Me You Madness (2021) Movie Review

You could call Me You Madness a “female-driven American Psycho.” In fact, the movie would likely be smugly pleased if you made such a comparison. It would happily do you one better. As the over-bearing, ludicrous voiceover from the film’s central figure, Catherine Black (Louis Linton, who also directs, produces, and co-writes), attests, this is a high concept film which is familiar yet oh so unique. That’s right, the film itself tells you how special and great it is going to be. Right off the bat. (It will later explicitly refer to the screenwriters as geniuses, just because they understand how to implement a comedic callback).

Black is a self-described beautiful genius. She runs a massively successful hedge fund. She is a stock market guru. She literally gets off on watching stock market numbers move in her favor. She lives in the lap of luxury in an isolated Malibu estate. Her IQ is 173. And she is a serial killer.

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When Tyler, a thief and con man (Ed Westwick), answers her call for a “roommate,” the game is afoot. After giving Tyler a grand tour, Black drugs him, sleeps with him, butters him up in the morning, and then Continue reading Me You Madness (2021) Movie Review

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 (2021) Movie Review

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 marks the conclusion of Leigh Janiak’s trilogy of horror pastiche films, which have been releasing weekly on Netflix. The trilogy’s release strategy has perhaps received as much attention as the films. Netflix adopts the weekly programming schedule that it actively helped to dissemble with its OTT service which gave rise to the binge-watching model. It’s not so much an innovation as a throwback, just like the movies themselves.

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Part One: 1994 was a broad throwback to the slasher, specifically taking cards from the self-aware era popularized by Scream. Part Two: 1978 was a pure Continue reading Fear Street Part Three: 1666 (2021) Movie Review

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) Movie Review

During the first scene of Space Jam: A New Legacy, I wondered if NBA superstar LeBron James would be boring to hang out with. He’s so hyper-focused on basketball and his legacy, I don’t know what I would talk to him about. All those playoff injuries? What weapons Bron needs to win another championship in L.A.? The stock market? I don’t know.

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Soon after having this thought, I realized I had fallen right into LeBron’s carefully-placed trap. This was exactly what he wanted me to think, as Continue reading Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) Movie Review

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021) Movie Review

Adam Robitel’s Escape Room was dumped. It was shoveled off to January, the month where genre movies go to die. The first month of the year has become somewhat notorious for having poor new movie releases. To be fair to the studios, it is an awkward area of the release calendar. There is not as much foot traffic in the theaters as there is during the summer months or the November-December holiday weekends. At the same time, January is a time when prestige movies are starting to do the rounds for awards season consideration. It just isn’t a month for blockbusters.

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So studios dump their genre films there—the genre films they don’t have too much faith in, it appears. Sony released Escape Room on the first weekend of January 2019. And it did a shocking amount of business. 16 weeks later, the film had accumulated over $57 million domestic. Given the film ends on a Continue reading Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021) Movie Review

Black Widow (2021) Movie Review

Following over a decade of releasing the most block-busting of franchise blockbusters, Marvel Studios blew up its world. Thanos, the arch-nemesis to Marvel’s foremost team the Avengers, which the studio had been setting up for years, eliminated half of the known universe with a snap. In the next film, the Marvel universe righted itself once again, re-establishing the diegetic status quo, save for a few notable casualties — among them, Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

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After the overblown spectacle of this two-part finale — the second of which became the highest grossing film of all time — it seemed an impossible task for the studio to Continue reading Black Widow (2021) Movie Review

Fear Street Part Two: 1978 (2021) Movie Review

Fear Street: 1978, the second in a trilogy of horror pastiches for Netflix, is a Friday the 13th riff. Following the events of the first film in 1994, the survivors seek the aid of the survivor of a similar incident, C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs). The connective tissue between 1978 and 1994: the legacy of an accused witch by the name of Sarah Fier.

Flashback to a late-’70s summer camp, where Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink) is being pursued through the woods. She is caught and strung up by her pursuers, bullies who accuse her of embodying the spirit of Fier and causing havoc in the camp. In truth, someone else at the camp is interested in the history of the alleged witch, someone who believes Fier will bring death to the campers that very night.

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Leigh Janiak directs the Fear Street trilogy, and she does a good job Continue reading Fear Street Part Two: 1978 (2021) Movie Review

No Sudden Move (2021) Movie Review

Somewhere in my preteen years, when I was taking in film so voraciously that I may have grown allergic to the sun, I stumbled upon Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. I was hooked. It was probably my favorite movie for years, until some other hyper-masculine auteur thing took its spot. And, while it makes me feel like a dorm-room film nerd to admit it, I still love Reservoir Dogs (I can at least say I never had a Pulp Fiction poster hung up in my dorm room).

Reservoir Dogs belongs to a specific type of modern crime film. These films have a sizable ensemble cast, flashy dialogue, a winding narrative chock full of backstabbing and secrets, and the outcome generally goes badly for every character involved. Stakes matter, because the script is not beholden to the safety of the principal cast of characters. Death is treated as superfluous, a mere hazard of the profession. Cynicism reigns as supreme as in the bleakest of film noir, yet the generic elements of the film hew closer to baseline exploitation cinema.

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Nothing in this equation sounds bad to me. On the contrary, I am drawn to it. Which isn’t to say Continue reading No Sudden Move (2021) Movie Review

In the Heights (2021) Movie Review

In the Heights is the first big post-pandemic movie to feel like a theatrical event. That was my experience, anyway. And this is coming from someone who’s never seen the stage play from Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Algeria Hudes. Someone who has only a passing knowledge of film musicals in general.

Tenet was pushed early in the pandemic as the theatrical savior (I recall the whole world chanting in chorus, “if Chris Nolan can’t do it, then who can”). That proved to be too early and, frankly, not nearly splashy enough for a blockbuster. Just last weekend, A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella sparked life into an American box office which had been more or less comatose for over a year. The former is a popcorn-munching thriller with its pluses and minuses (I can’t speak to the latter). But it’s not In the Heights.

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Jon M. Chu’s follow-up to the lavish and vibrant Crazy Rich Asians doubles down on the extravagance, painting the blocks of Washington Heights, NYC with lively choreography and the occasional cinematic flourish. The film feels Continue reading In the Heights (2021) Movie Review

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) Movie Review

I hadn’t stepped foot in a movie theater in 425 days. It is perhaps the longest consecutive stretch of time I’ve gone without seeing a movie in a theater since I’ve been able to walk. And, all things considered, I made good use of those 425 days. I researched, drafted, and completed a master’s thesis (on horror movies that are nothing like Spiral: From The Book of Saw, but the Saw franchise certainly has an important place in the history I was looking at). I am on the verge of earning my master’s degree; and the time commitment probably would have kept my theater-going to a minimum even if the world was not facing a crisis.

None of this is particularly relevant to my review of Spiral: From The Book of Saw, save for the fact that this was the film that broke my 425-day streak. And I thought it fitting to return to theaters with the type of movie that really keeps me invested in film art: pure horror genre schlock.

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Spiral: From the Book of Saw may be the oddest horror sequel title ever thought up (who wrote the book of Saw? Is it available at my local library? Is it like an Anarchist Cookbook type deal, where it teaches you how to concoct sadistic death traps just like John Kramer used to? So many questions that have no answer). It is entirely possible that Continue reading Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) Movie Review

Mortal Kombat (2021) Movie Review

I have no relationship to the Mortal Kombat IP. If I’ve ever played the video games, I don’t remember (I was more of a Tekken 3 and Soul Caliber II kid, and even after putting about 100 hours into those I was never very good at fighting games). I haven’t seen Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1995 film, either. Really, my knowledge begins and ends with the techno song which opens that film and “Fatality!”

Understandably, then, I found myself fairly lost within five minutes of this film beginning. A prologue set in 17th century Japan launches us into a fight sequence between Continue reading Mortal Kombat (2021) Movie Review

One man. Millions of movies.