Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cruel & Unusual (2014) blew me away.

I really loved this film. The characters were sympathetic, the cinematography was polished and professional, the script was smart and unpredictable, etc. You've seen movies like this before. At least I have but this one still felt new and unique. The other guilty individuals Edgar meets were funny but also endearing and real. Truly excellent acting all around. I don't want to spoil anything but you should absolutely watch it if you can and don't read anything beforehand. I saw it on the Japanese Amazon Prime. It has gotten amazing reviews and it's easy to see why. It's really a brilliant film that is also moving and powerful but fun too. It reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption, which is crazy high praise I know but it was awesome. I also thought of Cube and some other smaller indies I've seen. I won't give anything away but the ending is spectacular. I was so floored after I watched this. I hope the director makes a lot more films. I can't believe this is his first feature. It's unbelievably good.

Friday, June 26, 2020

New Trailer for The Superdeep aka Kola Superdeep aka Freakin Awesome Russian Monster Movie

This is definitely my most anticipated new film. It looks like it has amazing practical FX right up there with John Carpenter's The Thing (don't you dare mention the prequel). That's going off the first leaked teaser that spread like wildfire but was removed since it apparently wasn't official. Damn, it was badass though. This new trailer is ok (sorry it's all in Russian but I'm desperate for any new footage). Check it out below.



But the truly amazing first teaser can be found here (thank you Wicked Thrilling Freaks for keeping it online!). I recommend you watch that to see why everyone is so excited. According to the latest from Variety, XYZ Films and Pulsar Content are teaming up for international distribution with a special sales reel being shown at the visual edition of Cannes. Wish we could see that. Hard to believe this was made for only $4 million (The Thing was made for $10 million 38 years ago in 1982). Anyway, some images from the first teaser are below.







Can't fuckin wait!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Rawhead Rex (1986) is... interesting.

Good, bad, ugly. I love all monster movies. Yes, Rawhead Rex definitely falls on the lower end of that spectrum but it's very easy to watch. I think a lot of that comes down to Clive Barker and the fact that there was so much more to the story that he wrote but plenty got lost on the way to the big screen. The biggest problem, of course, would be the monster itself specifically its face. It just doesn't look that good although its red eyes are great and it has its moments but the FX don't quite work. They do show the monster quite a bit and the story keeps chugging along, which saves it from boring mediocrity. You also get some surprising kills so I would give the director some credit. It's nowhere near Hellraiser but it's fun to watch, and it has some cool sequences. This could definitely benefit from a remake although films like this will never get one but now I'd like to see the director's earlier Clive Barker film Underworld (1985) aka Transmutations.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Perils of Filmmaking in Tokyo

For one, everything is more expensive. Pretty much. No. I think that's certain. 100 Yen stores (like our good ole $1 shops)... those will save your life. Still though, some things you can't get here. Well, you can order them from overseas but shipping is gonna cost you. Good luck finding FX stuff. Those 8 TB external hard drives you need so much. $25 more a piece for the same thing. Hey, $25 isn't that much? The problem is all those little price hikes add up.

So if you're like me, you have to bring back a bunch of gear on the plane. Then depending on where you're filming (and whether you're doing an FX heavy movie or not), you might need a storage unit because space is extremely hard to come by in Tokyo.

Shooting outside is extremely tricky too. You better be ok with people in the background because an empty street is hard to find and usually once you find one, it doesn't stay that way for long so you have to wait (particularly difficult on long streets). Or you can try to remove unwanted cars and people in post (not recommended). Random pedestrians coming and going can create continuity nightmares unless you're very careful with your shots. But Tokyo is of course an extremely cool and unique shooting location so I'd say it's worth it. The noise from trains, cars, bikes, etc. is another hassle but that's a big city for you (heck, even in the woods of rural Missouri I was surprised how many planes and distant cars you could hear).

I don't think actors are too hard to find with such a large population especially if you're filming inside Tokyo. One invaluable tool to help you would be Cinema Planners. That website is amazing and completely free to use. You might need someone to help you post in Japanese or you can try your hand with Google Translate (risky) but it's a phenomenal resource. Meetups can also be good too for connecting with actors and crew.

