Movie Review: The Karate Kid (1984)

Your suspicions are correct, I only saw this classic for the first time today. I know, shame on me for being late to the party, yada yada yada. Now, for those who haven’t left me over this horrific revelation… let’s talk about the movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Karate Kid”.

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) has just moved to California with his mom (Randee Heller). However, things aren’t just sunshine and palm trees for poor Daniel, as he soon starts getting bullied by a group of karate-proficient bullies. This soon leads him to befriending an older Japanese man (Pat Morita) that may or may not be able to teach Daniel how to defend himself. So you get yourself a bit of an underdog story, a bit of a coming of age story, and a bit of martial arts (and even a few drops of philosophy). It’s a narrative that encompasses a lot of things, and handles most of them with a surprising amount of grace and nuance. This does add a little bit to my main criticism with the film, which is that the runtime really could be felt at times. I wasn’t necessarily bored per se, but let’s just say that those 2+ hours do feelt like 2+ hours. Overall it is a fun story that I found myself pretty engaged with, even if it felt like it dragged at points.

The characters in this are colorful, entertaining, and surprisingly layered. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel LaRusso, the Jersey kid forced over to California. At first he can come off as that typical angsty teen, but soon shows that he is more than that. He’s charming, he’s funny, and he’s a good dude who just wants to live his life. And to see that personality get tested through Daniel’s various trials and tribulations is quite interesting, with Macchio giving a great performance. Next we have Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, the older man that Daniel befriends and (as you all know) agrees to train. He’s a bit of an eccentric man, which makes him a really entertaining character, with Morita being really good in the role. And I have to say, the chemistry between Macchio and Morita is stellar, and is arguably the best part of the entire movie. We also get supporting work from people like Randee Heller, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, William Zabka, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Bill Conti, and it was a lot of fun. It has a lot of familiar 1980s cheese to it with big, inspirational brass and what I’d like to call “montage synths”. You know, those kinds of synths that only show up in old underdog stories to serve as some sort of personal growth/montage thing for the character (you’ll know ’em when you hear ’em). Either way, I think his score is a lot of fun and works well for the movie. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used through, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Karate Kid” was directed by John G. Avildsen, and I think he did a good job. Shots have a nice flow to them, and his direction has a certain type of energy that really helps bring you into the scene. He also makes the story feel a bit more grandiose than it is. Because if you think about it, the story itself is relatively small scale, but Avildsen has a way of making it feel quite substantial. I will also say that I enjoy the way he shoots martial arts. It doesn’t show up that much in the film, all things considered, but when it does it’s nicely shot and gets properly shown off.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actor (Morita).

So while it does have some mild pacing issues, “The Karate Kid” is still a highly entertaining coming of age story that I really enjoyed. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Karate Kid” is an 8.60/10. So while flawed, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “The Karate Kid” is now completed.

You’re the best around, nothing’s gonna ever keep you down…

Movie Review: All the Money in the World (2017)

I’m back! To clarify: I took a little break from writing for a little over two weeks because I just didn’t have much energy, but now I’m here again! And hopefully I’ll be able to keep this shit up semi-regularly again. So yeah, let’s goooooo!

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 and gentlemen… “All the Money in the World”.

Italy, 1973. Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) finds herself in a precarious situation after her son (Charlie Plummer) gets kidnapped one night. And we follow her as she tries anything to save her son, which includes trying to get help from her son’s billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer). So what we have here is part kidnapping thriller and part domestic drama, and for the most part I think it holds up well. The movie jumps between Gail’s struggle with her former father-in-law, and her son being stuck with the kidnappers. And both stories are pretty solid, with one half being a really fascinating character drama, and the other being a tense as hell thriller. The only issue I do have is that the pacing does suffer a little bit towards the middle. It doesn’t break the movie in half, but it does bring it down a little bit.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting and all bounce off of each other quite well. First up is Gail, played by Michelle Williams. A tough, yet also vulnerable woman trying her damndest to just get her son home safe and sound. She is a pretty interesting protagonist to follow, and Williams is great in the role. Next we have Christopher Plummer (R.I.P) as J. Paul Getty, the billionaire whose money the kidnappers want. He’s a stubborn old man who can often come off as a real son of a bitch, which makes him a wonderful counterpoint to Williams’ Gail, making for some interesting drama and character dynamics. And Plummer is just terrific in the role. Then we have Fletcher Chace, Getty’s number one guy. While not the most fleshed out character in the movie, he does make for a nice addition to the cast as a way of briding the gap between characters. And Wahlberg is really good in the role. And Charlie Plummer is an absolute standout as J. Paul Getty III, he is so god damn good in his role. We also get supporting work from people like Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, Marco Leonardi, Giuseppe Bonifati, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Daniel Permberton, and I thought it was pretty good. It’s not exactly groundbreaking in any way, and I don’t I’m gonna remember it in a week, but overall it did work well within the movie itself, and I think it helped out the various scenes where it could be heard. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work pretty well too.

