Let’s keep on truckin’ with more Letterboxd reviews from yours truly.
The Letterboxd Files with Cory is back with more movies you can watch, based on reviews I have written for a separate website/app. Hey, I don’t make the rules. I just press the buttons. Hope you’re well.
Three Thousand Years of Longing
George Miller’s follow-up to Mad Max: Fury Road is the exact kind of movie you can’t afford to miss in a theater. It’s a dreamlike, alluringly paced story about stories, weaved by two actors at the height of their talents and by a director who knows exactly how to transport his audience. It’s hard not to fall down the rabbit hole into the djinn’s stories, all built on each other to help us see the genie’s tale through the genie’s eyes.
It’s a balancing act of demystifying the mystery and giving gravity to fantasy, allowing us to feel empathy for a being that we’re told not to trust. Miller gives us a breakdown of how stories carry through the years, yes, but also how myths can be traps. Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton spend a good chunk of this film just talking, with Swinton listening to many of Elba’s experiences in and out of the genie’s bottle. There, she finds intrigue, lesson and magic, yes, but also empathy and kinship. They are two beings, just trying to find a threshold in the wide universe they inhabit. This is the kind of fantastical tumble that you long to experience when you go into a movie, of being able to just live through eyes beyond what yours are capable of seeing. Miller has never struggled to blow people’s minds with his visual splendor and ramshackle creativity, but man, will this one make you squeeze the hand of the one you love even tighter. What a dream it is to fall through the universe into the arms of the one whose story bleeds into yours. No wish can grant fate. I loved this movie.
Where to Watch: Theaters
Starving artists still have to eat.
American Splendor by way of the Safdies. Owen Kline did good! What an impressive, ragtag ensemble of New York character actors! It’s a tough sit, though an endearingly human one, about the concessions we make and situations we force ourselves in to escape our privilege and comfort and attempt to really “experience” what might not be rightfully ours to experience, or, quite frankly, not what we deserve to ensure. Quite a debut. Terry Zwigoff would be proud.
Where to Watch: Theaters, VOD
Speak No Evil
*trailer voice from Edgar Wright’s Don’t*
“Don’t … go on a random vacation with people you don’t know, and then proceed to be oddly accommodating to their deliriously strange behavior because you’re afraid to offend them.”
A movie squarely directed at me and me alone, the polite fellow who can’t tell his dentist his actual name because he’s afraid to be rude, and has been called the wrong name for the past 3 years. It kind of saw the hook coming, but it doesn’t take away its blunt power. Stop being nice to people who don’t deserve it, this film says. Turning the other cheek does not mean leaving your back exposed. Kindness and politeness are very different virtues.
The plunge is as glacial and unforgiving as people have said; a spoonful of acid and cyanide that mimics the jolt people felt with 2008’s The Strangers. Just know going in this gets bleak, but it’s not without purpose. A smart film about human nature, and our self-detrimental ability to leave ourselves vulnerable to others in an empty quest to avoid tension. If you get restless with its frequency until the third act, pick up the hints, wait for the crescendo. And, my gosh, if you’re ever somehow found in this situation, get out while you can, and don’t look back, no matter how rude you’ve gotta be.
Where to Watch: Shudder (Sept. 9)
Save the Cinema
*wipes away tears* I like Jurassic Park, too.
Such a lovely reminder about the power of arts in any community, and the shared love we all have for movies and the theatrical experience. It’s the best Tom Felton has been since the Harry Potter movies, too. Samantha Morton is also good here.
That How Green Was My Valley scene is legitimate magic. It almost justified its Oscar win. Almost. Almost.
Good on Spielberg for making this happen in the first place. Never thought they’d make a movie like this, but the UK still values telling stories like this.
DC League of Super-Pets
My dog Cooper watched a decent chunk of this and never barked at the screen, which I can only assume is a positive.
It’s cute! It fulfills its duty of being a perfectly acceptable family film capitalizing on the superhero craze, but it’s just irreverent enough to make something of itself. It’s no Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, but it’s a tamer version of that with talking pets and decent animal humor. My dog wanted to watch it. It’s clearly not made for me, but I enjoyed it, I think? It’s aite!
Where to Watch: Theaters, VOD
Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul.
It breaks my heart to say that a movie where Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall deliver great performances as a megachurch power couple doesn’t live up to the billing. A movie with the right ideas and right people to execute them, but it’s stuck between satire and commentary. It wants to laugh at and critique megachurch culture, which you can totally do both at once, but it never finds a way to do both at the same time.
The satire is too drowned out by the seriousness, and the seriousness never meshes well with the mockumentary interludes. Nevertheless, it’s got two of the best performances I’ve seen in Sundance ‘22, and I enjoyed this enough to recommend it to someone, so I’ll just find myself in the middle here. Though, massive points for the Crime Mob rap-a-long. Using Atlanta rap in an Atlanta-based movie is a heck of a thing to get right. (Sundance cut)
Where to Watch: Theaters, Peacock
If they do another one of those AFI 100 Heroes and Villains lists, Ollie Weeks (hero) and Mrs. Carmody (villain) have to be on there.
My version of Hell; being trapped with strangers and a crazy alt-right religious lady at a grocery store being attacked by giant bugs.
This might be one of the most horrifying visions of an apocalyptic event I’ve seen in a movie, one that truly feels like it could happen, well, at least the human element. I feel pretty confident the otherworldly insect mist stuff won’t happen.
Ollie Weeks represents the best of them; the guy who overcomes his fear to try and protect people, and is utterly unflappable to the Carmody homilies. Obvs, Carmody is insanely evil. The two-sides of the coin here. Toby Jones and Marcia Gay Harden are both spectacular here, and Thomas Jane is a heck of an anchor. Glad to see the Shawshank alums (Sadler, DeMunn) doing mighty fine work, too.
Not my favorite Darabont, of course, but a relentlessly dark path down a road you just don’t wanna go down if you can avoid it. Don’t live in New England in a Stephen King story.
Where to Watch: Netflix, VOD
David Byrne’s third-best concert film, but still tremendously better than most anyone’s concert film. John Goodman singing that western song at the end is worth it all alone, but obvs., there’s a lot to like here. It’s clear Byrne is way more influential on our modern comedy than most people are; it’s very easy to see most any surreal/alt comedy figure watching this in college and building on it for their act. I hope Joe Pera has seen this, because I think he’d love it.
Where to Watch: Criterion, VOD
It’s the anti-American Pie. Finally, a movie that openly admits that high schoolers are all awful, and commits to it. No sympathy; no remorse; they are all awful and dumb. This movie trying to be a knockoff of Superbad is exactly the point. I’ve never related to a movie character than the neighbor whose household can’t sleep and he just wants the kids next door to just shut the hell up. That guy is a hero. That poor Yorkie. Gah, high schoolers. Costa is one of the biggest jackasses in movie history; Oliver Cooper, heck of a job. I’m not sure I could hate a movie teen more?
“The Pursuit of Happyness” needle drop!
Where to Watch: HBO Max, VOD
The Big Sleep (1946)
This has to be my favorite Hawks film outside of Rio Bravo. This is the best plot I’ve ever seen pull this many threads together in such a way where you don’t always have to know what’s going on to know what’s going on. The magic of Bogart.
Where to Watch: HBO Max, VOD
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater is the king of hangout cinema. A masterpiece. It’s also crazy the director this film is most indebted to is George Lucas.
Where to Watch: Peacock, AMC+, VOD
Lawrence of Arabia
All movies need intermissions.
I mean, c’mon, what do you want me to say? It’s a classic.
Where to Watch: VOD