11 April 2022
new film, you really ought to.
Have you ever wiretripped? Have you ever jacked in? Well, you've got your chance if you find yourself where a 35mm print of it is showing. Another example of how streaming does not solve nearly as many problems as it claims to, this shockingly difficult-to-see SciFi/action epic from Kathryn Bigelow is a wild, messy, grotesque, and brutal vision, and absolutely worth investigating.
Guess what, y'all? More Sparks! This is part II of my epic interview with the Mael brothers (Part I is right here). The show was great, and I hope everyone in the rest of the world gets a chance to see them do their thing onstage.
16 March 2022
The 2021 Jim Ridley Memorial Film Poll Apocrypha
Every year, there’s always such a rich and diverse response from the contributors to the Nashville Scene’s Annual Film Poll, and every year I make a point of trying to get all of it out there in some capacity. Though a bit later than usual, I feel like the slow percolating of Oscar trends and awards speedbumps are exactly the time to luxuriate in all of these interesting perspectives about last year’s films. The published version, in the Nashville Scene, is here.
Contributors include Sadaf AHSAN, Kevin ALLEN, Sean ATKINS, Billy Ray BREWTON, Sean BURNS, Erica CICCARONE, BJ COLANGELO, C. K. COSNER, Jacob DAVISON, A.A DOWD, Alonso DURALDE, Ben EMPEY, Steve ERICKSON, Celina FAUR, Doctor GANGRENE, Zack HALL, Sheronica HAYES, Odie HENDERSON, Allison INMAN, Brennan KLEIN, Rob KOTECKI, John LICHMAN, Craig D. LINDSEY, Brian LONANO, William MAHAFFEY, Matt McGUIRE, Richie MILLENNIUM, Brian OWENS, D. Patrick RODGERS, Witney SEIBOLD, Jason SHAWHAN, Michael SICINSKI, Graham SKIPPER, Nadine SMITH, Sam SMITH, James SPENCE, Scout TAFOYA, Kyle TURNER, Dave WHITE, Lisa Ellen WILLIAMS, Cory WOODROOF, and Ron WYNN.
What was the musical moment of the year for you?
Anything in Summer of Soul. (Lindsey)
Going to my first live music concert in two years-- Caribou, at the Greek in Los Angeles. It was magical to be back in a live music venue, and Caribou delivered! Other than that, Travis Holcombe has been KILLING IT on KCRW with his sets in the evenings. (Abley)
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar. All of it. (Lichman)
It feels like cheating slightly, but when “Woke Up This Morning” emerges in The Many Saints of Newark, mixed in with the symbolism and implication of the scene itself, it created the best ending of the year. Mahalia Jackson singing “Precious Lord Take My Hand” in Summer of Soul reaches a rare state: the transfiguration of the human voice into a wave from eternity.
. “(60 Miles By Road or Rail) Northampton” in The Show
. “All I Need Is A Miracle” in Spencer
. The Sardaukar chant in Dune
. “She’s Not There” in Titane
. “You’re My World” and “Land of 1000 Dances” in Last Night in Soho
. The car alarm commotion and the recording studio scene in Memoria
. The opening drone in The Velvet Underground
. “Sabor a Mi” in Cry Macho (Spence)
This was a surprisingly robust year for musicals, though largely not particularly good ones. I have a soft spot for "Boho Days" from Tick, Tick... Boom! because it reminds me of drama club parties in high school (and the movie is nothing if not a constant evocation of the secondhand embarrassment I feel thinking about how obsessed I was with Rent at that age). The scene is also a fun, casual number that showcases Andrew Garfield's charisma in the role. (Klein)
There was something so beautiful and cathartic about "So May We Start." Even though Annette didn't end up being my favourite film of the year, I watched that particular number multiple times. I don't know if Sparks wrote it with the pandemic in mind, but it had a feeling as if they did have it in mind. (Owens)
“You Used to Laugh” in Annette is the grandest moment in the whole shebang to me, the defiant fall of a comedy prick that sees Adam Driver turn in one of his most impassioned moments of acting so far in his career. The way Leos Carax tosses in the audience to interact with Driver as part of his fiery lament seals the deal. Though, Annette’s “So May We Start?,” Olga Merediz’s big number “Paciencia Y Fe” in In the Heights, Andrew Garfield’s raucous opening number “30/90” in Tick, Tick … Boom!, and “Surface Pressure” from Encanto are very much up there for me. (Woodroof)
