Polish Horror + Korean Crime

The 20th annual Fantasia Film Festival continues here in Montreal until August 3, and I am planning to get to a few more flicks before I have to depart early next week. I have a couple scree…

Source: Polish Horror + Korean Crime

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Polish Horror + Korean Crime

 

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The 20th annual Fantasia Film Festival continues here in Montreal until August 3, and I am planning to get to a few more flicks before I have to depart early next week. I have a couple screenings slated for a later today. One is a cool looking Korean exorsicm movie called: The Priests. The other is a promising looking Spanish crime drama: Toro. I did however manage to squeeze in a couple films since my last update on the blog.

Demon-d. Martin Wrona-(Poland 2015). As he prepares for his wedding to Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska) in rural Poland, Peter (Italy Tiran) accidentally stumbles upon a grave on his newly acquired farm house property.

Unable to get the image of the body from his mind, Peter slowly descends into madness. Or is it a demonic possession?

Cleverly taking from old Jewish folklore, Wrona subtly ties this in with the history of the country. Is the new found modernity,and access to the EU in Poland ,also helped along by turning a blind eye to a not too distant tragic past?

All of this takes place in the context of a perfectly planned wedding that goes awry, and as our lead character slowly disappears  into another personality, and the party disintegrates into a drunken orgy.

In the morning ,all go their separate ways ,never to speak of Peter again.The closing shot of Zaneta embarking on the river ferry to take her away ,is a brilliant match for the opening shot of Peter making the trip in the reverse direction.

Overall,  I can’t say enough good things about this film. It’s a serious drama in a way masquerading as a horror film, and is brilliantly shot,acted, written and directed. And a seemingly faithful adaptation of the stage play Adherence by Piotr Rowicki

The film premiered at the 2015 TIFf film festival, and also screened at festivals in Hong Kong, Paris, and Israel. Unfortunately the director was not able to enjoy the films success to any great extent. He died tragically and suddenly in the fall of 2015 following a screening in Poland.

A great and promising director whose life ended too early, Marcin Wrona you will be missed.

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A Violent Prosecutor- d. Lee II-hunyg (South Korea)

When a seasoned prosecutor with a rough reputation gets interested in a case involving the development of a resort, he is warned to stay away. When he insists on looking into it, he is framed for murder and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

But this won’t stop him from teaming up with a slick con man, to spring them both from behind bars ,and eventually bring those responsible for crimes and corruption to justice.

The film stars Hwang Jung-min as the surly prosecutor Byun; and Kang Dong-won as his slippery,sly comedic foil. This is the directorial debut of Lee II-hyung and he handles it film with an entertaining precision.At times tense, dramatic,and funny the movie never misses a beat ,and has you cheering by the end.

An entertaining film overall, slickly done and fun to watch. A keeper.

And star Kang Don-won graces the screen here in Montreal in 2 hours in another  Korean drama: The Priests.  I will have to take my rosary beads along to the cinema I believe:)

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New Asian Cinema @ Fantasia

I was able to sample a cross section of new cinema from Asia the last few days here in Montreal.

Lazy Hazy Crazy-d. Jody Luk Yee-Sun (HK 2015)

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The debut film from director Yee-sun ,Lazy Hazy Crazy is a coming of age story about three young girls nearing their 18th birthdays in Hong Kong . A full house took in the film here at the Canadian Premiere ,and they didn’t go home disappointed.

This is a the story of girls on the verge of womanhood, struggling with the crushes, physical changes,  and high school environment that is common among their peers. However these girls are more mature than they look ,and two make a common practice of dating and having sexual relations with older men.The third is sitting on the fence about whether to join them.

It makes for a very interesting dynamic ,and adds a real and raw edge to what we could envision would be a typical Hollywood style telling of a similar story.What makes the movie work so well is the excellent script and direction-at times funny and at others subtle and poignant.

A great cast of leads take the task to hand ,leaving us with a drama that takes us to places often not explored in a deep and sensitive manner.With characters we are rooting for, even though they may at times be selling themselves short.

