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  • Zatôichi: The Blind Swordsman

    Zatôichi: The Blind Swordsman

    ★★★

    And here we are at the end. Ten years after Katsu left Ichi behind on tv, he returned one final time on the big screen, with a 26th movie called simply Zatoichi (although the international title has The Blind Swordsman tacked onto it).

    In a way, it's very much like an old band getting back together to play one last show again – it's a hit parade of favorite tropes: scamming a gambling den with his dice outside the cup…

  • Zatôichi in Desperation

    Zatôichi in Desperation

    ★★★

    The 24th movie, and the end is approaching – and boy does it feel like it! The aptly titled Zatoichi in Desperation, the first entry directed by Katsu himself, is easily the bleakest yet, even nihilistic, in a series not really known for that kind of darkness. The change is, in retrospect, clearly signposted already from start, however, with silent, white credits on a black background – a stark break with the previous, lighter travelogue montage title sequences.

    This time…

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  • From Up on Poppy Hill

    From Up on Poppy Hill

    ★★★★

    The world was very unkind to Goro Miyazaki when he took the unexpected leap from landscape architect and museum manager to director in 2006. Tales from Earthsea had its fair share of weaknesses and outright faults, but the yardstick by which the younger Miyazaki was measured and found lacking was downright unfair and cruel. The recent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi contains a musing from a food critic that's strikingly relevant: 86 year old Jiro is still in charge of…

  • The Hunger Games

    The Hunger Games

    ★★★★

    Essentially Battle Royale for the Twilight crowd, The Hunger Games makes the leap from the pages to the big screen with the majority of the details intact. Sticking so closely to the source material means that the movie also shares the novel's strengths and weaknesses.

    First and foremost, Katniss remains an interesting, reluctant rebel character (Jennifer Lawrence, excellent), while the rest of the cast of characters veer more towards simple archetypes, sometimes wrapped in colorful costumes, sometimes not. The dystopic…