Posted in Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals

Fantasia International Film Festival, July 11 – August 4, 2019

Another edition of the Fantasia festival will start very soon. The full schedule is available on their website.

For the 2nd/final wave announcement of films see the following Fantasia press release.

Here are some of the East Asian films announced.

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Posted in Reviews, Trailers, Video

Big Brother – movie review

Big Brother (2018)
Dir: Kam Ka Wai
Cast: Donnie Yen, Joe Chen

This title is available now on DVD and Bluray from Well Go USA.

Synopsis

Mr. Chan (Donnie Yen) who is an ex-soldier is hired as a liberal arts teacher and uses unorthodox methods to earn respect from a particularly unruly class of students. He goes as far as helping one particular group of students with their personal issues. One student gets involved with a gang and the teacher has to do some teaching with his fists.

Review

Any movie with Donnie Yen makes one assume it’s going to be a martial arts or action movie. This is not the case here. This is a drama with comedy and two pretty good fight scenes. Focus is on several students in the class and how Mr. Chan helps each of them to find their own path. It’s a very familiar premise but it’s in the details that determines if the movie will feel forced & formulaic or genuine & enjoyable.

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

Fantasia 2019 – First Wave Announcement

Fantasia International Film Festival just announced their first wave of films. Here’s a list of the East Asian movies. Trailers will be below the list.

Idol
The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil
Door Lock
Chiwawa
House of Hummingbird
We Are Little Zombies
Ode to Nothing
No Mercy
The Fable
She
21st Century Girl
Fly Me  to Saitama
G Affairs
The Island of Cats
The Moon in the Hidden Woods
White Snake

To see the full list check out the press release below.

https://fantasiafestival.com/en/news/first-wave-2019

Trailers below

Continue reading “Fantasia 2019 – First Wave Announcement”

Posted in Books, Reviews

Crazy Rich Asians – book trilogy review

After watching and enjoying the movie I wanted to read the book by Kevin Kwan to see how it compared. I quickly found out there were three books comprising a trilogy. I wondered to myself if I really wanted to commit myself to that many books with each being over 500 pages long. Eventually I ended up buying a box set of the three books anyway.

The first book (Crazy Rich Asians) is more interesting than the movie that’s based on it. If you liked the movie I think you’ll like the book because there is, of course, more detail, especially in regards to all the social/cultural aspects of the super wealthy in Singapore and side characters. The first book mainly focuses on Nick’s side of the family but there is also more on Rachel’s background near the end of the first book that sets up the second book (China Rich Girlfriend), which is pretty much mostly about Rachel’s side of the family. The third book (Rich People Problems) returns the focus back to Nick’s side of the family when his grandma’s health becomes an issue.

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Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Last Letter – film review [Recommended]

LastLetterLast Letter / 你好,之华 / Lit: Hello Zhihua (2018)
director & writer: Shunji Iwai
cast: Zhou Xun, Qin Hao, Zhang Zifeng, Deng Enxi , Bian Tianyang

Synopsis

A married woman’s older sister passes away leaving behind two children. At the sister’s house she finds an invitation to her middle school reunion. The woman decides to go to tell her sister’s old classmates the bad news but ends up being mistaken as her sister. At the reunion she notices a man whom she had a crush on as a teenager. He approaches her, also assuming that she is her sister, and they exchange contact info. She begins writing letters to him under her sister’s name.

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Posted in Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Ash is Purest White – film review – Nouveau Cinema 2018

Ash is Purest White / 江湖儿女 (2018)
Director & Screenplay: Jia Zhang-Ke
Cast: Zhao Tao, Liao Fan, Zheng Xu

Synopsis

Follows a couple involved in the underworld/jiang hu in the city of DaTong and eventually elsewhere over two decades. The tone of some trailers (like the one below) is quite misleading. This is a pensive, personal type of film without exciting action or high stakes conflict.

Review

This isn’t a plot heavy movie. The pace is relaxed. It can feel a bit slow at times but it never lingers too long on a scene. Events happen without much explanation for them but they don’t feel contrived or forced. The focus is on the characters, specifically the main couple, a woman Qiao (Zhao Tao) and her boyfriend, Bin (Liao Fan) and more so on the former than the latter. They are involved in shady business but what sort of shady business they do is not revealed and simply implied. Their relationship changes over the course of the film and their emotions are often restrained. There’s a bit of a mysterious quality that is compelling rather than frustrating in its lack of specific detail. This relies heavily on good acting and both actors do their jobs well. This is definitely not an overwrought Hong Kong triad love story (as fun as those can be). But the tragedy here as love and jiang hu mix is more due to how the characters react to events and how they continue trying to survive rather than a seemingly inevitable suicide mission or last job set piece.

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Posted in Art & Animation, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Trailers, Video

Festival du Nouveau Cinema – Oct 3-14, 2018

This year’s Festival du nouveau cinema screens many intriguing films from around the world from October 3-14, 2018 at Cineplex Quartier Latin, Cinema du Parc and Imperial cinema. There is as usual a great selection of East Asian films. I won’t list them all but I will mention some of the ones I look forward to seeing the most.

Films from China have often been lacking at festivals (perhaps in part due to censorship) but this edition features Jia ZhangKe’s latest film, Ash is the Purest White starring his wife and muse Zhao Tao and Liao Fan, an actor’s who’s been in many good films that I’ve enjoyed. Other actors in the film include Feng Xiaogang and Xu Zheng which make up an impressive cast. Long Day’s Journey into the Night directed by Bi Gan stars Huang Jue and the ever compelling and beautiful actress Tang Wei.

From Japan, the festval brings Hirokazu Koreeda’s latest work Shoplifters, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It has an excellent cast including Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, and Kirin Kiki (her last film before she passed away in 2018). I’m biased since I’ve enjoyed many films by this director but I think this is a must-watch. Killing directed Shinya Tsukamoto stars Sosuke Ikematsu and Yu Aoi, both very good actors. Mamoru Hosoda’s latest animated film Mirai looks delightful for kids and adults. I’ve enjoyed past anime films by this director. There are also restored versions of older Japanese films from 60s, 70s & 80s which should intrigue those with a longer history of Japanese film viewing than myself.

The South Korea film I’m eager to see is Burning by Lee Chang Dong, whose previous film I saw was very engaging and thought provoking. This one stars Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, and Jeon Jong-seo.

From France, there’s the animated film Funan directed by Denis Do about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It won the Crystal Prize for Best Feature Film at Annecy International Animated Festival.

There are also other films from South East Asian countries such as Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.

Trailers after the jump.

Continue reading “Festival du Nouveau Cinema – Oct 3-14, 2018”