The cinematic adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s book of the same title. While critics have been almost unanimous in praising the beauty of the film, an unwillingness to disrupt the languorous mood of the movie has deprived it of the rumbustious humor that is such an integral part of the book’s appeal. Vietnam-born director Anh Hung Tran (The Scent of Green Papaya) presents a lyrical film about longing, loss and sexual curiosity in 1960s Japan. Cinematographer Mark Lee (李屏賓), who has worked on most of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s (侯孝賢) films, gives the picture a delicate visual artistry that complements Tran’s skills with the cast. There are a number of strong performances, not least from Rinko Kikuchi, who plays a beautiful but deeply disturbed young woman who bewitches the film’s central character. For all its beauty, the film seems too immersed in its pensive mood, swooning aimlessly for long periods of its 133 minutes.
Hindi buddy movie that tells the story of three students at the Imperial College of Engineering (modeled after the famed Indian Institute of Technology) who, in the manner of such movies, discover that there is more to life than good grades. They get into all sorts of trouble, such as crashing a wedding and causing a funeral to spin out of control. In the end they learn from their experience of life, as we expected they would all along. Upbeat and life affirming, 3 Idiots wants to tells us that it is better to learn through doing than to have knowledge rammed down your throat, and has earned considerable praise for its fine acting and light touch.
Rough Cut (Yeong-hwa-neun yeong-hwa-da)
South Korean film by first-time director Jang Hun, a protege of the multi-award-winning art house director Kim Ki-duk. The Korean title of the film translates as A Film Is a Film, and it makes a sophisticated if not particularly deep play on the nexus of tough guy cinema actors and the actual criminals they portray. Su-ta (Kang Ji-hwan) is an aggressive, arrogant star who naturally ends up playing violent, gangster-like roles. He gets involved with Gang-pae (So Ji-sub), a real-life gangster with cinematic ambitions. Although their personalities put them at odds, circumstances force the pair to collaborate to achieve their own ends. An engaging film with some fine performances and understated intellectual aspirations.
A Japanese movie with part of its action taking place in Taiwan, Rail Truck tells the story of a Japanese mother and her two young children who come to Taiwan after the death of their Taiwanese father. It is a journey of discovery for the children as they find some relics of Japan’s colonial past and tackle issues of their mixed cultural identity. Cinematography by Mark Lee (李屏賓), who takes a look at his home country through foreign eyes and emerges with an idyllic picture of what Taiwan’s tourism authorities would dearly love this country to look like.
Slasher movie by Joel Schumacher in a return to the vampire/undead horror genre. Unfortunately not a return to the form he showed in the 1987 classic The Lost Boys. Blood Creek has plenty of interesting ideas, but shows little restraint, cramming in Norse rune stones, demonic horses, and a Nazi-era experiment gone wrong. Playing off the occult interests of senior Third Reich figures makes for a promising backstory, but the necromantic theme is muddied by an over-elaborate plot. For all that, Schumacher’s commitment to baroque horror can still be enjoyed in this B-movie feature.