Recently Seen, Part 17 (June 2018)

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

  1. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    64
    Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

    First viewing. A respected and well-loved governor has a falling out with other Japanese officials due to his attitude of mercy and equality for "all people" which includes those nasty peasants the other officials would like to continue exploiting and treating like chattel. The governor gets exiled, and his wife and two kids have to fend for themselves. They don't do so well, as she is sold to a brothel and the two young kids are sold to Sansho, a wealthy landowner who runs his compound like a labor camp.

    The kids grow up and decide to escape. The boy, now a young man, recalls his father's words regarding mercy and equality and sets out to do something about it.

    This movie seems to be an all-time favorite for many aficionados of period Japanese cinema. I get that reaction. I've had it myself, say, for Ikiru, or Hari-Kiri. The sense that one has just watched something life-changing and amazing. However, I did not get that from this particular film. Oh, I liked it well enough. Well made and interesting, but not a rush out and buy the DVD or plan my next re-watch type of reaction.

    The Criterion commentary was interesting. Mainly discussing the differences between the 1954 film, and the 1915 story, and the ages old folk tale on which the stories are based.

    3.5 stars
     
  2. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    28
    Wrath of Silence (Xin Yukun, 2017) A young boy disappears while tending to the family’s sheep in 2004 north-eastern China, and the father engages in a desperate search that leads to an empire-building mining tycoon. The beginning of the film is almost like looking at a disassembled jigsaw puzzle, as fragments of the father’s backstory are thrown down, but it serves the film well in painting a picture of a rural community that has been torn apart by the ‘economic progress’ that is driven by the greed and corruption of mining companies owned by a new breed of venture capitalists. There’s an almost split-personality feel to the film, mixing up a gritty western vibe to the father’s search with gangster elements that come close to bordering on parody, but for me it actually worked well, creating an uneasy sense of never quite knowing where things were headed. I’m not sure that I like this one quite as much as Xin’s first film Coffin in the Mountain, but it’s definitely another really good example of the independent cinema coming out of China.
     
  3. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    710
    Likes Received:
    114
    I abused myself in between volleyball matches (The Volleyball Nations League is under way, but you all knew that):

    My Horny Girl Friend (Big bo yau waak) [2003] • Hong Kong
    3.33/10
    A Hong Kong sex comedy from 2003, so ... ya know. Two not so hot chicks fight over some repulsive lifeguard dude. They do show pubes, though, and spend most of the time in beach attire.

    My Wife's Shell (Dappi waifu - peau de mon épouse) [2005] • Japan
    4.44/10
    Sort of a Japanese version of a Hong Kong sex comedy from 2003, so ... ya know. Repulsive musician dude marries some girl slightly above his pay grade. Girl sheds her skin sometimes after sex. They don't even pretend to make the shedded skin look like anything more than a newspaper cutout in the shape of a body with two holes for where the eyes would be. Amazing.

    The Weight [2012] • South Korea
    5.555/10
    Odd, but it tried hard, until it got really weird. A hunchbacked mortician lets friends come in and have sex with dead bodies. He was adopted and abused. His younger step brother wants to be a woman. I only watched it to see Park Ji-ha with a penis.
     
  4. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    710
    Likes Received:
    114
    I'm happy I've connected with @Daniel Larusso over at letterboxd because The Sion Sono and now I'm up for what is prancing around as a re-birth of French Extreme Horror. Revenge.

    Once you find the rhythm, since it's essentially a ratings database with next to nothing in the social department, it's easy to spot patterns and follow leads.
     
  5. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2017
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    23
    Letterboxd is awesome. I'm ashamed I didn't start using it earlier.
    The experience got even better after getting a pro account.
     
  6. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2017
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    23
    Miami Vice - Director's Cut (2006) - 4th viewing
    Love this! The digital, Miami scenery and atmosphere gives it such an art-house feeling.
    Airplane and speed boat scenes are hypnotic. Soundtrack is badass. Love Collin Farrel and Gong Li's chemistry.
    Very entertaining stuff!
    9/10

    It (1990)
    Not a fan. Worse than the remake. At 3+ hours long it drags too much.
    3/10

    Clerks (1994)
    Good fun!
    7/10

    Revenge (2017)
    Awesome visuals, badass and pretty female character, eletro music and gore.
    7/10

    The Big Sick (2017)
    Didn't get the hype. Guy meets girl in awkward situation, one of them gets sick. I've seen this too many times.
    3/10

    Before We Vanish (2017)
    What happened to Kiyoshi Kurosawa?
    4/10
     
  7. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    64
    I'm not sure what it says about me, that not only have I seen this, but I have it sitting on my movie shelf. In VCD rather than DVD, but still. I do recall it being rather mediocre. Better than some Cat III for sure, but lacking that certain, um, something, that would put it into the "recommended" category. I think the two girls needed to get it on with each other more. That would have done it.
     
  8. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    13
    Highly Recommended

    The Royal Tailor (2014) (Korean Drama) (repeat viewing) – After decades of service, the royal tailor sees nobility within his grasp . . . until a flashy, creative competitor earns the attention of the queen. Well written and acted, with intriguing royal tensions and a multi-dimensional relationship between the two main characters. A bit of humor is crafted in nicely to add liveliness to the characters and scenarios; there are a few hilarious moments to enjoy. The script creates a good emotional resonance without the need for melodrama. Suk-kyu Han and Ko Soo are on their game here. Lots of colorful dresses to see as well.

    Gonin (1995) (Japanese Crime Drama/Thriller) (repeat viewing) – A group of low-level criminals steal cash from the yakuza, then get hunted down by a hitman (Takeshi Kitano) in this film by Takashi Ishii. This has a great cast of Koichi Sato, Masahiro Motoki, Naoto Takenaka, Kippei Shina, etc. This is a dark yakuza flick that explores the seedy underbelly of urban Japan. The second half does get very violent and disturbing. There’s an overarching sense of danger and dread that hangs over all of the characters.

    Recommended

    Tokyo Vampire Hotel (2017) (Japanese Horror/Action/Drama Television Series) – Sion Sono directs this genre-bender about two vampire clans who fight inside a luxurious hotel during an apocalypse. The modern hotel setting is very atmospheric, with deep color schemes like pink, yellow, blue, red, etc. In terms of action, I would say that 75% of it is loaded into two episodes – episode 1 and a later episode that I will not disclose. What I will say is that both of those episodes are completely insane. Pacing is very erratic and glacial in stretches because it transitions to weird art-house fare, but there always seems to be something interesting for viewers with ecclectic taste in film. Kaho is very entertaining as a vampire assassin. This is 10 episodes long, with runtimes ranging from 29 to 51 minutes each.

    Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018) (Korean Horror) – In 1979, 42 patients at Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital killed themselves and the hospital director went missing. In the present day, an internet broadcaster and 6 other people decide to enter the abandoned hospital in this documentary-style flick. For most of its runtime, this is a pretty good movie with some creepy moments. But there’s one sequence that seriously freaked me out (it’s a long one, and it exhibits great patience by the filmmakers to maintain a high level of prolonged fear). It’s legitimately terrifying. The decrepit hospital environment works well. Performances are good.

    Gonin 2 (1996) (Japanese Crime Drama/Thriller) (repeat viewing) – Takashi Ishii contributes this spin-off to his original film. The plot is similar (protagonists who steal from yakuza and become hunted afterward), but in this case it utilizes women in the lead roles. It starts off in a very sluggish manner and also has some undeveloped characters, but the gritty, dark mood helps to sustain watchability. This movie gets mostly negative reviews online, but it moves at a nice clip and has plenty of bloody violence and yakuza conflict.

    Not Recommended

    Mother! (2017) (American Drama/Thriller) – A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. This is not quite as atrocious as some have claimed, but it’s still very underwhelming. It’s kinda interesting early on, but quickly loses steam. The biggest problem is that it is painfully repetitive and fails to explore its themes with any depth. The ending is dumb and the runtime of over two hours does not help matters. Another dud from Darren Aronofsky.

