Month: March 2024

Favorite Films of 2023


This is a really hard year to make this list. Like, I think this is my most ever 4 out of 4s in a long, long time. I was also delayed because one movie I knew I would love, I couldn’t watch until very early March, and I was willing to wait for it. But regardless, a lot did not make the list, let’s highlight them now!

This list includes:

Sisu, Next Sohee, Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, Superposition, My Animal, One Day All This Will Be Yours, Pianoforte, Asteroid City, Corner Office, The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar, Peter and the Wolf, Io Capitano, To Kill A Tiger, All of Us Strangers, Subtraction, Tetris, Society of the Snow, Concrete Utopia, Upon Entry, The Holdovers, Stamped from the Beginning, Black Ice, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.


15) And the King Said, What a Fantastic Machine

Why is it on the list? I love giving shoutouts to lesser known movies that just are amazing and for whatever reason, don’t get noticed, or take forever to get released. Is this movie out yet? I don’t know! But I saw it at SIFF, and it was such a creative and fun documentary about the camera, its impact on the world, and its use for destruction. The trailer itself is such a great trailer, and I hope more people get to see it in the future.

Best moment? Hearing the story for why this movie is titled as it is!

Any Best Awards? Best Documentary of 2023!

14) Anatomy of a Fall

Why is it on the list? Apparently this film wasn’t picked for France’s Best International Film choice, due to some politics and they went The Taste of Things instead. But it was such a wild decision, because it is clear to everyone that Anatomy of a Fall was amazing. It won several Foreign Film awards, above The Zone of Interest, because of its compelling characters and story, but at the Oscars it didn’t have the chance, and was still nominated for Best Picture. Anyways, Sandra Hüller, was in both of those movies anyways, and her character here was just a mysterious force. Did she killer her husband? I don’t know! Maybe!

Best moment? The recordings!

Any Best Awards? Best French film of 2023!

13) I Like Movies

Why is it on the list? Well, I like movies, so it just makes sense. The lead, Isaiah Lehtinen, was captivating as just a not great person, having meltdowns, and yet, having dreams. As someone who has been around movies for so long, I have met people like his character before. I have been his character before. It was entirely relatable, and fit a very specific niche that it was nice to rediscover. And also its called damn I Like Movies, what is not to love??

Best moment? I laughed really hard when the movie Happiness was brought up.

Any Best Awards? Best Canadian Dream film of 2023!

12) Godzilla Minus One

Why is it on the list? I am not a Godzilla fan of any strong regard. I have seen I think, four or five Godzilla movies at this point. I really enjoyed the one with Bryan Cranston, but I have never had a desire to go back and watch the old ones. I don’t think I’d appreciate them. Like most people, I didn’t know that this movie was coming out when it did, but the positive word of mouth blew me away and I went hard to find a theater to see it. It blew me away! To take such a personal story, of survivor’s guilt, post World War II, veterans who wanted to still prove themselves as not failures, and attach it to a Godzilla film? Amazing. And Godzilla was downright terrifying when he came after those boats and planes early on. I love how personal the whole thing felt.

Best moment? Appreciating another countries patriotism.

Any Best Awards? Best Kaiju of 2023.

11) The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

Why is it on the list? William Friedkin is an amazing director, bringing us hits like The French Connection and The Exorcist. And he died last year. A shame! But it happens. And his last directed movie was The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, which was mostly ignored overall and went straight to streaming, so damn it, I am not ignoring it myself. I haven’t seen anything about The Caine Mutiny series of films ever in the past. This is my first, I don’t know if its the same story over and over again. But this one is a very strong court room film, over a Navy incident, with one epilogue scene outside of the court room. And everyone involved just brings it so hard on their acting! Not to mention Lance Reddick, in one of his final roles as well. This is a court room film I can watch again and again, just because of the acting talent at hand.

Best moment? The Epilogue really puts a lot of people, and me, the viewer, in our places.

Any Best Awards? Best courtroom drama of 2023 (sorry Anatomy).

10) Biosphere

Why is it on the list? No, not a sequel to Biodome (if so it would likely be number 1). This film only stars two people: Sterling K. Brown and Mark Duplass. And they are in a sphere to live, eat, and live, alone. Something shitty happened in the world, and life as we know it is gone. But they are both survivors. One, a scientist, one, the president, and childhood best friends. And this is them trying to live, cope, and survive further, knowing that the human race is mostly done for. And hell, it is even their fault. At the same time other things happen that I will not get to.

Best moment? When things advance for all of humanity, I will say.

Any Best Awards? Best small cast of 2023.