Based on a book by John Pearson, “All the Money in the World” was directed by Ridley Scott, and I think he did a damn good job with it. He clearly still has such a grip on how to really pull the viewer into a scene. From a basic enough wide shot to bits of action, the man has a masterful grasp of the film. And I don’t think I can go on without mentioning the mad lad’s reshoots. For any cave dwellers that might be unaware, this movie originally starred Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty, but after all the sexual assault/harassment allegations against him came out, the studio pulled the movie from a festival. Ridley Scott, being the marvelous jackass that he is just said “Delay the movie a few days and give me some money for reshoots”, after which he pulled in Plummer (and any of the non-predatory actors left) and reshot all the Getty stuff. And the mad son of a bitch pulled it off. So yeah, Scott is a god damn pro.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

While not within the upper echelon of Ridley Scott’s filmography, “All the Money in the World” is still a damn good biographical thriller. It has a really good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “All the Money in the World” is an 8.42/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s worth buying.

My review of “All the Money in the World” is now completed.

Ridley Scott, you glorious madman.

Series Review: Des (2020)

Been a while since we covered a tv show, so I’m a bit excited right now. Also, don’t murder people.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Des”.

The year is 1983. Police have arrested Dennis “Des” Nilsen (David Tennant) on suspicion of homicide after human remains are found near his home. And throughout the show we follow the cops a they try to identify the various victims, as well as trying to get information out of Nilsen regarding everything he did. This is an interesting little crime drama. Now, it does fall back on a lot of tropes from these type of true crime murder mystery type stories, which is possibly the show’s biggest fault. It’s not outright bad, but the sometimes formulaic nature does take away some from it. But with this said, I did still find the story here decently interesting. It has this sort of eeriness that I feel we don’t necessarily get in similar things. I don’t know how to explain it, but the whole vibe around it just makes it a bit more interesting. And I do still think the investigation around Nilsen and his victims is a pretty interesting one, especially as we learn more about him as a person. There is also some stuff set around the bureaucracy of the investigation, which does add a decent bit of drama. On the whole I do think the story here is solid enough, just a little familiar in its structure.

The characters in this are pretty interesting. Especially our main two, who are both really compelling. First up we have Daniel Mays as Detective chief inspector Peter Jay, the man leading the investigation into Nilsen’s murders. He’s a man of principle, someone determined to see this all through, even when the higher ups try to get in his way. He’s a compelling lead, and Daniel Mays gives a really good performance. And then we have David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, AKA Des. He’s a really frightening character. But not in a Hannibal Lecter or Annie Wilkes kinda way where they’re made to be frightening. Nilsen is frightening in how blunt and forward he is. Right from the start he’s like “Yeah, I killed them” and has no problem telling how it happened, like how you might tell your friends about your trip to Spain. He’s frightening because he is so… human. And Tennant is fantastic in the role, giving one of the best performances of his career. We also get supporting work from people like Jason Watkins, Barry Ward, Jay Simpson, Bronagh Waugh, and more, all giving good performances.

The score for the show was composed by Sarah Warne, and I think she did a pretty good job. It’s very low key, going for a somewhat eerie, almost droning sound to add to the atmosphere of the show. It really helps create an engaging soundscape within the show.

