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matt has written 698 reviews for films during 2013.

  • Commando Leopard

    Commando Leopard

    ★★★½

    rare Euro-War jam not about soldiers or mercenaries but ostensible freedom fighters. leave it to a thoroughly cynical Margheriti, though, to make his heroes ultra-leftist paramilitaries waging asymmetrical warfare against Klaus Kinski and a likely CIA-backed narcoregime. the "good guys" plan to shoot down a passenger plane in one of the most spectacular miniature sequences i've ever seen.

  • Batman Returns

    Batman Returns

    ★★★★

    three cosplaying homicidal psychotics driven insane by a pulpy combination of sexual desire, emotional trauma, and socioeconomic anxiety wage open, armed conflict in a major metropolitan area. this was bankrolled by a major studio and released to an eager public.

  • Code Name: Wild Geese

    Code Name: Wild Geese

    ★★★

    you get Borgnine, Van Cleef and Klaus Kinski. unusually technically proficient for Margheriti men-on-a-mission movie. nothing particularly exciting, but at least it actually looks like it cost a chunk, and there's a spectacular climactic sequence involving Kinski getting chased by Lewis Collins in a helicopter with a flamethrower that features some superb forced-perspective miniature work.

  • Black Snake Moan

    Black Snake Moan

    ★★★★½

    Russ Meyer meets Jonathan Demme.

  • The Shogunate's Harem

    The Shogunate's Harem

    ★★★★

    a royal doctor must have sex with all of a recently deceased Shogun's former concubines, searching for the one that "emits a musky scent in ecstasy" because she might be pregnant and the child must be aborted for political purposes. the pinku setup is an excuse for a detailed melodrama about the life and strictly organized rituals of these harem women who were viewed as nothing but property. gauzy soft focus softcore scenes eventually give way to more stylized sequences that resemble nothing so much as the video for The Vapors' "Turning Japanese". pretty light on the sleaze for Suzuki but still plenty angry.

  • The Sum of All Fears

    The Sum of All Fears

    ★★★½

    kind of alone as both a studio franchise thriller and a post-9/11 disaster movie (this was released only 9 months later) in that it forgoes conventional action movie car-chase/gunfight theatrics in favor of a lot of phone calls, with all parties involved trying to operate with the most reliable data they can obtain. cooler heads prevailing didn't stay fashionable as American heroism for very long but that doesn't prevent this from remaining weirdly timely today.

  • Bloodmoon

    Bloodmoon

    ★★★

    "We're walking into the valley of the shadow of death here. We're not gonna be able to protect you."

    outstanding (if somewhat haltingly choreographed) fight sequences awkwardly grafted onto a hilariously tin-eared serial killer/buddy cop movie. stars a kickboxing champion as one of those "Mindhunters" you keep hearing about on the TV, and the bad guy (played by Darren Shahlavi, last seen as the bad guy in THE MARINE 3) is a masked, caped maniac methodically dispatching champion fighters who…

  • My Lucky Stars

    My Lucky Stars

    ★★★

    i'm equally sympathetic to those who say a film like this would be better if they stuck to the fighting and ditched all the lame jokes and people who claim HK comedy requires a subtle shift in cultural perspective. imagine a massively popular western film franchise featuring a bunch of relatively unattractive men doing stuff like wearing matching costumes, devising scheme after scheme to catch a glimpse of a pretty lady's boobs, singing silly songs, scrambling to get to the…

  • Dixie Dynamite

    Dixie Dynamite

    ★★★½

    female-centric Robin Hood hicksplo knockoff, about a couple of gals getting revenge on the jerkoff banker and the corrupt cops that killed their bootlegging pappy by redistributing a little wealth. surprisingly tame from the great Lee Frost, occasional porn director and maker of such delights as BLACK GESTAPO and LOVE CAMP 7. but what it lacks in sleaze it makes up for in a lot of dirt-bikin', moonshinin', and of course dynamitin'. never discount the potential of an appearance by a thoroughly soused Warren Oates to elevate a picture to watchability and beyond.

  • Black Book

    Black Book

    ★★★★

    hopelessness merely persists, but survival is neverending. either way they cost a lot.

  • Kwaidan

    Kwaidan

    ★★★★★

    the past is jealous.

  • Wild Geese II

    Wild Geese II

    ★★★½

    much closer to something like Frederick Forsyth, occasionally resembling a proto-RONIN with its cloudy motivations and cynical cold war pragmatism, than the hard-drinking honourable schoolboy romp it's a sequel to (and a lot less racist on top of that). what's more you get an honest-to-goodness director on this with Peter Hunt, in love as usual with jagged cuts and quick, nasty violence. fantastic ambivalent ending too, with an extremely frail Olivier as a freshly-sprung-from-Spandau Rudolph Hess, the actor's poor health (and obivous cue-card reading) actually compounding the downbeat "was this all worth it?" vibe.