9) River

Why is it on the list? This is the second film by this group of people. The last one was Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, and it made my top five film of that year. This film, explores a similar concept. Where every 2~ minutes, they find themselves back where they were two minutes ago. They remember what they did. Their conversations. But they are looped back to the start. And in this hotel of guests and workers, trying to figure out just how to STOP this time loop, of such a short amount of time, is extremely frustrating to figure out. But at the same time, sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses.

Best moment? Wondering just how they could create a film with similar themes as their last one, but in an exciting and new way.

Any Best Awards? Best time loops of 2023.

8) American Fiction

Why is it on the list? The first 90 seconds of American Fiction should have you hooked. A film where the protagonist has to complain about a world accepting only certain black stories, while giving us a story focused on a family in a world losing their mind it seems. Jeffrey Wright gives such a commanding performance and I love seeing him in more leading roles. I also loved Sterling K. Brown‘s story here, and wanted more out of him (hey he is in this top 15 twice!). This is a film, a satire, and its funny as heck. The arc of the characters, dealing with grief, and just moving on in general, just…ahhh. Fiction is weird like that.

Best moment? The various debates between authors, and the finalist, for the Book Award.

Any Best Awards? Best fictional authors of 2023!

7) Blackberry

Why is it on the list? The realistic camera office environment choices, like it was filming The Office without people staring at the camera, started this movie off on a hectic number, and in many ways, the hectic feels never really ended. It wasn’t as hectic as an Uncut Gems, but it did start us off with nerds with a great idea who couldn’t get finances, and very clearly a crook who had a do whatever it takes attitude. The perfect pairing. Glenn Howerton is of course the stand out of this film, getting to play Jim Balsillie, a famous asshole, and he plays it hard. I am stoked to see finally a movie tackle the weird Balsillie trying to buy an NHL franchise movement of the 2000s. Because this is what I think is the true story now, and no one can take it away from me.

Best moment? “I’m from Waterloo where the Vampires hangout!” will live rent free in my head for years. Also just in general, getting to see that NHL drama in film.

Any Best Awards? Best product placement film of 2023 that didn’t get nominated at the Oscars!

6) Barbie

Why is it on the list? Look, Barbie’s success as a great film was NEVER a surprise. It had Greta fucking Gerwig behind the director’s chair, and after Lady Bird and Little Women, with her own wonderful acting career, we know she is just spitting fire. So yes, I was there weekend one for Barbie’s release, I was with the trailers. And everything is just tip top perfect from this film. The casting, the practical sets, the nice meta storyline, and the wonderful ending.

Best moment? No it’s not the Ken moment I swear. It is the constant references to history, other films, and existential dread.

Any Best Awards? Best satire, best product placement film of 2023 that DID get nominated at the Oscars! And best male power anthem in a film about women power of 2023.

5) Theater Camp

Why is it on the list? Honestly, trying to figure out my top five was hard. At some point in the year, Theater Camp was number 1. And then it wasn’t. And then it was. Same can be said about most of these films! Theater Camp is great because first of all, we don’t get nearly enough Mockumentaries as a genre, and sometimes when we get them, they also can be shit! It is like Christopher Guest is trying to hold up the entirety of the genre on his back, and we need more people to get in line. Thankfully, Theater Camp does just that. A big cast of characters that are fun, a lot of quips, and a zany touching emotional ending that in no way should have worked, but then it does.

Best moment? Joan the Musical finale. I cried.

Any Best Awards? Best fake musical and best mockumentary of 2023!

4) Poor Things

Why is it on the list? Look, the reason this list took forever to make is because I KNEW, I would love Poor Things. Everything screamed this is a movie I would totally want to hang out with and watch many times to really get its weirdness. And there is many a weirdness! The colors, the sets, the costumes, the camera angels. My man, Yorgos, just is a director of pure cinema. He has visions, and he knows how to work. Despite wanting so much for Lily Gladstone to win for Best Actress, I knew Emma Stone absolutely crushed it and deserved this second win. Hell, it should be her third win, but she didn’t win Best Supporting Actress for Birdman, despite my hopes.

Best moment? The progression of abuse stories that Willem Dafoe suffered from his scientist dad.

Any Best Awards? Best absurd film of 2023!