Based on the book “Killing for Company” by Brian Masters, “Des” was created by Luke Neal and Lewis Arnold, with Arnold directing, and Neal serving as lead writer. And I think the craft here is really strong. One thing I really appreciate about the directing and such here is how remarkably restrained they are. So many other people would probably give us the gory, graphic details of the entire situation, but the crew here didn’t. They hold back quite a bit, just giving us the explanations of everything that happened. And while too much exposition can be a bit bothersome, I feel that they found the right balance here. I must also commend Mark Wolf on his cinematography, because it’s really frickin’ good and fits the story being told really well.

This show has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.7/10.

While its formulaic nature does bring it down a little bit, “Des” is still a pretty compelling crime drama. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Des” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Des” is now completed.

Symphony of Des-truction…

Movie Review: The Wrestler (2008)

I’ve never really cared about wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to begrudge anyone that does watch and enjoy it, you go have fun. It’s just never been my cup of tea. So with this said, let’s talk about a movie that’s somewhat wrestling related.

Ladies and gents… “The Wrestler”.

Back in the 80s nothing could stop Randy “The Ram Robinson” (Mickey Rourke). He was one of the biggest wrestlers around, famed and beloved all over. But in the modern day things aren’t quite as shiny and wonderful. His fame is fading, and his numerous health issues are forcing him to retire. And we follow him as he struggles with trying to get his life back together and finding his spot in the world. So yeah, it’s not just sweaty dudes knockin’ each other around in this, it’s a very human drama. One about life, redemption, limitations, and finding yourself. It’s quite an emotionally engaging narrative that had me engrossed from the start up until the credits. Whenever we see these wrestlers on a screen they seem so larger than life, so it’s deeply fascinating to see one of them so humanized here. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s really a feelgood movie, because for most of it I kind of felt like shit, which was clearly the movie’s intention, so good job on that. That’s not a flaw, by the way, just thought it was worth bringing up. But yeah, the story in this is great.

The characters in this are all very nuanced and all feel very real, really bringing the viewer further into the drama. Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, the titular wrestler. Once a big star, now a bit of a mess. He is a really fascinating fella that I really liked following throughout the movie. And Mickey Rourke is fantastic in the role. Next we have Marisa Tomei as “Cassidy” a stripper that Randy has a bit of a bond with in the movie. She is currently going through some shit herself, and it’s interesting to see how that, along with the issues Randy bring in, helps develop her. And Tomei is great in the role. We also get some supporting work from people like Evan Rachel Wood, Todd Barry, Judah Friedlander, and more, all giving good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Clint Mansell, with some assistance from legendary guitarist Slash. It’s a moody, sad score that underlines the tragedy of Randy’s life. It’s quite beautiful and works really well for the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

“The Wrestler” was directed by Darren Aronofsky, and I think he did a fantastic job here. What I like about his directing here is that it’s very fly-on-the-wall in its execution, nothing of it is really that flashy. It really fit the story nicely, and it helped immerse me even further in the turmoil of Randy and those around him. Because this isn’t really a flashy story, it’s fairly down and dirty and occasionally depressing, and I think the directing captures that perfectly.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10. It was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Rourke) and Best supporting actress (Tomei).

“The Wrestler” is a great character-driven drama that had me emotionally engaged from minute one. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wrestler” is a 9.67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Wrestler” is now completed.

Good movie is good. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything more clever for the end, but this movie kinda broke me.

Movie Review: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Hello there, my friends! I hope you’re day is going well. Anyway, it’s once again time for Akira Kurosunday. So let’s chat about this movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Hidden Fortress”.

The story follows Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara), two lowly peasants trying to get by. But then one day they get the opportunity of a lifetime when they meet a man and a woman (Toshiro Mifune and Misa Uehara) who promise the pair a bunch of gold in exchange for helping escort them across hostile territory. What the pair o’ peasants don’t know though is that the man and woman may be more than meets the eye. “The Hidden Fortress” is slightly different from the previous Kurosawa flicks we’ve covered so far. It’s not an examination of truth and lies, or a deep dive into the darkness of a man’s soul, or even a four hour epic about different people coming together. This is a more straightforward adventure story, going for less of a deep, nuanced thing, and aiming to be more of a fun affair. And I think it succeeds at that quite well, telling a very entertaining story with enough little turns to make it a little more interesting. I do feel that the pacing isn’t the best in this movie, as it drag a little in parts for me. It doesn’t completely break the experience for me, but it’s noticeable enough to bring it down a little bit. But otherwise I highly enjoyed the story told here.

The characters in this are all colorful and entertaining. First up we have the two peasants, played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. They have a very fun dynamic, and they help add a lot of comedy throughout the entire movie. And Chiaki and Fujiwara both give really solid performances. And I think it goes without saying how good Toshiro Mifune is in his role. And Misa Uehara does a solid job with her role too. It’s just generally a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think he did a really good job with the music here. It very much fits the fun adventure style that the story is going for. It has enough grandeur to add some weight to proceedings, but it also clearly never goes for anything too serious. It’s just a fun score that works very well for this movie.

As you already figured, “The Hidden Fortress” was directed by Akira Kurosawa, and as per usual he of course knocked it out of the park. This was also his first venture into widescreen filmmaking, and he took full advantage of that fact. He has stuff going on throughout the entire screen, giving us a lot of beautiful wides of both action and stillness. He and cinematographer Kazuo Yamazaki really outdid themselves here in giving us a lot of breathtaking shots and sequences. Must’ve dented the floor with how many times my jaw dropped.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

While the pacing drags a little bit in parts, I still find “The Hidden Fortress” to be a highly entertaining piece of filmmaking. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hidden Fortress” is an 8.87/10. So I’d say that it ‘s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Hidden Fortress” is now completed.

Fortress: Hidden
Movie: Very visible.

Movie Review: Logan Lucky (2017)

Heist movies! I love ’em. Well, I love ’em when they’re good at least. Which begs the question: Is this movie any good? Well, how about we get into the review to find out.

Ladies and gents… “Logan Lucky”.

The story follows two down on their luck brothers named Jimmy and Clyde (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) as they decide to pull off a heist while a huge NASCAR race is going on. Basically it’s “Ocean’s Eleven”, but with hints of “Dukes of Hazzard” and even “Beverly Hillbillies”. And I highly enjoyed the story being told here. Sure, we’ve seen these beats told time and time again over the years, and even the format is very familiar to the director, but I just can’t deny how fresh and fun this take feels. It just has a pace and energy that I love. It also has plenty of heart, which is shown through many moments throughout. So yeah, it’s not an original narrative… but it’s a hell of an enjoyable one.

The characters in this are all very colorful and entertaining, but for the most part are all also quite interesting and at times even surprisingly nuanced. First up is Jimmy Logan, a blue collar worker/ex-sportsman who finds himself in quite a bad spot after he’s laid off. This is of course what drives him to wanna pull the heist, so he can live and also provide for his daughter. He’s a compelling lead, and Channing Tatum is really good in the role. Next we have Clyde, Jimmy’s brother. He’s a former soldier and current bar owner. His dynamic with his brother is pretty interesting, and I think he makes for a pretty interesting character in general. And Adam Driver is great in the role. And the final one we’ll go into detail on is Joe Bang, a legendary explosives expert that the brothers have to bust out of prison to pull off the heist successfully. He’s an enigmatic motherfucker who I loved watching, mostly because he’s played by Daniel Craig. And not just Daniel Craig… but Daniel Craig chewing all the scenery. He is amazing in the role, a ton of fun. The rest of the supporting cast is great too, featuring people like Riley Keough, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Katie Holmes, David Denman, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Holmes, and it was good. His score has a fairly lighthearted, funk rock inspired vibe that perfectly melds the heist premise with the southern setting wonderfully, working very well in those moments when it’s used. There are also quite a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work insanely well in their respective scenes. There’s good music here, yo.

“Logan Lucky” was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and he of course brought his A-game. His directing is slick and energetic in a way that of course hearkens back to his “Ocean’s” movies, but while still having its own flavor to it. And that flavor can probably best be described as beer and cheap chicken wings. I’m just kidding, though I do think that the sort of bumpkin feel Soderbergh’s going for is captured marvelously and adds such a unique and fresh feel to the heisting procedures. The movie also has a charming sense of humor that I found my self laughing quite hard at at times. And as with a lot of Soderbergh’s work, the editing is of course terrific. It’s a very well crafted movie.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.0/10.

