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  • Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

    Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films 2014

    ★★★ Watched 24 Mar, 2015

    While still entertaining, it's hard not to feel that it's diminishing returns for filmmaker Mark Hartley and his series of exploitation cinema documentaries. The full throttle pace established with the first, and best, Not Quite Hollywood, has remained the blueprint for his subsequent movies - Machete Maidens Unleashed, and this most recent one, Electric Boogaloo.

    Unfortunately, while this restless pace keeps the movies from ever hitting lulls in their narratives, it also encourages superficiality. The movies are mostly enthusiastic montages…

  • Bushido

    Bushido 2013

    ★★★ Watched 21 Mar, 2015

    Written and directed by first time filmmaker Yasuo Mikami, Bushido is a perfectly fine, if wholly unremarkable piece of chanbara cinema. Set in the relatively peaceful – and for samurai, frustratingly boring – period of Yoshimune Tokugawa’s reign, the movie tells a typical story of upper echelon scheming and the sacrifice of lower ranked retainers for “the greater good.” It’s a story we’ve roughly seen before (and, indeed, Mikami himself made an earlier, 16mm blueprint for this movie in 1982),…

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  • From Up on Poppy Hill

    From Up on Poppy Hill 2011

    ★★★★ Rewatched 13 May, 2012 9

    The world was very unkind to Goro Miyazaki when he took the unexpected leap from landscape architect and museum manager to director in 2006. Tales from Earthsea had its fair share of weaknesses and outright faults, but the yardstick by which the younger Miyazaki was measured and found lacking was downright unfair and cruel. The recent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi contains a musing from a food critic that's strikingly relevant: 86 year old Jiro is still in charge of…

  • The Hunger Games

    The Hunger Games 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Mar, 2012 2

    Essentially Battle Royale for the Twilight crowd, The Hunger Games makes the leap from the pages to the big screen with the majority of the details intact. Sticking so closely to the source material means that the movie also shares the novel's strengths and weaknesses.

    First and foremost, Katniss remains an interesting, reluctant rebel character (Jennifer Lawrence, excellent), while the rest of the cast of characters veer more towards simple archetypes, sometimes wrapped in colorful costumes, sometimes not. The dystopic…