In the end they get a moment to escape and enjoy the dawning of a new future; wherever it leads…

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If Cats Disappeared From The World-d. Akira Nagai (Japan-2016)

I caught the Canadian Premiere of this new Japanese film last night; and it may just be my favourite film at Fantasia so far. I know it’s my favourite film title:)

This is the story of a slightly disenfranchised 30 yr old mailman who seems to have little interest in life ,other than his love of movies and his pet cat Cabbage. He is given a shocking medical diagnosis near the beginning of the film, leaving him with little time to live.

How will he spend his little remaining time, and can he make a Faustian deal with the Devil to gain some extra precious days? But this Devil may well be his own alter ego, and is played by the same actor: Rurouni Kenshin.

Regardless, Takeru is offered extra days to live, but must give up something for each day he gains. As he progresses, slowly losing things in his world that seem unimportant on the surface, Takuru remembers all the joy ,companionship ,and love that he has enjoyed in his life. And he realizes that these joys and friendships aren’t worth losing, they are more important than clinging to the world .

This is a great drama- at times melodramatic and sentimental,and there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience after this screening I would guess. A faithful adaptation of the bestselling novel by author Genki Kawamura, this flick is in good hands with director Nagai.

Beautiful to look at,the film unfolds with a flow matching the mood of the story. Hopefully you can get a chance to see this wonderful movie at a theatre in the near future.

And speaking of the future, I may have been inspired to go and adopt a feline friend for myself I think:) So viewer beware on this flick…

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Train To Busan-d. Yeon Sang-Ho ( South Korea-2016)

A great new Korean genre film, this flick played out of competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. To a standing ovation. Here in Montreal the film had its North American premiere at Fantasia. And the crowd was almost as enthusiastic:)

A Zombie apocalypse begins to afflict modern day Korea just as our lead character Seok-woo departs Seoul on the TGV with his much neglected daughter. It is her birthday, and her one wish is to spend the day with her mother in Busan.

When the  train departs the station ,an infected traveller boards at the last second, and as the journey progresses all hell breaks loose. I am not a big fan of Zombie films in general,and also feel like it is a very over-done genre at the moment. However ,I thoroughly   enjoyed this flick from beginning to end. Action,love, bravery,sentimentality,and selfishness are all on display in this allegorical tale that also keeps the thrills coming.

The highlight for me was the amazing scene near the end in the Busan Cetral Station rail yards.After a narrow escape from a derailment ,our surviving characters flight to safety is endangered by a mass of infected monsters  grabbing onto the rail car, and slowly bringing it to a halt. Almost:)

Commentators have made some noise about comparing this flick in some ways to the recent film Snowpiercer. My viewing companion here in Montreal seemed to think it more likely took some inspiration from Cassandras Crosing.

Regardless ,the  Train To Busan is a one-way ticket to entertainment.

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The Phantom Detective-d. Jo Sung-He (South Korea-2016)

South Korean noir? You bet! This slick new entry from director Sung-He is a crowd pleaser of a film that’s stars Lee Je-Hoon as private investigator Hong Gol-Dong. Dong is a crime fighting PI with a mysterious and forgotten past, except for one memory that drives him- the murder of his mother and his never ending thirst for revenge. As the film begins he is within reach of the killer , but is one step behind henchmen for a secret society bent on overthrowing the government.

They have other plans for the aged killer,as he has information that could expose their evil plot.Our hero does however find the abandoned grandchildren of his nemesis ,and becomes a reluctant caretaker as both search for the abducted old man. For very different reasons.

Equal parts Noir-Comedy-Action-and -Sentimentality-this film is a modern take on Korean literary hero Hong Gil-Dong. And I assume a tip of the hat to the original pulp magazine serial The Phantom Detective, that was published from 1933-53.

This is a great whirlwind of a story with many shifting moods, and owes a visual debt to Sin City. Great performances and visual style are on display ,and I absolutely love the final gun battle which takes place while our hero sits placidly observing justice being delivered; to those that so desperately deserve it.

