Recently Seen, Part 22 (November 2018)

Discussion in 'Cinema: International' started by ebossert, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    124
    Likes Received:
    13
    A big update from the past 3 weeks. Some of these I saw while on plane flights to and from Japan.

    Highly Recommended

    The Night Comes for Us (2018) (Indonesian Action/Thriller) – After choosing to save a little girl against the orders of his triad bosses, an enforcer (Joe Taslim) must survive the constant attacks by triad gang members, vicious hitwomen, and his former friend (Iko Uwais). This film is filled to the brim with gratuitously violent fight scenes and shootouts that are intricately choreographed, well staged, perfectly shot and fun to watch. Of course, there’s no way normal people in real life would survive this level of physical abuse and continue to fight, but the action physics are very realistic, with no use of wires or superhuman abilities. The script and characters are thinly developed, but no one should care with this much bone-crunching action. Julie Estelle plays a sexy assassin whose allegiences are questionable, and she yet again handles herself very well during her fights. The two-location finale is fantastic stuff. This is an instant classic by one half of the Mo Brothers (Timo).

    Inuyashiki (2018) (Japanese Thriller/Action/Drama) – A 56-year-old office worker encounters aliens and is gifted with alien technology and limitless powers, but a younger man (Takeru Satoh) is also endowed with these gifts and intends to use them for dubious purposes. The viewer is definitely on the protagonist’s side because everyone pushes him around (including his family and boss). This film does focus a lot of character development. There’s a certain intensity to the low-key thrills that are introduced throughout, and it does get a bit bloody. This movie contributes one of the best sequences of any film that I’ve seen this year, and it involves internet trolls. A very unique scene that I will never forget. This is a genre-bender that is proficiently exciting and crowd-pleasing when it needs to be. The cyborg special effects are also quite good.

    One Cut of the Dead (2017) (Japanese Comedy/Horror/Drama) – Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies. It’s difficult to discuss the plot without spoiling it. This is basically a genre-bender that infuses family drama and the theme of “the love of filmmaking.” It’s a lot better than I had expected, and the main reason for that is the scriptwriting – which is very detailed and very well-written. The finale is lengthy and a lot of fun. It reminded me of a certain Japanese comedy film from the mid 1990s. (Viewed without subtitles.)

    BuyBust (2018) (Filipino Action/Thriller) – An anti-drug enforcement agency stages a massive drug bust in the slums of Manila, but they become trapped and hunted down by criminals and civilians alike. The night-time setting, slum neighborhood, rainy weather, and neon lights add a lot of atmosphere that pops because there is a lot of roaming around, quietly, with guns drawn as the protagonists move and secure small areas within the slums. Fighting is scrappy, which is fine, but some the camerawork and editing is a bit off at times. You can actually see the spectrum of quality in the trailer alone, with some fights being cleanly shot while others being difficult to see. Still, there are some inspired moments, like the lengthy, seemingly uncut shot when a protagonist battles a small army on a series of rooftops and alleyways. This is a sufficiently violent film with a very likeable lead actress, tons of action, and a huge body count.

    Housewife (2017) (Turkish Horror) – Haunted by a horrific childhood trauma for 20 years, a woman struggles with vivid, disturbing nightmares that leave her detached and unable to live a normal life. After being introduced to the leader of a cult, she is led on a twisted journey of waking dreams that will begin to unravel the fabric of reality. This film is loaded to the brim with atmosphere. It is set in winter and contributes a ton of moody visuals, fantastic lighting, and a solid score. The script is also very psychological because it incorporates dream logic (or lack thereof) where it is uncertain as to what is a dream, what is reality, and how the two impact one another. I found it to be fascinating and well-crafted on that level. From the director of “Baskin”, which also means that you get a bit of bloody violence.

    Apostle (2018) (Welsh Horror/Thriller) – In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island. There’s a constant aura of stifling danger present, right from the start of the film, which creates a thick layer of unending suspense and tension. In terms of violence, there is some nasty stuff during the final third – which includes a few disturbing torture scenes, but the film is rather measured with its bloodiness, overall. The lair of twisted branches is horrifying. Shot in Wales, there are some fantastic shots of natural environments. This takes place in a small village of wooden houses that lies in the middle of a forest area on an island. Scoring is good and unnerving without resorting to loud booms. In terms of flaws, the scriptwriting is a bit loose/contrived at times, the film does get a bit unrealistic regarding how much punishment a person can take and still walk around, and the final shot in a bit gimmicky, but this is solid stuff. Performances are very good across the board. Directed by Gareth Evans.

