[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.

[EXPRESSO] Tutankhamun: The Last Exhibition (2022) | Here Comes The Centhury Boy

Docufilm time!

This one is an italian production directed by Ernesto Pagano, with some narration by Manuel Agnelli in the original italian release, and by Iggy Pop in the english/international one.

The documentary goes into the early discovery of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 by english aristocrat Howard Carver, talking about the impact on western popular culture the discovery had (including popularizing the “pharaoh’s curse” in various medias) and showing the preparations made for a London based exhibition that started in 2019 to put on the display the many treasures and relics found inside.

All with commentaries by various “talking heads” from the egyptian, italian and british side of things.

It’s not a bad documentary, necessarily, but it’s one that feels like it has to appeal to everyone, so it doesn’t quite committ to a certain direction nor goes into any detail. For example, in a docufilm about Tutankhamun you don’t learn much that wasn’t already common knowledge, you’d think they took the opportunity to actually go further and try to depict who this young pharaoh was a person (more than in a couple of passing lines, anyway), his lineage, the historical background he lived in…

Heck, i would have preferred some more footage of the exhibition itself (since due to COVID pandemic the tour stopped and Egypt decided not to move the artifacts out of the Giza museum), but nope, we have a cool narrating voice trying to fashion some kind of fictionalized “epic” scenes… only to then move to scenes of people slowly misuring, cataloguing and inspecting the artifacts.

It’s not “offensive” nor a complete bore, and it’s short, just 80 minutes long, but that exacerbates the feel this was made just to have something out celebrating the 100th anniversary of “King Tut”’s tomb being discovered.

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] Doctor Strange in The Multiverse Madness (2022) | Mystics From NY

FIY: I’m one of those that didn’t watch Wandavision before heading into this for many reasons (including not really caring nor intending to pay or use Disney +), and i was right in assuming that i didn’t need to… as they give you just enough info to follow the plot of this movie without spoiling that show or anything. It’s a perfected science of its own at this point.

THAT out of the way, i was honestly looking forward to this one, having liked a lot the first Dr. Strange movie, and having Sam Raimi on board as director for the sequel did please me indeed.

The plot sees Dr. Strange deal further with the concept of the multiverse, as a girl with the power to travel to different parallel universes appears in NY being followed by an eldritch monster, sent by Wanda The Scarlet Witch to kidnap the girl. Helped by his fellow mystics and the new girl, Strange will have to find a way to stop Wanda while traversing various realities in the multiverse…

While it starts a bit ho-hum, it does “gear up” and delivers on the expected package of magic, mystical brawls, multiverse jumping (used for what could or could be not “cameos”, let’s just put it like that), wizard duels, and i’m glad Raimi was allowed – to the extent a Marvel movie will find comfortable – to lean more on the horror elements and how he likes to handle them, which helps this entry in standing out a bit more.

Overall, Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, does deliver on the title, it’s pretty fun, and it thankfully not bloated as some other Marvel movies in terms of runtime.

Nothing “great”, but i quite liked it.

Mileage might and will vary, as usual.

[EXPRESSO] The Bunker Game (2022) | Paranazical Activity

Out of the blue a new italian (well, an italo-french production, but still, shot in Italy with italian actors) horror movie sneaked into cinemas here as an event screening.

I will say that this time i’m not so much disappointed or angry but utterly confused as to what they were even trying to do.

The setup is that there’s a LARP set up in a WWII nazi-fascist bunker in Italy, with an alternate history post-apocalyptic scenario, but when security measures break down, they evacuate the place and only the staff decides to remain and investigate to what happened, as the game/scenario creator has gone missing…

Given the title you’d expect the movie turning into either a battle royale, a Saw-style thingie, even a simple slasher, but nope, it goes into supernatural territory…. for reasons.

In the first part you kinda forget – despite the movie stating immediatly it’s a LARP – that’s a farce, a game, and i honestly wonder why it didn’t play the “alt-history Fallout cum Fourth Reich” scenario straight, i mean, the production values are quite good, the costumes too, so it could have been simply a modern nazisploitation flick.

For what it actually is, a horror movie, one where the horror part feels really forced and cliched, there’s some atmosphere due to the setting but no tension as the movie randomly veers into horror, the characters are token, unlikeable or barely have any screen time to be even worthy of adjectives.

