had to watch this at home due to the virus sweeping the world and shuttering all the theatres, which sounds like something used to set the tone in a story set in the 1800s but it’s actually happening right now so it’s setting the tone for OUR story and is legit frightening. Quite!”

Film Review: “Sonic the Hedgehog” (2020)

“Look what came out of my egg sac!”
 

The spirit of Sonic the Hedgehog is that of a sugar-addled me in 199x who loves Jim Carrey and this movie caters right to that loud child with Genesis blisters who is drunk on pixy stix. So, it’s another recent genuine success story in the video game movie genre.

 

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Release the freaky-ass weird looking nightmare humanoid Sonic cut!!”

Film Review: “The Gentlemen” (2020)

“There’s fuckery afoot.”

It sometimes plays like a Guy Richie’s Greatest Hits album rather than a wholly original down-in-the-dirt British crime fable, but that’s not really a bad thing. Plus, Richie strings a bit of meta commentary to his entire catalog, which is fun. Truth be told, anything would feel like a creative rebirth after being stuck in the Disney live-action remake quagmire.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Hugh Grant playing entirely against type is a bright spot, sure, but let’s not pretend Colin Farrell’s bold track suit isn’t the top reason to see this.”