Blind Spot 94: Trick ‘R Treat

If you’ve followed my content for any amount of time you know I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror movies. Nevertheless, I try each year for blind spot to expand my palate and watch an iconic horror film I’ve missed. For the most part that has been a positive experience but I have to admit this year’s selection, Trick ‘R Treat was not one of those moments. It’s not just that the movie was too gory for my taste but its narrative is scattered with too many characters to become invested in thereby, making the scares less chilling than they would be for characters I know and love.

To begin with the trick-or-treater villain with the burlap pumpkin costume isn’t in the movie very much. If anything the villainous school principle Steven Wilkins is more of the villain of the piece but even he isn’t developed very well because the screenplay is constantly moving away from him.

Trick ‘R Treat takes a non-linear approach telling the story of a whole neighborhood that gets haunted on Halloween night. We start out with Emma and Henry in definitely the most gruesome scene of the film and then move over to Principal Wilkins and a boy Charlie who steals candy. Later we learn about a school bus accident where parents wanted to stage an ‘accident’ of their disabled children. Then there are 4 young women who are trying to get laid on Halloween but they have a secret they are ready to release on their dates. Finally we have Kreeg, a grumpy old man, who may have a connection to the bus accident from many years before.

There is definitely tons of gore in Trick ‘R Treat. It is without a doubt the most violent and disgusting film I’ve watched for Blind Spot but I imagine horror fans will enjoy that aspect and have fun with it. I’m a sympathetic puker and gagged at especially one key scene where a character throws up. Gross but I can also see some having fun with the grossness.

My problem was mainly the amount of characters and not being able to emotionally invest in any of them or their narratives. That’s what makes a horror movie scary is when we feel tied to the characters and don’t want anything bad to happen to them. This builds tension and makes the ride exciting. Trick ‘R Treat missed that in its over-crowded screenplay.

I’m not the best judge when it comes to horror and I know many love this movie so count me as an outlier opinion. It wasn’t my favorite and I’d probably never watch it again

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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Why THE HOLDOVERS Wows and PRISCILLA underwhelms

Originally I wanted to write solo reviews for both The Holdovers and Priscilla but I am running out of time and the thought occurred to me ‘maybe a comparison of the 2 might be interesting?’ After all, why did one work for me so well and the other was so disappointing? Let’s talk about it!

Now they aren’t an exact comparison because The Holdovers is an original screenplay with fictional characters and Priscilla is based on the memoir of a real person Priscilla Presley. But they are both character pieces and both set in the 70s and both about young adults so they aren’t complete opposites.

The main difference between the two films is in The Holdovers we get to know the characters so well, even minor characters we don’t spend a ton of time with like Mary Lamb played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph. We learn so much about the choices in her life, her family, faith and everything else in only a few key scenes.

Priscilla, on the other hand, always keeps her at an arms-distance. You’d think a film directed by the daughter of a famous person, Sofia Coppola, would have something interesting to say about this famous woman who eventually leaves Elvis but she really doesn’t. The relationship is toxic but we don’t get to hear from Priscilla. What does she like about Elvis? Is it the money? Is it a spiritual connection? What does she want in life? She’s young but all the more reason to see her grow and develop as a character.

The performances are all good in Priscilla but its the screenplay that lets them down. It honestly felt like a made for TV movie without the moxie and camp those films can have. I felt like I learned next to nothing about Priscilla from watching the movie and I came in knowing very little. Isn’t that the whole point of the movie to tell her story? Evidently she’s a young girl who waited around in Graceland but had almost no personality herself. Also I felt they were trying to portray Elvis as asexual or disinterested in sex (he’d rather read philosophy) but they never did anything interesting with that either.

The Holdovers has 2 masterfully written characters with Paul Giamatti as the professor Paul Hunham and Dominic Sessa as a lonely student Angus Tully. They can’t stand each other at first but are forced to share the holidays together and come to understand and respect one another. It’s moving and authentic and wonderfully acted. It is also cool that Paul Giamatti’s character has a strabismus problem with his eye which I have too! I’m not sure how they did that if it was special effects or what but it was neat to see a character grapple with that in a feature film.

Of course I am drawn to holiday films but The Holdovers is really a film about friendship and how we all freaking need each other. I could nitpick about the ending not being perfect but it was good enough and provides a moment of sacrifice for Paul (who has been relatively selfish most of the movie) and some hope for Angus. Nobody has really believed in him in his life and now someone has and it’s beautiful,  moving and lovely.

Basically Priscilla is well-made but it left me with little insight into its characters where The Holdovers had it in spades. One has a weak script and the other is one of the best in years. It’s as simple as that.

Priscilla– Frown Worthy 4 out of 10

The Holdovers– Smile Worthy 9 out of 10

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Killers of the Flower Moon or the Pain of Having No Control Over Your Pain

I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m one of the only professional critics who wasn’t going into the latest, Killers of the Flower Moon, from director Martin Scorsese with super high expectations. While I recognize the achievement in many of his films they often aren’t on my wavelength and not something I particularly enjoy (I famously hated his film Silence but have appreciated some of his films like Goodfellas.) Especially with it’s well over 3 hour runtime I anticipated KOTFM would be something I’d appreciate but struggle to get through. Well, now I have seen it I can say it is a tough sit but I found it surprisingly compelling and something I can genuinely recommend experiencing.

I think what makes KOTFM work so well is Scorsese has found a genuinely compelling story and he asks us to root for and against the right people so we are with the movie from the beginning and end up outraged, as we are intended to feel. What particularly struck me is the lack of control especially the female characters (in this case real life people who actually existed) have over their lives and choices. So often it is assumed that money=power and that is often true but it is only the case if you have the power to use the money effectively. All the Osage characters in the story have money from oil so one would think they have power but they do not control the use of that money therefore their power is easily manipulated.

This is made especially clear in the narrative by the fact that two with power, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart and Robert De Niro’s William Hale are complete idiots especially Ernest. And yet because of who they are and the color of their skin they have power and with their lack of care for their fellow humans they wield that power with disastrous results.

Lily Gladstone is getting deserved buzz for her incredible performance as Mollie Burkhart. Her character genuinely falls for the simple-minded Ernest but that decision is truly her only moment of power. Even as she fights diabetes with some of the first ever insulin injections she is completely at the mercy of her husband and other mostly white men in her life. She watches in horror as her family members are taken down one-by-one knowing her time is coming and knowing how little power she has. At one point she tries to get the President of  United States involved, and I suppose her money does get her some notice there but it’s so minimal compared to the easy power her husband so thoughtlessly bumbles about.

Watching KOTFM it’s easy to become angry and this is intentional. We as human beings bristle at the idea of inequalities around us. It’s gross what is happening to Mollie and we want to make it better. We hope that such atrocities couldn’t happen today all the while knowing the horrific statistics of violence towards Native American women- and those are women without the faux power of wealth like Mollie had. It’s maddening and makes the film very effective.

What makes it less effective is some of the direction of the actors by Scorsese. Most of it is compelling but there are times performances feel like caricatures more than realistic historical figures. This is particularly true with Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow’s attorney characters which felt like they were from a different less-grounded movie. I also felt some of the supporting and extra roles were amateurish and weak.

Other than that this is a compelling story that needed to be told, and I’m grateful to Scorsese for telling it. I guess there is comfort that there is some justice at the end of the film but only after such a price is paid and again only because a literal trip to the President was called upon to get it. (When she does say ‘you’re next’ to Ernest that’s a satisfying moment!)  Surely we can do better? Again it makes me mad. It makes me want to fight harder for people like Mollie who deserve power but are instead left to the whims of the despots and fools. We as a country pay the price. It’s tragic yet, like I said, compelling.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Current Mini Reviews (Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, The Other Zoey, Jesus Revolution, Once Upon a Studio)

Hey everyone! It’s time for an update on a bunch of recent releases I’ve seen. I’ve had a pretty good stretch of films and am excited to be starting Christmas coverage at Hallmarkies Podcast next week with the first Hallmark movie airing on Friday.


One of the great things about being engaged in cinema is it opens you to so many different kinds of experiences. You can laugh, scream, cheer, and occasionally go nuts with teens  at a concert and the latter is what you get to do with Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. I am obviously aware of Taylor Swift but I am far from a swiftie or fan of hers. I have nothing against her but just not very up to date on modern music unless it’s in a movie or Broadway show.

Anyway, the concert was super fun to experience with everyone singing and cheering. I can only imagine how much fun it is for fans or to go with a group. As a critic it’s hard to review such a fan-specific event but the concert is well put-together and Taylor is an extremely engaging performer. Again I was not familiar with most of the songs but she did a good job combining soft and hard and her stamina with the complicated arrangements and set-pieces is impressive (and some extremely fast costume changes.)

She also includes over 40 songs which is amazing for any performer so we definitely get our moneys-worth for the cost of admission. I had a great time with Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and if you can see it in IMAX or at an xd screen I highly recommend it.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy


In addition to Taylor we have a new rom-com out in theaters this weekend called The Other Zoey. It stars Josephine Langford as Zoey who gets in a screwball comedy situation where she is mistaken as a different Zoey by a hunky soccer player who gets amnesia and thinks she is his girlfriend also named Zoey. The catch is that she is cynical and not interested in romantic comedies, so for her to be stuck in the plot of an outlandish screwball comedy is ironic and funny.

