Yes, you can see where Hitchcock left a good impression on Bava, Fulci, and Argento in many of their films. I’m waiting for Scorpion to release the retail versions of both The Psychic and Murder Rock so I can check them off my Thrillers list. Also looking forward to checking out Fulci’s The Devil’s Honey and Beatrice Cenci on Blu Ray.
Same here. For me even 10/10, best movie I’ve seen in a long time.
- Brooks: High Anxiety 9/10
- Nortimo: Rovaniemen markkinoilla 6/10
- Miller: Mad Max 7/10
- Siodmak: The Dark Mirror 4/10
- Franco: Vampyros Lesbos 8/10
- Pasanen: Naisen logiikka 2/10
- Kidel: Becoming Cary Grant (Doc) 7/10
- Sharman: The Rocky Horror Picture Show 10/10
- Argento: Opera 6/10
- Ophuls: Caught 7/10
Criss Cross (1949) 8/10
Out of the Past (1947) 8/10
Angel Face (1953) 6/10
The Hit (1954) 8/10
La bataille d’Alger (1966) 9/10
Queimada (1969) 6/10
O Cangaceiro (1953) 7/10
A Morte Comanda o Cangaço (1960)
Nordeste Sangrueto (1963)
The Outside Man (1972) 9/10
I, the Jury (1953) 2/10
Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) 8/10
Baby Face Nelson (1957) 4/10
Night of the Demon (1957) 8/10
Farewell, My Lovely (1975) 7/10
The Big Night (1951) 2/10
Just watched Il Tuo Vizio e una Stanza Chiusa e Solo Io ne ho la Chiave (Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) today and thought it was brilliant. Definitely ****1/2 out of *****.
Double Indemnity (1944)-
The Big Sleep (1946)-
Man Hunt (1941)-
Force of Evil (1948)-
Green Book (2018)-
Raw Deal (1948)-
Cold Pursuit (2019)-
Funan (2018, Denis Do)
An animated drama picture, set during the Red Khmer reign (1975-1979) in Cambodia. The movie won several prizes at international festivals (I saw it on the MOOOV festival in Belgium). The animation is superb, the story is harrowing and touching but also feels a bit too much like ‘the killing Fields for beginners’. But … communism (or more in general unity thinking: only one point of view is accepted under the pretext of political correctness) is becoming popular again, especially among younger people, who weren’t born when the Khmer Rouge and other far-left movements were active, so maybe this picture may serve as a warning to them.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001, Steven Spielberg)
A project abandoned by Stanley Kubrick, picked up by Steven Spielberg. It’s an adaptation of a short story, Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, by British SF-author Brian Aldiss. The story is set in a distant future, in which a new type of robots called mechas (they’re mechanic) have been developed: they are able to show emotions. One of them, David, is not only capable of showing emotions, but also experiencing them. In the source story the emphasis is more on the logical complications of artificial intelligence and emotions (and the humans are reluctant to accept the mechas as emotional creatures). Spielberg and Kubrick shifted the story more towards the inner life and the yearnings of the mecha, who longs for love and therefore wants to become ‘real’. It was Kubrick (not Spielberg like most people thought) who had come up with the idea of the Pinokkio-theme; there’s too much stress on this idea, but the film remains sublime, often heart-warming example of intelligent cinema.
Shoplifters (2018, Kore-eda Hirukazu)
Seen on the MOOOV Festival as well. After a side jump to the thriller genre, Japanese master director Kore-eda Hirakazo returns to his observations of ordinary people. Shoplifters is a story about innocence, corruption, family love, all in the margin of Japanese society. As more often, things are not what they seem: we eventually learn that the family isn’t really a family, and that these people who look so innocent have done a few terrible things. But even then, the shoplifters remain likable.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004, Paul Greengrass)
The second Bourne movie, loosely based on Ludlum’s second Bourne novel of the same name. The novel is largely set in China, the movie in various places around a globe, but mainly in Berlin. Bourne is still chasing his own shadow - and those who created it – in a thunderous plot brimmed with spectacular action scenes (man-to-man combat, shootouts, chase scenes, you name it). Don’t know if the whole thing makes much sense, but this is as good as the action-conspiracy genre gets.
