K-voodoo: I saw the devil

28 11 2016

The Wailing is a long, intense horror flick which mines an interesting seam of Korean culture, its pre-Confucian shaman beliefs. In this battle of light and dark, a mudang – or witch doctor – is bought into a small Korean town to do battle with a force of evil emanating – or is it? – from a strange old man who lives on a nearby mountain. Its a strange, ambiguous and compelling movie with some well-executed shocks, some extraordinary scenes that seem to have almost come out of a (great) anthropological doco, a few very dark laughs and a lingering question posed at the end…definitely worth a look.

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Rage

21 11 2016

On the night of the “supermoon” I went to see director Lee Sang-il’s new movie “Rage,” featuring an all-star Japanese cast and an intriguing premise. After a grisly murder, the story cuts to three separate stories. In each strand, a mysterious stranger has arrived into a community. Gradually, all manner of repressed anger and anguish is revealed. In one segment, a Tokyo gay party boy finds a new boyfriend with an obscure past. In another, a quiet drifter turns up in a Chiba fishing village. And in Okinawa, a girl finds a backpacker camping out on an isolated beach. Which of these three men is the killer?

It is a grippingly well-executed film, largely keeping melodrama at bay (despite the weepy trailer) and Satoshi Tsumabuki’s all-out gay role was something of a revelation – he just got a hell of a lot sexier in my opinion.

There are also impressive turns from Ken Watanabe, Aoi Miyazaki, Kenichi Matsuyama and music by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Recommended.





Meanwhile in the gay world…

16 08 2016

The trailer for hotly-tipped forthcoming indie movie “Moonlight” featuring Janelle Monae! And below, “Spa Night”:





Tag

31 01 2016

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I had expected Tag, the latest movie by cult Japanese B-grade director Sono Sion, to be a schlocky gore fest. The bloodplattered schoolgirl on the poster was a dead giveaway. As it turns out though, the film is a schlocky gore fest in which schoolgirls are machine-gunned and dismembered in service of a strikingly feminist message, delivered thought-provokingly and with great panache. The film has a dream-like surreal atmosphere, in which settings and faces jarring shift and change, with moments of great humour and blood splattering satisfaction. In other words, it turned out to be much better than I expected.

The story involves ( SPOILER ALERT!) a dreamy schoolgirl Mitsuko (played by mixed Austrian-Japanese model Reina Triendl) who finds herself plunged into a nightmarish world in which she is pursued senselessly by nameless assailants in a series of seemingly unconnected scenes.

It was only halfway through the film that I noticed something that had been nagging at me; there were no men. Even in the crowd scenes and on the streets, the passers-by were all female. It was a world of women.

Then suddenly it changes again to an all-male world, literally titled “the universe of men.”

When it becomes clear that it is from this world that the forces hunting Mitsuko are being controlled, we begin to understand the poignancy of the message delivered by Mitsuko’s ally, a lesbian sidekick: fight back. Kill them all!

The film is urging Japanese women to fight back against the roles they are forced into by “the world of men” with the support of their fellow women – pretty radical stuff.

I loved it.





A clockwork orange

31 01 2016

Revisiting a masterpiece. Still dazzling and disturbing all these years later… and I adore this unsettling score.

 





Planet Star Wars

15 12 2015

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Above, Ramakien Stormtrooper. Below, everyone’s favourite luminous Mexican-Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o and below again, a poster from the original Thai movie release.

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China, Japan, Hong Kong … and Iran.

8 06 2015

A retrospective of Guangzhou artist Chao Shao-an at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha-tin.

There is also a show of young local artists on there called “Walking Through the Dreams” featuring a series of ‘dreamlike’ vignettes – a motorcycle tethered by spiderweb like-cords in a darkened room apparently racing through a tunnel on the screen in front of it, a maze-like house of double-sided mirrors and refracted scenes and a thicket of twigs and pulsating coloured lights.

Meanwhile, back on Hong Kong island, the Yoshitomo Nara show is still on at the beautiful but little visited Asia Society building in Admiralty, with its dramatic building perched on a tumbling hilltop of lush green forest.

Also on: this thought-provoking set-within-a-car Iranian movie, Taxi. It is much sweeter than this clip shows. There is an undercurrent of politics yes,but also a great, big beating humanist heart and a sense of humour.