Sammo Hung is a damn living legend. The 64-year-old martial artist and actor has been churning out hits since the 1960s, working with fellow badasses like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and the Shaw Brothers; and helming, starring in, and doing stunts and fight choreography for hundreds of films. His first directorial feature since 1997, The Bodyguard (also known as My Beloved Bodyguard), just made its North American premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Gaspar Noe may be the face of New French Extremity, but his wife, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, is no stranger to savage, transgressive films. Playing a part in the likes of I Stand Alone (as producer) and Enter the Void (as a writer), her second directorial effort, Evolution, bows at the Seattle International Film Festival, and delivers her own surreal, unsettling cinematic nightmare.
Monday, May 30, 2016
Short films are a notoriously tricky form. For every fantastic offering, you have to wade through a sea of less-than-stellar dreck. Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Seattle International Film Festival runs their annual shorts program, and while the WTF segment has its share of problems, it was, by and large, a strong collection. And every title on the docket certainly lives up to the moniker.
Xu Haofeng’s The Final Master, making its North American debut at the Seattle International Film Festival, is a throwback to classic wuxia films in every sense. A story fraught with ambition, loyalty, and betrayal, it wears the scope and aesthetic texture of its predecessors. Set in China of the 1930s, there are familiar themes of old versus new, changing times and tides, increasing western encroachment, and impending war.
Friday, May 27, 2016
The Eyes of My Mother is beautiful to look at. First time feature director Nicolas Pesce cut his teeth helming music videos, and the stark black-and-white photography, framing, and depth of field are the film’s greatest strengths.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
When a photographer witnesses a horrendous crime on the rooftop of a nearby building, he attempts to take a picture of the event. The assailants see him, hunt him down, and bludgeon him do death with a hammer in his own low-rent studio. And that’s just the jumping off point for South Korean director Park Hong-min’s (A Fish) twisted, nightmarish thriller, Alone, which makes its North American debut at the Seattle International Film Festival.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
There are things that writer/director Oz Perkins’ (who acted in one of my all-time favorites, Not Another Teen Movie) horror thriller, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, does well. And things it does not.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Guy Maddin makes unusual movies. That's why he has, for the vast majority of his 30-year career, remained a definitively singular filmmaker. His body of work is certainly not for everybody, but he has his style, distinctive aesthetic, and there aren't many movies like his to be found.
Monday, May 23, 2016
A documentary about a sport called Competitive Endurance Tickling has to be a hoot, right? David Farrier and Dylan Reeve’s Tickled is certainly hilarious, but as the tagline states, “It’s not what you think.”
Mickey Keating’s aptly titled Carnage Park is a gritty, nasty piece of business. And I mean that as high praise. Set in 1978, this blanched-out grindhouse throwback follows the aftermath of a bank robbery gone bad. The two crooks flee the scene with a hostage, and things take a turn when they encounter a deranged former sniper who hunts them through the wilderness.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
I know that there are droves of Rocky Horror Picture Show devotees out there, but while that cult classic has a place in my heart, for my money there is no movie musical more batshit crazy than the 1980 Cannon Films joint The Apple. Thank you, Menahem Golan, you magnificent, lunatic bastard. It easily ranks in my top ten films of all time, no question.
Remember how that last Star Trek Beyond trailer sucked so bad even the guy who wrote the movie admitted it wasn’t very good? Yeah, well, apparently Paramount took that to heart and released a new, much better trailer. There’s not a single Beastie Boys track to be found. Check it out.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Under normal circumstances, a river full of school girl corpses, ones that have been cut in half no less, shouldn’t be funny. But when this scenario is in the hands of manic madman Sion Sono, as it is in his latest wingnut opus, Tag, it certainly elicits a chuckle, even if it’s an uncomfortable one.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
While I wasn’t a huge fan of The Purge, it was a promising idea—a dystopian alternate reality where one night a year all crime is legal, because apparently all we need it to get our ya-ya’s out for one night and there won’t be any the rest of the year. Or something.
Back in 2014, Neighbors became a hit and marked, if not a maturation of Seth Rogen and his foul-mouthed comedy style, at least a shift towards more mature thematic concerns, particularly those of fatherhood and marriage. Produced for a modest sum, and with a worldwide box office haul of more than $270 million, it’s two years later and the no-brainer sequel is here to strengthen Rogen’s dad brand.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
If you’re a fan of Shane Black’s movies, especially Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon, and The Last Boy Scout, his latest, The Nice Guys, is exactly the movie you hoped for. It never deviates from the formula, but it’s certainly Black doing what he does, as well as he’s ever done it. This is the kind mismatched buddy action comedy that, every time one does roll around, we collectively say, “Hollywood doesn’t make this kind of movie anymore.”
