The Assassin (2015) is Meditative and Devastatingly Beautiful

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In case you missed it, this post is part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur on Foreign Language Films (2013-present).

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien won the award for best director at the 68th Cannes Film Festival for his brilliant work in 2015’s The Assassin. Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s unique vision transcends The Assassin from a martial arts film into an art-house cinematic experience. However, I wouldn’t expect The Assassin to be highly influential in the wuxia genre, not because it isn’t deserving to be, but it purposely avoids many traditional tropes and conventions for what makes for a crowd pleasing, popular martial arts film that few directors and movie studios would likely follow in his forward thinking footsteps.

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‘Stranger Things’ is a Love Letter to 80’s Films

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If you heard anything about the Netflix drama Stranger Things about a young boy in a small town disappearing under creepy, otherworldly circumstances, it puts your knowledge of 80’s films to the test by referencing everything from E.T. to Akira and cherry picking elements from classic Stephen King stories.

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If You Love 12 Monkeys You Might Like Continuum

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What is it about great time travel stories that are so popular? Everyone has their own personal favorites and reasons. I like how there’s so many ideas and ways that a story can be explored through time travel. It also captures my imagination seeing how directors and storytellers envision what the future has in store for humanity.

There are a tonne of time travel series going on right now. 12 Monkeys and Continuum are two different kinds of time travel shows. What they have in common is that they are both filmed in Canada and air on Syfy network.

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Movie Roundup: Are you Excited that Pixar is Focusing on Making More Sequels?

Pixar’s line up of sequels includes the summer blockbuster Finding Dory and will carry through 2019 with Cars 3, Toy Story 4 and the long-anticipated The Incredibles 2. From 2020, there are no further sequels planned. Pixar president Jim Morris recently shared some thoughts about why certain sequels don’t happen. “Most studios jump on doing a sequel as soon as they have a successful film, but our business model is a filmmaker model, and we don’t make a sequel unless the director of the original film has an idea that they like and are willing to go forward on,” Morris explains. “A sequel in some regards is even harder [than the original] because you’ve got this defined world which, on the one hand, is a leg up, and on the other hand has expectations that you can’t disappoint on.”

What do you think about Pixar’s approach to making sequels? Which Pixar movie would you love to see a sequel?

Movie Roundup is a feature where I give quick impressions on some films I recently watched and/or on movie related topics.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows “Heroes in a Half Shell Ain’t Half Bad”

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) (Non-Spoilers)
Director: Dave Green
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, Laura Linney, Brian Tee, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Gary Anthony Williams, Stephen Farrelly

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ kid-friendly action and cheesy, slap-stick humor is aimed at a younger target audience. If you no longer wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons or the phrases “Cowabunga” and “Turtle Power” don’t illicit nostalgia, it could be a tough movie to sit through.

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‘The Leftovers’ is a Bold and Brilliant Drama You Should Be Watching

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The Leftovers (A Spoiler Free Overview)
Cast: Justin Theroux, Amy Brennerman, Carrie Coon, Christoper Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Margaret Qualley, Chris Zylka, Ann Dowd, Regina King, Kevin Carroll, Jovan Adepo, Janel Moloney

HBO’s The Leftovers is one of my favorite TV shows going on right now. I just finished binge watching the second season last week and can’t stop thinking about it. I want to share my experience of watching the show in a completely spoiler free way. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’ll try to give enough explanation so you can decide if it’s a show you might be into.

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Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 6 “Blood of My Blood”: How the High Sparrow is a Master Manipulator

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Spoilers Ahead on Game Of Thrones S06E06

“Blood of my Blood” is a fitting episode title. Of course, it’s a direct reference to Dany’s speech to her Khalasar. It also relates to Sam’s kin and his new makeshift family of little Sam and Gilly even though they aren’t blood relatives. Family is a thread which also connects to Bran’s storyline where Uncle Benjen makes his return.

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Fox’s Mystery Thriller ‘Wayward Pines’ Has A Strange, Creepy Secret

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Wayward Pines Season 1 (A Spoiler Free Overview)
Cast: Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, Shannyn Sossamon, Juliette Lewis, Reed Diamond, Charlie Tahan, Hope Davis

The opening to Fox’s mystery thriller Wayward Pines is a close up shot of a man’s eye as he wakes up in a forest. Who is this man dressed in a business suit out in the middle of nowhere? What happened to him and where exactly is he? My immediate reaction is that it’s an homage to Lost which had the exact same opening. The difference between how Wayward Pines handles the mysteries compared to Lost is that it’s based on a novel series where the answers are already determined and not made up as the show goes along. Wayward Pines is originally conceived as an 10 episode mini-series so there’s a greater urgency to explain everything in a self-contained story.  

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Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 5 “The Door”: Discussing how Bran’s time travel power will impact the show and going in-depth on Hodor’s origin.

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Spoilers Ahead on Game Of Thrones “The Door”

The connective tissue throughout “The Door” is about explaining origins. It’s a common thread between many scenes: The children of the forest created the Night King. Jaqen H’ghar explains that the faceless men were once Volantis slaves. The red priestess sheds light about the night Varys became an eunuch. Hodor’s origin and why he repeats the same word is finally revealed. Some of these exposition points serve to deepen the mythology and address long-standing mysteries, while some may also prove to be significant in setting up future events. 

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Genre Grandeur: How does Fast Five hold up five years later?

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This post is originally written for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur on Heist Movies. For all the reviews in this feature, check out Movie Rob’s site.

Fast Five is the very first film in The Fast and The Furious franchise I ever watched. I’m not a snobby movie watcher. I love superhero films and summer blockbusters like a lot of other people. But I overlooked this franchise thinking it would be a hollow, soul less action flick. Okay, this franchise is never going to win an Oscar for best picture. It is a fun, testosterone fueled ride and I can see why it’s one of the biggest, most popular action movie franchises around.

The fifth installment surprisingly makes for a good entry point into the franchise for me. It’s arguably the best in the franchise to date. The action sequences are exciting and well directed. There’s enough character beats to give the story some heart. With so much going on and so many characters, this could have been a hot mess. Director Justin Lin has a firm hand on the steering wheel, never letting the story go off track. He’s also got a strong eye for the visuals, knowing how to frame scenes for maximum suspense and bringing an energetic flair to daring, insane stunts.

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