My Father, the Bride

Oishii Kazoku
2019 / 95m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
My Father, the Bride poster

Quirky, genuine, and heartfelt, but also possibly offensive. Momoko Fukuda's My Father, the Bride is an odd little film, sporting some larger-than-life characters and a pretty bonkers setup. Fukuda isn't afraid to draw comedy from it too, but it's never malicious and in the end, I think the film has a strong and valuable message that warrants its approach. It all depends on whether you can stomach the film's overstated sense of humor. Also props for some strong performances and stylish cinematography, bonus point for the lovely setting. A neat surprise, this one.

The Roaring Twenties

1939 / 106m - USA
The Roaring Twenties poster

An early crime flick with some revue/entertainment elements thrown in. Even though the runtime runs well past 90 minutes, the film still feels rushed, trying to cover the entire prohibition (starting with some war scenes) and adding in a bunch of personal drama to make things even more bloated.

Read all

After the war, the veterans return to the US, getting simple labor jobs, while trying to fit in with society once more. Many don't really get the respect they feel they deserve, and when new crime syndicates flare up thanks to the prohibition law, many of those veterans end up in the criminal circuit.

Cagney is better than Bogart, but he often plays the same kind of role. There's quite a bit too much script to go through, so the production feels a bit rushed, and pulling the focus away from the crime elements at times felt like the wrong option. Not a memorable film in any way.

King Richard

2021 / 144m - USA
Drama, Sport
King Richard poster

The weirdest thing about this film is that it isn't about the Williams sisters (two of the greatest tennis icons), but about their dad. While the two sisters play a vital part in the film (obviously), their career (the start in particular) is framed from their father's point of view. Now, I'm sure the man had an important part to play, but huh?

Read all

Richard Williams has it all planned out. He and his wife know they've got gold on their hands when they realize two of their children are very good at playing tennis. Richard is a stubborn man, but his plan to get his daughters to the top is sound, and even though people in the industry doubt him, he perseveres.

The performances aren't too bad and there are a few memorable moments, but other than that it's a typical Hollywood sports drama. It never feels genuine, it never comes off as very realistic. The film feels scripted, too melodramatic, and too polished. It's not the most terrible film, but it's far from a good one.

Early Summer

1951 / 125m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Early Summer poster

Early Summer is a pleasant Ozu. A gentle and slightly meandering film about a family living in the countryside, a fine setup for an enjoyable Japanese drama. The only thing that truly bothered me was the black-and-white cinematography, which completely crushes that Japanese summer mood.

Read all

The film focuses on Noriko, and 28-year-old woman who still hasn't married yet. Her family is a little annoyed by the fact that she hasn't settled for a man yet, but Noriko isn't too pressed. In fact, she has other plans for her life. But then her boss finds her an ideal suitor, and her family will do everything in their power to convince her.

The performances are solid and understated, especially compared to other films of that time. The drama is relatively slow but subtle and light-hearted. The only thing missing is the bright, overwhelming greens of the Japanese countryside, which is now shown in a dulled grey. It doesn't really breathe summer, which is something you'd expect from a film with this title.


2023 / 91m - USA
Bottoms poster

Not a great comedy, but at least it's a full-blown comedy. You don't see many of those around anymore, I guess a film like this could mean there's light at the end of the tunnel again. It's a pretty straightforward, often raunchy affair, the only problem is that it leans too much on common clichés.

Read all

PJ and Josie are two lesbian girls who are shunned by the rest of the school. To increase their popularity, they start a little fight club and make up a story that makes them look a lot tougher than they are. Their little plan seems to work, but they can't keep their lies from surfacing.

I appreciated the dedication to the comedy, the film is silly from start to finish, but the jokes were pretty simple and predictable, and I've grown tired of that typical US school culture (the jocks vs the nerds and all that). Not the worst way to spend 90 minutes, but I'd hoped for something a bit funnier.

The Comeback

Ling Hao Zhui Sha
2023 / 108m - Hong Kong
Action, Crime
The Comeback poster

A fierce action flick that combines the strengths of Hong Kong and Chinese action cinema. If it had been a tad shorter and more focused, it might've been a personal favorite, but it was just a little too messy in certain parts. That said, if you're looking for some moody action, this film has you covered.

Read all

Uncle Hua lives a secluded life after he lost his memory years ago. When a gang comes around and threatens people in the neighborhood to sell their houses, Hua stands up for them. It triggers an old memory and soon people from Hua's past are coming back to haunt him.

