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An enjoyable feel good genre film from high school. It lacks proper humour, but is likeable, lively, nicely shot and fast paced. The girls start a fight club in high school and get they beat each other up. There are a lot of lesbians, but the characters are fine, the soundtrack is good and the final fight with the football players on the field is great. It was also unexpectedly suspenseful at times, so I'll give it a weaker four stars. I had an unexpectedly good time, plus I miss these comedies from high school and I don't think there was a better one this year. 70%
Talk to the hand, or combine an idiotic viral TikTok challenge, a metaphor for drugs, a drama about mourning and a horror movie about possession and you have the genre flick of year, in which cleverly malicious directing, excellent actors and a heavy atmosphere in which the world of phantoms that may or may not mean well by people increasingly crosses over into reality. A more than respectable successor to films such as Get Out and It Follows. I’m trembling!
Helena grew up as a child in the woods where her father kidnapped her mother. Now in her thirties, she's pulled herself together, but when she finds out her dad has escaped from prison, she knows she'll have to confront her own past, even if it has to be at gunpoint. This potentially interesting psychological drama or survival thriller is turned into a tired borefest with struggling actors due to the unfortunate narrative style and overall emptiness, it never really gets going and nor does it leave a significant impression.
The older Miyazaki gets, the less literal and linear his work becomes, the less regard he has for classic narrative concepts and the more he makes films solely for himself without any regard for others. And thanks to that, each of his new works that we have the good fortune to see for the first time is that much more fascinating and unique. So, it is time that we stop recounting which elements and motifs that his latest film has in common with those that came before. The most beautiful thing about Miyazaki’s films has always been that rare opportunity to forget about everything that we are accustomed to in run-of-the-mill audio-visual media and to let ourselves be carried away by the creator’s unique vision. Not only does one limit the degree of amazement by relating this film to the master’s previous work, but doing so also diminishes the distinctiveness of the film itself, which requires an open mind. Let’s also acknowledge that the title, The Boy and the Heron, originated as a meaningless placeholder in the heads of international distributors, who didn’t know what to make of the original title, which didn’t fit into any established categories. Let’s thus call the film by its real name: “How Do You Live?”. The original title pays tribute to the book of the same name, which was essential for the adolescent Miyazaki and even appears in the film. However, the filmmaker did not adapt it, rather only using its title as an allusion, as well as for a semantic framework for not only his new film, but for his overall work. Just as the concept of time fades away in the narrative and the elderly characters appear in their youthful form and the generations of a single family can come together at the same time, Miyazaki uses the question in the original title of his film to speak both to himself and to us about his own past and present. In his latest work, the filmmaker, who has devoted his entire productive life (which, in the case of the workaholic octogenarian, means to this day), uses another such narrative to give us an expressive look into the inner life of a young man buffeted by trauma, loss and apprehension about the life that lies ahead of him. In that inner self, new worlds that simultaneously exude uplifting boisterousness and the weight of inevitability are created using the basic building blocks of reality and fantasy, cemented together with emotions. Together with the titular question of how we will live in the face of an oppressive world, Miyazaki shows us through his protagonist how he himself coped with growing up in the shadow of war and the death of his beloved mother. Using the words of today’s audio-visual media, we could say that Miyazaki’s new film is the magnificent peak of his filmography (so far), as well as a meaningful prequel to it. In this film, Miyazaki presents to us the duality of beauty and terror, love and anger, and simply life and death, as he has done throughout his career so far. Each new Miyazaki film is like a half-read book left in the middle of a shelf by a missing uncle who went mad from reading countless books. Those films’ renown precedes them and evokes in us a feeling of awe at being in contact with something that will inevitably go beyond us, as well as foolish concern as to whether the films will live up to expectations. Therefore, we approach them only cautiously and sometimes, to our own detriment, we refuse to give in to them. But it is enough to break through the first wave on the horizon and let it wash away all doubts, and then just peacefully sail with an open mind aboard the narrative, which is held securely in the hands of the greatest master of cinema. And yes, again, it is a journey that overwhelms us with imagination many times, but it is also a journey from which we will always have memories of those peaceful moments when we realise that we are suddenly as calm and collected as the characters that we are watching. There is nothing more precious, more terrifying, more beautiful, more agonising, more turbulent or more comforting than each new Miyazaki film.
