Reviews written by registered user
|20 reviews in total|
Combining fantasy, adventure, action and humour to maximum effect, this lively Korean film deserves to be seen by as big an audience as possible. Writer/director Dong-hun Choi, best-known for his excellent con-artist films THE BIG SWINDLE (2004) and TAZZA : THE HIGH ROLLERS (2006), takes an unexpected turn into fantasy/action territory, but again shows why he is such a highly-regarded film-maker. Using the time-travel premise that was well-used in films such as ICEMAN COMETH (from Hong Kong) and of course HIGHLANDER, WOO-CHI makes the most of the material, helped along by a strong cast and superior technical crew. Dong-won Kang (from SECRET REUNION, DUELIST, VOICE OF A MURDERER, and the very funny TOO BEAUTIFUL TOO LIE)is excellent as the title character, making a flawed, at-times quite vein person likable. The great Yun-seok Kim, who impressed audiences in RUNNING TURTLE and inparticular in the brilliant THE CHASER, is perfectly cast as Woo-chi's main nemesis. Su-jeong Lim (from Park Chan-wook's under-rated I'M A CYBORG, BUT THAT'S OK and the outstanding A TALE OF TWO SISTERS)is perfect as the object of Woo-chi's affections. It's also great to see Dong-hun regular Yun-shik Baek (TAZZA / THE BIG SWINDLE / THE ART OF FIGHTING / SAVE THE GREEN PLANET) make a very welcome appearance. With $200 million Hollywood productions failing to make the grade, it is wonderful to see a film like WOO-CHI deliver such high-class entertainment on a fraction of the budget. Fast-paced, exciting, very funny, and full of vibrant, involving characters, JEON WOO-CHI : THE TAOIST WIZARD will certainly be one of my best films of the year. One hopes it will get a proper international release (unfortunately the director's other films have yet to achieve a deserving release outside of South Korea).
You don't have to be a surfing fan to enjoy this wonderful IMAX film, which beautifully shows the sites (above and below) of the gorgeous Teahupo'o beaches of Tahiti. Nine-time world champion Kelly Slater and local legend Raimana Van Bastolaer lead you on an incredible journey searching for the ultimate wave. Through the magic of IMAX 3D, you experience these events as up-close as possible, making for first-class, big-screen entertainment. Your view bobs above-and-below sea level, the sea-spray covers your glasses, and you see just how close the surfers get to those very brave cameramen. As well as seeing some stunning 3D surfing footage, you are taken on a trip through the local marine life, and a vertigo-inducing look over the islands and ocean. You also get some lovely beach babes thrown in for good measure. Along with the terrific SPACE STATION 3D, this is a great example of IMAX 3D, showing how much you can be immersed in a particular subject through this superior technology.
After a number of disappointing and outright bad films that have come out of this country in recent years, we finally have what could be one of the most talked-about Australian films since 'UNDEAD'. Having turned up quietly at this year's Melbourne International Film Festival, this efficient, stylish, and energetic film proves to be far superior than the more publicised 'VAN DIEMEN'S LAND', and deserves as much success and great word-of-mouth it can get. The best way to enjoy this film is not to read anything about the plot. The less you know about the film going in the better. Rest assured you will be taken on quite a ride. Performances are excellent, and perfectly in tune with the material. Xavier Samuel (turning up in the third instalment of TWILIGHT), Victoria Thaine ('48 SHADES' / 'CATERPILLAR WISH'), Robin McLeavy ('48 SHADES'), Richard Wilson ('THE PROPOSITION' / 'CLUBLAND'), Jessica McNamee (TV's 'PACKED TO THE RAFTERS'), and veteran John Brumpton ('LAST RIDE' / 'ROMPER STOMPER' / 'DANCE ME TO MY SONG' / 'STORM WARNING') all deserve special mention. Considering its small budget, 'THE LOVED ONES' is a slick looking movie. Credit goes to cinematographer Simon Chapman and editor Andy Canny, who both worked on the director's short film 'ADVANTAGE'. Great work is also done by production designer Robert Webb ('WOLF CREEK' / 'ROGUE'). Writer/director Sean Byrne combines black comedy and horror/thriller confidently, as he did with his impressive 2007 short film 'ADVANTAGE'. He turns one kind of film into another with skill, never stumbling when he makes the transition. Like his short film, Byrne knows what to show and when to cut, and he again shows his great ear for sound design. Director Byrne, and stars Samuel, Thaine, and McLeavy were at the screening I attended, and you couldn't wish more success on a better group of people. Mr Byrne announced that 'THE LOVED ONES' will be playing in the Midnight Madness section at the Toronto Film Festival in September. So please, everyone in Canada and the U.S please greet this film with open arms, and please give this talented young director your warm support. You won't be disappointed.
