Quick-Thoughts: Wes Craven’s Scream 3 (2000)

The Scream movies give off the same vibe as the live action Scooby-Doo movies the more I think about it. Early 2000s gang, where you at?

Scream 3 has about as much insightful social commentary on pervy Hollywood execs as you would expect from a Harvey Weinstein produced motion picture. Wes Craven’s once upon a time in Hollywood resorts back to Scream 2’s subplot of corrupt media’s exploitation of real-life tragedies while hammering at the tropes of trilogy conclusions, but with the actual focus and weight of those topics as if the human embodiment of ADHD decided to draft them in one go. This movie gets kind of Halloween II (the Rick Rosenthal one, not the Rob Zombie one…) on us towards the end, as well, proving once more that this franchise is just progressively becoming everything that it had initially sought out to revert away from in the slasher genre. 

Also, here’s my impression of Dewy handling a situation in this movie:

“Shoot?”

*Looks at inanimate object.*

“Or shoot?”

*Looks at serial killer.*

“Shoot?” 

*Looks at inanimate object again.*

“Or shoot?”

*Looks at serial killer again.*

“Shoot!”

*Proceeds to shoot inanimate object with all his rounds.*

Verdict: C-

Wes Craven Ranked

“Scream 3” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: Wes Craven’s Scream 2 (1997)

That awkward moment when Wes Craven predicts The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019).

I’m almost convinced that Scream 2 exists in a universe where everybody in this town besides Neve Campbell and her colleagues are psychopaths conspiring to participate in ritualizing their slow demises. I mean, why else would nobody be around every-time they’re in danger running around a ginormous college campus or crashing cars in open-view public? Like those boom-boxers especially, man; that’s right! I’ve got my eyes on you, three! 

I was so on board with this movie for its first two enjoyable acts that it pains me to say how disappointed I was by its final (and unusually long) one. Commentating on how the media and entertainment industry selfishly feeds off of tragic incidents is such a Wes Craven-esc concept for a Scream sequel that I was so interested to see where it would go, until the commentary just got abandoned for a conclusion which more so tributes classic B-rated slasher movies and even its own predecessor rather than making fun of them in non-predictable ways. It’s bloody amazing too how the characters only get dumber and dumber as the film goes along, so obviously at the expediency of having their “big” reveals stick out at the last second. I wouldn’t even have been mad if they just blatantly called out how typical slasher-esc the film started becoming once it got to the climax, but it totally overlooked how much it was indulging in the clichés that the franchise ironically strives to poke jabs at. 

Speaking of which, WOW did those twists SUCK. At first I was like, why would the killer end up just being some person we barely spent any time establishing to care enough for, and then also have the second killer (cause there always has to be a partner) be the one everybody assumed was going to be the killer from the moment they appeared on screen? And then I thought, oh, the movie is going to turn it around and call these quirky reveals “meta” or something since it works as a basic reverse-psychology subversion of our expectations, but it turns out it just genuinely thought it was being clever. LOL! 

Anyways, I hope there’s a follow-up to ‘96 Neve Campbell (titled: ‘97 NEVE CAMPBELL) since this sequel exists. If you get the reference, I love you.

Verdict: C+

Wes Craven Ranked

“Scream 2” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

A Quiet Place Part II Lives Up to its Predecessor (Misleading Title)

There are a couple things that make A Quiet Place Part II SLIGHTLY superior than its predecessor: the emphasis on evoking emotion is a bit more refrained (until that ending), the directing is marginally bolder, and Cillian Murphy plays the John Krasinski role better than, well, John Krasinski had. But, if you also took part in the minority crowd of A Quiet Place (2018)’s soy-boy haters like the prude writing this review, the sequel is definitely not going to win you over, as it falls into the exact same traps that made the original appear so phony. 

Whether it’s breaking the rules that it had established in Part I, concocting last minute saves to continuously remind us that our victims are glaringly plot-protected by the script, or forcing characters to commit actions that make zero sense, as if they’ve periodically become mind-controlled by head-scratching puppet masters (the writers) finding shortcut ways to stir conflict, A Quiet Place Part II fails as a tension-getter when it comes to my personal experience with it. There’s, furthermore, no bigger significance behind this movie that could possibly justify the manipulative tricks that it pulls to broadcast its desired messages for the audience. It wants to dive into themes like unity, pessimism, and fortitude in light of apocalypse, and sometimes they actually feel earned, especially in the sequences where actors are forced to use their faces rather than their expressive voices as emotional communicators, but other times they keep pushing and pushing these notions to doubtful places within the scenario-scheming for where they seriously don’t need to go to make viewers understand or admire. The conveniencing only accumulates and progressively gets worse because of this, until it punctures itself to death by the conclusion with a belabored metaphor birthed from a series of coincidences more unfathomable than actual flesh-eating monsters landing on our soil today. The symbolism once again wants to flex its immoderate guises repeatedly in sacrifice for the level of realism that the film clearly also wants to succeed in but tonally can’t compromise with.