    Animal World (2018) (Chinese Mystery/Drama/Action) – This film has one of the most misleading trailers in cinematic history. In actuality, it’s about a young man who boards a ship to attend a gambling party. Our protagonist has a mental condition that gives the film every opportunity to throw in a few completely unnecessary and ridiculous fight scenes, but it’s actually based on the manga “Kaiji” (the gambler one). The gambling game of “rock paper scissors” also reminded me a lot of “Liar Game” in its use of probability and deception. The strategies will certainly make the viewer think a bit, and that’s what makes this one fun to watch. I like the lead actor; he can definitely carry a film. Michael Douglas has a supporting role and Zhou Dongyu has a smaller role, but they give lively performances. The 130-minute runtime is justified. The ending is a cliffhanger that sets up a sequel. I’ll watch it.

    Recommended

    The Ghost Bride (2017) (Filipino Horror) – To save her family’s home and her ailing father, a young woman accepts a lucrative offer to become a “ghost bride”, marrying a wealthy, deceased man. The deal suddenly turns to a curse when the ghost of her groom turns jealous and possessive of the young bride. Most of the death scenes are surprisingly bloody and I like the design of the ghosts as well, because they wear masks or head-dresses much of the time. There are a lot of cultural aspects to this film (both Filipino and Chinese). I really like the lead actress, and there’s definitely an emotional core and conflict to this movie that works. Good production values with some colorful lighting. There’s an elaborate ceremony that’s used for the finale.

    Dementia (2014) (Filipino Horror) – In the hopes of helping her aunt better deal with her dementia, a woman moves her out to their family's remote ancestral home, but the old woman’s presence stirs up memories that are better left undisturbed. This definitely has a lot of atmosphere to it, with cool archaic stone architecture, a moody score, good use of sound, fantastic seaside environments, and lots of rocks. There are certain genre tropes that the film uses, but this is a legitimately good movie. (Viewed without subtitles, but some English is spoken and much of the story is told visually.)

    We Make Antiques! (2018) (Japanese Drama/Comedy) – An antique dealer heads to Osaka in the hopes of scouring antiques for hidden treasure, but meets a down-and-out potter with his own problems. This is a good flick with likeable protagonists and some interesting info on antique tea bowls. The ending is a bit unfocused though.

    Happy Death Day (2017) (American Horror/Comedy) – A college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again, in a loop that will end only when she discovers her killer's identity. This is sufficiently fun, briskly paced, engaging and suspenseful. The lead actress (Jessica Rothe) is actually quite likeable. The viewer will feel the frustration of the protagonist as well, which is a good thing. At times it’s a bit too similar to the film “Groundhog Day”, but I’ll watch this over a “Conjuring”, “Insidious” or “Ouija” film any day of the week.

    Not Recommended

    Illang: The Wolf Brigade (2018) (Korean Action/Drama) – Set in the future where both North and South Koreas agree to establish a joint government, the plot focuses on political uprisings on opposing sides which grow fierce when a special police unit is formed to stop the chaos. This is not a complete disaster, in my opinion, because the action is good and Hyo-joo Han is the female lead, but the excessive runtime of 139 minutes, over-plotting, and weak dialogue make this film . . . at its best . . . watchable fluff. A disappointment by Ji-woon Kim that is based on a Japanese anime film that is better overall.
     
  2. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    25
    I uhm, erm, ah... *scratches head* I never thought of Anne Curtis as a VERY likeable lead actress (I find her annoying) but I can say this is one of her less annoying roles because she had little dialogue and more action. What I will never forget about this film is how painfully loud it was in the cinema with all the gunshots that I think it was better seen in the house or in a computer where you can adjust the volume.

    Oh ebossert why do you like annoying women? Hehehehe. Seriously, I really find the lead actress, Kim Chiu, very very annoying I don't think I'll ever watch any movie that stars her. Really.


    Thanks! I'll watch this.
     
  3. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    29
    Lots in there that I've already been looking forward to - thanks for the update

    Hmmm ... so it wasn't you praising Bride for Rent a few years back?
     
