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

Re: A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (Japan, 2016)

I was all going to watch this last night but the subs didn't sync properly. I had to take it back. It was kind of cool the way the subs drifted around, like someone was loosely summarizing the scenes rather than a translation. But I decided I wanted a proper watch so I have to wait for a new one to arrive.

I'll throw this out there again about Cocco in case you missed it. I've been listening to her music for years. It's okay. She's a fascinating character with intense passions and personal issues. Both Koreeda (Cocco's Endless Journey)and Shin'ya Tsukamoto (Kotoko)have made movies about her. That's some pretty big love!

I can't wait to see this ( ͡° ͡°)

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

I had family visit last week for vacation, so no update until next Sunday.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Re: A Bride for Rip Van Winkle

The first scene brought rain to the edges of my eyes. I'm a sucker for these depictions of Zenly enduring, kind and capable, ultra-feminine baby-talking pillars of strength Japanese women. Haru Kuroki nails it immediately and I know what I'm in for: This Charming Girl level character painting, only Japanese, which is better. Kuroki is humiliated from several angles and perseveres. Her world falls apart big and fast, culminating in a slow motion walk along the river pushing two suitcases accompanied by major melodramatic music to end the first act, at about the one hour mark. I hadn't noticed the soundtrack up to this point (which is a good thing, I think), but this scene is gigantic. It blew me away in its stylish gutsiness, I had to pause the film and catch my breath. I was fist pumping the air at how good this was going, already looking to place the film in the pantheon of great Japanese cinema.

In retrospect, the film should have ended right there, crescendo'd to the heavens, leaving me frustrated in love, begging for more. My two highest rated Iwai films are Undo and April Story, at 47 and 67 minutes respectively. Just sayin'.

So I come back to the flick and Kuroki's on a phone call, and then starts walking again to big music. This time it feels obnoxious, Kurosawa-esque, and the film starts falling apart quickly.

Bottom line: you know an actor is in trouble when he brings gimmick to every scene. Big complicated shoes, eating-acting, fashion mistakes above his pay grade, chewing gum. Gô Ayano is terrible here, looking for accents or spices to give his character some flavor, and becomes a constant distraction for the rest of the film.

Cocco isn't an actress. She a majorly intense personality. A couple directors highlighted her strengths in films about her. Iwai calls upon her to act, and drives the film off into the weeds making Acts II and III about her. She's Rip Van Winkle, btw.

In Acts II and III, the slumber party style scenes go on way too long. The music is ridiculous in trying to add some whoopy-whoopy to nothingness. Go-go Man irritates in his attempt to be someone cool like Brad Pitt.

Iwai does Iwai very well. He has a mature mark, but doesn't unpack his stories well. I don't even know what I'm watching any more. Too many people giving too many long winded speeches, trying to find a poignancy even if it's not going to be quiet. All things lead to an embarrassing scene with Cocco's mother, after a confusingly scripted denouement (what did she know and when did she know it) spoils any chance of redemption. Quiet poignancy made a few appearances but never took over.

Haru Kuroki is beyond fabulous from beginning to end. Iwai should have found a couple actors to support her.

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

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

Nice review of A Bride for Rip Van Winkle. I hope to watch it soon.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

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

Well said. I agree mostly with your take. Certainly a great woman getting crushed story. Oddly enough, it's a lot like the recent Chinese movie Left Ear which I also enjoyed. A lot. [But no plagiarism here; what's her name is a major Chinese novelist and Iwai wrote this himself.] Girl goes through a lot and learns from her free-spirited friend who suffers even more.

I would agree that it wandered off in the second half, but I wasn't bothered by that. I stuck right with it. You're right, Cocco is not an actress. She's more of an Andy Warhol groupie, who gets put in films. The less I knew about her, the more I liked her. I don't want to know about the actors I'm watching. She probably gets a pass because her personality is so um man-friendly.

But there was this scene in the movie where a group of them were actors playing normal people, taking a stab at being actors, playing normal people. Arguably, they are normal people underneath the actors in reality. How's that for levels! I think I saw Cocco in that way, and I thought she was fabulous in the role all the way through. Maybe she's really an indie singer/groupie scenester chick getting written into somebody's fantasy, but I was just watching her surface level.

Gô Ayano was great though. But then, I don't dislike Asian TV dramas (just sayin'). The Brad Pitt comparison is very apt, that's exactly who I thought of when I was watching. I recently re-watched Fight Club and there is the same obtuse costumes, haircuts, the gum-chewing, etc. I am very much loathe to admit that Brad Pitt is a pretty good actor, but he is. Gô Ayano brings a similar yin energy to the pretty-boy thing.

I didn't feel as let down by some of the raggedy writing in the second half, but then although I was looking forward to this, I didn't have high expectations. I thought it was engrossing and cool. It's a little bit more broad than most Japanese cinema, but I consider Iwai one of the rare Japanese 'internationalists' that I can actually get into. Most j-directors get sucked into horror, porn, frigid intellectualization or some superficial thing that drags the film away from genuine feels. This was my kind of ticket to Tokyo.

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

What I think might be happening One of the reasons Hollywood flicks are hard to watch is that I know a little bit about the culture and the performers, so I can spot acting a mile away. Part of my joy with Asian cinema is that I don't know much about it, (so foreign we don't know how dumb it is, as you've said in the past), but now after a decade or more of watching it maybe I've become sensitive to the acting-ness. That's my real objection to Rip. (I also thought the bonding bits, and a few of the speeches should have been shorter, and the music cues, good lord but I could have survived it overall). I'm down with Iwai for the most part.

Brad Pitt is a excellent actor. He could have done those eating-acting bits that made GoGo boy look gross, and he could have worn the costumes. He has, in fact, as you point out. Gogo and Cocco just looked amateurish to me. Like when Cooco and Nanami were in bed and Cocco kept picking at her face and hair. Ew! The face holding worked, but the nervous picking, Ew!

Gogo and Cocco should visit Michael Caine for some tips. lol

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

I've recently seen:


I've always been a fan of Koreeda, my first film being Nobody Knows, of which I liked very much. Since then iv'e been blown away by his work, and the way he works with children is very impressive. Airdoll although a great film, featuring one of South Korea's well known actressess, just doesnt come anywhere near the films made either side. Maybe its the fact its surreal, airdolls dont actually become human, whereas his other films have that realism that is so evident, apart from Afterlife which is a much older film.

But Airdoll is by no means a bad film, in fact its very good. It has Koreeda's trademark humor, light hearted touches, and a musical score that works so well. It has so many good points, but I had no real connection to the film and when people talk about Koreeda, Airdoll is never mentioned. So maybe i'm not the only one who has struggled to love it.



Chihwaseon (Drunk on Women and Poetry) is by Im Kwon-Taek one of Korea's best known directors. Oddly enough the film has three titles. In the UK its Chihwaseon and in brackets (Drunk on Women and Poetry) and for the USA its Painted Fire. The film is based on the life of Jang Seung-up who was a painter, 1843-1897. He is played by Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) who gives a great performance and fully puts himself into tyhe life of Jang Seung-up.

The film is very beautifully filmed, and captures the era very well. However within 45 mins I fell asleep. Next night I carried on where I left off and fell asleep again. I tried it one more time and gave up. Never finished watching the film. It just didnt work for me, felt as if the same scene played over and over again, painting, painting and more painting. Got drunk, more painting, painting and painting. I do like paintings, and I love the style of the artwork, bought something similar while in Korea, hanging up in the dinning room, but I would rather watch paint dry. Put it on Ebay, somebody might buy it, either that or a carboot sale.


Spider Forest

This is a re-watch

When I first watched Spider Forest it was very hard to understand what the hell was going on. Kang-min a TV producer is sent to investigate an incident at a rural forest where a murder had prevously happened. However the film takes a very mysterious turn, and questions what is real and what is not. A fantastic film, even though its hard to understand, the sheer style, set design and story sucks you in and keeps you engaged and makes up for the confusing plot. The way to understand the film is to think about it and to piece pieces together. For more information and other conversations about this film check out the link here

Children is a 2011 Korean film based on a true story called the "disappearance of the frog children." On March 26, 1991, five boys went to Mount Waryong to catch frogs but never returned. Eleven years later, police discover the bodies of the five children, and television producer Kang Ji-seung tries to solve the mystery. This film was just breathtaking. Its such a sad story, and elements of Memomries of Murder can be seen, as that was a true story aswell. The police in both films prove to be hopeless in the search, and the blame in Children layed with the parents.

The film mostly focuses on the search in and around Mt Waryong, and when the search proves to be hopeless the finger of blame is pointed at one of the families of one of the missing boys. Their house is pulled apart concrete floors are ripped up which makes the viewer question the motives the police have and their poor reasons. The 2nd half of the film takes place 11 years later when the bodies are found. As of 2016 the case is still unsolved and the murderer is still at large.


Castaway on The Moon

This is a re-watch.

This film is just so much fun. Jung Jae-young plays Kim Seong-geun who decides to end his life, in deep debt by jumping off a bridge over the Han River in Seoul. He washes up on a deserted island which he soons finds out that is slap bang in the middle of the river. As he survived he ends up living on the island, growing his own food, finding his own entertainment and being naked. Unknown to him a isolated woman in a tower block connects to the outside world with a telescope. I just love this film. Its well made, really funny and has some moments where empathy sets in and you get connected to the characters. I really do suggest this film, its very original and towards the end you might even shed a tear.


White God

This is a 2014 Hungarian film about Lili a 13 yr old girl who has a dog called Hagen. Due to law people with mixed breed dogs have to pay a hefty fine. Lili staying with her estranged father is asked to get rid of the dog as he wont pay the fine. Hagen gets abandoned on the side of the road and is then picked up by ruthless thugs who train Hagen to be brutal and dangerous ultimatly to be used as a fighting dog for gambling. Lili tries her best to find her beloved Hagen and fails, meanwhile all the dogs rounded up by the new law, including Hagen who escapes his bad owner, escape the dog pound and hold an uprising, killing the bad people they came across. Lili then tracks down the ring leader in the uprising, Hagen, to put a stop to all the mayhem and carnage.

Although strange at first, its a very good film. Honestly it is brutal, seeing the thug inject drugs into Hagen and making him bear his teeth is painful to watch and very sad. But the film has its good sides, the dogs bounding together as one and and Lily scouting the streets searching. This film does have to be watched, its very unsual, won plenty of awards and nothing else quite like it. The stars of the film though arenot the humans but the dogs. All credit goes to them and I think you would be very impressed.


My foreign film list

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

Got to love Castaway. We've discussed it many times and most of us (cough cough) agree it's a masterpiece and sort of the quintessential Korean film fan's Korean film. I've watched it several times and it doesn't get old.

With all the chatter about Air Doll, I'm tempted to re-watch it. I enjoyed it unequivocally, and I think you are right it's the "realism" is exactly the Koreeda hallmark that is missing from this bright, shiny, very modern-video looking one. It's Koreeda's own fault that this one is shrugged off, because we're comparing it to his other work. If it was his only movie people would be like "this guy is very promising!"

