Recently Seen, Part 12 (January 2018)

Discussion in 'Cinema: International' started by ebossert, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Highly Recommended

    Postmen In the Mountains (1999) (Chinese Drama) (repeat viewing) – The film is set in the mountainous regions of the western Hunan province in the early 1980s. Slowed down by arthritis, a middle-aged rural postman passes his route on to his son, whom he takes on his final trip. Despite the simplistic premise, there is much to enjoy here in the form of the father-son dynamic, interactions with villagers, the quaint day-to-day relationships with special residents, and the father’s recollections of his past. Natural environments are phenomenal and beautifully shot. The score is mesmerizing and hypnotic. A very relaxing and very well made movie.

    Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) (Korean War Drama/Comedy) (repeat viewing) – After scattering into the mountains during the horrors of war, soldiers from both North and South Korea discover a remote village with residents who know nothing of warfare. An intriguing premise that emphasizes co-existence between the enemies and some humor via daily interactions with the villagers. What results are a number of bizarre scenarios – my favorite being the wild boar confrontation. There are a few scenes of bloody violence, but this is predominantly a very pleasant, quirky, touching endeavor. The environments are also beautiful. Most certainly, a different kind of war movie. Ha-kyun Shin, Jae-yeong Jeong, and Hye-jeong Kang star.

    The Truth Beneath (2016) (Korean Drama/Thriller) – This film follows a mysterious 15-day scandal of a politician and his wife as their daughter goes missing just before the national elections. Ye-jin Son carries this film and gives one of the best performances of her entire career. She’s backed up by a solid screenplay too. Many of the characters are properly developed, but I was very impressed with the mystery component because it proficiently reveals secrets, twists and turns in a very organic, natural way that clarifies and helps to make sense of some scenes and character motivations that come earlier in the film. Good stuff.

    Baby Driver (2017) (American/British Action/Drama) – Hired as the getaway driver for a series of bank heists, angel-faced Baby finds himself in deep trouble as he is hunted by the cops and criminals alike. This movie grabs the viewer immediately with an impressive car chase, and it continues to hold interest with its dialogue and character interaction. All of the protagonist’s fellow criminals appear to be a threat, which creates a certain tension throughout. In addition, the dynamics between the heist team members really helps to keep things engaging in-between the action beats. This is a solid flick from Edgar Wright.

    Recommended

    Confession of Murder (aka Memoirs of a Murderer) (2017) (Japanese Thriller/Drama) – This is a remake of the Korean film of the same name. After the statute of limitations expires on the murders he has committed, a man claims to be the killer and publishes an autobiography describing all his crimes in great detail. This film is more consistent in its dark tone (no crazy action scenes or humor mixed in), which makes it feel very different from the original film. This version does tap into the interesting aspects of the unusual premise too, which is very important. There are also some surprises for fans of the original; in fact, one lengthy segment is entirely different. Hideaki Ito and Tatsuya Fujiwara are both good.

    Antiporno (2016) (Japanese Drama) – A female porno writer (with some psychological issues) abuses her older assistant during the course of a long morning in this film by Sion Sono. This is an odd film that takes place in a limited number of locations, but the sets frequently use bright colors (like yellow) that are visually striking. It’s quite funny that Sono attempts to make statements about objectification in the porno industry while having women run around naked and act like lunatics. It’s interesting though. Only 76 minutes long too. I need to watch this again.

    Paradox (2017) (Chinese Action/Drama) – A Hong Kong police officer (Louis Koo) looks for his 16-year-old daughter who disappeared while in Thailand. He teams up with some other officers as they face off against a black market organ smuggling ring. The opening half hour is on the slow side, but the subsequent fist fights are well choreographed and exciting. This movie gets stronger as it moves along, with the final half hour being the most impressive part. Louis Koo gives an intense performance. Two of the supporting characters, outside of Louis Koo, are relative “no names” in the west but they do a good job. FYI, Tony Jaa has a small supporting role and has atleast one good fight scene, but he is not in the film much. A good flick by director Wilson Yip.

