Order up!! This is my kind of delicious, spicy, brutal takedown satire. I knew I'd love it, at least I expected I might, so it was quite satisfying to discover that it lived up to my hopes. I'm glad cinema is serving up more and more films every year about how disgustingly awful rich people are. Yes, Parasite won Best Picture and that was a watershed moment, but more films like this are needed to shift society away from the obsession with thinking rich people are good people, and oh so successful and admirable. The Menu is yet another film like this, complimenting the three-course meal also offered up in Ruben Östlund's Palme d'or winner Triangle of Sadness earlier this year. Both of these films are wickedly hilarious, smart, bold films providing cathartic opportunities to make fun of and tear down and take out the wealthy trash. The Menu is about an extremely fancy dinner served on a private island at a restaurant that only serves 12 people per night. This night, the award-winning chef who runs it has had enough, and will be serving the 12 diners their final meal.
"You perform civility here, but we know what you whisper in your halls of leadership and in your military facilities." Playing in theaters worldwide is Marvel Studios' sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, director Ryan Coogler's follow-up to the massively successful Black Panther from 2018. Our writer MSB has already published a comprehensive review with his own thoughts on this MCU Phase 4 finale, so I want to bring up some different ideas about the movie. I think Wakanda Forever is actually better, much better, than the original Black Panther movie – which is a bit of a mess in terms of script and set pieces (aside from the Busan chase). It's better because it's much darker, much more confident, and much more complex - not only with the story and Wakanda trying to recover from the loss of T'Challa / Chadwick Boseman, but also with intricate emotions and characters that are not glossy & flawless. The two leaders in this one, Shuri of Wakanda and Namor of Talokan, are both brooding, angry people who just want to defend their own nation.
One of the most arduous tasks for a director is dealing with an external issue that affects the filmmaking process entirely, changing all their original plans and carefully constructed ideas. The life & career of actor Chadwick Boseman impacted the world in an immeasurably, overwhelmingly positive way, leaving an inspiring, culturally significant legacy after his passing in 2020. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler had to take on an impossible mission crafting the Marvel Studios sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but regardless of the film's issues, there's no doubt T'Challa would be proud of what he created in the end.
Every movie genre contains numerous movies whose purpose is nothing more than to entertain viewers with basic ingredients. Whether it's a generic rom-com starring a charming cast or a mission-driven action flick filled with high-adrenaline moments. I will stand my ground and defend that there are no problems with enjoying straightforward stories on an empty weekend afternoon. That said, personal expectations for the investigative murder mystery sequel Enola Holmes 2 were precisely the same as for the original Netflix film from 2020, so I was surprised that the sequel managed to surpass its predecessor in several aspects.
The horror genre has been a tad inconsistent this year, not everything has ended up that good. The chances of leaving the theater either disappointed or quite satisfied are very similar, but curiously, the most praised horror films of 2022 are the ones that have most often negatively surprised me. This "curse" has been fading slightly over time, but it has been difficult to enter the theater with high expectations and end up having those expectations met. Barbarian is another movie in the genre that has been incredibly complimented by the vast majority of viewers so far… This time, I'm happy to say that it deserves all of the hype received.
With the exponential growth of streaming, highly anticipated cinematographic works with high production value inevitably will end up being seen on one's tiny home screen (or mobile phone) rather than on the giant screen found in movie theaters. Despite constantly feeling sorry for not watching certain movies on the big screen, I believe a peaceful, satisfying future for all viewers involves offering both options for watching a film. Thus, everyone can choose the "format" they prefer for their experience, and no one is bothered. That said, Edward Berger's latest adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front deserves to be seen on the biggest screen and with the best possible sound conditions, as it's undoubtedly one of the best films of 2022.
When a film brings in many of Hollywood's most talented people to work on every technical component, it's hard not to have high expectations. Empire of Light has acclaimed British filmmaker Sam Mendes as both writer & director, beloved cinematographer Roger Deakins as the Director of Photography, award-winning Lee Smith in the editing room, and acclaimed composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the score, not to mention a cast with a few prominent names – there's an interesting mix with less known actors in the ensemble. Many of these people are Oscar winners, along with so many other awards. The only unknown variable – Mendes writing his first-ever solo screenplay – turns out to be the only divisive factor…
Don't mess with the Finns!! They're some of the most resilient, brave, toughest people on this planet. Holy shit!! Buckle up for this one, and get ready for one hell of a ride. This film absolutely RULES!! Sisu is the latest feature made by Finnish filmmaker Jalmari Helander, known for his genre films Rare Exports and Big Game previously. He returns to the 2022 Sitges Film Festival with his action thriller Sisu, also known as Immortal (not a good title for this one - stick with Sisu), which initially premiered in Midnight Madness at the Toronto Film Festival. It ended up winning the top prize of Best Feature Film at Sitges - deservedly so. I had an absolute blast watching this and the Sitges audience ate it up, cheering throughout, even giving it a standing ovation at the end. I'd happily watch it again right away. The film establishes an irrefutable truth - Jalmari Helander is one of the best action filmmakers working today. This lives up to the hype in every way.
Whether as an audience member or a critic, the viewer's mindset is almost never addressed in conversations about any type of entertainment. However, it's a factor with as much impact on the overall enjoyment of the work as any other. In the same way that a fun, light, inspirational film can transform a crestfallen face into a happy smile, a heavy, slower, contemplative movie is also capable of leaving the public seriously thinking about their own lives. Bros belongs to the former group, being even more satisfying after an emotionally draining previous viewing at the 2022 London Film Festival (Aronofsky's The Whale - read my review here).
I don't usually follow celebrities' personal lives, nor do I have a genuine interest in them. However, it's hard to find anyone who hasn't heard Brendan Fraser's heartbreaking story. I recommend a quick search for anyone unfamiliar with it, as it's inevitable not to feel greater compassion for his character given everything the actor has had to overcome in the last decade – he was even forced to put his acting career on hold. The Whale not only marks his return magnificently, but is also yet another compelling work in the filmography of one of Hollywood's most divisive, and most original, filmmakers – Darren Aronofsky. As expected with Aronofsky, it's yet another shocking, visually unsettling piece that no viewer will soon forget… thankfully.
One of the most common stereotypes associated with critics is the presumed emotional distance from the characters and events that take place on the big screen. A "robot without a heart" is a description I've seen thrown at several journalists, but with the growth of the online film community, this dated misconception has lost its original value. The Father remains the last A+ I gave to a movie precisely because it profoundly impacted me on a personal level, so expectations were high for The Son, French writer / director Florian Zeller's "sequel" to The Father, which has earned quite a divisive response from the industry following its Venice Film Festival premiere (read Alex's review here). Fortunately, I fall on the (very) positive side.
Frequently, all it takes is an extraordinary cast to convince me to give a film a chance. Having no knowledge of Sarah Polley's previous movies, one would expect actresses like Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, and Frances McDormand to be the selling point, but the truth is the premise was the winning factor. Simple, straight to the point, and focused on a debate about what to do in the face of constant attacks by men upon a community of women. Stay and fight, leave, or do nothing - options more difficult & complex than they seem. Women Talking discusses each of the choices for 104 incredibly captivating minutes.