Movie Review: Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Hello! As some of you might remember, last year I retired my 12 Films of Christmas series, as I got burnt out on doing 12 themed pieces over the span of 12 days. And I stand by that retirement. However, that won’t prevent me from still doing a few chrimbo movies on this blog. So with that out of the way, let us talk about one.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Tokyo Godfathers”!

’twas the night before christmas, and all throughout Tokyo, some shit was stirring, I can’t keep this up, yo. Anyhow, during christmas eve, three homeless people find a baby abandoned in some trash and set out on an adventure to find its parents. “Tokyo Godfathers” is a unique take on familiar ideas, creating a compelling narrative that is equal parts heartwarming, heartbreaking, tragic, and funny. It’s a wonderful and delightfully off-kilter story that had me feeling every emotion possible. I’m sorry that this section is so brief and vague, but it’s hard to talk any more in depth about this story without revealing too much. But trust me when I say that it’s a great little tale.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, flawed, nuanced, and overall quite interesting. First up are our leading three, all coming from tragic backgrounds, all trying their damndest to make the most of their bad situation(s). They’re a frankly amazing trio of characters that I loved following. They’re also wonderfully brought to life by the vocal talents of Toru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, and Aya Okamoto. The supporting cast is great too, featuring interesting characters voiced by terrific actors like Akio Otsuka, Yusaku Yara, Kyoko Terase, and more.

The music for the movie was composed by Keiichi Suzuki, along with Moonriders, his band. And I think they did a swell job with it. It takes some influences from jazz, pop-rock, and various styles of film score to create a unique soundscape that fits the movie wonderfully.

“Tokyo Godfathers” was directed and co-written by Satoshi Kon, and he and his crew did an amazing job here. The animation quality is spectacular, with beautifully fluid movements and actions. But much like Kon’s other works, the characters have a lot of imperfections to them, compared to the oft’ flat and glossy look of many animes, which really helps add to the grounded and somewhat gritty vibe of this movie. It’s stunningly animated, cleverly edited, and just overall wonderfully put together. Kon was an absolute master who was taken from us too soon.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

“Tokyo Godfathers” is not just a fun christmas romp, but also a beautifully nuanced drama, and I adored every bit of it. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic direction/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Tokyo Godfathers” is a 9.93/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Tokyo Godfathers” is now completed.

Simply wonderful.

Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Been quite a while since I talked about a Marvel movie on here… yeah, 2019, blimey. And before we move on, I know these movies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine. I just like watching them and I’m gonna keep talking about them as long as they’re made. So yeah… on with the review.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.

After having lived a quiet life in San Francisco for years, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) must come out of hiding when his father (Tony Leung) begins stirring to enact a mysterious and potentially dangerous plan. The story in “Shang-Chi” is interesting to me, because it takes some of the familiar themes and structural pillars of other MCU movies, but makes them feel fresh by implementing elements usually seen more in wuxia stories and kung fu movies in general. But it also weaves in a pretty nuanced and surprisingly complex family drama throughout, which really makes the story feel more tangible and emotionally resonant. So when you blend all of these together, you get a narrative that feels familiar yet also fresh and unique for this franchise. And I loved it.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, pretty layered, and overall just quite interesting. Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi, our protagonist. He’s a man who’s gone through a lot of things in life, and it does create an interesting conflict with his more lighthearted side and the good stuff he’s experienced since moving to America. And I find him to be an interesting lead, with Simu Liu giving a damn good performance. Tony Leung plays Shang-Chi’s dad, Xu Wenwu, a mighty leader of the shady organization The Ten Rings. He’s a complex and interesting character that makes for a really compelling antagonist, and Leung is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Florian Munteanu, and many more, all giving great performances in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Joel P. West, and I think he did a great job with it. It’s big and epic, but it can also be quiet and emotional. And it creates this really cool vibe for the movie by blending elements of typical western action movie music with traditional Chinese music, and it makes for a really engaging soundscape that worked insanely well for the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they’re fine. They’re not something I’d really find myself listening to in my spare time, but they worked well enough within their respective scenes.