It's cool to see people like Simon Yam, Wah Yuen, and Andy On once more. Those guys used to be everywhere, but now that Hong Kong cinema has caved you'd almost forget they're still around. The action is flashy, the cinematography moody and colorful, and the plot maybe a bit too predictable, but sporting enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. Good stuff.


2021 / 112m - Australia
Drama, Thriller
Nitram poster

With the rise of interest in true crime material, it's no surprise there has been a considerable uptick in movies featuring mass murderers. Nitram doesn't really stand out among the crowd, but its approach to paint a more humane and empathic picture of the killer is definitely appreciated.

Read all

Martin is a young boy who is fascinated by fireworks. He has mental issues and doesn't really fit in with the rest. His parents take care of him to the best of their abilities, but when he meets Helen, a wealthy single woman, he feels it's time to live his own life. Things won't go quite as planned though.

The lead performance is very strong, the build-up is proper and Kurzel takes his time to frame Martin's background. Even though I was completely unaware of the tragedy, it's clear from the start where this film is going, which is probably its only real weakness. Other than that, this is a solid drama, but nothing too memorable.

The Player

1992 / 124m - USA
Mystery, Crime
The Player poster

When a director makes a movie about the movie industry, there's a big chance the result is going to be a little icky. And The Player is a great example. Even when this little microcosmos is presented as a sleazy and backhanded industry, it ends up feeling like an attempt to make it more interesting than it truly is.

Read all

Griffin Mill is a typical Hollywood executive. He is dishonest and can talk his way out of any situation. Things get tricky when he starts getting postcards that threaten his well-being. He suspects it's one of the writers that he turned down recently, but he can't seem to figure out which one it might be.

The tone is light, but the comedy feels unearned. There's a love for classic cinema here that I don't share, there are a whole lot of B-actors with questionable performances and the plot didn't really interest me. I know cinephilia just loves films like these, but they rarely seem to work for me.


2019 / 87m - Japan
Sisterhood poster

A spiritual successor to Tokyo.sora, only not quite as effective. The black-and-white cinematography is striking and the focus on several young women in Tokyo felt familiar, but even though the setup is clear enough, the film lacks a bit of cohesion, failing to bring all these stories together.

Read all

A young director is trying to get a film made about the female voice in Japan. For that, he seeks out several young women who are willing to tell their stories in front of the camera. He finds various people who are game, and each one has a very particular and unique way of approaching her femininity.

The visuals are impeccable, though the choice for black-and-white did feel a bit easy (and maybe also unnecessary). Performances are solid and the drama is fine, but I didn't think the film had anything really important to tell. It's maybe a bit too short and its focus a little too shattered across different characters. Still, it's a fine drama, just nowhere as great as its older sibling.


Un Monde
2021 / 72m - Belgium
Playground poster

A very singular film, that sticks to its premise quite vehemently, but fails to make a strong point. I respect the idea of the film, and it is executed with the proper skill and flair, but after 72 minutes I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to take away from it. At least it didn't leave me entirely cold.

Read all

When Nora joins the school of her older brother Abel, she doesn't know anybody there. Her brother has his own friends and Nora feels neglected. Slowly she opens up to some other girls and things are looking up. Then she finds out her brother is being bullied, but Nora is unsure of how to stop it.

The performances are strong, especially for such young kids. The camera keeps a tight focus on Nora and never leaves the school grounds, which makes for a claustrophobic watch. Other than that, the story about school bullying felt a little underdeveloped and it comes with some very predictable (and gender-conforming) twists. Not bad, but I liked the idea better than I liked the film.


2019 / 80m - Kazakhstan
Dissolve poster

This would've been Ki-duk's final film if not for one more released post-mortem. It's a film made in Kazakhstan, no doubt due to the allegations he faced in South Korea. It's a bit of a culture shock for longtime Ki-duk fans, but even in a different country, the man's signature style is impossible to miss.

Read all

Din is a young girl whose family controls every aspect of her life. She meets someone who looks exactly like her, and the two decide to swap places whenever it's convenient. Her newfound friend stands up against Din's family, while she stands in during double-booked dates.

The performances are solid and the premise is interesting. There are some odd time jumps and like most Ki-duk films, suspension of disbelief can be a tad fickle, but the build-up of the drama is fitting and the finale was pretty strong. Not up there with his best film, but quite a bit better than I'd expected.

