The first half of 2019 is simultaneously the longest stretch of time I’ve experienced, and the shortest. The longest because the current political climate only worsens, and the shortest because I haven’t had the time to see nearly all the movies I wanted to see. Films like The Farewell, Parasite, Her Smell, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, An Elephant Sitting Still, and The Report evaded me before I sat down to write my best movies of 2019 list, but there are still plenty of great films to distract us — or perhaps remind us — of our most troubling real-life problems.
Here are my top 10 movies of 2019 so far.
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It can sometimes be difficult for movies on the film festival circuit to drum up enough buzz to capture the moviegoing public’s interest. But after playing Fantastic Fest last fall, appearing at over 100 other film festivals, and becoming a box office hit in Japan, the Japanese horror comedy One Cut of the Dead has become an indie sensation. And soon enough, everyone in the United States will have the opportunity to see it, but you’re going to need a subscription to AMC’s horror specialty streaming service Shudder. Read More »
Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead is the little zombie movie that could. Made on a shoestring budget of about $27,000, the Japanese film turned worldwide festival favorite has since earned back a whopping 1,000 times its budget. Its box office numbers would be a victory by any measure, but they’re especially vindicating for a movie that initially opened in just one small Tokyo theater for a six-day run. They’d also have to be vindicating for Ueda, a 34-year-old first-time feature filmmaker who assembled a cast of unknowns for this project and only spent eight days shooting it.
In late September, One Cut of the Dead took home the Audience Award and the award for Best Director (Horror Features) at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. /Film’s own Jacob Hall was there and he called the movie “the best zombie comedy in years.” Others have mentioned it in the same breath as Shaun of the Dead. I was curious to see this film because of all the buzz surrounding it, so I jumped at the chance to be in the theater when One Cut of the Dead made its homecoming at the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival.
It seemed like the perfect venue. The only catch? The movie was screening on Halloween night, when Tokyo turns into a street party on par with Times Square, New York City, on New Year’s Eve.
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