Monday 31 October 2022

Barbarian (2022) - Movie Review

I don’t want to write about this film.

Not because it’s bad or boring or gave me nothing to work with for a review; y’know, the usual reasons. This is a very good movie, so far from boring that it’s unbelievable, and I have a shit-ton of thoughts on it.

No, the reason I don’t want to write about it is because this is one of those special films that is at its most effective when you go into it knowing as little about it as possible. I went into this with only the initial trailer to go on, which thankfully was more interested in drumming up interest than actually showing the content directly, and what I ultimately got was one of the most buckwild experiences I’ve had with a film all year. This is Malignant levels of nutty filmmaking, and might even go further than that film did in sheer unpredictability.

I’m in a bit of a bind here. Like with any other new film I enjoyed watching, I want to get into all the things about this that I loved seeing… but doing so runs the risk of spoiling the potential experience for the very people I desperately want to convince to check this thing out. I’ve likely gotten into this before, but the literal last thing I want to do with any of these write-ups is to ruin a film for someone else, no matter how much we may disagree on the film itself. I’m not here to dictate or denigrate anyone else’s tastes; I just want to share my thoughts and maybe get someone else to see something they mightn’t have otherwise.

With that in mind, I can either plaster a big fat spoiler warning at the top of this review and carry on as normal… or I can try and put some of that Moonage Daydream inspiration to work and see if I can successfully get into what makes this film so goddamn amazing, but without directly spelling it out. I mean, one of my recent write-up subjects for FilmInk (the fantastic One Piece Film: Red) came to me with a literal list of things not to spoil in the review proper, and I reckon that review turned out good with those stipulations, so let’s see how we go. Wish me luck.

Saturday 29 October 2022

Halloween Ends (2022) - Movie Review

I went into this with what I’d consider a reasonable amount of cautious optimism. Halloween Kills from last year still left me hankering to see how this trilogy was going to wrap up, but with the rather glaring flaws that showed up there, I was admittedly worried that it was the sign that things were going to properly bottom out. This would be the trilogy that first blazed its way into cinemas and created a fresh, clean slate that swept away the myriad of messy follow-ups to the 1978 original… only to do its own restocking of similarly wasteful material. I don’t even hate Kills as much as a lot of others seem to, but it still left me with a rather worrying impression, despite how much I got into its meatier subtext.

Thankfully, though, I am happy to report that this properly returns to what made the 2018 film work as well as it did. Although you’d be forgiven for being completely thrown off by what this finale has to offer.

Thursday 27 October 2022

DC League Of Super-Pets (2022) - Movie Review

DC animated films feel like an anomaly within their own genre. While the live-action features spend so much time trying to turn the lavishly ludicrous into something that needs to be taken very seriously (and this isn’t just a DC thing; they’re all like this), the animated films could not care less about such things. Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders, the LEGO Batman Movie, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, not to mention the official DC Animated line; not only are these among the strongest superhero flicks of the last several years, they got to that point by just embracing the sheer fun that’s supposed to be the core appeal of these characters. And this latest release from the Warner Animation Group is yet another example of that.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Wog Boys Forever (2022) - Movie Review

The original Wog Boy is one of my favourite Aussie films ever. It is everything I love about the self-deprecating Aussie sense of humour, used to highlight the multicultural patchwork that makes me appreciate the country I live in. It’s definitely a product of its time, and rather juvenile as such things go, but for a comedy that pokes at ethnic stereotypes while also taking the piss out of the social welfare system and local government at large, a lot of it is as accurate today as it was when it first came out.

Its sequel, Kings Of Mykonos, is a completely different story. An example of Adam Sandler-esque paid-vacationcore, it is so fucking dreadful as to be a fair bit worse than even the most dire examples in Sandler’s own filmography. When Kevin Sorbo is the most enjoyable part of your film, it might be time to reconsider what you’re doing with your life and who you’re inflicting it on.

And this is all without getting into writer/star Nick Giannopoulos going full Lou Interligi a few years ago and taking other comedians to court because he had patents on words like ‘Wog’. I may have a strange kind of respect for having the nards to take out a legal patent on an ethnic slur that is meant to target yourself, but using that to get all litigious on people who are also trying to reclaim it is pretty dicey.

With all this in mind, seeing posters crop up for this film had me going full rubberneck. I am willing to look past the legal shit (legal disputes between comedians is something I grew up hearing about, so I’m not as phased by it as I probably should be), but I’m really hoping that this returns to the first film, rather than continuing the sad display of KOM. And thankfully, that’s exactly what’s happened here.

Friday 21 October 2022

Don't Worry Darling (2022) - Movie Review

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a film that’s been swallowed whole by its own production drama. Paws Of Fury kinda had that same result, but the drama there was mainly background noise that you’d have to dig for. Don’t Worry Darling, on the other hand? It has been one of, if not the, most talked-about film of the year, and not even for anything do with the film’s content. Hell, the behind-the-scenes drama and marketing gaffs for this could (and has elsewhere) make for its own write-up.

