2022 / 188m - USA
Comedy, Drama
Babylon poster

Another Hollywood film glorifying Hollywood. Not my favorite topic, but it has to be said that Chazelle brings it with an excess of flair. The first hour in particular is a real hoot, paying proper homage to the roaring 20s. Once the film starts adding drama and puts a stronger focus on its characters, the quality goes downhill.

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Manny is a low-ranking assistant, and Nellie a fresh arrival in LA. They meet at a fancy party and immediately there's a strong connection. They both want to make it big in the movie industry, and fate is smiling at them. They'll soon learn that the movie industry isn't quite as glamorous as it appears.

The film is quite over-the-top and Chazelle's direction is pretty flashy. Don't expect a truthful rendition of the 20s or old Hollywood, but that's hardly a critique. Three hours was too long though, certainly with the final hour digging more into the plot and characters, which weren't that interesting in the first place. Still, it was a lot better than expected.


2022 / 134m - USA
Comedy, Crime
Amsterdam poster

Surprisingly amusing. Not that I don't trust Russell to make a fun, entertaining film, I know he is capable enough, but his attempts don't always gel with me. Amsterdam was a pretty big flop and after watching it, I can see why. The film's a little too goofy and quirky for its own good, but that's what makes it so loveable.

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Two veterans end up in a hospital in France, where they meet a lovely nurse. The three flee to Amsterdam, where they live the good life for a while. Their lives drift apart until years later they have suddenly reunited again. A secret autopsy and vicious murder put the three in the spotlight, but there's a much darker conspiracy hiding in plain sight.

Bale is the star of the show, the rest of the all-star cast does a good job too. The plot is a bit overcomplicated, but that's part of Russell's style, and I was happy to see that he decided to keep it light all the way through. The cinematography and production design were on point too. Not a film that really stands out, even so, I really liked what I saw.

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

1927 / 92m - UK
Mystery, Crime
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog poster

One of Hitchcock's earliest films. It's the first silent film I see of him and it's no surprise that I liked it quite a bit better than his talkies. I'll gladly admit that the lovely restoration helped, but the much stronger focus on mood and presentation over narrative gives this film a clear edge over his other work.

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A mysterious avenger is putting fear into Londoners, as he has already made seven victims. Daisy is a young, blond model who is the girlfriend of the detective (Joe) investigating the case. Daisy's mom is renting out a room to a mysterious stranger, who slowly works his way into Daisy's favor. Joe doesn't trust the man for obvious reasons.

The intertitles were surprisingly fun, the restoration was slick and the more modern score added a bit of flair. But it's the fact that this is a silent film, which prevents characters from being over-talkative, that puts it above most of Hitchcock's other films. It's still pretty basic, but at least it was an easy watch.

Sadako DX

2022 / 100m - Japan
Sadako DX poster

Sadako is back. Again. The biggest curse of these franchises is that they can't seem to stop when they're ahead. The latest in the Ringu series is a mix of a reboot and spin-off, but its deluxe moniker seems wholly unearned and the film ended up looking more like a cheap knock-off from the original films.

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The cursed video has found its way online and is being sold on the web. A priest and a highly intelligent girl are asked as guests in an entertainment show to come speak about the video. After recording they decide to figure out the true nature of the curse, but they soon find themselves in over their heads.

The scares are cheap, the Sadako curse is anything but scary and the plot takes up way too much screentime. Things get a little better during the second half, but meager performances, basic styling, and a lack of tension get in the way. I wish they'd just stop making new Sadako-based films until there's an actual reason to reboot the franchise.

Dragon Palace Female Assassin

2019 / 77m - China
Fantasy, Thriller
Dragon Palace Female Assassin poster

Something just a little different. Don't expect anything too out of the ordinary though, this is a typical Chinese streamer in just about every way, except that the plot and genre balance wasn't quite as predictable as most of its peers. It offers a nice variation on the many tomb raider and fox spirit films that have been flooding this niche.

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Eunuchs are battling for power in ancient China. The emperor is locked in an underwater stronghold that doubles as a prison. Shi Qi is sent to infiltrate the structure in an attempt to get to the emperor. She lets herself get caught and is taken to the underwater prison. From there on out, she'll have to improvise to complete her mission.

