Tag: 4 out of 4

Best Films of 2022


These honorable mentions are all 4 out of 4 films from my site this last year, who didn’t make my top cut of 15. We have: Hatching, The Janes, Emergency Declaration, Unidentified Objects, Sidney, Barbarian, She Said, Brian and Charles, Navalny, The Fabelmans, Happening, and The Whale.

Also these films are ones I never got the chance to see, but based on word of mouth, might have made the list, who knows: EO, Return to Seoul, Saint Omer, The Inspection and Women Talking.

15) The Outfit

Why is it on the list? When it comes to what makes a movie just barely make the list, why The Outfit over something else in the honorable mentions? Well, for a few reasons. The Outfit is a limited cast, so we have quite a few people getting to shine and act.  A film that could have been a play, and is set in entirely one location, but somehow was not a play first. I’d argue the top four actors in this do a phenomenal job and do a lot with what they are given. And yet why is this on top of the Honorable Mention pile? I just goddamn love it when names are so chef’s kiss perfect. The Outfit is about a tailor who makes suits, dealing with the mafia, who are also nicknamed The Outfit.

Favorite moment: The part inside of the tailor’s place of business. >.>

Best Awards: Best Title Pun of 2022!


14) I Want You Back

Why is it on the list? Look, I am as shocked as you are. I don’t think I have…ever…had a RomCom in my top 15. I could be lying, but I do not want to check. I Want You Back was likely my first 4 out of 4 in 2022, and carried by the wonderful cast that just has great chemistry with each other. I have Jenny Slate in a surprisingly big number of 3 or 4 films on my rankings, and Charlie Day is almost the opposite. But even when you can tell how the film is going to end, as per RomCom rules, this journey was certainly worth it. From hallway crying to devious plots to relationships old and new. I Want You Back is the thing to ever use those four words in succession. I swear.

Favorite moment: Suddenly Seymour…

Best Awards: Best RomCom of 2022!


13) On The Count of Three

Why is it on the list? Well, first of all, it starts with a dark and morbid topic. Two friends both happen want to kill themselves, because of their problems in their life. So they agree to kill each other instead, at the same time. But first, why not have a great last day on Earth? Do things they always wanted, get some revenge, get some good buzzes. Whatever, because fuck the consequences. If they are going to die anyways, who cares? Well, this isn’t some strong vigilante male fantasy film, don’t worry. But it does deal with real issues, and both of the leads are completely believable in this film, and take us on an incredibly interesting journey.

Favorite moment: The therapist’s office.

Best Awards: Best Suicide Pact of 2022! (erm)


12) Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Why is it on the list? 2022 was the year of Pinocchio, but not in the good way. Three of them were released, one of them pretty dang good, one of them basic as hell, and one of them bottom of the bargain bin barrel. In another year, maybe I wouldn’t love this one as much, who knows. But given its competition, it gets elevated on that fact alone. Unlike the Pauly Shore film, which also takes liberties with the story, Guillermo del Toro‘s vision doesn’t change the crux of the story, but instead sets it in a more realistic world view. And he makes it really sad, and so we have to think about death more now because of him.

Favorite moment: The afterworld.

Best Awards: Best Animated Film and Best Pinocchio of 2022!


11) Dual

Why is it on the list? A lot of the reason why Dual is on here is to highlight it, because I didn’t know anything about it. It was just some random movie I decided to watch because of the leads, with no buzz or hype from the community around it. Or at least none I could see. And with this movie, I got a very unique satire, dealings with issues that could theoretically be an issue in a future where we can create perfect clones of people. The absurd rules around it just add to fun. Aaron Paul’s character is so ridiculous, despite giving the “serious trainer” vibes that it was just hilarious and worth the time commitment for the movie.

Favorite moment: The training.

Best Awards: Best Legal Proceedings of 2022!


10) The Antares Paradox (La paradoja de Antares)

Why is it on the list? Out of films you probably haven’t heard about, this one is probably the top of the haven’t heard about list. To be honest, not even sure it counts as this year, since I saw it at Fantastic Fest and don’t know if its even been released? It is a story of a woman who works at an observatory, specifically with a group searching for signs of extra terrestrial life, and hearing a signal. But thanks to plot, things start going wrong, with her life falling apart at that same night, all while she is trying to just confirm the signal isn’t a mistake. All of the other characters are just faces on screens or voices on the phone, so Andrea Trepat has to carry this whole movie mostly on her own. I thought it was a gripping character study and a tense situation with a whole lot of shitty people and circumstances rolled into one.

Favorite moment: The rage I got over a sister and a nurse being the worst.

Best Awards: Best Bottle Movie of 2022!


9) The Menu

Why is it on the list? Honestly, The Menu was the last film I saw to make it onto the list, just based on when I could finally see it, early in 2023 on streaming. I had hyped the film in my mind for months, just based on the actors alone. Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult just sounded like a good time. I didn’t even know what the plot was, just something at a restaurant! Instead I got to see an intense dark comedy, going to quite a few extremes, to drive home an obvious point. Rich people suck. But it isn’t a one sided coin. A lot of people suck. I know its profound, but that is where my eloquence lies. I think it did a much better job at this sort of point than say, Triangle of Sadness, which also came out this year, but meandered around the point instead of attacking it head on (which The Menu did, over, and over, and over).

Favorite moment: Tyler’s Bullshit. And the rest of his shit too.

