• Happening

    Happening

    ★★★★½

    Empathizing. Unyielding. Terrifying. 

    Given no context, someone could mistake this for half-baked sci-fi dystopia a la The Handsmaid’s Tale (the TV show version). People refuse to even bring up the “A” word as if they’re in fear of being swept away by the secret police. But the 1960s setting slowly reveals itself and reminds you this was REAL.

    During the film, we never leave our heroine. We’re with her the entire runtime as the camera follows her in close up.…

  • The Raid 2

    The Raid 2

    ★★★

    Needs more baseball bat guy…

    The first film of these hyper violent action movies is a master class in how to direct a fight scene: precise choreography combined with deliberate camera work— no hamfisted Frankensteins of a bunch of different shaky cam angles incoherently edited together. It was a simple premise and it worked well. Evans uses the first as a mere prologue and made an overlong crime epic out of it.

    I can see the draw to expand upon…

  • Maborosi

    Maborosi

    ★★★★½

    Absolutely beautiful…

    There’s something about a rocky, cold seaside and overcoming grief and depression that is so elemental. It would be cliche if it didn’t feel so authentic. There was a time when I thought I failed in all my post college goals, living with my parents, without any job or direction… I went up to a small town on the North Oregon coast where my parents had a place. It was windy, cozy, typically overcast. I thought “this is…

  • Red Beard

    Red Beard

    ★★★★

    Unblinkingly acknowledging the destitute and the horrific things underlying social turmoil is the only way make progress, even if that progress seems slight or even nonexistent.

    This can be seen as a companion to Kurosawa’s existential Ikiru but it’s different— more humanistic than any of his other films combined. He goes even further into realm social melodrama here, using a politically charged period medical drama that seems akin to The Knick (one of the most underrated shows ever) to show…

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    ★★★

    “America, are you all right?”
    Is it just me or was there some meta social commentary about how America is crumbling with the weight of past generation’s American Dream not being able to support it self in today’s world. Our expectations are too high. We can’t have the perfect lives with perfect kids AND get perfect superhero movies…. The world doesn’t work like that anymore! (This rant is kinda crazy isn’t it?) 

    It’s getting really hard to evaluate the MCU…

  • For Love of the Game

    For Love of the Game

    ★½

    I remember watching a snippet of this in some boring gym daycare while throwing a wiffle  ball at nothing pretending to actually be good at baseball (I was very bad at little league). Looking back on that, it’s absurd that it was.

    I like baseball. I like baseball movies. I like Kevin Costner baseball movies and I LOVE Sam Raimi movies. But this film is SOOOOO BORING. Baseball movies are supposed sentimental and corny so that’s totally expected. This isn’t…

  • The Tribe

    The Tribe

    ★★★

    Ukraine is in the midst of chaos, always viewed as the inferior by their bigger neighbors to the east, now being attacked openly by them. But even within these countries plagued by totalitarian rule from the outside, codes of corruption bubble up from the inside. When a group is picked on enough, they cling to any order they can grasp, corrupt or not. Italian Mobsters came from disenfranchised immigrants. It’s just one example of a long line outcasts ganging up…

  • Florida Man

    Florida Man

    Making a movie is HARD. For most movies this is a pretty dumb defense. Many are made with millions of dollars with a crew full of lightning guys, ADs, production managers, sound designers, crafty… all slotted into the well oiled Hollywood machine going off a tried and true template of mediocrity. So let me revise: Making a completely personal and economically INDEPENDENT movie is HARD.

    This film has some low budget foibles like occasionally crappy sound design and drab lighting…

  • Blade of the Immortal

    Blade of the Immortal

    ★★★

    I may not have out right loved this movie but any film where a guy falls down a waterfall onto some rocks and suddenly explodes is fun one in my book.

    This takes the formula of old samurai revenge serials like Lone Wolf and Cub, it too an adaptation of an manga serial, stuffs it all into one film. The result gets highlights the best and worst of those serials. The best being it’s fun as hell watching these crazy…

  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil

    The World, the Flesh and the Devil

    ★★★½

    You know what? This Harry Belafonte is really charismatic!

    As the the main lead who spends most of this film in isolation, Belafonte, who strikes the right balance of sing song charm and socially frustrated, carries this idea now popularized by things like Omega Man or The Last Man on Earth TV show. It runs through the normal isolation and social distress the empty world would have on an individual, but it does it with such scale and emotional particularity…

  • The Horn Blows at Midnight

    The Horn Blows at Midnight

    ★★½

    Pretty meaningless, occasionally humorous, and very plotty.

    This would be nothing more than a half-baked tv special if it wasn’t for two things: one is that the plot is genuinely weird, almost like a season of Simon Rich’s Miracle Workers into a 80 minute feature. The other is Raoul Walsh bringing some visual explosiveness to this mess. I’ve only seen a couple of his films but he seems like a studio guy that can bring some personality to some otherwise…

  • Early Spring

    Early Spring

    ★★★★

    Happy Early Spring! 

    Of course, Ozu’s season named films have less to do with the temperature than the time in people’s lives they are about. This is a curious one as these characters are whistfully looking back at their early spring and a loss of their innocence. Like Il Posto and The Apartment, this is about the bland drudgery of white collar existence in a post war world. Everything is empty and the only happiness found is not in spousal…