I’m going to start doing this monthly instead of bi-monthly because sometimes by the time I get to talk about a movie it’s no longer in theatres.
First some of the reviews I've done for CityOnFire.com...
Police Story: Lockdown – One of Jackie Chan’s greatest films ever was the 1985 action classic Police Story. It mixed humor, martial arts, and the crazy stunts we’d come to know Jackie for. Since that film, Jackie’s returned to the series time and again. And now we have Police Story: Lockdown (AKA Police Story 2013) which is such a departure from the other films that one wonders why they called it a Police Story film at all. Regardless of whether it belongs in the series, Police Story: Lockdown is a solid thriller which showcases Jackie Chan’s dramatic abilities in addition to his usual action movie heroics. Read my full review at City on Fire.
Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal – A Chinese fantasy film directed by Peter Pau (Oscar winning cinematographer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The film suffers from CGI overkill… and some of the CGI isn’t that good, either. Still, there’s some fun to be had. Read my review at City on Fire.
For the Emperor – A hard-R crime thriller from South Korea about a failed baseball star who becomes a gangster. There’s not much originality to the film but I mostly enjoyed myself. Mostly. Read my review at City on Fire.
Z Storm – A Hong Kong financial thriller about an anti-corruption team investigating a suspicious new hedge fund that’s about to go public. It’s a dull movie with pure, incorruptible heroes and an uninteresting plot. A good cast, including Louis Koo (Flash Point), is largely wasted. Disappointing. Read my review at City on Fire for more.
Now some general recommendations...
Slow West—One of the best films of 2015. Slow West is a western with an artistic eye and a darkly comic touch. Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Ben Mendelsohn are all great. This is the feature film directorial debut of John Maclean and it’s one of the best first films since Duncan Jones’ Moon and Neil Blomkamp’s District 9. Just a fantastic piece of cinema.
CITIZENFOUR – A fascinating and frightening documentary about Edward Snowden and the way in which the government spies on us all. It’s a must-see.
Wild—Reese Witherspoon’s best work since Walk the Line. I’m actually not a big fan of Witherspoon but she definitely can deliver on occasion. Laura Dern’s really good here, too. It’s a film about a woman who decides to hike in the wilderness in order to rediscover herself. Good drama, some strong character development, and a few nice visuals. It’s a great movie overall.
Ant-Man—This one surprised me a bit. I’m a big Marvel fan and I like what they’re doing with the connected universe of the MCU. However, based on the lackluster trailers (and some personal disappointment about director Edgar Wright dropping out), Ant-Man was looking like a weaker entry in the Marvel cinematic universe. But I was wrong. It’s a hugely entertaining film, one of the funniest that Marvel’s put out. And I like that it didn’t end with huge armies of bad guys fighting for the world but rather a small scale heist. It’s a good one (definitely better than Avengers: Age of Ultron) and I look forward to seeing the character again.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – One of the best in the Mission: Impossible series. You know, it’s funny, but they were once talking about the series moving on without Tom Cruise. Supposedly Jeremy Renner was going to be taking it over. Now that's unthinkable. In Rogue Nation Jeremy Renner’s very much a background character while Tom Cruise continues to prove that he’s Hollywood’s best action movie leading man. The dude hangs onto the side of a cargo jet as it’s taking off in this one. For real! I’m almost worried he’s gonna kill himself on a Mission: Impossible movie one of these days. Anyway. It’s a solid espionage action movie and definitely worth checking out.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter – This one’s based on an urban legend which is based on a true story which was centered around a movie that claimed to be a true story but actually isn’t. You with me so far? Okay, so have you seen the Coen brother’s classic Fargo? Well, Fargo is entirely fictional, despite the Coen’s putting "True Story" notices in the film… I believe their reason was that you’d only believe the film if you were told that it’d actually happened. Well, in real life, a woman from Japan came to the region, got involved with some questionable/mysterious stuff, and the media ran with the idea that she was looking for the money from Fargo that’d been buried on the side of the road. The truth is sadder than all of that, but an urban legend was born. Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is based around that urban legend, starring Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) as a socially awkward Japanese woman who studies the movie like it’s a treasure map and comes to America looking for the money on the side of the road. Like the film that inspired it, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter has its share of both dark thrills and comedic delight. Also like Fargo, this is not a “true story." I think it's an interesting oddity that film lovers should appreciate.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
Blog notice: mostly this blog is for sharing my thoughts and talking about my books. From time to time I will also comment on books, films, music, sports, and/or videogames. During these times I may use images of the creative works under discussion. I'm posting the images under the "fair use" allowance, for purposes such as criticism, comments, reporting, teaching, and research. If you have any issue with images used on this blog, please contact me and the images will be removed.
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