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.
     
    #7 divemaster13, Jul 16, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  8. JepGambardella

    JepGambardella Member: Rank 1

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    I saw The Vanished yesterday at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. It’s a Korean remake of the Spanish movie El Cuerpo (“The Body”) from 2012, which was also shown at Fantasia at the time. As far as I can remember, it is a very faithful remake.

    A wealthy woman dies under suspicious circumstances and her body disappears from the morgue. Is she really dead? If so, who could have stolen the body and why? An ever-thickening plot follows.

    Very enjoyable suspense/thriller movie.

    https://letterboxd.com/film/the-vanished-2018/
     
  9. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Sounds good! I'll wait for this on my convenience store.
     
  10. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Guyz I'll be watching Audition in the next couple of hours/days so if you've got nothing to do.... Special mention to @divemaster13 because I believe it's his most favorite movie next to The Isle.
     
  11. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

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    Okay, I'll try and have a shot at it over the weekend. I watched it probably over 15 years ago ... it was my introduction to Miike and the whole Tartan Asian Extreme thingymabob.
     
  12. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    :emoji_eyes: I'm in !! :emoji_eyes:
     
  13. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    I feel like throwing up.
     
  14. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    uhm ...
     
  15. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    Kirikirikirikiri...
     
  16. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Re: Audition

    Apparently Netflix does not have this available any more (what? did they lose all the discs?). And there are NO copies available on Amazon. I'll try my luck on eBay. If all goes well I should get a copy in about a week. I am SO looking forward to this. (Where's a puking smiley when I need it?)
     
  17. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    I had an awesome week of fun movies, a few of which surprised me.

    Highly Recommended

    Operation Red Sea (2018) (Chinese Action) – PLA Navy Marine Corps launch a hostage rescue operation in a city on the Arabian peninsula and undergo a fierce battle with rebellions and terrorism. This movie has action, action, and more action – with a very nice variety as well. There are stronghold infiltrations, hostage rescues, tank battles, sniper duels, helicopter assaults, drone strikes, scenes involving natural weather events, etc. There’s also a variety of weaponry and high tech gadgets that are utilized along the way. It portrays modern desert warfare in its most thrilling cinematic form. This is an exhilarating action spectacle from Dante Lam that is a must watch.

    Wet Woman in the Wind (2016) (Japanese Romantic Comedy) – When a successful, but tired Tokyo-based playwright who has sworn off easy women and casual encounters takes refuge in the countryside, his plans are disrupted by a horny woman who pedals fast into his life and is unrelenting. This is allegedly a revival project of the Roman Porno flicks from decades ago, and there are some very lengthy and graphic sex scenes along the way. It’s blend of sex and humor is risque enough to be offensive to some viewers, but ridiculous enough to be amusing. This is far more interesting and fun than I had expected, and the reason for this is the nuanced interaction between the lead characters outside of the bedroom. This girl plays psychological games with people, which leads to some spunky dialogue too. Some of the conversations are shot without edits, but the fluid camerawork keeps it visually interesting (the film looks good too). While not quite as stifling in its sexual tension as this director’s earlier film “Moonlight Whispers”, it has some similarities and is a nice surprise with a number of hilarious moments. Oh yeah, the women in this flick are HOT!

    Recommended

    The Burning (2018) (Korean Drama) – A young deliveryman named Jongsu runs into a girl who once lived in his neighborhood. She asks him to feed her cat while she’s away on a trip to Africa. On her return, she introduces to Jongsu an enigmatic young man named Ben, who she met during her trip. Like many of Chang-dong Lee’s films (e.g., Poetry, Peppermint Candy, etc.), this is difficult to get into, but it has enough quality and thematic depth to make it worth watching. There’s also a smoldering intensity beneath the surface. Considered by many to be one of the best films of the year, from any country.

    What A Man Wants (2018) (Korean Romantic Comedy) – A philandering cab driver (Sung-min Lee) makes a profound impression on his brother-in-law (Ha-kyun Shin), who decides to cheat on his wife (Ji-hyo Song) with a hot and steamy woman (El Lee). The male leads activity cheat on their wife, which is quite edgy for a rom com, but it works because of the character interaction. There are also some legitimately hilarious moments in this. It’s on the sexy side, and all four leads give really good performances. This just feels different from a typical genre film.

