Last year was not a very good year. Politics were garbage. Economics were garbage. The world is probably going to end in like thirty years. I’m never going to be able to buy a house, and if I did it would most likely be swept away in a storm as the planet Earth becomes Waterworld (who would’ve guessed that would be our most realistic post-apocalypse?) within a few years. It’s all bad and terrible, and--you know what? Movies were actually pretty good this year.
Yeah, let’s talk about those.
Mandy reminds me of how I felt when I first saw Oldboy. I was barely a teenager bumping through the offerings on this fancy new Comcast service called OnDemand. They had movies on there that you could just go ahead and stream whenever you wanted for free. What a world! Oldboy looked like it might have been a movie I had seen a trailer for on a DVD years ago, but I had forgotten its title. Chan-wook Park’s revenge masterwork was not that movie. What Oldboy turned out to be, however, was something I’d never experienced before. It was strange, violent, perverse, beautiful, and it changed me in some indefinable way.
Mandy is exactly like that, except I’m an adult who has seen plenty of shit and figured the days of getting that feeling were long behind me. It’s a joy to be wrong sometimes. I’ve already gushed at length about it, but suffice to say it gives the feeling of some dusty VHS that you’d discover at the bottom of a cardboard box as a kid and pop in without knowing just what awaited you. It’s a formative experience for people who thought they were already formed.
For me, what’s most tragic about Hereditary is the relatability of its pain. Putting aside the witchcraft and mental illness, it’s a story about the trauma of having a child you don’t want and of being that unwanted child. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s sad. It’s horrible. The dinner scene alone is a marvel of anguish. Honestly, by the time the supernatural shit showed up I was so beaten and drained that I felt like I had given up and was just being dragged at the film’s whim. So, yeah, we can probably stop with witchcraft movies for a while. They’re not going to get any better.
More like Annihilal-great-ion, am I right? A surreal meditation on people’s desire for self-destruction, it’s far and away the most gorgeous movie of the year. The landscapes of glass, the bodies in flowers, the weird deer (Maybe it’s the rural Pennsylvania boy in me, but I’m a sucker for weird deer) all topped off with that fucking bear. It’s tense and stunning, and I very much appreciate a sci-fi movie that doesn’t waste time with jargon and nonsense explanations and just answers 90 percent of its questions with a resounding “I don’t know.”
This is a wondrous bit of Estonian weirdness, beautifully filmed in black-and-white and featuring these mechanized beings that are a sight to behold. At turns funny, horrific, and romantic, November is a rare art film that I believe has something for everyone, even those who may not be so accustomed to its style. At its core is a warped logic that’s fun to follow and a doomed romance that’s painful and relatable to all. It’s free on Amazon Prime, and I really suggest checking it out.
This is also free on Amazon Prime and also something you need to see--provided you love garbage. I do. I’m a huge fan of films that may be far from perfect, but through that imperfection they offer a one-of-a-kind experience that’s marvelous in its own warped way. The only difference between something like Samurai Cop or The Room and a surrealist flick straight out of the art house is nothing more than intention--and money and skill--but that won’t stop a film like Apocalypse Rising from sticking in your head for months after you’ve seen it. If I’m going to gauge my top five based on the movies I thought about most this year, then this trashy sci-fi/religious/erotic/horror/comedy mishmash of anything and everything more than earned its place.
From the moment the last of an alien race lands their dick-shaped space shuttle onto the Earth’s surface and their captain lifts a pair of heavy-metal horns and announces, “It’s time to procreate!” you know you have something special. The baby Jesus has a zombie army. A woman decapitates herself by spinning her sword really fast. I’m not going to say anything more. It needs to be seen. You’re welcome.