Fiction - Commercial - Corporate - Animation - Documentary
Bong Joon-Ho’s very dark comedy has been raking in awards like a bulldozer, and it’s great to see such a fun, spirited movie accomplish that feat for a change. What really makes this stand out, more than the clever plot, technical mastery and great performances, is the obvious love for every last one of the story’s characters. Try to watch this one with as little advance knowledge of its plot.
We’ve been on a Shoe-Era Godzilla binge lately (thanks, Criterion Collection), so it’s nice to take a break in quality company, with master of supernatural horrors Kaneto Shindo and his eerie Onibaba, to remind us how powerful and terrifying a simple gust a of wind through tall grass, or a sideways glance can be, and that the most unsettling of monsters tend to exist in human form.
This is an exercise that could have been very tedious indeed. A group of actors wander into a dilapidated theatre and their random conversations slowly morph into their performance, and experience of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. In lesser hands, this could have been the height of boredom, but Louis Malle’s delicate touch and a wonderful cast really inject this with thrilling life. Worth it if you’re in for something completely different.
If you were to explain what a « cult movie » is, you could have a whole debate, or you could just whip out a copy of this masterpiece. A huge flop upon release, this is the long-island ice tea of movies. It has everything in it: martial arts, romance, gangsters, magic, neon-lit escalators, Kurt Russel, the wonderful creation that is Lo Pan… In fact it has way too much of everything, but it is such glorious, silly, kitsch fun, you can’t help but love it. If you have not seen this yet, do yourself a favor and seek it out.
Now here’s some pulp of the highest order. S. Craig Zahler, emboldened by the success of the slow dread and violent apotheosis he created in Bone Tomahwak, puts an unusually menacing Vince Vaughn through hell. This is a movie that fully embraces its true nature, what a treat!
If « the union comes to a coal-mining town » doesn’t get your heart racing as a synopsis, then this slow-burn dynamite-stick of a film is sure to catch you completely off-guard. Set to the copper-tones of Haskel Wexler’s terrific photography, John Sayles’ angry epic shows the struggle of the left-behind in a way that will resonate these 3 decades later, and the cruel tactics the powerful often use to subdue and divide the oppressed.
In the late 80s, German wunderkind Wim Wenders made this improbable arthouse superproduction spanning 11 countries and, in its restored form, almost 5 hours. Conceived as the « ultimate road movie » it slowly morphs into much more than that, and some of its observations about the future are incredibly prescient.
Gentle scholar of the human condition Yasujiro Ozu made many memorable films, and this is one of his most visually accomplished ones, and perhaps one of the most touching. If you’re new to the Japanese master, this is as good an entry-point as any.
Dreyer is a Danish legend and a hero of firebrand Lars von Trier. Whatever expectations such a preamble might create are no match for the experience that is this unique story of faith and redemption.
Bless you! This tongue-twisting mind-bender is the kick-off chapter to wildcard filmmaker Seijun Suzuki’s Taisho Trilogy, and probably what David Lynch might have produced had he been born in Japan. Is it a dream, a nightmare? Spellbinding stuff!