Tuesday, August 31, 2021

'Yakuza Princess' (2021) Movie Review

masumi with a sword
Sometimes a movie appears tailor made for you, as if the filmmakers mined your inner-most desires and combined them into one feature. And sometimes when that happens, despite all the things that sound so, so rad and perfect, the result leaves you flat and does absolutely nothing for you. Such is the case with Brazilian director Vicente Amorim’s Yakuza Princess.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

'Candyman' (2021) Movie Review

candyman yahya abdul mateen
Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman…Nope, not going to do it. Haven’t since first seeing the original in 1992, not going to start now. This latest round of nope, nope, oh hell no, is thanks primarily to Nia DaCosta’s new take on the property, which is chilling, gory, stunning to look at, and occasionally frustrating.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

'Spider-Man: No Way Home' Trailer: Peter Parker Returns With A Few Surprises And Poor Decisions

spider-man
The other day the filmic corners of the internet were all a-flutter over a leaked version of the trailer for the next adventure from everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, Spider-Man: No Way Home. As so often happens in these cases, the studio hauled ass to, ready or not, release a version of the trailer that doesn’t look like hot garbage. And here it is.

Friday, August 20, 2021

'Demonic' (2021) Movie Review

creepy nathalie bolts
Primarily known for politically minded science fiction films like District 9 and Elysium, with his latest film, Demonic, writer/director Neill Blomkamp dives into low(ish)-budget horror. The results of this attempt to revive a career that started on a high-note and has flagged somewhat since, are mixed. It has cool ideas, even if they’re not always capitalized on, more than a couple missed opportunities, a strong visual sense, and a heavier emphasis on ominous mood and atmosphere rather than outright scares.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

'The Night House' (2020) Movie Review

rebecca hall in the night house
Horror as metaphor for grief and mental illness is nothing new. Specifically because it provides an effective framework to examine loss, things that scare us and cause us pain, and our responses, filmmakers will always return to this particular well. In his last film, The Ritual, director David Bruckner examined the collective trauma of a group of friends who violently lost one of their own. His latest, The Night House, hones in even closer, focusing on a single woman coping with sudden death and the legacy it leaves behind.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Bull' Movie Review

Neil Maskell
Neil Maskell (Kill List) may not look like a typical cinematic badass, he just looks like a normal dude you’d pass on the street and not give a second thought. But holy hell, people in movies need to stop messing with him because he will straight up wreck them and be terrifying as hell in the process. Case in point, Paul Andrew Williams’ revenge thriller Bull. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes' Movie Review

guy talking to a TV
When coffee shop owner/aspiring musician Kato (Kazunari Tosa) heads to his upstairs apartment after close, he’s shocked to get a message on the TV, from himself, from two minutes in the future. This kicks off director Junta Yamaguchi’s Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, a cascading series of sci-fi time travel antics with a crew of oddballs, like Megumi (Aki Asakura) and Ozawa (Yoshifumi Sakai), among others. They try to decipher the mystery, maybe get Kato a date, and quickly find themselves in way over their heads.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Seobok' Movie Review

gong you with a gun
Movies love to look to the near future in order to delve into the topic of human cloning and the various moral and ethical ramifications of playing god and creating life in a lab. As often happens, these stories also turn into meditations on what it means to truly be human, a whole other can of metaphorical worms. And into this framework comes writer/director Lee Yong-ju’s Seobok.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Brain Freeze' Movie Review

brain freeze horror movie
Zombie stories often get a bad rap. Sometimes for good reason. There are a ton, and, admittedly, a lot aren’t great. But then there are those that show up, do something new, fun, and different, or at least deliver a strong story and compelling characters within the genre. (Recent ones that spring to mind include #Alone, Black Summer, Train to Busan, and others.) Canadian director Julien Knafo’s Brain Freeze definitely falls into this latter category, presenting a zombie movie with an intriguing set up, a few tweaks to the formula, and a showcase interesting personalities. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

'Raging Fire' (2021) Movie Review

donnie yen action movie
A cop haunted by the past, trying to right previous wrongs. Who’s a bit of a hotshot and plays by his own rules, though still operates by a strict code. With a pregnant wife. Yeah, we’ve seen this set up before. But when that cop is Donnie Yen, and we’re talking about Raging Fire, the final film from the great Benny Chan, the result is a top-tier action banger of epic proportions. This sprawling, Heat-inspired cops-and-robbers opus delivers in all the right ways and rules every ounce as hard as one might hope.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched' Movie Review

blonde lady horror movie
Folk horror is in the midst of a global resurgence at the moment, so what better time for a documentary to take a deep-dive into the fascinating subgenre? And that’s exactly what filmmaker Kier-La Janisse (author of the great House of Psychotic Women) and company do with the three-plus-hour documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. It is every inch what that title suggests and more.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Fantasia 2021: 'Sweetie, You Won't Believe It' Movie Review

russian action movie
Three friends, a van full of inflatable sex dolls, and a fishing trip gone very, very wrong. What about a quartet of inept killers and a mysterious one-eyed man with a brutal vendetta? All wrapped in a bloody, violent, patently ridiculous, near-slapstick package? If that sounds like a fine time, add Yernar Nurgaliyev’s Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It to your mist-see list. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Fantasia Film Festival 2021: 11 Movies You Must See

samurai cat and a pug
With the proliferation of COVID-19 vaccines and at least some people caring enough about their fellow humans to take it, in-person events like film festivals have made a comeback. [Editor’s Note: Hopefully this holds, but it looks like we’re going backwards.] Not all, however. Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival is sticking to the virtual model for 2021. I usually cover the fest remote, so this isn’t much of a change from the norm for me. Regardless of the platform, the fest has yet again assembled an eclectic, weird-as-hell program, and we have some suggestions of things you might want to check out.