Photobucket           Photobucket           Photobucket           Photobucket

Friday, 20 September 2013

Lamp

Oh, lawd.

So these last two weeks have been pretty crazy. Spent most of my time in the city attending the Korean Film Festival in Australia just downing a heap of films - some good, some bad. Also spent time filming stuff for Meld as well.

------------

So yeah, seen a bunch of films but even now I don't have all the time in the world that I would like to sit down and write individual full-length reviews for them. Kinda sucks but I guess that would make for a super-long blog post and people would tune the hell out so, maybe it's a good thing? Bah.

------------

Oh yeah, bought Grand Theft Auto V this week. Totally having a ballin' time with it, Just gonna have to make sure that my cousin doesn't override my save file though, omg. Kinda crazy how much thought Rockstar have put into the game and how amazing it looks in spite of hardware limitations from the Playstation 3/Xbox 360. Good stuff. And no I'm not going to take a picture of my copy like everyone else.

------------

And also currently playing The Witcher as well (oh how I have missed long-form fantasy RPGs). Dunno how the hell I'm going juggling all this stuff that's going on but seems to be working so far, heh.
_____________________________________________________________________

WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

Okay, so considering that I've seen quite a few films in the time I was away from this blog, I really don't think I can write too much about it BUT I can try to contain it to a sentence or two. Kinda like tweets, I guess. Longer than tweets actually so nothing like them at all. Here goes nothing.



ARCHITECTURE 101: Fairly standard romantic melodrama though it isn't without its moments of heartfelt emotion. Tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways though perhaps not nearly as collectively successful as something like the genre-hopping frenzy of A Werewolf Boy. Also, I think I have a crush on Suzy now, I dunno. I may need to get that sorted out.

------------


WHATCHA WEARIN': An absolute surprise! Just when you think the film veers towards genre conventions, it does a complete 180 and swerves into unpredictable fun. Nice to see a Korean film candidly talk about sex as well. All in all, Whatcha Wearin' is a refreshingly fun romantic comedy that's cheeky and sexy. Well worth hunting down.

------------


FISTS OF LEGEND: An overstuffed mess of a film crushed by the weight of all its uninteresting subplots - some of which end abruptly for no real reason. Somehow also an unintentional parody of sports films as the film far too often settles into genre conventions. That being said, the only parts of the film worth caring about are the flashbacks to the characters' younger years. Some really great stuff in those segments of the film. Otherwise its not worth sitting through honestly.

------------


BOOMERANG FAMILY: Honestly, this film didn't really do much for me which is disappointing considering that it was in the same category as the brilliantly moving, Miracle in Cell No. 7. Neither a good film or a bad film but it just didn't have a lot to say and is easily forgettable.

------------


PIETA: Perhaps the most challenging films at this year's KOFFIA. Interesting to say the least and is definitely one that sticks around with you though with Kim Ki-duk being such a visual storyteller, I can't help but feel that there's a lot of meaning in the film that was lost on me. Visually gorgeous though and at many times was an astounding feature to behold. Multiple viewings for sure.

------------


PLUTO: For me, the best film at this year's KOFFIA. Like Pieta, Pluto is one of those films that resonates long after the credits roll. A gut-punch of an indie film that's reminiscent to last year's equally dark high school film, The King of Pigs. A harsh film about high school elitism and, in some ways, a critique of the pressures faced by students as a result of education in Asian countries. Joins the ranks of esteemed high school films like Confessions, All About Lily Chou-Chou, The Kirishima Thing and even Battle Royale (all Japanese films, I realise).

------------


THE BEST OFFER: I'll preface this by saying that I had no idea what I was going into (other than the fact that the film had screened at MIFF and starred Geoffery Rush). Surprisingly great film though not without its faults, namely its overly long narrative. The thriller element of the film was unexpected but everything is tightly coordinated from cinematography to direction. Geoffery Rush excels in the film. Something a little different from the usual for me, I suppose.

