• The Matrix Reloaded

    The Matrix Reloaded

    ★★★½

    There’s something uniquely invigorating about watching an action film so uncompromising in its vision, so vigorous in its energy, so ambitious with its ideas, throwing its concepts about in every direction, whether they be fully-formed, half-baked, integrated into the story or purposeless, justified by their function, or simply by their cool factor. Matrix Reloaded is a crazy fun mess, full of over-the-top action, bursting with kinetic energy. The fight scenes are clear and well-choreographed— a particular strength that is made…

  • The Matrix

    The Matrix

    ★★★

    The movie the matrix would have made about the matrix— so says Baudrillard, the philosopher whose work is referenced in the film, his most famous book Simulacra and Simulation appearing briefly in Neo’s hands, and the phrase “the desert of the real” spoken by Morpheus as he reveals the truth of their world. When interviewed by Le Nouvel Observateur, Baudrillard was asked about The Matrix, and in part of his response he says, “The actors are in the matrix, that…

  • Oasis

    Oasis

    ★★½

    I am conflicted about Oasis. It’s a brave, bold love story, one that takes aims at the societal mis-perceptions and judgements that force— or shove— some people into the margins of life. But it also has its own share of problems, as it is still subtly encased in the normative codes that it tries to critique.

    As Chung Wan Woo argues in “A Reading of Korean Film, Oasis (2002) from Disability Studies Perspectives,” Jong-du’s attempted rape of Gong-ju “ultimately embodies…

  • Last Night in Soho

    Last Night in Soho

    ★★

    The first time Ellie dreams her way back into an idealized version of 60s London, with the lights washing in radiant glow, the velvet steps beckoning her down into an enticing world of music, fashion, dance, and the wall of angled mirrors diffracting her self into someone entirely new… it is absolutely mesmerizing. Unfortunately, this mood vanishes abruptly as the story sours into some cliche concoction of crime/mystery/horror. The execution is far too vibrant and cartoonishly stylistic to in any…

  • The Eagle with Two Heads

    The Eagle with Two Heads

    ★★½

    The Eagle with Two Heads was first written as a play— also by Jean Cocteau— and performed in Paris in 1946, which was then swiftly followed by the preparations for a film adaptation. The story does not completely shed its theatrical foundations, as it is rather loquacious, and cluttered with lines too stilted to be poetic. It invokes Shakespeare and, indeed, tries to be a dramatic tragedy, but its central relationship is too rushed to be romantic.

    The gist of…

  • Peppermint Candy

    Peppermint Candy

    ★½

    “We only hate those we don’t understand,” writes William C. Martell in Writer’s Digest, saying that to pull of an unlikable character, a film should “show the audience the world as the character sees it, so when the character makes a decision or does something we may find repulsive, at least the audience understands the reasons behind the actions.” Or, in other words, information is crucial: “it’s all a matter of providing the audience with the information they need to…

  • Junun

    Junun

    ★★★

    Not a narrative, nor a documentary; just fifty-five minutes of musical vibes. A chill hangout session, if you will, making music and filming it. There are flashes of excursions: a plunge into the narrow streets and their riots of colour; soaring drone shots that pulls back to show the castle walls and the sea of city rooftops; a visit to the top where pigeons swarm between the crenellations and into the sky. Beyond this, however, there is little visual flair,…

  • The Last Duel

    The Last Duel

    ★★★★½

    Opens on the preparations for the duel, intercutting between the knights— the dull gleam of the metal, the dingy darkness of the tents, the solemn stony expressions. We are in the cold, colourless clutches of winter. A chill is felt in the air, in the bones. Tension ripples outward. The two combatants are bristling and taut, hulking in their plate armour, ready to collide.

    But before they do, we are first plunged into The Last Duel’s world of brutality, trauma,…

  • Green Fish

    Green Fish

    ★★½

    A world where meaning is mediated by motion and risk of collision. Romance is caught in the slipstream of a train; thrills are sought in chasing a police car; a brawl is fought in the underground parking lot. Trains and cars are oft-repeated imagery, emphasis for the modernizing city and parallels to the youth who, lacking the stability of anchor-points, are hurtled from one place to the next. Whether in the driver’s seat, or smashed against the windshield, these characters…

  • The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque

    The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque

    ★★★★

    Conversations traverse the age-old divides of country/city, industry/nature, tradition/modernity, and optimism/pessimism, but the film infuses these familiar fracture-lines with new life and energy. These dichotomies exist in the background without overtly drawing attention to themselves, and when they do explicitly leap into the dialogue, they do so in a way that is particular to the various speakers. There is indeed a fascinating variety of people shown throughout the runtime, as the roster of characters subtly expands to encompass a generous…

  • Basara: Princess Goh

    Basara: Princess Goh

    ★½

    Took about half a dozen sittings to get through this mess of a bland period piece. Clunky flow of scenes compounded with a curious lack of energy results in little more than a confusing narrative. Even Teshigahara’s signature prowess in strong imagery is almost completely absent here.

    Serving as a pseudo-sequel to Rikyu, the plot picks up after the events of the last film, but then merely languishes in their shadow. Rikyu was at least strung together by the conflicting…

  • Fear X

    Fear X

    ★★★★

    Harry Cain’s wife has been murdered. We join him after his initial wave of grief has cooled into something else, leaving him possessed by a stoic, isolating obsession. Cain (John Turturro) works as a security guard in a shopping mall, and each day he returns to his sparse apartment and feeds one of the surveillance tapes into the VCR. And he watches. The grainy bluish video speeds past, shoppers shuffling in distorted paths, details abstracted to the maddening boundary of…