Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No One Lives (2012)


Director - Ryuhei Kitamura
Writers - David Cohen
Production Company - Milk & Media, Constance Media, Pathe

No One Lives is a pretty fun flick.  There’s no award winning performances or writing Oscars gracing this film, but I was definitely entertained.

We start off with a chase scene involving a blond girl named Emma, she’s running for her life and trying to leave clues for anybody who might be searching for her.  Let’s just say she doesn't escape what’s after her.

Next Driver and his girlfriend are driving along as they’re relocating, they decide to call it a day and pull off the road to find a hotel and a bite to eat.  During the first 10 minutes or so you’re also introduced to a motley sort of gang of heathens who will do anything they need to make a buck.  The two groups intersect at one point and you know that they’ll eventually end up at odds..

One of the more outspoken members of the gang decides he will take the groups fate in his hands by taking hostage Driver and his girlfriend, and then there’s the first twist.  I’m not the best at seeing twists myself so maybe you’ll see this coming but it’s a great twist and the movie’s almost fully set-up just about 20 minutes in.  Let’s just say a little blond girl makes and entrance, and probably not where you thought she would.
From here the action starts, our little crime gang have no idea what’s happening since they’re obviously used to calling the shots – they don’t see it coming when they’re all being chased down by a violent psychopath.

There’s just a medium amount of gore, and be warned if you’re looking for a really serious movie this one’s not for you.  There’s a lot of darker humor with the kills, and Driver is over the top with his character’s portrayal (but I think it suits the movie perfectly). Towards the middle of the film you will also learn of the very special relationship Emma and Driver have, and it will clear up some of the conversations that Driver and his girlfriend had in the beginning of the film.

Overall I want to rate this movie for what it is, it’s not a serious horror film to me.  This flick has over the top characters, and the writing for each of them makes me think this was the intent of the director etc.

So since it was fast paced, had some cools twists, and kept me pretty entertained I’d rate it a 6.  I was never scared, sickened, or shocked, but I never lost interest.

Monday, September 23, 2013

3 Extremes (2004)

Directors :
Fruit Chan (segment "Dumplings")
Takashi Miike (segment "Box")
Chan-wook Park (segment "Cut")
Writers :
Haruko Fukushima segment "Box"
Pik Wah Lee segment "Dumplings" (as Lillian Lee)
Chan-wook Park segment "Cut"
Bun Saikou story (segment "Box")
Bobby White subtitles
Production Company - Applause Pictures

One thing these 3 short films have going for them are they are all beautifully shot.  The rich colors in Dumplings and Cut are really gorgeous, and the creepy imagery in Box is beautifully done.

Dumplings - This was my favorite of the 3 films. It's a pretty darn sick idea that centers around Aunt Mei (Bai Ling) and a former TV star really wanting to feel and look youthful again.  Some people might find Dumplings pretty sick because Aunt Mei's two jobs are fetus collector and rejuvenating dumpling maker - so you do the math.

At first the former TV star who's never in the dark about Aunt Mei is slightly disgusted with herself at the lengths she's going to look and feel young again, but pretty soon her need for vanity trumps all sanity and she's asking Aunt Mei for her most potent dumplings.  A particular scene where Aunt Mei describes the perfect and most potent dumplings is pretty sick, she can even pinpoint the month that those perfect ingredients come from.

There are some gnarly scenes in here that include chopping, chewing, and a full on abortion.  The abortion scene happens fairly quick, and actually involves a whole side story in dumplings for some unlucky school girls, but I had already gotten over sick idea behind dumplings so it didn't sway me from finishing the film.

In the end things catch up with all parties.  You can only imagine what happens when that rejuvenated starlet finds out that after all her dumpling eating she's now able to conceive after being told for years it would never happen..

Cut - This is the story of a regular man looking up to someone who he thinks is not only more rich than him, but also more kind than him - and that really sends this film extra into overdrive.  How can someone who has everything like this famous Director  also be freaking nice!

