Posted in Reviews, Trailers, Video

Searching – film review

Searching (2018)
Director & Writer: Aneesh Chaganty
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La

Synopsis

A father misses a couple of phone calls from his daughter while he’s asleep. When she doesn’t return home,  he tries to contact her again but ends up contacting the police to search for her. While searching through her laptop for clues he discovers that he does not know his daughter as well as he thought he did.

Review

The thing that will become noticeable early on is that this movie is not filmed or staged in a conventional manner. Everything is seen via some sort of video media, whether it be a computer screen, a smartphone screen, a TV screen or surveillance camera. It is not the first movie to do so but very few films have chosen to tell their story in this way. It’s an interesting technique that makes it stand out and is particularly effective in the beginning when we see a montage of sorts showing the Kim’s family life before tragedy strikes. However, the restriction to telling the story via screens starts to feel forced towards the end when it the film resorts to hidden cameras, live TV and live streaming to show the final events.

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Posted in Reviews, Trailers, Video

Crazy Rich Asians – film review

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Dir: Jon M. Chu
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Awkafina

Synopsis

Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan (who has subsequently written two more books that form a trilogy), the movie follows Rachel, a Chinese American professor who goes to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick who she quickly discovers is part of one of the richest families in Singapore. She has to deal with judgmental rich people and of course Nick’s unimpressed mother.

Review

The actresses and female roles are almost all really good some of which in some way almost steal the spotlight away from the lead, Constance Wu. But let’s talk about her as Rachel first. She does a good job and her character arc actually goes in unexpected directions. The conflict between tradition and modern attitudes has a bit of a different twist here as socio-economic classes also comes into play. It informs and affects the romantic conflicts but doesn’t overwhelm the main story. Wu handles both the comedy and serious scenes in convincing fashion.

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Posted in Art & Animation, Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Penguin Highway – film review – Fantasia 2018

PenguinHighwayPenguin Highway / ペンギン・ハイウェイ (2018)

DIRECTOR: Hiroyasu Ishida
WRITER: Makoto Ueda
CAST: Kana Kita, Yû Aoi

Synopsis

Adpated from a book, a 4th grade boy has a crush on an older woman who works at the dentist’s office that he goes to but that’s not the only thing on his mind. When penguins start appearing in his town, he decides to investigate with his best friend.

Review

This film exhibits one of the great things that make animation a special medium. There are simply things you can draw that you couldn’t possibly replicate in real life or even with the aid of photo-realistic computer graphics. That sort of imagination and creativity are on display in this film.

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Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

The Outlaws – film review – Fantasia 2018

TheOutlawsThe Outlaws / 범죄도시 [BumJoedoshi] / Lit: Criminal City (2017)

DIRECTOR: Kang Yun-sung
WRITER: Kang Yun-sung
CAST: Don Lee (Ma Dong-seok), Yoon Kye-sang, Cho Chae-yun, Choi Guy-hwa, Jin Seon-kyu

Synopsis

Ma is a detective who leads a team that keeps the Korean-Chinese gangs under control. But the status quo gets turned upside-down when a trio of gangsters from China come into Seoul and start brutally taking away territory from the current Korean-Chinese gangsters. Inspired by real events (and probably extremely loosely).

Review

This is a pretty solid Korean crime movie with a charismatic lead performance from Don Lee / Ma Dong-seok that’s matched by the villain Jang Chen (Yoon Kye-sang). Although the new Chinese gangsters in town are quite brutal, chopping off limbs with axes, the gore isn’t really put on screen. The movie’s overall tone isn’t dark and has some funny moments.

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Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Inuyashiki – film review – Fantasia 2018 [Recommended]

Inuyashiki-poster-723x1024Inuyashiki (2018)

DIRECTOR: Shinsuke Sato
WRITER: Hiroshi Hashimoto
CAST: Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Satoh, Kanata Hongo, Fumi Nikaido, Ayaka Miyoshi

Synopsis

A father who gets no respect from his family finds out he has cancer and then he gets hit by something really bright. Instead of death he finds out that he’s become a cyborg with amazing abilities. He decides to help people with his new abilities. However, there is also a high school teenager who became a cyborg with the same amazing abilities but he decides to kill and eventually goes on a murder spree that the police cannot stop.

