Who Invited Them

2022 / 81m - USA
Horror, Thriller
3.0*/5.0*
Who Invited Them poster

A pretty decent mix of horror and thriller elements, but a bit too predictable to make a really big impact. The title says it all, and from the moment you see "them", it is pretty obvious where the film is heading. Birmingham was also a little too eager to spoil the ending, which somewhat killed the tension during the second half.

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Adam and Margo just moved into their new, fancy house. They throw a little housewarming party, but their guests aren't too eager to see them show off their new house. Except for a couple who nobody seems to know. When everybody has gone home, they are the only two staying around.

The performances are decent, the mystery is solid (at least, during the first half of the film) and the mind games are pretty evil, though they never really push the limits. This was pretty decent horror/thriller filler, a film that doesn't overstay its welcome and delivers on its premise, but never even tries to go beyond.

Bull Durham

1988 / 108m - USA
Romance, Sport
0.5*/5.0*
Bull Durham poster

An American baseball classic. I'm not quite sure where this film got its reputation, but somehow this film stood out some 35 years ago. Maybe it was the cast of famous actors, maybe people were really digging sports romances back then, but whatever it was, none of it survived the test of time.

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Crash is a veteran baseball player who moves to the Durham Bulls to mentor younger talent. He's assigned to Nuke Laloosh, a young and talented baseball player, who rather chases women than commit to his sport. Crash and Laloosh don't really get along too well, but he won't just give up on the guy.

The romance is terrible, the plot is extremely predictable and the baseball scenes are pretty damn dull. It's a bland and cheesy sports flick with a cast that doesn't excel, and a runtime that never warrants getting close to the 2-hour mark. One of those films I'll have forgotten all about the next day, and in this case, that's probably a good thing.

Noise

2022 / 128m - Japan
Thriller, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Noise poster

With all the talent involved, I expected a slightly better film. Not that Hiroki's Noise is bad, there's plenty of quality on display here. It's just that it never quite felt like true cinema, just a manga/story brought to the big screen. That's one of the downsides when you're working with too much talent and popular IP I guess.

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Shishikari is a small island where nothing exciting ever happens. A local farmer starts a fig farm and receives national recognition, which puts the little island in the spotlight. Outsiders take an interest in the place, and before the little community living on the island knows what hit them, they have their first murder on their hands.

The characters have little room to shine, which is Hiroki's strong point. Instead, a lot of time is spent on the plot, which is decent enough, but not all that special. The cinematography is pleasant, and the soundtrack adds a little extra class, but in the end, there's just not all that much there that sets it apart from other films.

Battlefield Baseball

Jigoku K├┤shien
2003 / 87m - Japan
Comedy, Horror, Sport
3.5*/5.0*
Battlefield Baseball poster

One of those films that prefaced the Sushi Typhoon age. It was Yudai Yamaguchi's first feature film, fronted by action/horror bad boy Tak Sakaguchi, and adapted from a manga. There was bound to be craziness galore, and crazy is what you're getting. It's just that the execution is a little wonky.

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Yakyu Jubei is new at his school. He never really fitted in, but he's a very gifted baseball player, and when his school's team is chosen to play one of the toughest, meanest teams in the league, Jubei is the only one likely enough to give them a fighting chance. He needs a bit of convincing, but finally, he commits.

There are some crazy ideas and insane plot elements, which are mostly played for laughs. The film works better as a comedy, the gore is a bit basic and looks rather cheap. It doesn't hinder the film too much, but since then crazier, weirder, and more outrageous films have been released. Still good fun, but not really a masterpiece anymore.

Fall

2022 / 107m - USA
Thriller
3.5*/5.0*
Fall poster

Sometimes all you need is a simple premise that is properly executed. The poster for this film tells you everything you need to know, then it's just up to the director to deliver. And Scott Man does. People with acrophobia might think twice about watching this one, as Mann loves exploiting the tricky situation the two leads find themselves in.

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After losing her husband to a climbing accident, Becky has trouble moving on with her life. Exactly one year later, her best friend convinces her to do another climb. They find a 600m high TV tower, but when they reach the top the ladder breaks and they find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere.

The tower is insanely narrow, insanely high, and insanely rusty. The way up there leaves little to the imagination, the lovely camera work doesn't either. Performances are decent, the thrills are on point and the desperation tangible. The film is a tad too long and maybe a bit too predictable, but if you're looking for a potent thriller, look no further.

Glorious

2022 / 79m - USA
Horror
3.5*/5.0*
Glorious poster

It's not easy coming up with a novel concept for a horror film these days, so kudos to Glorious for delivering something that I hadn't really seen before. While there may not have been quite enough material for a full-length feature film, McKendry does a solid job to keep things fresh and interesting.

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Wes is pining for his lost love when he stumbles into a public restroom after a particularly rowdy night. A voice from the stall next to him starts talking, eager to start a conversation. Wes isn't in the mood, but the voice is quite demanding. When Wes finds himself unable to leave the restroom, he realizes something is off.

With a small cast and a single location, it's not always easy to keep a film engaging, but a superb setup and some neat little twists kept me on my toes. The film neatly evades some "less is more" traps, the cinematography is decent and the performances are fun, adding a little comedy to the whole. A pleasant surprise.

