Wednesday, August 3, 2016

KNIGHT OF CUPS(directed by Terrence Malick) Isn't My Cup of Tea.

I have some advice for Terrence Malick. Lose the actors(who stand around clueless), voice-over narration(that sounds constipated), and script(if that's what it is). Lose the classical music, overly solemn and structured for Malick's informal joyrides. Just do travelogue and show us pretty pictures. KNIGHT OF CUPS works on that level. Major characters, such as they exist, are little more than bored tour-guides for Malick's attention-deficit-disorder musings. Everyone else is either eye-candy, exotica, or distraction, though always posturing for epiphany.
Stylistically, this latest monstrosity is an improvement over horrors such as THE NEW WORLD and TREE OF LIFE. The camera-work is nimbler, finer-tuned to shifts of action and attention. TREE OF LIFE, the most expensive home movie(or youtube video)ever made, couldn't reconcile the monumental with the momentary, no more than Einstein could unify stars with sub-atoms.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

POINT BREAK(directed by Ericson Core and written by Kurt Wimmer) Is Retarded

This could have been a captivating adventure about the extremes of masculinity and megalomania. The themes are all there. Daring mortality for delusions of immortality. And there are spectacular moments on the waves and along the cliffs. But shallow characterization deflates the tragic dimension, the only thing that can sustain and justify a movie like this. Some of the action scenes are beyond ludicrous; they 'jump the shark', making the feats seem more fanciful than mad. And the damn tattoos. Maybe getting more than one tattoo should be a capital crime. Enough already.

Rating: 1/5


It lacks the finesse of a top production feature like SOCIAL NETWORK. A cheapie TV production. The acting is uneven, and the plot isn't always convincing. But the low-budget amateurism has charm and captures the nervy and nerdy spirit of ne'er-do-well garage geeks chasing after their dreams by fits and starts of talent, vision, cunning, and luck. It works on the level of romp. While Fincher's movie and Danny Boyle's STEVE JOBS are technically more impressive, they are overloaded with seriousness and relevance, whereas PIRATES OF SILICON VALLEY grooves to the vibes of geek egotism. If John Hughes had made a movie about high-tech world, it might have been something like this.

Rating: 2/5

BOILER ROOM(directed by Ben Younger) Is a Memorable Movie

BOILER ROOM features some Jews acting like Italians acting like Negroes. It has wall-to-wall Rap music, which drove me crazy, but it suits the tacky material. It features familiar elements of drama, like father-son conflict, but well-done formula is next best thing to art.

Smart successful Jews make it to Harvard and Yale and go directly to Wall Street. The smart-but-not-smart-enough and driven-but-not-disciplined enough Jews must find other routes to fortune and success. These Jews must go 'Soprano' and 'goomba' route, traipsing the thin line between legality and illegality. BOILER ROOM effectively shows the underbelly of this kind of enterprise. The illegitimate crassly masquerading the legitimate. But given recent revelations about Wall Street, maybe BOILER ROOM is just a grubbier expose of what goes on in the legitimate world too.

Rating: 3/5

WALL STREET(directed by Oliver Stone) Still Entertains and Delivers

What is one to make of Oliver Stone? Usually, Hollywood stars make asses of themselves as wanna-be artists. They work well within formula but lose themselves outside it. Stone is the opposite. He is best in artistic mode and falls flat with formula.
Stone's villains are usually the most interesting. Stone cannot endorse their positions yet is too much of an artist to simply caricature them as monsters. Also, the egotistical side of Stone makes him, at least subconsciously, identify with power-hungry men. So, the character of Gordon Gekko shines in WALL STREET. He's a crook, a shark, but also a creature of powerful instincts, insights, and talents. There is magnificence in his greed, a real passion for life than mere greed for money.

One could argue that Gekko is too sensational, especially with handsome Michael Douglas in the role. Good or bad, he is the star like Hannibal Lecter is in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. He is above conventional morality, beyond good and evil.

