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

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

It's my kind of film even though the lead character eats and drinks a lot.

Hm, so no eating, drinking, or shouting for you, huh? Paging Dr. Freud

Wait, Jung Jae-Young "ruined" Castaway on the Moon? Come on! I thought he was great in that. I mean, he carried the film anyway you look at it. Too much shouting? Too much mugging? Too much licking salty sweat off himself? I punted You Call It Passion recently after two attempts, by the way. He was fantastic in Right Now, Wrong Then. I think the guy's got chops.

Too bad about Inside Men. I do like films where lots of stuff happens that you don't see in real life. That's why writers are tempted to use rich Masters of the Universe who be flossin'. But yeah it's touchy - it's got to be good (eg Oldboy), otherwise it's just ludicrous.

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

Jung Jae-Young "ruined" Castaway on the Moon?

I can only remember thinking he was too "acty". I loved loved the girl.

Same with eating and drinking and shouting. It's almost always acty, inauthentic.

I'm giving Inside Men another shot while I tool around here. That Jeremy Piven guy is freakin in this too! Lots of talking. The kind of talking that's not like normal people doIt's deep exposition. The director should have written a novel instead of making a film. And then they will saw someone's hand off. And then more exposition. And speaking of comedy. The roles for women in this thing are hilarious. I hear this last hour is gonna be good. I should have gone for the not 3 hour version, though, I think.

Summer flix

Summer Palace (2006)
It's becoming an early June ritual to re-watch Summer Palace. I don't know about you, but for me Tienanmen Square was a monumental life event, akin to the Kennedy Assassination. This film has a feel that is a cross between a Korean romantic drama and a laid-back, nostalgic American political-social period piece about the 60s.

I wrote this one up the first time I saw it, so I won't repeat. It's one of the most expansive, free and open Chinese films - the only one I can think of that really fills out through Beijing without a cop looking over your shoulder. It's got a lot of black and white space, in the sense that it reflects what "almost" happened in China and didn't: a cultural reunification with the outside world, which was very much in the air in the summer of 89. The warm cozy autumn evening Beijing bar scenes, and the Tienanmen square scenes are unforgettable. Probably an 8.92.

Do The Right Thing (1989)
"Electrifying" is the word that comes to mind about Do The Right Thing. This movie hit New York in the summer of 1989 like a July afternoon thunderstorm lightning bolt. At first when I popped it on I thought, okay this is dated and cheesy, what are you doing there with the funky dancing, Rosie Perez? But you quickly get back into the newness of it. This film is just dripping with so much atmosphere, you'd have to get on the A/C/E train to get out of the movie.

One thing I admire about this film is the way Lee spends so much time investing in creating the atmosphere of heat that is the proximate cause of people's tension. The heat is like a plot device, but an all-encompassing one that smothers every frame of the movie. It's brilliant and so real. Some of the writing is a bit brittle, but forgivable because of a great ensemble cast, which you can tell is really working together as a team, like a few other great films I can think of. Unforgettable characters like Radio Raheem, Lee's hot sister Jasmine, Da Mayor, DJ Love Daddy, and my personal idol, Sweet D*** Willie. This film puts the love in labor of love. Lee himself is not much of an actor, but it's impossible to see Spike Lee on the screen, because the real Spike Lee is more Mookie than Spike Lee.

This was the first real 'cinema' I ever experienced and remains one of the great films, and probably the New Yorkiest film of all time. I don't quite want to rate it this high, but it's a 9.03 because I keep going back to it.

Casa Amor aka Working Girl (2014)
The Koreans are so obstinate about shattering genre forms that it's sometimes almost passive-aggressive. I wish I had been in the room when the producers pitched Casa Amor aka Working Girl as a sentimental family dildo comedy. Because that's what it is. Ok, clap clap Korea, you proved you could do it. Here's a cookie. As others have said, this is not as bad as you would think it has to be. And yes, Clara Lee is a very nice looking young lady. It's a 7.08.

Thithi (2015)
I don't watch Indian films. I hate musicals so I don't do Bollywood, and generally something about the smothering closeness of Indian culture turns me off. I don't like the nosy relatives butting into your business theme. But I watched Thithi and this is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. An instant classic.

One of the greatest accomplishments you can pull off in cinema is using non-actors, and doing it right. When it comes off well, it's just about my favorite thing to see on screen. People who are not acting, because they don't know how and it's not in their nature. I dig naturalism. And this film is pure pure cinema réalité. That can often be dry and boring, but in this case, it's a treat. You don't usually see such humor with non-actors. It's really a treat to be able to just walk into this village in India and be there for a while. Another great thing about this film is how perfectly the salty language of the rural folks is rendered into English. It brings us in to the inside jokes.

But Thithi is a fable so universal that it could literally be anywhere in the world. This film could have been made in Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, heck, Mississippi, and it would look virtually identical. Some movies are not the greatest films, but have that quality of "perfection," and this is one of them. The arc of the story is so tight at the seams, the whole film seals up like a ziplock bag. Beginning, middle, the End. Pure film delight and wholesome chuckles throughout, it's a must see and a slam dunk for Best Foreign Picture Oscar. Solid 9.

Three Sisters (2012)

Wang Bing knows how to direct a documentary correctly: point the camera at people for so long that they forget it's there or get exhausted of being tense and alert to it. And keep your mouth shut. Well this is one school of thought anyway, on the far left side of the factual-fictional continuum of film. (Michael Moore doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut - what he's doing is not really documentary. Werner Herzog certainly can't keep his mouth shut).

This doc is weird mostly because of context. Because of where we stand. It's just three young girls, from 3-10 years old, going about their business in a remote village in Yunnan province, which is like the Peru of China high altitude and equatorial, but also sort of like the West Virginia of China. As another reviewer pointed out, they're just living the way people have lived for a long time. But suddenly new rich China, smartphones, WeChat and we're not used to seeing kids picking the body lice off each other anymore. It's us that have moved our mental frames. But just two generations ago, the vast majority of China was living at this level of poverty. Looking at this poverty, the English print on the 10 year old girl's only hoodie, triggers a weird kind of western liberal guilt that is actually edifying. Grounding. Inspiring, even.

This one could have been longer and could have been deeper, but in some ways it was very responsible of Wang Bing to not try to inject a story line into this or fish for something juicy. It's a true documentary, and the runtime just flys by, so I must have been pretty fascinated. A good 8.1.

Salut D'Amor (2015)

This was sort of a bog-standard korean klan komedy, local 'hood in Seoul, families, and a love story between old codgers. It was going sort of okay, b-game Korean stuff. But then about halfway through I just felt it was too weak, and the bottom dropped out of my attention. Bailed. N/R

Finding Mr. Right 2 (2016)
Wow, this one was kind of a surprise and kind of refreshing. Not a great movie, but I'm watching the development of Chinese cinema under a microscope, and this one is a sign you're getting there, China! You're slowly getting there. Chinese films seem squarely divided into 'pop' mainstream movies, and the few arthouse-oriented films (whereas it's a little more blurred in Korea and Japan, to me).

This is a straight up popular rom-drom. It's full of all the usual Chinese stuff; materialism oddly coexisting with 'inspirational kitten poster' level philosophy about how there's more to life than money; a few dumb jokes; flashy but shallow production values, weird and distracting dubbing; and weaknesses in writing. But I see this one as a step forward; there was a little more emotional honesty than you usually see in Chinese movies, where things can be quite stiff and formal, or full of shallow platitudes. If the goal is for China to find it's own authentic voice cliche as that sounds and make movies that are as heartfelt as the best of Korea and the U.S. Well, they're getting there, but they'll have to get past a lot of cultural and economic headwinds.