Best Awards: Best Roast of the Rich and Privileged of 2022!


8) The Northman

Why is it on the list? Robert Eggers has only directed three movies, all of which are at least great, and two of them have now made my top of the year lists. The Northman came out in the first third of 2022, and to me felt like one of the bigger reasons to start going back to movie theaters. As a visual medium, watching this one the large screen just really drew me in. Everything felt designed to give as authentic an experience as possible for this story, because Eggers wants accuracy in his period pieces. The plot did not go the way I predicted, and I was constantly surprised when it went more brutal, and even less brutal, than I expected. It made me want to roar in testosterone for quite a few of the scenes.

Favorite moment: That Willem Dafoe scene early on was an unexpected trip.

Best Awards: Best “Revenge” of 2022!


7) Holy Spider

Why is it on the list? Holy Spider is a movie I didn’t even hear about, until it was put on the shortlist for Best International Features at the Oscars. It is a Danish film, about a serial killer who lived in Iran in the early 2000s. The man targeted prostitutes and considered himself a Holy Warrior, and when he was caught, he had a lot of support for doing nothing wrong. While slightly fictionalized on how he was caught, Holy Spider captures the essence of the era, with a more pro-Journalistic slant (which I love in my movies). The man who played the killer fully committed to the role and it was just so eerie thinking about how easy killing these women was. I know that Iran had a problem with the movie, and the actors who portrayed these people, so hopefully nothing really bad happens to anyone involved getting this real story out there.

Favorite moment: The “execution”

Best Awards: Best journalism Film of 2022!


6) Aftersun

Why is it on the list? Honestly, I have a hard time describing just why Aftersun is such a treasure of a film. A dad takes his daughter on a vacation. The dad is going through a lot, but trying to give his daughter a good time, before she goes back to her mother. And it is just them trying to live the best life they can, despite not being in great circumstances. It is just dripping with raw realistic situations, that I feel like I know the actors and that this is a true story. It is bittersweet, sad, emotional, and one that also somehow brought me joy.

Favorite moment: Mm-noom-ba-deh /  Doom-boom-ba-beh / Doo-boo-boom-ba-beh-beh

Best Awards: Best Drama of 2022!


5) The Banshees of Inisherin

Why is it on the list? Losing a friend can be hard. Especially if it is suddenly and only one person knows why. Martin McDonagh has created one of the strangest period piece films I have ever seen. Stemming from a very simple plot, with simple characters, in a very small town area, it tells a story that certainly spirals out of control. I mean, you just have to believe people when they do what they said they are going to do sometimes, you know? It was a very different sort of “small town drama” movie, that was also by far more hilarious than it seemingly had any right to be. Sometimes you gotta laugh to keep yourself from the more disturbing elements.

Favorite moment: When Colm gives Pádraic the finger.

Best Awards: Best “English Language Film that you should use subtitles for”, Best Break Up, and Best Dark Comedy of 2022!


4) RRR

Why is it on the list? There were way too many movies that were over 3 hours this year. Movies are getting longer and longer with no notable breaks. I remember complaining in 2012 that so many were just 2.5 hours. But its grown! Well, for a film like RRR, a movie right over three hours long, and one that captivated me the entire three hours. There was never a dull moment in RRR, from its over the top action scenes, to its even more over the top action scenes. The middle dance scene was a nice surprise, and just…well, its one of those films you just have to see and believe at how it can go 11 out of 10 the entire time.

Favorite moment: Too many. The solo policeman against the crowd to the jungle revenge finale. All of them are memorable.

Best Awards: Best Friendship, Best Dance Scenes, Best Foreign Film, Best Action film of 2022!


3) Emergency

Why is it on the list? When I read the plot of the movie, I honestly didn’t imagine how serious I would be able to take it. When the “incident” occurs, that makes them question calling the police or taking things into their own hands, on paper, it sounded silly, but in the film, it made a whole lot of sense. Now another issue that can happen in these sort of films is that the difficulty of driving places will seem too convoluted and ridiculous, but honestly, it was never that ridiculous feeling. Unfortunate things of course, but given the theme and type of night, it was all within reason. I am more disappointed in myself that I didn’t see this when it first got on Amazon and I didn’t get to see it until the end of the year.

Favorite moment: When everyone gets together on the side of the woods.

Best Awards: Best film depicting American Race Relations, Best College Film, and Best Thriller of 2022!


2) Cha Cha Real Smooth

Why is it on the list? This is the second feature film written and directed by Cooper Raiff, who also is the main star, after his first film, Shithouse, which I did not love! In this film I was immediately drawn into the main character, and his dealings of hopelessness and lost. The backstory made sense, and it is believable for him to start being a party starter right when Bar Mitzvah season starts off. For whatever reason, every choice Raiff makes, even the bad ones, I agree with, because goddamn is he charming. But even better, one of our leads, Vanessa Burghardt, playing an autistic kid at these parties, is actually autistic. It comes across as authentic, because it is authentic. Unlike some other recent films reviewed by this site.

Favorite moment: His first accidental gig as a party starter.

Best Awards: Best Autistic Character, Best Party Starter, and Best Comedy/Drama of 2022!


1) Everything Everywhere All At Once

Why is it on the list? Are you shocked? I don’t think you are shocked. This movie went straight to the top of my list when I saw it on St. Patrick’s Day 2022, and never left. Eventually the hype for this movie built amongst the normies, and word of its excellence spread. I for one thought that I might not have this one at the top of my list starting like, three months ago, because then the normies would win. I should be shocking people with these lists. Rarely is it an obvious title.

