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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Fantasia Round Up

I concentrated on the Korean offerings as usual and walked away with the impression that this year's films were not as tight as in previous years and perhaps the state of the industry (or the festival) is reaching a plateau. (It could just be my selection, of course.)

Please Teach Me English
Korean romantic comedy is as strong as ever. The lead female is a well known cosmetics spokesmodel with the most dewiest skin ever but she pulls off being 'plain' because she's also a total kook. Goofy, fun flick that I probably would never have seen if it was in English because there are no talking animals in it.

Another Public Enemy
Riding on the success of Public Enemy from a couple of years ago, they stick the winning formula in terms of plot points but sap the edginess out of it. The original protagonist was a dirty cop; a man with significant moral failings who goes after a man with no morals at all. This time around, the main character is motivated out of white hot righteousness (his weakness is being cheap) to bring down the sociopath fat cat who has all of the advantages of social status and no social conscience. Competent performances all around which made it even more frustrating to watch them be let down by the story. I got a kick out of the fact that this and Please Teach Me English both had third act cameos by the same actor.

Silmido A true story of absurd cold war politics, Korean-style. As improbable as it sounds, a group of hardened criminals were given a stay of execution in exchange for submitting to being trained in secret to be a crack commando squad for the purpose of killing Kim Il-Sung. Dark melodrama and homosocial bonding; a reminder that even today, one of the few paths to legitimacy for anyone who has done any kind of time is through the military.

Some This film does for Seoul what Lost in Translation does for Tokyo. The city looks like itself without relying on too many of the Big Asian City cliches. The main drawback to this film is the insipid female lead (that some might actually consider to be characteristic of Asian film generally though I disagree) who seems to have been given ample opportunity to actually shape events but walks around in a general haze instead.

Survive Style 5+ Japanese film and just amazing. A new high watermark for set and costume design. The story has an Altman-esque interweaving plot but with an outright surreal edge. This woman pictured is murdered repeatedly by her husband but she keeps coming back from the grave. They're seemingly doomed to be in this destructive cycle forever until they finally learn to live with each other. The dark humour surprisingly gives way to a humanistic ending and escapes its own nihilism. Really impressive work, see it if you can. Weird title!

Ghost Talker's Daydream The best thing about this anime was my dishy viewing companion. 'Nuff said.


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