DVD review entries

February 05, 2005

Rat Alley

DVD front cover
Title:
Lilya 4-Ever [DVD] [2002]
ASIN:
B0000AM73T
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
What if you are Lilya and being pushed to the rat alley?

February 04, 2005

Laugh, till the end of life

DVD front cover
Title:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being [DVD] [1988]
ASIN:
B00009P9M6
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Tonight I don't have the voice to release the whole pile of unsorted thoughts in my mind, but I want to put the title here, saves the moment of spontaneity, in case it will remind me what I was thinking some other time.

After all the escapist never had the gut to laugh loudly till the end of life.

This is one of the best adaptation film I've seen.


January 21, 2005

Popoya: Railroad Man

Title:
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars


1999
Japan
Colour
Director: Yasuo Furuhata
Cast:
Ken Takakura
Nenji Kobayashi
Shinobu Otake
Ryoko Hirosue
Hidetaka Yoshioka

Patriotic propaganda film. But tearwinning.

This film is about an honourable Japanese rail man's life, interwoven with some magical Japanese fairy tales re-interpreted into the story's frame. I give it three stars because I like the acting a lot.

The film in a whole, is very stereotypical, and old-fashioned. Good for being nostalgic. Both for the Japanese and those who share the memory of the influencial Japanese culture before 1980s.


January 18, 2005

15

Writing about web page http://voicefilms.typepad.com/voicefilms/2004/07/royston_tan_new.html

Title:
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars


2003
Singapore
93 min
Colour
Director: Royston Tan
Produced by: Zhao Wei Films

It's hard to write a start to review the film. As usual, too many points are stuffing in my brian. Such a twisted film. What do I want to talk about? Maybe, simply youth culture…

Why are young people so confused? Those kids presented in the films, they don't wanna go to school. But neither do they have fun outside the school. They tatooed, pierced, meddling with people around them, take drugs, deal drugs, and they commit suicide. They are not bad intentioned. The fact is they don't have any intention except for being loyalty to the brotherhood. Or maybe that was not the case either, I think they are just so confused, why life doesn't seem open for them. They suffer, from lifestyle they choose, the abusive families they were born with, and the low social status they match.

Just before seeing the film, I had read the focus story in Sanlian Life Weekly (issue 49, 2004) about four boys (the eldest aged 17 when arrested) kidnapped another boy about the same age and killed him. The story happened in the outskirt of Beijing. And the protagonists were not scared at all when they were judged a life sentece. Their background, as portrayed in the magazine, were pretty much the same to the Singaporian kids in 15 -- low school attainment, unemployed parents, spoiling grand parents, divorced parents and so on. They killed the other boy as easily as the Singaporean kids killed themselves... as easy as the young massacrers triggered their rifles in the columbine school . But I can't agree with Micheal Moore that to change certain law or certain political leader would calm down the anxiety of the youth. Class might have played a role in building up the confusions, as the fighting between the middle class English speaking kids and the lower class kids who speaks Chinese delineated in Tan's film. Same conclusion did Sanlian Life weekly come up with, adding problematic school education system as another key factor in charge of the juvenile crime. But is it always relative to draw a connection between class and juvenile delinquency/crime? I remember when I was 15, well, maybe I should have said when my secondary school classmates were 15 since I was one year younger than them all, it was even a fashion to form a gang fighting each other and people in the street. There were also girls who lacerate their arm skins to relieve the pain in their minds. My school was a private boarding school, the students who could afford going there were all middle class. Is it because young people are particular sensitive to the world around them? Once the image of the world can't cater their needs, they get anxious? Or are young people particularly vulnerable? Any obstacle would be vital to their willing to live? Whereas there are the majority of the kids survive, the life beyond the youth stories is not necessarily bright. As Kitano ends his 1996 film Kids Return by picturing the pragonists bicycling in circles, we can pretty much predict their lives with Tan's line 'After I graduate, I may join the army, then if lucky get a job, then if lucky meet a girl and marry her… ' Then what? However lucky, the only things they value would disappear in the future, either brotherhood or championship, etc. One of the girl who lacerated her arm skin in my school has now become an illegal passport trader (so far as I heard of). Has life not yet open to her, or does she enjoy cheating people? I don't know to how much an extent I should hold my sympathy to her, or maybe I should keep it for myself.

Have been very familiar with the Japanese films on problematic youth, the Singaporean film is a new experience. Brutal to an extent, it keeps a huge sence of humour. The scenes were not as coherent, but the story is still catchy. It also provided us a sight to look deep into Singaporean Society, the mixed culture, music, class division, city landscape and Chinese influence. Those kids in the film must look very familiar to the Chinese audience as well. While the director Jia Zhangke has kept an insight of provincial urban youth cultures in China, I think 15 is one of the few youth films besides Made in Hongkong and Beijing Bicycle that provides us an image of what the metropolitan Chinese kids could be like in a Chinese breeded culture context.

being 15 is a really weird age
there seems no point to life at that age
school is your life, but you hate school =>therefore you hate life ——— Matthew Felgate :D via MSN

January 15, 2005

The Samaria Girls

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Another Kim Ki-duk's film. Just as Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring Again, Kim Ki-duk tells fables in his camera frame. The story seemed to circulate around the two young girls becoming prostitutes. Both of them, instead of suffering from such jobs, kept mysterious smile. Yes, how can you judge for them that they are sad? You just want a reason to suffer. Because you take in the facts too fast without really dig in depth, you've got to vomit. Just as what the father in the film did. He tried to protect his daughter but end up in commit a murder. But when he finally sees the nature of being, he choose to guide the daughter instead. However, even guiding doesn't work sometimes. Life is full of mystery, you don't what you can do to avoid mistake ever. Kim Ki-duk was challenging his limits,the theme went further in responsibility, morality and religion. He did great.


