The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
This is apparently the final film of 87-year-old French New Wave icon Eric Rohmer, and is being shown here straight after its European release. Based on a 17th-century novelist's idyllic tale of rural people and customs some 1,000 years earlier, Rohmer's stagey adaptation offers rustic romance with a touch of fantasy and even cross-dressing. Audiences unfamiliar with Rohmer's uncompromising filmmaking might find this one very odd.
The title for this Hong Kong horror confection translates into The 19th Level of Hell. The Buddhist concept of hell has 18 levels, each with different punishment. In this case, however, some impressionable young Hong Kong women are about to stumble on an extra level via a demonic game. Based on an Internet novella by Cai Jun (蔡駿), Carol Lai Miu-suet's (黎妙雪) film did not make waves at home, but is notable for weaving text messaging and other marketable Internet-era diversions into its narrative.
Another movie with hellish stuff involving numbered titles and young women in supernatural peril, this time from Japan. A young woman suspects the death of her sister had more to it than high-density urban living, and moves into the apartment of the title. What follows is a retread of successful Japanese horror flicks in recent years - not to mention any number of Western shockers - and few reviewers have had anything good to say about it. Movie stills point to a low budget and no innovation.