Gojira as a serious war drama? Yes, a return to the classic roots of the first two episodes. It's a terrible shame that most people associate the brand with Hollywood's Monsterverse, or that goofy Emmerich flick with Jean Reno that had nothing to do with Godzilla. They have no idea about the Godzilla phenomenon in the country of its origin, Japan, where TOHO has made a total of 29 feature films starring the overgrown lizard across six decades. Sure, the SHOWA era in the 50s and 60s in particular was very cringe, with Godzilla facing aliens and a monkey and making friends with a little Japanese boy. But this latest installment, essentially an homage, is a return to the rawness of the first two films from 1954 and 1955. Gojira is no pet this time, but a fierce creature happy to bite people in half and throw trains through the air. I was surprised by the screenwriting focus on human characters. Basically the entire first half doesn't leave the setting of the slums on the outskirts of Tokyo, dealing with a sort of small family micro-story, with a momentary detour to the sea, where the mines left behind are being fished out at the cost of their lives, only to have Godzilla start destroying the city after an hour or so, with a familiar musical theme from the TOHO films that brought a smile to my face. There are four action sequences in the film with each one getting better and better. It's unbelievable that this film cost less than Jákl’s Jan Žižka, yet it has the parameters of a big budget film, and by alternating the closed micro environments of one room with lavish CGI scenes, it very cleverly masks its budgetary constraints. Also, fans of the franchise will find references to old standbys, with Gojira's luminous shell playing a major role in this regard. There's also a noticeable sense of the lingering post-war and Hiroshima trauma of the Japanese in the film, just as you'd sense in the old films. It's a great homage, and if it is a reboot, I love it to.
A new short story anthology based on the myths of Latin America, featuring some of the best Latin American filmmakers, but unfortunately I found it mediocre. The police break into a house in El Paso and find a pile of dead people with one survivor who is taken to the station and questioned. He tells various horrific stories about his life, and that's the main connecting story. The second story is about a man who opens a portal to the underworld, and there's a really disgusting demon. This one was handled by the famous Demian Rugna, who knows how to work with gore and make-up effects. After the recent When Evil Lurks, I was expecting him to grind me again, but besides the demon, the story didn't offer anything particularly interesting. Better average. The third story is about a vampire who enjoys a night of killing people on Halloween, only that he forgot that it dawns an hour earlier due to the daylight savings time change. It's presented in a comedic style and it's quite funny, there's also some gore, so it's better than average. It was directed by Eduardo Sánchez, who has done The Blair Witch Project and Exists. The fourth story is the closest to Mexican folklore. A CIA informant falls captive to shamans and indigenous people and it features an interesting ritual. The setting and the make-up effects are nice, there’s a bit of mythology and it feels like the Mexican version of The Wicker Man, but again the potential was higher. This was shot by Gigi Saul Guerrero, who has Barbarous Mexico to his credit. The fifth story is again in a comedy style, where a boyfriend wants to kill his ex-girlfriend who is possessed by a demon. It's kind of a fight between the two where a even giant wooden dildo is used. It's by director Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead), but I found it to be the weakest and least interesting. The ending climaxes with El Muerte arriving at the police station, where a bloody shootout ensues, and it's a pretty nice climax, but it doesn't elevate this anthology to above average. There's a bit of humor, blood and Mexican mythology from everyone, but I wouldn't give any story more than 4 stars. 55%
Proof that 4DX technology can work and be immersive... But only as a tailor-made short intended purely as a rollercoaster. Otherwise, this is a standard outlandish escapist short, where one is constantly falling or flying somewhere (let's not forget that it is an attraction) in an attempt to deliver a present to Gru.
Short. Scott's a stud, but he might as well have made Napoleon a trilogy instead of skipping through his life like a rushed history lesson. Phoenix is great, his Napoleon oscillates between aspiring strategist and lovelorn naif. But Kirby doesn't have enough space, so she comes across as weird. The leap from infatuation to divorce is very rushed. The battles, Toulon, Austerlitz and Waterloo, are exquisite, though. There's black humour, poking fun at politicians and their lies. Also, that brute force and tactics are above all, but are useless when it rains. P.S.: Almost on the anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz.
The prequel to The Hunger Games isn't a bad movie, it has its bright moments, but the actual Hunger Games, which should have been the main highlight are unfortunately not as engrossing as I expected. The 10th Hunger Games begins. Each of the students becomes a mentor and gets one assigned from each region and their job is to win the Hunger Games together. The main character is the likeable Coriolanus Snow, who gets a girl, and underdog, who can only sing. I liked the chemistry between them, Rachel Zegler is a very beautiful woman (and sings very nice), the emotions and romance work and these two pull the film up nicely. Of the characters, Peter Dinklage is also a great. Visually, of course, the film is on par, and even though it doesn't have a very thrilling pace, it certainly doesn't get boring, and the Hunger Games are quite thrilling, it's just a pity that there aren’t more traps, challenges and pitfalls. It's kind of Battle Royale style but without the gore, so I didn't get much excitement. There's not much action outside of the game itself, but it's quite imaginative and clever (the decisions Snow makes are pretty cool), it's just a shame that the main character doesn't fight at all. The second half surprisingly turns into a completely different movie and we watch Snow's interesting character development undergoing a really interesting and unexpected transformation. There are more songs than action for my taste, but they were at least enjoyable to listen to. All in all, an enjoyable film that I don't regret watching, but nothing that would make me sit on my ass. I have it between 3 and 4 stars, but I'll be more strict this time. I don't need to see it again. 65%.
