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Reviews

Kanashimi no Beradonna
(1973)

Belladonna of Sadness Review
An amazing animated film from director Eiichi Yamamoto on the history of witchcraft in France. A raw and visceral film that features rough and passionate sex. When Jean and Jeanne are unable to pay the taxes put forth by the king of France, Jeanne ends up paying the price by having to do favors with satan. Now, with the help of Satan to get her and her husband back in favors with the king and his allies, Jean ends up getting a new position from the king and Jeanne is respected by the townspeople with her newfound status. A film filled with sexual pleasures and orgies. A phantasmagoric sexual odyssey filled with various shapes, patterns, sights and sounds as a product of the sexual revolution that dominated the globe during this time. A brilliant time capsule into the world of 1970-1979 animation in Japan that defied boundaries and ethics.

Kedi
(2016)

Kedi Review
A city's connection that is deep within their history. How these felines connect with the humans in Istanbul and how the humans see themselves in these beloved felines.

La casa lobo
(2018)

The Wolf House Review
One of the most terrifying and unsettling animated films that I had ever watched. Purely original and almost makes you feel frightened the first time that you are immersed in this story.

Le chat du rabbin
(2011)

The Rabbi's Cat Review
A delightful animated film from France. From one style to another, it plays so elegantly all the way through. Discussing the topic of religion without sugarcoating it to stereotypical fashion. It is a smart and funny comedy that I hope you enjoy.

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed
(1926)

The Adventures of Prince Achmed Review
One of the oldest surviving animated features to come from Weimar Germany, directed by a true animation pioneer. Lotte Reiniger's animated masterpiece is a treasure to watch for 65 minutes. Nearly 10 years before Walt Disney would make Snow White, this animated marvel was considered the first animated narrative. A process that took nearly three years and done from the early multi-plane camera process, she was a great storyteller and a master innovator.

Death on the Nile
(2022)

Death on the Nile Review
A complete and utter desecration of Agatha Christie's work. By turning the novel into a complete exercise in studio interference and to completely change the events of the story and combining or omitting certain characters from the source material is my biggest criticism from Kenneth Branagh and the Walt Disney Corporation. Agatha Christie's book had weight, gave detailed and complex backstories on the main characters of the story and required less theatrics and an exercise in how she would challenge her own readers just with her brilliant literary genius. The film's portrayal of Poirot is very much like the director himself, a man surrounded by his own egocentric and perfectionist ability to sanitize and trying to rewrite everything that she wrote. My situation with this adaptation was: 1. There was no display or explicit sexual content from Christie's work. 2. The excessive use of computer graphics leaves me out in the cold and feels completely unrealistic. 3. The addition of Poirot's backstory in the beginning of the film was completely unnecessary. 4. The addition of Miss Bowers and Mrs. Van Schyler's lesbianism was also not in the material but just added to pander to being relevant. 5. Branagh's version of Poirot leaves me feeling cold and not with enough heart or soul into this characterization that Agatha Christie wrote. One thing that I would say to this picture, I want my Agatha Christie back. And I wish this picture should never have been made. To paraphrase Stephen King regarding the film adaptation of "The Shining" from his novel, "It's like a brand new car, but with no motor in it." That is what it felt like after watching this picture.

Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break
(2021)

Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break Review
What starts out as a goofy comedy turns into a revenge film. What better way to be on a lunch break then to seek revenge on those who crushed his dreams and left your mom to die. A delightfully funny film with deadly twists. Director Nick Gillespie wowed me with this gem!

Clean Slate
(2021)

Clean Slate Review
A touching and moving film about what it means to never let go of your passion of making movies. Even if the pain of drug addiction lingers in your system. A dedicated film about one man's dream of making a short film while he is in rehab with his best friend.

Odd Taxi
(2021)

Odd Taxi Review
My absolute favorite animated show of 2021! This tightly crafted noir animated show is no television movie, it is a film that is the complete opposite of Zootopia. Led by a walrus taxi driver named Odakawa, this amazing show is loaded with idiosyncratic characters that puts the movies to shame. Odakawa played by Natsuki Hanae is a taxi driver who is connected with a missing high school girl case, and the characters involved may have the answers to this mystery.

