Stew’s Movie Log: November 2022

At the start of the yar, I had a dream that I would hit 300 individual movies watched by the end of December.

Turns out, I’d only need a little over ten and half months.

Three-Hundred has been achieved! Let’s see how the month went:


FIRST TIME WATCHES: Creature From The Black Lagoon, Who Invited Them, Good Luck To You Leo Grande, Weird, Glorious, The Banshees Of Inshiren

Every couple of months, I go back to the classic Universal Horror Pictures well, and this time it took me to 1954’s Creature From The Black Lagoon. Here’s what I never knew: they spend most of the movie trying to roofie the Creature! But it’s another really fun classic flick, and I’d put it in the top three overall of the ones I’ve seen, joining The Invisible Man and Bride Of Frankenstein.

Who Invited Them was a thriller we found on Shudder about a superficial couple throwing a housewarming party for their friends in their new Hollywood Hills home. They end up discovering another couple has crashed their party and… hijinks ensue. It is tremendously intense and has a lot of fun dark humor. The turn it takes is really telegraphed early in the second act, but that doesn’t really hurt anything; I still dug it because the ride there was well done. Creepy ending, too.

After months of putting it off because I kept forgetting, I finally checked out Hulu’s Good Luck To You Leo Grande, and wow… that’s just one of those movies that’s straight up my alley! I’ve always been a sucker for grounded, inter-personal relationship comedy/dramas. Stuff like Lost In Translation, Stranger Than Fiction, Eternal Sunshine… that stuff. This is another entry into that medium that really works for me.

The whole story could basically be a play; it’s essentially a two person cast and takes place almost entirely in a hotel room. It’s so damn charming that I just had this goofy smile on my face the whole first hour-plus. So this might not be so highly rated for you, but me? I adored it. Just what I like movies to be.

Weird came out with a lot of fanfare, and it’s quite good, but also too long. It’s hilarious when it works, especially the early going, but after a while it becomes very… “Yes, okay, I get it”. It never gets bad or anything, but you could tighten it up and shave 20 minutes off of it and not lose anything impactful.

BACK to Shudder (and I do that a lot, so I’m sure you are used to it by now) for a friend’s recommendation, Glorious. This is another movie that’s basically a one-setting, two-person play, and hey I get it: movie budgets can get crazy. Cut costs on your sci-fi horror movie where you can. But where Weird felt 20 minutes too long, Glorious has an entire act you can cut because the whole flick is just wasting time between the first act and the third act twists. It’s watchable, but this should have been a 40-50 minute short instead of a whole film. I can’t stress enough: the entirely second act is just stalling.

HA!

“STALL”-ING!

Because it’s about a bathroom stall.

And then there was Banshees of Inshiren, which I’d heard really good things about and wanted to get into as we near Oscar season. Unlike the last two years or so, a lot of the contender movies coming out seem to appeal to me, and I was sold on this just by the reunion of Gleason and Farrell.

It’s a WILD movie that takes a strangely dark turn that I did not expect. But it has smart humor, too. “That’s how my mom died!” is one of the best lines of 2022 (and yeah, I guess it works better in context). I’ll be pulling for this in February…

REWATCHES: Halloween 2007, Gladiator, Riki-Oh, Hot Fuzz

So when going over my movies I’d watched across 2022, I came to a sad realization: it was quite possible that my Most Watched Actor Of The Year was going to be Adam Sandler. The two other actors that I knew I’d see at least five movies from were Brad Pitt and Danielle Harris. So as I further push to make sure I don’t see Sandler’s face at year’s end, I watched another Danielle Harris offering: Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween.

I still don’t like it very much!

Gladiator, meanwhile, is a movie I’d seen once before, not liked, and left it at that. But I’d always had this thing in the back of my head telling me I was wrong. So now, 22 years later, I gave it another go! And you know what?

I still don’t love it.

BUT!

I do see that it is gorgeously shot and acted, and Ridley Scott made quite a film here. It might not be my genre or flavor, but I certainly appreciate it a lot more now for the craft put into it (which I cared less about when I was 19, I suppose).

Hot Fuzz is my favorite movie of all time, so I watched it again for my birthday. Relentless in its hilarity and oceanlike in the depth of its detail. I love it!

Hahaha I love this terrible, terrible movie, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. It’s absurd, and the dubbed voice acting is god-awful and the violence is so over the top and unrealistic. But it doesn’t care. People got paid to make this, and they fucking MADE it with every ounce of the heart. God bless them.

