Sunday, January 30, 2022

Spilled Blood: Films of January 2022

Two new releases, one of them already gone from cinemas with no known plans for home distribution, but I know you all have your ways...

dir: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
pr: Paul Neinstein / William Sherak / James Vanderbilt
scr: James Vanderbilt & Guy Busick, based on characters created by Kevin Williamson
cin: Brett Jutkiewicz

Good enough, I think. A moment here or there that raised my eyebrows in their concept, execution, and implications. But the basics of what one desires from a Scream film are all there: brutal kills within witty gotchas, engaging actors (for the most part), familiar faces, terrifying sound design (the BUZZ BUZZ of a mobile proves just as unsettling as a landline's ring). Watched in 4DX, which I do not recommend unless you're intrigued by getting thwacked in the back during a stabbing scene.

The Policeman's Lineage (경관의 피)
dir: Lee Kyoo-man
scr: Bae Young-ik, based on the Japanese novel Blood of the Policeman by Joh Sasaki
cin: Gang Guk-yeok

In which a young third-generation cop (Choi Woo-shik) is transferred by Internal Affairs to the unit of a veteran officer (a wonderfully restrained Cho Jin-woong) who pursues an untouchably well-connected drug lord with the help of shadow funds fed into a secret police gang. Many layers of deceit and history to navigate here, difficult to do through subtitles. The main concern seems to be whether or not it's possible to police without getting one's hands dirty, what it means to uphold the law, the necessity of grey areas, etc. Ends in a shrug: two hours guiding us through morally murky waters, only to end on a high-spirited, "Wait for the sequel!" note. Nice 80s/90s thriller vibes courtesy of the camerawork by Gang Guk-yeok (a Hollmann Award nominee for House of Hummingbird) and score by Jang Young-gyu (The Yellow SeaThe Wailing, Train to Busan).

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Monday, January 24, 2022

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Top Films of 2021

With 120 films screened, I am finally ready to present my favorite films of 2021.

Each year I present my Top Ten alphabetically, for two reasons. One is to maintain some level of suspense for the Hollmann Awards, whose Best Picture category only allows for five nominees. The other reason: I usually don't know what my ranking is until I have to choose those five. Alphabetical buys me time. 

This was a particularly difficult year to narrow down. And so, I Top Eleven Films of the Year:

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Films of 2021

I'm about to start my own Top Ten/awards of 2021. Just a review, here are the 120 films I screened - released in Los Angeles between January 1, 2021, and December 21, 2021; seen by me between January 1, 2021, and January 3, 2022: