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

The Whale (2022) Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to provocative and difficult cinema. He has made a career of it. From the bleak downward spirals in Requiem for a Dram to the chaos of the frustratingly opaque mother!, the filmmaker likes to experiment with morbid, carnivalesque subject matter. Often, this experimentation involves the torment of the film’s characters.

With The Whale, it should be said, Aronofsky and writer Samuel D. Hunter aim to inflect Charlie’s (Brendan Fraser) torment with a profound empathy. But this is also where Continue reading The Whale (2022) Movie Review

The 10 Best Movies of 2022

We have made it to the end of another year, which came with another onslaught of new movies. On the whole, it was a really good year for film. Looking over my list of watches, there are at least 100 movies that came out this year that I would recommend. My honorable mentions list won’t be quite that long, but it was difficult to decide on a cutoff point. For the main list, I’ve limited myself to 10 particularly standout films. And, as always, I was not able to see everything (the highly acclaimed Aftersun remains the elusive unicorn, out in the fields for me to catch on some future date).

These are the best movies I saw in 2022. Happy New Year.

Honorable Mentions: All That Breathes, Avatar: The Way of Water, Bad Axe, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Batman, Emergency, The Eternal Daughter, Flux Gourmet, Happening, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Mad God, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Murina, Nanny, No Bears, The Northman, The Outfit, Pearl, Please Baby Please, Resurrection, RRR, Scream, Triangle of Sadness, Turning Red, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

10. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

My list begins with two amazing documentaries (a third, All That Breathes, just barely missed the cut). I don’t think I adore All the Beauty and the Bloodshed to the same extent that other critics do, but it has Continue reading The 10 Best Movies of 2022

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 Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Best Night Ever (2013) and Superfast! (2015)

This is the sixth and final installment in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

In pursuing this project, I did not set out to unilaterally pan the Friedberg and Seltzer oeuvre (as much as the hack, clickbait adjacent title might suggest). Sure, I find almost all of their work indefensible. But I endeavored to get closer to the heart of who these two writers are and what they wanted to get out of their filmmaking. Unfortunately, this is difficult knowledge to gain, considering they are on the record as being almost entirely off the record. The duo almost never give interviews, and, aside from a great Matt Patches piece at Grantland, I could not find a source where they were seriously interviewed.

All the same, I wanted to move beyond the easy insults that have been hurled their way. I wanted to move beyond the perception of them as Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Best Night Ever (2013) and Superfast! (2015)

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

Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

A phenomenon occurs when a cult bad movie becomes big enough. The reputation grows to the point where it becomes implausible that the director would not grow aware that their film is not enjoyed for the reasons they intended. When and if they do become aware, they have a choice to make. They can go the Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2) route and insist that they made a good movie in spite of the criticism, or they can go the Tommy Wiseau (The Room) route and claim that they set out at the beginning to make a dark comedy.

I cannot tell for the life of me if Birdemic 3′s James Nguyen has reached this self-aware state. The quality of his filmmaking has not Continue reading Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle — 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

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Vampires Suck (2010), The Starving Games (2013)

This is the fifth installment in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

In this penultimate installment, we will examine two of the late career parodies of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer: Vampires Suck and The Starving Games. As I see it, Friedberg and Seltzer’s career can be separated into two distinct phases. There are two reasons why I think about it this way.

For one, there is an easy delineation one could make between the writers’ 2000s output and their 2010s output. As I outlined in previous articles, the 2000s saw a healthy resurgence of the spoof movie, but by the end of the decade it was starting to become clear that the poor quality of these films were catching up with them. Through the 2010s, parody films grew increasingly less popular at the box office.

As such, Vampires Suck serves as a crucial turning point in Friedberg and Seltzer’s career. It was the last of their films to Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Vampires Suck (2010), The Starving Games (2013)

Fantastic Fest 2022 Lineup Preview — 5 Films to Watch For

Austin’s Fantastic Fest returns for a 17th year this September, and CineFiles is happy to be covering it again (albeit virtually, but you could experience the fun in person). Fantastic Fest has a number of high profile releases on the docket this year — Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, The Menu, Smile. I want to highlight for you, instead, a few other titles worth keeping an eye on.

 

Give Me Pity

I saw Amanda Kramer’s two new releases, Give Me Pity! and Please Baby Please, at the Fantasia Festival, and I Continue reading Fantastic Fest 2022 Lineup Preview — 5 Films to Watch For

One man. Thousands of movies.