Category Archives: Like It

Movies I liked but likely won’t watch again. Something was off that I wish had been done differently.

Knock at the Cabin (2023) Movie Review

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

The Collingswood Story (2002) is the First Screenlife Movie

This is the second installment in our “Psychotronic Cinema” series. (What is psychotronic cinema?)

The Collingswood Story has received something of a new lease on life with the continuing trend of “Screenlife” movies. Films which take place entirely on digital screen spaces find their origin point in 2002 with Collingswood. Though not Screenlife in the “pure” sense of taking place entirely on a screen (it’s maybe at 95%), Collingswood makes use of emergent technology in a relatively novel way – blocky early-2000s desktop aesthetic and all. A pandemic-era film like Host owes a great deal to this film, whose video chat technology amplifies a mood of isolation and loneliness.

Separate the film from its novelty, though, and Collingswood does not Continue reading The Collingswood Story (2002) is the First Screenlife Movie

Infinity Pool (2023) Movie Review

While I do find myself saying it quite often, I think “third act problems” is a strange statement. In most cases, a third act problem probably originates as a first or second act problem, as in, something needs to be resolved in the third act for the film to work and that does not happen. The third act reveals the problem, but it was an underlying structural problem that carries over across acts.

I make this distinction to say that Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool has major third act problems, but that these problems pertain to the film’s overall structure.

Cronenberg’s Possessor was my favorite horror movie of 2020. It is the type of film that does not give clarity to every angle of its story, but the overall Continue reading Infinity Pool (2023) Movie Review

2023 Oscars Best Live Action Short Film Reviews: The Red Suitcase, An Irish Goodbye

After taking a break from covering the Academy Award nominees for Best Live Action Short Film, I am returning to the fold to shed some light on these under-seen gems (they are gems more often than not, at least). The nominees this year cover a broad geographical range, with films from Ireland, Iran by way of Luxemborg, Norway, Italy, and Denmark. For now, let’s focus on the first two and take a look at An Irish Goodbye and The Red Suitcase.

An Irish Goodbye

Lorcan (James Martin) and Turlough (Seamus O’Hara), two brothers who don’t get along, reunite following the death of Continue reading 2023 Oscars Best Live Action Short Film Reviews: The Red Suitcase, An Irish Goodbye

2023 Oscars Best Animated Short Film Reviews: My Year of Dicks, Ice Merchants, The Flying Sailor

With the Academy Award nominations releasing earlier today, it is ample time for me to play some catch-up. As always, there are 15 short films nominated across three categories, and it is inevitable that people will look at these titles and squint a little. These films hardly receive any buzz, particularly compared to the heavy hitter feature contenders, and they usually end up getting short shrift as a result.

Often enough, though, there are more than a few short films that make the grade and which are Continue reading 2023 Oscars Best Animated Short Film Reviews: My Year of Dicks, Ice Merchants, The Flying Sailor

M3GAN (2023) Movie Review

Nothing says kicking off a new year at the movies quite like an AI-driven robot toy singing a haunting lullaby rendition of a Sia song a few hours after said robot violently attacks a mopey child bully.

Before the pandemic caused the movie industry to throw out the playbook on theatrical releases, January was a month notorious for its low-quality new releases. Traditionally, January fare includes Continue reading M3GAN (2023) Movie Review

Triangle of Sadness (2022) Movie Review

Ruben Östlund’s previous two films, The Square and Force Majeure, do one thing with effective idiosyncrasy, and that is to showcase and revel in the profoundly uncomfortable and awkward. Force Majeure centers its entire action around such an uncomfortable premise: what if you abandoned your family in a moment of crisis, only to realize too late that the crisis was no crisis at all? The Square, meanwhile, adds a leaden layer of class commentary to the mix, pessimistically pointing a mocking finger at the literati of the art world.

Triangle of Sadness, Östlund’s latest, does not fall far from this tree. In fact, at most turns in the plot he doubles down on Continue reading Triangle of Sadness (2022) Movie Review

The Third Saturday in October Parts 1 and 5 — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

So often in horror, people want to return to the past. Netflix’s Stranger Things reinvigorated the ’80s aesthetic. The new Halloween films hearken back to the 1970s look. Et cetera. This backward-looking adoration is all well and good. I can appreciate a good pastiche.

Jay Burleson’s The Third Saturday in October sets its backward-looking eyes on sleazy, regional horror of the late 1970s. It borrows its opening title narration from Texas Chainsaw and much of its plotting from Halloween. Positioned as a “lost” film, it comes off like the latest Vinegar Syndrome or AGFA release — a glossy remaster of a hazy, decidedly non-glossy 1979 low-budget slasher.

The emulation of the ’70s aesthetic is pretty handily nailed, from the floral pajamas to the wood-paneled walls to the excessive fog and southern-fried haze. And the film is Continue reading The Third Saturday in October Parts 1 and 5 — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

Mister Organ — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

Journalist and documentarian David Farrier likes strangeness on the fringes. And if his films are any measure (Tickled is such an odd artifact that I can’t say if I like the film or not), Farrier can’t avoid but get in the thick of the worlds his subjects inhabit. Who knows — perhaps he enjoys being pulled into the weird. (Harmless as the act was, he did not have to take the abandoned antique store’s sign, let alone go on to make an entire feature about the eponymous Mr. Organ).

Mister Organ begins at this store — Bashford Antiques. In the middle of what Farrier calls the “Beverly Hills of New Zealand,” a man is wheel-clamping cars parked in the lot by the store and charging the owners exorbitant prices just to get their cars back. One car owner, according to Farrier, was charged Continue reading Mister Organ — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. (2022) Movie Review

Adamma Ebo’s Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. places its viewer at the intersection of capital and religion. For pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall), this intersection has broken traffic lights. From the beginning, there is a fissure between the two forces, and a clear favoritism in this mega-church community toward capital. And at this broken traffic stop, problems are bound to occur.

Rather, a collision has already occurred at the point in which we meet the church owners. A scandal has rocked the church, which has caused Lee-Curtis to disappear from the public eye. But he sees Easter Sunday as the perfect time for his big comeback. With the church reopening set for that Sunday, Lee-Curtis commissions a documentary film crew to chart his return to prominence; his resurrection, if you will.

regina-hall-in-honk-for-jesus-save-your-soul

You could think about Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. in one sense as a tone piece. What is an occasionally humorous satire of commodified religion also carries a darker Continue reading Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. (2022) Movie Review