South-Korea does found footage meets haunted asylum. That means you'll be seeing a film that isn't even trying to win any prizes for originality, but as we're dealing with a core genre film that's hardly a surprise. The real question is whether the execution is on point, and luckily the film delivers.
Horror Times is an up and coming web series that wants to make it big. After finding a CNN article on the most haunted places in the world, they decide to visit the South-Korean entry on the list. It's the Gonjiam asylum, built during the 50s and completely abandoned 30 years later.
The setup's a bit long, but once the crew arrives at their destination things quickly heat up, with a good pay-off at the end. There's nothing here you haven't seen before, but the haunts are pretty creepy, the camera tricks are nifty and the performances are solid. Fine horror filler is always welcome.
The only reason I wanted to catch this film was Shin'ichi Tsutsumi and it turns out Tsutsumi's performance is the only really good reason to watch Fly, Daddy, Fly. It's pretty amusing fodder, light comedy with some minor drama, sports and crime influences, though ultimately not a very memorable film.
The premise is a bit weird, since we're supposed to be championing for a father who is training to kick the ass of a high school kid. The twist being that the kid assaulted the man's daughter and got away with it scot-free. Tsutsumi bumps into a gang of kids and since they have nothing better to do all summer they decide to help him work out for his big fight.
The two-hour running time is a bit of a stretch and not all performances are great, but Tsutsumi is a hoot and there are certain moments where director Narushima does his best to break the mold. It's pretty decent filler, but it's all a bit too predictable, with not enough scenes that stick.
A very stale and bare-bones noir. The title gives you a pretty good idea of what the plot's about, the rest of the film (which luckily isn't all that long) rests on three underperforming actors who never manage to draw any real tension from their predicament. It's a bit baffling this is considered a bona fide classic (though I assume it's somewhat related to Lapino's status).
Roy and Gilbert are two jolly guys on their way to Arizona, where they've planned a calming fishing trip for themselves. On their way there they pick up a hitch-hiker and guess what ... the guy's not as friendly as he appeared. He's a psychotic killer trying to stay out of the hands of the police.
The wooden performances really hurt the film, the cinematography is very dull, the plot is incredibly predictable and the only real reason to cheer for the good guys is to get the film over with quicker. It's short, but it's anything but snappy and even for a classic noir the pacing is sluggish. Not good at all.
A pleasantly slick, dark and brutal adaptation of Clive Barker's short story. A stellar performance by Vinnie Jones and a seasoned director eager to prove his worth in the US for the first time add the necessary spark to what is an otherwise pretty basic horror flick. Not Kitamura's finest, but a perfectly executed genre film that hasn't lost any of its shine.
Swedish classics, so far they haven't been able to convince me of their appeal. The Nurtull Gang is another heavily character/narrative-driven film, which simply isn't a great match for the silent format. I'm sure people looked at it differently back then, with no other options available to them, but by modern standards this is just way too slow.
A thoroughly feminist film, following four women in their fight against the patriarchy. They do their best to combine work and romance, they fight for civil rights and they try to help each other out as much as they can. Again, a subject that was well ahead of its time when the film was made, but isn't that impressive anymore.
There's a lot of reading, then acting out what was said in the intertitles. Performances feel natural and the restoration is pretty slick, yet the drama is rather lifeless and the pacing is dreadful. The cinematography is also way too functional and the absence of any kind of score just adds to the dullness. Not my kind of film I'm afraid.
This was a bit of a weird one. I wasn't a terribly big fan of Cahill's earlier films, nor did I expect too much from a film headlined by Wilson & Hayek. And while Bliss certainly has its rough patches, it kept me the entire length in suspense, sligthly baffled at what exactly I was witnessing. That surely counts for something.
The recently divorced Greg is struggling with his life. Things don't get better when he accidentally kills his boss, who just fired him seconds earlier. Greg escapes the place of the crime and runs into a mysterious woman. She tells him the whole world is fake, a simulation where only a few people are real.
Cahill is smart to never reveal the true reality of the film, the soundtrack is well above average and Wilson does a good job for an actor best known for doing (safe) comedy. Hayek isn't up to par and not all the drama works equally well, but this peculiar blend of urban fantasy (it's not really sci-fi, is it?) and drama was pretty interesting.
