Saturday, January 8, 2022

Weekend Open Thread


  1. I watched 142 theatrical movies in 2021. After subtracting repertory titles ("Matrix" and "Ghost in the Shell" IMAX, etc.) and 2020 titles that slipped into 2021 ("The Father," "Promising Young Woman," etc.), here's my worst-to-best ranking of 130 2021 movies. doc=documentary. W=directed by a woman.

    130.-Together (U.K.)
    129.-Dark State (W)
    128.-Show Me The Father (religious propaganda doc)
    127.-Space Jam: A New Legacy
    126.-Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
    125.-The Protege
    124.-The First Wave (doc)
    123.-Spiral: From the Book of Saw
    122.-The Misfits
    121.-12 Mighty Orphans
    120.-Grizzly II: Revenge
    119.-Dara of Jasenovac (Serbia)
    118.-Snake Eyes: A G.I. Joe Story
    117.-Respect (W)
    115.-Cry Macho
    114.-Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City
    113.-The Marksman
    112.-Four Good Days
    111.-Chaos Walking (IMAX)
    110.-Godzilla vs. Kong 3D
    108.-Together, Together (W)
    107.-Hard Luck Love Song
    106.-The Forever Purge
    105.-The Lost Leonardo (doc)
    104.-Tom and Jerry
    103.-Army of the Dead (Netflix, theater)
    102.-French Exit
    101.-Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway
    100.-New Order
    99.-Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It (doc, W)
    98.-The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (IMAX)
    97.-The Sparks Brothers (doc)
    96.-Railway Heroes (China)
    95.-Prisoners of the Ghostland
    94.-Joe Bell
    93.-Killian and the Comeback Kids
    91.-Disney's Encanto (W, co-director)
    90.-Antim: The Final Truth (India)
    89.-Censor (U.K., W)
    88.-Escape From Mogadishu (South Korea)
    87.-Long Weekend
    86.-Parallel Mothers (Spain)
    84.-Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train (Japan, IMAX)
    83.-Tango Shalom
    82.-Clifford: The Big Red Dog
    80.-Dream Horse (U.K.)
    79.-Cloudy Mountain (China)
    78.-The Courier (U.K.)
    77.-The Green Knight (U.K.)
    76.-The Eyes of Tammy Faye
    74.-Kurup (India)
    73.-The Boss Baby: Family Business
    72.-Kate (Netflix)
    71.-In the Earth
    70.-Jungle Cruise (IMAX)
    69.-Limbo (U.K.)
    68.-Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai (India)
    67.-Homeroom (doc)
    66.-Journal for Jordan
    65.-Dear Evan Hansen
    64.-Final Solution (doc)
    63.-Venom: Let There Be Carnage 3D
    62.-The Little Things
    61.-Spencer (U.K./Germany)
    60.-West Side Story (IMAX)
    59.-Cliff Walkers (China)
    58.-Small Engine Repair
    57.-Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (doc)
    56.-Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea (India)
    55.-State Funeral (Netherlands/Lithuania, doc)
    54.-Zola (W)
    52.-Bell Bottom (India)
    51.-The Feast (U.K./Wales)
    50.-Free Guy 3D
    49.-Lamb (Iceland/Sweeden)
    48.-In the Heights (IMAX)
    47.-Mortal Kombat 2021
    46.-Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon (IMAX)
    44.-A Quiet Place Part II (IMAX)
    43.-Candyman 2021 (W)
    42.-The Battle of Lake Changjin (China)
    41.-Dune: Part 1 (IMAX)
    40.-Titane (France, W)
    39.-Willy's Wonderland
    38.-Sooryavancshi (India)
    37.-The Matrix Resurrections (W)
    36.-Red Rocket
    35.-Nightmare Alley
    34.-Halloween Kills
    32.-Rifftrax Live! Amityville: The Evil Escapes (2021/1989)
    30.-The King's Man
    29.-Black Widow 3D (W)
    28.-The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard (IMAX)
    27.-Ghostbusters: Afterlife (IMAX)
    26.-Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 3D
    25.-The French Dispatch
    24.-The Suicide Squad
    23.-The Night House
    22.-The Last Duel
    21.-A Writer's Odyssey (China)
    20.-Nine Days
    18.-Bo Gia (Dad, I'm Sorry) (Vietnam)
    17.-Disney's Cruella (IMAX)
    16.-Belfast (U.K.)
    15.-Eternals 3D (W)
    14.-Summer of Soul (... Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (doc)
    12.-Raging Fire (China/Honk Kong)
    11.-Last Night in Soho

    1. 10.-HOUSE OF GUCCI
      A Ridley Scott joint that works on all levels (killer cast, AAA production values, interesting story/characters, etc.) is a rare thing. But one that connects with an appreciative public (which "The Last Duel" failed to do) is even rarer. It also had, bar none, the best theatrical trailer of 2021 by a country mile. Adam Driver can do no wrong, and teaming up with Sir Ridley in '21 took his game to a whole new level.

