Blog posts in Movies for January 2011:

Movie Reviews: Burning Paradise

Before Ringo Lam ended up in Hollywood grinding out sleepwalker, Van Damme’d action titles like Maximum Risk and Replicant, he was one of Hong Kong’s better action directors; his City on Fire was one of the many sources Quentin Tarantino freely...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011/01/15 13:19
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Before Ringo Lam ended up in Hollywood grinding out sleepwalker, Van Damme’d action titles like Maximum Risk and Replicant, he was one of Hong Kong’s better action directors; his City on Fire was one of the many sources Quentin Tarantino freely lifted from for Reservoir Dogs. Burning Paradise, from 1994, had cult status amongst bootleggers due to its near-total lack of availability. Legendary Shaolin hero Fong Sai-yuk (Willie Chi) escapes from the destruction of his temple only to be captured by the insane Manchu general Crimson, who presides over a massive underground complex known as Red Lotus Temple. Imagine a Hong Kong take on the craziness of the second Indiana Jones movie and you're close: there's deathtraps, wire-fu fights, and an antagonist whose hobbies include human mummification and action painting. It’s the kind of cheerfully bonkers moviemaking that Hong Kong more or less gave up on when the clock ticked 1997.

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Tags: Hong Kong Ringo Lam movies review wuxia


Movie Reviews: A Woman Called Sada Abe

Yet another treatment of the Sada Abe story, released almost back-to-back with In the Realm of the Senses, and which covers much of the same territory if not with the same level of explicitness. Not bad as far as these...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011/01/13 15:18
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Yet another treatment of the Sada Abe story, released almost back-to-back with In the Realm of the Senses, and which covers much of the same territory if not with the same level of explicitness. Not bad as far as these things go, just redundant; it entertains, but it’s not anyone’s idea of essential or vital. Directed by Noboru Tanaka, who also gave us the equally grim Edogawa Rampo adaptation Walker in the Attic, but let’s face it—he's no Nagisa Oshima.

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Tags: Japan movies pinku eiga review


Movie Reviews: Smithereens

The first feature by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan, et al.) plays like a time capsule of downtown NYC in the moment after punk broke and people were still picking up the pieces. Feisty but talentless Wren (Susan Berman) uses...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011/01/12 13:11
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The first feature by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan, et al.) plays like a time capsule of downtown NYC in the moment after punk broke and people were still picking up the pieces. Feisty but talentless Wren (Susan Berman) uses what few social graces she has to ingratiate herself with various downtown types—an artist who lives in his van (Brad Rinn), a snotty “underground” musician (Richard Hell), and their various hangers-on. As abrasive as Wren is, we’re fascinated by her; to paraphrase a record review of old, she’s ambition wasted in trying to make it rather than trying to make something. The movie is frequently funny, but just as often wistful: it sees its characters with sympathy and not derision, and it’s not too hip for its own good. It’s a product of a time and a locale where being “indie” actually meant something, and the graffiti-splattered cityscape seems all the more alien in these increasingly sterilized times.

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Tags: NYC Susan Seidelman indies movies review


Movie Reviews: Absolute Beginners

An all-but-forgotten flawed gem from a short-lived period in England’s film-production history where some real risk-taking was going on. Adapted from Colin MacInnes's novel, it's a panorama of late 1950s London's music scene, featuring young lovers Colin (Eddie O'Connell) and...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011/01/11 01:28
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An all-but-forgotten flawed gem from a short-lived period in England’s film-production history where some real risk-taking was going on. Adapted from Colin MacInnes's novel, it's a panorama of late 1950s London's music scene, featuring young lovers Colin (Eddie O'Connell) and Suzette (Patsy Kensit) a-swim in an ocean of pop culture, ambition, greed, and tons of great music courtesy of both Gil Evans and EMI's catalog of stars. Look for David Bowie as an unctuous music producer (he also sings the title song, predictably enough), Sade as a cabaret crooner, and an eye-popping opening extended shot that is reason enough by itself to track this down. The latter third of the film gets too unfocused for its own good—there’s some earnest attempts to deal with race, class, and corporate greed, but maybe too earnest (read: strident) for their own good. Still, it's a great period piece; watch this as a two-fer with Quadrophenia.

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Tags: David Bowie England Julien Temple Sade movies musicals review


Movie Reviews: Sada

A treatment of the Sada Abe story that's about as far removed as you’re going to get from the hypnotic power of In the Realm of the Senses. It covers more of the character's life than that film, and in a...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011/01/10 15:03
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A treatment of the Sada Abe story that's about as far removed as you’re going to get from the hypnotic power of In the Realm of the Senses. It covers more of the character's life than that film, and in a gaudy, mannered, Seijun Suzuki-esque fashion, veering between being enjoyably stylized and uncomfortably sentimental about its subject matter, and runs way too long at 132 minutes. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi is the fellow who gave us the completely insane House / Hausu.

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Tags: Japan Nobuhiko Obayashi movies review


Movie Reviews: Sukeban Deka 2: Counter-Attack of the Kazama Sisters

Vintage '80s J-cheese. The follow-up to the original Sukeban Deka live-action film gives us a new girl as the titular "delinquent detective", Yui Kazama (Yui Asaka), pressed into the service of a elite government agency determined to fight juvenile crime. She...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011/01/09 14:45
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Vintage '80s J-cheese. The follow-up to the original Sukeban Deka live-action film gives us a new girl as the titular "delinquent detective", Yui Kazama (Yui Asaka), pressed into the service of a elite government agency determined to fight juvenile crime. She joins forces with a crew of outcasts to fight back, and discovers her former employers are actually anti-government insurrectionists. At least as much goofy fun as the first film, with a great finale involving Yui taking down a plane with nothing more than her trademark razor-metal yo-yo. Now available with the original film in a 2-for-1 set.

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Tags: Japan Shinji Wada Sukeban Deka Yui Asaka movies review


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