  4. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    25
    Oh haha! My mistake, I was thinking after typing that post, wait did I ever watch any movie with Kim Chiu?! Okay I just ate what i said. Hahaha! Did I praise her there? I may have liked the story--wait I don't think I'll like it now if I watch it again. Why did I.....it wasn't me! It was a different person. lol Kim occasionally hosts in some shows and wow if you've seen her you'll get annoyed too. Don't tell her okay?
     
  5. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    25
    The Shining (USA, 1980)
    As usual I’m late to the party. This has been on my watchlist for the longest time but I only got to watch it recently. And I call myself a fan of psychological thrillers! afro.gif

    Anyway, what can I say. I guess I was……………underwhelmed??? This is what I get for setting my expectations so high. I guess if I watched this when it came out, right before reading the acclamations it got, and probably before I’ve seen the good chunk of psychological thrillers I have already seen, I might be blown away. I sort of had a lightbulb moment while watching this. Now I realize how a “best” film can be different from a “favorite” film. I can call The Shining one of the best psychological thrillers, but I don’t think I can call it a favorite (that ending though!). Same with a favorite. One movie can be a favorite but it can’t necessarily be a “best”. “Best” uses objective perspective, whereas a “favorite” uses the subjective perspective. Anyway, enough of the rambling.

    Going into the merits without taking into consideration my personal reaction on the film, I think I understand why this can be labeled as one of the greatest psychological thrillers of all time. It would be interesting to read the book for comparison but the film is viewer-friendly (??) to those who haven’t read the book.

    My main complaint is with Shelley Duvall. For a while there I thought I was being pranked upon because she must not have been serious with that out-of-place acting, right? I haven’t seen her in any other work though so I can’t gauge her acting capabilities but Wendy Torrance gave me some good eyebrow-raising situations here. Heck Danny the young kid was more capable! And Jack Nicholson’s satanic smile—really haunting!

    I think what brought this movie together is the soundtrack. It set the thriller mood of the film. As to the story, well as I’ve said I’ve seen some good psychological thrillers already that it didn’t really “thrill” me so to speak but the element of suspense is not lost. I think though that the ending is what made the movie remarkable for me (aside from the genius “REDRUM”) and we can all surmise Jack Torrance’s inclusion in said photo but those last seconds is definitely worth a million words. The ending alone is worth a movie.
     
  6. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    67
    Triad Election (2006)

    Johnnie To has made over 50 films of various genres. Everything from bizarro wuxia (The Heroic Trio), comedy (Justice, My Foot! and My Left Eye Sees Ghosts), drama (All About Ah Long), to more gritty fare focused on crime and triads, such as A Hero Never Dies, The Mission, Fulltime Killer, and, here, Triad Election (a sequel to the previous year's Election).

    I like To's style in general, and I liked this movie a lot. Nothing much happens in the first 30 minutes, other than setting up the upcoming "election" of who gets to be triad leader for the next term and introducing the various candidates. After that, we get the back-stabbings, double crosses, and all sorts of violence.

    The main competition is between Lok, played by the always slimy Simon Yam (seriously, Yam has that smarmy smirk down pat), his hand-picked underling (Kun), and Jimmie. Jimmie is a "almost" legit businessman who is only tangentially involved with the triad. That is, until he finds his attempts to go completely legit in mainland China to be thwarted by the Chinese, who only want to deal with him if he is the triad leader. So, Jimmie, very reluctantly, decides to vie for the position. Think Michael Corleone from The Godfather.

    But boy howdy, when Jimmie goes for it, he goes all in.

    To has an interesting visual style, and some set pieces are extremely effective, from a visual standpoint. Some of the plotting doesn't make a whole lot of sense (perhaps it does moreso for native HKies), and the plot requires you to make some assumptions and fill in the blanks. To always seems to focus on the periphery of things right when you would think he should zoom in on the main action. I like that. I also liked his style of dropping out the dialog and "scene sounds" at times for musical overlays of the violent scenes. And the implications of the ending punched me in the gut. You think one thing is going to happen, and then you realize what the real deal is, and you wonder...which is worse?

    4 stars (out of 5)
     
  7. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    25
    @divemaster13

    To be honest I've shunned myself from the martial arts, wire-fu genre for the longest time now but thanks to you I'm considering putting them back to my menu. I'll start with the Donnie Yen stuff I've missed. Thanks!
     