Review

I’ve read a couple of the early volumes of Inuyashiki so I had some familiarity with it before watching this movie. The older man, Ichiro Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) as the hero against the young high school teen, Hiro Shishigami, (Takeru Satoh) as the villain makes for an interesting contrast from the start. We can see why and how each one decides to do something different with his new cyborg body. Both actors are excellent in their roles. Satoh is very convincing as a dangerous psychopath but he also have a few people he cares a lot about. It’s practically refreshing to have a villain that’s actually fleshed out and feels like a real person (well in the emotional sense).

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Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Bleach – film review – Fantasia 2018

Bleach Live Action 2018 FrontBleach (2018)

DIRECTOR & WRITER: Shinsuke Sato
WRITER: Daisuke Habara
CAST: Sota Fukushi, Hana Sugisaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Taichi Saotome, Miyavi

Next Screening: Sat July 28, 2018; 11:45 AM

Synopsis

A manga adaptation of the same name, this movie focuses on Ichigo, a high schooler with a high spiritual energy. So high that he can see ghosts whom he helps out. This attracts a soul reaper/shingami, Rukia, who transfers her powers to him. But there’s a cost involved and Ichigo must train in order to face some formidable foes such as Hollows who are souls turned vengeful.

Review

Although I’ve heard of Bleach I had no idea what it was about and I’ve never read the manga or watched the anime. But as someone who is unfamiliar with the source material I could tell that certain details were missing or that at least I was wanting for more details about certain characters or the world of soul reapers and hollows. The film feels lean and efficient in what it decides to include in its story. Luckily, it’s nothing that severely hampers the story. Continue reading “Bleach – film review – Fantasia 2018”

Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Louder!: Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp – film review – Fantasia 2018

Louder!-_Don't_See_What_You_Are_Singing-TP.jpgLouder!: Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’ / 音量を上げろタコ!なに歌ってんのか全然わかんねぇんだよ!! [Onryo wo Agero Tako! Nani Utatten noka Zenzen Wakannendayo!!] (2018)

DIRECTOR & WRITER: Satoshi Miki
CAST: Sadao Abe, Riho Yoshioka

Synopsis

Sin is a star singer of a metal band who actually dopes himself to help him sing as loudly as possible. But after blowing his vocal chords he encounters a street musician named, Fuka, who barely sings above a whisper. After hearing her pathetically quiet performance he decides to help her sing loudly without restraint. Events lead them both to being on the run from Sin’s music concert promoters.

Review

The director Satoshi Miki was present at the screening and his advice to not think but feel is one that would be wise to heed while watching this movie. Don’t expect the story to make any sense. There’s a randomness and unpredictability to the plot that would be best not to spoil. This feels much more kinetic than his previous films I’ve seen. The acting is pretty good, being over the top but in an appropriate manner. This is a movie that takes place in a heightened sense of reality with some musical sequences and slapstick comedy.

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Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

The Travelling Cat Chronicles – film review – Fantasia 2018

travelingcatrhoniclesmovieThe Travelling Cat Chronicles / 旅猫リポート [Tabineko Ripoto] (2018)

DIRECTOR: Koichiro Miki
WRITER: Emiko Hiramatsu
CAST: Sota Fukushi, Yuko Takeuchi, Mitsuki Takahata
AUTHOR: Hiro Arikawa

Synopsis

Adapted from the novel of the same name, a young man can no longer keep his cat and visits a series of friends in order to find a place of his cat to live. The cat is not particularly happy about this and we hear his thoughts during his owner’s travels.

Review

This is a tearjerker and one that does it well even when you see the sadness coming a mile away. It uses various tropes that I won’t reveal but anyone familiar with the genre will probably spot them. As expected the story is fairly episodic as the young man, Satoru (Sota Fukushi) visits each friend and then flashbacks occur showing his past with said friend. His final visit is to his aunt and the crying definitely get dialed up a notch.

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