September 2022 In Review

Another month has passed us by, and with it comes a bizarre mixture of films I watched. So, without further ado, let's see what films I watched this past September.

DC League of Super-Pets (2022) -  2/5 - I shouldn't be surprised that DC wished to appeal to younger audiences with The Secret Life of Super-Pets, yet I'm quite shocked the end result is so forgettable. From the mismatched voice-cast to some of the awkward designs (Batman in particular), this is a by-the-numbers film focused on repeating the same tired jokes instead of delivering a product that sticks in the mind. References to other superhero properties isn't a substitute for fun, thank you very much. What's most damning is how this product doesn't inspire strong feelings either way, it just exists to be forgotten about.

Three Thousand Years Of Longing (2022) - 4.5/5 - In the wake of revitalising action cinema with the Oscar-winning masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller uses his clout to make his follow-up film an intimate two-hander between two lovelorn souls swapping stories. The result is absolutely exceptional, as George Miller uses the concept to examine the loneliness of these two souls unlucky in love who share their past woes in a hotel room, while their stories whisk audiences away in ways which celebrate the power of storytelling. One of the years best directed films set to a brilliant score from Junkie XL, phenomenally acted by Elba and Swinton. I sincerely hope Miller's future holds more of these smaller projects for him to work on.

7ft, Hairy and Handsome (2022) - 3.5/5 - An effective reimagining of the monstrous other into a story about self-confidence.

Beast (2022) - 3/5 - Idris Elba takes his two daughters to a game reserve in South Africa, in an effort to show the kids where their mother came from while grappling with their grief. Their holiday becomes a fight for survival when a rampaging lion stalks them, the lone survivor after poachers massacred his pack. This mirroring of grief is fascinating in this fun time, delivering tense moments while utilizing long takes and CGI effectively. The story feels a bit dragged out, and the eldest daughter seems to exist to deliver exposition and make questionable decisions. A fun way to pass the time.

The Simpsons: When Billie Met Lisa (2022) - 1.5/5 - The Simpsons once again flits from Disney+ advertisement back to a showcase for whatever guest star agreed to appear this time around. It's Billie Eilish's turn to be part of this institution during this most soulless part of its lifecycle.

Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas,
and Best film rewatched: Scream (1996)

The Simpsons: Welcome To The Club (2022) - 0.5/5 - Ever since Disney got the rights to The Simpsons, the yellow family have been used primarily as marketing tools to sell franchises for the Mouse. That's once more true, as Disney villains sing to Lisa about why their role is cool before the short ends without reaching any semblance of a conclusion. The priority seemed to be getting Tom Hiddleston back to make empty complaints about being used for marketing. Another cynical, soulless waste of time.

Cats (2019) [rewatch] - 1/5 - My brothers and I often watch infamous movies together, so I made sure they got to experience whatever the hell this is. I still don't know what jellicle means, I'm still shocked this film's all introductions before deciding it must reach a haphazard conclusion, and I'm still baffled such a high profile film exists as this.

Her Way (2022) - 3.5/5 - An affecting tale about the lengths a parent will take to give their child a better life.

Everybody Dies By The End (2022) - 3/5 - A film that comes alive when it's meta or grisly, while less stable when trying to blend the tonal differences.

The Oak (1992) - 3.5/5 - After the death of her father, Nela leaves Bucharest to avoid becoming a political police officer like her sister. She ends up in a little town, where she meets surgeon Mitica, who approaches everything with laughter. What unfolds is a darkly comedic satire where the story flits from one absurdist plot-point to another, as elements which could be significant to any other film are just another parts of this life. It felt a bit too disorganized for me, although the central performances of Maia Morgenstern and Răzvan Vasilescu were excellent, in this film which regularly left me laughing and gobsmacked by the horror.

Censor (2021) - 4/5 - Through an unnostalgic lens of the video nasties era, Prano Bailey-Bond delivers an entrancing tale of trauma which comes alive in chilling ways. Niamh Algar delivers an exceptional performance, anchoring the proceedings as this story goes from low-key elements to a more grandiose finale depicting the fracturing mind so vividly.

Best film watched for the first time:
Nosferatu (1922)

Deerskin (2020) - 4/5 - Quentin Dupieux delivers another strange ride anchored in human emotion. A divorcee deals with a mid-life crisis by obsessing over a deerskin jacket, and subsequently trying to make himself the only person that can wear a jacket. Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel are an exceptional pairing for this absurdist dark-comedy, which constantly kept me engaged without outstaying its welcome.

Child's Play (1988) [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - Seeing a Chucky film on the big-screen was a blast, particularly when the audience were so wonderfully receptive to how funny the film could be. Brad Douriff is having such a blast as the gleefully murderous doll, and little Alex Vincent is so adorable as the child caught in the middle of this horrific scenario.

Cosmic Sin (2021) - 1/5 - For a film which only lasts 88-minutes, this felt far longer than that. To prevent an interstellar war between humanity and an alien race, an array of thinly-sketched characters attempt to launch a preemptive strike. What you have is a cheap-looking space war film where the various worlds look set next-door to each-other. For a film which involves zombies, space WMDs, and super-suits, it's far more dull than it should be.

Speak No Evil (2022) - 4.5/5 - An unforgiving tale which interrogates social niceties.

Go West (1925) - 3.5/5 - In an effort to find a job, Friendless finds himself on a ranch where he befriends a cow named Brown-Eyes. It's through that pairing viewers find the films heart, as the bond between old stoneface and the adorable bovine is conveyed by the winning pair on-screen. There are fun elements to the film, even if the stunts feel away from Keaton's best, although the film peaks in the fun climax when Buster leads a herd of cattle through Los Angeles.

Nosferatu (1922) - 4.5/5 - As somebody who's been through various cinematic adaptations of Dracula recently, it's astounding that my favourite take on the source material has turned out to be this unauthorised adaptation. It's also mind-boggling to think this work was almost lost to the world, because it's an exemplary piece of work. F. W. Murnau crafts something unsettling by utilising all the tools in his arsenal, from the use of shadows to the creepy Count Orlok as given presence by Max Schreck. After 100 years and a Spongebob cameo, this film holds up stupendously well.

Biggest Disappointment:
The Scary of Sixty-First (2021)

Action Point (2018) - 1/5 - Throughout the year, I have worked my way through the Jackass films and reminded myself why that series works so well - because of the genuine camaraderie of friends pranking each other to giant laughs. Tim Kirkby's feature debut tries aping those films while misunderstanding what made the stunts work, as these stunts lack any bite or natural laughs when they're boxed within a ham-fisted narrative that tries pulling on the heartstrings to lacklustre effect. It doesn't help that Johnny Knoxville and Chris Pontius aren't the strongest actors, or how a framing device involving Knoxville's character recounting this story to his granddaughter feels so forced, leaving this to feel like a sad feature-length exercise.

Vampyr (1932) - 4/5 - What an exceptional film from director Carl Theodor Dreyer. A traveller arrives in the village of Courtempierre to find it's under a vampire's curse. The film is brimming with atmosphere amidst dreamlike visuals, while exquisitely using shadows to tremendous effect. My only issue was how much reading there was, due to a book constantly reappearing on-screen to deliver exposition to viewers. Outside of that, this was a phenomenal work that I can't wait to revisit.

Braindead (1992) [rewatch] - 5/5 - I spent my morning revisiting this gleefully gruesome delight from Peter Jackson. The gore manages to have cartoonish stylings while being viscerally unflinching, working exceptionally around the emotional centre of a son growing outside of his controlling parents clutches. A highlight of 1992 cinema.

The Scary of Sixty-First (2021) - 1.5/5 - A provocative attempt at true-crime that's more nonsensical than shocking.

The Leech (2022) [rewatch] - 5/5 - A balance of a holiday-set comedy with the intensity of a priests growing frustrations with the world, for an engrossing festive alternative.

The Woman King (2022) - 4/5 - What Gina Prince-Bythewood has crafted is a thrilling historical epic which plays like an action-orientated crowd-pleaser, while never forgetting its roots within the brutalities of war. This is an excellent showcase from the cast, with Lashana Lynch stealing every scene she's in while Thuso Mbedu is a real star in the making. An excellent showcase for those in front of and behind the camera.

Biggest Surprise:
A Life on the Farm (2022)

Deadstream (2022) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - An effective blend of pulse-pounding terrors and laugh-out-loud comedy, this is perfect spooky viewing.

Dead Snow (2009) - 3/5 - Director Tommy Wirkola begins his film in a rather bog-standard way, as familiar archetypes lacking characterization find themselves on holiday only to be caught in the middle of an apparent slasher set-up. Once the Nazi-zombies make their appearance, the fun truly begins as the characters fight to survive in grisly, pulse-pounding fashion. An entertaining film, and I'm really excited to watch the sequel.

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (2013) - 2.5/5 - There's some excellent pranks on show here, particularly when the unsuspecting audience reacting is so well done. Sadly, they feel trapped within a subpar narrative trying to link all of these pranks together, and doing a lacklustre job at trying to get audiences invested in the characters journey. Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Niccol are a terrific pairing, but they would've still worked in short bursts.

Scream (1996) [rewatch] - 5/5 - I spent my Friday night watching Wes Craven's masterpiece on the big screen. To hear Roger L Jackson's dulcet tones, see Neve Campbell kill it as Sidney Prescott, and feel the intensity of that opening sequence in that environment was an utter joy.

A League Of Their Own (1992) - 4/5 - What an enjoyable flick from Penny Marshall. An assortment of excellent performers breathe life into their roles so wonderfully, with Tom Hanks being a particular highlight in a role which feels miles away from his recognisable persona. Central to this comedy-drama is the sisterly relationship, the films emotional core which is effortlessly conveyed by the terrific pairing of Geena Davis and Lori Petty. There may be no crying in Baseball, but there wasn't a dry eye from me during that ending.

Split Second (1992) - 2/5 - What a promising set-up this film has. In a flooded London that's perpetually in darkness, an off-the-leash Rutger Hauer hunts a serial-killing monster that's eating the hearts of its victims. There's a bombast charm here, although the end result is largely unremarkable.

Worst film of the month:
The Simpsons: Welcome to the Club (2022)

A Life On The Farm (2022) - 4/5 - A heartfelt look at a man that wanted to share his surreal art with the world.

The Harbinger (2022) - 4/5 - A tale about the impact people leave on others lives told through a spine-chilling curse.

Don't Worry Darling (2022) - 3/5 - For her second directorial feature, Olivia Wilde sets her sights higher with a larger-scale premise than Booksmart. Within a peaceful community, a housewife begins worrying the company her husband works for is hiding something. The film is a terrific showcase for Wilde's direction, blending the rose-tinted view of 50's America with more trippy elements which are a visual delight, particularly when paired with the cinematography and the excellent score. What works less is the undercooked screenplay, taking narrative swings which feels out of reach with working, while Gemma Chan's character felt missing vital scenes for her character. Florence Pugh and Chris Pine are excellent in their roles, while Harry Styles feels out of place in his role. It's an overlong Black Mirror episode about women under men's control, but I wonder what it has to add to the conversation.

Smile (2022) - 4/5 - For his feature directorial debut, Parker Finn has crafted a truly unsettling delight. Through the lens of a curse in the vein of The Ring or It Follows, this film explores trauma and the way it can affect peoples lives, while also delivering well-executed scares. Led by a tremendous performance by Sosie Bacon, aided by an ever-reliable Kyle Gallner, this is a great horror flick that may leave you grinning.

Encino Man (1992) - 2/5 - Two high school misfits discover a frozen caveman buried in their back garden, so decide to help him fit in to 90s California and hopefully become more popular as a result. Sean Astin feels miscast as Dave, an entitled teen who believes he deserves the girl he's loved since childhood, to the point he carries a photo of them as naked kids. Pauly Shore plays his best friend Stoney, and his shtick quickly gets irritating. Thank goodness for the magnetic Brendan Fraser, who puts so much charisma into the role of Link that makes it crystal clear why so many high-schoolers are enamored with him throughout this lacklustre comedy. If you want to see Fraser play a himbo lost in a world he doesn't understand, than you're better off watching George of the Jungle.

Best film of the month: Scream (1996)
Best film seen in cinemas: Scream (1996)
Best film watched for the first time: Nosferatu (1922)
Best film rewatched: Scream (1996)
Biggest Disappointment: The Scary of Sixty-First (2021)
Biggest Surprise: A Life on the Farm (2022)
Worst film of the month: The Simpsons: Welcome to the Club (2022)

Number of films watched: 34