2021 was a good year for movies… I think. I didn’t see a lot of ‘em. There was a window where I felt safe going to the movies. Heck, there was a day last summer where I went to a mall to see a movie and neither the theater or mall required a mask. Not because they were being negligent, because people thought masks weren’t necessary anymore. It always feels like two steps forward and one step back with COVID. Or maybe that’s one step forward, two steps back?
Fortunately, there were solid releases on streaming. How fun was that HBO Max same-day release stunt? I’m missing that already. How else would I have had the opportunity to see such classic as Space Jam: New Legacy or Mortal Kombat (in my underwear.)
There’s a lot I haven’t seen yet that I know would be on this list. Licorice Pizza and West Side Story for sure. A few others on streaming I wish I’d made time for like CODA and Summit of the Gods. And a couple I have no idea how to watch, The Worst Person in the World and Petite Maman.
Because this list feels incomplete to me, I decided to at least make it fun for myself. Instead of the usual paragraph after paragraph of plot recap and half-assed analysis, I’ve made checklists for each movie. Bite size pieces of plot recap and half-assed analysis for each movie. Did I devise this plan out of laziness? Sort of. But I think it’ll be fun. Let’s give it a shot.
There were great shows this year. Seems like there are great shows every year. Did the Golden Age of TV ever end? Are we forever doomed to be subjected to too much good TV? Why god?! WHY? Anyways, I spent a good chunk of this year only watching The Sopranos. So by the time October rolled around, I had to haul ass and catch up. That being said I’m happy with my list. Though there are definitely shows I wish I’d caught up with.
I listened to a lot of cool music in 2021. The problem is all the “new” artists I got into were artists who had released albums in 2020. So not only did it fuck this year’s list, it fucked last year’s list too. If you’re curious those bands were Beach Bunny, Vulfpeck, and Khurangbin. Thanks a lot 2020.
The hard part of listmaking this year was I had no road map. I gave up on Pitchfork about a year ago cuz they think they’re so big. YouTube turned out to be helpful. I follow a couple of indie record labels and try to keep tabs on up and coming artists. KEXP’s YouTube channel is incredibly helpful. Those guys r kewl.
And I’m not embarrassed to admit I still check the Billboard Hot 100. Well, maybe a little embarrassed. I say all this and I didn’t end up with that crazy of a list. At least it’s not crazy to me. I’m not crazy. Anyways, here’s my not crazy list.
I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you.
If you’re a horror fan then you’re familiar with the “Video Nasties” movement of the 1980s. If not, let me take you across the pond. In the early ‘80s, VHS exploded. Anything and everything was coming out on videotape, but in the UK there was a loophole in film classification laws. Videos could bypass a review process and be sold regardless of content. Panic ensued.
In response, the British Board of Film Certification (BBFC) set out to not only censor films but outright ban titles. The “Video Nasties” was a list of 72 titles that were banned and deemed the most explicit. This list included some now classics like; The Evil Dead, Possession, Tenebrae, and pretty much any movie by Lucio Fulci or Joe D’Amato. Censor is a film that dives into the phenomenon.
Familial Horror has been a dominant force in the horror genre sinces the success of Hereditary. I watched The Lodge earlier this month, which shares similar themes and ideas with Hereditary as does today’s film. What ties these films together is they highlight the fact that we are all bound by blood to our families. Which in a way means we are trapped by our families. Because no matter what you do, or say, or think about your family, they are always your family.
I was on the fence about picking The Lodge for Shocktober. Even now I’m not sure if I should have gone with a different choice. I didn’t love the ending to this film but there is something special about it. I think a big part of that is the film’s directing/writing team Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. The two films made thus far by this Austrian aunt/nephew duo have both felt unique in the stories they tell and the way they tell them. Both are isolated films that claw at the psyche and both leave behind a cold lingering sensation long after watching them.
This might be the most in the dark I’ve ever been going into a Shocktober pick. Though there were two big reasons I wanted to watch this movie. 1) This was included in “Fangoria’s 300 Best Horror Movies” list back in 2010. A list I’m still making my way through after all these years. 2) I saw a trailer for Let the Corpses Tan back in 2017 and knew I had to get around to diving into the work of husband and wife team Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani at some point