Category Archives: Action/Thriller

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Review: The Sadness — Fantasia Festival 2021

Robert Jabbaz’s debut feature film, The Sadness, takes place in the midst of a pandemic. In particular, it takes place during a point in a pandemic where people have stopped worrying about mutations and have largely gone back to their normal day-to-days. Against this backdrop, young couple Kat (Regina Lei) and Jim (Berant Zhu) have planned a vacation. They begin the movie arguing over Jim needing to take on a job during the same week Kat has taken time off of work. Given where this film eventually goes, it is a somewhat banal place to begin the film.

There are many who will turn on this movie. It certainly gives you plenty of chances to turn as events in this Taiwanese city shift from Continue reading Review: The Sadness — Fantasia Festival 2021

Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Glasshouse, Sweetie You Won’t Believe It, The Last Thing Mary Saw

Glasshouse; The Last Thing Mary Saw; and Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It are screening as part of the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival that runs Aug. 5 to Aug. 25.

Glasshouse

Glasshouse is an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. It explores  Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Glasshouse, Sweetie You Won’t Believe It, The Last Thing Mary Saw

NYAFF 2021 Movie Reviews — Three Sisters, Shadows, The Silent Forest

Shadows, Three Sisters, and The Silent Forest are screening as part of the 2021 New York Asian Film Festival that runs Aug. 6 to Aug. 22.

Three Sisters

Lee Seung-won’s Three Sisters is a meditative drama about the distant lives of three sisters leading up to their reunion at their father’s birthday party. Mi-yeon (Moon So-ri) is the mother of two in a religious household, and she discovers her husband is engaging in an affair with Continue reading NYAFF 2021 Movie Reviews — Three Sisters, Shadows, The Silent Forest

NYAFF 2021 Movie Reviews — Sinkhole, Joint

Sinkhole and Joint are screening as part of the 2021 New York Asian Film Festival that runs Aug. 6 to Aug. 22.

Sinkhole

Sinkhole is a midbudget blockbuster from South Korea and a disaster movie in its purest form. From director Kim Ji-hoon, who has dabbled in the disaster genre before (The Tower), the film is about exactly what it says on the poster. When  Continue reading NYAFF 2021 Movie Reviews — Sinkhole, Joint

Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Brain Freeze, Agnes, Seobok

Brain Freeze, Seobok, and Agnes are screening as part of the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival that runs Aug. 5 to Aug. 25.

Brain Freeze

The opening night film at this year’s Fantasia festival is Julian Knafo’s Brain Freeze, a  Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Brain Freeze, Agnes, Seobok

Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Broadcast Signal Intrusion, Coming Home in the Dark

Broadcast Signal Intrustion and Coming Home in the Dark are screening as part of the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival that runs Aug. 5 to Aug. 25.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion

Jacob Gentry’s Broadcast Signal Intrusion has a few visible antecedents. The premise—a man hired to transfer VHS tapes to disc becomes haunted by the image of a hijacked broadcast feed featuring a figure wearing a strange mask—is clearly a play on  Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2021 Movie Reviews — Broadcast Signal Intrusion, Coming Home in the Dark

Me You Madness (2021) Movie Review

You could call Me You Madness a “female-driven American Psycho.” In fact, the movie would likely be smugly pleased if you made such a comparison. It would happily do you one better. As the over-bearing, ludicrous voiceover from the film’s central figure, Catherine Black (Louis Linton, who also directs, produces, and co-writes), attests, this is a high concept film which is familiar yet oh so unique. That’s right, the film itself tells you how special and great it is going to be. Right off the bat. (It will later explicitly refer to the screenwriters as geniuses, just because they understand how to implement a comedic callback).

Black is a self-described beautiful genius. She runs a massively successful hedge fund. She is a stock market guru. She literally gets off on watching stock market numbers move in her favor. She lives in the lap of luxury in an isolated Malibu estate. Her IQ is 173. And she is a serial killer.

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When Tyler, a thief and con man (Ed Westwick), answers her call for a “roommate,” the game is afoot. After giving Tyler a grand tour, Black drugs him, sleeps with him, butters him up in the morning, and then Continue reading Me You Madness (2021) Movie Review

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021) Movie Review

Adam Robitel’s Escape Room was dumped. It was shoveled off to January, the month where genre movies go to die. The first month of the year has become somewhat notorious for having poor new movie releases. To be fair to the studios, it is an awkward area of the release calendar. There is not as much foot traffic in the theaters as there is during the summer months or the November-December holiday weekends. At the same time, January is a time when prestige movies are starting to do the rounds for awards season consideration. It just isn’t a month for blockbusters.

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So studios dump their genre films there—the genre films they don’t have too much faith in, it appears. Sony released Escape Room on the first weekend of January 2019. And it did a shocking amount of business. 16 weeks later, the film had accumulated over $57 million domestic. Given the film ends on a Continue reading Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021) Movie Review

Black Widow (2021) Movie Review

Following over a decade of releasing the most block-busting of franchise blockbusters, Marvel Studios blew up its world. Thanos, the arch-nemesis to Marvel’s foremost team the Avengers, which the studio had been setting up for years, eliminated half of the known universe with a snap. In the next film, the Marvel universe righted itself once again, re-establishing the diegetic status quo, save for a few notable casualties — among them, Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

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After the overblown spectacle of this two-part finale — the second of which became the highest grossing film of all time — it seemed an impossible task for the studio to Continue reading Black Widow (2021) Movie Review

No Sudden Move (2021) Movie Review

Somewhere in my preteen years, when I was taking in film so voraciously that I may have grown allergic to the sun, I stumbled upon Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. I was hooked. It was probably my favorite movie for years, until some other hyper-masculine auteur thing took its spot. And, while it makes me feel like a dorm-room film nerd to admit it, I still love Reservoir Dogs (I can at least say I never had a Pulp Fiction poster hung up in my dorm room).

Reservoir Dogs belongs to a specific type of modern crime film. These films have a sizable ensemble cast, flashy dialogue, a winding narrative chock full of backstabbing and secrets, and the outcome generally goes badly for every character involved. Stakes matter, because the script is not beholden to the safety of the principal cast of characters. Death is treated as superfluous, a mere hazard of the profession. Cynicism reigns as supreme as in the bleakest of film noir, yet the generic elements of the film hew closer to baseline exploitation cinema.

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Nothing in this equation sounds bad to me. On the contrary, I am drawn to it. Which isn’t to say Continue reading No Sudden Move (2021) Movie Review