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  • Stay Cool 2009

    ★½ Watched 15 Dec, 2014

    Cleaning out the DVR... The 1.5 stars are for Winona alone, simply because it's just good to see her onscreen again. Everything else about this disaster is limp and completely terrible.

    Watch the rather fine tv-series October Road instead if you're in the mood for a "writer who wrote a semi-biographical novel about his high school experience, returns home and faces his high school friends"-story.

  • The Boy and the World 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 15 Dec, 2014

    Minimalist, whimsical, and initially quite delightful, Brazilian animated feature The Boy and the World begins to run out of steam about halfway, when it becomes clear that there’s not a whole lot of substance to uncover beneath the stylized exterior. Finally it begins to grate, as surface and meager plot give way to hamfisted, simplistic soapboxing about the ills of industrialization.

    The story, such as it is, deals with a young boy, captivated by the natural wonders of his countryside…

  • The Snow White Murder Case 2014

    ★★★ Watched 11 Dec, 2014

    Opening with the violent death – stabbed and burned! – of a young woman, The Snow White Murder Case gets straight to the point. A modern murder mystery with a slight Rashomon bent to it, the movie at first follows a contracted tv news producer, Yuji Akahoshi (Gō Ayano).

    Akahoshi learns of the murder from an old college friend, and sensing an opportunity to breathe some life into his middling tv career, begins his own investigation, interviewing the victim’s former…

  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014

    ★★½ Watched 09 Dec, 2014 4

    And finally it’s over. I find it profoundly ironic that Jackson and his cohorts found it necessary to artificially inflate Tolkien’s slim novel into three oversized movie chapters, in order to line their pockets with more ticket money, and deliver the following message:

    ”Greed is bad, m’kaaaaaaaay?”

    When someone finally sits down to pare Jackson’s sprawling mess down into a single, streamlined fan edit of a movie somewhere down the line, little of this final chapter will have to be…

  • Over the Garden Wall 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 10 Dec, 2014 4

    The short version:
    Over the Garden Wall is incredible, just go see it NOW!

    The long version:
    Going out on a limb and trying something different, Cartoon Network has struck an incredibly rich ore of animated gold with Over the Garden Wall. A self-contained tale portioned out over ten 10-minute long chapters, the mini-series by Adventure Time alumni Patrick McHale tells the story of brothers Wirt and Greg.

    In the show’s opening episode the two of them find themselves lost…

  • Wolf Creek 2 2013

    ★★½ Watched 08 Dec, 2014

    The original Wolf Creek was a superb calling card for first time director Greg McLean back in 2005. A tense, taught, and – when it needed to be – nasty horror thriller that relied more on building a pervasive mood of pure dread than cheap scares and gore. John Jarratt created a truly terrifying villain in the outback psychopath Mick Taylor, hellbent on cleansing Australia of foreign backpacker tourists trespassing in “his country”, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that…

  • The Rover 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 06 Dec, 2014

    Mad Max for the black turtleneck cineaste crowd. Stellar!

  • The Light Shines Only There 2014

    ★★½ Watched 05 Dec, 2014

    The sunny poster is a lie. Anyone going to Japan’s contender for the 2014 foreign language Oscar expecting something of a natsukashii nature is in for a rude awakening.

    Relentlessly bleak and mired in hopelessness, The Light Shines Only There focuses on a small group of people caught in their self-perpetuating webs of misery. The lead character is Tatsuo, an aimless drifter who whiles his days away in the northern city of Hakodate, playing pachinko and drinking beer. Increasing glimpses…

  • Ned Rifle 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 27 Nov, 2014

    Hal Hartley, indie darling of the ‘90s, sort of lost his mojo with the turn of the century, and really struggled for the better part of a decade to regain it. No Such Thing and The Girl from Monday – especially the former – lacked everything that made Hartley’s movies so special, and only with his 2006 followup to Henry Fool, Fay Grim, did he sort of rekindle his old magic. But not completely. Fay Grim, a response of sorts…

  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 2014

    ★½ Watched 23 Nov, 2014

    Toontown, leached of color and fun.

  • The Yellow Handkerchief 1978

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Nov, 2014

    I had put off watching this for far too long, but with the news of Ken Takakura's passing, it seemed like an appropriate time to see it. Now, of course, I'm beating myself up over not watching it earlier, because a fine picture it is! I've yet to be disappointed a Yōji Yamada movie, so I should have expected it, but better late than never, at least!

    The first third is a bit rough, but then, as we get to…

  • Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss 1970

    ★★★ Watched 16 Nov, 2014

    For the longest time, only the third movie in Nikkatsu’s Stray Cat Rock series was available outside of Japan, but a nice boxed set of them all from the UK’s Arrow Video has recently righted that wrong. And just one movie in (the third having been seen previously), it’s clear that this is not so much a series of sequels, as a series of unrelated, repeated takes on the same formula.

    Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe, former assistant to legendary director…