Final Destination 5
Nobody should be expecting high quality from a film with a five at the end of the title, but Final Destination 5, while far from being an original or even particularly clever horror flick, manages some truly ghastly death scenes and handles 3D with a full awareness of how it is going to make you push back into your seat in fright. For sheer visceral revulsion, Final Destination 5 delivers the goods. Directed by Steven Quale, a second unit director on Titanic and Avatar, the film is technically slick, and with effects by Ariel Velasco Shaw (who crafted the mayhem on 300 and Freddy vs Jason), death comes in some highly imaginative ways.
Buddha: The Great Departure
Based on a hugely successful manga by Osamu Tezuka, the creator of such immortal works as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. The manga was released from 1972 to 1983 and the complete story runs for eight volumes with a wealth of incidents showing how a young prince named Siddhartha Gautama responds to the many injustices in the world around him and eventually finds enlightenment. Gautama is portrayed as a very human character, and the story does not forgo gritty or even sexual elements. It also distinguishes itself from preachy Buddhist hagiographies by having a theme song composed by influential metal band X Japan. Buddha: The Great Departure is the first of a trilogy.
Just Between Us (Neka ostane medju nama)
Described by Variety magazine as a “low-budget Croatian take on It’s Complicated,” Just Between Us offers up plenty of sexual shenanigans, but not much else. The two main male characters, wealthy horndog Nikola and his brother Braco, have no qualms about sleeping with each other’s wives, or with any other amenable sweet young thing. The vulgarity of the leads, who come over more as lecherous losers than lovable scamps, deprives the women of much dignity when it comes to forgiving their exploits.
Le Quattro Volte
Le Quattro Volte is named after the Pythagorean idea that each of us has four lives within — the mineral, the vegetable, the animal and the human. Michelangelo Frammartino gives no precedence to the human realm in his gorgeously shot meditation set in the beautiful but impoverished southern Italian region of Calabria. Critic Philip French describes the film as “an essay, a cinematic poem, a spiritual exploration of time and space, and it’s designed to make us think and feel about the world around us and our place in it.” There is little dialogue, the director content to sit back and watch his non-professional cast, headed by an aging shepherd, a dog, some goats and a charcoal burner, engage in their daily routines, largely without explanation. Thoughtful and provocative, Le Quattro Volte takes 88 minutes to plumb the depths of the human condition.
Pokemon 14 Movie: Victini and the White Hero
Another in the series of feature anime based on a children’s TV series that has gone on to international success. For small children and fans only.
Silence and Screams: 2011 Festival of Iranian Cinema
This opportunity to see some of the excellent films that have emerged from Iran in recent years comes courtesy of the POP Cinema (國民戲院) program at Spot — Taipei Film House (光點—台北之家). The current mini-festival is composed of a huge range of films from established directors including Jafar Panahi, Mohammad Rasoulof, Asghar Farhadi, Tahmineh Milani and Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, as well as a number of emerging talents. The festival, which opens today and runs until Sept. 9, is at Spot, 18, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市中山北路二段18號). Tickets are NT$200, with discounts for Spot members. Detailed listings of the films and their screening times can be found at www.spot.org.tw.