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Showing posts from September 4, 2016

Review: Yakuza Apocalypse

Hayato Ichihara plays a Yakuza #2, whose boss has been turned into a vampire, and the boss runs afoul of a gang of weirdos who kill him. These weirdos are a backpack-wearing assassin (Yayan Ruhian), a bizarro turtle/bird hybrid with hideous halitosis, and an English-speaking (ish) witch hunter with a small coffin on his back (Ryushin Tei). Before he dies, the boss bites Ichihara too, turning him into a vampire. He is forced to feed off the blood of others, and before long has turned a whole bunch of civilians into vampires, who now claim to be ‘Yakuza’. This causes a problem for the actual Yakuza, now headed by a woman (played by Reiko Takashima), who can no longer exploit the masses, who are now competitors. And then the supposed world’s greatest assassin (Masanori Mimoto) turns up…in a giant felt frog suit!

Completely insane, you won’t need to be told watching this bizarro 2015 action/horror-comedy from Japan that it’s a Takashi Miike flick. Sure, it’s comparatively mild in the sex …

Review: Body of Lies

Leonardo DiCaprio are Russell Crowe are like the coach and quarterback of the CIA, if by quarterback you mean frazzled field agent who does all the hard stuff while the coach is casually making orders and putting his MVP in potential harm’s way with nary a care to his personal safety nor any other complications it might cause. There’s a job to do, and DiCaprio’s gonna do it for him, ‘coz he’s the guy with the contacts, can speak the language and local knowledge (i.e. Crowe has probably never even been to Iraq, Jordan, or Syria!). Whilst Crowe sits back and watches him from real-time satellite imagery, DiCaprio is setting his sights on a Bin Laden cipher, and has been introduced to the head of Jordanian Intelligence (Mark Strong). This guy’s deeply distrustful of Americans (and capable of being just as ruthless as Crowe) but sees the upside in an alliance between the two Intelligence Agencies, only asking one thing of DiCaprio: not to lie to him. Unfortunately, while DiCaprio (growing …

Review: The Celestine Prophecy

Primary school history teacher Matthew Settle is having a rough trot when an old acquaintance (Robyn Cohen) clues him in on some weird spiritual trip going on in Peru. Settle, who has been having mysterious dreams lately, decides to go, and finds himself (can you say spiritual awakening?) amidst a bunch of hippie-like zombies who crap on and on about ‘energies’ and other such non-descriptive terms, as well as talk of a series of ancient scrolls. Chief among them are Thomas Kretschmann (a sort of spiritual Indiana Jones), Annabeth Gish (as a translator), Obba Babatunde (the token black dude, to show this hippy spiritual group down wit’ the black peeps, ‘yo!), Joaquim de Almeida (not playing an ethnic villain for once) and Sarah Wayne Callies. Hector Elizondo is a Roman Catholic Cardinal, connected to some government officials hell-bent on destroying the scrolls (in a subplot that might’ve been interesting elsewhere). Apparently the scrolls are meant to offer ‘insights’ leading us to th…

Review: Extreme Movie

Despite its title, this 2008 comedy from directors Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson is not one of the countless unfunny ‘Movie’ spoofs ala “Disaster Movie” or “Epic Movie”. Instead, it’s a sketch-based comedy about sex-related movies, unsurprising given that five of the film’s whopping ten (!) writers (which include the directors themselves) are “SNL” alum; Andy Samberg, John Solomon, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Will Forte. Forte and Samberg, of course, have also appeared on “SNL” as performers, though I’ve rarely seen either of them contribute something funny. Needless to say with so many cooks in the kitchen, the results are scattershot at best.

The funniest skits are a bit involving a horny puppet, Andy Milonakis’ ‘relationship’ with a prosthetic vagina (!), and the wraparound story involving horny teen Ryan Pinkston’s attempts to ask a girl out and his seriously unhelpful teacher (who is the funniest thing about these scenes). Strangely, it’s the biggest stars who appea…

Review: The Lives of Others

Set in East Berlin in the early 80s, wherein a playwright (Sebastian Koch) and his actress girlfriend (Martina Gedeck) are to be monitored by Stasi (the secret police) master interrogator Ulrich Muhe, a reserved sort, who heads up a surveillance operation, suspecting that the playwright isn’t the good socialist he claims to be and hoping to get the dirt on him. However, the more he hears, the deeper he becomes engrossed in these people’s lives (hence the title) and generally disillusioned about what he is doing. Thomas Thieme plays a minister with the hots for Gedeck, distrust of Koch, and higher ambitions for himself.

2006 Oscar winner for Best Foreign film, this German film from debutante director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (now say that ten times fast!) suffers from “Rear Window” syndrome. Just like in that overrated film, we are forced to watch some guy watching someone else, or in this case, listen to someone else (another overrated film, “The Conversation” comes to mind). …

Review: The Golden Compass

In an alternate version/dimension of our world, in which every human is paired with a living embodiment of their soul (called a daemon/demon) and daily life is controlled by a pseudo-religious authoritarian group known as The Magisterium (headed by the imperious Derek Jacobi), which frowns upon notions of, um...individual thought. Young orphan Lyra Belacqua (debutante Dakota Blue Richards, yes it’s a real name, though no less ridiculous than her character’s name) lives among scholars at Jordan College, where her explorer Uncle Asriel (Daniel Craig) has returned to seek funding for an expedition to the Arctic to investigate the appearance of Dust, otherworldly energy apparently from other dimensions that gives off ‘free will’. The Magisterium, represented by the glamorous, but treacherous agent Ms. Coulter (Nicole Kidman- A conservative representative named Coulter? Nope, nothing to say about that!), want to keep the mysteries of Dust secret (lest it be known that there are alternate u…