FIRST TIME WATCHES: Wakanda Forever, Don’t Worry Darling, Willy’s Wonderland, Professor Marston, Bloody Muscle Body Builder In Hell, The Menu

There has been a lot of weird confrontational consternation in the build to Wakanda Forever as to whether it was more disrespectful to NOT recast Chadwick Boseman or it would have been more disrespectful TO recast him. The idea being that the Black Panther character is so important, it’s a disservice to the character, its fans, and what Chadwick did to not see him continue on. The counter-argument is that you can’t recast Chadwick after the tragic ending to his brilliant performance, so you treat WF as a tribute to him AND the character.

It’s a thorny argument, and I’m glad I didn’t have to make the decision for Disney/Marvel. Both sides make sense to me. All I know is I really dug Wakanda Forever. It was a terrific sequel, and I really hope we see Angela Bassett get some nominations this award season! Not saying she should win, but you CAN’T deny the job she does.

I went into Don’t Worry Darling begrudgingly because I’d heard how bad it was, and I’d already had the reveal spoiled. I will say that the first two acts are actually quite good. Decent intensity, quality acting. Some nice tension building. And then the third act just kind of wet farts that all away. The reveal is just dumb, and so little makes sense once you see it. It’s not a terrible flick or anything, but it had issues closing itself out. Endings are hard sometimes.

I have an immense respect and appreciation for any movie that grabs the viewer by the collar, stares into their eyes, and says “Go fuck yourself”. So yeah, Willy’s Wonderland gets a 3.5. The movie is abject nonsense and leaves the audience with about a half-a-dozen questions that it has NO INTENTION WHATSOEVER of answering. Is it a B quality movie with bad acting and dumb characters? Yup. Did I really enjoy it and how much the flick seemed to spite me as a watcher? Also yup.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women is a movie-ized retelling of the life of William Marston, the creator of both the modern lie detector test and the character Wonder Woman. And, let’s not kid ourselves, the Wonder Woman we all know has very little to do with Marston’s creation. But still! He did give us the basic bones that would become her. And his life seems fascinating given how he and his family lived in an era that would be even less tolerant of it than our modern one.

Okay, for about 45 minutes of Bloody Muscle Body Builder In Hell, I thought “There is some charm here, and it’s endearing in how bad it is, but this isn’t any better than 1.5. It’s an objectively bad movie”.

(And it is)

But then the last 15 minutes happen, and IT’S MAGIC. Is it all a rip-off/homage to Evil Dead? Sure. But I’ve seen worse movies modeled after that franchise.

That brings up The Menu, a movie whose trailer had me salivating for months, and when it finally came out… it felt like it never moved past the appetizer course. It’s fine, I guess, and has some fun flavor here and there. But ultimately, it was so ill prepared. Anya Taylor Joy’s protagonist, Margot, was under-seasoned, and I never connected with her. Everyone else was a caricature. The story makes turns that don’t matter. It’s just… it was taken off the fire too soon and served up not fully cooked.

(I GOT PUNS, EVERYONE)

REWATCHES: Halloween 2, Black Panther, Shang-Chi

Halloween 2! It gives me more buffer in the area of Danielle Harris movies I mentioned above. That is all.

Black Panther was pulled for a future episode of the Stew World Order podcast. Subscribe to hear about it when it’s released!

Shang-Chi was just… after Black Panther and Wakanda Forever, I wanted to revisit another MCU flick that I had HUGE affection for last year, where I’m pretty sure it was my #2 movie of the year.

(It was)

I just… I love Shang-Chi, man. I think it’s BEAUTIFUL and has some of the greatest fight scenes in the MCU. Awkwafina is great. I am in awe of this movie as an MCU entry.

FIRST TIME WATCHES: The Innocents, Pilgrim, Black Sheep, Glass Onion, GotG Holiday Special, Slash/Back, The Fifth Element, Conspiracy

Look, we’ll call The Innocents an “incomplete” because I forgot I could log a movie without giving it a score. So despite its 0.5/5, it’s not going to show up on my Worst Of The Year list in a month.

The rationale here is that I was watching it with my wife, and there is a scene a ways in where two kids torture and kill a cat. She started crying and made me turn it off not too long after because she couldn’t get past it. Which, that’s not totally to blame her: that scene put me off, too. Movies that include that kind of stuff know what they are doing, and I’m not a fan of that lazy shock-value content. Not saying this would have been good or bad either way, but if I recall correctly, it IS the first movie on my quest to 300 that I didn’t get all the way through this year.

