Recently Seen, Part 14 (March 2018)

Discussion in 'Cinema: International' started by divemaster13, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    If y'all recall from the January thread, there was a bit of discussion on this movie:

    The DVD arrived and it was a factory sealed perfect condition Korean DVD with English subtitles. I watched it last night. Today I read through the review/comments of @sitenoise and @clayton-12 in our January thread (I usually tend to skip such discussion "pre-watch" as to not be influenced). I knew the prevailing overall opinions but did not read about this scene or that scene...

    I plan on watching it again tonight before I weigh in.

    Good way to kick off the March thread.
     
  2. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    Gonna take a double dip before weighing in?

    hmm11.gif
     
  3. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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  4. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Venus Talk (2014)

    Cute and engaging Korean film with a trio of MILF-aged ladies and how they are negotiaing their sex lives and relationships. One wants to freely get it on with her fellow, but the fact that her 20-something daughter still lives at home and just won't leave, makes it difficult. Another is a producer at a TV station who finds that office romances and one-night-stands have consequences. The other lady is married and much more highly sexed than her beleaguered husband who secretly tries Viagra just to keep up with her.

    Like many lighthearted Korean relationship comedies, this one gets darker in the last third of the movie. Divorce, cancer, pregnancy, gossip and job loss--quite a few tears from the characters. But the funny parts are funny, and the cute parts are cute, and none of the characters are annoying, so all in all a nice little film for a date night. (I watched it with my wife, and she liked it).

    3.5 stars.
     
  5. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Highly Recommended

    Bad Genius (2017) (Thai Drama/Suspense) – A smart girl decides to concoct an intricate plan to help other students cheat on their exams. Motivation of our protagonist is out of pure spite for the education system, as well as to make money. A very unethical person for sure, but I ended up rooting for her success because of a few reasons: (1) the lead actress is great; (2) the methods and schemes are very interesting to watch and surprisingly intense (especially during the second half); and (3) most of my teachers in real-life were lazy and pretentious, so I like seeing them get irritated in movies. There are also some big twists and plot developments that I was not expecting.

    Recommended

    Descendants of the Sun (2016) (Korean Romance/Thriller Television Series) – This K-drama focuses on four characters (played by Joong-ki Song, Hye-kyo Song, Jin Goo, Ji-won Kim) who are sent on a peacekeeping mission to a foreign country, which tests their skills and romantic relationships. This K-drama (16 episodes, 60 minutes each) is different due to its setting, which is distinctively non-Korean. The romantic relationships were developed quite well, and that’s especially true of our main couple. Performances are solid. The variety of conflicts creates a welcome unpredictability, but at times it feels like these events come from out of nowhere (which eliminates a sense of anticipation or suspense, and also makes certain events down the stretch feel rushed).

    Bone Tomahawk (2015) (American Western Thriller/Horror) – Four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers. Right from the start, you know the good guys are completely outmatched, which creates a stifling tension and sense of danger. Always nice to see Kurt Russell in a lead role, and he’s good as usual. This film features a few hideously graphic murder scenes (with some fantastic special effects) that some viewers may have trouble sitting through. One problem is the pacing: 132 minutes does feel too long, especially during the middle section, which features too many scenes of our protagonists walking in the wilderness. Nevertheless, director S. Craig Zahler is one to look out for.

    Brawl on Cell Block 99 (2017) (American Drama/Thriller) – A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison after a deal gets deadly in this film by S. Craig Zahler. This director is very proficient and methodical in his approach to filmmaking, which means that he takes his time to set things up. The opening hour does a good job of developing the protagonist and the situaton. Vince Vaughn gives a surprisingly good performance too. Special effects are not as realistic as “Bone Tomahawk”; in fact, they are rather cheesy. Don’t go in expecting a lot of action, because the “brawl” itself only lasts a few minutes.

    IT (2017) (American Horror) – In the summer of 1989, a group of bullied kids band together to destroy a shapeshifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children of Derry, their small Maine town. It’s always nice to see violence against children in movies, and this movie does it within the opening 10 minutes. For a film with a runtime of 134 minutes, this is paced rather well, with lots and horror sequences that are peppered throughout. The scare tactics also have a nice variety, despite the fact that jump scares are used fairly often. The kid actors are generally good. Most of the characters outside of the protagonists are cartoonish to the point of being distracting, but overall this is good stuff.

