The Greatest Beer Run Ever poster

Remember when the Farrelly brothers still made comedies? Nowadays, it seems the comedy genre is all but dead, so Peter Farrelly transformed himself to direct mushy Hollywood feel-good drama with a message. Enter The Greatest Beer Run Ever, a pointless anecdote that takes us back to the Vietnam war.

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Chickie is wasting away his time while many of his palls are fighting the war in Vietnam. When he comes up with a plan to support them by taking them some local beers, nobody believed he'd go through with the plan. That just made Chickie more determined, and when he finds a boat that will ship him off to Vietnam, he jumps at the opportunity.

Efron is pretty decent, but that's about it. The plot is dull, the runtime too long and the critical take on the Vietnam war is so by the numbers that you wonder why they even bothered. The film left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, but at least that's somewhat appropriate for a film about American beer.

Umbrella Flower

2000 / 116m - Japan
Umbrella Flower poster

A somewhat hermetic, but beautiful drama. Somai doesn't make it easy on his audience, the characters aren't the most charming and are pretty introverted, the structure is a tad confusing and their haphazard trip may feel rather pointless. But as the film moved along, the characters started to grow on me (helped by some terrific performances), the delicate styling didn't miss its effect and the drama grew stronger by the minute. Somai's swan song is a film to cherish, one that should appeal to people who love Japanese drama and don't mind an arthouse finish.

Cat Run

2011 / 101m - USA
Comedy, Action
Cat Run poster

A decent enough action flick, but not half as cool or funny as it pretends to be. A decade or so ago these types of films were all the rage, and I do appreciate what they set out to do, Cat Run just isn't all that effective. I'm not really all that surprised then that this one passed me by completely. I did have some fun catching up with it though.

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Cat is a skilled escort who ends up in the middle of an international scandal. Two private investigators who just started their business take on the job of locating her, but they quickly realize the people who hired them don't want to find Cat to bring her to safety. She possesses a hard drive that contains a video of some incriminating events.

The film is excessively gory for an action film, but the direction feels a little uninspired and the attempted visual inventiveness is mostly just derivative. The film does pick up steam in the second half and the pacing is on point, but it's not really enough to have it up there with the best films in the genre. Still, solid filler for people who like this kind of thing.


2022 / 115m - USA
Smile poster

Not great. Smile is a horror film that doesn't even try to do anything special beyond its premise. Sadly Parker Finn doesn't draw too many scares from that, and once you arrive at the second part of the film, it's mostly just investigative scenes with a little horror for padding. Past traumas incoming!

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Rose is a psychiatrist who has a new patient kill herself during their first session together. The woman reported being followed by a dark creature, wearing the face of familiars and giving her creepy smiles. The curse transfers to Rose, who now has to confront her past demons to get past this new ordeal.

The smiley people aren't quite as creepy as intended, the jump scares were mediocre and the CG was downright subpar. Performances were decent enough, but a simple film like this can't support a 2-hour runtime and the second half was a pretty big disappointment. Not my cup of tea.

Miso Hungry

2015 / 90m - Australia
Miso Hungry poster

Diet docs have been pretty popular these past years, but few of them have felt genuine or useful. Either they were a bit too dramatic/staged, or too geared at selling a particular diet and/or food choice. It's not that Miso Hungry (an obvious pun referencing Japanese food) gives you a broad range of options, but it does talk more about mindset, portion control, and routine, things that are essential beyond your actual diet of choice.

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Craig is overweight, a result of his bad lifestyle. After an alarming visit to the doctor, he decides to take a trip to Japan to learn about the Japanese way of eating and living. The doc offers a range of familiar Japanese food options (green tea, natto, tofu, ...) and takes a few detours, which feel like padding at first, but do end up adding important insights.

There's a little added humor that doesn't really work and the approach here isn't very scientific, but the bottom line is more focused on common sense anyway. As an added bonus, you're getting a little peek into Japanese food culture, which means you'll be ogling delicious-looking dishes the whole way through. There's nothing mind-blowing here, but it's quite a bit better than many of the alternatives.