Based on various Marvel comics, “Shang-Chi” was directed and co-written by Destin Daniel Cretton, and I think he did a great job with it. He has this really fun, yet grounded energy to his style that melds really well with a lot of the big budget comic book stuff. And it does help give the movie a nice vibe and flow that I highly enjoyed. I especially think his direction shines in the action scenes that are spread throughout this movie. There’s some nice, decently long takes, and we always get a good view of the action going on. But what I appreciate most about it is the focus on martial arts. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big, pew pew action of the other MCU movies, but there’s something so refreshing when instead of Iron Man flying around blowing shit up, it’s a dude using kung fu to fend off an opponent. And even when the action got way bigger in scale and effects budget, it was really fun and well handled. It’s just really well made and comes together so well.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a fun and absolutely wonderful action movie with some well written and nuanced character drama. The story’s great, the characters are great, the performances are great, the music is great, and the direction is great too. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shang-Chi” is a 9.90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is now completed.

I really need to watch more Tony Leung movies.

Movie Review: Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)

You know what’s kinda weird? Despite being a musician since childhood, I’ve never really been a huge fan of musicals. Or I should say, live action musicals. I don’t know why, it’s just a weird quirk of mine. But on occasion there might be one that cracks my grumpy heart. Is this one of them? I guess we’ll find out.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Tick, Tick… Boom”

The story follows Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield), a young, aspiring theater composer as he struggles to keep his life afloat, trying to balance love, friendship, and putting together his first musical. I really loved the storytelling within “Tick, Tick… Boom”. There are moments it can seem slightly scatterbrained, but I think it really adds to it, since it perfectly encapsulates just how hectic Jon’s life is. The story takes an interesting look at the man’s life as well as the struggles of trying to be creative in a world where that can’t be a guarantee of success. But what carries the story the most is the sheer amount of heart. Right from scene one, it carried this warm, sincere charm that had me immediately hooked, and carried it all the way to the ending. It’s just such a nice and emotionally resonant story that hit me in a way that I haven’t felt in quite a while.

The characters here are colorful, charming, layered, and overall just all feel very real. Something about them all made them feel like actual people and not just characters performed by actors. Our lead character, Jon, was just an absolutely endearing and fascinating character that I loved following throughout the movie. And Andrew Garfield was absolutely fantastic in the role. Then we also get supporting work from people like Robin de Jesus, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Bradley Whitford, MJ Rodriguez, and more, all giving terrific performances. It’s just a damn good cast.

The music in this was composed by Jonathan Larson, and I loved all of it. The instrumentation, the melodies, the lyrics, it all comes together beautifully to create tracks that make me want to dance, cry, laugh, rethink my life… it’s all wonderfully introspective and I think all actors brought the songs to life marvelously.

Based on the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and I think he did a really solid job. His direction can be a little rough around the edges at times, but even then, it’s really good for someone making their feature debut. The man has worked with musicals in different ways for years, so he has a good grasp of how it should work, and that experience and talent does help elevate his direction a little. Speaking of musicals, I love the way the musical numbers are handled. They flow nicely, and they’re wonderfully edited, beautifully moving between people and spaces in ways that few other musicals do. So yeah, this is really well helmed.

The movie just came out, but so far it’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

“Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a fantastic little movie that I absolutely loved. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and really good directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a 9.90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Tick, Tick… Boom!”

I’m gonna end up listening to that soundtrack a lot, aren’t I?

Series Review: The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

And here we are, my friends. The last post of Month of Spooks 2021. It’s been a fun ride, but it is time to wind down a bit. And to cap it off, we’re ending it the way we started it… with a Mike Flanagan show. So let’s go.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Haunting of Hill House”.

The story follows the Crains, a fractured family as they try to confront the haunting memories of what had happened to them in the past. “The Haunting of Hill House” blends a grief-driven family drama with a ghost story, and it is insanely effective. It’s difficult discussing the story and themes and general impact it had on me without delving into spoilers, but I’ll try my best. The spooky stuff is good on its own, it’s solid horror. But what carries my attention is how the family drama and character-driven subplots and the meditation on grief develops throughout, showing how everyone in this family’s been broken by the traumatic events in their past, and how they’re trying to cope with all of that. It’s a very nuanced, tender, and emotionally charged story that hit me in a way that few shows manage, even making me cry multiple times throughout. It’s a beautiful, scary, and sad story that I absolutely adored.

