Tag Archives: 2022

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

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 10 Worst Movies of 2022

In 2021, I happily avoided writing a worst of the year list. It’s not that there were no movies worthy of such a list — Tom & Jerry, I see you. I just don’t revel in the opportunity to take filmmakers and their casts and crews down a peg. On the other hand, movies are entertainment we pay money to see. Somewhere within that transaction is a tacit understanding that failing to deliver a good end product could result in the film appearing on these sorts of lists. All’s fair in love and celluloid (or DCPs, I suppose).

2022 was particularly rough in the major studio releases department. Many would-be blockbusters came and went with little fanfare … sometimes they came and went twice. But a number of smaller genre pictures also failed to impress. Here’s my bottom 10 movies of the year.

10. Spirited

I don’t know if Spirited, the contemporary riff on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, is a bad movie, per se. It has a reasonable premise (when you decide to ignore the strange, soupy mess of pro-conglomerate ethos embedded within), and the second act reversal that complicates who is Christmas Caroling whom is an intriguing idea. But this film is aggressively not for me. The song and dance numbers are consistently a distracting mess, and Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds fail to charm their way around the bloated scenes and middling quips. The simple, enduring emotional core of Dickens’ story is here somewhere, but it takes a lot of hurdling to get there. By that point, I was already out.

A lot of people are enjoying this one. So don’t take my word for it that it’s bad. Earlier this month I tried, twice, to watch Black Adam and could not do it. So if you want to pretend like Black Adam is on this list instead of Spirited, be my guest. I’m pretty confident Black Adam is a worse movie in this case.

9. The Bubble

I remember so little of this movie that I’m not confident I can write a full blurb on it. An unfunny misfire from Judd Apatow. I suppose it had the right idea – a topical comedy satirizing the privilege of Hollywood elites from the inside. But the COVID-related humor is annoying, and the self-mockery is toothless and lazy. If you watch anything from Apatow this year, let it be his George Carlin doc, or better yet watch his Garry Shandling doc from a few years back if you haven’t already. The latter is the best film Apatow has made.

8. Mother Schmuckers

You know a movie is intentionally provocative when it opens with its two idiotic leads cooking up a pan of feces and then forcing it into their mother’s face until she vomits. You know it’s not good at being provocative when not four months since first seeing it, the only thing I can remember about the film is said opening sequence. Mother Schmuckers is the type of movie seemingly made with the hopes that people will hate it (because the people who “get it” can chide the rest who gag at it). I’m all for gagging at a movie; I’ve gagged at some great ones. And when the water’s the right temperature, I am all for provocation for provocation’s sake. This, however, is really nothing of note. It is 70 minutes of tiring, trifling idiocy.

7. Uncharted

A movie this long in the making was never going to stick the landing. And Uncharted really had a nothing-burger of an opening. It’s as bland and rote as any other action movie programmer. I’m not a huge fan of these games (I’ve only played through one of them, and it was just fine), so I’m not the right critic to identify what went wrong here. But I would bet that fans of Nathan Drake consider this a bovine scatological word I shouldn’t repeat in polite company.

Despite a script desperately trying to conjure up some form of rapport between these characters, there is zero chemistry between any of the actors. And nothing about the action itself is particularly compelling. Save for competent editing holding the mediocre mess together, there is not much here worth celebrating.

6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

I feel like I have exhausted this argument, but I will reiterate it once more just to justify my placement of this otherwise fairly inoffensive slasher reboot on this list. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is my favorite slasher film. That said, I don’t hold it sacred. Reboot it if you wish, but know that you are coming up against an inevitable problem. What makes the original film so terrifying and effective has very little to do with a man in a human skin mask waving a chainsaw. The iconography of the film is not the film. But most of the sequels, remakes, and reboots of the property assume that it is.

Including this one, which tosses Leatherface into a half-baked gentrification narrative with flat cinematography and ill-conceived set pieces. The reveal of Leatherface in the 1974 film is a fierce bit of staging and editing that makes your blood run cold. The Leatherface in the 2022 film butchers Gen-Zers on a bus to unintentional hilarity.

5. They/Them

At the core of They/Them, the directorial debut of playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan, is a genuinely intriguing play with genre. Merging the cabin in the woods slasher with the horrors of conversion camps could be a rich space for flexing what the horror genre can do in the way of sociopolitical commentary. Instead, Logan has made a thinly-drawn cast of characters dropped into a rote psychological thriller/slasher hybrid. As a result, the politics are muddy and the genre play is toothless.

