• Double Suicide of Sonezaki

    Double Suicide of Sonezaki


    I wasn't particularly impressed with this film, one of Yasuzô Masumura's final movies, even though I really enjoy some of his New Wave stuff. This is a faithful adaptation of one of playwright Monzaemon Chikamatsu's most famous plays, apparently based on a real-life double suicide at Sonezaki in 1703. This is a classical tale of idealized lovers standing up to social injustice through death, which does seem close to Masumura's own interests (his works often criticized various aspects of Japanese…

  • The Ballad of Narayama

    The Ballad of Narayama


    This absolutely devastating work by Keisuke Kinoshita is for sure one of the most pessimistic and depressing movies I've seen so far, and one of the more elegant and stylistically self-assured films from the "Golden Era" of Japanese cinema. Some notes:

    1) the story can be read as a pseudo-Buddhist parable, portraying life as non-stop hardship, poverty, fear and hunger, all the while the creepy mountain of death looms in the background. On occasion, the villagers sing, dance and enjoy…

  • No More Easy Life

    No More Easy Life


    This wonderful, unearthed slice-of-life gem from the late seventies is a movie so confident in the strength of its story, script and actors that it refreshingly refuses to use any cinematic smoke mirrors, stylistic ploys and narrative tricks to feign importance. There are no overbearing stylistic flourishes, no weepy orchestral strings, no pointless subplots, no edgy social commentary, political opinions or philosophical ramblings, no throwbacks to other movies, no larger than life imagery, no mannered performances, no quirky dialogues and…

  • Day-Dream



    Japanese surrealistic dental pornographic horror noir art-film that's also some kind of an allegory about alienation and social problems. Based on the story by Nobel Prize nominee Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (who did not seem to like this movie although its intro claims otherwise), directed by Tetsuji Takechi, an experienced director of Kabuki plays.

    The film was attacked both by the Japanese Dental Association (since it features a dentist who vampirically sucks the blood out of a patient's boob and performs some…

  • Avetik



    Astonishing. This is like if someone put the works of Terayama, Tarkovsky, Jodorowsky, Parajanov and Dali into a blender and the result was this fascinating surrealist overkill. So while the visual style isn't as original as it seems at first, this is so well executed and Don Askarian's imagery is so strong that the film nevertheless comes across as fresh, personal and a joy to watch.

    In tableaux form, Askarian engages with languid memories of childhood and youth, as well…

  • A Woman's Case

    A Woman's Case


    A Woman's Case, the only feature film directed by Jacques Katmor, a prominent member of the Tel Aviv artist collective Third Eye Group, is an avant-garde condemnation of the dehumanizing side effects of modern life.

    It's a simple story of a woman hooking up with an advertising executive and being found dead, the underlying theme of which seems to be a portrait of the times when materialism started to take off in popular culture and people, specifically models, being treated…

  • Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS

    Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS


    It's really fascinating and a bit funny that there were not one, but two chapters in history where trashy, exploitative media about sexy female Nazi officers raping their prisoners became highly popular. First, there were the so-called Stalag novels, pornographic dime fiction whose fame exploded during the Eichmann Trial - in Israel, no less! It seems that the teenage children of Holocaust survivors, intrigued by the sinister experiences of their parents and fueled by their budding sexuality, kept consuming these…

  • Eros + Massacre

    Eros + Massacre


    A few days ago, I watched my favorite movie, Yoshishige "Kijū" Yoshida's Eros + Massacre for the sixth time. When it was over, I felt the urge to watch it once more; there's just something really addictive about it. This review is an attempt to try to put into words what it is about E+M that I find so compelling, why it changed the way I look at cinema, why it still feels so original 48 years after its release…

  • Hard Boiled

    Hard Boiled


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    The most Darwinistic action movie I've ever seen. Seriously, the entire thing plays out like a super-stylized nature documentary set in the urban jungle of Hong Kong.

    The males are portrayed as disposable goods, bullet fodder in a highly competitive environment where the smallest mistake means death. The henchmen are numerous and most of them get eliminated five seconds after they appear on the screen. At one point, several hospital patients are massacred as well, since there's no room for…

  • L'Eclisse



    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse (aka The Eclipse) is one of the most enchanting movies I know of. It is neither a simple romantic film nor a dry treatise about loneliness and alienation. It's more of a gut-wrenching apocalypse movie than anything else.

    Story-wise, the closest film to L'Eclisse would be, I kid you not, John Carpenter's They Live (1986). In both films, the world is seamlessly overtaken by a mysterious alien force and only the protagonist can see through the deception.…

  • Ecstasy of the Angels

    Ecstasy of the Angels


    God, this movie is so amazing! I love it. A typically sordid Wakamatsu tale about crumbling revolutionary movements, but with lots of disturbing moments, cool stylistic touches and some humor. Unusually lengthy for his standards, but the content justifies it. Two amazingly shot and performed musical numbers, a passionately told story, oscillation between color and B&W (a Wakamatsu trademark, always odd but always fascinating), and a wonderfully frenetic climax set to Yosuke Yamashita Trio's equally chaotic jazz improvisations.

  • The Exorcist

    The Exorcist


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    While I understand how shocking this might've been for audiences in 1973, I was severely disappointed by The Exorcist. It came off to me as a clunky, unfocused and somewhat comical mess. I'll just describe in brief how I would improve it:

    1) Either cut the opening Iraq sequence out or make it tie into the plot. It seemed to attempt to establish stuff (the Pazuzu figurine, for example) that the film later abandons. I like the mood of the…