The Seventh Victim

1943 / 71m - USA
Mystery, Thriller
The Seventh Victim poster

A rather peculiar film that starts off strong enough, but loses itself in endless conversations. It's a typical noir defect, but instead of your usual crime/thriller elements, The Seventh Victim adds a more supernatural spin to its story. A purely narrative-related matter though, as the film never dares to cross over into horror territory.

Read all

Mary's expenses are financed by her sister, but when the paychecks stop coming in, Mary starts to worry about the well-being of her sibling. She travels to New York, where she follows the trail until she hits the Palladists, a strange sect that worships the devil. Word is that her sister joined the sect.

It's a fun enough setup and the beginning of the film is quite mysterious, but it's a pretty cheap film that feels too much like a stage play. Plot progression is dialogue-driven and though the cult could've added some extra spice, it's all quite safe and dull. At least it's short and decently paced, but this deserved a better second half.

The Killer

2023 / 118m - USA
The Killer poster

David Fincher's latest is a pretty standard thriller, following a serial killer who operates by a very strict set of rules. The film is properly executed and sports some interesting and tense moments, but it fails to delight or surprise. It's the kind of film a director may want to make at the start of his career, not sure what prompted Fincher to take on this project.

Read all

We meet our killer on a job in Paris, where he explains his daily routine. When the hit finally takes place, he messes up for the first time in his career and finds himself in uncharted territory. He returns to his hideout, where he notices someone has broken into his home. It becomes clear that his error will not be tolerated, and the only way to defend himself is to kill those who are out to kill him.

There isn't too much action, instead, Fincher understates the kills and focuses more on the boredom and routine that come with the job. The performances are solid, the styling is polished and the setup is fun enough. The second half of the film is a bit repetitive though and without a proper finale, it kind of fizzles out. Not Fincher's worst film in recent years though.

Door II: Tokyo Diary

Doa 2
1991 / 82m - Japan
Door II: Tokyo Diary poster

A pretty odd sequel. Don't expect a simple retread of the themes of the first film, instead, this is a more Pinku-inspired film that delivers a somewhat similar feeling of unease but does so with different puzzle pieces. It took me a while to get on board and I don't think it compares favorably to the first one, but it's not a terrible film.

Read all

Ai is a call girl who loves her job. Her job excites her and she appreciates the different people she meets, even when it gets her into dangerous situations. Things get more serious when she meets Mamiya, a mysterious artist who becomes entranced by Ai. Their bond grows stronger, but Mamiya hides a darker side.

The introduction is a bit too long and even though the characters are interesting, the first half hour is a bit too meandering, especially for a film that only lasts 80 minutes. The second half is more interesting, as the tension ramps up, but because the film never settled on a primary genre, it felt a little unfinished.

Woman of the Year

1942 / 114m - USA
Woman of the Year poster

A pretty horrible Hollywood romance. Katharine Hepburn plays a woman who isn't content sitting at home, servicing her husband. If that's enough to make you giddy then this could be a film for you, I just saw a film that buried itself in terrible clichés and was brought down by a terrible performance by Hepburn.

Read all

Tess and Sam work for the same newspaper. It takes a while for them to get used to each other, but they eventually fall in love and get married. Tess is very focused on her job, and she gets even more distant when she earns an important feminist title. Sam feels neglected and they quickly grow apart.

It's a romance that doesn't sparkle, and whatever dramatic or comedic elements there are fall completely flat. Hepburn annoyed me, Tracy wasn't any better, and with a runtime of nearly 2 hours, this turned out to be quite the ordeal. It's a film that has aged terribly, but I say that about most Hollywood classics.

Raid on the Lethal Zone

2023 / 108m - China
Action, Crime
Raid on the Lethal Zone poster

Though Yau is one of the final holdouts in Hong Kong, he also crosses over to China from time to time. Raid on the Lethal Zone is a pretty typical Chinese actioner, full of heroic characters who are there to underline the Chinese spirit and their undying patriotism, but it's also just a very tense action flick.

Read all

Near the Chinese border, the mountain patrol is brought in to prevent a big shipment of cocaine from entering the country. Some robbers are also hoping to seize the dope, while torrential rains are making everybody's lives a lot harder. It'll be a tough fight, and not everyone will return to base.

The setup is pretty standard and there have been quite a few similar films, even in recent years. It's the constant rain that adds an extra dimension and makes the film a lot more tense and nervous. Not one of Yau's absolute best, but if you're looking for a nerve-wrecking action/crime flick, it's an absolute blast.