The Passenger

Professione: Reporter
1975 / 126m - Italy
Drama, Thriller
The Passenger poster

I've been making decent inroads into Antonioni's oeuvre these past few years, but so far he hasn't been able to wow me. His films tend to be quite long and slow and they don't really appeal to my sense of style. The Passenger is no exception, it's a typical gritty 70s thriller, not really my cup of tea.

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David Locke is a war reporter who finds himself disillusioned with his job. Thanks to an odd coincidence (an arms dealer dies in the hotel David is staying in), he is able to take on a new identity, hoping this will give his life new meaning. It doesn't take long before the arms dealer's enemies are on David's tail.

I wasn't too impressed by Nicholson's part, I didn't really care for Antonioni's style and two hours is quite long for a film that often moves at a glacial pace. I did appreciate that Antonioni has a clear sense of direction and even though I didn't like it all that much, it is a film that lingers. It's just not for me.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Im Westen nichts Neues
2022 / 148m - Germany
All Quiet on the Western Front poster

A well-made war flick, but I couldn't help but wonder what the reason was for making this. We already have so many WOI/WOII war flicks and this one didn't really add much to the ones that are already out there. The execution is a step up from most, I'll give Berger that, but it can't compete with the likes of Mendes' 1917.

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Paul and his two best friends are still teens when they sign up to join the army. Their feelings of patriotism are strong and they hope to do well for their country, but when they are sent to the frontline their world is about to turn upside down. They quickly realize they've been lied to, but all they can do is fight to survive.

The cinematography is very polished and the war scenes look grim and dirty. But that's the baseline for these types of films nowadays. The performances are solid too, only the story has been done so many times before that I questioned the need for the 150-minute runtime. Certainly not a bad film, just a bit generic, though well-executed.

What Is a Woman?

2022 / 95m - USA
What Is a Woman? poster

Terrible. After 10 years of shady docs pushing left-leaning propaganda, the right has finally caught up. Walsh asks an interesting question, but it's clear he isn't looking for real answers. He already has his answer ready, and he's just looking for material to support it, turning this into a real embarrassment.

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Highlights are him questioning the sense of reality of a 4-year-old by stating they still believe in Santa (while Walsh himself is a religious man), Walsh visiting an African tribe to try and prove how odd gender fluidity is, and him bringing up the toilet debate, questioning why women should be subjected to penises in public bathrooms (I have never ever seen one myself in a public bathroom, not sure what goes on there in the US).

Yes, Walsh finds some kooky people with questionable ideas, but that's not enough to prove any of his points. He's also very careful not to push and express anti-woke sentiments directly, which he clearly doesn't mind so much in his off-screen life. It's all so dishonest and leading, I wish people would just trash these docs for what they are: bad propaganda.


Tin Lung Baat Bou
2023 / 130m - Hong Kong
Action, Adventure
Sakra poster

There was a time when you could just blindly go into these big Hong Kong action spectacles and be assured of a great time, but those days are long gone. I had my hopes up with Donnie Yen helming and leading Sakra, but the quality simply isn't there anymore. It's still decent action filler, but not even close to the best this genre has to offer.

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Kiu Fung is the leader of the Beggar Clan. He is a respected man and a great martial artist, but when a letter surfaces that details the mysteries of his past, he is cast out of the clan. Unsure of what to believe, he sets out to discover the truth about his past, hoping to salvage his reputation.

The action is decent, but there's a bit too much CG and the editing could've been better, certainly for a big-budget production like this. There's a bit too much drama in the middle part, which also tends to get a bit too sentimental. It's still a proper action spectacle, but I long for the times these films had the potential to become personal favorites.


1952 / 137m - USA
Drama, Music
Limelight poster

Chaplin and Keaton together in a film, but the result isn't a slapstick extravaganza. The later Chaplin films are far more dramatic and have dropped most of the explicit comedy bits (though Chaplin himself still can't play straight). While this is very different from his early work, I can't say it's a whole lot better.