I didn't particularly like this flick, I found it pretty tame and quite silly.  Sure there's torture, but it barely made me squirm.  The unlucky Director and his super unlucky pianist wife are both restrained throughout the course of the movie, and what seemed odd to me was that the Director's wife was strung up so gorgeously (you'll see), but this very strange way of being restrained didn't really play into the torture, our film extra still chose to simply do the obvious thing that you'd want to do to a concert pianist.

So why is she being tortured?  Well she's being tortured so that the Director will spill the beans on any unsavory things he's been doing in his life, the trade off is his wife can possibly keep her day job.  It takes awhile for the Director to break down, but when he does - his tirade ends up with him probably cutting his wife deeper to the bone then our maniac extra.  I definitely didn't like this part, seemed so obvious.

One redeeming part, sort of, involves a child whose been brought along for this wild ride.  The kid also is part of the bargaining used by our film extra and in the end, this  proved to be the only cool twist in the entire flick for me.

Box - I'm still a little bit confused on this one, but there's definitely some great imagery presented that kept my eyes glued to the screen.

This is a story about two twin sisters who had a small act that involved them, at very tender ages fitting into very tiny boxes for small audiences.  There's a lot of jealousy for Kyoko towards Shoko as their father seems to prefer her, this leads to Kyoko locking her very loving sister up into their performance box, and a freak accident occurs resulting in her death.

Kyoko is haunted intensely by this event and it follows her into adult hood.  The scenes started getting really confusing for me and they seem to jump around - or maybe my brain just couldn't compute all the information - or maybe I don't have quite the imagination to finish the story off myself.

I found it interesting throughout, even though the pace was really slow.

I would rank the films in this order - Dumplings, Box, then Cut.  I really enjoyed Dumplings, so that's why I rated this a 5.  Without Dumplings I would have given this a 3 or 4.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

To Let (2006)

Director - Jaume Balaguero
Writers - Jaume Balaguero, Alberto Marini
Production Company - Estudios Picasso, Filmax, Telecinco
IMDB Page 

The Skinny - The story centers around the two main characters Mario and Clara.  After a hard days work, and being in a certain condition, Clara is not so excited to check out a new apartment that Mario wants them to go see.  After Clara is talked into the trip to view the apartment, the story immediately went down hill for me - yes that's only about 10 minutes in.

During their drive to the apartment the outside view from the car is like a post apocalyptic world, so might I ask why the heck wouldn't you not turn around already - but hey I'll let this slide just so we can get this movie started.

Once they arrive they are swept away by a very pushy "real estate" type person (Portera).  She's later in age, about 5'6, and might weigh about 145 lbs...and she will be able to control and keep in place not only Mario and Clara - but also all previous apartment clients and future clients.  She must be juiced.

One cool thing I'd like to sandwich in here, and I don't mind this story idea at all - It's the fact that Potera actually scouted these people out to live at her apartment building, she even goes as far as to bring some of their household possessions there before they arrive.  I actually dug on that story line.

I mentioned it before but the stature of this woman and pairing her against 4 adults during the course of this movie (I won't tell you who wins), did not work for me.  I love horror and I've come to expect little stretches as far as things like that go, but this was a tad to far for me. Although the sets of this film and general look of it were great, the crazy shaky camera work was WAY off.  We all know shaky is in, but this was not live action footage where the person holding the camera was running, this is the director shaking the camera for no good reason at all.  It seemed to be paired with something serious about to happen but it was way off, and didn't add anything for me.  There's also a few flashbacks that seem like a waste, and these flashback are mostly repeats of already viewed scenes - though one towards then end at least lets you know Portera had her eye on Clara and Mario (which I like as part of the story).

There are a few more twist in there such as a relative who make an appearance, and that too for me was a nice little twist in general - though the interactions he has between Clara and Mario are hysterical considering they try to help him twice even though he's obviously not on their side.

In the end I can't get over the super dumb moves by the characters and the ability of this older lady to completely control all these able bodied adults.  It offered a few cool story ideas and I appreciated those, and the overall look was great - but it doesn't make the grade for me.

Nice try!