Tag: 4 out of 4


River was watched as part of Fantastic Fest 2023!

Mikoto (Riko Fujitani) works at an Inn in Kibune, Kyoto during the winter. It seems to be some sort of travel destination, a peaceful oasis for people to get away and get to know themselves. Of the guests we have business men, writers, and more.

But for Mikoto, after she goes and looks out over the river, she finds herself cleaning a room with her superior. And it seems really familiar. Some deja vu. He realizes it too. And as they clean…huh. Back at the river again?

Turns out the people in this Inn seem to be trapped in a time loop. Nothing they do physically stays put after just two minutes. They can break something, break each other, eat food, but in two minutes, they go back to where they were. The weather seems to change, and they remember everything before that, but the world resets them.

Getting out of this loop, with such a short time, is going to take everyone working together, and trying everything, without giving in to panic and sheer terror.

With a big cast of people, starring: Manami Honjô, Gôta Ishida, Yoshimasa Kondô, Shiori Kubo, Masahiro Kuroki, Kohei Morooka, Munenori Nagano, Haruki Nakagawa, Yoshifumi Sakai, Saori, Masashi Suwa, Yûki Torigoe, and Kazunari Tosa.

Infinite time, but you are stuck with these bozos.
Now in case any of this sounds familiar, specifically around time and two minutes. Yes, you have to compare this to Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. Especially because it was done by the same group and the same actors. However, with Beyond, it was a sci-fi and science tech and mathy, and it all made sense! It was them getting to speak from themselves in the future, through screens, and how they manipulated that through shenanigans. In this film, no future selves or past selves exist, just their current self. In Beyond, it was a one shot take movie with a lot of guts. In this movie, it is a lot more personal, and has a lot of heart.

Speaking of one shot take, this one clearly isn’t done in one shot. But each time iteration is done in one shot. The camera rolls, they get as far as they can, it fades, and the next singular shot takes place in our next time jump. I love it. It adds to the realism of their situation. Everyone also comes to the conclusion about the time looping thing on the third try, thinking rightfully the 2nd one was strange. But fool me three times? That is when plans start going and it gets real exciting.

How many iterations happen in this film? A good 36 if I kept my count correct. And that is a lot of times to start over an event, talk to new people, solve new problems, and try to keep people chill. I was not shocked at how violent it got at times, but I was shocked at how peaceful it also got. It made me personally think what I would try to accomplish with that time. What i would try.

And what’s more exciting about this movie is it has a very satisfactory conclusion. It ends on an expected enough note, and it tells a complete and powerful story. But in a unique and interesting way.

4 out of 4.

Theater Camp

This film was watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Theater Camp had its Seattle Premier during this festival.

Theater Camp is the type of film I knew almost nothing about but knew I wanted to see it right away. The title gave a lot of it away. And I knew Ben Platt was involved. And technically, I am a very simple man, and that was enough for me.

It turns out, Theater Camp used to be a short on YouTube. But it has been taken off of the platform and now I cannot watch it. Rude. It was under 20 minutes long, I heard it had tons of laughs, and happened relatively early in the Pandemic. But I guess it was good enough to make into a feature length film, and they probably reuse quite a few jokes from the short. So that is probably why it was removed, or else we might not laugh as hard at their film. Poor film studios.

Has “buy every copy of Psycho the book to not ruin the ending” vibes.

Professional judges of the stage? Well, I am a professional judger of film. 

Woo! New year, new crop of students! Joan (Amy Sedaris) and Rita (Caroline Aaron) are seeking out new kids to invite, because they need a full camp, they need donors, because money is tight and it is dire. They don’t want to lose the camp that they have had for so long, to give a real safe space to theater kids to finally be themselves. And then? Well, Joan has a seizure and a coma and is out for the count.

But the show and the camp must go on. So Joan’s son, Troy (Jimmy Tatro), is going to lead the charge. He says he is a business minded man, even if he doesn’t understand the theater camp. And just getting rid of some of the counselors, he can get them maybe in the black again!

Thankfully their main pillar teachers return. Amos (Ben Platt) for acting, Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) for music, Clive (Nathan Lee Graham) for dance, and Gigi (Owen Thiele) for costumes. And a new hire (Ayo Edebiri) for everything else.

And in a year with a lot of changes, they are going to have to put the show of their life on. Or else they might lose the camp and each other.

Also starring Noah Galvin, Jonathan Lengel, Bailee Bonick, Donovan Colan, Patti Harrison, Luke Islam, Kyndra Sanchez, and Alexander Bello. Most of these names will not look familiar, but you might recognize a few talents from 13: The Musical and John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch.

