Sunday, September 27, 2020

Tenet (2020)

It is impossible to watch Tenet without comparing it to Christopher Nolan’s previous works, especially Inception (2010). Tenet’s uniqueness comes from its reliance on science rather than fantasy, physics rather than dreams.

At minimum, sci-fi needs either believable science or compelling characters. Tenet delivers the bare minimum science to sell its time travel premise, with characters that exist only to advance the plot. Fortunately, the plot has the density and intensity to carry the film, with or without the stars. It also lacks the grating presumption of superheroes, making the film watchable by an adult audience.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sugata Sanshiro (1943)

Action movies are in a bit of a recession these days. It might have something to do with Steven Seagal, or superheroes, or critics not paying proper respect to the biceps that built this world. Maybe the decline of action represents weakness in society. Enter Sugata Sanshiro-sama: the figurehead of humanity and the prototypical man, 1943 edition. He kicks, throws, and makes faces as he simultaneously sets the stage for Bruce Lee and all of entertainment wrestling.

Like Enter the Dragon (1973) and The Matrix (1999), this is a seminal film, the likes of which happen only once in a generation. (Until the sequels.) It is also a Kurosawa film, his first feature. Even if you don’t like martial arts movies, that is reason enough to watch it.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Evangelion 3.0: あすかばあちゃん かわいいです~~~ (2012)

Is Evangelion 3.0 the new Citizen Kane (1941)? Perhaps. While I won’t go into the details of Kane’s connection with Japanese leather philosophy, it is clear that badass robot pilot Shinji Ikari, who has to be 60+ years old in this installment but looks 14 thanks to magic pink slime, is the embodiment of post-apocalyptic robot power fantasy.

I am a big believer in blind devotion to popular anime brands. This isn’t a bad movie, because it’s a Neon Genesis Evangelion movie. Don’t stop the series now! Give me more!

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Most everyone has seen The Bourne Identity. It’s pretty much required viewing. Still, the action-heavy studio-mandated reshoots are worth a quick mention.

“Additional photography” is a euphemism for some slob at the studio deciding a movie isn’t dumb enough. This could have been a near-perfect film, but there is so much indulgence in unrealistic situations that the movie must be appreciated piecemeal. Hopefully, the audience watches the good parts and forgets about the parts that drag.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Revenge (2017)

Revenge is a “revenge” film. It can be compared to the seminal I Spit on Your Grave (1978), but a more accurate comparison would be to Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003). With its stylish cinematography and unrelenting exploitation atmosphere, Revenge delivers the promised goods topped with a generous helping of blood.

The film builds its tension slowly and only becomes shoot-em-up schlock in the final sequence. This is perfect pacing for sci-fi fans, and it’s no surprise considering Fargeat previously made a sci-fi short called Reality+ (2014).

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