Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Lady Whirlwind (aka Deep Thrust) (1972) d. Feng Huang (Hong Kong)
Hapkido (aka Lady Kung Fu) (1972) d. Feng Huang (Hong Kong)
Right off the bat, let’s make one thing clear: I don’t pretend to be a martial arts or Asian cinema expert. I’ve seen my share of chop-sockey flicks, both good and bad, but I’m a casual observer at best. Martial arts-wise, I’ve seen Bruce Lee’s five official features, several of Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong outings, Seven Samurai, 47 Ronin, a few 80s Cannon ninjafests, Five Deadly Venoms and other classic Shaw Brothers offerings, newer stuff like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, the Ong Baks, The Raid and its sequel, and maybe a dozen Jet Li movies. More than some, far less than others, but on the whole I can say I like the genre and am always eager to experience more.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Cold in July (2014) d. Jim Mickle (USA)
One hot summer Texas night, professional picture framer Richard Dane (Dexter’s Michael C. Hall) is awoken by the sound of someone breaking into his home. Spooked, the mild-mannered husband and father creeps downstairs and, accidentally firing his pistol, mortally wounds the intruder who turns out to have a criminal record a mile long. An instant small-town celebrity, Dane is applauded by the local lawman (Nick Damici) for bringing down “a really bad guy.” But when the burglar’s jailbird father (Sam Shepard) comes to town looking for revenge, it sets in motion a mysterious chain of events, revealing that nothing is as it appears to be.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
White Buffalo, The (1977) d. J. Lee Thompson (USA)
Produced by Dino de Laurentiis the same year as his Jaws/Moby Dick hybrid Orca, this similarly themed Western epic pits a syphilitic Wild Bill Hickok (Charles Bronson) against the enormous titular bison, with none-too-subtle parallels of them each being the last of their kind.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Blancanieves (2012) d. Berger, Pablo (Spain)
An exquisite retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, filtered through the lens of a once-great matador, his plucky young daughter, and the scheming nursemaid/wicked stepmonster whose vanity threatens to destroy all in her path. Writer/director Berger cultivates an impossibly charming and rich romantic atmosphere, with emotions worn proudly on sleeves and textures and images dancing in concert with Alfonso de Vilallonga's dynamic and purposefully eclectic score.
Vanishing Waves (aka Aurora) (2012) d. Buozyte, Kristina (Lithuania/France)
Scientists set up an elaborate Altered States-like experiment to see if two separate consciousnesses can interact, allowing a member of their team (Marius Jampolskis) to attempt to psychically synch up with comatose car accident victim Jurga Jutaite. The experiment is a success, in that a connection is made, but when the scientist decides to keep secret certain discoveries from the rest of his colleagues, it threatens both the validity of the test and the safety of its two subjects.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Pieta (2012) d. Kim, Ki-duk (South Korea)
Jung-Jin Lee commands the screen as an amoral loan shark enforcer who thinks nothing of maiming those who cannot pay their debts, telling them that he will be back to collect the insurance money they receive for their injuries. But when mysterious woman Min-soo Cho appears, claiming to be Lee’s long-absent mother, it ignites a spark of emotion that could prove to be his downfall.
Confession of Murder (2012) d. Jeong, Byung-gil (South Korea)
Following the statute of limitations’ expiration, serial killer Si-hoo Park goes public with his heinous deeds by writing a bestselling tell-all; charming and cool, the murderer’s popularity skyrockets with a morbidly fascinated public. Meanwhile, as the cop who allowed Park to slip through his fingers, Jae-yeong Jeong continues to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend, all evidence strongly suggesting she was the rising star’s final act of violence.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I Declare War (2012) d. Lapeyre, Jason / Wilson, Robert (Canada)
A wondrous coming-of-age examination of the culture of combat, as inventive in its gimmickry as it is deceptively clear-eyed regarding the hierarchies of childhood. Two group of kids gather on either sides of the forest to play out their ongoing Capture the Flag tournament, undefeated pint-sized master strategist Gage Munroe’s scrappy band facing off against the challengers led by cool intellectual Aidan Gouveia and his tempestuous second-in-command Michael Friend. But the rules of engagement are only effective if both sides adhere, and on this particular day, new terms are being brought to bear – strategies such as “coup,” “torture,” and the most terrifying of all, “girls.”
Trap for Cinderella (2012) d. Softley, Iain (UK)
After surviving a traumatic fire, heiress-to-be Tuppence Middleton undergoes extensive plastic surgery to restore her crisped visage. She emerges lightly scarred but more than palatable, minus any recollection of her former life. As she attempts to reassemble her fractured existence by reuniting with various friends and family members, she stumbles across the diary of best friend Alexandra Roach who succumbed to the flames.
Oblivion (2013) d. Kosinski, Joseph (USA)
In the years following an alien attack that has left Earth a barren wasteland, skeleton crew members Tom Cruise and redhead Andrea Riseborough remain stationed above the surface to maintain the hydro-generators powering newly installed reactors on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, where the rest of the surviving populace has relocated. Their days and nights are kept lively defending the pyramid-shaped structures from residual alien “scavenger” crafts, but complications arise when ancient (i.e. early 21st century) space debris plummets to the planet’s surface bearing strange cargo indeed.