But goddamn it, I watched it as my final film of 2022, and it still holds up. People like it, movie critic or otherwise, because it is a universally amazing film, dealing with great themes and camera work and acting. This film is better than their first film, Swiss Army Man, which also was in my top films of the last decade. There is nothing bad about this movie, and I hope we can all celebrate it for decades to come.

Favorite moment: Rocks.

Best Awards: Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy film, Best Rock Scene, Best Bagel and Best Film of 2022.


Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site!

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

Unidentified Objects

Here is an interview with the director of Unidentified objects, Juan Felipe Zuleta

Everyone wants to talk about the UFO’s, but what if they aren’t flying? What if they walk? What if they teleport? What if they just sit there like a rock and do nothing?

I guess they would just be called UOs, Unidentified Objects. They are less exciting than UFO’s, but they still are unidentified, so I guess no one knows what they are. They are mysterious.

So for a film that goes by that name, we know it has to involve some aliens, but the walking variety. A welcome change, if I am being honest.

I can confirm, neither of these objects look like they can fly. 

Peter (Matthew Jeffers) lives alone in NYC, and honestly, he prefers it that way. He is angry at the world for many reasons. There is a pandemic, that is one of them, sure. But he is gay, a dwarf, and just in general doesn’t have many friends.

So who knocks on his door? Winona (Sarah Hay), one of his neighbors, whom he doesn’t really talk to ever. But she has an emergency. She needs to go on a small trip, and doesn’t have a way to get there. It is to visit her sister. And she offers to pay him almost $2000 for the trip. He does need the money, so…screw it.

However, it turns out that she did mislead Peter on their destination and the reason. First, they have to go into Canada. Second, it is with a goal of getting to a specific spot at a specific time in order to meet…aliens! She believes in them and has some good information. But they will have to sneak across the border, and meet a lot of interesting individuals along the way. Not that they aren’t interesting individuals themselves.

Also starring Elliot Frances Flynn, Hamish Allan-Headley, Kerry Flanagan, Tara Pacheco, and Roy Abramsohn.

Canada means lumberjacks, that is a fact. 

Unidentified Objects on its own sounds like a story you may have seen over and over again.  A road trip film about unlikely companions, to discover something about the world, and hopefully, themselves. And sure. Yes, this is one of those films. And yet despite that, it feels quite unique in its story telling and it is worth the time.

The strength in the film lies mostly in their leads, who both bring about what feels like real passion and real emotion to their roles. This isn’t a zany road trip film. The people met along the way would normally be the types of characters at the butt of the jokes for our main characters, but everyone met is explored and given room to breathe. Whether that is good or bad for the leads depends on whom they meet along the way, but despite being a film about going to potentially meet aliens, it reminds grounded and it excels in that aspect.

Despite being a realistic film, it does feature quite a few dream sequences, to keep the viewer on their toes, and to help explore the characters better, especially our main lead. They almost always got me too, they mostly flowed well from the regular scene, until they didn’t. One cop scene in particular got very weird, very quickly.

With Unidentified Objects, it is a film that is easy to skip from the description alone, but I was blown away by how much I cared about the characters and their individual journeys before the end of it. Strong acting performances from people who aren’t big names. You love to see it.

4 out of 4.

Emergency Declaration

I haven’t had a big chunk of foreign films to review at my disposal this year, but honestly, that is probably my fault. The fact that I haven’t yet seen RRR is a goddamn travesty. I assume that because of what everyone has said about it.

For Emergency Declaration, I was finally given a big foreign release film to review ahead of time! And its a plane disaster film! Great. I am sure subtitles isn’t enough for me to call it uniquely different than other plane movies. I hope the plot really feels different as well. But I don’t think there has been a lot of plane movies either, since the pandemic.

I wonder if the Big Plane industry has been controlling Hollywood, to prevent plane movies from being released. You know, to build up trust in the airlines again after the pandemic and those scares. This conspiracy probably doesn’t have legs because I am sure there have been quite a few plane movies released recently, that I just don’t remember.

Dude its raining. Protect your phone man. The rice thing is a myth. 

Planes can be fun. But they can also be…not fun. In-ho (Song Kang-ho) is a detective! His wife (Woo Mi-Hwa) loves to travel, but In-ho does not and always cancels on planned trips, so she decided to go to Hawaii with her friends. Oh well. But it turns out in this area, there was someone posting a threat to kill people on a plane soon. In-ho found himself investigating these events, and found a really gross and deformed body in the potential terrorist’s house. Including experiments and data on rats, about some biological weapon.

But the terrorist is nowhere to be found! Shit, he is on a plane. And we even get to see him to buy a ticket and get on the plane. He just wants to go somewhere far, with a lot of people on board. Somewhere like Hawaii.

And now, with bioterrorism in the sky, and let lose on the plane, how are they going to help those passengers who don’t have a place to land? How will they navigate the geopolitical landscape when people wouldn’t want to help them if they have an unknown, deadly, and contagious virus on board? How will they find a cure in a small amount of time? And how many will die along the way?

Also starring Lee Byung-hun, Jeon De-yeon, Nam-gil Kim, Si-wan Yim, So-jin Jim, and Park Hae-joon.