You don't get to see Macao in movies every day, so I loved the Macao flavor, and this was one of the most interesting angles on L.A. I've seen in a while. You won't recognize Vegas and L.A. in this movie because everything looks different; newer, flatter, and brighter through a Chinese camera, which is weird weird weird. Tang Wei's career has been sort of bouncing off the tracks. She doesn't seem happy. But she's a major talent and it shows here, as ever. Did she learn some Cantonese just for this role? Xiubo Wu did really well here. You have to give him credit for being game to do all the acting in English, when he obviously doesn't speak well. Some of the very poor supporting acting by d-list token White People took a little shine off the production, and there was the usual disjointed directing, but also some good directing decisions.

China's ratio of investment is still like 8x as much into visual production value as they invest in writing, so I'll be here impatiently tapping my foot for many years to come before they get their act together. They should have allocated $1 million less to fancy production locations, and used it for script writing/consulting. Maybe this is me fishing for a job.

Overall I enjoyed watching it. I'm not telling you it's a good film, but if you have an interest in keeping up with what's going on in China and Chinese cinema, it's worth watching. A 7.45.

Re: Summer flix


I wasn't aware of China in 1989, but I give Summer Palace an unmitigated 10/10 in spite of its flaws. I think I'll re-watch it now from a different perspective since I'm on a sort of re-watch binge. I looked back at my review and it confirms what I thought I remembered seeing it as a personal film. I think that's my general tendency, as I'm not terribly worldly. I started my review with a quote from the girl: "Because it is only when we make love that you understand that I'm gentle." I know that girl so I was glued to her.

Casa Amor

a sentimental family dildo comedy
Okay, now I gotta clean up the coffee I just spit at my laptop. 7.08 is more accurate but the reason I inched toward 7 without going over is because unless it's an indie gem like About the Pink Sky that nobody is going to see I can't give 7s to anything that embarrasses me. I feel vindicated by your vote. A 7.08 says something positive, whereas a 7.03, as we all know, is a 7 barely reaching YMMV level and is in reality less than 7.

Ok, clap clap Korea, you proved you could do it. Here's a cookie.
That's my response to Inside Men, which I finished. And that's how I felt about Assassination Amsal (2015). Neither are bad films but they're so left brain complex that when I finished them I felt: "okay, I followed that" but not much more. And speaking of Byung-hun Lee, he may not actually be a haircut model but he sports several distinct hairstyles in the film. And he does bring a sense of humor to his gangstering.

I don't watch Indian films either but you may have sold me on Thithi. I recently read a review of it somewhere and almost watchlisted it, but. Indian.

Three Sisters has been on my watchlist for a while but I've been confused about different versions of it. San zimei (2012) vs Gudu (2013). I think I have the edited short version and, as a rule, such things are usually lacking.

I will proactively punt Salut D'Amor.

I punted the first Finding Mr. Right and got pissed at one of my favorite actresses for being a part of it. What was she thinking? And now she's doing a sequel/second version? Why did you have to: watch it; enjoy it; and be so informative in recommending it? Damnit. I could watch Tang Wei take a dump. But eating a velveeta cheese sandwich? Fast forward this conversation At this point, I'm pretty much sold on your Chinese film derisions, and so in the context of seeing them illuminated in a mildly entertaining way, I might give it shot. I may not be self-illuminated enough to catch all of it, but Tang Wei.

Re: Summer flix

now I gotta clean up the coffee I just spit at my laptop

My work here is done. Lol.

Yeah Casa Amor gets a 7.08 on the basis of exceeding low expectations. I saw the movie before I read your review, but your 6.87 is objectively accurate it's just I was expecting a 5.34 or 6.55 tops. My sixes mean 'vaguely disappointed but watched the whole thing' whereas sevens mean 'entertaining.' So yeah, it's embarrassing but fairly enjoyable, and who hasn't had that one before? but it gets points for doing better than you would think it possibly could with that ludicrous premise. So it basically got 0.19 points for that.

I didn't realize I was watching the short cut of Three Sisters, that explains a lot! Thanks for clarifying that. I might even go watch the extended cut next time I feel like my life is over because somebody cut me off in traffic.

Based on Assassination and Inside Men, I get the feeling Korea is doing a better job at its attempt to pole-vault up to global level than China is doing with its attempt, and with 50 million people versus 1.3 billion, and less cake.

Gotta check out Thithi, man. It's just one of those everybody has to see and chime in on. Heck, I'm still waiting for your take on Right Now, Wrong Then. It's just about the most sitenoisy film I've ever seen!

FMR2, yeah I have a strong appetite for mainland films because real daily life of people in China is so underexposed in movieland, and I'm dead curious. All they're giving me is a ton of this freakin' Tiny Times crap. We should have a lot more slice of life films about China's modern life by now, but 1) the development of the industry is lagging reality by about 10 years, and 2) everybody's on pins and needles about censorship so they just make money with wuxia tv shows and brain-dead animation cause it's easier. People think, okay let's make a movie about a girl living in China but we can't talk about anything that's wrong with life Kind of hard to build a plot there.

So FMR2 is kind of a bad movie, but I eat this stuff up, kind of like people would watch anything on color TV or in Technicolor in the 50s, I imagine. Didn't see the first one but I think the second was much bigger budget and better, but still bad on many levels. It's overlong but it hurls a lot of settings and plot stuff at you so it's not like you're just watching Tang Wei's nailpolish dry, which you would probably get off on

Re: Summer flix

I thought I was the only one who don't do Indian here! I agree about the musical being erm, out of place (???-gosh I hope no bollywood fans read my post) but your review of Thithi is convincing I might break away from tradition.

Silent Warrior-

Re: Summer flix

Yeah give it a try! I would love to hear your thoughts. It has a hilarious amount of bad language, but it's very wholesome good fun. I don't know what to compare it to because it's not even remotely like Bollywood at all - it reminds me of Emir Kusturica's movies from Serbia, and some Romanian ones. Would be fun to discuss the characters in this one.

Re: Summer flix

I thought I was the only one who don't do Indian here! I agree about the musical being erm, out of place - plsletitrain

I think most people posting at IMDb don't do Indian and most complain about the dance-songs in popular Indian films.

Anyhow, there exist aside of the popular films also Indian films without dance-songs. And there exist even some such films that IMO all film enthusiasts should have seen, for instance the Apu trilogy by Satyajit Ray:
Pather Panchali (1955) Pather Panchali
Aparajito (1956) Aparajito
Apur Sansar (1959) The World of Apu

each brain develops its own preferences

Re: Summer flix

Yes I saw Pather Panchali and it was a real masterpiece, this is probably a good time to cue up the other two from that trilogy.

I can imagine that a lot of Indian directors want to make films that are not in the Bollywood style, but there must be a lot of temptation/pressure on the money side to just go for the easy profits with pop bollywood films. This kid Raam Reddy though, is definitely a talent to watch! I didn't mention, that one of the producers of Thithi is Korean. I hope there are more to come like this from India, or more to find..

Re: Summer flix

I can imagine that a lot of Indian directors want to make films that are not in the Bollywood style, but there must be a lot of temptation/pressure on the money side to just go for the easy profits with pop bollywood films. - zelena33

IMO it's not only pressure "to just go for the easy profits". Bollywood type films are also an art, for instance how to integrate dance-songs well into a film or how to portray the intense emotions. Most popular Indian films are cheap and bad I agree, but so are many Hollywood films IMO.

Anyhow, my favourite modern Indian director Santosh Sivan usually makes films of the world film type without dance-songs, he is a famous cinematographer and his films are always beautiful. He made one film (Asoka (2001)), which is a fusion of art and Bollywood film, with dance-songs, which is my "all time all countries" top favourite (see The music still belongs to my favourite albums and the dance choreographies belong to the best I have seen (Hollywood included). IMO he would be a great director for Bollywood films, but this film got not enough success at the box office, thus he has up to now not made another art Bollywood fusion film. Moreover, he could make this one film only because he got the backing of Indian super star Shah Rukh Khan.

