The Creator

2023 / 133m - USA
Sci-fi, Action
The Creator poster

Blockbuster sci-fi. The positive is that these films have the proper budget for decent sci-fi world-building. The problem is that they must be dumbed down for average movie-going audiences. And dumbed down it was. It's a real shame, as the premise had quite a bit of potential, they just didn't have the balls to pursue it.

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AI became a part of human civilization, but it all went down the drain when it launched an atomic bomb on Los Angeles. The West banned AI, while New Asia decided to further embrace it. It caused a war between the two, which is still waging to this very day. The West is close to winning the battle, but a new weapon might tip the balance.

This could've been a fun take on the "scared West" versus "adventurous Asia" cliché, but the plot irons out any grey areas, making it just another good vs bad guy story. The mix of Thai and Japanese was a little odd and the ending was a real drag, but the effects and design were pretty nifty. They could do so much more with these budgets.

Jigen Daisuke

2023 / 120m - Japan
Action, Adventure
Jigen Daisuke poster

A rather odd Lupin spin-off. I'm not sure if Jigen Daisuke needed his own film, but props for not making this a run-of-the-mill Lupin live-action film with a different main character. The film does have its own unique mood and does its best to serve a moody, over-the-top slice of action, but it doesn't fully get there.

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Daisuke is a famed killer, but his trusted gun is giving him headaches, as its aim is off. He can't seem to fix the problem himself, but then he hears of a famed gunsmith living in Japan. So he travels back to his home country. The gunsmith has left her old life behind her and isn't willing to help Daisuke, who gets caught up in some local drama.

There are some interesting characters and some cool action scenes, but thanks to the somewhat laid-back, jazzy soundtrack and uneven editing it's never quite as cool as it could've been. It's also a tad too long, but you get that with Japanese films. Good fun, but not best in class.


2018 / 102m - USA
Sci-fi, Thriller
Kin poster

A fun but somewhat unremarkable sci-fi film. The scope is rather limited and the added drama doesn't do the film any good, but once all the pieces are in place, it moves along quite nicely. It's simple genre fare that struggles to do more because of its limited budget, but it handles those limitations bravely.

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A young kid finds a strange weapon when scraping the neighborhood for things he can sell. He takes it home with him, but others are after the weapon too and they soon find out that he took it. He and his brother decide to run away, but it won't be easy to shake off their pursuers.

Apart from the gun (and some sci-fi lore at the end), there isn't too much in the way of actual sci-fi. The drama is a bit too heavy-handed, but the performances are nice, the pacing is solid and the finale does give you that extra bit of genre flair the film so desperately needed. Pretty nice.

The Abandoned

2006 / 99m - Spain
Horror, Mystery
The Abandoned poster

Nacho Cerdá made a name for himself with some very stylish, though gruesome and depraved short films. His move to feature-length cinema was something to get excited about, and when I first watched The Abandoned I was quite taken with the film. Almost two decades later, it isn't quite as strong anymore.

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A woman returns to her birthplace. She was adopted after a family tragedy not too long after she was born. The farm of her parents is in a remote place, and the people she meets on the way aren't too friendly. Once she gets there, strange things start happening and slowly her dark past reveals itself to her.

The setting is nice and the build-up of the horror elements is nicely done. The performances are a little flakey though, the plot is a bit generic and it's a lot tamer than Cerdá's short films. It's certainly not a bad horror film, and the finale definitely delivers, but it's not quite distinctive enough to be a personal favorite.


2023 / 92m - South Korea
Ballerina poster

A South Korean action flick sporting an excessive amount of flair. It's a lean and flashy genre film that flirts with a maximalist identity, but never quite dares to cross the line. It's the only thing that's keeping me from giving it a higher score, as it's one of the more entertaining action films I've seen in a while.

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Ok-ju is a skilled bodyguard, but even though she is great at protecting people, she can't save the life of her best friend Min-hee. Min-hee left her a message that betrays the identity of the one responsible for her death, so Ok-ju is hellbent on doing the next best thing: taking revenge for Min-hee's sake.

Colorful visuals, snappy editing, and a commanding soundtrack make sure that you won't be worrying too much about the simple story or the predictable structure of the film. And if that doesn't work, there's some crazy flamethrower action that will take your mind off of it. A fun and capable action film.

Sick of Myself

Syk Pike
2022 / 97m - Norway
Comedy, Drama
Sick of Myself poster

One of the better Scandinavian films I've seen lately. The premise is interesting, the drama is intriguing and there's a dark comedy finish that ties everything together. The film is part of a broader movement that has been eager to mix drama, social critique, and comedy, but very few have gotten the balance right.

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Signe and Thomas are both pretty competitive. They love each other, but they crave the attention of others and will do anything to get it. When Thomas finds sudden fame with his art, Signe turns to heavy medication to make herself ill. She then exploits her mystery illness to make the news.

The presentation is a bit flat, but the performances are solid, the premise is nasty (and a pretty decent analogy for how far some will go just for a little attention) and the imagined outcomes of Signe's little ploys are pretty hilarious. The fact that it barely crosses the 90-minute mark is the cherry on the cake. Good fun.