    ReLIFE (2017) (Japanese Drama/Comedy/Romance) – A disgruntled 27 year-old takes a magical pill that makes him look 10 years younger for the purpose of re-living one year as a teenager. He attends a high school and develops friendships with peers and romantic feelings for an introverted, awkward girl. The main theme is the temporal nature of highschool friendships, romance, and memories. And in that sense, this movie is successful at creating a strong sense of nostalgia and creating an endearing group of friends to revolve around. I really like the lead actress (Yuna Taira); she’s very aloof in an amusing way, and has some legitimate talent. Certain aspects of this film are rather flimsy in spots, but it reached me on an emotional level. “Cherish the present.” Damn straight. R.I.P. Jon Schnepp.

    Mixed Doubles (aka Mix) (2017) (Japanese Drama/Comedy/Romance) – Tamiko used to be a very good ping pong player as a child, but she is now 28 years old and left the sport behind. However, her ex-boyfriend is playing in a tournament and that ignites her desire to return to the game. This film has a good main character to revolve around. The viewer will definitely root for her. Yui Aragaki is very good in the lead role. Eita is a solid male lead, and Ryoko Hirosue is good in a supporting role as well. A good mix of drama, humor, and romance.

    Wished (2017) (Chinese Romantic Comedy) – A hit with audiences when it was released in China, this is a fantasy/comedy about an insurance salesman whose life is going nowhere after he breaks up with his girlfriend. One day, an offbeat lady (claiming to be a Goddess with magical powers) offers to turn his life around by granting him 19 of his old wishes. He laughs her off – until his old childhood wishes start coming true, in chronological order. This is a surprisingly funny and charming movie with amiable performances. There’s one side-splitting cameo too. Things do run out of gas a bit during the second half, which gets a bit more serious and contributes an extremely predictable and clichéd ending, but this is entertaining stuff overall.

    Daughter of the Nile (1987) (Taiwanese Drama) – The eldest daughter of a broken and troubled family works to keep the family together and look after her younger siblings, who are slipping into a life of crime. As expected, this film by Hou Hsiao-hsien is slow paced and low-key, but also somewhat mainstream in terms of plot and its small bits of humor (e.g., fart jokes). The gangster subplot is basic stuff, but as a look at 1980s urban Taipei, it works. It’s nicely shot and I like the lead actress, who gives a likeable performance.

    Not Recommended

    13 Sins (2014) (American Thriller) – A down-and-out businessman with huge debts gets a mysterious phone call to play a game for a huge sum of money. This remake of “13: Game of Death” is very similar, with one big exception being that the protagonist has a pregnant fiance. I actually found that scriptwriting change to be less convincing because the protagonist actually has something to lose. The interesting aspect of the original film is the viewer wondering how far they would be willing to go to obtain wealth and prestige. But this remake turns into a straight-up blackmail movie where our protagonist has to complete these challenges to protect his family or other people. So the film loses an interesting dynamic and the social commentary is less impactful because of it. This movie is also 25 minutes shorter than the original, which makes it feel less fleshed out overall. The ending feels like a cop-out. The acting is good overall and the direction is fine. Not a bad film or anything, but the changes in the remake lessen the experience. You’re simply better off watching the original instead.

    Footsteps (2006) (British Drama/Thriller) – A young man called Andrew is forced to endure a bitter encounter with a man known as the Cameraman, who enjoys filming beatings, murders and rapes in an abandoned underpass. This film by Gareth Evans feels like a student film in terms of production value, acting, and scriptwriting. It has an interesting premise but the actual execution becomes tedious rather quickly, despite the presence of some nasty, bloody violence. It’s not worth watching. Fun fact: the actor who played the bad guy in Merantau has a supporting role in this.
     
  18. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    This is getting rave reviews everywhere. Will check it out asap

    I'm curious if The Burning had good subtitles. I'm anxious to watch it but the subs available for it are horrible
     
  19. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Actually, Sitenoise, I thought you would be most interested in "Wet Woman in the Wind."
     
  20. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    After Sono's, that is the one from the pinku reboot group I'm most interested in. I loved Moonlight Whispers
     

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