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.
Rick Famuyiwa’s high school comedy about avoiding gang trouble while finding one’s voice hits its stride early and doesn’t let up until the final credits roll. Shameik Moore as Malcolm gives a performance strong enough to keep us concerned with his high school trials: can he get his Harvard entrance essay completed and unload a few kilos of molly he’s found in his backpack?
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.
More thoughtful than I anticipated, Hilla Medalia and Shosh Shlam’s documentary takes us inside a gaming addiction treatment facility in China. While it never digs sufficiently into details to be an exposé of a potential sham, the human story is compelling enough to draw one in. The audience is left uncertain whether or not the boys and their families suffer from a real clinical addiction or from social overreaction to contemporary teenage behavior, but it is difficult not to feel a sense that something is wrong with a world that creates compelling virtual universes for people to escape into and then unfairly institutionalizes those who try to escape there too often.
As bio-pics go, Paul Soriano’s Kid Kulafu succeeds by laying off the hagiography to focus on aspects of Manny Pacquiao’s childhood that are shared by aspiring boxers everywhere.
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.
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.
Yoshihiro Nakamura’s Fish Story appears to be most noteworthy for its non-linear narrative. But syuzhet chutzpah aside, the story about a punk rock band saving the world comes together in the end to relay a clever story about the origins of belief, myth-making and finding religion in unexpected places.