The Latest Reviews For The Country Japan
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
The ScienceSaru-produced animated series rebuilds rather than retells Bryan Lee O'Malley's beloved comic.
Late in the final volume of Bryan Lee O'Malley's 2004-2010 comic series Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour), once the action's done and the hateful Gideon Graves has been slain, protagonists Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers take a moment to process everything. Defeating Gideon meant facing not only the vicious misogynist swordsman but also their respective character flaws (It's telling that one of Scott's key moments is his realizing just how alike he and Gideon are, and by gaining that understanding, he affirms that, yeah, Gideon has so got to die). Continue Reading →
Both the main characters in Michel Franco’s Memory are struggling to deal with the echoes of their past. Sylvia (Jessica Chastain), a recovering alcoholic and single mother to 13-year-old Anna (Brooke Timber), desperately wants to forget the unspoken traumas of her childhood. Saul (Peter Saarsgard), on the other hand, can’t grab a hold of his past. He’s powerless as early-onset dementia slowly but inevitably steals it from him. After their high school reunion, he wordlessly follows her home and spends the night standing outside her building. In turn, she visits him at the house he shares with his brother (Josh Charles) and niece (Elsie Fisher). Then she takes him for a walk and accuses him of participating in a rape that she endured at the age of 12, a crime that he has no memory of committing. Continue Reading →
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Shinya Tsukamoto's film attempts to explore hope and sorrow in post-war Japan, with mixed results.
To make Shadow of Fire, Shinya Tsukamoto stitched together two films. As a result, it proves both unpredictable and unable to satisfyingly hit the tragic and devastating notes it aims for. Continue Reading →
The sea is always a great setting for a story. It’s both soothing and menacing; water is cleansing and purifying, and a consistently replenishing source of food. But it’s also dangerous and uncompromising. Water is one of nature’s greatest antagonists, it can get into virtually anything, softening it, weakening it, eventually breaking it apart. But nothing on earth would survive without it. It’s a brilliant metaphor for so many things, as it’s constantly changing and moving and covers wondrous and monstrous secrets. It works even better in visual mediums like TV and film because it’s beautiful to both look at and listen to. The CW’s new eco-thriller, The Swarm, makes good use of its watery locations in establishing an aura of tranquil menace: everything seems calm and orderly, but there’s trouble bubbling up just below the surface. Continue Reading →
The Criterion Channel dives into the unique hell of being a teenager & we’ll tell you which films not to miss.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movies being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →
Cade: The Tortured Crossing
Say what you will about independent film auteur Neil Breen: he has a vision. All of his movies have a common theme, in which a man with superhuman abilities (played by Neil Breen) directs those abilities toward vanquishing evil corporate and government entities. Many people die in the process, but in Breen’s vision it’s all in the name of world peace. What he’s trying to say isn’t all that hard to figure out: he thinks the world would be better off without corrupt CEOs and pass-the-buck lawmakers (and hey, I don’t disagree). Continue Reading →
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken
It’s not easy being a teenager. It’s especially not easy being a teenager like the titular protagonist of Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken. As that title would suggest, Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) is a Kraken living in a seaside town with her family. Her parents and younger brother seem to have no trouble assimilating to the broader world, while Ruby struggles. All she wants is to blend in as a normal human-- albeit one with blue skin and no spine. However, to be an average teen, she’ll likely have to break some of her mom’s strict rules, namely, never going near the ocean. Continue Reading →
Shin Kamen Rider became my favorite movie of the year when it ripped my heart out with a one-sided conversation. Continue Reading →
The Purge: Election Year
When The Purge film series began, it attempted to create a heightened, ultraviolent version of the future that was both laughably over-the-top and an accurate reflection of the current political climes. They created a dystopia that was vaguely familiar but could still leave you rolling your eyes at its implausibility. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the concept is as follows: On one night each year, the US government legalizes all crime, including murder, in the hopes of providing an outlet for Americans’ rage. It ultimately leads to an overall decrease in crime and an (ostensibly) utopian society. Continue Reading →
The man behind the podcast An Invitation discusses how his appreciation of the director fueled his intensive dive into her films.
Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation is a slow-burn horror about the dinner party from hell, one we should all be grateful not to attend, but podcaster Jim Penola thought otherwise. Instead, he invites listeners to sit down and stay awhile with An Invitation to the Invitation, a 15-part series that breaks down the 2015 film scene by scene. It’s full of thoughtful audio essays and radio-play style re-enactments set to an original score from his brother and composer John Penola. Continue Reading →
Like the Oracle said to Neo, "Everything that has a beginning has an end." But "ending" is not synonymous with "annihilation." Whether it's a literal, physical remnant (say, an amusement park that remains standing even years after being shut down) or patterns that folks continue out of habit or the hopes of feeling something (think Yūsuke Kafuku continuing to rehearse for Uncle Vanya with his late wife's recording years after her death in Drive My Car—whose co-lead Tōko Miura was a key contributor to the soundtrack of Makoto Shinkai's last film, Weathering With You). Continue Reading →
There's always been something of the vampiric in the acting style of Nicolas Cage; his dark, intense eyes, his hunched gaze, his predilection for sinking his teeth into the scenery as vociferously as he might an unsuspecting jugular. And yet, it's wild to think he's never played a gen-you-wine bloodsucker before now. Sure, there's Vampire's Kiss, the great 1988 dark comedy in which he played a manic '80s business guy who imagines himself to be one -- but those were more the panicked neuroses of your typical self-destructive Cage protagonist. But in Chris McKay's action-horror-comedy Renfield, he's the real pale deal: Count Dracula himself, complete with velvet capes, a mouth full of fangs, and an unquenchable thirst for hemoglobin. Continue Reading →
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
It’s been almost 40 years since that little plumber in the red hat jumped into a warp pipe and into our hearts. Super Mario Bros., released for the original Nintendo system in the US in 1985, is still the perfect video game. It’s simple (you just got to jump around), it has iconic music, and its colorful world is hypnotic even with all those cute creatures trying to kill you. Continue Reading →
A few weeks ago, a picture of M. Night Shyamalan and his family at the premiere of his Apple TV show Servant surfaced on my social media timeline. All five of them dressed exquisitely, Shyamalan with his goofy dad smile, his Ph.D. wife Bhavna looking glamorous, and their three adult daughters, bright with talent, love, and creative potential. Continue Reading →
In 2019, the Walt Disney Company released Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of an 11-year-long project of crossovers, callbacks, foreshadowing, and franchising. The result was, for a time, the single highest-grossing film in cinematic history. This success seemed to mark the undisputed coronation of the superhero movie as the defining film genre of the modern era. But just a few months earlier, to quieter but not unsuccessful fanfare, another superhero film was released, one whose foundations were laid long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe's were, a film that was, in its way, an epic farewell to a cinematic universe. M. Night Shyamalan's Glass is the third and final film of his "Eastrail 177 Trilogy," a trilogy of supernatural thrillers that rely not on pyrotechnics and action but on sincere, intimate moments of character. Continue Reading →
A year before The Village’s release, a copy of the script was stolen and distributed to sites with zero compunction about reviewing stolen materials. If you were on the internet in the naughty aughties and a fan of movies, you know exactly the type. The flurry of reviews that followed riled up readers of such sites. It reached the point that, by the film’s 2004 release, a considerable legion of film nerds already stood poised to carve up a movie they were certain would be a turkey. Continue Reading →
Knock at the Cabin
In the strange 21st-century rise of conspiracy theories and cult-like behavior, the most frightening aspect of it is that some people really are true believers. Certainly, there are those who are just trolling, claiming to believe in insane things like Democrats eating Christian babies just to get a rise out of people. But what about those who are serious, who aren’t even textbook “crazy,” just normal people who at some point began to truly believe in chemtrails, or that everything that happens in the world is secretly orchestrated by an underground race of lizard people, or that the end times are here? What if they don’t want to believe these things, but they can’t help it? How do you reason with that? Continue Reading →
In Season 2, Hunters remains dedicated to exploring whether vengeance and justice can ever be one and the same. Continue Reading →
A project that director/co-writer Barry Levinson had been working on for over a decade before it emerged in theaters in 1992—at one point, it had been planned as his directorial debut before he turned to Diner (1982) instead—Toys offered viewers a mélange of holiday sentiment, strident anti-war satire and the sometimes-unholy combination of schmaltz and schtick that marked the typical Robin Williams performance of the time, all produced on a budget high enough to outstrip the GNP of actual countries. There's no reason on Earth to think that such a bizarre combination would have worked, and Toys' eventual critical and commercial failure would seemingly confirm that it didn't. And yet, while I concede that the film as a whole is a mess—it is an undeniably intriguing mess with just enough moments of genuine brilliance to help get through the rougher and clumsier passages, of which there are more than a few. Continue Reading →
Mike Pondsmith, creator of the tabletop RPG Cyberpunk—which video game studio CD Projekt Red adapted into Cyberpunk 2077 and which in turn led to the creation of Studio TRIGGER (Promare)'s 10-episode anime Cyberpunk: Edgerunners—said this: Continue Reading →