Posts tagged "SFIFF"

Manhunt (Review)

Manhunt

aka 追捕
Manhunt
2017
Script by Lip Wang-Fung, Gordon Chan Ka-Seung, and James Yuen Sai-Sang
Based on the book Kimiyo Funno no Kawa wo Watari by Juko Nishimura
Directed by John Woo

Manhunt
John Woo returns to the world of action cinema to show us that he still….uh…he still can make a movie? With some action scenes? That’s about it, because Manhunt is decisively not in the tradition of classic John Woo action and is more in the tradition of ridiculous scenes wrapped around an overly complicated plot. So basically it’s like a benchwarmer Hong Kong action flick. It isn’t terrible, but it’s like Gordon Ramsey making you waffles and they taste worse than McDonalds. Part of the problem might be that this is a big coproduction between China and NetFlix, packed with a great cast who get parts that are either wasted or follow trajectories that we already know their outcome. Tragically, some of theme don’t even get to ham it up before they buy the farm!

Lawyer Du Qiu (Zhang Han-Yu) , the best lawyer in all of Japan, is leaving his cushy job at a pharmaceutical mega-conglomerate for another position. But the pharmaceutical company is up to no good, and before Du Qiu can move to Bel Air, he’s framed for murder and is on the run! Don’t worry, there is also a super duper detective named Satoshi Yamura (Masaharu Fukuyama ), who is hot on Du Qiu’s trail despite figuring out that Du Qiu is innocent and there is a bigger story at play. Hey, he’s still got to do his job! Du Qui and Yamura’s disagreement on whether Du should be sitting in a cell while they sort out what is what causes the crux of a lot of action sequences, as Du Qui manages to escape large police pursuits again and again. Toss in a mysterious woman (Stephy Qi Wei as Mayumi) whose almost husband used to work for the villainous megacorp (and was later killed on their wedding day after losing a big case thanks do Du when he tried to stop what was going on) and Ha Jiwon and John Woo’s daughter Angeles Woo as two female assassins who randomly show up to shoot everyone (when Ha Jiwon and Du aren’t talking about old movies), and you got a film that can’t find its focus. This is before it suddenly goes all Marvel. But more on that is spoiling things…
Manhunt
Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 26, 2018 at 7:43 am

Categories: Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Claire’s Camera (Review)

Claire’s Camera

aka La Caméra de Claire
Claire's Camera
2017
Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo
Claire's Camera
Hong Sang-soo continues to be an unstoppable movie-making machine, and with Claire’s Camera he continues his streak of producing high quality, entertaining films quickly and distinctively. I immediately pounced when I saw this was screening in this year’s SFIFF, but luckily had I missed it, 4-Star started screening it soon after. Which means I’ll have to make it up to 4-Star by seeing a different film there, no big deal as I don’t mind heading over there at all.

Like On the Beach at Night Alone, Claire’s Camera deals with the results of an affair involving a director, braiding the ropes of reality and fiction of his real life affair with Kim Min-hee into more artistic output. While On the Beach at Night Alone dealt more with the feminine side of a scandal and had a cathartic scene of confrontation, Claire’s Camera is more directly abstract, crystallizing the differences of before and after incidents. Some might argue that Hong is mining the same themes far too often, but he’s handling it in unique ways each time and so many other relationship films deal with similar themes, so hold all criticisms until things start actually getting stale.

Jeon Manhee (Kim Min-hee) is a buyer for films, in France along with the production company she works at, as one of their clients, Director So Wansoo (Jung Jin-young) is screening a film. She meets her boss at a cafe, where the boss Nam Yanghye (Chang Mi-hee) forces her to quit, explaining she no longer has trust in her to do the right thing. This gives Manhee time to wander around France, as she decides to spend a few days in town before heading back to South Korea. Later we learn that the director had an affair with her, and that Nam Yanghye is basically in a relationship with him, explaining the motivations.
Claire's Camera
Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 25, 2018 at 7:42 am

Categories: Movie Reviews   Tags: , , ,

Revenge (Review)

Revenge

Revenge
2017
Written and directed by Coralie Fargeat
Revenge
Let’s get one thing straight from the get go, Revenge is a rape and revenge movie patterned after the old school exploitation flicks. But it’s also a major deconstruction of the genre, twisting tropes and incorporating aspects from super hero movies (and some of their tropes as well!) Most importantly, it is a fun as heck movie despite the subject matter and was a great choice for a SFIFF viewing pick!

