The Artist has been gaining so much critical acclaim from nearly every quarter over the last few months that it seemed almost inevitable that it would feature in many award shows and with a total of ten nominations at this year’s Academy Awards now is the best time to write up this film.
1927 Hollywoodland, matinee idol George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a major star and living the high life after another successful film. He has it all: a successful film career as a silent star, a mansion, loyal chauffer named Clifton (James Cromwell) a beautiful wife (Penelope Ann Miller), fawning fans and arrogance. But silent films are on the way out and it’s time to make way for the young, the new. The talkies! Yet he doesn’t see this and when his studio boss (John Goodman) offers him a lead role in a talking picture he turns it down which proves to be the start of his troubles. Meanwhile young actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), who Valentin helped get into the picture business, is a fast-rising star much to his chagrin. Can he overcome his ego and can they help each other out?
Hiroshi Abe who stars in a lot of stuff I like, Yui Aragaki who is in the recent Ranma½ live-action television series, Tsutomo Yamazaki from the classy drama Departures and Meisa Kuroki who starred in One Missed Call: Final are the names I recognise. I can wath Hiroshi Abe in almost everything but this trailer underwhelmed me.
Detective Kaga (Hiroshi Abe) is investigating the link between a man named Takeaki Aoyagi (Kiihi Nakai) found dead with a knife wound beneath a statue on Nihonbashi Bridge and a suspect who was run-down in a car accident while trying to escape and is now in a coma. Things get even more interesting when Yajima’s girlfriend Kaori (Yui Aragaki) travels to Tokyo to plead his innocence. He soon discovers that the link between the two runs deeper and further than initially thought.
I know I promised to focus on Asian films and I am about a month late but I have recently finished the game and was so impressed I needed to post about it. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is brilliant.
I received this for my birthday around the time it was released in September but was engaged in playing a number of JRPG’s which would not see completion until Christmas day. I figured that I might not be missing much. How wrong I was. SPOILERS
In the near-future of 2027, humanity has created a new industry: augmentation. It is the use of technology to make us stronger, faster, and smarter. Unfortunately the world is divided along the lines of pro and anti-augmentation: supporters believe that it is the next step in human evolution and critics call it the end of humanity. It doesn’t help that the technology is reserved for those who can afford it. You play Adam Jensen, chief of security for Sarif Industries one of a handful of companies that research and manufacture augmentation tech. Sarif’s scientists are on the verge of a major discovery when high-tech soldiers assault Sarif’s headquarters, steal information, murder people, wreck the place and leave Adam for dead. But he hangs on to life and Sarif restores him to something more than a man through augmentations. Soon Adam is on the trail of an international conspiracy in order to discover who was behind the attack
Another is the second anime from my winter watch list and a real treat for anybody who is into the supernatural like I am.
The story takes place in the Spring of 1998 at Yomiyama Kita middle school where a transfer student named Kouichi Sakakibara finds himself in a class under a curse which causes unavoidable death. It seems to be linked to the death of a student in the past but a code of silence has developed and a new beautiful but mysterious student named Mei Misaki seems to hold some of the answers.
This anime is based on Yuki Ayatsuji’s horror novel and it is reflected in the slow build-up and large cast of characters. The first episode sets up the story perfectly. The atmosphere is low-key with little in the way of open horror but there is the familiar J-hora imagery like dark corridors, mist shrouded temples, baleful waif-like girls, and crows. Then there are the creepy dolls.
There are three South Korean movies getting a domestic release in February that I like the look of and they look very special indeed. Here they are thanks to Mayries and his/her YouTube channel.
ReleaseDate:9th February 2012 (South Korea)
Writer:Asa Nonami (novel)
Starring:Song Kang-Ho, Lee Na-Young
This film is based on a Japanese novel named Kogoeru Kiba (The Hunter) by Asa Nonami and the last time Korea adapted a Japanese property was Old Boy which was just incredible. The trailer is very atmospheric and I for one am looking forward to Howling.
A veteran detective named Sang Gil (Song Kang-Ho) is teamed up with a rookie named Eun Young (Lee Na-Young) to investigate a mysterious case of spontaneous combustion in the back of a van. The strange thing is that the bones have animal bite marks. The two aren’t the best of partners for such an assignment considering he is a misogynist and she has her own personal problems but when another case emerges with similar details they are soon on the hunt.
Howling stars the brilliant Song Kang-Ho who has been in many landmark Korean new wave films like Memories of Murder, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, The Host and Thirst.
ReleaseDate:2nd February 2012 (South Korea)
Starring:Choi Min-Sik, Ha Jung-Woo, Jo Jin-Ung, Kim Hye-Eun
Here’s another movie starring a vet from the Korean new wave. Choi Min-Sik (Old Boy, The Quiet Family, Crying Fist) looks like he’s having fun in this film so hopefully this translates into the audience getting some laughs.
Busan, South Korea. It is the 1990’s and the government has launched a war on organised crime and corruption. Choi Min-Sik is a customs officer used to dealing with the Korean mafia and decides he better quit the game and save his reputation before it is too late.
I developed a taste for South Korean comedies after watching The Quiet Family and My Boss, My Hero back in 2001/2 so I’m hoping this will be just as funny.
ReleaseDate:29th February 2012 (South Korea)
Starring: Ha Jung-Woo, Kong Hyo-Jin
And then we come to our third film released in February which is a rom-com.