What I’ve gathered from these past two horror attempts is that Kransisnski is genuinely a competent director, and I want to enjoy his work in the future, but I think he needs to hire himself a solo writer before that can happen.

Verdict: C-

2021 Ranked

“A Quiet Place Part II” will be released in theaters May 28.

Change of Opinion: A Quiet Place (2018)

Warning: Spoilers Ahead • 2nd Viewing 

Whoever hammered a nail upside-down into that stairway plank must have a really twisted sense of humor.

Rarely do I have “drastic” changes when it comes to my opinion on a movie, let alone to THIS extent; I genuinely want to ask little me from 3 years ago on what I was thinking when giving this film a “B+”, but my only basis as to why that may have happened lies in my habit to get into the same hype that the majority of people had for this movie, considering the circumstances of it being shockingly directed by a beloved star of The Office and its eye-catching premise that nobody could stop talking about. But to be fair, however, I still almost like the entire first half of this movie; Kransinski slowly eases us into the lifestyle and psychological circumstances surrounding the family at hand before actually transitioning into the onslaught of conflict. Minus the royalty-free sounding soundtrack — which would’ve made this first half better without it, concentrating even more on the silent nature of the environment —, I really appreciated how the movie took its time to let us sink into a family balancing in the despair of their past while focusing on the necessity of their survival as well. But the moment when that random old guy screams is the moment when the writing for me turns to absolute s**t, abandoning and almost butchering the promise that it had initiated.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horror movie praised to such an extent that had this many cheap and false-alarm jump scare sound effects. It’s a wonder too that this is often considered a masterful suspense builder when nearly every instance of danger is caused by something so inconceivably arbitrary that I’m taken out of its realism from the moment they start. The disappointing part is that there are knack ideas of intensity lurking at hand here, whether that be a mother forced to give birth while simultaneously being hunted or children being swallowed by a silo of corn, yet it’s the actual execution of how they happen that feels contrived. But, maybe the greatest offender of the second half is how it attempts to incorporate its themes into the horror, abandoning its patience from the start with on-the-nose ways of telling the audience how characters feel or change. My least favorite scene in all of the movie is that dialogue dump where Evelyn gives her corny and out-of-place (considering the dire situation) “protect them” speech to her husband; it sounded like a compiling of unnecessary trailer lines made into a seam of familial incentive that we don’t need when a movie already spent 40 minutes establishing the main objective of Lee’s parenting ethos through mostly quiet but revealing visuals. I’ve always hated the scene as well where Lee lethargically takes his time to say “I love you” in sign language to his daughter who’s currently being attacked by one of these creatures; it’s just an unbelievably over-empathized use of pathos that derived me from any tension left of the danger that the three were currently in, and a cartoonish method of wrapping a bow around Lee’s arc that the movie had set up in its first half pretty decently.

There are only two possible reasons as to how all these terrible situations could have possibly happened all in one day and by the manner that they happened, and that is either: 1) the writers are just lazy or 2) God just REALLY hates this family for some reason.

Verdict: C-

“A Quiet Place” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

The Harsh and True Nature of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000)

Screened at the Frida • 2nd Viewing

“You notice things if you pay attention.”

For which we rarely do. 

I am being judged. When I want to love, I will be judged; there’s no avoiding that. If I want to love again, I can try, but only in a desperation to win back what is no longer mine, to ignore confrontation of reality and bliss in temporary imagination. You look at me and you see the truth, through the frames you seem to handle the neutral perspective while I abuse the radical one. This is the strike of love, or more so, the strike of failure to genuinely love as the spontaneous human beings we are; all of us are doing this and witnessing this everyday dammit, and it f**king irks how it’s impossible to stop, and impossible to remember or apply this piece of wisdom throughout our romantic experiences. It seems that memories and knowledge only like to skirmish one another, leaving our grasp on objectivity in bittersweet tangles. 

