foreign the hunt

Cinema is a worldwide artform, and as such many of the year’s best and most exciting films often come from overseas. Quality is no guarantee of visibility though as subtitled films rarely get a wide reception in American theaters, and worse, many don’t even make it to our shores until a year or more after opening in their own country. That’s the kind of factor that makes ranking foreign language films a difficult and inconsistent process. I try and go by actual year of release when possible, but for obvious reasons I’m not adverse to including entries that made their U.S. debut this year, too. But these are details… let’s get to the movies! Genre films rarely make “best of” lists like this , but I make no apologies for their inclusion here. Best is best, and if my best happens to include a character named The Queen of Saliva so be it..


feature the visitor drafthouse films

I was going to review the new reissue of 1979’s The Visitor, but then a funny thing happened. I watched The Visitor. It’s hardly news to say that this thirty four year old movie is a mental fingerbang that bends genres and somehow teases both brilliance and stupidity, but I’m saying it anyway. Both highly derivative and wholly original, the film cherry picks elements from The Omen, The Fury, Phantasm, and more, and then swirls them together in a psychedelic mélange of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and pure nuttiness as it tells the story of good and evil battling over a young girl’s potty-mouthed soul. There are a handful of small distributors (including Severin Films, Vinegar Syndrome, Synapse Films) that bring weird and obscure older films to home video, but for most of them that’s their niche. It’s what they do, the very purpose of the label, and those of us who love movies are grateful for it. Code Red DVD is one such example, and a fitting one too as they were the first to bring The Visitor to the U.S. in an uncut incarnation on DVD a few years ago (that can still be purchased here). Their reach is small though, so the announcement that Drafthouse Films had acquired the film for a remastered rollout in theaters followed by a Blu-ray/DVD release was music to the ears (and eyes) of strange-cinema fans everywhere. It’s great news for many reasons, but most noticeably it’s a reminder that even with Academy Award nominees […]


best blue ruin

Another Fantastic Fest is in the books, and once again we’re left counting down the days until next year. The fest continues to be the best week of the year for fans of the weird and the wonderful from all around the globe, and this year delivered on both counts. From Indian martial artists to detectives with Down Syndrome, from men reincarnated as flies to a blackly comic look at a school shooting, this year saw dozens of films that entertained, challenged, and amazed. Sure, there was also Machete Kills, but they can’t all be winners. Here are 9 that were:


ff r100

There is a moment in Hitoshi Matsumoto’s R100 that is easily one of the funniest things to grace a screen in years. It is such an amazingly bonkers setup and payoff that to deny its charm is to admit to owning one of the worst senses of humor around. The very concept of the gag is such a layered screamer that it takes a few minutes to fully digest. That it happens about two thirds of the way into the film makes it all the more special. It completely alters the tone of the film, a film that already changes its colors like a drugged out chameleon. But that’s moving ahead to fast, in order to properly review the film we have to start at the beginning. The focus is Takafumi (Nao Ohmori), a monotone man who fills his lonely days selling furniture . When he’s not doing that he’s at home taking care of his son. When he’s not doing that he’s being surprise attacked by dominatrixes of all shapes and sizes. It’s okay though, with his wife in a coma and the spark missing from his life, he went ahead and signed a year long contract with an S&M boutique in the hope that he can rekindle the magic that has eluded his being. It’s pretty standard fare really. Except it isn’t. R100 is a rare journey, and to watch it unfold is like seeing a flower that blooms once every twenty years. It’s a rare treat, and if there were more […]

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published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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