While Stephen Daldry’s action/adventure film set in the the poverty stricken slums captures the energetic spirit of Andy Mulligan’s young adult novel, adults may be less than thrilled by the story while its content may lead it to be rated outside the reach of its intended audience. Still, the performances of the novice lead actors make it worth seeking out even if it never gets a US release.
Naomi Kawase’s Still the Water accomplishes something rare: a romance about young people that is clearly targeted to a more sophisticated adult audience that doesn’t rely on melodramatic tropes. The nuanced characters, verdant natural scenery and rich themes could make this a film worth watching, but it is marred by pacing issues. I wouldn’t blame you if you checked your watch now and again.
Kyung-mook Kim’s off-beat third feature focuses on the everyday and sometimes surreal interactions in a convenience store. Futureless Things is more a series of comedy sketches than a unified narrative, but since everyone eventually needs a Coke, the setting is a good one to explore the many layers of contemporary society and the dreamers who find themselves stuck behind counters for a moment.
A Hungarian Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Kornél Mundruczó’s White God tells an allegory about betrayal, oppression and revenge, but also the durability of the bonds that form between pets and their caretakers. Canine lead Hagen walks away with this one, conveying surprising emotional depth for a newbie actor.
Teddy Chen goes old-school in this martial arts detective story starring Donn Yen. The fighting is intense and the special effects muted in this story about a former martial arts champion released from prison to help capture a serial killer. An homage to the one-on-one Hong Kong action films of the past, Kung Fu Jungle is filled with dozens of cameo performances from the action stars of the past four decades.
What could have been an insider view of the practice of compensated dating and prostitution devolves into a romantic drama involving two good looking people like we’ve seen before. I’d lost interest long before Mr. Perfect showed up.
Sergio Tovar Velarde weaves together four short films covering the major phases of the lives of gay men in Mexico City in his second feature, Four Moons. With so many unconnected stories, it feels more like a condensed TV drama than a film.
Jung-woo Ha and Dong-won Kang shine in this period-action film about a clash of two men cast aside by Joeseon society. Director Jong-bin Yoon pulls Kundo together from a mix of styles, heavy on the Spaghetti western, but true to contempory Korean martial arts action. Overall, the film stays light and fun, but the slow exposition over the 137 minute run time keeps this good film from greatness.
Winner of the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s Vampire mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows, is finally making the rounds in the US. It answers some pressing questions we’ve had about the prospects for the undead since terrorizing peasants from haunted castles is no longer in fashion. Surprisingly, they are doing just fine in Wellington, New Zealand, repairing their love lives and arguing about household chores.