Review: Mom and Dad (USA 2017)

Mom and Dad, the latest film from Brian Taylor, one-half of the pair of madmen behind the miraculous Crank films, is similarly … well, apeshit bananas for lack of a better term. Taylor, working from his own screenplay, posits a world where a mysterious affliction is causing parents to turn on their own children, murdering them in the most expedient way.

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Review: The Avenging Eagle AKA: Long xie shi san ying; Cold Blooded Eagles (Hong Kong 1978)

Avenging Eagle is solid old school kung fu from the Shaw Brothers. It’s no pinnacle of the genre – there really isn’t that much to distinguish it from most Shaw martial arts films – but a good cast, baroque weaponry, and nice scenery elevate it slightly above the average old-schooler. Continue reading

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Review: Justice League (USA 2017)

Why did I even watch this? Masochism? Completism? I truly loathed Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (a movie as turgid as its name), and the execrable Suicide Squad, and had very low expectations for this Frankenstein’s monster of IP and dueling directorial visions. So with all that in play, I was surprised to find that Justice League … wasn’t so bad? Continue reading

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Review: Cold Hell aka Die Hölle (Austria/Germany 2017)

Cold Hell is a nasty little treat. I was expecting a thriller, but not a full-blown modern giallo. Cold Hell revels in the lurid sexualized violence and the neon washes and shadows of the best of Dario Argento and Sergio Martino – practically the only things missing are the customary black gloves and red herrings. Continue reading

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Sridevi, Bollywood Queen, Passes Away at 54

Playing everything from the ingenue in Kamal Haasan’s giallo-esque thriller Sigappu Rojakkal (1978), to a whip-wielding bandit queen in Sherni (1988), to a bewitching snake spirit in the supernatural romance/horror Nagina (1986), Sridevi has long laid claim to my heart as the queen of Bollywood.  Sridevi could be charming, goofy, and sexy in turn, sometimes all in the same film, like in her star turn as Lois Lane by way of Charlie Chaplin in the superhero hit Mr. India (1987). Continue reading

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Review: Face Behind the Mask (Hong Kong 1974)

Chen Chi-hwa’s Face Behind the Mask is a solid piece of wu xia entertainment. It’s not revolutionary, and it really doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before. However, all the elements come together nicely to create a quick-paced piece of entertainment. Continue reading

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Review: Before We Vanish (Japan 2017)

Before We Vanish is a return to a rarely-seen side of Kiyoshi Kurosawa – a puckish, tongue-in-cheek take on the atmospheric horror that is the master’s stock-in-trade. Though he’s much better known for his deadly serious supernatural horror like Kairo (Pulse) and Cure, Kurosawa aficionados have always been aware of his goofier side, showcased in the blackly comic Doppelganger and the obscure (but quite fun) v-cinema gangster series Suit Yourself or Shoot Yourself. Before We Vanish leans in hard to the deadpan with its tale of confused and confusing aliens attempting a takeover of Earth. Continue reading

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Review: Everybody Wants Some!! (USA 2016)

I’m not a Richard Linklater fanboy by any stretch of the imagination, and Everybody Wants Some is slight even by his standards, but damned if this wasn’t one of the most purely enjoyable films I’ve seen in years. Continue reading

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Review: Ten Violent Women (USA 1982)

I happened to watch a while back, and then was surprised to see that notorious grindhouse director Ted V. Mikels had just recently passed away. I wish this could be a better epigraph, but it’s a pretty terrible movie – a mish-mosh of women in prison and bad girls on the run clichés full of shower fights, posturing, and heists. Continue reading

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Review: Doctor Strange (USA 2016)

Not to damn Doctor Strange with faint praise, but the film definitely reaches the upper echelons of Marvel movies, hitting that entertaining and workmanlike sweet spot while not quite ever achieving cinematic brilliance. Doctor Strange is, as has been widely commented on, far more visually arresting than most Marvel films, building on the visual creativity of Inception without that film’s deadly dullness.

And the cast is all game and on target, from the playful Tilda Swinton to the spot-on Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular doctor, though Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen are largely wasted in one-note roles. The adapters also do a good job tinkering with Lee and Ditko’s original conception of the character, keeping what works and altering what does not (Mordo in particular is similar in name only). That said, like the similarly fun but disposable Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t see Doctor Strange ever becoming a perennial – the plot is too predictable, the hero’s journey too by the numbers, and the characters too flat to make this a classic.

2 1/2 out of 4 stars (Good).

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