• Ghost in the Shell 2.0

    Ghost in the Shell 2.0

    The original Ghost in the Shell is, to me, as flawless as a movie can get, especially visually - the greyness is luxurious and the radioactive green text rain is iconic. Every shot of the movie lives in my dreams. I feel that I should be incensed by this George Lucas-ized version, and yet I don't hate it. The severe and shadowy animation of the original Ghost in the Shell acknowledges the film's ancestry in some of Oshii's earlier works,…

  • Black Rain

    Black Rain

    ★★★★

    Black Rain has so much the same vibe as Blade Runner that I continuously had to remind myself that this one isn't actually cyberpunk. Even though this movie has an explicit setting in contemporary Japan and there is nothing fantastical about its plot, the international cast and multilingual cross-talk impart a feeling of cultural ambiguity similar to what Blade Runner and its followers often envision, and as Black Rain watches its mismatched protagonists drift further away from their moorings and…

  • Lick the Star

    Lick the Star

    ★★★½

    Sofia Coppola's entire filmography in 14 minutes.

  • Half a Loaf of Kung Fu

    Half a Loaf of Kung Fu

    ★★★★

    This is the most shitposty Jackie Chan movie there is, for sure - there are all kinds of stupid gags encompassing Popeye, Jesus Christ Superstar, and the classic opening practice sequences favored by kung fu films of this era, and those are just the jokes that make sense. Half a Loaf of Kung Fu isn't particularly clever, lacking the finesse of Jackie's burgeoning style and any sort of intelligible progression; it's dumb as shit, totally built on exaggerated pandering to the camera. Somehow, it's hilarious, just an innocently good time that isn't hindered by how ridiculous it is, and for once the dub really helps.

  • Ivan's Childhood

    Ivan's Childhood

    ★★★★

    War proudly perpetuates a tradition of ruining countless childhoods, and the vision of Ivan's presented by Tarkovsky is a poetic horror that prefigures Come and See; both films follow orphaned boys who join the defense on the Eastern Front after witnessing the slaughter of their families, both resort to dreams and surrealist elements to communicate the incommunicable, and neither presents any illusion that hope can flourish amidst the chaos of war. But where Come and See tends to defy classification…

  • The Killers

    The Killers

    ★★★

    From my limited memory of Russian, it sounds like the script for this does not exactly mirror Hemingway's short story, although the English subtitles follow the original dialogue to the letter (possibly recognizing that it is simpler this way), and for all I know the script is an exact replication of the published Russian translation. Either way, the plot follows the story faithfully and the style is preserved, which is not necessarily a bad thing (minus the casual racism also…

  • Last Night in Soho

    Last Night in Soho

    ★★★

    Edgar Wright leaves no room to doubt his skill as a director - his transitions are impeccable as always, and few other filmmakers understand the heart and soul of a good needle-drop the way he does. A surreal horror film doesn't seem outside his grasp, even if I'd prefer that he use his powers for good (and he'll always be the director who brought us Tyres O'Flaherty, so he gets a pass from me even when he delivers some cock-eyed…

  • Pacific Rim

    Pacific Rim

    ★★★★

    Word-of-mouth advertising often paints Pacific Rim as a movie you'll love if you like (mecha) anime - or, conversely, a movie that should serve as your gateway to anime if you're keen on the idea of hand-wavey magic science putting teams of human pilots in impractically gigantic powered suits for the purpose of fighting titanic alien monsters. Making the anime connection is a good strategy, because Pacific Rim does have a lot in common with its 2D forerunners, even leaving…

  • K-ON! The Movie

    K-ON! The Movie

    ★★★★★

    I rewatched this in preparation for traveling to England. So far, I have not been forced to give a musical performance before being offered food, but we'll see how the Queen's hospitality holds out.

  • Ice Cream Man

    Ice Cream Man

    It is amazing and, in a way, truly beautiful that somebody was able to capture enough rare footage of Clint Howard in his natural habitat to edit into a feature-length film. I just wish he would stop putting his bare hands into the ice cream.

    Ice Cream Man is probably one of the 50 worst movies I have ever seen. If you can survive the opening scene without whiplash (or having to rewind to figure out what the hell you…

  • Firestarter

    Firestarter

    ★★

    I went to see this movie for two specific reasons. First, it was Tuesday, so I had to go to the movies, and I don't give a shit about wizards, whether they're horrible potters or strange doctors, so that limited my options. Second, the score was composed by John Carpenter, along with his son Cody and new-era Halloween collaborator Daniel Davies, and having recently finished Carpenter's directorial filmography, I was feeling the need for another direction to take.

    I've never…

  • Bubble

    Bubble

    ★★★★

    Bubble's narrative shortcomings tend to bring down what is otherwise a sufficiently mindless and spectacular action/romance - it relies too heavily on its explicit parallels to The Little Mermaid as a storytelling crutch, especially in scenes where Uta is simply repeating dialogue instead of any character voicing their own thoughts, and Bubble isn't quite as cute as it thinks it is when it plays coy about those similarities. Some of the world-building elements tend to get in the way of…