One I can't watch it White God. I spent time in Budapest, and when I was living there, everyone had enormous dogs (as a way of showing off new-wealth) and the volume of dog crap on the streets was a serious issue. The very idea of watching dogs and Budapest is giving me brutal flashbacks.

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

Part 36 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers more films released during 2006:

Part 37 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers more films released during 2006:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Nightmare Detective (2006) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) Shinya Tsukamoto directs this creative horror flick. A detective (Hitomi) requests the help of a dream traveler (Ryuhei Matsuda) to stop a madman (Tsukamoto) who kills his victims in their dreams. The demonic manifestation of the madman in the dream sequences is awesome, as only glimpses of him are shown to great effect. The storyline is very engaging and interesting. This is slightly more conventional fare from Tsukamoto, but things do get weirder as the film progresses. It is very stylishly shot, which may be a surprise to those who have only seen Tsukamotos very early works (like Tetsuo or Hiruko the Goblin). On the other hand, if you are familiar with his films at the turn of the century like Gemini, A Snake of June, or Vital this will not be a surprise because those movies are gorgeous. Tsukamoto has a real knack for capturing urban locations, and that is showcased in Nightmare Detective. Its hard to describe exactly why, but I really like the framing of camera shots, the lighting, and the locations in this movie. Cool stuff.

Back To School (1986) (American Comedy) (repeat viewing) To help his discouraged son get through college, a funloving and obnoxious rich businessman (Rodney Dangerfield) decides to enter the school as a student himself. Rodney is at the top of his game, shooting out one-liners and zingers like a machine gun, yet landing on many of them! The humor is at times more nuanced and thoughtful than youd expect (e.g., the Kurt Vonnegut moment). This is one of the most quotable films in motion picture history. Lots of laugh-out-loud moments to enjoy, including a completely ridiculous high dive stunt near the end. Burt Young and Robert Downey Jr. have funny supporting roles. As an added bonus, the theme song is great and severely under-appreciated.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) (American Comedy) (repeat viewing) Eccentric candy man Willy Wonka ignites a worldwide frenzy when he announces that golden tickets hidden inside five of his delicious candy bars will admit their lucky holders into his top-secret confectionary. The opening 40 or so minutes do a very good job of setting things up. I especially liked how it built up the legendary status of Wonka without showing him (at times in very funny ways). On the negative side, the protagonists poor life is about as blunt and melodramatic as it gets; it should have been toned down. Once we get to the chocolate factory, things move at a fast pace and this movie distinguishes itself with its creativity. There really is no other film quite like this, which is on big reason to see it. Another big reason is Gene Wilder, who totally owns the role of Willy Wonka and gives an outstanding performance. A few very nice songs in this too.

The Boy and the Beast (2015) (Japanese Anime Drama/Action) A lonely boy stumbles into the world of beasts and strikes up a friendship with an equally lonely bakemono. The animation is of a great quality and looks fantastic. There is a lot of good drama and interaction between the two lead characters, but the final half hour is what makes this movie special because it is completely unexpected but also flows logically from events that came before it. This finishes strong.

Unholy Women (2006) (Japanese Horror Anthology) (repeat viewing) This is an anthology of 3 short horror films (approximately 35 minutes each). In Rattle Rattle, a girl is transported to an alternate dimension and chased by a psychotic, wraith-like wench. The lead actress is fun to watch and with a non-stop tempo this is very lean and satisfying. Hagane (aka Steel) is a fantastic romantic comedy horror about a guy who goes on a blind date with a woman who (for some unknown reason) covers the upper half of her body with a potato sack. This mind-numbingly weird entry is a resounding success in terms of originality, humor, and frightfulness. Inheritance is a well-made, deliberately-paced possession film that focuses on child abuse and finishes strong with a good ending. Overall, this anthology is high on creativity.

13: Game of Death (2006) (Thai Thriller) (repeat viewing) A down-and-out businessman with huge debts gets a mysterious phone call to play a game for a huge sum of money. This premise has been done before, but in this case the challenges are numerous and diverse. There is a constant aura of black humor throughout, at times caused by the simplicity of a particular challenge; in other cases the viewer will cringe at a disgusting or macabre scenario. There are some laugh-out-loud moments early on, but the level of seriousness (and violence) does pick up as the film progresses. The clothesline scene during the latter half is excellent; that sequence alone is worth the price of admission. This does get unrealistic and contrived at times, but with non-stop pacing, this is one to watch. The supporting actress is a cutie too.


Twilight Phantom (aka Ako-kuro) (2007) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) Set in Okinawa, this film touches upon the Kijimuna creature legend small wood spirits that become violent when betrayed by humans. This feels a bit different from the typical supernatural horror film, due mostly to its location and local folklore. The legend is detailed early on, but is infused within a subsequent, seemingly unrelated human conflict and it is interesting to spot the references to the Kijimuna throughout. This film nicely avoids jump scares in favor of moody chills and a few fairly intense acts of violence. Scoring and sound design are creepy.

Dorm (2006) (Thai Horror/Drama) (repeat viewing) When 12-year-old boy transfers to an all-boys boarding school, hes haunted by his peers and terrified by their tales about the ghosts that inhabit the school. The scares are a mix of formulaic and unorthodox moments, with a few of the more creative scenes involving an empty swimming pool. But the atmosphere is consistently good from start to finish. The character and relationship development (as well as the storyline) are stong, especially between the two teenage boys. There are some fun moments here, like when the kids sit down and watch a Hong Kong hopping vampire movie. Pacing is slow and the runtime a bit on the long side, but this movie has heart to it. A good quality film for sure. I think that a good chunk of the entertaining horror films from Thailand could be considered popcorn movies that are entertaining regardless of flaws, but there are also some Thai horror films that have good solid overall quality, and I think Dorm qualifies to be placed in that category.

Guillotine Island (1977) (Japanese Mystery Drama) Set in 1946, a scruffy detective investigates a series of murders on a small Japanese island near Hiroshima. Basically, a wealthy head-of-household dies and multiple murders take place to get rid of the immediate heirs. The 141-minute runtime is a bit long, but this is well made with good acting and direction.

Not Recommended

The Devils Ballad (1977) (Japanese Mystery Drama) A somewhat peculiar private detective visits a remote town and meets up with a policeman because several young girls in an isolated village are killed successively. This movie is way too dry for its own good, with tons and tons of exposition dumping by characters who sit around in rooms, talking about other characters that get little to no screentime or that weve never even met. Consequently, the repetitive interior settings are boring as hell to look at. A few brief bits of humor dont work either. There are 30 seconds of interesting corpse shots, but the 143-minute runtime is tough to sit thru.

Topo Gigio and the Missile War (1967) (Japanese/Italian Puppetry Comedy/Drama) The puppet mouse Topo Gigio (who is apparently popular in Italy) stumbles upon spies, a possible missile war, a bank robbery, and other events. There are some live action human characters in this, but it focuses primarily on the puppetry which is good, but it has the convenience of displaying the puppet against a pitch black background for the entire runtime. In fact, the entire film has no background at all, which creates very repetitive visuals that consist of a small area that has the same lighting scheme almost every single time. Also, every shot is an extreme close-up, which gets tired very quickly. The character of Topo himself is shallow and somewhat annoying, which hurts the humor overall. Theres a 20 minute segment where this mouse talks to a balloon, and its a complete waste of time. This 90+ minute movie runs completely out of gas by the 30-minute mark.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

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

Love & Peace (Japan, 2016)
Plsletitrain with her obsession with turtles really liked this, so I gave it a shot. I'm not as bothered by "bad acting" as sitenoise is, so I wasn't put off by all the pulling faces in the first half hour or so. It gets past that. I did find the theme song and the cutesy-voiced puppets pretty annoying, but there was sort of a Tim Burton edge to this maybe because of the very Hollywood music cues, but I kept thinking I was in Beetlejuice for a minute there. Overall I found it pretty enjoyable and heartwarming, though I wouldn't say it was emotionally strong. Didn't change my opinion of Sion Sono. The guy makes a lot of mediocre movies, and one great one.

About the Pink Sky (Japan, 2011)
I came at this one skeptically, because senor sitenoise raves about it, and our taste in films overlaps like a busy intersection in Calcutta. But this was an absolutely fantastic, marvelous film. Maybe the best portrayal of teenagers ever, full stop. It's sort of the Catcher in the Rye of this generation, and Asia.

I simply can't believe how underrated this movie is with a 6.6 on imdb and some tepid reviews out there. This movie literally did not launch the career of Director Keiichi Kobayashi, and I can't quite figure out why. The real, cynical answer is probably that most people are not smart enough to get how wonderful this movie is.

Just yesterday I was watching this terrific interview with Akira Kurosawa;

in which he's prompted to give advice to young filmmakers. He says, well it's expensive to make a movie these days (20 years ago) so if you want to make a movie, what you should do is write. And he's so right. He goes on to talk about the importance of really putting the shoulder to the wheel writing.

Well here we are: with almost no money, this dude wrote About the Pink Sky, and the writing is just awesome. All the quirks and cleverness of teenage in-joke banter, and it's not trying too hard, too-clever-by-half kind of writing. It's just sincere and great. I think that when you have good writing, it's easy for actors to act well. And when you have good writing and acting, it's easy to direct well: you just point the camera at it and no one cares about the directing.

As far as directing, this film is no less than the holy grail of "indy" filmmaking. So many people want to make "indy" films and want to like "indy" films, because it's somehow cooler than liking mainstream stuff. But 99% of them are bad. They are just the films that were not good enough to get bought by big studios. Here's one example to doing it right (and notice it starts and centers on a great script). The black and white look didn't excite me when I saw the trailer, but it's a clever way to make a very cheap, single handheld camera film with very few cuts look intentionally artsy.

The budget was purported to be about a half million dollars and I honestly don't even know where he spent it. Maybe on the two actresses that were established TV actors. And a couple grand to put a very nice anamorphic lens on that dslr. Other than that, it's a dude with a camcorder. There's like 10 people in the credits, and three of them are Keiichi Kobayashi.

I could go on and on about this film, and the wonderful acting from lead Ai Ikeda, who has had only a very modest TV career out of this, but was just as cute as a button and 1000% real 15 years old when it was shot. Everyone who likes anything good has to see this film. It was one of the few that slam-dunks itself straight into a 9.2 in my book on the first viewing.

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

skeptically, because senor sitenoise raves about it

I wish you'd rephrase that. lol
I haven't raved about it too much AFAIK. This is all I've written:

Fabulous. This is the kind of indie gem from Japan I long for. It's just high school girls being high school girls, with a decent little plot about what happens when one of the girls finds a wallet with a bunch of money in it and her friend discovers that the owner of the wallet is 'hot'. Dialog is sharp and the film doesn't go where you expect.
except for maybe an occasional high five to someone else mentioning it.

I did just procure his follow up, Bon to Lin chan (2014). I must have thought Pink Sky was a one hit wonder, because I was not on the lookout for it. Might have even missed it completely if ebo hadn't recently seduced me with his recently seen blurb (in which he didn't mention the director).

