Asian Cinema : Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Re: Just the 3 of us (Philippines, 2016)

Ah, too bad this wasn't very good. I watched the trailer and I realized why I never watch movies from the Philippines: the English. I think sitenoise said recently that a plucky guitar track in a Japanese movie kind of "ruined" it because it made it feel instantly western, and that breaks the magic spell. Same here. When I hear that funny style where they break into English for half the sentence, back and forth between English and Tagalog six times in a sentence (what do you call it? Engalog? Philippinglish?) it no longer feels foreign. It feels like Puerto Rican people in New York speaking New Yorican! So the movie just feels like a cheap southern-California indy film.

Too bad because Jennelyn Mercado looks good, or like she could be good with a well written goofy krom kom script. I guess you're right, there's a reason South Korean stuff is popular everywhere including here and there. I guess a big part of the reason I love the korean stuff is because it's so foreign, I can't feel how stupid it is.

Re: Just the 3 of us (Philippines, 2016)

"I watched the trailer and I realized why I never watch movies from the Philippines: the English."

Yes, sadly I'm with you on this zelena. That's partly the reason why I tend to dislike Philippine rom-coms, or just Philippine movies in general.. they employ the use of English in almost half or 3/4 of the dialogues! (I remember watching That Thing Called Tadhana which was very very highly acclaimed, everyone was recommending it as THE ultimate indie rom-com and then I watched it and almost 3/4 of the entire movie, they were speaking englishI wasn't impressed. Rather, it appeared to be a trying hard attempt to look "cool" because hey! We speak WTF without restraint). I mean, I know English is considered to be our second language, hell, even my nephews and nieces speak English at home rather than our native dialect because that's what taught in school but it won't hurt if our movies will put this major ingredient that makes our movies our own. One reason why I watch foreign movies is for me to somehow know their language or at least be familiar with it and their accent so I totally understand why you never watch Philippine movies. Added with plots that are basically rip-offs or just patterned from some western and other East Asian movies, the element of being uniquely to the Philippines gets lost.

Jennylyn Mercado has got a cute lovely face that makes her good for any experiment in wigs and make-up. What hinders her (for me) from cementing every role she makes is her soft voice. Its like her soft voice confines her to roles of battered housewives and the like.

The Rhythm-

Re: Just the 3 of us (Philippines, 2016)

Which is a bummer because I keep hearing about Philippine indie, but I still haven't seen a film I like from there. Ironic because so many great foreign films are shot in the Philippines, and it's gorgeous to look at. Come on, Philippines, where's your good stuff?!

In fairness I guess the Koreans also do that thing about trying to be cool by dropping English into speech (that last kdrama I watched had a ton of that), but they just don't speak English well, so it's "cute." Philippinos basically speak like native English speakers so it's not cute.

Philippine films

"Come on, Philippines, where's your good stuff?!"

Uhm, erm.err, Ms. Universe? Hacking? Piracy? lol. No seriously, before I get charged for disloyalty to the Republic, I think Philippine films are not really as colorful and creative as the Japanese and South Korean ones. China/Hongkong has the martial arts trademark so it has it's own mark already. But I guess I attribute it to the culture, you don't see films where the guy smacks the girl in the head in a rom-com(I think I've blabbered about it in a previous post) or panty escapades found in Love Exposure or necrophilia, incest, etc. which are all part of the reasons why I like Japanese or Korean films: they do the undoable in a conservative society. Philippine films are confined to family, moral, romance types that are I think too boring and predictable to cinephiles. It's because of culture and it being a Catholic country so every move you make, make sure you don't cross the boundaries of decency and obscenity or else your movie will get pulled out of theaters in no time. What Philippine movies can boast of is the high-calibre acting. The Philippines is a country of born-to-be actors.

In what I think is a last-ditch attempt to persuade you into watching some Philippine films, might I recommend the last two films (as far as I can remember) that I can boast of to be a product of the Philippines. Felix Manalo and Heneral Luna. Both are 2015 films. I think I've written a review of it on here before. And of course, Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan which has passed the scrutiny of sitenoise and which movie I also consider as highly recommended. :)

The Rhythm-

Re: Just the 3 of us (Philippines, 2016)

back and forth between English and Tagalog six times in a sentence

They did that in Lav Diaz's Norte. I kind of liked it. But I liked the characters. I might explore more Diaz but I think his next shortest film is 8 hours. I liked Norte enough I'm considering it.

I love the korean stuff is because it's so foreign, I can't feel how stupid it is.

That's major for me too.

I think my interest in "Asian" cinema landed squarely on CN, JP, SK for the obvious reason that they each presented themselves as having a vast treasure trove of foreign treasures. Philippine films feel less foreign, and I have less of a sense that there's a treasure trove there. But that Diaz film is still lingering with me.

I'd only do arthouse stuff tho. RomCroms belong to SK.

Re: Just the 3 of us (Philippines, 2016)

I'd only do arthouse stuff tho. RomCroms belong to SK.


Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Part 19 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers more films released during 2000:

Here are the films I saw this week.


Solomons Perjury (2015) (Japanese Drama) A group of high school students attempt to discover the truth about the death of their classmate, who allegedly committed suicide by jumping to his death. However, some students suspect that he was murdered by one of their own. They decide to hold a mock trial to assess the evidence and come to a conclusion on the matter. This is a two-part film (Suspicion and Judgment) that totals 4 hours of runtime, but it does earn much of that length with realistic character dilemmas and some good performances by everyone. This is deceptively intense, with some scenes of bullying and accusations being tossed out. Interesting character dynamics here, because some people may want to take this unfortunate death and use it to their advantage. The ultimate resolution is nuanced and realistic.

Assassination Games (2011) (American Action/Drama) Two assassins (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins) tangle with a global drug cartel operating in league with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Premise is generic, but the execution is solid. Effective disturbing acts of violence in this, one of which during the latter half hit me pretty hard. The reason for this is that there is character development at play that is emotionally affecting. This also introduces of the more despicable villains in recent memory. Not as much action as one might expect going into this, but the drama makes up for it and there is one short but sweet shootout near the end.

Monk Comes Down the Mountain (2015) (Chinese Action/Drama) A Taoist clerk befriends others and runs into trouble in this film by Chen Kaige. Very difficult to predict where this story is going, because it is completely unpredictable early on and that proves to be a big positive to maintain interest. It involves many different side characters who are connected by our main protagonist. Baoqiang Wang is given a chance to show his charisma, which is a nice change-up from his typical villainous roles. The action is unrealistic, with some fantasy-like abilities and plentiful use of wires. That does make things a bit cheesy at times, but the action design works overall. There are some nutty scenes here as well. A bit different than one might be expecting.

A Scoundrel (1965) (Japanese Drama) Set in the war-torn 14th century, the film concerns the governor of a province whose chamberlain tells him of a woman she knew in the Royal court whose beauty could tear a nation apart. This leads to much trouble for everyone involved. This is a well-made film that does a particularly good job of developing the story and conflicts. The idea that one storytelling session could cause so much disorder is an interesting one. The sequence where the governor attempts to woo the woman thru poetry written by others is amusing. The ending is a bit different from what I was expecting.

Deadpool (2016) (American Action/Comedy) A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool. This movie has huge ratings, but I see nothing particularly great here. Everything is of a good overall quality though. The humor is a mixed bag of juvenile gags some work, some dont. The action is moderately entertaining, with the best scene occurring right at the beginning, but the finale is limited to merely decent superhero style stuff. Performances are sufficient. Just an all-around good flick . . . but nothing great.

Lost In White (2016) (Chinese Mystery Thriller/Drama) Two cops team up to solve the mystery behind a murderer who drowns his victims under ice capped lakes. The cops vs murderer plot has been done a million times before, but this is still executed fairly well. Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Tong Dawei, and Zhou Dongyu all do a fine job of making their characters likeable and endearing. The snowy environment adds quite a bit of atmosphere too. Look out for the cool scene that shows how to lock a door from the outside. The overall plot still feels very generic, and even a bit unrealistic at times, but this is entertaining enough.

