Recently Seen, part 23 (December 2018)

Discussion in 'Cinema: International' started by plsletitrain, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Ida (Poland, 2013)--Ida (known as Anna in her convent) is sent to her lone family before taking her vows. I think that’s protocol for priests/nuns before being ordained; they’re sent to their families for immersion and probably to ponder if they’re fully prepared to take the vows. She goes to her aunt, Wanda, who despite being socially delinquent remains a loving sister and aunt to her niece. They embark on a quest to find the place where Ida’s parents and brother, who were Jews, were buried. In the process, they begin to discover each other’s qualities and convictions—one that could finally lead to Ida questioning her own self in relation to her calling and vocation.

    Now I have an attention span of 1 hour plus so before watching, I thought this movie was apt for me. But man was it slow. I mean like, my eyes-can-wander-elsewhere-and-I-won’t-miss-anything slow. The story, which had an 80 minute run time, if remade to accommodate and customize to my own taste, would probably be done in 20 minutes.

    Now to the positives: I’m starting to dig the black and white texture. It gives a bleak and sorrowful atmosphere to the film. Not that the film is overly dramatic and sad. In fact, its none close. Its just a plain depiction of well, finding your history. If there’s another positive point for the film (aside from the black-and-white color), it’s the ending-the around 3 minutes before the credits rolled. The one where Ida just walks on the road, the night about to set, and then the viewer asks where she’s leading to. If she’s up for the vows, or is she going somewhere else?

    I see it bagged a ton of awards and nominations. I guess I’m in the minority. Then again, I sometimes go against the current and swim on my own.

    Not recommended.
     
  2. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 4

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    I liked Ida, but I liked Pawel Pawlinkski's earlier films Last Resort and particularly My Summer of Love a lot more. I think you might find both of them a bit more narratively focussed.
     
  3. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    In fairness to the director, I think he knows how to take beautiful shots. It took me a while to realize I was watching a black and white film because I was so engrossed at the beautiful portraits. My problem I think lies on the narratives. They're not boring per se, but I think my problem is with the pacing. For example, in the following exchange: (These are not the actual dialogue)

    Aunt: You're too much like your mom.
    (Pause for 10 seconds)
    Niece: How was she like?
    (Pause for 10 seconds)
    Aunt: She's lovely.
    (Pause for another 5 seconds)
    Aunt: I loved her very much.

    Like, if a scene calls for the aunt character to pause for at least 10 seconds, I think it has to be reserved for when she has something explosive to say, like, "I'm your real mom!". Otherwise, when its just casual lines or banter, can't they not pause for too long????

    Hehe I'm rambling again. Sorry.

    I feel good though to have seen this. I don't get to see European films every day. I'm having a hard time finding them so any chance I get, whether I will like the film or not, I'm just happy to see them. I like hearing foreign languages.
     
  4. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    Haven't posted in a long while. I've been too busy doing all preparations to live and work in Indonesia! :D

    Best stuff I've seen lately...

    The Conversation
    Great script, loved everything about it. Ending was very satisfying.
    8/10

    Mission: Impossible – Fallout
    Some of the best action sequences of the decade. Best film in the franchise.
    8/10

    Mandy
    My head!!
    8/10

    Black Panther (2nd viewing)
    One of the best in the MCU. Loved the characters, Wakanda and the social commentary. Hope Marvel Studios keep bringing more talented directors to direct these films. Can't wait for the sequel.
    8/10

    Avengers: Infinity War (2nd viewing)
    Say whatever you want about the script or the lack of character development. I don't think there was a better way to finish a legacy of 20 films or so than making Thanos the main character in this film. Highly entertaining and fun to watch. Something like this has never been done before in the history of cinema. Simply my favourite film in the MCU and something that I can watch over and over again.
    8/10

    And the most disapointing...

    Laplace’s Witch
    Miike does so many films that sometimes it might be normal that I don't enjoy one or two. This is definitely one of them.
    While the concept might sound interesting at first, the pacing is just terrible.
    4/10

    Illang: The Wolf Brigade
    Good action sequences, but I didn't like the story or that it was trying to do so many things.
    4/10

    Incredibles 2
    Superhero films are so common now I started to develop some requirements about what I wanna watch. While this animation is pretty good, the story bored me so much. I've seen it too many times before, felt like a superhero film from 10 years ago.
    4/10
     
  5. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 4

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    Learning the moves from The Raid and The Night Comes For Us should be all the preparation you need!
     
