• South to the Horizon

    South to the Horizon

    Part revenge film / part tropical hangout. Izumi's direction here is distinct in that he is (to my knowledge) not a particularly dark, tonally, filmmaker. His films often carry themselves with a lightness and buoyancy not typical of the genres and/or narratives he works inside - resulting in films that attempt to balance full-on violence and destruction with long stretches of calmness and serenity. For my money, this has resulted in several films that lack a kind of narrative dynamism.…

  • Zatoichi: The Last

    Zatoichi: The Last

    Still attempting to get a grasp on what kind of a filmmaker Sakamoto is, the films I've seen from him up to this point (including this one) attempt to strike some balance between populace entertainment and more oblique nods to Japan's cinematic past. This film is probably the clearest example of the latter. For better or worse, Sakamoto attempts to wrangle a the variety of tones that the previous Zatoichi films of the past all explored throughout the original series'…

  • Walking My Life

    Walking My Life

    Plays most of the expected notes in a cancer drama in the gentle and softly melancholic way one can expect from Japanese cinema at this point. Enlivened only through Yakusho's performance and given unanticipated relevance through Isaka's framing of about half of this as a man duty-bound not just to his family, but to his work. His commitment towards the company he works for feels current and timely, though the fact that he DOESN'T need to actually work feels too…

  • Kamikaze, the Adventurer

    Kamikaze, the Adventurer

    To a certain extent, one of my favorite kind of movies. Rambling and never really going much of anywhere though told with an air of fatalism. A work which is so aggressively "minor" it allows for things like plot or narrative to fade into the background in favor of character and mood. Takamori juggles such a variety of tones in this, from light comedy to tense shootouts all the while never abandoning any of his central trio or altering the…

  • Cherry

    Cherry

    By no means an original opinion at this point but yeah, not good. A film where we are asked to have empathy and feel sympathy for these characters where the directors apparently have none. Worthless exhibition by two narcissists attempting to prove their worth - probably more to themselves than to anyone else. Can't say I'm into filmmakers exploiting their own characters plight and poverty for the sake of an easy joke.

  • The Little Things

    The Little Things

    It's a real indictment of Hollywood that Rami Malek has a career.

  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday

    The United States vs. Billie Holiday

    In some ways, it's more typical and ordinary in its narrative structure than Lee Daniels' The Butler was, though it's preening towards neo-liberal political structures has been scrubbed in favor of a more direct and obvious confrontational style. It's schizophrenic, in basically every regard aside from Day's performance, yet that hardly seems to matter much to Daniels' here, as his interest seems less in portraying Holiday as "person" and more in using her as a vehicle for showcasing how the…

  • Dissolve

    Dissolve

    Keeping true to the sensibilities that at one point brought him to notoriety and success - except here it's tired and lazy and we've seen Kim pull this same trick at least 3 times before, and the trick was barely worth buying into the first time around. Shit guy, shame cause he did have talent, he just wasted it all by doubling-down on his most creatively bankrupt ideas and narratives (to say nothing about how shitty he was as a…

  • Brute Force

    Brute Force

    "That's it Munsey. That's it. Not cleverness, not imagination, just force. Brute force. Congratulations, force does make leaders... but you forget one thing, it also destroys them."

  • Down to the Bone

    Down to the Bone

    Definitely the work of an artist who knows what she wants to say but isn't quite sure how to present it yet. The drug narrative is about what one would expect, though the fact that Granik and Farmiga never play this in the expected beats per se, often sidestepping the more miserablist tendencies films of this sort typically fall into. The way she cuts around a lot of the highs and lows of addition is one of the more admirable…

  • Actress

    Actress

    To a certain extent I agree with the critique that as a "biopic" of Kinuyo Tanaka, this falls well short of really capturing her or her life. But I also don't think that's really the point, or at least was Ichikawa's intention while making this. It may have been Kaneto Shindō's intent (though if it was he did a far better job in his own documentary on Mizoguchi a decade earlier). I'm more likely to buy into this being his…

  • Zoom Up: Rape Site

    Zoom Up: Rape Site

    Have to say I'm fairly happy I saved this for near the end of my Kôyû Ohara watch list. He's finally met his match in terms of material here. All his brutality, gross sense of humor, and deeply misogynistic conception of sexuality manage to coalesce and cohere in the form of horror. No restraints preventing him from indulging in and inflicting his toxic worldview upon his audience. Just pure, unmitigated destruction.