Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fearless / Huo Yuan Jia (China, 2006)

Fearless, directed by Ronny Yu, is a film about martial arts, about Wushu. Jet Li’s stars in this movie and told it would be his last film in the martial arts area.

Indeed this is a film about fighting, in the most truest sense of it’s word. I think the first 40 minutes more or less consist entirely of fighting scenes. The choreography of these scenes is absolutely wonderful!
What follows is a more philosophic part when Jet Li realizes he only fights for fame and winning, while winning is maybe not always most important. Deeply saddened when his mother and daughter are being murdered he ends up in a small village where he learns to be in peace with himself.
In this village he meets a blind girl who helps him. And this girl (‘Moon’ played by Sun Li), wow, her clothing is simple but at the same time of the most stunning beauty. Later, Jet Li returns to Shanghai to fight for the pride of his country....which won’t be tolerated cause the story sets in the beginning of 1900. This is a period when foreign countries tried to rule China and Chinese people themselves were in a huge identity crisis.

An very beautifully directed film with great choreography, beautiful fighting scenes and an underlying moralistic story. And yes, Jet Li is just a better actor when he plays in Chinese films than in American rubbish.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Caregiver (Philippines, 2008)

Caregiver is a Philippine movie by director, Chito S. Roño, and I have to say I am not really familiar with films from the country. I did not have any idea what to expect, except for the fact that I know it would be a drama.

And a drama it really is, sometimes even too much. Everything seems to be too much in this film some moments. Then again, it is not a bad film. Though it has its shortcomings…some acting of minor characters isn’t really great and some scenes seem totally be misplaced (When Sarah looks for the kite in the wood, you almost think you are in a B-horror movie) in the end it is an interesting production. Sharon Cuneta (Philippine mega star) acts really good! The cinematography is decent as well, better than I expected.
The story is about a Philippine woman who travels to London to liver with her husband and start a job as a caregiver. She faces lots of problems with her husband, but also in her work. She is being seen as ‘less’ or even as a ‘maid’.

To summarize: it is a story about finding your own place, the fighting against people who think you don’t belong there and live you life where you could be proud of. Sometimes too much, sometimes misplaced but in all a rather decent production with will leave its emotional impact.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Innocent Steps / Daenso-ui sunjeong (South-Korea, 2005)

To be honest, I had some doubts about this movie. I was afraid that it would be a bad Korean adaptation of Dirty Dancing. Well yeah, it is about dancing and some scenes reminded me of that movie but I have to say I had to revise my thoughts after I had seen this one. Innocent steps is in fact a pretty good film, way better than to be expected! A romantic comedy with enough drama involved to keep being interesting.

The story, of course, is not too complicated but where it starts very funny and not really refreshing the second part of the movie shows the competent acting in a rather dramatic storyline, it even gets a bit unconvential. Though such movies always have their happy end, it is a different happy end than I suspected. I was really amazed by the acting in fact, you can feel the emotion between the main characters (Geun-yeong Mun, A tale of two sisters, and Keon-hyeong Park) and only in a very few scenes the acting seems a bit forced. Great to have seen such honest acting!

I have to say that the director, Young-hoon Park, did a great job with this film! The scenes were intense, beautiful and sometimes heart wrenching. The dancing scenes were pretty believable and honest. The music in it is great as well, I never expected to hear The Cardigans’ ‘Rise and Shine’ in a Korean movie!

A simple story about love, but nonetheless a very good one!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Welcome to the quiet room / Quiet room ni yôkoso (Japan, 2007)

Welcome to the quiet room is a about a girl (Asuka) who wakes up in a psychiatric ward and does not have any clue why she is in there. She is being told she tried to do OD (Overdose). During the film you will get more clues why she has been taken into this mental hospital. Here she meets some patients she becomes acquaintances with.
A really interesting story with great acting of Yuki Uchida ev
olves. The first part of the movie is more about funny stuff. But don’t think you are watching a comedy, because in fact it is also really a strong drama about a girl who is isolated and is trying to find the truth about herself. It is a story about loneliness and how it can drive you crazy. A story of losing all confidence in your own ability.

