Category Archives: Like It

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

Lucky (2021) Movie Review

May (Brea Grant), the protagonist of Lucky, suffers the condescending disinterest of the police, reductionist head-shrinking of social workers, and emotional manipulation and gaslighting of her partner (Dhruv Uday Singh). Oh, and she also gets attacked by a masked man every night of her life.

Lucky, written by Grant and directed by Natasha Kermani, is a lean (perhaps too lean) horror satire that imagines society’s patriarchy, microaggressions, and trauma as a surreal nightmare cycling again and again with no end in sight. As far as “social horror” goes, it’s a pretty perfect premise.

The film starts as a fresh twist on an old favorite. May and her husband Ted are attacked in their home by an intruder in the middle of the night. Only, Ted is shockingly nonplussed by the situation. In fact, Continue reading Lucky (2021) Movie Review

I Care a Lot (2021) Movie Review

The initial premise of J Blakeson’s I Care a Lot reads similar to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Jordan Belfort exploited the ignored, undervalued currency in penny stocks and hit it rich. Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) exploits the ignored, undervalued currency in elderly care and hits it rich.

Gamifying the system of old folks’ homes, Grayson convinces the legal system to give her soul legal care of elderly patients suffering from “dementia” (read: some “mental confusion,” as quoted by a corrupt physician). She has an agreement with a care facility to dump off her wards. Meanwhile, she flips their homes and sells their belongings. She lines the wall of her office with headshots of her victims, dotting them with color-coded stickers—a point system. It’s a game.

Until it isn’t.

I Care a Lot takes a turn early on, one which morphs this Wolf of Wall Street meets Unsane plot into something unexpected. And who am I to spoil the fun. Let’s just say Continue reading I Care a Lot (2021) Movie Review

Psycho Goreman (2021) Movie Review

It isn’t often when a movie with the singular perfect title comes along; just the best movie title of all time. Studios might as well not title new movies from here on out. They just will not be as good. The ghost of Orsen Welles wishes that he would have thought of the name Psycho Goreman when he shot Citizen Kane. Citizen Psycho Goreman might have actually won the Oscar for Best Picture.

But I digress. Steven Kostanski’s Psycho Goreman is not quite the movie that its name suggests. Yes, there is a Psycho Goreman (PG, for short), and he does Continue reading Psycho Goreman (2021) Movie Review

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: Lapsis — Fantasia Festival 2020

Lapsis is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia Festival program.

The science fiction world of Lapsis is much like our current reality. The major alteration comes in the form of “Quantum” technology, and, as with any technological innovation, some are hesitant to adapt. Such is the case with Ray (Dean Imperial), who finally folds to the pressures for the sake of his ill brother. He purchases a “Quantic 7” computer and takes a job working for a Quantum cabling company, CBLR. Quantum tech is fueled by cables which are manually laid and attached to magnetic cubes.

Ray is given the materials needed to cable through somewhat illicit means, and the previous owner was Continue reading Review: Lapsis — Fantasia Festival 2020

Review: Crazy Samurai Musashi — Fantasia Festival 2020

Crazy Samurai Musashi takes about five minutes to establish its exceedingly simple premise: the Yoshioka clan must dispatch their entire army if they hope to vanquish the man they set out to kill, Miyamoto Musashi (Tak Sakaguchi). Then, the film commits to a 77-minute single take action sequence, in which Musashi does away with hundreds of swordsmen.

You can see plenty of seams in the staging of this long sequence which point to Continue reading Review: Crazy Samurai Musashi — Fantasia Festival 2020

Review: Feels Good Man — Fantasia Festival 2020

Matt Furie is a soft-spoken cartoonist living in San Francisco with his wife and daughter. Mild mannered to a fault, Furie immediately smacks of a conflict-adverse, peace-keeping man. He almost certainly had no idea what 4Chan, the online collection of volatile chat boards, was. Then, the site’s users co-opted his most famous cartoon image: Pepe the Frog.

Arthur Jones’ Feels Good Man traces the evolution of Pepe the Frog, a character Furie used in his comic strip “Boy’s Club” that was transformed into an incredibly popular Continue reading Review: Feels Good Man — Fantasia Festival 2020

She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Movie Review

In Amy Seimetz’s moody genre piece She Dies Tomorrow—her first feature as a director since 2012’s Sun Don’t Shine—death is coming for people. Not necessarily in a Final Destination determinism sort of way, but in an existentialist death-comes-for-us-all sort of way. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is seen wallowing in the wake of what appears to be a volatile breakup with a lover. She has fallen off the wagon, cracking open a bottle of wine as she curls up on the floor in despair.

When her friend Jane (Jane Adams) comes to check on her, it becomes clear that there is more to this depressive episode than merely a breakup. Amy insists that she will die tomorrow, that she knows she will die tomorrow.

While Jane is initially skeptical, it is not long before she understands the plight that Amy is suffering through — a plight which manifests itself to the audience in a Continue reading She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Movie Review

The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

The Old Guard begins in a relatively familiar place. An elite, covert mercenary group gets hired by an independent party to complete a run-of-the-mill job, only to find that they’ve been set up. It is the standard fare for the genre. To be fair, of course, the opening shot of the film is the leader of this crew, known as Andy (Charlize Theron), apparently lying dead on the ground, her body littered with bullet holes, so it isn’t all generically familiar.

Stills courtesy of Netflix

It turns out that this team of mercenaries has been around longer than Continue reading The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review

In Mr. Jones, the eponymous Gareth Jones (James Norton) is a Welsh freelance journalist who travels to the Soviet Union in 1933 to interview Joseph Stalin. But the film begins outside of this man’s story, instead landscaping a pastoral farm—animals milling about, fields of grain waving with the wind. Jones, in his journalistic pursuit, stumbles upon a nefarious truth behind Stalin’s Five Year Plan—the Holodomor, in which Ukraine’s grain was exported in vast quantities that caused mass, genocidal starvation in the region.

Director Agnieszka Holland directs some great sequences in Mr. Jones—this opening sequence; a woozy, heroin-fueled party; a quiet, haunting interlude on a train. Still, stretches of the film are rather staid. The first act relies on undercurrents of tension stemming from Continue reading Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review