But rather than just fill this review with references to #Spitgate, or how this movie feels like a movie, or hypothesising how much worse this could’ve been if Shia LaBeouf was still in it… well, outside of just mentioning them then, that’s not what I’ll be doing. Partly because, even at its most talked-about, all of this just isn’t that interesting to me (I’m not here for the gossip, I’m here for the movie), but mainly because this film is such a… bizarre creation all on its own that there’s already enough material here.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

See How They Run (2022) - Movie Review

Okay, okay, for real this time, we’re done with the trauma shit. We’re still dealing with the macabre, but things are going to be a lot lighter this time around with a silly little whodunit mystery. And man, the cast for this thing is incredible. Putting Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan together as the leads is already beautiful all on its own, but adding in Adrien Brody, rising star Harris Dickinson, David Oyelowo making up for the double helping of bad from last year, and Reece motherloving Shearsmith? I could watch these people paint fences and still be fine with paying for the privilege.

Friday 14 October 2022

On The Count Of Three (2022) - Movie Review

cw: suicide, mental illness, child abuse

Yep. We’re not quite done with the heavy shit just yet. And what’s more, said heavy shit is even more intrinsic to this film than it was with Smile. The literal first image of the film is of Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott) pointing guns at each other’s heads, ready to fulfil a suicide pact. The title is the countdown to them actually doing it.

So what if I were to tell you that this film is absolutely hilarious?

Thursday 13 October 2022

Smile (2022) - Movie Review

cw: mental illness, suicide, trauma

Ever had someone tell you to cheer up when you’re not feeling happy? Maybe they’re someone close to you and you just got done explaining the hows and whys of you not feeling happy, or maybe it’s some complete rando who sees you looking a little glum out in public. But all the same, they see you in distress and think to say that you simply shouldn’t be so down, as if you had never thought of that as an option before.

It’s the kind of advice that is arguably well-intentioned… but there’s a certain effect that comes with it. At its best, it can feel like you’re not allowed to have your own feelings, your own reactions to what’s going on, and that you just need to stop whining and put on a happy face, if not for yourself than to at least not inflict your ‘bad vibes’ on others.

But at worst, especially when it comes packaged with that same person showing off how their own forced happy face looks, there’s something almost malevolent to it. You’re feeling bad, and here’s someone just… smiling at you. Wanting you to do the same, whether you feel like it or not. And if you live with a chronic mental health condition, where these moods are a regular part of your life, all that insistence to force that happy face can feed into the much darker companions that those conditions tend to magnetise. You must be ‘normal’… or else. Or else what?

Tuesday 11 October 2022

Paws Of Fury: The Legend Of Hank (2022) - Movie Review

Ever hear the argument that political correctness has gone so screwy that you couldn’t make a Mel Brooks movie today? Well, outside of how much of a chode point-of-view that is to begin (and how the existence of films like Jojo Rabbit pretty much defeat that line of reasoning), it is at least partially correct in this film’s case. Originally titled Blazing Samurai, this loose remake of Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (to the point where all five of Saddles’ co-writers are credited on this) has been in numerous states of production and release limbo for several years. And we’re not just talking about the COVID shuffle either; this thing has been batting around since 2010.

Considering my lengthy history with sub-par animated films starring talking animals, and how much I respect Brooks’ work on the original, I’ll admit that I wasn’t all that enthused about this film even in its early stages with that crack of sumo cat teaser poster. It finally seeing release after spending so long percolating must have been a massive relief for all parties involved, and I certainly get that (any film that makes it all the way from conception to public release is nothing short of a miracle if you know anything about the industry), but how does that translate into the viewing experience? Well… it’s kinda complicated.

Friday 7 October 2022

Fall (2022) - Movie Review

After everything I said when I reviewed Beast, deciding to sit down for yet another survival flick might get me to belabour the point that this isn’t really my genre. Then again, in my defence, the trailer for this thing showed more characterisation than the whole of Beast, so I figured I’d at least give it a chance. So long as this provides me with some reason to care about who is doing the surviving here, we should be good. And to the film’s credit, I certainly got reasons to care… even if they weren’t necessarily in the characters’ favour.

Monday 3 October 2022

Ticket To Paradise (2022) - Movie Review

Well, after spending the last several reviews neck-deep in the weirder sides of genre cinema, I figure it’s about time to wind things down a bit. Time to get into something a little simpler, a little more straight-forward and, truth be told, a little less intensive when it comes to writing about it. I mean, while I have all the respect for filmmakers that care enough about their audiences to try and challenge them, there is still a place in the world for breezy and cheery rom-coms like this.

Ol Parker, after managing a quite surprising hit with the Mamma Mia sequel, wanted to keep going with bringing back the more fluffy rom-coms of the 2000s which… yeah, I’ve ragged on the formulas that came from those quite a bit on here, but considering how miserable the world has been the last several years, wanting to go back to more pleasant times isn’t that bad an idea. I mean, even with the lamer comedies out there, there’s something to be said about that communal sense of fun that comes out of having a nice giggle together in a crowded cinema. It helps to have a film worth giggling over, of course, which is why I’m very thankful that Ol Parker has delivered another modest winner.