Cinema 88, second part

After the first list of films from 1988, my hunt is continuing. Difficult to find old movies on the "mainstreaming" platforms so I’ve started looking into Plex, which has, surprisingly, free films to stream with ads. Terrible ads, by the way. So this second part is a mixed bag of hand picked and random movies.

Digging in the carts

Black Eagle

by Eric Karson

Maybe films on Plex are as bad as theirs ads because this one is dreadful.

Black Eagle is about Shô Kosugi, specialist of ninja films who is not a ninja in this one but a special agent, codename Black Eagle (lol). He will fight against a Russian agent played by a young Jean-Claude Van Damme (just after Bloodsport).
Black Eagle has 2 weeks off, every year, to see his kids but this time, duty doesn’t wait and the mission is to scuba dive in Malta.

The film is just plain boring, the first fight scene happens after one and half hour and will only be followed by an other one. And they are just bad, the characters are throughing punches like drunk nobodies.
Only two splits, the JCVD signature move.

Just a waste of time.

screenshot of JCVD

The Beast

by Kevin Reynolds

screenshot of The Beast
screenshot of The Beast
screenshot of The Beast
screenshot of The Beast

Wow! What a great war film!

If we omit the Russians and Afghans played by Americans and that they are both a bit too much caricatural, it’s a big slap in the face.

From the first scene, the tone is set and I was hooked.
The pace is kept high just to slowly decrease until a final contemplative shot.
I was surprised multiple times by the madness of the leader, the film doesn’t hold back.
Very smart how The Beast shows the gore of war, either off screen or on screen but fast enough to not be too much, it’s more about feeling than showing.

The end is interesting, I think the main protagonist thought to have found a more civilised country in Afghanistan. But the women accomplishing their revenge is revealing to him that violence is everywhere, that the vicious circle will not end. Then he gives up on his new brothers in arms and returns home, pulled by another war machine.

Running on Empty

by Sidney Lumet

screenshot of Running on Empty
screenshot of Running on Empty
screenshot of Running on Empty
screenshot of Running on Empty

The scenario flows perfectly, the story looked simple to me at first, a family on the run, but it gives time to care about the main character going through his teenage years, torn between his family and the normal world. I loved the way they wait to show the mother play piano with him.
The end took me away, the unexpected reaction of the father, full of love and reassuring.

The two kids are so touching and endearing. The birthday scene is a very beautiful moment, so joyful that it made me think of the worst that could happen to this family. It touched me easily, without visible artifice, other than the music. I’m not the only one, this scene often comes up in other reviews. I think it is perfectly placed in the story and serves as a tipping point, the outside world finally pierced the family protective bubble.

From the cinematography to the characters development, everything is simple but beautiful, there is nothing to take out.

Call Me

by Sollace Mitchell

Thanks again Plex to make me discover awful films (for free), this one is an obscure erotic thriller wannabe.

No scenes or dialogues are realistic. There is a murder at the beginning but all the main character is worried about is her phone stalker. And she’s seduced by him even if he’s the worst smooth talker ever.
The characters are mentioning multiple times "the Polish bar" like the writers didn’t bother to give it a name, that was the only funny thing.

I’m clearly not recommending to watch it! but you can see a young Steve Buscemi and also David Strathairn who was recently in the acclaimed Nomadland (2020).

Police Story 2

《警察故事续集》 by Jackie Chan

screenshot of Police Story 2
screenshot of Police Story 2

I have mixed feelings, the stunts and fights scenes are still excellent and there is choreography in every move but the film is too long and the plot is too complicated while not interesting. The comedy scenes are too stupid to be fun. Jackie Chan is unquestionably a master in action scenes, they are innovative, well written and well shot.

The film starts just after the first part where Jackie Chan’s character has to take responsibility for all the collateral damages he has done. But it quickly go back to normal and he will do more cop stuff. The film is generous in type of sequences and number of supporting characters but it’s just too lengthy to keep a good pace. Fun but less than the first Police Story.


by Raymond Depardon

screenshot of Urgences
screenshot of Urgences

My first film from Depardon, while he’s a great French documentary filmmaker, I was mistaken him with Pierre Carles, to show my lacking culture about French documentaries.

It’s moving, it’s stranger than fiction. I got connected with people in a few minutes and was afraid for their future. It’s terribly sad to see some lost spirits like this.

The beginning was a bit slow and dry but, quickly, it presents really touching characters, the edit and directing can’t be more humble, the film only consists of long fixed shots that only move to follow the hectic movements of some patients. I love this system, it’s simple, states clearly from the beginning that they all agree to be filmed. I don’t have second thoughts on the making, like on The Vow, the HBO documentary about NXIVM cult, that I just finished watching the first season. It’s the opposite, no extra footage, no cliffhanger or any dishonest methods.

It’s covering a large spectrum of mental disease, light to severe, and all characters are iconic, it’s down-to-earth but incredible at the same time.