billhsu has written 52 reviews for films during 2019.

  • Monos

    Monos

    ★★★★

    This was captivating, though I was really much more excited by the gorgeous visuals, cryptic rituals and almost casual cruelties, than with the niceties of the plot. The horrific violence of the young guerrillas is all the more brutal against the light and fog and color of the surroundings. And those shots in the rapids near the end, wow.

  • X

    X

    ★½

    (Seen at Another Hole in the Head 2019.)

  • Tigers Are Not Afraid

    Tigers Are Not Afraid

    ★★★½

    As mentioned in other reviews here, this has more than a whiff of the early Del Toro, with dark gritty realities occasionally disrupted by fantastic elements. But while Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth had the historical cushion of the Spanish Civil War, the kids' hardscrabble lives and desperate games, in the middle of gang violence, is just in our face the whole time. I had some quibbles with technical details (the odd levels on the soundtrack for instance, maybe it…

  • The Wretched

    The Wretched

    ★★★

    While this is not quite free of YA horror cliches, it has its charm and points of visual interest. (Seen at Another Hole in the Head 2019.)

  • Butterfly Kisses

    Butterfly Kisses

    ★★½

    Some interesting ideas, but stretched pretty thin. More restraint would be nice near the end. I like the poster much better than the movie.

  • The Deeper You Dig

    The Deeper You Dig

    ★★★½

    I almost skipped this, because I hated the poster, and the title just conjured up all kinds of awful horror movie cliches. But this was one of my most rewarding screenings at Another Hole in the Head. (I know, after X, the bar is low; but.) It's a standard story arc, but there are clever, surprising ideas, and some vicious black humor (see annoying radio, and the hilarious toilet sequence, for instance). There are some beautiful set pieces; I loved…

  • Knives Out

    Knives Out

    ★★★½

    This reminds me of a more conventional version of some of those late Altman confections. But it doesn't take itself seriously for a minute, there was more going on than I expected, and was overall very entertaining. Not sure about Daniel Craig's accent though.

  • The Wolves of Kromer

    The Wolves of Kromer

    ★★★★

    I saw this when it first came out, and loved it. Looks like it's too clever, arch, and funny for many viewers, even today.

  • November

    November

    ★★★★

    I love this kind of dark absurdist folktale, especially when it's so well-executed, packed with clever ideas, and gorgeously shot. Just look at the trailer's winter icescapes, the intense lined faces, and the "kratt", terrifying and hilarious at the same time. Like in early Del Toro, there's no shying from social/economic realities (how can you not feel for poor flawed Liina and Hans?), and the messiness of magic. And no shortage of laugh-out-loud moments. I would tighten the middle section somewhat, but otherwise this is magic.

  • I Lost My Body

    I Lost My Body

    ★★★★

    This dips its (ahem) digits into some wonderfully odd territory. The two main narrative strands hardly interweave, but we're treated to many clever and surprising visual ideas. The boy/girl interactions are nicely done, and I do appreciate the lovely openness of the ending.

  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    ★★★½

    Del Toro lite, but nicely done.

  • Pain and Glory

    Pain and Glory

    ★★★½

    A sweet film, with some nice performances. So I feel bad to admit I prefer (say) Bad Education or The Skin I Live In.