Our Daily Bread

Uski Roti
1970 / 110m - India
Our Daily Bread poster

Classic Indian arthouse cinema. Our Daily Bread is as far removed from Bollywood sentiment as you can imagine, but that doesn't mean it's significantly better. On the contrary, the minimalism works against the film and unless you're really caught by the drama here, it's a real slog.

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A devoted wife brings food to her husband every single day. When her younger sister is assaulted she turns up late to their daily appointment, and her husband is already gone. This event creates a schism between the two and the wife feels that her marriage is starting to slip away from her.

The cinematography is incredibly drab, the performances are lifeless, and the drama simplistic. I don't mind minimalism in principle, but it has to be done right, meaning that every single detail matters. This to me was just sloppy. I'm sure there's an audience for films like these, clearly, I'm not it.

Damp Season

Hui Nan Tian
2020 / 107m - China
Damp Season poster

A pretty little arthouse drama. Damp Season isn't a very novel take on the genre, stilted performances, somewhat impenetrable characters, and slow pacing are some of the key characteristics of the film. The execution is pleasant though, which makes this a very palatable film.

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A young couple's relationship is hitting some bumpy patches. He works as a security guard in an abandoned amusement park, she works for a flower shop. As the spark slowly disappears from their relationship, they both meet new people who rekindle their romantic feelings.

The cinematography is pleasant, the performances are strong and minor fantastical touches help to elevate the film. The score was a bit too minimal for my taste (mostly absent in fact) and I felt this film didn't add that much to other, similar films out there, but if you're looking for a fine, Chinese arthouse drama, this film delivers.

Part 6 in the Senritsu Kaiki series. It's one of the most complex and ambitious entries in the franchise. On the one hand that's nice, because you're getting something a tad more original. On the other hand, the budget and scope of this series can't really do justice to the concepts presented here, something that really weighs on the ending.

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Kudo is at it again. The latest video he received is sure to accelerate his international breakthrough. A mysterious little mountain village is the target, with an increased production budget he is able to invite a scientist, a spiritual guide, and a gravure idol with him. Already convinced the spirit world exists, Kudo sets out to find more proof.

There's a bit more back story, the film is a good 10 minutes longer than the previous ones, and it certainly helps to have seen the earlier entries in the series if you want to understand what the hell is happening. The horror elements aren't very scary though, the effects are crummy and the more ambitious concept forces them into full view. It's still fun filler, but a more cinematic approach would've done this film a lot of good.

Bodies Bodies Bodies

2022 / 97m - USA
Bodies Bodies Bodies poster

Kids these days. It's not all that obvious whether the film wants to be actively critical of Generation Z, or if the film just dishes out some playful nudges and winks (director Reijn isn't the youngest, but drawing a conclusion from that would be ageist). Whatever the case, the film didn't feel fully realized.

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Some youngsters are getting together for a hurricane party. They play a game of "bodies bodies bodies", but when things get out of hand they end up with an actual body on the floor. From that moment on, the hysteria starts to build, as the group tries to find out the identity of the real killer.

The kids are pretty damn annoying, and while I understand that's kind of the point, they really are pretty damn annoying. The soundtrack is cool though, the film looks nice enough and there's some fun to be had here. On the other hand, the conclusion was pretty lame and the film isn't quite as edgy as it tried to be. Mixed feelings.

A Trip to Infinity

2022 / 79m - USA
A Trip to Infinity poster

Infinity is an interesting concept, but it's not an easy subject for a documentary. If you get some stuffy scientists to talk for 80 minutes straight, you get a lecture, not a film. And so it was smart to provide accompanying animations that have worth and appeal on their own, rather than a purely illustrative function. That's what made this doc stand out for me.

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Part of the info here was little more than a brush-up of my student days, but the different analogies were pretty apt and no doubt useful for people who are new to some of the concepts presented. As long as you don't expect to walk away with more answers than questions, you should be good watching this documentary.

The main takeaway is that our brains are simply not equipped to deal with large numbers, let alone infinity. It's pretty cool to see how maths has evolved from a field that describes what we can see to something that describes things beyond what we can see, leaving us to believe in one of the abstract constructs man has created. Oh, and the animations really are fun and pretty too. Good doc.

Wild Flowers

Flores Silvestres
2015 / 50m - Mexico
Wild Flowers poster

A rather basic, short drama about guilt and grief. Lombardini makes an effort to spruce it up with the cinematography, but the attempts are a little haphazard and without a decent score to back it up, the result isn't much to write home about. Not a film that fulfills its full potential.

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Marta is a middle-aged woman who lives a rather secluded life. She lost her son at a young age and still blames herself for the accident. It isn't until she meets Germán, a younger man, that she finally allows herself to open up and tries to let go of the grief that has paralyzed her for so long.

The performances are decent but nothing special, the drama is textbook and while the cinematography is pleasant, it's not strong enough to carry the film. The short runtime doesn't really allow for anything beyond the basic exposition of the drama either. It's not a horrible film, just not at all memorable.

Take Back the Night

2021 / 90m - USA
Horror, Mystery
Take Back the Night poster

A horror flick that is a not-so-subtle allegory for sexual violence and assault. It's pretty common these days to remake core drama as horror, as long as it actually works well within the genre confines I don't really mind. And Elliot nails that part, even though she clearly didn't have a huge budget to spend.

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After a successful gallery presentation, Jane and her friends go out partying. When Jane returns home, she is attacked by a dark figure. Battered she reaches the hospital, but when she finally informs the police they seem hesitant to believe her. Jane's story about a monster attacking her sounds implausible.

Fitzpatrick is pretty solid, the director feels fresh and contemporary, and the scares are pretty cool. Yes, the CG is a little dodgy, but the monster design makes up for that, though I'm sure it will be divisive. A pretty tense and interesting film, with a clear message that doesn't dial back the genre elements. Good work.

Knights of Valour

2021 / 80m - China
Action, War
Knights of Valour poster

Chinese historic war cinema on the cheap. It was only a matter of time before China would hark back to the glorious war epics that graced the screens almost two decades ago. The biggest difference with Knights of Valour is scope and budget. While director Yilin is used to making do with little, it's not easy when working in this particular niche.

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When Guan Xing's father is killed in battle and his weapon is taken by the leader of the Wu, Guan wants revenge. Two years later he gets his chance, when a map is discovered that leads right into a nearby city controlled by the Wu. With a small team, Guan is tasked to explore and infiltrate the city, but the closer they come to their goal, the more obvious it is they are running into a trap.

The CG is a little dodgy and the lack of massive battlefield scenes is hard to miss, but the focus on a small infiltration team is smart and the film looks pretty solid beyond its budgetary limitations. And so Knights of Valour is pretty decent filler, much like all the other short streaming fodder. Not bad, just don't expect it to stand out.


2018 / 90m - The Netherlands
Billy poster

An interesting premise, handled with the right amount of comedy and the right cast. It's a shame the film's TV roots are a bit too apparent, not all that surprising considering this was Theo Maassen's debut. It's a film that shows promise though, certainly when Maassen could surround himself with the right crew.

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Gerard is a successful ventriloquist. He draws big crowds, but most people seem more interested in his puppet Billy. Billy is foul-mouthed and rude, which gets Gerard into trouble quite a lot. Gerard is ready for a change, but the audience only wants one thing: to see Billy perform on stage.

There's an interesting story about an artist trying to balance fame, integrity, and self-worth (though the ending felt a bit lame in that regard), the performances are on point and the comedy is purposefully cringe. The cinematography was lacking though and the ending was a bit of a dud, but other than that, a fine debut.