• Halloween Kills

    Halloween Kills

    Dear Evan Hansen is no longer the worst film of 2021.

  • The Last Duel

    The Last Duel

    ★★★★

    Has all the visual panache of a latter-day Game of Thrones episode, but if Scott can't be pretty he'll be nasty, and after 130 minutes of buildup, that pays off in suitably dragged-out fashion. That said, the most noteworthy thing about this is not its brutality but its clear moral compass—where the structural conceit could make it easy for the movie to disappear up its own ass with surface ambiguity, it instead makes clear from the outset who the pieces…

  • Violet Evergarden: The Movie

    Violet Evergarden: The Movie

    ★★★★½

    My Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0—overstuffed, superfluous, at times outright damaging to what came before, but in most moments almost everything I needed, which is enough to forgive it those moments when it stumbles.

    Not a tool, but a person worthy of her name—and whose love, however undeserving its object, is ultimately bestowed not by orders but by grace.

  • Kingdom of the Spiders

    Kingdom of the Spiders

    ★★½

    The real monster here is prime middle-aged horndog Shatner, who leers, fondles, and otherwise ogles his spray-tanned way through flirting with both his weirdly incestuous sister-in-law and an entomologist who refers to spiders as part of the insect kingdom. Outside its context as an ego vehicle for its star, largely tedious, save for a couple unexpectedly gnarly moments of gore and an ending that is of course effective, having been stolen from Hitchcock. I'm certainly guilty of killing a spider or three in my time, but jfc how many innocent tarantulas did they slaughter for this picture

  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage

    Venom: Let There Be Carnage

    ★★★★

    It makes total sense that Serkis would be the right man to unleash this franchise's potential—who better to understand the appeal of a digital freak with dueling personalities than the OG? While he doesn't really offer coherent spectacle, he brings something far more important, which is an understanding of tone. The first movie was Hardy battling uphill to make things fun—in this one everything is on his wavelength, and it MOVES. Perfect romcom, near-perfect structure, an unmitigated blast. Only depressing part was the audience going apeshit at the post-credits tease but hey, no matter what happens in future at least we got this one

  • Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll

    Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll

    ★★★★★

    Since coming out, in attempts to make family members meet me halfway, I tell them that “I’m still me.” In a technical sense, sure, whatever. But in truth, when I think of my pre-transition self, I think of Philip K. Dick’s VALIS and its description of Horselover Fat’s suicidal friend Gloria: “Fat heard in her rational tone the harp of nihilism, the twang of the void. He was not dealing with a person; he had a reflex-arc thing at the…

  • The Matrix

    The Matrix

    ★★★★★

    The only element of this that consistently hadn't worked for me in the past—across both my too-cool-for-it college viewing and my revelatory revisit in theaters—was Trinity's confession of love for Neo. It was a contrivance, a screenwriting trick too clever by half, something the characters hadn't made me believe.

    This viewing, that "I love you" crashed into me. Because of course it's a contrivance, just as every bit of messianic destiny and prophecy in the film is. All of it…

  • Caesar's Guide to Gaming with Orson Welles

    Caesar's Guide to Gaming with Orson Welles

    A harrowing documentation of the auteur realizing there's no place left for him amidst capitalism's heap of broken images, wandering adrift through a smattering of rigged games of chance as contextless interludes of parodical "multicultural" enticements drift by like a transmission from hell. As Orson shambles from halfheartedly throwing in allusions to Hades and Poseidon to visible anger at being here to drunken, affectless stupor, we too feel ourselves lose all vestige of emotional response. We are all subsumed by…

  • Project A

    Project A

    ★★★★

    Jackie and Sammo are so fucking beautiful, two completely different physicalities combining to lay waste to hordes of mooks. Not the showiest setpieces they ever did, but lightning-quick and in perfect synergy with the film's comedy. Besides Police Story maybe the most perfectly structured Chan vessel I've watched so far (and boy oh boy does it share that film's hilariously cavalier attitude toward the long arm of the law). Rip-roaring adventure indeed.

  • Skate Kitchen

    Skate Kitchen

    ★★★½

    Last virtual date night with 'lie! Will probably rate this higher on a rewatch—spent most of it chatting with her and thus didn't really allow it to coalesce—but even as is it's such an excellent vibes picture. Watching it helped me get to know the woman I'll be living with in a few days even better, which was such a gift <3 Yes this is sappy, I'll run my page however the fuck I want

  • Night Moves

    Night Moves

    ★★½

    Has neither the deftness nor the interest in human nature needed to bring together its disparate threads—plays out like nothing so much as Chinatown if it cast Evelyn Mulwray aside at the third-act mark to make room for the plot, and that's implying a prior empathy toward and understanding of its characters that it doesn't possess (Hackman gets his own backstory neatly and artlessly delivered to him in a fistfight with his wife's monologuing side guy, while jokes about Delly's…

  • The Green Knight

    The Green Knight

    ★★★

    Wish this were both capital-W Weirder and less self-conscious—the best moments are little interludes like the quest for Winifred's head or the roving giants, where Lowery allows himself some majesty or whiff of the ineffable that's centered in the genuinely mystical rather than bolstered by ostentatious framing and the (admittedly quite pretty) score. On its own terms this is a carefully crafted aesthetic object, and Patel effortlessly carries and complicates the presence of a knight of old, but by the final segment I was praying for a conclusion that would let me stretch my legs.