Movies of the Week #47-49 (2022)

The Menu (2022): Well, I guess could call The Menu something like The Triangle of Food, given that it shares its overarching theme with Sadness. Thankfully, it keeps itself in check more and finds a better balance, making for a more entertaining serving. It’s surprising to see that this is Mark Mylod’s first strong directorial outing in a feature film, his early 2000 flicks leaving something to be desired. The Menu, however, builds on his more recent work in Succession and there’s some shared DNA there between Logan Roy and Chef Slowik. That being said, I liked this menu because it lacks pretense and doesn’t take itself too seriously, also helped by its appealing cast. 7

Catherine Called Birdy (2022): Lena Dunham seemed to have vanished off (my) radar and it is with this enviably cute tale of the middle ages that she reasserts herself. While not overly original in either style or writing, it has a quirkiness that is perfectly embodied by Bella Ramsey (btw, quite a few Game of Thrones actors in this one). Her charm makes Birdy an endearing character, that could otherwise just as easily have been tiresome if not outright obnoxious. Birdy’s tale of womanhood is, really, an age old tale about family, with a peppy feel good vibe to make it a perfectly watchable affair. 7

The Woman King (2022): While TWK is a perfectly competent semi-historical movie, with the prerequisite tribal music and warrior dancing, it generally lacks that certain something to elevate it beyond a rote cinema outing. And that’s in spite of featuring the ever exceptional Viola Davis, who is exactly the commanding presence you except her to be on screen. If you’ve had the slightest interest in the recent history of the African continent, colonialism and slave trade, TWK does little to shed unexpected insights or human triumphs. Which means that the only real energy source are the battle scenes, so if that’s something you can draw from, you’ll be rewarded. Otherwise, not as much. 6

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022): I was tricked into seeing this sequel with German dubbing, which actually proved less painful than I’d feared. The absence of big name actors helped with the dissonance, as did the fact that this is just another Marvel movie, with the usual traits – solid production values, low frills characters, wrapped up into mainstream sensibilities. I can barely remember anything particular about this movie, except the recent news items I read about how an actor’s crotch area needed “toning down”. That’s a fair imagine to describe this panther. 6

Christmas With You (2022): Coming across a movie that’s as bland and unimaginative as CWY is an unfortunate occurrence. I’d hoped it could at least rely on the charm of some of its actors, or the nostalgia feel of seeing Freddie Prinze Jr., but it all proved a painful experience. Perhaps the odd musical number offers some respite, not that I imagine myself looping anything during this holiday season. Will Netflix ever give up on this mirthless churn of Christmas movies? 4