So is it more difficult filming in a foreign country vs. your own? Unequivocally, I think that answer is yes. The language barrier really can't be underestimated since it can become an obstacle in so many ways: the script, finding people, communicating with them (not just on set but messaging prior to get them there and make sure they have what they need), etc. Misunderstandings are inevitable. You probably also don't want to just take an idea imagined in one country and throw it into another since cultural differences could make it irrelevant or silly (at the very least, some revisions might be advised). You need to know the place and the culture where you're shooting unless the film is about not knowing and being an outsider (even then you don't want to incorrectly portray the culture and place where you're shooting so research is essential and obviously you should respect both).

Tokyo is an extremely interesting, amazing city. One of my dreams was to make a movie here so I feel very fortunate to have such an opportunity. Any time you create a film you have to expect it to be difficult. Problem solving is like 99% of filmmaking but it's also incredibly fun and exhilarating. After all, the more you roll with the punches, the more you understand how to do that and survive.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mon Mon Mon Monsters (2017) is a wicked great movie.

The bullying is hard for me to get through but the payoff is awesome. That last scene... wow, and the scene before that, wow. I'm trying to avoid spoilers so just watch it. I love it when a film makes you care for the monsters. This does that in spades (what a weird expression). And I don't think I ever saw a Taiwanese horror movie before. Way to go guys. You knocked it out of the park (trying to hit my idiom quota for the day... let's put some more cliches in here). We've seen stories like this before but not exactly. The execution is what makes all the difference. The tiny details and the big swings at the end. It's really amazing, and I still feel bad for what happened in this film. That's a great movie. Now they really need a better poster for this thing. Seriously. I saw a badass Blu-ray cover though. A monster and bubble gum. Such a brilliant scene. This film better get some more love or I'm gonna cry. Thank you, Shudder.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Bliss (2019) fuckin rules.

I really love this flick. So gory and phenomenal with outstanding performances especially Dora Madison. You got to shove this into your eyeholes right now. I'm so overjoyed I got Shudder (Joe Bob Briggs!!!) but I need to buy the Blu-ray. The lighting and cinematography are incredible but the story is what immediately pulls you in. And the lead actress. She really deserves so much credit. It isn't an easy role at all but she kills it. I hope she keeps working with this director. She looks badass in VFW too. They make a great team like Carpenter and Russell. I wish they would do a whole film about her character in VFW. I think a lot of actresses would shy away from a role like this but she totally embraces it and they take it so far. Even I was surprised but it is just outstanding. Insanely good practical FX (so much blood) and I love where the story went. I didn't expect that but it makes perfect sense and adds another layer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Happy Death Day 2U (2019) is a surprisingly good sequel.

I don't think there has ever been a sequel to a time-loop movie until now. Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow are only one-offs although I hope Live.Die.Repeat. or whatever the heck you call it (I prefer All You Need is Kill) gets a number two but this sub-genre of "repeat" movies (sorry I guess my first try was a better descriptor) really is incredible so far. I saw an indie that also did the same gimmick. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as these Hollywood movies (it had a tiny budget in comparison) but it did have a stellar explanation for why and it was still pretty darn cool. Shanda's River or Evil River is the title of that one (Italian indie horror!). Anyway, I was shocked how well they did with this sequel. The first film was excellent but I was quite curious what they would do with a sequel since it's very much uncharted territory. Like all good sequels, they kind of shift the genre too into more sci-fi comedy but it works brilliantly. Not scary really but great nonetheless.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Stay (2018) is an excellent indie film.

And I mean indie as a compliment. Nothing is more amazing than finding a real indie that kicks ass. Making a movie is insanely difficult, and true indies (if you have Brad Pitt, a million dollars, or Fox Searchlight, that would be Hollywood masquerading as an "indie") require years of sacrifice, pain, and dedication. So often personally financed at great risk by the filmmakers themselves, these are passion projects. Even putting all that aside, Stay is still an awesome film with characters you can care about, relate to, sympathize with, and understand. It is a gripping story about an addict struggling to recover and finding romance along the way. I love how when we first meet Ryu, you wouldn't know he is the main character. Working at a fish market rearranging trash, he blends right in like a real person just doing their job and the way you see shots before that of other real people around him working sells that. Little details make all the difference. These actors do such a fantastic job you really believe in them. They have a chemistry that is undeniable. You get to see so much of Tokyo too and not the common touristy areas but more so, the real life here. The score is great as well. After four long years, fifteen festivals, and six awards (yes, I stole that from their website), the film has finally come out on Amazon Prime so please support it here. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's not horror but it's great.

