Category archives for Films & Video Games

The Twenty-Two Best Films of the 21st Century

The “Movies of the Century – Year by Year” can be found here. And now the second list to end the year 2022; Merry Christmas to all! This is the list of the century’s best and most significant films, separate from my own list of subjective preferences, but perhaps not entirely so.  This list will […]

V’s Movies of the Century: Year by Year

The Best of the Century List can be found here. So begins a new tradition on V for Verbatim. Lists are fun. They’re what movie writing is all about; they’re instant conversation starters, useful catalogues that remind people “hey, this movie exists too.” But cinema has had something of a problem lately that goes beyond […]

“Avatar: The Way of Water” (2022): A Wet Blanket (Review)

★★ It won’t be as easy to dismiss Avatar: The Way of Water as it was the first. The closest I can get is to call it “Whale Wars: The Avatar Movie.”  But that’s less instinctively intuitive than what everyone called the first: “Dances with Wolves and/or Pocahontas in space with blue cat people.” I’m […]

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022): The Less Than Great Reset (Review)

★½ Ryan Coogler should never have agreed to return for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.  It is beneath his great talents, a waste of time, and a dishonor to Chadwick Boseman. In the years since Avengers: Endgame played with the space-time continuum to undo the erasure of half the universe by taking away anything and everything […]

What “Top Gun: Maverick” Gave Back to “Star Wars”

Top Gun‘s legacy sequel of 36 years owes its story and existence to a great many things; not just the original.  It’s “Mission: Impossible” and Heartbreak Ridge (1986) with fighter jets and erotica – your easy tagline for Maverick.  See it in IMAX, then see it again.  It deserves it, and so do your local […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #10 – “Escape from Alcatraz” (1979)

“We don’t make good citizens, but we make good prisoners.” – The Warden Welcome to the end of the Ten for Ten.  The end of the experimental decade in cinema, the end of Clint Eastwood’s serial acting collaboration with any director (from this moment onwards, he has acted in fewer than ten films that were […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #9 – “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1935)

“But perhaps, as your father used to say: ‘A taut hand at sea is better than a slack one.’“ What does it mean to create a civilization?  Is it possible that something as lawless as a mutiny can bring about one of the greatest advances in law, order, and institutional structure in history? Mutiny on […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #8 – “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011)

“If the Secretary wanted me out of there, it must be pretty bad out here.” – Ethan Hunt As a rule, the longer a franchise runs, the more stale it gets, and the easier it is to spot the moment where it peaked. Even with exceptions, the rule remains.  Harry Potter peaked with the third […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #7 – “Broken Blossoms” (1919)

Let’s talk about racism. I’ve held for years that the most racist regular moviegoing audience isn’t actually anyone in the good ol’ You-Ess of A. It’s China.  The joke of it is that just about everyone knows that as well as I do, but that Americans, and elites in particular, don’t know what to do […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #6 – “6 Underground” (2019)

“I don’t think we should be governing ourselves. What we need is a king, and every now and then if the king’s not doing a good job, we kill him.” – George Carlin Here comes an unsurprising statement that my future obituarist will put as the subheading right after “widely beloved murderer of pineapple pizza […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #5 – “Malcolm X” (1992)

I’m probably supposed to hate this film. Readers familiar with me know that while I understand the genuine fears individuals have when they encounter the police uniform, I despise and would celebrate the demise of that certain organization whose trite three-word slogan is also its proper noun title.  And the very first thing Malcolm X […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #4 – “Rope” (1948)

How ’bout them oners? One of the things my subconscious does during a film, even a film I hate, is to mimic some of the immediate experiences of the people at the center of it.  When James Bond goes underwater, I hold my breath with him.  When Dave Bowman from 2001: A Space Odyssey went […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #3 – “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949)

“Never apologize, Mister!  It’s a sign of weakness.” – Captain Nathan Brittles If I had to sum up the basic differences between films before vs. films after 1972, it’s that films before practiced the art of subtle non-subtlety, while films after it tend to practice non-subtle subtlety. The difference looks a bit like this: acting […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #2 – “Battle Royale” (2000)

Most controversial movies get that way because of the things they do.  Yet so much about this movie works because of the things it doesn’t do. It seems ironic that apart from the United States, the country that arguably produced the greatest filmmakers in the twentieth century was its greatest enemy in World War II.  […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #1 – “48 Hrs.” (1982)

Welcome to Ten for Ten – the segment I promised late last year where yours truly would write ten essays on ten films, and the only thing they have in common is that I love the films but have never written about them before. Additional rules are as follows: no more than two films from […]

The Twenty-One Best Films of the 21st Century

I probably should have written this list at the very beginning of the year.  2021 wasn’t a great year in cinema, nor was the year before it.  In fact, the last couple of decades have not been particularly great for cinema as an art medium nor a positive force for shaping popular culture. But since […]

“Nightmare Alley” (2021): Get Him to the Geek (Review)

★★★½ This movie references both of the two things that scare Austin Powers: (1) nuclear war, and (2) carnies. Every Guillermo del Toro movie has at least two monsters.  There’s the movie monster, and there’s the “real” monster.  The movie monster is usually a victim or a misunderstood friend, or, perhaps, if it’s still something […]

“The Matrix Resurrections” (2021): The Metatrix

★★ The end credits replay the Rage Against the Machine song that had famously closed The Matrix. While Rage was always only ever good for its guitar, the new version is a kidz-bop style shallow cover. Ironic that a song called “Wake Up” can put you to sleep; but credit where due – this is […]

“The Lord of the Rings” (2001-03): V’s Favorite Movie

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on the Cinematic Katzenjammer in December, 2018. “You’re a critic?  What’s your favorite movie?” I’m asked this a lot, and I often suspect that people are looking for an obscurer answer than the one in my pocket.  But it also feels like asking “what’s my favorite dream.” Although […]

“West Side Story” (2021): Who Wants to Live in America (Review)

★★ Steven Spielberg (without Tony Kushner) already made a musical.  It was called Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  In that film, anything went.  In West Side Story (2021), nothing did. When the two leads aren’t there, the picture is occasionally tolerable.  Like the original, the two leads are the least interesting pieces of […]

COMING SOON: V’s 10 for 10

Dear Readers, I don’t talk enough about good movies. If you’ve been reading my hobby over the years, you know I have a penchant for negativity and occasional contrarianism. But apart from writing a Star Wars Prequels appreciation entry every few years, or an anniversary piece whenever possible, V for Verbatim can’t help but feel […]

“Love Hard” (2021): Die Actually (Review)

★★½ Love Hard is an enjoyable, sweet, uplifting Christmas picture stemming from a silly premise and full of needless references to silly cultural questions outside it.  It’s awful… yet I’m embarrassed to admit that I liked it. I don’t like reviewing movies like this.  Not because I hate watching them, but rather because both romance […]

“D U N C: Part One” (2021): Where There’s a Worm, There’s a Way (Review)

★★★ The moment DUNC was finished, I really wanted Part Two.  That was the problem. It is a testament to the skill of Denis Villeneuve, the production crews, Hans Zimmer, and the sound producers to make such worlds, planets, environments, and surfaces come alive in a grandiose fashion that mirrors (albeit more by suggestion than […]

“No Time To Die” (2021): James Bond’s Coronavirus Endgame (Review)

★★ The nationwide and global lockdown was one of the worst things that happened in this century.  One of its victims was No Time To Die. To be sure, No Time To Die is a bad film, and would have been bad no matter when it was released, but as I argued just recently in […]