Film Review: “Vengeance” (2022)

“We don’t write anything. All we do is translate.”

A confident, profound and dark modern comedy with slick, sometimes uncomfortable ideas and an absolutely stellar performance from Ashton Kutcher.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Novak doesn’t try to both sides too many glaring issues along political lines, instead focusing on stuff like how good chili in a bag of Fritos is, which is objectively true.”

Skeleton count: 0

Film Review: “NOPE” (2022)

“We don’t deserve the impossible.”

An effective, inventive, sci-fi horror with satirical Hollywood elements that, above all, made me think about the natural universe and the grand morality of humanity’s relationship with its denizens, from the horse actors to primates to people, aliens and beyond.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The characters probably make some of the most intelligent and genuine in-the-moment decisions in film history.”

Film Review: “ELVIS” (2022)

“I’m no trickster.”

Rock-A-Doodle (1991)

Tom Hanks is a slimy, Thanos-level threat to the godlike Elvis in a superheroic, energetic, and overly glossy take on the musical biopic genre. Baz Luhrmann Baz Luhrmanns this thing to the moon.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Somehow, Nightmare Alley is the critical companion piece to Elvis, lending dark background to the carnie villain’s play on our dear King.”

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: “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (2022)

“Yeah, Nic Cage smooches good!”

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 2 is a perfect film. Croods 2 is also pretty good.”

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: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022)

“Sucked into a bagel.”

An endlessly creative multiversal experience as delivered by the Daniels of Swiss Army Man fame and a bunch of actors, led by legend Michelle Yeoh, going all in on everything they’re given. The continuous supply of glorious and philosophical all-caps WEIRD is evenly matched with the heart of the story, ultimately combining to address the melancholia and entropy of our current universe and beyond.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Ke Huy Quan is back with a beautiful and layered performance, y’all! The Quannassance is now!”

Film Review: “Spencer” (2021)

“Where the fuck am I?”

A dreamy, ghostly and claustrophobic horror story that explores abusive and overbearing (and royal) control the same way Larrain’s previous film Jackie explored grief. Also like Jackie, it features a singular performance from a central actor in Kristen Stewart who commands every single scene.

Above all, though, Spencer is a sympathetic portrait of Princess Diana that, while I’m sure takes liberties with some things and completely changes others, captures the feeling of an individual trapped in circumstances she couldn’t predict.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I guess we should be careful about conspiracies, but the royal family had her killed. At least in the Spencer cinematic universe.”