Monday, January 27, 2020

All hail the return of Richard Stanley!

Color Out of Space (2019) is pure Lovecraft bliss. Not only do you get great creepy moments where you can't quite see what's lurking in front of our eyes, you're also treated to full-on The Thing monsters and Cronenberg body horror. It's truly a beautiful sight to behold. No complaints from me. I hope Stanley gets to do more adaptations and soon. This is definitely a film I can rewatch and I can't wait to check out the special features. Can't believe Hardware and Dust Devil were so long ago. Really a shame what happened with The Island of Dr. Moreau. If there's any justice in the universe, he'll get to finally make his version of that someday. I'm just so glad I finally got to see this movie. It was everything I hoped for and more. I was afraid they would skimp on the monsters and transformations, etc. but hell no, they deliver, and Cage is fantastic. Between this and Mandy, he's really knocking them out of the park.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bio Hunter (1995) serves up a fun gory anime.

I'm a bit obsessed with monsters. I just think they're fuckin awesome... Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolfman, Nosferatu, the Mummy, Dracula, Freddy Krueger, Jason, Chucky, Michael Meyers, the Thing, the Blob, Alien, Predator. The list goes on and on. Since I'm in Tokyo now making a monster movie, naturally I have to dig into whatever monster anime I can find, and thankfully I have a great Japanese friend to give me recommendations (thank you Sho!). So much of horror anime deals with transforming. I love that. They took the Wolfman myth and shoved crack in his veins. Forget a wolf. These fuckers can turn into anything. The best thing about anime is they can do whatever the hell they want especially looking at these gory creative 80s/early 90s titles. They are exquisite (I'm sure no one ever used that word before to describe Bio Hunter) but seriously, this stuff is awesome. Devilman, Wicked City, Geno Cyber, etc. It's all gold. Ok, you have to be a little crazy like me. Alright, more than a little but I think anyone can appreciate their imagination and unbridled creativity. No? Ok, well, I tried. I'm nuts, but like Michael Keaton said in Batman, let's get nuts. Nobody reads this, do they?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Tokyo Species (2012) is a tad underwhelming.

Love the poster but the film feels very cheap, which I'm sure it was. The CGI especially is not good and the lead actress (AV star Maria Ozawa) gets almost no dialogue so you can't connect with her character much. Cronenberg was very smart with his writing on The Fly remake to be certain Seth Brundle didn't lose his speech until the very last transformation. Clearly, as you can gleam from the title of this Japanese movie, it's an obvious ripoff, erm I mean "clone," of the 1995 sci-fi flick Species. Regardless, I still kinda like it but it's a shame they didn't have more money and give Maria Ozawa more of a chance to actually act. I wish filmmakers would stop using bad CGI. It's a lot easier to forgive bad practical but bad CGI looks so lousy you are instantly thrown out of the movie. I always wonder about films like this. Were they trying to make something great or just something cheap to cash in? But I guess it could depend on who you ask: the producer or the director.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tokyo Gore Police (2008) reminds me of RoboCop.

I love the satire and black comedy. Plus, fountains of blood win me over every time. Eihi Shiina, the lead actress from Audition, is outstanding of course. If only the film had a higher production quality. It looks way too cheap camera wise but you get loads of cool outrageous FX. Mostly practical. Some more convincing than others. There is some weak CG at times. The story reminds me a bit of eXistenZ and Cronenberg too with its engineer flesh keys. The PSAs about cutting yourself and harakiri are hilarious. It does cross the line of bad taste a few times for me but clearly that was the goal and I admire that it holds nothing back like it was born straight from the mind of a madman. The inventive FX and concept that allows for half-monster half-human hybrids is brilliant. I would definitely watch the promised sequel if it ever happens. It's an excellent concept with all kinds of potential.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Wicked City (1987) is an anime classic.

I'm a huge fan of Ninja Scroll and its director Yoshiaki Kawajiri so I was very excited to watch this film. It didn't disappoint either. If only Demon City Shinjuku could've been on the level of these two but it was alright. I just didn't feel it reached these towering highs. I love the style of his films and the compelling nature of their stories but not going to lie. The insane bloody violence and sexuality are incredible too. They don't feel excessive in his work but integral to it although you could argue anything is excessive because it's all a matter of opinion. Something you feel is essential, another person could claim wasn't necessary but I really like what he shows and doesn't show. I wish we could get some live action movies as crazy as these. I don't think anything as really come close. I guess because you can get away with more in anime and you don't have to worry about doing such difficult FX. The demon designs are amazing and shocking.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Brain Damage (1988) is a lot of gory goodness.