You have for the supporting cast, Eiji Kakihana (Kappei Yamaguchi), his best friend from high school, is a janitor who pretends that he is wealthy just to find the person to love him. Taeko (Tomoko Murakami), is a bartender at a local bar. Dr. Goriki (Ryouhwi Kimura) Odakawa's doctor, who tries to uncover his patients diagnosis. Miho Shirakawa (Riho Iida), a nurse with a dark secret. Rui Nikaido (Suzuko Mimori), the lead singer of the idol group, Mystery Kiss, whose only goal is to win and achieve success. Her backup singers are Shiho Ichimura (Moeka Koizumi), who does not think of achieving success, and Yuki Mitsuya (Manatsu Murakami), who likes to eat fried chicken. Their manager Fuyuki Yamamoto (Makoto Furakawa), is a shady character who tries to keep the idol group together, while distancing himself from his troubled past. Imai (Koudai Sakai), a waiter at a cabaret club is their biggest fan. Taichi Kabasawa (Takashi), is a social media wannabe who wants to become famous as an influencer. Baba (Atsuhiro Tsuda) and Shibagaki (Yuusuke) make up the comedic duo Homosapiens, with their unfunny jokes and timing. Satoshi Nagashima (Mahiro Takasugi) is their most avid fan and listener. The most disturbing character Hajime Tanaka (Souma Saito), is an employee who works at a video game company whose life was tormented with bad luck. The older Daimon (Kousei Miki), is a corrupt authority figure, while his brother, the younger Daimon (Asei Miki), is an oblivious officer with a sense of justice. The yakuza boss is Kuroda, who has control of his subordinates. His subordinates are: Dobu (Kenji Hamada), is an underling who works for the yakuza boss. My favorite idiosyncratic character is his rival Yano (METEOR), who speaks in rhyme as his dialogue. His bodyguard is Sekiguchi (Chado Horii). The other important character of the show is Donraku Shoufuutei (Houchuu Ootsuka), who is a major plot point in the story.

I applaud the direction, script, characters, voiceover work, lighting and animation that makes this brilliant show work. The music by Punpee, VaVa, and OMSB bring the strange and atmospheric as well as surreal music to the series. The mixture of using professional voiceover artists (seiyuu) with the newcomers or professional comedians to play the important characters is an added boost to the series. It is a show with mixes of Maya Deren, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, pulp fiction mystery novels, satire on social media, celebrity, fandom, success, failure, etc.

I highly recommend this show for those who have not seen it.

Class Rank
(2017)

Class Rank Review
A highbrow teen comedy about overachievers for overachievers. This film should have been shown amongst the most intellectual teenagers in high school who should run for the local school board.

Everybody Wants Some!!
(2016)

Everybody Wants Some Review
I remember seeing this film at the Gasparilla International Film Festival as the closing night film on the final day of the festival. It was meant to be the spiritual sequel to "Dazed and Confused". As I saw the film, it was an interesting film loaded with the usual antics that you would find in college comedies of the 1980s decade. Drug content, self-infliction, bodily harm, women mud-wrestling, and homoerotic relationships? Yes, there is a hidden homoerotic relationship between many of the male characters in this film set in a college dormitory. You may like it or not, but it is an okay film for me. I watched it in a packed theater with hundreds of people in what used to be a Muvico theater in theater #7. Those were the good times.

Barbary Coast
(1935)

Barbary Coast Review
A historical melodrama western from Howard Hawks at Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Set during the 1850s in the gold rush period before California was admitted to the Union as a free state. It tells the story of a woman named Mary Rutledge (Miriam Hopkins) who was originally supposed to marry Dan Morgan, but only finds out that Dan Morgan was dead and that his property was destroyed. She now goes under the care of Louis Chamalis (Edward G. Robinson) who basically runs the town as a corrupt racket. As soon as Mary Rutledge becomes the main attraction by organizing the main table of the roulette wheel. She gets lost in the rain and falls in love with Jim Carmichael (Joel McCrea), a man from New York who came in search of gold and found it. It is a rare film from Howard Hawks and it might not have been his strongest of the films that he made in Hollywood during the Golden Age period. But at least it is worth a look at for the historical aspect of what went on during the period in the history of San Francisco. From the gold rush to the rise of vigilante justice that would consume the history for the latter part of the 19th Century. I adore Miriam Hopkins' performance for the remainder of the film.