I’m a sucker for music documentaries and biopics, and 2021 has been a great year for these genres. Admittedly, more profound musical moments exist (it’s difficult to compete with Get Back), but Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry has become a 2021 favorite for the emphases on the songwriting process, the role family plays in our development, and the impact of fandom on our culture. (Williams)
ABBA’s The Winner Takes it All in BERGMAN ISLAND hurt me good. I also enjoyed Tina Charles’ I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance) in the same film, because it was significant to the characters but never explained outright. (Inman)
There's a dance sequence in Last Night in Soho that I think is beautifully directed that really stands out, but I guess I would have to give it to The Beatles: Get Back because even though Peter Jackson scrubbed the film grain out until it looks kinda weird at points, it is one of the most fascinating music documentaries I've ever seen. The Beatles are iconic in a way that few bands are, and being a fly on the wall watching them goof around and behave like my friends and I used to while crafting some of the most timeless songs ever made makes every minute of this excessively long doc totally captivating. (Mahaffey)
"So May We Start," ANNETTE (Sicinski)
The opening scene of ANNETTE, with Sparks leading a performance of "So May We Start" as a fascinating preface to the rest of the surprises that were about to emerge over the course of the movie. (Millennium)
The climax in CODA. I mean, if that doesn’t warm your heart, I’m not sure what does. (Atkins)
The song “Sunday” in Tick…Tick…BOOM! (Skipper)
Every single needle-drop in Licorice Pizza. (Rodgers)
The “Maria” number in West Side Story. The lyrics from Stephen Sondheim (RIP) perfectly convey the power of young love at first sight, while the visuals of the sequence remain grounded in reality yet wondrous in their visual splendor. The shot of Tony singing with the lights of the buildings behind him reflecting in the water he’s leapt into remains among the most beautiful images of the year. (Allen)
The Conductor scene from Leos Carax's Annette. It's a single shot of Simon Helberg expressing his suspicions of Adam Driver as he conducts an orchestra. I didn't care much for Annette but I absolutely loved that scene. Runner Up is Simon Rex running naked in the streets with "Bye Bye Bye" blasting. (Lonano)
Did any films make you cry this year?
Honestly, no, though that's probably more on the films I chose to see (my first movie back in theaters was The Boss Baby 2) than the films themselves. (Klein)
The end of The Rescue blew me away. There was something so structurally perfect about that documentary that even though I knew the outcome, I was still overwhelmed by it. I guess I needed something positive amidst all of this turmoil. (Owens)
I was honestly surprised how many movies made me cry or tear up this year! Lots of emotion and also the joy of being back in theaters probably being a factor. West Side Story, Cyrano, and Pig brough the most tears. (Davison)
Guess I'm becoming a hardened cynic, because the answer to this one is a big no. (Wynn)
Wasn't a big year for tear-jerkers for me. The one moment I can recall offhand is from the Paolo Sorrentino film THE HAND OF GOD. Without spoiling, some unexpected happens to the main character and his reaction to is is big and loud and raw and so filled with emotion I couldn't help but weep right alongside him. (Brewton)
The opening titles of PROCESSION got me, and it was unexpected. (Inman)
The Green Knight just barely missed my top 10 list, but it was probably the most visually stunning movie I saw this year. (Mahaffey)
West Side Story, both from the story, but also the absolute beauty of the film itself. The voices of the actors, especially Rachel Zegler as Maria, brought me to tears many times. And just to see a movie musical of such enormous scope was overwhelming. A perfect film! (Abley)
The emotionally devastating scene in Pig when Nicolas Cage speaks with the fusion chef. The actor David Knell made such an impact in such a short period of time. I would love to see him nominated for an Oscar for this scene. (Lonano)
Yeah most of them, my emotions are in shambles after COVID. Top of my head The Card Counter, Petite Maman, Annette, Unclenching the Fists, C'mon C'mon. (Tafoya)
What films brought you the most visual pleasure this year?
