• Patton Oswalt: We All Scream

    Patton Oswalt: We All Scream

    ★★

    A few months before Oswalt taped this special, I took a seat at the Largo - comedy theater of legends! - and watched him work out some of the new material. The lengthy anecdotes about being a mess during the covid-19 lockdown (which he adorably keeps calling "the shutdown") killed. I felt the air get sucked out of the room, in a good way, when Oswalt described the explosive bowel movement inflicted upon him by hemorrhoid surgery.

    That joke makes…

  • Pearl

    Pearl

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Saw this as a double feature with "X," which I'd recommend if you have any interest in either movie. West is a good re-mixer of old film styles, and the inspiration here is painted Douglas Sirk imagery, which fades away as the familiar Origin of a Psychopath narrative gets going.

    Goth is tremendous fun in both films, starting off hammy here and peeling away the cute stuff until just narcissism is left. I've seen some fans focusing on her final…

  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

    She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

    [UPDATE: Leaving up my review of the first half of the season; episode five was even worse. A whole b-plot about finding She-Hulk a suit that will stretch with her when that's never really been established as a problem to fix, apart from one joke about her ruining her suit to fight Titania. It stinks!]

    Four episodes in, reserve the right to change this when the series ends. But this is a real dog so far, and it didn’t need…

  • Christmas Decay

    Christmas Decay

    Pro: You become a successful director. Con: Your pointless old stuff lives online forever, for weird completists who ask “wonder if that’s on Vimeo.”

  • Year of the Dragon

    Year of the Dragon

    ★★★½

    No argument ends without a murder or a fist flight; no flirtation ends without a sex scene. When a bullet connects, you’re either getting a deathbed scene or an impossible explosion. Is there any problem that can’t be solved by two men running at each other on a dark bridge, shooting from the hip? Michael Cimino says “hell no.” 

    Saw this as part of the Criterion batch of Unfortunate Orientalism movies, and it hits some real dingers, from stiffer-than-granite Tracy Tzu saying she was raped by “three Chinese boys” to Johnny Tai traveling by camel with the severed head of the rival trafficker. Dumb, but good.

  • Taking on the Kennedys

    Taking on the Kennedys

    ★★★★

    Pretty fun, a little hidebound by the PBS documentary format and the narration that dramatically explains everything you see. It takes sides immediately, introducing Kevin Vigilante as an impeccably credentialed and self-made man and Patrick Kennedy as... well, Patrick Kennedy, the midwit Zeppo of a great Democratic dynasty.

    Smartly, it doesn't overplay anything. Kennedy is schmucky but likeable, as Vigilante admits. Vigilante doesn't go negative until Kennedy forces his hand by launching a strange attack ad. (Even when Vigilante is…

  • Prey

    Prey

    ★★★

    Hype cycle spun out of control on this one, but the second half is immaculate, 40 solid minutes of people chipping away at the predator as it murders them in amusing ways. Cornball stuff mostly worked for me, like establishing early on that Amber Midthunder can slide like Mega Man, a skill that comes in handy in the Northern Plains. The real animal work is so good that the CGI scenes rip you right out of it — but only…

  • Vivarium

    Vivarium

    ★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    You heard the movie: Don't adopt.

    [Actual review] I don't know if the studio ordered it or Finnegan did it himself, but the whole thing is undone by the nature doc at the start of the movie. We're are now paste-eating brain-dead kids, slowly told that we are about to watch a film wherein a humanoid cuckoo traps a couple in a home and forces them to raise another humanoid cuckoo.

    Sure enough! Eisenberg and Poots, both throwing their weight…

  • The Comedians of Comedy: Live at The Troubadour

    The Comedians of Comedy: Live at The Troubadour

    ★★★

    A terrific document of the moment before the "Mr. Show" diaspora truly took over; Patton Oswalt riffing on George Lucas's prequels scratched an itch that 10,000 YouTube channels have scratched into oblivion.

    I said the DOCUMENT was terrific; the comedy can be a little ropey. The Silverman/Agee "lol poop" material doesn't work, Dana Gould tries so hard that you want to comfort him, and Jasper Redd, who 15 years later is the most obscure comic here, makes no impression at…

  • Wait for Your Laugh

    Wait for Your Laugh

    ★★★★

    Filled a cultural blind spot for me, and did so splendidly. Wise's style is a combination of narration (a little too formal), interviews (judicious, well-chosen), archival footage, and "Drunk History"-style re-enactment where we see actors and occasionally hear Rose Marie's voice coming from their months. So much better and more artful than the "Remember this? Huh? Remember this?" nostalgia-docs clogging up Netflix. And Rose Marie herself, filmed in her 90s and not far from death, tells great stories with knockout…

  • Morbius

    Morbius

    Not great.

  • Nope

    Nope

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    "It didn't move like a ship." The best part of "Nope" is probably that line, which introduces a brand new kind of movie monster and reveals the mystery we walked in on. I loved the big idea here, both for how it turns everything into a story about exploitation and how it fucks with us for paying attention to the trailer. We are really watching a blockbuster about the Purple People-Eater.

    Other than that, less of this worked for me…