Sakawa (2018, Ben Asamoah)
Again a movie shown at the MOOOV festival. It’s a documentary (though obviously dramatized at various points) by a Ghanese film maker about young people (most of them males) who practice internet fraud. They pretend to be young women (using sophisticated devices to make their voice sound female) in online sex schemes to attempt rich westerners to send them money. At the same time they ask voodoo doctors and all kind of third world swindlers for help. I’m sure the film maker tried to crack some hard nuts about the post-colonial era, but the problem is that he fails to generate any sympathy for the people he’s portraying: they may live in a poor country, but they’re simply despicable morons, as despicable as the perverts they’re trying to rip off.
First time i watched it, and a little bit disapointed, I guess, the film made by Don Siegel, his last film before The Lineup. Not sure if Rooney is entirely fortunate cast as Nelson, but Carolyn Jones is certainly not as Nelson’s moll. And the turtle dove thing between the two seems very much out of place. But a lot of good things here also, and 4/10 was maybe a little harsh. 6/10
Just finished up Lo Strano Vizio della Signora Wardh (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh) earlier and was thoroughly impressed by the film and the double twist as the ending approached. A definite ***** out of *****
- Dolan: Juste la fin du monde 7/10
- Canevari: Io, Emmanuelle 5/10
- Desplechin: Trois souvenirs de me jeunesse 7/10
- Keach: Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie (tv-movie) 5/10
- Meyer: Supervixens 7/10
- Kaurismäki: Zombie ja Kummitusjuna 10/10
- Dolan: Mommy 7/10
- Audiard: De rouille et d’os 8/10
- Valerii: My Name is Nobody 10/10
- Pasanen: Tup akka lakko 6/10
Well, I did not enjoy it as much that time around and lowered my rating from 10 to 9. It’s still one of my favorites, but it didn’t do much for me the last time, kinda wanted to give it 8.
Cross of Iron (1977) - Director: Sam Peckinpah - 8/10 = 8/10 - A re-watch.
L.A. Takedown (1989) - Director: Michael Mann - 6/10 - Albeit nowhere nearly as bad as some people make it out to be, there is no disguising the fact it is vastly inferior to its remake. It makes for a relatively interesting watch and really makes you wonder what the movie would’ve looked like had it been realized back in the 1980s. The entirety of the work feels like a stylistic mesh of both Manhunter and Miami Vice in terms of its aesthetics, but with some emphasis on the latter, especially taking into account its rough television production values as well as Mann’s deployment of Tim Truman, who composed the soundtrack for the fifth season of the TV series. Apart from throwing in a bunch of new material from Truman, Mann recycles Truman’s Freefall (one of my favorite Miami Vice pieces along with Hammer’s Crockett’s Theme and Shadow in the Dark) on multiple occasions, almost to a fault, hence the material intermittently does feel like an episode from the fifth season of Miami Vice. The thing is the implementation of Truman’s score is just as disorderly as the rest of the film, which severely suffers from its exceedingly hectic pace and never manages to acquire some extra depth through some additional characterization as in the case of the 1995 version. This lack of elbowroom for the main characters to grow beyond their usual genre boundaries proves to be more of a detriment to the overall narrative.
Gorky Park (1983) - Director: Michael Apted - 5/10 - Apted seems unable to breathe some life into the story through his storytelling and thereby, most of the film feels somewhat stagnant in spite of the supposedly electrifying source material. It’s hard to pinpoint what it is exactly that causes the entirety of the work to stagnate in the way it does in the middle and towards the denouement; suffice to say, the general flow of the story isn’t that good and Apted fails to gel the narrative in any particularly prepossessing manner. Additionally, I find it hard to take American movies depicting Russia all that seriously by virtue of obvious cultural differences and while it isn’t as starkly conspicuous here as in most cases, it is yet another component enervating the whole work.
