Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

1974 / 112m - USA
Action, Crime
1.0*/5.0*
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia poster

I'm not a big fan of gritty 70s cinema, and Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a good reminder of what I don't like about these films. Poorly acted, ugly colors, and a dreary setting left me wanting. The second half is a bit more action-oriented, but nothing that got the adrenaline flowing.

Read all

The title gives away the entire plot. Alfredo Garcia got the daughter of a wealthy baron pregnant. He is furious and promises one million dollars to whoever brings the head of Garcia. Bennie and Elita could use the money, so they decide to work together and they set out to locate Garcia.

The first hour is pretty slow and more drama-focused. I didn't care for the actors or their characters though, so it was all for naught. The second hour brings the action, but it lacks impact and left me equally uninterested. Two hours is too long for the simple premise, but even with 30 minutes cut it wouldn't have been a better film.

Tykho Moon

1996 / 102m - France
Sci-fi
3.0*/5.0*
Tykho Moon poster

A rather disappointing rewatch. I remembered this film as a bit more stylized, and sporting more outspoken sci-fi elements. Instead, the dystopian future looks rather cheap and evasive. It's still a very particular and unique film, but it's not what you'd want from an Enki Bilal adaptation.

Read all

The McBee family runs a colony, but they suffer from a strange affliction that threatens to kill them. They identified a donor, Tykho Moon, who could save them, but he died in a fire. There are rumors that Tykho is still alive though, so they keep searching for him, even though assassins are after them.

The cinematography is a little dim, the world-building is minimal and there are rather strong noir elements that didn't really suit me. The premise is fun though and the styling is still a step up from usual genre fare. The film doesn't outstay its welcome and there are a few memorable moments, I just remembered it to be quite a bit better.

Vertical Limit

2000 / 124m - USA
Action, Adventure
1.5*/5.0*
Vertical Limit poster

A rather pedestrian mountain climbing adventure. The dramatized genre enjoyed a short boost of success, after which the documentaries became more in vogue. I'm not a big fan of either and Vertical Limit isn't the type of film that will change anybody's opinion. It's simple blockbuster fodder.

Read all

When Peter's sister gets trapped by an avalanche while climbing the K2, Peter and a gang of mountain climbers hike up the mountain hoping to be in time to save her. The weather conditions are relentless and the setting is inhospitable, but Peter will go to extremes to save his sister from harm.

There's some personal drama to fill in the gaps between the adventure/disaster bits, but neither part of the film is very impressive. The performances are weak, the effect shots are poor and two hours is way too long for the simple setup. It's not a complete dud, but hardly worth my time.

Killer Book Club

El Club de los Lectores Criminales
2023 / 89m - Spain
Horror
3.0*/5.0*
Killer Book Club poster

A pretty fun, but basic Spanish slasher. Considering all the meta elements, it's a film that lies closer to the 90s-era slasher than its 80s relative, but as the 90s revival is in full force these days that's to be expected. It's certainly not the most original film, but with Halloween right around the corner, it's the perfect horror filler.

Read all

When Angela's teacher makes sexual advances, she and her friends feel it best to take revenge on him for his inappropriate behavior. They plan to scare him, but the prank runs out of hand and Angela's teacher dies. The gang covers up their tracks, but then a mysterious writer appears, targeting Angela and her friends.

There's a definite Scream vibe running through the film, just with a few more contemporary touches. The pacing is solid, the scares and costumes are fun and the cinematography is colorful. The plot isn't the strongest part of the film and the twists left me cold, but other than that, good entertainment.

Suture

1993 / 96m - USA
Mystery, Thriller
3.0*/5.0*
Suture poster

An interesting little thriller. It reminded me of other freshman efforts. Not any film in particular, but movies like Pi, Following, Stereo, or THX1183. Films that are somewhat different, coming from young directors who clearly had a vision and managed to bring that vision to life. It's not quite up there with the ones I've mentioned, but it's still a cool film.

Read all

Vincent and Clay are two brothers who meet each other for the first time at their father's funeral. Clay is a dark-skinned man from a small town who lives a simple life, Vincent a distinguished white man who lives in the city. Their meeting doesn't go as planned, as Vincent is using Clay to start his life anew.

The stark black-and-white cinematography is an asset, the premise is pretty intriguing and the performances are solid. Some of the twists are fun, but there are some pacing issues in the middle and the crime elements felt just a little too flimsy. A lot better than I expected it to be though.

The Aura

El Aura
2005 / 134m - Argentina
Thriller, Crime
3.0*/5.0*
The Aura poster

A somewhat dry and cold rendition of a crime planned by a complete amateur. The story isn't all that interesting and doesn't really go anywhere original, but the stylistic choices do help to set this film apart from similar films. It doesn't make the film more accessible, but seasoned film fans won't have too much of a problem with it.