3) The Teacher’s Lounge

Why is it on the list? Movies that make me uncomfortable mean they are doing what they set out to do. Movies that can make me uncomfortable without the use of graphic violence and horror? That is something special. Something to give you that extreme angst and sadness, just from standard, regular events. Or things just spiraling out of control. The Teacher’s Lounge does that, in Germany, with a teacher who is going by the BOOK in terms of empathy, giving students second chances, and just doing everything right, but nothing working as it should. Her colleagues, her principal, her parents, and students, all turning on her. But at the same time, because it isn’t set in America, we know it isn’t going to end with a school shooting, which is also very nice.

Best moment? The on the record newspaper conversation dupe.

Any Best Awards? Best Teacher PTSD, Best Realistic depiction of Teachers, and Best International Film of 2023!

2) Flora and Son

Why is it on the list? NEW JOHN CARNEY ALERT. NEW JOHN CARNEY ALERT. Finally. His fourth movie, an Irish film again, and highlighting new actors I did not know of before. And yes, its another story about regular people discovering music and making a band, shush. When it works, it works. This time we get to see it with a mother son relationship, dealing with divorce, new loves, and going against the legal system that isn’t a fan of repeat offenders. Eve Hewson at the lead is wonderful, and I hope to see this be a breakout moment for her.

Best moment? The together dates through the screen.

Any Best Awards? Best “family” film and musical film of 2023!

1) Oppenheimer

Why is it on the list? Is this a surprise? It is a surprise to me. Now, notably, I did make this list before the Oscars happened. It just took me forever to write. Since the list already is out WAY later than normal anyways, it felt really hard to get pen to the paper, so to speak. But I digress.

I knew Oppenheimer was in my top five. I had it shifting around, but when I sat and stared at my top fifteen for just so long, I knew Oppenheimer just had to be the top. I didn’t think Flora and Son had enough to just really earn it. But Oppenheimer has literally everything in it. Multiple storylines, a shit ton of actors giving great performances. It is a biopic, it tells a compelling story with complex characters. It sounds good, it flies by timewise (in my opinion), it is amazing on the big screen, and still great on the small screen. Cillian Murphy, I am just so proud of him, this thing was a long ways coming for his career, and he finally had such an intense and subtle role at the same time to display his craft. Oppenheimer is a top tier cinema.

Best moment? The boom.

Any Best Awards? Best Biopic, Best Drama, Best Non-Linear Story, and Best Film of 2023!


Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know.

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

Road House

Road House was watched early from a screener. It is being released on March 22th, 2024.

Who is Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) ? Good question. When we are introduced to him, he is about to fight in some sort of ring match for a pot of cash, but the guy he was going to fight saw his face, and ran out of there. Easiest win ever.

And at this event, he meets Frankie (Jessica Williams), who runs a bar in the middle of nowhere Florida, called Road House. Two words. She needs a really good bouncer. They are fine with their place being a little bit of rough housing, but apparently some nasty people are getting there and causing some ruckus. And they want things to get on the up and up again. They need to drive away the ruffians, so they can go and just do their jobs and have fun.

So she offers Dalton, a shit ton of money, to be there for around a month, to train up her people and help out.

But sure enough, DARK FORCES ARE GATHERING – okay, that is too serious. Some people want to destroy the Road House, more or less, and Dalton didn’t know what he signed up for. But they also don’t know about Dalton’s past either.

Also starring Conor McGregor, Beau Knapp, Billy Magnussen, Daniela Melchior, Franklin Romero Jr., Hannah Love Lanier, B.K. Cannon, Joaquim de Almeida, Lukas Gage, Travis Van WinkleChad Guerrero, and Post Malone.

Whenever Jakey stares at me, I feel it all over.

ROAD HOUSE! The original was an interesting movie overall. It had some stars, some fights, and a very dumb ending, if I do say so myself.

The good news is, this remake also has some stars, some fights, and a very dumb ending.

Now, that is being a little bit harsh. But I just wish there was more Road House in Road House. We got Jake on a boat and in the town. We get a lot of bad guy scenes in other random places. We even get hospitals. And honestly, the 2nd half I feel like I am barely in the Road House. Longer set based action scenes on different boats, and chase scenes, so we can eventually get the bigger fights we want. You know, Gyllenhaal and McGregor.

Are those fights intense? You betcha. But the 2nd half of this film just devolves into standard action movie and I lose so much interest. I don’t care about the crime in the threats. I want the drunk fights at the bar and the bigger story should just be happening there. And like, you know, better plot. Yeah, I would have loved that too.

As a remake, this one should be satisfying to those who like old Road House. It has its own highs and lows and most people will likely find this entertaining enough!

2 out of 4.

Riddle of Fire

Riddle of Fire was watched early from a screener. It is being released on March 22th, 2024.

Double, double toil and trouble, kids are going on an adventure and word that rhymes with trouble.