Sequel in the offing? I wouldn’t be surprised. Look out for this flick it’s a keeper…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasia FF

hey folks, it is a beautiful sunny day here in Montreal, QC. I am just registered and settled into the festival here in the downtown core. I have a couple showings to check out later today, and I had time to see a few screeners.

Two of the films: Embers and The Unseen I will mention more of later. I have interviews with the two directors lined up for later in the week.

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The Little Sister-Zack Clarke d.USA 2016 -a great little surprise of a film. Wonderfully shot in the autumn, the story revolves around a young woman who journeys away from her cloistered life at a convent back to her family home in North Carolina. Her return is not of her own choosing, but is precipitated by the return of her older brother from the Iraq war. He is introduced slowly and cleverly and when we first see him it comes as a shock but a good surprise. As the plot unfolds out little sister must not only coax her brother from his shell but help come to terms with her own issues in dealing with her dysfunctional parents.Overall, a very nice film, good flow,editing,use of music,sound, and a nice juxtaposition of cloistered life with modern reality. A bittersweet storyline,about hardships and the strength required to prevail.The director handles the sensitive issue of war and politics, and the human cost of both . A sometimes quirky but one of a kind original story. Starring:Addison Timlin, Ally Sheedy, and Barbara Crampton.

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Tank 432. Nick Gillespie d.U.K.-a nice opening montage starts this film off with a battle gone wrong in a forested area. Upon fleeing ,our troop of soldiers come across an abandoned complex where they discover a mysterious woman. After fleeing here they become trapped in an abandoned tank, where they are slowly stripped of their humanity and begin to question the real purpose of their military mission. The plot is unclear and cryptic in its details, but the interpersonal relations and reactions to an extreme and unfathonamable situation, are the focus and highlight of this action/drama…executive produced by Ben Wheatley.

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Aloys-Tobias Nolle d.-Swiss/France-2016- an amazing film- part science fiction-part a meditation on rebirth and human connection in the modern world. A private investigator suffering from the death of his father, and living in an emotional shell, becomes involved with a mysterious neighbour through a series of bizarre and transcendental phone conversations. Breaking through his spiritual and psychic barriers is a challenge for our lead character, but trying to breach them in the real world is something more of a struggle. A beautifully photographed and visually conceptualized film, that also make use of a fantastical alternate universe. Wonderful performances and music make this one of the top flicks I’ve seen this year.

Seoul Station-Yeon Sang-Ho d.-South Korea-2016-  an animated feature with little in the way of plot development- just straight ahead zombies attacking Seoul. The annoying characters can’t die fast enough for this reviewer. Cool synth score but a pass on this one…but speaking of South Korea and zombies, I’m just off to see: Train To Busan- hopefully a good one:)

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Carpenter, Sakamoto + Montreal

Hey folks, hope all is well. I am just on route to Montreal to take in the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival. The festival kicked off a few days ago and they have already screened 2 of  my favourite features from the 2016 EFM Berlinale: A Conspiracy of Faith (Denmark 2015) and Dark Side Of The Moon (Germany 2015).

As well the highly acclaimed Polish mermaid/zombie flick: The Lure had it’s NA premiere yesterday, and it was a definite buzz film at Berlin this past February.

I have a couple of interviews lined up already and a slate of films to try and get to, so I will update the blog every few days for the duration of Fantasia.

I just returned from a 3 day jaunt down to Motown to see  a couple baseball games, and take in the Eastern Market. As an added bonus I was able to catch John Carpenter and band in concert at the Masonic Temple Auditioriun.

This is a very old and very cool old theatre that is part of a large Masonic Order complex-the largest in the USA. During the City Of Detroit’s recent bankruptcy  this beautiful hall almost met the wrecking ball, but was saved by local musician and icon: Jack White. He came forward with a last minute donation of 1 Million $ to fund the restoration of the hall.

And I’m glad he did ,as it was a perfect venue for horror maestro John Carpenter to weave his synth laden themes and songs to a packed house of fans. A full house it was, and as the lights dimmed at 8 pm the screen on stage lit up with the opening of Carpenters famous film: Escape from New York.

