07 October 2009

Movies - Last Seen

Short reviews below.

Sick Nurses (Thailand, 2007)

Good atmospheric Thai horror about the ghost of the dead woman, that comes to hunt and kill in creative ways those who were involved in her murder.
Not much of a story in this one, but the movie is visually striking and interesting. I've seen some reviews that say this is a fun gory movie, I respectfully disagree. There is nothing fun about this film, on the contrary, the approach is serious and meaningful, with something to say about social acceptance of the female beauty and the human nature. The movie is not too heavy on the gore either, but it has some.

For the fans of Asian horror only, but I have a feeling that this movie is somewhat misunderstood.


Princess (Denmark, 2006)

After the death of his porn star sister, a former priest takes her child daughter to his custody, determined to protect her from the cruel world. As first step he decides to destroy all porn tapes and archives that include his sister, a decision resulting in violence, lots of dead people and great havoc in the city in general.

Good idea and fantastic animation style make this film truly worthy to see, but the story is the weakest part of this. It is delivered with somewhat "in your face" and straightforward righteousness, there is not much of a moral conflict and complexity here. The dramatic content is too simplistic and banal, the characters are cliche and sometimes even annoying.
The narrative is clearly undeveloped, and it ruins the general impression.


Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Japan, 1972)

Good example of the Pink Eiga genre, Japanese exploitation cinema that dominated local film industry from early 60s to mid 80s. Focusing on outcast female characters engaged in some sort of ridiculous plot, mostly revenge against male demonic antagonist, these movies featured violence, erotica and just general sleaze.

This film is part of the "woman in prison" sub genre, and all recognizable elements of sexploitation are here as well. Betrayed by the man that took her virginity and made her into a woman, "Matsu" finds herself in prison, struggling to survive among harsh abuse by the prison guards and violent environment among the prisoners. In addition she is trying to escape the prison so she can have her revenge against the corrupt cop that broke her heart and put her there.

Despite number of nice moments, including lesbian sex scene, and decent visual side, the film is mostly dragging the story and lacking live energy that can uplift it to the more climactic levels. Good for the fans of the genre, but not the best it can propose.


Drag me to Hell (USA, 2009)

Creepy and quite scary horror from the master Sam Raimi, making me think that we should really have more old and ugly witches in the movies, because it played out very nicely in this one.
The film feels like a cult material, but eventually it is lacking number of key elements, more exactly not developing them enough. The story is too simple, the pace is too slow, and there is not much of a humor or clever dialogs to consider this movie as quotable and cult worthy.
Despite some obvious flaws and averagely non-impressive lead, this is still good horror entertainment, with some gross and disgusting scenes and few chilling moments that create goose bumps.

Absolutely great score by Christopher Young and very good ending.


5 Centimeters per Second (Japan, 2007)

Beautiful and romantic animation with pastoral landscapes by Makoto Shinkai, but somehow I am not buying the whole "teenagers in love" drop dead seriousness and emotionally heavy relationships they have in this film. It's like that Family Guy joke about teenage dramas on TV and the way they think high school is the most important time in their lives.
I can see how some romantic people would love this film, but I am not that easily convinced.


Red Riding Trilogy (UK, 2009)

Constructed from three chapters, 1974, 1980 and 1983, this crime drama project is about police corruption in the north of England, while the background story focuses on investigations of a serial killer and series of young girls abductions. The events are connected, and some of the characters appear in all three films, although the main character in each film is different.
The first film, 1974, is the best in the series. It's creepy, beautifully shot, very atmospheric and with good story about young journalist that finds himself going against powerful people in attempt to reveal police conspiracy and some facts about the crimes.
The second film is a mess, with incoherent and boring story about some cop that investigates the events of the first film. Worth seeing just to keep with the story, but it's really a bad one, although it's camouflaged pretty good.
The last film that concludes the events of the first two films starts really good, with deeper look into the corrupted police team, and great editing that mixes between the past and the present. But as it goes towards the end, it creates huge plot holes, becoming sentimental and very confusing.
Not complete waste of time, but nothing special either.

1974: 8/10
1980: 5/10
1983: 6/10

Red Cliff: Parts I and II (China, 2008)

Surprisingly enjoyable film with interesting story, emotionally involving characters and great fighting scenes. It takes some time to enter the movie and understand who against who, but after 30 minutes the film finally catches the attention and doesn't let go.
Of course the film still suffers from silly melodrama and too much sentimental pathos with no traces of cynicism, but experienced director John Woo deals with it quite honorably, not exceeding these embarrassing moments beyond their bearable limits.
Great cinematography and camera work, this is a very big effort and you can see every drop of sweat invested in it on the screen. Red Cliff is very satisfying watching experience.


Fifty Dead Men Walking (UK/Canada, 2008)

A movie about complex and violent reality in Northern Ireland during the war against the British. The movie is Interesting to watch, but for political movie about a conflict that needs to explore moral and ideological principles of each side, the film feels flat and superficial.


Diary of a Nymphomaniac (Spain, 2008)

Stupid film that only possible to watch due to the excessive nudity and many sex scenes in it. While this movie is trying to say something about current condition of modern woman in this liberal world, especially about her sexuality, good intentions aside, this film is incredibly dumb and laughable melodrama.
And don't be fooled by the poster, all the sex and moaning is getting tiresome after 20 minutes, and the movie has nothing else to present, except the stupidity and embarrassing naivety of the heroine.


Read My Lips (France, 2001)

Really well made and captivating crime/drama about insecure deaf woman with self esteem problems, that meets a simple guy with criminal past and finds herself attractive to him. Their weird relationship takes unusual turn when he discovers a robbery plan and needs her help.

The film is very suspenseful and satisfying. Good work by French director Jacques Audiard in portraying the characters and crafting the story. Great camera work as well, it creates a strong sense of being in character's head.


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