Kanawa (aka The Iron Clown) (1970) (Japanese Horror/Drama) This film is heavily based on a Noh play. A woman visits Kibune Shrine every night to curse her ex-husband because she cannot forgive him for abandoning her and taking a new wife. The style of this movie is cool because it adapts the play nicely to cinematic form, meaning that much of the narration is sung in a traditional Japanese presentation. Some moments with the Shinto priests are basically mini Noh plays themselves. With that said, this movie is very repetitive, with tons of nudity, phone ringing, and Psycho-inspired sound effects that may irritate some viewers. However, the aforementioned style, as well as atmospheric visuals and environments help to make this one interesting.

Live Today, Die Tomorrow (1970) (Japanese Drama) After leaving high school, a man becomes involved in the shudan shushoku, a post-war Japanese government work program that involves traveling to Tokyo to work for a fruit company. Due, in part, to the terrible things that happened to his family in the past, the man gradually engages in violent, delinquent activity. This is glacially paced and the bad luck of the characters is shown quite bluntly, but there are a few disturbing moments and I was interested in seeing how it would end.

Not Recommended

Rocky Balboa (2006) (American Drama) Rockys character progressed in new and interesting ways during the first four installments of this franchise. Now, this film wants to go back to square one and rehash the basic dilemmas of Rocky 1 and 2, which is unnecessary and needlessly repetitive. The reasoning behind the fighters actually wanting to fight isnt particularly convincing either. There is some good dialogue by Stallone and his performance is solid, but the rest of this movie is on shaky ground. The training and fight sequences are practically a parody as they generate no excitement or intensity whatsoever. The ring-side announcers are obnoxious. Pacing is really slow as well.

Alice: Boy from Wonderland (2015) (Korean Horror/Drama) A young woman has terrifying dreams, so her mother seeks a shaman who suggests she visit her old home, where something bad happened. This starts off badly, with too many it was just a dream sequences. Performances are okay, but none of the actors are given anything to work with in terms of dialogue. The lead character is dreadfully boring and one-note. Her interactions with the male lead consist of lame, superficial bonding. Scare tactics are mostly mediocre. Theres one element where people bleed inexplicably, which is a bit different. Theres also one good scene near the end involving a toddler and a baby, which is somewhat disturbing. The script does not do a good job of building an engaging mystery, instead providing a clunky, confusing series of events. I swear, this movie makes no sense whatsoever.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Part 20 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers the lesser films released during 2001:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

A Dirty Carnival (2006) (Korean Crime Drama) (repeat viewing) A young gangster moves up the ladder of success while trying to balance his criminal and personal lives. The world of criminal enterprise is nicely and realistically shown, and In-seong Jo gives an excellent performance while portraying a complex character with a variety of emotions. Like similar titles from South Korea, its the small things that end up causing the most difficult obstacles. The few fight scenes are incredibly brutal and scrappy, with lots of blunt objects and knives used for maximum bloodletting. The closing 20 minutes are scintillating. This is a great film.

Throw Down (2004) (Chinese Drama/Comedy/Action) (repeat viewing) Johnnie To directs this unorthodox film about a former Judo champion and his two acquaintances. There is a good amount of fighting in here, and what transpires is certainly stylish, but the strength of this movie lies in its three lead characters (Louis Koo, Aaron Kwok, Cherrie Ying) and their quirky interactions. The classic moments are frequently humorous (the bathroom stall, the balloon in the tree, etc.). Upon repeat viewings, the conclusion does stretch realism slightly . . . but its still freakin awesome. This director is something really special, and easily amongst the very best of his generation.

The Wonder Years (2007) (Korean Drama) (repeat viewing) This is the story of an introverted 13-year-old girl who holds contempt against her mother while seeking motherly love from a famous Korean pop singer through her daydreams. The film emphasizes everyday events, especially her nuanced interactions with other girls her age who may or may not be reliable friends. The primary conflict is very well developed and the daydream scenes are effective. Se-young Lee is one hell of a young actress and her performance here is just as superb as in her previous film When I Turned Nine. Camerawork is also spot on in this fantastic movie.


The Tag-Along (2015) (Taiwanese Horror) This begins with an old woman who encounters a ghost and mysteriously disappears. The spirit then targets her grandson and his girlfriend. This premise is generic on its surface, but it transitions into a creative mythos during the latter half. Right from the start, however, this has a good overall quality to it with fine direction, acting, and sound design. The scare tactics are tempered and legitimately creepy, with a mix of generic and unorthodox stuff. The best horror sequence is a lengthy one that occurs in a forest, and it is both creative and very cool. The ghost is called a Mosien, which is presented with bright white eyeballs, frequently in child form. There are some CGI effects used, which is a mixed bag in terms of effectiveness. Still a solid creepfest.

Love Betrayed (aka Kokoro) (1973) (Japanese Drama/Romance) The film focuses on a young, wealthy man who moves away from home and lives temporarily with an older woman and her daughter. He becomes transfixed on the daughter, but their romance may be headed for a rocky road. Interesting film with some relatable dilemmas for the lead protagonist. Some endearing everyday interaction is a plus. It doesnt end quite like you think it will.

Sanka (aka Hymn) (1972) (Japanese Drama/Romance) This film concerns the odd relationship between a demanding, blind shamisen player and her male apprentice. The relationship includes much formal etiquette, despite the fact that he is constantly serving and bathing her. The woman is not particularly grateful for all of his services. Her interactions with students come to the forefront near the midpoint. Quite a bit of shamisen playing in this impressive film that is a bit different.

You Call It Passion (2015) (Korean Drama/Comedy) A young woman (Bo-young Park) applied for jobs at numerous companies, but failed to find work. She finally lands a job at a tabloid newspaper (in the entertainment division), which is unfortunately run by a tough manager (Jae-yeong Jeong) who is lacking in morals and demands a lot from his employees. This is nicely paced and keeps things moving. Focus on corporate politics and back-stabbing is paramount. Humor is of the everyday variety. Acting is very good all-around, with both leads contributing impressive performances.

Casa Amor: Exclusive for Ladies (aka Working Girl) (2015) (Korean Romantic Comedy) After botching a big presentation, a former advertising executive for a toy manufacturer befriends her neighbor and decides to participate in the womans sex toy business. Im very easily annoyed by sex-based humor, but this movie is quite funny. There are almost no gross-out gags at all, since the film focuses more on the cute sex toy angle, as well as some witty dialogue. A solid cast helps matters. There are a handful of sex scenes, but they are portrayed lightly, played for laughs, and work well. There is one contrived scenario down the stretch, but this is better than expected.

Police Academy (1984) (American Comedy) (repeat viewing) A group of good-hearted but incompetent misfits enter the police academy, but the instructors there are not going to put up with their pranks. This is an entertaining ensemble flick with colorful characters that are likeable and get their moments to leave an impression. Michael Winslow is a stand-out with his noises.

Cello (2005) (Korean Horror) (repeat viewing) A cello teacher experiences strange occurrences in her household, which may be linked to the new gloomy housekeeper, an angry cello student, and/or a haunting from a prior car accident. The script blends a stalker premise, a ghostly presence, and household conflicts together. This is quite confusing for much of the runtime, by design, with the later scenes acting as an explanation for all that has come before it. Im not sure if every element is explained satisfactory, but the final 30 minutes are entertaining and a step above the opening hour (which is on the slow side). Some of the deaths are effective too, with some violence being inflicted upon small children, which is always welcome in my book. The finale uses a fairly common twist well.

The Invention of Lying (2009) (American Comedy/Romance/Drama) A comedy set in a world where no one has ever lied, until a writer seizes the opportunity for personal gain. This is a generally entertaining comedy with a different premise that is implicitly interesting. Some of the humor works and plays off of the idea of telling the truth all the time, even if its rude. To be frank, however, I was expecting a lot more, given the potential. The act of lying itself is mostly thoughtless and employed in a very basic, repetitive fashion. I was expecting a lot more nuance here, with more interesting dialogue between the liar and his victims. He just goes around telling people stuff that is ridiculous, but they buy it because no ones ever lied before. For example, if he were to flip a coin and it showed heads, he can just tell someone that it said tails and they will believe it, even if they saw it land heads. It doesnt make any damn sense and its a contrived, lazy way to explore the themes herein. Observations on religion are also frustratingly shallow and uninteresting. Still, this is watchable despite its flaws.

Not Recommended

Catwoman (2004) (American Action) A shy woman, endowed with the speed, reflexes, and senses of a cat, walks a thin line between criminal and hero, even as a detective doggedly pursues her, fascinated by both of her personas. There are more stupid scenes in this movie to shake a stick at, and the dialogue is cringeworthy. Its actually quite difficult to pinpoint what caused this, because every sequence comes off as incompetent in some manner. Some of the camerawork and editing choices resemble badly filmed music videos. The CGI that is used for the cats and humans has an awful look to it. Features the most ineptly edited basketball match in motion picture history. Halle Berry is usually a terrible actress, and thats certainly the case here. The fights are awful. The soundtrack is cheesy garbage. The only good thing about this movie is Benjamin Bratt, and thats not enough.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Part 21 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers the better films released during 2001:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Attack the Gas Station (1999) (Korean Comedy) (repeat viewing) While robbing a gas station, four guys decide to stay and pocket the extra cash by tending to customers. This crazy comedy contributes a variety of conflicts with patrons, gangs, cops, and even a take-out delivery crew with mopeds. The way they handle their more difficult customers is very funny and should hit the spot for viewers who have had a bad day at work. One particular melee battle is classic.

The Accidental Detective (2015) (Korean Mystery Drama/Thriller/Comedy) A wannabie detective teams up with a true detective to solve a series of murders. This is an impressive murder mystery that goes into detail regarding how the protagonists use logic and investigation to solve it. The investigation is complex and nuanced, with a neat resolution. The cops in this one are sharp and intelligent, but there is also some charming, funny banter between the leads that adds some color to their personalities. One cool suspense sequence involves electricity, and another one involves rope. The tone really works as it shifts between serious and light-hearted moments effortlessly. Both leads are great together.

Bullets Over Summer (1999) (Chinese Drama/Action/Comedy) (repeat viewing) Francis Ng and Louis Koo are cops who stake out a suspect while dealing with the residents of the apartment complex they use for cover. The opening series of events is classic. You get cold-blooded, nonchalant, civilian-killing antagonists, an armed robbery involving a bag of potato chips, and an imaginative form of interrogation involving fruits and vegetables. Francis and Louis mess with the residents (an old lady with loss of memory, an angry neighbor, a pretty schoolgirl, a pregnant dry-cleaning lady, etc.) in all sorts of entertaining ways, leading to a number of funny moments. Add to those a good suspense/shootout sequence and an effective ending, and you have a very good film on your hands.

Fires on the Plain (2014) (Japanese War Horror) Shinya Tsukamoto directs and stars as a Japanese soldier who endures illness, starvation, and brutality in the Philippines at the tail end of World War II. Not a whole lot of story or character depth in this one, but as a stripped down, purely haunting portrayal of the horrors of war, this is a visually arresting walk thru hell on Earth. The constant state of hunger is portrayed very well, because these soldiers were in really, really bad shape. This is a grungy, primal affair that will wear down the viewer, but it is also a bit dreamy in spots due to the deteriorated mental condition of the characters (as well as the music). The scorching hot forest is a great setting and offers some beautiful environments that are juxtaposed with the horrific violence. Tons of nasty corpse shots are showcased, as well as some graphic gore and killings. Tsukamoto gives a very good performance. The 87-minute runtime is perfect. This is so different from the 1959 film, that its not even comparable. (Viewed without subtitles.)


Whispering Corridors 3: Wishing Stairs (2003) (Korean Horror) (repeat viewing) Although this is the third film of this impressive series, it unquestionably includes more horror elements than the second installment. The entire second half is loaded with scare tactics. Surrounding trees look dead, with many brown leaves littering the grounds and flying thru the air. The storyline focuses on jealousy and is moderately successful as it sufficiently develops the conflicts between the characters. The girl with brown hair does overact during the first half, but her performance improves later on. This entry also feels more like a mainstream, commercial movie in terms of style (it even has a Japanese onryo ghost), and therefore loses a bit of that art-house flare that drives the previous entries. Nevertheless, the ending is creepy.

The Strange House (2015) (Chinese Horror) At the request of a family, a young girl agrees to appease an ailing grandmother by pretending to be her granddaughter, but she begins experiencing horrific visions while visiting the house. This film by Danny Pang is better than most of his other solo efforts. Direction and acting are good. The twists have been done before, but the mystery is engaging and holds interest throughout. A few moments are creepy too.

Isola (2000) (Japanese Horror/Drama) (repeat viewing) A psychic and a girl with multiple personalities cross paths. The psychic reads peoples minds, even if she does not want to. The other girl can control other peoples minds. This is a deliberately paced film, but it is atmospheric and both lead actresses are good. The interaction between these girls is generally well-written and the odd premise helps to hold interest. The ending is a bit of an anticlimax and somewhat forgettable. Still, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Goodnight Mommy (2014) (Austrian Horror) After plastic surgery, a mother returns home to her 10-year-old identical twin sons with her face swathed in bandages. But as she recovers, her increasingly odd behavior fuels the boys' fears about the identity of the woman behind the gauze. This is a very quiet film that is nicely shot, but it does meander a lot, leaving some dull patches throughout. There is also a cliched twist that is used, but there are some disturbing acts of violence, which give this an edge. Pretty good.

Not Recommended

Lost in the Pacific (2016) (Chinese Thriller) A group of rich passengers on board an inaugural luxury, transoceanic flight are thrown into chaos by bad weather, mutant cats, and human conflict. This is essentially a situational thriller that takes place in one location (an airplane), but the script isnt strong enough to make it work. Pacing is pretty good, but there are lots of flaws. International cast requires the use of English for the most part, which takes away from the Chinese actors performances a bit. The thriller elements are not memorable at all, and no death scenes are actually shown (only the PG-rated dead bodies). A lot of painfully cliched moments too. This is Sci Fi Channel Original quality. The CGI airplane and mutant cats look atrocious. I gotta say, however, that the high-end cabin is awesome; I would kill someone to fly international on this plane.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

I recently read the original book Fires on the Plain. I was in the library and spotted the book and thought, huh, that was a movie recently right? I literally couldn't put the book down and read it in one sitting right there in the library. It took me a long while to realize it was fiction, and not a historical account.

I tried to watch bits of the 1959 version of the movie and this new one. Both seemed to be very faithful to the book. But it's just exactly the kind of thing that is better to read than to watch, because the things described are much more horrific and powerful if you conjure them in your own mind than if you see a portrayal that you know is all fake blood. The book was absolutely amazing, just zapps you into a three dimensional world of war pain that you never thought about before. And very characteristic of mid-20th century serial fiction writing, like if Albert Camus was writing for Reader's Digest. Very highly recommended.

Bullets over Summer looks not exactly my style, but I was thinking of looking up/listing Asian summer movies I can't just watch Do The Right Thing over and over. Any rec's?

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Cafe Noir (Kape neuwareu) [2009] South Korea (re-watch)
Director: Jung Sung-il
From my original review:
Cafe Noir is gorgeous. Cafe Noir is pretentious. It's grandiose and overwhelming. It's punishingly thick and multi-layered. It's over three hours long and languidly paced. Characters in the film don't talk to one another the way normal people do, they deliver lines. Ten year old girls quote Goethe and pontificate about love with more wisdom than I'll ever possess.

Cafe Noir is the most amazing film experience Ive had in years. It's an intellectual film but I'm still surprised it wasn't championed by a lot of people. It's filled with incredibly touching moments, great music, great acting, and other superficial stuff.
Watch this movie if you get a chance.

No Tears for the Dead (U-neun nam-ja) [2014] South Korea
Director: Jeong-beom Lee
There's nothing about this film that's any good except for the violence. And the violence kicks ass except for a few stupid gun fights. Koreans do violence the best and Jeong-beom Lee (Man From Nowhere) might be the best Korean.

Revivre (Hwajang) [2014] South Korea
Director: Kwon-taek Im
I generally don't like films that start at the end and then show us what lead up to it. Seems cheap and easy. I also usually really don't like films that run parallel timelines. This film does both of those things. But there is no escaping the quality of this one about a guy who is dealing with his dying and dead wife, and a new robo-babe who comes to work at his office. The biggest quality factor here is Sung-kee Ahn. It's almost impossible to decide if he is a sympathetic character or not. I think I might have given this a 6 right when it was over because it frustrated me, but every time I thought about it after that I inched it up a few points. Sometimes quality films have that effect. Gyu-ri Kim as the robo-babe, and Ho-jung Kim as the dead and dying wife are also good. In fact, Ho-jung Kim is extremely good. See how that works? Heck kick this one up to a 8.1/10

Pale Moon (Kami no tsuki) [2014] Japan
Director: Daihachi Yoshida
Damn. Rie Miyazawa is usually sexy charisma in the flesh. She's pretty good here but the film made her flat. Director Daihachi Yoshida is on a downward spiral in my book. Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers! was fantastic, and Permanent Nobara was pretty darned good. I didn't like The Kirishima Thing at all, unlike many others. If you want to see a great movie about someone who unwinds once they start innocently embezzling money from a bank where they work, check out Owning Mahowny (2003). Philip Seymour Hoffman R.I.P.

The Wonderful World of Captain Kuhio (Kuhio Taisa) [2009] Japan
Director: Daihachi Yoshida
OK con story. The ladies are fine, but Masato Sakai is nothing short of repulsive. It's not his fake nose. It's the pucker-faced delivery, like he's trying to illustrate what the stick up his butt makes his bum-hole look like. Gross.

The Guard Post (GP506) [2008] South Korea
Director: Su-chang Kong
You'd have to be a total horror freak to sit through this turd.

Journey to the Shore (Kishibe no tabi) [2015] Japan
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kiyoshi Kurosawa is the M. Night Shyamalan of Japan. He made one good movie (Pulse, not Cure) and the rest seem to be parodies of that. He's got some skill and desire, but I think he also has a serious personality defect which prevents him from getting himself out of the way of his films. The premise for this film is wonderful: A woman's husband comes back from the dead (maybe) and takes her on a journey to show her what he's been up to for the few years since he died. Eri Fukatsu, as the wife, is usually great. Here you can see her struggling to make something of the nonsense Kurosawa burdens her with. Bummer. Tadanobu Asano, as the husband used to be great but he's become the Nicolas Cage of Japanif you took away Cage's acting chops. Imagine that. Don't even get me started on the soundtrack to this mess. It's absurd.

Mermaid (Mei ren yu) [2016] China
Director: Stephen Chow
Not funny, but still, people looking stupid and acting stupid is only two strikes. Leave it to Hong Kong to strike out with 'sounding stupid' too. Seriously, this is 2016. If I download something from the internet I expect there to be no dubbing. If you make a movie with actors who speak two different languages, leave them be. I'm reading subtitles. I can't understand either language, but I can sure tell when someone's dubbed. How do HongKongers live with this?

A Night in Nude: Salvation (Nûdo no yoru: Ai wa oshiminaku ubau) [2010] Japan
Director: Takashi Ishii
Not sure why I even bother with movies like this any more. Wait. Yes I do. Wait. No, I don't.

He Never Died [2015] USA, Canada
Director: Jason Krawczyk
This is one of those films that keeps you guessing who, or what, is this guy? He's a loner who seems to want to stay to himself but other people intrude on his life and force him to eat them and such. It grows tiresome, but Henry Rollins is perfect in the role and is funny as hell. The reveal at the end is bad and fell flat for me. That's a bummer. But still, Henry. Hilarious. Definitely worth a look for those who don't mind watching someone pull a bullet out of their head with a pair of pliers, and similar type stuff. The deadpan humor in this film is some of the best I've seen in years.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi [2016] USA
Director: Michael Bay
Ably assembled from a pretty good formula, but The dialog calls attention to the actor, not the character. So ew.

Neerja [2016] India
Director: Ram Madhvani
I like real life hero movies, sometimes, but this is a low-quality film from start to finish. Bad acting and full of dumb, about a airplane stewardess who sort of stood up to some hijackers.

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

I give you credit for giving Stephen Chow a try. Y'all have been watching literally the exact same movies as me lately so I don't have much to review. Did you get as far as the poison scene? That was some funny bleep. That was the only good scene that wasn't spoiled by the trailer. Overall I was disappointed; I think this was Chow's "worst" big budget film ($60 million? Really? Can I get a look at the line item budget?).

I agree the dubbing was so poor I was pulling my hair out. The reason for it is that half the film was in Cantonese (Chow's bros) and most in Mandarin (the stars), and the -ahem- dvd was dubbed either/or all Cantonese/Mandarin. You're right the Chinese are so used to that and reading chinese subs of various kinds of chinese, they shrug it off.

It's too bad this wasn't better; Chow kind of peaked with Kung Fu Hustle, which was a towering achievement. There is still a lot of unique atmosphere in it. Even in the first minutes, you can feel that Chow is creating a little two-hour universe where even the moral laws of nature are different, and not everyone can do that. But he's slowly turning into the Bob Hope of China

You're pretty hard to Tadanobu Asano! Some call him the Johnny Depp of Japan, but he's also sort of the Keanu Reeves. I think he's really great in understated, introverted roles. He can be sort of Tony Leung if he didn't have any lines.

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

I should have written more what I was thinking about mermaid/chow. I will say that there seemed to be awareness in there. I don't think the people who made the movie are stupid. What I don't get, is they think it's funny, what they're doing. Funny for me was how many times I LOL and pumped my fist in the air watching Henry Rollins, well Basically act stupid, but not stupid, because it was honest.

I understand the all or nothing with the dubbing. I think it hurts them outside HK. Or maybe not. I think the rest of the world is probably used to dubbed films. And but worse for me is it perpetuates the Jackie chan stupid goofy backward Chinese stereotype. I think it's part of the humor, but it's laughing at them.

I used to love Asano. But he's made some stinkers lately. And he seems to be resting on his laurels. I think his acting career is over. Can you imagine him as an older guy trying to act emotional or something? Lol

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Yeah the dubbing is totally problematic. I find that it's like that in all big pop chinese movies. Overdubbed, but badly, so the whole thing sounds cheap. The whole damn country sounds like it's talking through a cheap karaoke machine. I mean, Apocalypse Now was 100% dubbed, but meticulously.

Too bad you didn't watch Kung Ku Hustle, Shaolin Soccer, or God of Cookery or King of Comedy. Aside from the benefits of Karen Mok, who, as we know, poops roses, these were just much more solid writing. But maybe not your style - I won't try to twist your arm. There's stuff I love about Chow movies, like how the whole supporting cast consists of ugly borderline amateurs, people who just seem like they are Chow's brothers and cousins and in-laws from the housing estate, who he is forced to cast in his movies. It's weirdly fascinating how much it reflects the sociological vibe of HK, with its housing-estate ghetto culture. The humor (and the production) is dumb, childish, ghetto, but super-witty in a street-smart way.

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Café Noir got on my bad side early, with a 4-minute shot of a girl eating a friggin hamburger. However, it eventually won me over with the underwater scene, the storytelling scene, and the dance scene. Yu-mi Jung is outstanding in this.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Wow strong words there for Cafe Noir! I'll look for this. Although ebossert's spoiler on watching someone for 4 minutes just eating a burger is.erm

The Rhythm-

Cafe Noir (2009)

I tried watching it but I bailed out after 35 minutes. Nothing was happening! And it didn't help that either the pacing was slow, or their voices were so soft and they kept saying irrelevant lines plucked from nowhere, or both. It was like listening to dead air pass. And I didn't have enough energy (and attention) to make it to two more hours. Dude I love you but I just can't imagine someone calling this the most amazing film experience he had.

On second thought, since it's you so I guess I can imagine someone calling this the most amazing film experience he's had. You're a unique species.

^I hope I wasn't so mean with my remarks. No offense meant. :)

The Rhythm-

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

Ha! The first time I tried watching it I made it about 2 minutes into the cheeseburger scene and put it back on the shelf thinking it was the most pretentious and stupid bunch of BS I'd ever seen. I have no idea why I tried to watch it again, but I did, this time skipping the burger bit. Well, the next scene is just vacation photos around Seoul. Back on the shelf. I inexplicably came back for a third try, skipping past the burger and home movies. Now there's a few people hanging their heads, whispering sad nonsense. Oh man. Somehow I left it on until the scene where that guy sits on the park bench next to the woman with the mysterious gift box. That scene is one of the more uncomfortably gross stalker-y, creepy guy hitting on a girl scenes I can remember. Then the BJ scene in the dark movie theater where that girl from the bench says "I love sucking c0ck, *beep*!n A". That cracked me up, and I figured maybe there's something here.

