I no longer write reviews for movies I don’t like. Lately, I’ve been attempting to express myself artistically in a way I never have before. In doing so, I’ve empathized with filmmakers and creators attempting something artistic, whether or not it’s effective for me or other members of the audience. I don’t review movies to portray an objective experience that everyone will have, so if I don’t like something, that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. I love movies that others dislike and I dislike movies that others love. It’s really what I like so much about the art of film — the idea that a movie could hit one particular person in a unique way and give them an important experience that no one else will have.
I look at my role on this blog to be one of recommending movies I enjoyed so that others might get the chance to enjoy them as well. There are plenty of more experienced and knowledgeable critics who can review everything they see, good and bad, and give you their value judgement. But from here on out, apart from when I see something I personally feel should be talked about, I’ll only be writing full reviews for movies that had a positive impact on me. For movies that weren’t for me, I write shorter blurbs like the three below just to get out some overarching thoughts out there, but I won’t do a full-blown takedown. Because that’s how we’re gonna win — not by ranting against what we hate. But by praising what we love.
By no means would I call myself a big fan of horror movies, but out of the few non-A24 flicks I’ve enjoyed in the last few years, James Wan’s Conjuring movies are near the top of the list. So that, coupled with the reactions I was seeing, compelled me to check out Wan’s latest feature, Malignant on HBO Max. Now, I didn’t even come close to loving this thing, but I did see some value in it. As my boss over at SiftPop, Aaron Dicer put it, Malignant wasn’t my cup of tea, but I respected the brew. The film follows Madison (Annabelle Wallis), who begins to have visions of murders that are happening in real life. If I say any more than that, it’ll get into spoiler territory. The only reason I’m not higher on this movie is because of its consistent grisly images and body horror. I think it works for the film, but it’s just not something I enjoy to look at! But it does have some truly great cinematography and an unexpected score that enhances its campy feel. It also explores some interesting themes and has real heart at the center of it, so if this kind of horror movie is your thing, then I think there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get something out of it.
The Guilty, one of Netflix’s latest films, is something I wish I could enjoy a lot more than I do. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it had high promise as it follows a 911 operator who gets wrapped up in an ongoing crime the night before he goes on trial for a crime of his own. Gyllenhaal is predictably great in it, albeit playing a wholly unlikeable character. This, in and of itself, is not bad, but the 2018 Danish film this is a remake of brought so many layers to its main character (played by Jakob Cedergren). I love Gyllenhaal and he goes full on Nightcrawler and Prisoners in this movie, but the best compliment I can give it is… that you should go watch the original before checking out the remake.
Titane… ah, what can I say about this movie? I heard about it just a couple of days before it premiered at my local arthouse theater since it won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes film festival. I think the best I can say about this one, again, is that I respect the brew, but it wasn’t for me, in the sense that I literally almost threw up while drinking it. I’m not kidding. I almost walked out of the theater because of its graphic violence. And that’s not because I have moral objections to it or anything — I just have a weak stomach! So if you choose to see this movie about a woman with a surgically inserted metal plate in her head who [redacted] a car, just don’t get popcorn. The film mostly succeeds at what it’s trying to do, but gets lost in the weeds of its metaphor and visceral nature a few times. Again, I appreciated it and understood why some really love it… I just could barely handle watching it once, let alone sitting down to revisit it. So if you’re interested in seeing this, please be warned of its brutal nature. Like Malignant, if you can take it, you’ll probably love it. But if you can’t, you’ll likely be in the same boat as me.