Sunday 7 July 2024

MAXXXINE

Recommended. I did some reading on Richard Ramirez before the movie - wrong approach, he's not even named in the flick. It''s a sequel to "X" but footage is shown so no need to have seen it earlier, but if you have, "MaXXXine" is more fun. I wish I could pause and analyse every little scene in the first act. There are plenty of Easter eggs. A Bette Davis quote opens the movie. Maxine puts out a cigarette on Theda Bara's star - the actress was a silent era sex symbol, she used to depict vamps - women who destroy men. A Wonder Woman cosplayer poses for pictures in the streets of Hollywood - the series was aired in 1975-1979. There's also a verbal reference to Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress, never in a movie, who became famous as "The Black Dahlia" after she was murdered and her naked body bisected. On the other hand, it's a fact Demi Moore and a few other actresses were in horrors at the early stage of the career. So was Kevin Bacon, who actually appears as the sleuth in "MaXXXine". The 80s star is underrated but a true gem. The movie's rich in context both externally and internally within the trilogy. The club scene hears "Welcome To The Pleasuredome": "Love your body even when it's old" in the lyrics is relevant to the story in "X". But the film plays also with current social changes, e.g. the issue of putting responsibility on the victim: "Maybe she should save herself. I did." - though this point is ambiguously depicted in the plot. But most of all it's a satire on Hollywood, where serious undertones mix with Hollywood-style fun: "Whatever it is in your life that's distracting you, squash it." - well, a serial killer is a bit of a distraction - and where everyone wants to be a movie star, even a police officer. With a consistent story. Smartly edited. There's a post-credit which confirms it's all about Tinseltown. 


THE WATCHERS


Watchable. A horror rooted in Irish folk tales. The human characters, especially Madeleine, are magnetic. The changelings are trite with their elongated, tree-like silhouettes and shrieks. Ishana Night Shyamalan's movie based on A. M. Shine's novel is truly original in terms of the story but insufficiently justified, especially the finale. The discovery should finish the film and leave you with that shock. 


LONGLEGS


Watchable. Much better than the trailer which indicated an ordinary horror. This one is more original and barely a horror, more of a supernatural crime thriller. Old tropes like a psychic, a doll, a satanic cult are combined in a brand new story. Atmospheric, even if on the slow side, it uses sound effects well which works in an Atmos-sound screening room at least. Nicolas Cage is amazing as Longlegs - one of his best performances, if not the best. The investigation is engaging. Towards the end, the agent's world goes upside down - a recent cinematographic way to show an upcoming twist of her position. 


WIECZOR KAWALERSKI


Watchable. The opening scene imitates the one from "Mayday". But you realise later the context is totally different. This supposed comedy isn't funny at all, blood-chilling rather at times. Well, the first 50 minutes are a bit incoherent in terms of plot, filled with silly conversations but feature beautifully shot lap dances. Then the action takes a criminal turn. So first you watch for the visuals, then for the suspense and twists of action. All the female actors, especially the three leads: Magdalena Perlińska, Kinga Jasik, Joanna Opozda are amazing, their male counterparts less so. Jan Wieczorkowski as Wolf ruins many scenes with his high-pitched, squeaky voice. And they're certainly no comedy actors. None of them. A good soundtrack but often played together with dialogues means you have to try to ignore either and many lines are barely audible. My little pet hate within the movie is that first you're told - correctly - that with a gun in your mouth you can only utter vowels. Later Wolf says that it's consonants. The whole film is engaging enough but not exactly fun.

Wednesday 3 July 2024

WARSAW KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL - KOREANSKIE KINO LETNIE (KOREAN SUMMER CINEMA)

용의자 (THE SUSPECT) (2013)


Watchable. I was about 2 minutes late but the reason why I couldn't grasp the plot was rather action overload. It was only about 20 minutes in that they started explaining the story. But a huge number of characters from the start, with some more added later, makes is hard to  make out who is who and what's going on. Typically for Korean cinematography, there's some extreme brutality, as we see in the torture scene. The last half an hour is the best and offers the best out of quite a few humorous scenes in the movie where the agent escorting a prisoner informs the captured: "I'm going to buy some fags. Wait here."


아저씨 (THE MAN FROM NOWHERE) (2010)


Watchable. Similar to previous: the protagonist has lost his wife and daughter, the flick consists of action overload and some perverse brutality - no humour in this one, a few tear-jerking moments instead.


성난황소 (UNSTOPPABLE) (2018)


Watchable. Another brutal thriller, though here the wife is abducted, not killed, there's no child, nor is the protagonist an agent. This movie has a consistent storyline, while not 100% comprehensible to me, at least not overly complex. 이동석 (Ma Dong-seok) predictably brings some humour. But the one absolutely hilarious bit is the one during the end credits when you hear the TV news on the trawler which had been withheld by the Chinese. The remaining sequence is a wonderful finale.


A new weekend of Korean Summer Cinema is coming. 5-7 July will see spy movies - a genre in which Koreans excel so I'm really looking forward to it. 

Saturday 22 June 2024

Some more from the past year:

WISH


Watchable. While Alicja Roethel ensures Polish dialogues are funny, dubbing means you won't hear Chris Pine as King Magnifico. What's worse, it's a musical and, at least in Polish, all songs sound the same. The movie contains a few Easter eggs, either direct, like the mention of Zootopia, or indirect, when a deer gawps at lights like in "Peter Rabbit". The plot consists of an original storyline but based on the follow-your-dream cliche. At least all the animals, dancing flowers, talking trees, yawning mushrooms are cute and just delightful. 

Luckily the finale and the post-credit music resembles the original Disney theme and the end credits are accompanied by magnificently glowing sketches of old and new Disney cartoon characters. The post-credit scene indicates who and how, at 100 years of age, "inspired future generations".


LA STRANEZZA (STRANGENESS)


Watchable. Italian way, even theatre (my pet peeve) is bearable. Top-notch acting, atmospheric lighting - darkness rather - compel. It makes use of the atmosphere of a poorly lit Italian small town. The plot is: funeral arrangements and a theatre play in the meantime so neither is enticing but it's the way it's acted and shot that save the movie until the finale reveals what this long sequence of the whole town visit and its vision was for in terms of the plot. Originality needs time to be recognised. 

Monday 17 June 2024

HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA - CHAPTER 1

Watchable. Set during a pivotal era of American history - the settlers' time, this 3-hour movie maintains unhurried yet steady pace. Although it's a serial, it merits the big screen hence the decision of a cinematic release seems justified. It's so superbly acted and shot that you just sit and watch without batting an eyelid, waiting for the plot to reveal itself. The fact is it kept growing on me. Sam Worthington appears in a surprisingly ordinary role, amidst actors more associated with the western genre, like Luke Wilson or producer/writer/director/actor Kevin Costner himself. While fictitious, the film is based on facts of the period: Apache is spoken and in the background the story sees Chinese settlers or blacks equal to whites - we're rarely aware free people of all races came to inhabit the fledgling country. On the other hand, natives are sometimes perceived similarly to exotic animals: "We've never seen them from up close. He's magnificent." The pace and the prolonged introductions of each subplot confirm it's a saga. The story strands start to intersect at some point. The finale fast forwards to upcoming developments laying the groundwork for later instalments. "Amazing Grace" is sung and played on native American instruments along the end-credits. A movie with potential.

Thursday 13 June 2024

Past year's:

COUPEZ! (FINAL CUT)


Watchable. Trashy at first: gore, vomit, mistakes in French, craziness in this depiction of shooting a zombie movie, but some scenes are hilarious, e.g. when an alcoholic hears of a sake supply. Great music. The French director's daughter wears a T-shirt with 'directed by Tarantino' on it. Clear three acts: the first one and the second look stupid, the third explains what went wrong with them as it shows the broader picture. The post-credit scene is a mockery of mothers obsessed with their babies and feeling entitled because of having them: bringing in a "quiet baby", breastfeeding which one guy finds disgusting and another kinky.


