Recent movies and TV

  • The Devil's Hour (2022): This is very convoluted, but there's some good scenery-chewing and moodiness. I've already forgotten what was really going on, though.

  • Amsterdam (2022): Some bumbling amateur detectives and junkies in the 30s stumble upon a (true!) coup plot. Antics ensue. This is really great. It feels like a Cohen Brothers movie.

  • Pearl (2022): A nice little character study of a down-home 1920s psychopath slasher girl. It's great. Technically a prequel to "X" but you don't need to have seen that. Also this one's better.

  • Next Exit (2022): Ghosts have been proven real, and a couple of suicidal volunteers go on a road trip. The trailer made me expect I Still See You but it was more Wristcutters, A Love Story. Anyway, it's good.

  • Vesper (2022): A weird cli-fi post-apocalypse story, but deeply into the weird body horror weeds, reminiscent of both Annihilation and Dune. A little slow but creepy and great. It's so dense with ideas that it feels like it started as a series of novels, but apparently not. The intro crawl is about Monsanto, and then it turns out, yeah, it's all about Monsanto.

  • Blood Relatives (2022): Very cute road-trip movie about a teen who tracks down her vampire deadbeat dad. Also he's extremely Jewish, which you don't see a lot of in vampire movies.

  • Let The Right One In (2022): This has close to nothing to do with the original movie, or even the remake, and it certainly was... a choice to entirely omit the trans aspect of the story, which was kind of the central idea of the original. However, if you watch this either with no knowledge of the original, or if you pretend you are watching some vampire series with a completely different title, this is a really good show.

  • The Peripheral (2022): An absolutely brilliant adaptation of what is probably William Gibson's best book.

  • Troll (2022): Norwegian Gojira! It's awesome. And it hits all the compulsories: plucky scientist; 150' tall metaphor; aircraft swatted from sky; terrible secret weapon; the power of love.

  • Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022): This is fantastic, it's like Clerks meets Hardware. The first 40 minutes of it are just some drunk-ass motherfuckers ranting about movies and music and the Santa Terminator hasn't even started stalking them yet. I mean I think there were 2 murders but they were off screen while Final Girl was screaming about which Soundgarden album was worst. But once it gets bloody, it keeps going. It has a really vintage feel to the production, a very 80s-grainy-film-stock look.

  • Violent Night (2022): What in the world? Did the blood-spattered elves do their work in one night and give us two excellent Christmas movies? Yes, yes they did. Santa is real, interrupts John Leguizamo doing a heist, and beats the bad guys to death. Despite this, it is full of an almost sickening amount of Christmas Cheer. I loved it.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022): I did not expect much from this, but it is very funny. Three! Three movies of Christmas Cheer! What even is this??

  • Nocebo (2022): Eva Green has some kind of PTSD, or maybe Lyme disease, and then maybe-evil Filipino Mary Poppins shows up. I guessed the entire plot from the start, but it's very tense, and nobody does "sweaty and haunted" quite like Green does.

  • Prey For The Devil (2022): I almost didn't bother including this one, but as far as exorcist movies go, it's alright. It's not just all jump scares and all-white eyes and pea soup, it has some characters in it. But it does remind me of how rote the whole Catholic pantheon is. As a militant atheist, I give this extended universe the same weight as Hellraiser, Star Trek and Lovecraft and... it just doesn't have a lot of range.

  • Bones and All (2022): Wow, this is very fucked up. Sort of a vampire-adjacent road trip movie, stylistically reminiscent of It Follows. Very, very creepy.

  • Strange World (2022): If Mystery Flesh Pit National Park was a Disney movie in the "60s colonial explorer" style. It's fun, and the squishy environments are great.

  • Hatching (2022): This is fantastic. Little girl nurses the egg of a dead bird that turns into a giant hybrid crow creature and eventually her vengeful id. The puppet work is amazing.

  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): I hadn't watched this in years, and I remembered it being kind of awful but with some good moments, but my memory was faulty, this is an excellent movie. I think my memories of how terrible Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja were bled over into this one. This is great fun all the way through. James Earl Jones is just glorious in every scene he's in. (I was inspired to rewatch it because of this amazing Twitter thread about the minor character called Red Hair.)

  • Conan the Destroyer (1984): This, though, is as bad as I remembered. Upside: Grace Jones being her normal unhinged self. Downside: everything else. The movie might have been 10% less shitty with a different score. Every musical cue tells you that this movie should not be taken seriously, even on its own terms. All of the wizardy crap has that kind of glittery lens flare that says that they're trying to reference Flash Gordon or Excalibur or some similar crap. The sidekick comic relief dude from Repo Man was the worst, except that maybe Princess Tiffany with the feathered hair was the worst, I can't tell. (Also I think it might have had the same plot as Red Sonja, I'm not sure.)