“How do I fly this plane with people bleeding everywhere?”
“That sounds like a real sticky situation you got there.”
It turns out, I loved Emergency Declaration. And it is hard for me to really point out which moment or scene sealed the deal for me.

One notable component about this film is that it is pretty damn long for a plane disaster movie, rocking in at 2 hours 20 minutes. A lot of plane disaster films can’t get a runtime like that, while keeping up the tension. And yet, this film keeps up the tension.

Anything that could go wrong does go wrong in the plot. When there seems like a reasonable out for them to get help, there becomes good plausible reasons for that to not work. When the plane at one point has to turn around to head back home, the look of absolute defeat in the characters eyes as they feel the turn and see the sunset change sides of the plane just really reaches deep into your soul. Speaking of soul, one moment near the end, when plane riders are finally able to get usable signal with their devices to video chat with their loved ones is completely heart wrenching. Did it make this movie reviewer cry? Of course it did.

And honestly, the plot outside of the plane, with our detective discovering initial clues with his fear building up, to the dealings with the Biotech company, and other countries government responses to their plight, along with various types of protests at home, all helped extend the tension in new and wonderful directions.

In terms of how topical this film feels, of course this film would make people think of COVID. People traveling, getting sick from an airborne virus, and people around the world trying to protect themselves from getting this virus as well. Because it is a weapon, it acts very fast, and is pretty deadly, and strangely enough, this film was written and started some level of production before COVID was a thing. So good on them finishing it anyways, even if one would assume it was inspired by recent events.

A lot of the side plots in the film will feel like clichés potentially. But if you have enough of them, and cram them all in, it gives a really compelling picture, with a large interesting cast, of various personalities all trying to do one thing. Survive.

4 out of 4.

Cha Cha Real Smooth

If there is one thing we like here at Gorgon Reviews, it is a good title. And I certainly refused to look up anything about the movie, Cha Cha Real Smooth, once a poster and description was released, because I didn’t care. I just wanted to see the movie on its own, with no knowledge at all going in.

Now, for everyone else, here is some knowledge going in after the fact.

Like that the director, writer, and main star is the same guy, Cooper Raiff, and this is his third film. His first film was Madeline & Cooper, but it isn’t even an hour long, and his second film is Shithouse. Yes, both of them are also directed, written, and starring him.

For whatever reason in Raiff’s life, he found himself in the position to be able to make movies and star in them, so good on him. You know, assuming they don’t suck. And I am trying to manifest positive energy that this title isn’t wasted on a poor film.

meat sticks
Mmmmm. Meat Sticks.

Back when Andrew (Cooper Raiff) was a kid, at a Bar Mitzvah, he was in love. It was with a party starter. A person employed by the parents of the party to successfully get individuals to be dancing and make sure everyone had a good time. She was everything to Andrew. And she turned him down, you know, age difference.

Now, years later, Andrew is an adult! He has finished college and has a job at a local fast food joint and moved back in with his parents. He wants to go to another country, to chase the woman he loves, but he is broke. Instead, he finds himself at another Bar Mitzvah party to chaperone his little brother (Evan Assante), and hang out with another girl (Odeya Rush) he knows. For reasons, and alcohol, Andrew finds himself the life of the party! He makes sure everyone has a great time and now finds himself potentially landing into his own business as a party starter during this busy Bar/Bat Mitzvah season.

Also at that party, he meets Domino (Dakota Johnson), a woman who seems far too young to have a kid at this party. But yep, she has a kid, Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), who was older than the others, and autistic, and hard to actually get to dance and let go. So Andrew makes that one of his missions. It doesn’t hurt that he likes Domino too. Even if she has a fiance.

Cha Cha Real Smooth is about a man finished with college, constantly falling in love with women older than him, who is having a hard time accepting his home life, his social life, and trying to find an eventual direction moving forward.

Also starring Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann, and Raúl Castillo.

Why do we even test for Autism, when we all know that headphones is the main giveaway?

I want to get one thing noted right away. Did you know that the girl playing our Autistic character is actually Autistic? It was apparently a big concern of the filmmakers, to make sure we had some good representation here, and not some gross minstrel show of offensive stereotypes. I don’t even think it was something that was hard for them to accomplish. I am starting to think Sia didn’t even try for the movie Music. I am thinking she lied to us!

Raiff is entirely charismatic and adorable in this film. He has a Ben Wyatt like smile and glow to him when he is excited. He seems to really care about his brother and mother, even if he is still overall drifting. I think it would be awfully hard to not be invested in his story, even when he is making obviously poor choices and going down uncomfortable paths.

The story itself is relatively strong, piecing together the subplots in a nice way to coincide with our main story of a young adult drifter. The dialogue itself is also well thought out. The family bonds felt believable. The tough situations for many characters didn’t always have easy answers, even if the morals were technically easy to sort through as a viewer.

This is a comedy/drama that does a good balance of both. It made me sad, it made me guffaw, and it made me feel. Unrelated, I did go back and see Shithouse because of how much I liked Cha Cha Real Smooth. I definitely didn’t like it as much as this one, but it still had great emotional scenes so it was a good building block to his third directed film for sure. I look forward to Raiff’s next film, and I hope he keeps directing and writing them!

4 out of 4.

The Northman

Hey kids, do you love Spider-Man?

Then why not check out The Northman!? He does whatever the…cold North can? Hmm. Nope. This is not a super hero movie. This is just a movie about Vikings!

