Chris has written 18 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Boiling Point

    Boiling Point

    ★★½

    While there's still things to enjoy in Takeshi Kitano's sophomore effort, it does ultimately feel too disorderly and unrefined to function as intended. The standout aspect is once again the odd mood he creates that moves seamlessly between relaxed and uncomfortable, the calm repetition found in activities like baseball frequently interrupted by the darkly humorous and violent altercations as listless youths mix with unmerciful gangsters. As well as adding visual appeal, the sunny cinematography and picturesque locations fittingly juxtapose the…

  • Bullet Ballet

    Bullet Ballet

    ★★½

    The uncompromisingly chaotic style that Shinya Tsukamoto is able to generate so effortlessly is always interesting, but it's not enough to bolster what is a rather bare story. It follows a disconsolate man who enters the criminal underworld to find a gun to kill himself after his girlfriend's suicide by the same method, using his impulsive activities to explore the appeal that disorder and violence have when life loses all meaning. Between the heated gang feuds and wild street brawls,…

  • Ride Your Wave

    Ride Your Wave

    ★★½

    Definitely the safest thing I've seen from Masaaki Yuasa, a tender-hearted romance between two kindred spirits that's sprinkled with sadness and fantastical elements. It loads up on sweetness and tones down the fervent unruliness that usually propels his works, a change in approach that would be fine if the story being told wasn't so predictable. The sentimental relationship that takes up the opening section is charming enough, while there's an early twist that sets up some really promising ideas on…

  • Erin Brockovich

    Erin Brockovich

    ★★½

    Still feel largely ambivalent towards this one. The rags to riches meets investigative drama meets legal battle storyline is sturdily crafted, yet it too often seems like Soderbergh is consciously restricting himself in order to show that the could make something more prestigious and worthy of awards buzz (funnily, he'd do a much better job on that front with Traffic later the very same year). It's too clean and too straightfoward, which means it never manages to escape the customarily…

  • New York, New York

    New York, New York

    ★★½

    It's hard to tell what Martin Scorsese's objective was when making this film (was the culprit for its failure over ambition or the cocaine addiction? I'm inclined to blame it on the latter). I'm not sure how he could think something as wildly grandiose and excessive as New York, New York would be an ideal next step after the intensely focused and vitriolic Taxi Driver. That's not to say that this is the disaster it's occasionally made out to be,…

  • The Keep

    The Keep

    ★★½

    By far the weirdest feature Michael Mann has ever made, this supernatural horror about a group of Nazi soldiers occupying a spooky hold that contains a demonic entity is totally mystifying at virtually every level. It's hard to follow or even comprehend what is actually happening since there isn't so much a plot as the mere suggestion of one, almost like reading a book which has every other page missing, with story beats and character motivations seemingly thrown together at…

  • Akira

    Akira

    ★★½

    Akira is as fiercely provocative as you'd expect for a film that intertwines themes of nuclear anxiety, political corruption, technological mania, militarisation and youth alienation concurrently throughout its dystopian narrative. The confrontational tone sets in right from the opening scene and rarely subsides, creating this angry energy as we're thrown headlong into a sprawling and nightmarish Neo-Tokyo filled with recalcitrant individuals fighting an overwhelming system; the strikingly detailed animation and vivid worldbuilding are very effective at making the cityscape feel…

  • Peterloo

    Peterloo

    ★★½

    I really appreciate Mike Leigh's passionate determination to capture every facet surrounding the 1819 Peterloo Massacre to convey the true injustice of the event and how he manages to provide a strikingly detailed recreation of the era where the restlessness is palpable, but I just don't think his approach is the ideal one.

    The structure is the biggest hinderance since the titular incident doesn't occur until literally the final section; so we're left with 2 whole hours of build-up, most…

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★½

    Starting to think that I'm just not a big fan of Orson Welles because I found this to be mildly diverting fluff in all honesty. Reading that his original vision was butchered in post-production comes as no surprise (it's basically his directorial trademark, sadly) as the entire narrative feels jumbled in a way that doesn't evoke the kind of mystery or tension that was probably intended. It's packed with the types of twists and double-crosses that you'd expect from the…

  • Train to Busan

    Train to Busan

    ★★½

    Given how well worn this type of material is, I feel that Train to Busan plays things a little too safe to leave much of an impression. I could forgive the lack of inventiveness on concepts we've seen many times before such as quick zombies or action on transportation if the characters were strong, but they're all so rigidly cliched that I struggled to get invested in their plight which deadened most of the emotional impact. It also doesn't help…

  • The Searchers

    The Searchers

    ★★½

    So I revisited this in the hope that it would finally click with me, but I still can't help but find it overly mediocre. It pains me because I can almost see why it's held in such high regard. There's no doubt that John Ford is a fantastic visual director because the manner in which he captures the vastness of the vistas is really striking and some of the shot compositions are truly remarkable (the ending in particular); the world…

  • 2046

    2046

    ★★½

    Although 2046 contains all of the visual splendour and poetic romanticism that you'd expect from a Wong Kar-wai film, I'm surprised by how hollow it left me feeling. It's effectively the spiritual companion to In the Mood for Love, presenting a sort of alternative look at Tony Leung's character as he slides into cynicism because he cannot accept anyone who doesn't live up to his idealised image of the love that he lost. It plays with the idea of living…