Not that you are going to try this again but, I'm very specific in calling this the 'most amazing film experience' I've had, as opposed to the 'best film ever made' (M (2007)). I felt, while I was watching it and after it was over, that I was witnessing the history of all pretentious classic great movies. And by that I mean mostly the French New Wave that I know nothing about and care about even less. The guy who made Cafe Noir is a film critic for thirty years, steeped in all that classic crap, an intellectual snob who famously said that films meant to entertain aren't worth watching.

Somehow I concluded, and was able to live with, the notion that every scene in the film meant something. I don't know what, and I don't care, but the feeling that they did intrigued me. And the little girls in the movie, I don't think they actually say anything. They just recite lines from Goethe. I don't know what I think about that, but allow me to digress here and say that I've always loved it when a film can pull off having actors obviously not talking the way normal people would talkthey just recite lines. Seems like a terrible idea, and would mean horrible acting (which it usually does to people who don't get it/like it). Examples would be the stuff Aaron Sorkin writes, most of what David Mamet does, and, most lovely for me, the early work of Hal Hartleywho famously said he doesn't hire actors to act, he hires them to recite lines. In my first review of Cafe Noir I went on about how much it reminded me of Hal, and felt like falling down and giving thanks to god when they do the dance number (and I use that term loosely, but that's what it is) near the end of the film. That's when I realized that there is no way the guy is paying homage to Hal Hartley, but that both Hal and this guy were paying homage to some other film in the pretentious classic great film tradition. So all of this is a bad idea unless you're brilliant enough to pull it off well. Tomato/Tomoto, ya know.

So I didn't get anything about what this guy was doing, but it all just made the film feel more substantive. And/but most importantly, I'm not giving it high marks because it must be, or probably is, full of depth. I genuinely got hooked on the characters and their stories. It's two, two, two nice stories in one of unrequited love. And once it gets going the photography is gorgeous (zelena probably wouldn't like it because of the camera they used, but ). And the music is awesome.

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

Points well-taken (although not entirely understood).

Good you made it to three tries. I deserve some credit here, though. I made it past the burger eating scene, then the random scenes of Seoul, to some depressed woman making some monologue, to that random guy sitting next to the girl on the park. I really tried you know, because "the most amazing film experience" are strong words so I thought maybe just maybe I'd feel the same way too at some time in the film. (Although I shouldn't have expected much knowing how our tastes in film differ ).

I still don't understand why the film amazed you. I could understand it more if you interchanged it with "the best film ever made" because a film can be considered as best (objectively) without one being amazed at itwhich is subjective. I made it to the first 10 minutes but it really felt heavy on my part. Heavy because I felt all those time wasted for some nonsense stuff. But I exploded on that park scene because "where exactly are we going from here??????". Hehe.

I don't think I'd watch it again anytime soon. (I'm trying to understand your points on classical pretentious films but it seems I can't fathom the depth of the subject that the only conclusion I can draw is that, sitenoise is a unique species. That's all.)

The Rhythm-

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

You get giant kudos from me for giving it a shot! And But, of course you can't understand why the film was an amazing film experience for me from only the first 30 minutes. We agree there are some hurdles there. The scene with the random guy on the park bench hooked me in, though. It caused you punt! .

The thing about the history of film in the film

First, remember the guy who made this film is a hoity-toity film critic for thirty years who has been telling other people what's good and bad about movies. So he gets a chance to make one himself. And he makes a 3 1/2 hour sludgefest that starts off with a 5 minute shot of a girl eating a cheeseburger reciting the lord's prayer (or whatever). That's balls.

Second, the Red Balloon. I think we see it a couple times in that first 30 minutes. That's basically the director saying "Yo! Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 'Sup, Dude?". I'm kidding here, but I'm not. That's the only obvious connection I'm informed enough to catch. Hsiao-Hsien Hou made a film Flight of the Red Balloon which was an homage/remake of a French short film Le ballon rouge (1956).

I've read about a couple more connections, one I'll tell you about later if I don't bore myself to death before I get there, but like I've said, most all of this stuff was lost on me because I don't know anything about the French New Wave, etc. I'm familiar with Hsiao-Hsien Hou because he's Chinese. And famous, and arthouse to the max.

Third, the Korean Shout outs. The choice of a weapon to kill the husband goes to Oldboy. You can see it in the third trailer elanor posted. There's a scene by the Han River where the uncle of the little girl who was killed in Gwoemul (2006) talks about his loss (and I think what a bad movie it was). Yu-mi Jeong, who pops up in the first half, but is the star of the second half, is famous for starring in many films by Sang-soo Hong. At one point she shouts out the name of one of his films.

I'm willing to bet that almost every scene in the movie references, or comments on, or homages in some way a famous scene from some famous movie.

Before you cry foul, let me be the first to scream out "None of this matters!" Lets take the opening burger scene, for example. What if we were to learn that it has some deep Korean cultural significance? We still have to sit through five minutes of watching the burger get eaten. That's a fail in my book. I'll bet the scene of the random guy on the park bench is shot and framed like some famous scene. That scene made my skin crawl. It was annoying and looooong. But it intrigued me. I have no way of explaining why.

All this "connection stuff" didn't contribute to my enjoyment of the film, but it contributed to what made it an amazing "film experience". It makes it feel "filmy".

What blew the lid off everything for me was the "dance" number. We've talked about the importance of the music, and the rhythm of a film. The music in Cafe Noir is amazing. The Schumann piece you see the guy playing in that third trailer is a piece I learned as a kid and used to play to myself on my birthday. If you were to see how that piece comes about in the movie and you were me you'd bawl your brains out. Then that opera piece. Beautiful. The music is all over the place, from every genre, and very important to the movie.

So I'm totally in rhythm with this flick, musically. I'm feeling like, amazing, this guy is hand-picking a playlist for me. Then near the end they're in a pub, and Yu-mi Jeong puts on the jukebox. This Bill Laswell number I listen to all the time, that's pretty obscure I think, starts playing and I sh!t my pants. I said to myself if she starts dancing to this and others join her I'll kill myself. And that's what happens.

It made the film feel very personal for me. It's not strange that someone in a movie would put on a jukebox and start dancing, but you have to see the way it's done to appreciate its limited uniqueness. And it's the connection I said I'd tell you about later. I mentioned how the film has a very strong Hal Hartley vibe for me. Hal was one of my heroes, one of the guys that showed me what indie art good filmmaking was. In a couple of his early films the characters just get up for no reason and dance to a song. So again, Cafe Noir is just playing along with things that already make me happymiraculously.

I also said that I doubt Cafe Noir's director, who through all these posts continues to remain nameless for some reason, has any connection to Hal Hartley. Turns out oh heck, I can't find it. It was in some review. But the dance number idea is from some famous film that I'm sure Hal was just homaging as well. It's not a Bollywood type thing.

Bottom line message from the movie: Love Stinks. You might enjoy parts of the story but the resolve would probably upset you. Give it a pass.

ps - phew! I love this movie!

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

There's no doubt whatsoever that you love the film. I mean, look at you, who usually reviews a film in 5 sentences or less or would usually reply to posts in a maximum of 2 paragraphs would write a long essay about it!

But thanks for explaining. I now understand somehow what's it all for you. You felt some personal relation to the film, and it so happened that you were able to relate these scenes in some part/s of film history which I know nothing about. The music, the thing about Hal Hartley. Now I get it.

"First, remember the guy who made this film is a hoity-toity film critic for thirty years who has been telling other people what's good and bad about movies. So he gets a chance to make one himself. And he makes a 3 1/2 hour sludgefest that starts off with a 5 minute shot of a girl eating a cheeseburger reciting the lord's prayer (or whatever). That's balls."

Yeah that's where I'm puzzled at. Did he honestly think he can make his debut movie by opening with a girl who deliciously eats a pizza for 4 long minutes reciting some prayer???????

"I'm willing to bet that almost every scene in the movie references, or comments on, or homages in some way a famous scene from some famous movie."

Yeah, that's where we differ. I usually judge movies as stand-alone movies, without regard to another movie it might have a reference with. I seldom identify one reference from another movie unless its very blatant and obvious. So, its either the plot or the characters get me in the first few minutes. And if it doesn't, the less I care about the references.

"All this "connection stuff" didn't contribute to my enjoyment of the film, but it contributed to what made it an amazing "film experience"."

This is enlightening. Now I know why it's amazing for you, without necessarily equating it to having enjoyed it in all its glory.

