Showing posts with label opening film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label opening film. Show all posts

Monday, November 20, 2017

Busan 2017 Review: GLASS GARDEN, Spoiled yet Soiled by Ravishing Imagery

By Pierce Conran

One of Korea's foremost indie voices returns with a fable couched in verdant imagery but marred by a sense of deja vu. Shin Su-won's fourth feature Glass Garden, the opening film of this year's Busan International Film Festival, feels like a metaphorical anecdote winged with familiar side plots and stretched out to feature length.

Monday, August 7, 2017

BiFan 2017 Review: ROOM NO. 7 Gets A 6 At Best

By Pierce Conran

Following his acclaimed indie 10 Minutes, director Lee Yong-seung once again examines the plight of the working man in Korea with his commercial debut Room No. 7, which serves as the opening film of this year's Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan). Shin Ha-kyun and new star Doh Kyung-soo partner up for the pressure cooker comedy with a hint of genre flair.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review: REAL Makes Korean Noir Gloriously Camp, Weird and Amazing

By Pierce Conran

In the same week that a new release was embraced by the media (Bong Joon-ho's Okja), another was making headlines for all the wrong reasons. So strong was the vitriol for Real, a vehicle for Asian superstar heartthrob Kim Soo-hyun (Secretly Greatly), that lambasting it on social media quickly turned into a sport.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

BIFF 2012 - Opening Film: Cold War (Hong Kong) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 17th Busan International Film Festival.

If Cold War, the opening film of this year’s Busan Film Festival, is heralding a new paradigm for commercial Hong Kong cinema, then I can’t say that it’s something I’m very excited about.  Over-produced and austere, it features strong and slick production values but lacks the confidence, verve or panache of the likes of Johnny To. A potentially interesting tale of internal corruption within the upper echelons of HK law enforcement, the film mostly takes place in brilliant high rises, far from the bustling streets below. The colors are muted, the angles stark, and the production design is far too neat, all of which create a distancing effect: it's hard to get into the rhythm of the film. The lifeless performances, relentless pacing, bombastic staging and needlessly convoluted plot only add to the woes of this disappointing effort from two new directors which ample experience in the field.

Leung Lok-Man and Luk Kim-Ching’s resumes as behind-the-scenes experts, Leung as an art director and Luk as an assistant director (including on the Macau sequences of this year’s Korean blockbuster The Thieves), are readily evident on screen, as the proceedings are immediately swept up in a concisely-edited urban aesthetic. Set pieces, though uneven, are often impressive. Taking a page from To’s book, some of the film’s best scenes are well-constructed sequences of breathlessly combined parallel scenes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PiFan 2012: Horror Stories (무서운 이야기, Nooseowoon Iyagi) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival.

Omnibus horrors seem to be all the rage at this year's PiFan, with the inclusion of the much-ballyhooed V/H/S and the Indonesian ghost offering Hi5teria (not to be confused with period British vibrator comedy Histeria, which is also in competition). But the one with the highest profile this year was the Korean Horror Stories, which served as the event's opening film.

A group of talented filmmakers, most of whom are prominent genre filmmakers, were assembled for this production which many hoped would breath some life back into Korean horror cinema. Of late, K-horrors have been increasingly disappointing and the consensus is that there hasn't been a good example since the excellent Possessed (2009). Hopes were high for last year's trio of summer Korean horror offerings (the traditional season for the genre) but White: the Melody of the Curse, The Cat and Ghastly all failed to impress despite their potential.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

NYAFF 2012: Vulgaria (低俗喜劇 - Hong Kong, 2012)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 11th New York Asian Film Festival.

It’s generally a good rule of thumb to get things started with a bang, be it a film, a dinner, a concert, etc.  In the case of a film festival, I’m always amazed at some of the drab films that get chosen to open events that are supposedly consecrated to the celebration of the medium.  I recall the Dublin International Film Festivals of years past (I used to go to every year when I was based there), one that comes to mind was 2007 when the event opened with Jindabyne (2006), a handsome and languid arthouse circuit film from down under starring Ireland’s own Gabriel Byrne.  However, despite being a good film, it was hardly the kind of work that was going to get me pumped up about cinema for a full 10-day event.

You should start as you mean to continue and as far as a festival is concerned, good does not always mean right.  Looking at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival  (NYAFF) lineup, a little grin curled up my lips as I saw Pang Ho-cheung’s Vulgaria front and center.  I was lucky to catch it earlier this year at the Udine Far East Film Festival (FEFF) and while it didn’t open that event (that honour went to Sunny, another strong kick-off choice), by all accounts it brought down the house.  I say that because I had to catch in the video library but boy did I wish I could have seen it with a crowd.