    Fun (not fun) fact: Frazetta doesn't even get a thank you in the credits for either movie, even though he designed this whole thing. Wikipedia says "After securing Oliver Stone's services, Pressman approached Frank Frazetta to be a 'visual consultant', but they failed to come to terms."

  • The Rig (2023): Strange things are afoot on an isolated oil rig. This is pretty good, kind of halfway between The Thing and The Abyss. But there's one character filling the "contrarian asshole who's going to get us all killed" role ("carrying the idiot ball", as they say) and which is a Stephen King level of lazy writing, so you'll have to roll your eyes past that. And since it's a streaming series, it doesn't have much of a conclusion and season 2 has probably been pre-cancelled.

  • M3gan (2013): This was good, surprisingly. When I saw that it was Blumhouse, I expected it to be their usual misogynistic torture trash, but it's really fun. I mean, it's absolutely predictable, the overall plot has no surprises whatsoever, but the individual set pieces are great, it's funny, and the characters are well drawn. I do wish the script had tried a little harder -- they could have had M3gan be more sympathetic if they stuck to her Prime Directive of protecting the little girl, 2010-style, instead of having her go full gleeful Chucky at the end. But still. A good sequel to Her (2013).

  • The Lazarus Project (2023): I'm a sucker for Groundhog Day and this is kind of Groundhog Black Ops. Except it's Groundhog Year. Anyway, it's really fun, good characters, plays good games with the premise. It manages to wrap up the main quest satisfactorily but also has a really good teaser for season 2, so if this doesn't get renewed I'll be pissed.

  • Velma (2023): This is very far afield from the usual Scooby Doo fare, but I think it's hilarious. It's basically the Harley Quinn of the Scoobyverse. Apparently it's getting a lot of shit-talking online from people who are either Scooby purists, Nazis, or people who feel the need to dissect the politics of every poop joke in a cartoon about Meddling Kids.

  • Poker Face (2023): Natasha Lyonne is her usual dirtbag but this time her superpower is being a lie detector. It's basically Columbo and it's great.

  • The Last Of Us (2023): People keep saying "It's just like the game!" Huh. Was this in the game? Did you have to repeat the level until you played piano right? And plant strawberries? Did you click here for an awkward sexual awakening? I don't play these kinds of games, but damn, zombie shooters have changed...

  • Viking Wolf (2022): Another fine entrant in the genre of "Small Town Werewolf", this one in Finnish.

  • Black Panther, Wakanda Forever (2022): Wow, this was garbage. Shuri is a deeply uninteresting character, Riri was given nothing to do, and movies absolutely hinge on their villain, who in this case was off-brand Aquaman who just.... suuuuuuucked. He had little wingsies on his footsies. They left that in. They decided to leave that in. That's a choice they made.

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19 Responses:

  1. david konerding says:

    I didn't get much out of Poker Face so far because it's too formulaic.  IIRC every episode has flashbacks, but you usually know who dun it a few minutes into the episode and it's just watching Lyonne do her (wonderful) schtick, often repeating the same dumb moves.  It does feel like a show that could evolve into something much better after 2 seasons, but will be cancelled before it can do that.

    • thielges says:

      You probably wouldn't like Columbo either.  The villain was always revealed early in the first act.  The fun of each episode was watching Peter Falk's disheveled affable mooch slowly close in on the evidence as the villain genius gradually comes to the realization that the detective they've been glib with is not an incompetent oaf.

      • david konerding says:

        Ah, thanks for pointing that out- I never watched Columbo.  I had to check wikipedia and apparently there's a subgenre which is "howcatchem" which makes me understand what Poker Face is emulating.

        Jamie posted this link before, and disapproved, but I personally find several rules make me enjoy it more (so I can "solve it at home before the detective):

        1. The criminal must be mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to know
        2. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.
        3. No willful tricks or deceptions may be played on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself
        4. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent--provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it.
  2. Jon H says:

    I have a theory that the medieval demon summoning magic stuff was from bored, underpaid, literate Catholics who had read the rite of exorcism and tried to hack it so that instead of "in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost, begone etc" it would be "... make me a sandwich etc".

  3. Martin says:

    I meant to recommend The Lazarus Project last time and never got round to it, so I'm glad you found it. I'm trying to think of a bad Groundhog Day movie/series and drawing a blank. Even the one with Mel Gibson in it was fine.