------------


WHAT MAISIE KNEW: Oftentimes heartbreaking but ultimately a very honest portrayal of divorce's fallout and the effect it has on a child. Seen entirely from the point of view of a six-year old, it's a sturdy film that's carried on the backs of adorable (and incredible!) child actor, Onata Aprile. She works alongside Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgard in the film! Especially reminiscent of Hirokazu Koreeda's films for me, which made it all the more enjoyable. Very much a recommendation.


FRANCES HA: Super influenced by films of the French New Wave, Frances Ha has become a critical darling around the world but for me wasn't as great as I had imagined it to be. I suppose if you look past the hipster facade there's some genuineness there but I can't help but feel that there's something I'm not seeing. Perhaps if I were more appreciative of Godard, Truffaut and the like, I'd be more inclined to enjoy it more but even as it is on its own, I really couldn't see what the fuss was about. Fortunately enough, I at least could feel like I could relate to Frances and her ongoing struggles.

------------


BLUE JASMINE: My first Woody Allen film and a great one at that! Supposedly influenced by A Streetcar Named Desire, this drama (which I totally was not expecting because one would assume a Woody Allen film meant hilarity) features one of Cate Blanchett's greatest performances on film. Blanchett, plays a woman in ruin and does so with such vigour that one should expect her to be called up for a nomination or two come awards season. Blanchett is helped by an outstanding supporting cast in Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K (yay!).

------------


3-IRON: Supposedly one of Kim Ki-duk's best films but what was meant to be tender and delicate turned out to be monotonously boring. Mostly dialogue-free, the film tells the story of a drifter and an abused housewife who slowly fall in love. It's a strange film though one of things I've become to appreciate with Kim Ki-duk's films is how spiritual they feel even if they're at their darkest (see Pieta). His is a unique voice in Korean cinema (hell, in all of cinema) and it's interesting to see how spiritualism has been embedded into his films. That said, I still think this isn't as great as it's been made out to be, but that's just me.

------------


SAMARITAN GIRL: Perhaps my second favourite Kim Ki-duk film, to be quite honest which is crazy cause this is one of his more polarising films. With adequately fine performances by the father-daughter tandem of Kwak Ji-min and Lee Eol, Samaritan Girl is an unusual film about forgiveness and redemption. Though not nearly as dark or twisted as something like Pieta, Samaritan Girl's strength perhaps lies in the way Kim twists the idea of innocence. Though what the girls in the film do is morally abject, Kim in his own way, challenges the perception of one's happiness through the actions of the girls and the actions of the father (although this is probably far and away from Kim's intentions of the films and maybe I'm just trying to see something that's not there). Still, I thought it was better than 3-Iron.
_____________________________________________________________________

Yup, yup. So there's that. Okay, song of the week (and thus the title of this blog post) goes to the melodically inspiring tunes of Haruka Nakamura who is accompanied by the late, great Nujabes. Nakamura was working on an album with Nujabes before he passed away. Now under Nujabes' label, hydeout productions, and with help from Nujabes' fellow label mates and friends, the album has released and is out for the world to consume and enjoy. Listen and love.


End post. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pink Matter

Hey!

Two blog posts in one week. Surely this can't be the same blog can it?!

So in between my two blog posts all I did really was work and see a couple of movies. I don't feel nearly as comfortable seeing a film at home as I do in the cinema now. It may have something to do with going out to see films so much that seeing a movie at home feels less spectacular. Eh...

------------


I recently finished playing Naughty Dog's new game, The Last of Us, which I quite liked but still found a bit unsettling like its story and change of play-style. You can opt for action or stealth moments with the latter being far more beneficial. The problem with this is that the action segments of the game (where you basically are forced to use your weapons) become a bit more difficult. That said, I did play the game on "Hard" difficulty so perhaps I don't have anything to complain about. I think thematically some of the things they explore is pretty interesting though I'm not sure they did it as well as they thought they did. I dunno, I still prefer Bioshock Infinite as my preferential game of the year thus far. That said, loved the opening moments of The Last of Us - super reminiscent of Children of Men. CINEMATIC GAMING.
_________________________________________________________________

WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


If you've followed this blog or any of my other online profiles, you'll know that Stoker was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Park Chan-wook is among one of my favourite directors to watch and though I haven't gotten around to seeing all of his films (I'm A Cyborg, But That's Okay always escapes me!), I think that they're all great to some degree. As time has progressed, a lot of what makes Park so accessible is his keen eye for visual and aural excess, which hit its peak with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and continues to show with his new, debut American feature film, Stoker.