Cherry
(2021)

Cherry Review
A whiny boy signs up for the army because his girlfriend is going to Montreal for college all for the sake of his machismo idiocy. I guess this is what they call "adulting." To prove that you are mature and yet does not take care of their own responsibilities. I cannot see myself sympathizing Tom Holland. The majority of the film, he makes me think of Tobey Maguire, if he had the courtesy of manning up. He somehow gets his girlfriend in a mess by letting her take the blame, makes her a junkie after he comes back with PTSD and becomes a criminal. They suddenly end up becoming Sid and Nancy throughout the film or trying to act out a William S. Burroughs piece. Had the directors actually read William S. Burroughs they could have understood better. Otherwise, one would say that sitting through a film as long as two hours can make one feel as if they had seen the span of time. What it did for me was make me waste my time. A predictable moral story with its usual cliches and stereotypical characters that has served no purpose other than don't go to war, drugs are bad, make bad choices and commit to crime and get arrested to have a sappy, tacked on ending. The dialogue, message and storytelling feels forced, artificial, hackneyed and the performances only allow the actors to spout the F word more than once. By that time I had lost count. Other than that, it serves no purpose of ever being made.

The Bad Guys
(2022)

The Bad Guys Review
Before I get to the main feature, let me tell you a story about my experience going back to the theater again. It was nice going back to the cinema again to watch something different that is outside of my comfort zone. I had two different choices, it was either this or Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022), but it was starting at an early showing and this was at a later showing. Me and my friend got tickets to the showing in 3D and waited before the film was about to start. You know how it is when you arrive inside the theater with the seats being empty and you have to fill the seats and then a couple more people show up in the theater. Then the previews start and I had my face down since I didn't want to see the previews, but I can hear them just from listening to them. What do you expect when you go inside and watch the film you get to hear the reaction from the audience inside the theater. When the movie starts, at least a couple of kids in the audience start to react on time to the moments that are action packed and humorous on screen. As I sat there watching the film going through endless reams of corporate and cliched jokes, I was starting to squirm like a toddler who was fussing about not wanting to see or do something that was showing up on the screen, or I would play around with hand gestures or sometimes I would roll my eyes or look away from the screen for just a few moments. Do I regret watching the film and choosing to watch the other movie instead? No. It was worth it. I did not complain or get up and walk away from the theater. I just sat there and enjoyed myself with my friend as a way to take me out of my comfort zone.

The film is based on a series of children books by Aaron Blabey that was published since 2015. The film is about a group of criminals: Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Snake (Marc Maron), Shark (Craig Robinson), Piranha (Anthony Ramos), and Tarantula (Webbs) (Akwafina) who pulled off their latest heist, got called out by the new governor named Foxington (Zazie Beetz) for being has beens, and decide to pull their next heist: the golden dolphin. Which lead to them being caught since the recipient of the award is Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), a guinea pig. The plan at first is flawless and smooth until they get caught and Professor Marmalade decides to give them a chance to turn them into good guys in exchange for their freedom. While the book series that I had seen someone on YouTube post about and read them is pretty straightforward, the film version is also straightforward, but is clever in not trying to spoil too much of the surprise since I did not want to ruin the fun for the kids in the audience and they had to figure it out for themselves. The cast is great in the film. The animation feels reminiscent of Jim Tyer's animation at Terrytoons, except his animation was made at twice the amount of speed as opposed to this film. While some of the jokes with their adult risque ways had mixed feelings for me, I did get a subtle joking reaction to some of the humor in the film. Hey, it's the same thinking that I recollect when watching Rocko's Modern Life when it was shown on television. That's my review for this evening. Good Night and May God Bless.

Dogfight
(1991)

Dogfight Review
A unique coming of age drama starring Lili Taylor and River Phoenix that is heartfelt and completely real. With the main story taking place in the span of one night. There is a lot that you can do on one night alone just to spend with a nice girl on a date in San Francisco in 1960's America. A true hidden gem overshadowed by the big blockbusters of the day. Directed by Nancy Savoca and a story reminiscent of American Graffiti. It felt like watching an independent film, even though it is a studio film watching it all the way through. I would highly recommend this for anyone who has never heard of this film.

Greed
(1924)

Greed Review
After watching this film from yesterday, I never got over the fact of why this film would be labeled the greatest movie ever made. I think it is just an overuse. Much of the story from what I heard about this film was from it's production history and it's director. There were rumors about Erich von Stroheim being egotistical and demanding during production of this film. Some of which are not true or largely fabricated. There have been critical analyses of the film itself. For me, seeing this film, I don't think it would be great to over-analyze the film or look too deeply in its message or themes. Those have already been done and over-done. Instead, I am just going to describe what I did see and noticed. While many have remembered the theatrical release film from MGM as the studio version, I watched the Reconstructed version that was as close to the director's original intent of how he wanted the film to be shot and structured. That version largely consisted of still photographs that took up as another hour since the original footage was lost. The film has been labeled as a serious drama by filmmakers, critics and film theorists who gave different takes and interpretations. I think of the film not as a drama, but as a tragi-comic-horror-demption.

As a tragedy, it focuses on the main protagonists downfall after Trina (Zasu Pitts) won $5000 from the lottery and they end up destitute and out of control. While MacTeague (Gibson Gowland) starts out as gentle even with his human strength, later becomes self-destructive and descends to his own downfall. In the beginning of the film MacTeague's mother loses her husband to alcoholism and is later dead. She ends up dead as well with having $250 in her account. Marcus (Jean Hersholt), ends up tragically without his cousin whom he was in love with, and the fortune from the lottery ticket that lead to him chasing down MacTeague in Death Valley to collect the reward money and ends up dead. The subplot involving Maria (Dale Fuller) and her husband Zerkow, the junk collector (Cesare Gravina) having an even worst fate than the main protagonists that also lead them to their downfall over golden plates that Zerkow believes his wife hid.

As a comedy, I will admit there is one scene that stands out to me as a comic scene that I think was done on purpose. The scene at MacTeague and Trina's wedding in the foreground with the Funeral in the background, is meant to be ironically humorous, while stating that marriage is like attending your own funeral. The other comic aspect of the film are the grotesque depictions of the certain characters to make them full repulsive, while at the same time making them hysterically absurd. From the Sieppe family to the friends of the family.

As a horror story, MacTeague, with his towering height, human strength, square frame body, menacing face that is animated when he show fits of anger, rage and insanity, and his curly hair resembles an ogre or an oni like the ones you are familiar with in fairy tales or in Japanese/Chinese folk tales either when his whole face take up the whole frame or when he is standing right next to the other characters in the scene. Trina, at first starts out looking as an ordinary plain-looking woman. As the plot progresses, when she has $5000 from the lottery she starts to act like a miserly codger, and later resembles a witch with her bony fingers, large circles under her eyes, her hair starting to look rumpled and un-straightened. She starts to resemble an old witch after she doesn't have a lot of money, taking odd jobs and looks like she aged about 20 years. Zerkow, Maria's husband in the film somehow resembles a goblin with his rubbery face and menacing look. He also asks his wife repeatedly when she arrives at his workplace where she hid the golden plates and imagines himself going to an expressionist graveyard with all the crosses bended in different directions to find the golden plates in a plot of land.

As a redemption film, the only characters who were unscathed by the corrupt aspect of money and wealth were the neighbors Mr. Grannis and Miss Baker. Their subplot in the film was largely cut in the film, but in the reconstructed version, their story was brought back. They ended up having a quiet and happy life. Starting out as neighbors living right next to each other, and later fell in love and got married and living in the same apartment room previously occupied by the MacTeagues and now taken as their own home. So, the message that I got from that subplot was that the only couple who ended up unharmed were the old couple while the young couples in the film end up unlucky.

