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.