Site Update

One year later…

One year ago, I officially launched the “wide release” of this site as the destination of my movie writing. I already do enough navel-gazing and self-documentation here, but wanted to briefly celebrate the fact that I’ve survived a year, watched some Good (and Not Good) films, and made a couple of virtual friends.

242 reviews and 215k words later, here are eight reviews I enjoyed writing, one for each Is It Good? score.

Very Not Good (1/8)

Pinocchio (2022)

I watched the new Pinocchio, and it is indeed trash. And it’s the kind of trash that gets less interesting and more broken the longer you stare at it. I found the first fifteen minutes borderline intriguing. The next half hour is vaguely watchable but unpleasant. The remaining hour absolutely flounders. It’s a descent to Hell.

Not Good (2/8)

Ghosted (2023)

Ghosted isn’t broken in the sense of any of its narrative or production components not mechanically fitting together. But somehow, broken would have felt better. It would have implied that a human tried and failed to make something. Or maybe a human was lazy and didn’t try to make something. Either way a human was involved, and I cannot, with high confidence, say that about Ghosted.

Not Very Good (3/8)

Cocaine Bear (2023)

I’d like to start with a question. Maybe it’s a dumb one. Why does the bear have to be on cocaine? Bears are already ferocious meat-eaters. They are well known for attacking humans even when not high on drugs. You could just call this movie “Bear” and it wouldn’t be all that different. (And I would probably like it more. See, e.g., Bears.)

Nearly Good (4/8)

Snow Day (2022)

Typically when I spend most of the runtime wondering “Who was this movie made for?” I mean that as a negative. Not this time. In this case, there is a second half to that sentence: “Who was this movie made for… besides me?”

Good (5/8)

Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (2018)
(Hey, I published this today)

The entire film is enveloped in a haze of quasi-irony. Much of the script is constructed around the language and mentality of progressive social justice, but it often reads almost like parody. If I’m being generous to both the filmmakers and the audience, one could interpret Z-O-M-B-I-E-S as a campy pastiche that both sincerely endorses the content of its message while mocking the self-seriousness of most racism-themed films.

Very Good (6/8)

Charlotte’s Web (1973)

These are all fundamental truths of life, accepted in some form by all nationalities, religions, and creeds. Many great works of art try to convey these concepts. Sometimes even for children. But rarely does a story tackle these themes so directly and tenderly as in Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.

Exceptionally Good (7/8)

Adventureland (2009)

Adventureland is at its best when it’s just vibin’. And, to be sure, there’s lots of vibin’ going on. But this movie has a story; in fact, it has a remarkably robust screenplay where nearly every scene lays the groundwork in some meaningful way to the film’s melancholy climax. As a piece of screenwriting, it’s simultaneously subtle and more ambitious than any other breezy hangout comedy I’ve ever seen.

But it’s the vibes I’m here for, damnit!

Masterpiece: Tour De Good (8/8)

Brief Encounter (1945)

On the surface, Brief Encounter is not quite so grim about modernity and its crushing expectations, but it’s all there just a layer down: From the opening shot of a steam engine that’s so imposing and daunting that it’s almost a jump scare, through the tragic final moments in which housewife Laura (Celia Johnson) admits that her brief throe of passion was a “dream” and that she’s “returned” to her husband, Fred (Cyril Raymond), she’s a woman in conflict between progress and stasis, engine and station.

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