NEON ZEN LITE: TOP 10 FAVS OF 2020

A list of ten of my favorite filmic things to come out in 2020, regardless of what they were called (a movie, a tv show, etc). As long as they got a release in 2020, I’m lumping them together. I could never do a “best” list, not even sure what that would mean. These, simply, are the 10 things that excited me the most. My watching pleasure being paramount. You may hate them. You have my permission.

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Alphabet City [Blu Ray reissue / Fun City Editions]
This is my idea of the ultimate 80s movie. It combines all the things I really want in one and does it smooth as neon lit silk. The boutique label reissue renaissance is one of my favorite things to ever happen in art.

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Crash [Blu Ray reissue / Turbine]
The wait for this to exist has been far too long. I saw it in theaters and loved it, as a comedy. I don’t think most others in the theater appreciate my belly laughs though. Before seeing the film I read an interview with Cronenberg where he said the film is just a porno. Those who take it too seriously maybe are not catching on to that?

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Crisis on Infinite Earths [Televised new release / The CW]
Typically a train-wreck of a film needs to have aged a while, in a time capsule, for me to appreciate it. This train-wreck is wonderful right here and now. It coarsely combines so many insane ideas, all with almost zero exposition. The elements pull on the heart strings though, so the results are a combination of tear jerking and complete confusion. I assume for Star Wars fans, that is what they got out of Episode 9. For me though, a DC fan, Crisis on Infinite Earths is my Rise of Skywalker.

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Danger U.S.A. [Blue Ray reissue / Massacre Video]
Released as a combined disc with the equally ludicrous action film __, ‘Danger U.S.A.’ is puts charm and wit before everything and really pays off for it. A sort of goofus action film like the Sidaris romps, but embraces the weird even more, especially in the important subtle ways.

Haunt [Blu Ray reissue / Ronin]
My favorite horror film of recent years got a fancy release finally. I could watch this over and over again. It should be taught in film theory on how to expertly execute a narrative. If the best art is 99% just like everything else with the perfect 1% to allow us to see what we love completely differently, ‘Haunt’ nailed it.

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Hubie Halloween [Streaming new release / Netflix]
Definitely a big part of the thrill fo this film was the anticipation of it being the dorkus follow up the cool dude film ‘Uncut Gems’. It is, of course, not too far from any other Adam Sandler slapstick comedy. The art design though is lavish and makes his humor feel surreal. If Sandler went from fresh and new to tried and true to worn out and unwelcome over the years, Hubie Halloween takes it to the next step of “who cares it is here to stay” and I’m all for it.

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The Mandalorian [Streaming new release / Disney+]
Everyone was glued to this. You know why. It is the Star Wars we all really want: A western. Small and personal yet action packed and fantastical.

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The New Pope [Televised new release / HBO]
Okay, not as jaw dropping as The Young Pope, but gives even more to philosophically contemplate. The ideas discussed in here send me soul spinning and it lands the ending perfectly, even though it lands it in such a disappointing place in terms of the uplifting supernatural magic woven through out the series. Definitely watch The Young Pope first though if you haven’t.

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Paranormal [Streaming new release / Netflix]
Not sure if I’ve ever seen an X-Files sort of show that doesn’t have hip characters in the lead rolls. This is the story of a regular family without the American taint of that meaning suburban middle class. Made in Eqypt, and taking place nearly a century ago, the human element is more relatable by not backing the setting into a particular contemporary space that most actually aren’t in. Like X-Files, it mostly is spooky, not scary. It does have it’s moments though. I stayed for the soap opera.

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Underwater [Theatrical new release / 20th Century Fox]
My favorite action film to take place in or under the water. It starts at 100 miles per hour and ends at 1000 and pulls off never giving you a moment to breath.

Lastly, an honorable mention: Everyone should see Blood Quantum. Masterful film that is both fun brutal horror and a deeply wise ethical/humanitarian peice. The results are incredibly sad.

Film essays no one asked for.

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