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LFF 2015: In the Room (Eric Khoo, 2015)

October 10, 2015

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Love and lust across a century form the backbone of In the Room, the latest film from director Eric Khoo (Tatsumi, Be with Me). An anthology feature with five main vignettes (titled “Rubber,” Listen,” “Change,” “Search,” and “First Time” in the end credits) and a few recurring revisits to the exploits of characters who have come and gone, the entire film is set within the confines of one Singapore hotel room, bar the occasional meet-cute or tearful lament in the corridor right outside…

Click for the full review for The Film Stage

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LFF 2015: The Corpse of Anna Fritz (Hèctor Hernández Vicens, 2015)

October 6, 2015

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World famous Spanish actress Anna Fritz (Alba Ribas) has suddenly died. On the night of the death, young mortician Pau (Albert Carbó) takes a photo of the dead celebrity and sends it to his friends, Ivan (Cristian Valencia) and Javi (Bernat Saumell), who promptly turn up at Pau’s hospital while on their way to a party. After doing some coke by the hospital’s bins, Pau and Ivan think it a good idea to have a look at the body up close in the morgue; the comparatively mature Javi is disturbed by the idea but tags along anyway. Down in the morgue, Ivan feels an apparent need to touch the beautiful starlet, and also observe her fully nude form. Ivan then also feels an apparent need to defile her body. And then so does Pau. And then, ignoring Javi’s disgusted protests, they proceed to do so.

If you’re still reading this review after that initial plot dump, let it be known that the remainder of this piece will not shy away from spoilers, as The Corpse of Anna Fritz, the feature debut of director Hèctor Hernández Vicens, is difficult to discuss without divulging information beyond, say, the 20-minute mark of the film. It is vital to discuss where this film gets at least a little interesting, as the opening 20 minutes which encompass those cited plot points are, frankly, hideous without the context of what follows (and are still a rough enough ride even with the next developments). Ready? Okay…

Click for the full review for Vague Visages

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Fidelio: Alice’s Journey (Lucie Borleteau, 2014)

October 3, 2015

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Undoubtedly the sexiest film set on a freighter since Captain Phillips, Fidelio: Alice’s Journey, the French feature debut of actress-turned-writer-director Lucie Borleteau, is a riveting exploration of sexual relationships, everyday sexism, and seafaring struggles (with a touch of sex)…

Click for the full review for VODzilla.co

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My Month in Films: September 2015

September 30, 2015

Good Men

21 films, 19 first time viewings

Best first time viewings
1. Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1995, Taiwan/Japan)
2. L’argent (Robert Bresson, 1983, France/Switzerland)
3. A City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1989, Taiwan/Hong Kong)
4. Runaway Train (Andrey Konchalovskiy, 1985, USA)
5. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924, USA)
6. A Summer at Grandpa’s (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1984, Taiwan)
7. The Time to Live and the Time to Die (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1985, Taiwan)
8. The Boys from Fengkuei (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1983, Taiwan)
9. The Puppetmaster (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1993, Taiwan)
10. The Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015, USA)

Best rewatches
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968, USA/UK)
Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh, 2013, USA)

Worst
Live From New York! (Bao Nguyen, 2015, USA)
Legend (Brian Helgeland, 2015, UK/France)

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The Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015)

September 29, 2015

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In the space of Ridley Scott’s Alien, no one can hear you scream. In the space of Scott’s The Martian, all you can hear is disco…

Full review for Vague Visages

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Mia Madre (Nanni Moretti, 2015)

September 27, 2015

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In Italian director Nanni Moretti’s latest effort, Margherita Buy plays a filmmaker with the same first name, in production on a politically charged drama. She’s a figure that, based on Mia Madre’s script, one suspects makes films like Moretti’s own socially engaged hits (The Son’s Room, Dear Diary). While she’s having a creative crisis on set, even before her self-centred American star (Turturro) turns up to the shoot, a personal crisis is ensuing off set, as she’s trying to come to terms with her mother dying in hospital.

Moretti (who has a screenplay credit and also plays Margherita’s brother) has a tricky balancing act to manage with Mia Madre, being that he swerves from dying parent melodrama to film-shoot comedy. For the most part, it’s a trick he pulls off well. With a precise grasp of his film’s tone, the shifts are gentle and never jarring; as events unfold, the two shorelines feel like appropriate bedfellows, despite their apparent unsuitability. Part of their successful gelling comes from their thematic similarity: micromanaging and passive-aggressive outbursts might prevent a hitch when making a movie, but they can’t prevent or slow down the death of a loved one…

Click for the full review for VODzilla.co

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Horse Money (Pedro Costa, 2014)

September 17, 2015

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To offer a reductive description of Pedro Costa’s Horse Money for those unfamiliar with it or him as a filmmaker, imagine the following: Labyrinth, except Jennifer Connelly is now an elderly Cape Verde immigrant named Ventura, the labyrinthine dream world is a succession of purgatorial hospital hallways and broken streets, the Jim Henson puppets are replaced by the sorrowful ghosts of lost Portuguese souls, and the looming presence of David Bowie is instead the spectre of Portugal’s socio-political climate. That old, familiar tale…

Click for the full review for The Skinny