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

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

Part 26 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers the lesser films released during 2004:


Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

The Thieves (2012) (Korean Action/Drama) (repeat viewing) This is a casino heist movie with a loaded cast of recognizable Korean and Chinese actors. I liked Ji-hyun Jun the best, probably because she is on top of her game here (and really hot too!). The first half is similar to Oceans Eleven, but the second half diverges greatly and has a number of surprises. There are some awesome scenes involving repel lines, the highlight being a shootout along the side of an apartment complex. There is lots of scheming between the characters, which requires the viewer to pay close attention to recognize all of the little details. This is a crowd-pleaser that is a lot of fun to watch.

Recommended

Time Renegades (2016) (Korean Mystery Thriller/Drama/Romance) A high school teacher in 1983 and a detective in 2015 join forces through their dreams to change the perilous fate of the woman (Su-jeong Lim) they both love 30 years apart. This movie is surprisingly intense, with a few disturbing moments despite the lack of graphic violence. This murderer is one tough son-of-a-b*tch who kills a lot of people. He also seems to have the upper hand most of the time, which provokes an emotional response from the viewer who will really want this scumbag to get taken down. There are a few unexpected twists and the ending is emotionally affecting. This genre-bender is probably director Jae-young Kwaks most interesting film since My Sassy Girl.

Ghost House (2004) (Korean Comedy/Horror) (repeat viewing) Funny stuff. A man unknowingly moves into a haunted house and must deal with all sorts of inconveniences like flying teddy bears, an onryo stripper, severed hands/feet, a massive army of irate chickens, a cute but sassy poltergeist, and a really pissed off couch. Protagonist is a bit nutty and whiny, but he settles down a bit during the second half and its fun watching this poor guy get harassed and consistently beaten up physically throughout the entire film. During the latter half, the storyline keeps things fresh by shifting a bit towards a supernatural romantic comedy with a supplemental threat of demolition to the house by a crazed businessman. A genre-bender to say the least, and a good one at that.

The Haunted Drum (aka Perng Mang) (2007) (Thai Horror) Set in a rural village, a group of young men take an oath to dedicate their lives to a band that plays traditional Thai music, but this responsibility is a difficult one because the training is hard and the lifestyle is in poverty. Human conflict then creates the possibility of betrayal and supernatural deaths. The script focuses a lot on story and drama, which works well. There is a romantic subplot, but much of the conflict is in the form of rivalry between two music teachers. The horror scenes are creative and moderately violent, with an emphasis on twisted body parts and self-mutilation.

Spider-Man (2002) (American Action/Drama) (repeat viewing) When bitten by a genetically modified spider, an awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family. This has energetic direction and some visual cues from comic books. The story does rely on some contrivances, but its actually pretty good regardless. The Uncle Ben subplot works well, and the viewer can really understand the bad decision that the protagonist makes. Also, I liked the Peter/Harry dynamic, and how it had a multi-dimensionality to it. Willem Dafoe hams it up, but I liked it. Kirsten Dunst is really hot in these movies, but her character is an annoying, two-timing wench. The action is cheesy and reminded me of the Turbo Man finale in Jingle All the Way, but its still moderately entertaining.

Spider-Man 2 (2004) (American Action/Drama) (repeat viewing) Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius. This film is not quite as good as I remember, as it has a lot of flaws. We begin with Mary Jane, who is still a two-timing wench who attempts to seduce Peter while she has a fiance her character is a reprehensible flirt who is totally unlikeable. The pacing in this film drags a bit, with the 127-minute runtime not helping matters. The opening 30 minutes are slow, as the film repeatedly beats the viewer over the head by making the point that Peter is late for all of his everyday tasks because hes too busy being Spider-man. (They could have easily cut out the late for work, late for college, and late for paying rent scenes by simply keeping the late for MJs performance scene, which is sufficient enough.) Then we have the romance, which is very simplistic despite taking up a lot of runtime. Finally, there are some contrivances again (Peters personal relationship with the villain yet again, his family/friends being in mortal danger, MJs fiance just so happens to be the son of Jonah Jameson, etc.). With all of that said, however, there are enough positives that make this watchable, and the action is an upgrade over its predecessor. Its still cartoonish, but the train sequence is creative and fun to watch. I also liked how the mood and mentality of the protagonist affected his superhero abilities. Unlike X-Men 2, this one does not hold up quite as well over time.

Not Recommended

Dont Look Now (1973) (British/Italian Drama/Horror) After losing their daughter in a drowning accident, a married couple relocate to Italy, where they meet a psychic who claims that she sees the childs spirit. The story is generic and totally uninteresting, with boring patches littered throughout. A large chunk of the middle section is dedicated to showing one character who walks around aimlessly; literally nothing happens. The dialogue is stiff, weakly written, and frankly silly. The acting is systematically poor even Donald Sutherland seems off his game here. I felt like punching the wife in the face throughout the entire film, and shes a protagonist! The sound design is also very uneven. Some scenes drag on for too long, especially the lame sex scene. There are a few nice camera shots here and there, but overall this movie sucks.

Spider-Man 3 (2007) (American Action) (repeat viewing) A strange black entity from another world bonds with Peter Parker and causes inner turmoil as he contends with new villains, temptations, and revenge. The story is horribly written and boring, with contrivances littered all over the place. This film should have been titled Just So Happens because people and things just so happen to be in a particular place and time to drive the plot forward. The filmmakers also chose to re-write stuff from the first Spider-Man film in stupifying ways, just so theres more conflict in this one. Oh, theres a cliched amnesia plot device tossed in as well. Tons of special effects are used that do not hold up well today. Some of the action is decent, but its also weightless and very cartoonish. Peter makes some dumb-as-dirt decisions for no good reason, other than to cause romantic conflict with MJ, who promptly goes back to her good ole, two-timing self before properly rectifying matters. Ive never liked Thomas Haden Church as an actor, and hes terrible here. Most ironically, some of the most entertaining moments occur during the notorious black spidey stage that everyone hates, if only because those moments are so over-the-top and goofy. And any time this film tries to do something serious, it falls apart. At 139 minute, this one is tough to sit through.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100

Re: Kamakazi Girls

Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari) [2004] Japan
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
9.12/10

People are born in tracksuits and people die in the tracksuits

On the one hand, there's hardly anything wrong with this movie except for a few instances of fart-humor. On the other hand, there are many things that are really cool. On the third hand, The World of Kanako makes more sense now. Visually it's all over the map, with the saturated color up close and personal look being the anchoring motif in a surreal candyland. Maybe nothing new but Nakashima is in control of it here as he was in Confessions. None of it might have been possible, though, without the two actresses cast. I can barely speak to how adorable and tough and smart Kyôko Fukada plays thisin Lolita garb and bonnets! I never once questioned her inhabitation of that character. Then here comes Anna Tsuchiya. My god. Talk about grunting man. Tsuchiya is like an elephant in a shop with a bunch of fragile things in it. The name escapes me right now. She is so over the top the top jumps up to be with her. The chemistry between the two girls is outstanding. And the head-butting! I loved that move. I swear she screams almost all her lines and I loved it.

A thin Yoshi Yoshi!

Some of the storytelling bits might not appeal to everyone, and I wasn't a fan of the sweatpants and bathrobe fashion Tsuchiya sported but I think it was supposed to be weird and yakuza-y. That scene shortly after they meet and Tsuchiya is going on about motorcycles and Fukada says "You ride a scooter". I can't remember if that prompted the first headbutt or not. But it sort of shocked me. The fact that Fukada was never once intimidated by Tsuchiya is the gold in this film. Tsuchiya scared the crap out of me. I should give this thing a ten. I can't put my finger on the limiting factor.



Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice [2016] USA
Director: Zack Snyder

Punt well, I FF'd through it. I don't know how to watch a movie like that any more.

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

Re: Kamakazi Girls

I really enjoyed Kamikaze Girls too. I don't know why I gave it an 8 at the time in retrospect it seems in the seveny range (solidly entertaining, not great film). It actually narrowly missed my Japan Top 10, but I was like, 8? Was that really an 8? It was just sort of bonkers and surreal visually, which is fun. It's great when directors put things on screen that you've never seen before. What's her name, tough girl, was really impressive. I had no use for the subplots with the dudes and the fighting. I'm stretching here, I saw this like two-three years ago.

On the other hand it was kind of superficial in a way that reminds me why I don't go out of my way to root around for Japanese movies. They are always hiding behind plasticky visual stuff, or on the other end of the spectrum, that stiff formality. They're not keeping it real. The Lolita-costume stuff was put in context, which sought to explain why she was into that into fashion and embroidery or something, if I recall but still it all feels kind of porny and stupid. But there's no need to get all philosophical on it good fun. Go ahead and give it a sitenoise 10!

Re: Kamakazi Girls

It is a superficial story: two girls meet, there's friction, they bond, and that bond eventually brings them victory. Yeah, seen that one before. But this is precisely the kind of Japanese film that reminds me of why I go out of my way to root around for Japanese movies. They do friendship films better than anyone. Quiet poignancy and all that.

Re: Kamakazi Girls

Hey that would make good list right there: Asian buddy movies.

Re: Kamakazi Girls

I'm also a big fan of Kamikaze Girls. Really fun stuff.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100

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

The Wailing [2016] South Korea
Director: Hong-jin Na
7.97-8.01/10

Great film with as many boners as wowsters. See this thread for more: http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000031/nest/259229026


Miles Ahead [2015] USA
Director: Don Cheadle
7.83/10

"Be wrong, strong. Or go lie the fook down."

I love Don Cheadle, pretty much hate jazz, am indifferent to Miles Davis, and believe jazz guys offer the best nuggets of wisdom on playing music. Watching this film changed nothing.


Linda Linda Linda [2005] Japan
Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita
4.76/10

I loved Pumpkin boy James Iha's soundtrack work even though it's completely wrong for the film. The half-step minor chord doodlings suggest transformation but there is none. I enjoyed all the characters as discreet units but their story and interactions didn't engage. I also didn't like any of the songs or their excessively long rehearsals. This director and I dance to a completely different rhythm when it comes to over-staying a scene to invoke realism.


Right Now, Wrong Then (Ji-geum-eun-mat-go-geu-ddae-neun-teul-li-da) [2015] South Korea
Director: Sang-soo Hong
3.01/10

Jung Jae-Young's haircut makes no sense. Honesty is the best policy. The film is banal and, if not misogynist, at least creepy old school in the extreme. All the young women love my reviews.




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

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


their excessively long rehearsals
That's what makes Linda Linda Linda possibly the most honest let's-put-on-a-show film the excessively long rehearsals are worth at least 4.77 on their own

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

Yes they had some charm. The whole film had some charm at about a 4.76963 level. I've seen 5 or 6 films by this guy now and it seems like his films aren't magically observational. Everything seems one-dimensional, written, forced into slow rhythms to fake realism. I'd highly recommend the film to people who aren't as obnoxious as I am about things like that.

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

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

Miles Ahead - This is on my watchlist. I also hate jazz (for Oedipal reasons) but I always liked Miles. Just for being such a genuinely misanthropic motherflipper. I don't know his bio, maybe he wasn't really, but I always got a kick out the Miles like you hear at the start of "Corrado"



Don't know from Cheadle - biopics are usually a let-down, but I'll watch it. I just wish they would make really far-out, abstract arthouse biopics of famous people sometimes.

As for the other two films I used to work with these two IT guys. One of them was an Apple guy, and the other guy, Dhruba, was not. The one guy would start talking about Apple OS, and Dhruba would be like, really wry, "it's better if we don't talk about it."

Re: Miles

Miles Ahead isn't abstract arthouse but it's certainly not a standard bio. It's a weird caper flick about a stolen session tape, mostly. There's a scene in a club where some young junkie Columbia wants Miles to 'discover' is playing which is worth the ticket price. It's jazz I like. We play music like it from a rock perspective and call it "fun fun happy happy die".

I was sad I wasn't fond of the othersjust a couple directors I can't dance to. I've tried. And but damn, you gotta admit Jung Jae-Young's haircut makes no sense. Min-hee Kim was very nice. I'm making a serious effort to take in others' top tenners here. It's good for me.

I'd watch most anything you recommend so don't take it personally.

Re: Miles

Haha, oh man, do I have to go back and review the haircut? I honestly don't remember it. The way I see it, there was a lot of self-mockery in this one. That's the only way I can interpret a film by an arthouse director about an arthouse director. So I think he was making fun of himself, haircut and all. But Jung Jae-Young is a great actor, and Min-hee Kim is a great actress. I was kind of irritated by this one until the mid-point, and then I started enjoying it, enjoying the crude silly plot device, just when I would have otherwise bailed. Also great drinking scene. Actors were really drinking for that scene, and it shows, in a good way. But what about the misogyny? I don't get that. I mean, he was kind of prick, trying to pick up a girl. And again, making fun of himself with the all the girls love my films thing.

Hope I can continue to make you watch movies you hate, and likewise. It's mind-expanding! It's fun to agree on stuff, but although I thought you dig that one and I'm sorry you didn't, I take some consolation that everyone else does!

Re: Miles

Yeah, I read a handful of reviews after watching it to make sure I didn't miss anythingI didn'tand they were all positive, for the most part. Most thought the plot device was genius bit, without too much attention paid to the actual playing of it, although Min-hee got some deserved kudos.

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

Part 27 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers more films released during 2004:


Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

The Wailing (aka Gok-seong) (2016) (Korean Horror) 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 (who previously directed The Chaser and The Yellow Sea), 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 more than enough 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. I made one emphatic prediction that I was certain was true, and the film eventually confirmed it . . . then later retracted its confirmation and blew my mind. 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 uncertainty and makes everything exceptionally interesting. The 160-minute runtime is therefore a big advantage here. The aspect of who do you trust becomes a huge element during the final hour, 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.

Pale Moon (2014) (Japanese Drama/Romance) Living under the stifling responsibilities of society, a married woman (Rie Miyazawa) decides to embezzle funds from her elderly bank clients for the purpose of funding her young lovers school tuition, as well as paying for their expensive weekend rendezvous. Set during the mid 1990s, this is a surprisingly good film that is proficiently directed, written, and acted. There is some very good dialogue, the story flows naturally, and the character interaction develops in unexpected ways. You get to see many of the face-to-face meetings with the victims, who have no idea they are getting conned, and that helps to accentuate the protagonists immorality. At the same time, however, the viewer can relate to her situation and the film is non-judgemental of her actions. Theres an underlying tension that is established because the protagonist and the viewer knows that everything will eventually come crashing down, so she attempts to delay the inevitable as long as she can. The ending is totally different from what I was expecting. Very solid film.

Marebito (aka A Stranger from Afar) (2004) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) This is a remarkably twisted and odd little film, directed by Takashi Shimizu, with strong philosophical and psychological concepts. Showcasing some very strange images involving blood, this movie does contribute an engaging premise. A photographer (played by Shinya Tsukamoto) frees a beautiful woman chained to a rockface during his search for terror in the deep underground of Tokyo, only to later discover her abnormalities. This is memorable for its creativity, as well as impending imagery that is seriously freaky. There are few disturbing scenes of bloody violence as well. Sound design is excellent and very intense, using ambient sounds for the most part.