The characters in this are some of the most nuanced and believable I’ve seen in a show. They all feel so real and I found their personal stories and developments extremely engaging and interesting. And for the show we also have a huge cast, with everyone giving top notch performances. So I’m just gonna list them off, because I want to shout them out. So we have Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Mckenna Grace, Lulu Wilson, Victoria Pedretti, Paxton Singleton, Timothy Hutton, Anthony Ruivivar, and many more. It’s just a stellar cast all perfectly playing stellar characters.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, and they absolutely killed it, this might be my favorite work from them. They have this brooding eerie tension at times, and for a lot they go for a more somber, emotionally charged piano style that hit me right in the god damn heart, further amplifying the heartache that this show creates. It’s just excellent stuff.

Based on the novel by Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House” was created, directed, and co-written by Mike “Let’s make sad stuff” Flanagan. Aaaaand, the man just doesn’t fucking miss. His direction here is stellar, building tension when needed, but also letting more dramatic moments breathe just the right amount for maximum emotional investment. I don’t know what to say here about his style that I didn’t mention in my reviews of “Midnight Mass” or “Doctor Sleep“, I can’t really elaborate much beyond it. The dude’s amazing. And Michael Fimognari’s cinematography is beautiful as always. It’s just an insanely well crafted show.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10, and is ranked #132 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is a masterful horror-drama, and a further showcase for why Mike Flanagan is one of the best filmmakers around. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Haunting of Hill House” is a 9.93/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Haunting of Hill House” is now completed.

And with that, the Month of Spooks is over. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have tears to mop up. God damn it, Flanagan…

Series Review: Midnight Mass (2021)

It’s finally here, friends… THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! That’s right, Oc-fucking-tober, a month of spooktacular content! Yeah, I’m excited. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Midnight Mass”.

“Midnight Mass” follows the residents of Crockett Island, a remote little mound somewhere in America, as strange things start happening around their home following the arrival of a new, charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). This show is at its core a character-driven drama, delving deep into themes of grief, guilt, faith, and past traumas, and I find all of it compelling. The way that this stuff is handled throughout the seven episode run is some of the most nuanced and beautiful storytelling I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in any show. This even gives extra weight to the sections which lean more on classic horror, both in terms of thematic depth and  in terms of how much suspense and terror it is able to generate. So yeah, the story here is emotionally resonant, nuanced, unpredictable, scary, and overall just fucking spectacular.

The characters in this show are all very flawed, layered, colorful, and insanely interesting to follow. All of them have some past (or present) trauma going on, and it makes for some incredibly engaging character work. What helps this further is the frankly insane cast, featuring people like Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater (who is the standout for me), Henry Thomas, Kristin Lehman, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, Samantha Sloyan, Annarah Cymone, and many more, all giving top tier performances.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, who absolutely knocked it out of the park with the music here. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past, but I feel like they really outdid themselves here. Of course you do have some traditional horror stings, but there are also a lot of quieter, more emotional pieces throughout the show as well, along with some frankly haunting bits as well. It manages to hit every kind of emotion possible, making for a very engaging soundscape that adds a lot to the show.

“Midnight Mass” was created for Netflix by Mike Flanagan, who also directed and co-wrote all the episodes. And I gotta say, the dude knocked it out of the fucking park with his directing here. Not that Flanagan’s direction has ever been bad, but you can tell that this was a real passion project for him just by how all out he goes with the way his shots flow, how tightly edited it is, and how just how ambitious it can be at times. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Michael Fimognari, which is beautiful and really adds to the storytelling. The special effects in this are all great as well. It’s just an insanely well crafted show that you can tell everyone involved put 250% into. I know that is mathematically illogical (and possibly impossible), but I don’t care, it’s how I feel.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10.

“Midnight Mass” is an absolutely phenomenal horror show that had me glued to the screen from start to end. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Midnight Mass” is a 9.94/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Midnight Mass” is now completed.

Month of Spooks is off to one hell of a start!

