It’s a bit perplexing that this film isn’t called Scream 5, or some addition to the title that lets us know it’s not the original Scream. But the bigger problem I have with this iteration is that it is just like every other horror film, including the original Scream.
Probably the best thing about this Screamis the return of some of the most important characters, including Dewey Riley, Gale Riley, and Sidney Prescott, played by David Arquette, Courteney Cox, and Neve Campbell, respectively. There is also, of course, the fun of the blood-curdling suspense and the slashing violence and gore.
But it’s all so predictable. I feel there is some algorithm for the redundant murder scenarios in this and other horror films. That algorithm being—just as a character comes to some important realization, they get killed. Which, to be fair, even though you know it’s coming, can make you jump out of your seat.
The plot of Scream is also familiar. The town of Woodsboro is revisited. There are sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter, played by Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega. Tara is attacked by a new slasher with the same mask and outfit as the previous four Scream films. After Tara’s attack, Sam feels she needs to take a stand—but not alone. Her boyfriend Richie Kirsch, played by Jack Quaid, is there to help deal with the slasher face.
Trying to be positive here, but it’s not coming easy. I love most of the previous Scream films, but this one was dry and repetitive. As I mentioned earlier, it gets credit for bringing back some important characters and actors, but overall it’s a below average flick to start the year. I hope that there is another horror film in 2022 that can top this one. Just two stars for Scream.
2021 was a year where there were still some setbacks in the film industry due to the Covid pandemic. But as the year progressed more films were released and 2021 turned out to be a fun ride with many films that were worth the big screen experience. These are my top ten films of 2021!
Number 1 Licorice Pizza Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this is a witty and clever comedy that is heartfelt, genuine, and sometimes bizarre. The film stars Cooper Hoffman as Gary Valentine, a boy who is navigating his first love in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. The film is a classic, nostalgic and realistic depiction of the challenges of young life and young love. Licorice Pizza reminds us of that life can bring challenges, especially at a young age, but those challenges can be overcome.
Number 2 Drive My Car Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, this contemporary film is visually and emotionally enticing. The film felt like a play, with scenes evincing genuine emotions that make the audience feel like they are part of the harrowing, yet triumphant journey of a stage actor and director who loses his wife.
Number 3 Last Night in Soho Edgar Wright is a director who makes classic films, whether they are action, comedy, drama—or even all three combined. Last Night in Soho is psychological horror film taken to a whole new visual level. The film is set in the Soho area where we meet a beauty school student who has horror dreams of a dazzling jazz singer, and the more she dreams the more she sees from the horrors of the singer’s past.
Number 4 West Side Story Steven Spielberg brings us a classic that has touched many around the world. West Side Story is the musical sensation of 2021, and it is wonderful and musically invigorating story of the conflicts of gangs and love in a tough New Jersey city. Spielberg’s directing in West Side Story is definitely Oscar worthy.
Number 5 Pig Nicholas Cage is back with a vengeance, this time in a film where plays a former chef living in the Oregon forest with his truffle-sniffing pig. When someone kidnaps his pig, all bets are off. Pig is directed by Michael Sarnoski, in his directing debut, and Cage is stellar as always.
Number 6 Spencer Spencer is directed by Pablo Larrain, one of the masters of psychologically strange films. Kristen Stewart plays Diana Spencer, aka Princess Di, who is struggling with mental health issues due to the stressors of the holidays and being married to prince Charles. In this dark drama, Stewart takes the psychological elements of her performance to a disturbing level.
Number 7 No Time to Die I’m a huge fan of the 007 franchise, so this was a film that I was very eager for, especially since it was on hold for a long time due to Covid. No Time to Die did not disappoint. It’s an intense, monumental and invigorating finale to the bond series with Daniel Craig. It also makes Craig’s mark as one of the most brilliant Bond actors ever. A must see Bond film.
Number 8 Don’t Look Up This one may seem silly, but I enjoyed this flick directed by Adam McKay. Don’t Look Up is a dark comedy about the world facing catastrophic consequences as a comet is making its way to the earth. With Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers, and a government that is absent-minded, Don’t Look Up is The Big Short (2015) meets The Day After Tomorrow (2004). Though the premise is deadly serious, this film had me laughing out loud.
Number 9 C’mon C’mon Mike Mills makes films that are about family and feeling connected with others, and C’mon C’mon is all of that and then some. It is touching, emotional, and upbeat. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a journalist who takes his nephew on a journey to show him life outside of Los Angeles. The film makes us want to be grateful for the things we have in life, and it’s a wonderful story of a young person having the courage to come out of his shell.
Number 10 The French Dispatch My favorite director of all time, Wes Anderson, brings us to another bizarre, crazy world in The French Dispatch. The film is about a newspaper in a fictional French town that is ceasing operations. An all-star ensemble cast including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and many other witty and brilliant actors, really adds to the fun.
So there you have it—my top ten films for 2021. I hope 2022 brings us many more fun cinematic experiences. I’m also hoping that there is a steady beat of the Oscar buzz this year. See you at the movies in 2022!
Most of my exposure to the works of Shakespeare comes from volunteering at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. I did it more for the atmosphere than the productions, because Shakespeare never really appealed to me. But seeing Shakespeare done by Director Joel Coen, in The Tragedy of MacBeth, was an entirely different deal. It felt in many ways like a stage play, but it’s a different, more immersive Shakespeare experience, and a wonderful way to experience his works. It may very well be the film that brings Shakespeare to the masses.
In The Tragedy of MacBeth Denzel Washington plays MacBeth, and Frances McDormand is Lady MacBeth. The plot has MacBeth en route to become the next king of Scotland with his ambitious wife, Lady MacBeth, along to assist him. But there are murders, traitors, and henchmen along the way, and many two-faced individuals who despise both MacBeth and Lady MacBeth. With frequent pontifications by Washington and the dramatic irony of McDormand’s performance comes a rollercoaster film that is one for the ages.
The Tragedy of MacBeth was shot entirely in a studio and was filmed in black and white. It is probably one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve seen. The film is truly spellbinding on many levels, and it grows darker and more intriguing as the film progresses.
This film was really done by the right director. It’s been my experiences that Shakespeare productions can drag at times, but not with Joel Coen in charge. I loved the unstoppable performances of Washington and McDormand, as well. Putting them together brings a rollicking Shakespearean world of anarchy and power. I hope this one gets a decent amount of Oscar buzz, and it is not to be missed. Four stars for The Tragedy ofMacBeth.