The month of December’s a fabulous thing There’s joy in the air and carols to sing The lights are hung high upon every roof thatch And stores sell their toys in many a batch And down in the cinema, some of the time Sits a pretentious reviewer, thinking in rhyme (Yes, we’re doing this. What did you expect? To give up on this gimmick, that would be neglect)
One of the fascinating things about pop-culture, particularly the impact nostalgia plays on it, is something known as the 30-year cycle. To get a good explanation of this you need to look at Lindsay Ellis’ video essay Stranger Things, IT and the Upside Down of Nostalgia but basically, this cycle is why we’re seeing so many 80’s style content in pop culture recently. Not only is it why shows and movies like, well, Stranger Things and It are getting such buzz and are hitting something special in the audience, it also explains things like the stylistic choices of Thor: Ragnarok or the throwback nature of Mandy. The nature of the 30-year cycle lends itself really well to the horror genre, especially now since that 30-year cycle means we’re seeing echoes of one of the golden ages in horror. Summer of 84 capitalises on that and its echoes of a distant cinematic past are loud, vibrant and engaging.
One of the standard genre’s that is almost always guaranteed to be a really good time is the heist film. For some reason, we all just enjoy a movie where a bunch of criminals stick it to someone higher in the social food chain while also making a ton of money. Widows is certainly going to fit that standard mould, a bunch of people plan to steal a large amount of money that will stick it to the people above them in the social food chain and that would be good enough. It would be enough if Widows was just a standard heist film but it also happened to star a group of amazing women, that would be good enough… but this is a Steve McQueen film, good enough doesn’t cut it here.
For most of my life, I’ve been a huge fan of the Harry Potter franchise. I got the first two books from my grandmother for Christmas long ago, just before the third one came out in 1999 (FEEL OLD YET!?) and since then I was that person who had to get the new one on the day it went on sale. I was such a fan that I preordered a copy of the final book and still was in line outside the store before 6am on the day that it went out (Because Australia didn’t do a midnight release) just so that I could get my hands on it. I devoured the last book in 2 days. Every movie I went to see with another one of my grandparent’s, the same one who I mentioned taking to see Christopher Robin a while ago, and we always would go on opening day to see it with a packed theatre and enjoy the absolute glee that came with seeing these books that we loved being brought to life. I was there watching as these major elements of my childhood became reality but when they announced they were doing Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, I wasn’t interested. By the time that movie came out I was in my late 20s and was cynical about so much, I believed it to be nothing but a cheap cash grab created by Warner Brothers because they were desperate to have a steady income since their superhero movies kept turning out to be giant steaming piles of excrement littering the cinematic pavement. Since I knew I would be reviewing the sequel today, last night I decided to finally watch the original Fantastic Beasts movie and I found it to be genuinely delightful. Sure, I was right about it being a cash grab designed to rake in obscene amounts of money from a reputable brand name but at least it tried to be entertaining. It had a charm to it, a warmth that emanated throughout the film that was infectious. It was basically Pokemon but with wizards in it and I was excited to see where they were going to take this story, maybe it was going to be more than just a cheap excuse to slip a hand into my wallet and extract a few bucks.
So today we lost one of the greatest creators who ever lived. The incomparable Stan Lee passed away, leaving behind him a universe of characters that have spent the last decade changing the film landscape. If you’ve been to a cinema to see a film in the last 10 years, chances are that Marvel’s logo popped up and so did Stan in one of his iconic cameo’s. The most recent in the tidal wave of films to come out is Venom, the last theatrically released Marvel film during Stan’s lifetime and it seemed appropriate for me to see it the day the news broke… for the record, he has a cameo in this one, and I won’t pretend I didn’t tear up a little. While I was doing that though, I was also thinking “Damn… I wish this was a better film right now”
There is probably no movie that’s been remade more times than A Star Is Born. It started as a film called “What Price Hollywood” back in 1932 before it got the iconic title we now know in 1937 when Janet Gaynor took on the lead role. It was an episode of the TV series Robert Montgomery Presents back in 1951. 1954 brought us the Judy Garland version of this story. Barbra Streisand had her turn at it in 1976 and now it’s Lady Gaga’s turn to take on the role of a young songwriter who falls for an older alcoholic who slowly pulls her into the spotlight and might end up taking her down with him… I look forward to the remake in 2035 when a sentient AI that sings will star in the new version.
In 2016, Gerrard Conley released a memoir titled “Boy Erased” about when his family enrolled him into conversion therapy in hopes of turning their gay son straight. Conversion therapy is a non-scientific form of therapy (As in, it’s not actually therapy) that claims to be able to make someone straight, something that the American Psychiatric Association says you can’t do but since when has religious fundamentalists ever listened to science? This film is an adaptation of that memoir and is meant to be a deep exploration of what happens during conversion therapy in an attempt to educate the masses of its real dangers… they have the best of intentions, I’ll give them that.