Films Of 2022

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

 

Armageddon Time
BB.5 (James Gray, USA/Brazil) A Jewish boy coming of age in New York in the dawn of Reagan’s America exasperates his parents and teachers with his uncontainable personality, then as his life changes grows apart from a less fortunate schoolmate. Gray dips into his own memories of childhood for what means to be a moody, understated kunstlerroman, but the situations that he treats thoughtfully he doesn’t treat insightfully, resulting in Squid and the Whale without the poignancy and Crimes And Misdemeanors without the wisdom. Cannes: In Competition. Trailer

EO
BBB.5 (Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Italy) A sweet and innocent donkey experiences a circus, working in stables, a donkey farm and an aristocratic villa in this picaresque modern Au Hasard Balthasar. It’s a sensually vibrant experience that sometimes threatens to overpower its practical content with too much aesthetic splendor, but at its heart is a simple tale of a loveable creature who is too gentle and undemanding for a world that is primarily concerned with consumption. Cannes: Jury Prize. TIFF: 2022. Trailer

Stars At Noon
B.5 (Claire Denis, France/Panama/USA)  A precariously credible journalist turns tricks to get by in Nicaragua while desperately trying to find a way out, then isolates herself from her few sympathetic contacts when she begins an erotically charged affair with a mysterious British oil executive.  Obscure plotting is usually the strength of Denis’ meditative cinema, but the sexy romance at the centre of this story would be so much more potent if the surrounding characters and situations weren’t all such vague political thriller stereotypes.  Cannes: Grand Prize. Trailer

Triangle Of Sadness
BBBB (Ruben Ostlund, Sweden/France/United Kingdom/Germany/Turkey/Greece) Two professional models go on a luxury cruise that results in a handful of survivors flipping around ideas of power on a desert island. Thematically, Östlund isn’t presenting us with anything that hasn’t been explored in cinema before, but social morality isn’t just a lie in his imagination, it’s a very funny joke, and the humour with which he displays his mastery with presenting uncanny discomfort is performed by a letter-perfect cast and scenes of imminent disaster that always feel simultaneously controlled and spontaneous. Cannes: Palme D’Or. TIFF: 2022. Trailer

 

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

 

Bros
BBB (Nicholas Stoller, USA) A museum curator struggles to find love in the Big Apple, frustrated by a new relationship with a handsome wealth manager that is constantly being undone by their struggles with their inner homophobia. While this film makes almost as many wrong steps as it makes right ones, there’s no denying that its position as a mainstream Hollywood film with this subject matter and cast is significant, but there’s also no forgiving the fact that it is a comedy that is just not that funny.  TIFF: 2022. Trailer

The Menu
BBB (Mark Mylod, USA) A high-end restaurant located on an isolated island hosts a collection of exclusive guests, and what begins as a very special multi-course meal soon turns out to have a very dark purpose. Ralph Fiennes performs his hosting duties with diabolical glee as he drops his fellow cast members into a concept worthy of Shirley Jackson, but his secrets are revealed too early and what started out as stylish fun becomes overburdened by a heavy concept with very few memorable surprises. TIFF: 2022. Trailer

 

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

 

The Banshees of Inisherin
BBBB (Martin McDonagh, Ireland/United Kingdom/USA) A farmer in a peaceful village in the early 1920s is distraught when his best friend no longer wants to be mates, willing to go to extreme, gruesome lengths to prove his determination to make a clean break. Colin Farrell steals hearts with one of his best performances yet, reacting with such heartbreaking vulnerability to the emotional assaults being made on him and subtly losing his tenderness with each blow, until he too agrees with the rest of the cynical world’s notion that life can only be lived properly by those who expect nothing good from it (and it’s the adorable miniature donkey who will suffer most for this). Venice: Best Actor (Farrell), Best Screenplay. TIFF: 2022. Trailer

Tár
BBBBB (Todd Field, USA) A world-famous orchestral conductor has the sum of her edgiest parts catch up with her formidable career when a conflict of her past resurfaces to devastating effect. Field’s cool colours and calm but effectively punctuated soundtrack are the deceptive mask for the sense of dread humming throughout the core of his masterpiece, boldly condemning the relish with which we cancel those more successful than us but designing a three-dimensional protagonist who isn’t a pure victim either, caught in the grey area between her perfectionist ego and her passionate drive for perfection. Venice: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett). TIFF: 2022. Trailer

 

THE REST, BY RATING

BBBBB

Lightyear
(Angus MacLane, USA) The Buzz Lightyear action figure that Andy played with in Toy Story was the merchandise tie-in for this film about a space ranger who strands his entire crew on a hostile foreign planet and lets life pass him by as he obsesses over fixing an error that only he holds himself accountable for. The storyline is more than a bit too dark and heavy for kids, the toys that Andy played with seemed like they were from Destination Moon and not First Man, but one exciting nick of time escape follows another in this endlessly creative, perpetually surprising film. Trailer

 

BBBB

The Batman
(Matt Reeves, USA) The Caped Crusader is pulled into a classic whodunit when the murder of a mayoral candidate leads down a rabbit hole of political secrets and shady dealings, threatening to undermine a recent drug bust that promised bright things for the city’s future.  The greatest gift of this exciting film is its openly embracing the conventions of film noir, a logical choice given that the world of Batman has always had the vibe of classic detective fiction (and a natural one for a film made by Warner Bros., who are responsible for some of the most iconic noirs in film history), but where it fails is indulging in a three-hour running time that is not the least bit justified. Trailer

Dead Ringer
(Dave Dyment, Canada) Toronto companion to Los Angeles Plays Itself, in which director Dave Dyment combs through footage of the many times that the Canadian city has performed as another location and rarely as itself. Some rearrangement of topics could clean things up a bit in the third act, there’s a point at which the explorations of landmarks feels a tad repetitive, and Dyment doesn’t fully justify giving more attention to Casa Loma than he does the rest of the piece, but the footage is meticulously researched and the overall feeling is a sense of pleasurable enrichment.

Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris
(Anthony Fabian, Hungary/United Kingdom/Canada/France/USA/Belgium) A post-war charwoman decides to follows a series of signs and omens to Paris, where she uses her life savings to buy a dress from Christian Dior. The attempt to whittle a bigger plot (based on the first of Paul Gallico’s novels about Mrs. ‘arris, previously adapted as a television movie with Angela Lansbury in 1992) into a smaller film narrative that can’t fully contain it doesn’t always work, but the rewards are many by the time you reach the film’s fairy tale ending, and somehow this delightfully unself-conscious woman, far away from our time and living an experience that doesn’t really exist anymore, becomes someone personal and cherishable for any of us who ever felt invisible and dreamed of finally being seen. Trailer

The Northman
(Robert Eggers, USA) After a Nordic king is slain and his wife taken by his treacherous brother, the prince of the realm grows up vowing vengeance for both, but after being raised by Vikings and finally finding his way to his father’s killer, he finds things are different than he assumed.  Based on the same legend that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this is an exciting, bloody and wholly engaging work of violence and vengeance enriched by vibrant cultural detail and intelligent but smartly restrained investigations into the dark recesses of the human soul, in which morality is relative whether we want to believe it or not.   Trailer

Rogue Agent
(Declan Lawn, Adam Patterson, United Kingdom/Germany/USA) A high-powered London solicitor falls in love with a handsome car salesman but, in getting to know him, discovers that he’s a spy for the British government rooting out IRA spies…or is he? What it doesn’t have in factual detail this film more than makes up for in captivating entertainment, stylishly photographed, sharply directed and often quite terrifying, with very sexy chemistry between Gemma Arterton and James Norton, who cons the audience just as easily as he does the people in the film. Trailer

Thor: Love And Thunder
(Taika Waititi, Australia/USA) Fourth Thor adventure has the Norse god save the world from a bitter religious zealot who is out to kill all the gods of the universe. The kitschy retro eighties style that seeks to bring in the aesthetics of WWF entertainment and He-Man cartoons is offset nicely by the darker, more menacing moments involving the genuinely scary villain, a ton of fun to watch thanks mainly to a mercifully uncomplicated plot and a perfect balancing of its elements.  Trailer

Top Gun: Maverick
(Joseph Kosinski, USA) “Maverick” Pete Mitchell is sent back to the Top Gun Academy in San Diego to help with an exceptionally dangerous mission that only his expertise in badassery can pull off successfully: an unnamed enemy country (whose location and populace is never seen, in an effort to make sure no film market on the planet will be inspired to boycott) is storing a dangerous payload of uranium and it needs to be destroyed For All Mankind, but it’s stored at the base of a mountain valley that cannot be easily accessed without bomber pilots exposing themselves to certain fatality.   There is the concern that this will be little more than just a retread of everything that made the original movie popular, but it delivers on all counts and is a magnificent use of both its technology, which has vastly improved in the time between chapters, and its movie star charisma, the likes of which has become far too tragically rare since Cruise deservedly became the phenomenon that he still is today. Trailer

 

BBB.5

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
BBB.5  (Ryan Coogler, USA)  With T’Challa taken by a mysterious illness and Wakanda vulnerable to the greed of global empires wanting vibranium for their own purposes, Queen Ramonda and Princess Shuri look to bolster their country’s security against invasion before a terrifying new superpower emerges from the sea and threatens all life on the surface.  While possessing the same sneakily conservative plot as the first one (suffering centuries of oppression? No need to be a dick about it!) this one goes further than its predecessor with a richer array of characters, narrative threads and imaginative sequences, resplendent with beautiful images and bolstered by a female-dominated cast of actors giving superb performances.
Trailer

Bullet Train
(David Leitch, Japan/USA) The titular vehicle sets off from Tokyo and becomes the setting for an action-packed And Then There Were None scenario, in which a plucky secret agent hired to retrieve a mysterious briefcase steps into a violent mess of conflicting goals. Shot in a vibrant, almost artificial look that is somewhere between Tokyo Drifter, anime and a young child’s video game, this enjoyable bloodfest is enlivened by a rich assortment of actors bringing as much glamour as they do charisma to their performances, though it loses some of its panache in its overextended final third. Trailer

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
(Sam Raimi, USA) Stephen Strange teams up with a teen multiverse traveler to escape a monster who wishes to take her powers from her, and learns that the villain is an old colleague who is trying to create an alternate reality to heal the wounds of the past.  Things move along swiftly and none of the sequences designed to show off the tech department’s magnificent computer skills overstay their welcome, it’s a fun diversion that is boosted by a high calibre cast (the best of them Elizabeth Olsen, who really deserves far better roles than just as a Marvel princess), but the gender binary breaks its characters down to rational, responsible men and emotionally overwhelmed and unsure women in ways that even David Mamet would find simplistic and offputting. Trailer

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande
(Sophie Hyde, United Kingdom/USA) A widowed schoolteacher hires a sex worker to experience her first ever orgasm, and in the process of multiple sessions develops a relationship that threatens to cross the line of professional propriety. Screenwriter Katy Brand’s idea of sex work is on par with Pretty Woman, but the dialogue is intelligent and Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack do superb work in the leads. Trailer

Kimi
(Steven Soderbergh, USA) An agoraphobic tech support operator for an Alexa-like app called Kimi discovers the sound of a distressed woman hidden on a track she is processing, bringing danger to herself when she decides to investigate its origins.   A few too many plot turns are contrived conveniences in David Koepp’s slick screenplay, it happens often with his work that the clockwork precision of pieces that fit together too neatly chokes the spontaneity out of the experience, but Soderbergh’s zesty visuals, which include some gorgeous electronic devices heightened by neon-pipe lighting, and the genuine feeling of amped-up paranoia that the film gives into in its final act, make it a juicy, if not eternally memorable, good time.  Trailer

See How They Run
(Tom George, USA) A murder during a performance of Agatha Christie’s The Mouse Trap brings a grizzled Inspector and an overly excited Constable on to the case of a killer in London’s 1950s theatre scene. Light as a feather and perhaps a bit undernourished in the narrative department, this is a thorough charmer that, while not actually an Agatha Christie adaptation, sticks to the sacred tenets of whodunits while sending them up, and as a result is the most faithful interpretation of the famed author in many a year. Trailer

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent
(Tom Gormican, USA) Playing a fictional version of himself, Nicolas Cage is on the decline and isn’t handling it well, but a lucrative gig falls into his lap when a mysterious tycoon invites him to party with him in Mallorca, which turns out to be a dangerous situation involving an internationally reviled arms dealer.  It lacks the philosophical element that made JCVD a much better film in a similar vein, and it has to be said that the title is truly terrible, but there’s great pleasure in watching this film’s subject effortlessly navigate the pace of a cheeky but never smug plot. Trailer

 

BBB

As They Made Us
(Mayim Bialik, USA) A divorced journalist struggles to raise her kids as a single mom while dealing with her increasingly difficult parents and the dark family past that has kept her brother at a distance. Dianna Agron is a little too careful and precise in her performance, but even at its clunkiest, it’s a film with a lot of wisdom and grace, and anyone who feels a connection to the situations presented will find themselves moved by it. Trailer

Barbarian
(Zach Cregger, USA) Two strangers accidentally book the same Airbnb property in a rough Detroit neighbourhood, having no idea that deep beneath its foundation is a dark and dangerous secret that hearkens back to horrors of the past. The slow and steady buildup is successful at engaging us in the plight of interesting and sympathetic characters, but the film tantalizes us with the possibilities of secrets that don’t end up being much more interesting than an X-Files episode. Trailer

Death On The Nile
(Kenneth Branagh, United Kingdom/USA) Hercule Poirot is invited to join aboard a wedding party aboard a luxury yacht on the Egyptian river, their idyll interrupted by the jealous ex-lover of the groom that ends in murder.   Branagh once again makes the mistake of thinking that the characters and their situations require deep psychological and emotional investigation, which is actually just an excuse to concentrate on his own performance, while the mathematical precision of Christie’s assemblage of clues and coincidences takes an unjustified back seat. Trailer

Downton Abbey: A New Era
(Simon Curtis, United Kingdom/USA) Lady Mary allows a film crew to shoot a talkie at Downton, while the rest of her family travel to the south of France to investigate the origins of an inheritance that Lady Violet has received from an old lover.  It’s a shame that Julian Fellowes could barely come up with more for his plotting than a reworking of elements of Gosford Park (Smith more or less repeats her own lines about the ignoble profession of filmmaking) with a liberal amount of stealing from Singin’ In The Rain, but this cash-cow sequel won’t turn off anyone who is heavily invested in the experience, another two-plus hours of tablecloth porn that is at least kept from ever being tacky or boring by the remarkably talented cast filling every single role. Trailer

Everything Everywhere All At Once
(Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, USA) The owner of a laundromat is on the verge of divorce from her husband and estrangement from her daugher is close to losing her business to a relentless tax when she learns that she is one of many versions of herself in a multiverse that needs her as its saviour.   A well-intentioned allegory meant to help us all lighten the mental weight of living in a world whose worrisome problems keep multiplying is treated to a wondrous concept that looks for every possible opportunity to expand on its every single detail, and as a result is far too conceptually heavy and takes up too much time explaining its rules and regulations, saved only by Yeoh’s underplaying her own multiverse of complex emotions. Trailer

Gold
(Anthony Hayes, Australia) Two men driving across a post-apocalyptic desert towards a career opportunity break down and discover a deposit of gold in the ground that, should they take it with them, could provide them endless riches, but one of them needs to remain in this harsh environment to protect their discovery while the other goes in search of equipment to extract and haul it.   Expertly photographed and often terrifying in its gruesomeness, this film is marred by a rather uncomplicated treatment of a painfully uncomplicated premise; without any irony to its treatise on obsessive ambition (they want to get rich in a world where there’s nothing left to buy, get it?) it’s easy to see the big twist at the end coming and, given that it takes place in a world that seems to have ended, it’s hard to really understand why we would be all that invested in seeing handsome hero Zac Efron through this ordeal in the first place. Trailer

Jurassic World: Dominion
(Colin Trevorrow, USA/Malta) In the time since the events of Fallen Kingdom, the prehistoric creatures have spread out over the earth and are causing no end of havoc, swarms of ridiculously large locusts are moving their way across the globe and food activist Ellie Sattler happens to notice that they’re not devouring the plants grown from seeds sold by a biotech company run by sniveling mad scientist and Barbasol can collector Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). By the third act, the film becomes another in a long line of reboots that spend their entire time recreating moments from the past simply for the sake of dimwitted nostalgia that no audience needs, as if I’ve spent thirty years with no other desire but to see Ellie reboot the park again or watch someone hold a flare in front of a dinosaur’s eyeball. Trailer

The Lost City
(Aaron Nee, Adam Nee, USA) The widow of an archaeologist who writes romance novels is kidnapped by a nutty billionaire who wants her help to find a rare and precious treasure, her only hope the efforts of the handsome but intellectually undernourished model who appears on the covers of her books.   It’s a shame that, as with many films of its time, so much of the green-screen photography looks artificial, the texture of being stranded in real places that made a film like Zemeckis’ classic Romancing The Stone so potent isn’t achieved here. Trailer

A Love Song
(Max Walker-Silverman, USA)  A woman waits alone at a campsite for a childhood flame to show up, her first attempt at reconnecting with an outside world that she walked away from after a tragedy in her past.  Dale Dickey takes advantage of a rare lead role and the location is breathtaking, but this miniature Nomadland is minimalism without any emotional complexity, and formalism without enigma.  Trailer

Men
(Alex Garland, United Kingdom) A traumatized woman rents a country cottage for a relaxing break and finds herself surrounded by suspicious characters that she believes are looking to do her harm. The Biblical imagery combined with Wicker Man-style folklore promises something radical and cool, and certainly the more tense sequences deliver twinges of a terrifying nightmare, but in the end what we have is little more than Midsommar was written by Charlie Kaufman, with some good-natured fun being poked at male fragility. Trailer

Nope
(Jordan Peele, USA/Canada/Japan) A family of movie horse trainers discover an otherworldly presence in the skies above their ranch that turns out to have a sinister relationship with the people down below. The visual effects veer between the spectacular (the alien object) and the somewhat undercooked (the chimp), but the elements that do work are all fascinating and fiery, particularly the unsettling combination of Spielbergian wonder with near-Human Centipede-level grotesquerie (of which I wish there was so much more). Trailer

The Outfit
(Graham Moore, USA) A bespoke tailor whose classy, elegant shop occupies an incongruous space on an otherwise rough Chicago street reveals a secret past when a gang war erupts in his backroom and endangers both him and his devoted assistant.  The plotting is so obsessively clever in Moore’s nifty puzzle that it rather overshoots the mark of perfection, things fit together so neatly that each time the plot twists it feels too convenient, as if it was engineered solely because the writers didn’t know how to get out of a tight spot. Trailer

Three Thousand Years of Longing
(George Miller, Australia/USA) A narratologist attending a conference in Istanbul buys a bottle that turns out to contain a genie who needs her help to be freed. Enlivened by terrific visual effects and two very strong actors in the lead roles, this one falls into an unfocused and confused romance about electromagnetic signals in its final third. Trailer

 

BB.5

The 355
(Simon Kinberg, USA/China) A CIA operative is sent to Paris and teams up with an international assortment of rival operatives to recover a doomsday device that is being sold on the black market.  One could handle the easily predictable script (it’s a movie rule as old as the hills, if the person doesn’t die on screen, they’re going to come back at the end) and the cringey Sisterhood dialogue (of which there is far too much, it’s all on the nose, and really embarrassing) if there was the slightest self-awareness in all of the performances, but Lupita Nyong’o is the only one who seems to get the escapist joke of this type of movie. Trailer

Ambulance
(Michael Bay, USA/Japan) Two brothers escape a botched bank robbery in an ambulance that they have taken hostage, going on a car chase across the city of Los Angeles with a paramedic and a cop in critical condition in the vehicle with them.  Glamorous cinematography and a game cast are a plus, but Bay’s insistence on high-stakes tension and rapid-fire editing in every scene eventually grows exhausting as the film reaches its overdue final act.  Trailer

Black Adam
(Jaume Collet-Serra, USA/Canada/New Zealand/Hungary) An ancient god is resurrected in a fictitious modern-day middle eastern country and brings an added layer of mayhem to a place already overrun with conflicting invaders. While it’s admirable that a superhero movie comes along once in a while that isn’t about a doomsday device, it’s a shame that a film with such beautiful production design and daringly dark themes has such an unimaginative script and some of the worst acting that the genre has ever seen (Noah Centineo in particular). Trailer

Elvis
(Baz Luhrmann, Australia/USA) Tom “The Colonel” Parker narrates the phenomenal legend of Elvis Presley through his own perspective, from the musician’s discovery to his tragic death at the age of 42. Having it told from the Colonel’s point of view hardly comes near an Amadeus for the modern era thanks to the fact that we never get to know Elvis as anything other than a two-dimensional tragic figure, he’s simply a victim and never a fully fleshed human being who makes unfortunate choices while in an unfortunate circumstance. Trailer

Fire Island
(Andrew Ahn, USA) A group of friends spend the summer in romantic entanglements in this modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice. Writer-star Joel Kim Booster has a high mountain to climb in making something worthy of previous Austen adaptations, and while his not coming up with another Clueless is easily forgiven, a movie with this many funny people (in three cases famous comedians) should be a hell of a lot funnier than the soft, easy watch we have here. Trailer

Jerry And Marge Go Large
(David Frankel, USA) A retired factory manager puts his genius-level command of numbers to use playing the lottery and winning consistently, bringing his whole town into a moneymaking corporation that helps revive a place devastated by economic recession until an ambitious Harvard student threatens their smooth ride. The mild conflicts of the plot and heavy fictionalization of traces of a true story make this breezy comedy little more than a Hallmark movie with a name cast, but Bryan Cranston never overplays his hand and Annette Bening’s infectious laugh at least make it painless. Trailer

Marry Me
(Kat Coiro, Japan/USA) A world-famous singer is abandoned at the altar during her combination wedding and concert and decides to marry a stranger in the audience instead.  It’s a valiant attempt to rescue the romantic comedy formula from the obscurity into which it has fallen, but the problem here is that the formula is formulaic and the couple don’t entirely make sense, both Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson as the plucky schoolteacher with whom she falls in love are appealing and admirable in their own way, but the Opposites Attract vibe we’re supposed to get from their unlikely pairing never quite ignites. Trailer

Paradise Highway
(Anna Gutto, Germany/USA) A long-haul trucker offers to help her brother out with a drug deal and ends up saving a young girl from being trafficked. Juliette Binoche isn’t always convincing in the lead, and the story’s issues take precedence over the storytelling, it’s a humorless sermon preaching to the converted and is weighed down by excessive earnestness. Trailer

Scream
(Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, USA) A number of dead bodies begin to pile up in the town of Woodsboro and a group of friends believe that someone out there is copycatting the original Stab.   A fun concept is watered down by a cast of young actors in cookie-cutter roles that, perhaps intentionally, call attention to themselves as stock character types but are not lifted beyond them by any particularly good performances, while the simplistic direction is clearly trying to serve champagne on a beer budget. Trailer

Umma
(Iris K. Shim, USA) A woman raising her daughter on a remote country farm is informed that her mother has died back in Korea, and is suddenly haunted by visions and ghostly noises coming from her departed matriarch, reminded of the horrible abuse she suffered as a child and which she is now inflicting upon her own daughter.  This theme is teased as a concept, but ultimately the film does nothing to explore it, guaranteeing our ability to forget the experience by making it very clear that what we’re dealing with is a supernatural presence and not the Turn Of The Screw-ish gray area between superstitious madness and actual poltergeist interference. Trailer

Uncharted
(Ruben Fleischer, USA/Spain) A bartender who grew up an orphan is pulled into the world of international relic hunting when a stranger shows up and claims to be his late brother’s former colleague and is searching for Ferdinand Magellan’s lost gold.  There’s absolutely nothing you won’t see coming, there are no twists that shock or surprise, the humour is hammy, the dialogue trite and neither of the lead performances seem all that motivated, but for all these drawbacks the film is a good-natured good time, particularly blessed with good action sequences and, unlike many green-screened adventures being made around the same time, a convincing sense of place. Trailer

 

BB

Ticket to Paradise
(Ol Parker, USA/United Kingdom) A divorced couple put aside their differences and head to Bali when their newly college-graduated daughter tells them that she is marrying a seaweed farmer she met on vacation. Julia Roberts and George Clooney bring a lot of charisma and glamour to the kind of rom-com manipulation that the screen has gone too long without, but the script’s take on Code-era comedies of remarriage is woefully uninventive and puts far too few obstacles in their way.  Trailer

 

B.5

Vengeance
(B.J. Novak, USA) A nationally famous New York City podcaster is summoned to the funeral of a Texan girl that he barely remembers sleeping with but whose family believes him to have been her committed partner. It becomes clear very quickly that star-writer-director Novak began with a moral lesson and filled the story in later, particularly the lecturing tone the film takes in telling us about the lack of communication between the right and the left, and the lack of self-reflection in both camps that leads to the disasters that befall these people.  Trailer

 

B

My Fake Boyfriend
(Rose Troche, Canada) A stunt performer’s best friend creates a virtual boyfriend to make his current partner jealous and creates more trouble than he means to in the process. The relationships lack a great deal of context, few of the actors playing gay men can convince you that they’re not sympathetic straight guys happy to stretch their image for a good part in a movie, and the production design looks like run down sets that are overlit to compensate for the fact that they seem haphazardly assembled. Trailer

X
(Ti West, USA/Canada) A low-level porn producer takes a tiny cast and crew out to the middle of nowhere to shoot a film that he believes will jumpstart his career, but the place they have chose to make this future classic is on the property of an aged farmer and his wife who give off some creepy vibrations that the young people choose to ignore.   Gory and graphic is one of this horror film’s assets, but its greatest offense is the lack of mystery or backstory to the characters, and whatever comment being made about the hypocrisy of a society that pretends to be puritan while being obsessed with sex is not clever enough to qualify as a theme. Trailer

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