An artsy court thriller from Canada! The trial begins for Ludovic Chevalier, who has been convicted of the murders of three young girls, which the sales of snuff videos on the Dark Web, definitely an interesting court case. We watch the film from the point of view of a model-juror who becomes obsessed with the case and starts to be a pretty decent psycho. The courtroom verbal barrages are fine and definitely go a long way to fixing the taste for the awful Anatomy of a Fall, though I wish there was more of the trial. At times the film focuses on stuff that isn't entirely appealing. I loved the conversation of the Dark Web expert, and the ending is captivating with an intense and thrilling poker game with Bitcoins that is one of the highlights of the entire film. It's a shame the snuff scenes are out of focus, but I can see how it wouldn't pass. It probably could have been made darker and more intense, but I'm still happy with this understated thriller, it's definitely worth a watch, but it's not a genre-defining film. 7/10.
World War II is over, but Japan is far from finished, for a gigantic monster is approaching its shores. Will it be stopped, or will it make the decimated country fall to the bottom? Godzilla -1.0 is a showcase of great-looking destruction, functional pathos and slightly over-the-top Japanese acting. All in all, though, it's an easily watchable film even for a European, the makers of which have enough enthusiasm, ideas and respect for the original films to make those two hours in the cinema a great time.
Heaps of creative ideas and social commentary that after half an hour feels like out of a machine-gun, and the rest of the running time is just recycled. Moreover, Barbie is too shrill and dramatically inconsistent. After an hour, I wished it would end. The acting is unsurprisingly good, at times funnily accurate in reflecting the problems of contemporary society, but I don't quite get the commercial success and worldwide hype around Barbie.
The John Wick universe, where cool gunslingers shoot headshots and perform gun-fu, just like John Wick, in a dark visual stylization like John Wick. The production design is properly neo-noir and the soundtrack is full of bangers. The only problem is that John Wick himself isn't even there for a minute, and the characters that are "in his place" are either completely generic with no appeal or have too little space. The only reliably workable link is Mel Gibson as the alpha bad guy. There is no need for another spin-off like this and an attempt to create a Wick world.
For how short it is and how relatively little they talk in it, Ghost in the Shell has a surprising amount to say. A good idea in a good presentation is something always welcome, and this is one of those few select sci-fi films that have somehow managed not to get old (like Blade Runner, Alien, Akira, The Matrix, Back to the Future II...), even though reality has overtaken or almost caught up with them in terms of years. If I had to single out one thing, it would be a completely amazing five-minute long scene in the middle, in which nothing substantial happens at all, it’s "just" the haunting atmospheric music and alternating shots of a neon futuristic city. It draws you in perfectly.
The sequel to the Korean remake of Believer (the original is from China, Drug War) has arrived on Netflix, and so far it's been getting people talking. It's not too bad, but it's a bit weak by Korean standards. We have a detective looking for a big drug gang who distribute the drug Laika, but the plot is so weirdly put together that it doesn't always make complete sense. There's no real twist, in short the plot is secondary (it's definitely not a typical Korean film through and through), but on the one hand I like the drug mafia setting, there are some pretty interesting and memorable characters (an interesting female villain), and the erotic action is also nice. There are no fights, but the shootouts are pretty bloody and have a nice edge, they are nice and uncompromising and raw, which counts. At times it looks unintentionally cheap (the jungle chase), but otherwise I have no problem with the film. It goes by fairly quickly (although the last half hour was already unnecessarily lengthy and the big finale comes half an hour early). As a simple action B-movie with nice bloody action, it's better than any other American-made B-movie, but it's not a quality Korean standard. 6/10.
Douglas has hit rock bottom more than once in his life. It's no wonder he abandoned people and became friends with dogs. And they'll do anything for him. So when the world tries to hurt him again, it's clear it's not going to end well. Luc Besson delivers a visually stylish and quite entertaining variation on Joker, but it skims the surface, fails to mine interesting themes and looks more like the film of an aspiring debutant than the work of an experienced 60-year-old director. One still expects more from Besson, even after his weaker years.
A heavy downer, exactly in the style of Fassbender's classic film work. There is no celebration of success, jut toil, frustration and unsatisfactory results despite all the energy, focus and sacrifice put into it. The harsh realities and realization that top racing really isn't for everyone and and amazing advice – just turn off the emotions – that can save a lot of lives in the finale. The nightmare of making the racing you look forward to seem like the hardest job in the world to enjoy. And when it almost looks like a happy ending and Fassbender is running his best times, comes a hard blow and a lesson, just not the one the viewer originally expected.