So it's also the pressure to make enough profits to get another film financed. Santosh Sivan gets only then enough financing for popular style films when a star backs his film. However, the other star (South Indian Prithviraj Sukumaran) is not as famous as Bollywood based Shah Rukh Khan and not as rich, thus Sivan's other two art-pop fusion films look cheaper and hampered by the finances (Anandabhadram (2005), Urumi (2011)).

each brain develops its own preferences

Ok, clap clap Korea, you proved you could do it. Here's a cookie.

Ok, clap clap Korea, you proved you could do it. Here's a cookie.

stealing that line for my review of Inside Men

Re: Ok, clap clap Korea, you proved you could do it. Here's a cookie.

Lol you're welcome to it. Winning hearts and minds one zelenism at a time.

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

Part 23 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers the better films released during 2002:

Part 24 is also up. It covers the crappy films from 2003 and provides a brief intro argument regarding the best years for Asian horror:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

The World of Kanako (2014) (Japanese Drama/Thriller) (repeat viewing) As a former detective (Koji Yakusho) searches for his missing teenage daughter, he soon learns she has a mysterious secret life. Yakusho gives what is probably the best performance of his entire career (and thats saying something!) as a protagonist who is completely reprehensible. The supporting cast is very strong too, with Satoshi Tsumabuki being particularly amusing. Actually, almost every character is completely reprehensible in this one, but Tetsuya Nakashima uses a disorienting direction and editing style that shifts back and forth in time and forces the viewer to pay close attention to the images that are presented. This works extremely well and creates a very absorbing experience despite the absence of endearing characters. Some reviewers have cited this film as an homage to old school exploitation thrillers, with an element of absurd black humor sprinkled throughout. Viewer beware that this is an extremely violent, mean-spirited, depraved movie but its also really damn interesting and entertaining.

Creed (2015) (American Drama) The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed. This film is anchored by very solid performances by both Stallone and Michael B. Jordan. The story is typical, but it is well executed and the way it is modernized for the present day is mostly successful. I was worried that they would drown Rockys character in needless, repetitive suffering like they did in Rocky 5 and Rocky Balboa but I was pleasantly surprised at how his story developed. Solid film.

The Revenant (2015) (American Drama/Thriller) A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. The protagonist certainly deserves a nomination for Worst Week Ever, because the sheer amount of punishment he takes is crazy. The opening attack by Native Americans is visceral, violent, and very nicely shown with wide tracking camera shots and minimal editing. This visual style is more or less used throughout, and it works. Cold, snowy environments are a plus, with some beautiful natural environments. The scene where the dude builds a shelter during a blizzard is badass. The bear scene is brutal and memorable. Performances are solid by both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Viewer bewarned of some bloody violence.


Love and Peace (2015) (Japanese Drama/Comedy Fantasy) This unorthodox film by Sion Sono is best watched with little to no knowledge of the plot, which concerns a socially inept office worker, his pet turtle, and a clan of living toys. This nutty family film is unpredictable in how it develops, and it has a deceptively dramatic quality to it. The humor relies on tongue-in-cheek cheesiness, and it works because I laughed quite a bit. Tons of practical effects give this a charming, old school feel. The final half hour is a very satisfying climax. This one has a heart.

A Violent Prosecutor (2016) (Korean Crime Drama) After a prosecution lawyer is framed and convicted for murder, he tries to catch the real murderer from jail with the help of a con artist. The strength of this movie is the fact that it showcases two of the countrys best actors: Jeong-min Hwang and Dong-won Gang. Gang is particularly hilarious as the wimpy ladies man who lies to everyone, and I would say that the most entertaining moments involve him as he goes out to gather evidence for Hwangs character. Plot developments are a bit unrealistic in terms of how easy it is to deceive people, and the finale is a typical court proceeding, but this is good stuff. The theme song is catchy too.

Black Board (1986) (Japanese Drama) After a students body is found in a pond, it is revealed that the murderers were being bullied by him. The school body must now cope with this situation. This film moves linearly and predictably, but there is quite a bit of nuance and complexity to the character interaction. The theme of bullying is showcased very well and it is interesting to see how the teachers and students deal with it. Flashbacks show how the murder victim was liked by some fellow students.

Edo Porn (1981) (Japanese Drama) Set during samurai times, a woodblock artist becomes obsessed with a woman, who provides significant inspiration for his works and helps him to reconnect with his youth. The woman floats in and out of the film, so most of the emphasis is placed on the main protagonist and his family/acquaintances. This has a light dose of humor and plenty of nudity. A bit too long at two full hours, but I enjoyed the turn of events that occurs during the second half.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006) (American Documentary) This documentary investigates the secretive and inconsistent process by which the Motion Picture Association of America rates films. In terms of positives, this film does show some of the inconsistencies regarding the MPAAs handling of sex and violence in movies, but that is already known to most movie fans. The frustrating process of how filmmakers are forced to deal with the MPAA is also shown, which is interesting. However, this documentary overall feels like an amateur effort that wastes time on crap that doesnt matter. This is repetitive, shallow, and lacking in convincing writing and fluidity. There is too much time spent with the private detectives who try to find out the names of the people within the MPAA, which makes no sense to me because I frankly dont care who these detectives are (just show them in the damn credits, for goodness sakes!). Even when the names, ages, and families of the MPAA members are finally revealed, theres no extensive argument explaining what negative effects would result from this collection of individuals. I was also hoping for some coverage over the controversial changes made to the Friday the 13th films and the inconsistent ratings involving violence itself, both past and present. This documentary is watchable, but is also a blown opportunity.

Not Recommended

Krampus (2015) (American Horror/Comedy) A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a demon to his family home. This film begins with completely idiotic, badly written dialogue that introduces characters who are shallow and obnoxious. Then we get lots of boring filler and a few attack sequences that occur off-screen or are simply lame. The final half hour does have a few good moments, but the death scenes become repetitive with people getting sucked into the ground over and over again. This movie needed a lot more violence . . . or a much better script. Its such an incredibly frustrating experience because the premise lends to some truly entertaining stuff, and you assure yourself that a really good scene is right around the corner, but it just doesnt happen most of the time.

Sharknado (2013) (American Action/Comedy) When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, natures deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace. This has the same flaws as Sharknado 3, which I saw first. I think my big problem with most of the sharknado attacks is threefold: (1) there is no set-up to them; (2) events feel rushed; and (3) theyre not as creative as they should be. Also, theres more emphasis on the disaster elements (flooding and high winds) than the actual sharks. This is a blown opportunity for something really fun.

The Strangling (1979) (Japanese Drama) This film begins with two parents who murder their adult son, then shifts to flashbacks for context and background. This is a very simplistic, boring film that does not warrant its 2-hour runtime. Consequently, the entire second half is repetitive and kinda cheesy. The young man is a whiny crybaby.

Hard Gun (1996) (Thai Action/Comedy) The marketing campaign for this film is a shameless lie. Tony Jaa is billed as the lead, but he gets less than 10 minutes of screentime. This is a zero budget flick with crap production values involving bad guys who goof around and eventually fight. Tons of boring filler and lame humor to sit through (theres a chunk during the middle section where a group of side characters play sports in their backyard). Fights are sparse and of a very low quality until the decent finale. Soundtrack is a blatant rip-off of American movies.

Supergirl (1984) (American Drama/Action/Horror) When she loses her citys vital power supply, a Kryptonian girl follows it to Earth in the hopes of retrieving it, but she clashes with an evil woman. I did like how this went for more of a fantasy vibe, with a slight horror slant, but thats really the only positive thing I can say about this. Theres no urgency to the threat at all during the entire first half of the film because the protagonist decides to hang out in college for a while. Consequently, there is tons of boring filler that has nothing to do with the conflict. And theres no reason for this film to be over 2 hours long. The script is horribly contrived and stupifying, with insanely improbable coincidences littered all over the place. The actress who plays the villain hams it up intentionally, but not in an endearing way. This also showcases one of the most unconvincing romantic subplots in motion picture history. If I were to use one word and one word only to describe Supergirl, that word would be lame. Have a squirt instead.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

Sono's Love and Peace?