I love the practical FX in this film. Sure, sometimes, they're not entirely convincing but they're always charming, original, and imaginative. The voice of the creature is excellent, and the story is compelling with a metaphor about addiction to drugs. Plus, it's all quite twisted with a lot of fantastic dark humor. The history of the creature is interesting and the film is a joy to watch. I already want to see this again. Frank Henenlotter is a filmmaker I really enjoy. I wish he had made even more movies like this and Frankenhooker, Basket Case, etc. I need to watch Bad Biology. So far my favorite of his would either be this or Frankenhooker. We're so lucky these films were even made. Damn I love the '80s. I really want to see every horror movie from that decade, good or bad. Even the bad ones tend to be better than most of what we get today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Bio-Zombie (1998) is really funny.

You can tell these guys love movies, and their film is quite clever like when they pull the split screen trick or the amusing, unique opening credits. Clearly, they didn't have much money, and the FX leave a bit to be desired, but the banter between the two leads more than makes up for that. They're lowly video store clerks... pirated crappy videos at that as one customer complains about but their schemes and conversations never fail to entertain. I wouldn't call it horror even though there are some zombies and at least one tragic kill, but it's definitely an effective comedy. I enjoyed it immensely. I haven't seen many Hong Kong zombie films either so I like that unique angle too. It all takes place in a pretty cramped shopping mall but obviously such a location isn't foreign to amazing zombie films. The fate of several characters is actually surprising, and you do get some different zombie scenarios too like a prelude to the recent popular zombie love story shenanigans.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Freaks (1932) remains endearing and effective.

I always heard this is a horror film but nothing in it seemed horrifying to me except the sad old tale of a kind lover being tricked by a deceitful, sinister manipulator. That is hard to watch. A person's good heart robbed and taken advantage of particularly when that individual should know better but they fall prey nonetheless. Even more depressing is the one who stands by them despite such an awful betrayal that shouldn't be forgiven. That companion is truly a saint. Anyway, I don't want to give the whole story away, but it works, and it's a powerful film regardless of the year it was made. That makes it an even more stunning achievement. People constantly label films as old even when they're just from 1986 and it rubs me the wrong way since the 80s isn't old. 1932, yes, that's old, but tons of amazing films were made back then, and we should never discredit something simply because of when it was made. I love watching "old" films.

Monday, May 20, 2019

You should see Densha Otoko aka Train Man (2005).

I probably wouldn't have heard of this film if I wasn't living in Tokyo now, which is such a shame. I love Japanese movies but even then so many can slip under your radar. Based on a true story, just the opening scene felt very authentic even having only been here a short time. Drunk salarymen are a common sight especially on the late trains, and sometimes, they get very unruly. It's extremely unfortunate. This is the story of a very shy nerd who decides to stand up for a girl when she is harassed by such a salaryman and then his ensuing attempts to court said girl who is clearly smitten with him after his heroic actions. What can I say? It's very charming and heart-warming, but you can also see how difficult it is for someone to come out of their shell particularly these days in the age of the internet. Changing yourself isn't easy. I know how that poster looks (and that was the best I could find) but this is truly a good movie with a very important message.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Little Odessa (1994) is one hell of a first feature.

Another director recommended James Gray to me, but actually I never heard of him so I immediately watched a number of his films starting with his debut feature. Damn, what a way to start a career. Crime films tend to work really well for me. They're never boring, and this one especially is extremely compelling. Tim Roth just nails it. He feels almost like the shark in Jaws. A force of nature. Unpredictable. Volatile. He could explode at any moment. It's an awesome character, but he's grounded in reality too so it hits home more knowing there are people out there like him. They give some indicators of how he turned out the way he did but his own father still seems mystified although the dad clearly hasn't taken stock of his role in creating this devastating catastrophe. The stakes feel particularly high in this film. You know some bad shit is going to go down but you're not exactly sure how. It doesn't disappoint. What an ending.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

No one will like A Scene at the Sea (1991).

