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You Only Live Twice Review


Excellent
One of Bond's bigger outings from the early days of the franchise, You Only Live Twice begins with Bond (Sean Connery) faking his death to relieve himself of some of the heat of his enemies and culminates with a showdown against nemesis Blofeld (the progenitor of Dr. Evil) in a phony volcanic lair/rocket base being invaded by ninjas, which are on Bond's side. Blofeld's plot is hijacking spaceships while they're in orbit... for unclear purposes. Got all that? The plot itself is protracting and quite confusing for a Bond film, ultimately just a distraction from one of Bond's most memorable adventures, complete with Q arriving with a helicopter in a box. Tons of fun, really, and Donald Pleasence as Blofeld is inimitable.

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The Happiness Of The Katakuris Review


Very Good
Totally bizarre (and thus in keeping with Miike's other work), The Happiness of the Katakuris tells the story -- as a musical -- of an innkeeping family that hits a string of bad luck with its very first patron turns up dead. So they bury him out back, so word doesn't get out and ruin the business before it ever gets going. Apparently a remake of a Korean film I've never seen, the oddity of the plot is matched only be the strangeness of the singing. There's claymation, dance numbers, dancing corpses, and bizarre cross-dressing karaoke. How can you not be enthralled? How can you not be baffled completely?

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Kaidan Review


Good
Kaidan is the kind of film that washes over you without much worry for whether or not you're following its story. And considering the movie is based on four simplistic short stories/fairy tales (of Japanese origin -- I do not know how "classic" the stories are in Japanese culture), you probably won't care one whit whether the samurai returns to his true love after divorcing her to marry a rich woman, or whether a woodcutter breaks his promise not to tell other people about a snow spirit.

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Blackmail Is My Life Review


Very Good
A nod from Quentin Tarantino to 2000's already-legendary (but apparently undistributable) Battle Royale put then-70-year-old director Kinji Fukasaku on the map for many western audiences. But this prolific Japanese filmmaker, who died in 2003, had long since made himself a name at home as an auteur who favored outrageous style and biting social commentary in his films and, recently, as an alleged tyrant who was prone to throwing memorable tantrums on his sets.

Despite a substantial oeuvre, Fukasaku movies could be hard to lay your hands on, sometimes even in Japan. Thanks to the efforts of Home Vision Entertainment, a sampling of Fukasaku's late '60s/early '70s social comedies has become available on DVD, among them 1968's Blackmail Is My Life.

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Jason Statham Loves The Mechanic's Complicated Action

Jason Statham Loves The Mechanic's Complicated Action

Five years after his first stint as hitman Arthur Bishop in The Mechanic, Jason Statham has returned to the role for Mechanic: Resurrection.

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John Krasinski Used His Experience To Make The Hollars

John Krasinski Used His Experience To Make The Hollars

In a busy year that has seen John Krasinski star in movies and TV shows, he somehow managed to find the time to direct, produce and star in the new...

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