Stone succeeds with Gekko because he is artist enough to see Gekko from all angles, ranging from disgust to admiration. Where Stone falters(in this movie and in others) is in featuring the Good Guys, the representatives of Labor. Stone goes formula and gives us trite speechifying about the Common Man. It's like Stone is on auto-pilot doing assembly line screenwriting. It is by rote than wrote.

Rating: 3/5

A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY(directed by Edward Yang) Is Maybe Summit of Taiwanese Cinema

Slow-going at times but a carefully observant socio-cultural diagnosis of the unsure direction of youth in conflict with family, peers, and authority. Like a doctor's stethoscope, Yang's creative senses attunes us to the heartbeat of history so often drowned out by distractions and hyperbole. 

Rating: 5/5

THE MISSOURI BREAKS(directed by Arthur Penn) Wind.

Chigurh of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN may be scarier, but Brando's role as Grand Inquisitor is more perverse. Not sure that's a good thing but what a singular performance: eccentric, indulgent, spoiled, funny, vicious. This movie sort of has 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. As an Anti-Western, the 'good' or 'gooder' guys are petty outlaws while the 'bad' or 'badder' guys are ruling figures of the pioneer community. Kind of Sam Fuller Western on dope. Confused, not very convincing, and ugly at times but one of a kind story that guts the Western and pulls out the entrails along the frontier trails.

Rating: 3/5 

LA CHIENNE(directed by Jean Renoir) Is a True Classic

Jean Renoir's LA CHIENNE blends the mundane with murder without betraying the spirit of either. A remarkable film, one of the first talkies, along with Fritz Lang's M, to illustrate that cinema can stand tall and equal with the established and esteemed arts. It justifiably made Renoir's name as a top contender and a talent to watch. An artist who veers into extremities of experience without losing sight of what makes us human as creatures of routine and rare moments of grace.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, August 1, 2016

COMING HOME(directed by Zhang Yimou from Novel by Geling Yan)

Moviegoers should be familiar with films about the physical and emotional torment caused by the terrible upheavals of the Mao Era. Think of FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE, BLUE KITE, TO LIVE, and SUNFLOWER. Less examined, at least to my knowledge, is the aspect of psychological trauma, the effects of which can be radical beyond the political, social, and personal. The loss of sanity itself. On the intimate scale, it is more terrifying to lose sanity in a sane world than to retain sanity in an insane one. Mao era was an insane period, but many people still managed to preserve a modicum of sanity. Even amidst the ideological fervor, most people at least retained the basic sense of time and reality. They could be driven to do terrible things, but at least they knew what they did and why. In a world gone insane, even Red Guards, rabid and murderous as they were, knew what day of the month it was.
Despite their political madness, they still had psychological sanity.

It is what is lost in COMING HOME where Gong Li's character, due to emotional duress and/or physical trauma, loses her ability to retain new memory and to recognize her husband. Viewers will find shades of MEMENTO and MULHOLLAND DR., though the similarity is somewhat jarring because it co-mingles with the humanism that the Fifth Generation Chinese Filmmakers became famous for. Generally, we associate humanism with ordinary people faced with worldly problems. COMING HOME begins in that context but lurches into something closer to psychological drama. This shift isn't entirely convincing and is even a bit gimmicky. But even if COMING HOME isn't art, it has heart in the right place. We learn that there are many meanings to the idea of 'coming home'. There is the physical journey of the husband from prison. But there is also the journey of the soul and spirit of the woman who still awaits her husband whom she no longer recognizes. She awaits his return home while he awaits her return to sanity. For her, there is the never-fading hope of his return, and for him, there's the realization that she will never return to him. But in their mutual patience and acceptance, they are reunited on a deeper level.

As horrible as the Mao years were, sanity allowed the survivors to pick up the broken pieces of their lives and start on a mending process. But for those who lost their sanity, there was no going home. This film is a fine tribute to those lives.