January 05, 2005

A Slightly more intense review

Follow-up to A suspended review from Far Away, So Close...

DVD front cover
Title:
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [DVD] [2003]
ASIN:
B0002OHZPC
Rating:
Not rated

Well, some may say my previous review on this film doesn't make any sense at all. Pardon me, I was only collecting my thoughts after the film and trying to arrange them together. But then this one, might be more telling, conventional, and intense, so as speak.

There is this Chinese nursery rhyme that nearly every Chinese can recite it backwards. ‘Once upon a time, there is a mountain. In the mountain, there is a temple. In the temple, there are an old monk and a young monk. The old monk starts to tell a story to the young monk: once upon a time there is a mountain… (repeating endless the same thing)’. [my translation]I used to believe our parents played this trick for the quickly ran out bedside fairytale storage. But now, I think it’s a masterpiece of Buddhism folks- applying the easiest way to define the most profound word. And also, telling the plot of this reviewed film. The defined word is samsara, literally means transition of life. Passing the fire from the first wood stick to the one hundredth one, the wood sticks burnt away but the fire remains in its original form. In this film, Spring Summer Autumn Winter and Spring, the story happens in the Earth continues. But the wise monks found the way out of such circle, and got into the state of Nirvana.

Different from the view that all human being are sinful in front of God holding by the Christianity, the Buddhism believe that there is a pure root in every being, as long as one can open the wise eye, one can get the Nirvana. The young Monk had committed various sin in his life, from harming the lives of animals to his greed to lust, but he was influenced by the Buddha, and finally returned to the peace.

Perhaps it’s the nature that impelled the young Monk, too. I think it might be easier to learn the essence of life from nature than from the crowd. The film has presented a great landscape of this Korean Island. Similar to the landscape and story it presents, the film on the whole, is very minimalism.

Well, I m sleepy and out of my vocabulary now. Maybe I should come back to it in a third review.


January 03, 2005

A suspended review

Recommended by an athesist friend, it is interesting to find out the film is themed by the gist of Zen.

Religion believes are very often expressed by significance of animals, same to this film. The appearences of fish, frog, snake, cat and turtle are symbolic. In the Sutra, there are several reference to snake. The Taiwanese writer/scholar Li Ao used to quote the assimilation between snake and women written in the Sutra

佛经里对女人殊无好评。《毗奈那杂事》说女人有五种过失(瞋、恨、作恶、无恩、刻毒),像大黑蛇一样

He said that rarely you could find praise for women in the Sutra.. According to毗奈那杂事 ( can’t figure out its original title), women have five sins: anger, hatred, wrong, ungratefulness, acrimony, same to the big black snakes.

But in the same article, Li Ao later put forward that the Sutra has put much praise on sex. It symbolized female sexual organ as the lotus and the ‘Buddha's warrior attendant's throne for the male’s. Both are holy articles in Buddhism. Such assimilation seems to pull down the previous assimilation, by praising the organ of women.

For the case of snake, actually the boa or very big snake is often thought the antetype of the fictional Dragon. In China, snake is still nicked as ‘small dragon’ sometimes. And in another story adapted from Sutra, snake, together with the turtle and fox, is among the grateful animals. It saved its benefactor from prison. I think such reading of snake is quite different from the Bible.

to be continued…(hopefully/ plan to talk about the sin of love and marriage)


October 03, 2004

Almost awake

DVD front cover
Title:
Almost Famous [DVD] [2001]
ASIN:
B00005KFU0
Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

5 o'clock in the morning, awake with a poorly reviewed film. Yeh, nearly every rock film excites me. Am I so into heroism themes? Or is it just because it associates me with my vague past? My past stories weren't pictured as beautiful as the film. But I know girls with the bands. Some won, some lost. There was this girl who's younger than me, never slept with a single member of a rock band but only as a whole. The sex of rock makes her strong, strong enough stay up for parties on the day she had her abortion. There was this other girl who's my close friend, gave her virginity to a guitarist, and slept with this only person for a year. The sex of rock makes her weak, too weak to date any confident male. I had always wondering what the music we fancy had brought to us? Freedom out of the real world? Or just the chance to see the painful process of growing up more vividly?

Almost Famous indeed, is a failure of extreme rocky film: not dark enough, not glorious enough, not rebellious enough, but telling too many emotions belong to the real world. It's not cool, mixing rock and roll with hollywood genres. The Doors is the real rock film: the man struggling for music, the man takes drug, he's gonna have feeling of the nature and anything he could capture, but not women or money. And that's why we are so unconfortable to accept such a film called Almost Famous though it successfully sculped this young and cute band aids Penny Lane, and this not good looking but writing-talented William boy — they don't have superpowers, they can't save the world, neith us can. Jimmy Morrison saves our soul through his music, but not Russell Hammond. Adoring Jimmy Morrison, we want to be just like him whereas we can't, we can't evenbe Russell Hammond. That's why it's an ALMOST. Isn't it sad? Even the film is almost a success.

I give it two stars, because it's not outstanding. Being one of the critics, Im also relunctant to confess my natural born ugliness, and my problem with the opposite sex. It's only the hope for good lover adds it one star, and the other star given for it accompaning me standing up the night.


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