And but btw, I think we have identical taste in films. I can tolerate some fake violence more than you, and you forgive more dumb than I do, but give us a good script, sound design and photography (the infrastructure), and we're on the rode to agreement.

About Pink Sky / Bon to Lin / Your Name

Yeah I just looked for Bon to Lin on the interwebs after watching ATPS. Have you seen it yet? Any good? I figured it looked like a watered-down more of the same, but that's probably good enough for me.

Speaking of charming Japanese teenagers, it looks like half of Japan just discovered Shinkai.
Been looking forward to this one too. It's turning out to be a much better year for films than 2015, when we voted Love Forecast the best Korean movie of the year.

I think we have identical taste in films. I can tolerate some fake violence more than you, and you forgive more dumb than I do, but give us a good script, sound design and photography (the infrastructure), and we're on the rode to agreement.

Maybe so. I'm actually excited about the originality of the approach to sound design from the young whippersnappers in asia. I think we agree on all the really good films, and each have certain genre stinkers that we like for our personal reasons.

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

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997)

This is the final film that concludes Evangelion and tells the end of the story from a different angle, mixing many psychological themes along with parts from the original series, offering a different perspective and sheds a different light on the original events.

I'm not a huge fan of the original series. Didn't like it that much when I first watched it many years ago, but it improved a lot in my second viewing a year ago. I just prefer to watch this psychological material in film, while I look for more light stuff in my tv shows (especially because I watch most of my anime on the go).

That said, I had much more fun watching this film than I did with the tv show. I had a blast, this film is simply stunning. It gives us a very strong message on our identity and our connection as human beings. The animation is wonderful and the action sequences are awesome to watch. I put this film next to Akira and Ghost in the Shell (Miyazaki is still the next level, at least for me). The ending left me so amazed.

Overall it's a much better ending to the series than the original final episodes. I'm very pumped now to watch the films which are alternate versions to the tv show and which I think I'll enjoy a lot more. With a better knowledge on the Evangelion's universe and more attachment to its characters, my experience on this film might improve even a bit more.


Stranger Things - Season 1

it was great. Loved the 80s atmosphere and it looked really good, except for some of the cgi, it almost looked like a film. it has that goonies adventure vibe and it feels mysterious like super 8. the characters were all nice. also a few references to 80s films like the evil dead and jaws and tracks from new order and joy division added to the atmosphere. it's a highly entertaining show, watched half of it in a day.


Six Feet Under - Completed

Wow, what an amazing and meaningful tv show. It's so well written and the characters have so much dept they made this show so entertaining. I dont think that it ever dragged. I had this show on hold since I've finished season 3. It's not that i think it was bad, but it felt claustrophobic. Seasons 1 and 2 are lots of fun, but i also felt in love with the more serious tone of the later seasons.

I know im late to the party, but yeah, that ending was beautiful. It captured the message and essence of the show in a brilliant way. It was heartbreaking and honestly it had a deep impact on me.

I've seen very few american tv shows, but im really glad i watched this one because it's my favourite now.


The Neon Demon (2016)

Absolutely gorgeous and mesmerizing horror fairy tale. One of the best of the year. Gonna be addicted for a soundtrack by Cliff Martinez for a while again.


A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016)


The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)


Flu (2013)


Ghostbusters (2016)

Way too silly. the leading actresses were so unfunny especially the black one. terrible cameo by Bill Murray. I'm not that much attached to the original films, otherwise I would have avoided this (like I did with the oldboy remake). i still found it a bit more entertaining than tarzan and independence day.


Escape from Alcatraz (1979)


The Legend of Tarzan (2016)


Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)


Red Cliff (2008)


Ringu 0 (2000)


Kwaidan (1964)


Captain America: Civil War (2016)


Species (1995)


Wheels on Meals (1984)


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)


A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Pretty fun. It has that Hausu vibe.


X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Not bad just more of the same. And too long. The two original films are my favourites, I haven't care much about the series since those.


Hail, Caesar! (2016)

so unfunny.. couldn't finish it.


Once a Thief (1991)


Seven Swords (2005)


Bullet in the Head (1990)


Ring (1999)


A Better Tomorrow II (1987)


Top 50 Favourite films:

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

Part 38 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers my favorite films released during 2006:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Train To Busan (2016) (Korean Horror) While a zombie-virus breaks out in South Korea, a group of passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan. Not to be pedantic or anything, but it is difficult to tell if this is a zombie movie or an infected movie. Regardless of classification, its friggin awesome. One reason for this is the fantastic pacing. The filmmakers do a great job of constructing many suspenseful and creative scenarios involving fast-moving zombies that feel grounded, realistic, and deadly while at the same time providing just enough down time for the viewer to catch their breath. The scriptwriting is efficient, clean, simple, and mostly avoids dumb character decision-making and contrivances. A few scenes do take place off the train, but the vast majority of the film is on the train itself. Acting is great across the board, and that includes the extras who played zombies because they contort their bodies in all kinds of freaky ways. Make-up effects are also top notch.

When I Turned Nine (2004) (Korean Drama) (repeat viewing) When you fall in love with all of the main characters within the first ten minutes of the film, you can be certain that youre in for something really special. Basically, this is a movie about a grammar school kid and his friends. The interactions between these 9-year-olds is fantastic. The dialogue is very intelligent and conflicts are littered all over the place power struggles for classroom influence, romantic developments, crimes of passion, etc so every minute of running time has something worth remembering. Theres a perfect blend of drama and humor, but the real strength is the acting. Its no understatement to say that this film boasts one of the best sets of acting performances by a group of youngsters Ive ever seen.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) (American Thriller) After being knocked out in an auto accident, a young woman awakens in a cellar with a stranger (John Goodman), who tells her that he's saved her from a chemical attack that has devastated the outside world. Unsure what to believe, she decides that she must escape. Within the first 10 minutes, you get a heavy dose of a hot, sweaty Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a small tank top it was then that I knew this movie would be good. This is a small film, and thats a good thing. It basically takes place in one location, focusing a lot on establishing tension between the characters. It also creates paranoia because the viewer is not sure if there is really a big problem outside of the cellar or not. Performances are solid. This is very good.


The Wicked (2014) (Korean Horror/Thriller) A young woman is the new hire at a company, so her boss and co-workers make things difficult for her. What they dont know is that shes a psycho. The interesting aspect of this movie is that it reveals the unstable mentality of this girl immediately to the viewer. Another interesting aspect is how a rivalry develops between her and her boss, two characters who are not particularly likeable. Joo-hee Park carried the film and is very good in this because she has a quiet menace and occasionally employs a slightly sadistic smirk. One scene near the end is legitimately disturbing and uncomfortable. On the negative side, there is a dull patch during the middle section, where a basic investigation develops.

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016) (Japanese Drama) The protagonist is an apathetic part-time junior high school teacher whose only solace comes from connecting with others on a social network service. She quickly meets a man and rushes into marriage, but decides to hire people as fake relatives to attend her wedding so that she looks respectable next to her fiances larger family. Soon after, she discovers infidelity, which prompts one of the fake relatives into action. This is an interesting film by Shunji Iwai that develops naturally onto different paths. Performances are very good, as is the direction. The main character is a very soft spoken person who is lacking in independence and is heavily reliant upon others, which contributes some intriguing interaction despite the fact that she is gullible and easy to take advantage of. The first half is better paced than the second half, which does meander quite a bit. The 179 minute version was viewed.

Underworld Awakening (2012) (American Action/Horror) When human forces discover the existence of the vampire and lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrior Selene leads the battle against humankind. The opening half hour moves quickly, but feels very rushed. All of a sudden, human beings are wiping out these clans and basically accomplish their task within about 5 minutes of runtime, leaving only a minority of these things alive. Then, our protagonist is frozen for 12 years and when she awakes, there are a bunch of vampires and lycans running around underground again, meaning that the opening half hour is utterly pointless. In any case, its fun watching these vampires murder humans and werewolves, and thats basically the reason to see this despite the story being the weakest out of any entry in this franchise so far.

Not Recommended

Judgment (2012) (Japanese Horror/Thriller) An ex-boxer awakes in an unfamiliar room, chained from escape. And hes not alone. His training partner and his long time rival are both mysteriously held captive as well. A womans voice then emanates from the speakers, demanding that he kill one or the other to proceed with this game of death that has only just begun. This is a worn out premise at this point, and this film brings nothing new or interesting to the table. Oh wait, the dude uses a bazooka to kill people, but it causes no damage to the surrounding area at all (is this the weakest bazooka in motion picture history?). Theres also lots of badly written exposition between the characters. Filmed entirely in one room, and the character interaction is painfully repetitive, shallow, and dull. Half the film is the dude standing around with a bazooka on his shoulder. The main character is given very little development, but all of the supporting characters are given no development whatsoever, so there are no stakes at play here at all. In fact, new characters just fall from the ceiling as the film progresses, out of thin air!

Three (2016) (Chinese Thriller) After being shot in the head, a thug claims human rights to refuse surgery (to remove the bullet inside his head) in order to bide time for his underlings to rescue him. There are contrivances everywhere, which makes this movie feel totally fake and artificial. Consequently, there is zero tension established. Also, the bad guy gets shot point blank in the head, yet he shows practically no discomfort whatsoever throughout the entire film and every line of dialogue from him is some kind of painfully lame Im an evil mastermind comment. None of the characters have any depth whatsoever, and their interaction is stiff. Most of the cops are so utterly incompetent that one wonders if they are mentally handicapped. The finale is marred by some of the most stupifyingly cartoonish and unconvincing slow motion youll ever see (what is this zero gravity nonsense?), and that is only exacerbated by the atrocious music. Overall, this movie is extremely cheesy and badly made. This is Johnnie To at his absolute worst.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Kobayashi and friends

M (Korea, 2007)

This is really cinema. At first blush it looks a lot like Wong Kar Wai, including the first person voiceover narration. Visually it's like nothing else. It's old-fashioned visual effects on film, which is refreshing in the days of CGI. This is literally smoke and mirrors, which is very, very cool, because it looks way more real than any cgi. Lush, rich, analog celluloid. It's another take on representing dreamspace visually, and it does a wonderful job of tearing the edges off reality just like a dream does. The weakness of this film is the lead actor, what's his name. He's no Tony Leung. Not strong enough to carry the film, and I blame the director. At the 30 minute mark, my girl Kong Hyo-jin walks on the screen and takes over all interest. The director was really a fool for not making her the center and lead actor, considering he was able to get her. Unfortunately, because there's not much of a story here, I lost inerest at the 2/3 mark and I still haven't finished it. 7.4/10

I Love That Crazy Little Thing (China, 2016)

More censor-friendly nonsense from the PRC. Yes, plsletitrain, I watched it because it has a silly name. This one was pretty fun, although it literally didn't know whether it was a slow-motion wind in your hair on the beach in Hawaii romance or a head getting repeatedly stuck in the elevator door comedy. You gotta be a little more subtle in your mixture of rom & com, China. The plot was completely discombobulated and whenever it seemed to run out of steam it would just change scenes from Shanghai to the Gobi desert to Oahu. Like somebody just tossed a hand grenade in the genre-closet. Just a total kitchen-sink effort on the part of newbie Chinese moviemakers. The very meta-joke opening was pretty funny, and all the other filmmaking in-jokes, from filmmakers who weren't old enough to tie their shoes when Titanic came out. 7.1/10

Mountain Cry (China, 2016)

Zhang Yimou light. I should just leave it at that. Someone online gushed "finally! A good film from the mainland!" and I took the bait, but they were wrong. Pure television, like everything out of China. 6.6/10

Bon Lin (Japan, 2014)

I swear to God, I have a new favorite director here, which is exciting. I just love this guy. Once again, this guy wrote and made this film with just a sound guy, a makeup girl and wardrobe girl, and maybe one or two bros helping produce. That's it. I am astounded by what this guy can do by himself and it really hammers home the point about the importance of brilliant, witty writing.

