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: “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” (2020)

“Quick librarian note, Ray: if someone comes in and asks to check out all the spooky books in the library, don’t come sneak up on them.”

A snappy gem of a horror comedy reckoning with the wolves among us, be they of the gruesome and classic “were-” variety or something much more ubiquitous and toxically close to home.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I usually try to pull a quote from the movie that reflects, you know, the theme and mood of the piece, but lines about librarians make me feel seen. Anyway, this contains one of Robert Forster’s final performances and he is such a warm dry, and valuable presence.

Film Review: “Bill & Ted Face the Music” (2020)

“You want some Bill & Ted, punk?”

This is like The Return of the King of Bill & Ted movies. As much a celebration of the first two as it is an examination of the way our past selves inform our future selves and our past failures (and successes) color our opinions of our younger counterparts or something. Heartwarming, well-written, and totally non-bogus. It’s a Bill & Ted movie (without the three or so dated instances of homophobic language from the first two (“yikes!” I said during a rewatch of them last week))!

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The actor who plays Ted’s dad, Hal Landon Jr., played Scrooge onstage for 40 years in California, is still alive, and is quite spry for a 79 year old. Excellent!”

Film Review: “The Rental” (2020)

“I’m not saying we’re not going to get away with it, I’m saying I don’t want to get away with it.”

A matter-of-fact unraveling of multiple relationships that takes the long, chill road towards becoming the entry in a hallowed horror genre it ultimately wants to be.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The main characters are like the high school kids who somehow all successfully escaped one horror movie, grew into their late 20s and 30s, then found themselves caught unawares in another horror movie.”

Film Review “She Dies Tomorrow” (2020)

“It was a nice time. That period of time we spent together.”

A midnight meditation on death that will take me some time to parse. As of right now, mere hours from having watched this in a dark, dirt lot drive-in in New Jersey with Dolittle playing on the second screen just out of sight, part of me feels like I dreamed it.

And that’s perfect.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I know I’m probably not going to die tomorrow, but, like, well, I feel like I might now.”

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: “The Trip to Greece” (2020)

“Do you want to continue?”

A fitting ending to a series of consistent comedy returns that finally nails the tonal dance routine they’ve been doing since The Trip.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “My partner says our relationship is exactly like Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s in these movies, but I say that’s absurd. We don’t have nearly the amount of sexual chemistry that they do.”

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!”