Koma (2004) (Chinese Thriller/Horror) (repeat viewing) Solid film concerning the black market of organ theft that contributes a series of plot twists throughout as well as a truly classic confrontation between the two lead actresses. The story is well-written and the development/complexity of the protagonist and antagonist are very good. Lighting and cinematography are impressive here, particularly the use of yellow. The final 15 minutes are excellent.

Recommended

The Eye 2 (2004) (Chinese Horror) (repeat viewing) This is a character-driven horror film by the Pang brothers that has an overall theme of reincarnation. There is some intense imagery early on, but there are also a number of cool sequences during the latter half, including moments with swimming spirits that I found quite eery. The elevator scene in The Eye 2 is better than the elevator scene of its predecessor, IMO. Also, the use of ghosts and their purpose are different and interesting. The story is good and Shu Qi does a fine job in an atypical psychotic acting role. Her character is fairly unlikeable, but not excessively so, which adds an edge to this.

Tales of Terror from Tokyo: The Movie (2004) (Japanese Horror Anthology) (repeat viewing) This is an anthology of 8 short films that range from 6 to 20 minutes in length, for a total runtime of 94 minutes. The Night Watchmen is about security guards who patrol a haunted building at night. This is fun and blackly humorous, with an odd side character whos simply not afraid of the ghosts at all. In Wisps of Smoke, three girls get lost in the woods. This is very creepy and atmospheric. You really feel like youre in the middle of nowhere. The death scenes are also fairly original and different. Gloves is about the relationship between a woman and her ex-fiance. This is a good entry that is also a bit different. The scare tactics use dreams and the relationship is directly linked to the horror. In The Weight, a woman feels something very heavy on her chest while sleeping. Mediocre stuff thats kinda goofy. Full Length Mirror is about two guys who discover a mirror in their highschool storeroom. Two pretty good jump scares, one of which does not use loud noise. Kinda creeped me out. In Line of Sight a schoolgirl records a ghost on camera. This has some interesting character development, which is directly related to the popularity that the girl unexpectedly receives. Its creepy too. The Promise is about a guy who housesits for his uncle and must respond promptly to the calls of the ghost or else something bad will happen. Blackly humorous and entertaining, with a very cool ghost design. Hisao is about an old woman and her dead sons ghost. This is probably the worst segment because it relies on dull exposition. Theres more than enough good stuff in this anthology to warrant a recommendation.

A Man and a Woman (2016) (Korean Romance) A man and woman start an affair after being disheartened within stale marriages and the responsibilities of caring for special needs children. This is simplistic but nicely realized, with the strength lying in the performances of both leads (Do-yeon Jeon, Gong Yoo). The film also does a good job of juxtaposing the stress of everyday life against the relaxing romantic rendezvous. These two are cheating on their spouses, yet you still want them to end up together. The scoring is too melodramatic.

Not Recommended

Death Proof (2007) (American Thriller) Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his "death proof" cars to execute his murderous plans. This begins with 45 minutes of boring filler involving obnoxious, shallow characters that could have been condensed down to 10. The film comes alive with two brief, but very cool car scenes. The plot structure is different and unexpected near the mid-point, but that interest does not last long because it goes to sleep again with more boring filler involving yet again obnoxious, shallow characters. This has to be the most worthless, poorly written dialogue in Quentin Tarantinos entire filmography. The film attempts to come alive again with a big final car chase, but the scene is hampered by repetition and stupid character decision-making. The ending is also cheesy and stupid. I like Kurt Russell, but this should have been a 60-minute short film.

The Himalayas (2015) (Korean Drama) Based on true events, this concerns a renowned mountaineer who makes various climbs up dangerous mountains. There are some nice environments, but this is mediocre stuff that is hampered by boring characters and unearned dramaticism. The acting is good, but everything else is just so . . . average.

Only God Forgives (2013) (Danish/French/American Thriller) Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death. Most of the negative critical reviews of this one are basically true. It looks nice, has a cool synth score, and there are a few splashes of graphic violence. Im a big fan of all three of these qualities, but this film is lacking so badly in every other department that it fails to earn a pass grade. The acting is annoyingly stiff (or downright awful) by everyone, from start to finish. Every time I see Ryan Gosling do his quiet, tough guy impression, it comes off as completely unconvincing and embarrassing. Theres also no rhythm to the pacing, which repeatedly stalls. For the sake of comparison, Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) was also a very artsy film that looked great and had a cool synth score, but it also provided a fascinating premise, solid performances, and a boatload of weirdness and visual spectacle. Only God Forgives, on the other hand, stalls far too often to hold interest.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100

Re: Koma and Eye 2

I thought Koma was great, and The Eye 2 excellent. They were there for me in my early days of discovering Asian cinema and now seem like part of some Golden Age. Marebito is part of it too. I liked it a little less, but give it high marks for uncomfortable weirdness.

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

I liked Death Proof a bit as one half of Grindhouse, more than as a standalone film, although it excludes the lap dance scene which I found to be one of it's few highlights . The women were all obnoxious and shallow indeed and I was rooting for Stuntman Mike by the end (I think that was the point). I hate the second group of women even more than the first. The dialogue, well any not involving Kurt Russell or Rose McGowan, was among Tarantino's weakest for sure..

I wasn't a fan Only God Forgives either, although I seem to like Ryan Gosling a bit more than you. I thought he was mostly good and convincing in Drive but admittedly, he wasn't very good here though..

Last Film Seen;
Baskin (Can Evrenol, 2015) 6/10

Spirit's Homecoming (Korea 2016)

Spirit's Homecoming (Korea 2016)

This film was very, very, very hard to watch. There have probably been prior films about the subject of Korean "comfort women" held in captivity by the Japanese Imperial Army in WWII, but I haven't seen any of them. Ironically, subjects like this are portrayed with greater graphic detail as time goes on because culture is floating toward more and more portrayal of sex and violence, while taboos from periods of the past fade away. At the same time, we get further from the raw cultural memory of the time and access to accurate accounts. I haven't seen any prior films about this subject, but this struck me as a film that it was necessary to make. Perhaps Korea saying to Japan, let's be real about what happened. Let's look at it, visually, because it was 70 years ago and the discussion is getting abstract.

The first thing that struck me was the gorgeous photography of some of this film. Wind among the trees in rural Korea in summer kind of thing. I thought it was nicely shot. As the film goes on, it emerges that there are some weaknesses in the directing. I think he was a first-time helmer of a narrative film. There are some cliches, some soap-opera dramatics, more cliches, and poor decisions including a stretched out ending, which is a common problem. You or me could edit this film on and make it better just by chopping 30-40 minutes. Some reviewer was bitching that it did a 'disservice' to the victims by not being a good enough film, but I don't like that kind of gripe.

With caveats about the film as a film out of the way, I have to say this is one of the hardest films to watch that I have ever seen. That says a lot about why the director choose to make it, and why producers didn't want to make it, and I give the director a lot of credit for being right about that. This film is almost completely unbearable to watch, for all the human suffering. I had to pause it several times and go get some fresh air. No, it doesn't have the gravity as cinema that it would if Zhang Yimou made a film like this. But you know this stuff really happened. Like the Vietnam war, or I suppose any war, there are thousands of stories of death and suffering and unimaginable injustice that will never be told and never be known.

There was an unexpected element of spirituality used as a major plot device. If you told me beforehand that would be there, I would have thought it was a very cheesy, inadvisable choice. But I found it very nicely executed and it felt right. I was thinking during the film, American actresses complain that there are no parts for women over 40. Well they should go work in Korea. This, Mother, Poetry, and others, it seems like the older woman is a more common character in Korean narrative.

It's impossible to rate this film, because it can't be judged on its filmmaking (less than $2 million budget, half of it crowdfunded) nor its "enjoyability." I think most people who watch the major films of the year out of Korea will want to see this.

Re: Spirit's Homecoming (Korea 2016)

I lowered expectations after reading this.

It felt weird watching it with The Wailing still on my mind.

The Dick Clark Productions vibe is unfortunate, as is the fact that S Korea apparently doesn't want to put muscle and talent behind telling the story. After watching it, I read (presumably) the review where the guy more or less said that the film is a disservice to the women and the story because it's poorly done. Yeah, weird gripe, but I agree with some of the points he made on his way to that conclusion (which he seemed to have before seeing the film).

Zhang Yimou did make this filmwith cinema gravity, and arguably the first Caucasian who isn't an idiot. I've seen the handful of films made about the "Nanjing Massacre" and they all, mostly, rose to the occasion. City of Life and Death is a great film. South Korea should man up and do this right. But different cultures, different balances of power.

I can't recommend the film even grading on a curve. It's amateurishness is distracting and distancing.

Having said that, however, after the moving experience of City of Life and Death I did think: "Or, you could just read the Wikipedia article".

Baby steps.

Re: Spirit's Homecoming (Korea 2016)

I can't disagree with anything you said. At the same time I still give the director credit for having a passion project, and getting it made. As a bonus, they made money. I think they said the guy crowdfunded a million dollars from @70,000 people, and then a producer stepped in and said, heck, he raised a million so the film is gonna get made, and at least 70k people will watch it. It grossed $20 million, so hat tip to that producer who made quite a bit of cake on his 50% equity. The griping critics don't get any kind of films about subjects like this made, that's what burned me up about that comment.

Maybe it was pretty raggedy but I still found it moving, mostly because the subject is underexposed. Dick Clark is right, the soundtrack was bad, which is galling. On a low budget movie, the soundtrack should very well take a quarter of the budget, but nobody does that. I know probably 10 composers who could have done a great one. I think with a good soundtrack and good, 80 minute edit, it would have come out nicely.

I won't be surprised if there is a copycat film on this subject with Korean muscle and talent.

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

Part 28 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers more films released during 2004:


Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Prologue: Lesson of the Evil (2012) (Japanese Drama/Horror) Set three months before the events of Lesson of the Evil, this shows the teacher returning to Japan after living in the U.S. He becomes a well-liked member of the faculty, but a few of his colleagues suspect that there is something beneath his exterior. This is a high quality film that has a lot of psychology and manipulation. The lead character obviously makes his presence felt, but the other characters are also allowed to shine and you are unsure if they are well-meaning or manipulative. The other creepy teacher is an interesting character, and there are a few neat plot developments related to him. This film nicely establishes a sense of danger that lurks behind every corner. Very good performances, especially by the lead actress.

Recommended

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) (British Comedy) (repeat viewing) King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles. The wacky comedy works, and thats what matters in a film like this, but there are also some witty exchanges of dialogue as well. I like how Arthur and his men get the short end of the stick throughout the entire film. My favorite scenes involve The Black Knight, the flying cow, and the bunny rabbit.

Spirits Homecoming (2016) (Korean War Drama) Two Korean girls are kidnapped by the Japanese Imperial Army and taken to a Comfort Station in China. There, they join other kidnapped girls in serving Japanese soldiers as sexual slaves. Decades later, a young shaman helps people to reunite with their dead relatives. There are a few rape scenes as well as some bloody violence in the form of gun skirmishes within the war zone, but this focuses a lot on the psychological abuse of the protagonists. The characters arent given much time to develop outside of their situation, but this is still affecting and paced well for a 127-minute downer film that employs some melodrama along the way. The most impactful scene is an execution involving a soldier who feels sympathy for the girls.

London Has Fallen (2016) (American Action) In this follow-up to the action flick Olympus Has Fallen, a group of terrorists orchestrate an assault on the city of London with the goal of kidnapping and beheading the U.S. president during his visit there. Fortunately, Gerard Butler is there to murder all the bad guys. This has the ridiculous elements of its predecessor, but the action set pieces are not quite as explosive. Nevertheless, they are nicely shot and entertaining.

By Player (2000) (Japanese Comedy/Drama) This is a biographical film directed by Kaneto Shindo that is based on the life of actor Taiji Tonoyama, who worked with the director for years. The film is a series of vignettes from Tonoyamas life, as well as some clips from the classic films that he appeared in. The film focuses on his alcohol dependence and sexual relationships mostly with his mistress as well as his film work. Naoto Takenaka gives an exaggerated performance in the lead role, but it works due to the comedy centric style. His romantic relationship with the mistress is very eccentric and oddball, but its also rather entertaining and fun. This wacky biographical film is definitely a strange way to pay respect to a good friend and colleague, but Tonoyama still comes off as a nice guy, and the endling is melancholy. FYI, this has one scene of full frontal female nudity, with no pixelation.

The Way of the Gun (2000) (American Drama/Action) Two criminal drifters without sympathy get more than they bargained for after kidnapping and holding for ransom the surrogate mother of a powerful and shady man. This has a good cast and some nicely staged gun battles. It also develops in a somewhat unpredictable manner at times. I did feel that the middle section dragged, but this is good stuff.

Not Recommended

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) (American Action/Drama) Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while Lex Luthor manipulates matters behind the scenes. The editing and scene transitions in this movie are abrupt and do not flow well. It jumps around way too much and introduces too many sub-plots that fail to offer anything useful. The story should have been simplified and streamlined, because after 150 minutes I still felt that the primary conflict was never adequately developed. Also the ultimate resolution of this conflict is unbelievably matter-of-fact and unconvincing. All of this creates an extremely boring viewing experience. But what about the action? Well, near the beginning of the film (after an unnecessary history lesson on Batmans childhood) we get a good suspense sequence involving the events in Man of Steel. After that is a bunch of dull filler for a while (this starts getting boring around the 30 minute mark). After an hour, we finally get an action sequence involving the batmobile; its pretty good but nothing memorable. Finally, we get our advertised fight near the 100 minute mark, but its mostly uncreative and disappointing with basic punches and throws thru walls for the most part. Weve been hearing about this face-off non-stop for 3 years, and this is the best they could do? Then we get a Batman vs bad guys scene, which is good but nothing special. Finally, we get the big CGI troll scene, which is the biggest fight of the movie but consists mainly of monotonous CGI explosions and crap that is repeatedly thrown at the viewer. With a $250 million budget, I expected properly constructed and thrilling action, but theres not much here to admire. Some other random thoughts: (1) Theres also no sense of pacing or action distribution. (2) Zack Snyder tends to fall back on his music video montage style, but when its used here (early on) it does not work at all. (3) The Flash cameo is incomprehensibly stupid. (4) The ending tries to be emotional, but I was just waiting for the damn credits to roll. (5) Amy Adams is a terrible actress, and her character is totally useless yet again this movie dies every single second shes on screen. (6) Jesse Eisenberg is bad here, but at least he doesnt suck the life out of the film like Adams does. I was going to watch the 3-hour Ultimate Edition, but I could not find it available for rental and Im sure as hell not paying $19.99 for it.

Will To Live (1999) (Japanese Drama) This is based on the story of Ballad of Narayama updated to the present day, with the substitution of putting a parent into an old peoples home for the abandonment of the original. Early on, this film tells about the previous custom of abandoning the elderly in remote areas to die of dehydration, starvation, or exposure, as a form of euthanasia. The historical segments are decent and nicely shot in black-and-white, but the modern segments are boring, clunky, and hammy. Some scenes are downright stupid, including the slow-motion ending. The lead actress is not good here; she overacts right from the start.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100

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

Re-cycle (2006)

Pretty cool chinese horror/fantasy film with a disturbing message at the ending. Wasn't expecting such stunning visual effects for a 10 year old asian film
My favourite from the Pang Brothers yet.

7/10

The Wailing (2016)

Best horror stuff I've seen in a long while.

7/10

A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora's Box (1995)

Probably got lost in a lot of its meanings, but it was fun.

6/10

Tales from Earthsea (2006)

I've seen now every Studio Ghibli film. This was one of my least favourites coming from them.

6/10

Hansel and Gretel (2007)

7/10

Bangkok Dangerous (2000)

cool.

6/10


PORTUGAL EURO 2016 CHAMPIONS

Re: Re-cycle (2006)

Re-cycle is an under-appreciated film, imo. It looks cool and it surprised me where it went.

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

Paths of the Soul Kang rinpoche (2015) (Zhang Yang) documents a pilgrimage undertaken by a dozen of Tibetan villagers, walking 2000km and kowtowing, or prostrating themselves, every 10 metres or so an act that, on appearances, has less physically in common with genuflecting as it does with stage-diving at a punk rock concert. The film sits somewhere between observational ethnography and straight-up drama starting with the individuals deciding to join the initial two pilgrims, and then charting their fortunes and chance encounters with a range of people along the way. I found a surprising amount of humour throughout (including a great scene where the amateur cast clearly struggled to hide the fact that they were sharing the audiences bemusement), and the scenery, particularly in village or urban settings was spectacular.

The Whispering Star Hiso hiso boshi (2015) (Sion Sono) This ponderously meditative sci-fi will certainly divide viewers into love and hate' camps, with not many remaining in the middle ground Theres undeniable beauty and strength in the striking black and white images, plus some humour to be found in the quirkily retro set designs and the all-too-human frailties of the few AI characters that populate them, but all Sonos trademark craziness is muted to a whisper (both figuratively, and quite literally - nobody speaks above 30 decibels). This takes the idea of slow cinema to extremes - it was only 100 minutes, but man did those 100 minutes seem to take forever.

Trivisa Chu Tai Chiu Fung (2016) (Jevons Au, Frank Hui, Vicky Wong) As a compendium film preoccupied with the handover of Hong Kong, I guess this kind of shares the zeitgeist with Ten Years. Three directors each tell a story of a criminal, each part of gang that separated and went on a different path, but all seem destined to reunite although rather than present separate chapters, the stories are woven together into a single piece, for the most part quite successfully. While I found it very entertaining and engaging throughout, there were obviously political allegories (here a lot less obtuse than in The Midnight After) that went way over my head.

A Stranger of Mine Unmei janai hito (2005) (Kenji Uchida) I watched Couples around six months ago and enjoyed it immensely, not realising until afterwards that it was actually a faithful remake of this. So, how do they stack up against one another? Surprisingly well, as it turned out this original is like an indie acoustic gem, while the remake gave a low-key original the full blown orchestra treatment.

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

Nice reviews. The first three are on my watch for list. I'm waiting for Sono's film to get subbed. A Stranger of Mine is one of my favorite Japanese films.

this original is like an indie acoustic gem, while the remake gave a low-key original the full blown orchestra treatment.

Very well put! And diplomatic, too. That's pretty much the difference between Japanese and Korean cinema. In this case the Japanese film wins by a mile, imo. Couples has been well received around here, tho.

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


The first three are on my watch for list
Trivisa is very Hong Kong, very Milky Way there might be a momentary lack of Louis, but I still fear for you

ABNKKBSNPLAko?! (Philippines, 2014)

10/10

I would like to recommend this underrated film here.

Title doesn't make any sense until you read the consonants themselves. It means "Aba, nakakabasa na pala ako" ( In English: Oh, I can read already!) The movie is based on a book written by Bob Ong, which merely shows his schooling life. Pretty simple. Yes, it is. But what I love about the movie is the way it was presented. Its presented with the lead actor narrating what happened to him, with some side comments and expressions that are sometimes should-not-be-made-in-movies. I'm reminded of Castaway on the Moon (2009) and That Thing Called Tadhana (2014) while watching this because of the goofy and quirky interjections and cheesy songs.

Jericho Rosales, albeit already far above the age he's portraying here, can actually pass up for a high school student (blame it on his youth looks). Meg Imperial, who plays a one-of-the-boys cute little girl who then eventually became a lesbian, was obviously trying her hard to cement the role. She gave it justice, kudos to her. But her girly face, and that long locks she still hasn't given up, prevents her from fully cementing it. Vandolph, who plays the third one in their trio friendship, was also very fit for his role because well, Vandolph is just cuddly and funny. Now here we go with Andi Eigenman. Her mother may have won a Cannes award for Best Actress and she's undisputably one of the country's finest actresses, but Andi didn't get to inherit her mother's acting genes fully. Andi can't act to save her life, that's a given, but good thing her role in this film is just a damsel-in-distress one-sided love of the lead. Her looks is enough to give justice to the role.

The movie tells the story of Roberto, from elementary until college. This is a funny movie that speaks so much of Philippine culture and Philippine youth. How he has struggled with his grades, found real friends, had a crush, failed on his subjects, cheated, etc. And the narrations are really spot-on.

And what I liked more of this film is the lack of English-ey/slang dialogues so it felt more native rather than Westernized.

I seldom see this getting talked about. It had its day when it was released, it got positive reactions from the viewers. But it was just a short-lived victory then the movie kinda became forgotten and took its life below the pile of mainstream movies that appeal to the masses.

I recommend this to people who just want a feel-good movie while taking a look at how Philippine youth looks like.







====================
Silent Warrior-

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

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985): 2/5 (Weak)
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989); 3/5 (Good)
Angel's Egg (1985): 2/5 (Weak)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988): 3/5 (Good)
The Face of Another (1966): 3/5 (Good)
Hiroshima mon amour (1959): 3/5 (Good)

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life. " - Fellini

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

Part 29 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers some of the best films released during 2004:


Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Retribution (2006) (Japanese Horror/Thriller) (repeat viewing) A detective investigates a series of murders by drowning, while at the same time questioning his own possible involvement. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is an interesting director because he seamlessly incorporates psychological and philosophical themes into his films. Here he focuses on the concept of abandonment, and the consequences that lie behind the motive for the killings reach far beyond the primary characters. The horror sequences themselves are nicely done and incorporate a variety of techniques. The ghost is very unique in her Siren-like nature and the ending is very satisfying. The pacing is glacial but theres a lot here to enjoy for lovers of slow-burning horror. This is the fourth installment of the J-Horror Theater film series.

Three OClock High (1987) (American Comedy/Drama) (repeat viewing) A highschool student gets himself in hot water with the new bully, a quiet bad boy who challenges him to fight on the grounds of their school after the days end. Our protagonist spends the entire film trying various ways to get out of this fight, and that offers much in terms of funny moments. Most surprisingly, this is actually a high quality film overall, with impressive direction and effective performances. This is also deceptively unorthodox in ways that are difficult to put into words it simply felt different in how the story played out and how the characters interact. Theres a very cool, lengthy tracking shot near the beginning that introduces the villain in glorious fashion. The ending is totally satisfying. This is a lost classic that somehow slipped thru the cracks.

Recommended

No Mans Land (2013) (Chinese Thriller) Set in the northwestern deserts of China, a lawyer crosses paths with two vicious poachers, a prostitute, and others in a series of violent encounters. This has a cool, fluid series of interactions between the many different characters because they clash, then get separated, only to then clash again later on. Not much depth in terms of character development or story, but thriller aspects are well executed and interesting to watch. The desolate desert locales, with minimal populations, add nicely to the atmosphere. (Viewed without subtitles.)

