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Friday, January 27, 2023



Guided by a seductive and mysterious woman, a couple on vacation venture outside the resort grounds and find themselves in a culture filled with violence, hedonism and untold horror. A tragic accident soon leaves them facing a zero tolerance policy for crime: either you'll be executed, or, if you're rich enough to afford it, you can watch yourself die instead.

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Thomas Kretschmann, Amanda Brugel

Release Date: January 27, 2023

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rated R for graphic violence, disturbing material, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and some language

Runtime: 1h 57m


Infinity Pool is a nightmarish, hallucinogenic fever dream of a film that keeps you off balance throughout.  Brandon Cronenberg's is disorienting almost from the moment it starts and it rarely lets the gas off the petal as it descends further into twisted tale.  His film borrows inspiration from the work of Kubrick, Polanski, Giallo and his father's earlier films.  Together it makes for strangely beautiful collection of wonderfully composed shots of horrible images that leave a lasting impression.  A handful of scenes area a full-on assault on the senses which will leave your retinas burning if you don't break into an elliptic seizure.  This is the type of film that delivers certain sequences which will be burned into your mind and linger long after the film's finished.  The madness onscreen wouldn't work as well if you didn't have such committed turns from the film's leads.  Luckily, Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth are locked in throughout delivered layered but gonzo performances.  Skarsgård's uses his general good looks to his advantage by playing against type as the film's reveals the sad sack of man his character truly is.  It’s incredibly effective especially since the film keeps you wondering who or what we are watching make great use of the unreliable narrator.  Mia Goth continues her recent hot streak with another fascinating turn that ranges from alluring to manipulative to malicious.  Goth moves so easily between these different emotions and attitudes that you can't keep her eyes off her when she's onscreen.  Skarsgård and Goth make for an excellent juxtaposition as his turn is far more subtle and measured while she slowly reveals the extent of her character's manic depravity with impressive aplomb.  The story once you have a moment to gather your thought is thematically dense enough to leave you thinking about what it’s trying to say about the excesses of the rich among other things.  Infinity Pool isn't the kind of film that will be for everyone but that doesn't make it any less impactful or effective.   


Friday, January 20, 2023



When her mother disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend, June's search for answers is hindered by international red tape. Stuck thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to try and find her before it's too late. However, as she digs ever deeper, her digital sleuthing soon raises more questions than answers.

Director: Nicholas D. Johnson, Will Merrick

Cast:  Storm Reid, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung, Amy Landecker, Daniel Henney, Nia Long

Release Date: January 20, 2023 

Genre: Drama, Thriller 

Rated PG-13 for some strong violence, language, teen drinking, and thematic material.

Runtime: 1h 51m


2018's Searching was a fairly impressive thriller that used our modern screen centric life to great effect.  Missing serves as an in universe follow up with a stand alone story that only references the first film in passing during it's opening via a true crime show retelling. First time directors Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick do a solid job of establishing their setting and character dynamics early on before moving onto the central mystery.  It’s a kinetic series of window and screens that feel authentic for the better part of the film even when the plot starts to stretch credibility.  The central mystery is engaging enough to let you buy into some of larger logical leaps the story takes especially in its final act.  It’s an immensely watchable film due in large part to its effective cast lead by Storm Reid.  Reid carries the film with impressive ease especially since she's mainly performing on her own and reacting to what she sees onscreen.  She possesses a believable authenticity which makes the film work much more than it would in the hands of a lesser actress.  The supporting cast is solid but there's a noticeable drop off from Reid's work with Joaquim de Almeida faring the best.  Missing does falter a bit once the reveal occurs, especially since its telegraphed fairly early on, but that doesn't keep the film from being far more engrossing and entertaining than it should be.


Friday, January 13, 2023



Women in an isolated religious colony struggle to reconcile with their faith after a series of sexual assaults.