Rating: 3/5

REGRESSION(directed by Alejandro Amenábar) Is Too Stylish for Its Own Good

Alejandro Amenabar is a master manipulator of mood that, in his finer moments, takes us to the heart of the matter. In this, he is comparable to M. Night Shyamalan. But what worked in the enclosed unreality of THE OTHERS doesn't work here: Small Town American milieu. The characters are unconvincing, as if solemnly reverse-engineered from Hollywood cliches into realism. Instead of realism derived from reality with which the artist is familiar, we get the mere designer realism fabricated by the way of coarsening dime-a-dozen cliches about rural America and religious culture. It's like affluent people buying 'grungy' or 'worn' clothes from the fashion industry. REGRESSION suffers the same fate as PRISONERS directed by the French-Canadian Denis Villeneuve. Their vision of American Gothic is based on movies, TV, and urban legends. Likewise, no amount of hamfisted realism in THE DEER HUNTER can shrug off Cimino's ludicrous Tolstoy-Visconti treatment of material that called for intimate detail than epic scale.
If THE OTHERS worked in mode of morbid chic, REGRESSION aims at social commentary that seems off-base in a film so waxed over with style.

That said, REGRESSION is a timely movie in the age of Jackie Coakley & Haven Monahan, Emma Sulkowicz the Mattress Girl, the KKK sightings at Oberlin college, the sheer lunacy of Camps 'Rape Culture' hysteria, Black Lives Matter outrage, Putin as New Hitler, and ridiculous fear of Sharia Law taking over America. And let's not forget Americans think 25% of the population is homosexual or transsexual.
The boy in THE SIXTH SENSE says 'ghosts see what they want to see'. Well, it can happen to real individuals too. Indeed, to entire communities and even nations. Though the hysteria in REGRESSION is checked before it gets totally out of hand, we do live in a society where the media, academia, and government are in the business, even mission, to bury reality with the Narrative. And these Narratives are so pervasive and relentless that entire colleges are under the impression that white males(instead of black males) pose the main sexual threats and that most blacks are being killed by 'racist' white police officers. Among Conservatives who fear being labeled 'racist', 'antisemitic', or 'homophobic', there is the easy scapegoating of Muslims as the source of all ills.

REGRESSION is less of a film than THE EXORCIST but smarter on the theme of evil. In Blatty and Friedkin's movie, evil is obvious. He, she, or it pukes all over and looks wicked and gross. In REGRESSION, evil permeates through hearts and minds without notice. Even people who think they are pursuing justice or doing penance are caught up in the evil web that, instead of having a single source, emanates from the vanity and egotism of everyone. Evil arises from distrust but also from trust. From lack of faith but also from faith that turns everything into a matter of black and white. In other words, there is no identifiable Evil. Rather, evil is the sum of all the pieces of broken lives aspiring for escapist dreams that turn into nightmare.

It's too bad that Amenabar got excessively caught up in style(impressive as it is, especially in the hypnosis scenes that almost bear comparison with Kubrick and Kobayashi), because REGRESSION is a most relevant movie in a world where the Narrative has so many people hallucinating a faux-reality of goblins and spooks as imagined and sensationalized by the globalist media.

Rating: 2/5.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

THE END OF THE TOUR(directed by James Ponsoldt) offers a glimpse into world of journalism, literary culture, and celebrity

An engaging film built on contradictions. A 'serious' writer works for Rolling Stone magazine specializing Pop Music. He is assigned to interview a 'reclusive' writer of a 1000 pg novel with hulking physique and dorky personality. David Foster Wallace is a one-man cat-and-mouse game. A passive-aggressive internal drama queen(beauty-in-the-beast) who both seeks out and hides from celebrity. His mind is too immersive for shallow pop culture, his tastes too callow for artistic depth.

Done without sentimentalism and sensationalism. It is also about clever Jew and messed-up Aryan and might make an interesting double-feature to A DANGEROUS METHOD. Solid film.

Rating: 3/5

KRAMPUS(directed by dorky Michael Dougherty) Mixes Horror with Holiday

Seems inspired by the fairy-horror school of Tim-Burton-Terry-Gilliam.
Mostly fast-forwarded through this lousy movie. Given the degeneration of Christmas into Black-Friday-Walmart-Riots, maybe Krampus the monster better represents the spirit of our age than classic Santy does. But what might have been a cute 20 minute short film slogs on for feature length, and there simply isn't enough material or talent to hold our interest.

