Showing posts from February, 2011

Grave of the Fireflies

Title: Grave of the Fireflies
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Anime, Drama
Director: Isao Takahata
Language: Japanese

September 21, 1945
That was the night I died.

I can't remember the last time I watched a film that was reputed to be a 'classic' and 'one of the best' and actually agreed with the critics. Certainly it's one of those few times I've been so moved by a film for which there's hope for more than a handful of people to have heard of it, which in itself is quite surprising given that it's a Japanese film set in WWII; a war in which most of the worlds English speaking population were on the opposite side of, but it's strength is not in pointing out blame. If not for the distinctive Japanese scenery this is a tale that could easily have been set anywhere else, with nameless countries fighting an unknown enemy. It never feels even the slightest bit “anti-Western,” but simply anti-war, and even that sentiment never feels pushed on you, instead feeling l…

Peppermint Candy

Title: Peppermint Candy
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Romantic Drama
Starring: Kyung-gu Sol, Yeo-jin Kim, Jung Suh
Director: Chang-dong Lee
Language: Korean

For something in this genre to get my attention it has to look to be something rather special, and this film promises a tale of woe; a 'memento' like direction, working its way from the end to the origins in 15 minute chunks and chronicling the sad state of affairs our protagonist finds himself in. Opening with our suited lead crashing a reunion picnic - much to the surprise of those who knew him all those years ago - twenty years on from the last time they met at this spot, clearly demonstrating a state of debilitating trauma that ends in him awaiting on a set of train tracks for his nightmare to end. As we travel backwards in time we see his life forced into living alone in a tent having lost it all; a successful businessman and abusive husband, almost proudly displaying his lack of faithfulness to her; as a brutish and heartle…

Makai Tensho: Samurai Reincarnation

Title: Makai Tensho: Samurai Reincarnation
Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Action, Horror
Starring: Sonny Chiba, Kenji Sawada, Akiko Kana
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Language: Japanese

I don't think I'd read the back of the box before I realised this was one that was needed for my collection. I had never even heard of the film but this schizophrenic “Lone Wolf and Cub meets Versus” style of action surely deserves to be better known; the same director who would go on to give us Battle Royale, meeting up with Sonny Chiba (The Street Fighter, Hattori Hanzo) and pitting him against Tomisaburo Wakayama (Lone Wolf and Cub), but this monolithic battle of Japanese samurai stars isn't the highlight of the film. Violent as only a film based on manga could be, the multiple interweaving story arcs and character motivations make this so much more than a simple story of revenge but a multi-layered tale of retribution.

Following the massacre of the Christian uprising against the Shogunate, Shiro Amaku…

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Title: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Horror, Drama
Starring: John Barrymore
Date Released: 1920

It's always been my belief that to understand a present artistic scene, then you have to at some point visit the past in order to see how things have changed, and where things derived from. Being quite possibly the first Hollywood Horror film to have ever been made, this seemed like the perfect candidate for which to study for not only is it an important turning point in the history of film, but it's a fascinating tale in its own right. The well known concept more than just a simple “man turning into beast” but a far more detailed tale of man's inner struggle; the demon on one shoulder and the angel on the other, fighting against each other for domination of the self. And it is of course the brilliant and kind Dr. Henry Jekyll that begins to dabble in this darker side of science, concocting a potion that is capable of releasing his darkest self, Mr. Hyde, free from t…

Demolition Man

Title: Demolition Man
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock
Director: Marco Brambilla

Some films shouldn't really need an introduction; action films that have long since earned their way into 'classic' status and as much as all the “Die Hard” and “Rambo” flicks of the world, Demolition Man assuredly is equally deserving of that lofty title. The clash of the two action titans: Stallone vs Snipes, pitted against each other against the colourful backdrop of a futuristic utopia where police have all but forgotten how to actually combat crime; Snipes armed with all the power and knowledge afforded to him by a corrupt government through implantation and Stallone thawed from cryostasis to bring him down once again, armed with the power to...uhhh...knit?

It all kicks off when Simon Phoenix (Snipes) is given a parole hearing after being incarcerated in cryostasis for thirty years and given the knowledge to escape and wo…

Cannibal Cheerleader Camp

Title: Cannibal Cheerleader Camp (2008)
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Horror, Short
Starring: Bridget Devlin Burke
Director: Paul Busetti
Duration: 18 mins

I suppose a good way to introduce this short film is to quote the director: “I wanted this film to be… the scenes you fast forward to when you've got a VHS copy of "Slumber Party Massacre" and your mom is going to be home soon.” In a number of ways (both good and bad), the director’s output is accurate. CCC gives us 5 beautiful camp counselors and one killer who, for a very short time, occupy the same location. The scenes Mr. Busetti was referring to? A hot shower, an act of cannibalism, TWO lesbian scenes, and six murders. And short shorts. And tube socks.

Busetti and producer Ian Albetski are two of the masterminds behind independent film production company Ten Sundays. This company was created to hone in on these filmmakers’ skills in such areas as writing, directing, editing, photography, and overall film theory with…


Title: Hipnos
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Starring: Cristina Brondo, Demián Bichir, Marisol Membrillo
Director: David Carreras
Language: Spanish

Another Spanish film made for TV (though not from the same package as the last couple), a trend which not only seems to be growing over there but seems to be coming up with some interesting results and proving that there is still creativity left in the genre, and that the right director with the right idea and trump anything Hollywood has to throw at it. Hipnos, however, isn't. The plot which revolves around the young new doctor given the opportunity to work at a prestigious sanatorium, but whilst investigating her patients a number of strange events seem to occur. Patients aren't what they seem and are capable of knowing what they shouldn't be able to know; the doctors seem to be putting patients under hypnosis so as to convince them to commit suicide, and as our young protagonist delves deeper into the dark my…

The Truth About Online Anorexia

Title: The Truth About Online Anorexia
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Documentary
Starring: Fearne Cotton

Whenever something starts becoming more prevalent, public information about it follows suit. There's plenty of shows about the dangers of drinking, and it only makes sense that anorexia is another big one that the cheap documentary's done over here seem to thrive on (for some reason the UK loves gawking at the misfortunes of other people, whether it's regular people with mushrooms under their arms or reality TV), but this one has a slight twist; rather than go “this disease is bad,” it explores the very specific idea of pro anorexia websites and the influence they hold. With local radio host Fearne Cotton roped into the experiment, the naturally slender woman takes a look into the dark underworld of the lifestyle.

It isn't long before she discovers how easy it is for anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of how to search on google could easily stumble upon these sites and forum…