    The Tag-Along 2 (2017) (Taiwanese Horror) – When social worker discovers that her pregnant teenage daughter has disappeared, her search leads her to many horrifying mysteries. This sequel does use some CGI imagery that is unconvincing, but there are quite a few creative visuals and images that are created along the way and the horror sequences are generally impressive. There’s a very creepy scene involving a room that’s used for black magic, the spirit will physically attack people on screen, and the very lengthy finale takes place in a dense foggy forest that is very atmospheric. Sound design is very strong. There are also some cultural nuances. It does get melodramatic near the end, but the script does a good job of establishing the dramatic connections between the mothers and daughters; so it is successful at being heartfelt. Not quite as good as its predecessor, but worth watching.

    Wild Card (2015) (American Crime Drama/Action) – When a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal skills and a gambling problem gets in trouble with the mob, he has one last play...and it's all or nothing. This is a slower paced drama, with minimal action. It’s difficult to tell where the film is going, which is actually a good thing. There are some interesting plot and character turns that I did not expect. Jason Statham is a fun leading man, and he seems to be at home in this role. Features an amusing interrogation sequence near the end. Anne Heche is still looking hot nowadays!

    Not Recommended

    A Special Lady (2017) (Korean Crime Drama/Thriller) – A woman within a criminal organization fights for her own survival. Characters are undeveloped and wafer thin. None of the conflicts or storylines are strong enough to make up for it. Not one memorable thriller or action sequence either (with the exception of one great beating involving a car). A good cast is wasted in this boring flick.
     
  6. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    So I watched Ryuichi Hiroki's

    Policeman and Me (P to JK) [2017] • Japan

    I don't want to soil my Ryuichi Hiroki thread with it so I'll just post here that it's worthless drivel, one of those "paycheck" manga adaptations he does from time to time, complete with an idol boy sporting blond hair so we can easily tell he's going to start out bad and misunderstood, and then after showing a scene with either an abusive father or, in this case an abusive new boyfriend of his mom, he will be redeemed. I hate that shit.
     
  7. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    V.I.P. [2017] • South Korea
    Director: Park Hoon-Jung (of I Saw the Devil and other crap like that fame--no offense to my friends who liked it lol1.gif )

    Wanna start a pool on how long it takes for some asshole (a rich or powerful man with rich and powerful man problems) to beat up or kill a naked woman in this one? Closest without going over. I bet ten minutes.


    Hey South Korea! Oldboy is over. Move on, you sick fucks.

     
  8. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    It took 16 minutes! What is wrong with these people?
     
  9. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    Next Door (Naboer) [2005] • Norway, Denmark, Sweden
    Directed by Pål Sletaune (Some Euro guy)
    9.639/10

    I decided to re-watch this to remind me what good violence and horror are like. This is a genre piece about a guy who befriends two girls who may or may not live next door to his apartment, and then things get really bent. Maybe the girls are evil to the core, maybe they are a mirror. It's too bad the ending lets the air out of its tires because everything we get dragged through leading up to it deserves more. Kristoffer Joner who plays the seeming innocent is perfect. His face, his body language, they are confused yet curious dread personified. The girls are a sleazy, sexy, creepy crawly mash-up teetering between repulsive and titillating.

    It's a well put together and acted film with greasy, seductive characters, a thoughtfully subtle soundtrack, and an eerie eerie set. The girls' apartment, which grows throughout the film mirroring the expanding recesses of their mindfuck, is a character of its own.

    If you've heard of this film you've heard about the sex scene (I guess you'd call it a sex scene) where a man and woman bloody one another by sprinkling their lustful moves with punches to the face. If you haven't, now you have. Brrrrr.

    Highly recommended

    Next Door.jpg
     
  10. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Next Door: added to Netflix queue

    A Hard Day (Korea, 2014)
    Things go from bad to worse as a detective panics and tries to cover up his involvement with a fatal hit-and-run, including dispensing with the body. Starts off as more or a less a "comedy of errors" but turns darker (and the movie gets better) once it is clear someone witnessed the event and will try to manipulate the situation. I liked this one. 4 stars.
     
  11. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    @divemaster13 Looks like you're doing pretty well with your big blind (river) buy so far. I missed your review on Venus Talk at first. I liked that one a lot. A Hard Day was very fun. Them there are fine Korean films.
     
  12. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    War of the Arrows (2011)

    Ok, I'm a sucker for Korean movies set during the funny hats days. You know what I'm talking about--that historical period (Chosun Dynasty) where village leaders wear those funny tall hats and scholars/persons of privilege wear beads and such. I just eat that stuff up. So it should come as no great shock that I really liked this movie. A brother and sister are living in a sortof state of exile in a secluded village where the folks are opposed to the overall Korean collaboration with the main Chinese ruling power group. They become pretty good fighters, especially with bows and arrows.