Owl (aka Fukuro) (2003) (Japanese Comedy/Drama) Set during the early 1980s, a mother and adult daughter begin to starve in an abandoned village. They hatch a plan of seducing men from outside of town and murdering them for their money. This is a one location film from start to finish. It is repetitive, but the dialogue with each victim is different and in some cases very interesting (this touches upon the flaws in the Japanese repatriate program). Lots of dry, black humor is infused from start to finish. This one is definitely a bit different.

Doppelganger (2003) (Japanese Comedy/Drama) (repeat viewing) Kiyoshi Kurosawa directs this light-hearted film that touches upon identity. A man encounters a person who looks identical to him, yet has a completely different personality. The dilemma for our protagonist is that he is confronted with a version of himself that is doing what he always wanted to do, but was too scared to do it himself. Koji Yakusho is damn funny as a grumpy old man who tangles with his flamboyant, womanizing, alter ego. Hiromi Nagasaku has a supporting role. The use of a split screen is nicely applied in some instances, and there are some entertaining beatings with blunt objects. Inaccurately marketed as a scary horror movie, go into it expecting an art-house style comedy and enjoy the show. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments.

Running Scared (2006) (American Action/Thriller) A low-ranking thug (Paul Walker) is entrusted by his crime boss to dispose of a gun that killed corrupt cops, but things get out of control when the gun ends up in the hands of a young boy. This movie starts off badly, with a terrible visual style that incorporates non-stop zooming, panning, facial close-ups, and spastic editing flashes that will likely induce epileptic seizures from viewers. Its obnoxious. It does settle down for the most part, but there are a few other annoying moments to sit thru involving the characters themselves (some of which are basically just vulgar cartoons). Fortunately, there are some good qualities to this flick that make it a gripping watch. It is briskly paced, with our protagonist receiving pressure from multiple people to find the gun as quickly as possible while at the same time covering up evidence of the related murders. The side plot involving child abduction culminates in a very good moment. Viewer beware of some bloody violence.

Opportunity Knocks (1990) (American Comedy) (repeat viewing) Eddie (Dana Carvey, who makes his screen debut) an urban con man with a talent for mimicry, runs afoul of a gangster and has to find a hideout quick! So, he breaks into a palatial suburban home while the owners are away and dupes everyone into thinking hes the house-sitter. Posing as a successful businessman, Eddie wins the respect of the owners family and the heart of their comely daughter. Some of the business content is shallow, but some of it is fun and logical (e.g., both bathroom scenes). The ending is predictable but is dramatic enough for it to work. Carvey does a good job holding everything together. Oh, and the character named Harold is awesome.

Not Recommended

Postcard (2010) (Japanese Drama) The film is set during and after the Second World War, and it deals with the effect on families of the death of soldiers. Assuming that he will not return alive, a Navy man asks his comrade to deliver a postcard to his wife back home. This is very dull stuff with a static, bland presentation and some overacting. Its actually quite hokey. Characters are not interesting.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100

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

I can't believe I haven't heard of Retribution until now. I was blown away by the trailer. I'll look for this.





====================
Silent Warrior-

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

It's one of the best horror films with ghosts that I've seen and one of the best from the director too. I remember the story beeing pretty good and a few VERY SCARY scenes.

PORTUGAL EURO 2016 CHAMPIONS

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

Silenced (2011)

Best film that I've seen this Summer so far it's so heartbreaking and it touches a very serious issue (sexual abuse of children) in such a realistic way that it makes it so hard to watch. A few scenes actually include the adults abusing the children and it's so hard to watch. It made me feel angry and sad. The acting is excellent (from both adults and child characters), I was blown away by the kids' performances especially.

I liked this film a lot more than Spotlight. While the american film feels like I'm reading a wikipedia article on what happened, Silenced made me feel a lot more for the abused children.

8/10

The Eye (2002)

Loved the atmosphere, there's some pretty scary stuff here.

7/10


The Eye 2 (2004)

The atmosphere is still here, but the script is so so bad. You can guess at some point what's going to happen in every scene because the film is so repetitive. Still, what made this film watchable for me was the new leading actress, Qi Shu.

5/10

My Left Eye Sees Ghosts (2002)

They had a nice concept here, but overall it just didn't touch me at all.

5/10

Arahan (2004)

A South Korean martial arts film that I had fun watching. Nice choreographies and funny characters.

7/10

Monster (2014)

LOL, this film left me so WTF It's both so cringy and scary. The villain reminded me of an handsome South Korean Michael Meyers. Really enjoyed the violence and the funny scenes. Most of the time I was thinking how stupid the film was but most importantly, it kept me very entertained.

7/10

PORTUGAL EURO 2016 CHAMPIONS

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

Silenced is very good, and as you say, heart-breaking and extremely disturbing.

Have you seen the Thai/Japanese film Children of the Dark (2008)? The scenes involving abuse in that one are even more horrific and will probably have you punching the walls.

Last Film Seen;
Ip Man 3 (Wilson Yip, 2015) 6.5/10

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

No, I haven't. It also has Aoi Miyazaki, so I'm going to put it on my watchlist.

PORTUGAL EURO 2016 CHAMPIONS

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

Ugetsu (1953)

Loved the atmosphere and its message. Very haunting stuff. It's only my first film from Kenji Mizoguchi which is something I'm going to take care of this Summer.

8/10

Kuroneko (1968)

Didn't blow me away the same way Onibaba did, but it's totally worth watching.

7/10

A Stranger of Mine (2005)

Great film! And what a great script, it tells so much about society and I could relate to it a lot. Dark humour at its best.

8/10

Mermaid (2016)

This became the biggest film in China. It has some hilarious jokes and there's a good message (environmental protection), but it's not even Stephen Chow's best film.

6/10

-Non-asian films-

Hardcore Henry (2015)

Pretty cool. amazing stunts and visual effects. I was also a fan of Bad *beep* when it came out.

7/10

Warcraft (2016)

Boring garbage. Took me 3 days to watch half of it and then I skipped the rest.

2/10

PORTUGAL EURO 2016 CHAMPIONS

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

Part 30 of my Asian Horror Year In Review playlist is now up. It covers some of the lesser films released during 2005:


I was also a guest this week on the Pieces of Work podcast, where we discussed Kiyoshi Kurosawa:


Here are the films I saw this week.

Highly Recommended

Karas: The Prophecy and Revelation (2006) (Japanese Anime Action) (repeat viewing) This is a two-part, 3-hour anime film. Betrayed and faced with the threat of total destruction by a powerful being, the soul of a city creates a Karas for protection. The visuals are outstanding, the storyline is weirdly interesting, and the action sequences are fast, choreographically ambitious and wildly entertaining. The intricate battle movements are a sight to behold, and a rarity in a genre that needs some serious strengthening in its action subgenre. Part 1 (The Prophecy) has a non-stop tempo whereas Part 2 (The Revelation) slowly builds to the apocalyptic finale. Cool flick.

Recommended

Zootopia (2016) (American Animated Comedy/Drama) After an otter suddenly disappears in the animal metropolis of Zootopia, by-the-book bunny police officer Judy Hopps reluctantly joins forces with fast-talking fox Nick Wilde to unravel the mystery. Both lead characters are nicely developed and have a good relationship, which sets a nice foundation for the whole film. There are some funny moments and a few pretty good chases as well. The second half gets more serious, but also gets more cliched and less entertaining. The secondary dramatic elements (involving animal nature and other issues) do not work quite as well as the comedy.

Green Room (2015) (American Horror/Thriller) A young punk band, finishing up their self-managed tour, gets a last-minute invitation to play at an isolated backwoods venue. The gig turns sinister when the band members discover that the club is a haven for neo-Nazis. Unfortunately, they play the most offensive song humanly imaginable and then witness a violent event, which gets them into serious trouble. Right from the start, this has good quality direction and sound design. Pacing does drag a bit, with most events taking place in one room, but this is nicely suspenseful and somewhat unpredictable. The violence is sufficiently bloody too.

