John_Lehtonen has written 16 reviews for films during 2019.

  • Chasing Dream

    Chasing Dream

    Pain into laughter, courting hardship for growth. A populist bootstraps affair but To earns the ethos of struggle; single-mindedness is not isolating but life-affirming - you find fellows in the pit, burdens can be carried together. The ever-broken rockstar is the film's mascot, a paean to sacrifice at the altar of dreams. Beamed from Fat Choi Spirit and Throw Down's universe, it arrives almost fossilized in the crudity of its humor and melodramatic beats, and one's mileage will highly vary, but To's direction is lively as ever, and its earnest embrace of life's friction is like a shot in the arm lategame 2019.

  • Only God Forgives

    Only God Forgives

    A more self-aware film than I'd given it credit for in '13, probably, among other reasons, because I had cause to be self-conscious about it - it lives an ugly and degenerate existence in the shade of every Enter the Ninja, Knock Off, and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, plumbing the fantasy residues of invading Southeast Asia. Colonialist subtexts of this hazily defined subgenre are queasy and upfront grotesques here in the form of the murderous pedophile brother and the…

  • Murder-Rock: Dancing Death

    Murder-Rock: Dancing Death

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Has an unfair rep as minor Fulci (my prior estimation, no doubt). His imagination is quite alive post-Fulvia. The trend-chasing dance studio theatrics spur a welcome adaptation in his cutting; the opening, sprightly montage establishes a rhythm followed through in the subsequent dance sequence, the strobing light of the first murder, and its inverse: the phosphorous-bright flashes of crime-scene photographers. Seductive yet mechanical, the opening minutes render the genre's murderous trance as a synthesizer's steady pulse. Limbic rushes of images,…

  • Loft

    Loft

    Personal and frustrated. The meta-fictive insularity here gives many the impression of one of Kurosawa's least active motion pictures but it's rather an impassioned, if opaque, Borgesian object; Kurosawa's then-characteristic and recently popularized J-horror motifs (this, I'd argue, consciously follows and reflects on the likes of Séance,Pulse, and Retribution) are reduced to a threadbare genre exercise - a romance-horror, another mutation from the director but of self-reflexive leaning: the romance and horror are mingled, the horror transcends itself into the…

  • Friday the 13th

    Friday the 13th

    rewatched the first hour or so. A consolidating work, Cunningham, Miller, & co. drawing together the essential components of the slasher, and American horror, circa 1980; Halloween, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Carrie are all borrowed from liberally and explicitly, giving the film its sense of ritual, of cycles in motion. New folk histories, its brazen theft a claiming of its place in a popular tradition: the appropriated shocks are transformed and relayed into a traditionalist frame, like a scary…

  • What Have You Done to Solange?

    What Have You Done to Solange?

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Dallamano reigns in the the stylistic detours and experiments with POV that characterize much of giallo for something more straightforward. Many of the connections left merely aesthetic elsewhere are explicated directly here: Catholic sexual repression and abuse deforming a community and producing the plot's crimes through a series of reactions to said repression. Perversity comes in flashes: the intercut glinting knife, the rapid montage of a drowned victim. Flourishes are reserved in anticipation of the real trauma's severe B&W that…

  • Zombie Flesh Eaters

    Zombie Flesh Eaters

    Crash zoom on jugular spurting blood, cut to zombie before the sparkling water of New York Harbor. Revelations of decay - the zombie crowned by the sun a plane-violating image suggesting the invasive potential of 3-D but as Fulci's hyper-sensation before death - pushing outward always at us, at the character, the gun aggressively in the first shot, the sun-crowned ghoul, that insidious splinter of wood...

    Had no thought of revisiting this but they put it up free so I…

  • Creepy

    Creepy

    The opening poses an abstract concern over interpersonal comprehension in generic terms: juxtaposition of detective and psychopath - direct confrontation of their respective moralities (fork in the back). Familiar ground for a Kurosawa Kiyoshi picture but in keeping with these recent works the transposition of genres here takes precedence over the gloomier atmospherics and metaphysics of his earlier work (although he's always been somewhat of a remix artist: he suggests a rare positive outcome for the cinephilic director). After proving…

  • Monster on the Campus

    Monster on the Campus

    Late 50s Jekyll and Hyde for Greatest Generation domesticity. A wry early shot puts the hero literally on an evolutionary timeline, a direct move for a direct film, the anxiety plain: our place in the natural order. The professor fears the continued existence of animal instinct in modern society threatens a sudden reversal to savagery, and the reference to nuclear weapons suggests the military-industrial empire behind these starch collars and the protagonist's fears. In a classic incomprehensible movie lab lecture,…

  • The Man from Planet X

    The Man from Planet X

    Ulmer does so much for so little. Too thinly developed and muddled in sentiment to be a successful allegory, the director's forced to lean on his compositional ability to enliven the proceedings. It's UFO picture as Gothic play of light and shadow, juxtapositions of psychological tension and formal hypnosis. Claustrophobic interiors where archetypes struggle with internal corruption and the unknown are a bargain-basement sub-Expressionism. Like contemporaneous small scifi, this gazes backward at group reactions to the other, but the antagonism…

  • Out of the Past

    Out of the Past

    Jeff Markum/Bailey is the ultimate Tourneur hero, or negation of the hero - he's interiority past absurdity, where even the clarifying flashback only further obfuscates the man himself - and Out of the Past is every expressionist noir's inverse: recessive and sullen, its demons forced inward into the impossible contortions of character psychology. Mounting ambiguities deliberately stir confusion, the dialogue's stylization pulling our attention to the surface; we're left to marvel at the machinations, the wit, the glamour of Mitchum…

  • Cliffhanger

    Cliffhanger

    Assuredly the finest Die Hard clone, very forward in its fascistic intent and quite capably directed by Harlin. Rare is the A-picture so shameless in its bloodlust; it's not so much the intensity of the gore (although those squibs pop) as the rather open expression of violence as purgative force. Stallone's redemption as physical test, man against the elements, Predator's last act stripped of context or nuance in favor of brutalizing primitivism, our hero burning a man's face off with…