Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kinta 1881

Malaysia 2008

Details  cinema

Seen 21 April 2009

Full marks for photography and art direction but I felt let down in the story department. This is a story of brotherhood, revenge, exploitation, greed and betrayal as well as a love interest or two. The main thrust and selling point of the movie are the fighting scenes as the movie boasts a lineup of a few wushu exponents, world and national champions.

For those who want to drool over the ultra fit human body on display, this is the film to watch, on par with others in the same genre. But if you are looking for some deep insight into the tin mining industry during its early years, this will not satisfy that longing. Thankfully, the production has not claimed the film is a historical insight into the past but has emphasised the loyalty among brothers angle.

A commendable effort.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Blind Sunflowers (Los girasoles ciegos)

Spain 2008

Details  cineuropa

Seen 15 April 2009

Spain in the late 1930s just before the outbreak of the Second World War sees the struggle between rival factions still continuing. Lorenzo enters the seminary with good intentions, to leave behind his worldly sins and dedicate himself to do good within the church framework. But temptation appears in the form of Elena, whose son studies under Lorenzo. And Elena is not just an ordinary housewife, her husband is a communist wanted by the authorities and her daughter had ran away with her boyfriend, another communist.

Lorenzo's inner struggles and how he justifies his actions led to devastating consequences. And this seems to reflect on how the Bible compares those who lost their way with “blind sunflowers”. Sunflowers supposedly thrive in the sun but in this case they became blinded by the brightness instead.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Forbidden Love (Defense d'aimer)

France 2003

Details  rottentomatoes

Seen 14 April 2009

What an apt title. Gestures and actions or in this case inactions that do not translate into something more meaningful haunts Bruno who has fallen for Mateo. They seem to be on a mating dance, circling each other, waiting for the first move until Bruno took the bull by its horns. But as Mateo said, the desire did not come at that time, during all those times when they were sleeping together.

But they did savour the nectar of love for one night and oh, what a night. This is one bedroom scene that has been photographed from an entirely different perspective. No oohs or aahs, no groaning moans but the background music and cinematography conveyed the deepest desires of the two lovers.

That particular night is not the beginning of a blissful journey, a life shared together. That night represents a turning point in their relationship, with tragic circumstances.

Love, obsession maybe, madness definitely.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Return to innocence

USA 2001

Details  imdb

Seen 13 April 2009

A clinical psychologist is accused of sexually abusing one of the boys at a shelter home. To compound the matter further, he is famous for his research into the relationship between adults and young boys. A very relevant subject but this is a very low budget version that it feels so much like watching a day time soap opera.

What a pity.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The moon in the gutter (La lune dans le carniveau)

France 1983

Details  imdb

Seen 12 April 2009

A metaphor of the chasm between the two lovers in the story. Well, not exactly lovers in the hunky dory tradition of fairy tales but more of a rich girl falling for that brawny animal magnetism of a he man. And all this 'love' just bubbling over the surface amidst the gritty atmosphere of the docklands. Don't forget, we also have a very jealous and possessive girlfriend, a drunkard brother who is trying to forget a past tragedy, and a father who seems to let go of his worldly affairs after the death of the daughter in tragic circumstances.

Will the moon stay forever in the gutter? Watch until the end for the answer.

Waltz with Bashir

Israel 2008

Details  waltzwithbashir

Seen 12 April 2009

This might be an animated story but what a revelation. An Israeli film maker's attempts to recollect his role during the war in Lebanon, specifically the massacre in the camps of Sabra and Shatila is the basis of the story. Step by incremental step we get a picture of those involved and the times they live in. It is not an apology for what happened but more of a cleansing ritual, trying to let go of a heavy burden that has been lodged deep inside each individual who was involved in operations leading to that fateful day.

Each man had to deal with his nightmares and dreams in his own way. A journey not alike for all of them. Each had to confront what they did on a human level against the backdrop of their historical past. Not an admirable position to be in.

A milestone, a landmark, an anti-war war film.

Time to leave (Le temps qui reste)

France 2005

Details  imdb

Seen 11 April 2009

What do you do when you find out that you do not have that much longer to live? You also have unresolved issues with your family and lover as well as your need for that loving relationship. Thus begin a journey, to try and put things right.

The film does not try to resolve all pertinent questions with a final solution that fits all. We are still left with doubts and speculations whether the main character has made the right choices but at least he has made his peace with the world he is going to leave behind.

It was wonderful to watch Jeanne Moreau, truly an added bonus.  

Beautiful Mystery

Japan 1983

Details  imdb

Seen 7 April 2009

A caricature of a group of men, pretenders of a bygone era when an army faction attempted a military coup in the 1930's Japan. This story begins with the entry of a new recruit to the cause which is led by a charismatic leader. All of them are training for the big day, when they will carry out their mission to see their country in its glory once again.

The beautiful mystery is the relationship between these men. They embody that brotherhood of man ethos, the unquestioning loyalty to your superiors that eventually blossoms into a camaraderie beyond the usual comrades-in-arms feelings.

Do watch until the end since there is an unexpected twist of sorts.

When Pigs Fly

Netherlands 1993

Details  imdb

Seen 6 April 2009

A whimsical tale of two ghosts seeking revenge over a past misdeed. Actually, one ghost in particular helped by a younger ghost from another era. But being ghosts, they need help in the form of humans, to carry out their plans. They found a perfect specimen in a young down and out man, who has lost his will to live. The young man, a miscast in the small town, is also helped by the resident barmaid cum stripper at the local drinking hole.

A must see, for all fans of Marianne Faithfull.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Crossing (Keurosing)

South Korea 2008

Details  hancinema

Seen 5 April 2009

Basically a tear jerker, but not in the copious stream of tears category. The tears do flow at certain scenes, so be forewarned.

A North Korean's struggles to help his sick wife who is expecting their second child is the main thrust of the story. Yong-soo manages to go to China and eventually to South Korea in his endeavours but the family left behind face another reality, the harsh economic conditions which has left many sick and dying. People are punished for their efforts to seek a better life amidst the ongoing mantra that they live in utopia.

This is a family torn apart by the simple facts of life, getting that plate of rice on the table everyday. That in itself is such a hard effort that being sick upsets the delicate equilibrium. That is the catalyst for the bread winner to find a better solution. Alas, the consequences.

We should thank our lucky stars.