    On the day of the sister's wedding to a village young man of status, a horde of Manchus swoop down into Korea to rape, pillage, and carry folks back into slavery and exile. It seems the Manchus also hate the current Chinese ruling group and are pissed at the Korean government for collaborating with their oppressors. They don't seem to care that the exiled village basically has the same opinion because, well, Manchu hordes are going to horde and there are pretty girls to snag.

    So most of the movie has the husband-to-be and the brother working on saving the girl from the Manchus. The brother, especially, engages in an extended period of forest guerrilla arrow warfare with a Manchu elite fighting squad. Lots of good action. There is a deus ex machina scene with a poorly rendered CGI tiger, and the ending Mexican standoff is a bit lame, but other than that I heartily enjoyed this rousing adventure. The movie was very popular in Korea (highest grossing film of 2011) and won a bunch of awards, so it's not just me. If you like the genre, you'd probably like this.

    4 stars.
     
    #12 divemaster13, Mar 8, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  13. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    [​IMG]
    Fullmetal Alchemist (2017)

    What a terrible live-action adaptation of my favourite anime show of all time. It's just as bad as the Death Note adaptation.
    5 minutes into it and it´s easy to see how bad it is, from acting to visual effects and pacing, everything is so bad.
    After 20 minutes I was getting distracted on my phone and I dropped it 10 minutes later.
    Top review on letterbox sums up what I thought this movie was:
    "It feels like a bunch of cosplayers who met each other at a convention and tried to recreate the series between panels.
    Luckily one of them had watched a couple of YouTube tutorials on special effects."
    1/10
     
  14. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    @Daniel Larusso

    Have you seen Dragon Ball Super episodes yet? I'm starting to watch it asap. I'm late.
     
  15. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Silenced (2011)

    People don't make (and folks don't watch) movies like Silenced to be "entertained." Rather, the goal is to trigger deeper emotions such as sadness, anger, outrage, and sense of justice. Films like this may also have the goal of drawing attention to some societal issue (and hopefully effect some sort of change). Silenced succeeds on all accounts.

    The movie is based both on actual events as well as a novel, so I assume some of the depiction is fictionalized for dramatic effect, but that does not detract from the horrible truth that deaf and otherwise compromised kids at a particular school were sadistically abused (physically and sexually) by the very administrators and teachers charged with protecting them. In the movie, a new male teacher teams with a social worker to bring these truths to light, despite bureaucratic and societal obstacles (his own mother discourages him from following up on protecting the children because it could hinder his ability to "get a good job in Seoul" later on). The local citizens and police also side with the abusers becasue they are active in the church and contribute quite a bit to the police benevolent fund.

    Anyway, once the movie was released, Korean society was properly outraged and made some strides to enact justice both for the particular circumstance recounted in the film, but also in general laws to ensure abusers caught in the future would not get off with just the barest of slaps on the wrist. (At the time of the above account, charges of child molestation would be dropped by police if the child's parents agreed to a monetary settlement. I guess in Korean society, a well-placed bank deposit could have not only the polkice, but the parents look the other way and "let bygones be bygones.").

    And I hope there were some other rehabilitations of the Korean court/justice system if the events seen in the movie were indeed true-to-life. For example, the prosecutor supressed video evidence once the well-heeled defense attorney promised to hire the prosecutor into his firm. And there seems to be some unwritten rule where a judge-turned-defense attorney has his first trial handed to him as a victory regardless of the circumstances of the case.

    One of the reasons the film works so well is due to the acting of the children. It was easy to forget this was just a movie, as the kids' harrowing depiction and reaction to being abused seemed all too real.

    4 stars.
     
  16. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    House of the Disappeared (2017)

    Ho-hum Korean haunted house/missing person mystery. Not really a horror film as, aside from a few easily telegraphed jump scares in the first 15 minutes, nothing scary ever happens. The story bounces between present day and an event 25 years earlier that has a young wife and mother trying to figure out exactly how her husband got killed and one of her sons vanished (for which she spent 25 years in prison). There's more to it than that, including other prople who have gone missing from the house, and time travel, but it's not terribly interesting. One positive aspect is that it stars Yunjun Kim (the wife who finds new sexual freedom in Ardor; and also starred in TV's Lost). She's kindof cute, even in "granny" make-up.

    2 stars.
     
  17. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    For some reason, I feel like I've watched Silenced already but can't for the life of me, remember the plot. I checked on IMDb and it really doesn't ring a bell so I'll just add this to my watchlist.

    Why am I the only one who enjoyed the House of the Disappeared.................................
     
  18. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    I watched Silenced and gave it a 3.5, but don't remember it much, and didn't log my notes. I think it might have been one of those cases where the "real events" seemed impossible to believe.
     
