Indulging in the strange and horrific in all pop culture forms, and appreciating the power of Film
I’m a writer, critic, podcaster, Editor in Chief (Filminquiry.com) Vice President of media genome operations (Katch Media), and overall film fanatic. While I enjoy all kinds of cinema/TV/Media, I have a special place in my heart for horror and the wonderfully weird in life.
I won’t regale you with some of the total misfires I experienced this week when watching new content (though one will get its own review this weekend), but I will give a some suggestions!
The Mitchells vs The Machines
Technology takes over the world and while on a bonding family road trip The Mitchells become unexpected heroes.
The animation is terrific and there are wonderful themes about family, technology, and… MOVIES. 😍 Who doesn’t love a animated tale with equal shares of laugh out loud moments and heart? It may be because I share a real kinship with the lead character, but this was a delightful experience.
You’ll have feels after.
Special shoutouts to all the film references, the Furby throwback, Doug the Pug, Journey album covers and The Shining socks.
Streaming on Netflix
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4
If you’re a fan and you’ve managed to hang on this long I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but you should watch the newest! I have had *thoughts* on whether or not we need more of this show, and depending on where this goes, I’ll have more. Until then..
While this is a gloomy viewing experience, there are some emotional reunions that really hit home, and some shifts in environment and direction that provides new life. As always, amazingly acted, beautifully shot.
But prepare your emotions accordingly.
Streaming on Hulu with new episodes every Wednesday.
Bonus: For some strange reason I was late to the game on this one, but I finally watched The Old Guard (on Netflix) and loved it! I would definitely recommend watching Charlize Theron kick ass, any day of the week.
Have you watched these? Let me know your thoughts!
With my newest…what I’m calling my “return to my normalcy” episode of the Go, On, Scare, Me Podcast, I’ve decided to expand from the initial plan.
I had intended to make this a Spider 🕷 filled episode, but I’m disappointed there isn’t more to dive into! That isn’t to say I won’t, because I definitely will, but why limit it to one creepy crawly when there are so many to choose from? So, I’m casting a bigger web 😏.
Are you afraid of spiders? Bugs? Insects? A specific little beastie? Please drop me a line below, with whatever your comfortable with, to include on my recording. Tell us your fear, experiences, if that translates to films/tv, and anything you else you would like to include! If you’d like to leave a voice message to be included click here.
It’s been some time, but I’m excited to return to my level of weird normalcy. 🙂 I’m also going to include some of an interview I did (last year 🥺) with a professor of Psychology. Hopefully you’ll enjoy!
By now, if you haven’t heard of Godzilla vs. Kong, I’m a little concerned. Really. It’s our first big blockbuster of the year, landing on both HBO Max and in theaters, delivering high energy thrills, epic fight scenes, and lots of incredibly thought-provoking narratives.
Okay, so, not so much on the last one.
There are a lot of terrific special effects, and there is no denying that a spectacle of this kind is going to be fun and Godzilla vs. Kong is. Don’t get me wrong, while there were some definite lulls, it kept my attention (from my home) and it definitely reinvogorated the desire to be in a theater seeing something of this scope. *Chokes up.*
Is it what I expected?
Perhaps, and maybe that’s part of the problem. Gareth Edward‘s Godzilla (2014) had some interesting ideas, some terrific cinematography, and the story had real stakes. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, eehmmm, not really. This is definitely an improvement on the latter, but it lacks the direction of Edward’s film. Adam Wingard has done a couple movies that I truly adore (and will probably review at some point on this site), but this gargantuan spectacle isn’t one of them.
There are some very cool sequences where these two fight (wait- what??) even though the weirdo in me really wants to see a spin off where they’re besties somewhere, splashing around, feeling #makelovenotwar vibes. But, leaning back into “reality”, there are some great developments here, as well as some things that will give you some answers you probably wanted, like when this first came out, like, “How is Kong possibly going to compete with Godzilla?”
These “monsters- not really monsters” aren’t really the problem. The biggest issue with this film, and it’s what makes it hard to give this a full on, energetic, slow-motion thumbs up, are the human characters. Look at this cast, it’s pretty stacked: Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) and her father, Kyler Chandler. As well as Julian Dennison, Bryan Tyree Henry, and Demián Bichir to name a few.