Hazel (Charlie Stover) and Jodie A’Dale (Skyler Peters) are having a great time with their friend Alice (Phoebe Ferro). Technically, they are being hooligans. They actually broke into a warehouse at night, to steal a package that they knew had a video game console in it! They got chased, but got away, and at home, they were excited to finally play. But…the TV had a lock on it for some reason. Boo!

Unfortunately their mom (Danielle Hoetmer) is sick, and she thinks they can get to play more with the TV if they go and get her some blueberry cake from the baker, it will heal her! But then that fetch quest has another problem, and so on, and so on, and so on.

And sure enough, eventually, they deal with cultists and witches and magic and meet another friend (Lorelei Olivia Mote) to join their merry band of adventurers.

Also starring Lio Tipton, Charles Halford, Weston Razooli, Austin Archer, and Abigail Sakari.

The main point of being a youth, is to also do spy shit like this.

Do I feel like this film has whimsy? Yeah, I do feel whimsed. Does it have enchantment? Certainly.

The vibe with Riddle of Fire is a strong one. I did not know ten years ago I would be writing reviews and talking about the vibe of a movie, but here we are. It has the look, it has the magic, it has a simple aesthetic, that even when it gets out of hand, still feels simple. It feels like its a kids movie, starring kids, that kids themselves not might like, and adults it really will depend!

Even though I can love the aesthetic, and wish I was on the journey with them, it still feels like something is lacking. Likely all dealing with the story. It is simple to follow, which is a good thing, but yet, there is a filler feel to parts of it, which become more of a frustrating element to the viewer, more than the characters. It is a film I am going to watch once, but not again. I might even recommend it to people, if I know they are in for a very specific experience, but it is not just going to hit every mood.

I really love a lot of the ideas here, and the director is showing hella promise. This was one of my most excited films in Fantastic Fest last year, that I didn’t get to see, and it was still worth it overall. Just the once.

2 out of 4.

Ricky Stanicky

Ricky Stanicky was watched early as a screener. It comes out on Amazon Prime on Friday, March 8th.

Dean (Zac Efron), JT (Andrew Santino), and Wes (Jermaine Fowler), are best friends, and have been since they were little kids. You know, when they went to burn some dog shit on someone’s porch on Halloween. It was a mistake, and they were almost caught! But thankfully a fake name was written on the clothing, Ricky Stanicky, and the whole thing could be blamed on this other kid, who lived in another town.

Flash forward to many years later, and they’ve been blaming things on Ricky for decades now. It lets them hang out, go on trips, all with the excuse of Ricky, while avoiding their real responsibilities. You know. FAMILY. DATING. FAMILY. JOBS. Yuck.

But eventually their lies have caught up with them. And they need to produce Ricky, or else everything will crumble around them. So of course they hire some guy, Rod (John Cena), who sings covers of songs and turns them all into masturbation jokes, to play Ricky. Nothing will go wrong!

Also starring Anja Savcic, Jane Badler, Lex Scott Davis, and William H. Macy!

The cowboy hat is how you know he likes to party. And the screaming. 
Ah yes, a comedy based on characters lying. Do you want to know how it ends? Come on, do you?

Well, you already know how it ends. We all already know how it ends. It ends the same way all of these comedy films based on lies end. The people get found out, and admit it, and get a hard lesson. Sometimes that hard lesson is a life set for loneliness, like in Dear Evan Hansen. Sometimes they get everything they wanted despite the lie, because lessons learned. And none of them really feel like they are worth the after school special lesson.

The only thing that could save Ricky Stanicky, would be its humor and being funny throughout. But my goodness, did I not chuckle. It barely was a bleep on my radar. Over the top John Cena, does over the top things, and people have a good time because of it.

Honestly, this friend group had such low chemistry? All three of them. They did not mesh well. And this is not some strange situation where “Efron was good, the rest did not follow,” because no, Efron was also not good. He was probably in his least charismatic role I have ever seen him. I cared not for any of their characters, and that made this movie harder to sit through.

This is a straight to the internet comedy for a reason. And that reason is, because you have already seen it.


1 out of 4.

Hundreds of Beavers

Hundreds of Beavers was watched early as a screener. Its is playing theatrically in Washington at Bainbridge on March 9, 2024. It should be released digitally in April. You can watch my interview with the director (Mike Cheslik) and star (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews) right here as well.

What would you do, if you were living your best life as an apple farmer, making beer, and then your whole farm blows up unexpectedly? Also, suddenly it becomes a deep deep winter and you are all alone, no resources, in the wild. How would you SURVIVE.