But I like it. Ok, I'm exaggerating. Some people might like it. The film is about surfing. I don't like surfing. Ok, I'm so-so on it. I love Point Break. But not because it has surfing in it. A Scene at the Sea is not really about surfing. It is and it isn't. It's about following your dream. Following your passion and never giving up. That's easy for me to relate to. That's my life. And I like Takeshi Kitano. He isn't in the movie. He's only the director on this one but his style is so evident. If you haven't seen the films he directed, you really should, and you should start at the beginning. Violent Cop is awesome and no one will think it's slow or boring but he doesn't repeat himself. By the time he gets to this movie or Hana-bi, he isn't interested so much in showing violence anymore or pacing. He's going to go at his own pace and do his own thing. Either you're with him or you're not. Seeing his progression, it all makes sense, and I really like his films. The main character in this movie is someone I can instantly get behind. He collects trash (a garbage man... I don't know why I'm putting this in parenthesis but I love parenthesis... I have a problem) and he never speaks. He's deaf and mute. His girl is always by his side. It's really a fantastic film. I didn't think I'd be so into it. I'm pretty stupid sometimes. But I was really taken by this movie.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Tom Hardy in a car.

That doesn't sound exciting but Locke (2013) is so damn good. It's crazy because the director's other film that year is a Jason Statham action flick with tons of locations, set pieces, characters, etc. yet this insanely simple one-guy-in-a-car film kills it hands down. I had heard of this movie before but didn't see it until recently. Big mistake. It's another one that's worthy of the hype. Why? The writing is phenomenal. Writers never get credit. Everyone thinks they can write. Wrong. Writing is one of the hardest parts of filmmaking. Try writing a feature-length script. If someone says they can write, ask them how many features they've written. You'll find the bullshit real soon. Locke immediately puts you into this guy's world, makes him sympathetic and fascinating (he fucked up but he's trying to make it right), and establishes the stakes. This is life or death for him. His whole world is about to come crumbling down but he's going to try to stop that from happening. Yes, of course, Tom Hardy gives an incredible performance that seems head-scratchily low key at first but then you realize that is brilliant because it gives him so many places to go. If he was at 10 the entire time, you'd be bored. You get to see his entire range of acting, and it is amazing, but I just want to emphasize the writing again. Great writing makes all the difference. The film never cuts away from him in the car. It never shows you anyone else. You only hear the voices of the other actors. I can't believe it works but it does. It really does. I actually feel like I could see everything that was transpiring. I feel like I saw the other actors but I didn't. That's how good it is. Remember Phone Booth? That used the trick of a guy with a sniper rifle to keep you engaged. There are no guns in this movie! None. No car crashes. No police. It's just one fuckin guy going through the biggest crisis of his life. I know how that sounds but it's better than Phone Booth. A million times better. It's personal. Everything is on the line, and somehow it even makes pouring concrete seem exciting. It's nuts. I love this movie. So yeah. Tom Hardy in a car. For an hour and a half. I know, I know, but it's really that good. See it. Now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

One Cut of the Dead (2017) deserves the acclaim.

Some possible spoilers so watch it first before reading and try to watch it without knowing anything about it. It's easy to see why this film got so much attention. The passion and love for movies is evident in every frame. Plus, it doesn't take itself too seriously, but they literally show you how difficult it is to make what you take for granted at the beginning. You can see all their trials and tribulations, trying to create that one long take. Usually, you watch an indie and you have no clue how tough it was to get that footage onscreen. It's clever too the way it switches format (even genre) and still works. In fact, it works even better, adding another layer to what you already saw. It's really genius when it comes down to it. They thought this through big time and did their homework. This film has blown up as much as The Blair Witch Project, and I think it clearly earns that status so hats off to these guys. Definitely seek it out if you haven't yet. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mandy (2018) is quite wicked.

The lighting and atmosphere is fantastic. How could you not love those demonic bikers? Like some fucked up cenobites on wheels. "The Reaper is coming." Gotta love that. Nicholas Cage is a lot of fun in this. I especially love the fate of the big baddie at the end. So well done. I burst out laughing because I loved it so much. It was over the top and perfect. Some really great gore FX all around. Glad to see practical. Lighting is so critical to horror but too often it's overlooked. It can make or break everything. I heard about the Cheddar Goblin before. It's easy to see why that stole the spotlight. It's hilarious. The dark humor is pitch black but it's great. My sense of humor exactly. If anything, I wish there were more monsters, and I don't think you need the bad LSD explanation but probably some viewers will want that. You could've gone even more weird and I would've happily gone along. The style of the filmmaking is so engrossing. It really makes this movie unique and a joy to watch.

Monday, November 12, 2018

So I finally saw Oculus (2013) and...

I loved it especially that ending. I didn't think they'd go there, but they did. Damn. Takes guts to leave your audience like that. This is by far the best haunted object movie I've seen (I'm not counting Hellraiser or Evil Dead since those are more gateways to evil that don't focus on a *haunted* object whereas this is clearly about a *haunted* mirror... eh it's splitting hairs I guess but did ya see dem rabbits outside? big as trees I tell ya! they need splitting... with battle axes... ok maybe I'm a bit nuts). So yeah, the director refused to make this a found-footage movie even though that would've allowed him to finance it much earlier. You have to admire that. That is awesome, and this film is all the more amazing because of it. The writing and the way it jumps between timelines is brilliant. By the end, you realize how cunning the force in the mirror is and how many lives it has taken... it really is genius how everything unfolds. I saw Absentia before and liked it but this is just incredible.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018) is phenomenal.

Finally a new creature feature that actually delivers. Relying only on sign language and visual storytelling for so much of its runtime was a ballsy move: you're asking the audience to sit in near silence for long stretches. Sure, you get small sounds of people walking around, ambience, a fantastic score reminiscent of Sicario, etc. but some of your patrons are going to get antsy with no one talking and yet it's genius. Film is a visual medium and often the less dialogue, the better. Show, don't tell, is the old adage. The lack of people blabbing instantly puts you into the world of these characters where any sound could mean instant death and the opening quickly establishes these stakes. Whatever these monsters are, they're not fucking around. When a little space shuttle toy nearly comes crashing down to the floor, barely saved at the last second, the reactions on the faces of our protagonist tell you clearly how one little mistake like that could cost everyone their lives. It's phenomenal writing and such an amazing concept to create tension. You don't get any explanation for what the monsters are or where they came from and you don't need one. Those questions don't matter. It's all about survival. They use CGI for the creatures but even that is done very well and the monster design is so unique I can't fault them one bit. Everything works and what a great ending. I want to make films like this.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Beyond Skyline (2017) was a blast.

I enjoyed this way too much. I'm a huge fan of Frank Grillo ever since The Purge: Anarchy, and he gets a ton to do here plus you get Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian from The Raid battling these extraterrestrials with a nice dash of bloody brutality for good measure. What's not to love here? I was shocked this was the same writer as the first film because I really liked the characters a lot this time around. Truth to be told, I didn't hate Skyline. The FX were incredible. Yes, CGI but done at a professional level on a low budget (very low for Hollywood, impossible for indies) so even a practical FX junkie like myself has to admire that. It wasn't boring, heck I rather enjoyed it like if Roger Corman finally got some money (the alien designs looked great), but this sequel blows it out of the water. I was shocked at everything they did in this film and the amount of FX is staggering. Frank Grillo definitely owns this movie and you get some surprising deaths. I love how ruthless the aliens are, ripping out everyone's brains in gory gruesome fashion. That sounds ridiculous writing it but they completely won me over (yeah I'm probably not that hard to win over). Ok, the ending goes off the rails a bit maybe, well definitely, but still I had fun. Not sure I'd be down for another one. This felt like an overdose by the final scene but you have to give the writer/director a lot of credit. He came out swinging and did a hell of a job. Yes, I like Skyline 2. I admit it. It isn't Aliens by any stretch but I had a good time. Everybody has some guilty pleasures. Mine just happen to be a bloody dinosaur movie that rips off Aliens and the Punisher killing some cool-looking E.T.'s.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Turbo Kid (2015) rocks.

First off, Michael Ironside. That is always a plus but this film has so much imagination and heart I don't think you could resist it. Then they spray you with some over-the-top gore, chuck in a few laughs, and a little nostalgia with every kid's dream come true: a Power Glove that blows shit up. Hell yeah. So many post-apocalyptic movies are far too bleak and dour. You don't want to sit through them but this one makes the time fly. Of course, I enjoy depressing flicks sometimes but every once in a while, you need some bright colors or you can't appreciate the dark. Our heroes are sympathetic and interesting. The bad guys are a joy too. I didn't expect it to be so bloody but that is right up my alley. It's an odd duckling and that is why it's so charming. I can't believe this was a co-production between Canada and New Zealand. There is hope for us yet. If you're in the mood for a good time, put this on. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura (2017) is an enchanting, delightful surprise.