Why isn’t it elevated to the blockbusterI wanted?
These titular creatures are legendary for a reason, and then when you see this cast lineup your hopes shift upward. Unfortunately, the storylines are just not compelling. More than anything they are there just to keep the monster’s story moving, but don’t have their own purpose. They are characters with thin trajectory’s and even worse dialogue.
With the exception of one.
As we have seen in countless iterations of King Kong, he often has a soft-spot for a kind-hearted human. This time around it is a young girl, raised on the island and looked after by Kong when she loses her parents, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who quite literally, steals the show.
There are a lot of talented individuals in this movie that have nothing to really do. They feel like spectators, with little to contribute to the overall story. There’s a subplot with three characters (all terrific actors) that may illicit a couple laughs, but is mostly unnecessary. Tonally, the film makes a couple of quick pivots, attempting to be playful, but mostly suffers from inconsistency. It’s hard to balance the importance of what’s happening, the potential horror as you will, while keeping this a family movie night pick. I think this is a case of visual style over substance, which many popcorn flicks are, so it isn’t unexpected.
It has some sweet moments, primarily between Jia and Kong. Some pretty badass moments, (I personally always love it when Godzilla first makes his entrance). There are some other interesting creatures/worlds that come into play, but the films supposed “villain” ends up being overwhelmingly lackluster. Or, perhaps, not the execution, but the motivation behind the creation.
A couple last, mostly nonsensical, thoughts: I half expected Immigrant Song to start playing during one fight scene (yes, I’m harking back to one of the MCU’s best, Thor: Ragnarok). While in a similar MCU vein, I was also wondering if maybe there’ll be some accords written up, holding these two accountable, because places get hella damaged, people killed, and no one seems concerned.
I didn’t dislike the film, it was an exciting jaunt, mostly, but I also, didn’t love it. I believe it is possible to have a film of this caliber and visual lushness, that can still have characters conducive to quality and depth. This just isn’t it.
One could argue, but, do we really need that? And I would respond, shouldn’t we?
What are your thoughts? Can you look past the script and human stories and just enjoy it? Or are you still looking for a new movie about these classic monsters that has a bit more? Let me know! Also, #teamkong or #teamgodzilla? Personally, I’m team Rebecca Hall, and now, Kaylee Hottle!
Well, naturally we all have different tastes, but I figure I’ll throw out a few suggestions each week, just in case one strikes your fancy.
I may not get to do this every week, because- well- there may not be things I aim to passionately recommend. Last week’s big movie news came in the form of the Snyder Cut of Justice League. While it was an obvious improvement on it’s previous, messy version, I didn’t love it. However, many of you out there may enjoy it (it is still entertaining at time) in all of it’s four hour glory. If so, head over to HBO Max.
In other Comic book news, we received our next Marvel series last week on Disney+ with Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This six part limited series has currently dropped two episodes and it’s must watch for any MCU fans out there. There is a lot of exploration into characters that we haven’t gotten yet.
Also- the animated adaptation of Invincible arrived on Amazon Prime this week. It’s already given us 3 episodes to gobble up, and this one- I would definitely recommend! Quite the stacked cast.
For this week I figured I talk about the Best Picture Oscar nominees you can watch before the big day. There’s eight this year and all of them are now available to watch. Yay!
2020 (The lost year) may have sucked for many reasons, but for film, you’ll find it was quite stellar. I really feel like it was the year of the indie, and there’s a lot of new and seasoned voices providing some incredible and beautiful art. It’s a wonderful thing for these all to be available to everyone. With the Oscars about a month away, there’s plenty of time to catch up. These are all available on a wide variety of streaming services too, making it easy to experience them. There are also several styles and genres on display (still no horror, sadly, but the lack of representation of that genre in the Oscar’s is a whole other story…) with two female helmed films (making me very happy). There are some heavy emotional hitters in this list, making them quite unforgettable in their own ways:
Mank (David Fincher) “1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish Citizen Kane.” It is streaming on Netflix!
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell) “Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.” It is available to rent on Amazon Prime (regular rental fee)!
The Father (Florian Zeller)”A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.” It is available to rent on Amazon Prime (19.99 price)!
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao) “>A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.” It is streaming on Hulu!