Dune and The Green Knight. (Rodgers)
I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t respond to this with Dune. What a pleasure to see in a theater. (Williams)
The gorgeous milky black & white of Passing was something to behold. The vistas of The Power of the Dog were gorgeous. (Owens)
TICK, TICK...BOOM! because it allows us to see Lin-Manuel Miranda figuring out screen directing in almost real time. You can already tell from his early visual flourishes that he's going to have one hell of a career. (Brewton)
Seeing The Matrix Resurrections, No Time to Die and Dune in IMAX theaters brought so much visual pleasure to me. I missed seeing blockbusters frequently on the big screen last year and seeing these films on the best screens possible brought me much joy. (Atkins)
Nightmare Alley and Last Night in Soho were both visually stunning. (Gangrene)
Probably The Deep House, with its gorgeous underwater photography (Skipper)
Both "The Harder They Fall" and "No Time To Die." Exceptional cinematography on both. Jennifer Hudson's portrayal of Aretha Franklin was sensational. Both the cinematography and ensemble acting in "Belfast" was superb as well. (Wynn)
More often than not, Dune delivered quite substantially. It’s always fun to see a large budget at work creating the wildest sights and spectacle.
Evangelion 3.0+1.01 offered both calm village landscapes and a fair attempt at reaching the mental crescendo standard set by End of Evangelion (especially in the concluding fight amongst multiple locations).
Spencer, as Joni Mitchell put it, is shadow and light: a daymare whose aesthetics work thematically and present a landscape worthy of wandering. Here’s to Pablo Larrain continuing to shoot on 16mm in the future.
I think it’s appropriate to use this section to remark that, while he’s not everyone’s favorite, it’s important to protect the visual maximalists out there in the world, whether they’re Zack Snyder or someone else. (Spence)
I'll begrudgingly say DUNE here. I saw some great-looking stuff at home, but nothing beats the majesty of seeing new nerdy space stuff on the big screen! (Hall)
There were plenty of visually stunning movies this year, especially if you were fortunate enough to see them in IMAX. Ones that come to mind would be Dune, The French Dispatch, and The Suicide Squad. (Davison)
For a core premise that isn't all that original – "young athlete wants to be the best" – the way The Novice was shot, edited and acted made for a striking emotional and visual experience that mimicked what I know it feels like to strive and how I have to assume it feels like to be an athlete whose entire body screams in pain as much as it does in victory. Entirely shot in dreary weather, the water feels either welcoming or damning at various times of day. As the eponymous novice Alex (an incredible Isabelle Fuhrman) becomes detrimentally obsessed with her single goal, it's as if we all become infected by her tunnel-vision, each quick shot increasingly frenetic, claustrophobic, tight – or even, at times, slow-motion, just to throw us off balance. The stunning sound design is a perfect match. Once the sight of bruising and blood begins to feel like juicy victory, you know director Lauren Hadaway has accomplished her dark feat. (Ahsan)
What was the hardest you laughed at something in 2021?
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, season two of I Think You Should Leave, and Bradley Cooper’s Jon Peters from Licorice Pizza. (Lichman)
Nothing topped Bad Trip, which I technically saw last year but is a 2021 release, but "I knew she was Jewish!" in Bad Luck Banging did me in. (Tafoya)
Stolen Valor in Red Rocket (Hardin)
Jason Mitchell delivering the “delusions of grandeur“ line in Zola made me laugh til my side ached. (Hayes)
A video of a man falling off of his icy porch on America’s Funniest Home Videos. (Skipper)
I think the only times I had true hearty laughs at a new release this year were at dramas that were bad. Joe Bell was probably the worst offender. (Empey)
Any episode of Big Mouth, but especially the absolutely filthy Christmas episode, A Very Big Mouth Christmas. In the "I'm laughing but should I be?" category, Cecily Strong's "Goober the Clown" piece on abortion was possibly one of the most important pieces of comedy I've ever seen. (Abley)
Sean Penn’s ludicrous corner booth seduction in LICORICE PIZZA. Many thanks to PTA for letting Hollywood’s Most Humorless Man remind us that like all great movie stars, he can laugh at himself, and let us laugh right along with him. A close runner-up is when the attorney declares his client not guilty by virtue of demonic possession in the latest CONJURING. (Kotecki)
Olivia Wilde’s scene with Zoe Lister-Jones in HOW IT ENDS is brilliantly hilarious, and I laughed out loud every time Tilda Swinton spoke in THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (Inman)
"Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar." When the young boy stopped his paper route in front of a tree just outside his neighborhood, and an owl on a branch became a laser scanner to let him into a supervillain lair. I was taken off-guard and utterly delighted. (Seibold)
I don’t often laugh till I cry — I’m more often on the receiving end of that reaction. I recently started watching Jamie Demetriou’s British sitcom Stath Lets Flats, and the scene in Series 1 — when Stath attempts to catch a pigeon that has infested one his company’s apartments — gave me a cathartic and tearful howl. (Ciccarone)
Nothing made me laugh harder this year than BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR, a movie I was sure was going to be the stupidest thing I'd ever seen but turned out to be a brilliant comedy that was exactly what I needed in 2021. The long-gag of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo inventing the backstory of "Trish," absolutely wrecked me. I would have watched a full hour of them just improving the life of "Trish." (Colangelo)
Probably a hundred different things in Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar (which of course would be translated as "The View of the Mar"). Lying about going to a turtle's house. Hearing the complete life story of some hypothetical Trish.The talking club where they eat hot dog soup, and no swearing is permitted except for the f-word. (Millennium)
Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza. Even though he’s briefly in the film, he’s laugh out loud funny. (Atkins)
Bad Trip. Hands down. During the scene where Eric Andre enters a gorilla pen to take a selfie and is then attacked by the gorilla, only to wander back in again to get his phone back I laughed so hard I choked! And Tiffany Haddish stole every scene of hers as well. (Davison)
This will show how sick I am: When Charlotte Rampling did a Harry Nilsson and at the end of Benedetta. (Henderson)
The third ending of Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn. Pretty much all of Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar. “Fuck off, teenagers” and “I want you to be afraid for your life” in Licorice Pizza. Every time Monchi is onscreen in The Mitchells Vs The Machines. Mary Woronov in The Velvet Underground. (Shawhan)
It's a sustained laugh. But it's DON'T LOOK UP and revolved around this running commentary regarding a high ranking general forcing our lead characters to pay for something he received for free. The act itself isn't particularly amusing, but the way Jennifer Lawrence constantly references it made me laugh out loud each time. (Brewton)
The evil Furbies of doom in The Mitchells vs. The Machines takes the cake for me. Seeing that dead-eyed Furby overlord usher in the dark harvest will rival many of the jokes I’ll see in the next couple of years. (Woodroof)
I can’t think of a response to this question in terms of film because I’m still reeling from Kieran Culkin’s performance during the moment he sends “the text” in Succession. (Williams)
LETTERKENNY and THE OTHER TWO (White)
Alana and Gary’s ride down a hill with their friends in the back of their box truck in Licorice Pizza made me bust a gut while I had my mouth covered in disbelief at what was happening before me. It’s up there with the quaalude sequence in The Wolf of Wall Street in that regard. Also PAL turning off the WiFi and causing mass hysteria in The Mitchells vs. The Machines had me in stitches. It's the epitome of the phrase, 'it's funny because it's true'. (Allen)
The ass-kicking bus scene in Nobody. It was the first film I’d seen in the theater in a year, and I was laughing out of sheer joy and delight the whole time. Laughed until I cried! (Rodgers)
I found a deep sense of identification and joy in Reyn Doi as Yoyo in Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar singing “Guilty” by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb as he rode his bike (although, I, personally, cannot ride a bike). (Turner)
While "Coming 2 America" wasn't nearly as funny as the original, the looks and demeanor of Eddie Murphy throughout much of this made it worth seeing. (Wynn)
This year I discovered the films of Jim Cummings and the opening sequence of Thunder Road (2018) is a brilliant comedic set piece that also manages to be emotionally devastating at the same time, and it cracked me up and stuck with me throughout the year. (Mahaffey)
Throw a dart at a scene in Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar and I'll agree it's that one. (Klein)
Overall (especially with quality in mind) I would have to say Love Exposure; my life is vastly better now that I’ve finally seen it. Hats off to: Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, The too perfect throwing a chair headshot in Malignant, The guy farting fire at skeletons routine in the very beginning of Benedetta, Bradley Cooper as Jon Peters in Licorice Pizza, The kid detective agency in The Show, Cars meet Space in F9, Sebastian the rat offering a leaf to Bloodsport in The Suicide Squad, Clint Eastwood interacting with Macho the rooster in Cry Macho, Mr. Napkinhead in The Holiday. (Spence)
The Plaza and our local video store Videodrome screened an outsider film back in July called "Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear" and I haven't laughed that hard watching a bizarre WTF film since I saw Dangerous Men. It was originally released in 2018 so not sure if it counts but I saw it in theaters this year. Seek it out if you can. (Lonano)
What are you most psyched to see in 2022?
I'm very excited for Sam Raimi's return to directing with Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Not a huge MCU fan but a huge Sam Raimi fan and hope Marvel lets him cut loose as a filmmaker. (Lonano)
I'd say my most anticipated would be Across The Spider-Verse, Jordan Peele's Nope, and the Bob's Burgers movie. (Davison)
I have to be honest: THE BATMAN. Also kogonada’s AFTER YANG, Andrew Dominik’s BLONDE, and George Miller’s THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING. Then, pandemic willing, the pipeline is loaded with new films from Joanathan Glazer, Kelly Reichardt, Todd Field, Sarah Polley, Park Chan-Wook, Ruben Ostlond, Adrian Lynne, Josephine Decker, Joshua Oppenheimer, Cronenberg, Lanthimos, Fincher, Soderbergh, Iñaritu, Baumbach, Spielberg, and Scorsese. (S. Smith)
Drive My Car, Belle, and Tragedy of Macbeth. (Hayes)
My most anticipated film right now is Everything Everywhere All at Once. I'm also excited to see Sam Raimi directing a movie again, even if it looks to be an overstuffed Marvel movie. (Mahaffey)
The Northman without a doubt!!!! (Owens)
I can’t wait to experience an adventurous audience seeing AFTER BLUE (DIRTY PARADISE) for the first time. (Hall)
Great ones. I want to be surprised. (Seibold)
I will give a limb if it means it's January 14 and I can finally see the fifth installment of SCREAM, I can't wait to see Rob Pattinson as THE BATMAN, I am absolutely going to cry when I see my boy Tails in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2, Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage in THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT looks like everything I've ever wanted, and I am praying that THE BLACK PHONE and NOPE don't get pushed. (Colangelo)
JACKASS FOREVER, BULLET TRAIN, TOP GUN: MAVERICK, THE NORTHMAN, A HEADFUL OF GHOSTS, and should it be done in time, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. (Kotecki)
The Northman is at the top of the list alongside Vortex and the Sadness (Hardin)
I’m very excited to see what Kogonada does to evolve his unique visual style with After Yang. Also, Jerry Seinfeld has a narrative for Netflix coming out called Unfrosted, which is a Right Stuff-esque biopic about the invention of the Pop Tarts, and that’s an amazing concept for a comedy. And then of course, there’s The Batman. Matt Reeves blew minds with Dawn Of and War For The Planet of the Apes, and I’m very excited for what looks like Se7en in superhero movie form, and that’s too fitting for the Caped Crusader. (Allen)
I could go on and on about how excited I am for Matt Reeves’ The Batman since I grew up with the Caped Crusader. I could also go on and on about the Top Gun sequel after seeing it delayed for over two years now. But one film that is flying under the radar right now is Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley biopic coming out next summer. Love him or hate him, Baz goes big in every film he makes. And for the King of Rock ‘n Roll, that’s exactly what he deserves: A big, loud biopic to match his record-breaking (and leg-shaking) music. (Atkins)
There are new films by Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg, and I think either one could kill me. I want Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon to be 5 hours with no intermission and I will be seeing it in theaters. (Empey)
The Northman. (Rodgers)
I want to ask you about the thing you saw this year that made you the angriest, but I honestly can’t get past how awful the digital processing on The Beatles: Get Back looks. What is it about directors when they decide that grain is their enemy and decide to unmake art?
I don't know. A lot of directors just have a preference for 'shininess' that they decide to erase the grit and the dirt without thinking of what they're losing in the process. (Davison)
HOUSE OF GUCCI. Everything about it. The way Ridley Scott was the absolute wrong choice for the material (Paolo Sorrentino, anyone?). Leto is embarrassingly bad. Adam Driver is full as hell. And people keep saying Gaga saves it. NO SHE DOESN'T. She is still barely an actress and isn't close to the place where she can save a film. Her accent is all over the damned place. The whole thing is an exercise in poor taste. (Brewton)
LAMB blew the entire what coulda been a good twist in the trailer leaving the movie duller than watching paint that already dried... (Hardin)
Agree with you on "Get Back." It's a shame not as much care was put into the quality of the visual production as in the presentation of information. (Wynn)
I don’t have anything to say on the grain topic but West Side Story made me incredibly angry. Every single thing someone has praised to me about the movie, I feel like I am being pranked. I did not experience the movie others experienced in any way. Happy for the fans that they have it though. (Empey)
Halloween Kills. I just feel this revival of the franchise is such a disappointing missed opportunity. I don't doubt the good intentions of all involved, but the broad strokes with which the whole shebang is painted are so hamfisted, and I want more from my legacy horror franchises. (Abley)
Pop nostalgia has been out of hand for a while, but when nostalgia is mixed in with corporate greed, I get mad. So when I see cynical cashgrabs like "Space Jam: A New Legacy," or "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," or even the relatively good "Spider-Man: No Way Home," it drives my already maxed-out cynicism gauge deeper into the red. (Seibold)
Remember that Jackson did one of the LOTR movies on a super-frame-rate camera, and it looked hideous. I hope someone subjects MEET THE FEEBLES to interior motion smoothing, just to pay his ass back. (Sicinski)
I wouldn’t say anything made me angry this year, but I’m still perplexed as to why the greatest filmmaker of all-time, Steven Spielberg, remade West Side Story, which is a film I would file under “Never needs a remake.” The movie does not work because of the co-lead, Ansel Elgort, having no charisma to match with Rachel Ziegler, who is a star in the making. (Atkins)
"Moffie," the South African film about homophobia and racism made by Oliver Hermanus, a gay Black man who had some kind of Stockholm syndrome toward the oppressor. He made a homophobic, racist movie that sided with the White men who would have killed him for his Blackness before they even knew he was gay. The way Hermanus leaves all the emotion and sexuality out of his film while simultaneously shooting it with a homoerotic leer was just gross. It was like "Military Twinks for Apartheid." Several film critics of note fell all over this because they were White and South African. This movie was for them, but it was not for this uppity Black dude. Can I legally call a movie an Uncle Tom? (Henderson)
Cases such as that reek of fixing something that isn’t broken for me, almost on par with George Lucas constantly tinkering with the original Star Wars trilogy. That said, leaving the grain in documentaries like Amazing Grace and Summer of Soul adds a reflective feeling to watching them, but in The Beatles: Get Back, it adds a distracting artifice that keeps me from feeling like I’m hanging out with them today, as much as I appreciate Jackson’s effort. (Allen)
The thing I saw that made me angriest was every eMail I got from a studio letting me know that their 2020 practice of sending critics streaming links was over, and that to do my job I would have to come to an in-person press screening in spite of the Delta variant surge. (White)
Being the Ricardos, my pick for worst movie of the year, was downright maddening. Ghostbusters: Afterlife comes a close second, but I left that one more sad than angry. And Zola pissed me off because it’s really an evening of scrolling through Worldstar videos posing as a movie. (Lindsey)
Nothing made my blood boil like the CGI Harold Ramis corpse in Jason Reitman’s orgy of necrophilia, GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE. Let the dead rest, and that includes your franchises. (Burns)
I guess you probably disagree with my musical moment then! I would say that Free Guy was probably the most grating thing that I sat through this year and it was a prime example of how horrible and soulless fan service can be when done incorrectly. (Mahaffey)
"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should..." - Dr. Ian Malcolm (Hall)
The Many Saints of Newark was one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, and Sopranos is the greatest pieces of art ever created. Doesn't make sense! (McGuire)
I enjoy Edgar Wright, but not so much Last Night in Soho, which is visually gorgeous, but...what else? Most strikingly, the film lacked significant nuance when it came to exploring its central theme of sexual violence and trauma. Without, frankly, even a nugget of depth on the matter, it's hard not to feel Wright exploited the subject. And what of John, the film's one Black character, the white lead Ellie's love interest? In one incredibly egregious scene (that still infuriates me now), when she is lost in one of her visions, he is very nearly put in the position of a rape accusation and confrontation with police. The scene is constructed to raise the viewer's anxiety, but mine was rising for reasons it seems Wright wasn't even considering, with John continuing to help Ellie well after and what that scene could have entailed never discussed. And, listen, Wright has never been one to bother with an ounce of diversity in his casting or story-telling choices. So I still feel anger thinking of how remarkably little was said about this moment (from non-Black critics) – was the movie really that blindingly pretty? (Ahsan)
Ultimately filmmakers are welcome to do whatever they want, even if their tastes differ from ours. I can see the validity in wanting something as clean as possible, as much as I know the validity of me enjoying seeing something as it was back when it was shot. But grain doesn’t always necessarily equal “better.” I’m just glad the film is made at all and I can’t wait to see it. (Skipper)
The film that made me the angriest this year is actually one that I love, RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY. I'm a lifelong fan of the RESIDENT EVIL games, and this movie is what I wanted from the franchise from the very beginning. I really loved how fun this movie was but I was immediately thrown in to a rage because I don't think the film is going to bring in nearly as much money as Paul W.S. Anderson's juggernaut franchise, and director Johannes Roberts, who very clearly loves and honors the source material, isn't going to get the chance to make a true RESIDENT EVIL series. There was no need for that original series to divert so intensely from the games, and I'm angry that we have genuine proof that we could have always had quality RESIDENT EVIL films. (Colangelo)
If you'll forgive me, I'd rather answer the original question because I haven't had 8 hours to spare to give to Get Back. By far the thing that made me angriest was the fact that they didn't add a fourth Vanessa Hudgens to The Princess Switch 3. They had one job! Talk about unmaking art. (Klein)
Nothing sends me into a fit of rage quicker than watching the rampant defeatism of some of the industry’s heaviest hitters about the state of movies. I’m well aware of declining attendance, Chinese censors, streaming giants slashing budgets, a social media ecosystem perfectly calibrated to create moral panics over pop culture, and yes, the consolidation trend that left Disney standing as a juggernaut, able to grind our childhoods into an endless stream of content smoothies. None of these issues are easily solved, but it’s deeply frustrating how easily the creative class has acquiesced to this new reality. It’s not gravity, but a market, made by people. And markets can change. They did once, and they may very well do so again, but only if someone acts like it. Meanwhile, Abel Ferrara is quietly producing one banger after another that seems to come from some entirely different era of movies. And who knows? That era may be the 1970s, the 1990s, or even the 2030s. (Kotecki)
Virus Shark. Whatever you imagine based on the title and premise is infinitely better than what the actual movie is like.
As to the sub question: I’ve only watched Part 1 of The Beatles: Get Back and the controversy over the grain removal became more apparent to me through screenshot comparisons and comments from others. I loved They Shall Not Grow Old and don’t know if the same practices were applied as they were on Get Back. I’m against the approach on principle because grain is a natural character element to film. Why go to this great extent when dozens of studios, laboratories, labels, and companies know how to make a movie look nice without eliminating its film origins? One restoration I’ve seen recently that blew me away is the Cohen Media one for Sherlock Jr. As clean a job as they get image wise, but still true to its elements.