Know what is better than kids acting? Kids acting actually well!
Theater Camp is a mockumentary, which is a genre, frankly, that is not explored enough. It is getting explored a lot more in television, with The Office format of characters talking to camera with monologues going on. But in films, it feels like the only ones that exist are the ones directed by Christopher Guest, and you know what, he is only one man! So the more people making them, the better. Assuming they are good quality.

And heck on heck, Theater Camp is some good quality.

I laughed throughout this film, and harder at the end. The quirkiness of the characters, albeit exaggerated, are exaggerated in a generally positive way that still somehow reflects the theatrical nature of a “theater kid” or “theater teacher.” There are play and musical references. There are song and dance numbers. There is just a lot of extra going on, and I am completely here for it. I do love their commitment to making this a “documentary” as well, with the text from the directors on the screen as one would expect in these situations.

From top to bottom, the cast seems to just get the assignment of this movie, and they go all out. Adults and child actors. Love seeing the little thespians thrive in their natural state.

What started as a fun COVID project (I don’t know when it was filmed or whatever, nor do I feel like looking it up), led to what I would call a hilarious romp of a film. And even better yet, one that seemingly cannot become franchised and will just exist as its own bright spot in the world.

4 out of 4.

I Like Movies

These films were watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). I Like Movies is the official CLOSING FILM and has its Seattle Premier on Sunday, May 22 2023. Check out my interview with Chandler Levack here

Do you like movies? I know I like movies. Hell, I might love them. I might be in love with them, if you ask my wife. But if you like movies, or like the idea of movies, then I got a movie for you.

Have you heard about I Like Movies? It is from Canada! And based on the film title alone, I knew it was the type of film I needed to see, as soon as possible. Describing what it is about is just a waste of time on me. I like movies and want to watch movies about liking movies. If that is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

This is just a picture someone took of me in a movie theater, what the hell?

Lawrence Kweller (Isaiah Lehtinen) is a senior in high school, and he knows what he wants in his life. He wants to leave Canada, go to NYU, and join their film program. Then he wants to direct films and become super famous and have love in the world.

But there are a few problems. He is notably not rich, and NYU is expensive. He could just go to a Canadian school and be much better off, but he doesn’t want to be a Canadian director. He also doesn’t have a lot of experience outside of film classes in his school. He can’t even watch every movie he wants to watch. So, he is ready to finally help his future career and he gets a job. At a movie rental store!

Now, not only can he start earning fat stacks of cash to go to school. But he can talk about film with coworkers. With customers. And see more movies (for free!). Things are really looking up for Lawrence. Ain’t nothing bad gonna happen to him now.

Also starring Krista Bridges, Percy Hynes White, Alex Ateah, Tavaree Daniel-Simms, and Romina D’Ugo as his boss at work.

Look at these happy people. Clearly they all want to talk about movies 24/7. 

If I had a fear about I Like Movies going into it, is that it would be a movie made for people who were really into movies. And let’s be clear, I am fine when that happens! I am into movies, so I will get it, and usually get hyped around it. And while I Like Movies carries that sort of vibe, and it will make plenty of movie references, it is also just a standalone good movie. On its own. Even if you are a normie not already at 250 films for the year (whoops).

What we have in this picture is a main character who will infuriate you and make him love him the next scene. He has some issues, that he has certainly not worked through in any positive way. But yet I understand where he is coming from every time. I understand his best friend, and his boss, and his mother. A film where everyone still feels like a real person, even when some more egregious events happen along the way.

And in general, it also gives me back some of that nostalgia of not just working in a movie rental store, but also being a shopper in a movie rental store. When you had time to choose and there were a finite, yet good amount of options. This is a film that wants you to remember those good times, and maybe even, the bad times you had with these stores and their late fees.

I Like Movies is a simple film, telling a simple story, about a main character who does not like simplicity in the films he watches. He is not here for re-releases of Shrek, he is here for cinema. When it becomes available, it is a movie worth watching in a theater, with others. It isn’t just a coming of age story in the like of late 90s coming of age stories. It is about the industry and how it changes people, for better or for worse, the struggles within it, and how despite it all, we keep crawling back towards the movies we love.

4 out of 4.

And the King Said, What a Fantastic Machine

This film was watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). And the King Said, What a Fantastic Machine has its Seattle Premier on Sunday, May 14 2023.

Because trailers nowadays for the most part have no chill, and decide to give away the entire story, I always try to avoid them to the best of my ability. But when you go to movies, they throw them at you before hand, quite rude. It is rare to find a trailer that is exciting without telling you a whole lot about the movie, and that is true about And The King Said, What a Fantastic Machine. So go ahead, give it a look, its fun. I am technically going to give away more of the film in here just by describing it than the official trailer.

What kind of documentary is this about? Well, clearly it is about the camera, and movies in some level.

