Summer grab-bag, part one

An attempted robbery becomes a bloodbath in Javier Elorrieta's Night of Rage (1985)

As usual, there’s no coherent pattern to what I spend my time watching. In the past few months, I given my overtaxed attention to quite a few movies from the ’70s and ’80s – British sex comedies and cop movies, Italian gialli, French and Spanish thrillers, Chinese martial arts movies and an Australian superhero musical – plus a pair of recent Korean action movies and two ultra-low-budget do-it-yourself movies from the ’90s.

Asia extreme

Boxer Leo (Masataka Kubota) and prostitute Monica (Sakurako Konishi) face off against yakuza gangs in Takashi Miike's First Love (2019)

Although there are obviously differences from culture to culture, many Asian movies share a tendency to to ignore the kind of “realism” Western, and particularly American, movies so often feel is necessary – which is one reason so many U.S. remakes of Asian genre movies take on a pedestrian quality nowhere evident in the originals. Three recent Asian movies – from Korea, Japan and China – use different approaches to explore societies in which economic and social inequality engender violence and to some degree madness. One uses blackly comic satire, one pushes genre tropes to absurd extremes, and one pushes neorealism into the realm of nightmare.

DVD Review: Silenced (Do-Ga-Ni)

Recent Korean cinema has been suffused with darkness, offering tales of murder, depravity, torture and perversion – Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy, Kim Ki-duk’s The Isle and Bad Guy, Kim Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil and so on. While these movies vary in their degree of “realism”, they all have a kind of pulpy grimness. While […]

Recent Viewing 2

Continuing my partial round-up of recently watched movies … The Innkeepers (Ti West, 2011) Ti West is a filmmaker whose work I really want to like, but each film comes as a letdown – except for his second feature, Trigger Man (2007), a terrific exercise in minimalist terror about three buddies out for a day […]

Blasts from the past

Ghosts Good and Bad

Peter Fonda’s Idaho Transfer (1973)

Blu-rays from Network

Two Years of Rough Cut