A tragic acolyte between the experiments of recreation in Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), the elongated richness of cinematic foreplay in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), and the surreal gentleness of Wong Kar-wai’s own unique storytelling birthed firsthand before our eyes and ears, In the Mood for Love serves as a breakthrough representation of the bewildering application of how time functions in the name of love. New romance seems to almost instantaneously provoke change through incomprehensible instinct, without cause or rationality, thought or contemplation, it is a purely emotional, psychological feeling of attachment that breaks us from routine until we fall into it once again and travel in search of a new means of saving; perhaps through love again. But love doesn’t stop their nor does Kar-wai make it out to seem so set-and-stone; it’s more so worked as a playing ground for affairs to be eventually sequenced in either shadows for some or plain view to others, ones that dance or tremble with either fatigue or desperation, longing to recapture yet hopelessly not having any of the actual information to do so in the first place, as relationships are just far too strenuously complex to decode especially when looking back on them and less so when living in their current moments where the mind is usually numbed of usage. The heart of In the Mood for Love feasts within this arena of love and the collaboration between pre and post-love, reconciling that they all sort of exist in a same fragmentation of time, each deducing what should’ve or could’ve happened in frustratingly ambiguous ways. 

This movie has some of the strongest composition and color I’ve ever seen used in such a confined setting too; I couldn’t not mention that in my review, and in future viewings I’ll probably expand on it a little more. In the Mood for Love should be the dictionary definition of a perfectly shot (bottle?) movie! Kar-wai better stop f**kin’ with my heart or he’ll be getting even more perfect scores from me.

Verdict: A+

Wong Kar-wai Ranked, My All-Time Favorite Movies

“In the Mood for Love” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

High and Low (1963) – A Quintessential Contrast Between the Rich and Poor

Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead • Screened at The Frida Cinema

Almost the entire first half of High and Low is void of music, composed of calm and collected room tone or dialogue set strictly in a mansion, while its second half is burdened into the busy noise and anxiety-presence of Japan. After a wealthy shoe company co-owner finds out that his work partner’s son has been kidnapped, expecting a high ransom from his money-fluid credence, he is put into what one could imagine a very antithetical situation that could either lean into the self or the righteous. This first half of High and Low is about a rich man’s moral development into coming to terms of doing the right thing, to contemplate both image and financial failure, but in the light of shedding wellness onto others who weren’t ever debated as values beforehand until being put into such a neck-tight situation. 

Akira Kurosawa seems to view chivalry as only something that could encourage collaboration from media watchers and those physically there to witness and help, posing an inspiring unity that admiration brings whether seen from a rich man or poor one. The procedural aspect of High and Low, with the many detectives and what have you who’re hunting down this mysterious kidnapper, is showcased in the movie’s second half with a more in-depth overview than most feature-length crime dramas I’ve seen. Therefore, we have time to truly emphasize this thrust of the movie. However, given the atmosphere Kurosawa is about to take us on in terms of the second half’s emphasis on the dependency of the poor, he begs of us to understand that this simplistic encouragement to help out should be applied to areas of its dying, highly populated city, not just to a one man’s ordeal. People need mawkish narratives in order to promote change.

Whenever Kurosawa takes us into the contrasts of location, he is continuously critiquing Japan’s dichotomy of the heaven and hell of the rich and poor. Besides the brilliant nightclub scene that visualizes how escapism hides us even when grim reality is happening all around, the best use of setting for me would have to be in the alleyway scene, where we are integrated into an overlooked care for heroin addicts as they’re abused by higher-class men as just soon-to-be evidence and pieces that could aid in their puzzles to solve a singular issue.

It’s interesting to think too how the minutest of details like accidentally mistaking a millionaire’s son’s friend for the actual son can change the entire face of media headlines and how people see the intentions of both the victim and the perpetrator, which sort of hits home that hatred of power shouldn’t primarily come from jealousy in privilege but only if that privilege is being misused, considering the kidnapper was proven wrong of how he initially saw such a wealthy man from making a simple mistake.

As far as it comes to the information we get on the antagonist at hand, it’s minimal but certainly enough. The final scene of High and Low showcases an everyday man who decided that his reason for living would become destroying those who he had seen as “truly living”. If you’ve convinced yourself that that’s the only way to make do of being poor, then well, hatred simply becomes your “living”. It seems that the nobody of Japan (our antagonist) needed a justification to live, so he used the blame of a wealthy visual icon that demeaned his existence and worked off of that. People will do the craziest things to gain the feeling that they in fact do finally have something to lose, and the higher you go up in the public eye, the more there is to mislay.

This is a side note, but you could probably write a compelling multi-page essay for each shot in this movie when it comes to its blocking, cause sheesh, is that aspect of this movie so blatantly profuse. 

