Category Archives: Genres

2023 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Film Reviews: Ivalu and Night Ride

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.

Ivalu

“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

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

Greaser’s Palace (1972) is an (Unfulfilling) Weirdo’s Paradise

This is installment one in our “Psychotronic Cinema series.

The films in this series are “psychotronic,” a term borrowed from Michael J. Weldon’s magazine and encyclopedia. Psychotronic covers the wide swath of cinema that is either slightly out there or entirely bonkers – horror, science fiction, fantasy, exploitation, blockbusters, flops, low budgets, no budgets, thought-provoking, brain dead, beautiful, grotesque, bloody, breezy, sleazy, and so on. At the end of the day, what is considered “psychotronic” might come down to the eye test – you know one when it crosses your path.

After watching last year’s Sr., a Robert Downey Jr.-led documentary about his father, filmmaker Robert Downey (Sr.), I was enticed into catching up on some of the director’s offbeat filmography. It wasn’t the documentary itself that invited me to see Greaser’s Palace — neither the clips from the film nor the doc’s father-son bonding moments did it for me. Frankly, the doc felt a few ticks overdone, with its black and white cinematography and Robert Downey Jr. puppeteering some of the would-be heartwarming scenes.

What works about Sr. is the same thing that works (for me, at least) about Sr.’s films, and that’s Continue reading Greaser’s Palace (1972) is an (Unfulfilling) Weirdo’s Paradise

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

Sick (2023) Movie Review

John Hyam’s Sick does one thing; thankfully, it does that thing pretty well.

Hyam’s previous film, Alone, was a similarly straightforward piece of genre formalism. Both films share the same singular goal: shoot people in peril. Unlike Alone, Sick comes with horror genre royalty in its byline. Kevin Williamson’s first feature screenplay since Scream 4, Sick is a cabin in the woods style slasher in the time of Covid. It is April 2020, and two college students (Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million) decide to quarantine together at a fancy, isolated cabin. And, as anyone who’s seen a horror film will already be well aware, no one is truly alone in an isolated cabin at night.

The first hour of this 84-minute film consists almost entirely of young people being stalked violently by an anonymous, knife-wielding killer. Unlike the other Williamson property this brings to mind, though, Sick is Continue reading Sick (2023) Movie Review

A Man Called Otto (2022) Movie Review

Six years ago, almost to the day, I reviewed A Man Called Ove, the Oscar-nominated Swedish film from Hannes Holm. It’s a startling concept, that I reviewed this six years ago, because I can’t imagine my abilities as a writer were up to snuff in the first few years of this site’s existence. Not that they are exceptional now, but I make do. It is fitting, perhaps, that I began thinking about my review of this English-language remake by reconsidering my initial review, given how retrospection and time factor into the themes of the material here.

But time also functions in a different way here. As in the question, why has Sony decided to remake this 2015 film for 2022 release and angle it for a late awards season push? I suppose on paper it adds up. Celebrated actor Tom Hanks taking on the role of Continue reading A Man Called Otto (2022) Movie Review

The Pale Blue Eye (2022) Movie Review

The Pale Blue Eye, Scott Cooper’s latest, sees a homicide detective (Christian Bale) teaming up with a young Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling) to solve a series of murders at West Point in 1830. Based on a novel by Louis Bayard, the film is something of a fictionalized origin story for Poe’s writing career while also serving as a gothic murder mystery in its own right.

Bayard’s Poe believes himself to be haunted by his mother’s ghost, and his pedantic nature sets him in opposition to other cadets at the military academy. His alienation relative to his peers eventually puts him in suspicion as the body count around the academy stacks up.

Melling’s performance as Poe is Continue reading The Pale Blue Eye (2022) Movie Review