  6. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Wow that's cool! Careful of the earthquakes, though. Indonesia has quite had it this year.
     
  7. JepGambardella

    JepGambardella Member: Rank 1

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    I saw Chihayafuru Part III the other day - the conclusion of the live-action adaptation of a manga about a group of high school karuta (*) players. Pretty good stuff as far as Japanese high school movies go. If you have seen (and enjoyed) the first two parts, then you will definitely enjoy this one too. I don't think it would work very well as a stand-alone movie, so if this sounds like something you would be interested in, make sure you watch parts 1 and 2 beforehand.

    (*) A Japanese game where the initial part of a poem is read out loud and the players have to find the card that corresponds to the ending of the poem and remove it from the playing area.

    https://letterboxd.com/film/chihayafuru-part-iii/
     
  8. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    I've been wondering about that. This has been received pretty well on letterbox. Maybe have a marathon over the holidays
     
  9. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    Cool! Are you originally from USA -> Thailand -> Indonesia?
    yeah headache.gif
     
  10. sitenoise

    sitenoise Member: Rank 5

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    I rated My Summer of Love 5 stars, and while I remember the film, I don't remember why, except maybe as I look at the poster I remember the freckled girl giving a pretty good performance.
     
  11. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    I'm actually from Portugal. I went to Thailand but unfortunately I had to come back to my country. However my heart is still in South East Asia, and lately I've been taking a few good decisions and getting the right connections to allow me to work from home. That means I can live pretty much anywhere. Also, my gf lives in Jakarta, food/house/living cost is so cheap there and people are so nice, so yeah, I can imagine myself living there! :)
     
  12. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    Ahahaha, great. I watched The Night Comes for Us the other day. No need to learn the moves though, people are very nice there :emoji_punch:
     
  13. Daniel Larusso

    Daniel Larusso Member: Rank 3

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    I guess it's safe in Jakarta :)
     
  14. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    You may (or may not) recall my earlier thread regarding a new Korean DVD order and some other Korean movies on my "to watch" list.

    So last night I watched two of them.

    Alice in Earnestland (2015).

    Good call. I did not like it...much. Didn't hate it. But my dislike wasn't because of the abuse/violence, but more that I just didn't care much about her or the story. It seemed the director wanted to have it both "cutsie" and edgy. If you are going to do that, you need to really have the skills for it. Like Tarantino. Or even Scorcese. This film had NO humor, and it didn't work as noir or farce. I mean, a deaf guy getting his fingers chopped off is just ripe to be handled as farce. So whatever the director was trying for did not work for me. I did get one laugh at her sudden response to the older policeman's questioning. The more violent parts of the film just had me focusing on the plot holes. Never a good thing.

    2 stars

    -------------------------------------
    Arang (2006)

    It's so funny you said this, because as I was watching it I kept having this nagging feeling I'd seen it before. At first I thought maybe Arang was a K-remake of a J-horror I had seen. But, no, I'd seen this actual movie before but just forgot to note it on my spreadsheet. I'm not sure what it says about my memory that I only remember two distinct elements of the film, and not the main twist. It's like if you watched The Sixth Sense and the only thing you remembered was the vomiting girl and "Stuttering Stanley" and forgot all about the big reveal at the end.

    Anyway, back to Arang. I really liked it. I thought it was a good mix of police procedural/detective work and the "long-haired ghost girl with weird eyes" trope. Yes, that was very derivative, but I liked the story and the two main leads so much, I forgave it. And, unlike the review above, I didn't spend much time worrying about the plot holes or inconsistencies. Plus, Arang had some humor, and sadness/pity, and revenge, and twists, and other things in addition to ghost-girl scares.

    4 stars
     
  15. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    Okay I think I'll give this one a try despite the long-haired-ghost (do ghosts really have long hair???).
    I'll watch it this weekend along with Dragon and Iron Monkey.
     
  16. clayton-12

    clayton-12 Member: Rank 4

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    I've been most looking forward to your review of Hide and Seek.
     
  17. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Ok! I'll move that one to the top of the pile.
     
  18. ebossert

    ebossert Member: Rank 3

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    Recommended

    West Lake Moment (2004) (Chinese Romantic Comedy) (repeat viewing) – Zhou Xun works at a coffee shop and chooses between three possible suitors. There’s a lot to like here. First and foremost, it’s extremely pleasant to watch, with much in the way of effective humor via interesting, quirky events. There is a notable absence of slapstick and almost all of the laughs are earned through witty dialogue. Zhou’s subconscious is represented by an imaginary little girl named Zazabo who steals the show every time she appears. Sure, this movie tosses in some genre cliches and contrivances, but even those are enjoyable. A very satisfying romantic comedy that helped me to fall in love with this actress back in the day.

    Liverleaf (2018) (Japanese Horror) – This is about a relatively small group of students in a school that will be closed after they graduate in a few months. There is rampant bullying on premises. As a viewer, you just know something bad is going to happen . . . and it does. After that pivotal event, there are violent repercussions. This film has certain similarities to Japanese exploitation films from the 1990s, but it distinguishes itself by playing with its tone. This creates acts of violence that range from disturbing to blackly humorous. The film also does a good job of establishing a sense of unease during the quieter moments. The entire film is set during the snowy months, which adds quite a bit to the atmosphere because the color white is accentuated. And of course, the redness of blood is more pronounced by the constant presence of white snow. Another good one from director Eisuke Naito.

    Shadow (2018) (Chinese Drama/Action) – Set during China's Three Kingdom's era (AD 220-280), this is the story of a king, his people, and their conflicts. Zhang Yimou is in fine form here. Color scheme is primarily grey, white and black – which theoretically could look bland, but the film is actually quite nice to look at. It took me a while to warm up to the characters, but the story is good enough. There are a few good weapon fights during the second half that do get bloody.

    Trespass (1992) (American Thriller/Action) (repeat viewing) – Two Arkansas firemen (Bill Paxton, William Sadler) get hold of a map that leads to a cache of stolen gold in an abandoned factory. What they don't know is that the factory is in the turf of a local gang (Ice-T, Ice Cube), who come by to execute one of their enemies. Very solid thriller by Walter Hill, with a brisk pace and constant tension between the characters.

    Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado (2018) (American Crime Drama/Action) – The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro. I thought this film was about as good as the original, with perhaps a bit more action to enjoy. Acting is very good by everyone, and there are some good thrills. Plot does meander a bit during the second half, but I liked how it was a bit unconventional.

    Surviving the Game (1994) (American Thriller) (repeat viewing) – A homeless man (Ice-T) is hired by a businessman (Rutger Hauer) as a survival guide for a group of wealthy businessmen (Gary Busey, Charles S. Dutton, F. Murray Abraham, John C. McGinley, etc.) on a hunting trip in the mountains, unaware that they are killers who hunt humans for sport, and that he is their new prey. The opening half hour does a good job of developing our protagonist and setting up the scenario. Some pretty good dialogue here as well. The hunting aspects are pretty good, but there’s not much detail in terms of tracking or survival itself. Still, this is a good flick.

    Not Recommended

    Laplace’s Witch (2018) (Japanese Drama/Mystery) – An environmental analyst is asked by the police to determine if two deaths by hydrogen sulfide poisoning are an accident – or a murder. But when he meets a young woman at both sites, a scientific mystery begins involving Laplace’s Demon (a theory of causal determination that results in the ability to predict or perfectly control events). This film by Takashi Miike has a few interesting moments, but it fails miserably to properly explore its premise. There’s a ton of boring exposition about this ability without anyone actually using it for anything exciting. Thriller and mystery aspects are lame. This is tedious and lethargic stuff.

    Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) (American Action) – During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion. After the really awkward and rushed title sequence, the entire opening half hour feels shamelessly sloppy and choppy in how events flow from one to the next. Within the opening 15 minutes we are told how the protagonist got his last name, and it’s one of the dumbest things you’ll ever see in a Star Wars film. Lead actor is bad as Han Solo. He’s got a whiny voice and his performance is wooden. His attempts to act cool are pathetic and lame. His voice alone should have prompted a failing during the casting audition. Thankfully, after the first 30 minutes things improve to become merely mediocre. Dialogue is badly written and cheesy. Attempts at humor don’t work; the droid L3 is obnoxious. The story is unengaging and very generic. Visuals are boring. There’s no dramatic impact. Action is plentiful but the quality is below average for a Star Wars film. It’s also 134 minutes long, which is not easy to sit through.
     
  19. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Hide and Seek (2013)

    I won't go as far as you in the dislike, but I agree it was a movie with a lot of problems. I thought there were some good harrowing moments, some scenes of sincere suspense, and a sense of mystery and impending peril, especially where the kids were concerned. The first kill was well handled, and the big reveal caught me completely off guard. All that should produce the foundation of a good thriller.

    However.

    However, however, however. (Below I'll discuss a bunch of plot points [but not the major reveal], and I don't feel like SPOILERING a wall of text, so proceed at your own risk).

    Everything after the reveal was repetitive and not realistic. Thus, the last 30 minutes of the film, which should ramp up the tense thrills, is a huge let-down. How many times will person A clonk person B over the head and just leave them there to get up in a later scene and be a problem? And it went both ways. Bad Person clonks wife and leaves her there, still alive. Later, wife clonks Bad Person...and leaves them there to get up later and do more bad stuff. Repeat and repeat.

    If you hit someone over the head with a huge steel bar; it crushes their skull and worse. Not in this movie! Oh, and husband gets a knife, by my estimate, 4 inches deep in the thigh. After being bashed by the steel bar. But the knife misses the bone. It misses the femoral artery. It misses any nerves that would paralyze the leg. In fact, it doesn't do much other than produce a slight limp.

    Guy finally realizes what's up. He's been attacked. HE FINDS THE KILLER'S STASH OF DEAD BODIES. He knows his wife is in peril. He knows his kids are in peril. He knows where and by whom. He knows he is across town. You might think he'd, oh, I don't know...think to call the police??? Nah. Hell with that. Let's limp back to the other side of town and take on the killer by himself, after the killer has wreaked all sorts of havoc.

    I know adults can be evil. But kids? Knowing what the kid knows...that must be the most psychopathic kid in the history of the world. And when you see the kid at the very end, as the house is being sold, the only plot conclusion is that the kid lived in a closet for...months? However long it takes to buy a house. I guess the kid doesn't eat.

    And it must be a thing in Korea for motorcyclists to keep their helmets on at all times. Outdoors, indoors, in the elevator, at the playground watching your kid. Whether you are a killer or just some dude.

    Ok, so all the above are plot points. In a better movie I can forgive a lot. Knives that don't cut; guns that never run out of bullets; police that never show up (or show up by amazing coincidences). But in a lesser movie, such things become the focus.

    But perhaps what cheesed me off the most was that most of the plot elements in the first part of the movie had no bearing whatsoever on the actual goings on. I understand red herrings and director misdirection in a mystery or thriller. But this was just ridiculous. Nothing established ever paid off later.

    --AHA! the father is OCD and takes pills; this means something! NOPE

    --AHA! the father was the adopted kid and the pock-faced kid was the birth son! What a twist! What a turn! This means something! NOPE

    --AHA! the father starts tearing up his house in a fit of rage! Something to watch out for later! NOPE

    --AHA! there's a flashback. Now we know why the missing brother would hate the rest of his family and why they are estranged. Ok, so that means...nothing. It ends up meaning nothing at all.

    --AHA! Those weird symbols! He finally figured out the code! It means...it means...what exactly? It tells who's in the house. Which means exactly NOTHING as to the motive of the killer or the discovery of same. Even the discovery that his own house (AHA! his own house!) has the same symbols tell you...nothing. It doesn't hint that the killer is targeting the family. You know what hints that the killer is targeting the family? The fact that the killer is banging on the door, terrifying the kids inside. You don't need weird symbols to figure that out. The killer is right there!

    It's not fair to frame your movie as a thriller or a puzzle to figure out, if ALL the clues you lay in the first half are just tossed aside for the sake of "killer terrorizes family" scenes. Think about it, does anything in the last third of the move change if ALL of those scenes are omitted from the movie? Not one bit. The fact that there is a missing brother IS important, for a number of reasons, but none of how that is handled or any other of the above points end up relating to that at all.


    2 stars
     
    • Like Like x 1
    #19 divemaster13, Dec 9, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  20. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    Asako in Ruby Shoes (2000)

    Well, it must have been some other Asian (probably Japanese) artsy type movie I remember watching, because I'm pretty sure I had not seen Asako. Or my memory really is that bad.

    So here is an example where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. I can't really explain why I liked this so much. A somewhat socially disassociated Korean civil worker's story paralleled with a somewhat socially disaffected Japanese girl's meandering through her life. Doesn't seem all that interesting, and truthfully, I can't point to particular scenes as "oh this scene was really good!" or "oh, I loved it when that happened!"

    But I cared. About both of them. And the story and the coincidences that drew them into each other's orbit from time to time, even if they don't realize it. I'm glad they found each other. I'm glad their lives went in a positive direction. I'm glad neither got stuck where they were (or what they were contemplating) at the beginning of the movie. I'm glad I watched this film.

    4 stars
     

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