The Heiress

1949 / 115m - USA
Drama, Romance
The Heiress poster

A romantic costume drama from the hand of William Wyler. He's a lauded director with quite a few epic films under his belt, but I can't say I've really enjoyed any of them. Classic American cinema really isn't my cup of tea and The Heiress is a perfect illustration of the things I don't like about it.

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Catherine is a young, naive girl, looking for a suitable man. When she meets Morris she is smitten with him, but her father is suspicious. Catherine's family is wealthy and he suspects that Morris is more interested in his daughter's money. On the other hand, he can't risk being wrong, ruining his daughter's relationship.

The film is very much dialogue-driven, the romance is cheesy and predictable and the film is at least 30 minutes too long. I will say that I'm not big on costume dramas to begin with, so Wyler was fighting an uphill battle from the start, but even then this was way too clammy and sentimental for my taste.

Aurora's Sunrise

Arshaluysi Lusabacy
2022 / 96m - Armenia
Drama, Documentary - Animation
Aurora's Sunrise poster

A mix of documentary and drama, live-action footage and animation. On paper, it's certainly a unique project, the film itself never felt all that special. Mixing docu and animation has gained popularity these past couple of years, and the quality of the animation wasn't good enough to make a real impact.

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The film tells Aurora Mardiganian's story. A young woman who escaped the Armenian genocide, ended up in the US and became a movie star when she was cast for Auction of Souls, a film tackling the events she had experienced. The film was a big success but disappeared, with only 18 minutes of it remaining.

It's an impressive story for sure, but the animation is just subpar. The art style is quite interesting, impressionistic and rather detailed, but it is animated with very simple motion effects. The music is also disappointing. I think this might've worked better as a regular documentary, the interviews with Aurora are by far the most interesting bits of the film.

God of Cookery

Sik San
1996 / 95m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Fantasy, Action
God of Cookery poster

One of Stephen Chow and Lik-Chi Lee's final collaborations (as directors). Later on, Chow would seize complete control over his films, which turned out to be a very smart move. God of Cookery is lots of fun though, a culinary take on the gambling films of that era, with Chow stealing the show once more. It's no highbrow cinema, but Chow is comedy gold, the presentation is slick, the cooking scenes are lots of fun and the pacing is perfect. One of the best films Hong Kong comedy has on offer, and one that is sure to leave you hungry once the end credits start rolling.

Talk to Me

2022 / 95m - Australia
Talk to Me poster

A new A24 horror. They always come with a fair amount of hype, they rarely make good on that promise. Talk to Me is no different. Not that it's a bad film, but it's very very generic. Where other A24 horrors at least made a real effort to be different, this one simply sticks to its genre clichés and calls it a day.

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Some kids get their hands on a relic that allows them to be possessed by spirits. The first few tries are successful, but then their little experiments go wrong and one of them is captured. The others feel guilty and try to contact the only man who may know how to get him back from the spirits.

The performances are solid and there are some pretty fun moments, but there's a bit too much inane drama and the film is never all that tense or gory, even though it tries very hard to be exactly that. Talk to Me is pleasant horror filler, but nothing more. No doubt there will be a sequel, so let's hope they crank up the horror levels for that one.

Antonio das Mortes

O Dragão da Maldade contra o Santo Guerreiro
1969 / 100m - Brazil
Musical, Western
Antonio das Mortes poster

A Brazilian western, more or less. Antonia das Mortes is a rather strange beast. The film is not unlike its Italian counterparts, but the pacing is a bit slower, the narrative less prominent and the music is extremely overpowering. The latter in particular got on my nerves, better bring some earplugs for this one.

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The film is a sequel to Black God, White Devil, but the story is pretty stand-alone. Three decades after killing the last Cangaceiro, Antonio receives word that a new Cangaceiro has been sighted. He happily takes on the job to get rid of them, but his latest adversary is nothing like his previous enemies.

The cinematography is a bit crude and the performances aren't great, but it's the grating, loud, and ever-present music that was just unbearable. And it goes on for the entire film. Now, I'm all for a demanding soundtrack, but I just couldn't stand the folk music. Other than that, it was kinda interesting to see a Brazilian take on the western genre, but I didn't care for it before, still don't care for it now.

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus

Slucajna Raskos Prozirnog Vodenog Rebusa
2020 / 81m - Croatia
Thriller, Experimental - Animation
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus poster

An experimental animation film. As always, experimental means it was made to look like something that was created 40 to 80 years ago. I don't understand where this fascination with the past comes from, but it seems clear that people looking to push the boundaries of visual media aren't working in the film business.

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There are remnants of a plot here (there's certainly quite a bit of dialogue), but I couldn't make much of it while watching. Apparently, an artist and a revolutionary are joining a local commune, with the police on their tail. I got that from the summary after having seen the film though, so fair warning.

The animation is varied and there are some interesting scenes, especially when the music is more prominent, but it's not enough to make this a good film. The quality of the animation is disappointing (too many collages and filters), the dialogue is too deliberately artistic, and the balance between the narrative and the abstract moments is off. It's not a complete failure, but I was still quite happy to reach the end credits.


2023 / 101m - USA
Fantasy, Adventure - Animation
Elemental poster

Pixar sure loves a good dichotomy. It's at the core of almost every one of their films, though Elemental may be their laziest attempt yet. As the title explains, this is a story about the four elements, more particularly, the relationship between one fire element and one water element. And yes, the symbolism is really that shallow.

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Ember's parents moved to Elemental City, where the four different elements live together. Her father wanted to open up a shop there, and even though he succeeded, he never really got along with the other elements. Ember is a temperamental young lady, but her outlook on life changes when she meets Wade, a water element.

