After a little time off, it’s time for more Letterboxd Filing.
Hello, you beautiful people. It’s Cory here. I’m sorry I’ve been away for a bit. I was traveling in Costa Rica. It was a nice trip. I saw a sloth. Okay, here are the Letterboxd reviews unless you want to hear more about the sloth. You don’t? Fine, fine. Hater.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
A jagged little pill for our generation-spanning reactionary culture, one that seeks emotional retribution over factual empathy, one that drowns us in the vomit of self-fulfilling social media “advocacy,” one that suffocates good people into silence and promotes the alt-right troll and self-righteous social justice warrior to battle with each other and take out anyone who dares push against their half-assed banana republics of uncooked ideas, unfair biases and petty grievances.
Thought, the film’s ideas swirl about with too slow a build to the crescendo, too inconsistent a tone to really stick a fierce stake in the ground. The cast is all very adept for the material (especially Rachel Sennott, who best understands the material and turns in a high-strung, self-absorbed. terrorized performance for the ages), and Halina Reijn has plenty of promise behind the camera and builds adequate tension even when the script isn’t quite there with it. Pete Davidson and Lee Pace also do wonders with their limited roles. It’s a very solid, socially relevant horror comedy, but I needed more horror and comedy to support the ideas at play, or make them stick more.
Also, good for Connor O’Malley.
Where to Watch: Theaters
I Love My Dad
I feel like this movie is going to get dinged for being too cringey, but that’s kind of the point to me with a movie like this. It has to fully commit to the shockingly messed up premise because it can find some actual pathos on the other side. The truth is stranger than fiction, after all.
This can be a riot when it’s peeling back the furthest reaches of how horrible this situation Van get, and Lil Rel Howery does a great job balancing out the incredible (in the worst way possible) lengths Patton Oswalt’s character goes to keep the lie alive. Oswalt is tremendous here.
This has some serious Bobcat Goldthwait energy. It reminds me some of World’s Greatest Dad, a similarly screwed up of a very flawed person doing very flawed things, with love part of the reason why. If you can stomach the premise here, this is really damn good.
Where to Watch: Theaters, VOD
*movie ends as my future teenage children sit quietly*
“And that’s why you’re not getting a TikTok.”
The American remake for The Worst Person in the World came in pretty fast!
It feels like a Reitman/Cody joint (Young Adult with the visual flair and sociopolitical backbone of Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking), but with a younger perspective for more recent times. Unlike a movie like Don’t Look Up, this cautionary tale about *waves hands* is perfectly plausible, played with enough self-awareness to prevent being glib about such a bewildering premise.
There is nothing to empathize with a grown woman pulling such a stunt, absolutely nothing, but it does highlight the slight sympathy you have for how desperate some people are to receive the online approval of others in the social age. It’ll relate to those who see this mess happen all the time, just in smaller craters. What a pathetic world where something like this could easily happen, and how sad that people like Danni can come to be because of the world they’re in and what they’re taught is worth validation and community.
Zoey Deutch is a major talent and fantastic here in such a challenging role, and Dylan O’Brien is just begging filmmakers to cast him in The Big One that’s going to skyrocket him to the top of his class. Mia Isaac is also a find.
Quinn Shephard is going to make a great movie one day. Not sure this one is fully it, but it’s quite good. After Nope and Vengeance, we’ve gotten another fascinating movie in 2022 about the spectacles we surround ourselves in every day. Not Okay chooses to see what happens when we manufacture one for ourselves out of thin air to make one out of ourselves in the end. This is a hard movie to watch and clearly doesn’t end well, but y’know, I’ll take that over the preachy emptiness of whatever Adam McKay’s movie was last year.
Where to Watch: Hulu
John Lasseter’s first movie back from purgatory is … the most uninspired thing he’s ever done, and that includes Cars 2.
It’s not that Luck is bad. It’s pretty fun for what it is, toothless but sweet and flashy enough to keep your attention. The premise has something there, but it never feels like the story is strong enough to support the weight of the world-building exposition. The vocal performances feel a little uninspired outside of Simon Pegg, but maybe that’s because the script is just so watered down and schmaltzy. There’s no spark to any of the dialogue like in a good Pixar film. It’s just way too amiable, afraid to make any sort of complications out of its characters or plot. There’s not even a villain. No character in this has any sort of conflict with another, outside of one passive feud. It’s just way too easy a movie to really be considered even vaguely among what Lasseter did at Disney.
All that being said, it’s still breezy enough to work out. It’s way too geared toward a younger audience, which is always something Lasseter seemed to avoid with Pixar and Disney, but it’s just so nice, you don’t want to tell it to shove off for being so lacking in personality or bite. It’s just content with being okay. It’s just a little too recycled from Monsters, Inc. and Inside Out to fully stand on its own, and just a little too unchallenging and soft to make a mark. It’s like baby food, but not mindless dribble like Cocomelon. Just something that’s there. It’s got a good heart, though, and means well, so it’s hard to want to rip it a new one.
Not the best start for Skydance Animation, but not a terrible one either. Hovering somewhere in the middle, not bad enough not to recommend, but not good enough to be memorable. Lasseter produced a DreamWorks movie. C’est la vie.
Where to Watch: AppleTV+
Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down
A sincere accomplishment for the political figure documentary, if only because it’s hagiography is completely earned and proven through a thorough, deeply moving journey through Giffords’ harrowing recovery and fighting spirit in the face of such a horrible tragedy. The first hour especially doesn’t cut any corners showing just how life-altering Giffords’ injury was and just what a miracle it is that she’s even alive to tell the story. It veers into activism in the third act, but it’s necessary because the cause is righteous and the person leading it has so much more to give than most on the issue. Really impressed by this one.
