120 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Saç (2010)
Turkish traits?
23 April 2012
Expressionless. Staring. Quietness. Motionless. Passion in the form of undercurrent. City scene. Human indifference. Hair infatuation/fetish. Sickness... I just recall the experimental movies of Europe.

Not much to say about the story yet on the treatment. I watched this one at the 3rd Turkish Film Festival in town. "Geriye Kalan" (What remains?) and this film were schedule to be on air on the same evening. In a very funny way, identical treatment of the plots comes up so interestingly from these two different movies: 1) stalking the competitor/ target of passion to trace their everyday routine, 2) steals their home keys, sneaks into to take action (maybe just seeing or messing a little), 3) kills the competitor (who blocks the way). As the coincidence is so surprisingly coincident within one same evening at the same cinema..., I start to wonder if it is a "general practice" of the Turkish people to stalk, steal and slit (throat) when a rival in love appears.

Çigdem Vitrinel is copying Tayfun Pirselimoglu? Or, that's the Turk DNA?
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Yes, yes, politics, history but now it's impatience that kills...
23 April 2012
The blurb tells the depicted period ends in 1963 and I was a little disappointed because "Operation Atilla" 1974 which led to the tragic split of Cyprus is more interesting. If this film is a meal, I am just half full.

History and politics may be the mainstay, the more interesting is the responses of the villagers. They are reflections of human vulnerability under fear or threat. Both Greek and Turk Cypriots are actually living in perfect harmony: they eat, they date, they mate on the same island without any conflicts. After a politically unstable inkling emerges, the old (Anna, Veli) are imperturbable while the young impulsive, impatient.

Veli may appear to be naïve, indecisive, weak in fighting against the ruthless Greeks. Nevertheless, he has faith in people, just like Anna, she believes her neighbours, her friends' goodness. They are both for peace and that's the true nature of the Cypriots.

On the contrary, the inexperienced young hearts are easily incited. Ahmet voluntarily spies on the neighbours even though his mom keeps reminding him to be calm. His wish of displaying gallantry directly causes the death of an innocent Turk shepherd. The bullet from his uncle's pistol crosses the Rubicon, making the fissure even more irreparable.

If I were Ruhsar, I of course would also feel impatient in that uncertain situation. Her wish is pure and direct: getting back the lost father. And, with the divine blessings, the daughter-father reunion at the end is sweet. Yet, when looking back in the later day, she may/might find it unnecessary to sacrifice so many innocent lives for that.

Sinister lull with boiling agitation in the surroundings is a perfect culprit for the wake-up/birth of impatience which leads to a irremediably wrong step. Always, always, patience and sound judgment are products of time and heart.
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Le moine (2011)
Re-edit it, please…
7 December 2011
The book is a very thick one, offering myriad materials, why does it turn out to be like a milk-and-water man? Has D. Moll shot any pilot footage for potential audience to comment? While working on this project, did he still remember MG Lewis's "The Monk" was among the very first Gothic novels in the history of the western literature? Mystery, darkness, suspense are necessary elements, however, the lack of the intensity and the excitement which should be generated by these three makes it less bright. The best treatment or suspense I find thus far is the very slow revelation of the relationship between Ambrosio and Antonia.

Truly, all ingredients are ready: beautiful, poetic visuals, high quality music score, good acting. It is so promising to be more powerful than J-J Annaud's "The name of the rose"! Only, seriously, truly, absolutely… re-editing is definitely imperative. Just a couple of revisions may make the work far much better: 1) more on Valerio and Le débauché for they prove Ambrosio's pride to be wrong, 2) score with Bach's St Matthew Passion and St John Passion or other church music of his on the shots of Frère Iago being struck by a heavy stony object from the façade, 3) adjust the lighting, use more candle light to reflect the darkness to create suspense and mysterious ambiance (I guess that something can be done on the footage/film), 4) re-arrange the storyline order, for example, right at the beginning, put the crow-pecking on the baby and the dead body of Ambrosio together to rouse people's curiosity, 5) more on his demure sermons to exhibit his hypocrisy, 6) close-up shots of Ambrosio's face while he is on the way to drug and rape Antonia, and a couple of other revisions...

