Found footage has run its course. It was a great teaser, but a tease by its very nature is not something that has much longevity and it’s been nearly 15 years since The Blair Witch Project. Alien Abduction bills itself as being based on real events that took place in the Brown Mountains of North Carolina in which the Morris family is supposedly abducted, leaving behind a video record of events that is subsequently recovered by the US military. First time director Matty Beckerman manages to repackage this shopworn material in a sufficiently modern way that makes it slightly more than the sum of its very second-hand parts. Characters come from a well-used stock of types but Beckerman utilizes them in a skillful enough manner to generate some emotional response. This super-low budget feature that was originally released to the video-on-demand market is effective but really does not have a place on the big screen.
Pecoross’ Mother And Her Days
At age 85, Director Azuma Morisaki is now the oldest active film director in Japan, and the theme of this movie is clearly something close to his heart. Based on a manga by Yuichi Okano, Pecoross’ Mother And Her Days tells the autobiographical story of Okano, a baby boomer born and raised in Nagasaki. His Mother, Mitsue has dementia that began soon after her husband’s death 10 years before. The film depicts their daily life that is full of humor and sweet sorrow, and deals with the difficult topics of nursing care and dementia, both major social issues in contemporary Japan. The intimate settings and gentle humor manage a mix of laughter and tears, and also follows Okano as he creates the manga that is the basis of this story. Perhaps more suited to television, Pecoross’ Mother And Her Days shows Morisaki’s ample experience as a director and tells a real and affecting story that is more than happy to have its audience reaching for a tissue.
If you liked the Madagascar franchise, then you might find something to enjoy in Khumba, which has some stylistic associations. Sadly, the borrowings do not end here and often they are just a little bit too obvious. The story itself comes straight from the Lion King movie crib book, and is a formulaic recounting of Khumba’s adventures as a strange half-striped zebra who is ostracized from the herd and embarks on an adventure in which he meets new friends, is rescued from an opportunistic wild dog by a quirky duo — a wildebeest and an ostrich — and eventually finds his true worth and saves the day. Everyone is special. We know that. But Khumba isn’t quite special enough to stand out on an overcrowded stage of excellent animal-centered animations. Even the talented voice cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Laurence Fishburne, Richard E. Grant and Liam Neeson are not enough to breathe life into the film. As with so many of these films, there is clearly the expectation among the filmmakers that the 3D format will make up for a multitude of other failings, but as is everywhere evident, 3D can sometimes give added dimension to a good film, but it has yet to make a mediocre film better than it really is.
The Railway Man
A stirring drama of a man coping with the demons of war, or a dull-as-ditchwater account of unpleasant events that never engages. The critics are polarized by The Railway Man, based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax, a railway enthusiast from Edinburgh unfortunate enough to be captured in 1942 during the fall of Singapore and subjected to horrific abuse after owning up to having built a radio at his camp. Years later, Lomax (Colin Firth), in the midst of a late-life romance with divorcee Patti (Nicole Kidman), discovers that his tormenter in the prison is still alive and apparently well, working as a guide to the prison facility where he once worked as a guard. This is a marvelously assured work by director Jonathan Teplitzky, but its restraint is seen by some as a dilution of powerful emotions that are not always realized on screen. For all that, this film takes an unusual perspective on the horrors of war and what it does to its participants, and although it does not dish out any exciting surprises, it is an honest and competent attempt to deal with the complex emotional situations of its characters.
Documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi has tackled many unusual subjects including the India of Varanasi’s boatmen, the American desert of the dropouts and the Mexico of the narco-assassin. With Sacro GRA he seems at first to have taken a detour into the mundane. A documentary whose core subject is the Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA), the highway that runs a loop around Rome near its outskirts. Rome probably more than any other city is associated, in cinema anyway, with the glamor of La Dolce Vita and this year particularly with Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, odds-on favorite for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Rosi has created the complete antidote, telling the partial stories of the periphery, the strange twilight world of a ring-road always filled with people on the move. That Rosi manages to discover something profound in this most unexciting of material is reflected in the fact that Sacro GRA is the first documentary ever to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. This is a complex film with many different layers and great potential for interpretation.
A post titled “I want to get COVID-19 to pay off my debts” caused a stir on popular Internet forum Dcard last month, as the anonymous user asked for the blood or saliva of the infected so she could claim her pandemic insurance payout of NT$75,000. She had paid just NT$809 for the policy. Although the user later clarified that the post was made in jest to criticize the government’s handling of the ongoing insurance crisis, it’s entirely plausible that some would get infected on purpose to receive their payout — especially given that over 99 percent of the reported Omicron
May 23 to May 29 After holding out for seven years, more than 250 Yunlin-based resistance fighters were finally persuaded to surrender in six separate ceremonies on May 25, 1902. The Japanese had subdued most of the Han Taiwanese within six months of their arrival in 1895, but intermittent unrest continued — in Yunlin, the Tieguoshan (鐵國山) guerillas caused the new regime much headache through at least 1901. These surrender ceremonies were common and usually conducted peacefully, but the Japanese had different plans for these troublemakers. Once the event concluded, they gunned down every single attendee with machine guns. Only Chien Shui-shou
The toll rolls on. A gunman walks into a place where humans are peacefully gathering and slaughters them for a militantly-avowed racially-based nationalism, presented in a long manifesto. We are quickly told that the gunman was mentally ill. Obviously — who but a madman could do such a thing? The newspapers dust off one of their “education of a killer” pieces, change the names and run another 1,200 words useful only to those cultivating such killers. The latest of these attacks, on Taiwanese churchgoers in Laguna, California, has spurred much discussion of the long record of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) violence
In one of the most remote parts of Chiayi County, a hamlet shares the exact same name as a well-known center of tea production in New Taipei City. Pinglin (坪林) in Dapu Township (大埔) is around 550m above sea level. The road to it is good enough for any car or motorcycle, and so few people live there that it’s an ideal place for the virus-afraid to go sightseeing. I rode in from Yujing District (玉井) in Tainan, taking Provincial Highway 3 through Nansi (楠西) and above Zengwen Reservoir (曾文水庫). At the entrance to Chiayi Farm (嘉義農場), I halted briefly, curious if