A simple and short ecchi comedy. It's not unlike the Golden Boy series, only a bit more explicit. If you like overly excited boys chasing after every single girl they come close to, then Junk Boy delivers. Certainly not the most memorable of films, but solid filler is nothing to scoff at either.
Ryohei believes he has found his dream job when he is hired to work at an adult magazine. He still has to prove his worth as he isn't really cut out for the cutthroat business world, but as it turns out he has some very handy skills that come in handy when the models aren't really feeling their shoots.
The animation is limited and the comedy quite predictable, but the chirpy atmosphere, the over-the-top characters and the slightly excessive dedication to its topic make Junk Boy worth a fun diversion. And at 45 minutes it's also sure not to overstay its welcome. Pretty decent filler.
China's TV productions seem to be getting better. Mao Shan can't quite hide its TV roots when the CG gets too complex, apart from that this turned about to be a very capable fantasy/martial arts flick that doesn't bother with innovation, but has the basics down and delivers prime entertainment.
Yin Shou Yi does his best to earn the respect of the villagers, but his antics seem to have the opposite effect. To prove his worth, he moves away to join the Mao Shan clan. He's not skilled in martial arts and he appears very clumsy, but his heritage and his will to persevere will serve him well.
The sets look nice, the camera work is on point and the action looks cool, there's no overreliance on CG and the pacing is perfect. Performances aren't stellar and the comical bits aren't that funny, but these are just minor details that disappear in the background once the fighting starts. Good fun.
Pretty cheesy pre-Marvel superhero nonsense. The setting is actually quite charming and the Rocketeer suit is well-designed, but the action falls short and the level of cheese gets pretty unbearable during the second half of the film. Its Disney roots are a little too apparent and they hold the film back.
Cliff is a young and promising pilot who stumbles upon a strange jetpack. He's able to fly the thing, but others are interesting in the jetpack too. One of those people is Neville Sinclair, a popular actor who plans to sell the jetpack to the Nazi. To get to the thing, he tries to go through Cliff's girlfriend.
Performances are gleefully over-the-top, the 1930s have been given a nice comic book shine and the suit is cool. But the green screen action is flimsy, the soundtrack is bad kitsch and the Nazi plot feels terribly outdated. Started out fun enough, but this is the type of film that gets worse by the minute.
Whether you'll like this film or not will probably depend on what you consider an "important" film and how much weight you put on that. Technically it's all very barren and limited, but Burnett's uncompromising look into one of the poorer (and black) neighborhoods of LA certainly has worth.
There's no real story to speak of. We follow a family (the father works in a slaughterhouse for sheep, hence the title) and see them in their natural habitat. It's a series of small vignettes that paint a picture rather than tell a story, which is fine for this type of film. Just don't expect to be entertained by a narrative.
The camera work is pretty limited, performances are weak and the barren style certainly isn't my preference. But the choice of music is pretty decent and several more poetic moments give Killer of Sheep a bit of extra flair. Not a film I'd ever revisit or recommend, but if you like neo-realist cinema and you wouldn't mind a 70s USA flavored version, it can't hurt to give this one a try.
A very sweet and agreeable Ôbayashi. His 80s work is generally a lot more toned down than what he's famous for, usually sprinkling drama with light fantasy elements. Quality varies, but Lonelyheart is one of the better films in this niche, a cute mix of coming-of-age with some supernatural elements.
Hiroki has a crush on a girl he doesn't really dare to approach. He sees her practicing the piano every day and pines for her love. But then another girl shows up. She's wearing weird make-up and seems to know Hiroki and his family very well. At first only Hiroki can see her, but then people around him start noticing her too.
Lonelyheart is a very warm and nostalgic film. The small-town rural community, the yellowish haze draped over the film and lots of minor details that make you reminisce about simpler times. Performances are good too and though a bit long, the film never starts to drag. I liked this one a lot.
There's one clear sign that a franchise is running out of ideas, and that's when they start ending people into space. Regardless of the actual quality of the film, it usually means it's time to put the IP in the freezer for a while. Which is a nice Ice Age pun, possible funnier than anything you'll find in this film.
While the gang is having some inconsequential problems, they notice that a big asteroid is approaching Earth. Cue the start of yet another adventure, where they need to travel to the crashing site in an ultimate bid to save the world. The plot isn't much to look at really, but that's well within expectations.
The film struggles with the same issues as the previous installments. The comedy is more loud than it is funny, the voice acting is subpar, the art style is rather ugly and the soundtrack is tasteless. I'm glad this is apparently the last entry in the series, a poor but fitting finale to a series that failed to live up to its popularity.
My goodness. My fourth Mel Brooks films and it's official. I really can't stand the man's sense of humor. Though The Producers isn't quite like the other Brooks films I've seen (these were much more pun-based), I simply failed to laugh a simple time and was left with a feeling of overwhelming irritation.
A fidgety accountant and a crummy play producer devise a plan to get rich. The idea is to produce a big flop, so they don't have to pay the investors but get to keep the investment money themselves. They try their best to make the play as bad as possible ... and yeah, it's not hard to guess how that'll end.
The comedy simply isn't funny. It's noisy, it's repetitive, it's predictable and it leans on obnoxious stereotypes. And that's it really. Just 90 minutes of noise, actors constantly shouting and overacting, the amount of actual jokes is negligible. Seeing how it's a much-lauded film there must be an audience for this, but I'm clearly not it.
A capable but rather basic mystery/thriller. After setting up a sudden disappearance, the rest of the film is spent finding out what happened to the missing person. Clues pop up at the right time and little by little the real story is revealed. Director Inudô feels a bit absent from the film though, which is why it fails to rise above its peers.
Teiko marries Kenichi through an arranged marriage. A week later Kenichi has to take care of some business for his old employer, when Teiko sees him off she's blissfully unaware that it'll be the last time she'll see Kenichi. Once she's informed of her husband's disappearance, she travels after him hoping to unravel the mystery.
Performances are decent, but the cinematography, soundtrack and plot are a bit too simple. I guess it's telling when a poster of a film adds more intrigue than the styling (kudos for the cool poster though). Zero Focus isn't bad, fans of whodunits will surely find something to love here, but it's in no way exceptional.
Yes, I know, I'm not really the target audience of this film. Still, it's fair to wonder if we really need more superhero nonsense to feed kids until they're old enough to get into Marvel. And even then, shouldn't we aspire to make these films just a bit better than this depressing mess?
Aliens are attacking our planet and the grown-up superheroes have been taken hostage. It seems Earth is doomed, but the aliens forgot about one thing: the superheroes' kids. They have powers of their own and even though they're not really trained to use them, together they'll take on the fight to free Earth from the aliens.
Cringy comedy, flaky special effects, cheap decors and costumes, bland life lessons and the dumbest ending you can imagine. I'm sure Rodriguez had his fun making these films, but they're absolutely unsightly. I don't have kids myself, but I'd sure think twice about showing them this type of crap.
A dark and moody slowburner. Rose Glass shows she has the chops to deliver an eerie, mysterious horror film that doesn't show its true face until the very last frame. While not quite as edge as I'd have liked, Glass' talent shines through in Saint Maud, hopefully kick-starting a long and prosperous career.
Maud is a private caretaker who tends to Amanda, a former dancer whose life will soon end. Maud is a devout believer and she sees it as her mission to save Amanda's soul. That's easier said and done, especially since Amanda likes to indulge in the pleasures of life while she still can.
The cinematography is moody, the score dark and bass-heavy, performances are great across the board. The film is tense, the mystery is kept alive until the very end and the very last frame is one of the best ways to end a film I've seen in a long time. If it only had been just that little edgier (add some grit to the camera work, throw some actual distortion on the soundtrack) this would've become an instant favorite, now it's merely a promise for a future masterpiece.
A classic kaidan (ghost) story by Jissoji. A director with a very recognizable style that matches the kaidan aesthetic. Blue Lake Woman can't quite hide its TV roots though, which seriously hampers the enjoyment of the film. Still, I'm quite sure fans of Jissoji will find plenty to enjoy here.