  8. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    67
    Well, for period pieces, you can't go wrong with Iron Monkey and Wing Chun. Funny, fun, and very good wire-fu.
     
  9. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    29
    Comrade Kim Goes Flying (Kim Gwang-hun, Nicholas Bonner, Anja Daelemans, 2012) Yong-mi has dreamed of being a trapeze artist since she was a little, and one day gets the opportunity to audition for the world-famous DPRK circus. But the rich kids from Pyongyang just laugh at her, and the biggest bully says “You’re just a coal miner! You belong under the ground, not above it!” So what does the humiliated Yong-mi do? Challenge the cocky bastard to a good old-fashioned cement mixing competition, of course!

    Sure, this was cheesy to the brim, but I found it hard not to fall in love with the plucky Kim Yong-mi (played by Han Jong-sim, who only manages one credit on imdb but probably has more to her name), and the wide-eyed pure innocence of it all took me back to a time when everything was so much simpler, and melted my bitter, cynical, Western heart. It’s apparently the only time North Korea has jointly produced a fictional feature with other countries (co-director Bonner has been involved in other NK related productions, including the fascinating doco State of Mind), although I get the impression that it’s largely representative of what NK is making, rather than a some kind of fusion production.


    Kamome Diner (Naoko Ogigami, 2006) revolves around the eponymous eatery, a coffee shop in a quiet street in Finland. It is run by a single Japanese woman who is in Finland for reasons that a pointedly obscure, and gradually becomes populated by a range of quirky regulars, including a couple of other middle-aged Japanese ladies whose presence in Japan is equally obscure. It begins with a voice-over monologue from café-owner Satomi Kobayashi, talking about how she felt about the death of her parents and touching on how they influenced her, but that was the only time I got any insight into her character – from what followed, the scene almost felt like something misplaced from another film. There was a similar absence of depth with the other characters; nobody seemed like real people, but rather mannequins to be moved around within the film’s environs, so that the quirky goings-on could go on.

    I can really enjoy laconic, meandering films that have little to no plot - think A Quiet Dream, or This Charming Girl, or My Little Sister – but I need to be able to find some connection with the characters, and this just didn’t do it for me.
     
  10. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    784
    Likes Received:
    116
    lollegs.gif

    I liked Kamome Diner quite a bit except for the drunk lady. But it was pretty surface only, no going deep.
     
  11. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    25
    Where can I uhm, see films, from North Korea................................................
     
  12. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    29
    I haven't watched it, but I've heard that A Schoolgirl's Diary is, or was, their highest grossing film. It seems to be available here:

     
  13. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    25
    Yipee! I haven't seen any single movie from the hermit country to be honest. Does The Interview count? lol. Thank you clayton! I'll watch it later...please please nobody dare remove that from youtube. fight7.gif
     
  14. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 3

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    29
    I read the Stephen King novel in my early teens, and it made a really, really big impression on me - as much for the story as the way it was written. I've only seen the film once, in the very early days of video, but my recollection is of thinking that it had completely butchered the ending of the novel.
     
  15. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    25
    @clayton-12

    I've read Stephen King was majorly disappointed with the film adaptation.
     
  16. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2017
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    67
    Burning (2018)

    This new Korean movie was showing at a nearby theater, so I gave it a watch yesterday. Directed by the same guy (Chang-dong Lee), who also gave us Oasis, Green Fish, Peppermint Candy, and Secret Sunshine. The first three of those I thought were passable to ok (2 or 3 stars), but Secret Sunshine is a complete masterpiece that I rank in my all-time favorite movies. But that's probably due to Do-yeon Jeon rather than the director.

    But I did not care for Burning very much. It's way too long and the payoff (such that it is) is not worth the wait. I do like moves where the action and reasons and interpretations are not spoon-fed to you, but there's a point when being purposely vague / opaque / obtuse just seems contrived, and the only purpose is the frustrate the audience. I have a bunch of questions, but they're pretty much unanswerable from what we are given in the film, As one review put it: "the entire film is meticulously calibrated in its ambiguity, encouraging certain assumptions that neither the characters nor the audience can ever fully verify."

    Why oh why do I keep watching movies like that, which just frustrate me?

    @sitenoise would probably LOVE this movie.

    2.5 stars.
     
  17. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    784
    Likes Received:
    116

Share This Page