For the thematic elements in the film, the recurring motif that was repeating throughout the film was gold. It was everywhere, from the use of the word gold to showing objects with the gold yellow color (Golden nugget, golden bird, golden tooth/teeth, golden ring, golden coins, golden watch, golden tuba and the last scene taking place in the death valley desert with a golden-yellow sepiatone color). Another element is the use of animal juxtapositions from the use of birds intercutting with the main protagonists of the film to images of cats in the film. It is nice to see what San Francisco looked like when the film was shot back in 1922-1924. If you feel bored watching this film, this film may not be for you. But at least it may be useful for maybe an influence for any short film to make.

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael
(2018)

Pauline Kael, Embodiment of Film Criticism
Whether you like her reviews or loathe them, is not to be ignored. Her loosening of film criticism which was reserved as a boys only club that had to be of academic merit cannot be ignored. With archival interviews, interviewees who have discussed interactions with her and voiceover by Sarah Jessica Parker reading her reviews as well as her life story, it makes me feel that this individual no matter how flawed she may be, is an excellent example of why film criticism should not be treated as just entertaining the studio system that caters to only positive reviews without negative criticism for commercial appeal.

Sure there are people who have criticized her work as a critic for being homophobic as well as being negative on commercially successful films that earned positive praise, but there is no denying that she was also a champion for films that had not done terribly well commercially and critically. She understood the difference between what is a good trash film and a bad trash film that caters to all audiences. Unlike her contemporaries at the time who had their own platform on television to give their own takes on films that were released in theaters, her film criticism was only on print and not on any other form of medium.

Starting as a freelance critic on public radio before moving from magazine to magazine was no easy chore for her since she had a daughter and not enough money to pay for her bills. As an admirer of film directors from Walter Hill, Sam Peckinpah, Brian De Palma and Robert Altman she admires how they have been able to take stories that were considered too outside of the mainstream but were able to harness it into works of art. She was a harsh critic of the auteur theory in the prime example of filmmakers repeating the same motifs and themes in their own works but not being able to come up with anything that is original (Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, David Lean). I can understand why she has difficulty admiring these people. She was a fan of the early film work of Speilberg and Scorsese, but critical of their later work, which I also can understand since they fit in with the corporate machinations of Hollywood during that period.

Her loosening and idiosyncratic style of film criticism is no longer considered daring and shocking anymore. Nowadays it is considered the new norm when it comes to film criticism, and I for one think it is an embarassment. Something about the fractured and broken up world of film criticism is now moved to the online world. I cannot give one example of how film criticism to me can be annoying, but sometimes when humor is injected to make a point, it makes me feel that there is something lacking in it all. No human emotion, no knowledge of how certain people feel when their own works are meant to be shown to people in theaters and now in their homes via streaming services.

Pauline Kael may not have been a feminist, but she was a revolutionary for film criticism, she warned that without film critics that are self independent from the studio system, there would be critics who cater to commercialism and corporate needs that they won't have a voice to those who need to be self aware of the types of films and television shows that they watch. That is why I consider this film better in my opinion than, Life Itself (2013) about Roger Ebert, an individual who with Siskel, they're more like mean girls who are petty, vain and shallow.

That is my review of this individual and the documentary itself.

Code of the Freaks
(2020)

The Most Accurate Documentary About Disability in the Movies
The documentary examines the misconceptions about the portrayal of characters with disabilities in the movies from actual advocates, writers, actors and historians who have examined more than 100 years of the cinema's view on disability. I found the range of topics going from: sex and disability, race and disability, the false message of inspirational story of a disabled person, deaf character stereotypes, blind character stereotypes, blindness as a superpower, and the so-called "happy ending" or resolution to a story of a character with a disability. The so-called "happy ending" can go in two or three ways: the disabled person has to be killed or cut off from life to restore order, the disabled person is institutionalized as a way to protect themselves from the outside world, or the disabled person is cured and does not need any form of special needs or guidance in the world. It is an insightful and in-depth documentary that makes you want to re-think about how Hollywood and movie's portrayal of disabled characters in movies can not only be misleading, but also dangerous to the disabled community in general. Hollywood must not rely on the same old stories of relying on disabled people as inspirational or cliched-stereotypes of characters who are villainous or victimized or pitied. But, one day that there will be a film with actual disabled people that are not inspirational, but living their daily lives in a humorous or ironic way that makes fun of the formula. That would be my ideal film to see when it gets made and put into a screening or a theater.

