You Have to See This! Last Night in Soho (2021)

Streaming On: Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV

While director Edgar Wright is still fresh in to his career and has churned out so many superb films, his ambition has managed to help elevate him in to a better filmmaker, one of bigger substance and larger scale. “Last Night in Soho” prove it, as it feels like that poppy bizarre sixties thriller that we might have actually seen in the sixties. Perhaps starring Natalie Wood? Maybe Peggy Lipton? “Last Night in Soho” has everything going for it; it’s the type murder mystery that audiences have been craving. It has a unique horror bent, and Wright has delivered on pop culture cult films like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”

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The 10 Best Films I Saw in 2021

There was simply too much released in 2021 to catch everything that I wanted to, or intended to see before the end of the year. That’s either a great thing or a bad thing depending on your schedule. In either case, with the influx of movies being released every single week, I managed to catch some fantastic gems that kept me entertained, thriller, and stunned. 2021 had its share of stinkers, but it also bounced back from the lull in 2020 with some bangers, to boot. This is ten of the best I saw this year.

Of course I’ll still be playing catch up with 2021 over the next month.

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American Wisper (2020)

One of the things I really like about Russ Emanuel’s direction is that he’s able to conceive a true crime movie that feels respectful and not at all exploitative. That’s a tough feat to accomplish especially in a time where a lot of indie studios are inexplicably anxious to exploit actual horrible crimes. “American Wisper” (formerly “Wisper”) is a true crime thriller that actually managed to engage me, and that’s saying a lot for someone that almost never cares to dive in to this kind of material.

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Klute (1971): Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

When you get down to it, you can examine “Klute” as something of a neo-noir set in the darkness of New York City where society shifted out of the Free Love era and in to much dimmer years. But deep down “Klute” manages to be a rather fantastic character study about a woman who is hopelessly and probably forever exploited by the world. Throughout “Klute” she struggles with whether she wants to have what she perceives as an easy ride and allow herself to become exploited, or resist, and try to carve out a better world for her that’s more respectable, but so much tougher than she’s prepared to handle.

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April Fool’s Day (1986): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

I love “April Fool’s Day,” and I say that as someone that originally hated it. It took years for me to come around on it, mainly because in a decade where we got nothing but slasher movies, we were given one. But we also weren’t given one, either. In either case, if you’re going in to “April Fool’s Day,” it embraces its inherent silliness and mounts tension to be a pretty good statement about the slasher sub-genre while also having a good old time with the audience. It’s become a favorite of the sub-genre, and indicates a point where studios were beginning to satirize the tropes of the sub-genre.

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Knives Out (2019)

By all accounts, Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” should not have been such a stunning success. It’s an original murder mystery with an eye toward paying tribute to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie, and yet it’s such a brilliant work of cinema through and through. “Knives Out” is a traditionalist murder mystery ensemble piece but one that also evokes modern sensibility without resorting to pandering to a younger audience. You’re either in for the ride with “Knives Out,” or you’re not as it takes its time unfolding what is a sly, slick and fantastic crime thriller that kept me grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end. 

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

I was thoroughly surprised with 2017’s “Happy Death Day.” The more I’ve thought about it and re-watched it, I’ve come to like it more and more as a horror reworking of “Groundhog’s Day.” It’s a fun and creepy character piece about a despicable young woman who realizes that maybe the way to keep herself from dying and end the cycle of re-living the same day over and over, is to think about other people in her life. “Happy Death Day 2U” is that same concept, but a wholly different movie. It’s a sequel that brings us a new angle of the narrative, expands on the concept of the original film, while also continuing to explore the character of Tree Gelbman.

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The Plague of the Zombies (1966) [Blu-Ray]

Despite generally loving movies about the supernatural, and in spite of “The Plague of the Zombies” being very much ahead of its time in its implementing of voodoo as a means of our villain enacting his devious plan, I was indifferent toward “The Plague of the Zombies.” I can’t say that I completely hated it, but while it packs in some tension and great mood set pieces, I wasn’t too sad when it finally drew to a close.

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