When Nagare is invited to stay at Takigawa's house while he is off to do business in the US, he finds himself drawn to Mizue, the wife of Takigawa. She feels the same as Nagare and the two decide to commit a lover's suicide to redeem for their adultery. Mizue dies, but Nagare survives the suicide attempt. When he revisits Takigawa's house several years later, he is visited by the ghost of Mizue.
Surreal imagery, eerie ghostly apparitions and of course clocks (because what good would a Jissoji film be without clocks). Blue Lake Woman has all the ingredients for a lovely film, except that it looks like it was shot on a consumer-grade camera. If you like a good Japanese ghost story though, or you're a dedicated Jissoji fan, this comes well recommended.
Early buddy cop flick that rests on the meager chemistry between its two protagonists. This might've been way more fun back when these films weren't as prevalent, but after seeing a gazillion of them it just doesn't do much for me anymore. Though I'm sure fans of the genre will have fun with this one.
Cates is a tough cop who barely survives a shooting. His colleagues aren't so lucky. Cates is given 48 hours to solve the case, to do that he might need the help of Hammond, an inmate who still has six months left in prison. Hammond convinces Cates he won't solve the case without him, and so they become partners.
Murphy is quite fun, Nolte is terrible. Whenever this film tries to be edgy it instantly loses a lot of its appeal, luckily the comedy is quite bearable and the pacing is decent, so Hill gets everything wrapped up within the 90 minutes limit. It's all very basic, but if you're looking for some easy amusement you could do worse.
The fact that I haven't seen too many Kusturica films yet, yet I can still recognize this as a vintage Kusturica says something about this director. I'm not a spirited fan of his work, but there are definitely moments of genius in his films. It's a shame they're not a bit more consistent, though I guess that's also part of the charm.
Perhan is a young gypsy with telekinetic powers, living together with his grandmother and lame sister. Life as a gypsy isn't easy and after a ton of drama he takes off to Milan, hoping to find a better life there. At first, he tries to make an honest living, but after being dragged through the mud Perhan turns to a life of crime.
Kusturica delivers his usual blend of genres. There's drama and crime, but also touches of fantasy and a good dose of comedy. The cinematography is excellent and the performances are solid, sadly the soundtrack has its ups and downs. When everything comes together (the scene in the river) the film is truly magical, but these moments are a bit sparse and the soundtrack does get a little grating. The film's also a tad too long, but well worth a try if you like to see something unique.
Pretty much a carbon copy from the previous installment. Brosnan doesn't quite fit in this action spectacle, the action itself hasn't aged too well and is still too dependent on the old Bond tropes and the bad guys are incredibly dull. It's clear we're moving to a more serious Bond now, which simply isn't as much fun.
Bond is once again chasing after some bad guys to prevent a nuclear disaster. Because the Cold War might've been slipping from people's minds, there's also something about oil, giving it a more 90s contemporary feel. It's safe to say, you won't be watching this film for its intricate plot.
Brosnan needs to dodge quite a few bullets, jump away from explosions and prove himself in hand-to-hand combat. None of that are his strong points, and it shows. The action isn't terribly impressive either (though the scenes with the helicopters are nifty) and two hours still feels like a stretch. It's not terribly boring, but there just isn't that much joy left in these later Bond films.
A slightly more subdued Teruo Ishii film, though mostly because there's something else going on than just the usual exploitation elements. Not that you should expect a full-fledged drama, but Ishii's film is not unlike the inquisitive films of Wakamatsu that try to dig deeper into the darker corners of sex and romance.
A coroner gets the scare of his life when one night his wife is brought in. Inside the body he finds traces of semen, which baffles him as he never suspected his wife of cheating on him. He delves into the police archives to look for similar cases, hoping to find an answer to what might have motivated his wife to do what she did.
While essentially a mini-anthology, the strong thematic link between the different segments makes it feel like a more traditional narrative film. There are definitely some good moments here, though overall the exploitation elements with dark psychological overtones don't always mix that well. At least Ishii fans won't be bored.
