Movies of the Week #41-42 (2022)

The Beta Test (2022): There’s nothing quite like watching a Jim Cummings movie. What might otherwise have played out in ways that are expected, takes all kinds of twists and turns thanks to the central character played by Cummings – in this case, a distasteful Hollywood agent. There’s an art to making movies with unlikable leads, one that seems to be a calling card for JC. In a wider commentary on obsession and entitlement, The Beta Test will definitely put you to the test, but it’s worth the time. 7

Confess, Fletch (2022): It’s been a decade since Greg Mottola’s “big three” (Superbad, Adventureland, Paul) and half of one since he flopped hard (Keeping Up With the Joneses), so I guess it’s fair to call this a comeback. Featuring a charismatic lead in Jon Hamm, with an equally likable supporting cast brimming with high-profile actors, this rag tag murder mystery checks all the boxes to provide easily digestible entertainment rife with wit and humor. 7

Virus-32 (2022): It’s good to get your dose of zombie-thrills at least once a quarter. So for this Q3 or Q4 (what Q is this even?), here’s a Uruguayan movie set in the capital Montevideo. Not that we see much of it, as the action takes place inside a school building. A not-so-perfect mother works there as a guard and has to protect her daughter when a mysterious virus starts zombie-fying people. These are the clever variation, with one important weakness, they freeze up for 32 seconds after tasting some fresh meat. While the movie does enough to be fresh, it shies away from the braver choices that could have made it truly stand out. 6

Crimes of the Future (2022): Cronenberg does a Cronenberg in his latest movie, which ends up feeling rather messy. The story has otherworldly features, yet seems weirdly relatable, in a swathing commentary about our disfunctions and their fetishization. It’s just some more body horror from Cronenberg, with not so much horror and more of a conceptual exploration, which at times inspires, and at other times feels like cutting yourself with the dullest of razors. So an acquired taste. 6

Smile (2022): In channeling the spirit of It Follows, Smile immediately grabbed me. But in failing to build on it, it quickly let me loose. Anchored by a strong central performance from Susie Bacon (one degree of Kevin Bacon right here), it tells of a transmittable “curse”, that alters your perception of reality and terrorizes you until you end your days. The atmosphere is just right, but the story becomes too familiar, even if uplifted by some inspired scares. As usual, you’ll read me complain that it’s fifteen minutes too long, but it does have some staying power and proves a decent genre flick. 6