Ku Joo-Wol (Ha Jung-Woo) is a timid writer who had a successful debut but is now in the middle of a slump. Then he meets the girl of his dreams in Hee-Jin (Kong Hyo-Jin) who works for a movie distribution company but she has mother issues. Will Ku Joo-Wol overcome both of their problems… and so on…
Move over Evelyn Salt, there’s a new spy-girl in town and she takes no prisoners. My advice, don’t watch any trailers. I will try to avoid SPOILERS.
Upstate New York, a lone woman is crouched in a snow bank casing a diner. Her name is Mallory Kane (Gina Carrano), former marine and black-ops contractor, and she is about to enter into a meeting with her boss Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) which will spiral out of control. After the incident she escapes by taking the car of a nineteen-year-old named Scott (Michael Angarano) tells him the events that lead up to her present circumstances and the people who have betrayed her.
I love a good spy-thriller especially those in the vein of the Bourne trilogy and Haywire delivers the action in spades and with such ease due in part to Sodebergh’s skill behind the character and Carrano’s action skills on the screen.
I have not posted any trailers yet so I better start now. These three titles cover a broad range but the most interesting by far is “Are Any of You Alive?” which is a great title and looks very interesting.
Are Any of You Alive?
Release Date: 18thFebruary 2012
Running Time: N/A
Director: Gakuryu Ishii (previously known as Sogo Ishii)
Writer: Gakuryu Ishii, Shiro Maeda
Starring: Shota Sometani, Rin Takanashi, Hakka Shiraihi, Asato Iida, Mai Takahashi
Shota Sometani has appeared in some exciting films lately like “Himizu” and “A Man with Style” and this film looks very interesting. So much so that writing up a synopsis is a bit hard.
Set in a university campus that is attached to a hospital, there is a escaped female patient, a strange man, students and a café worker in a love triangle, a mother looking for a lost child, a love-sick doctor and an unreceptive nurse and an urband legend which could be linked to the end of the world.
The idea of there being any misery surrounding sex addiction seems laughable but this powerful and touching film proves that when sex becomes a compulsion it can be devastating. Here is the first brilliant film of 2012 thanks to a brilliant script, direction and two central performances.
Brandon (Fassbender) is an outwardly successful corporate type leading a seemingly charmed existence in Manhattan. However beneath his confident exterior lies a sex addict with a desperate need for flesh regardless of whether it is live or virtual. When his emotional extrovert younger sister Sissy (Mulligan) arrives at his apartment unannounced, Brandon’s fragile life begins to unravel and the true face of his problems begins to show through his facade.
The first shot of the film has Michael Fassbender lying on a bed in post-coital pose but he looks enervated. There is no sense of awe and wonder or achievement traditionally conveyed after sex in films just exhaustion and sadness in Fassbender’s face. Straightaway you realise that there is a darkness dwelling underneath everything.
This view is further compounded by the locations. Brandon’s life takes place in a wintry looking New York, all unmemorable offices and restaurants with the steel and glass of post-modern architecture. His apartment has a sterile feel due to its minimalist style and the only colour comes from record sleeves and stashes of porn he has hidden about. There is an overall lack of warmth in the world which is mirrored in the sex which has had joy and life leeched out of it because it has become a compulsion for Brandon, a procession of nude bodies and squalid, loveless encounters which act as a fix and that is without mentioning the endless pornography he watches online.
Winner of multiple awards including Best Director and Direction at the 33rd Moscow International Film Festival and Best Actor for Juno Mak at 15th Puchon Film Festival, this dark and bloody Hong Kong thriller aims to tell the killer’s side of the story. While these awards are well deserved viewers who have seen recent South Korean serial killer films will find little new here however the film is less interested in forging new ground within the horror genre and more concerned with charting the all-consuming desire for revenge and this is where it succeeds.
Police are investigating a serial killer who targets pregnant women. The media have labelled him ‘The Dissector’ and are running sensationalist headlines such as “Pregnant woman dissected alive, husband put to death in 100 degrees boiling water”. After investigating the scene of a murder two detectives, Jeff (Chin Siu Ho) and Kwok Wah (Tony Ho) decide to comb the area and soon find a known suspect, Chan Kit (Juno Mak), and bring him in for questioning. Chan Kit remains silent throughout the physically brutal interrogation and is released without charge. If Chan Kit is not the killer, then who is? Jeff and Kwok Wah find themselves caught in a deadly investigation.
To call this a horror film is a stretch. Although it utilises elements of the horror genre and never shrinks from offering brutality it feels tame compared to some of the recent offerings from other regions. Indeed what the film bears out is an investigation of revenge powered by a strong central performance from Juno Mak.
My first anime of the winter season can be filed under extremely cute. I can’t believe I’m falling for a high school anime but I found Kill Me Baby full of many amusing scenes and the voice acting hilarious. I found its use of not so normal kids approaching everyday situations in not so normal ways entertaining and fun
Based on a four-panel comic strip Kill Me Baby follows air-head Yasuna (Chinatsu Akasaki) and her classmate Sonya (Mutsumi Tamura). Things might be normal if it weren’t for the fact that Sonya just happens to be an assassin who still has to go to school. Now Yasuna finds everyday life is disrupted by Sonya’s killer-instinct. Yasuna and Sonya are nice kids who always do the unexpected thanks to Sonya’s killing skills which is where the fun lies.
There are a lot of random elements and it will be interesting to see if the anime can keep them up. I must admit to liking the high school ghost story and the way it introduced a new character and there’s a lot of mileage in seeing Sonya’s indignation at having her deadly skills used for menial tasks.
The animation is simple but cute and the voices actors’ sound like they’re having fun. I can see myself watching this with glee.