I started watching Love and Peace last night and had to punt after 15-20 minutes. The lead character is introduced making a stupid-acting-face. That's a bad sign. Then there's foreshadowing of an outcast romance. Kumiko Aso was a bad choice for this role because hair pins and glasses don't make her into an ugly dork, so she's going to have to act stupid to pull it off. Bad script writing 101. Then, of course, there's a shot of our hero doing ill mannered, stupid-face-making, eating-acting. I knew that was coming. This is just a bad Gilbert Gottfried movie so far. Two punts in a row for me with Sono, Virgin Psychics and this, (I sat through Tokyo Tribe but didn't like much of it) and it doesn't look like Shinjuku Swan is going to be any better. I hope like heck that The Whispering Star is watchable, and not more of this nonsense.

This is a bad direction for Sono. He hasn't done this before and should stick with high school girls, crazy people, or sexual deviance. Young Japanese men doing bad Gilbert Gottfried impersonations doesn't suit himor rather doesn't suit me. This chunk of 6 movies in a year, or whatever, has been terrible. Except for TAG. That gave him some cushion room, gave me my needed Sono fix, and almost lets me look the other way regarding the rest of this Hollywood style "stupid is funny" garbage.

Love and Peace has gotten some love from folks around here. I may re-visit it if someone can assure me that Gilbert Gottfried goes away.

Millennium Mambo

Millennium Mambo (2001 Taiwan)

Shu Qi has an overpowering sexuality. But literally overpowering, with a blast radius beyond the whole frame of the screen. Sort of like a Chinese Angelina Jolie. She's too sexy for her shirt, so sexy it hurts. The problem is that all of the dudes acting off her seem somewhat, okay, completely terrified to be in the same room as her as actors. Well I would be too. But as an actress, she's better off erm acting, rather than being a full-time masturbation device for director Hsiao-Hsien Hou. So her performance was a hell of a lot more fun in Journey to the West. That one does her justice.

I loved the way the film was shot and directed. It's my kind of photography, very subjective, long and followy. My man Ping Bing Lee. And I loved the production design. This really looked like the apartment of me and my friends in my 20s. But it didn't really. But in spirit it did, so that's movie magic for you.

But after an hour of drinking, sulk-sessions, smoking a bit of crack and bickering, you realize nothing is going to happen here. It's not even a question of whether there's a plot, but is there even going to be an event of any significance for the characters, and will I give a damn? No. It's the kind of film where the director almost forbids you from caring about the characters (she's MINE!), which is misguided.

I'm no plot-nazi, but the world and the people and the text has to be more interesting than this for me to really get into it. I do like movies with voice-over narrations because they're usually very thinky, but sometimes it can be the opposite vapid. Ultimately I wasn't buying it. Didn't care much. It didn't have a story, or an idea, like comparable, and much more satisfying Wong Kar-Wai films do. I thought at first that the 1:41 would fly by. It didn't.

I did like a lot of the directorial decisions, even though they were downright odd. The one or two music cues that kept showing up quietly under everything, just to make the scene less boring hmm. It's kind of like a 101 minute remix of a song you liked at first Ultimately, pretty, but not a keeper. Without cinematographer Ping and the soundtrack, this would have been a real drag. At least I got all the way through this, unlike Café Lumière. I know this film is better than my rating of it, but my experience was 6.91.

Re: Right Said Fred

I can get into some of these full-time masturbation devices for directors. The Doyle-lensed Green Tea struck me as one, only with more substance. And it seems like a nice compare/contrast with the Lee-lensed MM, at least in terms of distance. Some of Green Tea's photography was almost creepy the way it fondled Zhou Wei's body. Doyle's a hard drinking man. I imagine Lee is a stoner, but I dunno.

My man Ping Bing. Have you seen the documentary about him: Let the Wind Carry Me Cheng zhe guang ying lu xing (2009)? It paint's him as a tree-hugging mama's boy who you can't help but like.

Do you know any story on how/why Lee and Doyle are credited for shooting In the Mood for Love. Who shot what parts, and stuff. I love both those guys' work.

I agree with everything you write re: Millennium Mambo, except the score, of course, because, ya know, as I think you know, I'm cool with most of the stuff that doesn't quite engage you.

Café Lumière was an epiphany film for me. The first time I watched it I didn't "like" it, but managed to write a polite and balanced review of it, I think. (at least as measured against some reviews I write of films I don't like) lol. I had some nice things to say about it. I really dug the way that girl grunted and "hai"'d so much as a way to acknowledge the world, or something. It's things like that that I want to enjoy about a film. I love reading people who write about a film's subtext and influences, but it's not how I want to enjoy or not enjoy a film. It's not how I want to "see" it. Anyway, my second viewing was the epiphany. I felt like I got it, and not only it, but that style. Where every moment of a film doesn't have to say or do something. Even the whole film doesn't have to say or do something. But you have to be good about it. An example of a film, a remarkable film except for the non-saying, non-doing parts, that isn't so good about it, imo, is All Around Us Gururi no koto (2008). The downtime seemed forced, amateurish, empty. But I need to re-watch it.

Re: Right Said Fred

Yep, I can see the comparison with Green Tea. But substance, yeah, that one had a lot of structure, very tight actually. I fully agree with the boozer/stoner assessment!

Maybe I sound like I'm not into atmospheric mood arthouse films. Maybe I'm not as much as I think I am, or I'm over it. But a lot of the time, I am selecting films based on where they are shot or set, because film is mainly a form of ideational travel for me. So I'm open to films where nothing happens. Maybe it's that, in a film with more substance, the setting whether it's a place or a concept or an event actually has an effect on a person, and you go through that with the character. That's what I found lacking in MM. She's totally opaque. A monolith. All this yadda yadda yadda with dudes, and it has no effect on her or anything else.

Yeah I'll check out that PB Lee doc, and no, I don't know the story with ITMFL. Did somebody get fired? Doyle and Wong and like tight buds, I think. These guys, as photographers really take me out into deep space. I think they often bring a lot more to a film than the director does. With MM, I would have liked to see a lot more of Lee's vision of Taipei, but that wasn't in the script. For me it's great to be soaked in Hong Kong with Wong Kar Wai films. I could be there all day and all night and again the next day.

Off the top of my head I can't think of a lot of low-key asian films where nothing happens, that I like. But the first one that comes to mind is Lucretia Martel's La Cienaga (Argentina 2001). I guess it's very subjective. You have to want to be around those people in that space. All Around Us, I bailed after less than an hour. There wasn't anything there. At least give me Tokyo.

Sometimes I think these arthouse directors are just real con-artists. I mean, how hard could it be, to make one of these movies where nothing happens? And the critics read stuff into it; foundations fund it; festivals play it; they make a living. Only one in 100 of these directors is really good. I'm kind of a populist or a Marxist about it; should be big ideas, but not just for intellectuals. Still I know you have a certain need for breathing space in the film to fill in with your imagination or your 'read' of what's going on. That's essentially what art is about; the interaction between what the artist doesn't say and what happens in the audience's mind. Like I say about photography, that it's more important what isn't in the frame, because it's implied and creeps into your mind. I hate films where there's only one thought you could possibly have about any given frame. But I also hate the ones where it's zero thoughts.

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

Part 25 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers the better films released during 2003:

Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

The Advocate: A Missing Body (2015) (Korean Crime Drama/Thriller) After being assigned a sketchy murder case, a defense attorney investigates further to uncover the hidden scheme behind it. This is a well-written, complex mystery that has many twists and turns that are both interesting and logical. The protagonist is very sharp and has a charming yet slightly egotistical personality. The lead actor here is Sun-kyun Lee, and this could be this actors best all-around performance, which is saying something because hes been in tons of stuff. He carries the film from start to finish so effortlessly, its a joy to watch. As an added bonus, there are two fun footchases, one of which involves a moped and the other is a hilarious subway chase. This movie is a lot more fun and briskly paced than your typical crime drama.