DORA  AND THE FANTASTICAL CREATURES


Watchable. The short cartoon preceding "PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie" is quite formulaic with the added novelty that Dora agitates the audience to shout to the villain dog. The dog looks like one from the PAW patrol as he wears a helmet.


PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE


Watchable. A run-of-the-mill plot in which superheroes foil a supervillain scientist's ploy. The heroes are space dogs with extra superpowers from crystals, as if ordinary superpowers weren't enough. Serena Williams makes a voice cameo as the yoga teacher. 


RAPORT PILECKIEGO (THE PILECKI REPORT)


Watchable. Why have they made English subtitles if the plot isn't fully comprehensible unless you're proficient in Polish history? Bizarre cut seriously hinders understanding. The action moves to and fro in time and space, each having its own characters, I just couldn't make out those details. You do learn new facts about Auschwitz. But the rest is chaos.


Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ. 

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Past year's:

THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES AT IMAX


Recommended. This part of the franchise was shot in Berlin and Wrocław, Poland. The Capital and the 12 districts are seen first at war, then at the 10th Hunger Games. Tom Blyth dyed blonde appears as Corio aka Coriolanus Snow. Book author Suzanne Collins wrote or checked all the songs. The music's James Newton Howard's. Smoking hot Tom Blyth as Corio and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird (whose surname carries a meaning too) are so gentle, loving and, Snow at least, innocent and naive, they win you over in no time. Viola Davis is creepy as a callous psychopathic mastermind. The story, perfectly consistent with subsequent events from the earlier movies, explains everyone's motivations plausibly and is true in how life works. The costumes, while far from the splendour we're used to in the other movies, represent post-war poverty and the elite school uniforms make it obvious no gender is excluded. Even though the Games Arena is austere as yet, traps and plots keep you glued to the screen. Brutality outside the arena makes for a compelling viewing for the remaining part. That and the obvious curiosity of how the young gentle Snow crosses to the dark side. The legends of the realm find their grounding too. "The Hanging Tree" kept playing in my head after leaving the cinema. Once again a complete world you believe in. Definitely a worthy edition to the cracking franchise.

Saturday 18 May 2024

From 2023:

UKRAINA! FILM FESTIVAL ONLINE


КОНКУРС КОРОТКОМЕТРАЖНИХ ФІЛЬМІВ БЛОК 4 (SHORT FILM COMPETITION SET 4)


ЗРОСТАННЯ У ВИСОТУ (RAISING BY HEIGHT)


Recommended. A man abseils from a block of flats hindered by a football supporter, a cat and a kid boasting off with what he's learned from his dad. A hilarious action comedy with great music.


ЦЕ ПОБАЧЕННЯ (IT'S A DATE)


Seen and reviewed before at Her Docs Forum.


PTITSA 


Watchable. This pandemic documentary about lockdown puts into perspective our lives in general: how we neglect both our places and relationships with our close ones when we're out and about, and Ukraine from the perspective of the current war, seeing how the women are worried about their building crumbling when it was just wear and tear. It also deals with how we have to abandon our plans and dreams after a relative's death. On the other hand, it's full of waffling. 

 

МАРІУПОЛЬ. СТО НОЧЕЙ (MARIUPOL. A HUNDRED NIGHTS)


Watchable. This short is a Ukrainian Oscar candidate. But neither the basic animation, nor the foul language in the song appeal to me. Though the idea of never being able to go back home is thought-provoking. Only the final notes and shots are truly moving.


КОРДОН (FRONTIER)


Watchable. A black and white documentary about revisiting Luhansk, partly abandoned since 2015, after 8 years. Impressions from the place. Not much informative value.  


ВИ ЇЇ БАЧИЛИ (YOU'VE SEEN THIS ONE)


Switched off. Thought congestion rather than the girl's depression. Tiring and pointless.