Well for Jean Kayak (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews), he found himself in that very specific scenario. Now, don’t worry, he won’t talk to you about his plans out loud. He won’t really talk at all. He will start to get harassed by animals, who tease and torment him, as he tries his darndest to kill them for sustenance.

Eventually, Jean finds a fur trader (Doug Mancheski) who sells gear, weapons, and more for some beaver pelts. So beavers are what must be hunted! Surprisingly, one of the items on the list is the ability to marry his daughter, (Olivia Graves), who seems to be attracted to Jean. Now Jean has a goal besides survival. He is going to kill so many beavers. So many. And then he will be happily married.

Also starring Wes Tank and Luis Rico.

The hundreds of beavers are coming after you, and can hurt you.

There are not a lot of movies like Hundreds of Beavers. There are not…any movies like Hundreds of Beavers? From the animal outfits, to the extreme black and white setting, to the over the top flowing of zaniness, this film is a unique entity that stands on its own. Harking back to Charlie Chaplin movies, Hundreds of Beavers is not just slap stick, it is Snow Stick, its own unique drama where falling into holes, off of trees, and into snow, is half of the fun. The other half is people in beaver and bunny costumers kicking some guys ass.

I rarely condone a film that solves its problems with violence, but this is a special type of violence. This is Looney Tunes. This is art. This is cinema.

This is a film where there isn’t really dialogue, but grunts and sim sounds. This is a film with a plot that is easy to explain, but a wonder to experience.

I honestly don’t think I will ever see a movie like Hundreds of Beavers again in my lifetime. I find that harrowing and sad. I want to rent out a person in a beaver suit to beat me up. I want to have a cartoonishly large bunny chase me down the streets. Is this awakening something new in me? I sure hope not.

Honestly I have nothing but great things to say about Hundreds of Beavers. I want you to watch it alone or with your friends or while drunk. I think you will have a good time.

4 out of 4.

The Black Mass

The Black Mass was watched early as a screener. It is currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital services. You can see my interview with director Devanny Pinn here!

Florida in the 1970’s! Is there a better place to be alive? And as a college student, living your best dorm life? Well, it can be bad if you aren’t living your best dorm life, because you aren’t living at all, and you are MURDERED.

This film takes place on a single day/night, on a college campus in Florida. Where this nice gentlemen is nearby, looking fresh and fly, and just traveling through. And this guy (Andrew Sykes), seems really interested in this sorority. And the women involved. So much that he comes by, starts peeking through the window, starts following them to the clubs, and just overall isn’t actually a nice guy!

That’s right, we got a serial killer/stalker here. And the poor women involved in the sorority are about to have a very, very, bad night.

Starring many people, including Kathleen Kimmont, Lisa Wilcox, Jennifer Wenger, Chelsea Gilson, Devanny Pinn, Susan Lanier, and Eva Hamilton.

“Get out of my Dreams, and into my car” is not advice to follow when talking to a killer!
The Black Mass is a film that goes out of its way to transport you back to the 1970’s. The film feels like it could have been made in the actual 70’s. Not just the clothing, the talking, and the style of the characters. That is easy. But it feels like an older camera made the movie. And the movie also starts with a very 70’s retro feeling credit sequence. A little bit groovy, and funky, despite the film dealing with a thriller subject matter. It really drew me in at the start.

The other main important thing you will realize is that most of the film is from the killers point of view. Over his shoulder, you will see him driving, walking, staring, and talking, but rare glimpses of his face. It does switch the point of view from his eyes, when he is peeking through the window shades, and staring at others. We don’t get to see different views until the very end of the movie, after all of the notable events have occurred. And it is certainly an interesting choice. On top of all of that, the guy in question’s name in the credits is “Me,” but don’t worry, it isn’t me, it is more likely you than anything else.

The women in the sorority, many who (not really a spoiler), would become victims. Since this is based on a true story, you must know that the bad things will happen. But will they be caught? Will they get away? Will it lead to more? Has this story been solved? All of this you’ll have to wait and see, because the movie also goes out of its way, including with the descriptions of the film on IMDB and other places, to keep what specific true events a bit of a secret.

Now is it worth the secrecy? That is a hard question. I really don’t think doing so added anything extra to it. There are enough hints and clues, especially early on. But since I did not know the mystery was part of the point, I didn’t bother to put anything together.

Overall, this is a very cohesive film, that is trying to tell a story, and to not glorify the bad guy, but to show him as he really is. A bad guy who should not be worshipped.

3 out of 4.