Moviegoers possess countless reasons to visit movie theaters, some unrelated to the movie chosen for their viewing. However, when it comes to reasons related to the cinematographic work itself, these factors cover a vast range of possibilities: the cast, which genre, the franchise or saga connection, the director, among many other options. Bullet Train contains many of these enticing benefits, with David Leitch - a filmmaker known for entertaining action flicks like John Wick (which he co-directed with Chad Stahelski), Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2 - and lead star Brad Pitt as top picks, along with a sensational ensemble cast, this has the potential to reach a lot of viewers. It will mainly entice fans of unrestrained action with a touch of humor that fulfills the promise of emptying your bucket of popcorn. And Bullet Train doesn't fool anyone.
One of the best action movies this year is only available to watch at home. Unfortunately you can't watch it in theaters, where it belongs, and where you will have the best experience with it. Why? Ask Disney… Many critics are framing their reviews of this movie around this complaint because, well, we have to – this movie kicks ass and oddly Disney decided to screen it in theaters for critics, but it's releasing for streaming only (I double checked). Prey is a Predator one-off movie not connected to the Arnold Schwarzenegger franchise beyond the fact that it involves an alien "Predator" warrior. It was supposed to be a surprise, and I think it would've been an even more exhilarating experience to sit down for an action movie and discover only once it starts that it's actually a new Predator movie. Nonetheless, I had the privilege of watching Prey on the big screen and it totally rules. It's the best theatrical experience I've had this summer since Top Gun: Maverick.
Have you ever heard of Will Vinton? How many people still know who he is nowadays? Vinton was the co-founder of a stop-motion animation studio based in Portland, Oregon. He created this studio in early 1970s, known as just "Will Vinton Studios" at the time, and it ended up becoming a mainstream success - you will definitely recognize their work. They're most well known for The California Raisins, as well as a few other films including Rip Van Winkle and Dinosaur. They even won an Academy Award in 1975 for an innovative claymation short film they created (called Closed Mondays). But all that is in the past, and it's not a story anyone can recall anymore. There isn't even much info about Will Vinton Studios on Wikipedia. Why? Well, you definitely know the other name of the animation studio as it's now known today - Laika. Claydream is a documentary takes us back through the story of Will Vinton and exactly what happened to him, his success and his downfall. It's the tragic story of a beautifully creative studio's undoing at the hands of a rich bastard.
🛸 "In societies where modern conditions of production prevail all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation." From Guy Debord's book Society of the Spectacle (via Wilkinson's review). The truth about humanity is that we just can't help wanting to get a look at something for ourselves – no matter what it is. This is epitomized in that old trope of – when there's an accident on the highway, everyone has to slow down and look, hoping to either see something shocking or figure out exactly what happened. I admit I've done this, and probably so have you. Acclaimed horror filmmaker Jordan Peele's latest film Nope is an attempt at addressing our obsession with spectacle and this insatiable desire to look, rather than look away. By the end of the movie, I was thinking Don't Look Up would've been a better title for this than Nope, but that was already taken by another sci-fi movie about humanity's unflappable need to turn any disaster into spectacular entertainment.
Every generation deserves its own fresh new take on the romantic comedy. The problem is that nowadays this genre has become marginalized and neglected for romanticizing abusive relationships and encouraging destructive behavioral patterns. So young directors have decided to disguise their new romcoms as movies about searching for oneself and making sense of oneself before they can feel comfortable in a relationship. Spanish filmmaker Andrea Bagney's feature debut Ramona, which premiered at the 2022 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, is no exception to this rule. The film explores this intricate struggle to understand what's next in the life of a young woman. It's filmed in old fashioned black & white inspired by classic French cinema.
What kind of character are you in society? Are you a main character, or just a supporting character? Maybe you haven't even been cast in any role yet? Where do you fit in? What even is your "role" and can you change it? These are just of few of the questions that might come to mind when watching this funky, clever, strange, intriguing German film titled The Ordinaries (also known as simply Subtext for its release in Europe). The film had its world premiere at the 2022 Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Czechia, a perfect place for for this quirky, one-of-a-kind film to premiere, as it's not the kind of film most mainstream audiences will have any interest in. Only those that love cinema, and love stories about cinema (and how it all works), and love films that make you think and figure them out, will appreciate this. That said, I still think it's an ingenious and captivating film about breaking out of your "role" in society and becoming whoever it is you want to be.
Landing in theaters worldwide this July is the 29th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Love and Thunder. It's the second MCU movie this year, with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever still due in November. It is also the fourth solo Thor movie, following Ragnarok from 2017. Love and Thunder is once again directed by Taika Waititi, who brings his comedic style back to the story of Thor Odinson as he contemplates his place among the Gods. Natalie Portman's return has generated much curiosity, mainly due to her surprising reveal as The Mighty Thor, but Christian Bale joining as the antagonist has also raised expectations tremendously. With Waititi at the helm again, will Chris Hemsworth and company be able to deliver a better movie than Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? [A spoiler free review.]
God is everywhere. God is in the land, God is in the rain, God is in the snow, God is in the air. But is God in men? I'm not so sure, considering how despicable men can be… Godland is a Danish / Icelandic film that initially premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Many critics who saw it then were saying it deserved to be in the Main Competition in Cannes, not in the Un Certain Regard section. Now that I've caught up with the film at the 2022 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, I couldn't agree more. Not only is the film truly spectacular enough to play in competition, it probably would have won an award because it deserves all the acclaim and more; acclaim from critics and hopefully from other festivals it shows up at later this year. It's going to be in my Top 10 this year, and it'll probably be in the Criterion Collection soon enough. I'm glad I waited to watch this on a big screen, it is a MUST for this movie. Cinematography of the year in this disarming masterwork.
In the growing subgenre of climate change-related science fiction cinema, filmmakers are trying to get more and more creative with ideas addressing the disastrous future Earth is headed towards (much sooner than later). One of the latest creations is Vesper, an indie post-apocalyptic sci-fi creation from Lithuania, also known as Vesper Chronicles or Vesper Seeds. The film premiered at the 2022 Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Czechia this summer after years of production & post-production work during the pandemic. The best part about Vesper is all that they pull off on a small scale, with limited resources, as it feels much bigger than it is and all of the practical FX and prosthetics are impressive. As for the film itself, it's a somewhat compelling story of a smart young woman surviving in the woods all the while trying to develop and germinate special seeds that will help humanity escape & recover from oppressive forces that control the remaining survivors.
Everyone is familiar with the concept of Schrödinger's cat, right? Is there a cat in the box, or not? Here's the formal definition: "In quantum mechanics, Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment that illustrates a paradox of quantum superposition… a hypothetical cat may be considered simultaneously both alive and dead as a result of its fate being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur." How can this apply to a horror script? Well, you have to watch and find out. Zalava is a horror film from Iran that completely rocked me at a midnight screening at the 2022 Karlovy Vary Film Festival. I am just catching up with it now after it first premiered at the 2021 Venice & Toronto Film Festivals last fall. Holy hell I'm glad I didn't read anything about this before, because it's a thrilling experience to discover exactly how they have crafted a brilliant Schrödinger's cat horror about a demonic force threatening a remote village in Kurdistan.
We're in a fascinating era of modern science fiction where a majority of all science fiction movies right now are about climate change and/or ecological disaster. Rightfully so, because it's an unquestionably important topic and something that all sci-fi filmmaker & storytellers are always thinking about. It's also good material for sci-fi stories because looking out into the future means there will be something to deal with regarding humanity's survival, whether it be developing ways to survive and fix the climate/environment, or how to deal with the aftermath/fall out, or how people will respond when the shit really hits the fan. Rubikon is another one of these sci-fi movies directly addressing climate change, with an intriguing original concept. What if three scientists on a space station witness an apocalyptic event on Earth, leaving them as the only humans left alive? What do they do next, how do they respond? Should they go down and try to help, or not?
There are many filmmakers who have endless opportunities regardless of the success of their films. There are also just as many filmmakers who find it extremely difficult to "move up the ladder" regardless of how well-received and financially profitable their projects end up. Despite his inconsistency, I consider Scott Derrickson an example of the latter. From The Exorcism of Emily Rose to Sinister, not forgetting Marvel's Doctor Strange or his 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, it's strange that a director so talented & capable of transforming low budgets into visually immersive movies doesn't have more chances to shine. Therefore, his return – after five years inactive – to cinema with The Black Phone was highly anticipated.