Props for tweaking the art style just a little. It's subtle and it doesn't make a big difference, but at least Pixar is trying to evolve. The characters are horrible though (Wade in particular is obnoxious), the comedy is bland and the plot is more than a little embarrassing. But it's not their worst, so that's something.

The Summit of the Gods

Le Sommet des Dieux
2021 / 95m - France
Drama, Adventure - Animation
The Summit of the Gods poster

After a slew of mountain climbing documentaries, we now have an animated film. I don't quite get the appeal of mountain climbing, nor did I feel the film did a great job transferring it, even though it tried very hard. The Summit of the Gods is mostly saved by a lovely score, more so than its visual qualities.

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Fukamachi is a journalist covering the climbs on Mount Everest. The attempts disappoint, but he digs up an interesting story regardless. Mallory, a climber who tried to reach the top in the 20s, supposedly made it. The proof is in a lost camera, which slipped through his fingers.

The art style is a bit plain, and the animation is a tad too basic. I wasn't a big fan of the French dub either, though if still miles ahead of the English one. The score was majestic though and it injects a ton of atmosphere into the film. The plot was okay, and the pacing fine. The potential was there to do more, but overall not too shabby.

Scissor Dick

Hontô wa Eroguroi Isoppu Gûwa: Usagi to Kame to, Kin · Gin · Tetsu no Hôchô - Shizâchin P
2018 / 86m - Japan
Comedy, Horror
Scissor Dick poster

An oddity, that's for sure. There's so much going on here that it is difficult to take everything in in a single sitting. That doesn't mean this is highbrow cinema. Scissor Dick is a mix of pinku, splatter horror, and tokusatsu action, with scathing social critique running underneath. Incel culture is facing rampant feminism and as both are making victims left and right, two people will overcome their adversities to make the world a better place. The film is made on a tight budget but with a lot of heart and dedication. It's a poster child for the freedom and creativity that directors of low-budget cinema enjoy, but if you're easily triggered or offended, it might be best to skip this one.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly

Doragon Bôru Chô: Burorî
2018 / 100m - Japan
Fantasy, Action - Animation
Dragon Ball Super: Broly poster

Funny film. On the one hand, it feels like they stopped trying. Rather than come up with wonky storylines to revive old villains, this is just a rework of the DBZ: Broly, one of my least favorite DBZ films. On the other hand, I kind of liked the Super vibe, this is way closer to what I figured Dragon Ball should be.

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The plot hasn't changed too much from the original, only now there's a little extra padding that allows the goofier side of Dragon Ball to surface. Goku and Vegeta bump into a new Saiyan, the strongest they have faced so far. He is a formidable foe, and they'll have to go to extremes if they want to survive.

The art style is a bit more detailed, and the animation is richer. That's a welcome change, as DBZ was pretty bare-bones in that regard. It's the action that has gotten the biggest upgrade though. Where it always felt rather underwhelming, the battles here are fast-paced and flashy, and they come off completely over-the-top. Still not the greatest of course, but a real improvement over the original.

Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad

Tôkyô Tawâ: Okan to Boku to, Tokidoki, Oton
2007 / 142m - Japan
Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad poster

A decent, but long-winded Japanese drama. There's quite a lot of ground to cover (the film is based on a book), but it would've been better if they'd cut some passages just to get to the meat of the story quicker. What works on paper doesn't always work on film, and Tokyo Tower is a good example.

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Masaya's dad left pretty early on, after which he spent most of his time living with his mom. When he is admitted into an art college in Tokyo he leaves his mother behind and moves there. He gets into debt, but when he hears his mother has cancer, he throws his life around and invites her to come live with him.

With Odagiri and Kirin on board, the performances were on point. The cinematography was a bit basic though and while the drama is fleshed out appropriately, the pacing is slow and there's little here I hadn't seen before. It's not a bad film, it's just a bit too by the number to leave a big impression.

The Pelican Brief

1993 / 141m - USA
Thriller, Crime
The Pelican Brief poster

Classic political thriller from the hands of Pakula. Pakula is familiar with the genre, the film is based on a Grisham novel, so you should pretty much know what to expect purely based on those parameters. Add a little Hollywood star power and you have a decent, though rather basic, and predictable film.

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When two supreme judges are murdered, people are looking for answers. A young law student stumbles upon the reason, but this knowledge puts a big old target on her back. With the help of a journalist she manages to stay out of trouble, but she won't be safe until the truth is out there.

The film is quite slow and quite long, which aren't great traits for a film that is heavily focused on its narrative. The styling is pretty mediocre, the performances aren't anything special and the plot is by the numbers. It's a pretty polished film in its genre, but hardly worth a mention unless you're a real fan of political thrillers.


2023 / 101m - USA
Fantasy, Adventure - Animation
Nimona poster

I wish I could've liked this more. Nimona is a film that dares to take risks. It comes with its unique animation style, it's not franchise-related and there are some genuinely good ideas hidden away in there. It's also insufferably moralistic and it sports some terribly unfunny comedy bits.

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After a heroine gets rid of the evil in her kingdom, she puts in place a system that should protect her land for future generations. Her descendants are trained to be skilled knights, but times change, and 1000 years after her passing, a commoner is allowed to join the ranks of the knights. Things go horribly wrong when he is finally instated.

I don't mind a story about outcasts trying to fit in, but the writing is terribly simplistic, and moralistic points are driven home through bland and basic dialogues, which really kills a lot of the fun. The dub is also disappointing, which is a shame as the animation is pretty interesting. Keep the animators, and change up the creative team for the next one.