Director: Sarah Polley

Cast: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw, Frances McDormand

Release Date: December 23, 2022

Genre: Drama

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content including sexual assault, bloody images, and some strong language

Runtime: 1h 44m


Sarah Polley’s Women Talking is a meditative drama is the kind of film that’s driven by its script and cast.  Polley takes a minimalist approach which allows the focus to remain centered on its subject matter and characters.  A handful of sweeping landscape shots and post assault flashbacks make up the small visual flourishes she utilizes during the course of the film’s runtime.  The film’s central meetings feel more like a stage play as we listen to the character describe the terrible state of this situation and ruminate on how to escape and possible consequences.  This isn’t the kind of film that isn’t going to be for everyone with its dialogue-centric approach and heavy subject matter which some people might find to be little more than pretentious award fodder.  It’s definitely a certain type of film but that doesn’t keep it from being impactful for those willing to take the time to appreciate the performances on screen.  The ensemble of actresses on screen deliver excellent performances throughout with each of them given ample time to shine. The characters do lean a bit more into types than fully realized characters but that doesn’t make them any less effective.  Rooney Mara is decidedly hopeful, Claire Foy intensely fiery but Jessie Buckley’s conflicted character is the most interesting of the group.  Buckly’s performance dominates the latter portion of the film with a measured and complex performance that’s rather mesmerizing.  Ben Whishaw, Judith Ivey, Michelle McLeod and Sheila McCarthy make the most of their screentime in vital supporting turns which gives the film its beating heart.  Women Talking is the kind of film that allows you appreciate the power of words especially when delivered by a stellar cast.


Friday, January 6, 2023



M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a lifelike doll that's programmed to be a child's greatest companion and a parent's greatest ally. Designed by Gemma, a brilliant roboticist, M3GAN can listen, watch and learn as it plays the role of friend and teacher, playmate and protector. When Gemma becomes the unexpected caretaker of her 8-year-old niece, she decides to give the girl an M3GAN prototype, a decision that leads to unimaginable consequences.

Director: Gerard Johnstone

Cast: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jen Van Epps, Stephane Garneau-Monten

Release Date: January 6, 2023

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rated PG-13 for violent content and terror, some strong language and a suggestive reference

Runtime: 1h 42m


M3gan plays like the strange offspring of The Twilight Zone episode, I Sing the Body Electric, and the Chucky franchise.  It’s the kind of genre film that could have recycled tone and tropes from various other sources, Speilberg’s A.I., HBO’s Westworld or the original Westworld movie, to deliver passable entertainment.   Thankfully, Akela Cooper’s screenplay is self-aware enough to try something different and embrace some of the funnier elements of the conceit and deliver a film that will deliver more laughs than actual scares.   Gerard Johnstone directs a sleek, efficient film that’s easy to enjoy, especially once the opening act sets up the introduction of the titular android.  Once M3gan shows up, the film really finds it footing due in no large part to well the live action/FX creation works as a character.  It’s a fascinating bit of screen alchemy with the character feeling authentically artificial while still having a clearly defined persona.   Amie Donald physical performance combined with Jenna Davis voice work serve as the life blood of the film, making incredibly watchable especially when it leans into the funnier aspects which are best left as a surprise.  The supporting cast is solid but Voilet McGraw interactions with M3gan really make the film pop before the fairly sanitized homicides start happening.   The plot, itself touches on themes like technology raising our children but it’s nothing terribly in depth or meaningful. The film moves at such a fast pace that you get the sense there is a more detailed longer cut of the film somewhere which expands on some the story threads.  Needless to say, that there’s something to explore in the inevitable sequel which will hopefully maintain the same level of fun as this entry. 


Thursday, December 29, 2022

My 10 Favorite Films of 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, I've gone through the 65 movies reviewed this year and settled my 10 favorites.  

There were plenty of highlights and lowlights this year with it being a particularly good year for horror films which always makes me happy.  

Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water delivered the goods in terms of onscreen spectacle, even if they didn't nail the story, something sorely needed after the last few years.  

So, without further ado below are my 10 favorite films of 2022 in no particular order.  

This list isn't necessarily based on my original grades.


There have been plenty of horror films that have tried to replicate the look and feel of Tobe Hooper's original Texas Chainsaw Massacre but never quite hitting the mark.  Ti West pulled off a fun surprise with X which captured the grimy violence paired with a dark sense of humor.  Its final act aims to make you squirm and it does so in spades.  

Link to my original review:

Everything All at Once

The superhero genre has brought the concept of the multiverse to the masses but Everything Everywhere All At Once manages to nail the concept while delivering an emotionally poignant story which grounds the overall story.    

Link to my original review:

The Northman

Robert Eggers The Northman is visually mesmerizing from start to finish.  Its story plays like a blend of Gladiator and Excalibur stacked with a excellent performances across the board.