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    Other than Rami Malek underwhelming as the heavy (though he has a couple of good scenes that redeem his Safin character), the swan song of the Daniel Craig 007 era delivers on just about everything you expect from a franchise with its resources and pedigree. It even retroactively makes "Spectre" passable, making the 5-movie Craig Bonds an arc that can be enjoyed in a way that the Connery, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan sagas were simply not engineered for. The opening home invasion flashback might be the scariest short horror movie of 2021, and the finale is the stuff that Craig and the filmmakers EARNED the right to pull off. All that PLUS Ana de Armas' Paloma almost stealing the movie for the few minutes she gets to beat ass and share drinks with James Bond. This is the complete package for action, drama, blockbuster and 007 fans alike. :-D

    2.-SKATER GIRL (India, W, Netflix)
    This one's dedicated to Rosalie Lewis, who last year introduced me to "Run" and "Buffaloed" which had a profound effect on my perception of female representation on film (particularly "Run"). I can't tell you that "Skater Girl" is technically anywhere as well made as most of the movies that preceded it in my list. It's a simple story told with basic, minimal filmmaking: poor Indian teen Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta, a dead ringer for "A Quiet Place's" Millicent Simmonds) is introduced by foreigners to skateboarding, and the passion for this newfound sport threatens her poor, uneducated parents' plans for her future. You can see every plot twist coming, and the ending is sort-of disturbing because there's a real chance that Prerna still loses even at her highest moment of temporary triumph (you'll have to see it to understand what I'm trying to avoid mentioning here).

    I'm also convinced most Netflix movies feel like soulless, empty product made to cash big paychecks (particularly "Red Notice") because under-the-radar little films like "Skater Girl" manage its small resources to deliver huge amounts of pathos that feel sincere as hell. Everyone I've showed "Skater Girl" to (many openly hostile when the film started) was crying rivers of tears by the end, particularly when they learn the production of the movie resulted in real Indian kids benefiting from the sport it portrays. It's not anywhere near the best movie of 2021 (even though it came awfully close to being my No. 1), but it's the one that stole my heart early in 2021 and wouldn't let go... hasn't let go. Sometimes you got to go with your heart and not your brain...

    1.-I'M YOUR MAN (Germany, W)
    ... which ironically is the opposite reason why Maria Schrader's romantic drama is the best movie I saw in 2021. It's ready-for-cheap-laughs premise (emotionally closed female scientist "test drives" a humanoid robot designed to be her ideal companion) is treated seriously, but with enough light humor to not feel as cold or sterile as it could have. Female filmmakers (director, screenwriter, producers, etc.) ensure that Maren Eggert's Alma is the center of the story at all times, even when smooth-as-silk Dan Stevens ("Downton Abbey") threatens to walk away with the best scenes. It's an adult movie made by adults for adults, which makes the execution of its quirky premise a highwire act that keeps the narrative tight, tense and interesting. It's Germany's official selection for this year's Academy Awards, so you know who I'll be rooting for in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

    And that's it, another great year of movies under our belts. This year's list was particularly grueling. It took me a whole week to put together, and I was horrified movies I thought would be Top 20 or 30 material ended up in the 50's and 60's. Let's get ready to do it all over again in 2022, because wow! So much fun. :-D

    1. HOLY COW!!! AMAZING work JM. i love all the great diverse stuff you watch and share. It certainly takes a lot of time to collate and present such information but i appreciate it. Thanks for all you post on this site, keep up the great work and movie viewing!!!

      Peace .n. Cinema Love,


    2. Awww, thanks Mashke. :-) Please stay tuned because, as soon as I figure out what the hell is going on with Blogger, I'll post the rest of my Top 10 of 2021. Stay tuned!

  3. I tried making a 2021 top 10, but most of the movies I enjoyed this year were in the liked-it-but-didn't-love-it category. Here's a top 5 instead.

    5. DUNE. This could be (and probably has been) nitpicked to death, but there's certainly huge visual splendor and some solid performances. Stilgar, my favorite character from the book, gets to be cool and badass in this. In previous adaptations, he's only ever been the guy standing next to Paul.

    4. IN THE HEIGHTS. A little biased, because this was my first time in a movie theater since early 2020. But the movie's so upbeat and celebratory, I get swept up in it.

    3. LAST NIGHT IN SOHO. Edgar Wright goodness!

    2. THE FEAR STREET TRILOGY. Listen. All those old-school slashers we love have become epic sagas in our minds, because every October we fans binge-watch all the sequels. FEAR STREET gave us the entire slasher epic at once. The characters were likable, the lore was interesting, and how about that bread slicer? This got right everything HALLOWEEN KILLS got wrong.

    1. WEST SIDE STORY. Maybe I'm just a sucker for musicals, but you can't beat a combo of Spielberg, Sondheim, and Moreno. This is why we love going to the movies.

    Worst movie of the year for me was SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY. Not just because of all the baffling choices and IP run amok, but because of the tedium. You're so bored that you can't even laugh at how bad it is.

    My favorite classic-I'd-never-seen-before was 1974's THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123. It's a movie made entirely out of '70s NYC swagger.

    1. Glad we're united in our common hatred of "Space Jam: A New Legacy," and fascination with the trainwreck that is 1990's "Robocop 2". :-D

  4. Hi. J.M. here. My Blogger account broke, it's not letting me add the first 7 of my top 10 of 2021. Will try again tomorrow. So sorry! :'(

    1. ha! i was wondering whats in that gap. thx JM

    2. I am also having some trouble posting my list, J.M. It seems like it is an issue with pasting text into the box rather than typing it in. The second half of my list shows up and then disappears whenever I refresh the page.

    3. Sorry to hear that, Casual. Guess Blogger just has no taste in movies, hates our list and cuts them in half to spite us! :-P

    4. I doubt a computer really cares, J.M. Hopefully the issue clears up by next weekend.

  5. Good weekend to everyone. I got to a few things this week.

    WHEN THE BOYS MEET THE GIRLS (1965) – I have a soft spot for these 1960s Hollywood attempts to merge contemporary popular culture with older genre formats. Although they seldom work, the results often entertain me. A reworking of a Gershwin musical, the film offers things to enjoy while cringing at all of the awkwardness. The blend of Gershwin songs with rock’n’roll, Louis Armstrong, and Liberace is strange; and the corny script feels completely outdated. On the positive side, the lighting and set design is vibrant, and a musical number in the middle of the film is staged beautifully. That number, though, would fit better in a 1950s musical.

    Watching this at the beginning of 2022, I was thinking about how the 1960s are now 60 years ago. WHEN THE BOYS MEET THE GIRLS was almost a relic when it came out, and it can seem like a weird fever dream today. I just connect with these kind of fever dreams.

    PLAY GIRL (1940) – An amusing film about an experienced gold-digging woman who finds a recruit to pass on the skills of manipulating rich men to. The only problem with the young lady is that she has too much of a conscience. Very much a “women’s picture” of the period, there is much to enjoy in the humor and performances. Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West, has a role as a cynical servant.

    DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS (2019) on Prime – A documentary that explores the troubled relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. While focusing on the illicit charcoal trade, the doc has a wider theme about the difficulty of managing a border that demarcates wide disparities in resources and opportunity. These kinds of issues are very prevalent in the news here in the United States.

  6. These Fists Break Bricks: How Kung Fu Movies Swept America and Changed the World (oversized book 2022 by Poggiali and Hendrix)

    Whats this? A book report on F This Movie Weekend Thread!? Before you have the class bully give me a "swirley" for reminding the teacher that its quiz day..hear me out. If you are an action fan of martial arts movies and have ANY interest in learning about its history, i highly suggest this book. It just dropped this week and i cant put it down. For starters its a perfect breezy collection of photos, advertisements, and more covering the history of martial arts movies. Super easy to flip thru and enjoy. However..moreso..its filled with fascinating histories and stories of the evolution of martial arts cinema. Its a "just right" amount of detail..nothing crazy dense and borning..nor too light...its just right. As one who's had a long standing love of kung fu flicks ive owned a fair amount of books on the subject and this one looks to be amongst the best. Im learning something new and interesting with every page turn. Oh, and boy howdy is my "I Gotta Find This Movie" list growing.



  7. My top 10 of 2021:

    1. The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic (Finland)
    2. The Last Duel
    3. Pig
    4. Dune
    5. Zola
    6. Spider-Man: No Way Home
    7. The Matrix Resurrections
    8. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (Japan)
    9. Psycho Goreman
    10. New York Ninja

    Honorable mentions: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, Benedetta (France), The Girl and the Spider (Switzerland), I'm Your Man (Germany), The Mitchells vs the Machines, The Pink Cloud (Brazil), Pleasure (Sweden), The Power of the Dog, A Quiet Place Part 2, Sound of Violence, Titane (France)

    And my favorite pre-2000 movies I saw for the first time this year:

    1. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
    2. Forbidden Planet (1956)
    3. Nosferatu (1922)
    4. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
    5. A New Leaf (1971)
    6. Woodstock (1970)
    7. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
    8. The Lion in Winter (1968)
    9. Fantastic Planet (1973)
    10. The Court Jester (1955)

  8. My top movies 2021.

    1. Wrath of Man
    2. NTTD
    3. Old Henry
    4. Malignant
    5. The Last Duel
    6. Nobody
    7. CODA
    8. Riders of Justice
    9. Deliver Us from Evil (2020 Korea film that was released in the US in 2021)
    10. The Power of the Dog

    My worst movies 2021.

    1. The Woman in the Window
    2. Wrong Turn
    3. Old
    4. Coming 2 America
    5. The Matrix Resurrections
    6. Reminiscence
    7. Infinite
    8. Spiral
    9. The Ice Road
    10. Halloween Kills - Evil dies tonight!

  9. PHENOM lists Mikko and Big definitely capture some of my favs AND provide great suggestions for titles to seek out! Woot!!!!

  10. I struggled to put together any kind of definitive list of the best new-to-me watches in 2021. The best that I came up with is a list of the 10 most memorable or representative films of my movie year. The list is not in any particular order and does not necessarily reflect quality.

    1. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978): Definitely one of the most satisfying watches of Junesploitation and for the whole year. One can argue about whether the 1956 original or this adaptation is the better film. As for me, I was really taken with the bigger scope of this version.

    2. NO WAY OUT (1950): The great Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark star in a drama about a white criminal (Widmark) who blames a black doctor (Poitier) for the death of his brother. The tension is ramped up as campaign of hate is launched against the doctor. This is probably the only film I felt I had to see again right away to take everything in.

    3. TALES OF TERROR (1962): Roger Corman’s Poe anthology is a gem of a horror film. It helps when Richard Matheson writes the script. The best part is undoubtedly the second story, which features Vincent Price as a lecherous wine taster.

    4. FACE/OFF (1997): As soon the film begins, you know that a fun time is going to be had. Somehow John Woo was able to make the absurd plot gel together.

    5. TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (1985): William Peterson is a rogue Secret Service agent on the hunt for Willem Dafoe’s cunning counterfeiter on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles. To the benefit of the film, William Friedkin made the city a major character. With a car chase, gunfights, and plenty of cop action, this is a complete thrill ride.

    1. Man, "No Way Out" sounds like a great premise for a solid movie. Will probably be on TV soon as part of a Sidney Poitier retrospective. 🥺😭 Will try and catch it. "Face/Off" and "To Live And Die In L.A." are entertaining as hell; it's fun watching Cage, Travolta and Dafoe enjoying being/playing charismatic bad guys.

  11. In honor of the passing of Peter Bogdanovich, I watched his first feature, TARGETS. It has been sitting on the DVR for probably two years, so this is an ideal time to get it. Interestingly, Bogdanovich was interviewed after the film was over.

    Targets is about a sniper who goes on a rampage in Los Angeles. The story was inspired by the Charles Whitman case in Texas in 1966. Added in is a subplot with Boris Karloff as an aging disillusioned horror actor who has a public appearance at a drive-in. It is a solid effort, which I would expect from a man who intensively studied movies and gained some practical experience working with Roger Corman. Bogdanovich even had a small part.

  12. Well, apparently i bought Nightmare Alley Criterion in a shopping spree a couple of weeks ago, not realizing it was the original movie from the Guillermo Del Toro remake that JB championed in the Underrated podcast episode. I bought it because of the cool cover and the interesting story, never seen the movie before.

  13. JM, you've sold me on Skater Girl! I am definitely going to seek that one out. Thanks for the rec!

    1. I'm just paying forward last year's double-bill of "Run" and "Buffaloed." :-D

  14. Well, Blogger still won't let me post the rest of my Top 10 list as I wrote it. This blows! :'(

    So, for the sake of completion, my No. 9 to No. 4 movies were...

    8.-LICORICE PIZZA (70mm)
    5.-OUR LADIES (U.K./Scotland)

    Sorry eveybody. Will try to post my complete list somewhere... sometime. Sucky start to 2022, but I'll live. :-P

    1. Hazaa...thanks for the rest of list! Great to see the Spidey 3D love @ #4 and Wrath of Man at 6. I cant wait to catch up and see other movies like Licorice and Benedetta. Great work sir!

    2. Thanks, Mashke. :-) Complements like yours are the reason I get up in the morning and go to work... NOT! :-P