• Liz and the Blue Bird

    Liz and the Blue Bird

    ★★★★★

    You can chart the course of my life over the last three years with my reviews of this movie. There have been significant ups and downs – mostly downs – represented by my periodic encounters with Liz and the Blue Bird, and once again I am simultaneously celebrating Naoko Yamada’s birthday by rewatching the movie and using this review as another diary entry.

    A lot changed in the year that passed after my last viewing of Liz. Yamada’s departure from…

  • School-Live!

    School-Live!

    I was so dissatisfied with this film that halfway through writing this review I went to the Sentai Filmworks shop and ordered the Blu-ray of the 2015 anime adaptation. I guess that's a win for Gakkougurashi in the aggregate, but definitely a loss for me in that I could have just bought the anime without sitting through this.

    We have here another victim of a loveless and underfunded attempt to squeeze a live-action film out of a manga/anime. I would…

  • Evil of Dracula

    Evil of Dracula

    ★★½

    Home to some of the worst fights I have ever seen on film, extremely suspicious faculty members, a totally bizarre score that is both jazzy and noisy when it seems least appropriate, the world's least observant and/or least sensible movie doctor, and some downright stupid dialogue without much in the way of upsides. There are, like, three really cool things secreted in various places around this movie, but they don't make it easy for you to appreciate those things. Evil…

  • Quo vadis, Aida?

    Quo vadis, Aida?

    ★★★★½

    The Srebrenica massacre, an act of genocide against the town's Bosniak population that claimed upwards of 8,000 lives, was perpetrated in 1995. Ratko Mladić, Commander of the Army of Republika Srpska and architect of the massacre, was not arrested until 2011. He was not put on trial until 2012 and he was not convicted until 2017. It was not until 2021 that his final appeal was rejected and he was at last left with a sentence of life imprisonment -…

  • My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission

    My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission

    ★★★½

    Even with literally the entire world hanging in the balance, the stakes don't feel as high as Heroes Rising, which remains unchallenged in its herculean build and spine-demolishing climax. It'll be hard to outdo that one in terms of sheer brawn and momentum, especially given that the other two films so far, and likely the remaining ones, are obligated to spin some standard excuse for gathering all the characters together for some good fights. World Heroes' Mission also feels less…

  • American Graffiti

    American Graffiti

    ★★★★½

    There is an alternate reality in which George Lucas evolved into Robert Altman, Star Wars was directed by Martin Scorsese, and R. Crumb became world-famous for his concept art for Francis Ford Coppola's Alien (the alien is portrayed by Brian De Palma). Although this is quite different in every respect from the media empire that sheared Lucas away from true cinematic craft, it does somehow underscore just how different the first Star Wars movie is from the two that immediately…

  • Violet Evergarden: The Movie

    Violet Evergarden: The Movie

    ★★★★★

    Fourth time seeing this and I managed maybe the first eight seconds without crying. This is more than just the heart-rending conclusion to one of the most transcendent works ever animated; it is Kyoto Animation: The Movie. The suffering in this movie is real, every last teardrop of it. Reflecting on the sorrows of the past. Acknowledging that you can't stop the future from arriving. Not knowing how to move forward, only that you have to. Working around your scars…

  • Dawn of the Mummy

    Dawn of the Mummy

    ★★★

    I decided to watch this purely because I understood it to be a mummy movie produced in Egypt. It was, in fact, filmed in Egypt, and apparently has a reasonable claim to being the only mummy movie shot entirely in Egypt, but it is an Italian-American co-production, which makes it markedly less interesting from a conceptual standpoint (I mean, I've seen Italian horror movies before). Some day I would like to see an entirely Egyptian take on this horror cliche.…

  • The Strange Case of Captain Ramper

    The Strange Case of Captain Ramper

    ★★★

    It is noteworthy that at the time this film was made the North Pole had only recently been traversed by man - with a few famous expeditions earlier in the 20th century now considered dubious, the 1926 flight of Roald Amundsen and his crew was the first undisputed passage to (and over) the North Pole. Nowadays, achieving the North Pole is just another one of those things that's within the grasp of any holidaymaker with enough cash, and enough scientific…

  • The Red Shoes

    The Red Shoes

    ★★★½

    I told my brothers that this was Twin Peaks and they believed me, because I've been watching The Return and every time they walk in on an episode it's a completely different set of characters doing something unrelated that will never ever be connected with anything else and it never makes any sense. Anything that I'm watching at any given time is Twin Peaks now.

    And it's very Twin Peaks of this movie to be called The Red Shoes when…

  • Santa Sangre

    Santa Sangre

    ★★★½

    I regretted this choice less than I thought I would, based on my lack of enthusiasm for The Holy Mountain; it's clearly the same madman behind Santa Sangre, but I'm a lot more impressed now by Jodorowsky's ability to draw suspense out of a collage of bizarre images. The narrative sense is still surreal and nonlinear, but it's tighter, more purposeful, and ultimately more effective, even if a lot of this still resides in the realm of "important imagery" rather…

  • Halloween Kills

    Halloween Kills

    ★★½

    Points for not calling this one Halloween II (or even Halloween II III). It was neat hearing the new Ghost single over the credits, but it provided a perfect parallel to this movie: in both cases, I preferred the sound when it was still fresh and there was more mystery surrounding the guy behind the mask.

    Despite trailers promising to open in media res in what would have been one of the most stunning sequel pickups in recent memory, Halloween…