Film Review: “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” (2021)

“That’s dark.”

Escape From New York (1981)

Mostly avoids the anime show-to-movie trope of feeling like a few episodes of the series strung together and introduces a fascinating new character with a crushing story to that whole Jujutsu Kaisen anime thing that’s going on. More importantly, did you see how Gojo’s eyes shimmered?? Most of the extra budget went into enhancing Gojo’s incredible eyes. He was looking right at me, I swear.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “My favorite character is Panda because Panda.”

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: “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: “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: “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.”