About four months ago, I wrote a blog post that listed all the amazing (new and old) films I’d seen so far in 2021. Figured it was time to do another post like that, so here it goes:
Solaris (2002) – Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) is one of my all time favorite films, and the original made for Russian television flick (1968) isn’t so bad either (you can watch that one here). Not only is Solaris one of my favorite films, but Stanilaw Lem’s novel is just about one of my favorite stories ever told. I love pretty much everything related to this weird little sci-fi story, so why hadn’t I seen the 2002 remake by Stephen Soderbergh until only recently? I’m not sure. I can’t say I’ve heard terrible things about it. Maybe it’s just the whole Hollywood remake stigma that’s attached to it? Probably so. Anyway, regardless of my reasoning behind avoiding it all these years, I actually got around to finally watching it… and you know what? It’s kind of amazing. I still love Tarkovsky’s version more, but Soderbergh did something interesting with it, and I love it as well. I’m pretty bummed I can’t find a physical copy that’s any better than DVD quality, but surely a fancy new remaster will come out at some point (yeah, I’m old school). I’m keeping an eye out.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man/Tetsuo: Body Hammer (1989/1992): I recently bought the astounding box set Solid Metal Nightmares, which collects 10 of Shinya Tsukamoto’s best films (as mentioned in my previous blog post). Before owning this box set, I had only seen three of his films: The Iron Man, Body Hammer, and Tokyo Fist. The first two in this list I’d seen nearly two decades ago (and were highly influential on my young mind), so it was high time I finally got around to seeing them again. What a trip! The Iron Man is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Every frame is an art piece all in itself. The second in this series is gorgeous as well, but it has more of a Terminator 2/Matrix/popcorn flick kind of feel (not a diss, as I love both of those films–just a different aesthetic than the original), as Tsukamoto had more money to throw at it the second time around, and while it’s amazing in its own way, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original in my opinion. More money doesn’t always make it a better film. That’s not to say Body Hammer isn’t a great film, because it is pretty fantastic, it’s just that it’s a slight step down from the original. See them both.
The Beatles: Get Back (2021) – Like 90% of the entire world, The Beatles are in my DNA. I’ve known and loved their music longer than I’ve been able to create memories. They’ve just always been there, humming along as I’ve done just about everything in life. So when I first heard about Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary, all it took was a few seconds of the trailer before I pulled out my wallet and gave Disney+ all my money. I wasn’t prepared for just how much this film would affect me. I saw it something like 2 months ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It’s the coolest rock documentary I’ve ever seen, hands down. I felt like I was there, watching them jam and hang out together. This is the stuff music fans dream of, but it’s really real! It’s 8 hours long, but we’ll worth your time. In fact, I’m thinking of watching it again very soon.
Kotoko (2011) – This movie rocked me to my core. Having seen nearly all of his early work by the time I finally got around to this one, Tsukomoto (yes, this list is heavy on Tsukamoto. He’s brilliant!) threw a curveball at me. Instead of his iconic nightmarish visions of metal bursting through skin, here we have a heartrending love story between two mentally disturbed individuals that had me feeling all the feels. Some movies you don’t just watch, you experience. This is one of those films.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) – No, I’m not one of those film snobs who can’t turn their brain off and enjoy a good popcorn flick. I love the MCU. I grew up reading Marvel comics and watched the cartoons every Saturday morning, so seeing these movies almost always has me feeling like a kid again. This one more than any other so far, actually… and for a lot of spoilery reasons that I won’t go into here. Man, this was so much fun. I’m so happy I get to see these movies with my son as he grows up. I’m not sure who enjoys them more—him or me.
Don’t Look Up (2021) ‐ This movie pissed so many people off! I was not one of those people. I thought it was brilliant satire, though I happen to be on their side of the argument/debate/discussion/message. If you’re not one to trust science, all I can tell you is: Don’t look up! And maybe skip this movie.
Haze (2005) – Yes, another by Shinya Tsukamoto, and the last of his films to be featured on this list. The version I watched was the extended short film, about 45 minutes in length. It’s essentially his take on the movie SAW, but instead of complicated traps, it’s all about claustrophobia. Difficult to watch at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wish there was more of it. If you can, try and track down the ‘Making of Haze‘ video. He made the entire film in a tiny room. It opened my mind to how much you can do in such a confined space.
Scream 5 (2022) – Not sure if it’s called Scream 5 or just Scream (again), but this fifth film in the franchise surprisingly doesn’t suck! Actually, I thought it was just as good as the original (at least upon first watch). The kills were often surprising and at times even shockingly gory. All this paired with a satisfying ending… gold. I loved it. Can’t wait to see it again.