My Favorite Mind-Bending Films

Coherence (2013)
Written & Directed by James Ward Bykrit

Not too shabby for a feature directorial debut, though Bykrit had worked alongside Gore Verbinksi on several projects and clearly learned a lot. The premise is perfect for a low-budget flick; eight friends gather for dinner & to watch the elusive Davis’s Comet pass overhead. There’s plenty of history and interpersonal conflict between everyone, which comes out when things get weird. The power goes out, and the neighborhood is pitch black, except for one house with lights still on. A few party guests go over there, and things feel even more off when they return. Eventually, it becomes clear that not everything is what it seems, and some people are lying about their identities. It’s an enjoyable movie that ends on a beautifully dark note.

Read my full review here.

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My Favorite Films About Beginnings

New years are consistently heralded as new beginnings. It’s silly, really, that the change of the calendar year should fill us with the idea that now is the time to change things. Every day is a chance for a new beginning, not just January 1st. These movies explore what it is to make a first or a fresh start, even if the result is something terrible. The common thread through all the films I feature in this list is their focus on the humanity of their characters, people trying to make sense of an often senseless & chaotic world.

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Most Anticipated Films of 2023

Infinity Pool (directed by Brandon Cronenberg) – 27 January

Possessor was one of the most unflinchingly brutal movies I’d seen in a long time, so I now approach Brandon Cronenberg’s work partially cowering but intrigued. The official synopsis of the picture is very vague, telling us it’s about a couple who are wealthy and young enjoying a vacation at an all-inclusive resort. However, outside the grounds of the hotel is something perilous & violent, a cultural collapse. If this is anything like Possessor, expect zero sentimentality from the director and visual effects that will melt your brain. Stars Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård.

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Seth’s Favorite Films of 2022

Yes, that movie you think should be on the list is not here. I did see it. I just didn’t feel a connection to it like you did. I’m glad you liked it though. That’s the thing with these lists and why I specifically label them as my “favorites” and not “the best.” I don’t quite know how to really qualify what makes something “the best” but I can talk about why I personally love a film or a book or anything. And this is a time of year I love because I think back on what I saw and in particular what stuck with me.

This year I noticed some themes. One of them was women in difficult situations fighting their way out somehow. I also saw movies about children without guidance, having to grow up way too fast. There are a lot of films here that are angry, the creators have been thinking about something in the world that isn’t right and they are expressing that rage in their work. 2022 was not an easy year and it certainly has shown that things are likely going to get worse for the planet if they ever get better at all. You and I can do what we can in our own small ways. One of those ways is the expression of ourselves through art, like these fine filmmakers have done. It’s a powerful thing to say how you feel and allow others to know they aren’t alone in this cold, harsh world. On to the movies!

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Most Anticipated Films of 2022 – Review

Each year, I like to go back to January’s Most Anticipated Films list (Part 1, Part 2) and quickly jot down a sentence or two about what I thought of the ones I saw. If a movie from the original list is not here more often than not it means production didn’t start until too late in the year or has been delayed into 2023. There are also a small numbers I just didn’t watch because I either never found the time or I saw reviews coming in and realized it probably wasn’t going to be something I would enjoy. Those movies may get reviewed in the future though. So here is my list:

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My Most Anticipated Movies of 2022 – Part 2

Alpha Gang (directed by David and Nathan Zellner)

I haven’t followed the Zellner brothers through every film they’ve made, but I really enjoyed Kumiko, Treasure Hunter. It was strange but extraordinarily endearing, a very interesting vibe you don’t find in most movies. I have Damsel on my “to be watched” list. They have a penchant for choosing film genres that are familiar and then doing something a bit askew with them. Alpha Gang is about a group of aliens who come to Earth to conquer the planet. They start experiencing human emotions upon arrival, and their plans crumble. It sounds like the makings of a bad sketch, yes? But I fully expect they will present it in such a way that you’re surprised at every turn. Set to star Andrea Riseborough, Jon Hamm, and more.

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My Most Anticipated Movies of 2022 – Part One

The Batman (directed by Matt Reeves) – March 4

It seems like Spider-Man; there is always a Batman reboot just around the corner. A long time ago, I gave up on caring about films adhering to a singular vision of a character. I wouldn’t say I am hyped about this due to Matt Reeves’ involvement. I think the recent Planet of the Apes films are okay. I am, however, interested to see Robert Pattinson as Batman. Pattinson has made some fantastic career choices recently, and I want to see if this one was purely for the paycheck or if they are doing something special with Batman. The tone of the trailers has been pretty spot on, a good mix of Nolan’s gritty world with the inclusion of other elements we haven’t seen in a while. I am curious to see Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin, as he looks unrecognizable.

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Ariana’s Favorite Films of 2021

I hadn’t reviewed as many movies on this blog as Seth has. Also, if this list intermixes with his, we watch a lot of films together. I will choose a few others to show just how cool I am.

Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World
Directed by Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis is like the Ken Burns of the emotional state of the Western World. There is a particular stomach-turning sensation when watching Adam Curtis’s films. You’re quietly begging for him to perhaps deliver some good news only for him to carve in deeper into the history to remind you just how insane it is. Not a lighthearted watch. You can watch it all here right now.

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Seth’s Favorite Films of 2021

Nightmare Alley (dir. Guillermo del Toro)

From my review: We get a darkly complex story about the unnoticed rise of fascism and how humanity is composed of abused & downtrodden people who take advantage of each other. This story will not deliver a fairy tale ending and features characters you will have a deeply hard time liking. Such a shift by del Toro, a director who has spent his career delving into worlds of magic, is pretty jarring. The only figure who deserves an ounce of empathy in the picture is the poor geek, forced to bite the heads off chickens while living in an opium/alcohol-induced squalor. Even Molly is guilty of running a con; she just doesn’t want to go as far as Stanton is willing to reach.

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Seth’s Favorite Film Discoveries of 2021

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, dir. Martin Scorsese)

From my full review: Scorsese delivers a pitch-perfect comedy-drama that never once feels phony. He ends up presenting one of the most honest mother-son relationships I’ve seen in a film. Alice is by no means a conventional mother, and she regularly engages in arguments with her son that seem more appropriate for a friend. She is still a parent and is determined to keep her son out of trouble while allowing him space to make mistakes and learn. The things she exposes her son to might cause some viewers to judge her for being immature and irresponsible. Tommy is present when Ben becomes violent with Alice. When Alice gets involved with David, Tommy is a part of their going out. It makes sense, though, because Alice’s life has a big chunk devoted to Tommy, so any person she might partner with is going to need to understand and get along with her child.

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