Jesse_Wroe has written 26 reviews for films rated ★★★ during 2018.

  • Watch Me When I Kill

    Watch Me When I Kill

    ★★★

    When you watch all the gialli you can, a good one will be notable for its specific spins of general formulas. Sometimes that's the main selling point against other expectations, like style and atmosphere. This is the case of "Watch Me When I Kill," a giallo from the near-end of the genre's boom that boasts a good investigative plot and a surprising conclusion that's distinctive as a revelation of identity and murderous intent, though the film overall lacks the minimum…

  • French Dressing

    French Dressing

    ★★★

    Ken Russell fans looking for the early marks of his trademark transgressive storytelling might be disappointed in "French Dressing." If they can get into a mix of John Schlesinger and Buster Keaton, the movie will be a British New Wave delight with a sexually satirical charm. Despite its datedness, it's often funny and rompy.

    Italian genre nerds might like the sight of model-actress Marisa Mell, who appeared in Lucio Fulci's "One On Top of the Other" and Mario Bava's "Danger…

  • Eyeball

    Eyeball

    ★★★

    Umberto Lenzi might’ve been the goofiest of all the Italian B-movie mavericks. He dabbled in every genre cycle, reliably replicating the standard forms of narrative and style with some technical competence. Yet, as he went for excess and intensity he simultaneously induced laughter, likely unintentionally. This placed him at a lower quality level than directors like Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci, but it made him enjoyable nonetheless.

    “Eyeball” is no deviation. It’s a familiar type of giallo and by its…

  • The Yakuza

    The Yakuza

    ★★★

    Films that try to explain cultures like we're in class and not the cinema irritate me to no end. The result is determined by selection bias, where one slice of society gets preference over the others. It's like a good intended though invariably dumb representation project that hampers everything important to storytelling and cinematic drama. Regarding Hollywood's look on Japan, "The Yakuza" sits along Ridley Scott's "Black Rain" and Edward Zwick's "The Last Samurai" (though the Tom Cruise film manages…

  • Eaten Alive!

    Eaten Alive!

    ★★★

    It has been so long since I’ve watched an Italian cannibal film that I forgot how intense the experience can be. Umberto Lenzi’s “Eaten Alive!” is one of the most persistently extreme films of all time. It rarely lets up on the shlocky atrocities. And it seems to traffic every kind of offense: racism, sexism, rape, Western myth-making of the underdeveloped world, a contemporary tragedy exploited for a plot point, and the animal cruelty that makes this subgenre infamous and…

  • Sweet Bean

    Sweet Bean

    ★★★

    A bit too sweet and generic as a shmaltzy drama about suffering lonely souls, but the actors do well and the cinematography is very nice. Visually, it alternates from pretty and idle widescreen shots to free and flowing handheld work.

  • Gerorisuto

    Gerorisuto

    ★★★

    Japanese Isabelle Adjani loses it in Eighties Japan.

  • Light Sleeper

    Light Sleeper

    ★★★

    Paul Schrader probably wished he directed "Taxi Driver." We have another man in need of transcendence surrounded by literal and metaphorical trash in the streets of New York city, rephrased as a mild neo-noir heavy on romance.

    It doesn't really get anything wrong, the production is competent overall, not even boring—and yet I'm not the least bit enthused by it. It's the kind of film that's practically blameless, but not much else.

    It isn't a bad way to see good…

  • Death Warmed Up

    Death Warmed Up

    ★★★

    Killer super humans and young ass kickers getting payback at the evil scientists and their corporate island society? Count me in!

    This is a fun action-horror film, though uneven narrative wise. The first half could transition into the second much better.

    Camp and cheese are ramped up ("I will make you obsolete!"), notable OZ influences abound (motorcycle-riding killers, mutant mad men), and the colors and lighting become very exciting once the action kicks in during the finale. This may be on the lower end of distinctive B-cinema, but if you have a taste for it there's no good reason not to check it out.

  • The Sweet Body of Deborah

    The Sweet Body of Deborah

    ★★★

    An early giallo that resembles a Hitchcockian thriller more than the lurid murder-mysteries inspired by Argento and Bava. Like "Blood and Black Lace," it's distinctly Sixties, but without much bloodshed, sleaze, nor a wide variety of characters that represent some kind of normative transgression.

    There are shared tropes, like the sense of internationalism and travel, emphasized architecture, a past love haunting the present, threatening phone calls, mysterious diegetic music and sound of undetermined origin occurring at strange times, a conspiracy…

  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    ★★★

    Very commercial, very mainstream, has many of the problems of expensive popcorn entertainment, but it’s infused with a lot of interesting ideas and the narrative does just enough to add some dramatic weight to those ideas when it matters. So, the experience is a good one, if disjointed. I appreciate the world building of the Wakanda culture as well.

    The worst aspect of this kind of big budget movie is the shameful underuse—misuse, even—of the onscreen acting talent. All the…

  • Shocking Dark

    Shocking Dark

    ★★★

    "And just who are you?"
    "Samuel Fuller from the Tubular Corporation."

    Holy Shit. That killed me.

    If you like the idea of Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso ripping off "The Terminator" and the Alien franchise on a low budget, "Shocking Dark" delivers on exactly that. It's fun, ridiculous, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and odd. The acting is phenomenal. The schemes of the Tubular Corporation are fun to contemplate. Mattei's style—he had one—is apparent; it's fun to perceive it across his filmography of…