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Sin yan (2010)
Great film by a great Director, proof positive that its Asian Cinema thats the future
The Stool Pigeon is a tense Hong Kong crime thriller from one of Asia's most prolific crime thriller directors, Dante Lam. While the film follows many familiar tropes of detective films, such as the good natured criminal, and the detective determined to succeed at all costs, there is a persistent visual style and a well developed set up for the excellent action sequences. It is quite gratifying to see a film that isn't just about a bank robbery, but real character growth, especially in Hong Kong cinema, which as of late has been clearly out shined by South Korea. The story follows Police Detective Don Lee (Nick Cheung) and his work with a recently paroled gang informant who is out to save his sister from a life of prostitution because of a debt owed by their father. Lee is the experienced detective who throughout his career has needed to investigate, track and convince informants to help with a case, but the problem is that he's had trouble protecting these informants and has conflicts with senior management. Ghost Junior (Nicholas Tse) proves his skills early on, in a cool sprint race through the streets of HK, and is soon recruited to work with a major Robbery suspect known as Barbarian. The racing scenes are handled with a lot of flair and sufficiently loud sound design. The soundtrack works well, as the jazz mixes with the suspense soundtrack to bring heightened tension to the deceptive game these cops and criminals play. In a lot of ways it reminded me of Michael Mann's Heat (1995), though Stool Pigeon had a faster pace and it's attention to detail was not nearly as well developed. Hiccups such as Don Lee's forgetful wife subplot were a little silly.
With much less emphasis on CGI effects the action is visceral and shocking. It is certainly not the type of 'PG' American experience we've become accustomed to, whereby explosions and slow motion action has overblown any subtlety of realism. There are machete wielding gang members and they do take revenge. While this is not a film about happy endings, it finishes with an effective and satisfying conclusion. The Stool Pigeon is a rewarding experience, with cinematography capturing the streets of Hong Kong in an often beautiful and slow boiling state, but the action choreography and character clashes keep it tight and exciting through to the end. Nominated for best film at last year's Hong Kong Film Awards, The Stool Pigeon proves that the Asian resurgence will continue. It's not just China and South Korea who are raising expectations.
À l'intérieur (2007)
Amazing film, horrible but effective none the less.
I wanted to say that this film does many things right that other modern horrors (french or not) tend to neglect. It does have a story, its shot beautifully and great direction builds real character and real suspense before any horror starts. Inside reminded me of "good" 70's horror such as The Exorcist and The Omen in this respect. Not even Martyrs gave me the same kind of optimism, and that screened at Cannes. It might also be because Martyrs in a way did the same thing in reverse, violent and shocking beginning, followed by a numbing effect in the second half.
There is a huge debt to realism in many great horror films and Inside is no different. Of particular note are themes like the riots (theyre happening for a reason, the perp and of course stun gun)and also the fact that it is Christmas Eve. Both these details add to the realism, and in another way, the hyper reality of the viewer and really help flesh out why things are happening. I cannot believe people spot mistakes in this when clearly so much thought went into these details.
These are reasons why i think this film should be studied closely. If there is any problem with it its the convenient reveal for the killers motivation. Its way to cute and IMO doesn't suit the realism of the rest of the film (excusing the sheer absurdity of gore on display).
Enemy Image (2005)
Excellent doco, Interesting and so relevant today. People must see it
As a journalism student i thought this documentary was scary as hell. What exactly do you do if your boss won't publish or broadcast your story today. I guess not work as a journalist. Featuring interviews with Peter Jennings and other high ranking US news anchors this documentary explains in great detail how perception and coverage of the wars in Iraq have changed since Vietnam. Aspects of modern journalism such as embedding, editing different contexts and international perspectives from the victims point of view are some of whats explained. Ironically it was Vietnam that showed the true horror of war, thanks to television, and today it is that very same medium that ensures we as viewers are ignorant to the reality of bombs, guns and death reigned down on often innocent families. Highly recommended viewing to any journalism student, journalist, news executive, producer or even bloggers. And if you don't know what the highway of death is, and further that the US government was almost charged with war crimes during the first gulf war, i would suggest watching this film.
Not surprised at all that this director has only made this one film actually, terribly sad.
Salinui chueok (2003)
SPOILERS ) Excellent script, very well balanced movie where everything makes sense
Just everything from the corrupt cops to the subtleties of the acting was top class believable stuff. I loved how corruption was shown not to work but yet at the same time you understood why cops get frustrated with the job. It would be interesting to know if the songs on the radio evidence was actually true because it seemed very credible as evidence for the factory workers guilt. This is unfortunately the reality of policing when often they don't catch the guy and it is frustrating and not at all satisfying for them or the viewers. I still remember The Pledge by Sean Penn. That left me more dissatisfied than this film and i suppose it was because this smart university trained cop was pushed to this frustrating point where violence was his only release. The conclusion was understanding how difficult it is and also why morally crime doesn't pay. The violent cop lost his foot, the one for kicking suspects. lol
Honogurai mizu no soko kara (2002)
good stuff, again like audition Japanese subtlety creates fear
Like Audition it is the slow build up of real drama and tension that drives the supernatural effect. It is so important to "keep it real" as they say. I never thought water would scare me like it did in this movie but i did think while watching this, maybe only in japan a water mark on your ceiling could be interpreted as a horror theme or idea. Im glad i saw the original b4 us version. I made the mistake once with the grudge. The Yanks don't get that its Japanese culture that conflicts so well with horror elements. Their culture seems so reserved anyway it naturally creates a harsh juxtaposition with anything extreme, violent or weird. I love the Japanese culture and if you compare this type of film to Lost in Translation you can see how right Coppola got it. Maybe the west just doesn't get Japanese society. We are so different. Subtlety people is the key. Im Australian and i don't know the meaning, but I'm trying to learn.
Silent Hill (2006)
HELLRAISER, R rated wickedness
I thought it was so much better than any other video game adaptation i have ever seen. Haven't played the games but now i want to. It wasn't so much scary as horrific. Very cool movie and i hope that other video games have plots that are this involved and thrilling. I have always wondered who writes videogames. Is it the creator or perhaps some screenwriters should start getting involved in the industry. Definitely the best Game adaptation i have seen yet and this serves as example for all other writers to put some effort in and try to produce something that actually works. That barbwire stuff was a killer man. I did wonder how much of whats in the film is in the games.
It sucks because there might not be another movie ever made about the London Underground and this is it. It does change mood during the film. Starts of kind of interesting but when she gets captured you see too much of the bad guy and you start to empathise with him. Not scary. Its just really bad. Really bloody awful. Don't waste your time or money please. Its cheaper to fly to London get on the underground and be scared by homeless people and weird Londoner's trying to rape you and steal your babies. Don't see the movie. OK Im serious. It was great to see the Underground again but i missed the opportunity to see the abortion clinic set up down there, lol. Franke is a sexy girl and she should have read the script first. And the fact two countries were involved just goes to show how wrong people can be about films. Maby the Germans were getting back at the English after WW2. Thats bad taste I'm sorry. Hey see ANATOMIE. Thats German with franke in it. Thats OK horror. Better than this.