Category Archives: Like It

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

Death on the Nile (2022) Movie Review

Kenneth Branagh’s sleek Agatha Christie adaptation, his second after 2017’s underwhelming and overly staid Murder on the Orient Express, is a delight, just so long as you are patient with it.

For a murder mystery, Death on the Nile takes its sweet time getting to the murder. The script almost teases you with this delay. The characters are introduced (or reintroduced in some cases) with a coy monologue which lays out the backstories which establish each person’s potential motives. Establishing shots are occasionally interrupted by sudden acts of animal violence, as if to say, murder is in the nature of this world — just give it time. One poorly staged false start nearly takes the head off of the love-struck heiress Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot).

This heiress has jilted her childhood friend Jackie (Emma Mackey) by stealing Continue reading Death on the Nile (2022) Movie Review

2nd Chance (2022) Movie Review

2nd Chance premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival

Ramin Bahrani is a director known primarily for fiction filmmaking. He made the Fahrenheit 451 adaptation for HBO. Last year, his script for The White Tiger was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA. It perhaps does not come as a surprise then that Bahrani was initially approached by producers to make the story of Richard Davis, the Michigan man who developed the modern bulletproof vest, into a fiction film. And Davis’ tale could potentially make for an engaging fiction, given how outlandish aspects of it are.

This film could focus on Continue reading 2nd Chance (2022) Movie Review

Emergency (2022) Movie Review

Emergency premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is competing in the festival’s U.S Dramatic competition.

Carey Williams’ 2018 film Emergency won Sundance’s Special Jury Prize for short-form filmmaking. He adapted this short, with KD Davila serving as screenwriter, into a feature film of the same name. The film is one part buddy comedy, one part coming-of-age movie, and one part drama reflecting on multiple tensions present in the American conscious. If this sounds like three things which do not go together, you aren’t wrong. The extent to which one buys into the tonal tightrope walk Emergency is attempting is crucial to the enjoyment of the film.

I bought in. Perhaps not hook, line, and sinker. But taking this film on its own terms, following it through its kinks and lumps, I was met with a Continue reading Emergency (2022) Movie Review

Scream (2022) Movie Review

The extra-textual more or less fuels Hollywood at this point. Intertextuality and metatextuality exists in all manner of blockbuster cinema. And this certainly bleeds through to the audiences. Even casual moviegoers have become intimately aware of the larger, interconnected puzzle that makes up the Marvel cinematic universe, enough so that Spider-Man: No Way Home is released not as some esoteric nerdcore comic book movie which only the most knowledgeable fans are able to follow. No, it is one of the most profitable films ever, regardless of pandemic concerns.

This is not to discredit audience literacy over the way Hollywood functions, of course. And the self-referential, metatextual, etc. has been around in cinema for Continue reading Scream (2022) Movie Review

A Very Loose Review of Spider-Man: No Way Home (and every other 2021 Marvel movie)

Warning: this review hints at major spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

I haven’t posted on this site since October 15, almost two months to the day that I’m writing this. But I’m going to pretend like that’s not the case, and that I’m a normal film critic and not a graduate student with a job who has realized that it is hard to find time to balance one’s responsibilities with film critic hobbyism.

Anyway…how about that Marvel Studios, huh? Bouncing back from a rough year at the theatrical box office, Disney’s theatrical cash cow had four movies in the can for 2021. Following a glorious financial success with Avengers: Endgame, the studio needed a firm reset of its film properties (its streaming series properties have done their own legwork in moving the IP forward).

Which is what made Black Widow such a strange property. Arguably Continue reading A Very Loose Review of Spider-Man: No Way Home (and every other 2021 Marvel movie)

Fantastic Fest 2021: Barbarians, Knocking, Found Footage Phenomenon — Movie Reviews

The Found Footage Phenomenon, Barbarians, and Knocking are screening as part of Fantastic Fest 2021.

The Found Footage Phenomenon

The Found Footage Phenomenon is just what it says on the tin: an overview of the phenomenon of found footage horror films that sprung into the mainstream after the massive success of The Blair Witch Project in 1999. As a primer for the uninitiated,  Continue reading Fantastic Fest 2021: Barbarians, Knocking, Found Footage Phenomenon — Movie Reviews

Fantastic Fest 2021: V/H/S/94 — Movie Review

V/H/S/94 is screening as part of the 2021 Fantastic Fest.
 
V/H/S/94, the fourth installment in the cult horror anthology film series, follows the franchise’s weakest entry, V/H/S: Viral, a forgettable and occasionally downright lazy film. 94 marks the return of Simon Barrett and Timo Tjahjanto, the former of which had a hand in both V/H/S and V/H/S/2 and the latter of which directed a segment in the second film. It seems evident that this film is meant to be a course correction of sorts.

 

These films garner mixed reception overall, but I’ve had fun watching the first two films with friends. They aren’t Continue reading Fantastic Fest 2021: V/H/S/94 — Movie Review

Fantastic Fest 2021: Homebound — Movie Review

Homebound is screening as part of the 2021 Fantastic Fest.

Sebastian Godwin’s debut feature, Homebound, is a lean domestic thriller with a transfixing tone and a less-than-satisfying conclusion.

Holly (Aisling Loftus) is off to meet her fiance Richard’s (Tom Goodman-Hill) ex-wife and children in the countryside. On arrival, most of the family is nowhere to be found. Eventually, Richard’s estranged children come out of the woodwork. However, they are cagey and distant. The ex-wife, Nina, is apparently not planning on showing up at all. By dinner, even Richard is acting somewhat strange, exhibiting mood swings which Holly is off-put by.

Something is amiss. Perhaps it is just collective nerves over this novel situation. Richard hasn’t seen his children in quite some time. Holly is meeting them for the very first time, and at least two of them are not providing a warm welcome. But… Continue reading Fantastic Fest 2021: Homebound — Movie Review

Fantastic Fest 2021: Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest — Movie Review

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is screening as part of the 2021 Fantastic Fest.

Seth Gordon’s 2007 The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters has become something of a cult doc. It depicts a classic underdog story within the arcade gaming community. An unknown family man who plays a Donkey Kong cabinet in his garage at nights goes after the world record set by video gamings biggest name at the time, Billy Mitchell. (Mitchell was later accused of cheating and falsifying his achievements. His world records were temporarily stripped from him and ultimately reinstated in 2020. There remain open legal cases on the issue which have yet to be resolved).

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest, from director Mads Hedegaard, is something of a spiritual sequel to The King of Kong in its story of niche glory among average joes in the increasingly fading arena of the video arcade. But even more so it is an Continue reading Fantastic Fest 2021: Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest — Movie Review

Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Glasshouse, Sweetie You Won’t Believe It, The Last Thing Mary Saw

Glasshouse; The Last Thing Mary Saw; and Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It are screening as part of the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival that runs Aug. 5 to Aug. 25.

Glasshouse

Glasshouse is an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. It explores  Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Glasshouse, Sweetie You Won’t Believe It, The Last Thing Mary Saw