While leaving the cinema house, my only comment: the editor is too lazy or busy to think. I for sure will be 100% happy to see the re-edited version if there will be one.
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Even on hangman's noose, we are together…
7 December 2011
Death is the only destination to the well-educated Iranian gay couple Moshen and Hassan if they continue to stay in the country, and so their fleeing to Europe is nothing surprising. Nevertheless, no mortal hand can divert the path of the destined. You may take a break but you cannot break away. During the escape, chances do pop up for them to secure longer stay in France but it so happens that Destiny stops that.

Saint-Claude is a quiet and uneventful town lying on a large natural park and next to Switzerland. The power of Hassan's quiet courage wonderfully matches the backdrop. In the beginning, one of them nearly misses the train and Hassan questions Moshen if he would wait for him or not. Moshen tellingly states that he loves Hassan very much but never wants to be killed together with him. That's Moshen's attitude towards their relationship. Thus, it is very clear that Hassan's love in this relationship, his love to Moshen is more superior to that of Moshen's. At the end of the story, after this older one is arrested by the French provincial police and to be deported, Hassan in actuality can stay in this small town in a secretive manner. Yet, he does not abandon Moshen (even though Yolande promises to take care of his younger lover when Moshen begs her to do so), rather, he joins in the repatriation with hearty smiles, and of course subsequently the inevitably fateful ending of their life.

Hassan's love is powerful as even death cannot part him from his love.
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Let's Go! (2011)
Memories are sweet...
15 November 2011
"Space Emperor God Σ" (a Japanese animation) enjoys its prime time in HK in the 1980s. The film is based on it and is an abode of looking-back, "nostalgia" for the 40 to 55 years old HK Chinese dads and moms to bring their high school teenage kids(if these young ones are willing to) to see it together with their frequent explanation. There is a stalwart crew, a juggernaut of seasoned, familiar and experienced actors appearing in the film, and Pat Ha is a brilliant surprise. What the directors desire to capture is the spirit of 'righteousness', 'friendship', 'courage' which are fading away in our time.

The visuals are fully printed with a lot of "HK motion picture signatures". I especially enjoy the peculiar aesthetics of the HK cinematique violence, very strong visual stimulation / arousal, it can be easily recognized. The scene of the syndicate boss being stabbed by sharp blades reminds me of the death of Julius Caesar who got assassinated by 40 (60?) liberator Roman senators, though there is no atrocious "Et tu, Brute?" sentiment here.

Though Juno Mak said that So Uk Estate looks like a robot so they pick this housing project as the backdrop of the story, I worry that it may need to strive hard to grab resonance from the audience, i.e. barely convincing. When the said Japanese became popular in town, most children at that time were housed in better environment, both govt.-owned or private. Only small number remained living in those housing projects which were intended for working class stratum. A Chinese saying goes like this, "It's always the lower class dare exercise righteousness." With such a physical backdrop, do the directors imply this?

A production of heart and thought for the city... and, the vocalist of the title song of the said animation is our late and always-beloved Leslie Cheung. Somehow the movie brings back the good memory of HK's canto-pop gold time where talented stars were so easily thought up about.
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Yeolnyeomun (1962)
Embodiment of Confucian humanity
11 November 2011
"Oh, worn-out stuff!" was the only words sprang up my head while I was reading the blurb of this restored version (whose footage, with traditional Chinese subtitle, is found in a Taipei, Taiwan).

Presumably, not many refreshing idea is found in the story, yet, how the father-in-law (Dong-won Kim) dealt with the fallen daughter-in-law is uncommon in the story of this genre.

Apparently, safeguarding his family's reputation is the primary reason that he does not let the adultery out to her family or others. Her higher social class / richer background / more reputed family history can also be a reason. Nevertheless, at that very conservative era and context (though westernization and Japanese modernization starts to leave mark on Korea), he has every right to handle it with an iron fist, for instance, exercising capital punishment (in whatever atrocious way), summary execution etc. At any rate, he lets the child live and spare the lives of the adulterers. The humanity and leniency are both exceptional and rare at that time.
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Take a break and light comes...
9 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Quiet your own voice down (both inside and outside), just follow each man's thought and action throughout the 150-mins journey, you will find you are inevitably one of them: busy with life's serious and trivial issues respectively in both interwoven or stand-alone manner, still being troubled by the though long-buried pain etc., established belief being dissolved...