Fritz the Cat
(1972)

A High-Class Art Film
Ralph Bakshi, a former animator at Terrytoons, created one of the most complex and artistic animated films that Hollywood today lacks. His use of unorthodox methods from interviewing college students, hookers, bums, drunkards, hippies, and other people for the film was unheard of for its time. To the use of integrating adult subject matter from: drugs, language, racism, raw violence, nudity and sex made this film a groundbreaking success. I think of Ralph Bakshi as the Jean-Luc Goddard of animation. His storylines feel as if they do not integrate with each other, but that's what makes his films so unique. He has the eye for pointing out the social and political problems that might be relevant in the current atmosphere of the United States. Bash is a true auteur, since his approach was anti-disney and independently made without the backing of a major studio. While the film itself looks disjointed in its storyline, it stills remains an absolute favorite of mine from the perspective of the viewer.

Match Point
(2005)

A Piece of Garbage
This is one of the worst films that I have ever watched when I was in film class. You have a young man who is a tennis player and becomes entranced in a love affair with a rich and wealthy woman. Later in the film, he meets the woman's brother and his fiancee, who he starts to have an affection with. His infedelity and smug charm has made him one of the absolute worst characters that I have ever seen. This picture is pure filth and one of the worst from Woody Allen. It is unfunny, horrific, and one of the worst pieces of garbage that I have ever witnessed. I was reviled in letting the main hero/villain get away with murder by killing his fiancee who is pregnant with his child and by killing the witnesses in his clumsily stupid manner. Is it garbage? It is absolutely.

The Amazing Transparent Man
(1960)

A philosophical sci-fi tale
The Amazing Transparent Man has deep connections to the director's own experiences from his native country of Austria and the aftermath of what happened during World War II. The use of the names Faust, Krenner and Ulof have European connotations to represent Old, Middle, and New Germany as a metaphor. I thought that it was deep in the ideology of politics from Ulmer's point of view.

Paper Moon
(1973)

A Grand Masterpiece from Bogdanovich
The first frame of the picture starts with a song entitled "It's Only A Paper Moon" and when the opening titles came on screen, the film felt reminiscent of a Woody Allen film, but in respect Bogdanovich had gone to extreme lengths of trying to pay homage to the great film maestro Orson Welles. I would have to concur that the cinematography and the credit for the use of deep focus should be credited to James Wong Howe who started an experimental process as far back as 1925, since he was experimenting with camera lenses and lighting to make sequences stand out in the pictures. The film then went on to tell the story of a bible salesman, and just as he was making his sales with a satisfactory customer, he notices an adolescent girl that wants to learn the trick of the trade in selling bibles as part of a con job. One thing that I will note that makes this film a grand masterpiece is the use of black and white cinematography, popular songs in the background as the film's score, the performances by Ryan O'Neal and his daughter Tatum are superb, as well as Madeline Kahn in an Oscar-nominated performance. Another positive aspect about this film is the direction that Bogdanovich outlays from story, character development, and conveying the feel and look of the era of the Great Depression. I saw this film nearly 4 to 5 years ago on DVD, there are some cons to this film, that can make it a bit problematic, first is the length, I understand that the film is long and that when there is not much action, your mind cannot take the stress of too much dialogue sequences, which is what I felt whilst watching this movie. I also felt that some of the sequences like when Ryan O'Neal is out with the Tatum O'Neal in the middle of the town in Texas is a bit antiquated when she ends up getting lost and Ryan had to search all over the area to find her. But, I do have some positive things to say about the camera angles and shots used in the film, for the sequence when Ryan O'Neal is talking to the mechanic at a train station if you look carefully at the far left of the screen, of the open window right behind the man in the train station, you can see two girls playing out back in clear view. It is distracting and takes the focus away from the story, but it is pretty awesome to see something like that in a film such as this. I like the film, and it's a story that has been used in modern films and TV shows to provide inspiration like "Suite Life of Zack and Cody" when they re-used the same story but to con the people in the hotel. That's what I feel about this movie, a grand masterpiece from Peter Bogdanovich.

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