The music..again, its very personal for you. But I wasn't able to hear these (literally and figuratively). If I may have heard something playing in the background, it wasn't music for me. Or maybe I was just so distracted and bored that my ears weren't attentive enough to hear whatever was playing. But I swear, there was no music in the 35 minutes that I've watched it.

Now I somehow get a clearer picture of why you love it. And its something personal and subjective that no matter how reviews I may read, I will never be able to feel. The film has some connection to you and there are really instances when you just don't understand why you love the film even if you think you're the only one who does. This is one of those instances.

The Rhythm-

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

But I swear, there was no music in the 35 minutes that I've watched it.

There's no music for the first hour or so. You wouldn't miss any of the music cues. When the music starts in Cafe Noir it becomes the film. I think that's pretty cool (well, only because I liked the music, but )

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

I found three trailer on YouTube (YT):

Café Noir | trailer #1 Los Angeles Film Festival 2010 Jung Sung-Il

Café Noir | trailer #2 Los Angeles Film Festival 2010 Jung Sung-Il

These two look as I expected from your review above. I like the second trailer better.

But the next trailer looks gorgeous and enticing to me:
Korean Movie 카 르 (Cafe Noir. 2009) Trailer

Which trailer comes nearest to your experience?

Where did you find this film? I could not find a version, neither at Amazon nor at YT.

each brain develops its own preferences

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

Well, as I've said here before, ALL movie trailers are terrible.

Having said that, the third one is the best looking, best assembled "thing". In fact it's a work of art on its own. It has the best use of music, but the fast editing/cuts are the least representative of what the film feels like. All those scenes are in the film, but the editing creates a sense of impending drama that the film doesn't really have.

The other two are better at giving you the feel that the film is very slow moving and very talk-y. But as trailers, they are amateurish junk.

They filmed using a "Red" camera, something zelena knows about, I think. Basically, I think it makes properly lit stuff look super rich, and less well lighted stuff look grainy. There's lots of night shots in the film, it's also half in Black and White, so there's a potpourri of quality. Overall I think it's a gorgeous film (has a lot to do with framing and other things besides the camera), and the high contrasted night shots are out of this world, imo.

I got it off the Internet. It took 3 years for it to come out on DVD. I'm waiting for Bluray. Does this Amazon link work for you:


Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

Thanks for the information and the links.

Both links work but they lead to offers I cannot use. I live in Europe, so I cannot watch US Amazon videos. From YesAsia I need region 2 DVDs.

each brain develops its own preferences

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

yeah, that's what I meant by "work for your". I thought I remembered you weren't in the US. Oh well, maybe a region free Bluray is on the way. This film deserves it.

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

Oh, some zelena bait! Yeah the Red camera, a lot of people in the film industry grouse about it like it is overkill for small productions like a lot of indie films where the camera is worth $100k and the script isn't worth a baloney and cheese sandwich. But in this case it's the right tool for the job. It reminds me of the 2005 era Zhang Jia-ke films for that low light sensitivity at night.

Not particularly drawn to the film myself. It reminds me of current European arthouse, which I'm not into (anymore). I guess the sitenoise is into these films that are kind of dry and humorless and 'pretentious,' because of some heaviness of beauty to it that not everyone likes; able to read something into it. Which is cool, I think all artists deserve fans.

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

"I guess the sitenoise is into these films that are kind of dry and humorless and 'pretentious,' because of some heaviness of beauty to it that not everyone likes; able to read something into it."

Yes there's some dryness into sitenoise's films. Well there's not really humor because they're notmoving! They're not doing anything at all. Its either there's a minute of silence, then the character stares into blankness, then you're forced to hear dead air pass. It's like when most of us are about to grab a pillow to sleep because there's not much that's going on, sitenoise's eyes turn into anime-like that glitters and bulges because he loves it so much. I wouldn't exactly call it "pretentious" because there are some things that are unexplainable and things you just can't understand. I still cannot for the life of me appreciate these stuff that he appreciates so much, but I have this higher regard for him because he's able to see things I don't. This is where I get to appreciate diversity of people. People see different things and interpret things differently.

The Rhythm-

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

Dry and humorless with people who don't move much is just one category of film I like some of. Like Norte, hangganan ng kasaysayan (2013), for example. I loved that. Getting back to Cafe Noir

So Korean. "No No, don't shoot Hey, Great Shot!"

I said to myself: "No, you aren't going to do pretentious, don't do pretentious Hey! Great pretentious!" It's all about execution. Like the way Koreeda did nice, this guy did pretentious.

I don't think he will make another film. Well, he has made a second film but it's a documentary in the style of, and about Bing Wang, the Chinese Lav Diaz. We'll never see it. He shot his wad with Cafe Noir. Thirty years of ideas went into it. Every idea he had. It took him 3 1/2 hours to get them all in. He has good taste in music but will continue to remain nameless because he is nobody.

Re: Cafe Noir (2009)

Yeah I say 'pretentious' with quotes, because it's only pretentious if it doesn't work for you. Lots of people think Wong Kar Wai is pretentious, but lots of us feel a lot of emotional punch from it. It depends a lot on whether you can relate to the same experiences as the director, because often these films are very autobiographical. I think I have some crossover with the sitenoise on films that are arthouse but have a lot of power in the writing and acting, like Summer Palace and Right Now, Wrong Then, and some others Sitenoise is definitely into the high art stuff, but that's often too dry and takes itself too seriously for me. I don't like French new wave (or French any wave) either, but the Czech new wave was more down to earth while still being intellectual. But the stuff is pretty dated.

Re: French new wave influence

I don't know anything about French New Wave cinema, never seen a French New Wave film in my life that I know of, so I can't say if I like it or not. But I think I posted about this after seeing Au Revoir l'été Hotori no sakuko (2013) which is/was supposedly inspired/referential by/of the French (maybe New Wave). That interests me, I think. The Asian version of French. There's a calm vibe to it, which is what I think I like more than 'high art' films, whatever they are. People don't move around much. I think Nobuhiro Suwa's films are in this category too. Quiet poignancy and heaviness of beauty. No food.

Come to think of it, I did see that one film with those guys in it.


"Yeah I say 'pretentious' with quotes, because it's only pretentious if it doesn't work for you. Lots of people think Wong Kar Wai is pretentious, but lots of us feel a lot of emotional punch from it."

I have a confession to make. I have a thing against using the term pretentious. I don't know, I think it's something like a pet peeve of mine. I'm not a fan of the word. Just because I don't like or understand a certain film like everyone else, I have to come calling it like its pretending to be something that it's not.

I have never ever liked a movie made by THE Wong Kar-wai. But it never crossed my mind that his movies are pretentious. For me it all boils down to preference and taste. Diversity of humans.

That's just me voicing out what I feel. Don't mind me. lol.

The Rhythm-

Re: Pretentious

I hear ya! I think I would I beg to differ with the esteemed plsletitrain on that one. I think there is a whole 'industry' of films let's call it arthouse that are made by academic directors, people who teach film in their national universities, professional critics, intellectuals and these films are intended for the film festival circuit. They are often made with public grant money. No one sees them except other critics and no one enjoys them, but that's not what they're going for. They're trying to be 'important' somehow. Talking about stuff outside the world of the film itself. I think I am getting into the weeds here, but there's definitely a such thing as a 'pretentious' film meaning it's trying for something and failing. Francis Ford Coppola said once (half joking, trying to be dramatic):

Nothing is so terrible as a pretentious movie. I mean a movie that aspires for something really terrific and doesnt pull it off is *beep* its scumand everyone will walk on it as such. And thats why poor filmmakers in a way thats their greatest horror is to be pretentious. So here you are on one hand thats trying to aspire to really do something, and on the other hand youre not allowed to be pretentious. And finally you say, *beep* it. I dont care if Im pretentious or not pretentious or if Ive done it or I havent done it.

Anyway, I didn't see Cafe Noir I think it was sitenoise's comment about the director being a critic and making a lot of references to other films that got me going in that direction.

Re: Pretentious

"..but there's definitely a such thing as a 'pretentious' film meaning it's trying for something and failing."

Sounds reasonable. I don't know, I think I just give it a negative connotation, like an insult to the filmmaker that's why I don't really like the term. I prefer calling it a bad movie rather than calling it pretentious. Your remark on something being pretentious as only "pretentious" if you don't like it is quite accurate.