While a lot of its story beats can feel very familiar, I still found “Logan Lucky” to be a highly enjoyable and charming heist dramedy. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Logan Lucky” is a 9.76/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Logan Lucky” is now completed.

Cauliflower

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: Seven Samurai (1954)

Hello there, and welcome back to Akira Kurosundays! That’s right, every Sunday (unless something comes up in my life) I’ll be talking about a movie from this Kurosawa box set I have. It started last week with “Rashomon”, and it continus today with… this.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Seven Samurai”.

When a poor, defenseless village is threatened by a league of bandits, the villagers decide that they can’t stop them on their own. So they hire seven samurai to help them out with this situation. It’s a simple setup that leads into a surprisingly nuanced narrative that I like a lot. And when I say nuanced I don’t mean that it’s some ultra deep mindbender of a story, but rather that it takes its simple adventure story setup and adds to it with elements of war drama and comedy. It balances a lot of tones on its plate, but I feel like it succeeds wonderfully at all of them. And despite that mastodont of a runtime, it moves at a surprisingly fast pace, never really getting boring at any point. It does admittedly threaten to buckle under the weight of its runtime and content thickness at times, but it doesn’t take long for it to then pick itself back up and continue on the path of greatness. Seriously, this is a great samurai story.

The characters in this movie are for the most part pretty interesting. There are the titular swordy boys, all of which are colorful (ironic, given the color palette). They all feel unique to each other and have some interesting dynamics with each other. A few of the villagers are also alright, rounding out the cast nicely. And among the actors you can find people like Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Kato, Keiko Tsushima, Isao Kimura, Minoru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and I think he did a really good job with it. His score just works very well in conveying the mood of the various scenes, and even elevating certain parts. When the music needs to be eerie and ominous, it gets eerie and ominous. When it needs to be more on the epic and exciting end, it does that. And when it needs to be a bit more lighthearted and comical, it succeeds at that too. Just like the story, it captures and balances all tones wonderfully while feeling like an engaging and cohesive whole.

As made very clear in the intro, “Seven Samurai” was directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. And good god damn, he really knocked it out of the park here. His control of the camera and the actor is simply masterful, giving us direction that creates a wonderful flow from moment to moment, whether it’s in a slower character development scene, or in the action scenes that appear throughout. Speaking of which, those action scenes are excellent. Exciting, tense, fun, and frankly just stunning to look at. It all just comes together spectacularly.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positing rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 98/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #19 on the “Top 250” list.

So yeah, “Seven Samurai” is terrific, not much else I can say on that. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and excellent directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Seven Samurai” is a 9.76/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Seven Samurai” is now completed.

Seven samurai, many butt cheeks.

Movie Review: Rashomon (1950)

Not too long ago I bought a box set featuring six movies from acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. And today I decided to finally start getting through it. And I thought that it could be fun to talk about each movie as I get through them. Sound good? Cool. Let’s do it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Rashomon”.

Kyoto, Japan. We follow a group of people as they recount the various perspectives on the tragic events that transpired between a bandit (Toshiro Mifune), a samurai (Masayuki Mori), and the samurai’s wife (Machiko Kyo) that happened in the woods on one fateful day. Perspective is the name of the game within “Rashomon”, as each retelling of the events changes some minor details to make the momentary narrator seem like the better person, which does present some interesting ideas about truth, lies, and how we perceive people telling us about things they’ve seen and done. And the way it’s used within “Rashomon” is actually pretty clever and interesting, often making for really compelling drama. Admittedly it doesn’t always hit bullseye with its various sections, as there are times where the storytelling feels like slightly weaker than in others. But overall I can’t say that there’s anything outright bad in the story of “Rashomon”, as it’s still an ambitious and interesting piece of psychological drama.