With the rise of technology and the continued escalation in the scope and need of photographic quality and projection, there of course would arise a want of unified image principles – whether consciously or unconsciously. Vittorio Storaro attempted with the Univisium format to make one aspect ratio fit all, but that has gained no ground (there’s a whole other conversation to be had of the change in aspect ratios to previous films he worked on in the home video world). With the change from films being shot on film to being shot digitally, the philosophy and understanding of what grain means and represents changes. For some, grain is a flaw, a short-hand for old, photographic death perhaps. (Spence)
When you're Peter Jackson and you're literally living in Hobbiton surrounded by computer monitors like Domnhall Gleason in Dredd, I can imagine you tend to lose sight of a couple things. Having said that: loved Get Back. (Tafoya)
Space Jam: A New Legacy. The complete lack of understanding and respect for Warner Bros' catalogue of films drove me nuts. I know I'm not the demographic for that film but I do love Looney Tunes and I love a lot of Warner Bros' films. It was intriguing looking at all the extras during the basketball game but the film didn't even try to hide the fact that it was a commercial for HBO Max. (Lonano)
Bold statements… What have you got?
I think there's enough room in the cinemasphere for big budget tentpole superhero movies and the arthouse. But I really wish we would end the discourse, particularly in relation to Martin Scorsese. Let the man live! (Davison)
Will Smith and Kristen Stewart, while clear frontrunners for Oscars in their respective categories for King Richard and Spencer, do not deserve all the awards buzz. While I think their performances were good in each film they’re in, I can name a dozen other performances in either category that deserve recognition over both of them. (Atkins)
2022 will break box office records as people truly realize how much they want to be in cinemas together again (even if distanced...) (Owens)
American cinema's in trouble, man. Someone's gotta do something. Maybe it's mandatory prison sentences for anyone who ever stands up for a production or distribution company like it's their friend? I don't know, ya know, I'm just spitballing, but yeah that could work. (Tafoya)
Writer + editor > director. Unfortunately, the ones who do the greatest lifting rarely get the credit. (Gangrene)
No offense to the maybe two or three of them who follow me, but elitist NYC film-snob Twitter is one of the most miserable, depressing communities of bickering online jerks I’ve ever been exposed to. (Rodgers)
PIG was the most hamfisted (no pun intended), psuedo intellectual snoozefest that somehow tricked people into liking it. (Hardin)
Wrestling was better than movies this year. Here are 10 of my favorite professional wrestling matches from 2020:
-Thunder Rosa vs. Dr. Britt Baker, DMD (AEW St. Patricks Day Slam 2021)
-Nick Gage vs. Dark Sheik (GCW No Signal in the Hills)
-Ilja Dragunov vs. WALTER (WWE NXT Takeover 36)
-The Lucha Brothers vs. The Young Bucks Steel Cage Match (AEW All Out 2021)
-Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega (AEW Grand Slam)
-Jon Moxley vs. Nick Gage Deathmatch (GCW Fight Club)
-Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb (AEW Dynamite)
-CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston (AEW Full Gear 2021)
-Lee Moriarty vs. Darius Lockhart (Enjoy Wrestling Night Moves)
-Hangman Adam Page vs. Bryan Danielson (AEW Winter Is Coming 2021) (Smith)
I liked "Don't Look Up," and think it was a why-that's-just-fine satire. (Seibold)
Ang Lee deserves more respect and recognition than people give him.
Some cannot help snubbing his most recent work based on the gall of working with certain details (why 3D?) Yet how can you not admire someone who ventures worth in exploration and curiosity - that offers an option for others in the future? I’ve thought about Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk more than any other recent film since I watched it, and I didn’t even see it in its proper format! That amazing scene dissolve through water in Gemini Man is only possible through the tools he’s using. Read a few interviews and you’ll understand why he’s been working this way.
There are many of his films I have not seen, and quite a few I need to revisit. Anyone who has made a film as human, funny, and wondrous as Eat Drink Man Woman or as compassionate as Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is not someone you should write off easily. (Spence)