As the opening continued however, it became clear the movie was going to continue, so we all sat back and enjoyed the show for 90 minutes.  After a short intermission the  house lights dimmed again and this time the concert began .

Escape From New York kicked off the show, quickly followed  by the theme from: Attack on Precinct 13. Clips of the films filled out the experience as the group ran through a wide variety of movie themes and tracks including: The Fog, They Live, and Christine.

Interspersed with the film stuff where a variety of tracks from Carpenters recent LP releases: Lost Themes and Lost Themes II.

Overall a really cool and creepy show, a lot of fun as well with a really great and vocal crowd. Carpenter continues his tour through the USA and Europe, so do yourself a favour and catch a show if you can, and look for his album releases on Sacred Bones Records.

Iconic Japanese music and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has dabbled in film music throughout his long career. He is most well know for the beautiful sweeping score for : The Last Emperor, and the electronic tinged music for; Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.

This October as part of the Ghent Film Festival in Belgium, the organizers presenting the World Soundtrack Awards and their annual concert of film music highlighting tunes from a specific composer.

This years lucky  recipient is Ryuichi Sakamoto and a live concert of his film music is being compiled and a recording and CD release is hoped for as well.

The fest is currently raising money to help realize this concept through crowdfunding. SO check it out and send in some $ if you can: Indie go go-Sakamoto

They have released concert CD’s of  live shows featuring the music of Cliff Martinez and Alan Silvestri in the past. Check out the GFF website for more info on the events and recordings available:) oh and there is a Spotify stream of film music as well!

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Ok well I’m in a post diner food-coma courtesy of Via Rail Canada, so I will ign of for now, talk to you form Montreal…

 

 

 

 

 

summer screenings+ upcoming stuff

Hey folks, hope everyone is having a great summer. I’ve been busy hosting my film music show at CFMU ,and catching a few interesting films when I can. Things should be getting a bit busy sooner screening wise,as I’m going back to the Fantasia Film Festival again this year for 2 weeks , to see some of their cool flicks. I’m also heading down to Motown in a few days to check a live show from John Carpenter, and  a short trip in the other direction is Toronto where the annual TIFF fest will be taking place in September. As well I’ve been busy with jury work for the 11th annual HFF taking place in November here in Hamilton. And an added addition is I hope a curated programme of cool new foreign features as part of a new programme at HFF curated by yours truly.

Nosferatu– I attended a screening hosted by the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show recently on beautiful summer evening under a full moon. appropriately enough it was a showing on F.W Murnaus Classic 1922 vampire flick: Nosferatu. Guelph based indie band Del Bel provided the live original music they had scored to the film…and they even had some very cool t-shirts for sale! Great night out:)

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Green Room-caught this at the Westdale Theatre recently-Anton Yelchin (RIP)+punks vs skinheads and Patrick Stewart-wow! Highly recommended:)

Follow The Money-CBC is streaming this now-it’s a new Danish TV production from DR-well done Nordic Noir series starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas-from the Carl Mork films-these are the same folks who brought us The Killing…

Neon Demon-this new film from Nicholas Winding Refn is an exercise in style and a commentary on the horrors of the fashion industry-beautiful and repulsive-and hypocritical from a director that earns $ from the same said industry-don’t you think? Great score by Cliff Martinez:)) Has to be seen…

John Carpenter-the horror maestro has returned to the limelight in the last year with 2 LP’s and a couple EP’s of new tracks,and some old film score favourites re-mixed. And as an added bonus he has gone on tour with his band in Europe and the USA. I’m lucky enough to have tix to see him in Detroit July 15 , so I’ll have more on that on next weeks blog. Here’s a little taste of what he’s been up to:

Besides a review of JC’s show in Motown on next weeks CineRadioWaves, I’ll also touch on:

-a cool crowdfunding effort to record a live CD of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s upcoming concert this October in Ghent.

-Maurizio Guarini and Mark Korven at Rue Morgues Dark Carnival

-oh and a preview of Fantasia 2016-which I am going to be attending July 20-Aug 3 in Montreal,QC!

till next time here’s the new FFF 2016 poster graphic-enjoy!

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