John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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This kaiju flick has a weird James Bond-esque plot where a princess (Akiko Wakabayashi) is threatened by assasination from a foreign government. She also claims to be a Martian and predicts that a recent meteor strike will herald the coming of a new giant monster. Her prophecy comes true in the form of Ghidorah, a golden dragon who shoots electric fire from all three of its mouths. The humans are powerless in this monster's wake, so it's up to the combined efforts of Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan to put Ghidorah in its place. Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster will not entertain those without a spirit for camp, but G-Fans will likely be dazzled by the goofy plot, dated special effects, and the puppeteering work on the titular beast's triumvirate of heads.
The Shaw Brothers are famous for producing hundreds of kung fu movies, but The Super Inframan ("Chinese Superman") is their response to the popularity of imported Japanese kids shows like Ultraman or Kamen Rider. The "plot" surrounds an evil space witch who attempts to conquer Earth with a gang of awkwardly-costumed monsters and an army of astonishingly flammable henchmen. Her main obstacle lies in the fighting prowess, rocket boots, and hand-animated laser beams of the titular cyborg. The Super Inframan has all the wacky costumes, colorful sets, and ludicrous storytelling of the programs it liberally borrows from, but this movie also contains the tight, balletic fight choreography that's emblematic of a Shaw Brothers film. It's no wonder that the ensuing decades have seen this movie become a minor cult classic.
A series of nubile schoolgirls are brutally slaughtered for reasons that evade the police. A young professor (Fabio Testi) has the key to solving the mystery of who the murderer is, but his situation is complicated since he witnessed one of the killings while on a extramarital excursion with one of his students (Christina Galbo). What Have You Done To Solange has an appropriately tense score from Ennio Morricone and suspenseful direction by Massimo Dallamano, but some of its thematic motifs left me cold. The narrative of the movie criticizes teenage girls for open sexuality, but it also fetishizes them when they're tortured, sexually violated, and murdered. This may be the prudish American in me talking, but I found the bluntness of this dichotomy (as well as the creepy endorsement of "innocent virginity" in young women) to be unsettling in ways that the film didn't seem to consciously intend.
Robert Montgomery (who also directed) stars as an embittered, abrasive veteran who travels down to a fiesta in a New Mexico border town in the hopes of blackmailing a war profiteer who murdered his friend. As expected, he runs into more than he bargained for. Ride The Pink Horse runs through a lot of the typical tropes of film noir, but it distinguishes itself thanks to sharp dialogue, relatable acting, and camerawork that knows all about visual storytelling (cinematographer Russell Metty tries out a few tricks that he later used on Orson Welles' Touch of Evil). It would probably be an overstatement to call Ride The Pink Horse a forgotten masterpiece, but I feel that it's fair to label it an underappreciated gem that's worth seeking out.
The motley gang of interstellar freebooters in the Guardians of the Galaxy are split up into a tangled assortment of subplots that all converge on Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) meeting the sentient planet who turns out to be his father (Kurt Russell). The plot of this sequel is scattershot, but I get the impression that this was a deliberate choice on the part of writer/director James Gunn. This movie has plenty of badinage, action, adept soundtrack choices, and visual spectacle, but the focus tends to remain on characterization; this gives Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, and Michael Rooker plenty of moments to shine. I guess it's debatable as to whether this movie completely recreates what made its predecessor such a fun ride, but (in my humble opinion) I'd say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a rare case of a Marvel Studios sequel properly recapturing and expanding upon what made its cast of characters so appealing in the first place.