Wolf Totem (2015) (Chinese Drama/Thriller) Set in 1967, a young Beijing student is sent to live among the nomadic hersmen of inner Mongolia, who have waged war against the wild wolves who target their horses and sheep. This feels almost like a documentary, which is a good thing in this case because the use of animals in this is really impressive. I enjoyed the emphasis on maintaining an ecological balance, with monitoring the number of different animals in the surrounding area for maximum benefit with the exception of the wolves, which most of the human characters despise. The main conflict involves the protagonist who decides to raise a wolf pup and train him. This is a high quality film with some memorable moments. One tunnel-crawling scene is effectively claustrophobic, and one chase scene involving horses in a night-time snowstorm is pretty damn awesome. Some beautiful locales too.


Ghost Theater (2015) (Japanese Horror) While rehearsing for a stage play, the cast and crew are troubled by strange events that are connected to a mannequin. Hideo Nakata directs this soft re-imagining of his horror film Ghost Actress (1996), but this turned out to be a very different film. This is essentially a mannequin horror film, not a ghost film, which is always welcome in my book. Storytelling is very predictable and incorporates plot points you see all the time in this genre, but the mannequin element makes it worth watching. This is one of the most realistic looking mannequins Ive ever seen. Scare tactics range from very good to mediocre, with some freaky scenes near the end. (Viewed without subtitles.)

Finding Mr. Right 2 (2016) (Chinese Drama/Romance/Comedy) This is not a sequel to the original film, but is instead a new story with the same lead actors (including Tang Wei). This time, Wei plays a casino worker who lives in Macau. She exchanges letters with a Chinese man who lives in the United States, even though shes never met him. Yes, this operates with two completely different storylines, leaving the viewer with the expectation that these two people will eventually meet near the end of the film. I think I slightly prefer its predecessor, mostly because it was a more purely entertaining experience. This one is far more dramatic, and it does work overall, but the script does use some contrivances and short-cuts along the way. Both leads are developed well, and Tang Wei is excellent as usual, but the big runtime of 132 minutes is excessive.

Jackie Brown (1997) (American Crime Drama) (repeat viewing) Jackie Brown is an aging flight attendant who smuggles cash on the side. But when shes busted and pressured to help with an investigation, she plans to play the opposing forces against each other and walk away with the dough. This is a pretty good flick that has enough of a plot to maintain interest, but it is still one of Quentin Tarantinos lesser efforts. One problem is that the dialogue is not as strong or interesting as this directors better films. Robert Forsters character is lame, wafer thin, and extremely boring to watch the film grinds to a halt every second hes on screen, and his performance is also completely unconvincing. Runtime of 154 minutes is too long for such a simplistic film, resulting in dead weight littered around all over the place. Bridget Fonda is insanely hot in this, by the way.

Not Recommended

Mountains May Depart (2015) (Chinese Drama/Romance) The life of Tao, and those close to her, is explored in three different time periods: 1999, 2014, and 2025. This film starts off okay and is acted fairly well, this is ultimately too simplistic and overlong. Zhang Ke Jias anti-Capitalistic message is getting repetitive and predictable. We all know that the character who earns a lot of money is going to be portrayed as an insufferable douchebag, while the guy who doesnt make much money is going to be shown in a more sympathetic light. Real life isnt so cut and dry, but this directors films keep painting these simplistic pictures to push an argument that is consuming his entire filmography. Its time to move on to a different theme.

The Magician (2015) (Korean Drama/Romance) Set during the Joseon Dynasty, a magician falls in love with the princess who is set to wed a Qing prince. This is shallow, predictable, and cheesy. None of the comedy works, and it fails to earn its attempts at serious drama. The scene where the two leads meet for the first time is unbelievably idiotic. I did not like the lead actress. This is boring to watch and the runtime of over two full hours is excessive. This movie must have been made for 15-year-old girls; just get an attractive lead actor and dont even bother trying with anything else.

Godsend (2013) (Korean Drama/Thriller) An infertal woman convinces a young girl to not have an abortion. Instead, the girl agrees to give her baby to the woman in exchange for a new car. Both women go to a house in the countryside and live together for a time, waiting for the birth, but they face an unforeseen danger. The characters are on the shallow side, with virtually every man being depicted as a wafer thin sleazeball.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel

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

Tag (Riaru onigokko) [2015] Japan
Director: Shion Sono
My third viewing. Why do I enjoy this film so much? I think it's the music and all the running. The scene where the girls ditch class and run down the hill to the lake is the most innocent expression of pure joy I've ever been a part of. This thing is a 9 just for that scene. The ending isn't that great but so what.

Love & Peace [2015] Japan
Director: Shion Sono
Again, I am totally at peace with the fact that Sono is going to make films I'm not going to enjoy. Could you spend 2 hours of your real life hanging with someone who kept their face puckered up like Gilbert Gottfried? Talking animals and dolls and me don't get much from one another. And I really hated the way that guy treated Kumiko Aso. Does the ending mean we're going to have a sequel where she kicks some ass? The rating is for my enjoyment factor, not for how much I think other people will like it. It seems to be going over pretty well amongst the masses.

Inside Men [2015] South Korea
Director: Min-ho Woo

It's very good for what it is. I'm just bored these days with what it is.

Love Letter [1995] Japan
Director: Shunji Iwai

Starts off a little confusingly with a woman who has two different names, and lives in two different towns at the same time and writes letters to herself. Soon enough it makes sense. Then there's one of the best onscreen kisses I've seen in a while, but the kissing guy turns out to be such a patronizing douchebag I couldn't allow him in my life for another second. The girl was too meek, and I don't like these Japanese movies where women put up with douchebags for no reason. I'm surprised at how manipulative and icky the film is. The music sucks. I thought Shunji Iwai was one of the sensitive, enlightened urban male types. Sorry comrade. Punt.

Englishy stuff:

Green Room [2015] USA
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Patrick Stewart is great and elevates the film as a (mostly) polite and thoughtful Neo-Nazi. Macon Blair is exquisite as a very polite and thoughtful Neo-Nazi. I love that a woman wins this thing and that it portrays these characters as fallible and human instead of cardboard cutouts. I put this on just to see what all the buzz was about and got glued to it. Good kills. Good stuff because it's subtle and not fan service (if you can stomach this kind of thing).

Demolition [2015] USA
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
The four main cast members do a swell enough job. There is enough thoughtful or witty dialog to make you think you're watching an intelligent movie. I got no emotional resonance, though, and when I can't figure out what went wrong I blame the director.

Where to Invade Next [2015] USA
Director: Michael Moore
Too true to be good. It didn't take long for me to stop believing what he was showing me was true. Presentation matters.

A Bigger Splash [2015] Italy, France
Director: Luca Guadagnino
2/10, well actually, punt.
It pains me to see Tilda participating in garbage like this.

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

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

Love Letter [1995] Japan
Director: Shunji Iwai

Starts off a little confusingly with a woman who has two different names, and lives in two different towns at the same time and writes letters to herself. Soon enough it makes sense. Then there's one of the best onscreen kisses I've seen in a while, but the kissing guy turns out to be such a patronizing douchebag I couldn't allow him in my life for another second. The girl was too meek, and I don't like these Japanese movies where women put up with douchebags for no reason. I'm surprised at how manipulative and icky the film is. The music sucks. I thought Shunji Iwai was one of the sensitive, enlightened urban male types. Sorry comrade. Punt.


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

Where did I go wrong? I wasn't trying to be funny. The funny bit would've been my sense of déjà vu, like I was watching Von Trier's Anti Christ again.

No harm, no foul. I just have an allergic reaction to characters like that guy. He wrote that letter without remorse demanding proof; always walked a few paces ahead of the girl. He was gonna fix things, damnit. I couldn't take it.

Odd this, his feature length debut, came out right after Undo, a short flick I enjoyed.