КОНКУРС КОРОТКОМЕТРАЖНИХ ФІЛЬМІВ БЛОК 4 (SHORT FILM COMPETITION SET 4)


ЮРА (YURA)


Watchable. A drama about being split between a love for a girl and the love for your homeland. A look into what's it like to be unable to leave Ukraine (as a young man) and some crazy idea in the plot. The first part, before getting banned, is a little protracted. 


КРИМЦІ (IDENTITY ON THE LINE: CRIMEANS)


Watchable. An informative, even if overtalked, documentary on the difficult history of Crimean Tatars' forced migrations, their artisanship and culture.


КИЇВ - УЖГОРОД (KYIV - - UZHHOROD)


Watchable. Artistic, animated impressions from being a refugee. Lucid but nothing new on the subject.


ДЕНЬ ВЧИТЕЛЯ (TEACHER'S DAY)


Recommended. A gripping crime drama where two former victims face a pedophile. Smart, with astonishing, shocking even, twists of action within a 19-minute film.


ЗГАСАЮЧЕ СВІТЛО (DYING LIGHT)


Recommended. Dying is not easy. Or simple. Nor is grief obvious. Graphic at some point.  


And full-length:


ЛЮКСЕМБУРГ, ЛЮКСЕМБУРГ (LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG)


Watchable. Inspired by true events. It's hard to say what the subject of the film truly is or what genre it is. 



COUP DE CHANCE


Watchable. Different from other Woody Allen movies, there's no humour in dialogue, only the finale is tongue-in-cheek. Yet the story is lucid, stylish and engaging. Hunting in reality looks different than depicted. But it facilitates the praise of pure chance in the ending. Jazz accompanies the end credits - a possible reference to the book the novelist was writing.


AN CAILIN CIUIN (THE QUIET GIRL)


Recommended. The 2023 Oscar nominee from Ireland is superb  mostly owing to Catherine Clinch who acts remarkably well as the girl. The story is very gently and quietly told yet touching.


Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Past year's: 

THE MARVELS AT IMAX 3D


Recommended. The plot is a bit experimental but from the initial chaos gradually emerges sense. Refugee relocation is tackled: "I'll find you a new safe place. Is that OK?" "We don't have a choice." There's humour with certain Indian family: "They don't look related." "What do you know? Families are complicated." Women rule. Cat lovers will adore the Flerkens. But most importantly the Imax 3D looks like never before - the new glasses for the digital screen may be part of the success because, whether in social scenes, on the spaceship, in the outer space or on fantastical planets, you're always as close to the characters and locations as if you were there. 박서준 (Seo-jun Park) plays an episode as Prince Yan of Aladna - the association with "Aladdin" is understandable. The Atmos sound, surrounding when needed, is fine too. Music varies from Beastie Boys to the score from "X-Men: Days of Future Past". There's an X-Men mid-credit indicating this cross-over in the next Marvels movie. The post-credit is just the sound of the Flerkens spitting out their passengers.


I saw a few minutes of the film in an ordinary size screen to doublecheck the 3D effects. And while they don't compare to Imax, the 3D is still irresistable.


HOW TO HAVE SEX


Directed by Molly Manning Walker who was responsible for the cinematography of "Scrapper". She's recently turned 30 and celebrated her birthday right in Malia in Crete, Greece, where the action takes place


Recommended. British chavs on holidays in a Greek resort? Up to a point. We all have been there, done that when young. It's so relatable. Wonderful cinematography throughout, at times plays with light and colours. Lots of truly good techno. It makes you want to have sex. And dance. Best on holidays in a warm country.



WARSAW KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL


어디로 가고 싶으신가요 (WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO?)


Walked out. It drags so badly I couldn't make out its point, something to do with mourning. The director studied in Łódź and seems to be resident in Poland so I guess that's how she's picked up this Polish penchant for the topic.