Fortress (1992) - Director: Stuart Gordon - 4/10 - Although the general premise seems quite engaging in and of itself, various narrative minutiae and goofy gimmicks inevitably fling the whole effort into the realm of trashy, exasperating stupidity. Film’s production values likewise attest to the film’s inferior stature with the copious amount of plastic readily apparent in its unsightly, sordid sets. Fortress admittedly does entertain and never really drags, which would ineluctably turn it into an unwatchable, ugly mess of a slipshod flick, but it never really attempts to transcend the very narrow boundaries of its shoddy Sci-Fi formula either; the biggest issue lies precisely with the fact that the motion picture refuses to move beyond its basic limitations and at least add a little bit of a twist to its primary concept, continuing to take its story way too seriously whilst simultaneously being steeped in the preposterousness of its own production design and overwhelmed by the ubiquity of its bromides. In the end, it made me want to re-watch Wedlock (1991) more than anything else.
The Last of the Finest (1990) - Director: John Mackenzie - 7/10 - A pleasant surprise, this one is pretty good. Albeit not particularly unique in its approach or with respect to ideas it presents, great performances given by its lead actors as well as its superior characterization makes this one a winner. Sure, I wouldn’t venture to say it is something all that special or original, nevertheless, the extra depth applied to its main characters as well as the relatively painstakingly detailed net of relationships endow this film with some additional emotional resonance distinguishing it from a number of similar efforts; hence, the movie focuses more on the interdependence of the pack of cops struggling to stick together and remain faithful to their principles as opposed to the overarching story, which is still firmly rooted in the genre formula.
Dead Air (1994) - Director: Fred Walton - 7/10 - Not exactly the most original premise, but this one really gives me the juice, it’s genuinely not that bad for a TV cheapo. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in the way it progressively builds suspense and conjures up its veritably evocative, outlandish atmosphere. The distinct context of the story likewise underpins the whole sensation of alienation and duly intensifies the dense, unnerving ambiance of confusion. It doesn’t really venture into some novel territory really, but the manner in which it explores the general concept makes for a relatively engaging watch and the whole movie also benefits from the great performance by Gregory Hines.
Beyond Suspicion (1994) - Director: Paul Ziller - 3/10 - A Jack Scalia movie, what could possibly go wrong? Well, as a matter of fact, quite a lot frankly. It’s a typical burnt-out cop entry with somewhat more developed two lead characters whose behavioral motives are fleshed out in a slightly more satisfactory manner. Nonetheless, the attempt to endow the whole venture with more depth ends up completely crippled by the slovenly execution and its laughably atrocious dialogues. There is no even distribution of the plot or, in other words, the script seems to be preoccupied with encasing different components and alternately ticking different boxes, all of which is rendered in the most graceless fashion imaginable and results in the complete structural disarray. You basically get an extra helping of boobs, some cheesy action sequences and a series of extremely awkward verbal exchanges between the two leads, all of which lasts for far too long and lacks tact as well as proportion, usually throwing the narrative off balance; all in all, the whole thing is practically executed with no discernible competence, which becomes particularly obvious during its laughably bad denouement. Paradoxically enough, the mind-boggling awkwardness and ineptitude of the dialogues make the film work in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way and consequently, it isn’t the dullest thing to watch, it’s still pretty fucking awful though.
Conan the Barbarian (1982) - Director: John Milius - 7/10 - I’ve finally gotten around to watching this one. Well, what can I say… it’s simply a lot of fun. It is obviously cheesy and corny in a very conspicuous way, but these elements do not detract from the overall experience, quite on the contrary, they solely conduce to the whole flavor, whereas film’s genuinely impressive production values additionally enhance the quaint zest the film is fraught with. It feels a bit like watching an old-fashioned epic fantasy of sorts, but with updated special effects, more gore and somewhat more edge to it. It is trashy, it is an undeniable crowd-pleaser, but the thing is it fully embraces its pop-culture status, refuses to back down and yields the utterly prepossessing piece of pulp extravaganza. And hey, what’s so bad about that?
