• Missing

    Missing

    ★★★

    Tsui Hark’s MISSING is a film you can see many things in, if you want, but I don’t know whether I wanted to. It starts off as a horror flick to then turn into a melodrama. The story is rather convoluted, but not without its strengths. I’m sure this film lends itself to interesting and intellectual interpretations, whether that’s because of the film itself or the reviewer’s own tendency to assert his own intelligence I won’t comment upon. It probably flew over my head.

  • Aesthetics of a Bullet

    Aesthetics of a Bullet

    ★★★★½

    Nakajima Sadao’s AESTHETICS OF A BULLET, an ATG release, is a yakuza eiga brimming with energy. It’s a film with a specific focus, not so much, as you’d expect, on a bloody gang war but more so on a hotblooded young man who doesn’t really know what he wants, Koike Kiyoshi (Toei regular Watase Tsunehiko). He has tried many different trades: he sold rabbits, contemplated selling dogs (as they would be more profitable than rabbits) and he also tried his…

  • Tokyo Phoenix

    Tokyo Phoenix

    ★★★★

    Colourised images and restored footage show the constant reinvention of a special city and the resilience of its inhabitants.

  • This Gun for Hire

    This Gun for Hire

    ★★★★

    Frank Tuttle’s early noir, THIS GUN FOR HIRE, stars Alan Ladd as a lone hitman and Veronica Lake as a singing magician turned secret agent. The film is set against the backdrop of World War II, illustrated here by the Nitro Chemicals Corporation colluding with the Japanese.

    As hitman Philip Raven (Alan Ladd) is double-crossed by Willard Gates (Laird Cregar), his employer, he’s determined to exact revenge. Upon instruction by a US Senator, Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake) gets caught up…

  • Scarface

    Scarface

    ★★★★

    Howard Hawks’s SCARFACE, one of the most influential gangster films ever made, stars Paul Muni as the violent and power hungry Tony Camonte. Thinking the world is his, he shoots for the top. A gangster on the rise, his actions become increasingly violent and reckless. Not before long he is in a position to oust his boss, Johnny Lovo, (Osgood Perkins). Meanwhile, as he further indulges himself in his criminal activities, his relationship with his sister detoriates.

    The cinematography is…

  • Savage Three

    Savage Three

    ★★★★

    One of my birthday presents happened to be Arrow’s boxset containing five poliziotteschi. First up: SAVAGE THREE. The poliziotteschi genre is rooted in the turbulent Italian ’70s with violence and extremism rampant on both sides. Violence was never far away. This film as well should be seen against this background.

    Vittorio Salerno’s SAVAGE THREE is a hyper-violent and mean-spirited picture. A film about killers without motives, these deranged young men kill just for the sake of it, for the fun…

  • Across 110th Street

    Across 110th Street

    ★★★★½

    110th Street divides two different faces of New York: the grim Harlem from the more affluent areas of New York. It’s clear from the very start this Blaxploitation film will pack a punch.

    Anthony Quinn plays the tough, racist Italian-American cop Captain Mattelli who’s nearing retirement. He’s partnered with the much younger Lieutenant Pope (Yaphet Kotto; who’s brilliant throughout) who has another way of discharging his duty. They make for an interesting pair. Both men investigate a deadly heist which…

  • Hands over the City

    Hands over the City

    ★★★★½

    HANDS OVER THE CITY or LE MANI SULLA CITTÀ, starring Rod Steiger, examines the concerning relationship between property developers and the political world. 

Steiger plays Edoardo Nottola, a property developer who has political aspirations of his own. The film opens up with beautiful air shots of Napoli, underlining immediately its great cinematography set on the tones of an equally great score. The propulsive, quite dramatic music is fitting. The film is centered around a political investigation relating to the collapse…

  • A Scarred Life 2: Blood Will Tell

    A Scarred Life 2: Blood Will Tell

    ★★★★

    Two days after watching the first part, I watched A SCARRED LIFE 2: BLOOD WILL TELL. The first film did impress me a lot and this second part didn’t disappoint either. Ozawa delivers again. Present for the second time around are Tsuruta Koji, Wakayama Tomisaburo, Endo Tatsuo and Amatsu Bin. Both films are related, but this second film is in no way a direct sequel. Rather, it develops the same themes and the cast is roughly similar.

    Eijiro (Tsuruta) and…

  • A Scarred Life

    A Scarred Life

    ★★★★½

    My return to the yakuza eiga was long overdue. For this occasion, I opted for Ozawa Shigehiro’s A SCARRED LIFE starring Tsuruta Koji, Wakayama Tomisaburo, Endo Tatsuo and Amatsu Bin. A ninkyo eiga I heard many promising things about.

    I’ll never get tired of Tsuruta Koji’s heroics. Ninkyo eiga sometimes are regarded as stale tales preaching honor, but A SCARRED LIFE is something else. While the familiar conflict is present here, it’s executed to perfection, leading the audience to care…

  • My Man Godfrey

    My Man Godfrey

    ★★★★

    Gregory La Cava’s 1936 screwball comedy MY MAN GODFREY stars Carole Lombard and William Powell. Also featuring, are Eugene Pallette (who’s terrific in Sturges’s THE LADY EVE) and Jean Dixon (best remembered for her role in Cukor’s HOLIDAY). It’s a delightful film! 

    Central to the film is one slightly hysterical Park Avenue family consisting of the scheming and mean Cornelia (Gail Patrick) and her sister Irene (Carole Lombard), father Alexander (Eugene Pallette), mother Angelica (Alice Brady) and last but not…

  • Marked for Death

    Marked for Death

    ★★★½

    I was thinking of watching a Kitano, Ichikawa or Dassin film. What I ended up watching: a Steven Seagal flick.

    In MARKED FOR DEATH — a full-out action film with a flimsy and cliché plot — John Hatcher (Seagal) returns to Chicago after a botched mission in Colombia made him decide to leave the DEA. Back in Illinois (in Lincoln Heights to be more precise) he gets mixed up in a gang war and runs into a Jamaican Posse headed…