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May Round-Up

June is here, which means it's time to look back at some of the best movies I saw last month:

10. La Llorona (2019)

- I just put out a much longer analysis of this film, so I’ll keep this short. Bustamante’s ability to compose a shot is amazing. The use of color, the sound design and the acting were all fantastic. I’m glad one of Latin America’s most beloved ghost stories finally has an adaptation worthy of its history.

9. Memoria (2021)

- I’m definitely going to release a longer review of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film this week, but for now just know that this is a great film. Centered around an insomniac trying to find the source of a mysterious sound only she can hear, this movie is a wild ride. The meditative pacing, sound design and amazing performance by Tilda Swinton offer a fantastic character study that’s also an exploration of alienation, history and trauma.

8. The Truman Show (1998)

- This month I finally got around to watching the Truman Show and was not disappointed. It’s obvious why Cannes would choose a still from this film as the poster for 2022’s festival: in so many ways, this image is what cinema’s all about. As Truman is on the edge of ‘reality,’ about to step foot in the real world for the first time, viewers see their own experience reflected, since film has the ability to show us the world as it is, and in turn we see ourselves as we are, maybe for the first time.

7. Robocop (1987)

- Make no mistake, this is my #3 movie of all time; I’m only putting it so low on this list because I’ve seen it so many times and want to be fair. I was lucky enough to get the limited edition 4K steelbook Arrow released earlier this year, and as always, their restoration is fantastic. The images are crisp, the color is eye-popping and the sound will make any speaker system shake each time there’s a gunshot (and there’s a LOT of gunshots). Corrupt politicians, evil corporations and high-adrenaline action sequences, this is the perfect mix of political commentary and entertainment, a must-watch for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

- Speaking of re-watches, Everything Everywhere made history as the first movie I’ve seen in theaters more than once. To be exact, I’ve seen it four times in theaters thus far (and there’s no guarantee I won’t watch it in theaters again). This movie has it all, and each time I notice something different than the last. It’s very rare that a film can make me cry, let alone do so on the fourth watch. This is one of those movies that reminds us why we love movies. Not to pat myself on the back, but my review of it only grows more and more accurate with each viewing.

5. Total Recall (1990)

- Douglas Quaid’s search for his true identity leads him to a colony on Mars, where he must bring down a corrupt system led by evil businessmen, taking viewers on a wild adventure to save the red planet. While the remake was okay, nothing compares to the original Total Recall. Something I’ve noticed and really appreciate about the films of Paul Verhoeven, including Robocop and Starship Troopers, is that while the audience never feels like we’re watching anything more than a very entertaining sci-fi epic, the themes and issues explored by these movies are important, smartly-handled and extremely compelling. This is no different. Also have to shout out Studio Canal’s 4K restoration, ‘cos WOW. The colors, the details in every image, it all seems like it was made this year. Simply put: this film will blow your mind.

4 Your Name (2016)

- Making Makoto Shinkai’s mainstream breakthrough my Stream of the Week earlier this month was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. Part Freaky-Friday body swap, part time-travel romance, this anime is guaranteed to pull at the heartstrings while also exploring themes of ineffective governments, temporality and history. Stream it while you can!

3. Persona (1966)

- One of Ingmar Bergman’s most well-known films, this deep-dive into identity, sexuality and society is as enigmatic as it is captivating. You can’t talk about this movie without talking about the VERY experimental cinematography. From the intense lighting to some camera movements/blocking that broke the fourth wall, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, let alone last month.

2. Compañeros (1970)

- My most recent Stream of the Week, and for good reason, Sergio Corbucci’s high-octane film about a Swedish gun dealer and a Mexican peasant teaming up to save the leader of a revolution is guaranteed to provide laughs and bullets.

1. JSA (2000)

- I always liked Park Chan-wook, but never understood the popularity of his Vengeance Trilogy movies, particularly Oldboy. There’s a kind of cheapness to the way he used violence in those films, and the political messaging was often a bit unclear. These problems were non-existent in his 2000 film, Joint Security Area, which is centered around a UN investigator trying to find the truth behind a shootout at the North/South Korean border. In the process, viewers are given a wildly emotional look at the need for Korean reunification, and the problems that come with American interventionism. A must-watch!


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