• Escape from Mogadishu

    Escape from Mogadishu

    ★★★★

    71/100

    Tense and thought-provoking, addressing the deep division between the two Koreas from a personal perspective without sliding into mawkishness.

  • Sinkhole

    Sinkhole

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    51/100

    Look, if you are going to make a comedic disaster movie, that's fine, that's great, and it often works! Good for you!

    ...but, just between you and me, it would be better NOT to randomly kill off a kid for no particular reason and then, in the middle of these comedic characters celebrating their escape in faintly comedic ways, have that kid's devastated mother break down for 5 seconds before immediately moving onto the comedic epilogue.

    If you did something like that, I would begin to wonder if you are not a little bit... heartless? Tone deaf? Definitely a little bit stupid.

  • Anatomy

    Anatomy

    18/100

    I’m not gonna lie to you - this is some shamelessly ridiculous shit.

  • No Time to Die

    No Time to Die

    ★★★

    53/100

    Like, would it have killed them to have thought up a compelling villain and then hired an actor who is not always "ACTING!" with a capital A-C-T-I-N-G to play the role (seriously, I almost burst out laughing during the tedious face off over the table where Malek says something along the lines of "I like to make it a little....(pause) (pause) (still pausing) (look at me act!)(look at this pause. Look at it!)...tidier".

    Malek may be my least favorite…

  • The Beast

    The Beast

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    51/100

    Haven't seen the original, so can't make any comparisons there, but this just layers incident upon incident until character motivations become murky and you just wait for the inevitable showdown to arrive so that you can retroactively figure out whether the filmmakers had any major guiding principle. No, as it turns out, unless you call yet again using the torture and murder of an underwritten supporting female character to try to establish character/motivation for the male lead a guiding principle. Still, it was nice to see Jeon Hye-Jin, possibly Korea's most underrated/underutilized actress, play against type here.

  • Hostage: Missing Celebrity

    Hostage: Missing Celebrity

    ★★★

    58/100

    I wonder why you'd bother to cast one of Korea's top mainstream actors as himself in an action-thriller and then do absolutely nothing with that; no skewering of his public persona (Hwang Jeong-min basically acts as if he is on the publicity circuit, blandly professional), no showbiz satire (it does not show any reaction at all from the massive Korean entertainment complex), no thematic shades (you'd think a basic gloss on the relationship/disjunct between celebrities and fans could have…

  • The Dry

    The Dry

    ★★★

    59/100

    A nice sense of place, some well-drawn side characters, and interesting on a scene-by-scene basis, this ultimately invests far too much in the nuts and bolts of the mystery (when, for me at least, the culprit was obvious about of a third of the way in) and suffers from some of the most artless information dumps at the end to suddenly bring the audience up to speed (and the aforementioned interesting characters are forgotten immediately as soon as their function of handing out crumbs of information is over).

  • Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum

    Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum

    ★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    49/100

    The livestream YouTube conceit works, and the midfilm reveal that the channel owners are faking certain things is welcome, but then..... it all becomes just very boring. The film misses basic beats like ramping up the confusion over what is real and what is fake, and has no real scares (the exception is the scene with the dissection (?) victim who stands there, and stands there, and stands there as the camera pans back and forth; more of that would have been welcome).

  • School of Rock

    School of Rock

    ★★★★

    76/100

    For those about to rock, we salute you. Cinematic comfort food.

  • The Scarlet Letter

    The Scarlet Letter

    ★★★½

    66/100

    I remember liking this more the first time I saw it like 15 years ago, but I can't remember why. Well, I remember the trunk scene very clearly; it comes out of nowhere and casts a pall over everything else, so you can overlook the rather prosaic relationship drama that gets you there and "enjoy" the emotional trap all of the characters have found themselves in being made completely literal.

  • Malignant

    Malignant

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    54/100

    Parasitic little bro must have been boning up on the last 10 years of mainstream Hollywood fight scenes all trapped away in there, because it's remarkable how well he mimics generic superhero non-physics. Something more primal, clumsy and brutal would have worked; as it stands, it's just a Hollywood hackjob dressed up some gore. Twist is pretty obvious pretty early. Mostly terrible acting across the board as well.

    Still, the creature design is effective, and the whole running backwards thing is creepily weird, so..... I've seen better, I've seen worse. Let's shrug and move on.

  • The Girl Without Hands

    The Girl Without Hands

    ★★★★

    70/100

    Given the Pixar-led obsession with photorealism in animation ("Oh my God, the water looks so real!"), this is a welcome inversion, with the animation deliberately minimalist and "crude" in the sense that it perfectly plays off the heightened emotion of your standard melodramatic (and occasionally cruel) fairy tale and abstracts the onscreen (physical and psychological) violence so that you can concentrate on the mental state of the protagonist as she flits between a brutal human world and the welcoming, nurturing physical and biological environment around her.