Verdict: A+ 

Akira Kurosawa Ranked, My All-Time Favorite Movies

“High and Low” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

Invincible Season 1 – A “How to” on Expanding Superhero Formula

The following review is spoiler-free.

Imagine a superhero origin story that exists in a sort of current MCU-like world where the guidelines of being a respected savior have become so set-and-stoned due to how expansive its population of superpowered beings is. Imagine a superhero origin story interested in a universe that’s heavily connected from planet to plant: a colossus network that stems back to back between both underdeveloped and overdeveloped societies. Earth then only seems smaller in this case, and this world-building that marginalizes our planet seems to intentionally be preparing us for a clashing of both nihilistic and optimistic intel. Invincible seems to be less so a parody of the comic-book genre like some of my favorites from the last decade, and more so just an intensification of it, inciting on what a generation of countless superheroes could awaken overtime.

In some cases does this debut season seem like simply a more intelligent way to work around the already redundant, goodie-two-shoe heroes and extremist villain stories? Sure, this goes over the classic Spider-Man arc of learning to live up to your superhero duties while balancing high school drama, yet it doesn’t mock it, but rather contextually affixes more to it, automatically hoisting its quality past even its inspirers. The show decides to further convince us more so than your average adaptation that what the protagonist and antagonists want are genuinely based on the experiences of their contrasting socialized communities, awakenings, and developed philosophies towards the weaker individuals that they essentially have control over. It’s not so much a “hero rising up to save the world cause nobody else can” tale, but more so a lineage-related one about a hero having to live up to another hero, to glorified legacies, or better yet, a son’s desire to live up to a father. Without spoilers, Invincible obviously explores not just that to which makes it great, but grander things that connect to controversial notions of foreign gods — how either the heart or minuteness of humanity could possibly change them — who also aren’t written as strictly fixed-minded and completely irrational elitists, but of those who follow any rationale to power, just like a human would to the rest of nature for which they have substantial control of. 

Where The Boys (2019-) was intrigued by modern-day media corruption but in a society of superheroes, and now to what Invincible will be to enhancing cliché superhero narratives with richer context, I think I’m starting to genuinely find more hope and fulfillment with companies who are forced to directly butt heads with this comic-book genre’s dominators: Disney and Warner Bros. Marvel and DC may be incarcerated in the hands of just those two studios, with less wiggle room for risky ideas, but that only gives others more of a reason to start adapting superheroes and villains outside of those stories, those that may even eclipse the most iconic legends one day.

Verdict: B+

“Invincible” season 1 is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (2003) – A contaminated procedural

Screened at the Frida Cinema • Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead • 2nd Viewing 

The only problem with trying to catch a serial rapist in 1980s Hong-Kong is that it’s like an infection, one that could result in incidentally killing the rest of your citizens for which you have put under outlaw-ish speculation, therefore incentivizing cowboy detectives who either feed on the uncertainty of each other or taint witnesses with fear and gossip; there’s a barbarism to this obsession and desire for instant closure, but a pitiful one that we can all relate to. Reaching that point though where everybody around seems to have failed one another in this elongated search for a mass murderer during a time of unethically limited resources, your last resort may just have to phase into a look of mercy towards whoever got away with committing these heinous crimes, hoping that he’ll recognize and ponder if this turmoil that both you and hundreds others faced was really all worth it for him. At least, that would mean something, right?

If Joon-ho proved anything in his second debut into feature-length cinema, it’s that he is committed to becoming a technical auteur. I love how a majority of the composition here is nearly made up of just group shots that linger in unusually extended yet naturally timed fragments, allowing all of its near flawless actors to collaborate as one in their performance. I’ve already kind of come to terms as well that Joon-ho is the king of tonal mingling; this movie is somehow so naturally funny (jump kicks, bald-y!) while also feeling very hopeless given its excruciatingly sorrowful story circumstances. 

It’s no coincidence that the film initially implores Detective Seo to start off as the foreign voice of reason, only for him to gradually become one with this city, developing affinitive ties with its people, and alas causing him to swap his serious persona for an emotionally explosive one, attaching himself almost personally to the case like the rest of the city has. The hardest thing really is accepting failure, especially when it led to the death of many innocent people, and subsequently even more in both a literal and social manner from the lack of self-control in a department’s treatment towards suspects and protestors.