Revenge is a startlingly beautiful film, with cinematography for days, vivid colors, neon that burns through with a beautiful but neutral enough Moroccan desert environment to make things aesthetic but not distracting. It’s full of shots that will be popping up on tumblr as gifs when there is a proper release. It is loaded with plenty of imagery for subtext including an apple with a bite taken out of it (often looked back on as the apple slowly decays) as well as rebirth imagery including a phoenix image the features prominently in a memorable scene during a peyote-induced fever dream. It’s well paced, the only sequences that seem to go on too long are purposefully designed that way for suspense or to foster a general sense of uneasiness. Beyond that, things fly by to keep the action steady. Even with all that Revenge is trying to say, it keeps the story on track so you don’t feel bogged down. Exactly the kind of movie that will lead to new discoveries on rewatches, as you were too busy having fun the first time through to notice some of the smaller details. There’s even a great argument for keeping wires on your earbuds!
Revenge
Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 24, 2018 at 7:41 am

Categories: Movie Reviews   Tags: , , ,

Searching (Review)

Searching

Searching
2018
Written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian
Directed by Aneesh Chaganty

Searching
It’s San Francisco International Film Festival time again, and TarsTarkas.NET is back with more SFIFF reviews thanks to our powerful influence to buy tickets! First up is what was my favorite of the films I saw this year, a film that is visualized entirely using computer screens and surveillance videos. Searching utilizes its visual gimmick very well in telling the story of a father looking for his missing daughter. We go down a deep dive of building a story around a family that has a large digital footprint, learn about their hopes and loses (including the mother dying of cancer), and come to modern day with father David Kim (John Cho) and daughter Margot (Michelle La), both still a mess after the death of their wife/mother, Pamela (Sara Sohn).

Margot is in high school and off at a study group, which she tells her father via facetime will go on all night. He gently reminds her again that she forgot to take out the trash before calling it a night. He misses a few calls from her overnight, and awakens in the morning to be annoyed that she still hasn’t taken out the trash and thinks she left early for school. During work he starts getting worried that she isn’t responding to his texts, thinking she is mad at him, but soon realizes she left her school laptop at home and never arrived at school. Thus begins a frantic search to find out where she went, what happened to her, and what has been going on in her life while both of them have been too saddened by Pamela’s death to stay connected. Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) becomes David’s point of contact with the police, and the two start trying to construct a timeline of where Margot was and what she likes to do, with David realizing with increasing horror he doesn’t know anything about Margot’s life any more.

Read more…

2 comments - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 23, 2018 at 7:39 am

Categories: Movie Reviews   Tags: , ,

Mister Universo (Review)

Mister Universo

aka Mister Universe
Mister Universo
2016
Written by Tizza Covi
Directed by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel

Mister Universo
A pursuit for a lucky charm leads into a quasi-magical realism world with Mister Universo! The last of our SFIFF coverage, this time running over to the San Francisco Alamo Drafthouse for a fun Italian film that I probably wouldn’t have watched on my own if it wasn’t part of a festival and caught my eye in the movie listing. I’m glad it did!

Mister Universo is actually a sort of sequel to 2009’s La Pivellina (Little Girl), Tairo is grown and a lion tamers, now with a quest of his own. Besides the quest we still get an extended view of the family and friends of Tairo as he travels up and down the Italian peninsula, with most people playing themselves (or versions of themselves.) It is a fun slice of life into a culture that there isn’t really much about (except Covi and Frimmel’s other films!)

We begin following Tairo and him preparing for his show, hanging out with his girl Wendy Weber, and generally causing trouble with some of the circus performers he doesn’t like. These arguments have escalated to pranks, and Tairo soon finds all his stuff has gone missing, scattered around the park the circus is staying at. Tairo doesn’t have much and finds many items quickly, but there is one item that has completely disappeared, and it is important to him. An iron bar bent by a strong man when Tairo was a child, his lucky charm that he needs to touch before every performance.

Wendy is way more superstitious than Tairo, she is into charms, fortune tellers, putting candles in streams to remove bad luck/the evil eye. She is a contortionist bends her body in much the same way that the iron bar was bent. Tairo knows her interests and even takes her to one of those hills that goes down but is also going up (if you’ve been to one of them you know what I am talking about) for some neat scenes. He does find plenty of time to good-naturedly harass her little dog, Panico. While Tairo dismisses Wendy’s superstitions as nonsense, he has superstitions of his own and soon is off on a search to find the strongman so he will bend him another bar.

