Posted in Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Film Screenings

My East Asian Film picks for Fantasia 2016

The Fantasia International Film Festival just released their full schedule yesterday and the whole lineup is very impressive with lots of interesting films spanning many genres. There’s almost certainly something for everyone here like mystery, thriller, horror, martial arts, historical, crime, slice of life, comedy and more. Here are some of the movies that personally interest me so far. There is no order to the list.

THE INERASABLE
I’m not sure how well known director Yoshihiro Nakamura is but I’ve enjoyed every single movie of his that I’ve seen at past Fantasia festivals like Snow White Murder, A Boy and his Samurai and See You Tomorrow, Everyone. I find his movies have interesting premises and well developed characters. Anybody who’s not too familiar with Japanese cinema should watch this director’s works. This one’s classified as a horror but at least one review did not find it scary. Overall the reviews I’ve seen for this have been quite positive.

THE WAILING
A Korean horror movie that has been getting a lot of buzz and good reviews. Director Na Hong-jin directed The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, both of which gained critical and commercial success. This is one director’s work I’ve wanted to watch but just kept missing the screenings.

THREE
It’s directed by Johnny To…that’s all the reason you need. It’s a crime thriller too, which is in the director’s wheelhouse. Also has actors Zhao Wei and Louis Koo who are almost always very solid.

WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY!
This comedy looks pretty good. Director, Yoji Yamada is well known for his samurai trilogy (Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade, Love & Honor; I’ve seen the 1st & 3rd films). I never cared for samurai movies until I watched his films. He’s one of my favorite directors. This one has no samurais and is about elderly divorce but I’m really looking forward to this one.

CREEPY
When I first started watching Japanese films the first one I saw was Tokyo Sonata by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. He’s the director here too, This might be classified as horror but it seems more like a thriller. The actor Teruyuki Kagawa is really good (he was also in Tokyo Sonata).

SEOUL STATION
This is an animated zombie movie from South Korea. I hope South Korean animation begins to grow because I’ve been impressed by this director’s previous animated features, The King of Pigs and The Fake. Yeon Sang Ho should be a name to look out for.

THE BACCHUS LADY
This is a story about elderly prostitutes in South Korea who solicit in parks. Bachhus being the name of an energy drink. Never heard of this social phenomenon before. The movie looks very interesting.

FOURTH PLACE
This looks like a pretty good indie film about a boy who likes swimming but is perhaps pushed too far by his mother and trainer to be a winner instead of always finishing fourth. Perhaps any kid who was forced to do some sport or activity could relate to this.

THE THRONE
Of his past works, I didn’t like Lee Joon Ik’s Battlefield Heroes but was definitely impressed by The King and the Clown and Hope. This one looks like a winner with all the awards, the name actors like Song Kang Ho and the lavish production in reproducing the Joseon era.

HK2: THE ABNORMAL CRISIS
The first movie was one of the most hilarious movies I’ve ever seen period. It was a great one to see with a Fantasia audience. It’s hard to say if the sequel will live up to its predecessor but I can’t help but look forward to watching the sequel. Even if it’s not as good I think it’ll still be a hysterical and fun time with the Fantasia audience.

KARAOKE CRAZIES
Not too familiar with this one but the few reviews online are positive and hey it’s about karaoke, Asia’s favorite pastime!

THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE
I am familiar with Lee Je hoon who is a very good young actor. This looks like a pretty good film noir/revenge film, something of a staple in Korean cinema.

A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE
Not sure about the odd title but in regards to director Shunji Iwai’s previous works, I liked the animated Hana & Alice movie, which screened at last year’s festival. It had great characters and heartfelt moments so I’m also expecting this to be a good movie with similar attributes. One of the actors Go Ayano is also one my favorites. He’s very versatile. The premise of the movie is interesting and looks to be quite relevant to modern day dating and social media.

For more films and trailers check out the first wave & second wave film announcements.

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Occasional guest "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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