[EXPRESSO] Operation Mincemeat (2021) | Hook, line and sinkah

It’s an interesting choice in terms of subject, since it’s not overdone in terms of WWII material, with just the more well knewn “The Man Who Never Was” and a 2016 TV movie (also simply called “Operation Mincemeat”) predating this theathrical release.

The title refers to the spy operation put on by the British forces in order to ensure the success of 1943’s planned invasion on Sicily, necessary for the Allied Forces to gain a foothold and keep the pressure on the Nazi controlled territories.

This was devised by distracting the attention of Hitler’s to the expected attack on Sicily by making him believe the british were gonna strike from Greece, via forged letters, deception and the corpse of a british vagabond donned in Royal Navy uniform used to sell the ruse better.

To be honest, i don’t have much to say about this one, it’s the kind of war drama you’d expect, told the way you would expect, with a great cast that also won’t surprise anyone (especially since it focuses on the British side of things), and with John Madden in the directing chair, it’s the solid, satisfying effort you would expect from him. Good characters, too. Mostly.

It’s a good movie brought down to “above decency” by the fact you feel its 2 hours runtime, with the major subplot taking a lot of “space” but not adding much to the story, and some odd scenes, like the “handjob the fascist spy for favors” one or the Bond-esque “buzzsaw watch”, while not hogging much screentime in themselves, just feel random and add more bloat to the narrative.

I honestly wanted to like it more than i did, there’s a genuinely intriguing premise here that doesn’t quite translate into an even better movie, but still, quite decent, solid stuff.

[EXPRESSO] Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (2021) | Niku Niku Ni!

Anime cinema time!

Finally arriving here as a 3 days only event screening, Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko (based on a novel of the same name by Kanako Nishi) is the latest feature film from director Ayumu Watanabe (Children Of The Sea, Space Brothers) and once again animated by Studio 4C.

A more straightforward tale than Children Of The Sea, the movie tells the story of the titular Nikuko, an easy going, cheerful, incredibly passionate and gluttonous woman who falls for crappy men that swindle her, forcing to continuously move elsewhere with her 11 yo girl, Kikuko, whom is unsurprisingly embarassed by her mother penchant for eating, her goofy demeanours and naivetè. Despite having nothing in common, they settled in living on a boat in a small port town.

Incredible animation, realistic portrayal and characterization of kids that age, a good balance between drama and comedy, some effective emotional moments, great characterization, there’s pretty much everything that makes a good film… and this is a good film, flawed but still good.

Despite being the title character, this is the story of her child, Kikuko, while Ninuko feels like a support comic relief, as she’s animated differently for that very purpose, and while you can’t really hate her, it’s frustrating how she ultimately lacks the proper nuance as a character to be more than a butt for the many visual fat jokes.

Also, while you get invested in the events, there’s barely a plot at all, more like a collage of slice life sequences focused on character study, which is fine but there’s also not much even in terms of overarching conflicts, so it’s kinda hard to stay invested all the way through.

Even so, it’s still a good film…. you most likely will not fall in love with at first watch.

Ninja Of The Magnificence (1988) [REVIEW] | Monk VS The Ninja Slavers

Also known as American Ninja: The Magnificent, would it really be a 80’s ninja movie from the depths of Godfrey Ho’ “ninja mines” if i didn’t have at least one alternative title? And didn’t have a guy named “Elton Chow” in it?

Yes, this is the 100 % new ninja movie review i promised, and i hope you’re still hungry for Filmark/IFD Film and Arts brand of ninjaxploitation shit, because there’s more, there’s always more.

This one though it’s arguably one of the better known of the bunch, thanks to it being more widely distributed and also happening to be one of the more fun of these “cut-n-paste” cinematic meatloaf servings, as it features Brad Jones’ beloved obscure actor Pierre Kirby, taking the mantle of the ninja protagonist that otherwise was mostly worn by a very reluctant Richard Harrison.

Continua a leggere “Ninja Of The Magnificence (1988) [REVIEW] | Monk VS The Ninja Slavers”

[EXPRESSO] CODA (2022) | Teenage Fugue

I kinda hate the context surrounding this movie, as it forces me to basically aknowledge that the Oscars still matter somewhat… as in, i usually don’t even bother to check on them, they’re mostly pointless and become even more so as time goes on, but i did know of “the slap” and that this year this film won “best movie”. And since it just hit theathers here, figured i’d take a look anyway.

