2022 was a good year for movies, for the most part—refreshingly so after two years where you can blame the poor output on the pandemic (though also another year before that, where you can't). But, man, some of the movies people have hyped the most have been some of the least worthwhile. Here's some more mini-ish reviews of a couple of aggravating films I didn't like, The Banshees of Inisherin and We're All Going to the World's Fair, plus a couple of pleasant little animated movies that I did, Inu-oh and The Bob's Burgers Movie.
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
"You're all feckin' boring!" cries Siobhan Suilleabhain (Kerry Condon) about two-thirds of the way through The Banshees of Inisherin, giving voice to my inchoate feelings as regards the ulcerating feud that has developed between her brother Padraic (Colin Farrell) and his friend Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) over the latter's decision to end their friendship of many years because the former is, as Colm has it, simply an excruciatingly dull time-sink. And nevertheless did Martin McDonagh make a movie about them. Siobhan isn't very interesting either, for the record. She has Belle Trait: her personality is she's literate. As for the movie McDonagh made, what we have is basically a stageplay that happens to have establishing shots sometimes—McDonagh, an Oscar-nominated (maybe Oscar-winning, I forget) filmmaker, is perhaps still fundamentally a playwright, for better and worse—and such establishing shots as there are here are mostly just things he likes to drop in, as editing bumpers. The cinematic element of Banshees is mostly just wondering how a movie devised for theatrical release and with some of the most Hibernian stretches of Ireland at its disposal still looks so much like streaming content in terms of its photography and color grading (the most "theatrical" element is that it's in 'Scope ratio, which is always the right choice for any film that is mostly close-ups and two-shots). However, if I'm being very nice I do in fact like the occasional use of windows made out of badly-made early 20th century glass to construct frames-within-frames, principally by having Farrell milling about outside a structure, frowning like a middle-aged puppy through the distorting glass whilst Gleeson, sitting in the foreground, scowls and pointedly ignores his silent entreaties. These threaten to be funny until, as they almost inevitably do, those silent entreaties become active wheedling and Padraic turns about and enters said structure. This is pretty much his whole character, now that I think about it, except he gets madder about it as time goes on.
There is unfortunately no theme I can think of to bind the following reviews together besides "they're all animated," and, hell, none are even animated in the same medium. I don't know, maybe the theme is "they are actually good in inverse proportion to how much they're appreciated," but that's just the theme of, like, all fucking existence. Nevertheless, here's reviews of Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood, and DC League of Super-Pets.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S PINOCCHIO
The fact that it's named Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio is a tiny bit aggravating, not least because it's reminiscent of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, another stop-motion animated film attributed to a celebrated Gothic dark fantasy filmmaker who has no business claiming sole authorship of it—Mark Gustafson co-directed, and given the technology, I strongly expect he did more than "co-direct"—but you know, it gets a pass. 2022 was lousy with Pinocchios, and there was obviously a need for Del Toro and Netflix to differentiate it from the other ones. These include a cheapo Russian cash-in with Pauly Shore, and, even more depressingly, Robert Zemeckis's quintuple-down on poorly-received disaster-projects, coming in the form of Disney's remake of their own 1940 Pinocchio that's so plainly bad that you don't need to see it, you can smell it from afar. It is entirely probable that GDelT's P (hereafter just Pinocchio, thanks) is indeed the best of these. It has been anointed such, and, because Del Toro fanboys are everywhere—even people who historically have not been fanboys for the extremely-uneven, I'm-gonna-just-put-it-out-there-not-that-good filmmaker have turned out to have nursed a secret desire to join the club—it has been anointed one of the year's great animated films. I can sort of see the impulse—it's been a very bad year for animation (though I'm not sure "more than half of 2022's major animated features are mediocre or worse" is the consensus). But, you know, I'm particularly enervated by the applause Del Toro has managed to gather upon himself on social media by taking the brave, heretical stand that "animation is a medium, not a genre!", which in A.D. 2022 is such a lamely self-impressed "cow says moo!" thing to say that I doubt it would ever occur to, for instance, Phil Tippet to actually voice it; I'm also not sure why Del Toro, adapting children's literature, thinks he has somehow not made a children's movie. Is it just because his titular character and his titular character's sidekick are uglier than typical?
Spoilers: high, sorta—I'm not going to actually spoil the plot, such as it is, but there's just no point in writing about this without writing about the last ten minutes, and I guess you probably ought to see it as unsullied as possible, so I'll try to section it off