Ugetsu tells the story of two couples living in Japan during a time of civil war, and the nightmares that occur from blindly aiming toward their individual dreams and aspirations. Much influence seems to stem from traditional Japanese folklore and ghost stories, adding an additional aura of eeriness to the tale (also aided by its innovative use of fog and shadows). On the surface, it does seem almost like a polar opposite to Kurosawa's films of this era, though they all are both emotionally and spiritually captivating in their own ways.
Terry Gilliam succeeds at a solid sci-fi mystery thriller. Its convoluted time structure is perplexing, but never bothersome, and lends a hand to the aura of impending doom that hovers over the characters. Though the film's concept is generously borrowed from the French film La jetée, the similarities don't often seem copied, as the director adds his unique surrealist touch and takes the narrative in a different direction. It isn't a magnificent film, but well worth a watch.
I can definitely see how others would find merit in a film like Dogville; unfortunately, I cannot relate. I enjoyed it up to a certain point, where somewhere after the halfway mark, all firm ties of character and plot development are dropped to create a story of pure loathing and bleak contempt. Moreover, the purpose behind its peculiar stage-like settings were never even subtly explained; it seemed that the director wanted to insert his own trademark, however useless it is. I felt no life behind this attempt at critique of humanity, only coldness, and that isn't something I can willingly embrace.
All three segments of Don Hertfeldt's "Bill trilogy" are edited together to create It's Such a Beautiful Day. It is pieced together with various fragments and memories of its protagonist's fleeting life, some of which are quite trivial. The simplicity of the animation, erratic tendencies of its editing, and pervading voice-over narration create a tale of an existential crisis, one that is surprisingly universal and often hard-hitting. These traits, combined with the animator's absurd sense of humor, make this an undoubtedly ambitious, truly beautiful compilation.
Through a Glass Darkly examines the angst and disillusionment that are present in a collection of individuals, who are striving to get a grasp on the lingering mystery of spirituality. The atmosphere, through all its simplicity, is laden with despair, disturbance, and utter bleakness. All four actors effectively convey the spiritual and emotional isolation that so permeates in each of their lives. Bergman is a master at taking such harrowing philosophical notions and sculpting it into a beautiful, glimmering work of art, and this film exemplifies that skill perfectly.
Throughout this documentary, occasional parallels are made between music and sushi-making. Indeed, the tone and pace of Jiro Dreams of Sushi works in a way that somehow mimics a detailed symphony. The moments that may seem the most simple - such as the preparation of the fish - are filmed in such a meticulous manner, treating the concepts like a true art form. Jiro himself is the pivot around which the events occur, and represents a true model of perseverance and constant motivation to make the most out of ones opportunities. A very compelling documentary.
The first half of the Descent is truly gripping. Almost like a Heart of Darkness of horror movies, it combines extreme claustrophobia and a fear of the unknown to create a genuinely scary atmosphere. Though the second half is still rather frightening, it does become quite self-indulgent at many points; this isn't further helped by the quick editing, which seemed more contrived than anything else. Overall, a rather fulfilling, terrifying flick.
Happiness comes across as a rather twisted version of Magnolia. Using a multi-faceted storyline, viewers are introduced to an array of characters who really aren't happy with their lives at all. I'm surprised with how much I ended up enjoying this film, considering very few characters are genuinely likable. Some parts are rather uninteresting, but for the most part, its dark humor and in-your-face cynicism seem to work. An uncomfortable comedy that is worth the watch.
A tragic film about a beautiful, talented, love-stricken young woman, and her slow descent into madness. Drawing out its slow pace carefully, Truffaut's directorial abilities are effectively manipulated to make this an excellent period piece of unrequited love. Lovely and fantastical, at all the right moments. The impact of the film as a whole, however, is undoubtedly made by Isabelle Adjani, who portrays the titular character with heartbreaking realism and just a tinge of melodrama.
I love when horror films can convey its terror through a progressive build-up of a tense atmosphere. However, it can become a problem when this tensity turns into tedium; The Innkeepers, unfortunately, suffers from this problem. Its overall composition is great, but it severely lacks in focus and purpose. When the scares do come along, they are unoriginal and - dare I say - predictable. It isn't a terrible horror movie, but there are definitely much better ones out there.