    And yes, The Lazarus Project has been renewed!

  4. Colin R. says:

    Love At First Bite for a nice Jewish Vampire.

    With a deep tan.

  5. Wakanda Goes On Forever, am I right?  Woof, so boring.

    I loved The Peripheral but I don't remember the book that well, apparently they're deviating from it strongly and people have something to say about it?  I dunno, I guess not remembering helps me in this case.

    • 2

      William Gibson himself says the series is basically a stub of the book, and that it works well.

      I think part of the objection from some quarters is that the series doesn't leave who created the stub capability, and why, a mystery; a lot of us are looking forward to seeing the reveal in the third book, which Gibson was still working on last I heard. It doesn't bother me, though.

  6. Carlos says:

    season 2 has probably been pre-cancelled

    Thank you, I was looking for a phrase to describe this phenomenon.

    It's like anything episodic that I watch and enjoy is summarily canceled.


  7. CSL3 says:

    I mostly dug the Guardians Xmas special (though I saw the GameBoy gag coming a mile away), but both it and the Guardians 3 trailer kinda seem like Gunn was already looking at the EXIT from MCU. I get why; "keys to the kingdom at DC" 'n all that. It's just that his last two MCU projects have a whiff of "senioritis" about them.

    I've always loved Milius's Conan and will quote it at any given opportunity. (Even though he's known as the right-wing member of the Film Geeks [Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, De Palma], I dug that he was always pissed at both Bushes and was always pro-choice.) Since he wouldn't put up with Dine DeLaurentiis' shit, Milius couldn't do the second film of his planned trilogy, so we got Conan the Destroyer... for which the only saving grace is that it's just barely better than Red Sonja. Just... barely. (I've never seen the Jason Mamoa Conan.)

    I don't know if you've seen the Japanese horror-comedy One Cut of the Dead (aka Don't Stop the Camera!), but I had a blast watching it recently.

    Also, as a critic, I recently saw a digital screener of for the documentary Circus of the Scars: The Insider Odyssey of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. It's about the Seattle sideshow performers who grew a cult audience that got even bigger after they stole the show at Lollapalooza '92. I really dug the docu, but it is NOT for the faint of heart (it actually opens with a disclaimer emphasising that very thing).

  8. Deadmoose says:

    People keep saying "It's just like the game!" Huh. Was this in the game? Did you have to repeat the level until you played piano right? And plant strawberries? Did you click here for an awkward sexual awakening? I don't play these kinds of games, but damn, zombie shooters have changed...

    I know you're mostly just snarking, but...yes?

    It's much less what you would call a zombie shooter, and much more stealth combat levels with a lot of walking cutscenes between. You trudge through the hotel, exploring and collecting ammo and pushing debris to clear the next door, and then you're crouching behind stuff waiting to get the drop on a zombie and smash its head in with a brick.

    Bill & Frank's story changed, and in the game you don't see their whole time together, but for all the people who apparently missed they were gay, the scene with Ellie and the porno mag was lifted word-for-word.

    And in the sequel there literally ARE points where you find a guitar and need to noodle through Take On Me well enough to progress.

    • jsled says:

      The DLC that details Ellie and Riley's relationship is sort of literally "click here for an awkward sexual awakening" (though it's not awkward; it's actually quite lovely).

  9. On a recent flight someone in my line-of-sight started watching a movie on his laptop, and since I wasn't up to much myself I had a hard time keeping my eyes off his screen. The movie starts innocently enough, then suddenly takes a *hard* turn into seriously fucked up that I was not prepared for.

    Turns out the movie was Bones and All.

  10. Zach says:

    If you haven't seen it or it's been a while, then C.H.U.D (1984) is worth a look. At the very least you'll start calling everyone a chud for the next several days...

  11. Rodger says:

    Poker Face delights me because it’s such a throwback to a simpler era of TV: I can watch an episode of a show and it’s self-contained! The premise is Incredible Hulk simple: woman with stranger power needs to stay one step ahead of the bad guys and she has a mystery of the week. I don’t need to read 3 comics, 2 books, watch a series of films, and keep up with fandom Q&As to understand years of continuity! Just relax into the beautiful cinematography and the retro fonts and the faint 70s/80s nostalgia and enjoy this week’s mystery.

  12. metarza says:

    I rewatched Conan recently with my wife.  The first hour has more tits then dialog.

  13. Koleslaw says:

    I was in love with Columbo and Murder, She Wrote as a kid and I can't get enough Poker Face.

  14. Men are pigs.  Woman's descent into madness.

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