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

Lol I totally don't remember it that way - it's uncanny how much people's tastes can differ! The plot works itself out and I just don't remember the guy being a jerk, hm. It says in the wikipedia that this was a huge hit in Korea, the first one since the war, so it makes me wonder whether this film was actually quite influential in Korea

Love & Peace I had watchlisted, but what with the mixed reviews, I doubt I'll see it. Sono is entirely a one-trick pony to me, and I don't grudge him that. Japanese films have to be pretty damn good to get my time, but everybody probably got at least one for the watchlist from the discussion.

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

I don't think it's difference in tasteLove Letter is the kind of film I loveas much as my hyper-sensitivity to this kind of thing (except for when I choose to overlook it, like in Sono's work). It's a very Korean-like film. Visions of Ye-jin Son danced in my head. The girl version up north was K-like, her southern version very Japanese. It reminded me, tonally, of the Hur Jin-ho films I don't like, like Christmas in August, mostly due to the soundtrack. The guy wasn't an obvious, obnoxious jerk (except to me). It was subtle, and I think unconscious on Iwai's part, which concerns me. The way the guy who drove the girl to the hospital laughed. Super Ew!

I think it was a good recommendation for me. It just didn't work. I bet it did influence the Korean melodrama tradition.

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

Swing Girls (Suwingu gâruzu) [2004] Japan
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi

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

Nobody Knows (South Korea, 2004)

I'm looking for zelena's extensive take on Nobody Knows because he's the first person to spot "manipulative" films and yet he was taken by the movie but I can't find his extensive review of it.

Its a good thing I read some comments about it being sad because I prepared myself for the worst. I thought Koreeda isn't the type to go that far, but he did. And its a good thing I did, because it involves helpless kids and here we are, helpless viewers who has to see their plight right before our eyes.

I'm honestly divided on the film. I somehow hated it for the pain it caused me to see. lol. I'm kinda allergic to films with kids that suffer so. My forte is love stories that have tragic and sad endings. Kids and old people or lonely, sick people feeling all lonely and down also gives me the downers.

Air Doll will still be my top Koreeda. But Nobody Knows is above Our Little Sister. But below After Life. (Phew, I ranked them all).

I don't know what to feel. I've just finished it so everything hasn't sunk in yet. I literally want to forget I watched it because it tears me into pieces thinking it happened to actual kids.

My subjective feelings aside, I think I have to give my objective review of the film and give credit where its due. Its Koreeda, he's a master filmmaker. He captures the emotions of his actors, especially the kids. Never mind the shaky cam, we see a documentary of real innocent kids anyway. The soundtrack was befitting. He employs these cute native instruments that suits the innocent look of his actors. He goes into the heart of the storywhich is cue for me to start bringing out my shield so that I won't cry. His sequences are simple, yet meaty. Like, doing ordinary things, but you see the people doing something. Feeling something. The Koreeda trademark is there. Its something I see as unique to him, which he consistently carries out.

I'm giving Nobody Knows a 10/10. I know, I'm biased. lol.

Silent Warrior-

Re: Nobody Knows (South Korea, 2004)

It made me think: many people like to watch horror films, where people get their face chopped off with a knife, but they don't want to watch people actually suffer pain, like children being lonely. Watching a horror film, where you see the violence but don't feel anything, is like committing violence. You actually get to experience the euphoric excitement of risk, violent conflict, tension, and not losing. Watching a painful tragedy like this is like being the victim of it, or a close loved one of a victim of it.

I like what you said about "it involves helpless kids and here we are, helpless viewers" That's so true. Koreeda plays us like a fiddle. It is a masterpiece of human empathy, which is the highest thing a film can do. The usual formula for a successful film is to 1) take a very likable character, let's say Indiana Jones usually likable because she's kind to others and heroic (representing a willingness to do nice things for us), or cool (modest), etc then 2) make terrible cruel things happen to her, and then 3) let her win in the end. That way, we identify ourselves as 1) cool or heroic, 2) the victim of suffering, and 3) the ultimate winner, drinking from the cup of revenge and glory.

But Koreeda here doesn't give you a free cookie. You have to find your own way out. He says, look: People are suffering. A lot. Right now. In our world. What are you going to do about it? There is no character to walk in and solve it for you, like the policeman father figure, etc. The mother role in this way just amazingly brilliant and true believe me, I know this woman. There is no "grown up," to solve the plot, because people in this world are not acting like grown ups. That's Koreeda's idea, I think. And he achieves it by getting us into that trance state of staring at the screen, anticipating, what will happen to this person next? That's how we start to put ourselves into the place of these characters.

So, as you say, we are like the children, helpless to avoid the pain of empathizing with them. Damn, I think even I choked on my donut a little bit or got some dust in my eye when Yuki died. I liked this film for the same reason I loved Oasis. Just so *beep* real, emotionally. Some films can achieve a level maybe 85% as real as life itself. This was the first Koreeda film I saw, and I was like wow. He has a way of gazing straight at things that 99.9% of us feel awkward and want to look away from. You can see other filmmakers touch on painful subjects (ie love) and they can't handle it, they quickly look away, for an easy solution to the embarrassment. Like I often say about "sad" music: it doesn't make you sad, that's not the point. It makes you connect with other people, recognizing the suffering there is in life. It lifts you up. It is a pathway to love.

"His sequences are simple, yet meaty. Like, doing ordinary things, but you see the people doing something. Feeling something. The Koreeda trademark is there." I agree 100%. Those scenes with the kids being kids, for better or worse, were so real. Buying junk food when they had to survive, playing video games, the hiding, the humiliation. Anyone with any experience of poverty will recognize the whole thing and groan in empathy. The hiding in suitcases was a huge metaphor, because in poverty, you area always trying to conceal it.

There is something very, very edifying about it. When you go through something intellectually and emotionally complex, like a film like this, it doesn't really hurt you. Nobody bleeds, nobody dies. But you come out of it more mature and bigger, as a person. Art really effects people. So don't think I'm a sicko, but I love films where you see children suffering.

No pain, no gain, please let it rain!

Re: Nobody Knows (South Korea, 2004)

"It made me think: many people like to watch horror films, where people get their face chopped off with a knife, but they don't want to watch people actually suffer pain, like children being lonely. Watching a horror film, where you see the violence but don't feel anything, is like committing violence. You actually get to experience the euphoric excitement of risk, violent conflict, tension, and not losing. Watching a painful tragedy like this is like being the victim of it, or a close loved one of a victim of it."

Yes, you said it right. I think the "fear" we experience in horror films is superficial, whereas the "fear" we get to see in life tragedies such as Nobody Knows is something that goes beyond superficial it feels real. That's why for me personally, I can handle whatever horror film there is because that's fun, seeing ghosts or some slashing or whatever. That's not likely to happen in real life. Or there is little possibility it will. But chances of people or children experiencing these life tragedies is so big it might happen to me, that's why I'm affected by it. Because I'm thinking what if these stuff happened to me? Or my family? Then I'll start to think that life is all sunshines and rainbows. Then movies like these tell me it isn't.

You know to be honest, I expected you to call this movie manipulative. Because hey, look at this movie! It has kids in it who suffer, even one of them dies all because of life's cruelties! You'll cry in this. Something like the one you accused of Pixar's doing.

You know what I like about Koreeda even more (someone tell me to start building a shrine already) is his authenticity. I feel his movies and the sadness or whatnot it brings to us is sincere. Unlike *cough* some Philippine movies that scream Oscar or Cannes bait *cough* saying Hey! Look at the Philippines!! We're a land of poor and dangerous people! Every single movie about how low the Philippines has become gets spewed every month it screams nothing but drama bait already. But yeah, I still watch them.

Silent Warrior-

Re: Nobody Knows (South Korea, 2004)

I expected you to call this movie manipulative

Ok, I could see that. But no, I think it's to do with the 'authenticity' you mentioned. Pixar films really are just a flint-hearted capitalist undertaking. Making you feel certain emotions through scientifically proven psychological manipulations - just so they can make a buck. All their films are the same, and they really treat us like zoo animals or livestock. It's insidious.

Nobody Knows, by contrast, is based on a real event, which was in reality even more harsh than the movie. So there's no comparison, to me. Koreeda has earned our respect to listen to what he has to say, symbolically, about human beings, and my empathy for his characters is real and there is that mutual respect. Like señor sitenoise said about having 'gratitude' (so west coast :) toward a director for enriching our experience.

Re: Nobody Knows (South Korea, 2004)

His sequences are simple, yet meaty.

You've come up with a great quote like that for every Koreeda film you've talked about. I wish I was able to do that.

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

I can't find his extensive review of it.

This is why I don't like the IMDb forum. You can't search it and then things get purged. I like it for other reasons, like the back and forth dialog. I wish people would make lists and post their blurbs. Doing it here isn't the easiest or the best, however. I have lists everywhere. As I mentioned to you earlier, I recently opened an account at for this purpose. A lot of people, myself included, will post one sentence reviews. (I always try to keep my blurbs there short enough that I don't reach the dreaded "more" link. It'd be the perfect place for ebo-length reviews.) It's like twitter, in that way of keeping it short and sweet. Like some guy's review of Infernal Affairs:

"One day the elevator doors will close in time :-("

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

Well I don't know if I did a write up before. I don't save this stuff. I have diarrhea of the mouth and if I saved everything I write But yeah it's annoying that you can't search. But you're very smart to be organized with this, doing lists; people find your reviews very entertaining, thoughtful, and incredibly extensive. You do backflips to give a non-standard, non-superficial point of view on things. We're like clergymen, spreading The Good Word. Maybe I'll check out that letterboxd, though I avoid most social media because most of it is pretty toxic.. And I can't really do short and sweet. I'm restraining myself when I write 1200-worders.

Re: Social media

I have a geek side. I block Facebook, Twitter, and a few others at the system level on my computer by editing my .hosts file. Any attempt to connect to those servers by any app on my computer just dies. My internet is so much faster now. I can't see any comments on my lists here because IMDb uses Facebook commenting. I figure if they come from Facebook they aren't worth reading anyway. (The guy who commented that my Favorites were "flawed" was from there lol). So yeah, I'm not big on social media. You don't have to like anybody on letterbox. There are some trolls. Some guy over there is impersonating Alejandro González Iñárritu and killing it. He has a list entitled: "Films that would be better if they were shot in one take (like Birdman)". I only discovered him because he "liked" my review of 21 Grams: "Naomi Watts's performance of a lifetime Wow! Great filmmaker, great cast." He says it's his worst film.

For the most part it seems polite.

I admire folks like you and ebo whom I liken to musicians who only play live. You gotta be there when it happens.

Re: Nobody Knows

I don't know if I did a write up before

I don't think you did. hopingfordampness is probably remembering some off-the-cuff comment you made to one of my flawed opinions of, like, I dunno, the pain Aoi Miyazaki feels, and shows us, in three minutes of staring off into space is just as deep and real as that of the kids in Nobody Knows.

That's why I like this place.

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

"I have diarrhea of the mouth and if I saved everything I write But yeah it's annoying that you can't search."

Then I guess the next time you start feeling that diarrhea of the mouth make sure to dump it here on IMDb or a word file then just save it for us to see? I still laugh at the thought of you saying Koreeda's movies look like people singing kumbaya or women cooking tofu! lol.

I guess if I had to suggest something to IMDb its the control F function or the one that's like google where you just type one word then all posts with that word comes up.

Silent Warrior-

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

the next time you start feeling that diarrhea of the mouth make sure to dump it here on IMDb

No problem! Ha, I had already forgotten I reviewed Our Little Sister - glad you got a laugh out of it.

The search would be useful. I also wish I could just start typing the name of a film or an actor in imdb's database when I'm writing in the forum, and it would autocomplete the name with a link. I keep forgetting how to make a link here and it's too much hassle to bother. But it would be handy just to zip around through all the titles people mention
Yeah if letterboxd doesn't have all the titles (even imdb is incomplete) that would get annoying. Because basically we specialize here in obscure films.

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

Sitenoise, I prefer IMDb over letterboxd (as of today). I was having a hard time navigating it (Me having a hard time navigating over something in the internet happens all the time). For example, I wanted to make my own watchlist over there. Then I'm made to type the movie!!!!! Oh gosh, I've forgotten what these movies are that's why I need some skeletal framework to see which films I needed to include in my watchlist. Also I noticed that their films over there are limited??? How about my Philippine movies? *pouty lips* I don't know, it also helps IMDb's plain white background. It's easier to the eyes. I also tried making a one-liner review of Blade II and instead of being amazed at it, I laughed at it because when I posted it, it gets mixed along with other reviews that have paragraphs in it. So it looked out of place! lol. I also tried to follow you but I didn't know how. Like, should I just type sitenoise in the search box? For the record, I'm a spoiled little brat that I get so stubborn when I don't get it the first time, I easily get discouraged. I want to be spoonfed all the time. And IMDb is good at spoonfeeding! Hehehehe.

And yes, the best part of IMDb is the message boards. Does letterboxd have? Because you know I'm a loudmouth.

Silent Warrior-

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

Hey, I agree with everything you say. I already have a database of films and I'm geeky enough to add a clickable link in a heartbeat to every one of them that goes to the flick on letterbox. What I do then is click the link of "Likes" for the film, if I liked it, to see what other like-minded people might have to say. And I'll look at their lists if I'm in the mood. If they write well, I might follow them. I think I'm up to 6 or 7 people.

No message board there.

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

And one of the main reasons why I love IMDb, the e-mail notification! Its perfect for me whose first website is my e-mail. I easily get notified of replies or messages I don't have to come back and see if my posts were replied to or not. I thank Col Needham for that!

Silent Warrior-

Re: Zelena's wonderful prose

I easily get notified of replies or messages I don't have to come back and see if my posts were replied to or not. - plsletitrain

I totally agree.

I go to IMDb itself nevertheless to look into my "favorites" boards. Because many interesting things (films, discussions, and informations) appear there and I only have to act a recipient. Thus I'm mostly lurking, seldom participating.

each brain develops its own preferences

Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

The Rise of a Tomboy (2016) aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)
Errr, watch it at your own risk.

From the dreaded Youtube sidebar comes this brand new Chinese rom-com. This one was so dumb, I contemplated self-harm all the way through it. It's so dumb, you can't hate it. You can hate Tiny Times or Go, Lala, Go! because of the sneering, ostentatious, nouveaux-riche conceit, but you can't hate a film that seems to have a cognitive disability. It's like watching somebody else's kid in the second grade school play; when a six year old starts singing "somewhere over the rainbow" and you're like, oh Jesus

I almost bailed at 4:57, when there was a difficult scene, entirely in English. It seemed to have been written in Chinese by a room full of monkeys on typewriters in the first place, tossed into a blender instead of google translate, and then performed by someone who doesn't know a word of English so she just barked some memorized Englishy sounds. It was not only google translate, it was google actor, which was in weird contrast to the slangy, very well-translated subtitles of the rest of the film. Using English to show off how sophisticated they are, without actually knowing English, which is like driving one of those fake Ferraris from a kit built on a Chevy Camaro chassis.

I have a general complaint about all the Chinese movies that have token Western People in bit parts, and these actors don't even correct or improvise their lines to sound plausible in English. Why? The actors don't want to speak up about it? The director won't take their input? Something is broken in this world. And all Chinese movies these days have hardcoded subs in both Mandarin and English, have you guys noticed? Which is almost pitiably optimistic on their part. I feel safe saying this one is not going to get picked up for worldwide theatrical distribution.