Fascinating, funny look at what makes up a modern relationship. Wonderfully directed by Phillip Van, and nicely written by Simon Biggs, 'High Maintenance' proves more successful at entertaining the viewer in an intelligent fashion than most feature films. We see Jane (Nicolette Krebitz) and Paul (Wanja Mues) celebrating an anniversary of the two being together. Paul however is distant, thinking more about his job than about Jane. Jane is dissatisfied with Paul, who won't even have a glass of wine as he has to work early the next morning. Jane has had enough, and feels that the time is ready to find a new man, one who loves her more than his career. Van and Biggs play with the idea of the 'perfect' relationship beautifully, showing how a lot of people concentrate on the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect man/woman, but never on the small, personal details and human emotions that truly bring two people together. We feel we can change partners like we change shoes, or cars, or TVs. Both Krebitz and Mues are excellent, playing their roles with a terrific satirical edge. The cinematography (by Felix Novo de Oliveira) is also a stand-out. Can Mr Van please now make a feature film, hopefully teaming up again with Mr Biggs.
Entertaining short film that starts out as one kind of story, then surprisingly turns into another, effectively knocking the viewer off-balance. A young couple (Mark Winter and Shelly Lauman) are walking home after a big night on the town. Drunk but still full of energy, the two wander the streets in the early hours of the morning. After resting at a nearby park, the couple come across a tennis court, and see that the gate has been left unlocked. The two enter, but just as they are about to get physical, they discover they are not alone. Director Sean Byrne shifts tone convincingly, displaying complete confidence as the film moves from natural comedy to something much more sinister. Technically the film is first-rate, from the cinematography, editing, and especially the sound design. Byrne has a good eye for knowing what to show, and when to cut. He also gets strong performances from both Winter and Lauman. Only the ending disappoints, which seems illogical given the set-up and reason why the court is left unlocked. I certainly hope 'Advantage' leads to Byrne making a feature film (hopefully 'The Loved Ones' is it).
I have only seen the segment 'Iron', directed by Hiroyuki Nakano, which screened as a separate short on the SBS TV series 'Shorts On Screen'. This quietly beautiful short shows one man's obsession with smooth surfaces and clean cuts. A young yakuza continually irons a number of items - shirts, folded paper - going to extreme lengths to achieve absolute perfection. We see various flashbacks, which help hint as to why the man is such a perfectionist. Director Nakano intelligently shows the two sides of human nature, the quick, messy consequences of violence (even the way the young man reacts after killing an insect), and the hard work in trying to achieve a smooth, peaceful existence. Exquisitely photographed and edited, making for deliberately paced but involving viewing. Proves that Nakano is a genuine talent, whether it be a short or a feature film. For further proof please see his film 'Samurai Fiction'.
Interesting, well shot short about a guy (Zheng Ting Wang) who obsesses about a beautiful young woman (Haiha Le), who works at the local fish market. The man buys a fish from the woman, goes home, and then proceeds to have a very unusual bath. Using camera techniques similar to Wong Kar-Wai, writer/director Adam Arkapaw manages quite effectively to get inside the head of this man who is obviously attracted to the young woman, but would rather fantasise about her as an attractive image than actually get to know her as a person. Credit must also go to cinematographer Ari Wegner, who captures the real and the surreal with style. Arkapaw shows a nicely Asian eye for framing and composition, during the market scenes as well as the scenes at the man's apartment. Both Wang and Le are perfectly cast. Wang displays a convincingly love-lorn face, showing someone who can only admire from a distance. Le is certainly alluring, allowing Arkapaw to easily make his point.
Saw this on the great SBS program 'Shorts On Screen', and this is definitely one of the best shorts I've seen so far on this series. The story centres on Berni, who works in a cat food factory and lives alone in a run-down apartment. Like his repetitive job, his life is like an assembly line. Wake up, drive to work, do his eight hours, drive home, watch TV, and go to bed. One day Berni sees a commercial advertising female torsos as the perfect companion. Selling his car, Berni buys an African 'model', which promptly arrives on his doorstep. What follows is a beautifully realised look at what it means to be treated as an equal and with respect, and just being treated like an object. There is no dialogue, but writer/director Yann Jouette brilliantly takes us on an emotional journey in a very short period of time. His message is clear without being heavy-handed. The animation is stunning, making Berni and the world in which he lives both vivid and incredibly stylish.
Huge, sprawling, eye-popping adventure that is a loving ode to the spirit of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, and is definitely one of the best big-screen entertainments of the year. Combining massive sets, vast landscapes, and incredible action set-pieces, this is what cinema is all about. Set in 1930's Manchuria, the story revolves around three very different characters; Park Do-Won - The Good (Jung Woo-Sung), Park Chang-Yi - The Bad (Lee Byung-Hun), and Yoon Tae-Goo - The Weird (Song Kang-Ho), who are all after a legendary treasure map. Close on their trail is the Japanese army, who also want the map, as the possible spoils will help fund their war effort. Featuring several truly spectacular action set-pieces, which writer/director Kim Ji-Woon ('A Tale Of Two Sisters' / 'A Bittersweet Life') pulls off brilliantly, the movie is wonderfully held together by three first-rate performances. Kang-Ho is hilarious as the manic thief, Byung-Hun is strikingly convincing as the villainous Chang-Yi, and Woo-Sung is perfectly cast as the strong, Clint Eastwood-style Do-Won. Like Leone did with his films, Ji-Woon creates a framework for the characters which his talented cast then breath their own textured life into. It's more about character interplay, period flavour, and grandly memorable sequences than a strong, complex story. Ji-Woon may have approached this differently to his previous films, but that doesn't make 'The Good, The Bad, The Weird' any less meticulously crafted. I just wish all big budget blockbusters were as masterfully entertaining as this.
After a long break, director Kathryn Bigelow returns with 'The Hurt
Locker', and shows why she is one of the most exciting film-makers
Following a particular bomb squad currently serving in Iraq, the film shows the conflict on a number of different levels. From the ground-level troops, to the commanding officers, to the civilians who witness every intense stand-off on a daily basis, 'The Hurt Locker' puts the viewer on the front line.
Where other war-related films revel in the action-orientated battle scenes, Bigelow deliberately drains all the excitement and popcorn approach from the scenes involving gunplay and bombings, making for a much more natural, realistic effect.
The interaction between the U.S soldiers is first-rate, showing how the Bush government's ham-fisted invasion of Iraq has affected the troops' effectiveness on the ground, and its alliance with Iraqi civilians.
Performances are perfect. Jeremy Renner is excellent as Staff Sergeant James, who loves the rush of disarming bombs, even if it means putting his fellow soldiers at risk. Anthony Mackie is great as the level-headed Sanborn, while Brian Geraghty scores strongly as Eldridge, who admires both James and Sanborn, but can't decide which side to take.
A great companion piece to Brian DePalma's criminally under-rated 'Redacted', 'The Hurt Locker' is an incredibly vivid, technically brilliant drama that shows that the people who suffer the most during war are the ones who have to experience it first-hand, and that a war plan half-completed can only lead to disaster. It is also great to see Kathryn Bigelow ('Near Dark'/'The Loveless'/'Strange Days'/'Point Break'/'K-19 : The Widowmaker') back, showing once again what a terrific film-maker she is.
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