There is perhaps no worse criticism to throw at a film than calling it boring. A terrible film can be gleefully ripped to shreds and analyzed for its awfulness. A boring film simply fails to elicit considerable emotion. Yes the filmmakers obviously put effort and heart into creating the best fights scenes they could and in many respects those moments do pay dividends but there is very, very little else of note. Even the title itself is a bit misleading, suggesting that the protagonist shall be the one fleeing his pursuers whereas in fact the opposite occurs for the most part in the story.
Fantasia Film Festival 2014
Assassins and thieves taking young hopefuls under their wings is nothing out of the ordinary in film and television. It takes the concept of the familial bond and gives it a perverted twist which easily appeals to movie goers. What Hwayi does is put a spin on the spin itself by having the titular character actually live as the adoptive teenage son of not one but five of them. What’s more director Jang throws in a lot of side plots and stories details that take the central figure through a topsy-turvy journey of self-discovery
Following in the footsteps of Takashi Miike is a frightfully unenviable position to find oneself in. Outdoing him in terms of audaciousness is a ludicrous goal to aim for, as few ever could. Even so, director Toyoda offers a rather strong piece of entertainment that bizarrely finds a middle ground between telling an overarching story of misguided teenagers, who view beating each other to a pulp as a viable technique to socialize, and delving into their more troubled personal lives, thus providing the picture with a speck of gravitas. What’s more, the film looks very handsome; further indication that the filmmakers took this premise quite seriously and wanted to give audiences the best picture possible. Crows Explode is a strange mix of ingredients but disproves the odds. It might not be the king of the heap, but prince is not a bad second place.
Director Won Shin-yun’s The Suspect is a generally fan-pleasing, sometimes rousing entry in the genre. It boasts tremendous energy, showcasing the amazing tailspin of a chase the anti-hero finds himself caught in with enviable vim and verve. The movie doesn’t trot, it races at the speed of light to the finish line, which is an impressive feat considering it runs just over two hours long.
Twenty years ago, if someone said that ‘zombie romantic comedy’ was going to become an actual cinematic sub-genre, they’d have been called a witch and burned at the stake. And yet, they would have been right, and Fantasia 2014 has seen the unveiling of yet another film in the rapidly expanding genre, Life After Beth. Starring Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation and Dane DeHaan, recently of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Life After Beth is best described as a zombie breakup comedy. It’s also best described as “decent, but not amazing”, a serviceable enough zom-rom-com kept afloat mostly by the supporting cast.
Both the victim and perpetrator of a crime must live with the consequences of the events they were intricately involved in. For the guilty party, provided they possess an inkling of remorse in their body, the stigma carries over an extended period of time, with reminders coming in all shapes and sizes to reiterate that they did bad in the past and that society does not look kindly to them.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one already: a low-level cog in a comically large bureaucratic environment in a grotesque-looking “future” dystopia struggles in the face of obsolescence and oblivion. The character in question is fundamentally good, but incredibly weedy, their resolve and spirit having been ground to stumps by the world around them.
The irony of the penniless cult and mind-control expert is not lost on us. Ansel Roth’s got the tools to get your loved ones back within your grasp, he’s written them down for all to read, but here he is selling copies of his latest book one hotel conference room at a time, living out of an AMC Gremlin, fishing meal vouchers out of the trash, and shoveling ketchup in his mouth with a fork.
The one popular term to describe the picture is ‘badass’. It isn’t a very professional or literarily apt word to summarize what a film comes across as, but as a succinct bit of praise it fits the bill perfectly. One has to be especially averse to modern filmmaking techniques in order to come away disliking the directorial choices exercised in Cold Eyes. Yes, the editing is as rapid as that of so many of today’s thrillers, but the key is know why to cut to another frame and how. Judging by this film, Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo know just how to proceed. Cold Eyes is easily one of the year’s best action films.
When a filmmaker perfectly aligns the technical and the artistic, we’re reminded of the transformative power of cinema. Lost amid the genre clichés and computer-generated extravaganzas lies an expansive battlefield called ‘the human condition’, where moments of great power co-mingle with insignificant monotony to shape our lives.
This latest effort is very much a hodgepodge of various ideas to shock and awe all cobbled together to make a two-hour long festival of insanity. In other words, Miike and the writers throw everything they can think of on the wall and leave it up to the audience to see what sticks and what does not. With a film that tosses in gags, both visual and verbal, at the rapid pace evidenced here, it comes as no surprise that not everything will land.
A number of Sound On Sight editors and contributors are geographically fortunate enough to make the Fantasia Film Festival an annual must-attend event. I have never been to the festival, but have followed it from afar since it landed on my radar years ago when a well-received short film I had a major acting role in called My Sweet Satan, played there.