Zhishi Yici Ouran de Lüxing
2021 / 107m - China
Bipolar poster

A dreamy road movie, mixing an arthouse aesthetic with slightly surreal touches. The black-and-white cinematography is absolutely sumptuous, and not just a cheap excuse to cover up a limited budget. The performances are strong, the characters intriguing and the plot mysterious. A young woman encounters a unique lobster and vows to free it from its small enclosure, returning it to its natural habitat. Along the way she meets up with a variety of people, each with their own wisdom to give. This allows her to make amends with a traumatic past. If you like dreamy, slow, and mysterious, yet deliberately stylized movies, this is an easy recommendation.

Way Down East

1920 / 145m - USA
Drama, Romance
Way Down East poster

Griffith likes an epic drama. I'm not the biggest fan of these lengthy silent films, the constant presence of the music tends to get a bit annoying and the balance between footage and intertitles is off, but all things considered, these films are often better than the ones from the 30s and 40s.

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The young Anna Moore is engaged to Sanderson, a wealthy gentleman. After their wedding, when she tells him she is expecting, he confesses to her that the marriage is a sham. Moore is left behind and loses her baby, a serious trauma that leaves her scarred. Later on, Bartlett tells Moore he loves her, but she can't trust the man.

I got a bit annoyed with the slow intertitles and much of the drama is too sentimental for my taste, but the monochrome footage is relatively moody, and some of the more adventurous scenes (like the stormy finale) are a step up from the norm. Could've been better as a 90-minute film, but certainly not the worst.

From Beijing with Love

Gwok Chaan Ling Ling Chat
1994 / 84m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action, Thriller
From Beijing with Love poster

Stephen Chow's James Bond parody. Together with Lik-Chi Lee he takes a pretty standard Hong Kong crime story and laces it with references to the infamous spy. It was one of the earlier Chow films I watched and really dug it the first time around. It didn't quite hold on rewatch though.

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Ling Ling Chai has been working as a poor butcher for the past 10 years, but when a dinosaur head is stolen he is reactivated. He is sent to Hong Kong to find out the mysterious thief who has stolen the artifact before it gets sold off. Chai is not the most typical special agent, but his methods are pretty effective.

Chow is still great. His facial expressions, body language, and comedic timing are pretty much perfect. The film is a little low on actual gags though, and while there are some very funny ones some are a bit too expected. The presentation is also a tad disappointing. It's still a very fun comedy, just not the gem I remembered it to be.


2006 / 98m - USA
Action, Thriller
Poseidon poster

A remake of the 70s disaster film. From what I remember, it is pretty faithful to the original, only made with more modern means (and sporting a shorter runtime, which is always a plus). It's not the most memorable or spectacular film, but if you like a good disaster flick then it's pretty amusing.

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The Poseidon is a huge luxury cruise ship. On New Year's Eve, it is hit by a rogue wave, leaving it capsized in the middle of the ocean. There is still air trapped inside the vessel, but time is running out for the passengers who survived the first hit. The boat is slowly sinking and there's no outside help.

Some B-list (or former A-list) actors make up most of the cast, but this film is more about the special effects and set pieces anyway. It's nothing you haven't seen before, and because the film is quite short the pacing is slick (no time for too much unnecessary drama along the way). Pretty decent.

The Party

1968 / 99m - USA
The Party poster

Like watching an older version of Mr. Bean. Peter Sellers plays an Indian guy (guess some people haven't found out about this film yet) who messes up just about everything he does. There are some decent bits here, but most of the jokes are way too obvious and predictable, killing the fun.

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Bakshi is an actor who can't land a decent job. When working as an extra, he ruins the entire production, but fate gets him invited to a high society party of his employer. He can't seem to stay out of trouble there either, but even though he messes everything up, the guests seem to appreciate his presence.

If you think Sellers is a hoot then you'll love this film, if you think his physical comedy is rather basic then you better prepare for a repetitive film. The comedy is very one-note, the presentation is generic, and apart from a few inspired moments (like the ending), there's not much here that will stay with me.

The Mitchells vs the Machines

2021 / 114m - USA
Comedy, Adventure - Animation
The Mitchells vs the Machines poster

US animation has finally evolved beyond the Pixar look, but that doesn't mean that the films themselves have automatically evolved with it. The Mitchells vs the Machines may sport a slightly more interesting art style, but the obnoxiousness and the horrid comedy are still very much present.

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Katie is a bit of an outcast, but when she manages to get into film school she feels like she finally found her people. Rather than fly there, her dad plans a surprise road trip with the rest of the family to give his daughter a proper goodbye. The trip doesn't quite go as planned, and to make things worse, robots have started a war to take over Earth.

High-strung, loud, and annoying characters, each and every single one of them. That's what killed this film for me. The art style is a step up from similar films, but it's not much of a comfort when your ears are ringing from listening to the horrid voice actors shouting every line. Not good.

