[ Mood: Sleepy ]
This Belgian horror film had a striking, subdued palette and some very nice cinematography that mixes some fantastic lingering shots with kinetic fast cuts. Ultimately though, the film couldn’t deliver what it set out to do due to pacing issues. Mistaking just plain repetitive and slow for the slow burn, this film felt much longer than its running time of 75 minutes.
Left Bank is set in swank Antwerp district of the same name. Injured competitive runner Marie meets Bobby, archer and used car sales man. The begin a fairy tale romance and she quickly moves into his Left Bank apartment building. As her romance with Bobby and her medical issues blossom, Marie learns about the mysterious disappearance of the apartment’s previous occupant. Did the previous woman disappear in a "black hole" in the basement? Which, if any, of the building’s tenements are responsible? Does Bobby’s oroboros badged archery guild play part? Marie teams with the grieving ex-boyfriend of the missing woman to research the history of the Left Bank unleashing a chain of increasingly dire supernatural events that in many senses, reveals all.
Comparison’s to Rosemary’s Baby are inevitable, but despite the effective cast, the story is not very nuanced (think about the symbolism at work here) and should have played out faster than the pacing choices allowed.
Korea has been nudging its way into the international film scene over the last decade and The Chaser plants its foot on your neck and lets you know Korea has arrived. This is a solid, well constructed crime/serial killer movie which plays mostly by the numbers, but hits every one of them perfectly.
The Chaser tells the story of Joong-ho, a former cop who pimps call girls. He has financial woes because several of his girls have skipped out on him without paying their debts. Driven by his detective habits, Joong-ho finds himself hunting down a mysterious client who must be selling the girls off in the sex trade. Or is there something far worse at work?
This film seemly plays its cards way too early, but the reveal is not the goal here. The Chaser is all about building tension and it does that until the audience twitches in their seats. Combine that with choices most US films would not do (we’ll find out, supposedly a US remake is being discussed) and one of the most painful climaxes ever and you have a hell of a ride.
Let the Right One In
To the point: this is the just sweetest coming of age romantic horror film ever. Sweden should get props for this one, it is my #2 pick of the festival so far.
Oskar, a timid and lonely boy spends most of his time dreaming of revenge against his schoolyard bullies, slowly makes friends with Eli. Eli is a quiet girl who has just moved into the neighbouring apartment with her father. But Eli is quirky to say the least. She wears house clothes outside in the Swedish winter and only comes out to play at dusk. Over time Eli teaches Oskar to stand up for himself while he teachers her what it means to be a friend. Meanwhile, Eli’s dad attempts to exsanguinate a few of the locals….
Obviously there’s vampirism at work here, but the surprise here is not the fangs, it is the touching friendship that turns to young romance between Oskar and Eli. There’s a smart vision at work here that confounds your expectations. I wish more "monster" films put an effort into fleshing out characters in interesting stories before investing in the CGI (Scifi Channel, I’m looking in your direction). Look for this movie, whether you are into vampire flicks or not, it will entertain.
This Australian film aims to deliver the irony-free teen serial killer/suspense flick that kids used to seek into way back before the PG-13 rating and Scream. It makes a good effort but stumbles on its own feet in places.
Three Brisbane teens, Mark, James, and Chasely, get caught up in hunting down a killer after Mark sees an unknown man drive off after burying a fresh corpse in the woods. They’re convinced that "Red Car" has done in a missing local girl from Chasely’s school, so they set out to identify Red Car, not so much as a vigilante act, but more as a something break up the boredom of their days. But James and Mark have a dark secret tied to the freshly paroled tough guy, Parker. James sees Red Car as being a solution to the Parker problem, use one scumbag to get rid of the other. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, successful serial killers are clever, and not everyone is telling the truth.
At times the teens make the classic stupid mistakes to further the plot and there are audio and visual style choices that seem tacked on just for cool points violate the feel of the film rather than add to it. That said, the cast saves the film from being thoroughly average. Sebastian Gregory, Joshua Payne, and Hanna Lawrence stand out as the teens, but Joel Edgerton and Michael Dorman deserve serious respect as Red Car and Parker.
This Thai martial arts action flick from Ong Bak director,Prachya Pinkaew, turns autism into a super power. Fifteen year old JeeJa Yanin debuts as the autistic savant and delivers some excellent actions scenes in this Kill Bill influenced (which in turn was inspired by… oh never mind) thrill ride.
Chocolate tells of a Thai mob enforcer, Zin, who gives birth to Zen, the love child of a forbidden affair with a Japanese yakuza boss, Masashi. Zen is autistic, but develops amazing fighting skills with a preternatural ability to imitate every martial arts move she sees. Once Zin falls ill with cancer, Zen and Moom, her adopted brother, set out to collect on old debts owed to their mother from her mafia days in order to pay for her treatment. They run up against Zin’s former employer whose love she rejected for Masashi. Situations escalate until Zen must rescue her mother in a fifteen minute plus Kill Bill style showdown with some of the most painful stunt falls I’ve every seen.
The plot in Chocolate exists only to hold the fight scenes together which is pretty standard for most martial arts films. But the young star has the moves, so if you are looking for something light enough while waiting for the drama of the Ong Bak II production to subside, then check out Chocolate.