For his thirtieth birthday, the mother of Ah Bee (Thomas Pang) gifts him an invitation to the Tiong Bahru Social Club, a closed-off living community dedicated to providing and spreading happiness among its residents. “Everyone’s happiness is our business,” boasts the community’s advertisement. They are “the happiest neighborhood in the world.”
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, the directorial debut of Junta Yamaguchi, is a quirky, lean sci-fi comedy about characters in a cafe who discover a two-minute-long time loop which occurs through a computer monitor. Filmed to emulate a single take, we see the characters experience the same events from two different perspectives as they discover that they can communicate with themselves from two minutes into the future (or, later on, four or six or eight minutes down the line).
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.
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→
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).
R.L. Stine’s young adult book series Fear Street was the “grown up” Goosebumps. Books about teens for teens, which allowed for slightly more suggestive horror content. If Goosebumps was a G, Fear Street was a hard-PG. Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street: 1994, the first in a trilogy of adaptations for Netflix, is firmly R-rated.
I was a Goosebumps obsessive as a kid. I wanted to join the Goosebumps fan club (a real thing), in which I would receive a book every month and updates on all new things Goosebumps. Alas, the club was defunct by the time I signed up—it probably had been for years, considering Stine concluded writing the original series of books when I was three. Fear Street, on the other hand, completely Continue reading Fear Street Part One: 1994 (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.
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→
John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place was a massive success in 2018, when it was met with a large box office cume and critical appreciation. In part, this critical fascination was due to the sheer silence the film conjured in its theatrical audience. With the sound design so deliberate (and so dedicated to being quiet), idle chatter and candy wrapper rustling in the theater was tacitly discouraged.
A Quiet Place has its moments, showcasing Krasinski’s ability to plant overt seeds in suspenseful sequences which (at their best) conjure delightful tension. Perhaps not the most groundbreaking horror-thriller, but it is not hard to see why it was such a crowd-pleaser.