Recently Seen, Part 18 (July 2018)

Discussion in 'Cinema: International' started by ebossert, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Highly Recommended

    Ten Nights of Dreams (2006) (Japanese Horror/Drama Anthology) (repeat viewing) – This is an anthology of 10 short films (lasting about 12 minutes each) that span a variety of genres, including horror, drama, and comedy. While there is much ambiguity and subjective interpretation to be had here, these short films are saturated with originality and refreshing elements. Pacing is slower during the opening half, but there are certainly some crowd-pleasing moments to be had throughout.

    Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe (1995) (Japanese Action) (repeat viewing) – An enormous monster turtle (Gamera) protects Japan from man-eating birds (Gyaos) in this film by Shusuke Kaneko. This turtle is one well-equipped badass with lots of surprises up its sleeve, a testament to the creative monster design that gives this film a refreshing, entertaining quality. The physical effects are very good, with little in terms of CGI. The acting is solid and the storyline is adequate, which really helps during the non-action moments. A high quality kaiju film.

    Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (aka Advent of Legion) (1996) (Japanese Action) (repeat viewing) – The giant turtle is back to protect Japan against a monster from space (named Legion). Legion is one tough cookie, sporting a number of human-size drones along with a large insect-like monster. Gamera gets his butt handed to him a few times, but breaks out a crazy last ditch effort near the end. Director Shusuke Kaneko likes shooting the monster fights at night to create a more ominous tone, and there’s also lots of green turtle blood sprayed around. The monsters are on screen for a good portion of the runtime and the special effects are very good.

    Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999) (Japanese Action) (repeat viewing) – The giant turtle Gamera returns to defend Japan from a deadly monster in this film by Shusuke Kaneko. The emphasis here is on the collateral damage that the big guy inflicts while fighting his enemies, and how this affects the lives of human beings. The monster confrontations result in tons of structural damage and explosions, but they are not quite as diverse or scintillating as the first two films in this trilogy. Nevertheless, the human elements are even stronger, the monster designs are fantastic, and the ending is satisfying.

    Recommended

    Bangkok Dangerous (1999) (Thai Action/Drama) (repeat viewing) – A deaf hitman woos a girl in this film by the Pang Brothers. One can tell that this is an early entry in their portfolio, as even the trademark specialities of the Pangs (visuals and soundtrack) feel rather cheap in certain instances – but this still has an effective style to it regardless. The script and scenario are also simplistic, but it definitely has a heart to it (the romantic angle feels realistic). Fortunately, the characters are very likeable, the action is good, and there are a few memorable moments to pull this one through. Not much dialogue either, which makes it an interesting watch.

    Blue Lake Girl (1986) (Japanese Drama/Horror) – Successful artist Nagare is invited to paint the portrait of Takigawa’s father, but the wife Mizue falls for the handsome painter. This film by Akio Jissoji has lot of atmosphere, vivid visuals, and a hypnotic score despite being direct to video. The lighting is especially good. An interesting little film for sure. (Viewed without subtitles.)

    Not Recommended

    Detective Chinatown (2015) (Chinese Action/Comedy) – After being rejected from the police college, a mannerly man travels to Bangkok where he and an energetic distant relative must solve a murder case. Tons of obnoxious overacting for the purposes of comedy. The action is all low-grade slapstick nonsense, with people falling over one another – or kicking people in the balls – for laughs. They don’t even bother to attempt a good action scene. This is 135 minutes of monotonous crap.

    Detective Chinatown 2 (2018) (Chinese Action/Comedy) – The protagonists return and team up to solve a murder in New York’s Chinatown. This has an expanded cast of detectives and takes place in NYC, but it suffers from the same flaws as the original. Lazy action design and lame humor. This was a box office blockbuster in its home country, by the way.

    Robinson’s Garden (1987) (Japanese Drama) – A hippie-like girl tries to turn an abandoned industrial site into an urban oasis full of greenery. Set during the hot months of summer, this a very low budget affair with weirdo characters who are not well developed yet still annoying. It’s also extremely uneventful and dull. This is a two hour film with a lot of dead weight as it shows people doing essentially nothing.
     
  2. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    My Ordinary Love Story (South Korea, 2014)- Not sure if you guys have heard of this but I presume you have seen this already (it's got quite a few votes on IMDb but I'm talking to Asian cinephiles here so chances are I'm the last one who's seen this) but what the heck, it really is very funny.