Mister Organ

2022 / 96m - New Zealand
Mister Organ poster

I wasn't really aware this was a David Farrier docu. If I had been, I might've just skipped it. I really don't care for documentaries where the host puts himself front and center. Even though this film was named after its so-called main subject, Farrier ends up making it all about him.

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The titular mister Organ is a typical con artist, the type who would probably benefit more from psychological help than a documentary dedicated to his person. But Farrier doesn't care, he just loves to spin a narrative, put himself in the middle of it, and chase down some random subject who ends up taking the fall in the name of entertainment.

None of the interviewees inspire much trust, let alone give the impression they have anything valuable to add to the story. Farrier puts on a terrible act, Organ is a little weasel, but hardly the only one of his kind. I'd be happier to see someone like Organ get the help he needs, rather than seeing him featured in a doc devoid of empathy.

Death by Desire

2023 / 89m - Philippines
Death by Desire poster

A steamy horror flick from the Philippines. They're not really known for their risqué films, and this one got quite a bit of flack, so I guess we won't be seeing too many like it. It's a nice change of pace for (South) Asian horror though. While not quite enough to definitively set it apart from its peers, it's at least giving something a bit different from the usual ghost/curse stories.

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Miguel and Nikki are about to get married. Nikki feels she may not be enough for Miguel, and when she goes off to visit her family her fear appears to be justified. Miguel is cheating on his soon-to-be-wife with April, a girl who isn't just content with being his mistress. Things get hairy when she turns up dead.

The presentation is pleasant, the setup is different enough from similar horror films, and while not too original in and of itself it kept me guessing where it was going to go. Sadly, the second half covers more familiar territory. Not a bad film, I just wish they'd gone for a different finale.


1954 / 94m - USA
Them! poster

Godzilla with ants. Them! is one of the better horror/sci-fi films of the 50s, but it works best when it's just a simple mystery/disaster flick. Once the ants make their appearance, the quality drops significantly. At least it's not just 90 minutes of dull conversations, as so many others of its kind.

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Two cops find a little girl wandering through the desert. When they start their investigation, it's clear that something strange is going on. They involve some biologists, who quickly determine that giant ants are roaming the area. Tim is of the essence, as the ants are dangerous and reproduce at an alarming rate.

The effects are pretty shoddy and the quality of the horror and sci-fi elements is rather low, but the film is quite enjoyable when it goes into mystery/adventure mode. There are some slower parts and the film has trouble maintaining its pacing throughout, but as it is quite short, the lulls never last too long. Charming.

This Child Is Evil

Konoko wa Jaaku
2022 / 100m - Japan
This Child Is Evil poster

A somewhat predictable but properly executed Japanese thriller. There are traces of Rampo here, but the plot is never quite as devious or disturbing as it could've been. It's still pretty interesting to see things unravel, and the film definitely has its moments, it's just not something you haven't seen before.

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After a fun day at the amusement park, the Kubo family suffers a terrible traffic accident. Nobody gets out unscathed, but the mother's situation is the most severe, as she remains in a coma. Five years later, she wakes up and returns back home. Hana, the oldest daughter, feels something is off with her mother.

The performances are decent but nothing too special, the same can be said about the presentation. The plot is a little too predictable, but Kataoka finds his moments to build up the tension. It's a solid genre film that doesn't overstay its welcome, but I doubt it'll be anything more than genre filler for most.

News from Home

1976 / 85m - Belgium
News from Home poster

Quite a bit shorter than Akerman's more infamous Jeanne Dieleman, but just as slow and challenging. Even more so for me, as we're talking about a documentary here, that deals with Akerman's personal relationship with her mother. The things that pass are very pedestrian, which may feel intimate for some, but created quite a distance for me.

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Akerman narrates letters that her mother wrote her when she was living in New York. They show a typical motherly love for a daughter, but also underhand manipulations that seek more control over a life that isn't hers. Meanwhile, Akerman shows grainy shots of New York, going about its daily business.

There's a love for transport, for some reason or another, though I couldn't figure out how it related to the letters. Then again, I didn't even get how the footage and the narration were supposed to connect. Though less than 90 minutes long, it's still a real hassle to sit through when neither the form nor the drama speaks to you.

Turn Me On, Dammit!

Få Meg På for Faen
2011 / 76m - Norway
Comedy, Drama
Turn Me On, Dammit! poster

A short, cute, and frank coming-of-age drama. The Scandinavian mix of drama and dry comedy is present, the drama is dealt with pretty openly and the film isn't too prudish, without being overtly sexual. It's a perfectly pleasant film, though something is lacking to make it a bit more memorable.

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Alma lives in a small rural town. She is in love with Artur, but as there are few other boys around, she's not the only one. After an awkward sexual encounter with Artur, she turns into a social outcast when her friends and classmates don't believe what happened to her. A tough position to be in for a young girl growing up in a small town.

The film is pretty candid about female sexuality, which isn't all that common. The performances are good, the mix of drama and comedy is proper and the film is short, so it doesn't outstay its welcome. Other than that though, it's a pretty basic and familiar drama, that could've used a little extra glow-up to stand out.