Link to my original review:

Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water is far from a perfect film, but you can't deny the technical and visual achievements James Cameron delivered on screen.  Its story never reaches those heights, but the visuals alone make it one of the more memorable big screen experiences of the year.  

Link to my original review:


Alex Garland's Men isn't an easy film to digest especially as it gets more bizarre and headier in its final act.  It’s the type of film that stays with you whether you loved or hated it due to searing imaginary and stellar performances from its two leads.

Link to my original review:

The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh's films tend to be as darkly funny as they are pensive and deep.  The Banshees of Inisherin reteams him with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for the first time since In Bruges.  The result is an immensely watchable film that's as funny, sad and meaningful as their previous collaboration.  

Link to my original review:


By this point in time, another Elvis biopic seems like beating a dead horse into the ground, but Baz Luhrmann's name was enough to get me intrigued.  His exuberant, kinetic style paired with a career making performance from Austin Butler elevate the film making it feel more like a fantasy than reality.    

Link to my original review:


For me, Jordan Peele's first two films were overpraised for my taste.  I enjoyed them but can't say either one really blew me away. I expected more of the same with Nope and was genuinely taken aback at how much I enjoyed his twisty, genre bending film. Peele keeps you off balance by toying with your expectations throughout and once the reveal occurs you are either all in or rolling your eyes.  Needless to say, I was in the first camp.  

Link to my original review:

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Sometimes you run across something unexpected and original like Marcel the Shell with Shoes.  Its stop motion star is charming and lovable, but the story's arch is surprisingly profound, moving and heartfelt.

Link to my original review:


When I heard that Ti West and Mia Goth had written and shot a prequel to X I thought it was interesting but figured it would be a nice companion piece at best.  I was utterly unprepared for the visual flair and overall craftmanship they both delivered on screen.  This film is its own living breathing entity, a distinct and separate creation which more than stands on its own.  Mia Goth double role in X was impressive but with Pearl she exceeds it in everyway, capped off with a monologue for the ages. 

Link to my original review:

Monday, December 26, 2022



Discovered by record executive Clive Davis, Whitney Houston rises from obscurity to international fame in the 1980s to become one of the greatest singers of her generation.

Director: Kasi Lemmons

Cast:  Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders, Tamara Tunie, Nafessa Williams, Clarke Peters

Release Date: December 23, 2022 

Genre: Biography, Drama, Music

Rated PG-13 for Strong Drug Content, Some Strong Language, Smoking, Suggestive References

Runtime: 2h 26m


I Wanna Dance with Somebody is a competent albeit perfunctory exercise of a biopic that rushes thru major moments while delivering barebones dramatic moments.  Kasi Lemmons meticulously recreates a lion's share of Houston's most iconic moments with the film pulsating with energetic verve especially for longtime fans of the singer.  Sadly, the dramatic connective tissue never reaches those kinds of heights.  The interspersed moments showing her upbringing, career and romantic relationships fairly uninspired and rushed.  Those moments never connect, keeping the audience at a distance from Houston's motivations or drives.  As such, it's a scattering of well worn tabloid details with very little emotional depth or resonance behind it.  It's a massive misfire for the film since the cast is clearly dying for better material and do the best they can with what they have.  Naomi Ackie is solid if not transcendent as Houston.  Ackie clearly studied her movements and mannerisms in order to recreate her stage presence which is a tall order to say the least.  Its an admirable turn as she makes the most of what she's given to work with.  The supporting cast is made up of intriguing performers with the script providing hints of more interesting iterations of the characters.  However, none of them are explored properly leaving Clarke Peter and Tamara Tunie playing clichéd parental overseer/overlords.  Nafessa Williams playing Whitney's lifelong best friend seemed ripe for exploration but the film spends fairly little time on their relationship before quickly moving on and leaving her little more than a worried supportive friend at odds with Ashton Sanders' Bobby Brown who takes up a large portion of the final act.  Stanley Tucci fares the best of the bunch due to his sheer talent and playing Clive Davis who is also one of the film's producers.  The final act magnifies the film's faults as it clumsily lumbers toward Houston's tragic end. I Wanna Dance with Somebody ends up being little more than a competent but forgettable biopic that doesn't bring any sort of fresh perspective on its central subject.  


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