This is installment six in our “Psychotronic Cinema” series. (What is psychotronic cinema?).
There exists a veritable subgenre of horror-thrillers (truly, there are dozens and dozens of these things) where the premise involves some form of gamified scenario centering around torturous or otherwise deadly scenarios. The trend blew up following the massive success of the Saw franchise (a franchise also responsible for popularizing the torture porn film), but it did not begin here. It also saw a recent unlikely revival with the surprise success of Squid Game in 2021.
Series 7: The Contenders is something like a working class, non-science fiction Running Man. Or a non-science fiction The Hunger Games, years before those books were published. It is murder codified into Continue reading Series 7: The Contenders (2001) is an Underseen Gem — Psychotronic Cinema →
Scream VI, as one of the film’s own characters tells us, is a “requel sequel” — i.e., a sequel to a franchise reboot which also follows some, if not all, of the continuity of the original film(s). We have been seeing many of these in the horror genre lately (and we are scheduled to see even more), so this is good territory for a “requel sequel” of Hollywood’s favorite meta-horror franchise to interrogate. Unfortunately, this interrogation falls flats.
This film picks up where the last one left off, with the two surviving sisters of the last Woodsboro murder spree, Tara and Sam Carpenter (Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera), relocating to Continue reading Scream VI (2023) Movie Review →
Guy Ritchie has spent the most recent stretch of his career making passable yet somewhat anonymous and, frankly, lacking action pictures. Following the bungled Aladdin live action film for Disney, which I don’t think was necessarily Ritchie’s fault (he wasn’t the right choice for the material to begin with), he has been trying to get back to the brand of film that made him a name in the first place.
The Gentlemen was fine but not my bag. Wrath of Man has some nice sequences but is repetitive and drab. This time out, Ritchie goes for a sprawling, international espionage thriller — he’s trying for a James Bond or Mission: Impossible vibe.
The film opens with your standard issue “gathering up the usual suspects” routine. Two government bureaucrats (Cary Elwes and Eddie Marsan) discuss the crew for their next important job — something involving Continue reading Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre (2023) Movie Review →
Cocaine Bear is the type of movie that “works well in the room,” so to speak. The pitch to Universal on this probably went over like gangbusters. It’s a fun premise with an undeniably eye-catching title, and a film that could be marketed to a college crowd during a slow box office weekend. It is a movie about a bear that does cocaine and wreaks havoc on a forest full of people. That’s not the most difficult movie to find an audience for. And judging solely on one theater in a small market during the film’s Thursday night preview screening, it looks like it did in fact reach that audience.
I saw two movies on this Thursday. One was Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in its second weekend; the other was Cocaine Bear. Ant-Man, a huge release with a massive budget that is part of one of the most profitable franchises of all time, was attended by me and two others. Cocaine Bear, meanwhile, was Continue reading Cocaine Bear (2023) Movie Review →
This is installment five in our “Psychotronic Cinema” series. (What is psychotronic cinema?)
Act of Violence upon a Young Journalist is a cult film object from Uruguay, but it is relatively unknown in the U.S. It circulated in some film circles in South America, seemingly years after its original direct-to-video release in 1988. A documentary was made a couple years ago, called Straight to VHS (directed by Emilio Silva Torres), that documented the strange absence of the film’s director, Manuel Lamas, from public life, which has rendered details on the film’s production and its release scant.
The doc is good, although I don’t think it answers as many questions as it asks. What makes the doc and its distribution important is that Continue reading Act of Violence upon a Young Journalist (1988) is a Cult Film You’ve Never Heard Of →
This is the fourth installment in our “Psychotronic Cinema” series. (What is psychotronic cinema?)
More than anything else, I am reviewing Koyaanisqatsi because it delights me that it (and the second in the trilogy, Powaqqatsi) are in The Psychotronic Video Guide. It is such an odd addition, and it makes me wonder what about it is, in fact, “psychotronic.” The film is not generically of a piece with other psychotronic film (although, as I’ve mentioned before this term encompasses quite a breadth of genres), and its non-narrative documentary style hews it closer to the arthouse than to the late-night cable time slot.
Perhaps its music and rhythmic sense of movement lends itself to a certain, let’s say, chilled out demographic.
Michael Weldon (originator of the term “psychotronic”) writes that the style and score of Koyaanisqatsi was influential culturally, especially in television commercials. This could point us to a tension that presents as psychotronic. If psychotronia’s guiding principle is Continue reading Koyaanisqatsi (1982) is a Psychotronic Film — Review →
At the risk of starting off way too in the weeds into Magic Mike lore, it was the reprise of Ginuwine’s “Pony” toward the end of Magic Mike’s Last Dance that cemented for me why this trilogy capper left me so underwhelmed. “Pony” became something of a theme song for the Magic Mike films, it being the signature song the titular male entertainer Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) dances too in the first film. It returns in this third installment, and it is certainly there solely as a fan nod. Thematically, the song holds a special meaning in Mike’s tumultuous journey through the exploitative and soul-crushing realities of late-stage capitalism, a meaning that is entirely lost in Last Dance.
In Magic Mike XXL, Mike performs a brief dance to the song when it comes on in his workshop – he begins the second film fighting for Continue reading Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023) Movie Review →
This is the third installment of the “Psychotronic Cinema” series. (What is psychotronic cinema?)
After Last Season is both notorious in certain online circles and a relatively unknown entity. Certain YouTubers have amplified its visibility over the last few years (and last few weeks, incidentally), but it still certainly hasn’t risen to the badfilm echelons occupied by the likes of Tommy Wiseau and Neil Breen.
But it deserves to be in that lowly pantheon.
The film opens in a “hospital” where a man is getting an MRI. The “MRI scanner” appears to be constructed of paper (sheets of paper also line the walls). The actor playing the technician stumbles over her line and has to Continue reading After Last Season (2009) Is (Maybe) the Most Ambitious Bad Movie Ever Made →
It is round two of reviews for the Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Film category. In this edition, we look at Ivalu and Night Ride. Previously, we looked at The Red Suitcase and An Irish Goodbye.
“My sister…my blood.” Anders Walters’ Ivalu follows Pipaluk (Mila Heilmann Kreutzman), who wakes up one morning to find Continue reading 2023 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Film Reviews: Ivalu and Night Ride →
I have never known what to do with M. Night Shyamalan’s career. You can’t fault the guy for trying to do unique things with the thriller genre. But there are recurring aspects of his filmmaking which have bothered me, and these problems came to a head with the one-two punch of Glass and Old. The writing, acting, and tone in those movies irk me.
On the other hand, Shyamalan has surprised me pleasantly on multiple occasions. Split is really well-shot and holds the tension. The Visit has a few memorable moments. Going back to the first act of his career, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable both hold up well, I think. And Praying with Anger is Continue reading Knock at the Cabin (2023) Movie Review →