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02.15.23 Neek's 2023 Movie Hub01.11.23 20NEEK22 - Film Ranking
11.28.22 i need a new favorite band05.05.22 Best Album Covers: Apr. 2022
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Neek's 2023 Movie Hub

including all 2022 films i've since my year-end list, but will mostly be dedicated to 2023 releases in the future C:
1Anthony Willis

M3GAN // 4.3 // Sci-Fi (Horror)
dir. Gerard Johnston

A glorious she-boot of Child's Play that doubles down on the human drama without diluting a ridiclous sense of fun, M3GAN is honestly an incredible pop film. Emphasizing an intelligent sci-fi angle that forces AI to deal with the grief of a child, M3GAN comes across as surprisingly sympathetic (both the film and the character). M3GAN's anger is rightful, the daughter's grief is palpable, and her aunt's desperation is entirely believable. Maybe I'm just not used to this kind of movie putting this much thought into both characterization and being bonkers, but I'll be first in line when MEG4N comes out.
2Sachiko M
Bar Sachiko

Skinamarink // 2.2 // Horror (Experimental)
dir. Kyle Edward Ball

An abusively overlong tone-poem that preys on millenial nostalgia as much as it does cheap jumpscares, Skinamarink is more believable as a curio than as a potential cornerstone of future horror. Ball clearly has some talent with texture and sound, but as it stands this is an intermittently compelling series of gifs. Just hire an actual editor next time man.
Old World Underground, Where Are You Now

Millennium Bugs // 3.2 // Drama (Comedy)
dir. Alejandro Montoya Marin

A twee early-00s-set indie comedy, Millenium Bugs at first struggles to find what its about--but it's not like its protagonist can't relate. Headed by an exceptional performance from Katy Erin, the film settles into a surprisingly poignant drama that makes the best of the chemistry between leads. Marin's exacting direction on both fronts of this dramedy are what make it an ultimate success, and I know what's coming will be even better.

The Wonder // 3.8 // Mystery (drama)
dir. Sebastián Lelio

A terse religious mystery suffocated in dour grays and oppressive forces, Pugh maintains magnetic hold over the plot even as things lean into increasingly dark and incredulous territory. Lelio's empathetic direction is strong as ever, weaving what could've been an excruciatingly boring parable into a strong condemnation of faith without question.

The Whale // 1.9 // Drama (Psychological)
dir. Darren Aronofsky

Brendan Fraiser does his absolute best as a dramatic anchor in a sea of misguided notions. As solid as the supporting cast is, everyone is weighed down by an absolutely abysmal script that fails to address the judgement of the camera in such a delicate setting. Mocking closeups and humiliating language from those closest to him make it clear that this "message" about disability is better suited to the stage than the screen. If cinema is an empathy machine, The Whale is pity porn.
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?

All Quiet on the Western Front // 3.7 // War (Epic)
dir. Edward Berger

A bone-shaking portrayal of the brutality and pointlessness of WWI, All Quiet is not a remake that gets too swept up in its technological advancements, it rather utilizes them for some of the most intense war sequences this side of the millenium. If anything, it's the expansion of scope that dilutes the tragic power of the original. Constant cutting to various war rooms and political offices takes us out of that perfectly manufactured intensity, instead waxing poetic over the uselessness of war and setting up WWII to such lengths you'd almost expect a sequel. As the film slows down for a solemn yet drawn-out closing act, it's clear that this is a strong remake, but won't leave the same legacy as its predecessor.
7Wild Pink

Bones and All // 4.4 // Romance (Horror)
dir. Luca Guadagnino

There's something mythical to this rural American tale of love and violence. Guadagnino is uniquely gifted at capturing the beauty and heartlessness of the American Midwest, so much so that we understand that these nomads can never really leave it. Fueled by a pair of truly endearing lead performances and an unnerving turn from Mark Rylance, I was entranced by this film's subtle power and its willingness to push the boundaries of its story to deliver something truly powerful and memorable.
8The National
I Am Easy to Find

BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths // 3.5 // Drama (Epic)
dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu

A weighty, lengthy, at times formless meta-film from the mastermind behind two back-to-back Best Director wins ("Birdman" and "The Revenant"), BARDO is nevertheless a testament to the way Iñárritu can deliver expansive concepts without losing his human side. There are sequences of great excess, and there are sequences of great focus. The meta-commentary sometimes pushes the self-awareness into insufferable territory, but more often than not it cements the characters and narrative into something special. Absolutely stellar cinematography too.
9Emma Ruth Rundle
Engine of Hell

Dual // 3.7 // Sci-Fi (Thriller)
dir. Riley Stearns

A pitch-black comedy wrapped around a menacing and devastating sci-fi thriller about a woman doomed to fight to the death with herself, Stearns mines poignant themes of identity and disaffectedness long after he's lost hold over his story. Karen Gillan once again proves she's one of the best actresses in the genre, imbuing both sides of her character with the desperation and intensity of a character that can't find a reason to live until she has to kill herself to survive.
10The Felice Brothers
From Dreams to Dust

Armageddon Time // 4.3 // Drama (Coming-of-age)
dir. James Gray

A focused, personal portrait of young life, Gray's latest is both a stark condemnation of America's education system (and how it propagates racism, elitism, etc.), and also something much more bittersweet. His empathic direction smooths any bluntness in the script, and his young protagonist (through his strict moral code and impulsiveness) feels more realized than the countless coming-of-age films that strive to be universal, but end up just being plain. The acting is masterclass all around.
Blue Rev

The Fabelmans // 4.4 // Drama (Coming-of-age)
dir. Steven Spielberg

Probably the best film Spielberg's released in almost two decades, his probing examination of his childhood and what it means to be a young artist is both affecting and profound. The way cinema and its impact is woven directly into the plot shows the endless consideration Spielberg has shown for his art--the way our young protagonist learns its power is painfully relatable and rings of absolute truth. Thankfully, this is not a self-biopic the way lesser films like Belfast dilute themselves into glorified photo albums, but rather a carefully constructed family drama with absolute powerhouse performances (Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle) and a sea of characters that exude dimensionality. Goddammit, he's done it again.
12U.S. Girls
Half Free

Women Talking // 3.8 // Drama (Social)
dir. Sarah Polley

Both an excruciating re-examination of power in modern America and a didactic stageplay led by brilliant performances, Women Talking manages more often than not to overcome its faults thanks largely to pitch-perfect direction from writer/director Sarah Polley. While the talking points seems to flow along an artificial thread and characters trade barbs seemingly just to keep things moving, its deeply considered script is hardly callous. Its difficult subject matter is handled with a tact rarely seen at the multiplex, as are most of its secondary focuses (aside from a thoughtless suicide reference). It's a modern story in a modern setting, despite the trimmings, and it’s full of characters willing to change their world in order to make a better future for their children. Is there anything more hopeful with that?
This Is Why

Emily the Criminal // 4.0 // Thriller (Social)
dir. John Patton Ford

Aubrey Plaza hypnotizes in a terrifyingly realistic thriller of a woman so sick of being a millennial in America that she increasingly turns against her nation's institutions to secure her freedom from them. While ever-sympathetic, a violence flairs in Plaza's protagonist that makes us scared of her almost as often as we're scared of her, emphasizing her desperation as the film's tension and style continuously ratchet up. The American Dream has been obliterated, and people like us and Emily the Criminal can no longer play by its rules.
14PJ Harvey
To Bring You My Love

Resurrection // 4.2 // Thriller (Horror)
dir. Andrew Semans

A white-knuckled paranoia thriller that slowly becomes something even more fucked, Andrew Semans' direction puts you in a stranglehold and doesn't let go until its over. His script is deliberate, as is Rebecca Hall's ludicrously good performance, both emphasizing our protagonists' need for control after all was stripped form her in her youth. It's the psychotic dance of control that sends things spinning, as the film continues to up the ante far past what you'd expect. In the age of films like "Men," its amazing to see what could be an exploitational clusterfuck turn into a laser-focused probe into the trauma of control.
Beautiful Seizure

