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…
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…
Mom? Mom? Mom! Mooom! Moooom! MOM! MOOOM! Look at me! Look at me! LOOK! LOOK!
Mooom! Mom! MOOM! MOOM! MOOOOM! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! MOM! MOOM! MOOOOOOOM!!
(etc., ad nauseam)
(I get what the movie was trying to do, but that nails-on-a-blackboard kid was just too damn much for me. Imagine a full 90 minutes of the little twerp in this ad, and you have an idea of what The Babadook is like.)
A scathing critique of organized religion, the general stupidity of man, and probably whatever else you can think of, The Fake is a bitter, deeply cynical, animated movie without a shred of hope in it. That makes for tough viewing, and not a particularly easy movie to recommend.
The movie’s “protagonist”, if we can call him that, is an ever furious, wife-beating, hard-drinking asshole who quite literally can’t open his mouth without insulting everyone around him repeatedly. A chance encounter…
The Crows Zero movies, adapted from a manga by prolific madman director Takashi Miike, take place in a severely fictional, radically heightened version of Japan. Set in Suzuran – a high school essentially the delinquent equivalent of a kaitenzushi – the story, such as it is, focuses entirely on the (male) students’ struggles to become king of the school. That means fighting, lots and lots of fighting, to the extent that’s ALL we ever see them do at Suzuran (okay,…
Tonally reminiscent of Ray Bradbury and Stanislav Lem, and made for Swedish television, Sommarens tolv månader (“The twelve months of summer”) is a grounded, understated scifi horror drama somewhat in the vein of Solaris.
Opening with a shot of an underdressed, panicked man escaping through a snow clad landscape, the movie then cuts to a close-up of the same man, spouting glossolalia, while surrounded by doctors or scientists – we don’t know. Something has scrambled the man’s brains, and his…
A nobody baseball team from the sticks, fighting their way toward excellence and a spot in the annual Koshien tournament, under the tutelage of a strict, new coach, is a classic Japanese sports story recipe. Popular mangaka Mitsuru Adachi has practically built his entire career on multiple variations on it, for instance! But if it’s an oft-used recipe, it is because it is a popular and effective one – the underdog story comes with viewer sympathy built in, and the…
Perhaps I'll get around to writing a proper review of it one day, but the gist of it would still be this: Interstellar is the first Nolan movie ever that I've genuinely liked. Coincidentally, it's also the first Nolan movie with warmth, a heart, and most importantly: characters I cared for.
It's also actually – improbably! – funny, with its blocky robot characters hanging around to lighten the mood with a quip or two whenever the movie threatened to become…
Where the Trail Ends is a freeride mountain bike movie much like any other extreme sports movie: largely interchangeable athletes hurtle down cliffsides in spectacular fashion, bump fists or exchange high fives at the bottom, and proclaim the latest survived line “sick” or “gnarly” or “awesome” or some other new adjective currently the flavor of the month in their wild world of sports. And with every cinematic iteration, the challenges become ever more extreme. This time, the freeriders have ostensibly…
Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani? is easily my favorite of Shinji Aoyama's movies. A delightfully understated post apocalyptic tale, set in a near future where a mysterious disease, called the Lemming Syndrome, causes people to commit suicide. But there is a cure – sort of. The healing power of power duo Stepin Fetchit's noise music can combat the virus. Much sonic warfare ensues.
Stepin Fetchit's two audio explorers are amusingly played by actor Tadanobu Asano, and non-actor Masaya Nakahara – both…
I went to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's science fiction drama Real with lowered expectations, having read negative reviews of it back when it first was released. Maybe the lowered expectations helped, or maybe it wasn't as bad as I was led to believe, but I quite enjoyed Real. It's not top level Kurosawa, but average Kurosawa is still a head or two above a lot of other directors!
The movie ostensibly tells the story of a young couple, caught in an unfortunate…