    Not Recommended

    House of the Disappeared (2017) (Korean Horror/Drama) – This is a remake of “The House at the End of Time.” Released after spending three decades in a penitentiary, a tormented woman returns to her family home determined to confront the mysterious and deadly curse that still plagues the house. Just like the original, the characters and story are boring, and the scare tactics rely on cheap jump scares. Bad acting is used to portray the older characters, which creates unintentionally comical scenes. A little bit of atmosphere can’t save this. So painfully generic too; and everything plays out in almost the same exact way as the original film. At least they had the smarts to remove that stupid baseball scene.
     
  2. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    Thanks for pointing that out. I've liked his movies I've seen but didn't know. Will give it a look.

    Will also have a look at The Truth Beneath (2016). I've shuffled that one up and down my queue many times. I could do with some Ye-jin Son love.
     
  3. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    Baby Driver is my favourite Edgar Write film. Awesome music and editing.
     
  4. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Not sure of whether the Japanese is the remake of the Korean, although they have the same name. I've only seen the first 20 minutes of the Japanese and am yet to continue it asap but with the exception of the presence of a noted serial killer, I haven't had any inkling that the two films are similar.


    :((( And I thought this would make my top 2017 best movies list.
     
  5. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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  6. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Aaarrggghhh gosh how embarrassing of me! Thanks @sitenoise . Sorry guys I got confused.
     
  7. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    FYI, Confession of Murder (2017, Japan) is a remake of Confession of Murder (2012, Korea). :)
     
  8. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    Baby Driver isn't my kind of film. That's why I wasn't paying enough attention to it to know it was an Edgar Wright film. Car chases, gun fights, and tough guy drama acting. Too noisy. Not my thing. But the music is great. Slickly made.
     
  9. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    [​IMG]
    Project A-Ko
    Fun, pure fanservice. Cute story and crazy action. I will watch its 3 sequels for sure.
    7/10

    Time Renegades
    1/10

    Miracle in Cell No. 7
    3/10

    These two films remind me why I almost don't watch any commercial South Korean cinema that isn't Chan-Wook Park, Kim-Jee Woon or Bong-Joon ho. Time Renegades feels just like any other time travel film that I haven't seen before and Miracle in Cell No. 7 is just another melodrama with all the tricks you expect from this kind of film. Say what you want about Hollywood recycling its ideas, I feel exactly the same way about South Korean cinema.
     
  10. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Highly Recommended

    A Quiet Dream (2016) (Korean Drama) – This is an indie film about a young woman who runs a bar and takes care of her unconscious paralyzed father. Three men frequent the bar and try without much success to win her heart, but they do establish a friendship and help each other out. This is very nicely shot in black-and-white, with impressive framing of camera shots. Great performances too. The three main actors are real-life directors who also act in their own films, and they draw influence from their prior roles in this film too. The script does a great job of showing friendship between people of different sexes. A few scenes are quietly hilarious.

    Recommended

    The Mimic (2017) (Korean Horror) – While still in the process of dealing with her son’s disappearance, a woman (Jung-ah Yum) takes in a young girl she finds near Mt. Jang – a mysterious mountain where there appears to have existed a mythical entity which mimics the voices of humans. This is a very nicely shot and acted film that is also rather creepy, with a deliberate pace behind it. The ability of this entity to use other people’s voices is actually quite eerie and allows for a lot of deception. Also, the way this entity looks is a bit different and probably not what you’re expecting. There’s cool use of mirrors too. On the negative side, there are a few questionable decisions made by the characters, as well as a few jump scares, but those flaws are few and far between.

    V.I.P. (2017) (Korean Crime Thriller/Drama) – A son to a high-ranked official in North Korea defects to the South, but commits a series of murders in both countries. The movie depicts the following events as various officials work to either protect him or bring him to justice. (This film stirred a bit of controversy due to its depicted violence against women, but there’s really only one scene of fairly graphic violence against a woman, near the beginning, with the rest being inflicted against men – which is apparently not a problem for people.) While light on character development, the conflicts are strong because you really want to see this guy get taken down, and it will likely make the viewer’s blood boil. The overall quality is good too (acting, direction, etc.).