The Rhythm-

Re: Pretentious

but there's definitely a such thing as a 'pretentious' film meaning it's trying for something and failing.

That would make Steven Chou's The Mermaid pretentious. Tried to be funny and wasn't.

But this thing of academics and intellectuals making movies, "Talking about stuff outside the world of the film" is interesting. I read the Wiki article on French New Wave filmmakers and that's what they were. A bunch of critics from a magazine. Seems like a European thing.

I can't think of any Japanese films that have come about this way. Not to say they don't have their share of pretentious films. Korea, of course, has Hong Sang-soo, maybe Kim Ki-duk. "No one sees them except other critics and no one enjoys them" loosely applies to them.

China has Hsiao-hsien Hou and Jia Zhang Ke, Bing Wang. Now we are just talking about films that don't follow mainstream dictates. We can't be against that, can we?

Maybe we can't define what pretentious is, but we know it when we see it, I imagine. Trying to be important is the key ingredient ripe for failure. For me it's just like anything else: comedy, romance, thriller, etc. You can do it well, or fail. Failing to do pretentious well might be the most nauseous of failures.

Contrary to our esteemed colleague's misreading of my post I don't think referencing other films is necessary or even desirable. That nameless boy who did Cafe Noir probably assembled it entirely with references to other films is so weird I think it's cool. It's also why I think he won't make another film. He's not a filmmaker. He's a critic with great taste in music and a good visual sense. He aimed for maximum pretentiousness and nailed it. Twelve year old girls who do nothing but quote Goethe: priceless.

Or you don't like it. Sticks and stones.

Re: Pretentious

Well it's a good discussion. I have always hated the way critics use the word "important" about art as much as our beloved plsletitrain hates to hear films called pretentious. It really sticks in my craw somehow, the idea that a work of art can be 'important' but not good.

I would agree, that generally there isn't much of that arthouse festival circuit stuff from Asia. There are just some dudes that specialize in that, and I think you named most of them. Although I have to say I think Koreeda is halfway in that pot. I'm definitely not against this stuff I think I like one film from each of those guys you named and love several. Maybe there were more coming out of Japan in the 80s? Asian filmmakers don't talk about politics and intellectual movements much. A lot of censorship and self-censorship. Jia Zhang Ke is arthouse, but more 'of the people' I feel

You're taking the mick with me a little on Stephen Chow but obviously he's shooting for low-brow, and like you said, pretentiousness is mostly about trying to be important, or I would offer, profound. Deep, maybe.

To plsletitrain's point. Sure, it's an insult to the director to say the work is pretentious. That's what Coppola was getting at. All directors are trying hard to reach people or be deep, or make something that is perceived as deep and when you fail, it's devastating for the Director, as much as it is contemptible in the eyes of the audience if the Director is at all aware of himself and how others see his work. Coppola was talking about Apocalypse Now, and he succeeded, through great effort and attention to that. But some people think A.N. sucks!

It certainly has a subjective component, because some arthouse resonates with some people and not with others. Right Now, Wrong Then, for example was definitely aiming high and dry, and nailed it for me. But I can see most people falling asleep. But I think there is really a species of film (some of the contemporary Greek arthouse I've seen) that doesn't give a damn about the audience, and really deserves contempt. If I ever see a 12 year old girl quoting the Sorrows of Young Werther at me, I'm going to give her the mother of all eye-rolls.

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Part 22 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers the not-so-good films released during 2002:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Inside Men (2015) (Korean Crime Drama) A former political henchman (Byung-hun Lee) seeks out revenge for being dropped by a ruthless politician. Meanwhile, a determined investigator tries to nail the politician himself and a shady newspaper editor manipulates matters behind the scenes. This has a complex story that shifts back and forth in time, with a lot of manuevering by a fairly large cast of characters, but the script is so cleanly written and presented that it is easy to follow after a brief period of adjustment by the viewer. Characters are properly developed, with decisions and motives fleshed out nicely. Conflicts are very engaging, despite the fact that most of the players are shady. This is one of those films that gets more gripping and intense as it moves along. It just gets better and better, with the entire final hour being flat-out awesome. The newspaper editor is a real snake, and I was rooting against him the whole time. Byung-hun Lee is entertaining, intimidating, and endearing all at the same time. Violence is limited, but look out for the memorable, violent fist fight. This is one of the best crime dramas of the past decade. The 3-hour extended cut was viewed, which is 50 minutes longer than the theatrical cut.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) (American Crime Comedy/Thriller) A murder mystery brings together a thief masquerading as an actor (Robert Downey Jr.), a private eye (Val Kilmer), and a struggling actress (Michelle Monaghan). This film has a number of surprisingly funny moments, many of which involve a healthy dose of black humor. All three leads are great and their chemistry is fantastic. Theres an infectious energy on display, and everyone clearly brought their A-game here. The murder mystery component is effective and interesting.

X-Men (2000) (American Action) (repeat viewing) Two mutants come to a private academy for their kind whose resident superhero team must oppose a terrorist organization with similar powers. This is a very solid introduction to these characters, as well as the overall theme of discrimination. Casting is spot-on for the most part, with the casting Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellan being particularly impressive. The character of Mystique is presented far better here than the more recent films. The action scenes are effective in their construction and intensity; and its always nice to see a superhero film that does not emphasize tedious, citywide destruction. Ive heard internet rumblings that this film doesnt hold up nowadays, but I totally disagree.

X-Men 2 (2003) (American Action) (repeat viewing) The X-Men band together to find a mutant assassin who has made an attempt on the President's life, while the Mutant Academy is attacked by military forces lead by William Stryker. Like its predecessor, the character interaction is very good here. This is true between the protagonists, who have great chemistry together, but its also true when the mutant antagonists show up. Some genuinely funny moments result from this. Mystique is still awesome (she even flips off Stryker at one point). There are a bunch of very cool scenes to enjoy as well. The opening White House assault by Nightcrawler is sweet, the prison escape is quite different, and the finale is satisfying (Wolverine has to fight another female badass). This is one of the best superhero movies of all time.


Three Extremes 2 (2002) (Korean/Thai/Chinese Horror Anthology) (repeat viewing) This is an anthology of short horror films from Korea, Thailand, and Hong Kong. The Korean film (Memories, directed by Ji-Woon Kim) is probably my favorite of the bunch, as it maintained a brisk, entertaining pace and contributed a dreamy storyline with some good scares. The scoring and sound design, in particular, are very impressive and unorthodox. The Thai film (The Wheel) was simply okay. Thats really the perfect description for this. Acting, direction, story are all okay. Scare tactics are a bit lame, but not too bad. I did find the ending to be a bit confusing. On the positive side, it does showcase the culture of rural Thailand, but other better Thai horror films do the same thing. The Hong Kong film (Going Home) has a nice storyline that is dramatically impactful. I especially enjoyed the ending. In terms of scare tactics, this does a good job of shifting between two different kinds of horror. In the end, this anthology is certainly recommendable.

The Witch (2015) (American/Canadian Horror/Drama) Set in the 17th century, a family of homesteaders on the edge of the New England wilderness face hardships while a witch lurks within the surrounding woodlands. Most of the characters are bland, simplistic, and boring to watch. Dialogue is monotone and sleep-inducing during the opening hour, then transitions to hysterical screaming and sobbing thereafter. Fortunately, the ways in which the witch interacts with the protagonists are interesting and creepy. Settings and sound design are very good. The ending is satisfying. Those positives outweigh the negatives.

Not Recommended

Deep Trap (2015) (Korean Thriller) A man and his wife go on a trip to a desolate island, and shack up with a grungy-looking, shady dude and his wife. Acting is pretty good, but this film is basic and dull. There is one fairly surprising scene near the mid-point, but then it regresses back to predictable stuff. There is a bit of disturbing violence, but nothing too graphic. I do not understand the character decision-making in this. First of all, who the hell would go to a place like this for a vacation? (And no, the explanation near the end still doesnt make sense.) Second, theres lots of dumb logic along the way, by both the protagonist and antagonist.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand (2006) (American Action) (repeat viewing) When a cure is found to treat mutations, lines are drawn amongst the X-Men and the Brotherhood, a band of powerful mutants organized under Xaviers former ally, Magneto. Awkward, rushed, fragmented pre- and post-credit sequences let you know exactly what youre in for an incompetent, poorly written superhero flick with lots of clunky storytelling and unearned drama. Scene transitions are choppy, new characters are introduced but not developed at all, and every death (or defeat) of a big name character results in an anticlimax with no build-up whatsoever. There are also some dumb mutant powers here too (a friggin porcupine, really?). Cyclops matures into a full fledged crybaby, but he thankfully gets limited screentime.

