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  • The Platform

    The Platform

    ★★★★½

    A stark prison descending floor by floor, two prisoners per level, the titular platform carrying an overflowing feast ever downwards. Those at the top can gorge, leaving scraps and bare dishes for those below. After a month, prisoners awaken on a new level; the lucky ones find themselves near the top or at the middle. Others are doomed in the depths. 

    The Platform will undoubtedly bring to mind films like Cube and Snowpiercer through its portrayal of a bluntly-allegorical dystopian…

  • Darkman

    Darkman

    ★★★★

    The Count of Monte Cristo by way of Universal Monsters and The Shadow, Darkman oozes passion. Any low-budget seam is immediately patched by this film’s visual flair and mad-scientist concoction of genres. Few movies feel so much like a director’s pure unadulterated passions brought to screen. Raimi meshes together a superhero film, revenge thriller, crime movie, pulp serial vigilante, and the gothic horror tragedies of classic Universal monsters. Somehow Darkman doesn’t just succeed, but ends up feeling as authentic, energetic,…

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  • King of the Ants

    King of the Ants

    ★★★

    I thought Stuck was an unorthodox Stuart Gordon movie? This was even more jarring.

    Watching King of the Ants, I was fascinated by the sheer mean-spirited brutality on display, repelled by the cheap style and utterly bland nothingness of the protagonist. Don’t be fooled by the numbingly generic premise or the wet blanket of a lead. This movie goes down some grotesquely violent paths, the kind of unflinching vengeful nastiness you’d expect from some South Korean hidden gem rather than a Gordon-Asylum film.

  • The Pool

    The Pool

    ★★

    The premise and sheer mountain of bad luck that unfolds is so ridiculous that I wanted to like this, but the protagonist is so infuriatingly stupid that The Pool’s b-movie suspense fell off a cliff into ceaseless annoyance. I can’t recall the last time I’ve uttered “you idiot” so much during a movie.

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  • The Passion of Joan of Arc

    The Passion of Joan of Arc

    ★★★★★

    Haunting and harrowing from the first frames, The Passion of Joan of Arc is a staggering masterpiece that still evokes anger, despair, and goosebumps after nearly a century.

    Like Come & See 57 years later, Passion is a story told through the pain and crushing burden deeply carved into brows; and like that film, there is no escape from Maria Falconetti’s sorrow-etched face, as evocative close-ups allow her emotions to resound loudly despite the silence. Her fear and righteousness, meticulously framed…

  • Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion

    Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion

    ★★★★

    To be deceived is a woman’s crime

    Some performers don’t get to make their mark with one iconic unforgettable character, and Meiko Kaji has two. With a death glare for the ages and a stoic ruthlessness that might even eclipse Lady Snowblood, Kaji is mesmerizing as titular prisoner #701 Matsu. And Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion is equally mesmerizing in its blend of traditional exploitation and stylistic pop-pulp flair. 

    This could have been bleak depressing rape-revenge exploitation like Thriller: A Cruel…