Anthony Asquith's telling of the Oscar Wilde play is just exactly that. With minimal camera movements and settings, it has the look and feel of a recorded theater play. Fortunately, the cast is great, as each performer offers their unique manner of charm and wit. The overall mood did seem to be a bit off at times, but the story's most humorous moments are portrayed excellently. All of this is further propelled by the absolutely beautiful, colorful costumes and set pieces.
Part coming-of-age comedy, part political satire, part homage of the sci-fi genre. It's apparent that Joe Dante really had fun with Matinee; its brilliant combination of Cold War fear and monster movies never wanes in effectivity. While it isn't exceptional by any means, it makes good use of its creative premise and charming script, really painting an ideal portrait of its era. Major respects goes to John Goodman, whose great performance makes me wish he really were a B-movie director. Mant!
Irony of Fate is one corny film. The characters are never very properly developed. Moments of silly farce often clash clumsily with instances of sentimentality. Many ties are introduced, and then annoyingly left hanging. It’s not a movie that I personally could have seen myself enjoying... yet I absolutely adored it. The atmosphere of this Soviet classic is deceptively charming, and while it does have its setbacks, the combination of these qualities make this film the compelling jewel it is. Moreover, it has some of the best random musical interludes I’ve ever seen anywhere. All in all, it really succeeds at what it’s trying to do, and ultimately, that is the definition of cinematic perfection.
If you are looking for an innovative, life-changing, philosophical spectacle, turn away now. However, if a good-natured, “gives you the warm fuzzies” type of romantic comedy sounds like fun, Irony of Fate is just the remedy.
Absolutely corny, yet undeniably fun. Night of the Creeps is pretty much every horror convention - from zombies to aliens to rabid dogs, cats, and leeches - packed into one film. Throw in an abundance of overacting, cheesy dialogue, 80's cultural atmosphere, and some sweet (yet subtle) gore effects, and you've got one hilarious horror spoof. The tone does make an awkward shift around the final third, but provides good-natured entertainment all throughout. "Thrill me."
Santa Sangre is a special breed of horror film that could only come from the deranged mind of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Packed with powerful imagery and psychological themes, this film is an experience that is truly hard to forget. It is often very surreal and sometimes exploitative, but it never takes its reputation of horror to a distasteful extreme. Painted like a work of art, with plenty of twists and turns along the way, Santa Sangre is a masterwork from a completely original, unconquerable filmmaker.
A film that emerges with a very sloppy start, and somehow gets progressively worse. No real conflict comes into the picture until around the end of the second third. Even so, the events of the story seem simply scattered around the narrative, with no strong moment of connection to its characters or even a decent resolution. I'm not exactly sure what kind of message this film is trying to get across, but its crude humor and pessimism doesn't really make it any more cohesive.
Tasteless, bloody, random, exploitative - these are just a few ways to describe I Drink Your Blood. In essence, its plot is made up of Satanic hippies taking drugs and doing violent things. It doesn't achieve much more depth than this; actually, it is very genuinely mean-spirited in many cases. Some unintentional humor can be found in its kooky dialogue and terrible over-acting, but this is hardly a recompense. A violent, boring bloodfest that doesn't bring much to the table.
Bad Boy Bubby is a rather disturbing film that handles basically every taboo subject possible. Its playful attitude and pitch-black humor, though appropriate in many instances, is just plain awkward in others. After the first third, which is particularly unsettling, the narrative explodes into a whirlwind of predicaments, which really serve little purpose and rarely gives insight into its protagonist. It would actually be a rather tragic film, if the atmosphere was not so unpleasantly condescending. From a technical standpoint, the sound design is great.
Father of a Soldier is yet another shining example of the technical efficiency of Soviet cinema. It is a war film that abstains from portraying its elements in strict propagandistic stereotypes, and instead presents a sentimental story of honesty, morality, and tradition. Combined with magnificently-filmed war scenes and some surprising bits of comedy, this film is quite an impacting achievement that, for some reason, doesn't seem to be very pronounced in the canon of classic Soviet works.
This film is a rather good presentation of the repercussions that result from a single family man's act of violence. Though the film does a decent job at showing the hidden dark core of its associating characters, I did feel that its uneven pacing resulted in a loss of bite, making it not as impacting as it potentially could have been. Nonetheless, A History of Violence is quite an effective - sometimes surreal - watch, emitting Cronenberg's directorial prowess at its peak.