  19. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Highly Recommended

    Adrift in Tokyo (2007) (Japanese Comedy/Drama) (repeat viewing) – A surly debt collector offers $10,000 to a guy if he agrees to accompany him on a walking trip around Tokyo. Along the way they bond together, meet various people, and come to terms with their own lives. A very reserved comedy by Satoshi Miki that focuses on the humor of everyday things, and it does a very good job of showcasing those moments. The acting is top notch and all of the characters are entertaining. There’s also a very amusing, related side story regarding the coworkers of the collector’s wife. A great walk-along travelogue of Tokyo as well.

    Kikujiro (1999) (Japanese Comedy/Drama) (repeat viewing) – Takeshi Kitano directs/stars as a man who takes a kid on a trip to see his mother. There are some funny moments that occur during their adventure, all being within the style of the director (grass games, the race track, etc.). Some great scoring and music (possibly the best in Kitano’s filmography). Moments are foreshadowed by polaroid pictures throughout. Pacing drags out slightly during the final half hour, but this is a solid road trip movie that is very amusing, in a low-key sort of way. It’s one of Kitano’s most purely entertaining and joyful films.

    Recommended

    Hana bi (aka Fireworks) (1997) (Japanese Drama) (repeat viewing) – Takeshi Kitano directs this drama about a former cop who must come to terms with an event from his past as well as his wife’s terminal illness. This is entertaining because of its well executed dramatic and comedic elements. On the negative side, the ending has become a cliché of sorts for this director, and I’m not exactly sure why he’s so obsessed with it. Viewer beware of some gun violence.

    Corazon (2012) (aka Ang Unang Aswang) (Filipino Horror/Romance) – Set during the late 1940s, this film revolves around the love story of a married couple who are having a hard time conceiving a child. After joining traditional fertility rites in honor of certain patron saints, bad stuff happens. There is a lot of earned emotion and tragedy that is slowly and proficiently developed in this movie. The viewer will definitely feel for our protagonist and her husband. Horror elements are backloaded to the second half, but there’s so much drama and human conflict behind it that it becomes more impactful than you might expect. The origin of this villain is not something you see developed and transitioned in one film very often. The ending is a bit of a surprise.

    A Day (2017) (Korean Thriller) – A famous thoracic surgereon sees his daughter die in a car accident. From that moment, the same day repeats itself and he struggles to find the secret behind these horrific events. This is suspenseful and entertaining stuff. It feels a bit repetitive at first, but the story expands to more interesting nuances as it progresses.

    Mumon: The Land of Stealth (2017) (Japanese Action/Drama/Comedy) – A ninja clan is targeted for extinction by a large army that is utilizing the help of another ninja clan. A traditional, old school storytelling structure is used, with some good scheming and manipulation by some of the characters. Nicely shot too. Pacing is a bit on the slow side. One problem are the wacky tonal shifts, with most of the action consisting of goofy shenanigans that conflict with all of the serious drama. These elements do not mix well. The final knife fight is awesome though. This is worth watching, but a completely serious tone would have been a better choice by the filmmakers.

    Not Recommended

    Blade Runner 2049 (2017) (American Sci Fi Drama/Thriller) – A young blade runner's discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who's been missing for thirty years. This film has serious pacing issues because the script consists primarily of boring conversation after boring conversation. This is one of the most lethargic and uninteresting films I’ve seen in a while. There’s almost nothing thought-provoking about it at all. I did find the hologram romance angle to be one interesting aspect, but it occupies a relatively small portion of the story. The 163-minute runtime is hopelessly excessive and makes this one a tough slog. Visuals are impressive, but the original film did a better job at creating an absorbing world to explore. Villains are lame, with Sylvia Hoeks giving one of the absolute worst performances of the year with her pathetic attempt at acting tough. Wake me when it’s over.

    War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) (American Drama/Action) – You know a franchise is incompetent when they can’t even name their films correctly: “Rise” should have been “Dawn”, “Dawn” should have been “Rise”, and this “War” doesn’t even have a war in it. WTF? The last two films did a piss poor job of making me care about the main conflict, and this one just picks up from there. Every human character is completely one-dimensional. It’s basically just a bunch of apes, sitting around and having a bunch of boring ass conversations for 140 minutes. These movies are sleep-inducing and entirely undeserving of their popularity and critical acclaim. With that said, any movie that depicts white men as purely evil is going to get a free pass nowadays. Someone please kill this stupid franchise.
     
  20. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    I saw the first 40 episodes or so when they were airing weekly but it wasn't very good... so I dropped it.
    I will get back to it one day because it´s Dragon Ball. In fact I wanna watch the original show again, this time for the first time in japanese.
     

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