Neighbor No. 13 (2005) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) A man suffered all kinds of abuse from his classmates as a child, which permanently scarred his personality. Now, as an adult, he has developed a terrifying alter ego who retaliates against those who wrong him. After taking a job at a construction company, he is bullied and intimidated by his aggressive boss, which spurs his other personality into action. This story has some welcomed creativity. The deaths are mostly tame and occur off-screen, but the disturbing nature of the alter-ego is sufficiently expressed through his mannerisms and threatening nature alone. There are a few surreal dream sequences that are pretty weird but have significant stylistic value. For example, the opening scene is loaded with sweat, puss, and blood and it wallows in this imagery for about 5 minutes. This is a very grimy film, with lots of bodily fluids (mostly sweat) and its set during the hot days of summer, so youll probably want to take a shower after watching this. I do like how the psycho is the protagonist and main character, and hes played by Shun Oguri who is a popular actor nowadays in Japan. The antagonist is a raging jerk who beats the protagonist physically; he will immediately make the viewer angry, but the presence of his wife and child give him a bit of relatability and vulnerability. This is a slow-paced movie and is almost two full hours long, so it does feel a bit.

Heartbreak Yakuza (1987) (Japanese Crime Drama/Action/Romance) A hardened gangster encounters by chance a woman he hasnt seen since childhood. They are both engulfed in the underground world of yakuza warfare. The hitman sequences are nicely filmed but nothing great. This is a basic crime tale that (at times) feels like a style over substance affair, but the style is good and there are some good dramatic moments. Pacing is a bit slow.

The Heart (aka Kokoro) (1955) (Japanese Drama) Set near the death-knell of the Meiji Era, this film focuses on a middle-aged man who is unable to open himself to those around him. As the flim draws on, we become aware this isolation is a self-imposed punishment for certain events of his youth that he is unable to forget. The ultimate explanation for his personality is understandable, but the way he treated his wife was unfair (which makes him a bit unlikeable but also multi-dimensional). This is also a bit too drawn out at two full hours, but it is pretty good.

Not Recommended

Bluestockings (2005) (Japanese Drama/Romance) Set during the days of Japan' male-dominated Taisho Era (1912-1926), when it was difficult for women to have both love and a career. A married womans friend gets divorced, so she decides to help her find a job in her husbands company. Unfortunately, her husband begins an affair with her. This is a rather shallow, boring affair with sleep-inducing characters and dialogue. The period sets, clothing, and acting are generally good though.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100

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

Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
Heartbreaking. So tragic and horrific it's one of the best japanese films I've seen and the first 9/10 that I give since 2014 (The Isle was the last one).

Sansho is such an evil character and it's interesting to see that he makes the title instead of any of the other leading characters.

9/10

Non-asian films

The Jungle Book (2016)

7/10

PORTUGAL EURO 2016 CHAMPIONS

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

Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (1973) - 3/5
The Yakuza Papers, Vol. 1: Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973) - 3/5
A Snake of June (2002) - 3/5
Tokyo Fist (1995) - 3/5
Oldboy (2003) - 3/5
Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972) - 4/5
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972) - 3/5
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973) - 2/5
Female Yakuza Tale (1973) - 2/5
Death Powder (1986) - 1/5
Jumping (1984) - 3/5

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

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny [2016] China
Director: Woo-Ping Yuen
6.13/10

There's crisp writing in the first act, and it seems like a perfectly crafted film to win over westerners to Chinese cinema,it's in English except it stars a lovely and talented MILFand then it almost mocks itself. Action is okay, Michelle Yeoh is good but after the script fail it's a let down of Weinstein proportions.


The Shameless (Mu-roe-han) [2015] South Korea
Director: Seung-uk Oh
6.79/10

Conflicted cop falls for a criminal's lover. Do-yeon Jeon's best performance of 2015. She's the only thing worth noticing in this film we've seen many times. There's one scene where the bad guy with the douche hairdo gets pinned between the cop's car and a fence that's pretty funny, and peculiarly Korean in its coupling of humor and pain. The film fizzles along pretty well as a drama, failing as the cop/thriller/crime flick it appears as.


Shinjuku Swan (Shinjuku suwan) [2015] Japan
Director: Shion Sono
2/10

Sono can't make interesting films about men*. So far I've seen 5 of the 6 films he made in 2015. Only one of them is good, and it's great. This isn't it. I want to say this film sux because it's childish and creepy toward women, but most of his films are that. This one is also annoying. I hope The Whispering Star is good.

*Excepting Be Sure to Share, which explains why he can't.


Women's Volleyball (Rio Olympics) [2016] China, Korea, Japan
NBC Sports
10/10

You know that face someone makes when they break a world record or win the Gold? These Volleyball women make that face after every play. And then they gather mid court and hug one another, say "I love you", talk about how much fun the last play was, and then pat each other on their cute little muscular Asian butts. It's adorable. If you watch with the sound off you can't tell who won the play because they act the same way, win or lose. I'm enjoying China the most because of one woman, 6'5", twenty-one years old, who has a bit of a Gigantism gait but is cute and lovely to watch perform. She's not the tallest on the team. There's another cutey at 6'7" who's proportioned well and also quite good, and 19 years old.

Then there's the squirts from Korea and Japan. There's a few who look more suited to rugby but for the most part it's a supermodel convention. I don't think either team has a player over six-foot, but I dunno for sure. They look tiny. Most volleyball women all over the world are pretty attractive, something about being fit and healthy I suppose, but we love Asians here and they deliver. Something I've noticed about players from all three east Asian teams is they never seem to get mad or pout. I like that a lot. The Korea vs Japan game was great. Japan took the first set but then Korea swept the next three to take the match. I want to root for Japan because they look so sweet, but they are too short and will never win.



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

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

I continue to be drawn to Zero of Sion Sono's films. He can make 8,000 of them a year. No sign he's ever going to make another Love Exposure. He scared the crap out of himself with the, ahem, exposure.

I loled at the Volleyball review. Dammit, I don't have cable and you can't stream the Olympics anywhere!

One time, I was in Virginia Beach on a balmy, still summer dusk. People had wrapped up their day at the beach and were wandering off to dinner and drinks. In the summer by the sea, the air is so thick and soft you could go to sleep on it. I was walking out on the pier and saw a group of high school girls playing volleyball on the beach. They were totally relaxed and having fun. A few people were lingering on the pier watching their game. If this was Coney Island in New York, there would be a swarm of guidos shouting and dripping their ooze all over them, but in Virginia Beach, nobody found it creepy that a small crowd of people were staring at the teenage girls. The girls were just hopping around, giggling and playing, like the most natural creatures in the world. Total peach fuzz. Suddenly, I thought to myself: This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

It was. I hear it's an Olympic sport now.

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

Sono's fanservicey Takashi Miike-style career trajectory is not working. But he has made four great films since Love Exposure. Also six turds and a couple mehs, but still.

If you can borrow a friend's, or your mom's Comcast sign in, you can watch all the volleyball game replays, commercial free with the NBCSports app. That's what I'm doing.

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


Sono's fanservicey Takashi Miike-style career trajectory is not working. But he has made four great films since Love Exposure. Also six turds and a couple mehs, but still.


It's the splatter-violence. To me, I saw the violence in Love Exposure as the guy's security blanket; he didn't want to make a movie about mushy stuff without it. So fine, let him lop a couple ****s off. But I find that the rest of his movies have the bone-breaking stuff at the hollow core, with none of the sincerity of LE. Is there one other SS movie you think Zelena could stomach?

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


Is there one other SS movie you think Zelena could stomach?