We don’t really get a lot of Viking movies. A lot of them are trash, remember Pathfinder? I unfortunately do. I wish I could forget. We are luck that the How to Train Your Dragons films are technically Viking inspired. But they are animated and they don’t do a super lot with the Vikings religion and atmosphere. They are cute, they are good, but they aren’t what you think about when you hear a Vikings movie.

We also very recently had the new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla game, to get people in the spirit. I don’t know if the God of War reboot counts as a Viking game, but it does deal with Norse mythology, so close enough. Not to mention we had several seasons of a Vikings show, which probably disappointed a lot of people without going too hardcore with it.

All of this to say, that time for something like The Northman to come out has been building up for a few years. And I know I was ready.

This was me screaming like a giddy little school girl.

Set sometime before the year 1000, we start off in some Viking kingdom. The king of this land is King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) and he is a mighty warrior. His village often gets loot and slaves and plunder from their conquests. His son, Amleth (Oscar Novak), looks up to his father despite rarely seeing him. His wife, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) is loyal and true. And his brother, Fjölnir The Brotherless (Claes Bang), well…Let’s just say that he earned that title by betraying the King and killing him to take his kingdom. Damn Auvandil, sorry to see you go.

Luckily, Amleth is able to escape by boat. He promises to enact vengeance for the life of his father and rescue his mother, who was taken by Fjölnir. He just has to grow up and get strong. So, several years later, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) does just that. He was found as an orphan by another tribe, and eventually joined their elite wolf fighter unit, and he was a mighty warrior. But thanks to a prophecy, he was eventually told about how he could find Fjölnir and finally complete his vows.

He just now has to journey to Iceland. He pretends to be a slave. A big strong man like him? Yeah. He just does what Clark Kent does. He hunches his shoulders and looks down a lot. But this gets him to Iceland, so he can find Fjölnir, complete his promise, and fulfill his destiny.

Also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Gustav Lindh, Elliott Rose, Willem Dafoe, Eldar Skar, and Björk!

The face you make when you need this little weakling to avenge your future death. 

I think I need to talk about Robert Eggers. Outside of a few video shorts, Eggers has now directed three motion pictures. I think most people who have seen his work would agree he is hitting all of the right notes. The Witch was terrifying, unique, and really felt accurate to the area, which was a nice surprise. It helped introduce the world to Anya Taylor-Joy. The Lighthouse was an strong follow up, an impressive visual film with excellent performances from the leads. I didn’t love it as much as The Witch, but I recognized its ambitiousness. 

The Northman however just takes the ball that is already knocked out of the park, and he knocks it into another park. The Northman is a lot of things, except for boring. This is a film that the trailer does justice for, while still giving you very little of the story. It is a revenge flick. It is kind of like Hamlet. It is not just a straight action fantasy film, it has a lot of deeper and slower moments. The film is tense, and intense at various points. 

Honestly, I was surprised at so many moments of the plot. Big strong Amleth finds his uncle pretty early on in the film, I was assuming that it would be over fast. But the set backs that occur are not expected. They do make sense, and it just helps build up some of the bigger events, while still allowing teases along the way.

The Northman is just such a visually stunning film. It is gorgeous, and we get to see many different scenes and locations. There are some battles and scenes that take place in night, with unfortunate authentic lighting, but it isn’t a majority of the film. It is a film that wants to be seen. 

All of this build up from Viking properties have given me what, frankly, is probably the best movie about Vikings ever made. I don’t think Eggers can keep up this pace. He might have to retire before Marvel has him make a film where he has no control in the output. 

4 out of 4.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I knew I wanted to see Everything Everywhere All At Once when I saw the poster for it. It is full, vibrant, and wild. I didn’t care what the plot was. The title was good. The poster was good. Harry Shum Jr. from Glee was in it. Let’s go, I’m sold, let’s do it.

But then I saw that it was directed by The Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). They have only directed one feature film together before this one, and it was Swiss Army Man.

Swiss Army Man was easily one of my favorite films of the year it came out, and was in my top 50 of the decade. It was wholly unique, unlike anything else I had seen before. It took a ridiculous topic and made it WORK. It should be talked about more in cinema circles, honestly.

If that is what they could do on their first try, I was damn near giddy to see what they would do with an ambitious title like Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The third eye really brings up the extra levels of power.

Everything. A lot is happening to Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh). She is trying to run a laundromat. She is trying to have a Chinese New Year party for the surrounding area and community. Probably an idea to help their laundromat which isn’t doing great. And they are being audited by the IRS and have an important meeting today to show their receipts and prove their business expenses. Her father (James Hong) is here visiting and judges her family and everything about her.

Her husband (Ke Huy Quan) is a nice guy, but he seems a bit bumbling and she has to be the serious one to solve the problems in her eyes. Her daughter (Stephanie Hsu) is struggling with feeling accepted. She has come out as gay and Evelyn has said she is fine with, but refuses to tell the grandpa because she may be secretly ashamed. Evenlyn is also constantly nagging on her daughter, to fix things that aren’t actually big issues.

Things seem to be imploding on Evelyn today. And things get more intense at the IRS building. Because at some point she finds herself in a closet, suddenly an instantly. Her consciousness going between the Evelyn at the desk and the Evelyn in the closet. It seems like it is her husband talking to her, but he claims he isn’t her husband. He says she is needed to help save the universe. Shit is getting bad, and she might be the last hope.

Oh well, just pile that onto Evelyn’s plate why don’t you.

Also starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., Brian Le, and Andy Le.

hot dog fingers what about them
I will not be taking questions at this time over this image.

I put off writing this review for so long. Not because I didn’t like it, because I loved it, I did. But because I knew I wouldn’t have the words to do it justice. I didn’t even know how I would go about describing the plot, because I didn’t want to give that much away. I decided to watch the trailer and base it on that, and still told a lot less information than the trailer, so I am comfortable on that front.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a masterpiece of cinema, that about sums it up. It is an incredible DENSE film for the subject matter, and it doesn’t hold anything back. A common complaint I give for films is when they “don’t go hard enough” and this movie goes hard enough. It goes off the deep end real early on, and gets the viewer to catch up along the way, not boring us with exposition to explain things necessarily before they happen. The actual beginning feels like it is going to be a stressful movie similar to Uncut Gems, but when it gets supernatural, the stress levels are amped up significantly.

It switches between so many time lines and events, and molds things into one that if you don’t pay attention you will be lost. And I love that. I love that the film rewards the audience for paying attention, for looking for clues, and for treating us like we are capable humans of following a narrative.

I can’t say I understand every movie, or that I even fully understand this one, but I get enough of it to love it and want to see it more than once. It is not going to be a movie for everybody, and likely the weirdest film I will see this entire year. It is a shame it is coming out so close to Dr. Strange 2, which will also go for some similar multi-verse themes. But I think Everything Everywhere All At Once will stand up on its own, and it will likely go a lot farther than a Disney backed super hero movie.

Finally, Yeoh is the main character of this film, and she does an amazing job, a character unlike one she ever really plays in my eyes. But Quan and Hsu are a big part of the heart and soul of the film. Because in the end, it is still a very touching family film, and like lots of other films recently, dealing with generational trauma and overcoming the sins of our ancestors. I hope to see big things from Quan especially in the future.

4 out of 4.

The Outfit

I do love me some double meaning titles in movies. They literally carry me through life. Without them, I would be a lost little shell of a man, who has no friends, no family, no love, and of course, no double meaning titles.

Last year we got CODA, which was brilliant, and already this year we now have The Outfit. The Outfit is a nickname given to the Chicago mafia specifically, and it is pretty well known. And this movie is also going to involve a tailor? A suit maker? Someone who literally designs outfits?

Sign me up. But only if the movie includes actual tailoring and suit crafting knowledge and teaching. I don’t want it to be about someone who looks like they are faking it, or the movie doesn’t know the subject matter. Teach me, or else I riot.

No, get out of here with your guns. I want to learn about tailoring and suit making!

Leonard (Mark Rylance) is an older gentleman, who runs his own suit shop. By appointment only, he will design all of the way a fresh suit for whoever will buy one, and it will be of the highest quality. But he is NOT a tailor. That is just a bitch who can sew. He is a cutter. He is a trained cutter. He demands that title respect too. He also has a receptionist (Zoey Deutch) who dreams of traveling the world some day, and collects snow globes to put in their shop window.

And sometimes, when he is working, with or without customers, men in suits come in to put envelopes in a lock box in the back room. Very suspicious. Leonard ignores them. And apparently at the end of the day, two mobsters (Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn) go to the lockbox to retrieve the envelopes, and go back off into the night.

Looks like Leonard is a safe house for the mob, but he tries to not get involved in their antics. Does he do it for protection? For survival? Is he a former mobster? Who knows!

But once a note gets out that there is a rat in the organization, it turns out his closed shop is going to be almost ground zero for betrayal, backstabbing, and just regular amounts of death.

Also starring Simon Russell Beale, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Alan Mehdizadeh.

Yessss, this is the content I have come here for.

Did I learn how to be a tailor cutter? No, not really. But I did learn a little bit about it, which is more than I have ever assumed I would in my life, so that is a plus. Rylance’s narration reminded me a bit about Michael Caine‘s narration in The Prestige. No, I won’t go into specifics, for potential spoiler reasons, but they seemed to have the same overall goal. Also, Caine’s name in The Prestige was actually Cutter. Is that a coincidence? Yes, probably.

I loved The Outfit for sure. The entire thing takes place inside of the shop, which is wonderful. I love it when movies get Bottle Episode-y.

There were twists and turns in the film, some expected, some not. I certainly wasn’t sure the entirety of who the rat was by the end. I wasn’t sure who would live or die either. It was very slow moving at points, but the sitting and waiting really helped make me feel more uncomfortable, which is a good thing. I don’t want a mystery to feel pointless. You don’t want a mystery to feel pointless.

I think all of the actors involved did a swell job, but extra shoutout to Johnny Flynn. First, he is the actor with the most mobster like name in real life. But I was really impressed with his attitude, and accent, for being the fourth biggest name on the main cast list. I don’t know anything about him, but his character was magnificent.

The Outfit won’t likely do well in the box office, but from this critics mouth, it was a great movie, and one I can imagine watching even more than once.

4 out of 4.


Like a lot of people my age, I first learned about Cyrano from one specific location. You know, the dog. Wishbone. Specifically the episode Cyranose, which was early on in the shows run. Have I ever read the book Cyrano de Bergerac? Heck no. No need to. I saw the wishbone episode. It gave me a great summary, and related the events in that book to a modern story involving teenagers and their dog. What more could I ask for?

I guess. I could ask for, eventually, a movie version of the events. But even better? Let’s make it a musical. Apparently this movie isn’t an original musical, it was based on a stage musical that came out a few years ago, starring Peter Dinklage and music by members of The National. Whew, I was worried for a second when I first saw advertisements that the people who made the movie had somehow came up with songs all on their own for a movie. But alas, its an adaptation of an adaptation.

On another note, it is directed by Joe Wright, a man who certainly knows how to make a period piece. Darkest Hour, Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, and Anna Karenina. We just won’t talk about The Woman in the Window and Pan, and point out that Wright knows how to make the past look good.

This is likely the sexiest version of Cyrano ever on a film screen.

Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) is relatively wealthy, he is witty, is romantic, and he knows how to fight. What he doesn’t have, is looks. In the books, he is described as various forms of ugly, including an unfortunate nose and a hunch backed, but this film took it in a very different direction. Cyrano is also in love! Oh what misfortune.

Roxanne (Haley Bennett) is some level of aristocrat, from the same village as Cyrano originally. Her house hold is losing prestige though, and money, and she will likely be poor sometime soon. Her house keeper Marie (Monica Dolan) is trying to keep her safe, and get her to marry the some rich count (Ben Mendelsohn). But she doesn’t want him. He is boring, and probably mean. She wants love damn it. And she thinks she has finally found it.

That’s right. A random guard, new to the city, Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who is in Cyrano’s regiment. Time to rekindle with her old friend to ask for a favor. Get this guard to write to her. He must be smart to go with those looks. Cyrano, heart broken, yet in love, agrees to get Christian to write to her. But it turns out Christian ISN’T witty, and the knowledge of that will disappoint Roxanne. What is a noble to do? Guess Cyrano will just have to write the letters for Christian, to help their love, built entirely on deceit.

Also starring Bashir Salahuddin, Anjana Vasan, and Joshua James.

Can’t express love nicely with words? Well, you could always hire a giant dance team and do choreography.

I know Cyrano is meant to be witty, but goddamn, they picked Peter Dinklage, who now has a history of playing smart and charismatic characters. Regardless of size differences, it is hard to imagine someone not immediately falling at his feet throughout this film. He basically seems to be someone who has everything. Roxanne was just someone who was blinded, and probably shitty as well.

Cyrano is a really strong acted and beautifully shot movie. The music is meant to feel a bit more natural. I believe it was filmed with the actors singing live on camera, and not lip sync’d for more professional sounding songs. That sounds like it could be a good idea, like Les Miserables, and some songs in other modern musicals. However, that also meant that at points it was extremely hard to actually hear the lyrics. Over the actual song sound and other noise. That was disappointing, but it is still a big experiment to do this in movies with live singing. It wanted to translate the live stage experience as much as possible, I guess, to have the same natural feeling that most of the songs take.

And honestly, the natural feeling is such a huge positive. Wherever I Fall part 1 is an incredible song. It is sad, it is painful, it is beautiful, and it is sung by three characters who I assume don’t even have real character names (confirmed, Guard #1, Guard #2, and Guard #3). Other songs are beautiful, and a lot of them have similarities in tone. It lacks diversity, for the sake of a common sound. It isn’t going for a series of ballads that people will sing along with and argue about. It wants that cohesion, which is an interesting strategy.

Acting wise, the big three are all strong. Bennett’s character almost feels like overacting at points, but that matches the general attitude and romanticizing that the character necessitates. Harrison Jr. has had a strong last few years in film (see Waves, my favorite film of 2019), and he now can sing too. And as I already mentioned, Dinklage is incredible in this role, and seems to bring a lot of emotional baggage to the role.

Cyrano is incredible, and honestly, we should be angry at its ridiculously long release date for a “2021” movie. I get the move back to Valentine’s Day, but then shifting it to late February? It can’t make my best of the year list if I can’t see it until February, and if it wanted to throw away any attempt at awards, it should have just actually came out in 2022.

4 out of 4.

I Want You Back

I Want You Back is by far, The Jackson 5’s best song release, and I will fight you over this statement.

It can be a good name for a movie too, but in 2022, it does have a creepy vibe to it. Winning back someone’s love is really something that should be reserved for a film, and probably not practiced in real life. If someone has moved on, we need to respect that, and they don’t need to be harassed by you.

Maybe I should reconsider the song being their best, given the message and what I know now, today? (Editor’s Note: Nah, I am fine with it being in a time capsule from the 1970’s. And I don’t want ABC to be the best song anyone’s done either).

With a name like I Want You Back, will a film do very creepy things and write it off because woo movie romances, or it will accept that times are a changing and acknowledge the awkward messaging behind that line? Well, let us go and see.

boy breakup
This is a scene where a break up happens! 

Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (Jenny Slate) are about to get DUMPED. They are in kind of long relationships, no engagements yet, but their partners are done. Peter’s ex girlfriend, Anne (Gina Rodriguez) acknowledges that Peter is charming and fun to be around, but she wants to have someone who is more experienced in life and is working on improvement, like the new drama teacher at her school, Logan (Manny Jacinto), whom she is going to start dating.

Emma’s ex boyfriend, Noah (Scott Eastwood), is a personal trainer, very athletic and outgoing, and is tired of Emma being at a stand still in her life. She has no direction, no drive, she is fun and funny, but she doesn’t seem to care about her future. The new person he found? Ginny (Clark Backo), has her own restaurant, meets with important people and has a big following.

