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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Werewolf in a Women's Prison (2006) is tons of fun.

I really loved this one. It's extremely gory with a pretty cool werewolf (ok sometimes it doesn't look great but other times it does... kinda like a lot of werewolf movies). The shining red eyes are awesome, and you get plenty of nudity. If you couldn't tell from the title, it's an exploitation film. Sure, the budget was clearly low and the cinematography leaves a lot to be desired (kinda looks like it was shot on a DVX), but it's entertaining as hell, the lead lady is very lovely, and the practical FX are damn good for this level of production. They kept the story and characters simple, sending up both women in prison movies and werewolf flicks. It's a unique combination that works surprisingly well. You know Hollywood would never have the guts to do this. The fact they could pull this off at all on such a tiny budget is a miracle that should be applauded. If you enjoyed this, I suggest you track down a little indie called PMS Cop. It's another great one.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Revenant (2009) is hilarious and awesome.

No, it isn't the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Yes, I love that film too. This is an indie horror flick, and it's badass. Ignore the DVD cover. That made me not want to watch it... looks like glossy photoshopped crap but the actual movie rocks. It reminds of The Boondock Saints except better and all horror. I don't want to spoil anything but it's a very unique take on a certain subgenre pre-Dracula. I hadn't heard of it either but it blew people away at festivals and it's a ton of fun. Great black humor, cool FX, kickass story, and where it ends up is nuts. I guess it's more like Dead Heat but again it's in a league of its own. This is really the type of indie horror we should support. Can't wait to see what the writer/director does next, and I'm so glad I bought this. Very thankful to the other director that recommended it to me. I don't know how I missed this but that shows you good films really can slip through the cracks these days. I suppose me being overseas didn't help.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

Prepare for a lot of cameos in this one: Kane Hodder (Jason! Hell yes!), Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn!), and David Carradine. Plus, Eva Mendes in one of her first film roles. I think it's obvious this sequel was made by a horror fan but it didn't do much for me unfortunately. It has that same generic setup of some college kids who take a wrong turn and end up in Slasherland. The main evil child isn't believable at all. You hate him immediately (and not in a good way). The cameos are nice and do help it a bit but it's pretty dull. There is a grain silo with flames coming out of it, which I guess is their version of the corn monster, but it's disappointing. Typical cult thing except Carradine's character is used as their puppet spokesperson. These Children of the Corn sequels are pretty forgettable. It's just crazy they made so many of them, and I have to be nuts for watching them. We really need another Friday the 13th. Just have fun with it and don't take it so seriously.
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