SEOUL SEARCHING (2015)

Written & Directed By: Benson Lee Cinematography: Daniel Katz Editor: Steve M. Choe

Cast: Justin Chon, Jessika Van, In-Pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Rosalina Leigh, Albert Kong, Hee Jun Han, Crystal Kay, Nekhebet Kum Juch 

During the 1980s, the Korean government created a special summer camp for “gyopo” or foreign-born teenagers where they could spend their summer in Seoul to learn about their motherland. While the intentions of the program were honorable, the activities of the teens were not. The program was eventually canceled after a few years because the government simply could not control the youth. Seoul Searching is a teen comedy and coming of age film, based on a true story about one of the summer camps that took place in 1986.


While this is a fun nostalgic coming-of-age movie exploring the usual themes of finding oneself and their own identities. While growing up. This film is also about culture and trying to find it. As you are misplaced. As first-generation Americans coming to grips with your heritage and history. While managing to be both.

The film would be admirable if it could have stayed on that path and for the most part it does m. As a kind of John Hughes homage as most of the characters learn something and prove to be more than the cultural identities they came with.

Most characters seem lost between their American-style selves and who they are supposed to be back in their home countries. 

Then the film runs into a similar problem John Hughes was called on later in His career. Having little to no minorities in his films and the few he did playing into stereotypes and caricatures in his films. Notoriously long duk dong in SIXTEEN CANDLES and just like that film this one would have been near perfect if not for some unfortunate stereotyping. 

This is interesting considering that this is a film that is about a foreign culture but liberally uses the n-word and other derogatory names for dark-skinned characters and a group of characters who have chosen to identify with rappers and hip hop. Who is more played for laughs.

As the film is set in the 1980s some of the defense might be. Oh it was a different time, but still, the one mixed character not only barely gets any screen time but when she does she is treated at first as beautiful than as a bitch and disposable. 

The rapper wannabes are the ones mostly using the n-word, but their characters are treated as buffoons and comic relief. They are the few characters who get no dramatic epiphany and are gone before they can wear out their welcome. Meanwhile, the sexist, Racist good ole boy character who uses mostly racially charged derogatory terms amongst other bad behavior gets a chance to explain himself and get the audience to have sympathy for him. Which still runs the audience the wrong way. If not for that this film could be a total success, instead of wallowing in The same problems as the films that inspired it. 

As it has an original cultural story. An ensemble cast who each get character arcs and times to shine. Romance and even a mentor figure in their chaperone and teacher who has his own dark secrets and a drinking problem. 

It’s a worthwhile film if not for some dark clouds around it. As it does expose the audience to the culture and price of history they might not have known and gives a lesson for teenagers and foreign characters to identify with.

GRADE: B-

LOVE CRIME (2010)

Directed By: Alain Corneau 
Written By: Alain Corneau & Nathalie Carter 
Cinematography By: Yves Angelo 
Editor: Thierry Derocles 

 Cast: Ludvine Sagnier, Kristen Scott Thomas

Ruthless executive Christine brings on Isabelle as her assistant, and she takes delight in toying with the young woman’s innocence. But when the protégé’s ideas become tempting enough for Christine to pass on as her own, she underestimates Isabelle’s ambition and cunning and the ground is set for all-out war. 


Even after watching the film haunts you. The characters and the images. It is predictable, but then throws quite a few twists at different times to keep you off its trail. Like a Hitchcock thriller that is not as concerned with shocks as with the story. It looks rather plain and matter of fact. Yet sharp that as the film progresses. 


Its story takes center stage and makes you focus on it and the actions of its characters. Though I find this film perfect. It is a film I would love to one day make a remake of only to pay tribute to the film and help it be discovered by more people. It seems Brian Depalma has beaten me to it. 

it’s a beautiful film that is no-frills at times it is minimal, but a film you must pay attention to through it.It constantly drops clues to remind you of things that you may have forgotten or inform you of details not previously shown. Even once you think it is over, the film throws another shock at you. Not like a horror film. But something a little more disturbing. 

 Ludvine Sagnier Lights up the screen. Her performance is amazing. As she is put through the wringer, She has a deadly innocence about her. She has an angelic look as she at first is a meek victim. Then becomes a fighter as the film moves along. It’s nice to see her play more than the sexy roles she constantly gets. 

 At first, I thought the film would be about power and office politics, Dirty Tricks. A battle of female empowerment. Then it becomes a crime thriller than an innocent proving film against time. 

Kristin Scott Thomas is English but speaks fluent french. That makes you believe she is a natural-born French woman.  

Everything about this movie is so shiny and clean. Like the directing and acting. The film is finely polished. I watched it on a whim and am glad about what we get in return. 
 

GRADE: A-

BEDEVILLED (2010)

Directed By: Chul-Soo Jang 
Written By: Kwang-Young Choi 
Cinematography By: Gi-Tae Kim 
Editor: Mi-Joo Kim 

Cast: Yeong-Hie Seo, Seong-won ji, Min-ho Hwang, Ji-Eun Lee, Jeong-Hak Park 

A woman subject to mental, physical, and sexual abuse on a remote island seeks a way out.


It’s not a typical horror film as it doesn’t follow any of the rules of one except for its violence. This film Ultimately this film ends up becoming a revenge film. Though to sum it up that way is too simple.

It is more of a human horror story rather than a supernatural or killer on the loose tale. Here we know the killer and the motivations.

The film is fresh in original ways through the story feels familiar. Presented in a different way that makes it feel fresh.

As the film starts we are introduced to a character who we believe will be our protagonist and while she stays in the film out attention soon shifts I her friend on the island she is taking a vacation at, which is her hometown from youth.

Once we get on the island we see how old school it is and a different world. Where men are thought supreme and women as lowly. We also are witnesses to how her childhood friend is practically a slave and see the indignities that are forced onto her on a daily basis that she endures only for her daughters’ sake and hope of escape someday.

The film really builds in this middle section as it actively makes you hate all the characters except for her and you can’t wait for something to happen to them badly, it gets routine as the film goes on you will feel your anger rise and a blood lust start to take form. Once a tragedy happens that is when the blood begins to flow in a graphic manner.

What is amazing about the film is that it takes its time for the revenge to come so that when it does you truly feel it is about time as you have waited so long. The revenge also happens relatively quick ad not so well thought out. As the character does become a killing machine, yet not invincible nor cunning and quick. None of this is well thought out by her. Just reacting to circumstances and opportunity.

Now while this is a woman strike back at her captors unlike the I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE films this doesn’t feel quite as exploitive and sensationalized. Though there is sexual energy and atmosphere throughout, not in an erotic or act way more rough and lecherous. While there is sex it’s not necessarily gratuitous though graphic it is not shot in an erotic way or fantasy way. It is just rough and painful to watch.

That is what helps make the film is its pace. Taking it’s time to let things build. You grow to hate the characters, not for one single act but the acts they build up and we are only watching for a short time she has had to love with this for years.

Once the tragedy happens an element and act are suggested though never confirmed as the film has shown a character’s true side and has no positive qualities you believe they committed the act as it would seem to be normal behavior for them. Though the covering up is the truly last appalling act.

Now while all this is happening the only part of the film happened that I didn’t believe was that her friend while staying there misses half of the things happening throughout. Now as the film has introduced her to be selfish and bitchy. She seems to stay that way while trying to be compassionate. We also learn of their friendship history. Even as all of this goes on around her and suspecting the horrors she hears about she still chooses to deny and just sit on the sides choosing to be neutral. Which in its own way makes her just as bad or worse than the actual tormentors.

The last act of the film is off the island but putting the island’s legacy and spirits to rest. It’s more action-packed than it sounds. Though the last minutes seem to reach out to try to explain or symbolize that point.

The lead played by is a revelation here she ones from simple to dangerous o advanced and also sexy with little effort.

Now what I really enjoyed about the film is that it was so alive that you believed anything can happen at any point. A few times, I was trying to predict where the film would I as what would happen next and it went another way. My suspicion would have made it more of a typical film and not as advanced as it comes off.