They try and give The Other Zoey an edge to separate it out from Hallmark romances by having characters be polyamorous and lie to each other, but a lot of that edge falls flat. Langford’s character is pretty unlikable in the film but she does have decent chemistry with both male leads (Drew Starkey, Archie Renaux.) If you are jonesing for a rom-com this is sarcastic and funny enough to satisfy that itch. Not great by any means but passable entry in the genre.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I finally got around to seeing Jesus Revolution on the plane and after hearing good things I can say I really enjoyed this intriguing faith-based film. It is made by one half of the Erwin Bros, Jon Erwin (with Brent McCorkle) and so far I have enjoyed all of the Erwin Bros films. They are making by far the strongest narratives right now in the faith-based market. They still have flaws but they aren’t afraid to put story over ministry and have characters with flaws that learn and grow.

Jesus Revolution tells the story of a group of hippies that turned to evangelicalism and religion in the early 1970s. We get to follow a number of real life characters including: Kelsey Grammer’s pastor Chuck Smith who embraces, at first reluctantly the movement, Joel Courtney as a confused teen in love named Greg Laurie and Jonathan Roumie (who plays Jesus on The Chosen) as the charismatic leader Lonnie Frisbee. These are fleshed out, imperfect characters. Not the paragons of virtue we sometimes see in this genre.

They do have enough messaging for fans of the genre but overall it’s a compelling story well told and I learned about a movement I’d never heard of before. Worth a watch.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I am sure there will be some people who will turn up their noses at Once Upon a Studio and criticize it as empty fan service but even though I have been very disappointed in Disney lately I’m not that cynical. For the 100 year anniversary of the studio they created a little short showcasing their animation (I really appreciate they kept it to just Disney and no Pixar, Star Wars or anything like that.)

It’s a simple concept of 500 characters from the studio gathering together to take a family photo. What I love is they didn’t just stick to the successful properties like The Lion King or Frozen but we have characters from shorts like Johnny Appleseed and from flops like Gurgi from The Black Cauldron. There is a particularly touching moment where Mickey greets a painting of Walt Disney and thanks him for all the memories. You’d have to be pretty cynical to not appreciate a moment like that.

Of course animation lovers and Disney fans have to see this short. I look forward to seeing it before their new film Wish coming out next month.

If you got to see it what characters did you enjoy seeing again the most?

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

So there you have it. An all positive update! Happy moviegoing! 

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NYFF Update and Reviews (Janet Planet, Eureka, The Delinquents, Perfect Days, The Taste of Things)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. Last week I had the wonderful experience of being in New York and attending the New York Film Festival (NYFF) for the 3rd year in a row. It’s a long festival and I was only able to attend for 5 days (I could have planned better with the Columbus Day holiday but I did what I could.)

The most exciting part of the trip for me is finding the HI NYC Hostel which has private rooms and dorm-like bunks for incredible deals. I stayed for 5 nights for $417, which is unbelievable for New York! I highly recommend it


My hostel stay in NYC @HI USA Great deal. Perfect solution #thriftytraveler #hostellife

♬ Soft and minimal instrumental music(1259336) – MaxRecStudio

Anyway, I was able to see 5 films at the festival and here are my thoughts:

The Delinquents-

First up we have The Delinquents which was a big hit out of the recent Cannes and I left feeling mixed about that film. It’s a long film at over 3 hours and is divided into 2 parts- the first part being a small bank robbery scheme and the second a love story involving both men being in love with the same woman. I vastly preferred the first part over the second.

This is a very cerebral movie to be called a ‘heist movie.’ In fact, all of the films I saw at the festival were what is coined as ‘slow cinema’ but the beginning focusing on the 2 men and the after-effects of their scheme was compelling. It shows the impact of money and the pressure of keeping a secret.

The romance, unfortunately, was so bland and uninteresting that the movie really lost me in the long second part. I really didn’t care about this manic pixie dream girl woman that both men become infatuated with and felt like I was watching them vacation with her for no reason. My friend Conrado enjoyed it way more than I did so maybe you will too but it in the end was a disappointment despite the strong first part.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Janet Planet-

Like I said, all the films I saw at NYFF were on the slow-burn side of things and Janet Planet was certainly no exception but I do think it is overall successful in what it’s trying to do. Playwright Annie Baker has made a simple yet compelling film that follows an 11-year old and her Mother through the a summer in 1991.