The subject of the film is weird, icky Japanese subcultural fetishes that I don't want to know about, but there is a ton of interest here even if you don't (want to) know anything about mangas etc. I'm still trying to figure out what he does with his "budget" money, and I think he just pays his actors to rehearse full time for three months, which is kind of like the Cohen brothers.

Considering you're watching this with subtitles, it almost pushes you to the limit of how much reading a person can do and still call it a movie. But every bit of the dialog is crackling and clever as hell. A lot of fun. I literally can't think of anything in the world better than putting hilarious witty banter into the mouths of teenage Japanese girls. Keiichi Kobayahi, my hat's off to you. 8.8/10

Re: Kobayashi and friends

I had M on my to watchlist because its sitenoise's most watched film but seeing that Wong-Kar Wai vibes on your review, and "not much story here" line. Uh-oh. I'm not positive about this.


Re: Kobayashi and friends

You'd love it!

Re: Kobayashi and friends

Can't make of that grinning face sitenoise if its a sarcastic, evil, or a real grin.

Oh yeah, I think I remember (typing this without cheating) the synopsis included someone with amnesia, right??? Maybe I'd love it after all. Although zelena's "there's no story here" line still resounds in my mind.


Re: Kobayashi and friends

The new IMDb emos are hard. I think it's all three.
The guy in M may or may not be having trouble conjuring what may or may not be his past, but it's not an amnesia story. It's an old story of an artist, a writer, in search of his muse. But don't watch it for the story. If the audio/video marriage doesn't interest you, or the theatrical acting, the story won't save it.

Re: Kobayashi and friends

I don't know. You like Lav Diaz and those are not exactly Disney movies, so I won't presume to guess whether you'd like it. But it's the kind of film where you can watch the first ten minutes and you'll know whether you'll like it or not. The pacing is a lot more snappy than a WkW movie.

Re: Kobayashi and M

Glad you gave M a go. Most folks critical of the film found it too complex and hard to follow. I put them in a basket of Anal Retentives. I live in that basket too but know when to give up. There isn't really a "story" to follow, just an idea the director fools around with painting. I sort of agree with you on what's his name, but he didn't bother me. That's all I ask of an actor: Don't bother me. So he gets a pass. I loved the goofy girl. I'm surprised you didn't comment on the soundtrack. It's ridiculously meticulous. Best film ever made, I say.

I've tried three times to get through Bon Lin. Stuck at the point of Sassy Girl trying to talk her friend to come home. You're right, how much reading can you do and still call it a movie? Can't say that's a fault of the film, though. It's my fault I don't understand Japanese. I haven't connected with, or learned to adore, any of the performers so it's a bit fatiguing waiting for the lead actress to belt out a great line one in every twenty. She has great hand gestures to accompany the best ones. I think she's pretty good but the feel of the film seems, uhm, I can't think of a name for it but things like: you can really see the actors thinking about their next mark, turning on for a line delivery and then turning off when done. Kobayahi is worth keeping an eye on, but I think he didn't rehearse this one enough (so it all looks more natural), or the talent isn't up to that of About the Pink Sky.

Re: Kobayashi and M

Yeah I would agree on all your points about Bon Lin I know these are not "great films" but I love them just because they are so different on some dimension that matters to me.

You're right that this was a little stiff and I think it's because he's shooting the whole thing with one camera and entire long scenes in one take. Because he's trying to just DIY a feature film. If he shot the normal numerous angles and takes, it would (paradoxically) look more "real."

I noticed too that she has the most amazing hands I've ever seen! The talent, overall, is not as good as ATPS, but he's trying to use first-timers. Those are the only actors you can get to hand over their entire life unquestioningly for six months.

I liked M a lot. Just wish he'd burn through it in 80 minutes, because it really doesn't need that runtime. And more meat for Kong Hyo-jin to chew on. Funny, I didn't really notice the sound design much, I'll pay attention when I finish it up. I can see how you would place it on a level apart from other films.

Re: Bon Lin

Bon: "Anguish has an Anal, too"
Lin: "There is always a way out"
Bon: "No. Anal isn't a way out. It's a way in"
Turns out I was pretty close to the end, which, as per the above is pretty funny. The two girls in the laundromat! More of them, please.

So yeah, grading on a curve for budget, it's a dandy film. The long takes were long takes. I figured that was a choice. So yeah, yeah, I hope this guy keeps making films. Seems he has a visual interest, in that Pink Sky was B&W and this one was some sort of washed out smeary. He doesn't seem to want to do natural, or whatever. He might blow us away if he gets some hardware.

I"m going to watch it again before I dump a number on it, especially since that ending

Re: Bon Lin

"I wonder what life is?"
"Philosophy level 87 going on over here"

Yeah those two girls were great. Every time I see teenagers in movies I think, I knew some real characters in high school. How come teenagers are always so bland and uncharacteristic in fiction? These girls and guys are like my friends in HS. That's what I love about Bon Lin. The kook factor. Although it doesn't have the warm core of ATPS.

I dug the washed out look. I have two theories about why that is, both of which are wrong: 1) He's using RAW uncompressed video and he didn't know that this is how it looks out of the camera but you have to correct it in software, or 2) he decided to expose it like this so that he could use available natural light only and everything in the shadows would still be visible, and to hell with the highlights. Actually I'm sure it's a stylistic choice. Kobayashi is over 40 and new to feature films but has been directing ads and music videos for his career.

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

Part 39 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers the lesser films released during 2007:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Tag (2015) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) A schoolgirl witnesses the mass execution of her classmates by an apparently unnatural force, but becomes confused when faced with subsequent events. This film by Sion Sono begins with a lengthy, bloody, deliciously entertaining sequence that is one of the best in recent memory. This is directed with much energy with lots of spectacular tracking shots, some of which taken from very high elevations. The script keeps the viewer guessing from start to finish with its intriguing premise. A small handful of possible explanations came to mind while watching, but the ending was more nuanced and unpredictable than expected. Its still quite surrealistic and has its ambiguities, but this is easily understandable on a high level. The body count is excessive for a horror film. I also really like Reina Trendl in the lead role. A creative and unique gem from one of the best contemporary directors on the planet.

Southbound (2015) (American Horror Anthology) In these five interwoven tales of roadside horror, a group of travelers is forced to face their worst fears as things go horribly wrong for them on a forsaken stretch of desert highway. Overall, this has a Twilight Zone vibe to it, which I really dig. There is a nightmarish quality to this, with some ambiguity in terms of how things work in this land, and I like that a lot. Theres also quite a bit of bloody violence. Now, some brief thoughts on each. In The Way Out, I liked the design of the monsters. Siren starts off conventional, but gradually morphs into something a bit different. The Accident has a very good slow-burn tension to it, with lots of wince-worthy injury effects. Jailbreak and The Way In provides an interesting human aspect to things. This anthology mops the floor with most American anthologies Ive seen from the last 10 years.


The Tag-Along (2015) (Taiwanese Horror) (repeat viewing) 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 lead actress (Ning Hsu Wei) is very good. 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, and the pacing lags a bit during the middle section. Still a solid creepfest.

Mama (2013) (Spanish/Canadian Horror) (repeat viewing) This is the story of two young girls abandoned in a forest cabin and fostered by an unknown entity, which eventually follows them to their new suburban home after their uncle retrieves them. This starts off with a creative setup, but does have the vibe of a generic haunted house flick. Fortunately, there are some interesting nuances in terms of how the characters relationships develop. I do like how the girlfriend is not interested in taking care of the kids, which provides a bit of interesting interaction between those characters. Im no fan of Jessica Chastain, but shes actually very good in this one. This is nicely shot and looks good. There are a few cheap jump scares, but those are fairly limited. CGI is also a bit jarring at times, and things gets melodramatic near the end, but this is good quality stuff.

REC 4: Apocalypse (2014) (Spanish Horror) An ill-fated television reporter is rescued and taken to a floating quarantine facility, but she is followed by the deadly virus that has plagued her and numerous others. This is not shot in the first-person perspective, but the lead actress from the first film returns and spends much of the latter 3rd all hot and sweaty in a little white tank top, which is an obvious plus for the guys out there. The setup is a bit bland, but things get more interesting near the 30-minute mark with a nasty zombie host and outbreak. The zombies themselves are sufficiently revolting. The attacks are numerous and fairly entertaining, even though they lack creativity. There is a nice twist later on, which I kinda liked. REC 4 is better than expected, and its certainly more entertaining than part 2 or 3.

The Last Broadcast (1998) (American Horror) The producers of a local cable access show venture into the New Jersey woods with a lone assistant to make a documentary about the legendary Jersey Devil. This is documentary style film that informs the viewer of the demise of the protagonists right from the start, then shows footage and interviews from various sources that play out like an eerie crime investigation. This is very different from The Blair Witch Project (1999), which focused entirely on found footage from the victims only. However, there is a strong found footage element that is spliced in as part of the documentary, which lends quite a few creepy moments. I do think that there are some dull patches and repetition in the narrator having to point out every little detail. Theres also no mythology building on the Jersey Devil at all, which felt like a missed opportunity and would have added more interesting content. Finally, the ending tries to do something different and I like where they went with it, but the execution fell a bit flat for me. Nevertheless, this is still good stuff.

Angkerbatu (2007) (Indonesian Horror) (repeat viewing) After a land developer begins cutting down a forest, the surrounding area becomes a ghost town. This prompts an investigation by a group of reporters. There is some good atmosphere throughout, especially when the protagonists travel the abandoned streets and buildings. One scene in an abandoned supermarket is kinda creepy too. The sheer absence of any and all humanity within an urban area is chilling. Quite a bit of energy and a lot of horror to enjoy, some of which involves onryo style hauntings. The main actors are pretty good, but some of the supporting actors are not. The finale is a bit different, if only because so many people are running for their lives. Too much screaming though.

Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi (2011) (Japanese Horror) A crisis occurs at Misonogaoka High School when students fall prey to black magic. Their classmate Kuroi Misa attempts to help them by battling the dark forces with magic that has been passed down in her family for generations. This is a low budget film, but it tries to be creative and memorable, and is mostly successful. It does have a cheesy tone and low-grade special effects, but it is also quite odd and contributes some fun visuals. For example, there is a demonic tree that has captured a handful of schoolgirls, a bizarre backstory of the protagonists parents, and a hilarious humanoid spider scene. Unlike some of the later Eko Eko Azarak films that were released during the 2000s, there is quite a bit of witchcraft, which is obviously a good thing. Only 60 minutes long and listed as a first episode, but this does have its own self-contained story. Horror elements are light, but there is some good atmosphere at times.

Kuntilanak 2 (2007) (Indonesian Horror) (repeat viewing) This sequel to the surprisingly entertaining original is not as good, but still watchable. After the events of the first film, our protagonist moves out of the old, haunted boarding house, escaping from followers of a particular sect who seek revenge over the death of the landlady. This starts off very well, with some grammar school kids who are exploring the abandoned location from the first film; its a nice 9-minute intro that acts almost like a short film that continues to establish the themes from the original. Julie Estelle still holds the screen well, the atmosphere and lighting are effective, and theres a lot of horror content (the ghosts are nasty looking, in the Indonesian style). Unfortunately, some of the acting by the supporting characters is god awful, which gives the film a schlocky feel. Also, the eventual shift towards a human threat doesnt work as well as the supernatural stuff. (Viewed without English subtitles.)

The Entity (1982) (American Horror) A woman is tormented and sexually molested by an invisible entity. This is a very repetitive movie, with repetitive horror scenes and a repetitive score. There are a few pretty good discussions with the psychiatrists, but did a movie this simplistic really need to be over 2 hours long? A few of the ghost rape scenes are too short and badly directed, but some of the others are effective and uncomfortable. The acting is good. I liked the finale too. This is a mixed bag that narrowly gets a pass grade.

Not Recommended

Attack the Block (2011) (British Horror/Action/Comedy) When aliens attack a South London neighborhood, a teen gang pulls together to protect their turf by any means necessary. But extraterrestrials prove far more formidable than anyone they ever jumped on the streets. The best thing about this movie are the alien designs, which looked like black bears with glowing jaws. I liked those. Direction is pretty good too. Virtually everything else is not to my liking. First of all, I had to watch this with subtitles because I had no idea what the hell these people were saying. The crime aspect of this is kinda dumb, the characters are shallow and grate on the nerves, and the humor is lame. Acting is low grade as well, with John Boyega coming off as very stiff. The attack scenes are run-of-the-mill and predictable, with little to no suspense. Actually, when I think about it, the whole alien element is just tossed in without any build-up or proper introduction.

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The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016)

Well, you guys know Park Chan-wook; you can't discuss one of his movies without spoilers, so instead of blacking this out, I will just say

***spoilers ahead. nothing but spoilers***

The signature of Park Chan-wook is basically these crazy plot twists, and once again he doesn't disappoint on that score. But watching this one, I'm tempted to echo sitenoise's review of A Bride for Rip Van Winkle: if it had just ended at the 1:05 mark, I would have said "bravo! great film." But it didn't.

On the positive side, I have to say this is insanely well directed. By that I mean the photography, the way shots are set up (and thought out) this stuff will certainly be analyzed to death by know-it-alls in youtube videos. The original score by Jo yeong-wook (who scores everything) was incredibly good, and gave the film a lot of forward momentum that it would definitely have been lacking without it. Again, the director is using a lovely and expensive anamorphic lens: you know it's an anamorphic lens when the bits in the background go out of focus in an oval way. It's subtle but it really lets you know you're in moviescape, not watching TV.

I expected that Kim min-hee was going to carry this film and crush it. But it turned out the other female lead, unknown Kim tae-re stole the show. Some might not like her for overacting or overexpressing, but I love that kind of thing. I loved the sulky scenes where she throws her basket of mushrooms on the ground and stomps off. Give me more of that.

But the film suffers from a lot of the same garbage Park Chan-wook movies are always kind of disappointing to me. It would be good if he would take it all more seriously, but when it devolves into porny and violence-porny stuff, it becomes pulp. He was much more restrained with the violence here, but when it came, it was the same old stuff. At the same time, he flashes an enormous octopus, just to tease us about the possibilities, and doesn't use it! WTH?

Another major weakness in this film is the porn-porn. If you roll your eyes at the whole concept of S&M as I do, you will be left out of the movie while others are busy.. ahem.. enjoying themselves. This film catastrophically fails the zelena test of sex in film: you see way more than you're supposed to see, and it's lame. In the first half of the film, one erotic scene was surprisingly effective and restrained. The tooth-grinding scene; zelena test: pass. But later on, it just becomes hot girl-on-girl action for fifty-somethings. I don't want to see that crap. And I will never understand how they get actresses to agree to do it. Sex in film is way more effective when you see what you would see in reality: one member of the opposite sex, naked!

On a basic level, though, the twisty plot wasn't enough to hold my interest. In the second half I was falling asleep with the boring porn S&M naughty uncle subplot even though I loved the visuals. All just too pat and cliche, and the story was not serious it was a joke. The love story just didn't have an opening to shine though. Barely 7.3

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

Sounds interesting, I'll check this out.

Speaking of S&M and porn-porn, glad you mentioned that. I was actually about to start a thread entitled Asian Movies and Women's Breasts but I remembered I also made a thread for that before and maybe some might already label me as that virginal loudmouth who did nothing but complain. lol. I watched Sion Sono's Cold Fish yesterday and while I loved the concept, story, execution, etc. there was just but one area I was kinda icky about: disturbing display of women breasts and the 1001 ways of caressing and playing with them. WTF. I was once again reminded of that time when I watched The Treacherous and asked if these scenes were really necessary. Won't the movie move forward if these erotic scenes aren't shown? Should a scene necessarily feature a cleavage being shown for some minutes then ended up with an old guy crumpling the breasts? Is this movie about the anatomy of women breasts? lol.

I know I'm conservative so I shouldn't be used as the standard, so I used Hollywood mainstream movies as the basis (because these erotic Asian movies are supposed to be mainstream right?) and I cannot exactly remember a movie where the human body was exploited to this extent but I can name several Asian movies where there's this.

Pardon me, my childish self does the talking most of the time. lol.


Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

Long reply deleted by imdb server error

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

Ugh, I was interested to hear your thoughts.

Anyway I've had the same experience before so I learned my lesson. Everytime I make a reply I copy it first just in case it doesn't get posted.


Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn


Yeah I was saying, there are some things you can't express through film: a meadow full of fireflies on a summer night, or a dark sky full of stars. Film actually has a narrow band of things it can show. That's why sex doesn't work in film and porn is always "bad." However you can make people feel things without showing "everything." That includes sexual arousal. So these kinds of films just annoy me because the sexy-time takes you out of the transcendent cinema experience. It's not because I don't like naked ladies

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

Well-said, and I think I perfectly and well-agree with you. Although if a scene really calls for it, then it could be justified. Otherwise, it could plainly be called just made for "sexual arousal" and eventually cross the boundary of porn land.


Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

I hate when that happens, and it has happened. I, like hoping for moisture, copy my post before posting or previewing. On the subject, I'm torn about wondering if it's my dear Min-hee Kim that has opted to play out Park's lesbian porn fantasies for him. She's beautiful, probably beautiful naked too, and I'd love to see her playing a seductive, sexy role, but in a good context, not as part of Park's icky move into exploitation cinema. He's a hack who should stop making movies.

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

Yeah I've watched I think four of Park's movies, and every time I'm thinking, this is pretty good until it isn't. He does that thing where he really overplays his hand with the gross-out stuff and reduces his up-till-then stylish movie to rubble. I thought Oldboy was really good but I wouldn't watch it twice, and he keeps playing the same hand. Handmaiden is more stylish than ever, but it's the same old stuff.

She's beautiful, probably beautiful naked too, and I'd love to see her playing a seductive, sexy role, but in a good context, not as part of Park's icky move into exploitation cinema.

Well it's up to you. The sitenoise thought bubble might go like this
1) Min-hee is a very nice looking young lady. Maybe it would be useful to see her buck naked and grinding her crotch against another young hottie, purely for academic, research purposes
2) Yeah. Well she looks pretty good. But her butt is actually sort of flat compared to the other girl and I'm partial to small boobs but again, the other girl is like 15 years perkier. So meh.
3) (Slightly to moderately ashamed of self for such pettiness)
4) Finishes movie slightly less of a Kim Min-hee fan

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

You got me thinking about Oldboy and his "same old stuff" menu. I quickly scanned his filmography, because I usually watch movies unmindful of who's behind them, and I can say that Park Chan-wook also has his own brand of execution that is distinct (although not really distinct) and identifiable to him, something you can associate to him. Most of his movies have this same recurring element, an erotic scene probably? lol combined with thriller/horror or whatever, with some weird fetish for whatever. Am I making sense here? lol.


Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

Yeah that's what I was thinking. But I also completely forgot that he did I'm A Cyborg And That's Okay, which was totally different and JSA which we could say was before his mature period. But certainly he's in a rut with these same kind of films. They say a lot of filmmakers just make basically the same film over and over again, trying to get it right. But he's no Fellini. Personally I thought Lady Vengeance was his best (after Cyborg) but still I think he's somewhat overrated.

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

Finishes movie slightly less of a Kim Min-hee fan

That would be tragic. Even Right Place, Wrong Time or Right here Right Now, or whatever, didn't have that effect. But now that I think about it a couple of her other films did.

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

"He's a hack who should stop making movies."

Woah! Strong words there. I like a good chunk of the films I've seen from him. Haven't seen all, but I've seen I think 4 or 5 and whilst that inevitable sexy sensual films that make good for a feminist's thesis are usually present, his movies has this certain appeal which kinda elevates him closer to genius-type territory.


Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

I just write stuff like that to see if you're paying attention. I think he's gone from trying to make good movies to assuming he will. A little cocky, less interesting. I think JSA is a phenomenal film. Drop an M-bomb on that one. I'm a Cyborg is pretty close. That's when he lost me. I seem to remember you liked Thirst. For me that's the film where his 'signature', his 'stamp' started to feel annoying. I find no resonance, nor unique curiosity from him any more. Sometimes I see S Korea marching like lemmings off the Hollywood Cliff with Park Chan-wook is leading the way.

And but to be fair, The Vengeance Trilogy is beyond reproach, so that's five films I'm very grateful plopped into my life. There's not a lot of directors who've made five great films.

Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016) + S&M + porn-porn

"I just write stuff like that to see if you're paying attention.""

Of course I do. No seriously, "hack" is a strong word and I've seen people curse others for calling their idols a hack. So I hope no die-hard Park Chan-wook fan gets to read that line lest you get a five-paragraph long reply that starts with an insult, or your posting quota gets fatter time.


Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016)

Hi zelena, just finished watching The Handmaiden. I agree with your opening statement re: plot twists and "wished it would've ended in the 1:05 mark". I also felt it was too loooooong for that story. I also agree with you on the music score. If there's anything that's worth a 10/10 in this movie, it has to be the music.

"But it turned out the other female lead, unknown Kim tae-re stole the show. Some might not like her for overacting or overexpressing, but I love that kind of thing. I loved the sulky scenes where she throws her basket of mushrooms on the ground and stomps off. Give me more of that."

Yeah, I also like her. Her face really looks like a child that she just gives this perfect portrayal of a naive and innocent lady in love.

"At the same time, he flashes an enormous octopus, just to tease us about the possibilities, and doesn't use it! WTH?"

lol. I guess the octopus was there to highlight some S&M that the uncle imagines for the Mistress. Remember that page in the book where the Miss was drawn having some sex scene or whatever you call it with that octopus? Can you imagine Kim Min-hee doing the actual scene? That would be hilarious!

"Another major weakness in this film is the porn-porn. If you roll your eyes at the whole concept of S&M as I do, you will be left out of the movie while others are busy.. ahem.. enjoying themselves. I don't want to see that crap. And I will never understand how they get actresses to agree to do it."

Yeah this one was just, erm, how do I call it. Someone get the blinders. I have to admit their sex scene was kinda steamy and gave some hot temperature in the room but my gad it was too long and too much for the two women. If I was their boyfriend/husband, I wouldn't allow them doing that scene lest that scene in the movie be burnt into a cd and played while the viewer also plays with his sword. The other sexy scenes were really too much, to be honest. Why not make a porn movie instead?

I love the plot twist but it was just too long and dragging, especially the porn-porn. I haven't read the novel its based on so I can't decide if Park Chan Wook was faithful to it, or exceeded and added some parts, or whatever. All I know is sadly, I'll remember this movie for the girl-on-girl action with Kim Min-hee's wooden face on the screen and the cute innocent face of Kim Tae-re getting exploited.


Re: The Handmaiden (Korea, 2016)

Yeah that painting of the lady ahem enjoying the company of an octopus is a famous painting, so when I saw that enormous octopus in the basement it got my hopes up that Park was going to show us something we would never forget but alas, it was just a tease. Why does porn have to be so boring?!

You're right when it's that explicit, that's all you remember from the movie. It's like Michael Caine said about actors; you should never, ever get naked in the movie, because then the audience stops looking at your face and all they can look at is your private parts, and they start giggling to each other instead of watching the movie. Amateur mistake on Park's part.

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

I forgot to mention last week that Train To Busan was my 1,000th South Korean movie!

Part 40 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers more films released during 2007:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

The Wailing (aka Goksung) (2016) (Korean Horror) (repeat viewing) A small village is plagued by a mysterious sickness that drives its victims insane, leading to brutal murders of their family members. After first suspecting poisoned plants as the cause, rumors spread that a quiet Japanese man from the nearby mountain forest may be intentionally cursing the residents. This is beautifully shot by Hong-jin Na, but the horror elements hit hard. It gradually gets more powerful until it becomes surprisingly uncomfortable and scary, with an ominous presence that envelops the entire village. The shaman possession rituals are intense. This starts off as a slow-moving mystery, but it has tons of detail and subtlety to provoke repeat viewings. Perhaps the greatest aspect is the plot turning, which is a nasty snake that totally subverts expectations and predictions. It masterfully creates a sense of uncertainly for the viewer. And that uncertainly greatly accentuates the underlying drama, because the main protagonist himself is faced with that very same uncertainty. Also, near the mid-point there is a scene that would normally be the climax of a normal horror film, and the placement of that scene near the mid-point totally throws the second half into doubt and makes everything exceptionally interesting. The aspect of who do you trust is a huge theme in this film, and I must say that if faced with the same decision as our protagonist I would have made the wrong decision. Viewers will be emotionally affected by this film long after it ends.

Zero: Fatal Frame (2014) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) Using references to the character Ophelia from William Shakespeares Hamlet, this film revolves around a Catholic girls school in Japan where strange events occur after a girl inexplicably becomes an anti-social shut-in. This has a classy, gothic Euro vibe to it that is supplemented with horror elements that utilize zero jump scares. As one reviewer noted, the director builds her fright effects more from whispered rumors, girlish crushes and the nebulous border between dreams and reality, the living and the dead. The atmosphere is thick, resulting in a dreamy, hypnotic experience. There are some very cool, lengthy shots to enjoy. Very good scoring too. This is high quality stuff.

Shin Godzilla (2016) (Japanese Action/Drama/Horror) An unknown accident occurs in Tokyo Bays Aqua Line, which causes an emergency cabinet to assemble. All of the sudden, a giant creature immediately appears, destroying town after town with its landing reaching the capital. This mysterious giant monster is named Godzilla, of course. The monster design of the big green guy is respectful of prior Japanese efforts, but also has quite a few new, cool changes. The destruction inflicted on the city is impressive and rather horrific, actually this is one of the few Godzilla films that dips a bit into horror territory. The counterattacks by the humans are a mix of predictable stuff, but the battles themselves do contribute some visuals that weve never seen before in this franchise. There is a ton of political commentary here. The real-life mishandling of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown should be kept in mind going into this because the political and bureaucratic satire is up front and presented immediately. Within five minutes this theme is introduced and is explored significantly in conjunction with all of the procedural requirements, response, and brainstorming that occurs. Japan/U.S. relations is also touched upon, as well as its impact on Japanese sovereignty. There are close to a dozen legitimately funny lines of dialogue peppered throughout, which help to give the characters some color.


Baskin (2015) (Turkish Horror) Serving out a quiet night patrol, a group of cops get a request for assistance at a remote location. When the squad arrives, they soon realize that theyve been lured into a concealed and hellishly surreal situation. The final 50+ minutes take place inside an abandoned, decrepit building. Set designs and lighting are moody, with a focus on creepy atmosphere. Things get pretty disgusting during the final half hour, which could turn off viewers who dislike nasty gore. With that said, I like every section of the film, but feel like its more dynamic and interesting before the gore is introduced, after which it gets a bit static and repetitive.

Yami Douga 4 (aka Darkness Video 4) (2012) (Japanese Horror Anthology) This is an anthology of five documentary style recordings. The narrators voice is good, and the slow-motion replays always freak me out. The first story concerns a man who (ahead of his marriage) purchases an apartment and brings his friend to videotape the new pad. This is basic but creepy, with one subtle background image, a good tie-in to a disturbing event, and an eerie finale involving drawings. In the second story, a parent films her kids at a festival, but catches an image of something horrifying. This segment is only a few minutes long, but it does contain one good money shot. The third and fifth segments are two parts to one story about a woman who investigates her sister, who is dating a possible psychic man who is obsessed with spirit. This showcases a nicely creepy scene in a pitch black apartment that makes good use of flashing lights and shadows. There is also a collection of stalker photos that is quite effective. The fourth story concerns members of a cult who film their murder of a woman in an attempt to appease the evil spirit they worship. They subsequently dismember her hand and use it in a ritual. The supernatural phenomena are quite different and very cool. (Viewed without subtitles.)

Hong Hoon (aka Hong Hun) (2014) (Thai Horror) The story revolves around individuals whose loved ones died shortly after each of them received a mannequin of his or her likeness. Among them is Ploy, a young woman whose father died in what appeared to be a freak accident at an archery range; her interpretation of this event as mere misfortune is altered when she is approached by Nop (Ananda Everingham, Shutter), a man in mental meltdown who sees a conspiracy linking the demise of Ploy's father with his own wheelchair-bound sister. This is very stylishly directed and shot, which is likely its greatest strength. The horror elements are backloaded into the second half, but are loaded with atmosphere when the mansion is featured. Pacing is glacial and the story does meander. Some may find it a bit too artsy for its own good (the ending might make more sense after a second viewing), but it is an enjoyable watch. (Viewed without subtitles.)

The Stuff (1985) (American Horror) Some grumpy old geezers find a marshmallow-like ooze boiling from a cave floor, and decide to sell it on the food market. Next thing you know, Americans are gorging on the latest snack sensation: a no-calorie treat dubbed The Stuff. When it threatens to put ice cream makers out of business, industry tycoons draft a spy to uncover the desserts secret formula. I immediately recognized Michael Moriarty (from Pale Rider), but there are a few other well-known actors who pop up. This movie definitely borrows some elements from previous horror classics, but also tosses some black humor into the mix. Its cheesy overall, but there are some cool visuals involving deadly melted marshmallow stuff. The ending is a lazy cop-out, and frankly sucks, but this is still watchable fluff (pun intended).

Not Recommended

Horror Mansion: The Blinds (2011) (Japanese Horror) A young girl witnesses a murder through her Venetian blinds from her high rise vantage point. As the hunt for the killer begins, she prepares to reveal the identity of the man. This 60-minute film is low-key and makes a real attempt at being suspenseful, but the interaction and dialogue lacks the nuance to make it interesting. It lacks an edge, resulting in lots of dull filler instead of impending dread. The script and acting are subpar, which doesnt help. There is one surprising death scene, the piano score is very good, and the twist is surprising but thats not enough. Go watch Rear Window instead.

Terror Train (1980) (Canadian/American Horror) A masked killer targets college kids responsible for a prank gone wrong three years earlier and who are currently throwing a large New Years Eve costume party aboard a moving train. The opening is rather silly, the characters and mystery elements are dull, the acting is subpar, and the moments where characters dont realize someone is dead are really dumb. There are also no good death scenes at all, and some of them frustratingly cut away before the kill. The train setting offers this films only true advantage.

The Neon Demon (2016) (American/Danish Horror) When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has. I really thought this movie would work, because atmosphere and style can really carry a horror film past its other flaws and we all know that Nicolas Winding Refn has style. Unfortunately, this movie is 2 full hours long, and most of that consists of wafer thin characters speaking loads of painfully stilted, boring dialogue. This is the kind of talk you hear in porno movies. Performances are god awful across the board. Sure, there are some cool visuals to enjoy and the score is good, but there is literally nothing to hold interest for most of the runtime. And to make matters worse, it descends into juvenile obnoxiousness at times, resulting in some incredibly stupid moments down the stretch.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

The Commitment (2004)


** This review may contain spoilers ***

Getting set for the October Horror Challenge I mentioned to my dad about gathering up flicks to watch for the event.As I started to roughly plan my viewings,my dad revealed that he had recently picked up an interesting looking Thai Horror,which led to me committing to the commitment.

The plot:

After finishing high school,a group of girl pals decide to visit the shrine,which is reported to be watched by a ghost.Instead of going for their first beer,the girls decide to celebrate their graduation by making wishes around the shrine. As the girls leave,the ghost appears and makes a wish for her own new friends.

View on the film:

Shot on grainy digital video,co-writer/(along with Lunchana Sartun & Chaowalek Sragtook) director Montri Kong-Im uses the rough edges of the format to his advantage,as the grit gives the title a gritty, eerie edge.Working on a low budget, Kong-Im commits himself to finding some spaces for a creepy style, weaved from the unsettling stop/start movement of the ghost's hair wrapping itself round a victim,to quick-fire edits digging into the bloody veins of the ghost's wish. Scrolling into the house with the girls,the writers give the title a body count Slasher shot,with the ghost taking her victims one by one. Aiming for some level of psychological terror between the girls and the ghost,the writers disappointingly dry the intriguing roots up by failing to give any of the victims unique character moments,as the ghost Thai's her victims.

Re: The Commitment (2004)

This is an amateurish, limp movie, with underwhelming acting and a poor script that carries no momentum for the story. The scare tactics are poorly realized and cheesy. The odd thing is that the camera shots immediately before the scares are pretty good, at least in terms of framing. This movie still stinks though.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

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

Part 41 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers some of the better films released during 2007:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Hansel and Gretel (2007) (Korean Horror/Fantasy) (repeat viewing) After a car accident, a man finds shelter in the secluded home of three children, but every time he attempts to leave thru the surrounding forest, he inexplicably has no way out. The cinematography and set designs are very impressive, with seemingly endless parades of eye candy. The season is set mostly in late autumn/early winter (which conveys a chilly mood) and Christmas visuals (lighting, decorations, clothing, etc.) run rampant throughout much of the middle section. This film relies heavily on a single primary conflict/scenario; and it pulls it off nicely with a well-written script, well-developed characters, and a surprisingly touching storyline. Some of the themes here have been seen elsewhere, but the manner in which they are presented feels refreshingly different. This is an excellent horror film that has a few references to the popular fairy tale.

Epitaph (2007) (Korean Horror) (repeat viewing) In February 1942, the fate of a handful of hospital employees and patients intertwine through three separate stories. Browsing an old photo book, an old man recollects his memories to those days in 1942, when Korea was occupied by Japan and he was a young and immature intern doctor in Anseong Hospital. During those four days, strange events will happen, when corpses brought to the mortuary aren't able to rest in piece. In general, Epitaph has all of the bells and whistles of high quality Asian horror good acting, pretty cinematography/set designs, and an intelligent screenplay. Some fantastic visuals in this that you will not forget anytime soon. The structure of the storylines are such that each begins with a mysterious event that is explained more fully later on. There is a heavy emphasis on motivation and psychological confusion, but the primary contributions are the unpredictable turns of events that unfold within each story. Theres also a very surrealistic vibe to this that I really enjoyed. The horror elements are classical, and the execution is very good and results in a very mature, refreshing experience with some creepy, weirdly beautiful sequences.

Hair Extensions (aka Ekusute, aka Exte) (2007) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewings) A mortician harvests hair extensions from a womans corpse in this film by director Sion Sono. There is an admirable amount of time spent developing the key characters, as well as important past events. This may prove taxing in other movies, but the storyline is engaging here (and the horror scenes nicely placed and effective) that this proves to be a very entertaining experience. Also, Chiaki Kuriyama is cute as always. The special effects are used successfully to create some crazy death scenes the last of which is outrageous. This film infuses some creativity and weirdness into things while also providing a bit of satire regarding the prevalence of hair in Japanese horror films. The amount of hair that is showcased in this movie is just insane, which creates some fantastic visuals.

Dabbe 6 (2015) (Turkish Horror) A series of weird and terrible events happen to a young girl and her family after she witnesses her mother's death by supernatural forces. Summoning a doctor, who has a similar experience with another girl, he unravels clandestine and awful incidents leading to unexpected outcomes. The girls older sister is actually the lead character here. The epic 153-minute runtime allows for three different styles of horror! There are a lot of jump scares and dream scene fake-outs during the opening hour, which are big no-nos for me, but every single one of these scares includes extremely visceral, nightmarish, demonic imagery and violence with some of the nastiest demons youll ever see (actually, one sequence involves consecutive fake-outs in a row that I found entertaining in its excessiveness). After that, it transitions to a demon possession mystery with specific cultural and Islamic concepts. One interesting aspect that emerges is the possibility that the girl developed a second, hell-ish personality that has escaped her body and can torment others. There are some very creepy scenes in this section. Then, the final third uses documentary style footage in conjunction with the third person camerawork. The thing about some of these Turkish demon films is that they are loaded to the brim with horror content, but the imagery itself feels wild and somewhat random. The horror imagery in this one is fantastic and diverse. However, the jump scares do become more and more pointless as the film rolls along. Regardless, this movie still gave me the heebie-jeebies. Director Hasan Karacadag does a very good job at making every one of the films in this franchise distinguishable from one another.


Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait (2007) (Korean Horror) (repeat viewing) A novelist visits her friend in Vietnam to research a legendary curse. An early scene exposes our protagonist as a backstabber when it is revealed that she sold out one of her friends by exposing and exaggerating her love life while writing her latest novel. But shes still under pressure from her editor to come up with something else. This situation prompts her to visit Vietnam and meet the girl she recently backstabbed, in order to get some juicy info on the legend that this girl is apparently knows quite well. Were not sure whether or not this friend is aware of the book or not, since she lives in Vietnam and the book was published in South Korea. Nevertheless, there still seems to be some mind games and a certain animosity between these friends that may be left over from their younger years. And that dynamic between the two leads adds some complexity and nuance to this movie. The scares are a bit derivative near the beginning, but gradually become more effective later on. The Vietnam setting definitely adds something a bit different.

Event Horizon (1997) (British/American Sci Fi Horror) (repeat viewing) A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned . . . with someone or something new on-board. This has a good cast (Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, etc.), an intriguing premise, the set designs are cool for a horror film, and there are a handful of disturbing gore shots too. Theres definitely a hell-ish feel to this that is effective. Its nicely paced as well. At times it feels conservative and generic in its plotting, but this is entertaining.

Yami Douga 5 (aka Darkness Video 5) (2013) (Japanese Horror Anthology) This is an anthology of five documentary style horror films. In "Prank phone", some college students play a harmless prank at a public telephone, but witness a terrifying event. This is creepy and has one very good special effect. In "Woman to greet", a couple of video providers visit a tourist destination, but record a glimpse of a seemingly ancient ghost. Very short segment, but has one good creepy moment. In "Guests Deriheru", a woman meets a man in a love hotel, but things get dangerous very quickly. This uses a human threat, which is nice and contributes some unexpected turns. In "Eye of the Fishing Port", a TV station recorded footage from a fish market, but some of the tuna show gigantic eyes on the sides of their bodies. Extremely short, but very bizarre. In "Strange campsite", two couples stay in a mountain campground, but encounter strange phenomena. This is a more common alone in the woods scenario. Still effective though, mostly because the demons face is awesome and really freaky. (Viewed without subtitles.)

Not Recommended

The Eyes Diary (2014) (Thai Horror/Romance) After losing his girlfriend to an automobile accident, a man becomes an emergency crew volunteer to steal personal belongings of the dead in an effort to attract spirits for the purpose of reuniting with his dead girlfriend. There are a small handful of human protagonists here, but a few of them rubbed me the wrong way (the comic relief guy is terrible, and the humor in general is bad). The dead girlfriend is a protagonist ghost who can suffer pain from the antagonist ghosts, which is an interesting concept but never fully explored. Overall, this movie is unfocused and lacking in proper buildup to the scares, which feel random (the ghosts dont have any purpose at all). None of the horror sequences are memorable at all, and some of them come off as kinda stupid. The entire film feels flimsy and lightweight. Acting is dodgy, and this is rather boring to watch. This is a bitter disappointment from the director of 13: Game of Death.

Zombie School (2014) (Korean Horror) After some teachers are bitten by zombie pigs, the students collaborate to battle the educators. This begins with about 50 minutes of dull filler, with all of the characters being portrayed as shallow and annoying. Zombie attacks are poorly filmed; theres simply nothing interesting in how the violence is constructed. Lots of shaky cam, zoom-ins, and bad editing. Theres also a lot of scenes with people sitting around, doing nothing. A lot of moments where the camera cuts away at the point of attack and shows nothing. The final death scene is incomprehensibly stupid.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Re: The Handmaiden

Not bad at all. Usually films about rich people and their money-sex-power issues get a big yawn from me, but this film had a number of pluses that engaged me: the humor; the actors; the Pulp Fiction/More Than Blue/A Stranger of Mine style storytelling where scenes are revisited from a different perspective and/or additional information is presented that sheds new light.

Most of the funny bits come from newcomer Kim Tae-ri who more than holds her own with the veterans. She's got a bright future, I think.

Min-hee Kim and Jung-woo Ha are fine, fine actors. Ha is almost always good, and but his role didn't require too much. Kim shows once again that material can't hold her back. She has a few embarrassing moments but also just as many moments where she rises above the script errors. I think the "wooden expression" our friend plsletitrain pointed out were in those instances where she couldn't figure out how to transcend the material. Cho Jin-Woong has become a favorite. He's not good in the first two acts because the director didn't give him a chance. He shines in Part III. It would take a Gary Oldman or better to have done anything with what he was given in Parts I & II.

Just when I thought the film was running out of gas it started over with the "Here's what you missed the first time" retrospective. It gave the film new life even when too much melodrama was sprinkled in.

The porn-porn was hit and miss. I enjoyed The Treacherous more than this film, but they're two different kinds of films. The Treacherous didn't aspire to the bourgeois "but I'm a good film, a worthy film" The Handmaiden does so hoity toity types couldn't blow hot air about it. In the end, The Handmaiden is a solid, inconsequential film with about as much weight as a balloon, and Park has solidified his place as just another director who knows which buttons to push in order to maintain his high budget Hollywood style. Not that there's anything surprising or wrong with that.

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

Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish (Japan, 2003)
Dumb title, but a great, lovely film. This one might have made my Top 10 Japan list if I had seen it at the time. The story of a physically handicapped young woman, whose mind has been affected by the physical imposition on her life; this part of her character development in the film was beautifully filled out. Her love interest is a cavalier, semi-vapid college dude who is primed to have some life experiences and boy, he gets more than he bargained for. This is a perfect example of a film where stuff happens to people and it actually affects their character. Bravo!

So many Japanese films seem to be based on novels; you've got to hand it to them for having a fiction scene that is thriving and creative (part of it manga), much more than in the U.S.

Lovely, grainy imagery of Osaka. Moments of that unique, classic, Japanese deadpan humor with kids.

Some people apparently didn't like the ending, but this is exactly what I did like about it, although it maybe didn't provide as much cinematic experience as some films do. A relationship happens, it means everything to the youngsters involved while it's going on. It ends. There are hard feelings. Life goes on and these are valuable, beautiful memories. And still bitter. 8.96/10

not so good

No Manners aka Conduct Zero (Korea 2002)
Ultimately not a very good movie, but worth it just to see Kong Hyo-jin as a spunky little t-shirt wearing, cigarette sucking 18 year old bad girl. I can't get enough of Miss Kong. 6/10

I Have to Buy New Shoes (Japan, 2012)
It's the Japanese Before Sunrise/Before Sunset, and that is not a good thing. A 40-something year old woman in Paris with wounds seduces a younger man in the only dignified way a woman of a certain age can; plastered. Boring, pointless. Bland dialog, poor directing. I liked the end credits. I watched the whole thing so I suppose it gets a 6/10

Bandhobi (Korea, 2009)
Bailed. I might try it again.

The Truth Beneath (Korea 2016)
So badly directed, it was downright weird. Bailed.

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (USA, 2016)
Oh Werner. Terribly disappointing. I expected you would be the patron saint of the luddites. Nope. 4/10

Re: Josee and some shoes

I agree with you re: I Have to Buy New Shoes. Others around here liked it. I did like Heroine Disqualified's Mirei Kiritani in her supporting role, and wished the film were about her because the main couple was an unbelievable zero.

Josee was a delicious surprise. Ditto everything you wrote. Yep, the ending. That Chizuru Ikewaki played it from the beginning knowing it was going to end like that was thespian masterwork.

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

Part 42 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers some of my favorite films released during 2007:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016) (Japanese Anime Action) As a perennial war between two magical kingdoms drags on, King Regis of Lucis orders Nyx Ulric and the Kingsglaive company of elite warriors to protect the princess of a neighboring region as well as the realm's capital from invasion by the vast imperial army of Niflheim. This has an underrated story and characters, but it might take a second viewing to get all of the relationships between the characters and regions. The action isnt quite as mind-blowing as Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, but it is plentiful, explosive, entertaining, and a slightly more grounded in its physics. The animation is outstanding, with great attention to detail and vivid colors. This was viewed with the English dub, since the characters mouths were animated to be consistent with the English wording, and the voice-acting is good overall.

The Silenced (aka Gyeongseong School: Disappeared Girls) (2015) (Korean Horror) (repeat viewing) A physically weak and ill girl is transferred to a mysterious all-girls boarding school, where she is forced to discover its secrets to survive. This is a classy horror film for a number of reasons. First, the era is during the Japanese occupation of Korea, which means that the clothing and set designs have a distinct style. Second, the focus on schoolgirl friendship is significant and properly developed (ala Whispering Corridors). Third, the overall quality is high, with strong acting and direction. Some visual inspiration was certainly taken from A Tale of Two Sisters, as a handful of images are very similar, but the story morphs into something totally different and interesting. This story has not been used often in Korean horror. Also, if you think you see an onryo ghost, youre probably wrong. This is a film that subverts expectations and contributes a few effectively emotional moments.

Office (2015) (Korean Mystery Horror) (repeat viewing) After a section chief murders his family, a detective questions the mans co-workers but suspects that they are hiding something. This is a proficiently executed slow burn that feels somewhat unconventional due to its emphasis on the relentless, psychological pressures of competing in an office environment. This provides a sufficiently dramatic basis for the violence. I work in an office myself, so two additional elements worked well for me: (1) the concept of a psycho killer who hides and lives within an office building; and (2) the fact that danger is manifested by working late at night. The way the mystery is crafted holds interest throughout. This is nicely directed and acted (Ah-sung Ko is really good), with a creepy vibe that is earned thru excellent sound design. Some intense moments to enjoy down the stretch.

Return To Oz (1985) (American Fantasy Horror/Drama) (repeat viewing) This pseudo-sequel to The Wizard of Oz has Dorothy returning to Oz, but the land is in ruins which forces her to investigate an evil witch and a rock monster. I say pseudo-sequel because this film references events from Dorthys previous trip to Oz, but things seemed to have played out a bit differently from the film version. This is much darker in tone and has some very creepy sequences. Its also very creative and somewhat bizarre. The special effects are damn cool too, especially the rock monsters. Tic Toc is hilarious. A box office failure that was cast into the dust bin of forgotten films, this is ironically far better than the vomit-inducing original. Better performances, better conflicts, better resolutions . . . better everything.

Over Your Dead Body (2014) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) While rehearsing a stage play based on the story Yotsuya Kaidan, a couples romantic obsessions create a blurred line between reality and fantasy. This film by Takashi Miike looks gorgeous, with some excellent set designs to gawk at. The shifting between period sets and modern environments is an interesting experience. There are also parallels between the stage play and the characters relationships. Very well acted by Kou Shibasaki and Ebizo Ichikawa. This is deliberately paced, which creates a hypnotic, surreal tone and helps to create some creepy moments. Much of the opening hour goes thru the Yotsuya Kaidan story extensively, leaving much of the urban horror content to be backloaded into the latter half. But there are plenty of creepy moments in store for viewers, as well as a few bloody, macabre ones. Horror sequences are well-executed and quietly intense, with virtually no cheap jump scares. This is a damn cool movie that is far more interesting than Miikes overrated, overhyped Gozu (2003).


The Priests (2015) (Korean Horror) (repeat viewing) Two Catholic priests must work together to expel a demonic entity from a young girl. The premise is no different from many post-Exorcist possession films, but the sheer execution makes this a nice watch. The performances by Dong-won Gang and Yun-seok Kim are top notch. Direction is first-rate and stylish, making the visuals a joy to watch. This infuses some Korean tradition by implementing shaman rituals, but the Catholic-style exorcisms take center stage. The final exorcism lasts a whopping 40 minutes and contributes some intense, creepy moments. Scoring and sound effects are very effective. The ending is different from what I expected, but I found it very satisfying.

The Gate (1987) (Canadian Horror) When an old tree is removed from their backyard, a boy (Stephen Dorff) and his friend find a fascinating stone in the hole left behind. Intrigued, the siblings dig deeper into the hole and unearth a mysterious gate that opens a portal to a hellish underworld. This has good make-up effects and moody lighting. The monsters are a bit different from what we normally get, and are entertaining to watch. Theres one moment where a monster falls forward and hits the ground, which yields a really cool, surprising special effect. Actually, there are a handful of surprising moments in this.

Yami Douga 10 (aka Darkness Video 10) (2014) (Japanese Horror Anthology) This is an anthology of 5 documentary style horror films. Only 58 minutes long, but the simplicity of the events establishes a palpable creepiness. Scene of an Affair Suspecting his wife of having an affair, a man places a hidden camera inside his home while away for work. He catches a glimpse of a bizarre phenomenon. Odd ending, but quite different. Black Hand The video distortion of a mans face is recorded on video. The distortion itself is lengthy, hellish, and strange. Putrid Smell A TV crew that are covering a crime in a residential area encounters a strange phenomenon. Another interesting little event that sets up a legitimately scary image. Cruise ship A tourist on a cruise ship captures a creepy image while at sea. Decent. Yosuke-kun A woman is visited by a strange woman who constantly knocks on her door and speaks in gibberish. This begins in a fairly annoying manner, but ends with a legitimately creepy scene. (Viewed without subtitles.)

Kidan Piece of Darkness (2016) (Japanese Horror Anthology) This is an anthology of 10 short films that are not long enough to develop story or characters, so this is similar in some ways to the Tales of Terror from Tokyo series. A few shorts are directed by Koji Shiraishi. Overtaking At 3:00am, four friends are driving home and see the figure of a woman wearing a white dress in the front. Kinda cheesy, but pretty good. Kageotoko After a loud sound repeatedly hits a glass door, a grandmother wakes up from her sleep and sees a black shadow approaching. This is a bit creepy, with a somewhat open-ended ending. Orchestra Come A young girl is freaked out by a man who stands silent in a park area. This is a bit creepy. Together We Were Watching A woman hangs herself in a highschool classroom, but her eyes refuse to close even when forced shut. This is a bit creepy. Red Woman After playing some basketball, some schoolgirls are confronted by a woman in red who walks slowly down a staircase. The girls go to a party, but the radio suddenly emits the voice of the woman in red. This is a bit spooky, with a very agile ghost who runs fast and jumps around. Combined Channel of Free Channels A young man hears a weird voice on his radio. This has some pretty good visuals and a few weird moments. Eerie too. Where is the Child - Late at night, a teacher is left alone in a staff room and sees a girl wearing a red dress. A few interesting, spooky scenes in this one. Attempt More Grammar school kids visit a cemetery to play a tag game, but get injured one after another. Definitely a bit different, this is the best segment and has a very creepy final shot. Thief A cute girl and her little brother experience some strange events. A bit creepy. Closed A young girl is perplexed that her closet keeps opening on its own. This is entertaining, has some energy to it, and is blackly comical. (Viewed without subtitles.)

Not Recommended

Critters (1986) (American Horror/Comedy) When a team of Krites fuzzy aliens equipped with sharp teeth escape from an outer space prison, they head straight for Earth and land in a quiet, rural town in Kansas, where they wreak havoc. First of all, Nadine Van Der Velde was smoking hot! Second, I like the opening scenes that show the aliens. Third, there are a few amusing moments here and there. Unfortunately, this movie fell flat for me and I found myself bored during much of the runtime. It just didnt have that X-factor to keep me interested. The attack scenes are mostly bland and repetitive too.

Easter Nightmare (2016) (Japanese Horror) An amateur dancer and her friends are stalked and murdered by a bunny man. This is only 63 minutes long, which exposes the laziness of this movie because pacing should never be this bad for a film this short. Way too much dull filler to sit thru, frequently involving scenes of boring characters who talk and dance very poorly. Acting is no good. The first three deaths are lame and only show the back of the bunny mans head, which is frustrating. Subsequent deaths are a bit better, but extremely repetitive (lots of bloodless neck-biting). There is some pretty good atmosphere at times, and an effective use of sound. The face of the bunny is memorable; they should have showed him more often. Based on the game The Rabbit House. (Viewed without subtitles.)

Japanese Horror Stories (2015) (Japanese Horror) This is an anthology of four horror films that have a total runtime of 69 minutes. All of these movies are very cheap looking, with low production values and very limited sets. Acting is mostly subpar. Faithbook (30 min) Some girls are kidnapped and forced to participate in a social network of death. Decent premise but the execution is merely okay. The villain is somewhat annoying. Withdrawn (10 min) An older sister realizes that her younger sibling has been getting bullied, but is she too late? This has a good dramatic moment, but then ends abruptly and without a proper resolution. Stalker (9 min) A nutcase stalks his ex-girlfriend. This is very badly acted, with no character depth or creepiness at all. Poor use of Pachelbels Canon as a song too. Alone With Nanako (20 min) Oddball couple fool around in a haunted apartment. Silly humor that does not work. Boring.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

My Wife Got Married (South Korea, 2008)

I remember I liked your review of this film so I gave it a shot. I like it for the execution and technical aspects because you really just can't find any flaw with Son Ye-jin. She just plays the bigamist part with impunity. Her magic does that. She's justwow.

At first I thought there was some "A Moment to Remember" dejavu where her erm, weird attitude, will lead to a scene where she'll break down in tears and say "I'M JUST PLAYING WITH YOU BECAUSE OF A DEEPER REASON!!!!!" If it happened that way this movie would've made it into the pedestal again. Turns out there was no deeper reason so to speak other than polygamous love. This is actually the first movie I've seen with this theme and it somehow gave me a lump in the throat but you know I can't fault the morality aspect out of respect to our Muslim brothers.

So let's get back to the more interesting topic: Son Ye-jin and that steamy sex scene. Wow, Son Ye-jin please please don't reach "The Treacherous" levels!!! You know, to preserve your sexiness and sex appeal.

Overall assessment: Wonderful movie that will make you enjoy life and realize that there really are some people who are afraid of commitment, that some people really don't love in the same way you do, and that you cannot expect other people to feel and commit in the same way that you want them to. Kaboom!

Edit: I just realized, The Treacherous has somewhat become my standard for porn-in-movies, no?