I feel like the Zodiac (2007) comparisons are unavoidable of mentioning at this point, so I’ll address them quickly. I believe Zodiac more so accomplishes scrutinizing the obsession and self-destruction of one man because of another while Memories of Murder more so accomplishes scrutinizing the obsession and self-destruction of an entire city because of one man. Both are masterful though, it’s almost like comparing Call Me By Your Name (2017) with Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) — although one is for sure MARGINALLY better than the other at the end of the day.

Verdict: A

Bong Joon-ho Ranked, My All-Time Favorite Movies

“Memories of Murder” is now available to stream on Hulu.

Quick-Thoughts on Every Episode of Love, Death & Robots Season 2

1. Automated Customer Service

It has the classic yet boring fear perspective of the dystopia becoming technologically reliant on robots, but I think whenever it twists the slasher genre by using cleaning services as a manner of distraction, it can kind of be funny. I like the animation design of the characters though; it reminds me of Studio Ghibli’s drawings of elderly people but converted into admirable CGI reimaginings.

Verdict: 2.5/5

2. Ice

This surreal, off-putting, and marginally shape-warped style of sci-fi animation could make for one gnarly Gorillaz music video; that’s for sure. Sucks how it has to be accompanied by the most by-the-numbers coming of age story ever though.

Verdict: 2.5/5

3. Pop Squad

Jennifer Yuh Nelson found the solution to Children of Men, lol.

The future of ego: only our generation gets to experience life and nobody else; quite parallel to the state of how we’re treating the Earth for future successors don’t ya think? The short is a little preachy — kind of hard to say so much in such little time, so it’s gotta spew it out in chintzy phrases — but this dystopian concept is actually interesting enough to warrant an entire feature-length or video game.

Verdict: 3/5

4. Snow in the Desert

The Age of Adaline meets a Guardians of the Galaxy universe. In concept, it sounds cool, but in execution… eh. Someone definitely thought “Deadpool + A.I.” and then worked off of that.

Verdict: 2.5/5

5. The Tall Grass

At its core, this is a Signs (2003) fan film; let’s be real. The rugged texture in animation is neat though, making CGI look suspiciously like stop-motion. 

Verdict: 2.5/5

6. All Through the House

To be fair though, this would in theory make for a great fear tactic to scare your children into being good for the rest of their lives. Gonna have to try this one day. Santa’s evolved bitches. Better pray I never become a father.

Verdict: 3/5

7. Life Hutch

Okay, now hear me out: what if we made something in the realm of Ridley Scott’s Alien, except the dangerous entity at hand will be as clueless as a pet dog. Charming, right?

Verdict: 2.5/5

8. The Drowned Giant

I think the lesson here folks is that the narrator in this short desperately needs to get laid. This voiceover-reliant piece, while occasionally creative, tries way too hard to be poignant and meaningful with its excessively described stance on wonders never dying through memories and societal unity. Anyways, haha, nothing like making a giant, naked corpse a playground/tourist attraction. Umm…

Verdict: 2.5/5

Love, Death & Robots Ranked

“Love, Death & Robots” season 2 is now available to stream on Netflix.

Quick-Thoughts: Spiral

A far superior attempt at revitalizing a franchise than 2017’s puny spar of gatekeeping a legacy’s classic trademarks before they became dated after its shine and recycle process, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, however, decides to immerse itself into modern climate in wake of conscious America’s growing dislike towards police corruption, drawing eyes on a new killer targeting cop victims. With the silliness dried out and the ironically fun convolution no longer with us, this newest entry is instead a crime thriller that takes itself QUITE seriously. To our dismay though, it doesn’t seem to have the intuitive education nor depth to truly pioneer what it wants to tackle with this refined tone. 

By no means does Chris Rock’s pitch vision actually feel achieved as the powerfully subverting movie it could be in Spiral, more so succeeding on being a 93-minute long establishing unit of rudimentary police brutality rundowns (for which we’re all too familiar with) that just so happens to also be building to a larger narrative conundrum on its sidelines. Howbeit, the spin-off does now have me very interested for the future given the potential it sets forth. I guess therein lies the problem though: what it wants to do ends up being more interesting than what it did do.

I’m sure those who watched the movie already can relate to this final comment a little more, but it really ticked me off too how they basically reveal the killer’s identity halfway through by awkwardly glossing over a pretty significant event, but then the movie proceeds to act like the audience wouldn’t put two and two together from that blatant plot jump alone. Don’t worry Spiral, we definitely figured it out before the big reveal thanks to that. 

Verdict: C-

The Saw Franchise Ranked, 2021 Ranked

“Spiral: From the Book of Saw” is now playing in theaters.