CODA is about teenage girl Ruby, the only person in her deaf family being able to hear and speak (hence the titular “Child Of Deaf Adults”), that at school enters the choir club, and discovers to have quite the beatiful and powerful voice.

She eventually has to make a difficultion decision: continue her musical training, follow her dream and go to a respected music college, or keep helping her family in their struggling business of fishermen, even more as she’s the only link between their family and the rest of the world.

I’ll say this: this is a good film. It’s a coming of age story that deals with hearing disabilities, but honestly does so very well, as it treats deaf people as people, not pity patron saints, actual people, while not weaseling away from the obvious obstacles and perception they receive from others, and manages to balance the drama-comedy ratio quite well, it’s not a mopey affair at all, the characters come off as real but can be quite funny. I really liked the father, what a jolly fellow.

I’m glad i did go see CODA, i am, i do think it’s a good film, overall, but it’s honestly nothing special regardless of how you slice it, even more since it’s a remake of the 2014 french film La Famille Bélier.

Still worth a watch, anyway.

Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood

Meant to get around this one last year, but this time i did manage to find a way to watch it with subtitle, as i don’t speak hindi, and what could be called “the Indian King Kong” – to no one’s surprise – was never dubbed or re-released westward. Still easier to find than the dreaded Bacalhau.

Yep, among the many King Kong knock-off, there’s an old Bollywood (kinda) version from 1963.

Gotta love the shit-not giving use of stock footage “ice skating ballet girls, chimps & clown” that a crowd in India it’s supposedly watching, sure it has a dissonant color that makes it more even obvious, but who cares. And it’s not just 1 minute or two of stock footage from a non-indian ice skating show, when the head of the circus and the sponsor set down to see it in order to understand why it’s supposedly taking away business from them… you’re gonna see a good chunk of the show.

Well, at least we start the movie with some ape action, but not of that kind.

Continua a leggere “Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood”

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season One) (2022) | Ragtime Round

Unlike many videogames to animated series adaptations, Cuphead having his own Netflix show makes some sense, given its aesthetic molded after the style of 1930s cartoons, why not make a cartoon using the characters and the retro-aesthetic?

I’m gonna say this now so we can move on from it, but yes, i really wanted the team to opt for a full proper rubberhose style animation, but that would have required a fuckton more time and money, and honestly the animation is pretty good, with some episodes even mixing live-action sets, and overall i gotta say it delivers on the presentation.

The voice acting is on spot in terms of accents and lingo too, the character designs and mannerism are perfect but in terms of content it’s a bit uneven because it doesn’t really go all the way to imitate the source material, i mean, you expect a lot more in terms of guns, cigars and gambling, but nope, it’s kinda mild and forgettable.

It also basically ignores the plot of the videogame it’s based off, instead going for mostly episodical…. mundane adventures. Yeah, Cuphead owns the Devil its soul… but that goes ultimately nowhere, and the writing it’s uneven, as some episodes do manage to work in a musical number, some good jokes and a good rhytm to the slapstick, others feel like they exist to waste time and deliver cheapo jokes that come off as too modern.

The Cuphead Show it’s an odd case of a series stuck in between a cheapish low effort animated comedy and a tribute to 30s style cartoons, so ultimately it’s just kinda there, inoffensive, fairly short and easy to binge, cute but just with not much of substance going on under its “borrowed” aesthetic.

A second season has already been greenlit, regardless. Mh.

Giant Monster March 2022 is GO!

Some things come and go, but giant monsters are forever!

Yeah, while i’m still keeping the bi-daily posting rate, starting tomorrow for this month every posting day when there’s not a new movie EXPRESSO review there will be a full lenght giant monster movie review. Simple as that, so see ya tomorrow for the first one of this year, hoping this will become a yearly institution! 🙂

[EXPRESSO] Uncharted (2022) | Not The Erudite Henchman!

After years of delays, some vague posters showing a confused main cast that felt out of place and a trailer, the Uncharted movie its finally in cinemas pretty much worlwide, promising something with Tom Holland, Mark Whalberg and action adventure movie cliches based on a videogames that also looked at spy flicks, heist movies and Tomb Raiders as inspirations.

Personally, i had only one question in mind before seeing this: could it be worse than the shit Tomb Raider movie from 2018? Really was aggressively bored by that one and its undecisive handling of the mystical stuff, i still remember being way more frustrated than entertained when watching it.

I mean, this at least being directed by Ruben Fleischer (of Zombieland and Venom fame), so i did expect something out of it, despite the project looking very mediocre, at the very best… and i’m glad he directed it, as it moves about a great pace, the action is what you would expect from the material (and in turn the material Uncharted itself pillages/is inspired by), and there are some fun action sequences that stand out, like the airborne pirate ship battle.

It helps as it’s a very miscast adaptation, with lead actors chosen because they’re popular Hollywood faces and… that’s it, you never believe that Holland and Walhberg (or Banderas) are actually playing a character, at all, not that their characters resemble the ones from the games they’re supposed to represent, with a younger Nathan Drake that doesn’t tally up a respectable body count, because i guess Tom Holland would never do that as Spider Man doesn’t kill people, let alone with guns.

It’s not bad, it’s fine, but also the generic and lukewarm videogame movie adaptation you would expect, honestly even the games themselves have better stories.

Serviceable, though.

[EXPRESSO] Death On The Nile (2022) | Mustache Of Fortune

I always feel a bit anxious about reviewing newer adaptations of classic Agatha Christie’ novels, since i’m not really much familiar with the often many previous ones both released in cinemas or as TV movie and-or miniseries. But i did quite like Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 film adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express, and i was looking forward to this one as well, so let’s talk about it.

It’s not really a sequel to that, meaning that aside some returning cast members, the obvious returning character of Hercule Poirot (and Branagh talking about a “Christieverse” of sorts in the long run), this is its own self-contained story that doesn’t require prior viewing of Hercule Poirot VS The Sinister Six or shit like that. Those thankfully still exist, FIY.

The basic plot doesn’t really require much explanation, as the story itself it’s pretty well known, and it’s a classic murder mistery that has eccentric and beloved detective Hercule Poirot founding himself strung into a murder case (this time committed on a river boat sailing the Nile) while invited by an acquaintance of his and “employed” by a couple to ward off a crazed stalker.

It’s definitely old-fashioned, down to the “ol’ school Hollywood” dance scenes, the story it’s still quite good and worth retelling, Branagh is phenomenal as Poirot and the ensemble cast it’s excellent, but it’s bogged down by a not small amount of not that important material, like a whole war flashback that almost entirely exists to explain Poirot’s mustache (i’m not kidding).

When it gets going it gets good, but it’s questionable if you can or want to forgive the fact the movie just takes WAY more than its sweet time to get going properly.

I personally do, but mileage might and will vary, justifiably (and rightfully) so.

[EXPRESSO] The House (2022) | Trifecta Triumphant

New stopmotion animation film on Netflix with (also) animal people, you know i’m already in.

Even more since it’s a small anthology of 3 stories, one about a poor family meeting a miraculous proposal, one about an anxious ratman constructor trying to score estate success, and the last about an exhausted landlord, all tied together by revolving about the same house, while taking place in different epochs and with different kind of characters, going from humans to ratman and catmen.

The character models aren’t clay or the odd-papermaciè style seen in Mary Shelley’s Frankhole, but go for a very textured felt-wool look, with a very fuzzy feel juxtaposed to the horror atmosphere and visuals, even though just the first story has actual supernatural horror elements, there’s always a sinister or weird tone to most of the events, with some very stilish visuals to match.

Animation it’s top notch, the character models have very good designs and craft, and it’s a quite good trifecta of stories, with a balanced mix of horror, satire, drama and comedy, quite grabbing as you always wanna see where they’re going in exactly. I think the second one it’s arguably the best, as you never quite sure what direction it’s gonna go, gets weirder and has an even weirder ending.

And stuff like a trip-out insects & maggots musical sequence.

And free-roaming hippie catmen.

Honestly, i don’t really have much to complain about or add in general, if your ears peaked up like a fox at “animated stopmotion anthology film with lots of style and fun substance”, the chances are good you’re gonna like this one, easily. And it comes in a pretty good 90 minutes package, with everything in it feeling as long as it needs to be.

What a really great surprise, too. Excellent.