2020 Movie Review Catch-up #3 — Sound of Metal, Collective, Another Round

We continue our catch-up series with a trio of 2020 films worth watching: Sound of Metal, Collective, and Another Round.

Sound of Metal

Simply put, Sound of Metal is one of my favorite movies of the year. It blind-sided me a bit, given that Continue reading 2020 Movie Review Catch-up #3 — Sound of Metal, Collective, Another Round

The 20 Best Movies of 2020

We find ourselves at the end of 2020, and…well, let’s not dwell on it.

I may not have set foot in a movie theater since March, but that didn’t stop quality cinema from finding its way in front of my eyeballs. I can (and will) list at least 20 films from 2020 worth watching. As with any year, there are films I’ve missed based on lack of availability and/or time, so I cannot call this list exhaustive. Still, this should give a good idea of my favorite films of the year. And this includes some honorable mentions: The Wolf House, The Nest, Da 5 Bloods, Wolfwalkers, Ema, Palm Springs, Swallow, Blow the Man Down, Promising Young Woman.

20. Bad Education

Cory Finley’s Bad Education didn’t leave as strong of an impression on me as his debut Thoroughbreds, but it nevertheless stands out as Continue reading The 20 Best Movies of 2020

The 15 Worst Movies of 2020

2020 is a difficult year to write superlatives about. Especially coming on the heels of a few bountiful years of media consumption, doing a list series for the cinema of 2020 is something I considered skipping entirely. Previous best of the year lists have witnessed a wealth of films which I greatly enjoyed (20 in 2019, 25 in 2018, and 50 in 2017). I may be able to string together a list of 20 this year, but it just feels as though I am missing some great films, some of which that aren’t even on my radar. There are always blind spots on these lists, but my access to films this year is far more limited than in previous years. But I will give it a shot, based on the 150 or so movies I’ve seen.

On the flip side, I’ve seen plenty of below average films this year. Those are inescapable. In the days of Armageddon, the media industries will continue churning out subpar claptrap filmed close enough to in focus to be considered a movie. I generally like to Continue reading The 15 Worst Movies of 2020

2020 Movie Review Catch-up #2 – On the Rocks, Lovers Rock

In my rapid fire end-of-year move catch-up, I have been watching films which run the gamut on the quality spectrum. I want to share some brief thoughts on two more of these films.

On the Rocks

Sofia Coppola’s latest, On the Rocks, is missing something. There is a kernel of emotional oomph, a smidgen of tension, missing from this film. As a result, the film becomes this Continue reading 2020 Movie Review Catch-up #2 – On the Rocks, Lovers Rock

2020 Movie Review Catch-up #1 — Mank, Greyhound, Ava

I’ve been away. To be fair, movies have been away (for the most part), too. So perhaps I was taking advantage of the situation. I’m not going to movie theaters. In fact, this may be the longest continuous stretch of me not going to theaters…ever. Since I could walk, at least. Not going to theaters meant not seeing new movies meant not having content to review on the site, and thus…I had time to step away.

I’ve still been working, and writing, like mad. Writing a master’s thesis doesn’t sound all that bad until you realize that you have that and five or six other things on your plate. Then six months go by and you find you’ve only written about 50 pages. And no movie reviews…

I haven’t posted since Continue reading 2020 Movie Review Catch-up #1 — Mank, Greyhound, Ava

Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Undergods, You Cannot Kill David Arquette, Morgana

Continuing our coverage of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival, here are reviews of three festival selections: Undergods, You Cannot Kill David Arquette, and Morgana.

 

Undergods

A European-set anthology, Chino Moya’s Undergods has a strange energy. Occasionally languid, other times erupting in anger or abjection, it is a turbulent film aiming to Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Undergods, You Cannot Kill David Arquette, Morgana

Review: The Dark and the Wicked — Fantasia Festival 2020

The Dark and the Wicked is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival program.

Bryan Bertino’s The Dark and the Wicked, his first feature film since 2016’s The Monster, is in one sense a story of grief and loss. Two siblings, Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.), return to their parents’ Texas farmhouse, as it has become clear that their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) is struggling to care for their ailing father (Michael Zagst). Following an untimely death, Louise and Michael have to maneuver grief, while also contending with an evil presence that is haunting the farm.

It is certainly a workable premise for a moody horror flick, but the film ultimately fails to Continue reading Review: The Dark and the Wicked — Fantasia Festival 2020

Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — The Oak Room, PVT Chat, Hunted

The virtual Fantasia Festival 2020 is in the full swing of things, with on-demand and live premiere titles becoming available to Canadian audiences. Here are reviews of three films playing the fest, The Oak Room, PVT Chat, and Hunted.

 

The Oak Room

Cody Calahan’s The Oak Room looks pretty good—opening with slow-moving wide-angle shots of a barroom. The camera establishes mood, producing a Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — The Oak Room, PVT Chat, Hunted

Review: Labyrinth of Cinema — Fantasia Festival 2020

Labyrinth of Cinema is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival program.

Labyrinth of Cinema is truly a unique cinematic experience. But simply saying that does not even begin to get at the heart of what makes the film so special. Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s final film—the director passed away earlier this year—it is a film which pays homage to cinema itself, exploring the power the cinematic medium has to enact change on both an individual and community level. It is a three-hour epic, dubbed during the opening titles as “a movie to explore cinematic literature.” And it is idiosyncratic to a degree where it is difficult to describe in a way that compliments the film. Not that the film is unworthy of compliment.

Ôbayashi, in his attempt to champion the power of cinema, breaks Continue reading Review: Labyrinth of Cinema — Fantasia Festival 2020

Review: Survival Skills — Fantasia Festival 2020

Survival Skills is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival

Quinn Armstrong’s Survival Skills has plenty of contemporaries. This faux police training video has the same old media affection, anachronistic diegetic reality, and cringe comedy of the late night comedy of Tim & Eric, viral alt comedy videos like Too Many Cooks, and a handful of other indie films on the festival rotation in recent years. Survival Skills deviates enough from these by presenting a less overtly comic take on the postmodern pastiche of the VHS tape aesthetic. But this tone is also the major detracting feature of the film.

The film follows smiley Jim (Vayu O’Donnell) on his first day as part of the Middletown police department. The trials and training he undergoes is part of a training video, but his actions start Continue reading Review: Survival Skills — Fantasia Festival 2020

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