Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire poster

Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire

by Stephen Cognetti
Specifics
USA [2019] - 84 mins
Genre
Horror
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2.0*/5.0*

The Hell House saga returns with yet another variation on the same theme. The found footage still sits at its core, only the story gets a bit more complex with every new iteration. There are some effective horror bits here, sadly everything else is quite poor. A back to the basics approach would serve this series a whole better I think.

Shaft poster

Shaft

by Tim Story
Specifics
USA [2019] - 111 mins
Genre
Action, Comedy
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2.5*/5.0*

Plays like a classic buddy/cop flick, only with a generational conflict at its core. The film leans hard on the oldskool cussing and shooting versus modern wokeness polarity, some of it is funny, most of it not so much. At least the film has the basics of the genre down. It may not be all that exceptional, but it's an entertaining romp.

In the Tall Grass poster

In the Tall Grass

by Vincenzo Natali
Specifics
Canada [2019] - 90 mins
Genre
Mystery, Horror
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3.5*/5.0*

Stephen King is hot, so everybody is looking for material to turn into a film. In the Tall Grass is based on King and Hill's short novella and it shows. Stretching the simple concept to a 100-minute film is somewhat of a struggle, but Natali's talent prevails as he delivers a fun, mysterious and creepy horror flick. It's nice to see Natali still has his trademark touch.

The Proud Twins poster

The Proud Twins

by Yuen Chor
Also known as
Jue Dai Shuang Jiao
Specifics
Hong Kong [1979] - 112 mins
Genre
Action, Comedy
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3.0*/5.0*

Yuen Chor going the Jackie Chan route, but within the comfort of the all too familiar Shaw Bros context. Compared to his other films the comedy elements jump out immediately, the rest of the film is very much in line with the Chor's typical style. A fun diversion for fans of the Shaw Bros studio, but not as good as Chan's stand-out films from that era.

Sound & Fury poster

Sound & Fury

by Jumpei Mizusaki, Michael Arias, Koji Morimoto, Elsa Nakamichi, Masayuki Matsumoto, Henry Thurlow, Arthell Isom, Takanobu Mizuno, Hajime Sasaki
Specifics
USA [2019] - 41 mins
Genre
Animation, Music, Action
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4.0*/5.0*

An interesting mix of album film and animation anthology, helmed by some of Japan's most talented animation directors. The animation quality is exemplary, the variation in art styles is refreshing and the length is perfect. Ironically the soundtrack is one of the weakest elements here, but fans of the famed Studio 4°C anthologies can't go wrong with this one.

The Garden of Sinners - Future Gospel: Extra Chorus poster

The Garden of Sinners - Future Gospel: Extra Chorus

by Ei Aoki
Also known as
Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin - Extra Chorus
Specifics
Japan [2013] - 32 mins
Genre
Animation, Fantasy, Thriller
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2.5*/5.0*

Short and anthology-like extension that adds very little to the existing Garden of Sinners franchise. Three filler-like segments bring a little extra context to the universe, animation quality is decent and the soundtrack is nice, but this feels like a bunch of left-over scenes packaged into single TV special, just to please the fans with new material.

Joker poster

Joker

by Todd Phillips
Specifics
USA, Canada [2019] - 122 mins
Genre
Thriller, Crime
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0.5*/5.0*

I'll never understand why anyone would want to mix the silliness of a comic book universe with the dreariness of 70s arthouse drama, but this film is one big failure from start to finish. Phoenix is atrocious, the drama is exponential, the score is cheap and the social critique flat as a pancake. This makes me nostalgic for Nolan's Batman, which I also disliked with a vengeance.

Café Society poster

Café Society

by Woody Allen
Specifics
USA [2016] - 96 mins
Genre
Romance
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3.0*/5.0*

A solid Allen flick, but really just a rehash of his usual tricks, hang-ups and interests. The '30s Hollywood jet set setting is fun, but the pull of New York is forever there and once the film shifts from mood piece to narrative-driven romance it starts to stumble a little. Not a bad film, but once you've seen a couple of Allen films it does get a little predictable.

The Wall poster

The Wall

by Doug Liman
Specifics
USA [2017] - 88 mins
Genre
Thriller, War
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2.5*/5.0*

Simple, cheap yet effective little war thriller. One man stuck behind a shoddy wall, taken hostage by a sniper. That's all there is to it really, but Liman manages to keep things interesting. Sadly the film looks cheap as dirt, which is peculiar for a director who made his share of blockbuster films. At least the ending was appropriate. Not bad overall, but feels amateurish.

The Cat in the Closet poster

The Cat in the Closet

by Ying-Ting Tseng
Also known as
Yi Gui Li De Mao
Specifics
Taiwan [2016] - 81 mins
Genre
Drama
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3.5*/5.0*

A sweet and delicate Taiwanese drama about a family dealing with the sudden loss of a son/brother. While the drama feels sincere and the film has no specific shortcomings, it's a little disappointing to see Taiwan cinema has reverted to its familiar Hou/Tsai antics. Not a bad film at all, but it does feel a bit dated.

Prospect poster

Prospect

by Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Specifics
Canada, USA [2018] - 100 mins
Genre
Sci-fi, Thriller
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3.5*/5.0*

Moody and atmospheric sci-fi arthouse flick that for once doesn't skimp on the sci-fi bits. Its low budget origins are clear from the start and the retro-futuristic designs do feel a little lazy, but the setting is adventurous and mysterious and the plot that unfolds is interesting enough. A promising start for Caldwell and Earl.

Sleeping on Dark Waters poster

Sleeping on Dark Waters

by Ming-liang Tsai
Specifics
Taiwan [2008] - 53 mins
Genre
Documentary
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1.5*/5.0*

A documentary on I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, directed by Tsai himself. It's little more than a simple behind-the-scenes doc though, with Tsai contemplating some shots and explaining his motivations for making the film. While I did like I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, I think you're better off just watching the film again.

P poster

P

by Paul Spurrier
Specifics
UK, Thailand [2005] - 110 mins
Genre
Horror
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2.0*/5.0*

A simple and somewhat disappointing horror film. Spurrier tries to inject some drama but fails, the horror is cheap and poorly realized. The story about a young jungle girl moving to Bangkok to earn money for her family feels contrived, the magic she uses to kill her customers fails to be scary. Not that great.

Chiang Khan Story poster

Chiang Khan Story

by Yuthlert Sippapak
Also known as
Tookae Ruk Pang Mak
Specifics
Thailand [2014] - 110 mins
Genre
Romance
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3.0*/5.0*

Solid filler from Sippapak. It takes a while for the film to get up to steam, but it's once it gets going, it becomes a sweet and gentle romance. Films about films tend to be a little cynical and heavy-handed, luckily Sippapak steers clear from all that and keeps it light and comfortable. Not exceptional and a bit long maybe, but not a bad film at all.

The Last Temptation of Christ poster

The Last Temptation of Christ

by Martin Scorsese
Specifics
Canada, USA [1988] - 164 mins
Genre
Drama
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0.5*/5.0*

Not a big Scorsese fan, but this must be one of his absolute worst. A cheesy and overwrought adaptation of Jesus' final days. I'm afraid I've had it with purely religious films, the gravitas and weight Scorsese put in here almost feels like a parody of the real thing. No doubt this was a serious struggle for the director, but it sure was one for me too.

Children of Paradise poster

Children of Paradise

by Marcel Carné
Also known as
Les Enfants du Paradis
Specifics
France [1945] - 189 mins
Genre
Drama, Romance
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1.0*/5.0*

Overly long and not all that interesting. Some serious overacting and a tepid plot fail to engage, visually it's all very mediocre and the hustle and bustle of the artist life has been done much better. Wouldn't have been as bad if they kept it around 90 minutes, but twice the length felt like a complete waste of time.