There isn’t much plot here but newcomer Zoe Ziegler is charming as the little girl and her relationship with her mother Janet played by Julianne Nicholson feels authentic and real. It will try the patience of some viewers who need more story but I enjoyed following them around for a summer especially with how cute Ziegler is.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Perfect Days-

Sometimes all we need in a ‘slow cinema’ film is a captivating lead performance and that’s what we get with Kōji Yakusho in the film Perfect Days. He literally plays a toilet cleaner in Tokyo and for the first part of the film we see him go through his routine of work and other activities including cleaning a lot of toilets. I know you are thinking what could be worse than watching someone clean toilets but we get to know the character Hirayama so well through these mundane actions and it turns out he is a deep thinker and poet who loves classic rock he plays on his cassette tapes.

There are strong homages to the Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu especially his film Tokyo Story which I recently reviewed for my blind spot series. Particularly in the dream sections it can feel almost too similar and more an imitation rather than a subtle tribute. However, we learn quite a bit about this simple man especially once his niece pays him a visit. So, if it sounds like a film you could tolerate I recommend Perfect Days if only for the lovely lead performance by Yakusho.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I hate being too tough on small films but there are times when a film at a festival is just not on my wavelength and that was the case with Eureka. It tells 3 stories and I particularly found the middle story to be a painful watch that felt like anything but short.

It starts out with a black and white western starring Viggo Mortensen which was alright. I also liked how the director Lisandro Alonso merges the shorts together despite them being different times and filming techniques but the second short about a female police officer on a reservation was dull to the extreme and then the 3rd short involving Native Amazons fighting over a female tribe member did nothing for me. It all felt self-indulgent and annoying. I get what Alonso is trying to say about colonialism but it has to be done in a more interesting way than watching a woman make routine traffic stops. No thanks!

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

The Taste of Things-

My last film of the festival turned out to be my favorite and one of my favorite movies of the year: The Taste of Things. This is an sumptuous and tender film about two people who express their passion for life and each other through food.

Juliette Binoche is warm and sexy as chef Eugenie who is courted by her colleague in the kitchen Dodin played by Benoît Magimel. They have smoldering chemistry together and the film is so well made. You definitely have to love food, particularly French food and this is not a vegan-friendly film! They will hate it but I loved it.

If you have seen the classic Danish film Babette’s Feast you will have an idea of what to expect with The Taste of Thing. It also reminded me of Mostly Martha in that they all involve characters who express their love through the service of preparing food for their loved ones. I like the fact that both Eugenie and Dodin don’t seem to have much of an employer and seem to mostly cook for themselves. It adds to the escapism of the film and makes their efforts feel more personal than if they were doing it for an employer.

I hope they remember The Taste of Things come awards season because it is truly special and if it comes to a theater near you I highly recommend it.

10 out of 10

Smile Worthy

If you attended the festival I’d love to hear about your favorites and what you have enjoyed most at the theater in 2023! 

If you like my writing and want to support what I do check out the patreon for some great perks here..


‘Strange Way of Life’ or Almodóvar’s Sexy Short That’s Too Short

Hi everyone! I am writing to you from the Big Apple where I am here to attend a few days of the NYFF. I wish I could attend the entire festival but that isn’t possible. Nevertheless, I am grateful for what I can attend. I actually forgot to pack my power cord for my computer so I probably won’t update my thoughts on the films until I get back but make sure you are following me on social media to see what I think of what I get to watch. Before all of that and while I still have some battery power I have to give my thoughts on a short, Strange Way of Life, I was able to see before leaving on my trip. It’s by famed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar and I found it to be a sexy, enjoyable little short. My only complaint is why is this a short? There was more story to be told!

Strange Way of Life is a western starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke. Hawke is the sheriff who has a warrant for Pascal’s son but the 2 men have a history together and we even see their younger selves depicted in a very sexy scene drinking wine out right out of a barrel.

I think your enjoyment of this short will depend on how much you enjoy classic romance tropes. If you roll your eyes at swoony scenes or anything tiptoeing near erotica than this isn’t for you. I expect many wanting more artistic Almodóvar will be disappointed how conventional this is but as a fan of romance novels and swoony scenes I really enjoyed it. I’d love for Almodóvar to make this a series of shorts about these two men- perhaps elaborating on their past love a little more.

I saw Strange Way of Life short as a stand-alone but it will be playing with Almodóvar’s pandemic short The Human Voice which was also fascinating. If it sounds like your kind of thing I definitely recommend it.

7 out of 10

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