Wild Things

1998 / 108m - USA
Comedy, Mystery
Wild Things poster

Big plot twists were a thing in the late 90s, but Wild Things (also known as Sex Crimes) took it one step further. The first half of the film has a basic setup, what follows next is a continuous string of twists that keep flipping the story. I liked it a lot when I first watched it, and while it's still fun, it has lost some of its charm throughout the years.

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A school counselor gets into trouble when one of his rich students accuses him of raping her. He quits his job and becomes a pariah in his community, especially when a second girl steps forward, also accusing him of rape. He gets himself a lawyer, but there is more to the story than people are telling.

What made this film famous were Denise Richards' boobs and her kiss with Neve Campbell, not quite as impressive 25 years later. The plot is still fun, though the setup takes a bit too long and the film could've been tighter edited. Not bad at all, but it's not the kind of film that gets better once you know the plot.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'

Doragon Boru Z: Fukkatsu no 'F'
2015 / 93m - Japan
Fantasy, Adventure - Animation
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' poster

The final film in the DBZ series. It's yet another return of one of the main baddies, illustrating how non-consequential any of the events in previous films really are. Just get the seven balls (which gets easier with every new iteration) and wish for whatever you please. Not great, especially not when it takes a full 90 minutes.

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Some old Freeza's old gang members have made their way back to Earth and, after collecting the Dragon Balls, are pleading with the dragon to return Freeza to them. Their plan works and there's yet another long-winded battle between Freeza and the DBZ crew. Guess who's going to win this time around.

The animation and art style are a bit cleaner compared to the older films in the series, but they still lack the charm of the original. There's room for a little wackiness, which is fun, but compared to the action scenes and taking the length into account, it's simply not enough. Let's see what those Super films are all about then.

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

1963 / 210m - USA
Comedy, Action
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World poster

Surprisingly light film by Stanley Cramer. It's a film that earned its title, sadly, it turned out to be a little too one-note and with a runtime this long, the entertainment value started to dry up after a while. It's a shame as I really liked the first hour or so, I wish there had been a better editor available.

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When a car crashes down a mountain, several witnesses go to check if there are any survivors. One man lies next to his car, telling everyone who can hear that a huge treasure is buried in a faraway location. When the people can't agree on a fair deal, it becomes a race to see who can reach the treasure first.

There's quite a bit of shouting going on, and the setup is a tad simple, but it makes for a pretty chaotic film with plenty of car chases (other vehicles are involved too). The performances aren't great, the second half is quite repetitive, but the manic atmosphere and the preference of comedy over a more serious film make this a pretty decent ride. If only it had been at least 30 minutes shorter.

Nighty Night: Midnight Nightmares

Nighty night: Mayonaka no Akumu
1986 / 74m - Japan
Horror - Anthology
Nighty Night: Midnight Nightmares poster

Once considered lost, after only a very limited VHS run in Japan, this little horror anthology resurfaced again out of the blue. The internet did its thing and now it's out there for all to enjoy. Beware though, the quality is horrid (old VHS) and there's a reason why the film never made it that big.

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The film consists of four shorts, neither one connected to the others. There's a birthday party gone out of control, a dangerous video game come to life, a stalker hunting students, and a girl's body dysmorphia turned into a physical threat. There's a bit of everything in other words.

The presentation is hard to critique since the quality is pretty bad, but the camera work and the effects are clearly on the low-budget side of the spectrum. I liked the computer game short best, as it was the weirdest and most fantastical one, the others were pretty disappointing. Not great, but if you like a rare horror oddity, it's worth a go.

Mondays: See You 'This' Week!

Mondays: Kono Taimurūpu, Jōshi ni Kidzuka Senai to Owaranai
2022 / 82m - Japan
Comedy, Fantasy
Mondays: See You 'This' Week! poster

A cute time loop movie. After the success of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, I wouldn't be surprised if we'd see more of these in the coming years (and truthfully, they might start to bore pretty quickly), but for now, I don't mind this little niche getting a bit of extra traction in Japan.

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Yoshikawa is fighting hard to meet her deadline, but things aren't really working out. Things get worse when two of her colleagues approach her to convince her this deadline week has been repeating itself for quite a while now. At first, she doesn't believe them, but once they break the spell on her, she needs to find a way to stop this madness.

It's a pretty light and entertaining film, nothing too dark or serious going on here. The film doesn't overstay its welcome, there are a few fun twists (though nothing too spectacular if you're familiar with these types of films) and the presentation is pleasant for an indie project. Fun and quirky, but it doesn't do quite enough to really stand out.