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Calvero is an old clown who has seen better days. He used to be pretty popular, but his heydays are well in the past, and this weighs on him. He meets Claire, a ballet dancer, who has a similarly gloomy outlook on life. Their misery connects them, and together they hope to find a better future.

The performances are still very exaggerated, which doesn't work well for a drama. The plot is reminiscent of the 30s/40s musicals, the musical scenes are pretty dull and I never really cared for either of the two leads. I wasn't quite as annoyed as I get watching Chaplin's slapstick material, but that's a pretty low bar, and hardly a positive.

The Apology

2022 / 91m - USA
The Apology poster

A rather simple thriller that does a lot of things right, but fails to be very thrilling. With a moody setting, a small cast, and some old drama that resurfaces, all the ingredients were there for a tense little cult hit. Subpar actors and somewhat drab direction keep the film from greatness.

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Darlene lost her daughter 19 years ago and never recovered. The uncertainty of whether she might still be alive still weighs heavily on her. On the night before Christmas, an old acquaintance turns up out of nowhere. He slowly reveals that he might have more information about her daughter's fate.

The mystery element is a little too predictable, the performances aren't strong enough and the drama's a bit too thin to cover the 90-minute runtime. It's certainly not all bad, it's just that the potential was clearly there to do a lot better. Locke still has a lot of work if she wants to prove her worth.

Emily the Criminal

2022 / 97m - USA
Thriller, Crime
Emily the Criminal poster

A nice little crime/thriller that reminded me of Soderbergh's work. There is nothing too eye-catching about this film, but the quality is there, it is concise and there is no cruft whatsoever to distract from the core plot and themes. It might've been nice if the crime elements had resulted in a tad more tension, other than that I had no real complaints.

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Emily has a DUI on her record, which is really messing with her life. She couldn't finish college, she has trouble landing a solid job and her debts are piling up. When she covers for a colleague, he gives her an address to make some easy money. Emily reluctantly agrees to check it out and finds herself getting enrolled in a life of crime.

Plaza is good, the mix with drama is proper and never distracts, the cinematography is pleasant (though a little generic) and the pacing is perfect. It's just that the film lacks something extra to make it truly stand out. I don't mind a bit of quality filler though, this is a fine first film by Ford, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.


2022 / 104m - USA
They/Them poster

A very basic slasher centered around a gay conversion camp. It's actually a pretty fun setup (not your average summer camp this time around), but the slasher elements are so tame that it's hardly worth the bother. They really should've done a lot better with the material at hand if they'd wanted to avoid the whole woke-centered fuzz that inevitably reared its ugly head.

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A group of kids gathers at a gay conversion camp. Some are there because they want to, though most are there forced by their parents. They have to spend a week at the camp, and while everything seems quite docile at first, the camp hides a much darker truth that will reveal itself over time.

The cast is a pretty varied bunch, Bacon is delightfully evil and in the right hands the premise could've been a lot of fun. Sadly, the murders are tame, the killer is dull and the reveal is anything but spectacular. It's just a very generic slasher, hoping to make a name with a more gender-inclusive cast of characters. That's just not enough.

Ranma ½: The Movie, Big Trouble in Nekonron, China

Ranma ½: Chûgoku Nekonron Daikessen! Okite Yaburi no Gekitô Hen
1991 / 74m - Japan
Comedy, Fantasy - Animation
Ranma ½: The Movie, Big Trouble in Nekonron, China poster

It's been such a long time since I watched some Ranma. I'm not a really big fan, but I did see some bits and pieces back in the 90s and if you're looking for simple entertainment it's always a fair bet. It's not the easiest franchise to get into (there's some weird stuff to get used to), but if you're familiar with other 80s franchises (like Urusei Yatsura for example), it shouldn't take too long to start feeling at home in the Ranma universe.

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The plot is messy, and also pretty inconsequential, but who cares with this type of film? Akane is kidnapped by a Chinese prince because she owns part of a secret scroll. That scroll makes her the default bride for the prince. Ranma and his palls travel to China to rescue Akane, a trip full of danger and weird encounters. All this is preceded by an elongated, underwear-stealing gag that has nothing to do with the actual plot, but adds at least 15 more minutes to the runtime.

Chaos and comedy are pretty much one here. The pacing is fast, the characters aren't properly introduced and the story is incredibly random and fragmented, but that's all just part of the fun. The animation is limited, the art style is solid though. 75 minutes is a tad too long, but I wasn't bored for a second and I'll probably be completing the rest of the film series in the near future.

The Virgin Spring

1960 / 89m - Sweden
The Virgin Spring poster

A somewhat darker and surprisingly more explicit film from Ingmar Bergman. Don't expect anything too different from his usual output though. Irréversible this is not, and apart from some unflinching scenes, Bergman defaults back to what he knows best: characters expressing their feelings through endless dialogue.

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Two young girls partake in an old ritual. A young, slightly haughty but innocent girl and her servant set out to deliver candles to the nearest church. The two encounter some shepherds in the woods, who see their chance to have their way with the girls. Only one of them will return home.

The performances are stoic, the dialogue is formal and the pacing is dead slow. Still, the darker themes did make it a bit more interesting compared to many of the other Bergman films I've seen, and the economic runtime was a blessing too. Not great, but I expected worse.

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey poster

Gimmick. That's all this is really. Pooh became public domain some time ago and people were eager to cash in on the name of the Pooh franchise. And what better genre than horror films, where the quality of execution is already a rare perk and originality is sniffed at? The result: a very bad film that actually made it into theaters.

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After Christopher Robin abandoned his animal friends in the 100 Acre Forest, they grew lonely and vengeful. Their hatred made them turn against humans, so when a group of friends rents a cabin close by, they target the girls and kill them off one by one. Robin is the only one who can save them.

The performances are really bad, Pooh and his friends look shabby as fuck and the plot is just one big mess. The kills aren't the worst, which is something, but seeing them executed by fat men in ugly masks really isn't all that impressive. It's a shame they didn't make a real effort, let's just hop this isn't the start of a trend.

April Story

Shigatsu Monogatari
1998 / 67m - Japan
Drama, Romance
April Story poster

This was one of the first Iwai films I watched when I started my journey into Japanese live-action cinema, so it is safe to say I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this rewatch. It turned out to be a true delight. Iwai uses the short runtime well to serve a very small yet endearing story about a young girl moving to Tokyo to start college. There's a sweetness and a penchant for tiny moments of beauty and bliss that make this film a joy to watch. If you want something short and sweet to get acquainted with Iwai's work, you can't go wrong with this one.


2000 / 93m - USA
Comedy, Fantasy
Bedazzled poster

A typical Ramis comedy. The film is a good 20 years old now, but it felt at least twice its age. Ramis' trademark 80s sense of comedy is embedded in the film, only with some more recent actors (and some horrible CG). The result is pretty paltry, as the comedy never really settles in and the jokes keep missing target.

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A try-hard is madly in love with a lady at the office, only she has no eyes for him. The devil hears about the man's desperate love and promises to help him in return for his soul. He gets seven wishes, after they've all been granted he has to offer up his soul to the devil. Those wishes never really pan out the way he hoped they would.

Fraser and Hurley are pretty terrible, Ramis' direction is uneven and sloppy and the plot, while promising, keeps venturing off in the wrong direction. There's a light and agreeable vibe that makes it somewhat palatable, but even at a mere 90 minutes, the film manages to overstay its welcome. Not very good.


2005 / 99m - USA
Mystery, Thriller
Stay poster

A little mindfuck thriller from way back when. Films like these were pretty popular back then, though they usually came with a stronger horror flavor. Stay was a more dedicated mystery, with most scenes explicitly designed to confuse and bewilder. It's certainly still a lot of fun, but not quite as nifty and refined as I remembered it to be.

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Sam is a psychiatrist who takes over Henry's case when his colleague falls ill. Henry is a young art student with suicidal thoughts. Sam is dedicated to helping him, but the more he finds out about Henry, the more he starts to believe something weird is going on with the boy. Sam begins to doubt his own sanity, yet he keeps getting pulled in further.

The presentation is pretty slick, but not quite as good as I remembered it to be. The soundtrack is nice too, the mystery is built up pretty well (though knowing the outcome does take away from the experience) and the performances are decent (apart from McGregor maybe, who wasn't the best fit). I had a good time revisiting Stay, it's just not a true personal favorite anymore.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

2018 / 87m - Canada
Thriller, Crime
Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey poster

Not a bad film, the first half in particular conjures up a pretty solid, vile mood. The film's TV roots are a bit too apparent though and the second half gets a bit too cheesy at times. Believe Me feels like it was split in half, and with the latter part going downhill, that's something that weighs on the entire film.

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Lisa is a young girl who lives with her grandmother and her abusive husband. She is in constant survival mode, but her life is about to get a lot worse when she is kidnapped by a serial killer. He abuses and rapes her, but thanks to her survival skills Lisa is able to convince him to let her go. But then the hardest part still has to come.

The first half doesn't pull any punches and it gets pretty dark, which was a happy surprise. The second half comes off as less genuine and it's a bit too prone to underline the heroics of the lead characters. The constant fade-to-blacks and random shots of police office buildings (to accommodate ad blocks) also cheapen the film. Not bad, but based on the first half, it could've been a lot better still.

Raven Tengu Kabuto: The Golden-Eyed Beast

Karasu Tengu Kabuto: Ôgon no Me no Kemono
1992 / 40m - Japan
Fantasy, Action - Animation
Raven Tengu Kabuto: The Golden-Eyed Beast poster

More Ninja Scroll-like anime. There seem to be quite a few of these films, most of them dating back to the early 90s. None of these projects can touch the genius of Kawajiri's classic, Kabuto certainly is no exception. But if you're loving yourself some odd, supernatural samurai action, then these films are very tasty snacks indeed.

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Kabuto is a mysterious samurai, with big wings and a big glam rock 80s hairdo. After rescuing the princess at a young age, the two are bound together for life. When a sorceress threatens to kidnap the princess, Kabuto reappears and will do his very best to keep her out of the claws of this crafty woman and her even craftier henchmen.

The quality of the animation isn't that great, but the designs of the enemies and machinery make up for that. The story is simple but doesn't get in the way of anything, and the film is sweet and short, with hardly any cruft remaining. It's certainly not a highlight of the genre, but if you're craving a bit of 90s samurai action and you've gone through the more famous films, it's definitely a worthy option.


2023 / 89m - Belgium
Mystery, Thriller
Noise poster

A pretty decent mystery/thriller that forgets to cash in on the mood it built up quite meticulously. The setup is solid, mysterious elements are added left and right to create a disorienting mood and the presentation is slick. But when push comes to shove, the tension dissipates and the finale simply doesn't deliver.

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Matthias and Liv just had a baby. They crave some peace and quiet, so they go live in the mansion owned by Matthias' dad. The baby won't stop crying, Matthias is feeling the pressure of being an influencer and his dementing dad keeps talking about some old drama related to the factory he owned.

The performances are decent, the film looks pretty stylish, the mystery is well-developed and the film doesn't overstay its welcome. It's just that it never reaches any real climax. I don't mind an open ending or narrative strands left unfinished, but the lack of an emotional climax is a lot harder to swallow.

Scream 6

2023 / 123m - USA
Scream 6 poster

Part 6 in the long-running Scream franchise. I've seen them all, but I've forgotten all about the previous parts by the time a new episode is released. Not ideal for a self-referential film series, but I'm not very keen on self-referential things in any case. So for me, these are just regular slasher flicks (with more elaborate twists).

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Ghostface is back in town, Samantha, her sister, and a couple of their friends gear up to survive yet another attack on their lives. This time the police and FBI are there from the start to help them out, but since it's Halloween Ghostface masks pop up all over town, making it hard to feel safe even in public.

Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are starting to feel at home in the series. It's a shame Weaving didn't get a better/bigger part, but the rest of the cast is solid, the set pieces are fun and the build-up of the tension is pretty good (the scene in the metro is lovely). Two hours is a bit long and the twists aren't great, but this is probably the most fun I've had with a Scream film so far.