Park's fascination with sex and murder, a continuous motif seen throughout most of his films, is extremely evident in Stoker. If there were any parallels that had to be drawn between Stoker and any of Park's previous films, then it would have to be with the film that preceded this one - Thirst (another exceptional Park film). The story revolves around India Stoker, a precocious and enigmatic young girl, and the arrival of her equally mysterious uncle, Charlie, on the day of her father's funeral. In spite of an admittedly clunky script, the film is darkly fun all throughout thanks to the directorial whims of Park and his stellar cast. That said, I think Nicole Kidman's performance required a fair amount of alcohol cause she seemed drunk for most of the film (which in a way is kind of appropriate).

It's completely a Park Chan-wook film from start to finish and, for a lot of the film, felt very Korean in terms of acting, setting and atmosphere. Interestingly enough, isn't much of a thriller and more of a coming-of-age story for India (coming-of-age in the strangest possible way, of course). The recurring image of the spider and the fly is something that's interesting to note as well (an argument can be made as to whether or not the spider is Uncle Charlie or India herself).

I liked Stoker, though perhaps not nearly as much as I would have liked. I do think that the film fits in well with the rest of Park's filmography and if we're lucky, maybe we'll even get a spiritual sequel of sorts as Park is teasing the idea of having a "coming-of-age" trilogy that started with I'm A Cyborg, But That's Okay. Hrm, maybe I do need to see it now....


------------



Those familiar with the on-screen story of Jesse and Celine will have no doubt marked their calenders for the impending arrival of the third film in Richard Linklater's Before series. The third film of the beloved series, Before Midnight, takes place nine years after the events of Before Sunset. The pair are vacationing in Greece and, like the previous films, spend their days talking about romance though this film is unlike the previous two. The first film was brilliant as a deconstruction of romance within a romantic film and in the process ironically romanticised the meet-cute scenario of Jesse and Celine. The second was more or less an extension of this but with the third film, a dramatic tension underscores the rest of the film, bursting in an argument between Jesse and Celine that made me worry (in the best possible way, though!).

Previous films have been praised for their level of realism and honesty and Before Midnight takes it up a notch further. Before Midnight sees Jesse and Celine, for the first time, truly interacting with characters around them and engaging in conversation with them. They allow for their their musings of love and romance, spill over across a dinner table of varied people, young and old. This scene, along with many others in the film, demonstrate a great display of acting. Trying to maintain a semblance of normality and to carry conversation in a way that seems authentic is in my view a very hard thing to do. Add to that the amount of dialogue you have to remember for these long, uninterrupted and unobtrusive takes! So yeah, I commend Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for doing what they did here and with the previous films.

Before Midnight takes the discourse of love and adds in the modern element - it isn't so much about what love means but rather how its evolved. Furthermore, with regards to Jesse and Celine's personal story, the weight of parenthood also looms over the film, an idea that probably would not have had much implication on the Jesse and Celine we came to love in 1994. The conversation has matured and the characters - and therefore the actors - have matured even more. Though the things they talk about may often seem funny to the audience, its very much real and painful to hear for the characters involved. Even in hindsight, it's a bit hard to hear.

Before Midnight almost effectively ends the trilogy that Delpy, Hawke and Linklater started in 1994. The film of course ends on an ambiguous note but it leaves much to think about. With standout performances, assured directing and an honestly cynical script, one has to believe that an Oscar nomination isn't too far off for one of cinema's most enduring and realised romances.

_________________________________________________________________

No more film news for me - I'm done with it. I know some people have noted that I was their source of film news but I suppose Twitter has been good for me to spout any rumblings in the world of film.

Today's title comes from Frank Ocean's great album, Channel Orange. It's one of the best songs on the album, in my opinion. ENJOY THE WEEK AHEAD!


End post.