The presentation is pretty decent, the lack of unnecessary CG is probably the nicest surprise (what's there is still subpar, but at least it is mostly functional). It's fun to see a more thriller-based execution for a change, though in the end, the impact is relatively minor. Dragon Palace Female Assassin ended up better than expected, then again, my expectations are pretty limited for these types of films.

Incredible But True

Incroyable Mais Vrai
2022 / 74m - France
Comedy, Mystery
Incredible But True poster

Dupieux seems unstoppable these days. He cranks out films at an impressive pace, and while they're all absurd comedies in some way or another, they never feel derivative or repetitive. Incredible But True forces two oddball storylines together, has a bit of fun testing the audience's patience, delivers a couple of perfect punchlines, and strides through the finale at a breakneck speed. A quirky soundtrack and some great performances seal the deal. Not one of his best films, but tons of fun regardless, and an easy recommendation for fans of Dupieux's other work.

Rumic World: The Laughing Target

Rumik World: Warau Hyôteki
1987 / 51m - Japan
Horror, Mystery, Animation
Rumic World: The Laughing Target poster

Rumiko Takahashi was one of the more famous mangakas of the 80s, someone who helped popularize the harem comedies (think Urusei Yatsura and Ranma). She also did some horror work, which found its way to the screen in the form of short OAVs. Laughing Target is one of those films, and it's good fun as long as you don't expect too much from it.

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Yuzuru and Azusa are best friends growing up, but when Yuzuru moves away their paths diverge. Yuzuru moves on with his life, but then Azusa's aunt dies, and she decides to seek out Yuzuru and claim what she feels is rightfully hers. Yuzuru already has a girlfriend though, but that doesn't stop Azusa, who has some frightful powers she can use.

The animation is a bit limited and the horror is pretty classical in nature. Don't expect anything outrageous, Laughing Target is more focused on mood and obsession (the Rampo-kind of horror). The short runtime and pleasant pacing help to keep things interesting and while I felt I'd seen it all before, I didn't really dislike revisiting these horror tropes once again. Solid filler.

Body and Soul

1947 / 104m - USA
Thriller, Crime
Body and Soul poster

Within the film noir genre, there seems to exist a smaller niche of boxing films, which are more or less all alike. Body and Soul is a pretty good example, though it's a bit longer than the films I've seen so far. The added length works against the film, as it has nothing really original to tell.

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Charley Davis becomes a boxer, not a profession his mother approves of. Davis is pretty successful in his new career, but as his fame grows, more and more shady characters try to win Davis' favor. Rather than win on talent, they try to convince Davis that throwing matches is a much easier way to get rich.

The start of the film is somewhat decent, but the plot and drama are pretty thin and don't support the length of the film. The performances aren't great either and though the black-and-white cinematography isn't too bad, quite a bit of it is lost on boring conversations. A shorter, more concise film would've been a better option.

Night Raiders

2021 / 101m - Canada
Sci-fi, Action
Night Raiders poster

Genre cinema without too many genre elements. Night Raiders is a slow and lo-fi indie production that sets up a sci-fi premise, then does relatively little with it. The focus lies on the drama and the characters, but the somewhat silly narrative gets in the way and those hoping to get a good sci-fi thriller will find very little here.

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In 2043, children are considered state property. They are taken away from their homes and sent to schools where they are trained to fight in the war. Niska has been able to protect her daughter by hiding in the woods, but they finally get to her little girl. Unable to give up the fight, she joins a group of underground rebels who plan to break the children free.

There is nothing that screams 2043 here, except some drones and a different societal model. The future is clearly shaped in such a way that no effort had to go into the sci-fi part of the film. Performances are decent but nothing special, the same goes for the presentation. Night Raiders offers an unfortunate balance of indie/arthouse and genre elements, that left me pretty disappointed.

The Father

2020 / 97m - UK
The Father poster

Not so much a film as an Anthony Hopkins performance, which is both good and bad. Hopkins is a solid actor and he does a splendid job here, but it takes away from the impact of the film. The drama never really hit me, I was always just watching Hopkins do his thing, which kept me at a clear distance.

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Anthony is suffering from dementia, his memory slowly deteriorating. His daughter comes to visit him and wants a hired help in the house, but Anthony doesn't want to be bothered. But reality becomes fluid and Anthony is quickly losing his grip on what happens around him, making it increasingly difficult for him to put his will forward.

The Father makes for an interesting double bill with Vortex but loses out in just about every way (apart from the runtime). While the technical aspects are fine and the performances are flawless, it felt a little fake and detached. It's not a bad film, I just never cared for the characters the way I was supposed to.

