Seagalmania: Absolution (2015)

Steven Seagal returns in Absolution, the 2015 sequel to 2014’s A Good Man. That film was actually one of the better outings for Seagal and director Keoni Waxman, but the same cannot be said for its follow-up. Interestingly, the movie’s failings are not the fault of its star. He appears to have realized his limitations […]

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I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

To say Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave is contentious is to point out the obvious. The late and great Roger Ebert called this 1978 picture a “vile bag of garbage” and noted that seeing it was one of the most “depressing experiences” of his entire life. The years have been somewhat kind, with […]

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Chappie (2015)

South African director Neill Blomkamp brings his inimitable style to Chappie, a quirky and bizarre slice of science fiction that seems a very personal project. The 2015 film is based on his 2004 short film Tetra Vaal, which was about a police robot, and it appears a development of themes that Blomkamp has long been […]

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‘Gator Bait (1974)

Helmed by Beverly and Ferd Sebastion, ‘Gator Bait is a fairly straightforward 1974 flick about a bunch of rednecks and their pursuit of a gorgeous poacher. Said poacher is played by a Playboy Playmate of the Year, which has certain benefits for those heathens interested in that sort of thing. Those looking for deeper meaning […]

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Switchblade Sisters (1975)

Jack Hill’s Switchblade Sisters is a deviant delight and a grimy slice of girls-in-gangs life. The 1975 motion picture is pure exploitation, a lawless slab of junk that goes a long way to, as Pauline Kael might suggest, give us an “appetite for art.” There’s very little to suggest that this is a good movie. […]

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Furious 7 (2015)

An eager crowd-pleaser, Furious 7 is a product meant for mass appeal – not that there’s anything wrong with that. The roots of the series are long gone, with the original 2001 film’s introduction of illegal street racers and thieves on the wrong side all but forgotten. With the latest entry, the heroes operate as […]

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It Follows (2014)

David Robert Mitchell’s 2014 horror film It Follows tempts us with what “it” is. On cue, people have speculated about the apparent allegory. “It” is about sex, obviously. Or death. Or anxiety related to sex and/or death. Or maybe “it” is simply the inexorable, unplumbed unknown, the abyss we fling ourselves into when we can’t […]

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Magnum Force (1973)

If 1971’s Dirty Harry is one of the quintessential vigilante movies, it falls to Ted Post’s Magnum Force to make vigilantes – and vigilante cops, no less – the villains. For all the solutions offered at the end of Harry Callahan’s .44 Magnum, this 1973 picture finds that there’s more to the game of law […]

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Fist of Fury (1972)

Bruce Lee dominates in Fist of Fury, the 1972 martial arts picture known by some as The Chinese Connection. Directed by Lo Wei, this film deals with themes like oppression and vengeance but is mostly noted for the sheer magnetism of Lee. He really emerges here, doubling-down on his promising performance in The Big Boss […]

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Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)

Directed by Ossie Davis and based on the book of the same name by Chester Himes, Cotton Comes to Harlem is an angry, silly and somewhat tragic motion picture. The 1970 film is a chaotic exploration of race relations in Harlem, but it’s also an action movie and a comedy. The tone is often hard […]

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Focus (2015)

For some reason, movie audiences have always loved the idea of the delightful thief. The slick-talking, handsome/pretty crook has filled many a screen with talk of the perfect con. Focus, directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, is another in a long line and it features characters that are supposed to matter doing things that […]

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Arthur (1981)

Written and directed by Steve Gordon, Arthur is one of those comedies that gets by on amiability. It’s not hilarious, but there’s a lot to like about this 1981 comedy. Parts of it shouldn’t work and parts of it are iffy, but the cast and, oddly, the charming Burt Bacharach score helps it become a […]

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The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

As the first in a bunch of films about one of the most popular heroes in Japanese cinema, The Tale of Zatoichi is a compelling meditation on vulnerability and nobility. This 1962 picture isn’t exactly a sword-swinging, blood-spurting festival of samurai clichés. Rather, it’s a meditative and humanistic film about a code of ethics and […]

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The Wedding Ringer (2015)

A generally terrible comedy, Jeremy Garelick’s The Wedding Ringer makes attempts at raunchiness and sentiment but lands nowhere near the mark. It’s an ungainly beast, a picture that is at turns tedious and revolting to watch. While some of the performers are game, the film mostly falters because of the misguided, mistimed misfire of a […]

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One Armed Boxer (1971)

Those looking for wall-to-wall martial arts will find it in Jimmy Wang Yu’s 1971 film One Armed Boxer. Released in the United States as The Chinese Professionals in 1972, this is sturdy Hong Kong pulp with some neatly choreographed martial arts sequences. It has a senseless side and a violent side, which makes it slip […]

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Black Belt Jones (1974)

A year after Robert Clouse directed Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, he turned his attention the one and only Jim Kelly for the 1974 picture Black Belt Jones. Kelly had been in Enter the Dragon with Lee and the filmmaker picked up on his charisma, but it doesn’t exactly translate well to his own […]

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