The film’s message seems to have something to say about compassion and personal responsibility as the last scene truly breaks our hearts. As it has been best up throughout the film.

While the film is hard to watch it is captivating as many times watching it at home it was late so I was convinced ” i will watch only 30 minutes, then o.k. let me watch only 15 more minutes before you know it I am halfway through the film and my tired so I figure let me watch the whole thing” and I wasn’t disappointed

Grade: A-

THE SIMILARS (2015)

Written & Directed By: Issac Ezban 
Cinematography By: Isi Sarfati 
Editor: Oscar Figueroa 

Cast: Luis Alberti, Carmen Beato, Fernando Becceril, Humberto Busto, Cassandra Ciangherotti  
On the rainy night of October 2, 1968, eight characters waiting on a remote bus station for a bus heading to Mexico City start experiencing a strange phenomenon.


The film is like a twilight zone episode made into a feature-length film. Heavy on mood and atmosphere.

The film feels like its own spin on one of the tales of THE TWILIGHT ZONE movie and a lot more ominous. This is a good piece of filmmaking. That moves along nicely for the audience and doesn’t leave them Confused. It feels more like a retro dream. Though eventually becomes more like a nightmare.

The film plays more like an OUTER LIMITS episode rather than a TWILIGHT ZONE one which most people will say it is. Only in feature-length form. As there is really no irony and the film at least tries to explain its far-out situation and accepts it. Not leaving you around waiting for some twist or allegory on the human condition or sociology.

Even if the film seems inspired by a particular episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. That actually became part of the movie spin-off of the show It’s like a 1950’s movie as it takes place in one location. Making the film automatically claustrophobic, but so much happens that it feels so vast and open. Even though most stay in the same room you can always see them somewhere. Except when it is time to make a big reveal.

The film becomes more interesting as it goes along. As the mystery deepens. That plays in homage to classic horror films of the ’50s. Relying more on momentary thrills and revelations. Rather than monsters. But with plenty of advanced modern special effects. Those are impressive yet rudimentary in use. Especially for the time period represented.

The filmmaking is what you will come away with rather than necessarily the plot.

It also seems very influenced by pop culture Sci-fi. From literature, television, and film, Especially Stephen King

The first film in Mexico and Latinamerica that was shot with the new Red Camera sensor (the Red Epic DRAGON) although, since this camera would give great quality and sharpness to the image but the film is a period piece and takes place in the ’60s, Director of Photography Isi Sarfati decided to use a lot of filters to make the image look like something out of a 60’s film, as director Isaac Ezban had envisioned. The voice-over used doesn’t help necessarily explain anything.

The filmmaking here is more imaginative than exciting. So the more the film explains it. The more there is to marvel at and be amazed by. As it is immersed, presented, and filmed in such a way for as smart as it is. It never quite lives up to the promise of the higher level it seems to want to work at. Especially by the end it just becomes too familiar. Almost betraying the promise it once had.

Grade: B

BLOOD RED SKY (2021)

Directed By: Peter Thorwarth  Written By: Peter Thorwarth & Stefan Holtz  Cinematography: Yoshi Heimrath  Editor: Knut Hake 

Cast: Peri Baumeister, Dominic Purcell, Carl Koch, Alexander Scheer, Kai Ivo Baulitz, Kai Setti, Roland Moller, Gordon Brown 

A woman with a mysterious illness is forced into action when a group of terrorists attempts to hijack a transatlantic overnight flight.


This film becomes entertaining throughout because it starts with what could have been a ridiculous yet simple plot of a vampire versus terrorists and keeps twisting the tale so that there are new challenges to keep you interested. Luckily the film Stays pretty dark and not cookie-cutter or some kind of superhero flick.

If anything it refreshingly uses vampire lore and manages to give us something unexpected with it.

The film is filled with action and horror. While it feels a bit long. You are never quite bored of anything. It shocks with taking out a character you expected to last longer and be the biggest foe. Instead the true villain is the live wire of the terrorists. He kind of displays his worst behavior early on before being neutered a bit but then coming back strong.