And sure, in one way, it is telling the history from the first time an image was taken from light particles onto paper, onto moving pictures, and more. It tells of significant events in history, not just when and where they occurred. But why they occurred. What was the output.

What was the whole point of a camera? Well, a scientific tool to record what was in front of it.

But, what about what is around it? What about other angles of reality? What is the purpose of this image, or moving image, and what are they hoping to invoke into the viewer? Are you being deceived?

Yes, I know what I was doing with this screen grab. So did she.

Honestly, the tone of the trailer matches the movie perfectly. It isn’t just a long history, then silly videos. It is specific moments in time, spread throughout the film, to bring up important changes in the camera and what people did with it. Including deception. And knowing what the image taker looks like in weight of tragedy. Because someone has to be there, to click the button, or at least, some device.

Now, this documentary isn’t here to judge you. Or to declare TikTok the enemy of modern society. Or anything like that. It is just noting the events, and noting things recorded, and what people have done with the cameras, and why. The goal of the documentary is to make you aware of these things and really, to implore you to think of these things.

A little thinking about your viewing habits before just zoning out never hurt anyone.

And yes, in fact, it was very weird to watch this in a film festival, my 6th movie in 2 days in theater, with a lot more planned. A movie that is…anti consuming video content? Is it anti-consuming content? Honestly, the questions asked from the film I don’t think try to force you to go to a specific outlook. In fact, your current life situations with these objects might affect the way you take the message from the film. Are you being attacked, are you being enlightened, or are you being informed?

And I love a documentary that convey these feelings, with mostly footage already made, and pieced together in a specific way. Now, why did the directors piece it together in this way? Great, great, question.

4 out of 4.

Next Sohee / The Hill of Secrets

These films were watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Next Sohee has its Seattle premier on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. The Hill of Secrets has its Seattle premier on Friday, May 19, 2023.

In this dual review, I am going to look at two films out of South Korea. Do they have a lot in common? No, not really. But they do deal with youth experiences, at vary different levels. And they deal with the expectations on these kids, whether via extreme pressure, or a complete lack of pressure and apathy. And thus, a good enough reason to double up on these movies.

Next Sohee

Next Sohee is about a girl named…Sohee (Kim Si-Eun)! Surprising, I know. She is the top student at her high school, always putting in the work to get the best grades, make her teachers happy, and never fail. She is also a pretty damn talented dancer, best in her group. She even has a boyfriend. As part of her school program, she is given a job! It is a prestigious job because it is from a big corporation, one type that her school never gets job opportunities from. They only wanted the best.

Well, it turns out the job is a call center job. And the goal of the call center is to not help the customer with their internet plan. But it is to instead give them the runaround, transfers, and get them to change their mind about canceling. It is to not make things easy, and that leads to anger, and it leads to self resentment. But she can’t just quit this job, her school and family is counting on it. But the call center culture has its own rules and standards that make things unbearable, until Sohee can no longer take it. And after that? Who is to blame.

Also starring Hee-jin Choi, Bae Doona, Yo-sep Song, and Yoo Jung-ho.

Certainly not Sohee. It is a SOCIETY problem.

Next Sohee is a film to talk about real issues going on in South Korean schools. For example, ranking of students, so publicly, for every little thing and assignment, builds that competitive stressful experience. But apparently, so do the call centers. And even if you do good, if you are 28th out of 28, you feel terrible, and will be chastised. Even if all of your goals are met. But when it turns out that schools themselves are ranked based on how their students as employees do, putting these pressures on teachers to have their students go through inhumane work conditions, and all of society is working to just tear down these poor kids. It is heart wrenching.

It is pretty obvious to tell what sort of thing happens to Sohee in the film, and I am sure the trailer says it as well. Because a good half of the film takes place later, while a police agent is discovering all of the issues that went on in her life, that could take a normally great kid into someone gone tragically too soon. It is like a journalistic expose, in movie format. And yet it also asks the question, well, even if we know all of this, what can be done to change it? Which is a harrowing question on its own.

4 out of 4.

The Hill of Secrets

In the Hill of Secrets, this time our protagonist is just a kid in elementary school. It is about Myung-eun (Moon Seung-ah), a girl from a poor family. Her mom works all the time, her dad is a bit of a slacker, and she has siblings that don’t care about her too much. She is dreadfully embarrassed by them. But for some reason this year, she decides she is going to put on a new façade at her school. She is going to tell people her dad is a business man, her mom stays at home, but they are both also extra busy because of a sick grandmother, so they can never come to school for events.