Fire of Love // 4.2 // Doc (Science)
dir. Sara Dosa

Some of the most gorgeous camera work I've seen this year is from a volcanologist whose been dead for 30 years. But at the heart of this very focused, contemplative documentary is a story of two people who'd risk dying to get the perfect shot. Fire of Love does an incredible job of entwining their love of volcanoes for their love of each other, and how their worldviews shaped their science. The film does run a bit long, as if it concluded its thesis early and then needed to kill time, but with images like these, it didn't bother me much.
16Big Thief

Close // 4.4 // Drama (Coming-of-age)
dor. Lukas Dhont

On one hand, a heartbreaking look at how schools (and their parent societies) pull the seams of any relationship they don't understand apart, and how useless their damage control is. On the other, young guilt in its most wrenching form. Powerhouse performances from our young leads propel this into becoming one of the best dramas of the year. It's a beautiful, beautiful film, one with incisive empathy and a restless heart.
Never Let Me Go

All That Breathes // 3.7 // Doc (Social)
dir. Shaunak Sen

A persceptive doc that lets its characters and world speak for itself, All That Breathes is as comfortable panning through breathtaking naturescapes in the underbrush as it is probing into the miscommunication between our protagonists between themselves and the rest of the planet. As they struggle to make up for the massive loss of life in New Delhi, their prognosis that all that breathes is equal is pitted directly with their constant frustration and dependence on each other. A layered, fascinating film that isn't your usual doc.
18The Afghan Whigs
How Do You Burn?

Argentina, 1985 // 4.2 // Historical (Legal)
dir. Santiago Mitre

A clear-eyed and strongly delivered examination of a revolutionary moment in history, presenting the situation and its global stakes and importance with absolute clarity. I wish it got its hands a little dirtier and spending more time on the personal ramifications the regime had on its people, but it definitely got me emotionally riled up, and that's really all you can ask for with a film this important.
Dahinter das Gesicht

Return to Seoul // 4.3 // Drama (Psychological)
dir. Davy Chou

A piercing and vibrant character study of a woman terrified of belonging to anyone, Return to Seoul is pristine drama that fully understands the visual power of its medium. There are some dream-like sequences that never once feel out of touch with the cold reality of other moments. It's simply excellent direction--we're so in her head that whatever she's feeling makes complete sense. Loved the look and feel of this, and how well handled the time-jumps were for a film like this.
20The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground & Nico

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed // 4.7 // Doc (Profile)
dir. Laura Poitras

The most staggering documentary I've seen in a long time, All the Beauty is partly composed of the most affecting slideshow work I've ever seen period, fully blending the arts of film and photography in a way I just didn't expect. Ultimately this paints a hugely affecting portrait of earlier queer history, which of course I had never heard before. I got fucking educated like I needed to. The modern segments taking on the Oxycotin industry aren't as affecting as Nan Goldin's personal history, but their real-world impact is undeniable and exhilarating. A proud film of how one person can make a difference with the help of other people.
Bleed Like Me

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre // 4.0 // Spy (Action)
dir. Guy Ritchie

Guy Ritchie has still fuckin' got it, because this thing absolutely rips. Not only does it feature the first (fucking brilliant) pairing of Jason Statham and Aubrey Plaza, whose chemistry is just stellar, but its a banging spy-comedy with clever setups, hilarious characters, and some really great action sequences. This is about as pure pop-action as you can get, so if that's not your thing steer clear, but this has far more brains and balls than most of the action films that didn't drop like a rock in theaters (honestly the release of this was so botched, did you even hear of this one?). Anyway watch this whenever it shows up on a streaming service.
22Joseph Shirley
Creed III (Original Score)

Creed III // 4.2 // Sports (Drama)
dir. Michael B. Jordan

An extremely thoughtful examination of black power and privlege on top of being a banger of a boxing film, Creed III nears the original in its greatness thanks to an excellent debut turn from Michael B. Jordan as a director. The dialogue scenes between Jordan and Jonathan Majors crackle with even more menace and tension than the fight sequences, which are really great, if a little much imo. Ultimately the series doesn't miss a step leaving behind Rocky and Philly (this is very much an L.A. movie!!), and if this one proves anything, Creed might end up having even better franchise legs than Balboa himself.
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