Where to Watch: Theaters, VOD
I think this is the first movie that was written by an AI machine that was nicknamed “Yas, Kween.”
A horror movie that has no idea how to do horror, that finds occasional spurts of maybe building even a sliver of momentum before falling down the stairs carrying a large stack of fine China. At its worst, it’s midnight movie embarrassing, easy to imagine a loud, howling crowd just losing their minds at how bad some of this is. It’s not even an actual slasher movie most of the time!
John Logan is a real talented guy. Why he made this his debut is beyyyyyond me. He made the Glee Halloween special. A waste of a good idea.
The Pink scene is otherworldly bad, but I think the dog scene might be worse? This is like if Wet Hot American Summer was on purpose.
Where to Watch: Peacock
It’s like Election for TikTokers. TikTokinites? TikTokeners. TikToks. TikTokineers. The TikTok Tots.
Seriously, though, Angourie Rice has mad Reese Witherspoon vibes. She’s a rockstar. Movie needed a Matthew Broderick to balance it out, or an Alexander Payne behind the camera. Good for Dustin Henderson for taking on this kind of role, though! Good to see McLovin, too. Glad he’s doing well.
Movie’s got a smart backbone, but maybe it’s too talky? I dunno. Real nice third act, though. It’s like someone’s first R-rated movie. We need movies like these, though! I hope it finds its audience. Do kids use Paramount+? Maybe for MTV stuff. This would’ve been an MTV movie released in theaters in January 2004, so I’m definitely glad these still exist.
Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99
This documentary did a better job than the HBO one did on showing just how horrible that last day was, but I thought the HBO one did a better job of showing all the weird little flourishes with the bands and cultures and stuff. None of this looks good for the people who held this event. This was much more clinical and damning, while the other one was a little more shaggy and interesting.
This might be the worst thing that’s ever happened involving music, and that includes Hinder.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Any movie where Reba and a country boy wearing an Atlanta Hawks hat hunt sand worms that want to eat them, all while Kevin Bacon wears a cowboy hat, is A-OK in my book. Such a fun movie and great idea, and suspenseful!
Where to Watch: Peacock, VOD
This is why I don’t like drive-in movies. Hell yeah, Boris Karloff. A horrifyingly accurate prediction for where society was going, told with so much intelligence and cynicism, for the evils that await us and about the evils that await us. Fantastic flick.
Where to Watch: VOD, Hoopla
Carnival in Costa Rica
I was in Costa Rica for about 10 days, and I wanted to find some sort of movie that prominently featured the country in the movie. This seemed to be the best example of what was out there?
I’m 100% sure I would’ve never watched this without my trip being planned. Was it good? Sure! It’s goofy and probably a little grating since it was released in 1947, but it’s got a pretty sharp screwball comedy script for a movie like this, and the musical numbers, while naturally forced, are pretty darn enjoyable for what they are. Cesar Romero is a hoot.
Y’know, you’ll probably never watch this, but it’s free on YouTube, and if you like this sort of 40s studio musical, it’s worth a watch? Why not. Pura vida!
Where to Watch: YouTube
Man of the West
A somber western about how we can’t run from our pasts or our presents, but we can sure as heck shape our futures. Gary Cooper is just impossibly good in movies like this. Lee J. Cobb always plays such a good SOB. A smaller, nastier movie than I expected. The antithesis of sweeping – carefully constructed, fierce, enveloping, unforgiving. Quite a film.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, VOD
A touching portrait of small-town America in a period of evolution, where the formal social circle of town must adapt or die. Having grown up in a mall culture, it is a bit weird to see so many of these malls just die on the grapevine, but what an ode this is to the unsung heroes who keep this experience going. Whether you loved the shopping mall or saw it as a bullet through the heart of independent retailers, it seems like the pendulum has shifted in the opposite direction and now the mall faces extinction. Though, this film makes a case that they’re worth saving, if only because they’ve proven their worth.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, VOD
A painfully real breakdown of being a cultural outlier, where all dorks, hipsters, goths and dweebs realize that being different doesn’t automatically make you better. Thora Birch, Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johansson are all fantastic in such a sticky story, one paved with the cringe that only the transition from teenage years to young adulthood can muster. It’s hard to embrace the leads, but that’s the point. The film affords sympathy for the messiness of growing up, for working through your immaturities, hopes, dreams, flaws, insecurities and, ultimately, makings of character. A coming-of-age film that actually tries to show an uncompromised vision of a kid finding herself, even if she doesn’t always like what she finds. Buscemi should’ve gotten that Oscar nomination for this. I wish Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes would work together again.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, VOD
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (rewatch)
Is…is this Spielberg’s best movie? The IMAX remaster is stunning.
It’s about 80% as good as Moana, the other LMM Disney musical, and way, way better than 80% of Vivo, the other LMM animated musical this year. It’s probably on par with In the Heights and Tick, Tick, Boom!, both of the LMM live-action projects. The year (2021) of LMM is complete; long live LMM.
It’s sweet! Great story, exciting characters, enchanting aura, swell music, good voice cast, maybe missing a little of that extra spark that made Moana an instant classic, but still the kind of CG animated flick Disney does so well. Might be the first CG film they’ve done I feel like I think works best in CG, which is good!
Absolutely a must if you’re into this sort of thing, and it’s a very easy, engaging sit even if you aren’t.