Movies reviewed this week: Jeruzalem, Anguish, Cash Only, Full Strike, Tales of Halloween, The Ninja War of Torakage, Port of Call, Cherry Tree, Tazza: The Hidden Card, He Never Died, and Traders.
7/22/2015: Jeruzalem (2015): *1/2
Good twist on found footage: the heroine is wearing something akin to Google Glass the whole time, so you don’t have to wonder why the hell she doesn’t drop the camera and run. The eponymous setting is awesome. That is all the good you’re gonna get, alas. The acting is bad, the writing is awful, and the acting is bad enough so that I’m mentioning it twice. Sad waste of an excellent concept.
7/23/2015: Anguish (2015): ****
Awesome movie about mental illness and occult horror, anchored by great acting. Or maybe it’s an indie drama about mother/daughter relationships? Hard to say.
7/23/2015: Cash Only (2015): ***1/2
Solid crime thriller about a small-time loser in a hole he can’t get out of. Or a story about poverty in an immigrant community in Detroit? Actually, both.
7/24/2015: Full Strike (2015): ***1/2
One of the best Hong Kong comedy sports flicks about ex-cons redeeming themselves through badminton you’ll see this year. Also legitimately heartwarming.
7/24/2015: Tales of Halloween (2015): ***1/2
Gore and humor minded anthology horror movie with a giant helping of meta moments. Some segments better than others, of course.
7/24/2015: The Ninja War of Torakage (2015): ***1/2
Surreal, zany Japanese quasi-historical movie with a ninja flick buried somewhere in the middle of it. For a while I thought I was going to be able to take it as a straightforward movie with occasional diversions into insanity, but I was wrong: insanity wins this one. Entertainingly so.
7/25/2015: Port of Call (2015): ****
Grueling Hong Kong melodrama, unleavened by humor or the other tonal shifts one might expect. If you like thinking about how cruel we can be to each other, check it out! Also, beautiful Christopher Doyle cinematography.
7/25/2015: Cherry Tree (2015): ***
Homage to 70s coven/demon/pregnancy flicks. Good first half; kind of fumbles the transition into Argento/Fulci territory but it’s fun once it gets there. Lots of centipedes.
7/26/2015: Tazza: The Hidden Card (2014): ****
High-gloss South Korean gambling melodrama with lots of betrayal and plot and so on and so forth. Good acting! Kept my interest for all 2.5 hours.
7/26/2015: He Never Died (2015): ****
Awesome meditation on the implications of survival, with a side helping of really dark humor. Excellent Henry Rollins performance. Bleak.
7/26/2015: Traders (2015): ****
Brutally sharp social commentary. Class issues, the 1%, lots of good stuff. I’m stunned this was a first movie for these directors.