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!”

Film Review: “The Automat” (2022)

“These people thought this would last forever.”

A shaggy, Mel Brooks style documentary featuring Mel Brooks and a ton of other people that gave me a powerful feeling of nostalgia for food service automats that were completely gone from the world not even two years after I was born.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “It is, perhaps, fitting that interviewees Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Collin Powell, and Carl Reiner died before this was released, as it really illustrates the sad, dwindling memory of the Horn & Hardart Automats that the documentary is trying to convey. Lost with these figures is their unique experience of a distinct place in a distinct time.”

Film Review: “Turning Red” (2022)

Psycho (1960)

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.”

Film Review: “The Batman” (2022)

“Me? I’m vengeance.”

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.”

Film Review: “Death on the Nile” (2022)

“Ah, love. It is unsafe.”

A lavish, downright horny, and faithful whodunnit that also becomes a sort of thesis statement for the character of Poirot. Whether or not you need to dig into a legendary detective character like him is up for debate, but I think Branagh succeeds in his attempt to do so.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I must also bemoan the obvious use of CGI for wide shots of the setting while praising the interior sets where we spend most of our time in the film. Everything is impeccably just so in each little room we inhabit with these characters, as if the interior sets were designed by the detective himself.”

Film Review: “C’mon C’mon” (2021)

“Can I be an orphan?”

The introspective, empathetic version of Adam Sandler’s 1999 opus Big Daddy that we always deserved and needed. Black and white Joaquin Phoenix goes around with his nephew and records kids saying the most profound, hopeful shit that I’ve ever heard for an NPR show or something while learning how to interact with and manage his sister’s weird kid. I feel like I could be a father after watching this. Not just a father, even, a good father.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The black and white makes everything look classy and important while enhancing already godlike visuals like the cities of Detroit, NYC, New Orleans, and Joaquin Phoenix’s incredible middle age man hair.”

Film Review: “Last Night in Soho” (2021)

“It’s London. Someone has died in every room.”

Nostalgia is a razor thin veneer over the seedy historical horror show of an era in Edgar Wright’s inventive and slick foray into the genre. The good often rises to the top of the collective memories of an era like the 60s, but it’s critical to remind ourselves that it was just as wonderful and terrible in equal measure as today. Last Night in Soho removes the rose-colored glasses from its central character with a savage, dreamy haunting from a bygone time and it’s groovy.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “You can always say ‘the music was good, though’ about any era, but, well, the music was good in the 60s so the music is also good in this movie.”