    Its a typical rom-com. Girl (Eun-jin) gives up finding the right man after having bad experiences of cheating men in her past. She finds hope in meeting a stranger named Heon-suk and thinks he might be the one for her. He's everything she wishes for in a man. But starts to act weird and the game of cat-and-mouse starts when Eun-jin tries to uncover his cheating ways. The presentation of the "comedy" aspect is really funny, I almost rolled in the floor especially when she begins hallucinating and her paranoia ways makes her conclude that he is indeed cheating on her. The viewer is treated to a special emotional play when we begin to question whether he is indeed a cheater, or his weirdo-ness is something more serious, something more vile. The ending is a well-played one, so stick for it. But you need to go through the scenes showing her despise to cheating men first which is really really gold!!! (Or am I easily pleased?)

    I highly recommend this to one and all.
     
  3. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Yeah, I agree on My Ordinary Love Story. It's a good one.
     
  4. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    10/10
    Unbelievable where it went. And yeah, you are the last one to see it. I remember having a back and forth with comrade zelena about it. He commented on how the director played with the conventions of the k-dramas he so loved.
     
  5. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    I just realized I tend to watch American movies and documentaries in the summer, because of circumstance, or something. I've watched Documentaries on Eric Clapton, The Cassette Tape, Hyenas, and the Band that was playing the French Club when some terrorists shot up the place and a couple other spots in France.

    I was inspired by ebo's watch of "The Grand" to check out another film Zak Penn did that was supposed to be funnier: Incident at Loch Ness. For me, the "idea" of it was funny but it's not laugh out loud like The Grand. And but I think Werner Herzog is funny. I love him to death, so it wasn't a total bust.

    A film I watched recently that I thought was pretty damn funny was Game Night. I have a soft spot for Jason Bateman. And, full disclosure, I also have a soft spot for The Rock. So I watched Rampage.
     
  6. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    I watched Game Night a few days ago. I figured I liked Bateman in Horrible Bosses, so Game Night might be fun. And it was! I liked it.

    Have not seen My Ordinary Love Story, so it's me who is lagging here. I don't recall hearing about this one. I need to watch it.
     
  7. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Kuroneko (Japan; 1968) aka "Black Cat from the Grove"

    I had this in my Netflix queue due to my appreciation for Onibaba, by the same director and the fact that Kuroneko is of a similar genre--Japanese traditional ghost story Similar to Onibaba, the central story of Kuroneko revolves around a mother and her daughter-in-law. In the opening scene, they are both raped to death by about 30 marauding samurai. Their spirits vow revenge via a black cat demon. I'm not clear on how that worked, but evidently it's a part of Japanese folklore. So, the two ghost-ladies lure samurai to their deaths via seduction and then rip their throats out in a cat-like style. They have made a vow to the underworld gods to kill any and all samurai.

    Which works well for them until Ginoki, the son of the mother (and husband to the younger girl), returns home after 3 years fighting in war, only to find the charred remains of his homestead. He has been promoted to samurai status based on battlefield heroics only to find that his loved ones are now cat-demon ghosts who must kill him to fulfill their anti-samurai vow. In a touching (and quite erotic) sequence, we see Ginoki and his ghost wife, uh, re-fulfill their marriage vows on several occasions. He seems content to re-connect sexually with his lovely wife, even though he knows she is a ghost. He's not quite clued in on the whole "cat demon vow" thing until he discovers that by betraying her demonic vow, the wife is now banished to the underworld forever, and poor Ginoki will never see her again.

    So now he has to deal with the remaining cat/demon/ghost -- his mother's.

    Kuroneko is quite a bit more expressionistic and "artistic" than Onibaba, which was presented in a much more realistic manner. Much of Kuroneko is filmed in a kabuki style and with visual flourishes from the cinematography (lighting/shadow, lots of CO2 smoke, apparitions and ghostly bamboo groves, etc.). It shares elements of strong eroticism, though here it is, again, more artistic than the powerful raw sex drive depicted in Onibaba. But that also leads to Kuroneko overall lacking the raw power of Onibaba, which I consider an absolute masterpiece of Japanese cinema. All in all, a pretty good film. 3.5 stars.
     

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