Lady Snowblood (1973) **** [Asura Double Feature Pt. 1]

Jim Thompson 'The Criminal' (1953) ***

My least favorite Thompson book that I've read so far (of 9), but one really interesting feature of this short little novel is that each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character. The story is standard Thompson stuff - a character is accused of murder and the investigation that follows.


Triple 9 (2016) ***

Well, it seems the reviews were right about this one after all. A solid film but definitely the weakest one by Hillcoat so far. It just feels generic, which is a shame because I really like Hillcoat's other 3 films (especially THE PROPOSITION and LAWLESS is underrated). This is such an impressive cast on paper but no one really impresses. There are some exciting heist and chase sequences but as a whole TRIPLE 9 falls short. It's just another story of corrupt cops and gangsters with nothing setting it apart. The absence of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in the scoring department is a shame too, as their contributions to Hillcoat's other 3 films was integral.


Cinema Paradiso - Theatrical Version (1988) ****1/2

My Film Noir Collection On Blu-ray

Back in 2011, I posted about film noir that I owned at the time. That included both DVDs and Blu-rays. Happily, many of those titles have since made the upgrade, so I decided to make a current entry of film noir that I own on Blu-ray only. I'm only including classic American B&W noir (+ one French title) - those made between 1940 - 1959, in this list.


Truman Capote 'In Cold Blood' (1966) ***1/2

I struggled with a rating for this one because it's an exceptional telling of a real-life story (though questioned for its veracity) but in many sections Capote tends to descend into excruciating details that just lost me. I recognize this as a landmark novel and overall I really enjoyed it but I honestly prefer the film.


The Witch (2015) ****

THE WITCH has got to be one of the quietest films I've ever seen. There are moments of sudden alarming noise, to be sure. And the tension remains throughout, even in the quietest moments (that's right, I just made a Supertramp reference). But this one is the textbook definition of a slow-burner, which doesn't translate well to modern cinema-goers. Or maybe the audience I saw this film with just sucked. Well they did, but I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of people saying this film was boring or dumb and "nothing happened".

Me, I loved it. But the audience almost ruined it for me - constant chatter, popcorn bags rustling, inappropriately timed laughter, exasperated sighs - the works. I kid you not, I nearly walked out. So I very much look forward to a second viewing. 

The story is incredibly simple, I'll just steal from IMDb here: "A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession." That's all you really need to know. The performances are excellent across the bar, the cinematography is exceptional (shot with natural light only) and the atmosphere is creepy as all get out.

Focus On Film: Episode 38 – May 2016 Criterion Titles

Focus On Film Episode 38 is up!
  • Download the MP3 HERE
In this episode:

"Focus On Film Theme" & commercial music: Daniel Sardella

*The hosts mistakenly credited Alan Thicke as having starred on THE FACTS OF LIFE, when we meant to say GROWING PAINS. Thicke did in fact compose the theme for FOL though!


Hail, Caesar! (2016) ****

Brolin channels Polito, Tatum is actually good, and the Coens manage (unsurprisingly) to both parody and display their affection for Old Hollywood. I laughed a lot and I loved it. It reminded me of another Coen favorite THE HUDSUCKER PROXY with dashes of LEBOWSKI and THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE.