1981 / 122m - USA
Comedy, War
Stripes poster

An army comedy, in the broadest sense of the word. It's clear that Stripes was meant to be funny, it certainly tries very hard, but I didn't crack a smile once. There's something extremely unpleasant about this film, which isn't even that uncommon for an 80s comedy. It's not that they are particularly mean-spirited (because I'd love that), they're just irritating.

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John has no idea what to do with his life. He can't hold a job, his girlfriend is tired of him loafing around and his best friend is unable to motivate him. And so the two join the army, hoping they might find something there. John doesn't really fit the strict regime, but the camaraderie does slowly grow on him.

Murray is terrible, but so is the rest of the cast. The jokes are very predictable and consistently unfunny, the army setting is a complete bore and with more than two hours on the clock, the film outstays its welcome. Dedicated Murray/Reitman fans should probably give it a go, other than that I find this very hard to recommend.

The Bunker Game

2022 / 95m - Italy
The Bunker Game poster

An interesting premise, some good ideas to pull the story along, but a slight lack of dedication to the genre elements. The Bunker Game could've been a better film if only director Zazzara had committed a bit more to the horror and thriller elements introduced. Instead, the film focuses too much on the actual plot, which isn't all that interesting.

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A big LARP gathering has to be halted when the underground bunker where it is held proves to be unsafe. The players are asked to leave, while the organizers stay behind to clean up the place. But then they find themselves locked up, with the leader missing. Is the LARP game still continuing, or is something else going on?

The setting is superb, the LARP game is interesting and there is plenty of opportunity for scares and haunts. It's just that the film seems more interested in the tepid back stories of the characters and the history of the place. This wasn't bad so much as it failed to live up to its true potential.

A Museum Sleeps

Un Musée Dort
2020 / 71m - France
Experimental, Romance
A Museum Sleeps poster

A tragic romance delivered in a more experimental package. It's not that A Museum Sleeps challenges all existing conventions of cinema, it's a film that wears its experimental moniker in a more formal sense, but people expecting a fully traditional narrative should do well to check their expectations. Mainstream cinema this is clearly not.

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Ornicar and Chloe are in a passionate relationship, but Ornicar feels restless. He loves Chloe dearly, but he struggles to feel at ease with himself. So he tells Chloe he'll leave for a year, and he'll be back for her exactly one year later. When Ornicar returns, Chloe is nowhere to be found. Desperate, Ornicar starts his quest to find out what happened to her.

A nervous piano score and a 4:3 aspect ratio betray the film's arthouse influences. I didn't mind the score so much, but don't get the fascination with 4:3. I quite liked the performances and I felt the romance worked well, seeing how the tragic aspect of their relationship really hit home during the finale. A pleasant film, but it could've pushed a few more boundaries.

Benny Loves You

2019 / 94m - UK
Horror, Comedy
Benny Loves You poster

Mediocre horror comedy. There are some fun ideas here, but the execution is pretty poor and the film fails to escape its no-budget roots. It's not quite as bad as some other films in this niche, Holt shows he has potential, it's just that his talent can't make up for the lack of proper funding.

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Discarded toys, everybody has them, but not everyone is aware they can come back to haunt you. Jack is in his mid-30s, works as a toy designer, and still lives at home with his parents. When a freak accident kills them, Jack will have to fend for himself, but then his old teddy Benny returns to help him out.

The effects are pretty poor, and so are the cinematography and the performances. I did however like the voice work, Benny in particular sounds creepy in the jolliest way possible. There are also some successful comedy moments, but it's not enough to make you forget about the disappointing bits. A pretty mixed bag in other words.

American Animals

2018 / 116m - USA
American Animals poster

A pleasant heist flick. What sells this film is the mix of narrative cinema and documentary interludes, certainly when the stories of the different parties don't really match up. It's interesting to see how this adds a level of realism while underscoring the frailty of the memories of the people involved.

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Spencer and Warren want more out of their lives. They're decent students who do well in society, but they are bored by the lives that have been carved out for them. And so they decide to plan a heist. Their university has some rare and valuable books on display, with only an old librarian taking care of them. An ideal target.

The performances are pretty good, the pacing on point, and the lack of extreme dramatics refreshing. The interviews are a nice little touch and even though the film is a bit long (while still having to race through the final stretches), it never bored me. Makes me want to see more by Layton.

The Chanting Revisited

2018 / 105m - Indonesia
The Chanting Revisited poster

Indonesian horror cinema has grown much bigger in the past decade, which means it has also been looking to broaden its core audience. It's no surprise then to see a film like The Chanting Revisited target a younger audience, with less gore, softer scares, and a young cast.

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Glenn presents a show about haunted houses. In one of them, he finds a stylish mirror which he grabs for his girlfriend's aunt. The mirror houses a Kuntilanak, a ghost who apprehends kids lacking motherly love. She'll find plenty of opportunity in her new home, with no less than five kids living there.

The ghost isn't all that scary-looking, there are quite a few comedic interludes and there's no real gore to speak of. It's a pretty decent entry-level horror film, certainly for younger kids who aren't quite sure about the genre just yet. Seasoned horror fans will find a decent atmosphere, but that's about it.