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin) “The film is based on the infamous 1969 trial of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The trial transfixed the nation and sparked a conversation about mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.” It is streaming on Netflix!
Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King) “Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.” It is streaming on HBO Max!
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung) “A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.” It is available to rent on Amazon Prime (19.99 price)!
Sound of Metal (Darius Marder) “A heavy-metal drummer’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.” It is streaming on Amazon Prime!
Do I have favorites? Of course! However, I know that each of movies deserves a place here, which means that some of you might love ones that I don’t. For that reason alone, I’m keeping my personal picks out of it (feel free to ask me though and I’ll tell you) and encouraging you to decide for yourselves! There are also many other films in other categories worth seeking out, but for now, watch away!
Well, naturally we all have different tastes, but I figure I’ll throw out a few suggestions each week, just in case one strikes your fancy. 🙂
This week consisted of some 2020 catch ups, and some Apple TV+ ones, all, very worthy. This time…two shows and a movie.
This a series that should have any horror fan basically begging for it (yes, that was me.) I was glad, in this instance, that I waited, because it allotted me the opportunity to just consume nearly two seasons of content. And, I can’t tell you enough, that this is definitely a wonderfully weird, creepy, spectacularly performed and conceived series. Keep an eye on this one, 👀. Streaming on Apple TV+.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love good, silly, humor. I also tend to love some good heart-warming entertainment. Ted Lasso is like the Friday Night Lights of now, and it’s delightful. With a spectacularly funny and quirky performance from Jason Sudeikis and cast, it’s a show that unexpectedly wraps you up in a big hug. The first season is currently streaming on Apple TV+.
Love and Monsters
It has been a process, but I’m finally catching up to some of the 2020 film content. Part of it was a resistance to paying a ridiculous price to watch at home, and another was time. Well, this is rentable, and YOU SHOULD.
This a fun, hilarious, and yet endearing fantasy of a film. Dylan O’Brien leads as the narrator and protagonist of this story, taking us 7 years into a future where the world is run by various kinds of monsters. He’s looking to reconnect with the woman he loves and brave the dangerous lands to do so.
This was an unexpected treat, and I’d say go for it. Plus, bonus points for having a canine companion. That’s so rare, and I love it. This film is available to rent VOD.
An appreciation review is for a film that I love that I feel hasn’t received its due!All in the spirit of giving films the spotlight they deserve! (According to me). Because film is subjective of course, but I hope to change your minds.
Disclaimer: Ironically, this also ties into Wonderfully Weird, because, let’s be honest, this isn’t a universally “got” film.
There are so many quotes from this film that I spew on a daily basis, so apologies (sorry- not sorry) if that happens often during this review. It’s just the ideal amalgamation of horror, comedy, and outright randomness that makes Planet Terror iconic.
A zombie (not really zombie, but zombie) government invented disease ravages local residents. Have we seen this before? Perhaps. In this delectably bizarre/hilarious way?
“That Boy’s Got the Devil in Him”
Thank you Robert Rodriguez for this, and for a few others I might throw into the mix, to be continued) even if there’s plenty of his that I’m not as sold on. This first shot in the grindhouse combo unleashed a mess of guts, a random testicle storing/obsession (by the wonderful Naveen Andrews) of his victims, to Freddy Rodriguez’s honed “notorious” ability to kick ass as “El Wray” it is a ride. Not to mention an assortment of other acting gems like Michael Beihn (his on-going rivalry with brother Jeff Fahey’s for the ultimate BBQ recipe) and Rose McGowan with a machine gun/rocket launcher leg. To name a few. All of this may seem chaotic, and potentially not real, but it all really happens. It fits like a perfectly attached wooden appendage during an apocalyptic event when you need a leg.
Yeah, that’s Planet Terror.
This movie transcended a lot of previously used (sometimes abused) themes and made it original. At a time when one might wonder: how is this possible? Well, through a sense of obscurity, originality, and also, a healthy dose of throwback. The grindhouse appeal is a selling point, but the movie excels beyond the aesthetic, nostalgic touch. In simplest terms, it’s campy horror fun, with an assortment forced to come together (some overcoming their sordid pasts) to prevail over the evil looming here.
“I’m Going to Eat Your Brains, and Gain Your Knowledge.”
One of my favorite aspects of Planet Terror, other than the humor that sneaks into every scene, some hilarious one-liners, is the style. If you’ve seen a lot of Rodriguez’s filmography, you know he’s got this in spades, but Planet Terror brings it to another level. It’s soaked in its grindhouse vibe, much like the other within the film duo, Death Proof. Another being The Machete movies, which came out of the wonderfully ridiculous trailers between the two films. Whether it be the gore or the sparks of the explosions, the effects and visuals pop. Also, props to the badass choreographed scene of Freddy Rodriguez‘s character fighting his way through a hospital ward and Josh Brolin’s creepy doctor. It’s exploitation, it’s throw-back horror, it is embracing the campiness with a wide-toothed, bloody grin.
Well, naturally we all have different tastes, but I figure I’ll throw out a few suggestions each week, just in case one strikes your fancy. 🙂
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao) Uniquely beautiful, incredibly moving; Nomadland is a film that needs to be seen or rather, experienced, to understand its power. Frances McDormand is just as wonderful as she always is, giving one of her best in a powerful, yet quiet, performance. This is easily one of the best films of 2020 and, hey, it was released on Hulu last month! I’m not going to stop hyping this one.
Wandavision Yeah, I am an MCU fan, and this limited series just wrapped. Best time to binge! It’s really one of the most interesting things to come out of Marvel recently, and a great place to start Phase 4. There’s a weirdness that’s lovely, and Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are both incredible, enriching these characters and their relationship, that hadn’t previously gotten their due on screen. It also packs some surprising emotional punches, especially with Olsen as a woman grieving. On Disney+ (of course).
The Stylist (Jill Gevargizian) I reviewed this one over on Film Inquiry and I absolutely adored it. It’s a horror/thriller about a young hair stylist who is also a blossoming serial killer, and who craves connection. It features terrific performances and a lead (Najarra Townsend) who you can really sympathize with. It’s on Shudder!
Happy watching! And if you do- tell me your thoughts!
Recently, during our #BlindspotPodcast for Film Inquiry, Jake Tropila recommended a movie I had been meaning to watch for a long time: Only Lovers Left Alive. Why had I missed this? Who knows…life, time…all of the things considered in this newfound cinematic love.
This was a movie even referred to by my co-host as a “Kristy” film, which is exactly why I am taking the time to talk about how amazing it indeed is.
A vampire film, an existential contemplation on meaning and immortality, a funny, yet intellectual foray into the minds of humans (and our supernatural counterparts)= lovely cinema. There’s a lot to adore with Jim Jarmusch’s film, in a way you may not expect. I left the film satisfied and imbued with emotion, deep in thought, and self-reflection.
How’s that for a genre piece?
Tom Hiddleston (Adam) and Tilda Swinton (Eve) are amazing as the two leads. There’s a chemistry and yet a disconnect (in the most beautiful of ways) and I mean that in the sense that these two have been apart, and yet can be reunited with instant fire; it’s magnetic. A love story for many, many, ages. When Eve discovers that Adam is having a difficult time she immediately goes to his side. They’re forever entwined.
There are other terrific supporting roles from the likes of the tragically lost talent of Anton Yelchin to the amazing versatile Mia Wasikowska, to the incredible John Hurt. But, the real passion of this film comes from our leads and an imaginative almost lyrically profound story that is unlike anything that has come before. There’s a real appreciation for cinema, while also emphasizing on the admiration of the human experience.
Anytime someone can introduce a new facet to the “vampire“ sub-genre, I’m thrilled. It’s moody, it’s prolific, with the usual deadpan humor one can expect from this director’s cache, and Jim Jarmusch truly excels here, crafting an interesting character study that is also a blast to enjoy. While there’s a richness here within the narrative, there’s also an overall sweetness that prevails.
Jim Jarmusch weaves a lovely story here that mixes humor and sadness, highlighting intricacies while examining the simple moments of our daily existence. This is complete with music (some from Jarmusch’s band: SQURL) that truly sweep you off your feet. In fact, there are many times I felt like I was floating through this film, elevated by how artfully in tune it is. I believe this to be his best work, and it’s atmospherically encompassing. An intellectually inviting, endearing, and wonderful movie. And yes, there are vampires too.