Without meaningful depth provided for these campers, save for a few canned monologues and bits of backstory window dressing, the meaningful core of this story loses said meaning. So by the time the group breaks into an a cappella rendition of a P!nk song, it is not the empowering moment that it sets out to be but a thudding realization that integral elements of storytelling are missing from this movie.

Juan Barquin wrote a piece which echoes many of my issues with this film, and more eloquently so. So go check that out.

4. Jurassic World: Dominion

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but there is nothing about Jurassic Park to me that screams “sequel material.” Nothing, that is, save for the fact that the notion imprints dollar signs on executive eyeballs. The mainline Park sequels at least attempt to be exciting films in their own right (while in my view honestly not being all that great). These Jurassic World movies, though, read so clearly as soulless cash grabs that it is hard to take them seriously from the jump. But I’ve tried. Three times now, I have tried. And while Jurassic World is bland and bloated, it has its moments. And Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a glorified B-movie, which is interesting in its own right.

Jurassic World: Dominion, however, is so creatively bankrupt as to be next to unwatchable. The hollow characters from previous entries somehow appear here more flat-line vacant, and the new ones are tossed in without much thought. The story is a mangled mess of mindless adventuring and boring globe-trotting. Trevorrow impresses here in solely one regard: he has accomplished the feat of making dinosaurs cinematically inert and mind-numbingly boring.

3. Morbius

Everyone on the internet has already taken their turn obliterating Morbius, so I can keep this short. I went into this one long after the razzing had begun on this dreary beast of a movie, and I did my best to go in open minded. I went out of my way to find something of value in here, and while I don’t find it as egregiously terrible as some, it is still a highly non-valuable piece of filmmaking. Moreover, it is utterly forgettable.

It is such a strange comic book movie, in that it in some ways feels so disconnected from everything else going on in blockbuster cinema that it appears to hark back to the 2000s era of comic book movies. But not a good 2000s comic book movie. Less Spider-Man 2 and more Jonah Hex, you know. Morbius is a baffling film — baffling that it was made in the first place, to be frank. Maybe what it added to meme culture is enough of an ROI for some, but I just found the whole culture cycle of this thing tiresome.

2. Dashcam

I feel like I defend found footage more than most horror fans. I also feel like I tolerate the “Screenlife” gimmick of recent years more than some horror fans. But I do not defend nor do I tolerate Dashcam, the single most grating film experience of my year. It is loud and obnoxious and largely devoid of discernible story. There is a story there, to be clear, but it is hard to decipher it amongst the cacophony of profane shouting and horrendous rapping. Rob Savage – director of the mildly overrated Host – certainly achieved what he was going for, if what he was going for was a migraine of high-volume dialogue and bodily fluids.

Simon Abrams possibly said it the best when he opened his review by claiming one’s tolerance for “braindead provocation” will determine their enjoyment of the film. Often, my tolerance is quite high in this department. Something about Dascham really irked me, though. Maybe it was the unlikeable and entirely unwritten characters. Maybe it was the ugly aesthetic and uninteresting use of the found footage format. Maybe it was the sinking suspicion that this movie was tossed together as a series of improvisations with nothing but a flimsy treatment to guide it along. No matter the case, braindead provocation this is, heavy on the braindead.

1. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

It’s wild that these Fantastic Beasts movies keep getting worse (and keep getting made). The first one was fairly dull, but mercifully watchable. This new installment is rough. Visually, it is drab and flat. Narratively, it is comprised of hollow world-building and fantasy world political intrigue that feels unimportant and culminates in the most groan-worthy climax of the year.

I know that I asked this last time one of these came out, but does any fan of Harry Potter care about these movies? The lore comes off vacant and the characters lack any sort of dimension or interiority. There are 11 characters on the poster for this film, and I cannot say that any of them have something resembling an arc (either within this film or across the trilogy). The magic of the Wizarding World is slowly draining with each film. The more I learn about this universe, the less I care.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)

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

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

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. (2022) Movie Review

Adamma Ebo’s Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. places its viewer at the intersection of capital and religion. For pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall), this intersection has broken traffic lights. From the beginning, there is a fissure between the two forces, and a clear favoritism in this mega-church community toward capital. And at this broken traffic stop, problems are bound to occur.

Rather, a collision has already occurred at the point in which we meet the church owners. A scandal has rocked the church, which has caused Lee-Curtis to disappear from the public eye. But he sees Easter Sunday as the perfect time for his big comeback. With the church reopening set for that Sunday, Lee-Curtis commissions a documentary film crew to chart his return to prominence; his resurrection, if you will.


You could think about Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. in one sense as a tone piece. What is an occasionally humorous satire of commodified religion also carries a darker Continue reading Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. (2022) Movie Review