HER DOCS FORUM


YOU KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE ABOUT WAR


Recommended. This 34'19"-long documentary doesn't shock you. It's just an in-depth look at wartime Ukraine from the position of young people: what they do or don't and why, how they feel. It explains the volunteer burnout, survivor syndrome or indifference to air raid alerts. A bit unsettling how easy it is to get used to living war. Demolished blocks of flats and music concerts, clubbing, dining and sirens or losing one's uninsured car. The young people are very self-conscious and down-to-earth in their expectations. 


JINA


Recommended. A short film on a war waged on women by the authorities of Iran. Funny Persian is one of few languages that don't have gender. Because tortures, rapes - both executed as punishments have gender. Women ask bold questions: what sort of creature is God if it's going to hang you by your hair sticking out of your hijab? Their courage and determination bring some hope and are admirable in the face of the persecution they're likely to fall victim of. Still, the most shocking is the authorities' willingness to "discipline" them. They're out of touch with the reality of the revolution. The last 43 years were constant.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Past year's:

ZATOKA SZPIEGOW (THE BAY OF SPIES) EP. 1 & 2


The colours and light were inspired by "Indiana Jones". The lead actor, Bartosz Gelner, said: "the serial is about a transformation, our country is also undergoing transformations about which I'm hopeful".


Watchable. The actresses don't look as beautiful as in real life. Stunning shots of the sea are wonderful on a big screen. But characters that may have looked good on paper, run-of-the-mill action, the protagonist's constant smoking and deceptive tricks to pick up women, slow passages in between action and the Polish look of the Germans didn't convince me to continue watching it later on telly. Also all characters speak Polish only which hinders understanding who is who and what's going on. 

Sunday 5 May 2024

Past year's:

WARSAW KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL


비밀의 언덕 (THE HILL OF SECRETS)


Recommended. South Korean 1996 is colourful. The movie sees the world from a child's perspective as she manoeuvres her position within a group, it presents her perspective of her family members. This warm family movie is truly engaging and touching. 


공조2: 인터내셔날 (CONFIDENTIAL ASSIGNMENT 2: INTERNATIONAL)


Watchable. The first 25 minutes in NYC and Seoul are incomprehensible, especially if you haven't seen part 1. A South Korean, a North Korean and an American fight and cooperate, always followed by secret agents, in this action comedy full of stunts, but also cinephile jokes like a girl in love who "always sees him in slow mo" or political gags, e.g. the North Korean's flat "is owned by the party" and the South Korean's by the bank - "same here". Fun, alluding to other films music: "We No Speak Americano" from "Peter Rabbit" or the melody of "What a Life" from "Another Round" make it quite enjoyable.



SLOTHERHOUSE


Watchable. It's a black comedy about a college sorority rivalry and it's not what you expect because the sloth doesn't rip people with her claws, or at least rarely does. Instead she electrocutes, strangles, smothers with a pillow, throws from heights etc. And she uses the Internet. Or holds and opens a beer bottle with the claws. The sloth looks fake. But the whole thing is happy-go-lucky fun. There's a mid-credit and lots of sloth gifs along the end credits.

Friday 3 May 2024

Past year's:

WARSAW KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL


킬링 로맨스 (KILLING ROMANCE)


Watchable. I entered at the opening but chances are I didn't miss any line. It's a musical,  unfortunately, very colourful, like in Wes Anderson's movies, fairy-tale like, where violence is exemplified by  throwing tangerines at somebody. Funny enough e.g. certain reaction to a guy who's started talking to animals after his 4th university entry exam failure.There's an end-credit. 

 

악마를 보았다 (I SAW THE DEVIL) (2010) AND Q&A WITH DIRECTOR


Recommended. Gentle music and the opening and closing are deceitfully peaceful. The perve up close is expectedly revolting and some scenes disturbing, but this revenge flick offers great twists and plot solutions and is cathartically brutal. 


