Sean Lemme

Sean is mildly pleased with most things in life, so I guess it's good he made this website.

Horrorble: Black Adam

Black Adam

I was never going to hate Black Adam as much as other people do. For one, I like Dwayne Johnson. I think he’s an interesting person, he’s got oodles of charisma, and a fun take on what a modern movie star should be. Also, since I still care a lot about comic book super hero movies but — as unlikely as it sounds — don’t care at all about the DCEU or the Black Adam character, I’m just about as easy to please as any thinking person who saw Black Adam. Which… there must have been at least a few of us, right? It’s been the most popular movie in the world two weeks in a row. Early buzz about Black Adam described its titular antihero as a super hero version of Dirty Harry. That sounds cool, right? Unfortunately, what we got was a lot more The Enforcer than Magnum Force. And if you get that reference, hi dad! Hope you’re having a nice day.

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Shocktober: Men

Men

Since I already railed against X’s title, I feel like I should expand my commentary to this year’s glut of horror movies with minimal, evocative titles. Many of my favorite horror movies this year — Nope, Barbarian, Prey, Morbius (just kidding) — have one word titles. Yet all of them convey much more meaning than that. “Nope” tells you this is going to be a story about a situation you don’t want anything to do with, and that it’s a story about people making mistakes, and it even plays on that trope about characters acting the opposite way audiences believe they would. But no title this year does as much work as Alex Garland’s Men. All it takes is three letters and we all know that this movie wants to say something about our times.

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Shocktober: X

X

First and foremost, I’m not a fan of titling your movie just “X.” It’s been done. Hell, even making a “X” out of a woman’s crossed legs on the poster has been done. It’s a title that’s not really evocative of anything, since you didn’t even have the confidence to go for a full “XXX.” And it makes your movie harder to search for, especially on older platforms that have character minimums. Won’t somebody think of the SEO optimization! You end up having to google “X (2022)” or “X Ti West” or “X A24” and while those work and are still very few characters to type, it feels sub-optimal in a way that grinds my gears. Anyway, X is all right.

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Shocktober: Werewolf by Night

Werewolf by Night

Werewolf by Night represents several firsts. It’s Marvel’s first “Special Presentation,” the title they’re giving one-off Disney+ content. The Guardians of the Galaxy are also hopping into this new format, they’ve got their Holiday Special coming out this December. As an aside, I wonder if anyone watched those Groot short films they put out this summer? It’s also Michael Giacchino’s first special, as he works his way through every possible format until he gets his first feature film. Before this, Giacchino made a short film called Monster Challenge in 2018 and also directed an episode of Star Trek: Short Treks, the short-form anthology show that definitely would have been called “webisodes” if it came out 10 years earlier. We’re living in a brave new world.

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Shocktober: Barbarian

Barbarian

I don’t know if it’s the case for everyone, but for me, it was easy to go into Barbarian cynical. Thanks to the success of A24 and Jordan Peele, it kinda looked like a movie that was just copying the modern formula for success: get a comedy guy to write and direct a low-budget horror movie set in one location where the real villain is contemporary social issues. In fact, star Georgina Campbell went as far as to say Jordan Peele was “part of the essence of the movie.” But then I saw it and realized words like “formulaic” and “derivative” don’t really apply to Barbarian and so what if it’s trendy? It’s part of a good trend! All that really means is that it was perhaps slightly more likely to be successful. I see this as an absolute win.

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Criterion Month Days 24-25: Irma Vep & The Last Days of Disco

Once again I’m using a vague thematic connection to combine two reviews into one and cover for the fact that I waited too long to watch these movies and then became busy with other things when I should have been writing. In this instance, it’s two slightly different, unusual takes on life in the mid-Nineties. One is Irma Vep, which is specifically about the French film industry as it was in that era. The other is The Last Days of Disco, which is actually set in the “very early” Eighties but oozes Nineties sensibilities (and a fair bit of retrospective dramatic irony). Well, chances are I won’t even get this condensed double feature up before midnight so let’s not waste any more time and get jiggy with it!

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Criterion Month Day 22: Chungking Express

Chungking Express (1994)

I’ve thought a lot about mise en scène this Criterion Month and the big takeaway is: when it works it really works. Which is to say, I love the aesthetic of Chungking Express. An early days of video story set in the neon streets of Hong Kong plus a dream pop-inspired soundtrack? Sign me the hell up! Oh, to be a cop in Nineties Hong Kong! Occasionally chasing bad guys through crowds but mostly hanging out at local restaurants stoically sharing stories of failed relationships or spending time at home smoking cigarettes in tighty whities and staring at the fish tank. That’s the life.

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