Angel Face

1952 / 91m - USA
Thriller, Crime
Angel Face poster

Another very basic noir. The courtroom scenes at the beginning of the final third kept things alive, but I'm not really a fan of courtroom drama as it doesn't make for very riveting cinema, so that's how plain the rest of the film was. I guess the film's better if you like classic actors like Simmons and Mitchum.

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Frank is a simple chauffeur for a wealthy and respected woman. He is secretly in love with her stepdaughter, a spoiled brat who loves to manipulate the people around her. She can't stand her stepmother and plans to kill her. The trap is successful, but poor Frank turns into a scapegoat.

A classic crime plot dressed up with endless dialogues and a bit of forced romance. The film's not much to look at, the performances are overwrought and the dramatic tension is insufficient. It's a good thing the film is pretty short and it helps that the final third isn't a complete slog, but other than that, extremely forgettable.

A Girl in My Room

Sayonara Konban Wa
2022 / 99m - Japan
Comedy, Romance
A Girl in My Room poster

A film that reminded me a lot of the 90s anime where some young dude ends up with an unsuspecting girl crashing his room or apartment (think Video Girl Ai). The twist here is that the girl is in fact a ghost. A cute variation that offers some new giggles, but in the end it doesn't do too much to an overly familiar formula.

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When Yohei and his girlfriend split up, a ghost takes her place. It turns out that she's been living there all along, but Yohei's girlfriend's strong aura kept her at bay. Yohei isn't too shaken by the ghost, even when she tells him off for treating his former girlfriend badly. The two get along well, and Yohei begins to fancy his new roommate.

Light romance and comedy, and a bit of plot to fill the gaps, that's what you're getting. The performances are okay, the presentation is proper but not too remarkable and the pacing is solid. It's certainly not the most memorable film, but the finale is nice and it passes the time quite well. Solid filler in other words.


2005 / 98m - USA
Flightplan poster

One of those films that used to be immensely popular, though looking at it now, it's very hard to see why. No big A-listers are involved and the film is little more than a generic 90s thriller (made half a decade too late). It's not the worst thriller out there, but I can't help but wonder how this film rose to the (commercial) top.

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During a flight from Berlin to New York, Kyle loses her daughter who boarded the plane with her. When she asks around, nobody seems to have seen her daughter or even acknowledges her presence on the plane. A police officer takes care of Kyle, but even he finds it difficult to believe her story.

Foster's a bit frantic, Sarsgaard could've done better with his role. The thriller elements feel generic and predictable, the presentation is lackluster, and even though the film is on the shorter side (for a blockbuster), it still feels like it outstayed its welcome. Unremarkable thriller filler.

One Piece: Dead End Adventure

One Piece: Dead End no Bôken
2003 / 95m - Japan
Action, Adventure - Animation
One Piece: Dead End Adventure poster

The upgrade that wasn't one. This is the first One Piece film that is feature-length, but it immediately highlights the problems of this series. While it is decent fun in limited servings, it starts to bore when stretched to 90 minutes. There just isn't enough there to keep things interesting throughout.

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The pirate crew is hungry and out of money, so they accept a new challenge. They enter a race, the winner gets a hefty sum of money. Along the way, they get sucked into a rivalry between ex-marine Gasparde and bounty hunter Shuraiya. Luffy and his friends will have to go to extreme lengths to win the race.

There is some interesting experimentation with cel-shaded 3D and regular animation, and the trademark exaggerations are fun enough, but the plot is basic and the comedy/crazy is also pretty repetitive. It's a shame the next few films are all 90-minute affairs, but maybe the animation picks up as the series would gain in popularity. Fingers crossed!

Reservoir Dogs

1992 / 99m - USA
Thriller, Crime
Reservoir Dogs poster

It's been at least two decades since I last saw Tarantino's first feature film. I didn't remember much, but I've always considered it his best work. Revisiting it now, I still stand by that statement, even if the film has lost some of its shine (read: my taste changed considerably since I first watched it).

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A basic jewelry heist goes wrong, and while regrouping the guys quickly come to the conclusion that there is a mole in their gang. As the scattered arrive back at their rendezvous spot, it's key to find out who has been informing the police, something the audience will learn through a series of flashbacks.

The meaningless conversations are obvious highlights, and the camera work is also surprisingly energetic (for a Tarantino flick). Once the focus shifts to the plot and the crime elements things get a little less interesting, the soundtrack too is a clear foreboding of what would become Tarantino's signature style. Good fun though.


