Bangkok Nites (2016)
Director: Katsuya Tomita
Screenplay: Toranosuke Aizawa
Cast: Subenja Pongkorn
Review: Starting off with the main character, Luck (Subenja Pongkorn), a Thai prostitute looking outside a hotel room, we follow her and a Japanese man named Ozawa through the world of sex tourism in Thailand and the various Japanese men who come for the services. The film looks at how richer people from Japan exploit poorer ones in Thailand. It also explores if a real relationship can grow between a prostitute and a former client and the definition of “paradise.”
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Un Printemps d’ailleurs / A Touch of Spring (2017)
Director & Screenplay: He XiaoDan
Cast: Yan WenSi
Review: The story starts with Li Fang (Yan WenSi) who has a violent breakup with her husband in Montreal over her desire to have a baby. While her husband looks for a lawyer to organize the divorce proceedings, she decides to return to her hometown of Dazu in ChongQing (municipality), China to visit her grandfather. She struggles to reconcile her family’s idea of success with her own.
With regards to the story, it’s straight-forward and simple. It’s more of a character study or a bit of a philosophical exploration. Of course, there’s a bit of a clash between traditional Chinese values and more western ones that Fang has adopted but it’s not really the focus and simply comes out naturally as events occur. In another event, what seems like a cultural clash ends up not being the case due to the secrecy surrounding a young girl that she meets at her family reunion. The pacing is rather relaxed so it can feel a tad slow but it’s mostly fine and allows one to ponder the significance of certain events or piece together information from hints given. Buddhism is often mentioned including the idea that life is suffering. Fang wonders what the secret is to a happy marriage to which her grandfather replies with a very unromantic but perhaps sage response.
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In what I believe is a first, two shows were scheduled instead of one for the Montreal stop of the Next Music From Tokyo tour. The Sunday one was initially the only one planned and ended up having a decent sized crowd. But some of the bands wanted to do a Monday show too, which predictably ended up with a small crowd (the rain certainly didn’t help) and featured less bands than the Sunday show since a couple of them didn’t want to do 4 shows in 4 nights (Toronto shows were on Friday & Saturday). Naturally you would think that you wouldn’t be missing anything by skipping the Monday show. If you skipped the show based on that thought well let me say that you were totally wrong and you should repent for your sins. In fact, the Monday show ended up being more exciting and memorable than the Sunday one (which was still great). What the small crowd lacked in size, they made up for with ferocious loudness and a willingness to let go all inhibition while dancing, jumping and even moshing at one point.
Continue reading “Next Music From TOKYO Vol 11 live show – A double dose of awesomeness”
Meditation Park (2017)
Director & Screenplay: Mina Shum
Cast: Cheng PeiPei, Sandra Oh, Tzi Ma
Review: The story focuses on a grandmother named Maria (Cheng PeiPei) who’s seemingly good life is turned upside-down when she discovers her husband’s (Tzi Ma) infidelity after celebrating his 65th birthday. Further tension arises when her adult daughter (Sandra Oh) comes for a visit to pass on a wedding invitation to Maria. It’s from the son whom her husband disowned in the past.
The acting performances are amazing. This combined with the nuanced writing and efficient editing allow the story to move at a good pace that doesn’t feel too slow, which is often a problem with some dramas. Each character has their flaws and even seemingly negative characters are given dimension that gives some explanation for their actions, whether it be the neighbor who “steals turns” and undercuts his price for his backyard parking or the mistress and Maria’s husband.
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Claire’s Camera (2017)
Director & Screenplay: Hong Sang-Soo
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Kim Min-Hee
Review: The story for this movie is extremely simple. A French woman randomly meets a few Koreans (a man and two women) in Cannes during a film festival and finds out they know each other. Gradually their connections are revealed as she encounters each one multiple times and take polaroid photos of them believing that people change after she takes their photo.
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Mina Shum’s new film, Meditation Park, starring Cheng Pei Pei, Sandra Oh and Tzi Ma will be screening at the festival du nouveau cinema on October 9, 2017 at 5pm at Cinema du Parc. Sounds like an excellent way to spend Thanksgiving. I remember seeing Double Happiness which was directed by Mina Shum with Sandra Oh so seeing them collaborate again is nice but it looks like the star here is deservedly the legendary Cheng Pei Pei whose been in many classic martial arts films (Princess Iron Fan, Come Drink With Me, Golden Swallow) and was in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. CBC has a nice article about the movie.
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Although I was late in watching episode 1, I actually got a chance to see episode 2 at a preview screening which was cool. I also got to briefly meet most of the rest of the cast during CBC Montreal’s culture day when they dropped by in Montreal as part of their promo tour for season 2.
Janet plans to move out with her roommates but things don’t go as planned while Kimchee encourages Jung to make a move on Shannon even though she’s “with” Alejandro (first seen during the season 1 finale). I do admit to being uninterested in the apartment plot at times but it’s definitely relateable. Gerald actually has some funny lines here. The opening is quite amusing between Appa and Mr. Mehta as they discuss a particular euphemism and a meme.
Jung’s attempts to tell Shannon about his feelings lead to some funny moments but it seemed a bit off or at least too sudden for Jung to be so eager to do so. Then again maybe that’s the persuasive power of Kimchee. Overall, this was a solid episode that should gain some new fans. Old fans will appreciate getting reacquainted with the Kim’s, like meeting an old friend that you haven’t seen for a long time. Now for episode 2…
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Le festival du nouveau cinema from October 4-15, 2017 will be screening films from all over the world at various theaters in Montreal. There are some recent movies from Japan such as Beat Takeshi’s Outrage Coda (the final installment of the Outrage trilogy) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Before We Vanish. Films from the past such as Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django and several gangster films from the 60s by Seijun Suzuki. There’s also an intriguing stop motion animation short film by Takeshi Yashiro called Norman the Snowman. From South Korea there are a couple of recent Hong Sang Soo films and from the past, a Korean western by Kim Jee Woon. There’s a movie from Chinese born but Montreal based director Xiaodan He called Un Printemps d’ailleurs. There is also a Vietnamese horror movie called KFC.
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