2022 Movie Panic Mode

Trying to catch up before the end of the year, for some reason

2022 Movie Panic Mode

Popcorn Digest is (usually) a bi-weekly round-up of the best (and worst) movies I've watched over the last 14 days.

We all have traditions, and at the end of the year those traditions are often intensified. In my case, as December hits I suddenly panic that I haven’t seen enough of the year’s new movies to…I dunno, make a list of the best of the year? Confidently declaim on what the year was about? So I suddenly just binge as many of the new movies I have on my watchlist as I can in an attempt to make up for…lost movie watching productivity? What the fuck?!?

This is all bullshit, obviously, as best-of lists are just ways of reenforcing spectacular time that force people deeper into their habits of passive cultural consumption while amplifying their feelings of inadequacy with regards to their own levels of engagement, and they are a core way in our decentralized information economy that the concept of capitalist time gets reinforced.

Anyway, look forward for a few best-of lists from me as the year comes to a close!

Saturday November 19 - Saturday December 10

Movies Watched: 20 (slacking!)

Countries: 3 (USA, Australia, Italy)


The Menu (USA, 2022, Dir. Mark Mylod)

This movie was a good, dumb time, and it inspired me to make a Letterboxd list (which is my preferred form of film-genre criticism at the moment) about the emerging subgenre I’m calling ‘classploitation’. Does this movie have a good class critique? Not really! But was it satisfying, insane and a generally fun revenge fantasy? Yes!

Symbiopsychotoxiplasm: Take One (1968, USA. Dir. William Greaves)

This movie about a bunch of people trying to make a movie about making a movie about a screen test for some actors is an incredible document of the sixties counterculture. It engages in a questioning of the forms and assumptions of filmmaking in a collaborative and revolutionary way that’s very much in line with one of my favorite movies of all time, La Commune (2000). Alas, it will also remind you (or instruct those who didn’t know) that the 60s counter culture was often openly and defiantly homophobic. Oops!

Resurrection (2022, USA. Dir. Andrew Semans)

This movie upset the ever-living shit out of me—this movie is a bad time about gaslighting, abuse and self-harm and you need to be ready for that. I wasn’t, tbh, but it worked out OK anyway because this is what people who have stable jobs in film criticism call a tour de force. Rebeca Hall and Tim Roth are just incredible. It’s also what we in this household call a “ten out of ten elbows picture”, because of my incredibly annoying habit of nudging Sophie when stuff in movies directly relates to their theorizing, and this movie was shockingly relevant to their work. So if you like Full Surrogacy Now and also can handle a super intense psychological horror movie I strongly recommend it.

Alice (2022, USA. Dir. Krystin Ver Linden)

This blackspoitation tribute about an enslaved woman escaping from a plantation in Georgia to discover that it’s 1973 was universally panned by critics and audiences alike. There's corny and predictable stuff for sure, and Alice's modernization is both on the nose and a bit too fast, but that's well within the genre mode it's so lovingly referencing and reproducing. Keke Palmer is great, her chemistry with Common is electric, and it's full of satisfying moments that had me laughing in joy and surprise.

Obviously individuals not being into any particular movie is completely reasonable, but when something that seems on par with better reviewed films gets universally panned, I tend to suspect it hit an ideological nerve. (It’s not me, it’s the children who are wrong!)

If I had to guess, the critical rejection of the film is a symptomatic refusal by people to believe in the continuities of slavery into the present, or that the enslaved freed themselves, people who I'd bet found the twist ending of The Village and the revisionist history of Inglorious Basterds delightful. It's a little too close to the here and now for white filmgoers to recognize it as the high concept genre fun it so undeniably is.

Other good stuff I watched:

Sissy (2022, USA, dir. Kane Senes and Hannah Barlow) A LOT to unpack in this queer Gen-z influencer horror/slasher. I think it’s problematically avoidant of race issues but does some very interesting stuff and made me squirm uncomfortably in a way few movies can these days.

A Guide to Dating at the End of the World (2022, Australia, dir. Samuel Gay) A fun, funny and cute hetero romcom with a huge concept much larger than this film’s obviously tiny budget, love when a small film team makes good, and this is a feel good campy time.

Terrifier 2 (2022, USA, dir. Damien Leone) CW: ultra-gore, body horror, extreme violence. This movie, also on a shoestring budget, but with a lot of horror community buzz, manages to actually evoke the 80s in a way the trashy 80s nostalgia pieces (e.g. Stranger Things) failed to—by being about despair and alienation. Amazing practical fx. Way too long though! THIS MOVIE DOES NOT NEED TO BE THIS GD LONG.

Orphan: First Kill (2022, USA, Dir. William Brent-Bell) This prequel, released ten years later, doesn’t fuck around and just make the same movie again. I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises here, because it’s such a delight, but suffice it to say, this is a masterpiece of dumb horror camp, like a Lifetime original movie but with a Hollywood budget and Julia Styles.


Children of the Corn: Revelation (2001, USA. Dir. Guy Magar)

Y’all didn’t really think I would come back after a three week hiatus and not have a Children of the Corn movie to dunk on, did you? This one is fucking terrible, even by the franchise’s “standards”, because the brain geniuses here decided that what this franchise needed was a reason for a movie to take place entirely within a dank apartment building, rather than say, a sunny rural compound. Just cuz Urban Harvest (the third entry in the franchise, and the only actually decent movie among them, imo) made it work doesn’t mean it’s actually a good idea! For a second it looks like Crystal Lowe playing a sex worker is gonna get a romantic lesbian subplot with the lead, and I sat up straight like “hold on is this movie gonna be kind of fun?” It is exactly one scene, and the only thing even vaguely enjoyable about this trash fire.