The bar was bent by Arthur Robin, Mr. Universe 1957, the first black Mr. Universe and also called Black Hercules. As far as I can tell he didn’t make any movie appearances. He does eventually appear in Mister Universo, so I guess he did end up in movies after all! Taizo’s journey lets him visit all sorts of relatives, including his parents, grandmother, cousins, brother, and other circus friends. The interactions with the performers and with the circus culture and families are the film, everyone knows everyone in a roundabout way, having worked with them long ago at some earlier job. Taizo’s big cats are aged and obviously overweight, they have health problems just from being so old, and one passed on earlier but there is no money for replacement animals. It’s a totally obvious metaphor for the whole circus industry aging out and fading away. We see it in the family members who have moved out of the circus life and are doing other things. Even Mister Universe himself is a shadow of his former self, though he still looks amazing for his age!

Superstition and reality blend to make Mister Universo an amazing travelogue that shows that there may just be some magic left in the world, but not in the obvious way.
Mister Universo
SFIFF 2017

Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 4, 2017 at 7:09 am

Categories: Movie Reviews   Tags: , , ,

Maliglutit (Review)

Maliglutit

aka Searchers
Maliglutit (Searchers)
2016
Written by Norman Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk
Directed by Zacharias Kunuk and Natar Ungalaaq

Maliglutit (Searchers)
SFIFF fun continues with my first ever visit to the BAMPFA – Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive – for the Inuktitut-language film Maliglutit! I didn’t have time to enjoy the rest of the museum as I had to grab some lunch and then BART it back to San Francisco to make another film, thus is the life of someone who bought two tickets to movies. Maliglutit is a film by Zacharias Kunuk, this timed joined by Natar Ungalaaq in the director’s chair. It’s inspired by the John Wayne Western The Searchers, but discards much of the racial politics of the plot in favor of an internal setting between different groups of Inuits. But it keeps the basic premise and even the title, though translated (never fear, the English title is helpfully added in parentheses!)

Kuanana (Benjamin Kunuk) returns from hunting with his son Siku (Joseph Uttak) to find that the rest of his family has been killed and his wife and daughter kidnapped. He must go rescue them and stop the people responsible, in what can only end with more people dead. Before the attack, the group is seen hanging out at a local party where they are kicked out for just being leeches in regard to taking food and romancing women while not contributing anything. The attackers are four men who are occasionally called the Kupaks after their leader, Kupak (Joey Sarpinak) The men tire of their lonely scavenger lifestyle and think some wives would be just the thing to make things better, and how else do you get wives than be raiding a peaceful household?

The attack by the Kupak group thought to be a polar bear attack by the family at first, they smash into the igloo through the wall and the scene is shot as if an animalistic attack is happening (which is basically what is happening.) Man is again the apex predator, Kuanana’s parents are beaten (and die later when Kuanana returns home) and his youngest son is killed. The men run with the wife and daughter, but soon realize they are being followed and must set up a confrontation before Kuanana picks them off one by one.

The slow pace of the film fits in with the setting. The beginning scenes have a lot of sitting around watching food cook and making clothes, stories are told, songs are sung, life is as it was. There is a lack of modern conveniences but a limited amount of Western tools such as metal knifes and tea sets and a gun with a few bullets. We also get a nice class on igloo building as some of the characters rapidly put up structures (Kunuk had a crew on standby that would help them make authentic structures, which probably came in handy during the cold weather they had during filming!)

The family asks for help from a spirit to locate the food Kuanana and Siku go out to hunt, and Kuanana calls upon a spirit to help guide him to what is left of his family. The scenes set Maliglutit apart, a new twist on a familiar tale. I’ve seen some people try to label this film as something different from a Western, but it is a Western, it follows all the movie rules of a Western, we just trade horses for dogsleds and a snowy wasteland for a desert. There is no need to divide this into something new, and that potentially limits the audience that might get exposed to it (which would be a crime!) There just isn’t enough native filmmaking, especially native films that are good and can find an audience that might not have watched it otherwise.

Maliglutit fits in perfectly with remix film culture, not just with the Turkish Star Treks but with the Infernal Affairs/The Departeds. It will be something you haven’t seen before while being just familiar enough to want to see who it plays out.
Maliglutit (Searchers)

SFIFF 2017

Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 3, 2017 at 7:02 am

Categories: Movie Reviews   Tags: , , ,

Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: