Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I have been overwhelmed with movie-watching lately, which isn’t a big surprise with my career as a film critic and Christmas movie podcaster (check out Hallmarkies Podcast for reviews of all the holiday films!). It’s just hard this time of year because I have over 100 Christmas movies to watch plus all the awards screeners so I can vote in the critics groups I’m a part of (HCA, UFCA, OAOFFC). I usually watch at least 4 movies every single day! Plus I’m also reviewing live theater for UTBA and writing reviews, editing podcasts and videos…the list goes on. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like there is enough hours in the day!
Anyway, I have a bunch of Oscar screeners to update you all on. I wish I could write long reviews on all of these but alas a mini review will have to do:
Something from Tiffany’s
I must admit I didn’t love the plot of Something From Tiffany’s which you can watch over on Amazon Prime. It’s one of my least favorite of the romantic comedy tropes when the script forces people into emotional cheating to find love. That’s the case here with Kendrick Sampson and Ray Nicholson getting their Tiffany bags swapped- one bag that has an engagement ring causing all kinds of confusion.
Fortunately the movie still manages to work because of the charm of star Zoey Deutch and her terrific chemistry with Sampson. I just wish they had found another way for them to get to know each other than both cheating on their significant others. It makes it hard to root for the characters or their romance. Deutch certainly knows how to rock a red lip nd after Set It Up (which is a lot better) she may be our next rom-com star.
6 out of 10
X and Pearl
If you have followed my site for any period of time you know I’m not the biggest horror person but I have been trying to expand my palate in recent years. Since they seemed like important films from this year I finally watched Ti West’s new films X and Pearl and overall I was impressed with them. They have a unique perspective, are very well made and Mia Goth is outstanding in both.
I am not going to give a score to X because I fast forwarded through some of the porn scenes and I only review films I’ve completely watched but I watched enough to say it is a well made slasher with atmosphere and entertaining “kills”/scary sequences.
Pearl I did watch in totality so I can give a review. This is a very effective prequel, giving us the backstory of how the Pearl in X became a serial killer. It’s all wrapped up in old-school dreams of Hollywood with fantastical sequences and a monologue that should (but probably won’t) give Goth an Oscar nomination. Pearl is definitely one of the most memorable movies of 2022, and I’m glad I saw it.
Pearl gets an 8 out of 10
This one is a micro-budget indie crime noir film that does a lot with a little. Writer and director Kyle Schadt puts together an impressive thriller with almost no budget that can rival or even top the entertainment value of the big budget films we are seeing out of Netflix and Amazon. It tells the story of a man named Mosley (Benedikt Sebastian) who meets a woman named Zemira (Olivia Buckle) who unbeknownst to him is a bank robber on the run. Quite unwittingly he becomes involved in her affairs and everything gets crazy as they evade the law.
There are obviously some elements of the movie where you can feel the low budget but nothing that kept me from having a good time. If you like an edgy independent thriller where people are clearly trying to make something special give Toxic Impulses a try.
6 out of 10
White Noise is one of those movies I feel torn on. On one hand it has some very entertaining characters and moments. On the other hand, the plot is messy and I don’t understand why they needed to make Adam Driver’s character a Hitler studies expert. I realize that’s how he is in the novel but maybe in the novel they give a compelling reason (not that there is a good reason to be a Hitler studies expert). It just felt like such a strange choice.
Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, I could feel him working out COVID and quarantine through this movie. The premise is a disaster (‘airborne toxic event) has caused the Gladney family to evacuate. Each of them grapples with this new reality in their own way until the disaster becomes literal and metaphorical for this family.
Like I said, I’m torn where to rate this one. (Stay around for the fun credits sequence)
5 out of 10
On my podcast, The Criterion Project, we have a pretentiousness scale where we rate how artsy or difficult to grasp the film we are talking about it (a thing that happens a lot on Criterion.) A lot of A24 films the rating would be quite high as they tend to have films outside of the mainstream. Their latest, Aftersun, definitely qualifies as pretentious in its pacing and lack of plot but it’s also quite mainstream in its sweet and endearing nature.
It’s a simple movie about a father and daughter who spend a holiday at a rundown resort in Turkey . Like I said, it doesn’t have much plot but the 2 lead performances are very likable and sweet and you find yourself rooting for this pair. I honestly could have used a little more story but its definitely a strong debut for writer director Charlotte Wells. I think if you are open to slice of life films at all you’ll enjoy Aftersun.
7 out of 10
I’ve never been as in love with Damien Chazelle as a lot of my friends are. I haven’t hated any of his films but they’ve all left me wanting particularly in the character development area. Now we have Babylon and this is even more the case here! Babylon is an unending parade of supposed excitement that instead becomes dull and predictable.
The film is mostly madness but I guess it’s about a bunch of people who are struggling to transition between silent films and talkies. I say I guess because the plot is barely there. Instead you get 188 minutes of cocaine fueled parties that feels like it will never end. Even the great cast like Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart and Tobey Maguire cant make this film coherent and fun. It’s truly exhausting and I hated watching it.
3 out of 10
There you go! Let me know what you thought of these films. It’s certainly an eclectic group
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10 thoughts on “Current Mini Reviews (X and Pearl, White Noise, Aftersun, Babylon, Something from Tiffany’s)”
I was hoping you’d review Disenchanted… I’m torn whether to watch it…
Oh yeah I honestly forgot all about it which doesn’t say much about it lol
I think you need to rewatch White Noise and give it a fair review.
First and foremost, Jack Gladney (Adam Driver’s character) is not a Nazi (in the movie or in the book). He is a professor of Hitler studies, a newly established field of study. Those are very different things.
The Airborne Toxic Event is also not a “natural” disaster (in the movie or in the book. It is a man-made ecological crisis caused by the bad crash we see in the movie.
I clearly found the movie very confusing. I took down my RT review because I don’t have time right now to rewatch it. I appreciate the feedback
I dont think they explained very well why he was interested in Hitler Studies. It was weird. It just wasn’t funny imo
Wow, 4 movies a day? Kudos to you! I guess sometimes it can feel overwhelming with how many movies you need to watch?
As to white noise, it’s primarily a satire. I think the reason why he was a professor of hitler studies was to poke fun at how academia wastes their resources on gimmicky subjects. It’s a criticism on the lib arts really. I mean, there’s all types of wacky classes being taught nowadays. Im pretty sure there’s on one Kanye West or Madonna.
I don’t think it translates on film too well though. The bottom line I took from it was that we all fear death, and our modern society is built trying to distract us from the fact with media overload and a very encompassing service sector industry.
It had a lot of ideas which I appreciated. The problem is that the book doesn’t follow any typical structure. I liked it though. It felt like a long Simpsons episode from the 90’s.
That makes a lot of sense. Thanks
In all honesty I basically agreed with your take on Babylon the first time that I saw it. This was very late at night, and it didn’t help that I missed the first few minutes, which always leaves me disconcerted when I see a film. There were also guys behind me who felt the need to say every thought that came into their heads, and their comments were very audible on virtually every scene.
But yeah, I remember searching for a plot in vain, and being amazed at the string of outrageous scenes, wondering how the movie would top itself in terms of degeneracy, only to see how it always, unfailingly, did. I left feeling that it was basically just an exercise in shock-value seeing how far you can push the boundaries of good taste.
However, when I watched it again, I arrived early in mid-afternoon, just in time to see the pre-recorded announcement from the filmmakers and cast members saying how happy they were that we would be able to see Babylon “the way it was meant to be seen, on the big screen with a large crowd of people to provide live reactions.” And as the film unfolded itself again and I was able to see more clearly how the characters were introduced, I surrendered myself to the sense of spectacle, and appreciated the fact that it was meant to tell a story of several people’s lives during a specific time and place, and paint a picture of just how uncensored and ignoble the pre-Code Hollywood world really could be. I liked the characters far more and enjoyed following them on their journeys as the film progressed. The elaborate set-pieces painted a vivid image of just how difficult it was to make a film both before sound and after it came into play. And I enjoyed the fact that over the three hours that the film progressed, I was never ever bored and was thoroughly absorbed.
I left this screening with a far greater understanding of what the film was trying to do, and how well-made it really was. It was obvious it wanted to test people and elicit the reaction that it got from me before, and I enjoyed just how shameless it really was in exposing the more ribald, grimy sides of the painted idealized Hollywood dream. It’s not something that was made for everyone, but I applaud Damien Chazelle for his message on how we can appreciate film for everything better and worse that goes into the process of its creation, and I applaud him for having the courage to follow this vision when a more profitable and audience-appealing vision along the lines of what he employed in La La Land, would have been much easier. An uncompromising film, but not one to be ignored or dismissed as the product of a lack of talent.
Thanks for sharing your experience