Movies of the Week #18 (2023)

Rye Lane (2023): Talking of romcoms, what a little gem this one proved to be! After an irreverent meet cute, Dom and Yas share an adventure filled day together, as they process their respective break-ups. It doesn’t sound like much, which goes to show how well the movie comes together, with two endearing central performances from David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah and witty repartees on both sides. Every scene has a way of sticking with you after the final credits, proving once more how important a taut, well-paced script can be. Fresh, heartfelt and laugh out loud funny, Rye Lane is one of the best movies of its kind to come out in recent years. 8

John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023): To be fair, I do not have much of an idea of what came before Chapter 4 – for a while I was even sure this was the third entry in the series. Does it matter? Not really. This Keanu Reeves vehicle runs fine on whatever they’re putting into it, violent poetry in motion, zingers at command, a spectacle. Too bad it’s almost three hours long and at some point it starts feeling like an unending music video. Even so, Stahelski’s final chapter is a fitting finale for a character and a series that will most likely endure as the action movie of the last ten years. 7

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023): There’s been a lot of talk recently of how we can actually adapt (video)games successfully. To me, this was never in doubt, it’s just that the way Hollywood went about adapting them was wrong. D&D is, of course, storytelling par excellence, and the movie offers a satisfactorily windy tale, elevated by properly inhabited characters. I don’t know why I’m starting to feel more and more than you can achieve very decent films by following formula well, which is not bad, but not particularly great either. We end up with films that work, but feel the same – something I would never accuse a romcom of no matter how well it applies formula. Anyway, rambling here, D&D is good fun, expect more of it. 7

Cocaine Bear (2023): It’s rather unfortunate that this nifty premise never lives up to its promise – cocaine bear is neither outlandish enough, nor entertaining enough to justify the hype. Particularly the first half of the movie is terribly tame, slow in its set-up and flat in its execution – and that’s in spite of a very talented cast. Things liven up towards the end and we get some flashes of what CB could have been, but as it stands, I’m hard-pressed to really recommend. Just watch some Zombeavers (2014) instead. 5

The Toxic Avenger (1984): The most recognizable Troma movie, TTA firmly established their brand of parodic, gore-filled debaucheries. It tells of poor Melvin, nerdy mop boy at the Tromaville gym, where all the angry, raging jocks and their girlfriends make fun of him – until, one day, he falls in a vat of gooey stuff and becomes, drumroll please, the toxic avenger. Well, you can imagine what else happens here, in rather humorless fashion, if you ask me. I was actually impressed by Poultrygeist, the only other Troma movie I’ve seen, but this one scarcely has any funny in it and the gore is tame 80s stuff. It doesn’t look too bad though for what it is and has a few inspired moments, which is the best I can say about it. 4