The Bunker Game has some good cinematography, decent-to-good acting, but it feels way longer than its 90 minutes runtime, as it meanders about unsure of what the hell it’s even doing or saying, if anything at all.

Still better than In The Trap, but this one frustrated me way more since it had actual potential.

[EXPRESSO] The Northman (2022) | VIKINGS, RAISE THE SHIELD WALL

Robert Eggers is back, this time not going for a psychological horror-thriller, but a way more straightforward tale of revenge, based on the legend of scandinavian prince Amleth (upon which Shakespear himself based his tragedy), here a young boy welcoming his father back, only to killed by his uncle for the throne and spouse. Amleth escapes, woving bloody vengeance.

Years pass, and as he wanders the lands as a berserker unit, he heards the name of his uncle and then concocts a plan to reach the isolated island where he scurried back some time ago, and exact his long held life-time wov made to his brutally murdered father.

And indeed brutal is the keyword here, as this movie really warrants the title of a “brutal viking epic”, as it depicts this nordic barbaric world inhabited by cruel men more akin to beasts, where pillage and murder exist on daily bases, villages hold ritual sacrifices (even human if need be) to appease their gods, mystical rites are held, witches reveal visions of inescapable fate, etc.

It’s that kind of barbarian middle ages, and The Northman sure as hell doesn’t shy away from showing raids, people being burned alive in houses (and a lot more graphic stuff), and it’s fittingly inhabited by refreshingly unapologetical, unflinchingly brutal characters that all perfectly fit in this world, as even what in other movie would be “the hero” it’s arguably even more despicable than the “villain”.

A lot of style (with Eggers’ touch easily recognizable in some weird psychedelic sequences), great characters, amazing atmosphere, superb cast and a captivating, graphic vengeance tale that enraptures from beginning to end.

It’s just hard to look away, even when a guy it’s getting an unrequested Skeletor-style “nosejob”.

To quote Nathan Explosion yet again: “Brutal”. In all the right ways.

Liberation Day Break

YEAH BOIIIIIIIII!

You know what day it is: it’s that day when we post that image from Porco Rosso.

And since here in Italy it’s a proper festivity, i’m gonna take a small break instead of reviewing a nazisploitation flick to mock the punchable bastards, fuck em forever.

Also, it comes with the added benefit of you not having to read about Holocaust II: The Revenge (almost ironically an italian production, yeah), i don’t ever need to make these up, of course if Titanic 2 exists, anything goes regardless.

Really not feeling it when The Northman it’s out in theathers now here, so expect an EXPRESSO review of that out on Tuesday.

[EXPRESSO] Choose Or Die (2022) | Curse Text Adventure

It was just a matter of time before we got a movie like Choose Or Die, not only due to the rising prominence of videogames in popular culture, but also as a byproduct of the various legends like the Polybius one, and inadvertly of the metacurrent, as i got whiffs of an hypothetical Pony Island X Jumanji reboot crossover (plus references to the Waterworld Atari contest and the likes) from this.

Plus, it has Robert Englund in it. Always nice to see, regardless of the movie.

The plot sees two friends booting up an old 80s videogame, intrigued by the fact there was a competition with money on the line, but nobody ever claim the rewards in the following decades.

To their dismay, they actually enter the game, Curs<r, and will have to survive the surreal world laying before their eyes, as the game it’s actually, literally cursed, and can alter reality with destructive, immediate effect, forcing the player to make horrible binary choices.

It’s a simple premise but it’s novel enough, and the execution it’s surprisingly good, the direction is confindent has quite the bite, taking advantage of the premise (in this case the videogame elements) in a straightforward but also quite interesting and satisfying manner, leading to some really grisly (yet not over the top in terms of graphical violence) setpieces that show off some style to boot.

The likeable characters (especially the main protagonist), and compact runtime round up the package, making Choose Or Die a very nice surprise, overall, especially for Netflix’s often lacking offerings in terms of horror films.

It’s nothing special or deep, and maybe it was a bit longer it could have actually explored in any depth some of its themes, but regardless, a solid, fun, fresh teen horror romp with some pizzaz.