2023 / 88m - USA
Cobweb poster

Not the most adventurous horror film, but the execution is pretty solid. It is part of a relatively established horror niche and it doesn't really color outside the lines, but there are some interesting touches (like the behavior of the parents) that help to set it apart and give the film some extra creep.

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Peter is a shy and introverted boy who is getting bullied at school. His home situation is pretty rough too, with two overprotective parents who make things worse. When his new teacher takes an interest, it starts to dawn on her that something might be off. Peter's drawings suggest that things at home are far worse than they appear.

The first third tries to keep the film's mysteries hidden, but once the cat is out of the bag it follows a pretty familiar pattern. Bodin builds up the tension pretty well, the scares are effective and the film is brutal when need be, though most of the gory bits happen off-screen. Good horror fun, though a bit too safe to stand out.


2001 / 78m - Japan
Sci-fi - Animation
Malice@Doll poster

Hardcore sci-fi is pretty niche, so it's often done on a budget, which is a really tough thing to pull off. Malice@doll is a film with a lot of promise, but it doesn't have the budget to do justice to its ideas and concepts. Even so, with very limited means, director Motonoga manages to deliver a pretty decent film, warts and all.

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Malice is a broken doll who lives in a city bereft of humans. She wanders around until she hears of someone who should be able to fix her. When she gets derailed she is attacked and harassed by a monster. After waking up, she realizes she has become human. The other robots fear the new Malice.

The setting isn't unlike Nihei's Blame! and some of the designs really are outrageous. The music is also very moody, and the plot is interesting enough, it's just a pity that the animation and art style are so crummy. It's like watching outtakes of an old PlayStation game. Still, if you're able to look past that, there's some good fun to be had for hardcore sci-fi fans.

Through the Olive Trees

Zire Darakhatan Zeyton
1994 / 103m - Iran
Through the Olive Trees poster

Ten films in, I'm starting to get a solid grip on Kiarostami's work. He has a way of blending fiction and reality, while also doubling down on previous work in his career. It sounds interesting on paper, but the resulting films are often quite dull and lifeless, even though his supporters seem to proclaim the exact opposite.

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Keshavarz is a director working on Zendegi Edame Darad (Kiarostami's previous film). He's mixing inexperienced actors with a few seasoned artists, but once he starts shooting things don't go quite as planned. There's a relationship blossoming between the leads of his film, and it's impacting the production.

The performances are okay, but not too great. The cinematography is plain, the settings are rather grim (apart from the finale), and the conversations are meandering. There's a certain rhythm that keeps the films going, but it never truly engaged or gripped me. Kiarostami's films are not really for me.


1999 / 84m - Japan
Sci-fi, Action - Animation
Gundress poster

Anime based on Masamune Shirow's work. That sounds promising enough, but Shirow has a visually dense style and when the budget isn't there, all that is left are some smudgy sci-fi designs and a politics-infused plot. Gundress isn't the worst, but it's far from the best Shirow adaptation out there.

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The Angel Arms is a group of counter-terrorists founded by Takako, a former policewoman. When they apprehend a famous crime figure, they hope they use him as bait to bring an entire international crime ring down. Things get complicated when a former boyfriend of one of the Angel Arm's members is sent out to kill him before he can spill the beans.

There are some solid ideas here and the mechas look fun enough. It's just a shame that the art style is very basic and the animation is limited. Some of the action scenes look decent, but only because that's where they spent all their budget. OK anime filler and fans of Shirow should give it a go, just keep your expectations low.

Creed III

2023 / 116m - USA
Drama, Sport
Creed III poster

Just more Creed. The plot is elementary, a little too basic for a 2-hour movie, but that's what you need nowadays if you want to pose as a proper drama. It's not that the third entry in the Creed series is a bad film, it's just very generic and by the numbers. One for the hardcore boxing fans in other words.

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After Adonis retires with a championship belt, an old friend of him resurfaces. Adonis used to hang out with Damian when they were younger, and he's willing to give his old pal a nudge in the right direction. Damian rises to the top, but then he starts badmouthing Adonis behind his back.

It all leads to a big fight at the end and everything works out per the norm of the genre. The performances are solid and the fights are properly choreographed, the drama is weak though and it ruins the pace of the film. I guess next up is a spin-off with Adonis' daughter. That would surely tick a couple of boxes.

Unknown: Killer Robots

2023 / 68m - USA
Unknown: Killer Robots poster

A Western doc with the word "unknown" in the title can only mean one thing: fearmongering. And sure enough, this doc on robots and artificial intelligence starts from the good we can do with the technology, but pivots to all the bad that could be done with it. And it does that for a couple of applications.

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There really isn't that more to it. We hear from scientists and people involved in the field, how they started working on applications that could make the world a better place, only to realize it could easily be turned around into a weapon that could very well wreak serious havoc on humanity.

It's a pretty slim premise that isn't even explored very well. While short it is still very repetitive and rather than take a scientific approach to the problem, it's mostly just people cowering when they talk about the unknown. As a summary of the current state of AI, it isn't too bad, the rest is negligible.

Dark Water

Honogurai Mizu no Soko Kara
2002 / 101m - Japan
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Dark Water poster

A film that is often considered in the same wheelhouse as Ringu. It's not too weird a thought, both films are after all directed by the same person, they were released not far apart and they're both horror films. What made Dark Water so much better for me is that it's not quite part of that less-is-more let's-go-for-cheap Japanese horror cinema.

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After divorcing her husband, Yoshimi gets into a legal battle over the custody of her daughter. Her husband never really cared for her, but now he wants to take her away from Yoshimi. They need to find a flat quickly, so Yoshimi picks the first one she comes across. The place isn't great, and it may be haunted.

The start is slow, but the build-up is competent and things get progressively more tense. It's not exactly scary anymore and if you've seen a couple of these films you can easily predict the underlying drama, but the final third of the film contains some haunting and memorable scenes. Very solid, but a little dated.

No Good Men

Owaranai Sekkusu
1995 / 64m - Japan
No Good Men poster

Takahisa Zeze is an interesting director, but like most of his peers, his pinku work can be easily ignored. No Good Men could've been interesting if the core themes had been given a bit more space to breathe, sadly, there is no time for that, as genre quota and regulations had to be met.

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The plot isn't much to look at, but that's hardly a surprise. Kumiko works at a travel agency, and she has an insatiable sexual drive. The men she dates aren't good enough for her, so she goes from guy to guy, trying to find her one true hero. The men she leaves behind are desperate for her love.

Like most pinku movies, the film is anything but sexy. No Good Men does touch upon some interesting themes, but Zeze merely breezes by them. The cinematography is cheap, the performances aren't good and the drama never really hits the mark. Mostly for completists, unless you're a big pinku fan.

Circumstantial Pleasures

2020 / 65m - USA
Circumstantial Pleasures poster

Experimental cinema that feels old and outdated. It sounds like a contradiction, but it's a feeling I get quite often when watching these avant-garde films. Circumstantial Pleasures is a collection of 6 short animations, all of them rather crude collages of found objects (packaging in particular).

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Looking up the idea behind this film afterward, I have to admit that I found none of the intentions back in the final film. Maybe it's because the crude animation and rudimentary sound design failed to pull me in, or whether the director's sentiments are mostly alien to me, but this just didn't work on any level.

I do know that I'm getting increasingly more allergic to (Western) angst as I grow older. The endless focus on negativity and danger and the urge to sell it as reality is starting to wear me down, and I find it harder to put in the effort, even when it's just a 65-minute film. The music saves it from being a complete failure for me, but this didn't do anything for me.


1956 / 201m - USA
Giant poster

Classic Hollywood cinema, to the max. If you like American epics like Gone With the Wind this might be something for you, I couldn't really bear the kitsch, the sentimentality, and the overbearing drama. Which sucks, because Giant runs 201 minutes long. A true gargantuan undertaking.

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When Benedict bumps into Leslie, it is love at first sight. He asks her to marry him and they both travel to Texas, where Benedict's ranch is located. His sister runs the place, and so does so quite sternly. When she dies she leaves a bit of land to Jett, a helper on the ranch. He digs for oil and hits the jackpot.

The performances are overdone, the cinematography and colors are ugly as can be and the score is tiresome. I didn't care for any of the characters, nor their soap-like drama. The runtime is the final nail in the coffin. Giant is a grotesque Hollywood drama that deserves to be buried in the past.


1994 / 128m - USA
Disclosure poster

A 90s Douglas/Moore thriller directed by chameleon Barry Levinson. This means a rather basic plot, some twists and turns, bland styling, and a runtime that far exceeds its welcome. The film is set in the tech industry, so clearly it didn't age too well, but at the same time, it gave the film a bit of goofy charm.

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When Tom hears his promotion is given to an old flame of his, he starts to lose grip. Things get exponentially worse when she sues him for sexual harassment. Tom won't back down that easily though, especially when he begins to understand this entire situation is a setup to get him fired.

Douglas is a perfect villain, but for some reason, he was often given the role of the hero. It's hard to root for him here, which sucks as the entire film revolves around him proving his innocence. The VR stuff was pretty hilarious and the film isn't exactly boring, but it's a pretty mediocre thriller that fails to stand out.