    The Shape of Water (2017) (American Fantasy Romance/Drama) – At a top secret researchfacility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity. The premise is right up my alley: everyone wants to see Mer-Man get some action from the ladies, especially considering how he’s been taking crap from Skeletor all these years So it’s certainly regrettable that this movie turned out to be a pile of crap. The biggest problem is the script, which is extremely shallow and lacking in any interesting content whatsoever – but it makes sure to beat its simplistic themes over the viewer’s head on multiple occasions. The dialogue is also very badly written, obnoxious in its crudeness, and forced in terms of quirkiness. Gratuitous sex scenes usually don’t bother me, but in this film they’re completely pointless and juvenile. This reminded me more of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film than a Guillermo del Toro film, which is obviously a bad thing. Nice production design with wafer thin, insufferable characters. This is one of the most incomprehensibly stupid films to win Best Picture in decades. On a positive note, the lead actress has a surprisingly hot body.
     
  9. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    64
    M (2007)

    How did I end up with this in my last big purchase? Who recommended this non-linear hallucination of a movie? Was that you, Mr. @sitenoise?

    I can't thank you enough. This was a wonderful film that I loved from the first frame. I had no idea about the movie at all, as I avoided all discussion here in order to go in blind. If I recall, there was a dedicated thread, which I will now read and comment in. Well, some time in the next day or so. However, I'm not sure what type of plot discussion y'all might have had. For one of the few times (and this is VERY RARE for me), I have no desire to try to "figure out" a non-literal movie.

    This is an amazing film experience.

    5 stars. Easy.
     
  10. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    710
    Likes Received:
    114
    I've been known to write: "M is the best film ever made" :)
     
  11. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    28
    SPL3: Paradox (Wilson Yip, 2017) Policeman Louis Koo’s only child runs away to Thailand, where she promptly vanishes, and his search for her leads him to high-level political corruption involving a human organ smuggling ring. This is a slickly made, highly entertaining flick that moves at a cracking pace and is constantly engaging. Sure, the plot hinges on some pretty ludicrous coincidences, but the excitement generated through the execution of the action set pieces was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, so I was happy to go along for the ride. There’s also some weighty themes lurking somewhere deep below the surface of the screenplay, but Yip seems to know exactly what type of film he wanted to make, and wasn’t going to compromise his vision by letting anything too intellectual get in the way. Tony Jaa has pretty high billing, but a relatively minor role; some guy called Wu Yue was Koo’s sidekick, and it was his charisma that added a lot to the film. This was the first I’ve seen of the SPL franchise, and it piqued my interest in the others.

    Sha Po Lang aka SPL: Kill Zone (Wilson Yip, 2005) Simon Yam is a mildly corrupt cop leading a team of more corrupt cops. He’s retiring in a week, and desperately wants to take down crime lord Sammo Hung before the cleanskin Donnie Yen in appointed as his replacement. This doesn’t belong in the action film genre, but rather it’s a melodrama with a few fight scenes thrown in. As far as melodramas go, well, the script and the acting are reminiscent of the worst of daytime soapies, with over-the-top corny music welling up to loudly greet every emotional moment. And the action scenes just weren’t exciting. The whole thing has the look and feel of a bad late 80’s MTV music video.

    SPL2: A Time for Consequences (Soi Cheang, 2015) Wu Jing is a Hong Kong undercover cop who learns his gang is planning a hit and kidnapping, but in the process of foiling it his cover is blown, and he ends up being deposited in a Bangkok prison under a fake identity, marked as never to be released alive. Simon Yam is Wu’s commanding officer and uncle, who decides to travel to Thailand to get his nephew out, even if it means re-kidnapping the rescued victim from police protection and using him as a swap. Tony Jaa is a prison officer with a conscience, who learns that the prison is also being used to house victims of kidnapping/organ transplant syndicate. Oh, and by the way, Jaa’s daughter has leukaemia, only six months to live, and a one-per-million rare blood type – which just happens to make Wu Jing her only hope for a bone marrow transfer! This is by far the best of the three SPL films, successfully blending in the melodramatic core of the first film with the pure action thrills of the third, while making some room to delve into the murky moral and ethical dilemmas that the characters face.
     
