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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),…

  • Lupin III

    Lupin III 2014

    ★½ Watched 20 Mar, 2015

    Things that are good about Lupin the 3rd:
    Meisa Kuroki as Fujiko Mine.
    Tomoyasu Hotei's theme tune, Trick Attack.

    Things that are bad about Lupin the 3rd:
    Everything else.

  • Southern Comfort

    Southern Comfort 1981

    ★★½ Watched 07 Mar, 2015 2

    Not the movie I was hoping it'd be, Southern Comfort may be read as a critique of American warmongering, but it fails as a thriller. The National Guard squad that accidentally riles up a bunch of murderous Cajuns is comprised largely of racist rednecks buffoons – purported protagonists it's next to impossible to root for. Consequently, most of the movie then just becomes a long and dull slog through the Louisiana swamps, while you wait for the Cajuns to whittle…

  • Karate Bullfighter

    Karate Bullfighter 1977

    ★★★ Watched 20 Feb, 2015

    In my youth I did karate for many years, and my school of choice (or chance, really) was Kyokushinkai. Its founder was Masutatsu Oyama, and the stories of him back then were many and reverential, to the point that separating fact from embellished legend was difficult. Nevertheless, Kyokushin became an undisputably successful style of karate the world over, attracting many famous practitioners. One of them was Sonny Chiba, and in the mid-70s, he starred in a trilogy of movies purporting…

  • Rise of the Legend

    Rise of the Legend 2014

    ★★½ Watched 18 Feb, 2015

    A rather astonishing number of movies have been made about Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hong over the decades, but the most popular incarnation probably remains Jet Li’s, in Tsui Hark’s Once Upon a Time in China movies. Balancing expertly on the edge between serious and humorous, the movies sported really excellent fights, and could always fall comfortably back on Li’s undisputable charm, should the stories ever threaten to flag a bit.

    But that was the early nineties. Now it’s…

  • Fist of the North Star

    Fist of the North Star 1986

    ★½ Rewatched 08 Feb, 2015 1

    Mullets and exploding heads. The post-apocalyptic gore fest Fist of the North Star struck me as a pretty crummy film twenty years ago, and I decided on a whim to find out whether time had improved it or not.

    It had not.

    The movie is still a dull and utterly generic genre exercise, peopled exclusively with grotesque male power fantasy caricatures, and festooned with ridiculously gory bells and whistles in an obvious and failed attempt at masquerading the mediocrity of…

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 07 Feb, 2015

    The Black Swan of jazz.

  • 21 Years: Richard Linklater

    21 Years: Richard Linklater 2014

    ★★★ Watched 06 Feb, 2015

    A shallow, superficial celebration of Richard Linklater – not a proper documentary - but an enjoyably good-natured and sweet celebration of the filmmaker, certainly. Some of the (famous) talking heads are more interesting than others – Matthew McConaughey and Ethan Hawke probably come out on top, especially McConaughey with his spot-on Linklater impressions.

    Strictly for fans only.

  • Wild Card

    Wild Card 2015

    ★★ Watched 05 Feb, 2015

    What I wanted was a movie with Jason Statham beating the crap out of everybody, but what I mostly got was a neo noir-wannabe with Jason Statham wasting his and my time at black jack tables. And there's nothing more boring on film than gambling.

    The few instances of The Stathe unleashing his stylishly choreographed fury on mob goons are pretty good, though. Even a spoon and a butter knife are terrifying implements of doom his hands.

    Aim higher next time though, Statham!

  • Blackhat

    Blackhat 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Feb, 2015

    After a few year's absence, director Michael Mann is finally back with another movie. A highly particular filmmaker, adept at weaving tense tales of moody moments and professionalism, he sort of began to lose his mojo with the advent of digital filmmaking. Collateral still retained enough of the old Mann magic to work just fine, but with the subsequent Miami Vice and Public Enemies, clarity and disciplined storytelling got sacrificed in favor of experimentation and deeply unsatisfying forays into "realism."…

  • Vice

    Vice 2015

    ½ Watched 31 Jan, 2015

    An artless, soulless, and terminally boring hodgepodge of elements ineptly ripped off from Blade Runner, Westworld and The Matrix. There's nothing new to enjoy, nothing of value to see here. Move along, move along!