This story could have easily been a supernatural DIE HARD and instead actually comes through with an identity of its own. Though with just as much action and complications. Though this film is definitely more gory with less humor along the way. 

Smart in a Way as the film uses perceived prejudice to its advantage in certain situations and though the terrorists are bad one character proves to be the evilest as he is the catalyst later for all the horribleness that happens to the passengers. 

The film does offer a heroic character in a Muslim Passenger who always at least tries to do the right and most moral thing.

While at times it feels ridiculous the film does manage to keep you invested. 

In The end it does emphasize a mother’s love for her child. While not making the vampire immortal or barely have any weaknesses. 

GRADE: C+

SYSTEM CRASHER (2019)

Written & Directed By: Nora Fingscheidt
Cinematography: Yunus Roy Imer
Editor: Stephan Bechinger & Julia Kovalenko

Cast: Helena Zengel, Albrecht Schuch, Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Lisa Hagmeister, Melanie Straub, Maryam Zaree 

She is small but dangerous. Wherever Benni ends up, she is immediately expelled. The wild 9-year-old girl has already become what child protection services call a “system crasher”. And she is certainly not looking to change her ways. Because Benni has one single goal: to be back at home with her mommy. But Bianca is scared of her own daughter. Mrs. Bafané from child protection services is trying her best to find a permanent placement for Benni. She hires the anger management trainer Micha as Benni’s school escort and suddenly there is a seed of hope. Will Micha be able to succeed where all others despaired?


At first, wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. Seems basic at first watching a girl go through the Foster care system, but she is particularly violent and disruptive.

The film soon starts to show its hand with a character new to the case and situation. Who is tough yet caring but like the main character can’t seem to save her from herself. Even as he continuously tries and makes progress. 

When it comes to this film what is so heartbreaking is that every time it looks like the young female main character will be saved. Circumstances end up making the situation worse. 

Where it happens so many times it could almost be a running joke. Though each time it is presented it seems to be at a different level of desperation and rising emotional unraveling.

She is the major problem most times in all of these situations, but she is just a child, but more than A handful and violent who can’t seemingly calm down or manage her emotions. She is more a product of her environment and where she has been pushed by the adults in her life. 

We see what maybe inspires her. In her mother’s overwhelming false promises and keeps on taking in the obviously wrong men. Who seems more important to her than her kids.

This movie takes you on a journey with her, an emotionally raw one by the end you feel worn out and exhausted.

The only Person she bonds with is her Walker who had an anger problem himself and after some success, she eventually becomes too much for him a grown man. Though we learn more about her through their time together. He is constantly trying to protect her though he isn’t that conventional himself 

Throughout the film, it is a wild ride. As always there seems to be hope and some peace. Through a parent or savior, something goes wrong, usually through the behavior of the child. That she ends up living up to the title of the movie as her file. Where despite the many phases and programs for different types of children meant to save her. She fails through them all and is too young for others even the rock bottom last resort she seems too strong for.

Even though she can be innocent and charming. Like with her school walker’s wife. Soon enough she presents her scary angry side. This ends up leading to one of the more nail-biting scenes of the soon 

The film presents an ending that is ambiguous but seems like she will never stop or learn her lesson. As what starts out as a tantrum shows she kind of takes joy in causing trouble.

Grade: A-

SERVICE (SERBIS) (2008)

Directed By: Brillante Mendoza 
Written By: Armando Lao 
Story By: Armando Lao & Boots Agbayani Pastor 
Cinematography By: Odyssey Flores 
Editor: Claire Villa-Real 


 Cast: Gina Pareno, Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Kristoffer King, Dan Alvaro, Coco Martin, Mercedes Cabral 


A drama that follows the travails of the Pineda family in the Filipino city of Angeles. Bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, possible incest, and bothersome skin irritations are all part of their daily challenges, but the real “star” of the show is an enormous, dilapidated movie theater that doubles as family business and living space. At one time a prestige establishment, the theater now runs porn double bills and serves as a meeting ground for hustlers of every conceivable persuasion. The film captures the sordid, fetid atmosphere, interweaving various family subplots with the comings and goings of customers, thieves and even a runaway goat while enveloping the viewer in a maelstrom of sound, noise and continuous motion.

This is like Italian neo-realism only in the Philippines. The film-making is seamless almost like a documentary. The reason you know it’s not because little plot threads all come together in one day. The fact that the film takes place over one day doesn’t help.

As the movie goes I can’t say that you learn to like the characters. You Deal with them and see what they go through since they are the main protagonists.

The film Is about a family that runs a rundown porno theater that doubles as a place for hustlers to pick up a d be picked up. We more follow the in’s and outs of the duties and responsibilities that each member of the family must deal with which seems non-stop

Now, this is a true torture porn movie and it only Runs 85 minutes. It’s not a bad film, but after a while, it becomes hard to sit through all the hustle and bustle. They have to deal with and they manage to survive, but you have to remember. This is just an average day. Not like in horror movies where if you survive his you are safe or at least death comes eventually and relieves you of your pain.

Sitting here watching this film you remember that things are bad In Third-world countries like this and these people will most likely live their whole lives like this. And then pass it to the next generation. That is the true horror and nightmare of the situation.

The film. Is filled with gratuitous sex. Though that is clear in its background it is not the film’s focus. This is not a film that offers any hope or chance for some kind of change. It has a few, very few lighthearted moments.

The film gives you a glimpse into a foreign land and lifestyle that is gripping, but reminds you to be happy with what you have as it could be worse.

 Grade: B+

ALL MY FRIEND’S ARE DEAD (2020)

Written, Edited & Directed By: Jan Belcl 
Cinematography: Cezary Stolecki 

Cast: Julia Wieniawa, Adam Turczyk, Nikodem Rozbicki, Aleksandra Pisula, Monika Krzywkowska, Szymon Raszak, Michael Sikorski, Paulina Galazka, Adam Bobik

During the New Year’s Eve party of a bunch of friends, a series of crazy events brings out secrets, breaks hearts and leads to a shocking ending.


This film plays out like a 1980’s party film where a horror film finally starts to come into play in bits and pieces. Due more to the more macabre deaths and subject matter.

Even the soundtrack has nothing but purely 1980’s music on it. 

The film is supposed to be horror or advertised that way. This plays more like a bleak comedy of errors and misunderstandings.

The film is sex-filled with acts and/or talk of it that leans a bit into the exploitation zone, but it doesn’t feel as dirty or tawdry here. 

At first, you in the audience are waiting and looking at what will set everything off abs start the killings. As the opening Lets us know the aftermath. So that the film is one big flashback. 

The opening doesn’t make the film look too promising. As it is a totally different tone from the eventual film. 

The film is an ensemble following different characters. Each character here is more of a type then it feels fully dimensional. Mroe set up to be a piece in the game that This film seems to want to play.

The film is vulgar and juvenile. The kind of film the filmmakers seemed to aim for and the film that the characters all resemble. As it definitely has energy but is not for everyone. As at times it is very lowbrow but takes you by surprise. 

It feels more like a male fantasy then anything else. As there is plenty here that feels like it belongs in a sex comedy with most of the female characters willing or looking for sex. 

Each character and situation seem to influence each other as they cross paths. Making this a truly crazy and deadly house party. 

The last act where everything goes bonkers abs becomes officially a bloodbath. Where as what starts it all off makes this grill like an extended TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode. Never exactly going where you expect it to. 

This is a more audience-pleasing blockbuster that lacks depth but tired to appear to have some at times.

I know I might sound down on the film but actually, it’s a simple film with a good follow-through that keeps you interested and enthused. 

GRADE: C+

THE UNTAMED (2016)

Directed By: Amat Escalante 
Written By: Amat Escalante & Gibran Portela 
Cinematography: Manuel Alberto Claro
Editor: Fernanda De La Peza & Jacob Secger Schulsinger 

Cast: Ruth Ramos, Simone Bucio, Jesus Meza, Eden Villavicencio, Oscar Escalante, Bernarda Trueba 


It’s a film that has to be seen to be believed. Though you are impressed with what it pulls off.