Movie Review: The Conversation (1974)

Surveillance, something that’s part of our society, and we often don’t think about it. Sometimes it’s done for our safety and sometimes it’s perhaps used for less savory purposes. Anyhow, let’s talk about a movie.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Conversation”.

The story follows Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), a surveillance expert who recently got tasked with following and recording a young couple. However, as he proceeds with this job, he starts growing paranoid about the entire situation. What we have here is a slowly burning conspiracy thriller with a lot of character drama interwoven throughout, and I found it to be utterly fucking engrossing. Right from the first shot the movie gives off this really uncomfortable vibe, creating a really fascinating and frankly eerie mood that doesn’t let go until it’s over. And the way it tackles theme of paranoia, morality, and various other themes through its storytelling is just superb, making for a really nuanced and engaging conspiracy thriller.

The characters in this are all really interesting, because you never know who can be trusted or if anyone really is on Harry’s side. It helps in adding to the film’s overall sense of paranoia, which just made me even more tense. Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a long time surveillance expert and our protagonist. He’s a fascinating man that I found really engaging to follow. Part of this is due to the writing, but most of it is of course down to Hackman who is absolutely superb in the role. And in the supporting cast we see people like John Cazale, Frederic Forrest, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, and more, all of which are great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Shire, and I think he did a really good job with it. Some of it has a little bit of basis in lounge jazz, bouncing around a lot on higher notes, having a bit of fun with itself. But soon enough you start hearing it shift in tone a bit, going down on the lower keys a lot more, creating this eerie and intense vibe that borders on horror-esque at times. Really helps sell the increasing paranoia of the narrative beautifully.

“The Conversation” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. And quick little sidenote: This came out the same year as “The Godfather Part II”, so Coppola really had one busy year. Anyhow, I don’t think I’m claiming anything unexpected when I say that he did an excellent job with his direction. He manages to keep us close and intimate with Harry, while still somehow making us feel somewhat distant, almost like we’re surveilling him. Really helps in building a sense of unease around the whole situation, just making me insanely uncomfortable. And Bill Butler’s cinematography really helps sell this too. It’s just excellently crafted.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie was also nominated for 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound.

While its sloooooow pace might put some off, I found “The Conversation” to be an electrifying thriller that I won’t soon forget. It has a fantastic story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Conversation” is a 9.91/10. So I’d say it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Conversation” is now completed

If anyone wonders why I’m choosing to stop talking to people, know that I blame Francis Ford Coppola.

Movie Review: The Mustang (2019)

Horses, wonderful creatures. Absolutely astonishing beasts. Also, huge and terrifying and able to crush a dude like a bug. So you know… try to not annoy a horse. Also, don’t annoy people. Just a bit of advice from Uncle Markus.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Mustang”.

While doing time in prison, Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts) soon gets involved in a rehabilitation program where convicts learn to train wild mustangs. And we follow him as he struggles with this new task, as well as the struggles he faces when confronting himself and his violent past. If you are an impatient individual, you might not enjoy the storytelling of “The Mustang”. It’s a slow burn, taking its time to really let moments simmer, let us get into the heads of the characters and their situation. Of course there are moments where shit gets real and things become less calm, but on the whole this is a movie that is in no hurry to tell its story. And I appreciate that. It helped immerse me in the story presented to me. And in the end I found it to be an insanely heart-wrenching and engaging story.

The characters in this are all pretty engaging, and all work very well in making the story and world therein to feel more lived in. They all feel very real in that sense. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Roman, our main character. He’s a man who clearly has a bit of a troubled past (to say the least), and the way we see him developing and confronting himself throughout the film is insanely engaging, with Schoenaerts delivering a masterful performance. And then in supporting roles you have people like Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Josh Stewart, Thomas Smittle, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Kurzel, and I think he did a terrific job with it. It very much fits with the contemplative vibe that the story goes for, brought to life beautifully by a mix of guitar, piano, and various other stringed instruments. It really finds a nice middle ground between the dusty Nevada setting and the eerie, soul-sucking confinement of prison. It’s a mesmerizing score that really elevated the movie beyond the already high quality.