  12. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    13
    Highly Recommended

    This Is Not What I Expected (2017) (Chinese Romantic Comedy) – Romance and cuisine mix when a perpetually dissatisfied hotel executive (Takeshi Kaneshiro) finally encounters the perfect meal, and the chef that made it (Zhou Dongyu). This is a bit silly in a conventional rom com kind of way, but it’s also very charming and fun. Kaneshiro gives a lively performance, but Dongyu’s screen presence and charisma are thru the roof, her line deliveries are fantastic, and her facial expressions are hilarious. There are also some delicious foods on display.

    The Legend (aka Fong Sai Yuk) (1993) (Chinese Action/Comedy) (repeat viewing) – Jet Li fights against an evil emperor while wooing a love interest in this film by Corey Yuen. There is one awesome duel between Jet and the mother of a would-be bride that starts on a wooden tower, then transitions to an acrobatic fight atop the heads and shoulders of onlookers. Jet later takes on Zhao Wen Zhou in two more impressive sequences. The humor is also surprisingly effective (regardless of the English dub), though there is a nice helping of cheesy dialogue. This is Li’s most entertaining action/comedy.

    Recommended

    Mrs K (2016) (Chinese Thriller) – After her daugher is kidnapped, a woman in her mid-50s (with a dubious past) must do all she can to save her. Despite a weak script and thin characters, there is an overall good quality to everything else, including performances and direction. Scoring is loaded with synthesizers, which I’m a fan of. Kara Hui owns the lead role. This is pretty edgy and it establishes a sense of danger for the protagonists. There are a few good fights down the stretch too.

    Deadful Melody (1993) (Chinese Action/Fantasy) (repeat viewing) – Two warriors (Brigitte Lin, Yuen Baio) attempt to transport a deadly musican instrument while fighting off their enemies. This is one of the better pre-2000 wuxia film I’ve ever seen. The fights have better camerawork than most old school wuxia flicks, and are a lot of fun to watch (the lyre instrument is awesome), the storyline is straightforward and de-emphasizes the wafer thin romanticism of other titles, and the characters are actually likable (including Carina Lau’s supporting role).

    Yog: Monster from Space (aka Space Amoeba) (1970) (Japanese Action) (repeat viewing) – Parasitic life forms infiltrate a space probe and then latch onto sea creatures to create giant kaiju monsters that roam a tropical island and terrorize the local villagers as they pounce on their straw huts. The monsters are Kameba (giant turtle), a crab (Ganime), and a squid (Gezora). Gezora is the funniest because he frolicks on land using his tentacles as makeshift legs. Gotta give this movie some credit for using monsters that are fairly atypical of the genre, and that’s one big reason why it works. The big rubbery dudes get lots of screen time, the fights are very entertaining, and there’s tons of cheesy fun to be had here. The finale with the bats and volcano must surely go down as one of the most side-splitting kaiju sequences in existence. This film from Ishiro Honda is fun.

    SoulMate (2016) (Chinese Drama/Romance) – This portrays the decades-long friendship between two disparate women who both struggle to find positions for their real selves in the modern world. This has great performances, especially by Zhou Dongyu. The plot focuses on the star-crossed lover angle between the ladies, with some of the problems being self-inflicted while other problems being the result of bad timing. The ending is a bit dodgy, but this is good quality stuff.

    Not Recommended

    Net I Die (2017) (Thai Horror) – An internet celebrity hangs herself live on her video channel. A year later, idols begin dying in horrific acts of violence. Character development and story are bland and weak. The dialogue between the protagonists is painfully tedious. All of this is the product of a thoughtless, incompetent script. Lots of dull filler to sit thru, despite the short runtime of 85 minutes. The horror sequences are short-lived and non-impactful. They rely on cheap jump scares and loud booms.
     
  13. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    64
    Two of my favorites as well. I gave Fong Sai Yuk 5 stars and Deadly Melody 4 stars. Both are sitting on my DVD shelf, and I will probably use this prompt to watch them again.

    Have you seen Tai-Chi Master? I believe it might have been released in the U.S. as "Twin Warriors." Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh together, directed by Yuen Woo Ping. Since you seem to like the genre, I'm guessing you would really like this as well.
     

Share This Page