Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) is perfect.

Ok nothing is perfect but come on, it's close enough. This movie is so much fun, it gives you exactly what you want (three Godzilla vs. Kong fights!), the human characters are great, etc. I really liked Godzilla: King of the Monsters. What they did with Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra was incredible but the humans were kind of a mess, which is a shame since they had phenomenal actors. But there were far too many, some were unnecessary, [spoilers ahead] the mom's motivation is difficult to grasp (her son died so she wants to kill all sons? obviously grief affects people in different ways but getting revenge on everyone, killing all of humanity including your daughter, seems a bit much) plus her flip-flopping is also strange (when Charles Dance is in your film, he's the only bad guy you need), etc. [spoilers finished] So I can't fully embrace King of the Monsters, which kinda kills me because Ghidorah is so badass in that movie, the title is the best ever, and Godzilla himself is incredible as well. The fact they managed to make Rodan and Mothra amazing too is just stunning. Millie Bobby Brown is fantastic in it too. But Godzilla vs. Kong really blows it out of the water. The pacing is so good, the film flies by, the human side is streamlined and I like the characters a lot but wisely Kong feels like the lead. Godzilla is badass and the fights between them are brilliant. The first scene of the film is with Kong, just a tad bit later you get awesome Godzilla action as he attacks Apex, back to Kong, not long after that is their first fight, etc. It couldn't be better executed. My one gripe is Mecha's design but it's still pretty good [spoilers] and I love how it turns on its creators [end spoilers]. The film is a blast from start to finish and it's great to rewatch as well. I really love this movie and I hope Wingard gets to direct Destroy All Monsters down the road.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Ghoulies II (1987) is much better than the first.

I love the practical FX in this, and they even redo the toilet scene that was really just a brief shot in the first one (I read they actually added it after the fact once they came up with that great poster). I had never seen these films until recently but of course, the VHS cover was always in my head. The original film has some nice moments but I really enjoyed the sequel a ton more. You get quite a few more monsters, the FX are better, the ending is cool and unexpected, etc. Seems a shame the sequels after this went downhill. Empire Pictures put out so many awesome movies like Re-Animator, Robot Jox, From Beyond, TerrorVision, Troll, Trancers, etc. I really want to see the documentary Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland when it's finally released (I hate that I missed out on that Kickstarter). Indie film companies really should be celebrated because they are few and far between especially the ones that actually stick around a while (and the ones that make monster movies!).

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Inseminoid (1981) is a sleazy hilarious Alien ripoff.

I love Alien so much I can't help watching all the terrible Z-grade knockoffs, and honestly, I enjoy these too because they show you why Alien is so good. You can see how Alien took the same kind of material but elevated it through high-class cinematography, breathtaking sets, the involvement of a real artist designing the monster in the form of H.R. Giger, excellent writing, the best cast you could hope for, etc. A lot of that does come down to the budget since millions of dollars allows you to get better actors, experienced craftsmen, more time for shooting, etc. so I still appreciate these down and dirty clones but the true flaw of these imitations is not being original. But like I said, I still love to watch them, and they usually have some well-done moments at least or they'll make you laugh. Inseminoid is pretty bad but it gets pretty crazy and fun around 32 min in. If you click here, you can watch it for free on Tubi right now (in the US at least). I really love the posters for it below.

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Blood of Wolves (2018) makes for an excellent crime film with a fantastic lead.

I love Japanese cinema especially crime movies like this. Kôji Yakusho steals the show as usual. You'll recognize him from Cure, 13 Assassins, The World of Kanako, Tokyo Sonata, etc. The characters he plays are fascinating especially the way he brings them to life with such powerful performances. I couldn't look away (except that first shot and what a first shot it is). The whole film is awesome and easy to get pulled into. It's very much about a world that is gray, not black and white where things are not what they seem. You get a lot of mysteries and questions but the high stakes keep you firmly rooted in what's happening. Even the side characters are wonderful like the girl Hioka Shuichi falls for. I wish she was in the film more. The developing relationship between the two main cops is the primary focus, and it's extremely compelling. I'm excited a sequel is on the way, and I wish I could see the director's first film Lost Paradise in Tokyo.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

I still really enjoyed Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2009).

Sure, you can tell the budget seemed to be lower on this one with the early digital look but I still liked this film a lot. I really wish these Japanese genre directors could get more money. At least, that seemed to happen with Meatball Machine Kodoku, the sequel to the 2005 film Meatball Machine and the cinematography was much improved. Tetsuo II: Body Hammer also looked to have a much larger budget than the first film so what happened for this third movie? I always wish we could get more behind the scenes details on these films. Joe Bob Briggs was saying Tarantino tried to help Shin'ya Tsukamoto get this third one off the ground but it never materialized; hence, why it had to be done on the cheap. But the ingenuity, insane passion, and creativity still impress me on this belated third entry. They still manage to do a ton of FX and action. Of course, I would've preferred grungy 16mm or 35mm but regardless, I very much enjoyed it. Tetsuo is such a unique interesting trilogy. I hope one day we can get a fourth film with more money behind it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wicked City (1992) proves to be incredibly strange and oddly entertaining.