“The Mustang” was the first film directed and co-written by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, and I think she did a fantastic job with it. Just seeing the skill and level of control she clearly has over each scene is mesmerizing. When I was watching I thought she’d made  whole bunch of movies, but no, this was her first. And if she shows this level of skill with her debut, I am excited to see what she could bring in the future. Anyhow, back to the movie itself. The direction like I said, it’s great, beautiful, just superb. The direction really brings you into the world in a way that feels very raw and real. And the cinematography by Ruben Impens is just gorgeous. So yeah, the craft in this movie is terrific.

“The Mustang” has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

The slow burn of “The Mustang” may put some people off, but I personally found it to be a highly engrossing and heart-wrenching drama. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, terrific music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Neigh*. My final score for “The Mustang” is a 9.90/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Mustang” is now completed.

Schoenaerts not getting a best actor nomination for this is just criminal.

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 4 (2021)

This review is a bit of a bittersweet one. On one hand, I get to talk about this show once again (yay!)… but this has also been confirmed to be the final season (boo). I’ve loved every season that’s come before, so I was of course excited. But then we get to the question: Did they stick the landing? Let’s find out.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… the final season of “Castlevania”!

We once again find ourselves within the region of Wallachia as Trevor (Richard Armitage), Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso), and Alucard (James Callis) once again must go on quests to save the people, and possibly also the world as we know it, from powerful forces. All the while Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her vampire sisters scheme to try and take over the world, with Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack) working to find a way to kill her. As you can read, a lot of shit is going on here, and even then I left out A LOT of stuff as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But what’s my verdict on the story here? It’s great. They manage to make everything feel like it truly matters, like there are actual stakes, and they manage to keep it consistently engaging. Whether it’s through a big, over the top action scene or a slower, more conversational part, the writers manage to keep it really engaging throughout the entire 10 episode run. And when it’s all said and done, it wraps up in an emotionally satisfying way that works really well for the story and world that they’ve developed.

The characters of this show, be they new or old, remain some of the most colorful, layered, fun, and overall interesting ones in recent memory. Most of them get a good arc here, and I think it makes for some great dynamics between them, as well as just making them highly engaging on their own. And the cast is just as stellar as ever, with both returning cast members and newcomers giving it their fucking all. And within said cast we find people like Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Jessica Brown Findlay, Theo James, Jaime Murray, Yasmine Al Massri, Ivana Milisevic, Malcolm McDowell, Toks Olagundoye, Titus Welliver, and many other very talented actors.

As with the previous seasons, Trevor Morris stood for the music, and once again he’s killed it. Big, epic orchestral pieces, smaller and more somber pieces, even a little bit of synth, the man mixes a few different styles that fit beautifully into creating a highly engaging soundscape for the show.

As with its previous seasons, “Castlevania” season 4 was written by Warren Ellis, with the Deats brothers handling the directing. And once again, the craft on display here is out of this world good. And where that shines the most is of course the animation, which is utterly breathtaking, especially during action scenes. Sure, it looks really good during slower, talky scenes too, but it’s during action that it really comes alive, giving us some breathtakingly dynamic, gruesome, and utterly badass fights that I will not forget any time soon. Powerhouse Animation, man, they never slip up.

This show/season just came out, so it currently doesn’t have much data on my usual sites. But here is still the link for the Metacritic page. On Rotten Tomatoes it currently has a 100% audience rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

So yeah, the final season of “Castlevania” completely sticks the landing, making for an emotionally satisfying and highly entertaining end to this series that I love. The story is great, the characters are great, the performances are fantastic, the music is great, and the directing/animation is fantastic. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for the final season of “Castlevania” is a 9.97/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 4 is now completed.

It’s… it’s over… *sad sniff*.

Movie Review: Throne of Blood (1957)

Hello there, friends, and welcome back to Akira Kurosunday! So, are we all ready to talk about an old movie? Yeah? Cool! So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Throne of Blood”.

The story follows Taketoki Washizu (Toshiro Mifune), a hardened general as he works, with the constant egging on by his wife (Isuzu Yamada), to fulfill a prophecy that says he will become lord of a mighty castle. If you’re thinking to yourself “Gee golly willikers, Uncle Markus, this sounds a mighty bit like Macbeth”. How observant of you, reader. That’s right “Throne of Blood” takes the setup and themes of the famed play and merges them with elements from traditional Japanese storytelling, which makes for an insanely compelling narrative. What also helps the storytelling out quite a bit is the immaculate atmosphere of the movie, which makes everything feel a bit off. But not off as in bad, but off as in “Something is weird”, which gives the movie an interesting and unique vibe that adds quite a bit of nuance to everything going on. It’s just a great story that adapts the classic play to great effect.