She also is going to run for Class President, beating out the popular kids! Her teacher is happy to hear her ideas. She even has a suggestion box for them that she stuffs with her own ideas so she can incorporate changes in the class without it looking too weird? She even starts writing at a high level, which she hasn’t done before. But things start to change when a new girl enters the class, who also has ideas, and can write well, but is from a tragic background and actually letting people know. All of this while Myung-eun is lying! Well, maybe she needs to lie even harder. But maybe, just maybe, she needs to tell the truth, even if it will hurt her family more.

Also starring Sun Jang, Kang Gil-woo, Jang Jae Hee, and Sunwoo Lim.

I have both found the hill, and see where she writes down secrets. Movie solved! 

For a film like this, the film lives or dies on the performance of the lead, which is a child actress. No pressure. And she definitely knocks it out of the park. Her life seems so sad at the start, and you can’t help but feel bad for her. It seems like her parents are distant, and don’t want her to draw attention to herself. Sure they will celebrate her victories, but in minor ways because they are limited on funds, and can’t go to the school itself to interact with her there.

It is a story of a determined girl who DOES have a lot of good ideas and tries to pull herself up purely based on perception and boot straps. But just like a child, she acts irrationally nonetheless, and responds poorly to situations she could not predict. In fact, she acts quite childish a few times, which help ground the character and the film. This isn’t some family film about doing your best and being the best you can be and everything will work out. No, it goes for a deeper level of realism.

The Hill of Secrets is not a very flashy film, but it is also well shot and tells a simple story. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and you never know what might be the catalyst for change in your household.

The Hill of Secrets: 3 out of 4.


You can watch my interview with director Jalmari Helander, here

What is Sisu? Well, look it up, I am not your goddamn parent.

Most reviews of this film are likely going to give the definition of it, and I am being a trend setter by ignoring that, even though by sort of knowing the definition, and the fact that it is a Finnish concept, is kind of important for the plot of this film.

Instead, I will point out that this is director, Jalmari Helander‘s, third feature film. The first two were Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale and Big Game. The former of which I saw personally over a decade ago on a random rent from Blockbuster, and was blown away by how original the story was, with one of my favorite film endings of that year. Big Game was an interesting film as well, not as great, but had some cool action scenes and was certainly unexpected. Like, you know, having Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States.

Looks like a few people brought asses to an ass kicking contest. Rookie mistakes. 
World War II in Finland was a bit weird. I don’t really care to get into all of the specifics on it, because I am certainly not expert, but Finland and Germany were fighting together! Yeah! Does that mean that the Finns liked Nazis? Oh, nope. But, They were being invaded by the Soviet Union during World War II, and didn’t like that, and since the Nazi’s were also fighting the Soviet Union, they had troops up there too. That is it, they were defending their homeland.

Then, near the end of WWII, Finland signing all of the treaties, had to agree to get the Nazi’s out of their country. Which they were going to let them take their time, and run to Norway. But then it still led to a few months of fighting, called the Lapland War. Good times. So yeah, this movie is set in that time.

See, our hero, Aatami (Jorma Tommila), was just existing in the fields with his dog, panning for gold, making a big discovery. Things are looking good for him, but then a gang of Nazi’s start to give him shit, so he does what has to be done. Getting revenge on every last Nazi and driving them from his land, so he can take his newly found riches and live that life of luxury he deserves.

Yep, a simple kill the Nazis revenge flick. One man, some women, and a bunch of Krauts.

Also starring Mimosa Willamo, Jack Doolan, and Aksel Hennie.

For those who can see this image, yes, this is exactly what it looks like. 

Now for those of you who were awesome and saw the interview I posted at the top, you would already know this. But it is clear while watching it as well, that this film is inspired by First Blood. Not the plot itself, but in terms of the action, of one man, in the wilderness, against greater odd forces, after being a special tactical soldier earlier in a war. It shows its influences, and goes to extreme levels.

The director has always been a fan of doing action and big stunts in his films in the past, but this takes it to a new and much higher level. Our one man army is just…on another level of action packed strong. It is so easy to get hyped during the film, broken down into its various chapters and areas. Kill after kill going for more unique and brutal ways. Our hero being a silent but deadly type is certainly a trope, and a welcome one in this movie. It is done mostly in English, outside of a few lines that I assume are in Finnish, which is also a new decision from the director.

For video game reasons, I am biased, but my favorite scene is of course what takes place in the minefield, but the ending is also high up there.

Seeing war movies about different countries is such an interesting experience, as an American. Because sometimes it can be hard to figure out who to really root for, given how history is likely taught in various countries. But this one has the Nazis, the universal bad guys, so it is pretty easy to cheer on our hero displaying Finnish pride and determination, even if we have no ties to the Land of Fin.

Sisu is allegedly hard to define into English, but the film Sisu is easy to define. Amazing and fun.

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.