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Review: HAPPY HOUR, An Absorbing Long-Form Masterwork

When I first settled down to view Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Happy Hour earlier this year at its New Directors/New Films festival press screening, its great reputation preceded it, a reputation that included some uniquely anomalous features, unusual even in the context...

Now on Blu-ray: DUKHTAR, Another Side of South Asian Cinema

Afia Nathaniel's drama Dukhtar was Pakistan's official entry to the Academy Awards back in 2015. While the film didn't receive the nomination, it was clear that this is a feature that resonated with audiences far beyond Pakistan's traditional film audiences....

Now on Blu-ray: In LOVE & PEACE, Sono Sion Gives Us The Warmest Feelings

Japanese filmmaker Sono Sion made a lot of movies in 2015. Before the year was up, Sono had no less than six films on cinema screens around the world at festivals and back home in Japan. So far the only...

Review: OPERATION CHROMITE, A Soulless, Calculated Cashgrab

Summer in Korea guarantees a few things, hot humid days, the loud whir of cicadas and the guaranteed release of a jingoistic cashgrab. The last few years have gifted us with Roaring Currents and Northern Limit Line and this season...

Melbourne 2016 Review: OUR HUFF AND PUFF JOURNEY, Cathartic Kawaii

Daigo Matsui’s latest bubble gum pop nightmare is thankfully a more restrained but no less creative effort from the director with a music video background. Comparable to the loose Wonderful World End, this relatively linear road-trip narrative is brought to...

Locarno 2016 Review: THE TUNNEL Excavates Thrills, Drama and Politics Galore

The peak summer box office season is winding down in Korea, but not before unearthing The Tunnel, a new disaster film from A Hard Day (2014) director Kim Seong-hun. Featuring superstars Ha Jung-woo and Doona Bae in a powerful tale...

Melbourne 2016 Review: WHAT'S IN THE DARKNESS Reveals Deeply Ambiguous Nostalgia

What's in the Darkness is a murder mystery, a coming-of-age film and a directorial debut for Wang Yichun. Unfortunately, its poor direction and muddled plot uses far too many metaphors for what is really going on. This deeply nostalgic film is...

Fantasia 2016 Review: THE TOP SECRET - MURDER IN MIND, Sci-Fi Thriller Explores a Start of Something Evil

In a police department in near future Tokyo Aoki Ikko sticks out like a sore thumb among his peers. He is an astute observer, picking up details other miss. He is also very persistent and determined. His skills earn him...

Guanajuato 2016 Review: APPRENTICE, A Sublime Death Penalty Drama

During the introduction of the Japan 1968 film program at this year’s Guanajuato International Film Festival, we saw footage of Oshima Nagisa’s classic Death by Hanging and also the filmmakers’ very direct and bold statement against death penalty. Almost 50...

BiFan 2016 Review: AUTOHEAD Drives Into the Gritty Heart of Indian Genre

Narayan (Deepak Sampat) is one of nearly a quarter of a million auto rickshaw drivers weaving through the busy streets of Mumbai. As a documentary film crew follows him around, it soon becomes clear that there is something a bit...

BiFan 2016 Review: THE FOREST Is A Slow Burn Beauty

In Paul Spurrier's The Forest, Preecha (Asanee Suwan) walks into a bucolic village in nowhere Thailand to begin a new chapter in his life as teacher in the local village. Whatever hope and passion he has for his new profession...

Now on Blu-ray: Erotic Fantasy BELLADONNA OF SADNESS is Resplendent in HD

A few months ago we reported on the singular animated erotic experience that is Yamamoto Eiichi's Belladonna of Sadness. The film, produced in 1973 as part of the experimental adult animation trilogy Animerama, was one of the most unique cinematic...

Review: KABALI, Superstar Rajinikanth's Best Film in Years

For millions of people around the world, the release of a new film from Tamil actor Rajinikanth is more than just a movie, it's an event. Superstar Rajinikanth is a performer whose mere mention inspires near-religious worship. Unfortunately, this has...

Review: TRAIN TO BUSAN Rides the Rails With the Undead

For his live-action debut Train to Busan, indie animation director Yeon Sang-ho, whose films The King of Pigs and The Fake have drawn international acclaim, has taken the zombie thriller, stuck it into the claustrophobic confines of a train, and...

Blu-ray Review: A TOUCH OF ZEN Comes to the Criterion Collection

Halfway through a year already crammed full of impressive releases (with no sign of slowing down... Dekalog for September!), The Criterion Collection has also taken advantage of the recent 4K remaster of King Hu's seminal A Touch of Zen, adding...

Neuch√Ętel 2016 Review: SEOUL STATION, A Zombie Flick That's a Walker Not A Runner

Yeon Sang-ho’s take on the zombie apocalypse doesn't bring anything fresh to the undead table yet contains enough touches of the social commentary that marks the best works of the genre to stir some interest. An old man, sick and...

Review: COLD WAR 2 Raises the Stakes Dramatically, Keeps the Action Pumping

Leung Ka Fai (aka Tony Leung, aka Big Tony) is the force of nature that propels Cold War 2 through nearly every tight spot it encounters. Returning as M.B. Lee, a granite-faced police official who graciously retired and ceded his...

Review: OUR LITTLE SISTER Packs A Most Gentle Punch

For years now, Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu has been making films that have an uncommonly humanist core. Often emotional, sometimes openly feel-good even, his films somehow never become the saccharine dross they would undoubtedly be in lesser hands. One of...

New York Asian 2016 Review: CREEPY, A Master Heads in a New Direction

Creepy has been touted as Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "return" to horror, but it feels, in its own right, like a new departure for the director. Where vintage Kurosawa fare was vague, mysterious, and mournful, Creepy is bracing, black-humored, and overt. A...

New York Asian 2016 Review: WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY! Mixes Broad Comedy with Ozu's Legacy

Yôji Yamada is a director known for retreading and reusing elements, both visual and in terms of plot, being the director of many series of movies that have been done across decades. While he really hasn't made a new series...