The film is told more visually than through dialogue. Letting the images tell the story, makes it feel not only more cinematic but makes the material feel more enriched and an experience for the audience.

A story of connection and a kind of love rectangle.  As separate stories eventually converge. That is simple in its own way. Only enhances with a fantasy element.

That involves a dysfunctional family drama element. 

The film is highly erotic and very sexual. So much so that there is even a brief scene of an animal orgy (with other animals, no Beastiality) 

For instance, The opening scene is a sex scene that sets off the tale abs looks like it could have come from. Numerous hentai anime. As the film itself could be lazily described as live-action hentai porn with a plot. This film focuses more on characters in a domestic drama and the stories of how they end up meeting this monster more graphically.

As every character here has a secret though it comes across more like a fantasy, with the monster lurking inside that brings pleasure and pain. But don’t tell anyone about never revealing true selves. As the monster could easily be a physical manifestation of their secrets that are eating them up inside but brings momentary happiness but ultimately is destructive. Though at least by the end they all find and show their real selves. 

Some get by in life, some are a slave to their addictions and end up victims. Some of their strength at times of tragedy. 

It’s a little bizarre that there is not much of the monster. So if you come to this movie expecting that you will be disappointed. This is more like a science fiction novel where the stories come first. Usually are a parable that uses the science fiction element to make it grander. This is ultimately an empowerment story with a final girl of sorts. 

This isn’t a film you will easily forget. 

Grade: B

GANGSTA (2018)

Directed by: Adil Elarbi & Bilall Fallah  Written by: Adil Elarbi, Bilall Fallah, Nabil Ben Yadir, Bram Renders, Kobe Van Steenberghe & Handrik Verthe  Cinematography: Robrecht Heyvaert Editor: Adil Elarbi, Bilall Fallah, Kobe Van Steenberghe & Thijs Van Nuffel 

Cast: Matteo Simoni, Junes Lazaar, Nora Gharib, Said Boumazoughe, Nabil Mallat, Paloma Aguilera valdebenito, Werner Kolf 

Antwerp. The lives of four dealer friends, who want to become real-life swaggers, spin out of control when they steal a shipment of cocaine. They trigger a full-out war between them, an Amsterdam drug lord and the ruthless Colombian cartels.


Looked forward to watching this film by the directors of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE. Their last film before that film almost seems like an audition reel. 

one can see why they were given directing reign of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE. As with this film. They prove they can handle Action and comedy that might be a little dark around the edges but not too bleak, but also a diverse cast.

Though when it comes to this film’s material, it often feels more cartoonish even though it tries to be really quite often. Like the characters, it feels too on over its head at times.

As every time the film seems to be sticking with a certain tone. The film withdraws and goes into another tone to throw off the audience and keep them guessing even when not needed.

This is close to being an almost Guy Ritchie movie except he keeps his tone light and has his characters a bit more defined,  it similarly Whimsical and usually in the criminal world

The characters are likable but rather thin so that they are more defined by characteristics and their individual ambitions than actually coming off as characters. They more Just live up to their nicknames except for the main two characters of the crew.

Though the film is filled with its colorful characters, the most entertaining is actually the criminal lawyers played by the directors more for humor, but are unscrupulous when it comes to protecting their clients.

The film Touches on subjects but Rarely fully Explores them except to occasionally bring them up like racism, growing up as an immigrant. Making something of yourself, when education really isn’t a choice. 

The film is a lot of things but never comes through with An actual decision that leads to it feeling all over the place. There is plenty of styles all over the place that is inventive in fact it feels like every scene and the shot is designed to keep moving and to always dazzle. 

Though even for the hardcore material and subjects that they tackle. The film feels lightweight and almost playful. As it never goes in too deep. It also feels way overstuffed and too long. As the film feels the need to explain every detail and then show it. Whereas if the film was cut down by fifteen minutes it wouldn’t Feel so monotonous by the end.

Just like the main character by the end of the film, it Doesn’t Seem to exactly want to commit.

The film is enjoyable and a fun time in general 

Grade: C