Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is one of the best comic book movies I’ve seen.  There, I said it.  Damn me to hell, or force me to have breakfast with Venom.  How can I make this claim with a straight face?  Notice that I said “best comic book movie”.  Unlike the vast majority of superhero movies put out by Marvel and DC, Venom: Let There Be Carnage (a.k.a. Venom 2) isn’t striving to be taken seriously.  That doesn’t mean that the movie wasn’t created with skill, it certainly was.  Venom 2 has no pretenses about wanting to be mistaken for a great dramatic experience, filled with angst, paint, guilt and self-doubt intermixed with fistfights.  No, Venom 2 only wants to entertain you, and it succeeds so thoroughly I hope the other superhero movie factories take notes.  Highly Recommended.

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Malignant (long take)

Malignant is a combination of horror movie references, James Wan’s usual bag of tricks and other things that he likes thrown into a blender and pureed together.  The resulting mixture is slick and very entertaining, but not as engrossing as Wan’s previous horror movies.  The movie is a creepy funhouse, relying on paper-thin characters to drive the plot.  The movie works, and horror movie nerds will find it’s fanboy signalling endlessly entertaining, but the movie lacks the emotional connection that elevated The Conjuring to more than your average horror movie.  Recommended.

A detailed summary and analysis follow.  Spoilers abound.  You have been warned.

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Candyman (2021)

Candyman ignores the inferior sequels that preceded it and instead acts as a direct sequel to the 1992 movie of the same name.  As in the original, Candyman features a hook-wielding ghost who is brought to life by saying his name five times in a mirror. Director Nia DaCosta and producer Jordan Peele have upgraded the Candyman legend deftly for modern times, contextualizing his gruesome origin story as the starting point of decades of systemic racism and violence.  And instead of having the requisite white woman be the audience surrogate, two African American men take center stage.  The first is a young artist (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) seeking inspiration from the notorious history of the now-gentrified Cabrini-Green projects.  The second is a middle-aged man (Colman Domingo) who never left, still seething from an unjust killing he witnessed as a child.  The end result is riveting, scary, insightful and moving.  The (white) victims are written a bit thinly, but turnabout is fair play, as they say.  Candyman is a horror movie by definition, but it has much more up its sleeve than shocks and gore.  Mind that ending–it’s not the triumph it appears to be.  Highly recommended.

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Pig

Pig may be about a man’s search for his stolen pig, but its much more than that.  The emotions evoked by Nicolas Cage are universal, and anyone who has lost a beloved pet would immediately sympathize with his plight.  Under the surface, Pig is a deft examination of tragedy and grief.  Robin, as portrayed by Cage, leaves his former life behind for a (nearly) solitary existence in the woods.  Unfortunately, humans are defined by our connections to others, and those connections are unpredictable.  Cage’s acting is some of the best he’s done in years and should be in the conversation for Best Actor.  Highly recommended.

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Old

Old has a great opening act: a group of vacationers are taken to an exclusive beach. Once there, they age rapidly and cannot find a way to leave. The movie is undone by talky dialog and weak acting by the leads. The middle act gets weighed down by sappy sentimentality when it should have ratcheted the tension and the horror of the situation. The mystery is revealed in the end, and while it is intriguing, is loose in its reasoning and cannot erase what came before. A disappointment after the one-two punch of Split and Glass. Not recommended.

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Zola

Zola is a neon-tinged adult nightmare, featuring pole dances, hard core rap, violent pimps and sex work that goes from pitiful to dangerous.  The movie is a darkly funny road trip, starting out innocently (!) enough as a way for Zola and her BFF Stefani to earn thousands of dollars  dancing in strip clubs in Florida.  Zola, the movie’s heroine quickly becomes ensnared by her Stefani and her pimp in prostitution.  Zola keeps her cool, hopeful that she’ll be unharmed and free to go at the end of the weekend.  The movie is an entertaining, if frustratingly superficial, ninety minute dance on the wild side.  Recommended.

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The Little Hours (2017)

In the beginning of this movie, two Sisters chat in modern voices about a donkey that wandered away from their convent and needed to be retrieved again this morning.  The convent’s handyman walks by and gazes a bit to longly at the Sisters.  They then proceed to drop F-bombs on him until he finally walks away bewildered.  As the credits rolled, I wondered to myself, how would I describe this movie in my review?

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Why I created a blog for my reviews.

My father introduced me to good cinema early on in my life. His favorites included: Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Citizen Kane, Charlie Chaplin, Lawrence of Arabia. As is often the case for children, his tastes became my tastes. My tastes evolved over time to include films by David Lynch, the Cohen Brothers and more. Stuff that my dad didn’t like, naturally. I’ve posted movie reviews on Facebook for years. Since Facebook has decided it prefers to sell advertising rights to the end of civilization, I decided I would try not giving Facebook my content for free. … Continue reading Why I created a blog for my reviews.