Pinhole Movie Reviews

The Thin Blue Line by William
January 15, 2015, 8:48 pm
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Before there was Serial, there was… The Thin Blue Line. This work of cinematic non-fiction, which we are not supposed to call a “documentary” for some reason, investigates the murder of a Dallas police officer and subsequent conviction of Randall Adams. The movie manages to stay interesting and maintain a high level of intrigue throughout, and the technical aspects are extremely well done; you will in particular note the great musical score, something I almost never notice or care about in movies. Worth Watching, and available on Netflix streaming!

The Thin Blue Line poster.jpg

The Panic at Needle Park by Thomas
January 12, 2015, 11:18 pm
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In the 70’s, before Manhattan got Disney-fied, the streets belonged to pimps, pushers, and addicts.  Amidst the chaos, a woman falls for a low level heroin dealer  (Al Pacino) and enters a life of desperation and crime, doing anything for her next fix.  But will she cooperate with the hated NYPD?  This is harsh hyper-realism, breaking taboos to the point that it’s painful to watch.  Still, like Taxi Driver and Times Square, it was actually shot on location and so it manages to capture the seedy underbelly of New York, rather than an idealized Hollywood view of the city.  Worth checking out.


The Panic at Needle Park

Killing Zoe by Thomas
September 22, 2014, 8:17 pm
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Eric Stoltz is an American bank robber in Paris who, together with a crew of maniacal French junkies, parties all night and then robs a bank the next day.  He also sleeps with Julie Delpy — bank teller by day, call girl by night! Right. It’s absurd, salacious, extremely violent — an exploitation film, like Tarantino without the irony or the production values. Turns out it was written and directed by Roger Avary, who contributed some of the more outlandish scenes to the Pulp Fiction script, which makes sense.  Anyhow, if you like the heist genre or cult movies in general then it’s worth checking out. Otherwise, just watchable.


Killing Zoe 

Death Wish by tincolor

Charles Bronson has a death wish, but not the “I wish someone would just kill me” kind of death wish, it’s more like the “I wish I could kill other people with impunity” kind of death wish. Anyway, watching this movie gave me of two reasons to be glad I wasn’t alive in the 70s. First, interior decorating was criminally bad. Second, unless the police caught a criminal in the act, they were apparently shit out of luck. Don’t be fooled, this is no action movie, it’s brooding, dark and surprisingly more interested with the mental state of its protagonist that with exciting chase scenes and shootouts. By no means a terrible movie, but considering the wealth of vigilante movies we have today, pretty forgettable. Watchable.

P.S. Look out for both Jeff Goldblum and Denzel Washington in both of their first on-screen performances!


The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976 version) by tincolor

Ben Gazzara is a nightclub owner who can’t stop losing huge amounts of cash to shady gangsters. The gangsters he owns money to now are willing to forgive the debt, but only if he kills a Chinese bookie. There are apparently two very different cuts of this film and it looks like the only one that is available here in Japan is the terrible one, and man was it terrible! But before I completely condemn it, apparently the “good” cut removes at least some of what I disliked. But no amount of editing could change my major gripe with this film: the main character just isn’t compelling and neither is his predicament. I guess cutting out 27 minutes from the mess I saw might add a little energy to the pacing, but I can’t see myself going any higher than a watchable with this one. Gangsters, nightclub owners, Chinese triads, white people mafia, they’re all there, but presented in the most boring fashion possible. For the 135 minute edit: barely watchable.



Sexy Beast by Thomas
November 20, 2013, 5:50 pm
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“Gal” is a retired gangster living as an expat in idyllic Spain — until fearsome former colleague Ben Kingsley shows up to give him an assignment. Sir Ben is a psycho, his performance bolstered by the barely concealed anguish that everyone else expresses whenever he’s around.  The film is shot and edited in an abstract, ethereal way that creates a neat contrast to the ever present threat of violence.  Worth watching.

File:Sexy beast ver1.jpg

Sexy Beast

Only God Forgives by Thomas
July 25, 2013, 7:38 pm
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The setting is Bangkok, rendered as a kind of neon wasteland, a haven for criminals and psychopaths.  Ryan Gosling’s brother rapes and murders a young girl, subsequently the policeman who arrives at the scene allows the girl’s father to reap his revenge. (That’s how that works, right?) So begins an insane symphony of horrible violence that makes Nicholas Winding Refn’s previous film Drive look like Pippi Longstocking. Kristen Scott Thomas steals the show as Gosling’s deranged mother.  This movie is heartless and obscene.  But can it redeemed by martial arts spectacle, Blade Runner-ish design, and Cliff Martinez music? Well, maybe a little. Watchable.


Only God Forgives

The Godfather Part II by Thomas
March 4, 2013, 2:18 am
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The Corleone saga continues: Al Pacino, who ascended to the top of the family crime syndicate in the first movie, now broods and expands his power obsessively.  At the same time we get some turn of the century flashbacks with Robert DeNiro as a young version of Pacino’s father, if that makes sense. Meh. Instead of just re-playing the first one, this sequel tries to renovate it, filling the “gaps” with further material, much of which is unnecessary.  Luckily, it does echo the first one often enough that you still feel like you’re watching a good movie.  If you see the first one (which you’re *required* to) and you enjoy it, then hell, you might as well commit another three hours to this one. Worth checking out.


The Godfather Part II

The Godfather by Thomas
March 4, 2013, 1:55 am
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The quintessential mafia movie, an epic story about power and corruption.  It’s a slow, realistic drama, punctuated with a few moments of sudden and brutal violence.  This makes the audience uneasy, which kind of replicates how it would feel to be around people who could eliminate you at the drop of a fedora. Man, what a movie! Required viewing.


The Godfather



Training Day by Thomas
March 1, 2013, 6:00 am
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Ethan Hawke is an idealistic narcotics agent (?) who is kind of auditioning to be on an elite squad with Denzel Washington, who turns out to be a dirty cop.  They go around LA harassing people, then steal some drug money.  It’s competently made, but this is the kind of cowboy cop drama that is no longer relevant in the post-Wire era.  Watchable.


Training Day

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