2005 / 96m - Japan
Horror, Mystery
Reincarnation poster

Classic J-Horror by one of the most prominent directors in the genre. Shimizu made a name for himself with the Ju-On series, but he's made quite a few horror films besides that. Reincarnation is one of the films that followed after the immense success of Ju-On. While I was pretty taken with it when I first watched it, the film's effect has diluted quite a bit over the past 20 years.

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A young actress is having trouble getting her first big break. She finally lands a part in a horror film, not something she's dreamed of, but it's an opportunity. The film is based on an actual murder and it doesn't take long before strange things start happening on set. Even so, the show must go on.

The build-up is slow and deliberate, there aren't too many scares, instead, Shimizu goes for a more otherworldly atmosphere. The final 20 minutes crank up the dread and there are some pretty memorable scenes there (thanks to a nicely designed doll), but overall it's a bit too slow and generic. Not half as creepy as I remembered it to be.


1999 / 100m - USA
Thriller, Crime
Payback poster

A basic title for a basic film. Payback is a bog-standard 90s thriller, with Mel Gibson looking to take his revenge for just about the entirety of the film. A good 25 years later, there's very little to set the film apart and unless you're a major Gibson fan, there's not much reason to revisit this one.

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Porter was duped by his wife and partner in crime, for a mere 70.000 dollars. He was left for dead, but he survived and once he's back on his feet, he only wants one thing (remember the title of the film). His old partner has connections to an organized crime syndicate though, so it won't be easy.

So Gibson. Not a very talented actor, but he has some charisma. The same can't be said about director Helgeland, who does very little with the material given to him. At least the film is rather short, and the setting is appropriately grimy. Other than that, not a film I'll remember for long.

La Maison de Himiko

Mezon do Himiko
2005 / 130m - Japan
La Maison de Himiko poster

An older Inudô film that resurfaced not too long ago. I can't help but feel Hidetoshi Nishijima's role had something to do with it, even if it was rather minor. It's not Inudô's greatest, a bit old-fashioned and too stereotypical at times. Even so, it's a film that has its heart in the right place.

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Saori is hard up for cash, and her current job isn't giving her many prospects. Her father left her years ago, and suddenly a colleague of his seeks out Saori and offers her to come work for him. She doesn't want to reconnect, but when he presents her with a big lump sum of money, she reluctantly agrees.

The characters are a bit too stereotypical and the presentation could've been better. Some of the comedy and drama haven't aged too well, but there are also some wholesome and pleasant moments. The cast is also pretty solid, it's just that Inudô can do better. Decent drama, but not that memorable.

War and Peace

Voyna i Mir
1965 / 453m - Soviet Union
Drama, War
War and Peace poster

An epic adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's illustrious novel. I never read the source material, as you should know I'm not big on anything classic, so for me, this was my first encounter with the story and its characters. While there were some positives, the length turned out to be a tremendous dealbreaker.

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The film takes place during Napoleon's invasion of Russia. There are some key battle scenes that anchor the plot and provide historical context, but the meat of the story are the characters, through the various layers of society. They all crave happiness, and all try to get to it in their own way.

I'm not big on costume dramas and the mix of slow drama with big, outrageous battlefield scenes was pretty random and awkward, but one had to respect the time and effort that went into making this film. The cinematography was the biggest plus, though not to such a degree that it could save the rest of the film for me. Only for those who love classic cinema and have a lot of time to spare.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

2023 / 154m - USA
Action, Adventure
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny poster

An oldskool blockbuster in just about every way. From the classic chases to the Nazi enemies, from an age-old Ford to the relic-hunting adventure, everything about this film oozes 80s blockbuster cinema. Basically, it was made four decades too late, and it was quite a slog to sit through.

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Jones is old and teaches at a university. When his goddaughter pays him a visit, his quiet life is about to take a turn for the worse. Helena has found clues to the whereabouts of the Antikythera, a mechanism that can predict time warps. She convinces Jones to join her on her quest.

It's Mangold directing the film, but Spielberg is never far off. That means it's all very PG-13 and old-fashioned, including the classic theme song (that pops up whenever Jones is about to get serious), the silly villains, and the soft action. The budget was there, but the creative ideas weren't. I hope this is the last we'll see of this franchise.


1957 / 146m - India
Drama, Musical
Thirst poster

Bollywood fans (outside of India at least) are a particular bunch, but throw in some poverty and poetry, and suddenly the target audience of these films grows exponentially. Thirst is classic Indian neo-realism, making its Italian counterparts look like subtle and balanced little dramas.

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Vijay is a poet, but his work has little success. When his brother makes fun of his career, he leaves home in search of a more appreciative audience. He meets up with a prostitute, who loves his work and wants to get it published. His poetry finally finds a way to the public when a dead beggar is mistaken for Vijay and his poems are exploited based on the sad backstory by a grubby publisher.

Indian melodrama is the worst kind of melodrama. It's probably the combo with the music that drives it over the top for me, but I didn't care for the poetry, didn't care for all the misery and drama that befalls these characters. There are some decent shots here and there, but hardly enough to redeem the 140-minute runtime.

Battle Beyond the Stars

1980 / 104m - USA
Sci-fi, Action
Battle Beyond the Stars poster

Pretty kitsch, pretty cheap, but good fun. Battle Beyond the Stars is the kind of film that doesn't really care that it has a low budget. It has a story to tell, involving aliens, spaceships, and faraway planets, and it commits to that the best it can. What it lacks in skill and budget, it tries to make up with passion.

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A peaceful planet is under attack. Aggressive aliens are trying to take over the planet, the peaceful aliens find no better solution than to hire a band of fighters. Under the command of Cowboy, the leader of the pack, the gang will do their best to stop the alien invasion, which is easier said than done.

The plot is loosely based on Seven Samurai, but who cares? This is a cheesy space opera with shoddy effects but made with lots of dedication. The designs are rather creative, the pacing is slick and the entertainment value is high throughout. It's far from the best sci-fi I've seen, but it sure was entertaining from start to finish.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

Doragon Bôru Z - Kami to Kami
2013 / 85m - Japan
Fantasy, Action - Animation
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods poster

After almost two decades of nothing, they apparently decided to revive the Dragon Ball Z films. It's longer than the earlier films, which means there's more time for silly banter and nonsense. The art style is a little cleaner and the animation is a bit improved, though, in the end, this is just another very basic Z film.

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Peace has returned to Earth, but not for longer. Bils, a destroyer by nature, wakes up and sets his mind on destroying our dearest planet. Goku is excited, as he's been quite bored these past few years. He's happy to accept Bils' challenge, but he is quite a bit tougher than expected.

Usually there wasn't much time for introductions, with a good half hour extra the film can take an easier start and find a better balance between fun and action. The enemy is a little bland and the action scenes are still very random (just people powering up until one finally wins), but at least the balance here is decent. Not bad for a Z film.

Hyper Villain

Chô Akunin
2011 / 90m - Japan
Hyper Villain poster

Shiraishi takes his faux doc style to the pinku genre. It's an odd move for sure, as most directors see pinku films as a way into cinema, not so much something to return to, but it actually works rather well. It's not Shiraishi's greatest film, but it's a fair bit better than most pinku films I've seen.

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Shouhei Eno is a creep who has raped more than 100 women. For his latest experiment, he wants to film his crime. While successful, he isn't too happy with the resulting video. And so he sends it to a magazine, asking them to do a piece on him. He grants them an interview, in return, they have to make a more professional shoot of his latest rape.

It's a pretty bonkers plot, held together by the lead role. While hardly a sympathetic man, he is pretty interesting, giving a face (even when it's hidden behind some goofy sunglasses) to a vile, self-aggrandizing criminal. The faux doc style adds a little authenticity to the film, but it never transcends its technical and budgetary limits. Better than I expected though.

Kindergarten Cop

1990 / 111m - USA
Comedy, Action
Kindergarten Cop poster

Poor Schwarzenegger. This brawny, burly man was cast against his type to play a kindergarten teacher for comedy purposes. And the result turned out to be predictably dire. Reitman isn't a very good director, Schwarzenegger isn't funny at all and even the action was pretty bland.

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Kimble is a tough and hardened city cop. During an undercover mission, his partner falls ill and he has to take over her part of the deal: go undercover in a small-town school and be on the lookout for the family of a criminal. He isn't really fit to deal with kids, but the mission is important, so he's willing to give it a go.

The comedy is slim, apart from the obvious mismatch there's not much to laugh at. The kids are pretty annoying too, the criminal elements are underdeveloped and the direction is bland. Like most blockbusters, the pacing is decent, but you've got to wonder how this was ever a popular film.

The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell

So Duk 3: Yun Joi Tin Ngai
2023 / 125m - Hong Kong
Action, Crime
The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell poster

Herman Yau's third entry in this drug-fuelled action franchise. It's quite rare to see these types of Hong Kong films nowadays. Famous actors, a proper budget, and guns blazing, so kudos to Yau for keeping at least one glimmer of hope alive. This third part certainly delivers, even though Hong Kong cinema fans won't find anything new here.

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A Hong Kong undercover cop infiltrates a Thai drug cartel. The Thai run a smooth operation and manage to smuggle drugs to Hong Kong, but international police are on their tail and they've got their eye on the undercover cop. The cop develops a strong bond with one of the criminals, which further complicates his situation.

Comradery, betrayal, an exotic setting, and plenty of gunfire. It's true heroic bloodshed cinema brought to the 21st century. The cast is pretty great, the action scenes are impressive and Yau's direction is solid. A bit too long maybe, but if you love a good Hong Kong action flick and you're feeling let down by the country's recent output, give this one a go.