We Have a Ghost

2023 / 126m - USA
Comedy, Fantasy
We Have a Ghost poster

Landon takes on a more kid-friendly horror project, to the point where it probably can't be called a horror film anymore. We Have a Ghost is more of a Ghostbuster-like film that prefers a fresh start rather than contemporizing an existing franchise. You have to respect that, but the film itself could've been better.

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The Presley family moves into an old house, hoping to make a fresh start. It doesn't take long before they discover they have a ghost in their attic. The ghost isn't malicious, and Kevin takes a liking to him. With his neighbor Joy, he tries to figure out what trauma keeps the ghost tied to the world of the living.

The structure is that of a classic horror film, but the atmosphere is light and there is no gore, nor any attempt to add scares. The performances are decent, but the plot is pretty cheesy and two hours is way too long for a simple genre film like this. A more concise version might've been easier to stomach. Other than that, not bad, but primarily targeted at teens.

Fiddler on the Roof

1971 / 181m - USA
Fiddler on the Roof poster

A famous title, and some familiar songs. Fiddler on the Roof is a certified classic, but I had no clue what the film was about, nor what I could expect. It turned out to be a pretty drab and overlong musical, a three-hour-long ordeal about a poor Jewish Russian farmer who can't seem to get rid of his daughters.

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Tevye is a poor milk farmer. He has a big family, but the matchmaker of the family can't seem to land a proper husband for them. Tevye lives in an oldskool village governed by tradition, so when his daughters venture out to find boyfriends of their own, he has a hard time agreeing with their choices.

The setting is extremely depressing, the songs are terrible and the plight of Tevye is not something I cared about (I'm just not very traditional myself). To be exposed to that for three hours was pretty unbearable, but at least it's another classic I'll never have to wonder about again. Not my cup of tea.

Song of the Assassins

Qing Mian Xiuluo
2022 / 118m - China
Fantasy, Action
Song of the Assassins poster

Daniel Lee repeats his 14 Blades trick. From out of nowhere he revives a niche that was seemingly dead. The large-scale Chinese martial arts epics have been struggling to reach their former glory, Lee revitalizes a genre that has been in dire need of an energy injection. He doesn't bring anything new to the table, but Song of the Assassins thrives on skill and enthusiasm. It doesn't go overboard on bad CG, the action scenes are spectacular, the cinematography is bold, the steampunk influences are very cool and the plot is solid enough. I had a blast with Song of the Assassins, long overdue.

The American Friend

Der Amerikanische Freund
1977 / 128m - West Germany
Thriller, Crime
The American Friend poster

Wenders' take on Tom Ripley, the infamous art forger. It's not too long since I watched Purple Noon, I preferred Wenders' adaptation by a small margin. It's clear that he put a bit more care into the styling of the film, though the harsh 70s look is not something that really vibes with me.

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Zimmerman makes frames for paintings. When he hears he suffers from leukemia, his world collapses. Then he meets Tom Ripley, who introduces him to the world of art forgery. Zimmerman can make a healthy buck, money that will support his family after he's gone, but to get that money he'll have to venture into a world that is not his own.

The performances are decent and the cinematography is above average (for a 70s flick). The plot on the other hand isn't all that interesting. It's another drawn-out noir that wears thin way too soon, and the film isn't stylistically strong enough to make up for that. Wenders has talent though, that much is obvious.


2012 / 150m - USA
Lincoln poster

Exactly what you'd expect from Hollywood's most archetypical director doing a biopic of Abraham Lincoln. An important part of American history is turned into a cheesy drama with predictable build-ups and an overdose of sentimentality, saved only by a grand budget skillfully applied.

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Lincoln has devised a plan to end the war, to do that he has to get enough votes to push Amendment 13 through the House of Representatives. It's the Amendment that will abolish slavery, a key turning point in US history. The vote is close and Lincoln will have to be crafty to get what he wants.

The performances are decent, the cinematography polished, but beyond craft there's very little on display here. The score is corny, the structure of the film feels manipulative and there are no characters of life and blood here, just glorified heroes. Your typical Spielberg production, in other words, I'm not a fan.

Be with You

Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu
2004 / 119m - Japan
Drama, Fantasy
Be with You poster

An old favorite of mine, that turned out to be just a little too heavy on sentiment the second time around. Some of it works and the second half is an upwards trajectory, but the setup is too obvious and Doi's direction is a tad too unsubtle for me to fully go along with it. Fans of Japanese drama and romance should still give it a try though.

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When Mio dies, she leaves behind a husband and son. The two cope, but they never really get over their loss. A year after her death, Mio suddenly returns to them, only with her memories completely wiped. Takumi is delighted to see his wife, and the two get to fall in love all over again, as he gradually fills her in about her past life.

The cinematography is polished, the performances are solid and the mix of light fantasy and drama really comes together in the second half, but the score is a little too cheesy and Doi tries too hard to make everything sweet and cute, creating an emotional overload. Be With You is certainly not a bad film, bi for a drama it's just too leading and unsubtle to be a great film.

A Nice Girl Like You

2020 / 94m - USA
Comedy, Romance
A Nice Girl Like You poster

Think of the worst, most outdated, old-fashioned clichés about women doing comedy ... and that's exactly what A Nice Girl Like You is. Only it's directed by two men. This is a pretty drab and bland sex-centered romcom, undoubtedly one of the most prudish films I've ever seen on the subject.

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Lucy breaks up with her boyfriend after he calls her frigid. It doesn't sit well with her, even though the guy has a point, so she draws up a list of sex-related things to do. Meanwhile, she starts dating another guy, who is mildly fascinated, but also a bit confused by Lucy's extreme interest in sexuality.

The jokes are terrible, the film daren't commit to the theme and the performances are as frigid as Lucy's character. I'm not quite sure who this film is intended for, but apart from it being light throughout, relatively short, and properly paced, there's really nothing of value to be found here. Pretty poor.

Cosmic Fantasy: Galaxy Cougar's Trap

Kozumikku Fantajī Ginga Mehyō no Wana
1994 / 45m - Japan
Comedy, Sci-fi - Animation
Cosmic Fantasy: Galaxy Cougar's Trap poster

A pretty generic sci-fi comedy, but I didn't expect that much more from a short OAV based on a video game franchise. No doubt they were dipping their toes in the water to see whether this would be profitable in some way or other, clearly it didn't pan out the way they hoped it would. I don't think too many cared in the end, but if you're looking for some light anime fluff, it's not the worst.

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Yuu and Saya are respected space pirate hunters, enjoying some downtime between two missions. They are on a date together, but even then fate can't leave them alone. Belga, a notorious pirate, is trying to lure out Yuu in order to kill him. Her plan goes smoothly, and soon enough the world is convinced the hunters are no more.

The animation and art style are nothing special, the comedy and romance elements are predictable and while the action is decent enough, it doesn't bring anything new to the table. It's just an amusing but forgettable anime romp, a nice piece of promo material to get people excited for the next game. It might be better for people familiar with the IP, though I doubt it would make much of a difference.

The Pope's Exorcist

2023 / 103m - USA
The Pope's Exorcist poster

Just another exorcist film. The fact that it is based on a rather colorful character (Gabriele Amorth - he actually existed and wrote some books on his profession) is a nice bonus, but it doesn't really change all that much. All the clichés are present, and having someone like Russell Crowe in the lead just adds to the cheese.

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When a family inherits a chapel in Spain, they go there to clean up the place and sell it off. Once there, the renovation work unleashes a demon sealed away ages ago, who takes possession of the son right away. Father Amorth, an exorcist appointed by the pope himself, is called in to save the way. He finds that he's dealing with an actual demon.

The film benefits from a decent budget and a cool location. The finale is pretty spectacular and Crowe had a lot of fun playing Amorth, but the film neglects to be scary, gory, or horrific in any other sense. It's a defect many exorcism films are facing and one The Pope's Exorcist fails to overcome. Decent horror fodder, but nothing more.

Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong

Chui Foo Chun Lung
2021 / 105m - Hong Kong
Action, Crime
Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong poster

It's only somewhat appropriate that Jing Wong ended up directing a Once Upon a Time film about Hong Kong. With a slew of actors that helped boost his career (and visa versa of course), he made a pretty decent but ultimately generic crime epic that fits well into his oeuvre but does very little to stand out amongst a crowd of literally hundreds of films.

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In the early 70s, crime in Hong Kong is down, only it was due to the police being corrupt and taking bribes, working together with the criminals. The ICAC is founded to battle this corruption. It's a steep hill to climb, as nobody trusts the new anti-crime unit, but thanks to some upstanding detectives they start to win the trust of the Hong Kong public.

Some very high-profile names here, but it's Francis Ng who stands out and grants his character some extra depth. The plot is pretty simple, the cinematography decent but nothing too wild, and the ending predictable (certainly with China calling the shots in Hong Kong nowadays). Decent crime fluff, but we all know they can do a lot better in this niche.


1978 / 88m - USA
Girlfriends poster

A precursor to the indie/mumblecore scene that blossomed during the 00s. Only now you get to follow some very regular people from the 70s. Fans of this type of cinema will no doubt have a lot of fun with this one, it carries all the trademark elements, I just didn't care much for the characters, and that's about all there is.

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Susan is a photographer who dreams of making it big but is stuck doing minor jobs for a small wage. She lives together with a very good friend, which makes her life more bearable, but then she finds out her friend is looking to get married, and soon Susan will have to go through life all by herself.

The performances are pretty true to life, but that's about all this film has going for it. The presentation is incredibly shoddy, the characters are dull and the setting didn't interest me in the least. Not a very pleasant film, nor one I will fondly remember. If I remember anything at all.

Space Oddity

2022 / 92m - USA
Comedy, Romance
Space Oddity poster

A simple but cute rom-com. There's a quirky, somewhat goofy premise, a cast of genuinely enjoyable characters, and a pleasant (though predictable) structure. Sure enough, there's a little drama too, but it never overpowers the other elements and it doesn't get in the way of the good vibes.

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Alex has only one wish: he wants to leave Earth and colonize Mars. He's been chosen to join a private expedition, and so he does everything in his power to make his dream come true. When he applies for life insurance, he meets Daisy, a young woman who just moved into town.

Apart from the rather unique premise, Space Oddity is a film that sticks to conventions. You don't really have to worry about the outcome, the drama is light and the presentation is cozy and fluffy. The most important thing is that it works though, with Allen and Shipp as a lovely lead duo. Fun and cute.

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

1995 / 100m - USA
Action, Thriller
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory poster

Seagal returns to save the world. This time he's on a train, not on a boat, which doesn't change the dynamic of the film at all. And there's your entire premise of the Under Siege sequel, another bland 80s/90s US action flick that got way more recognition than it actually deserved. It's pure action fare and in that sense somewhat decent, but hard to recommend, unless you have a thing for this kind of action cinema.

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Ryback goes on vacation with his little niece, a girl not too impressed with her uncle's status. It doesn't take long before terrorists hijack the train they're on and use it as their moving base to deploy some new tech and take the US hostage. Nobody knows where they are located, apart from Ryback and a few heroic others on the train.

I'm not sure what's worse: being under attack from terrorists or knowing Steven Seagal is the only guy who can save you. The action is rather crummy, the bad guys are very lame and the film is completely without any ambition. At least it is quite loud and things go boom from time to time, which makes it somewhat watchable. Far from enjoyable though.


2023 / 91m - USA
Clock poster

A pretty decent horror film. It's a mix of Asian suspense, tech doom, and some good old societal pressure, but even though it does a solid job blending together all those influences, Clocks has a tough time standing out from the crowd. Maybe it's because the premise felt a little dated.

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Ella is perfectly happy, but the people around her keep badgering her about getting pregnant. After visiting her doctor, Ella becomes convinced her biological clock might be broken, so she enrolls in an experimental study that could hopefully fix her condition. While effective, the program is pretty brutal.

The horror elements are pretty effective, and the presentation is stylish, but the drama is quite disappointing, and the way the film pans out felt like missed potential. With a stronger focus on the horror and a more thoughtful setup, this could've been a great horror film, sadly, it ended up being mere pleasant filler.

Peter Pan & Wendy

2023 / 106m - USA
Fantasy, Adventure
Peter Pan & Wendy poster

Another adaptation of the Peter Pan story. Films keep tumbling out of the Disney remake machine, I've long lost track of what classics they've covered and what they still have in store. It gets only more confusing when others outside of Disney also adapt these classic properties, but for what it's worth: there's a new Peter Pan adaptation, and it's directed by arthouse favorite David Lowery.

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Wendy is sent to boarding school, but she'd rather stay home and keep her life as is. The night before she has to leave, she is visited by Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, inviting her on an adventure to Neverland, a place where nothing ever changes. Wendy agrees to join them, but soon enough she and her brothers are chased by malicious pirates.

There's a lot of hoopla about the casting (and some of the choices here are quite silly), but it's the bland direction and the somewhat unadventurous take on an already overfamiliar story that's the real killer. Lowery never made me understand why the world needed a new version of the Peter Pan saga, which is the first priority of any remake. Not good.


2019 / 138m - USA
Action, War
Midway poster

Emmerich tackles Pearl Harbor. It's a simple enough premise that pretty much gives away the entire film. Midway is pretty close to Bay's blockbuster attempt, only without the extra swagger. Emmerich has never been the boldest of directors, without an interesting setup there isn't a whole lot that kept me engaged, apart from some expensive set pieces.

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The Japanese take the Americans by surprise when they attack Pearl Harbor. The US won't yield though, and they move the battle to Midway. They are greatly outnumbered, but some bold tactical moves and lots of outrageous bravery flip the advantage. A crucial battle in the victory of the US over Japan in other words.

An overdose of sentiment and extreme patriotism make this a typical Hollywood/Emmerich blockbuster. The budget was there, but the CG isn't entirely convincing, the performances are pretty cheesy and there isn't much in the way of tension, as the outcome won't surprise anyone. Not great.

SPEC: Close Incarnation

Gekijouban SPEC: Kurôzu - Zen no Hen
2013 / 94m - Japan
Fantasy, Crime
SPEC: Close Incarnation poster

One of Tsutsumi's many SPEC-related projects. It's almost impossible to keep track of everything Tsutsumi was doing back then, not in the least because there are many TV tie-ins with shows that are virtually unavailable in the West. I watched this film knowing very little about the SPEC lore, that said, it was basic enough to catch up while watching.

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SPEC holders are people with special abilities, humans fear them and different nations are banding together to get rid of the SPECs altogether. The operation is called Simple Plan, but the SPECs won't go down without a fight, and the bond between the different nations is starting to show some cracks.

The quality is a bit better compared to the SPEC TV movies, but its TV roots are still too obvious. The plot and lore are pretty fun though and the film gets pretty zany and outrageous during the second half. If you can stomach live-action anime adaptations and you're able to navigate a franchise without access to all the parts, this is pretty entertaining.