• Hiroshima Mon Amour

    Hiroshima Mon Amour

    ★★★

    I really like the central concept here, drawing a hazy contrast between a fleeting relationship and the aftermath of the horrific bombing of Hiroshima as a way to explore how we're forever unable to escape the destructive events of the past because they continue to haunt the present. Lingering despair causing cycles of heartache, memories to distort and commitment to cease; most effectively demonstrated with the striking opening monologue interlaced with images of devastation and Emmanuelle Riva's poignant performance. Sadly,…

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★½

    Starting to think that I'm just not a big fan of Orson Welles because I found this to be mildly diverting fluff in all honesty. Reading that his original vision was butchered in post-production comes as no surprise (it's basically his directorial trademark, sadly) as the entire narrative feels jumbled in a way that doesn't evoke the kind of mystery or tension that was probably intended. It's packed with the types of twists and double-crosses that you'd expect from the…

  • Touch of Evil

    Touch of Evil

    ★★★½

    It's really unfortunate how Orson Welles' original vision for this film was compromised because there's enough intriguing elements here to suggest that he could have made something special. The restored cut patches things together to a satisfactory degree, but I feel like it's always blatantly obvious that something went on behind the scenes to affect the end product.

    This is a dark, seedy noir that really gets to the core of what the genre is all about by crafting a…

  • Train to Busan

    Train to Busan

    ★★½

    Given how well worn this type of material is, I feel that Train to Busan plays things a little too safe to leave much of an impression. I could forgive the lack of inventiveness on concepts we've seen many times before such as quick zombies or action on transportation if the characters were strong, but they're all so rigidly cliched that I struggled to get invested in their plight which deadened most of the emotional impact. It also doesn't help…

  • King Kong

    King Kong

    ★★★

    On one hand, it is quite refreshing to look back on a big-budget film that is so clearly someone's idiosyncratic vision and full of passionate filmmaking, espeically in the current climate of blockbusters made by committee. On the other hand, I'm still bewildered that this feels like the longest film ever made when it's barely 3 hours long. I honestly feel like I had a birthday while watching this thing. It's obvious that Peter Jackson was given carte blanche on…

  • Perfect Blue

    Perfect Blue

    ★★★★½

    Satoshi Kon's distinctive talent at blurring the lines between reality and fantasy was maybe never better demonstrated than with this deeply unsettling psychological thriller. It follows Mima, a former pop singer turned actress whose shifting public persona and perception causes her sense of identity to become increasingly unstable. A range of chilling concepts such as the price of fame, celebrity obsession, cyberstalking, objectification, disempowerment and the dangers of letting an idealised image take over your true personality are all explored…

  • King Kong

    King Kong

    ★★★½

    I think it's easy to see why this is still considered to be one of the quintessential adventure flicks. It manages to evoke a fair share of mystery, tension, excitement and amusement that aptly encapsulates what makes the genre so enjoyable. The voyage into the unknown and the build-up to Kong's appearance are quite effective at creating anticipation, and once we get our first glimpse of the titular ape it's almost non-stop thrills until the climax. The pacing is impressively…

  • Crash

    Crash

    ★★★★½

    There's something extremely hypnotic in the way Cronenberg presents this that sets in right from the eerie opening credits and doesn't cease until the sudden cut to black following the final scene. It's almost impossible to look away despite the disturbing imagery and unsettling propositions, perhaps deliberately and cleverly echoing how we're always fascinated by things that should leave us troubled (car crashes themselves being one of those things). The influx of technology into our lives and our constant obsession…

  • The Host

    The Host

    ★★★

    What starts as a clever take on the monster movie formula quickly reveals itself to be an offbeat family drama at its core before genre hopping ensues as we get elements of farcical comedy, satire, action thriller and political commentary littered throughout (there's even stuff on virus control, which cuts sharply in current times). Bong Joon-ho is usually great at this type of thing, but I think he tried to juggle a bit too much this time around as the…

  • The Chaser

    The Chaser

    ★★★½

    The Chaser is cut from the same cloth as many of the other South Korean thrillers I've seen; an intense revenge piece meets procedural where the grisly subject matter is skilfully infused with an astute balance of fervent energy, dark humour and delicate moments of humanity. The most interesting addition here is depiction of the two central characters; the lead already has investigative experience which makes his knowledge plausible and the killer comes across as relatively pathetic which is a…

  • Cape Fear

    Cape Fear

    ★★★★

    I did not expect this to be so chillingly gripping despite being familiar with the material. It's reminiscent of Psycho in its style, only with the sleaziness turned right up.

    Whereas Scorsese's remake leaned heavily into nightmarish absurdity (to the point where The Simpsons parody episode barely changed a beat), this original version lets events occur with such understated and unpredictable menace that it really gets under your skin. Max Cady is so much scarier here because he isn't some…

  • Jackie

    Jackie

    ★★★½

    I like how this sidesteps most of the trite formula that usually plagues biographical works, avoiding any grandstanding in order to craft something more reserved and contemplative. It's an astute decision to focus on a brief but arduous spell in Jackie Kennedy's life as it deftly presents the narrative as her painful recollections; a delicate deconstruction of the image she carefully constructed, exploring her mythmaking and grief under such immense public scrutiny. The solemn mood of the time is captured…