The characters in this are all pretty flawed and nuanced, and I think they all work well here, all helping build onto the drama quite well. I would say more, but I don’t wanna go into too many details (spoilers and all that jazz). I’ll simply say that Toshiro Mifune is fantastic as usual in the lead, playing the mad, power hungry shtick ridiculously well. And in the supporting roles we find people like Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Akira Kubo, Minoru Chiaki, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think that he did a great job with it. His score for it is very atmospheric and kind of eerie for a lot of it, complementing the slightly surreal mood I mentioned earlier. But there are also a few more bombastic (for lack of a better word) tracks as well, and those work quite well in their respective scenes too. It’s just a damn solid score that elevates the movie even further.

As mentioned early in the review, “Throne of Blood” is based on William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, and was directed by Akira Kurosawa. Aaaaand Kurosawa of course brought his A-game with the direction. What I’ve noticed with each of his movies I’ve seen is that his craft gets better and better. And while I love his direction in the last two movies, I really think that this is the best I’ve seen from him so far. The way he composes movement, the way he puts you on edge with simple angles, the way he brings you into the action, Kurosawa handles any and all situation beautifully and showed just how ahead of his time he was. And the cinematography by Asakazu Nakai is fucking gorgeous.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

So yeah, Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” is another winner. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Throne of Blood” is a 9.88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Throne of Blood” is now completed.

So many arrows…

Movie Review: Parasite (2019)

Well hello there, friends of the interwebs! How are you? Welcome to 2021, where dreams are made and/or shattered, and where Markus catches up on movies that everybody already have seen. So let’s go, yo!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Parasite”!

Shortly after young man Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) gains employment as a tutor for the daughter of a wealthy family, he starts scheming with his family to get them employed for these wealthy folks too. What’s fascinating about “Parasite” is that it spans more genres than the entire filmography of more directors. Is is a crime story? Yes. But it’s also a family drama. And a black comedy. And a thriller? But despite all of this, there never is any clashing as we flow through the movie. They blend together beautifully, held together by some of the tightest writing I’ve experienced in a film in recent memory. All of this making for a brilliant satire on class differences within modern day South Korea (and possibly other parts of the world), while in general also being a highly enjoyable narrative to follow on a surface level. The storytelling of “Parasite” can be enjoyed both as this deep, nuanced satire, and as a general piece of entertainment. It’s just great stuff.

The characters in this are incredibly interesting, because it’s clear that a lot of time and love has gone into making them feel as real and nuanced as possible. I believe every second of their characterization, and that makes them extremely compelling. And when you pair that with an excellent cast, featuring people like Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Park So-dam, Choi Woo-sik, Jang Hye-jin, Jung Ji-so, Cho Yeo-jeong, and more, you get some extremely engaging character work going on.

The score for the movie was composed Jung Jae-il, and it was terrific. It’s a fairly minimalist score, all things considered. It’s based mainly around piano, some strings, and light percussion, which helps give the movie a uniquely fascinating vibe that is equal parts fun and uncomfortable. And I love it.

“Parasite” was directed and co-written by Bong Joon-ho, and I think he did a superb job with it. Few directors have as much control over every scene as he has here. Every moment is perfectly crafted and calibrated in a way that I seldom see in movies. I also have to take a second to praise the cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo, because it is not only ridiculously pretty, but it also adds so much to the overall storytelling, with each shot being able to convey so much about a moment. And when you take the superb editing into account, you get one of the most perfectly crafted movies I’ve seen. It’s insane how perfectly constructed this is.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 96/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #30 on their “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best original screenplay, and Best international feature. It was also nominated for an additional 2 Oscars in the categories of Best production design and Best film editing.

Yeah, guess I’m joining the choir in saying that “Parasite” is fucking fantastic. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Parasite” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Parasite” is now completed.

Not a bad start to my movie watching this year.