Rating: 1/5.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

PRINCESS BRIDE(directed by Rob Reiner) Is Goofy Fun

This is reportedly Ted Cruz's favorite movie, of which he can quote every line. It isn't difficult to understand why. If ever a movie was made for dufuses, this is it. But it's fun and entertaining just the same, and it has at least two or three very inspired scenes: The first duel, the battle of wits, and the rescue at the end when the romantic hero summons a weird combination of intuition, skill, and stamina to rise above his semi-paralyzed stupor to unravel the evil prince's plot and save the damsel in distress. Not a pretty movie except for the romantic leads. One wonders which character Cruz identifies with most. The dashing hero? Or the cunning and conniving villains? Or one of many freaks? Probably all of them.

Rating: 3/5

BRIDGE OF SPIES(by Steven Spielberg) is combination of John Le Carre and Norman Rockwell

What is it about the Spielberg touch? Even when you know he's making schmaltz, it is often irresistible as it is here. This movie is a bridge between genre cliches and grim realities. It ventures just beyond the comfort zone to feel the chill of the Cold War but steps back inside to avoid frostbite. It's that ingenious balance of glow and gloom that makes Spielberg's 'serious films' appealing to middlebrow sensibilities. There's something that passes for ambiguity, but it's ambiguity 101, an introductory course accessible to all with a modicum of effort.
Spielberg's mastery is such that everything he does now looks effortless. You won't learn much about real history, but BRIDGE is still more intelligent than most movies out there. And certainly more entertaining.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, May 16, 2016

JURASSIC WORLD sucks like the new STAR WARS movie.

This movie sucks for the same reason as the new STAR WARS(FORCE AWAKENS) movie.
The wonder is gone. Magic is an afterthought. The first JURASSIC movie was full of surprises as vision and technology. Already the second installment had little to add and turned into parody. Third one wasn't even directed by Spielberg. It was T-Rex on the loose once more with big jaws to snatch up more dough.

So, what does the latest installment have to offer? Only more advanced computer graphics. So, we have a gaggle of dinos stampeding and flying all over the place. The whole thing looks like a video-game with characters who only register as pairs of legs. The tasteless 'Trevor Lynch' of Counter-Currents defends JURASSIC WORLD because it has lots of white heroes(while denouncing the new STAR WARS for diversity-mongering), but both movies are cynical exercises in purse-snatching.

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A SPECIAL DAY(with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni) Is a Special Film. Directed by Ettore Scola.

The kind of intelligent humanist film we rarely see anymore. Mastroinni plays a fruitkin leftist preparing to be exiled by Fascist authorities on the day Hitler arrives in Italy. The entire film takes place in a tenement complex and uses some of the devices made famous by Hitchcock in REAR WINDOW. It makes us think about history as heroic vision(as promulgated by propaganda and myth) and as private lives with weaknesses and vulnerabilities that makes people what they really are.

Rating: 4/5

MACBETH(with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard) is Muck-Death

This overblown movie cannot make up its mind. It strives to be art film, fashion statement, Hollywood spectacle, faithful adaptation, free-flowing visual feast, etc. It is at once too faithful and too fanciful.
It's a mess. It has some impressive cinematography, but the images do not rise about chicness, prettiness, and obviousness.
The general rule for film-makers should be, if you don't have a clear idea(or ample talent), just stick to the spirit and substance of the material. Don't bet on gratuitous style and razzle-dazzle making up for lack of focus and vision. A lot of talent went into this production only to be wasted under the direction of its pretentious would-be 'auteur'. It's like a fine army sent to destruction under the command of an incompetent general. THAT is the film's real tragedy: Futile waste of talent. Justin Kurzel is to art film what J.J. Abrams is to the blockbuster. Mere shadows of real talents.

