Welcome back to my Home Movies! This week, we have a solid little horror film in The Black Phone and a big blockbuster in Jurassic World: Dominion duking it out for top honors. Which movie emerged victorious? Read on to find out, as well as to see the return of the Criterion Corner…
The Black Phone
The Black Phone is a movie that has been a bit of a surprise success this year. Now, it was always expected to do well, since horror sells, but this quality flick has held on at the box office, taking advantage of a fun Ethan Hawke villain turn to be some of the year’s upper echelon of horror. This here is some of what I said in my review:
This may sound like a criticism for a film that I like, but The Black Phone should be scarier. A horror flick that plays more like a thriller, this has a terrifying premise, to be sure. Oddly, the movie opts not to go overboard in terms of terror. While that could make for a less satisfying final product in some cases, here it’s not the case. This is so rock-solid in its craftsmanship that even if you’re not cowering in fear, you’re constantly compelled. There’s a ton to like here, even if sheer horror is not really something on the film’s mind.
Jurassic World: Dominion
While I fully concede that Jurassic World: Dominion has some of the lowest lows of the Jurassic Park / Jurassic World franchise, it also has some really fun moments. As simple summer spectacle, it definitely serves its purpose. Here is a bit of what I had to say earlier on in the summer when I reviewed the flick:
As perfect as Jurassic Park is, none of its now five sequels has ever fully stuck the landing. Part of that is how revolutionary the first one is, but part is just how odd a relationship the other films have with the premise. The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III kept a lot of elements while moving locations, whereas Jurassic World goes back to where it began. Then, its sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, does away with it for what becomes a haunted house flick. Now, we have Jurassic World: Dominion, which has promised to be something entirely new, while bringing back all of your old friends. Does it actually? Well, yes and no. There are some big swings here, though a handful of them are fairly big misfires. Jurassic World: Dominion throws everything at the summer movie wall, hoping enough sticks to make you have a good time. Plenty doesn’t work here, but just enough does to warrant a very mild recommendation.
Heavy Metal (in 4K)
Jurassic World: 6-Movie Collection
NCIS: The Nineteenth Season (TV)
Paris, 13th District
South Park: The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season (TV)
From The Criterion Collection: “Mining the emotional sense memories of their own fractured childhoods, Josh and Benny Safdie craft a by turns empathetic and disquieting portrait of parental dysfunction poised between fierce love and terrifying irresponsibility. Manic Manhattan movie theater projectionist Lenny (cowriter and longtime Safdie collaborator Ronald Bronstein) is perhaps the last person who should be raising kids, yet here he is, trying (and failing) to keep it together as his life unravels over the two whirlwind weeks in which he has custody of his young boys (real-life brothers Sage and Frey Ranaldo), with an impromptu road trip, a sleeping-pill mishap, and a night in jail all part of the chaos. Vérité New York naturalism gives way to flights of surreal lyricism in Daddy Longlegs, a blearily impressionistic anti–fairy tale that finds unexpected humanity in the seemingly most irredeemable of fathers.”
From The Criterion Collection: “A nightmare transmission from the grungiest depths of the New York indie underground, the visceral, darkly funny, and totally sui generis debut feature from Ronald Bronstein is a dread-inducing vision of misfit alienation at its unhinged extreme. In a maniacal performance of almost frightening commitment, Dore Mann plays Keith, a disturbingly maladjusted social outcast and self-described “troll” whose neuroses plunge him into an unstoppable spiral of self-obliteration as his crummy coupon-selling job, pitiful living situation (featuring the roommate from hipster Brooklyn hell), and last remaining human relationships disintegrate around him. As captured in the grimy expressionist grain of Sean Price Williams’s claustrophobic camera work, Frownland is DIY cinema at its most fearless, uncompromising, and unforgettable.”