There will be moments that are funny, moving and sometimes heartbreaking, especially when another patient tells to Asuka: “I am just like you, I am normal, the system is wrong.” A really intense story which is presented like a puzzle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The equation of love and death / Li mi de cai xiang (China, 2008)

The equation of love and death is an interesting story with many beautiful and impressive scenes. The entire film is like a puzzle and in the final scene the gaps of the mystery are being filled. Zhou Xun (Suzhou river) gives us a really great performance, she carries this entire movie almost on her own.
The story about a woman who looks for her boyfriend who disappeared four years ago. She became an almost insane taxi driver and meets other trivial people in her cab. In the end, all stories come together.
Sometimes the music is outstanding in this movie, it is a shame I watched it with a weird kind of colour filter (or does the director means it this way?) so they weren’t too bright.

Interesting film, but only for those people who love to watch mysterious films without too many action to see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The girl who leapth through time / Toki o kakeru shôjo (Japan, 2006)

A film that starts maybe a little bit childish and simple about a girl who discovers she can leap through time. She discovers the ways to use this newly obtained ability. For getting higher grades in school, helping friends with their love life and so on. But the second part of this movie is completely different and it becomes a very interesting anime. The main character suddenly realizes leaping through time has its limits and not all is positive….

Well in a way it reminded me of the series Haibane Renmei, which also starts very childish and becomes one of the deepest and most clever anime ever. The girl who leapt through time has maybe not this big emotional impact as HR but it surely gives a good image of consequences when changing the flow of time and the sadness of making not the right decisions. The animation stylesometimes seems to be a bit old fashioned but sometimes it is absolutely awesome as well which is a perfect combination for this film. The music, often classical piano music, is great. The casting of the character’s voices is done good as well.

Interesting, clever and a very emotional film!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kung Fu Panda (USA, 2008)

Kung Fu Panda is a brilliant animation film by Pixar! The opening scene is really well done, they use a kind of different style which is typical for Asian cartoon (or games like 'Okami'). The story is not only hilarious but the backgrounds are really beautiful and they also paid attention to Chinese culture and legends. I could even be describes a s a wuxia movie. Yeah, the story is very simple, very predictable but that does no ttake anything away of the amusement of this movie.
Jack Black is magnificent as ‘Po’ the panda, with his very unique humour. The music in the movie is excellent as well, some mix of Chinese folk and modern music.

Visually, it is just stunning. So beautiful scenes of the mountains, water and bridges. And there are some slow motion scenes as well, where you can see some great expression on the face of ‘Po’! If you don’t have to laugh (or ay least smile) at that time, I have to say you are a pretty cold/too realistic person.
The fighting scenes are awesomely done as well, which don’t last too long and enough diversity to keep them interesting. Some of the voices are done by Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane and Dustin Hoffman.

Most of all, it is a film just to enjoy…. and Dreamworks understood this well. Maybe there best yet!! Hilarious, entertaining, exciting, beautiful and even some great Chinese wisdom!

The Dark Half (USA, 1993)

The 1993 film ‘the dark half’ is one of so many adaptations from Stephen King’s novels. At the same time, it is one of those rather bad adaptations (like many more in the 90's). The story is okay, maybe not a truly horrifying horror, but the acting no good. It is typical, those B-actors overact all the time and don’t get any atmosphere into this film.
The story is about a writer who quits with a series of books, but the main character (a violent alcoholic guy) in this book doesn’t want him to stop and seems to make his entrance in the real world. He wants the writer to write again…..

Just read the book!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hadersfild (Serbia, 2007)

Hadersfild is a story about friendship. One guy, who has left Serbia for eleven years and worked in England(Huddersfield – Hadersfild), comes back and visits his friend. We are introduced to some very special personalities, all fighting with their own mental demons. It is about the struggle with yourself.

What you should know is that it is a film about the 90’s of the past century. A decade where a complete nation (Yugoslavia) was torn apart, not by foreign people but by its own inhabitants. That is what makes this war leaving so many scars behind for people in those regions. Though the film doesn’t tell about the war, it is clear that the characters never will be the persons anymore they were before. After it started, everything changed and even 11 years later most people still are confused and mentally and physically struggling.