Rating: 1/5


This is surely the worst STAR WARS movie, if indeed it could be included in the 'canon'. The sense of wonderment is gone. In what is now an all-too-familiar universe, there is nothing left but more chases and explosions. J.J. Abrams the director treats the material like bowling. Scene after scene, he sets up the pieces, rolls the ball, and watches things fall apart. He makes Michael Bay look like a genius.
The characters are so thin and the plot thinner that they make Lucas' treatment seem Shakespearean in comparison. The fact that so many critics and moviegoers fell for this junk(for reasons of PC or sheer stupidity) is proof that morons rule the world. Genuinely impressive sci-fi films like ENDER'S GAME and TOMORROWLAND failed at the box office. Hype trumps honest talent.

The only nice scene is when Han Solo and Chewy make their entrance. Like the saying goes, "In the land of the blind, one-eyed man is king." In a culture where everything is one-dimensional, two-dimensional heroes are next to godliness. There is more intelligence and intelligibility in Chewy's bawl than in all the jabbering among the insipid characters. Btw, why does Han Solo's kid look like a Jewish John Travolta?

I knew this would be bad, but I had no idea it would be this bad. It's up there with BATTLEFIELD EARTH.

Rating: 1/5

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spotlight(by Tom McCarthy) Is an Intelligently Dull Movie.

This wants to be an 'intelligent' movie, and I guess it is. It eschews sensationalism and feels at times more like a European film or a low-budget Cable TV movie centered on dialogue and characters than suspense, thrills, and fireworks. Still, what does this movie offer that couldn't have been conveyed in a magazine article?

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, accurate or not, made the investigation feel engaging and alive. Here, we just see people doing their job in mundane manner. Maybe that is closer to the truth, but we sort of know that already, i.e. work is about daily routine and patience. If this movie wants to pat itself on the back for being honest about the nature of work --- that the truth slowly emerges in bits and pieces than as earthshaking revelation, and there is no Eureka moment --- , that's all fine and well. But it doesn't tell us anything we didn't know already.

By the way, why this focus on the Catholic Church? If Hollywood is really daring, how about blowing the whistle on all the crooked stuff done by Jews that have had a far worse impact on American Society? But oh, that would be 'antisemitic'.

Rating: 3/5

Sicario(by Denis Villeneuve) Is a Sick and Slick Exercise Combining Seriousness with Sensationalism

Villeneuve is a real pro, and his treatment is a sleek operation. It is also soulless and predictable. Why did it need the Emily Blunt character who only stands around as an observer? The mystery man played by Del Toro has aura and presence but nothing of interest or depth.
If the point of the film is that the Drug War is a real mess with lots of grey areas, I think we know that already. Better off reading an article than watching this movie.

Rating: 2/5

The Big Short(by Adam McKay) Is a Rigged Game that Blames Everyone but the Jew

The biggest Jew-Wash movie since SOCIAL NETWORK. Everyone heard something of the financial disaster of 2008. So, who were behind it? This movie pretends to name names and reveal who's who, but the overriding agenda is to hide the Jewish faces. The Jewish identity of those involved in the fraud are never mentioned, BUT we are explicitly made aware that one of the truth-hunters is JEWISH. You see, Jewish conscience has a face but Jewish greed remains faceless.
So, we see Mr. Jewish Conscience tackle with all these fraudsters. The face of Goldman Sachs is some Asian-Indian guy. There is also a nasty black woman. The face of CDO fraud is some grinning yellow guy. Meanwhile, we see the Mr. Jewish Conscience feel outraged by all the dirty tricks pulled by banks and investors. Of course, the only reason he's hunting for the 'truth' is he wants to hit the jackpot himself. But you see, this Jewish guy is all about conscience, so at the very end, when he decides to grab the loot, we see him overcome with guilt and grief. Oh boo hoo hoo, because Jews care oh so very much of course and feel bad about profiting off the misery of others.

And we get the usual tripe about how the nation blames 'poor people' and 'immigrants' when times go bad. Okay, instead of blaming the poor and the immigrant community, how about we blamed the urban Liberal community made up largely of rich Jews? Let's attack the most powerful and most privileged people in America. Would that be better? But then, this is the very movie that obfuscated Jewish role in the financial disaster by using Asian-Indian, black woman, East Asian, and lower-end white peddlers of home loans for the disaster. Foul ugly movie. It should be called Big Snort. Cocaine for those who would be duped by Jews and their gentile cucks who worked on this trash. But it's fun to watch at least.

Rating: 2/5

Diary of a Teenage Girl(by Phoebe Gloeckner and Marielle Heller) Is Like Being Trapped in a Robert Crumb Comic Book. Ewwww.

A foul disgusting movie about some homey dumpling who plays slut to her mother's boyfriend... or that's what I made of it while fast-forwarding through the ugly mess.  The girl looks like Paul Giametti with a wig, and I kept wondering... what do I care whom she screws? Set in 1976 around the Bay Area. They say California is a harbinger of trends in the rest of the country, and the sexually retarded behavior in this movie is now the national norm among millennials. Truly an Ugh kind of movie.

GHOST WORLD also deals with troubled youth, but at least it knows trouble when it sees one. This new film is lax and carefree about the problems of life. Its message is Embrace Your Grubbiness.

Rating: 1/5

Hara-Kiri(Remake By Takashi Miike) Is Just Okay Enough to Spare Miike from Committing Seppuku Himself

Unnecessary but creditable remake of Masaki Kobayashi's masterpiece. (To be sure, the similarities between the two films are so stark that it's more like new performance -- in the vein of theater or concert -- than a standard movie remake that takes considerable liberties in deviating from its predecessors.) Directed by Miike, most (in)famous for mindless exercises in sleaze and sadism. The opening segment features an impressive balance of stylistics and somberness, the long middle section told in flashback is adequate but flat, and the finale is exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. Still, even if this film is a transgression of sorts, it isn't so dishonorable as to call for Miike's self-disembowelment. But then, the freak might enjoy it. The question is why such a vile and vulgar director was summoned to work on such a prestige-hungry production.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, March 21, 2016

SLOW WEST(by John Maclean) Is a Real Gem of a Western. It's like finding a diamond while unsuccessfully mining for gold.

You are on a personal journey in search of your true love. You left your homeland, crossed an ocean, and trusted your life to a mysterious gunfighter who guides you across unknown territory. Everyone has his own sense of personal destiny. But what of cosmic destiny? What if the stars really meant for you to serve as guide to your guide as the one destined to be the lover of the one you love? Absurdly romantic.

Rating: 5/5.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

THE WORLD OF KANAKO(by Akio Fukamachi & Tetsuya Nakashima) Is a Sicko Movie with Something to Show If Not Say.

A rancid movie. Ugly and degenerate. A like-father-like-daughter tale of amorality, cruelty, and hypocrisy.
Innocent-looking cutie is rotten to the core. More fille-fatale than femme-fatale. Yet, its complete lack of soul is a kind of purity. Zen of degeneracy or dezeneracy.
Reminds us of the amoral homo-samurai of GOHATTO by Nagisa Oshima. Amorality that never blinks first. Portrait of a vapid and insipid society, it shows how the cult of beauty paradoxically turns into celebration of ugliness. If beauty is license to do anything, then it can do the ugliest things, and the world will be an ugly place. Often sickening to watch but striking as directorial effort, with some brilliant passages.

Rating: 3/5.

Friday, March 18, 2016

STEVE JOBS(by Aaron Sorkin & Danny Boyle) Is Compulsively Watchable but Most Likely Full of Baloney

Compulsively watchable. Sorkin is a first-rate hack. Boyle is a pro's pro. Instead of trying to tell the whole story, which would be foolish and futile in two hours, the movie focuses on a few key themes of Jobs' life and mythology by highlighting the backstage shenanigans of Jobs' hype campaigns. Expertly done but no surprises. Intelligence and talent in the service of trite truisms about success in career and failure in life.

Rating: 3/5.