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Scumbags, Slashers and Shakespeare 

Three movies to watch

Normally the first few weeks of the new year see a glut of terrible movies get foisted upon us from studios that have no faith in whatever product they are shilling. But because we now exist in the Upside Down, good movies come out in January, terrible ones come out in December instead of Oscar hopefuls, and going to see "Spider-Man: No Way Home" could actually be seen as a superspreader event. As a matter of fact, there were so many interesting movies to choose from this week that I couldn't decide on just one, so I went to three of them. It's a good problem to have.

"Red Rocket:" More proof that we're now living our best lives in the darkest timeline, Simon Rex AKA terrible rapper Dirt Nasty (who has played in Bend with Mickey Avalon) might get nominated for the Best Actor Oscar later this year. Former MTV VeeJay, male porn star and crafter of songs with none other than Riff Raff, Rex truly does give one of the finest performances of the year as a washed up porn star slinking back to the small Texas town he comes from without two pennies to rub together.

You might not love the characters from "Red Rocket," but you'll definitely understand them. - PHOTO COURTESY OF A24
  • Photo courtesy of A24
  • You might not love the characters from "Red Rocket," but you'll definitely understand them.

From Sean Baker, the filmmaker behind "Tangerine" and "The Florida Project," "Red Rocket" is unapologetic in its look at human nature and how the least deserving among us can sometimes make it the farthest in life when conventional morality doesn't enter into it. The film is a rambling and freewheeling look at the lives of some fairly marginalized people (many of whom aren't actors) and how they hustle for their daily bread even as society leaves them behind. In many ways, this feels more "real" than "Nomadland."

"Scream:" Legacy sequels (where they combine original actors from a franchise with new ones in the hopes of rebooting a series while appealing to older fans) don't usually play very well, but the new "Scream" is intelligent and honest in its designs to appeal to as many people as possible. Technically this is "Scream 5," but the studios want those dollars from the folks who haven't seen the first four, as well as the cents from those who have.

Luckily, the film is a dastardly entertaining slasher mystery filled with whip-smart dialogue, meta humor about movies and some of the bloodiest kills this side of a "Halloween" movie. With the returning threesome of Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette, "Scream" manages to feel like a fun continuation of Wes Craven's franchise, while also building a solid foundation for many more movies to come.

"The Tragedy of Macbeth:" Frances McDormand was born to play Lady Macbeth. The way Shakespeare's words drip from her tongue gives new meaning to phrases us Willie Nerds have heard hundreds of times in the past. Her performance, along with an astounding take on Mackers from Denzel Washington, and Joel Coen (working without his brother Ethan) directing like it's the last thing he'll ever do, this version of the Scottish Play is downright breathtaking.

Seriously, if you're a fan of movies at all but don't give the tiniest crap about Shakespeare, this still demands to be seen because visually it is absolutely astonishing. The way Joel Coen and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel play with negative space and then combine it with an absolute dance of light and shadow gives "The Tragedy of Macbeth" a look we haven't seen since the days of Fritz Lang and Ingmar Bergman. There are images in this film that will stay important for as long as film does.

Red Rocket
Dir. Sean Parker
Grade: A-
Now Playing at Tin Pan Theater

Dir. Radio Silence
Grade: B+
Now Playing at Regal Old Mill, McMenamins, Sisters Movie House

The Tragedy of Macbeth
Dir. Joel Coen
Grade: A+
Now Playing at Tin Pan Theater

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