Ghosts… of the Civil Dead (1988) - Director: John Hillcoat - 8/10 - Genuinely impressed with this one, it’s probably one of the most excruciating and violent prison dramas I’ve ever seen. The refreshing thing about the whole effort is that it abstains from falling into the obvious trap of taking the simplistic victim-victimizer perspective and refuses to explicitly side with any particular party. There are no veritable good guys in this one and the motion picture focuses on the tragedy of the entire situation instead of endeavoring to evoke pathos or some cheap sentimentality. From the very get-go, both guards and prisoners are basically set against one another; the systemic dysfunction deligitimizes the whole point of the penal system in that it inextricably exerts a destructive impact on everybody involved and instantaneously instigates the inevitable strife simmering between the two groups. With that being said, there is no schamltziness to be found here; the flick deliberately eschews the usual bromides and opts for a much darker approach instead. Last but not least, the film captures the ambiance of total isolation like no other prison drama I’ve seen before, which synergistically intensifies the stark and gritty nature of the motion picture. There isn’t any concrete moral buried in the plot, no redemption, no heroes or baddies or cheap thrills in this thing; the portrayed brutality is just that and this terrifying insanity confined to the walls of the penal facility serves as the ultimate distillation of the societal coercion and the very worst aspects of human civilization.
Stick (1985) - Director: Burt Reynolds - 5/10 - Despite being heavily flawed, there is just something genuinely enjoyable about the whole flick and the way it’s presented for the most part; that is not to say it’s terribly original or all that developed in the storytelling department, but one thing you can’t say about it is that it’s particularly dull or something to that effect. With that being said, the plot seems to grind to a halt at a certain point, whereafter the story doesn’t go anywhere really. There is a high number of humorous scenes, new characters come and go, some witty dialogues are thrown around, but none of these moments appear to add much in terms of substance or narrative progression, as a consequence of which the film feels more stagnant and static rather than dynamic. Oddly enough, none of the aforementioned faults bothered me all that much and I still managed to get my kicks from it, so I dunno. It’s not good, but it’s not that bad either.
The Brood (1979) - Director: David Cronenberg - 7/10 - The most compelling aspects of the motion picture are its carefully constructed character background and the meticulously portrayed mental illness as well as the estrangement leading to the horrifying resolution. While the film doesn’t necessarily frighten in the way most other horrors usually do, the outstanding thing about the whole venture is that it really makes the best use of its assets by delving into the untold fears and phobias buried deep in our psyches; deformed children, abnormal bodily protrusions and outlandish interpersonal dynamics all coalesce into the uniquely disquieting psychological thriller whose primary shock value resides with its impressive characterization and psychological depth as much as its more conspicuous genre attractions.
Shivers (1975) - Director: David Cronenberg - 8/10 - There is a certain kind of unapologetic immediacy and vehemence in the way the whole tale unfolds and progresses with awe-striking impetuousness. The film has a distinctly trashy, grimy quality to it, granted, but this is something I genuinely enjoy and in this particular instance, the characteristic only enhances the effort in its singularly grungy aesthetic and perfectly corresponds with the raw intensity and overpowering crudeness of the very basic storyline. Some people may take issue with its almost mind-numbing simplicity, but to my way of thinking, this general lack of complexity solely exposes the palatable roughness of the narrative and further compounds the ambiance of isolation already brought about by the location-based focus of the story.
Willow (1988) - Director: Ron Howard - 4/10 - The first hour of the flick isn’t too bad at all and the introduction of the protagonist isn’t handled too badly, but regrettably, the film turns into a badly written rehash of Star Wars, except it’s set in film’s Tolkieneqsue world instead. As much as writing is more than entirely adequate during the first half, it feels like the film starts to run on autopilot for the rest of its duration, filling in blanks between different phases of the screenplay with asinine action sequences and the irredeemeable screenwriting hackwork in the form of mind-bogglingly cliched plot developments.
Rabid (1977) - Director: David Cronenberg - 5/10 - It’s very similar to Shivers in principle, nevertheless, Cronenberg magnifies the scope of his film’s action without providing any satisfactorily concrete narrative purpose. What is worse, Cronenberg apparently doesn’t know how to go about the whole thing and sometimes goes so far as to trifurcate the whole narration, totally diluting the focus of the story and causing the whole tale to lose its punch and immediacy, which is something that made Shivers so compelling in the first place. The storytelling becomes a lot more chaotic and attenuated, there is little in terms of some sense of diegetic continuity or character development; things just happen, people come and go, but to no pronounced effect, as a consequence of which the film simply becomes repetitive in light of its rather haphazardly spliced sequences portraying epidemic outbursts. It’s still a pretty okay watch, but it could’ve been much better, perhaps even a minor classic.
Labyrinth (1986) - Director: Jim Henson - 5/10 - A nice little classic fairy tale from the 1980s. And hey, it’s got David Bowie in it. There is nothing particularly memorable or fancy about it and the script isn’t developed insofar as it could obtain some extra dimension or become more notable, but it is a nice, cute little eye-candy of a flick; it’s by and large fun to watch and most of the action is choreographed in an impressive fashion, plus it’s accompanied by some cute jingles and tunes and stuff. Not too bad, well worth checking out if you’re in the mood.
Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster (1992) - Director: Paul Seed - 6/10 - It’s one of those TV movies that sacrifice their pacing and focus for the veracity of the portrayed action. With that being said, it is pretty well acted most of the time and as a matter of fact, the narrative rhythm stabilizes towards the end and isn’t as bothersome as at the beginning, when it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around what’s going on by virtue of the precipitate tempo of the narration. One of the most commendable components of the whole presentation is the movie’s impartiality and filmmakers’ willingness to depict the existence of good will on both sides of the entire issue. Heard’s monologue about the impudence and invincibility of corporate omnipotents and tech giants is terrifically written.
Sole Survivor (1984) - Director: Thom Eberhardt - 3/10 - A tremendously dull and unoriginal horror film whose biggest problem lies with the fact that its scares are exceedingly old-fashioned in nature and the film simply didn’t stand the test of time all that well IMHO. I don’t know, practically all of it is incredibly predicable and not all that interesting. To be perfectly frank, its supposedly creepy atmosphere didn’t do much for me and felt more amusing that genuinely disquieting.
Love Is a Gun (1994) - Director: David Hartwell - 4/10 - I don’t know what to think about this one. On one hand, it definitely tries to be something different in that it commences with an odd, discombobulating flashback and then it proceeds to recount its main story by utilizing perplexing montage techniques and interjecting a number of bizarre, quasi-surrealistic scenes, which oftentimes feel darkly humorous in nature and somewhat confusing. On the other hand, none of these outlandish additions amount to much, occasionally even becoming more distracting than genuinely enriching to the overall narrative. Its allegedly dreamlike atmosphere didn’t do much for me either, so I can’t say I found much of it to be all that engaging. At least, it endeavors to be unique in its own right, but the thing is it sporadically succeeds and then fails on multiple other occasions, so it’s not some hidden gem or anything; I guess it still might be worth a look for some people.
Cocktail (1988) - Director: Roger Donaldson - 2/10 - The film extrapolates the most deplorable aspects of the Reaganite America and then attempts to enshrine them in the context of the offesively inept, juvenile and contrived fantasy probably aimed at adolescents dreaming of making a fortune in a big city and then indulging in the consumerist, profligate lifestyle. None of its main characters are fleshed out in any meaningful way and are primarily treated in a purely instrumental manner to depict a number of highly mendacious situations. Should’ve known better, I shouldn’t have done this to myself yet again, another atrocious Tom Cruise flick.
Deadbeat at Dawn (1988) - Director: Jim Van Bebber - 5/10 - A nasty, gory film whose action engine has quite a lot to offer under its hood. It gets a little too preposterous, cheesy and ridiculously gory for its own good around the resolution, however, its hectic, jittery editing, the grimy low-budget aesthetics and its singularly sanguinary tableaux of mob violence endue the whole motion picture with an exceedingly stirring and mesmerizing appearance. While there are some conspicuous technical shortcomings abound, the unique vivacity and impetuousness prompt the flick to overcome its ultra-low budget and succeed in delivering its moderately cohesive story. As I’ve said before, it gets a little too over-the-top towards the end, but in all honesty, it’s hard to expect more of such a modest production, it’s pretty goddamn good for what it is, it sure as hell packs a punch and is well worth checking out if you’re looking for something downright filthy and bloody.
Survivor (2015, James McTeigue)
Britain has asked the US government to help them prevent terrorists from entering the country. Milla Jovovich is the American Security agent who is sent to London to implement a new safety program, but after a terrorist attack she, of all people, becomes the main suspect in the case. She is persecuted by both governments and is also targeted by the world’s most wanted man, a terrorist knick-named The Clockmaker. It’s a nice touch to cast ex-Bond Pierce Brosnan as the world’s most dangerous man and Jovovich still looks good at the age of forty, but apart from the two stars, the movie has very little to offer; some decent action moments, but the story is too far-fetched to hold your attention
Rorouni Kenshin (2012, Keishi Otomo)
The story is set shortly after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunat, which marks the end of the Japanese feudal era. A samurai known as Battosai becomes a wanderer who uses a reverse blade sword (the sharp edge pointing at himself) because he no longer wants to kill. Based on a manga, this is a remarkably thoughtful period action movie, even though some of the dialogue is rather corny. Battosai (now using the name Kenshin) is a man of honor, but he does not glorify the old days and has high hopes for the future of his country; at the same time it is shown that the transition from the feudal era to modernity is associated with social mayhem and exploitation. The choreography of the action scenes is brilliant, occasionally almost unbelievable.
Qui m’aime, me suive (2019, José Alcala)
A movie in a genre the French are very good at, la comédie de moeurs: Cathérine Frot is Simone; she is married to Gilbert (Daniel Auteuil), once a broad-minded hedonist, now an acerbic doomsayer, but has an affair with Gilbert’s lifelong best friend Etienne (Bernard Leqoq), a more gentle person, but also one who still seems to live in the past and can’t accept the fact that the world has moved on. The movie is fairly light-hearted, but some of the uncomfortable facts about French society shine through (luckily the script never becomes didactic or moralistic). The film wasn’t very successful at home and criticized for its lack of cinematographic audacity, but it’s a real joy to see great actors play realistic, believable characters and to watch a movie that does not rely on show-off camerawork and a pumped-up score
Halloween H20 (1998, Steve Miner)
With a reboot movie (Halloween - 2018, David Gordon Green) available, I thought it was a good idea to revisit that other movie that brought the series back to its roots. In this particular case H20 is to be read as age 20, not as water: the film is set twenty years after the events of John Carpenter’s original and Jamie Lee Curtiss reprises her role as Laurie, Michael Meyers’ sister. Nothing new under the sun, or moon, but the movie is well-made, taking its time to build up tension and saving the gore for the final half hour or so. The script was co-written by Kevin Williamson (the author of Scream) who preferred a more tongue-in-cheek approach, but most of his ideas were rejected and his material was rewritten. However I’m quite sure that the - excellent - finale was his idea: keep in mind that the original title of the movie was: The Revenge of Laurie Strode
What Happened to Monday (2017, Tommy Wirkola)
One more dystopian movie, did we really need that? Well, this one is exciting and apart from the intriguing title, it also has an intriguing premise: in the not so distant future, in a society in which overpopulation has resulted in a one-child policy, seven identical sisters are born. Their grandfather develops a plan to give the seven a shared life: he names them after the days of the week and they are allowed to leave the house on their own day of the week: Monday on monday, Tuesday on tuesday, etc. But then Monday doesn’t return on the end of her day …
The intriguing aspects are nearly ruined by action sequences that - within the serious context - stretch credibility to an almost preposterous degree; we’re supposed to believe that the sisters can fight off professional murder squads (hired by the government to eliminate them) only using houshold items. But … if you can accept this nonsense and a few other glitches, the films works pretty well as a thriller, with several unexpected twists and turns and seven terrific performances by Noomi Rapace as the seven sisters of the week.
Yes, we did.
This one was better than expected
Never heard of it till today. Sounds promising. Also Rurouni Kenshin, years ago I saw anime, which was pretty good too.
Few months ago I started to watch this (not sure why, probably Jamie Lee was the reason, I like her), but turned it off after about 15 minutes.
It’s rather slow, not much happening in the first half, but I thought that was a good thing. It’s not a great movie of course, and no match for the original. have you seen the new movie?
Watched the Shaw Brothers King Kong/Tarzan hybrid mash up The Mighty Peking Man earlier today. Started off good, but got really strange and generic afterwards. Xfinity 1 On Demand had a free preview week of this new Asian Cinema channel, so it was worth a look for free.
** 1/2 out of *****