Zinnia Flower (2015) (Taiwanese Drama) On the same day, in the same accident, a man loses his pregnant wife and a woman loses her fiance in this very simplistic, boring film that attempts to deal with loss. This is artsy nothingness that has no interesting content whatsoever. People sit around . . . the end.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is hilarious and thickly woven. Loved it, more than once.

Re: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is hilarious and thickly woven. Loved it, more than once. - sitenoise

I agree. To all said.

each brain develops its own preferences

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Lots of family activities last week, as well as some computer problems. Will post a movie update next week.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Hello. I've been away from this board for a long time due to college these were the most revelant asian films I've seen lately from some of my favourite japanese directors:

These 2 films come from directors that never fail to disappoint me:

Chasuke's Journey (2015)- 7/10

The Boy and the Beast (2015)- 7/10

And from Sion Sono I watched :

Shinjuku Swan (2015)- 6/10

Shinjuku Swan was a bit underwhelming. I found it a bit generic, expected something more exciting coming from my favourite director. I still enjoyed a lot the scenes with Erika Sawajiri, who I fell in love with in a few j-dramas back in highschool. She's still cool, I wish she had more scenes in this film. I see that Sion Sono is making Shinjuku Swan 2, I wish he was filming something else but I hope it becomes better than the 1st film.

The Virgin Psychics (2015)- 7/10

As a fan of the tv show, Sion Sono delivered it again. Weird characters, a funny story and hot chicks everywhere. It was a bit overlong though.

Some american films that I recommend:

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

The Little Prince (2015)

All rated 7/10.

Top 50 Favourite films

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Welcome back Daniel. Had planned on watching Shinjuku Swan tonight. Hmmm

Loveholic (Chameul Soo Eoptneun) [2009] South Korea
Director: Chil-in Kwon
Not quite swapping partners, more musical chairs. A woman boinks her husband's colleague while her best friend boinks her husband. The script is smart, the acting good, some music is excellent (closing credits and love scenes). Chil-in Kwon has made four wonderful female oriented adult dramas with accomplished actors. Good for him. Good for me. Ja-Hyeon Chu owns this film. We often applaud an actor for becoming the character. Here, Chu makes the character become her. She's a monster. Soo Yeon Han is like some Korean actress Home Run: rail thin but athletic about it; dreamy, childlike eyes full of confidence; a smile that's naive, content, comfortable and beyond reproach. Her descent is sad because Kwon uses those qualities to make her character and then whacks her. Chil-in Kwon is an unsung hero of contemporary Korean cinema.

Working Girl (Weokinggul) [2014] South Korea
Director: Beom-sik Jeong
A man comes home to his wife waiting in a bubble bath. He slips and falls down, and then she does as well when she gets out to help him. The strap-on dildo she's wearing lands in his mouth. Three times! I don't usually go for "comedy" like that.
Fearless actresses and broad humor are spoiled a bit by weepy story moments. Clara Lee is some amazing super-robo-babe. Damn! I hope she has hair insurance. She seems so much larger than the film in terms of sophistication, brains, and life experience, and as such comes across even better as she participates in the shenanigans. Yeo-jeong Jo chugs through this thing like only a good Korean can: straight up and to the point. That's why it works.

You Call It Passion [2015] South Korea
Director: Gi-hoon Jeong
Bo-yeong Park has some charm but the "journalism hooaah" message falls flat, and the story that pushes it isn't interesting: Pop star pouts because of media scrutiny. The film feels like an assembled-by-committee project meant to hit all the right notes but misses most. Jung Jae-Young is kind of fun, even though he shouts most of his lines, but I can never forgive him for spoiling the otherwise wonderful Castaway on the Moon. Seong-woo Bae has been showing up in a lot of films lately. He's growing on me, like a Korean Jeremy Piven before Entourage happened.

A Man and A Woman (Namgwa Yeo) [2016] South Korea
Director: Yoon-ki Lee
I love Yoon-ki Lee but there is so much wrong with this flick it's unnerving. No chemistry between the leads, which is doubly damning when you consider they shouldn't be having an adulteress affair without chemistry when they both have young children with special needs. And you can't help feeling they are stupid when you watch how nonchalantly they carry on. The music is trite, canned crapola that literally wrecks the film while it tries to create drama. Terrible ending although Do-yeon Jeon cries well. Yoon-ki, Yoon-ki, Yoon-ki. You really let me down here.

Inside Men [2015] South Korea
Director: Min-ho Woo
Rich and powerful men gonna deal with rich and powerful man problems. Yawn. There's a scene near the beginning where a rich and powerful man demos his rich and powerfulness by flossing his teeth with his mouth wide open during a power lunch. Don't wanna mess with him! Who writes that kind of stuff? That this is the kind of thing most people consider the default in entertainment puzzles me. Who cares about people like that?


I'm sure I will come back to this as ebo and others have highly recommended it, but right now the genre seems tired. I know what this is and it's boring to me at the moment. I did like Byung-hun Lee's opening scene. A lot. Up until now he's been not much more than a haircut model, but there's finally some life experience growing amongst the growing lines in his face. Kudos, aging.

10 Cloverfield Lane [2016] USA

No comment.

\_-|/`— my opinions are incomplete. always wil

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

I really can't picture how you were able to arrive at a 6.87 rating there.

The Rhythm-

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Come on, clearly they felt it was not quite good enough for a 7, although much better than a 6.5 but not quite between at 6.75.. so they ultimately settled on 6.87 as being somewhere between a 6.75 and 7. Actually, really it should be a 6.875, although I guess sticking at 6.87 means it's not quite as good as a 6.88.

Last Film Seen;
Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016) 4/10

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Would it help if I told you in the next scene the guy, humiliated, is with his buddy at a pub. His buddy says "You look awful. Here, try some food", and puts a sausage in the guy's mouth.

Koreans, man. No, don't shoot.

BTW - the buddy is that Korean Jeremy Piven guy.

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

I checked on the synopsis and it didn't really get me so I think I'll give this one a pass. What I'm most curious at is how exactly, mathematically-wise did you arrive at a 6.87 rating? why not 6.9? or 6.71? Why is the number so random? Was markus' calculation correct or you just thought of a number at the top of your head?

The Rhythm-

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Markus nailed it. I wouldn't think you'd go for it, but I also wouldn't think I'd go for it. The thing about Korean "comedy", if you will, is they play it so earnestly straight it kills me. They seem to just believe in everything. Or something like that. I thought you were wondering how I could rate that kind of movie as high as 6.anything

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Yeah, I get what you mean about Korean comedy. Sometimes you don't have to look for the category "comedy" to classify their movie as a comedy. They pull it off cleanly, sometimes unintentional and subtle you just don't understand. Not the type of comedy like, (from Zootopia which I just recently watched) "What do you call a three-humped camel?" "Pregnant!" HAHAHAHAHA! Korean comedy is.. a big bald guy enters a room wearing a polka dot underwear. (That's funny right?) Yeah, just try to understand me. lol.

About the ratingI never knew rating films is this mathematical. That's why I asked how exactly you arrived at that very specific number. For me its either a 6 or a 7. No decimals, even more so up to the hundredths place.

The Rhythm-

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

We're watching all the same movies at the same time, straight from the same.. ahem.. source, so it kind of saps my motivation to write 'em up! Loveholic definitely worthy of my watchlist tho, cheers.

Re: Recently Seen, part 11 (March, 2016)

Aw, man. Share with us your reactions to the films you've been watching. I think you are supposed to, according to community guidelines, especially if you've seen a film someone else has. You do entertaining write-ups.

Chil-in Kwon gets no love. The only place Loveholic is gonna be available with English subs is on Amazon. I started to watch it there once before and the quality seemed awful so I thought I'd wait for a release. It ain't coming. So I went back and it seemed to right itself after 5 or 10 minutes. Or I just got used to it. It's not a well lit film in some places. I'm glad I watched it, tho. It's my kind of film even though the lead character eats and drinks a lot.