(Wat, did I watch Heat this year? That might not be true then)

Pilgrim is a wild little flick about a family getting terrorized by Thanksgiving Pilgrim re-enactors. It’s a crazy idea (apparently VERY LOOSELY based on a situation one of the writers found himself in as a boy), and it’s worth watching for the premise alone. Everything else is just kind of okay. The acting is fine. The unfolding of the story is all right. It just turns into every home invasion thriller you’ve ever seen in the third act. Which… I mean, what choice did it have?

Here’s what I remember about Black Sheep: I watched Hot Fuzz on DVD about a hundred times, and there was one trailer on that DVD before the movie, and it was for Black Sheep. It’s kind of precious in its low budget glory, this story of zombie sheep, but ultimately… it’s just a LOT of dick and fart jokes (literally… lots of jokes centered around male genitalia and flatulence). So it was a little sophomoric for me.

Also, I watched Zombeavers a few years ago, and while that movie was made later and clearly inspired by Black Sheep, I just kept thinking “Oh, this is just Zombeavers”.

I wrote at length on Glass Onion and the Guardians Of The Galaxy specials already. Guardians Of The Galaxy was my 300th movie, by the way.

Slash/Back is another extremely low-budget thriller that I found on Shudder. A group of teenage girls who live in an isolated Arctic village are attacked by an alien inspired by The Thing. You know what? That’s what this movie reminded me of: imagine if Steven Spielberg had made The Thing.

It’s charming! It is! And if you have a pre-teen interested in sampling a “horror” movie, this could be a good gateway film! But as much as I hate to ding young actors trying their best, the performances here aren’t that good. And the dialogue they have to recite does them no favors.

I liked the Northern Natives perspective, and it’s BEAUTIFULLY shot for its budget. The acting and script just hold it back.

Another movie blindspot filled in as I watched The Fifth Element for the first time ever. I typically have never been a big Bruce Willis guy, so I never felt so moved to watch this until my Twitter friends pestered me to do it. And for the first 20-30 minutes, I thought, “Oh no, I’m going to catch hell for not liking this”.

But it DOES pick up, and it becomes a blast once it does. A lot of different goings on and different groups trying to achieve different ends. Gary Oldman gets one of my favorite deaths in a movie I saw this year. Mlla Jovovich actually gives quite an inspired performance. And I’ll admit: Chris Tucker had me rolling. I think I’ve heard his character is divisive, but I loved him!

NOT PICTURED because I accidentally chopped it off: Conspiracy, a 2001 HBO movie about the real-life secret meeting between various Nazi heads of state and military to agree upon enacting The Holocaust. 4 Stars out of 5.

That is a GRIPPING movie as you sit there and genuinely think “Oh no, what will the REALLY evil Nazis do to the SLIGHTLY LESS EVIL Nazis who are disagreeing with them?!”. Fabulous acting from the likes of Kenneth Branaugh, Stanley Tucci, and Colin Firth. And just, like… if you wrote a FICTION movie about this meeting, people would say “nobody could be that repugnant”. But this was real life.

REWATCHES: Eternals, AvP, Chopping Mall

Eternals was rewatched (for the THIRD time ever and SECOND time this year, oh my god what am I doing with my life [and as a note: same-year rewatches don’t count towards the 300]) for a future episode of Stew World Order.

I checked the timer when it finally happened, and no Alien and Predator verse each other until the FIFTY-FIVE minute mark of a movie called ALIEN VS PREDATOR, and that is unacceptable. There were some surprisingly good aspects to the human characters here, and I cared about some of them, but they weren’t what I was here for!

Finally, we have Chopping Mall, which is slightly better quality than I remember from my first watch during the height of COVID. It’s hitting right on the plus side of campy where the movie is cheeky and fun, but it doesn’t go overboard. You still get invested in the threat. I love how little sense the title makes, too. The Willy’s Wonderland fascination strikes again: they just didn’t care!


And that’s November, wherein 300 movie was hit, and I kept right on going. I’m sure I’ll slow down a bit for December to HOPEFULLY work on some other projects I have (like various year-end lists), but hey… whether I do or not, THANK YOU for coming on this journey with me to watch an absolutely stupid number of movies in the span of 12 (well, I guess 11) months!

Until next time, take care!

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