Decent film, but for those who don’t know much about the Yugoslavian war it can be a bit hard to understand the emotion of it. That was also the problem for me, it could not convince all the time.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dark water / Honogurai mizu no soko kara (Japan, 2002)

Dark Water is one of those Japanese horror stories which will give you an uncomfortable feeling from the first minute and will last for the entire film. There is no happiness in it all all, only a long chain of tragic events.
It all starts when a mother and her daughter are moving towards a new apartment, and almost immediately water starts dripping the ceiling. The little girl sees a little girl in a raincoat and starts to play on her own. What is the relation to another little girl who got lost two years before, why does the water never stop falling? Imagine a bathtub full of dark water......

And yes, there is also a truely terrifying scene in an elevator! No blood, no massacres but intense loneliness and sadness.

An very intense and mysterious horror film which is maybe most creepy but like I said before, it will give you a very sad and uncomfortable feeling. Interesting and impressive but verysad and sometimes even moving!

The brotherhood of the wolf / Le Pact des loups (France, 2001)

Historical tales are telling us that in 1765 a beast is killing people in south-west France.
The king’s taxidermist and a native Indian are trying to find out what this beast is (a wolf?) and where they can find it. The background is set in revolutionary France, so often the different ways of thinking (Enlightenment) are shown in this movie. The hunt for the beast begins…..

A really interesting horror movie unfolds! It is a really mysterious film, with betrayal, exciting moments, great fighting scenes, plot twists and beautiful women (Monica Bellucci and Emilie Dequenne). Their acting great, just like the main characters in this story (Samuel Le Bihan and Mark Dacascos). Maybe the runtime of the movie is a bit long with 140 minutes, but it doesn’t get boring.

A really mysterious horror film which should be watched on a dark winter's day!

Secret / Bu neng shuo de. mi mi (Hong Kong/Taiwan, 2007)

In Europe, classical music isn’t something anymore you often associate with young people. The complete opposite can be found in Asia, where classical music seems to be more popular than ever. It is even possible to become an idol, think of the brilliant Lang Lang who is an idol for many young Chinese.
‘Secret’ shows the importance and the popularity of this music in China. Idol, superstar and gifted actor, singer and director Jay Chou made a movie about the mystery of this music. He blended it together perfectly with a beautiful love story, brilliant piano music and a travel through time.

What starts out as a typical Asian romance story, evolves into something different. Something surrounded with mystery. I won’t explain too much, but is definitely worth to see this film!

The score is really fantastic, though you have to love piano music a bit. The acting of Jay Chou is great and also Lunmei Kwai does a terrific job, she looks stunning as well!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Painted Veil (USA, 2006)

The painted veil is a rather tragic story between two people (Naomi Watts & Edward Norton) in a pretty difficult relationship. He is a bacteriologist and she is a rather spoiled young woman.
It sets in the twenties of the past century in China, partly in Shanghai but mostly in a little village along the Yangtze river. In this village Cholera has broken out and the character played by Edward Norton volunteers to help as a doctor and do research. He forces his wife, who is having an affair, to come with him or get a divorce. When times past by, slowly they start to find the loving parts in each other. A cruel fate awaits them.

To my opinion, it is a rather well constructed film with many beautiful scenery of China. The acting is great, as expected from the stars but I had to get used to it for about 15 minutes. The director, John Curran, creates a very intense atmosphere with a film that maybe starts a bit slow, but is full of beauty. The score is just brilliant, with the piano parts that are being played by Chinese and maybe world’s best pianist Lang Lang.

Sometimes I felt like it could be better in some ways and though that is not the best film ever it still is an intense and beautiful film!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gamera the brave / Gamera: Chiisaki yusha-tachi (Japan, 2006)

Gamera the brave is a new film in the Gamera-series (Japanese Godzilla adventures), a revival of the Gaiju genre. Though this time the story is a bit different, it is made for children.
Though the monsters don't look real at all, the acting sometimes is a bit cheesy, the musical score is so-so and the story is very simple you have to remember it is made for kids. And yes, it is a good friendly child movie, even the entire family can enjoy this one.

It is a story a bout the love of a child for his favourite pet. This pet, a turtle in the beginning, turns out to be a monster, one to save the city of Nagoya against the more evil Zedus.
For children about 9 or younger, it will be a very enjoyable and even moving film. For the children who ware a bit older (12 or older) I should recommend the Korean 'the Host'.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

El Orfanato (Spain/Mexico, 2007)

El Orfanato is a mysterious thriller/horror about a boy who suddenly disappears in an old orphanage when he is playing with his imaginable friends.
His mother can’t believe he is dead and starts to believe in mysterious things, creating her own reality of what happened in the past and now.

The story is very interesting because it leaves a lot of imagination to yourself, Not too many things are explained, what is reality and what is fantasy?? This is what can be compared with Pan’s Labyrinth. Children need fairytales to understand the world. Belief first, than see. I guess this could be described as what the movie deals about.

It is a dreamy horror story, you’ll beautiful scenes which breath some kind of dangerous atmosphere. The story is also very intelligent which keeps the film all the time interesting and sometimes it is even moving. The acting is very good, especially the mother (Belen Rueda) who suffers such a great loss acts outstandingly!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Noriko's Dinner Table / Noriko no shokutaku (Japan, 2005)

Interesting and remarkable movie, by director Sion Sono, about individualism. The story sets in the same world as ‘Suicide Club’ but from a different angle. Noriko’s dinner table is also known as Suicide Club 2 but the two movies are different completely. While the first suicide Club was filled with blood, this one is rather calm from an introspective stance. The story evolves about one family and the bizarre and weird things that happen in this normal family. The story can best be described as very strange and special, but it works in its way. It breathes a very weird atmosphere but at the same time grabs your mind. Some scenes are even hard to watch, because of the intenseness.
The acting is great, very impressive because the emotions are very deep and difficult to act but all girls managed perfectly!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yo-Yo Girl Cop / Sukeban Deka: Kôdo Nêmu = Asamiya Saki (Japan, 2006)

There are many ways to spend 99 minutes, and let me tell you, watching this movie isn’t the best one. Yeah, I had to laugh often, just a shame I wasn’t meant to laugh at those moments. Yo-Yo Girl Cop, starring Japanese idol Aya Matsuura, is not really a good film. The plot is very very thin and most of the time doesn’t make any sense. The characters and the dialogues between them are ridiculous and too sad to speak of. The acting, well it is also not the best you will see in your lifetime. The fighting scenes won’t convince for any moment and director, please, showing us a long scene where two girls sends text messages (by phone) to each other isn’t really great cinematography.

This movie can be enjoyed but than you have to think of nothing and smile for 99 minutes, it is all you get out of this one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cyborg She / Boku no kanojo wa saibôgu (Japan, 2008)

Probably you never hear about a epic cyborg film, but ‘Cyborg she’ (Cyborg girl), by director Jae-young Kwak (My sassy girl, The classic), can not be described in another way This is one of the most interesting love stories I have seen in a while. It starts on 22 november 2008 in a restaurant in Tokyo where Jiro celebrates his birthday on his own. Because my birthday is on the 16th..I immediately was interested in it!

It all is about a boy (Jiro) who meets a girl (cyborg) from the future on his birthday. She saves him from a mad guy with a gun at the restaurant. Normally he would have been badly injured but this is why she comes from the future. The guy in the future created her so he could send her back to save himself.

After this scene, the expected funny part of the film starts. They start to live together and the girl has to learn how to act like a human. This part is really hilarious, one of the most memorable scenes is set in a dancing bar where a guy asks her ‘can you dance the 'robot'?
The next part of the movie is a bit more serious, it is about memories. Some really beautiful scenes about a trip back to the hometown of Jiro will follow and it even gets a bit emotional. And again the story of the movie chances entirely, the next part of the film is more like a disaster film when a earthquake hits Tokyo. Very impressive scenes of collapsing buildings I have to say! And after all this, expect a big surprise in the plot!

The acting of both Keisuke Koide and Haruka Ayase is outstanding, the clothing is stylish and the cinematography is fine as well.
I was stunned while seeing this movie. I did not expect anything of it but it made me laugh, totally surprised by the great scenes (I suspected a small film without any action) and I even felt the emotional part in my heart. A truly magnificent masterpiece!!

Together with Park Chan Wooks 'I'm a Cyborg, but that's okay' a total revival of this genre and better as ever!

Suzhou River / Suzhou He (China, 2000)

Suzhou river, by director Lou Ye, is a film about the journey to find your true love. The story is set in Shanghai, and the Suzhou river is the centre of the film. Everything goes back to this river. What you get are beautiful scenes, a sad love story which, together with the cinematography, hypnotizes you and pulls you into world you never have experienced
Famous Chinese star Xun Zhou acts great as the girl you never know too much about, she is the mysterious girl who never can be yours entirely. For few minutes I had to get used to the semi-handheld camera, I wansn’t very used to this way of filming but after a while you almost don’t even notice it anymore. In fact, it adds much beauty to this film.

An unconventional film with a semi-handheld camera and a unseen narrator who is telling us the tragic story of searching but never able to get hold of the thing you long most for. Spellbinding!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Figure skating 2008/2009 starts with a win for Yu-Na Kim

© Getty Images

Swirling upon the ice, reaching for the roof and performing difficult combinations. The competition has started! The figure skaters competed in Everett, USA. After along, long wait from the world championships in Göteborg they have begun the new road to the next world championships! Though, it seems like the final of the woman skaters in Göteborg just was one week ago. The excitement of that competition, well I doubt if it ever will get more intense. In Everett, my favourite and most spectacular figure skater, Yu-Na Kim, won in the woman category. The first is being made!!Yukari Nakano was second and the world champion of two years ago, Miki Ando, ended in third place.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Love of Siam / Rak Haeng Siam (Thailand, 2007)

Love of Siam, by director Chukiat Sakveerakul, pleasantly surprised me in many different ways. It is one of those rare magnificent ‘coming of age’ and ‘coming out’ films that adds depth to its genre. This film will probably often be describes as a gay themed movie. This is true, but it is so much more! Most of all it will show us the growing feelings between two boys from friendship to something more but it also is a film about family problems, how to deal with a great loss in your family (a daughter/sister who suddenly disappears) and how to keep on living without having regrets. This movie from Thailand intertwines all elements beautifully together.

However, despite it brilliance, this gem probably won’t be liked by everybody because it is over 150 minutes long and not too many action takes place. In my opinion, this movie did not become boring at all, it slowly evolves and will leave a deep emotional impact on your mind.
The acting is magnificent (well, there are some characters which are less appealing), the music feels right, the cinematography is beautifully done and the storyline is outstanding.

Love of Siam is probably one of the best movies ever made, according to its subject. This is a true masterpiece so don’t waste anymore time but go and see it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gadjo Dilo / The crazy stranger (Romania, 1997)

Gadjo Dilo is about a French man who is looking for the singer he hears on a cassette. To find her, he is getting in touch with the Gypsies, the Roma. To be honest, this movie isn’t about a brilliant storyline. This movie is about looking for the music of the soul.
It is a rather good movie, it makes you feel happy most of the time. Everything is a bit too much overdone, like movies often do when they are about the gypsies, but this gives it a good joyful vibe.

I did not think it is a masterpiece but the music in it is just great. It really shows how important music can be for people’s emotions. The clothing is really beautiful as well, for what the gypsies also are known for.
The acting is ok, it isn’t the best of this movie, but once again it is not about a story or the acting really. A movie that shows the purity of music

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When father was away on business / Otac na sluzbenom putu (Yugoslavia, 1985)

When father was away on business, by director Emir Kusturica, is a movie that shows a glimpse of the period in Yugoslavia I barely knew. When Tito broke up with Stalin in 1948 some dangerous years were coming for the Yugoslavic communists. For a simple joke, Mesa made about a cartoon In a newspaper, Mesa is being send to prison by his own brother in law.
This movie is about history, politics and the life of a family in Sarajevo during these changing days. It is sometimes very funny, and also sometimes very moving.
The acting is really outstanding. I love the way Mirjana Karanovic (Grbavica) gives depth to her character in the most natural way, just acting great.
Kusturica made a film which blended history and a glimmer of hope beautiful together. The music is really good as well, the typical emotional Balkan songs which live on tears.
In my opinion this movie is a little masterpiece, I enjoyed every minute of it!
In this film we see Muslim, Christian an Jewish people living peacefully together. How did it all change some years later……

Monday, October 20, 2008

The edge of love (Great-Brittain, 2008)

The edge of love stars Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Jonathan Rhys and Cillian Murphy. Though the temptation is huge to compare it with Atonement, I won’t even start it (also because I will think millions will do it already) because Atonement is of Hors Categorie.

So what is ‘the edge of love’? It is a story about the brilliant poet Dylan Thomas and the destructive influence de has on two woman (played by Knightley and Miller). Rhys is married to Sienna in this movie, but he shares a childhood love with Keira who is still in love with him but marries soldier Cillian. The story evolves around these characters and their emotions.
The story didn’t really enchant me. Though in the first part of the movie there are some great scenes, dark sensual with poetical texts, and even some fighting scenes in Greece, you never really know what the movie wants to tell you. Of course it is about the relationship of the two women who are bond to this man but it just could not really convince me. The second part of the movie takes place in Wales, where it focuses on the downwards spiral of the character’s lives. Towards the end of this film the mood really gets dark as the deepest night.
The acting is often good, to be expected, but sometimes the interaction between the actors is a bit lacking in quality (the friendship between Knightley and Miller never gets really believable). Cillian Murphy (wind that shakes the barley) did rather great as a traumatized soldier and shows once more he is a fantastic actor!

I liked this movie because I like the poetical dialogues and some beautiful and heartbraking scenes but I just expected a little bit more of it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Memento Mori (Wispering corridors 2 or Yeogo goedam 2) - (South-Korea, 1999)

Memento mori, by directors Tae-yong Kim and Kyu-dong Min, is often categorized as a horror movie, but in my opinion it isn’t at all. It is a story about the relationship between two girls who are being disliked by the other students, Hyo-Shin (yeh-jin Park) and Shi-Eun (Young-jin Lee), in a school for girls. Their feelings towards each other are much more than friendship and together they keep track of a diary.
This diary has been found by Min-Ah (Min-sun Kim) and she is started to get interesting in this weird, almost baroque like, book of feelings. It seems all happy in the beginning but rather soon a sad feeling approached her. And than everything changes, Hyo-Shin kills herself by jumping of the roof. Why did this happen? Soon Min-Ah feels a cold hand on her body and a girl who is whispering ‘memento mori’ (remember to die) in her ears.
This film can be seen as society related. Who has great achievements in school and thinks like the rest (of the society) will be successful in their future career. To be different means to walk another path with less support of society.
Like most Asian mysterious movies, this one has a complex storyline as well with many flashbacks and will leave you with unsolved puzzles. The feeling is a bit sad, even the loving emotion between the two girls has something strange, almost morbid.
The camerawork is just great, an interesting innovating style which consist of a mix between unsteady shaking scenes and beautiful quiet scenes of a girl just standing on a roof. Just like the camerawork, the musical score is also impressive. Beautiful churchlike music with a rather interesting Kyrie Eleison.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Oriental black magic / Gong Tau (Hongkong, 2007)

It has been a while since I watched a voodoo-like movie with needles and voodoo dolls (Gong Tau). But A Oriental black magic is taking me back to this kind of horror.
After watching it for about ten minutes I already thought it would be a bit over the top. The camera work is a little irritating I have to say. Much ‘scare’ effects in sound and camera work as well as the overacting of some characters give it the feeling for a B movie. The score isn’t really interesting but typical for this kind of movie. Besides of this, I continued watching it andjust enjoyed the ride.
The story is rather interesting (without being really scary) with the following theme: ‘what is worse than pain? It is to never know what pain is again’. A woman is cursed with Gong Tau and the story is about the why, what and how of her tragic fate.
It truly can be called a horror because it is really filled with gore. When you like corpses stuffed with really disgusting insects and/or animals, this is your film!
This one can please some people but it is not my liking of a movie should be presented and I just
think it is rather bad.

Still, maybe it is not the best horror film, there are some admirable scenes to watch for having a good laugh. In fact Gong Tau takes you back to the Hongkong black magic films of the 70's and 80's. Ifyou are into these kind of films (dark, sometimes a bit sensual horror), just watch it!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

1 Litre of tears / Ichi ritoru no namida (Japan, 2005)

‘One of the most sad series ever made.’ When you search the internet for 1 litre of tears, this is a sentence you will possibly see for many many times. It is easy to call a serie ‘sad’, but is it really true?
Well to be short: yeah it really is, but I don’t really know if it will be the most sad series ever. Maybe the Korean ’Snow Queen’ got me even more emotionally moved.

The first episode of 1 litre of tears not yet captured me completely. I am used to watching Korean series and differences with Japanese series are very big. In the beginning I did not like the acting very much, the camera work did not convince me either. But, after I watched 2 episodes I got used to it and became more attracted to this series.

The story is a bout a girl who has an incurable degenerative disease. It starts when she is 15 years old and will only get worse. At first she will just fall down sometimes but slowly also gets problems walking, speaking and swallowing food. The brilliant thing about this series is that it focuses on the problems in this girl’s life. Like problems with going to school, different situation in the family, not being able to fulfill your dreams and knowing that your condition only will get more serious.
The story focuses on this girl ‘Aya’ but also on her friends and her brother, sisters and her parents. When I watched it, I felt the pain a bit as well.. the pain of feeling bothersome to others, the pain of not being able to help others.
The acting of the main actress Erika Sawajiri is really fantastic! The music also adds some depth to this production, it is well done. The fact that it is based on the diary of a girl who suffered this decease makes it even more realistic.

A series that will have a huge emotional impact but also makes you appreciate life more.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunflower / Haebaragi (South-Korea, 2006)

Sunflower is a Korean film about revenge. This genre seems to be pretty popular in Korea, according to the releases of movies like the revenge trilogy by Park Chan Wook and A bittersweet life. It is also a gangster movie and not the only one in 2006, also ‘A dirty carnival’ has been released.

Sunflower is not focused on its action though, it is more about feelings. It is dealing about a guy who wants to start a new life after coming out of jail but again gets in touch with the world of organized crime. So far, so good but the story doesn’t sound very innovating. Well maybe the story isn’t but the movie is really different from other ‘crime’ films.
The pace is really slow and won’t be too attracting for western audiences. This is also a Korean phenomenon, a rather calm story which often ends in the worst possible tragedy or most bloody massacre.
The scene were a girl is being hit on her head with a stone, by a guy on a motor who is driving by, is really horrific. And yes, it ends in a big fight, but in fact this is a pretty stylish fight. Especially good for those who love Korean revenge movies.

Friday, August 29, 2008

P / The Posessed (Thailand, 2005)

P is a Thai movie by director Paul Spurrier. The first scenes are rather interesting, images are shown of a young Thai girl in a tiny village. she is being disliked by other kids because she is the granddaughter of a witch. When her grandmom gots ill she needs to look for a job in Bangkok to pay for the medicine. What follows is her life in a bar and she gets caught up in the sex industry. The film is a bit dark and sensual and often it is said it is a bit like a Thai 'Showgirls'.
Though the acting was already not very good, after this point the film becomes so very very bad it is just not watchable anymore. The girls turns into a flesh eating demon at night.
It doesn't make any sense and it is just so tragically bad I don't really understand some people like this one. Maybe they only have seen the first 45 minutes. Or you want to have a good laugh, it is watchable at such a moment.
Thai horrors are pretty popular but sometimes they just are lacking every kind of innovation.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day Watch / Dnevnoy dozor (Russia, 2006)

Day watch (Dnevnoy Dozor) by director Timur Bekmambetov is a Russian action/horror movie dealing about good and evil, about the day watch and the night watch.
If you haven’t seen night watch before you should leave this one unpacked for a while. This is because of the simple fact that you won’t understand anything of this film when you start with day watch. Night watch was very confusing and it complexity was brilliant but for the western audience it was too weird and difficult to understand it to its best.
Night watch continues the story where it was left. Maybe this film is a bit easier to understand, but don’t expect a simple storyline.
Most of all it is a great action movie, Hollywood could learn something from these scenes. I won’t say anything of the storyline cause I simply don’t know where to start. The fantastic and hypnotic music adds some dark mood as well. I can’t really describe it well but this movie breathes a ‘Russian’ feeling, in almost any scene. Westerns (like me) will probably miss some wordplay about Russian life and politics but that is fine, cause it will satisfy you enough!

A very interesting movie about good and evil, now we have to wait for twilight watch.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lions for Lambs (USA, 2007)

Lion for lambs by director Robert Redford is a very interesting film about the war in Afghanistan, or in fact it is about the propaganda and what the USA government wants us to believe about their fight against terrorism.
The story comes close to your own life, for many Americans it even came to close. That these kind of anti-war movies (just like In the valley of Elah and Battle for Haditha) don’t bring in a big American audience it due to this fact. It is not because this film in not good or skilful made. On the contrary it is a very very intense film. But why were films like Apocalypse Now such a huge success and Lions for Lambs not. It can be explained rather easily I guess. Apocalyps Now was made when the war in Vietnam already ended, while the war in Afghanistan is still going on. But I understand, to watch a film about your own government, your own fight against terrorism is pretty hard when everything happened seems to be a wrong judgment of the situation.
With actors like Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, the Hollywood cast is enormous but also differs much. Robert Redford did a good job, cause Tom Cruise is perfectly presented like the Senator (not necessarily good or evil), Robert Redford as the teacher and Meryl Streep is the journalist who wants to dig deeper. We also follow two soldiers who are left in the snowy mountains of Afghanistan which adds a bit of drama to the story.

It will leave you with this question: did we do the right thing?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Let the games Beijing!!!

After a long long time of waiting we are coming close to the moment when it all starts! The start of the Olympics at Beijing isn't far away anymore!

The world seems to holds it breath while the opening ceremony is coming close, maybe when it has finished some noises can be heard again of human breathing. For now, the excitement seems to grab hold of my heart and still I have to wait for two more days.

I guess we will see the olympics of a very high architectural standard, some of the venues are really amazing, like the bird-nest. Last night I saw a documentary about already legendary badminton-player Zhang Ning. In fact this is what makes it really special, the story behind the athletes.

Our prince (heir to the thrown) and also IOC-member Prince Willem-Alexander said something interesting today. He said it would be better that with the next Olympics the olympic flame won't travel the world anymore before it arrives in its host city. 'The reality is that this beautiful symbol of hope has become a target of protest'. He also said that during the olympics, the sport is always more important than politics.

In my opinion our Prince is totally right, we shouldn't let the image of sport gets hurt because of some weird fanatic people who confuse politics with sport. After all, it is the biggest sport event in the world, athletes train and wait for four years for this moment. What kind of ungrateful people are going to take their pride away? There were also thoughts of boycotting the Olympics... people totally seem to have lost their way sometimes. It is a moment to unite all the countries, all these athletes and the most beautiful culture in the world.

Two days, just two days and than it all starts. Records will be broken, miracles will happen and many tears will flow. The only bad thing..... I won't be able to sleep too much.

Good luck The Netherlands!!! Good luck China!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Madeleine (South-Korea, 2003)

Madeleine, directed by Kwang-chun Park, is a film that won’t leave a very big impression but it tells a simple love story in its own way. In my opinion, many things could be better in this film. In the beginning I was very worried about the acting of the two main characters, later one I thought the film was trying to find its way in becoming a drama but didn’t really touched me.

Though it has its flaws, it can be very enjoyable as well. Like I said, it is a rather simple love story, very uncomplicated and very predictable. Still, it is no terrible film. I really liked it, maybe it is because some scenes really are beautiful and humorous, maybe it is because some scenes do contain emotion, maybe not at its fullest but that is what it makes a rather good film. Nothing too much, it’s all about showing the love between a boy and a girl and that it isn’t always easy, but sad things can be overcome.

I liked the acting of Min-a Shin ( a bittersweet life) pretty much, her smile really has something wonderful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Battle of Wits / Muk Gong (China, 2006)

Battle of Wits, by director Chi Leung 'Jacob' Cheung, is a movie that deals about war. The tactics of war that are being used to deceive your opponent. But it is also a movie about betrayal and the cruelty of leaders/kings.

The first part of the movie shows the siege of a town. The defence has been taken care of a mysterious warrior, Ge Li, who has great knowledge about war. Though he manages to keep the city safe, the king doesn’t trust him anymore. He thinks he is wanting to take all the power to himself. This brings us to the second part of this film. Now the attackers strike again and without Ge Li the city is easily captured. But.....will Ge Li have another way to save the people and king who betrayed him. What is victory?

It really is an interesting film about the elements of the tactics of war. It has its weak moments as well, sometimes the director don’t seem to control the tension of the story very well. The music is sometimes brilliant and sometimes it is just gone (not completely of course, but not very strong), gone during a battle scene were some music really could help to make it more exciting. But, it really is a fascinating view on war and it is even very philosophical about honour.

The action is pretty good, the clothing is nicely done and the acting is pretty good as well. The main character is played by Chinese superstar Andy Lau. for the ones who like a movie about the tactics of war it is a great one, in fact everybody who is interested in watching a movie with a different view on war it is a must see. For those who do not know, it is based on the popular manga ‘bokkou’.