billhsu has written 35 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Dennis: The Man Who Legalized Cannabis

    Dennis: The Man Who Legalized Cannabis

    ★★½

    Basic, but worthwhile.

  • Caveat

    Caveat

    ★★½

    I liked the multiple unreliable narratives, and that creepy drumming rabbit toy. But the soundtrack has its mercilessly telegraphing moments. And surely we're all tired of extended scenes of flashlights swirling around in dark basements.

  • La Llorona

    La Llorona

    ★★½

    There are certainly subtle, restrained and atmospheric moments here. (I liked the interactions between the young girl Sara and the mysterious Alma.) But there are also quite a few gestures that I consider clunky, like the extended demonstration scenes. The last scene seemed particularly unnecessary and heavy-handed.

  • Synchronic

    Synchronic

    ★★½

    This was entertaining enough, but clearly the weakest of the Benson/Moorhead features. (Yes, I'm a fan and have seen them all.) It doesn't have the laser focus of their best work, and gets a little too caught up in irrelevant time travel mechanics. I could certainly have appreciated less pathos and relationship banter. The sentimental ending, complete with cliched background music swells, does not help.

  • Man at Bath

    Man at Bath

    ★★½

    This was a pleasant confection after a long day. But I'm not sure what to make of it.

  • Moon Child

    Moon Child

    ★★½

    It's been years since I watched Villaronga's legendary "In A Glass Cage", or his gray and bleak "Black Bread". But my memories of the two are very different from this. I haven't read the Crowley novel it's supposedly "inspired by", so I can't tell who's responsible for the sillier parts. But with the beautiful and severe interiors (and equally severe period haircuts), we do have more than a smattering of Disney moments. These days unfortunately, scenes set in an institution…

  • Joe Finds Grace

    Joe Finds Grace

    ★★½

    There's some nice interweaving of live footage and hand-drawn animation. But on the whole, this didn't work for me.

    (Seen at Another Hole In The Head 2020.)

  • Dead of Night

    Dead of Night

    ★★½

    This of course dates poorly, though each segment had a little twist that kept it from being totally obvious.

    I first saw this alone on TV one night, as a young teen decades ago. The third segment scared the shit out of me at the time. It's pretty tame by today's standards, but the exchanges between the mother and son, that slowly revealed their relationship, were nicely done.

  • Minor Premise

    Minor Premise

    ★★½

    The first half hour of exposition seemed rather stiff and didactic to me. I'm never that interested in the mechanics of the pseudo-technology, and there were certainly unfortunate details in the depictions of lab work. Some moments of visual interest, but this is not Primer, or even Possessor.

  • The Antenna

    The Antenna

    ★★½

    Despite being Turkish, this has a classic East European look, with the decrepit and weathered interiors, boxy old-fashioned household implements, and the shadows of an inscrutable totalitarian regime. Many of the scenes are visually bleak and inventive and beautiful. Unfortunately the primary idea, the black tar oozing from the satellite dish installed by the state, seems rather ham-handed, the effects of the tar are somewhat arbitrary, and proceed at an all too tar-like pace. Visually compelling sequences, for example the tense scene on the stairs near the end, with the flickering washed-out lighting, often end in cliched violent gestures and emoting. Too bad.

  • Rabbit

    Rabbit

    ★★½

    Another evening, another seriously flawed movie about twins. Kind of a cross between Australian folk horror and a conventional thriller. I like the concept, and there are some nice visuals. Unconvincing plot elements and cliched music (no more sudden synthetic orchestral swells please) do not help.

  • Double Lover

    Double Lover

    ★★½

    For all of Ozon's visual flair, this feels clunky and more than a little heavy-handed to me. Maybe it's time to take another look at Dead Ringers.