Thursday, April 11, 2024

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Walt Disney, part LIV: Pompous circumstance


Directed by Don Hahn, Pixote Hunt, Hendel Butoy, Eric Goldberg, James Algar, Francis Glebas, Paul Brizzi, and Gaёtan Brizzi

Spoilers: moderate, I guess

Monday, April 1, 2024

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Walt Disney, part L: It's not my fault, if in God's plan, he made the Devil so much stronger than a man


Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Written by Tab Murphy, Irene Mecchi, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White, and Jonathan Roberts (based on the novel Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo)

Spoilers: high

Monday, March 11, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLIX: The pits


Directed by Henry Selick
Written by Karey Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Roberts, and Steve Bloom (based on the novel by Roald Dahl)

Spoilers: moderate

Sunday, March 10, 2024

May thy knife chip and shatter


Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by John Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve (based on Dune by Frank Herbert)

Spoilers: it's still just Dune, bros

Monday, March 4, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLVII: Stand out till you notice me


Directed by Kevin Lima
Written by Jymn Magon, Chris Matheson, and Brian Pimental

Spoilers: moderate

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLVI: Bad and good luck tales


Directed by Bob Hathcock
Written by Alan Burnett

Spoilers: moderate

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLIV: I'm bored from leering my horrible glances, and my feet hurt from dancing those skeleton dances


Directed by Henry Selick
Written by Caroline Thompson, Michael McDowell, and Danny Elfman (based on the poem by Tim Burton)

Spoilers: moderately highish, I guess

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Walt Disney, part XLIII: You ain't never had a friend like me


Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Written by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Ron Clements, John Musker, and what appears to be the entire staff of Walt Disney Feature Animation

Spoilers: moderate

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Disney's Challengers, part XI: Après moi, le déluge


Directed by Don Bluth
Written by David N. Weiss and numerous others (based on the play Chantecler by Edmond Rostand)

Spoilers: moderate

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Monday, February 12, 2024

Reviews from gulag: The red [door/car/nosed reindeer]

As we continue our clean-up of 2023 with a series of reviews for movies that may or may not have deserved their own entries, we arrive upon Insidious: The Red Door, annoyingly both the fourth and the second sequel to James Wan's 2011 horror superhit, Insidious, picking up the Lambert Saga ten years after Wan finished it in Insidious: Chapter 2 for no obvious reason besides giving perennial supporting-actor champion Patrick Wilson his first crack at directing; Ferrari, Michael Mann's biopic of Enzo Ferrari that, hypothetically, appeals to Mann's historic strengths as a filmmaker or should at least offer some good racing scenes; and Silent Night, John Woo's pun-titled, Christmas-themed experimental action film.  As the title up top indicates, there is indeed something meaningfully red in all three of these movies, but the actual secret theme of these graybles is that they all involve a director I respect a great deal, even if it's for reasons besides directing, nevertheless proving a disappointment.


I've suggested in the past that the Insidious franchise, prior to Insidious: The Red Door, is not good, and, having recently reacquainted myself with them (or become acquainted with some of them in the first place), I'm happy to recant that, albeit with faint praise; it's a horror franchise with the agreeable distinction of improving steadily throughout all of its first three entries, going from a low 7/10 for the first Insidious all the way to a medium-high 7/10 for 2015's Insidious: Chapter 3.  This was unlikely to continue apace and it did stumble, rather hard, with its fourth entry, 2018's Insidious: The Last Key, which at least had a few strong novelties to offset the feeling that the franchise had clearly exhausted most of its best moves already.  (The first three all had the benefit of being directed by one or the other of its creators, James Wan or Leigh Whannell, which makes more of a difference than you might be ready to guess, given how formulaic the scares and stories are.  Meanwhile, The Last Key was at least written by Whannell, which didn't save it, but it felt of a piece with its three predecessors.)  Other than The Last Key not being good, however, the worst thing about those first four films is that Chapter 3 took the unusual step of being a prequel focused upon Lin Shaye's paranormal investigator and spirit medium, Elise Rainier.  Obviously, insofar as Elise was almost objectively the single best element of the franchise, its focus on her was not the bad part; that's the "prequel" part, where Whannell blinked and took his franchise back in time to give Elise a new story, despite having already ended Chapter 2 with an inordinately strong sequel hook, for while that film concluded the "central" story of the Lambert family on a satisfying and happy note, it also promised Further adventures (ha, ha) with Elise and her sidekicks, irrespective of the fact that Elise had been dead for an entire movie by this point.  I mean, it's a franchise entirely about ghosts and the metaphysical dark mirror of the real world where ghosts hang out after they die; this was not some insuperable challenge.  The worst thing about the worst thing, meanwhile, is simply that, flying in the face of all logic, Whannell's prequel was still named "chapter 3."  This had to be awfully irritating when development began on Insidious: The Red Door, which finally does offer a chronologically-third Insidious movie, as well as another (and presumably the final) chapter in the story of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins), father and son astral projectors whose unique talents had tended to get them into trouble.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

The annihilator


Directed by Nia DaCosta
Written by Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik, and Nia DaCosta

Spoilers: moderate

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Disney's Challengers, part VIII: Dog damn


Directed by Don Bluth (co-directed by Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy)
Written by David N. Weiss and zillion other people

Spoilers: moderate

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should


Directed by Phil Nibbelink, Ralph Zondag, Dick Zondag, and Simon Wells
Written by John Patrick Shanley, Flint Dille, and Sherri Stoner (based on the picture book by Hudson Talbott)

Spoilers: moderate

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Reviews from gulag: Vampires suck

It's that time again, when we face the necessity of getting fast and somewhat dirty as we dispose of the detritus of the previous year.  For our first batch of titles, we have a convenient theme in 2023's major vampire films: The Last Voyage of the Demeter, which is the Dracula-on-a-boat adventure it says it is, adapting Chapter 7 of Bram Stoker's novel; El Conde, the new Pablo Larraín film, of all things, which deploys the curious conceit of wondering what it would be like if Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet had actually been a vampire who never died; and Renfield, which, like Demeter, looks to the beginning of things with Stoker for its inspiration, and wonders what it would be like if Dracula and Renfield survived long enough for Renfield to read self-help books and decide to rebel against his toxic boss, while also giving Universal Pictures an opportunity to do something/anything with its Dracula IP, still good for a few more years.  You would never, ever guess which one of these is not a piece of shit.

Note: I will be spoiling The Last Voyage of the Demeter, a little.  I guess I kind of spoil El Conde, but only if you're unrealistically ignorant of late 20th century history.


Of course, if I warn you that I'm spoiling The Last Voyage of the Demeter, have I not already spoiled The Last Voyage of the Demeter?  But then, if it's even meaningful to ask "guess who survives the Demeter?", the project has already failed in the first place.  Look, The Last Voyage of the Demeter ends not with extinction, but a fucking sequel hook.  This insane unwillingness to fully embrace the fatalistic nihilism that ought to be burned right into this weird sidequel's bones was always going to be its biggest problem; yet, with this treatment, I'm not entirely sure that if it had done so it still could have managed to have clawed its way up to an adequate movieI just wouldn't have totally despised it. I felt a deep sense of pessimism about its chances sweep over me within the first seconds, which outline the basic scenario in its introductory textthe Demeter wrecked on the English coast (this is, uh, not the most faithful adaptation in any respect), the captain's (Liam Cunningham's) log foundand then wrench you right out of the story it's telling, by announcing right in the midst of its text narration that it's "based on the novel Dracula," which is almost correct, in that Dracula offers itself as a curated archive of documents that are real in its universe, but are only a novel in ours.  A few seconds after that, it shows us exactly what it just told us, I suppose so you'd know that superfluousness was going to be a major element of this movie.  I don't think anything in the movie ever gets wonkier than this first minute, at least, but the screenplay does frequently flirt with similar malapropism, notably when a character asks if everyone has been "struck dumb," meaning "stupid," even though "dumb" has never meant "stupid" when you put "struck" in front of it (and it would be exceedingly hip and with-it for this Russian to use "dumb" for "stupid" in his mostly-fluent British English in 1897 anyway, so it's not "character embroidery").  There's also a line where a Romanian claims that Dracula's castle is older than any of them, which, from context, is supposed to be impressive for some reason.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Hall of egress

aka Natsu e no Tonneru, Sayonara no Deguchi

2022 Japan/2023 USA
Written and directed by Tomohisa Taguchi (based on the novella and comic books by Mei Hachimoku, Kukka, and Koudon)

Spoilers: moderate

Sunday, January 21, 2024

When the oceans drank Atlantis


Directed by James Wan
Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Thomas Pa'a Sibbett, Jason Momoa, and James Wan

Spoilers: moderate

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Friday, January 12, 2024