Suzzanna: Buried Alive

Suzzanna: Bernapas Dalam Kubur
2018 / 125m - Indonesia
Horror
2.5*/5.0*
Suzzanna: Buried Alive poster

Another typical Rocky Soraya production. He's no doubt one of the front-runners of Indonesian horror cinema, though not exactly due to the quality of his productions. Most of his films are pretty decent filler, much like Suzzanna, but they fail to really stand out or give Indonesian horror a strong identity.

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When Suzzanna's husband goes away on a business trip, four of his subordinates plan a little raid on his house to earn an extra buck. Suzzanna was supposed to be out, watching a movie, but she returns when feeling ill. The raid goes south, Suzzanna ends up in the ground and she returns as a vengeful spirit.

There are some decent enough scenes here, also some retro-kitsch that is quite cute, but the biggest problem is the length of the film. The setup is basic, and the premise isn't very original, so there was really no reason to stretch this beyond the 2-hour mark. Suzzanna is pretty decent horror filler, but hardly up there with the better Indonesian horror films.

Top Gun: Maverick

2022 / 130m - USA
Action
1.0*/5.0*
Top Gun: Maverick poster

The newest Top Gun took 35 years to materialize, but apart from three of so smartphones it just as well could've been made the year after. If you like 80s action cinema and don't mind heavy nostalgia this film won't disappoint, if you're hoping for a modern upgrade, don't even bother with Maverick.

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After screwing up a test mission, Maverick is on his way to early retirement, when his old pal Ice calls him up for one final mission. Not to fly himself, but to teach a bunch of younger prodigies. Maverick isn't entirely convinced of the plan, but since he has no other choice, he accepts the mission.

Cheesy music, lots of references to the first film, tons of unearned sentiment, a sense of cool that hasn't evolved for 35 years, and some action scenes that may be quite practical in nature, but aren't that impressive to look at. It's a film that belongs to a bygone era, I just hope it doesn't start a new hype because this was pretty horrible.

Woodshock

2017 / 100m - USA
Drama, Fantasy
3.5*/5.0*
Woodshock poster

An arthouse stoner drama that turns quite a bit more abstract during its finale. It's a real shame it took the film so long to get there because the final thirty minutes are pretty impressive. I didn't care so much for the drama itself though, which takes up most of the first hour of the film.

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When Theresa helps with her mom's euthanasia, she isn't quite prepared for the emotional impact this has on her. She slowly spirals out of control and starts to lose herself. The people surrounding her don't offer the support she needs and she finds herself slipping between dream and reality.

Dunst is a little one-note, the drama a bit too heavy-handed and the pacing is too slow. But right when I started to wonder how the film had got its secondary genre classifications, the finale kicks in and things get a lot more interesting. Some very nice visuals and a strong score elevate the film, it just took the film too long to get to that point.

Rubikon

2022 / 110m - Austria
Sci-fi
3.0*/5.0*
Rubikon poster

Spaceship sci-fi with a strong eco message. It's nothing too original, both the themes and setup of the film have been done before (better too), but Lauritsch still manages to create a moody, somewhat claustrophobic eco-thriller that could've been a bit tighter, but never feels like it overstays its welcome.

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The Rubikon is a space station where algae research is being conducted, as a source of food and oxygen. When our planet is suddenly swamped by an enormous toxic cloud, it is the only remaining beacon of hope. The three inhabitants of the station will have to figure out a way to further the existence of humankind.

The effects are decent, the space station looks near-futuristic and the disconnect from an Earth in peril is effective. The performances are a little basic though and the story is rather predictable, including the finale. It's perfectly acceptable filler, I just wish they would've pushed it a bit more.

We Couldn't Become Adults

Bokutachi wa Minna Otona ni Narenakatta
2021 / 124m - Japan
Drama
We Couldn't Become Adults poster

A warm and touching drama about a middle-aged man looking back at the choices he made during his lifetime, which didn't really bring him what had hoped for and dreamed about when he was younger. A superb central performance, polished cinematography, and a pleasant score strengthen the drama. The backward narration adds a layer of intrigue often missing from more traditional dramas. It's not a film that reinvents the genre, but it has a few smart touches that do help to set it apart from similar films.

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising

2014 / 108m - Japan
Sci-fi, Action, Animation
2.5*/5.0*
Tiger & Bunny: The Rising poster

More Tiger & Bunny fun. Truth be told, I watched this film because of its ease of access (i.e. Netflix has it), otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered. I wasn't too impressed with Beginning and this film doesn't really improve on it. That said, it's also not the worst anime I've seen. Just simple and easy filler I wish was a bit better animated.

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When the TV company hosting the superhero show gets a new CEO, things are about to change. Kotetsu is fired and Barnaby is promoted back to the primary league. Barnaby is paired with the cocky Golden Ryan, a mix that doesn't immediately pay off. When they discover a hidden plot that will wreak havoc on the city, they have no choice but to learn to work together.

The mech designs are the only thing that jumped out positively. The art style is pretty basic, the animation isn't all that impressive and the plot is rather generic. There are some solid action scenes, but nothing you haven't seen before. There's nothing particularly terrible about these films, but it's pretty hard to find something that sets them apart from their peers.