Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

Our picks of the 2012 Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR)

I don’t know much about Rotterdam. Wikipedia tells me – now that it’s back in action following that rather terrifying twenty-four hour blackout – that it’s the second largest city in The Netherlands, as well as one of the busiest ports in the world. The Rotterdam tourism board website tells me that it’s “a trendy, dynamic city” that you really need “to experience for yourself”. And a Google search tells [...]

By on January 24, 2012
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You can officially add Na Hong-jin to the growing list of South Korean directors outdoing ninety-five percent of their Hollywood counterparts. After debuting with the critically acclaimed The Chaser in 2009, Na’s follow-up is an artful, absorbing and exceedingly violent crime thriller called The Yellow Sea, a film that bears all the style and splatter that characterizes the work of Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), Bong Joon-ho (The Host) and Kim Ji-Woon [...]

By on November 15, 2011

With advertisements proudly emblazoned with the words “exotic, erotic and just plain psychotic” and a programme headlined by films with titles like Karate-Robo Zaborgar and Invasion of Alien Bikini, the first annual Fantastic Asia Film Festival (FAFF) promises to bring a very different breed of Asian filmmaking to Melbourne’s Cinema Nova.

Screening a combined twenty films from Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines, FAFF aims to shine special [...]

By on November 9, 2011

After the fatal shooting of two North Korean guards by a South Korean soldier at the Demilitarized Border between the two adversarial nations, an independent body of Swiss and Swedish officials are sent in to investigate the crime and contain the potentially explosive political situation. So begins Park Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area [Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA], a 2000 film that combines an intricately assembled mystery with absorbing human drama. Artfully [...]

By on September 20, 2011

South Korea’s A Barefoot Dream [Maen-bal-eui Ggoom] is so saccharine that it almost gave me a toothache. Based (one suspects loosely) on the real life story of a former Korean soccer player who coached the East Timorese children’s team to an unlikely international championship, everything in the film, from the over-the-top performances, cliché-riddled script, made-for-TV direction and syrupy musical accompaniment is so farcically sentimental that it makes you wonder whether [...]

By on September 15, 2011

Eurgh. That is my overwhelming reaction to Lisa Dunham’s Tiny Furniture, a directorial debut that I can acknowledge does a lot of things right, but I still found absolutely unbearable to watch. A story about a directionless college graduate who moves back in with her mother and sister, it’s a tale based, one suspects, on Dunham own life experience, even to the point that she casts herself and her family [...]

By on August 31, 2011

Winner of the Best Dramatic Direction award at this years’ Sundance Film Festival, Martha Marcy May Marlene heralds the arrival of two very impressive talents on the independent cinema scene. First, director Sean Durkin, who in his first feature film demonstrates an incredible assuredness and mesmerizing control of his camera, intermingling through astounding editing two timeless with ethereal subtlety and consummate skill. Secondly is young actress Elizabeth Olsen, who shatters [...]

By on August 23, 2011

In both its nihilistic themes and art-house attributes that border on the satirical, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia serves as a very clear successor to his controversial previous effort, 2009’s Antichrist. Both films begin with a shamelessly pretentious but inescapably beautiful opening prologue that drips with mesmerising slow-motion photography and heart-rending classical overtures. From there, however, von Trier leads us down a very long and arduous path of cheerless monotony, one [...]

By on August 14, 2011
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