So why did I keep watching? Liying Zhao. A very nice looking young lady and a serviceable actor, in a local community theater kind of way. Ok, I'll wait while you google her. Maybe there is something true in what they say about men being attracted to stupid women. But of course she's not stupid, she's just acting stupid, and hot. She has that curly haired, saucy, drinkin' a beer sort of "hey, sailor!" Korean thing, where she's constantly berating her man-punching-bag. In fact, this film was a lot like a cheaply entertaining tv krom-kom, but mercifully only 92 minutes instead of 16 hours long.

Much of this was actually funny, in spite of itself. There were moments I thought, am I dumb? Am I too old to get it? All of the rapid-fire dialog and zoom-in facial reaction shots were intentional, after all. The tripped-on-a-skateboard pratfalls. The stupid "boing!" sounds to tell you that was a joke right there. The incredibly hyper-fast editing, for humorous effect. For a film to be this bad, the filmmakers have to try to re-invent the whole concept of cinema from a tabula rasa, and I salute them for that. It's kind of a broader allegory for China: everybody is 22. Everybody is wearing a brand new shirt that hasn't even been ironed yet. They've never made a film before. They've never done anything before. They haven't even seen any proper films. Like teenagers, this is all new, and they're having a good time, so don't bother telling them they're doing it wrong.

Nobody said making a rom-com was easy. You have to be funny in the first act, dramatic in the second act, and touching in the third act. There has to be two guys fighting for Miss Clumsy-but-lovable's love, and the tall rich one with the Mercedes Benz has to lose and the nice guy who writes songs for you and has his shirt buttoned up to the top button wins. Nice (and also hunky, in that skinny, Beiber-haired Korean way) guy has to have a hot former love interest who generously sacrifices her own love for the lucky couple. There's a formula, it's not rocket science. Still it's easy to go disasterously wrong. Like by doing a pivotal romantic decision scene while paragliding, for example. Although I must say it was beautifully executed. Romantic scenes where both parties are wearing a helmet are usually well, let's just move along

I lost so many brain cells watching this thing that my perceptions of it became confused. Meanwhile I'm getting psychologically tortured by a soundtrack made by basically sticking a mic up to an old Donkey Kong arcade game while a Casio chirped away on the "bossa nova" preset. And as always, the dialog sound is inexplicably dubbed, and often slightly out of sync. This is, possibly, just to let you know you're in a movie, not a nightmare. Or is it because the actors are actually rednecks speaking Shanxi dialect? It was somehow appropriate that they subtitled laughter like "" because this script was probably originally a weibo post. Watching this film is a necessary operation for all practicing Sinologists. Equal parts tedious and amusing.

Ah yes. The rising dragon of the Chinese movie industry, gearing up to conquer the world. Well, it grossed $10 million on a $5 million budget. Not too shabby! But I am developing a new theory to explain the disappointing inadequacy of China's film industry; there are very high levels of lead in the water supply.


Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

You're a masochist! Too much funny to respond to here. Suffice to say thanks for the report, and I'm sad that Jinglei Xu can legitimately be clumped in with Tiny Times. Her early work was pretty fabulous. Those dual subbed Chinese movies are screeners or TV caps, something. I can't indulge because the text is too small for me to read.

Pretty weird that China and S Korea both have government, or other powers that be, involvement in the creation of soft power media but the results are so dissimilar, in at least that the Chinese stuff is not exportable. What are they thinking? Ahem, again, thank you Japan for being you.

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

It's a public service I feel a duty to perform.

Go, Lala, Go! Was actually pretty entertaining, as well as being in atrociously poor taste. I plan to watch the sequel. I was pleasantly stunned when Mok-aliscious Karen Mok strode onto the set and stole the whole thing.

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

The Rise of a Tomboy (2016) aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)
Errr, watch it at your own risk. - zelena33

Thanks for the tip. I watched it on youtube and found it entertaining. Not LOL funny, but I had a smile on my face most of the time. Yes, quite predictable and filled with clichés, but nice. Technically well made IMO. Some nice camera positions and a row of technical gimmicks I liked, for instance the "hyper-fast editing" you mentioned.

Not being a native speaker of English I had no problems with the English parts.

I like tomboy girls and especially ones making their life in natural sciences (as this is my life's story ). I don't like people who use others as punching bags, especially not people not willing to punch back, but in a rom com it is always cartoon style, so I endure it. I rated it 5/10 at this first time (6/10 is for me a good film I could recommend to others without hesitation). I will probably watch it again, then it might rise.

I am developing a new theory to explain the disappointing inadequacy of China's film industry; there are very high levels of lead in the water supply.

IMO it's more the problem that the creators don't know what might antagonize the people's party. Thus contemporary-set mainland Chinese films have often the feel of cloud-cuckoo-land. Any critique has to be heavily veiled. In contrast, even rather sugary Bollywood films can openly encompass and work with quite fundamental social problems (for instance caste system, discrimination against women, corrupt politicians, inept police, pervading and grinding poverty).

each brain develops its own preferences

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

Cool, glad you enjoyed the math-nerd subplot that went right over my head. I agree the fast-paced bits were the most fun. If the whole thing was like that, it could have been really good. I was thinking of plsletitrain's complaints about casual violence in krom-koms when the girl kept slapping her boyfriend around. In real life, it would have got ugly.

contemporary-set mainland Chinese films have often the feel of cloud-cuckoo-land
Absolutely, and interesting contrast with Indian cinema. As I was saying recently, when you can't even present any kind of personal life problems (losing a job, getting pregnant ) without it sounding like a criticism of the state. because the state has its hands in everything well it's pretty hard to write a plot! So that's why Chinese movies are so vapid and shallow. Freaking inspirational kitten posters. And the Chinese government is only increasing its 'oversight' of the moral message of films. A crazy situation, and it's driving investors up the wall. I think we will see some ahem major upheaval in the next 10 years.

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

I went into the first 4 minutes and it erm, uhm. I uhm.well, I can't say I don't like it. Its something like, I will put it on for a later viewing. Not like something where just blind watching it you feel compelled to finish it. What I actually mean is, the lead girl has no charisma? I'm blabbering again. I didn't feel the Krom-com vibe in it which is admittedly, the best in rom-coms but this one was goofy but the goofiness was..lousy???

Reading your review was a lot funnier, I think. Of course, I can't judge it. I've only seen 4 minutes of it. But I somehow get where it was going at, as your review has summarized how it was executed.

"Nobody said making a rom-com was easy. You have to be funny in the first act, dramatic in the second act, and touching in the third act. There has to be two guys fighting for Miss Clumsy-but-lovable's love, and the tall rich one with the Mercedes Benz has to lose and the nice guy who writes songs for you and has his shirt buttoned up to the top button wins. Nice (and also hunky, in that skinny, Beiber-haired Korean way) guy has to have a hot former love interest who generously sacrifices her own love for the lucky couple."

LOL. Perfectly said.

Silent Warrior-

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

I tried to give it the worst review possible, considering I actually watched it all the way through to the end. So I find it hilarious that people are actually watching it. I watched it, so you don't have to! Yes, the Chinese are certainly somewhat uptight when they try to be goofy and fun. They're a thousand years behind, but catching up in a spaceship going warp-8. I have some better films to review soon.

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

"So I find it hilarious that people are actually watching it."

There's some advantage in collective viewing. We get to share our thoughts on the subject almost at the same time, right after watching it, so the ideas are still fresh. Which makes room for more discussion. I like it that way. :) If only I had wider access to more films at the soonest possible time.

Silent Warrior-

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

Totally agree, I watch a lot of things people review here, and I'm always interested to hear others' take on stuff I watch. But Thithi is a much better one to watch, if you can get it!

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

I can't judge it. I've only seen 4 minutes of it.

I totally nailed Swing Girls in 4 minutes! I think that's plenty of time.

Re: Rise of a Tomboy aka Tomboy Love Formula (2016)

Er in the same way I nailed it with my one-star ratings of say, Upstream Color, Reservoir Dogs, and Zero Dark Thirty