I really love the humor and imagination of this film. Most importantly, it has real stakes. It's easy to like the characters and get invested. The film is a bit long (over 2 hours) but the time passed quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My Japanese girlfriend suggested this to me. I'm glad she did too. Otherwise, I never would've known about it, and it's not a film I'd normally pick to watch, which is more my mistake than anything. The poster makes it look a bit like fluffy nonsense but it's not at all. The CGI is pretty good but the story, creativity, performances, and heart really are what make it special. The actress is charming, and I like all the creatures constantly popping up. You get your Mos Eisley scene with a colorful showcase of spirit dealers. My favorite character had to be the Binbogami whose purpose is to bring bad luck to those he haunts but his reaction to the wife is priceless and such a moving part of the film. It's worth watching solely for that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Never heard of Intruders (2015) but it is so astonishingly good I can't believe it.

Alright full disclosure: I got this confused with that Clive Owen Intruders movie (by the director of 28 Weeks Later released in 2011). In other words, I'm an idiot, but damn, this newer 2015 film was fantastic. I only read a really brief synopsis before watching it so I was shocked at what unfolded. I can't believe some people didn't like it. It only has a 5.7 rating on IMDb but I would easily put it at a 7 or 8. That said, don't read any spoilers or watch a trailer. Just like most movies, it's best to go in with a blank state (they give way too much away these days). One thing is for sure: you have to admire the actress. Her range is incredible, and the storytelling was perfectly executed. You get sympathetic characters that hook you from the start and a compelling beginning that turns everything on its head. This reminded me of Don't Breathe, which was another single-location thriller I really liked. I'm still curious though if that Clive Owen flick is worth watching.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Natural City (2003) is great Korean sci-fi.

I had seen the DVD cover to this but never checked it out, figuring it couldn't possibly be as good as the insane praise on the cover. "A modern Blade Runner" is pretty damn hard to live up to but I have to say I wasn't disappointed. Like a live action Japanese anime, this has gore, futuristic soldiers with guns, cyborgs, fantastic set design, ample rain and smoke, etc. I'm amazed they were able to pull this off. The lead actor is excellent with his conflicted feelings driving the narrative (you'll recognize him as the antagonist from Oldboy). If you're at all curious, I suggest going in spoiler free without reading anything so you should stop here because I'm going to give some crappy semblance of the story. R, our badass main man, used to be one of the best Military Police until he fell in love with a machine whose expiration date keeps inching closer while he tries to get enough cash to save her and avoid his suspicious boss who also happens to be his best friend. If that's not complex enough, another girl enters the picture and there's more to it than that once you find out the truth about the big bad cyborg shooting the place up. Needless to say, it's awesome and you even get some Robocop-esque squibs from time to time. Ok not quite ED-209 boardroom massacre size but definitely nice and bloody. Sure, there's some CGI that could be better but I don't think it's bad and you get some nice practical too. If you like Korean cinema or interesting bloody sci-fi, this is a gem waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cure (1997) is brilliant.

If you never heard of this Japanese horror movie, you should check it out right away. It reminds me of Seven although Angel Dust is a more apt comparison but I saw the latter afterwards. The acting and cinematography is fantastic. You'll see imagery that won't make sense until later but I think it all clearly adds up in the end. Some might take issue with the plausibility of some aspects. Pay close attention though. The film gave plenty of justification to how this could be possible so I don't have any problem buying into it. I love these kinds of detective stories particularly when they are unaware of the real threat. It makes you want to scream at the screen but of course, our lead would have no idea the trap he is so carelessly walking into, which to me, is partly what makes it so effective. We would all stumble into that same dark jail cell without realizing what had happened until it was too late. Here comes some spoilers so stop reading if you haven't seen it yet. I thought a lot about Fallen after this but Cure is so much more clever and subtle in its mesmerizing execution. They're very similar but one is like a lunatic barking at cars in the street while the other lurks in the shadows, waiting for you to draw near. In film, the execution is everything. You could have the best script in the world, the best story, the best idea, but if your actors suck or the cinematography is terrible, if the music doesn't fit or the sound is wretched, it's all for nothing. You need that good script too though. That's why film is so challenging. All the pieces really have to come together, and I think that's clearly the case with Cure.
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