A lazy, layabout slacker, a missing brother, and a pack of anthropomorphized cats bent on executing sketchy pet shop owners. That’s the basic premise of writer/director Reiki Tsuno’s Mad Cats. This inherently strange tale mixes banger martial arts throwdowns, kinetic gun play, a weirdo mystery, and “forbidden catnip from ancient times.” The result is chaotic and odd, with an off-kilter approach that balances comedy, melodrama, action, and ambition.
The 95th Academy Award nominations are here…and that’s all I really have to say on the matter. Some of these are great and I agree with them. Others, as usual, are absolute head-scratchers. Make of this information what you will.
Horror, particularly some version of an internalized monster, as a metaphor for emerging sexuality, burgeoning romantic feelings, and family life engulfed in turmoil is nothing new. In My Animal, director Jacquelin Castel and writer Jae Matthews use this approach to tell the bittersweet tale of a young outsider wrestling with dark secrets, primal urges, and new love.
If you’re ever a criminal and think to yourself, “I’m out after this one last job,” just walk away. Right there. Right then. Seriously, nothing good will come from your efforts. You won’t wind up sipping mai tais on a tropical beach, you won’t pay off your lingering medical debt, you won’t wind up in that cozy dream cabin with your happy family or whatever dream you’re after. When you chase a final score, it only ends terribly for you and everyone you care about. Movies teach us this time and time again, but if you still haven’t grasped the concept, Out of Exile is here to remind you one more time.
All the important bits are right there in the name: Kids vs. Aliens. There are kids, there are aliens, and they fight. That’s the gist of director Jason Eisener’s first feature since 2011’s Hobo with a Shotgun. (If you haven’t checked out his excellent docuseries Dark Side of the Ring, do so, even if you’re not a wrestling fan.) Like his previous endeavor, though in decidedly less brutal fashion, what works best here is a total blast, but at times the thesis statement of the title wears a bit thin stretched out to 75 minutes. (And sans credits, it’s more like 68.)
Children are creepy. The woods are creepy. Children in the woods? Creepy. This fact, above all else, is what There’s Something Wrong With the Children, the new movie from Roxanne Benjamin (Body at Brighton Rock), truly grasps. With that as the primary conceit, the filmmakers construct a tense, taut horror tale. Straightforward and offering little in the way of surprises—we rarely, if ever, veer far from typical genre markers—the film, though familiar, never feels stale or rehashed, and ultimately delivers a damn good time.
Movies are pretty cool. A bold statement, I know. One of the perks (responsibilities that require additional work) of this job is that at the end of the year I get to shout out my favorite films by voting in a number of film critic groups. One that’s near and dear to my heart is the Seattle Film Critics Society in my hometown, and, wouldn’t you know it, we just announced our nominations.
If you look at M3GAN, the new dancing uncanny valley murder doll movie from Blumhouse, writers Akela Cooper and James Wan (the duo behind Malignant), and director Gerard Johnston (Housebound), and think, “Hell yeah,” you’ll probably have a fine time. What’s fun about it is really damn fun, equal parts campy, goofy, and spooky. In these moments, it knows precisely what movie it is, what the audience wants, and how to deliver exactly that. It's everything in between these fun bits, however, where the problems lie.
It’s that time again. The time of year where we pour over what we’ve watched in the past year and whittle it down to our favorites. Not my preferred activity; as I’ve said many times I’m not a fan of ranking, grading, and otherwise pitting art against other art.