Poor, poor men, while they don't even have enough resources and energy to deal with their living: insufficient power supply, short of medication for an ill son, dissatisfaction with the hierarchy in workplace, all of them have to spend lots of time on the dead: searching for the murdered, wishing for a new fancy morgue for the villagers (to secure the position), fighting for new equipment for autopsy, ruminating on and at the same time avoiding the true reasons of a self-destroyed wife. They struggle to live for the dead and find the living hard to satisfy or please or handle (Dr. Cemal divorced, Commissar Naci got a sick boy, Prosecutor Nusret's wife killed herself out of revenge, Driver Arab Ali is not happy with his families, Suspect Kenan cannot live with his own son, Mukhtar thinks about a new morgue more than his daughter…). Life or death, which is heavier?

The search of the dead body runs to nowhere. After a verbal fight, the tired group decides to stop over at Mukhtar's home. A magical reversal takes place to their search and feeling after Cemile, Mukhtar's angel- faced daughter serves tea to each and every of the exhausted man. My favourite part.

A film not to be appreciated in Facebook philosophy or speed. Patience and time together make the viewing tastier.
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Dooman River (2010)
No French Invasion
8 April 2010
Most movie financiers lust after leaving their fingerprints on the film stripes, manipulating how the story should develop, which actor(s) to take, where to shoot… And this film is just to my amazement, though the project is partly supported by French money, I saw NO accidental French journalist doing secretive investigation in the border village, NOR gone-astray French tourists being Nosey Parker to stay in one of the houses sprouting up. And thus, the original chilly flavour generated from both the weather and the ruling parties, and also the villagers' warm human touch of the northern region is well-kept.

I wild guessed that the fund provider was so open-minded to allow the director, ZHANG Lu, run his imagination and creativity freely. Yet, while asking him this question, I got this answer: French is not his language, he said in humorous tone, and so he might have mis-grabbed the meaning when it was uttered. What enlightening truth: lost in translation, so fortunately.
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Same dish in another lesser known yet familiar language(s)
23 February 2010
The entire piece just suits my taste and whets my appetite for more with very thoughtful elements: metal urban sound (music), minimalism interior design, bleached simple colours, sanitized sets, anorexic nervousness, horrible and fragmented past memories of a precocious and successful gifted music genius, posters of hints. A strong though predictable suspense by the unknown/unseen sinister viral suitor/killer/peeping-tom is a bonus to the setting of unreal world or other world. The cinematique language is familiar, nothing too new. Nevertheless, it's the spoken Romanian that makes the début project appealing and fresh to my eyes.

The entire work may be heavily influenced by western Eurofilm, may find it difficult to stand alone stylistically, artistically it's an attractive work that people may be game to watch again. Wishing to see and hear more from Romanian flavour cooked by Gheorghe Preda in the coming days.
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Hong he (2009)
**Oh, what a SURPRISE!** But, why did they miss this?
28 December 2009
Many questions marks of huge size why this was not in mainstream movie house but only one, two screenings during a film festival celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Chinese communist rule? Jiarui Zhang successfully captures the odour, the presence of the 1970s in the first part of the story displaying even the film technicality of(ambiance, colour of the film etc) that era. The story though is not without fault, the acting rescues the project. And so, the success more or less is also ascribed to it. Nick Cheung (HK Film Award 2009 – Best Actor) has proved what he deserves, his acting matures as time goes by. Jingchu Zhang is a stunning gem as she is able to play the role of a much younger girl at the age of 28. Loletta Lee is yet another surprise. At 43 and after such a long absence, the female veteran can still fight a good battle, her girlish look is a rivalry between that of Zhang.

The border town exhibits the present China-Vietnam relationship, especially while the former is becoming more influential in that part of the world. Besides, the tradition of Yao-ethnic group (e.g. wedding), the affection of A Tao towards A Xia (which he felt in hindsight and can never reciprocated), crime boss Sha Ba's care and love to the young girl, they are all delicately told.

Just a wild guess that the production team might have to consider income and the worldwide market, otherwise, Sha Ba and A Shui actually would be better played by Mainland Chinese or even Vietnamese actors but not those from Hong Kong. (It has been purported that Tran Nu Yên-Khê, the wife of Anh Hung Tran, has been invited to take up the role of A Shui. Only that her schedules did not permit.) The three Hong Kong actors needed to try very hard to speak Putonghua, the local dialect and also Vietnamese.

It's a movie you'd enjoy but it's also a movie with an ending that breaks your heart.
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