So their exes have moved on, and Peter and Emma are left behind in a rut they did not see coming. They didn’t know each other, but they ended up meeting when they both went to a stair case to cry at, and hey, a friendship was born. Thanks to their similarities, they do find out about each other’s break up and hatch a plan to help win back their exes. Yep. Good idea. Emma is going to volunteer at the middle school musical rehearsals and seduce the drama teacher, so that Anne will think she made a mistake. Peter cannot do the same thing at all, so he will instead try to befriend Noah, become a client of his, and maybe convince him that his last girlfriend was clearly way better than his new one.

Nothing will go wrong, and everyone will get what they want and no creepy stuff at all, nope nope nope. Also featuring this kid, Luke David Blumm, in a weirdly more important role than anyone would have guessed.

girl breakup
This is a scene where a breakup happens!

The problematic nature of trying to win your ex back, I do believe, is noted in this film. At no point does a character say, “Oh wait, this is really toxic and messed up, lets stop.” No, not that. However, in the process to try and win them back, a lot of bad stuff does happen. And characters learn that what they did is bad. So for comedy sake, the things did have to occur obviously, but hey, the characters learned lessons, achieved growth in several different ways, in the process. That is a much better story than the classic win back your ex romcom of the 80s and 90s. Success!

Day and Slate are WONDERFUL together. Once I first saw the poster for this, I knew it would just work well. As far as I can tell, they haven’t worked together in the past, but they are both comedians, have played frantic characters, and have gone to the extremes. I knew their vibe and likely improv would play well together.

For the rest of the supporting cast, most of them do a great job as well. Eastwood is given the most time to really show off his own humor skills. This is only my second time seeing Jacinto in a role, and it is very different than his part in The Good Place. Both of the males of the new relationships are the focus, so the other women are given the least amount of time. Rodriguez has to play someone uncomfortable and nervous mostly, so it isn’t as strong as a role to remember as the rest, given her character is meant to not really stand out. And Backo, out of everyone, really plays the “straight” role here, for more context away from Slate, so they barely focus on her at all.

I did not expect there to be so much Little Shop of Horrors in this movie either. So that was a pleasant and welcome surprise. Hell, I cried during one of the scenes, because I love Little Shop of Horrors and because I am a basic bitch. Also one of my favorite jokes definitely came from a pun related to that show and its lyrics.

I think this movie is an example of a Rom Com that really dives into the comedy elements and goes hard for laughs, and definitely delivers. I chuckled to myself a lot, despite watching it by myself. The only part I really didn’t love is the last, 50 seconds or so. It makes sense for that scene to happen, and it is one of those that you could telegraph and guess before it happens. But still, it is a bit uncomfortable at the same time. Not enough to suddenly dislike the movie, but it is a definite eye roll.

4 out of 4.

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America

In the last ten years there has been a sizable chunk of documentaries made that detail racism in America. Some of them are very specific and deal with just one of the many topics, and some of them try to tackle them all.

One of the biggest ones in this decade was 13th, because it was a documentary that tried to tackle it all. From the onset of slavery, to civil rights, to the prison systems and police forces that have inherent racism today and are still being used as big tools to oppressive people of color. It was for free and on Netflix, so a lot of people saw it and it maybe started to open some eyes.

Honestly, I feel like one of the reasons there have been so many of these documentaries is due to those people who hear aspects of them and then shut their eyes, cover their ears, and just say things like “Slavery is over!” and random MLK quotes to act like everything is fine. The more they hear the message that everything is not fine, the better chance of something slipping through, I guess. And honestly, a lot of these documentaries haven’t been great, if you have seen a lot of them. They may say the same information you already have heard, without that much new to add. But theoretically, if you are the type of person to seek out dozens of documentaries on the topic, then maybe the next newest one isn’t to get your attention and is aiming for those who keep ignoring it all.

That brings us to Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. From the title alone, you can tell it is one of the documentaries trying to tell the whole story, its many branches, and how it affects us all today and where we are at in dealing with it. I was worried it would tell me everything I already knew. I was surprised to find it giving me the information in a new way.

That’s right. With some smiles!

In reality, this documentary is also sort of a lecture talk. Jeffery Robinson, star of this documentary, does lecture tours to talk about Racism in America. And this documentary uses a lot of his footage on the stage, talking about certain issues, spliced with his voice over of other graphics, and interbedded with relevant and theoretically random interviews/scenes. For example, one smaller scene with him arguing with someone (white) holding a Confederate flag (you probably would have assume White), about what the Civil war was about, and mostly owning him in that regard.

Let’s face it, if this documentary was just an hour or hour and a half long talk with him on stage talking to a live audience, that would not be great. There are some stand up specials that can break the mold and be worth it (looking at you Nanette) but I am glad it had a variety of uses of media to get its message across. It helped keep the overall message going, and me in engaged in the talk, without drifting off or getting bored.

And this documentary has a big goal ahead of it. It is going to THEATERS. I honestly don’t know if any other documentary about racism in America made it to theaters across the nation (obviously NY/LA are different). There have been some conservative documentaries, mainly from Dinesh D’Souza, that have badly talked about race, so it is good to see one go on a large scale to attack those messages.

I hope it is reached. I know it already had the  (unfortunately) regular racism fueled “1 rating bombs” on IMDB early on, which happens already to a lot of black film, and definitely documentaries about black life. Although it is hard to imagine anyone every changing their mind at this point in the country, I like to have some hope that somewhere, maybe, there is a chance.

4 out of 4.