My first Joko Anwar. Anwar's been making a name for himself as a genre director and based on this film, it's not hard to see why. While Indonesia in general is enjoying a little horror boost of late, Impetigore is one of the most competent films I've seen from that region so far, stopping just short of true greatness.
Maya, an orphan, works night shifts in a toll booth. One night, she is attacked by a creepy man who seems to know more about her past. After a quick investigation Maya discovers more about her roots and decides to travel to her hometown to find out what happened all these years ago.
Anwar clearly has a knack for crafting a moody film. The cinematography is strong, with excellent use of color and lighting, the soundtrack isn't too shabby either and performances are on point. The problem is the plot, which offers little beyond the usual Indonesian ghost fare. After a strong start, the setup's just a little too slow and the pay-off not quite harsh enough, keeping the film from getting an even higher rating. Well recommended for horror fans.
A TV series with strong roots in anime culture finds its way onto the big screen. Director Tsutsumi Yukihiko sounded like a perfect fit, especially since the material isn't unlike the Trick series, but as the focus lies on comedy I think someone like Yuichi Fukuda could've done a better job.
Ranmaru is a detective who solves cases with his tongue. By licking things, he can deconstruct the materials and what happened to them, discovering clues that will ultimately lead him to solve any puzzle. When he arrives in a small mountain village that's suffering from strange phenomena, Ranmara is asked by the villagers to help them solve the mystery.
Performances are well over the top (some fine, not all) and Yukihiko's direction remains close to the film's anime roots (even enlarging people's head from time to time), but the comedy's a bit hit-and-miss. While the premise is fun enough, the film does start to drag during the second half as there's way too much dialog explaining all the clues. Quite fun, but I've seen this type of material handled better.
I'll never be a big Hitchcock fan, but I clearly prefer it when he keeps it short and simple. There's also a bit more wit here compared to his later films, though it doesn't make that much of an impact. At least the British vibe makes the comedy a bit more palatable, apart from that it's just trademark Hitchcock.
Richard Hannay tries to help a counter-espionage agent after a row in a theater, but when she gets killed he suddenly becomes the prime murder suspect. He decides to flee into the Scottish Highlands, but soon finds himself chained to a blond vamp who believes she's dealing with a real killer.
Performances are decent but a little stiff, the comedy isn't tremendously funny but acceptable. The story is pretty bland though and the intrigue didn't really capture my attention. It's a good thing this is a pretty short film, if it'd run closer to 120 minutes then I sure would've disliked it a lot more.
A pretty drab and exaggerated coming of age film. It's recognizable in the same way a horoscope is: by sticking to vague and broad sentiments that apply to pretty much every teenager. The result is your average whiny, US indie that does little more than piling on scenes of awkwardness. And it's not even great at that.
Kayla is a young girl who has no trouble making inspiring YouTube videos, but in school she's much quieter and has a hard time fitting in. She tries to follow her own advice, feigning confidence and venturing outside her comfort zone, but she soon finds out that's easier said than done.
Fisher does well, but Burnham's direction is rather plain and the constant repetition gets old really fast. Burnham cycles through all the usual topics (sex, social media, popularity contests, crushes, ...) but doesn't have much interesting to say about them. I get, teens have insecurities, stressing that for 90+ minutes doesn't make it a good film.
Oliver Stone is pretty hit-and-miss and this was one of his misses. It's interesting to see he made this just one year before Natural Born Killers (still my favorite Stone), I guess he needed to get all the saccharine out of his system after making Heaven & Earth. Don't expect a typical Stone war flick, this is hefty Hollywood romance in a far away country.
Le Ly lives in a small village that gets torn apart by the war. No matter who visits, the villagers are tortured and raped regardless. Le and her mom escape to Saigon, where she gets pregnant and has to turn to prostitution to make a living. Walking the streets, she meets Steve Butler, a kind-hearted soul who wants to marry her.
Loud, sentimental music, overbearing drama and some tourist-like cinematography scream Oscar contender. So much that even the Academy got a queasy from all the pandering and passed it right by. At 140 minutes, it's also excessively long. There's a handful of interesting scenes, other than that this is just one big misfire.