by Anthony King
I haven't word-vomited for over a month in this column. I feel the pressure building. I recorded a podcast last night where I realized I contradicted myself on prior attitudes and beliefs I stood by in the recent past. Rather than backtrack and dig myself a grave by needlessly defending said backtrack, I owned up to the fact that I AM A MERE HUMAN BEING. With feelings and everything! I won't apologize for erasing every Letterboxd rating I ever gave while declaring “Rating art is unethical!” and then less than a year later going back to re-rate every movie I've logged. This is the introductory paragraph, though. I should save these thoughts for later on. Let's start with what I've been watching.
I enjoyed a trio of new horrors last weekend. I'll start with Chris McKay's Renfield, available on Peacock. When I saw the first trailer I was incredibly excited for it. When mixed reactions started pouring in, though, my enthusiasm waned. I should know better that the opinions of others shouldn't influence me (more on that later) because I had a blast with Renfield. Nicholas Hoult is a perfect example of a character actor perfectly suited to lead his own movies. Ben Schwartz, who I love, was hysterical yet made his character so easy to hate. My biggest gripe is with Awkwafina, who I can't stand, and it always feels like she's trying too hard to be funny. And here's hoping we get at least a dozen more performances from Cage as Dracula, who seems to be perfectly suited for this role.Vampire in Brooklyn (1995). To start, this movie is much better than its 2.4 average on Letterboxd leads you to believe. Eddie Murphy is in fine form as Maximillian, the titular vampire. I doubled this with Renfield which made for a spectacular New York-set vampiric police procedural double feature. With a cast that includes Angela Bassett, Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison, and John Witherspoon, this is a very solid mid-tier entry from Wes that deserves way more love than it's gotten in the past.
Now onto the topic at hand. After ruminating for a few days on how much of an enigma the human brain really is, I laid in bed last night thinking about how much of a mess my brain is when it comes to movies (and pop culture in general). In my capricious teenage years I embraced the punk rock ethos of going against anything and everything authoritarian and/or popular. For better or worse, that individualistic spirit has stuck with me into my 40s. Now, well aware of this sort of ideology, I sometimes pose (scream) the question to myself: WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS? When it came to music I always had to hate the most popular song/artist at the time. In 2002 Avril Lavigne released “Complicated.” Outwardly I expressed my disdain for this pop singer claiming to be punk rock. “Death to all posers!” I decried. Inwardly I was singing my heart out because goddamnit “Complicated” is such a great and catchy pop tune. I have no shame in my love for Avril now, and next time we see each other, Adam, we'll drive around and sing “Complicated” as loud as we can with the windows down.Asteroid City? Sure, but not until people stop talking about it. I was so excited for Barbie and Oppenheimer, but because we're constantly online these days, I feel so oversaturated with marketing and word of mouth for these films I have lost all interest in seeing them. Why am I like this?
Until next week, hopefully I can get out of my head for a bit.