On the Count of Three

2021 / 86m - USA
Comedy, Crime
On the Count of Three poster

A fun and genuine indie comedy. It's the kind of film that doesn't pack too many surprises, ten minutes in and you should have a pretty good idea of how things are going to pan out. But the comedy is witty, the performances are good and the drama never feels forced or disruptive. The pointed execution is what makes the difference here.

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Kevin has struggled his entire life with depression and wants to end his life. His friend Val finds himself at a dead end too. He decides to run away with Kevin and together they plan a double suicide. Before they go through with it, they'll spend one final day together, trying to right some of the wrongs they caused throughout the years.

While sporting a rather grim theme, the film does well keeping a lighter tone. It's not as if this is an outright comedy, but the conversations between the two are pretty fun and there's a solid connection between the leads. The presentation is decent though not very spectacular, but the finale hits all the right notes, meaning the film clearly did something right.

Citizen Kitano

2020 / 52m - France
Citizen Kitano poster

A very basic documentary on Takeshi Kitano. It's primarily aimed at people who are still unfamiliar with the man, or who have only watched a few films of and/or with him. It's nice to see a handful of people close to him (in a professional sense) being interviewed, but that's about it really.

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Kitano is a formidable presence in Japan, but he's a comedian first and foremost. He was never really recognized for his more serious work in his home country. This film highlights that part of his life, connects his persona to his childhood, and guides us through most of his films, but it's all very expected.

Anecdotes like Kitano's video game or his involvement in Takeshi's Castle are equally vital in getting to understand the man, but it's clear this docu was made with the director in mind, only hinting at his other personas when it fit the cinephile angle. It's a tad shallow, and it was a bit too concise for my liking, but seeing Kitano being himself is always a treat.


2022 / 103m - USA
Resurrection poster

A film with potential. It's a shame it felt a bit too much like a 90s TV thriller. There are some elements that try to set it apart, like Hall's performance and the somewhat more graphic ending, but these bits aren't poignant enough to carry the film by themselves, and in between, there's just too little to keep things interesting.

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Margaret is a single mom who takes good care of her daughter while being a respected colleague at work. She hides a dark secret though, and when that secret finally comes back to haunt her, Margaret can feel the control she nurtured so delicately slipping away through her fingers. If she doesn't deal with her past, all her hard work may have been for nothing.

Hall's performance is very good, Roth on the other hand isn't nearly as creepy or menacing as he should've been. The build-up of the tension is decent, but not overly convincing and the presentation feels a little bland. It just wasn't enough to keep me glued to the screen for the entire runtime.


1997 / 55m - Japan
Sci-fi, Horror, Animation
Kimera poster

A classic mix of horror and sci-fi. It's a film that could've been made a decade earlier and nobody would have noticed, but if you like this kind of thing that's not necessarily a negative. Kimera is simple genre filler that delivers where it matters but makes little effort to go beyond the expected. Sometimes, that's all you really need from a film.

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Two salesmen are in for quite a scare when they are driving home one night. They notice an accident on the side of the road, surrounded by some heavily guarded men. When the salesmen get out of their car the shit hits the fan and they get wrapped up in some shady business that involves aliens, human experiments, and government cover-ups.

The animation is pretty decent but hardly spectacular, the same can be said about the art style. The plot is standard but the pacing is high and the runtime is limited, so there's no time to get bored by any of it. All in all, a solid but very expected genre mix that could've used a bit of extra spice to stand out from the crowd, but is still pleasant for genre fans.


2021 / 142m - France
Vortex poster

Gaspar Noé's latest is every bit as intense as his previous films, only the presentation is wildly different. Vortex is a more traditional arthouse drama. It's not as wild or dynamic, instead, it takes on the pace of the two aging leads who are slowly losing grip on the world around them.

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An elderly couple still lives together, but their health is getting in the way of leading a normal life. The woman is dementing and has few moments of clarity left, the man has a heart condition and can't take proper care of his wife. Their son visits from time to time, but he is dealing with a drug addiction, so he can't take care of either of his parents.

The split screen idea is interesting (but doesn't really add all that much), the drama is intense and the performances are stellar. Still, 140 minutes is long for the basic premise and without his flashy presentation, Noé has a much harder time distinguishing himself from other arthouse productions. Vortex is a good film, but also one of his weakest.