Recent Reviews

Keoma (Blu-ray)

"Doctor, Caldwell runs this place. You must pay for everything he gives you. Water, wheat...even air. And now even medicine!"
"I'll pay this time."
"And how much will you pay, Keoma?"
"Four cents."
"What do you mean, four cents? That's almost nothing."
"It's the price of four bullets."

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Keoma opens much as Django had a decade earlier: each with a titular gunslinger played by Franco Nero returning from the Civil War...each quickly finding himself embroiled in conflict after rescuing a young woman in dire need...each tasked with the salvation of a small, desolate cadaver of a town. Do not mistake Keoma as a retread, however; it's a eulogy. Released in 1976 as the Spaghetti Western was in its death throes, its central conflict mirrors that of the waning genre. Just as it's acknowledged in the film that the untamed west would soon be supplanted by something new, Keoma recognizes that the cycle of Eurowesterns is ending to make way for other cinematic trends. Though Keoma (Franco Nero) ultimately walks the same path as so many Western anti-heroes before him, he's among the only ones to wonder what the point of it is. What is to be gained by a listless existence, stumbling from one town to another to gun down the unjust? This is a film about death and rebirth – about family and identity – about duty and sacrifice.

As a half-breed, Keoma has always been an outcast. A couple of father figures aside, he wasn't embraced to any great extent in his youth – not even by his "brothers". Though he finds much has changed in a great many other ways upon returning home after the War, he is still perceived as something else. That he rescues a pregnant young woman (Zombie's Olga Karlatos) from being imprisoned in an abandoned mine only further...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Keoma]

Mirai (Blu-ray)
By the way, that's baby sister Mirai on the left and her big brother Kun on the right.

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Maybe I should back up a bit. The spotlight has been directed squarely towards Kun since time immemorial...or at least in the four years since the kid was born, which, from his perspective, might as well be the same thing. His parents dote on him. They cheerfully indulge his fascination with bullet trains. And the whale crackers...! It's heaven. And then this happened.

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This...this...this baby all of a sudden starts getting all the attention. Mom's so perpetually exhausted that she dozes off during feedings. Their frenzied father is in way over his head, trying to pull double duty as a stay-at-home dad and a freelance architect. Visiting family and friends dote over this too-cute-for-words newborn, and how many of them make it a point to tell Kun how adorable he is...?! Mmf. She may only be a wee little baby, but make no mistake: Mirai is the enemy. Doesn't matter that she can't even keep her head up yet; she's still managed to ravage everything. Kun takes his frustrations out on everybody around him, up to and including Mirai herself, whacking her in the head with a toy train.

It's not too much longer until Mirai admonishes her big brother for that cruel act. You see, traditional dolls have been set out for her first Hinamatsuri, but the legend goes that every day that passes without the dolls being properly put away means it'll be one more year until Mirai will wed. Future Mirai isn't keen on being unable to marry her beloved on her own schedule, so she leaps back in time to set things right. Kun grudgingly agrees to lend a hand, but Dad is too buried in his work to acknowledge his son's friendly reminder, and Mom's out of town. So, Kun, Future...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Mirai]

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (Blu-ray)
Let's just get this out of the way: The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire is, at best, a middling giallo, and even that's perhaps being generous. Several of the cult cinema historians contributing to the extras on Arrow Video's special edition make it clear that while they appreciate the film on some level, it's still rather a mess. The German end of this international co-production supposedly didn't find it worthy of a theatrical release. Director/co-writer Riccardo Freda is said to have been largely disappointed by the end result as well, seemingly to the point that he wouldn't even taint one of his usual pseudonyms with a screen credit.

But – like many of you reading this, no doubt – I just cannot resist the siren song of even the most mediocre gialli, especially when one is lavished with such a striking visual presentation and several hours of compelling extras. And on the off-chance that you are a longtime admirer of the film and are only interested in the merits of this Blu-ray release, feel free to skip past everything else I have to say. Otherwise...? Let me tell you why The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire is a bit shit.

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There's only so much that the authorities in Dublin can do when the mutilated corpse of a young woman is discovered in the trunk of a Rolls Royce. Suspicion can't help but swirl around the Swiss ambassador to Ireland (Anton Diffring) – as well as his family and staff – but diplomatic immunity keeps the investigators somewhat at arm's length. Officially, anyway. The chief still has disgraced inspector John Norton (Luigi Pistilli; A Bay of Blood) in his Rolodex. Not shackled by the usual rules or regulations, Norton can go places that the police never could – up to and including inside the ambassador's drop-dead gorgeous...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire]

More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 5/20: Brain Damage (Blu-ray)
  • 5/18: Summer Wars (Blu-ray)
  • 5/17: All the Colors of the Dark (Blu-ray)
  • 5/13: I Married a Witch (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 5/12: Dazed and Confused (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 5/12: Hannibal (Uhd)
  • 5/11: Tapeheads (Hdtv)
  • 5/11: Bumblebee (Uhd)
  • 5/10: Now and Then (DVD)
  • 5/9: The Ox-Bow Incident (Blu-ray)
  • 5/7: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Uhd)
  • 5/5: To Be or Not to Be (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 5/5: Jurassic World (Uhd)
  • 5/4: Mary Poppins Returns (Uhd)
  • 5/4: The Hidden (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 5/14: Mothra (Blu-ray)
  • 5/8: Brain Damage (Blu-ray)
  • 5/6: Avengers: Age of Ultron (Uhd)
  • 5/1: All the Colors of the Dark (Blu-ray)
  • 5/1: Avengers: Endgame (Best Buy Steelbook) (Uhd)
  • 5/1: Captain Marvel (Best Buy Steelbook) (Uhd)
  • 4/19: Justice League vs. The Fatal Five (Uhd)
  • 4/12: Trilogy of Terror (Blu-ray)
  • 4/12: The Ox-Bow Incident (Blu-ray)
  • 4/12: Death Rides a Horse (Blu-ray)
  • 4/12: Hannibal (Uhd)
  • 4/10: Scared Stiff (Blu-ray)
  • 4/10: Mary Poppins Returns (Uhd)
  • 4/10: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Uhd)
  • 4/9: Keoma (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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