Read all

Espinosa is a lonely taxidermist. He has only one good friend, who takes him hunting one day. Things go south when they accidentally kill a man during their little adventure. For Espinosa, this is a sign to tell his friend that he came up with the perfect crime, and this seems the perfect timing to execute it.

The cinematography is pretty barren, with lots of dark and muted colors, and a camera that sticks closely to its characters. The soundtrack is strong and moody, but the plot and characters are a little simplistic, and the runtime is a tad too long. Not a bad film, but stylistically not quite strong enough considering its reliance on atmosphere.

Coal Miner's Daughter

1980 / 124m - USA
Drama, Music
1.0*/5.0*
Coal Miner's Daughter poster

Biopic about the famous country singer Loretta Lynn. Or so, that's what the film says. I have zero interest in and zero knowledge of country music, and Coal Miner's Daughter did nothing that proved me wrong. It's two hours of full-on US kitsch, sporting one of the worst soundtracks I've heard.

Read all

Loretta is born into a poor coal miner family (hence the title). She marries early and has a rather unremarkable life until she starts singing and she is discovered by a local scout. Her success grows quickly and exponentially, though Loretta only cares about the music. It does put a strain on her marriage though.

Spacek's performance is okay, but that's the only positive thing I can say about this film. The drama and characters are horrendous, the music is something I'd never subject myself to and the story is as generic as can be. If you like biopics and/or country music this might be for you, I'm never coming near this film again.

Unicorn Wars

2022 / 92m - Spain
Fantasy, Mystery - Animation
3.5*/5.0*
Unicorn Wars poster

From the director of Birdboy comes another dark, wacky animation. Vázquez has a unique vision and delivers dark fantasy like no one else. I can't say everything worked equally well for me, but there are moments of sheer brilliance here, and with a little more fine-tuning I could see him making a true gem.

Read all

The teddy bears are at war with the unicorns. They believe the unicorns have taken over the magical forest, and they want to end their reign. Gordi is a gentle little bear who only wants peace, but he is forced to join the army. His brother, who is the complete opposite of Gordi, makes his life even harder.

The art style is a little simplistic, but there is certainly beauty there. The soundtrack on the other hand is outstanding and elevates the film whenever it is put front and center. The dub could've been better and the mix of cute and dark doesn't quite work, but it's a unique film that is hard to compare with anything out there. Recommended for fans of animation.

Ready to Shoot

Ware ni Utsu Yoi Ari
1990 / 106m - Japan
Thriller, Crime
3.0*/5.0*
Ready to Shoot poster

A peculiar Wakamatsu film. It felt more like a mid to late-90s crime flick (think Kurosawa or serious Miike), made by someone who was merely getting started in the industry. Not that the film makes any rookie mistakes, it's just that Wakamatsu has such a distinct and unique style, that it's quite hard to believe he could even direct a more straightforward genre film like this.

Read all

Goda is throwing one last party to celebrate the closing of his bar. He invites some old friends, but in the middle of the celebration, a Vietnamese woman stumbles in. She claims she just killed a prominent Yakuza boss and has gotten hold of incriminating evidence against him and his gang.

In many ways a simple and typical crime flick, with only a few minor hints towards Wakamatsu's cinematic legacy. Still, it's a nicely paced, well-acted, and properly stylized genre film that nicely ticks all the boxes. Not the kind of film you'd expect Wakamatsu to make, but that doesn't make it a bad film.

Nina

2004 / 85m - Brazil
Mystery
Nina poster

A mysterious and unsettling film about a young girl who is taken advantage of by an old crone who happens to be her landlord. It's a film that makes the best of its locations, loves to visualize the mental instability of its main character, and comes with a modern touch, even though it's already 2 decades old. It's a typical mindfuck that wasn't too uncommon in the early 00s but has been sorely missed in recent years. A different kind of Brazilian cinema, but one of the best films the country has brought forth if you ask me. You may want to wait until it gets a nice HD polish though.

Brightness

Yeelen
1987 / 105m - Mali
Drama, Fantasy
1.0*/5.0*
Brightness poster

African fantasy film, that comes off pretty bland and uninspired. The mix of local folklore and fantasy sounded promising enough, but we're talking film here and the presentation is absolutely subpar. Holding the camera still and horizontal is about as far as this production managed to take things.

Read all

A young boy gets into rough waters with his father. The boy possesses magical powers, but his father is also a skilled wizard, so he flees in order to escape his father's revenge. He travels through different countries to find his uncle, hoping he can help him escape the wrath of his father.

I'm not sure where the folklore ends and the fantasy begins, but I never really cared too much for the plot, so, in the end, it didn't even matter that much. The styling and presentation are disappointing, the pacing is slow, and apart from its African roots, there's nothing here to set it apart. I expected more from this.