Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)


Assault on Precinct 13 is a film that pops up from time to time in discussions of influential action movies in places like Broken Forum. This was only the second film made by John Carpenter and helped cement his reputation in Hollywood for being a director capable of making decent films on a very tight budget. I think it’s also remarkable that it stars a black man as the hero while being very much not a blaxploitation flick. Played by Austin Stoker, the character is a police officer who happens to be black, but his blackness isn’t emphasized by the film.

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Rebel Galaxy


I had Elite Dangerous on my Steam wishlist for ages but it never dropped in price enough and many people complained that it’s pretty but rather boring. In the meantime, this little gem is both cheap and widely praised, including by Broken Forum’s space game aficionado, I decided to give it a whirl. It was basically made by only two guys working out of a garage.

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The Look of Silence (2014)


This is a follow up to The Act of Killing, one of the most hard hitting documentaries I’ve ever seen. Director Joshua Oppenheimer is joined this time by a middle-aged Indonesian collaborator who appears onscreen but will not reveal his name for the safety of himself and his family. If you stay around to read the credits at the end of the film, you’ll also notice that plenty of other contributors  including researchers and even cameramen have similarly chosen to be anonymous, an indication of how dangerous these revelations still are even decades after the massacres.

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The Lobster (2015)


The Lobster, by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, makes it onto my watch list not because it was highly praised or because it won many awards, but because most of the people who have watched it describes it as one of the weirdest films they’ve seen. One of the most surprising things about this is that for such a small and quirky film, it has some serious star power with the most famous names being Collin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Léa Seydoux.

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The Eternal Flame


It’s been over a year since I read the first book of Greg Egan’s Orthogonal trilogy and I make no apologies for that. I can enjoy pretty much every single one of this author’s book but they require significant mental work and consequent preparation to fully appreciate. Reading The Eternal Flame requires having read the first book as Egan wastes no time in explaining how the physics of this universe work or the biological details of the alien species who are the protagonists of the story. Consequently I also assume this prior knowledge in this post.

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Red Sorghum (1987)


In line with our efforts to round out my film education by watching more films from China, this is the first film by Zhang Yimou to be covered in this blog. Appropriately enough this is also both Zhang’s directorial debut and the acting debut of Gong Li. I’ve never watched this before but my wife has many times, though she is happy to watch it again. I’ve simply never watched any of Zhang’s early films that made him famous.

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The Revenant (2015)


The Revenant is way too high profile a release to miss watching. It won a slew of awards, it was directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu who deserves plenty of goodwill for Birdman and it has at least one scene that is now so iconic that its fame eclipses that of the film itself. Personally however I wasn’t too keen about the subject of the film which seemed to yet another survival in the wilderness story with an actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, who doesn’t seem altogether together suited to the role.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living