The characters in this I found to be pretty interesting. Seeing how they either react to the different retellings or even how they are the one being the teller makes for some interesting character studies that aid the storytelling in really compelling ways. And with actors like Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, and Minoru Chiaki all delivering top notch performances, you get one hell of a compelling cast of characters.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and it’s great. It often plays into the whole unreliable narrator aspect of the story, having this unsettling vibe that helped in putting me on edge whenever it was heard within a scene. But I also appreciate that it isn’t overused. There was a lot of restraint shown in how it was used as sparingly as it did, giving it a much great effect whenever it popped up. It’s just really solid and works very well for the movie.

Based somewhat on a pair of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon” was co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. And I don’t think I’m bringing anything new to the table when I say that his direction here is top notch. His framing, his movements, everything about his directing is just superb, adding so much to the storytelling. His direction manages to be big and bold, while also having a lot of subtle nuances to it. It’s just great stuff, yo.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic is has a score of 98/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10 and is ranked #130 on their “Top 250” list. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best art direction. 

So yeah, “Rashomon” is a really good psychological drama that, while not perfect, still manages to engage for its runtime. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Rashomon” is an 8.80/10. So I’d say that it’s most definitely worth buying.

My review of “Rashomon” is now completed.

Feels good finally getting ’round to Kurosawa.

Movie Review: The Kid Detective (2020)

I’ve always found the idea of private investigators a fascinating one. Whether they’re investigating missing cats, potentially cheating spouses, or other things that are too petty for the police, these detectives are interesting to me, and often help make for some great fiction. So let’s talk about a detective story.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Kid Detective”.

When he was a kid, Abe Appelbaum (Adam Brody) was a famous detective, solving cases left and right, being celebrated by everyone around him. Now in his thirties, he’s grown cynical, jaded, and often hungover, still scraping by on petty cases. But one day a high schooler (Sophie Nélisse) walks into his office, with the offer of his first “proper” case: Solving the murder of her boyfriend. Detective fiction is tricky to pull off in a way that feels fresh, often stumbling into very familiar tropes and clichés. But “The Kid Detective” is that rare gem that manages to stick out a bit. While it does allow itself to indulge in some of the tropes of detective fiction, it also does a lot to play around with and subvert most of them, delivering a take on the genre that feels very refreshing and unique. Meanwhile it also acts as an interesting and darkly comedic character study about someone with a bright future who ultimately stumbled. And when you mix these two elements you get a very compelling whole that went to places I never expected from it.

The characters in this are all very colorful, entertaining, and interesting. First up we have Abe, the titular dick. Once a bright young mind beloved by all, now cynical and not taken seriously by anyone. Seeing how far he’s stooped from that original splendor is really interesting, and is further complemented by a small glint in his eye that shows the old Abe might still be in there. He’s a really compelling protagonist, and I think Adam Brody is terrific in the role. Next is Caroline, the girl who seeks Abe’s assistance with investigating her boyfriend’s murder. She could best be described as wide-eyed and naive, being an innocent observer to Abe’s antics. But I also think she makes for a nice counterbalance to Abe, creating an interesting dynamic there. And I think Sophie Nélisse does a good job in the role. We also get supporting work from Jonathan Whittaker, Wendy Crewson, Peter MacNeill, Tzi Ma, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jay McCarrol, and I think he did a really good job with it. One thing I really appreciate about it is how it actually incorporates instrumentation and some thematic elements from all kinds of detective fiction. You get some more noir inspired stuff, like out of the 40s and 50s. You get some stuff that sounds like it’s out of the 80s. And even some more modern flourishes appear too. And it all makes for a really nice whole that works really well for the movie. There’s also one or two licensed songs used throughout, and those work pretty well too. The music’s just good, yo.

“The Kid Detective” was written and directed by Evan Morgan, and I think he did a really good job with it. He shows that he has a knack for keeping a scene flowing nicely at a good pace, without making anything feel rushed. He lets moments breathe, allowing scenes to simmer a bit in the viewer’s mind, giving us the intimacy and breathing room necessary for the story to work as well as it does.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

“The Kid Detective” is a subversive and refreshing take on the detective formula that I loved. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Kid Detective” is a 9.89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Kid Detective” is now completed.

Between this and “Ready or Not”, Adam Brody is proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with.