Monday, May 16, 2016
The Seattle International Film Festival is once again upon us, and while many fests are like sprints, cramming a ton of movies into relatively short spans, SIFF is a damn marathon. Covering more than three weeks and 400 films (the final count in 2016 is 481), this is an endurance test. By the end I’m usually a limp pile that vaguely resembles a human being, sleep deprived and twitching in a corner.
Friday, May 13, 2016
If you haven’t had any good news yet today (that Michael B. Jordan/Black Panther news is pretty sweet), don’t worry, I have some for you. Two of the baddest dudes currently working in movies, ScottAdkins and Marko Zaror, are getting back together for a movie called Savage Dog. There’s not actually much more to tell, but god damn, isn’t that enough for you?
It’s Friday the 13th, the spookiest day of the year, and what would this day be without a dab of new horror for all you little weirdoes out there? Well, Fede Alvarez (the Evil Dead remake) has got your back, and dropped the first trailer for his upcoming Don’t Breathe. Hit it up after the jump.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Movies based on videogames are, as a whole, not very good. But the upcoming Assassin’s Creed adaptation just dropped its first trailer, and it looks weird as shit. Check it out below.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Cards on the table: I adore J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel High-Rise. Normally it takes quite a bit to get me excited about an adaptation, especially of a book I love, but the moment I heard Ben Wheatley, the man behind such gonzo, genre defying fare as Kill List, Sightseers, and A Field in England, was on the case, it all just made so much damn sense. I would have kept a close eye on either a new Ben Wheatley film or an adaptation of High-Rise, but the fact that I could do both at the same time was just gravy.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Why do we go into the wilderness? Seriously. We’ve all seen enough horror movies by this point to know that nothing good ever happens when we leave the comfort and relative ease of our city homes. There are monsters, witches, cannibals, angry bears, and ghosts and ghouls of all stripes. Even in non-horror movies, there’s a lot to contend with. You may get sexually assaulted by hill folk, suffer a horrific accident on a hike, or have to cut off your own arm. I don’t even know why I go outside anymore. And after watching the trailer for Adam Wingard’s latest, The Woods, I’m even less likely to do so than before.
Friday, May 6, 2016
When it comes to brutal, twisted thrillers, no one in the world is currently kicking out the jams like South Korea. Next up for fans of this particular cinematic niche is Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing (Goksung). Set to debut at Cannes in short order, there’s been a glut of activity surrounding the film lately, including yet another new trailer. This one’s even subtitled in English for those of us whose Korean may be a bit rusty. Check it out.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Admittedly, every time it rolls around I wish I had the time, money, and cache to hit up the Cannes Film Festival. Watching a bunch of movies on the French Riviera in the springtime doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a couple of weeks. Even last year, Mad Max: Fury Road exploded onto the world there, and countless important movies have debuted there over the years. It’s the most prestigious fest in the world for a reason.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
It’s at the point where I don’t even consider the next installment in the never-ending deluge of Marvel movies its own standalone feature. Along the path, I started looking at their whole cinematic universe as a big, occasional, episodic series, like how I watch Game of Thrones. Actually, it most closely resembles how I watch Sherlock, what with the long gaps, tangentially related storylines, and really long episodes.
Being trapped, alone, just a short distance from unattainable freedom, threatened by some external force you can’t control or defeat, is a primal, visceral fear. And The Shallows, an upcoming thriller about Blake Lively trapped a few hundred feet from shore by a great white shark, looks to make full use of that lurking fear. The film just dropped a new trailer. Check it out below.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Na Hong-jin may not be as familiar as his countrymen Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho, and Kim Jee-woon. But when it comes to grim, bad-as-hell South Korean thrillers, he’s near the top of the heap alongside those distinguished gentlemen. He doesn’t get name dropped like he should, but The Chaser and The Yellow Sea are two of the best suspenseful, gritty actioners out of that country in a while—Park, Bong, and Kim have expanded beyond South Korea’s borders to varying degrees, but Na is holding it down for the time being. He hasn’t made a movie in a few years, but he’s back with The Wailing (Goksung), which looks right up my alley, and has a fantastic new trailer (okay, it’s been out for a bit, but it’s new to me). Take a look.
Monday, May 2, 2016
At this stage of the game, post-apocalyptic zombie movies are a tough sell. And this comes from a guy whose entire left arm is taken up with a tattoo of the undead swarming the city of Seattle, so you know I have a love for this particular subset of films. For every great offering, there is a sea of absolute dreck to slog through, but the ones that hit are totally worth the search—a great zombie movie is a thing of beauty, but the bad ones are some of the worst garbage I’ve ever witnessed. Having just won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, Here Alone looks like it could fall into fantastic category. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this new trailer.