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Letterboxd Loose Ends 2020

Film reviews I’ve written on Letterboxd that are fewer than 100 words are collected here.

The Little Mermaid

How I became so attached to the songs in this movie when it came out the same year I fell in love with thrash metal is anybody’s guess, but “Part of Your World” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” are the bedrock of my karaoke game. Decades later, no other aspect of The Little Mermaid does much for me, although Scuttle is pretty delightful and Ursula is the shit. Can’t believe I only just learned that she was directly inspired by Divine!

Little Women

Gentle but not slight. Didn’t know how much I needed that right now. Extra points for the quick hit of what is probably the best bookbinding porn ever to grace a major motion picture.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

This movie is so goddamned good, I’m not even mad that it neglects to incorporate Van Halen’s “On Fire.”

The Cabin in the Woods

The premise is a bit too clever for its own good, and its foundational recontextualization of horror cliches sees fit to bask in said cliches for far longer than is tolerable, especially considering its satirical scares are blander than much of their source material. Cabin in the Woods is at its best during its early peeks behind the curtain, before Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins’ charming rapport is displaced by a too-thorough accounting of the film’s convoluted mythology.

Robo Vampire

If Robo Vampire has a script, it reads like something a 6-year-old wrote, which makes it a compelling argument for child labor. Somehow this is my first exposure to the hopping vampires of jiangshi folklore, and only the second Godfrey Ho movie I’ve seen. It won’t be the last.

Leave Her to Heaven

Gene Tierney carefully assembling the perfect outfit for throwing herself down the stairs to force a miscarriage is just about as good as movies get.

Crazy World

Charming but exhausting. The action is too quick, the plot is too slow, and at 65 minutes, it runs at least four times longer than it needs to. Also, given the abject poverty constantly on display, I was distracted for most of the movie wondering how the profit sharing works when a no-budget DIY flick like this gets international distribution. Oh, and having not set foot in a movie theater in four months, the Alamo Drafthouse intro instantly brought tears to my eyes.

Child’s Play

A handful of the adults in this are written and performed with noticeably more warmth than is typical of mainstream fright flicks, and Aubrey Plaza in particular is given real latitude to employ her considerable talents. Unfortunately she’s sidelined after the first act in favor of her kid and his friends, all of whom are pretty stock, and nu-Chucky doesn’t hold a candle to the original. All in all, though, this is slightly better than average popcorn horror.

Bill & Ted Face the Music

Sweet, dumb, fun. No more than I needed from it, and no less.

The Invisible Man

Neither the trailer nor writer/director Leigh Whannell’s bonafides in the Saw and Insidious franchises gave me much confidence that this Invisible Man remake would be any good, so its overall high quality is a very pleasant surprise indeed. Its loudest moments are its weakest, but thankfully it spends much of its time quietly plumbing the depths of Elisabeth Moss’s crippling PTSD. If there is to be a modern version of the scream queen, may Moss’s nuanced performance here be the template. It’s the best performance I’ve seen all year.

Tales from the Hood

Tales from the Hood’s vengeful ghosts aren’t nearly as scary as the real-world racism and cycles of violence that provoke them. The film’s portrayals of those social ills are anything but subtle, but they are nevertheless undeniably horrific.

The Witches

Like all Dahl adaptations, this pulls its punches more than it should, but Jim Henson’s magic and the crazy camera work manage to make it truly special, and it’s miles beyond the atrocious Zemeckis version that came 30 years later. The experience was also elevated for me by watching it with my partner, whose lifelong idolization of the titular witches is morbidly adorable.

The Girl With All the Gifts

When Melanie says to Sgt. Parks, “It’s not over, it’s just not yours anymore,” I so badly wanted Sgt. Parks to be Mitch McConnell.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I avoided seeing Rocky Horror forever, mostly because throughout high school and college, I found all the attention-starved theater kids who worshipped it to be so irritating. Decades later, I can’t help but be charmed by how giddily transgressive it is.