Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Scream (2022) - Review

Once franchises reach their fifth outing, the returns typically start to diminish. Scream knows this, and in playing with its self-reflective and meta origins, looks both at its own history and the state of franchise filmmaking in modern Hollywood. After tackling horror films, sequels, trilogies and reboots, the next logical step is to send up what one character calls in the film a “re-quel”, not quite a reboot, not quite a sequel. And in doing so, brings the franchise full circle, back to the original.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Top 10 of 2021

Well 2021 has come and gone, and with it, some excellent pieces of filmmaking, spectacular performances and gorgeous looking movies have graced audiences and produced another great year of cinema. 

So let's not waste any time and see which ones I found to be the best of the best:

Honorable Mention

The Tragedy of Macbeth

The greatness of this film should come as no surprise. It’s a Coen film through and through, singular this time as brother Joel Coen goes it alone with this Shakespeare adaptation, however, the real draw is giving Denzel Washington a shot at Shakespeare, an opportunity he doesn’t take lightly.

The Worst Person in the World

A modern romantic drama in every sense of the word, The Worst Person in the World illustrates a 21st-century view of romance in ways that most films can only hope to capture. If this were an English language film, it’s safe to say Renate Reinsve might just give some of the current Best Actress frontrunners a run for their money. 

The Mitchells vs the Machines

Boasting dazzling, stylish animation and lovable characters, very few films, let alone animated, capture the emotion and heart at the center of The Mitchells vs the Machines. It’s the kind of movie that you’ll want to watch again just as soon as it ends, and then maybe once more for good measure. 

The Countdown

10. West Side Story
The skepticism in the lead up for the remake of West Side Story was justified, but after its release, it’s clear to see that was misplaced. In the hands of Steven Spielberg, the fifty year old musical feels new and fresh, improving on some of the originals dated flaws, and providing its own visual flare and vision in the process. Throw in star making performances from both Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose, and audiences get one of the best big screen musical adaptations in quite some time. 

9. Flee
No documentary (or animated film) carries the emotional weight of Flee. It’s the story of a refugee seeking to escape capture and death told through an exceptional blending of documentary filmmaking and animation. With some documentaries, you lose the sense of urgency that comes with the real life events, but the style of Flee turns the story of Rashid into something to be felt, an experience elevated to a level of connection often hard to reach. It’s the best documentary of the year, and a film everyone should see. 

8. The Green Knight
There are many films in 2021 that I loved, but few had me fully in its grasp as quickly as The Green Knight did. From a visual perspective, it’s a gorgeously crafted medieval world, mystical and enthralling in each corner of its stylish design. It takes a centuries old tale, and weaves its tangled knots into a fantasy that’s hypnotic from its  fast, fiery start to the brutal ending, and every enchanting moment along the way. 

7. Nine Days
The film on this list that seems to be the most overlooked, Nine Days is one of the most fascinating films of 2021. It’s premise is incredibly unique, that’s always a positive in my book, but its the way it handles its emotional beats that truly makes it special. Nine Days is never pretentious, always reaching for the line but hitting a more tranquil mark instead. The film is a transcendent experience, and a beautiful vision of humanity.

6. Drive My Car
There’s something to be said for the confidence one has in their film by placing the opening credits nearly 45 full minutes into its story. With Drive My Car, director Ryusuke Hamaguchi is right to have faith in the absolutely brilliant film he’s created. The three hour gem of cinema is the definition of low-key, a subdued but lingering tale about a grieving artist where every moment feels restrained, pulling the audience even closer for the wallop of emotion its delivers by the time the end credits roll. 

5. Dune
And in 2021, no film is quite as spectacular as Dune. Sure, there may be better films (this is fifth on my own list after all) but few compared to size and scope of director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of this complex, sci-fi epic. Its filmmaking on a grand scale, complete with visual splendor and technical marvels that stand out even in our age of blockbusters, fleshed out by a world of interesting dynamics and captivating political motivations. It shouldn’t come as a shock that Villeneuve nailed it, but never was it imaginable that he would hit it this far out of the park. 

4. Spencer
With a blend of fact with fiction, Spencer tells the tale of Princess Diana in a unique fashion. Rather than the standard biopic fare that’s become commonplace in the months of October - December, director Pablo Larrain seeks to place the audience firmly in the mindset of Diana herself. Thus the whole film presents itself as a psychological drama, a horror film as a woman fights for any semblance of control within her own life as the walls close in around her. It’s a truly remarkable film, and one that will undoubtedly earn Kristen Stewart the attention she’s deserved for a while now. 

3. C'mon C'mon
If you were ever to craft a warm blanket on a cool night into a narrative feature film, C’mon C’mon might be the closest thing to that. It’s a lovely, heartfelt piece of film from Mike Mills, that ruminates on the meaning of life and love through the simplicity of it all and the relationships we make along the way. Wholesome and hopeful in all the best ways, C’mon C’mon is a film that will make you laugh and cry, and probably laugh and cry some more, but it’s worth every minute of emotion it brings out. 

2. Licorice Pizza
Never is there a more chaotic and exhilarating ride than a PTA film set in the 70s. It’s goofy and charming, and serves us two performances from newcomers in Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman that are so much better than they have any right to be. For a film that’s so breezy on its surface, the themes just underneath provides just enough tension for the film to serve as more than just a hangout film. There’s something to be said about how bad all the men in this film behave, and the wondering of if Hoffman’s Gary will become another.

1. The Power of the Dog
So much has been said about this film already by now, and I don’t know how much I can add to it. It’s a perfect film, a masterpiece of cinema that’s actually deserving of that moniker when so many others are falsely labeled as such. Every spec of this film is exquisitely crafted, and Jane Campion deserves the world for giving us this truly masterful work of art.

I loved this film, can you tell?