I really love the 1987 anime this is based on so I should rightfully hate this live-action version because it pretty much takes the great story of the original and repeatedly runs it over with a freight truck until only a gory mess remains then it sets that on fire until dancing on it with neon tentacles. Yeah, I think that's an accurate summary of how this treats the source material. But... this film is so crazy weird and kinda similar to the anime like a long lost mutated cousin that I rather enjoyed it. I had no idea what it was going to do next. The opening scene is pretty much straight out of the anime minus the nudity (come on guys) then it goes haywire with a demon drug, kung fu, wire fu, non-demon cops that still have powers, a psychic-projected plane (I think?), the aforementioned neon tentacles, etc. It's really all over the place and the English synopsis said something about "Rapters" but in the subtitled version I saw, they never mentioned "Rapters" once so I'm thinking someone took some liberties with the dubbing or someone got confused on the packaging. Confusing is a good word to describe this movie although you can pretty much follow it but why they threw all this extra stuff in a blender with the already-fantastic anime is a good question. Maybe the filmmakers were trying to put their own stamp on it and it is certainly unique so I guess they achieved that but it's very odd. I do like the inventive FX with some of the demons. Unfortunately, I wonder if any great live-action adaptation of an anime can really be done because they all seem to turn out inferior to the source. I did really enjoy Parasyte: Part 1 and Part 2. Those actually had pretty good CGI too, which surprised me even more but even with those, they're certainly not better than the anime. They're just a good adaptation, which is maybe all we can hope for. I guess the same argument can be made for books vs. films but sometimes, I think, films have surpassed the books. Or I have no clue what I'm talking about and there is some 5,000 lb levitating purple blowfish here with a bazooka and nunchucks forcing me to write this. It's definitely the latter, and that about sums up this movie.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Space Amoeba (1970) is charming.

I love seeing these old Toho kaiju movies. Even the lesser ones. I read reviews where a lot of people gave this film grief over how the giant squid Gezora walks on its tentacles as if the FX looked really bad. For 1970, in Japan, I think it's fine. They hid the performer's legs pretty well, and it's a unique way of doing it. I love these men-in-suits giant monster movies. There is a charm CGI can never match. Sure, some FX shots aren't the greatest but I still respect it. Not every kaiju film can be Godzilla (1954). I watched the Japanese giant Frankenstein flicks as well. I really enjoy these older films. It's funny how different some of the titles are in Japanese. Space Amoeba is actually Gezora, Ganimes, and Kamoebas: Decisive Battle! Giant Monsters of the South Seas in Japanese. I guess they thought that was too long or confusing for American audiences. That is a pretty damn long title but I like how they emphasized the three monsters and even try to hype you up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Gargoyles (1972) is a bit lacking.

But it's a TV movie. From the '70s. And now I'm reminded of Duel, which was fuckin awesome. Well... uhm... yeah, this film pales in comparison as do most. I wanted to see Gargoyles because Stan Winston did the FX. Unfortunately, the flick is rather dull and the titular creatures don't really hold up. Maybe if they were in the shadows more. You do get to see them a lot (too much I think) and there are several varieties. But it won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup so what the fuck do I know. The original Frankenstein has much better makeup although that wasn't a full body suit but it was way back in 1931. Jack Pierce deserves a lot more praise. Gargoyles definitely isn't a horror classic, just a so so monster movie. The best gargoyle on the silver screen goes to Tales from the Darkside. I doubt anything will beat that although I'd love to see some more modern gargoyle films with practical FX. As it stands, I can't really recommend Gargoyles (1972).

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Personal Shopper (2016) amazes and impresses.

A unique, incredible film wonderfully executed. Kristen Stewart has really grown on me between this and Underwater. She has great taste in projects, and this French director is phenomenal. No spoilers but I was genuinely surprised a number of times since I knew nothing about this before seeing it (the best way to watch a movie). It's funny how the poster tries to emphasize her sexuality. I guess you have to sell it somehow. At least, it doesn't give anything away. The way this movie deals with its subject matter is quite revealing and very different from other similar films. I can't quite say what that is without ruining it but it's not the typical flashy Hollywood style. It feels far more real and impactful here. I keep thinking about this movie and I love it. I'm getting older haha life sucks but movies rule. I wish there more subtle mature films like this one. The atmosphere in Personal Shopper is truly magnificent. I'm sad I never heard of this until it was recommended to me.

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 captivating 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.
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