    Gintama (2017) (Japanese Comedy/Action) – In an alternate history where aliens have invaded and taken over feudal Tokyo, a swordsman and his two assistants (a former waiter and a petite alien) attempt to stop a group of evil-doers. The premise allows for a bizarre mix of old and new technology, which is neat. Even more surprising is that the wacky, quirky, anime-inspired humor actually works. The colorful cast of characters also helps. This is especially true for the ladies (Kanna Hashimoto, Masami Nagasawa, etc.). This flick moves quickly and “world builds”, meaning that multiple viewings will likely benefit viewers. Action is pretty good, but there is a bit too much exposition during the big finale. Not exactly a deep character piece, this is still fun to watch.

    The End of April (2017) (Korean Drama/Thriller) – After moving into a worn-down apartment in a small town, a young woman has trouble sleeping at night due to the noise from her next-door neighbor. She eventually befriends the daughter that lives there. Meanwhile, a social service worker monitors a mentally handicapped man in the apartment complex. Glacially paced but quietly unnerving, there’s a sense of danger that bubbles beneath the surface. This is driven by the unhinged neighbors and a touch of strange occurrences that accentuate the psychological aspects. Performances are good. On the negative side, the runtime is too long and there are definitely some pacing problems during the latter half; the side plot involving the boyfriend feels like it could have been edited out completely.

    Moon Young (2015) (Korean Drama) – This is about a mute girl who enjoys videotaping people but has a loser father. She befriends another woman who recently broke up with her boyfriend. This is only 64 minutes long and lacks depth, but Tae-ri Kim (“The Handmaiden”) is allowed to showcase her acting talents by playing the lead role. This is a character interaction film that does have some nice moments. You could do worse.

    Not Recommended

    Always Be With You (2017) (Chinese Horror Anthology) – This is offically the 20th installment in the “Troublesome Night” franchise. Not an anthology per se, because it bounces between three different stories throughout the entire runtime, and the stories intersect a few times. It starts off fairly well, but gradually loses interest. Scare tactics are weak and completely forgettable. Performances range from pretty good to poor. Attempts at melodrama fall flat on their face. You definitely get the feel of a shoddy, thoughtless production. This is actually quite boring when all is said and done.
     
  11. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Why do I feel so sleepy while watching Confession of Murder/Memoirs of a Murderer...... :emoji_alien: Is it because Tatsuya Fujiwara looks so circa Death Note here that he's starting to look creepy without anything new or any offer of versatility? Is it because of the shaky cam being utilized which lulls my eyes to sleep? Or is it because of the dark lighting? Really, despite it belonging to a favorite genre, I felt so sleepy watching it that I put it off at the 30 minute mark. I'll watch something else more lively.

    I'll try the Korean one next time.
     
  12. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    Yeah, I just looked the other way on Confession of Murder/Memoirs of a Murderer when I saw the poster with that guy's haircut and his face. I don't want to watch that. lol1.gif

    The Korean one isn't bad. It's one of those built by committee for the theater Korean flicks.
     
  13. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

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    Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1988) was one of the first Asian movies I saw, on its initial theatre release, and having been wowed by it the first time round I was interested in seeing how it would stack up almost 30 years later. The film opens with Gong Li, in her first role, being sent off to marry a relatively wealthy, elderly leper who owns a distillery, the marriage a product of a transaction in which she was exchanged by her father for a mule. On route, she falls for a hunky bad boy carrying the bridal sedan, and within days the leper has been dispatched, leaving her to take over the running of what becomes a very profitable business … until the Japanese arrive.

    The film is every bit as beautifully shot as I remember it (first time director Zhang was a cinematographer prior to this), but this time around I was less forgiving of the rather shallow characterisation and uneven structure. Way more time is spent on nostalgic celebration of the rustic colourfulness of the land and its inhabitants, than on developing the characters and their relationships/conflicts, or the plot. This was particularly evident in Gong Li’s relationship with her hunky sedan carrier – he’s an obnoxious drunk bonehead who throws tantrums and sulks like a three-year-old, but a couple of meaningful glances and a glimpse of a muscly back, and we’re supposed to buy her falling head-over-heels for him. And the third act, the arrival of the Japanese, seemed tacked on – my memory was of a narrative jolt that took the audience suddenly into unexpected and dark places, but this time around it seemed like something banged on so that the whole of an expansive novel could be jammed into the one film.

    Maybe I’m just more cynical, or maybe I’ve got a lot more reference points and aren’t as easily seduced by the colourful exoticism that was served up, but in hindsight I would probably reassess this down from one of my favourite films of Zhang Yimou, to one that’s worth seeing for completists.

    One Night In Supermarket (Yang Qing, 2009) is a comedy of errors, about a guy that takes a couple of supermarket employees hostage to try and get compensation after a mix-up with his (mildly) winning lottery ticket. Despite owing a huge debt to the Korean flick Attack the Gas Station!, it has enough heart and soul of its own to make it entertaining enough, but it’s the kind of film with a ‘best before’ date – nine years after the release date, it is eminently watchable if it happens to be on TV when there’s nothing else of interest on, but probably offering nothing to make anyone want to hunt it down.
     
  14. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    The Villainess (AK-Nyeo) [2017] • South Korea

    This is like my 5th try to get through this thing. I don't know why I don't just punt. Maybe because Ok-bin Kim is fabulous, and I don't mean just pretty. It's amazing how many different characters she can play, not to mention her stunts. But why is the makeup so bad on the women in this flick? They all have really really bad looking complexions. Is it so the pretty boy who can't act and who kills the film will look well moisturized? I did conditionally punt the film when he showed up and tried to charm Ok-bin. Totally gross and unbelievable. The only saving grace to the film beyond Ok-bin is Shin Ha-Kyun of Cafe Noir fame. He can actually act and commands some screen presence. Kim Seo-Hyung is pretty good half the time as Chief, but suffers from horribly photographed complexion malfunction syndrome as well.

    There's a scene where a guy turns a ring around on his finger so that when he stands there naked with his little penis and slaps a little girl it will leave a mark on her face and make his penis feel bigger. Only from Korea. Sick fucks.
     
  15. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    This is one movie where I've already gotten my hands on but for some reason I just procrastinated and totally forgot about its existence.

    Yes, all that foundation went to the men of the film.

    Haha unsurprisingly Korea's brand! Sick would be an accurate description.
     
  16. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    The Villainess (AK-Nyeo) [2017] • South Korea

    @plsletitrain Part 2

    Glad I made it to the end. The last action sequence is nuts. You have to think: How did they film that? How are they doing this? And Ok-bin Kim. She deserves an Oscar. There are parts of the film that are bad, and she suffers for it, but when she gets to cut loose, or calmly boil inside, she crushes it. She's not quite Charlize Theron, Atomic Blonde, but close.

    I understand that casting Sung Joon is fan service, but he really brings the film down. Everything about him and his story arc was nauseating. Get behind Ryan Gosling, pal:
    Sung_Joon-p02.jpg
     
  17. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Hmmm...Really? Okay, I might put it up in the priority list. I don't understand the love for Kim Ok-bin. Then again, its the same as you guys probably don't understand my love for the moisturized men of Korea that could pass up for geishas???????? :emoji_sweat:
     
  18. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

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    Dunno 'bout that ... have you ever seem Himeanole? Now, who was that dude who voted that one as the best film of 2016? :emoji_wink:
     
  19. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    oh man ... there has to be evil behind violence. Korea has lost it. No substance to most of their violence. No reason. Just little penises 2teeth.gif

    like this guy?
    Sung_Joon.jpg
     
  20. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    I'm not giving up my "Team Korea" banner just yet so I'm still one of the few here who still loves their style.

    lol Hey careful now! Some uptight lurker might accuse you of pulling a Trump shithole remark there!


    No, not him. Not yet.
     

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