The director has heard a suggestion the movie was too brutal for a theatrical release. In Warsaw, Poland, he found Łazienki vexingly beautiful. "If Korea had such a beautiful park maybe I'd be calm for longer and wouldn't have made such a brutal film". The director changed the final scene, the brutal script was by 박훈정 (Park Hoonj-jung), the guillotine was his idea and in whose hands he should die. His is also the dawn walk scene. In the 90s there was serial killer 유영철 (You Young-chul) - his TV interview inspired the director. Normally revenge movies see a long search and than a painful revenge. He wanted to make it differently so that the murderer feels the victims' agony and to show the emotions during exacting the revenge. Is a revenge possible in our moral code? It was inspired by Nietsche. He's made 10 full-length movies and the music has been chosen by him: 60-100 songs picked for the movie mood each time, down to 2-3, sometimes extra music created. His debut was in the early 2000s, at K-cinema renaissance, then the commercial versus art division came into being, also popular abroad - because it focused on genre cinema, that was the "cinephile" generation of directors. There is ear the pandemic may have finished K-cinema. 



HEADSPACE


Walked out. Trite plot where aliens steer people's brains so they move like zombies and a bullied kid with a bunch of friends he turns out to have is to save the planet is ludicrous even in a cartoon. Contrived pseudo-scientific jargon of the aliens and cool-talk of the teenagers are over the top. And one of the 'good' aliens makes a misogynistic comment about his ex-wife.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Past year's: 

WARSAW KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL


거미집 (COBWEB) AND Q&A WITH DIRECTOR


Walked out. A movie about shooting one, with an added narrative of the protagonist's obsessive thoughts - neither works in film as a rule. In addition, this supposed comedy just isn't funny, gags are pathetically corny and characters often plain stupid. No fun. 


The director presented his own dilemmas in the film. Making movies you feel heaven and hell in turns. He doesn't watch his earlier movies fearing he'd like to improve them. He makes each new movie the other way round than the previous. Because creating is hard, he wants something different next. He thinks director Paul Thomas Anderson is like that too. Each genre has its won fears: melodramas - losing one, SF - future, horror - invisible things. Until his western "좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈" ("The Good, the Bad, the Weird") he focused on genre, since then on what needs to be shown. He doesn't have a favourite movie of his own. He keeps thinking about new ones. He likes many of others' movies, e.g. "Zimna wojna" ("Cold War"), "Kobieta publiczna" ("The Public Woman"), "Nóź w wodzie" ("Knife in the Water"), "Moje noce są piękniejsze niż wasze dni" ("My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days").


탑 (WALK UP)


Watchable. It could be called "Conversations over wine" just as well. This sparse black and white drama written, directed, shot and edited by 홍상수 (Hong Sang-soo), takes place in and around one building. You follow a man and his relationships with three women, as if taking  place one after another over years, but the finale points to another explanation: he's analysing what these three potential relationships with women could look like. And it appears to conclude he'd be best on his own. It's slow but steady. Nether shallow nor profound. Calmly shot. 


달콤한 인생 (A BITTERSWEET LIFE) (2005)


Watchable. 吳宇森 (John Woo)-style gangster flick with handsome 이병헌 (Lee Byung-hun) as the lead. The protagonist is relatively decent, taken he's a mafia hitman, so you root for him. At times comedy, at times melodrama, but mostly a mafia operative tale, it's engaging from the opening till the very end even if he-was-killed-and-ran-away situations are the standard fare of the genre. Bottom-look shots put you in the car or in the shoes of the protagonist. The finale uses slow-mo once and a camera hovers over some of the dead bodies, pulling away. But other than that, the cinematography has little style. It's a gangsta actioner rather. It ends with a bang. Literally - it's heard after the final credits. 


범죄도시3 (THE ROUNDUP: NO WAY OUT)


Watchable. This crime comedy is based on situational humour, e.g. when the fat policeman uses violence for the greater good. It's his character that drives the story but also a crime caper where you first see a crime, then realise who the perpetrators are and then follow this amiable fatso solving it. It features lots of mindless fights, only the ones with the heavyweight inspector are fun, though make no sense when the final one sees his strength wane for purely dramatic purposes, out of line with his usual punching ability. Truly funny at times, e.g. "And that's all? Let's clean up some more" (the police jargon for beating the interrogated scoundrels), it's fun on the whole. There's a mid-credit.


밀수 (SMUGGLERS)


Recommended. Women power, twists and turns in a story spanning a few years, character development, adventure: with sharks on land and in the sea, lots of style in vibrantly recreated 1970s, with music in the 1970s and in heroic western style. Riveting. There's a mid-credit.


다음 소희 (NEXT SOHEE)


Recommended. A heavy drama which, step by step, makes you realise stronger and stronger how systemic psychological violence is at play: with the call centre jobs and with externships and how the whole system of rewards drives mass abuse of young people who had dreams but then went to their first work. The victim-blaming is harrowing. But you realise there's no way out. Heavy, leaves you despondent.


콘크리트 유토피아 (CONCRETE UTOPIA)


Recommended. An engaging disaster flick and an interesting actioner, with wonderful visual effects of the ruined city. An unusual set-up, social injustice at the bottom of subsequent life or death struggle, complex yet fully comprehensible - skillfully directed and cut. Gripping. It's a great disaster movie but for an Oscar candidate it lacks depth.  


물안에서 (IN WATER)


Watchable. Seaside views, 3 extremely polite and nice people, an uncanny tale within the story kept me watching this sparse, unhurried 61-minute film where a young director seeking recognition is collating a short to shoot. Blurred pictures are a smart way to circumvent copyright requirements in a budget production. The story, though mundane, shows how picking out various elements of life results in a film plot. Sweet.


장화, 홍련 (A TALE OF TWO SISTERS) (2003) AND Q&A WITH DIRECTOR


Watchable. It drags, is filled with typical horror gimmicks like: killed birds, apparitions, a squeaky wardrobe, a surrounding sound of somebody running, a mental illness, seeing dead people - the viewer has a constant deja vu, protracted in that, but nothing is scary, it's never graphic, instead it's  accompanied by slow, nostalgic music so it doesn't frighten. It's more like a drama about inability to overcome grief after somebody's demise. May have been innovative 20 years ago. Only the final 40 minutes provide any twists, ambiguity and potential explanations. 


The director kept droning on and on also in answering questions. He wanted it to be beautiful, scary and sad. Lots of floral patterns appear in the film to express beauty and sorrow because beauty doesn't last so it's his way to emphasise sorrow. They added colours to lighting, even pastels to black to create eeriness and softness. He sees 'feminism' in Asian horror, by which he means focus on female characters. He tackles the question whether a mentally ill monster is still family. His own memories appear like ghosts. He wanted to reflect remorses. Also feminism: women scare men now like ghosts. More and more women work in the film industry in Korea.



HER DOCS FORUM


THREE WINDOWS ON SOUTH WEST


Watchable. This short is barely a film and is totally predictable. It consists of memoirs of a building in Kyiv which was destroyed in the current war. The memory of sex on the roof which turned out painful rather than romantic stands out. But you just see one picture and hear a conversation on its background, no moving pictures.


Reviewed from the organizers' screener, cinematic reception might differ.



INSPECTOR SUN Y LA MALDICION DE LA VIUDA NEGRA (INSPECTOR SUN AND THE CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW)


Watchable. This Spanish animation offers a full world of insects where they fly with Small World Airlines, have all 8 legs dressed in trousers and a VIP fly dines on 'merde a la francais'. The crime plot though is over the top. Plenty of insects, machines occasionally, intrigues, adventures - at some point I couldn't get the plot any longer but, with the adventure overload, I didn't care any more. Quality animation, with e.g. translucent sea water, surrounding sound of the VIP dining room. In Poland it's dubbed in Polish, newspaper headlines are kept in English. Insect dialogues are great fun.