I think Be Sure to Share is a pretty important Sono film. He's exercising demons. I don't recall any violence; there's a few eye-rolling moments, but overall it's a standard family drama about a guy coming to terms with a mortality and daddy issues. It's a bit like a coda to Love Exposure. I think it illuminates why Sono doesn't portray men very well, why they yell a lot in his films, and why they sort of live with nothing more than a kill or be killed outlook on life. You could definitely stomach it. Enjoy it, I dunno.

I also think Why Don't You Play in Hell? is important-ish/endearing. But it does have a lot of blood and violencewhich you could skip through. It might seem sophomoric to you with your knowledge of the industry, but I found it touching and very passionate about film making and being a film maker. Really revealing/touchy-feely about what he's doing. But it's also silly and the last long long scene with body parts flying hither and yon will not appeal to you. Too bad because there are some good lines within it. Oh, and Fumi Nikaidô.


violence as the guy's security blanket

Yep

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

Hrm I tried Why Don't You Play In Hell and couldn't make it past the pools of blood. Whatever I liked about LE was not one of the ingredients in this one. I watch the trailers for these Sono films, in ever-declining hope, but I'm not feelin' any of it. I guess maybe if he can not put out eight films a year for a while Like you said, the Miike thing, it ain't working. He's doing a Woody Allen and just doing it for his enjoyment, not ours. If I don't hear from him for three years I will be hopeful that he's working on something good. But I think most filmmakers don't get better. They do one great one and then start to get worse

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

I've just recently watched "Love & Peace". It has a singing and crying turtle on it! You'll love it.






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Between Mind and Heart-

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

Ha ha, oh come ON! I had actually watchlisted Love&Peace but then these guys trashed it in the reviews Maybe I will take another look. In spite of the singing turtles, not because of them!

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

I think I am the only one who didn't like it. Daniel top tenned it for Sono, ebo thought it was touching. I thought it was a bad Gilbert Gottfried movie.

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

Long Long Time Ago (Singapore, 2016)

I can't think of another Singapore movie I've ever seen, so that was enough reason to watch it, because this one was about Singapore. It's a foggy-eyed nostalgia sandwich aimed squarely (maybe cynically) at the over 50 crowd. This movie was weird. When I think Singapore, I think hyper-modern, basically Goldman Sachs' asian fortress. I think of basically a right-wing version of mainland China. But this thing was not only about Singapore's emergence from kampung society poverty, it is also made at a third-world soap-opera production value level. Which is strange. It's not at a Mexico/Philippines production level, we're talking Guatemala/Vietnam level.

Not just bad CGI and crappy location sound recording, but really poor television soap opera acting. Bad to the point of endearing, because you have to feel sorry for them. In some parts, the eight year old girl seemed to steal the scene from the grown ups, with her superior acting. Some characters were likable; Suhaimi Yusof as the cuddly Malay trusty neighbor friend, but I really winced when I had to sit through jerk big-brother Mark Lee chewing the everloving crap out of the scenery. The harsh/stern family narrative was overplayed; at a certain point you need the protagonist mom to just walk away from her abusive relative. It's like getting caned by Lee Kuan Yew.

Speaking of which, the Yew hagiography and unsubtle product placements were cringeworthy. Still I find this kind of thing interesting because it's different, and it has that serial quality where I was ready to watch the sequel as soon as it was over. It's fascinating when you realize that Singapore 1968 was really a hair's breadth away from the Indonesia of The Act of Killing. Can somebody give me a Singapore Top 10 List? Bonus points if you can do a Malaysia Top 10, without dipping into anything rated below 5 on imdb.


The Spy: Undercover Operation (Korea, 2013)


Good lord, Kyung-gu Sol and So-ri Moon from Oasis, reunited in a screwball spy comedy? Wow, this one is really an object lesson in the importance of the script. The script is everything. Coppola always talks about how "the basics" of a film are just acting and writing. And you can take two proven great actors, put them in a movie together with a weak script, and they are just as mediocre as anything. I mean, this one was fun, I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong. It's got that feeling of Korea punching way above its weight with filmmaking. But I couldn't help thinking about how little the actors were doing, because the script wasn't giving them much of anything, and how the script really has to give it to them. You can't just make stuff up out of nowhere it gets hammy.

outide Asia

the Apocalypse Now "workprint" (1979)

I'm a confirmed Apocalypse Now Uberfan. I watch it probably once a month on average, because it is just a reliable drug that gives me the out-of-body-cinema experience that we need. I can find no better way to annihilate reality than a film on this level. So I had to watch the five-hour "workprint" that was leaked in the 80s and now resides on youtube even though it is totally unwatchable fifth-generation VHS quality on "ep" quality setting.

Everything about this film and how it was made is extraordinary, so uberfans will gobble up every extra crumb of it we can get. The workprint really demonstrates how the edit made this film the work of art it was. And the sound design, which was revolutionary and industry-changing at the time. So this is Walter Murch's film as much as Coppola's.

Famously, almost every line of the film was overdubbed because the location sound was useless, over the roar of helicopters and boat engines. What you realize watching the workprint is how much they took advantage of that. In the studio, it is easier to get the actor to do 30 takes of any given line and use exactly the right, best tone of voice. They took enormous advantage of this, and every student filmmaker should be scribbling notes.

Other interesting stuff here; there were more actual Vietnamese people in the rough cut, who were all edited out. Overall, the movie was mostly John Milius' sort of gung-ho movie until they got into post-production, where it became (thankfully) also Michael Herr's (who wrote the narration) movie and editor/sound designer Murch's. The rough cut has a lot of cheesy, ill-advised Doors needle drops. The great genius of Coppola is that he gets people that are better than him to do their greatest work, for him. Robert Duval's work in this is downright scary. He can just walk on set and nail every damn line, with crap exploding around him. Even in the weakest bits of the film, he drops the hammer on every damn line.

There's not much good stuff that was left out of the film. It shows how great it is to shoot 200+ hours and pare it down to two and a half; 100 hours of takes for every hour that made it into the final cut. They shot roughly an hour of film a day, obviously dawn to dusk for more than a year. Then they really got down to work, for two more years, including every actor going into the studio to overdub lines, and 50+ people putting probably 50,000-100,000 hours of work just into the sound design. You could take the crappiest indie movie in the world, shot on an iphone, and if you put 100,000 hours worth of work on the sound design the results would get you an oscar.

Everything was perfect here. Enormous budget, enormous talents, and the freedom to just go out and improv like crazy for a year and a half, and then edit the best stuff, and then overdub so that every line is delivered perfectly. Why isn't this done more often? Because nobody will put up the money. Picasso paid for his own paints. Jimi Hendrix paid for his own amp. Coppola paid for his own movie. That's how you got to do it if you want to make a work of art. "Product" can be bought. Art can't.

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


Can somebody give me a Singapore Top 10 List?
Personally no, but I did buy a box set of the Eric Khoo collection, so I might be half-way there!

Most of your criticisms of Long Long Time Ago have been made more generally of Jack Neo's earlier work.

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

Yeah, I never knew they had redneck humor in Singapore ya learn something every day.

Look forward to your review of the Khooster.

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

You really TOFTT with that Spy flick. I remember when that one breezed past a couple years ago and thought WTF? As you know I never watch trailers and usually judge a film by its poster (with a batting average of 932).

I've watched AN probably more than a dozen times, but you're hardcore. You mentioned before about the overdubbing. I hadn't heard that factoid. I guess if you do it right The sound design is amazing and does tons toward taking you to another world. And Duval. Yikes. And Wagner. A toothpick Matrix dude. I've watched the Redux version a couple times but prefer the theatrical. I first saw it in a great theater in Chicago under extreme influence, appropriate to the film, and I'll never forget it. When it got to the "I'll go. I wanna go" bridge scene, I got scared and wanted to go home. I stayed and it got worse. It was wonderful.
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